July 4th Parade

Gary at the 4th of July parade

Several July 4ths ago I got this shot of my neighbor Gary. He’s a very patriotic guy and is a fixture in all the July 4th parades here in Alameda. I always liked the shot because it evoked a certain sense of sadness. At the time Obama was still in office and I’m certain Gary (a diehard Republican) wasn’t feeling too excited with the direction of the country at the time. Yesterday, I too felt this despondency in the opposite direction and rediscovered this photograph in the dark recesses of one of my hard drives. I was always very happy with this shot and decided to share it.

Gary and I don’t agree upon much, but we do agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Besides, He’s full of great trivia including the fact that Alameda’s 4th of July Parade is not only the largest 4th of July parade but also the 3rd largest parade in this country just behind Macy’s Thanksgiving and the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

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The Star on Park

The Star on Park interior

Under the heading of unusual restaurant venues, Star Pizza chose to take over an old bank building in Alameda to open their latest location. Truth be told they were not the first to start a restaurant there. Before Star took it over the previous tenant embraced the bank theme by opening a restaurant called Capone’s Speakeasy which closed within a few short years. We all hope Star will have better success and if their deep dish, Chicago style pizza is any indication, they will do very well.

The building presented a few challenges for my client architect: Stephen Elbert. It is a historic building and therefore much of the exterior could not be changed without going through an extensive design review. In addition, as it was a bank with a few old-style reinforced vaults, gutting the interior would have been an enormous and immensely expensive task. In fact, they did have to cut through one of those two-foot, reinforced concrete walls to make the kitchen more usable. That task took a team of professionals from Southern California a complete day. But fortunately, the owners embraced the bank theme and even found that the vaults became a convenient place to store their impressive wine and liquor collection.

For me, the challenges were how to light a very tall, very long, open space filled with light sucking dark-wood paneling. The only way was to set up a bank of Dynalite strobes at the entrance to get a general light on the space, then take a strobe out into the space illuminating sections of the interior that were too distant to be illuminated by the Dynas (curse you inverse square law). Move the light to another area and take another frame. Eventually, I used 6 frames to create this one interior carefully painting myself and the lamp out of the shot and blending it with the others. Digital photography makes this technique not only possible but reasonably easy to do.

Stephen, in his dry sense of humor, reminded me that this technique was not new and had been used in the pre-digital age. However, it did involve the photographer dressing in a total black suit and constantly moving as to not resolve on an incredibly long shutter speed. I was happy enough to do this in my current photog uniform of a tee shirt, shorts, and white tennis shoes😉

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The Perch

New multi-family residence in Dublin, CA

I was hired to get some aerials of a new multi-family residential complex in Dublin, CA. We were able to get several angles that were not possible with anything other than a quadcopter. The client was very impressed with the results …as were we.

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Oakland Panorama

Areal panorama of downtown Oakland with San Francisco in the Background

I was hired to shoot a picture for the new construction in Oakland which had to include landmarks like Lake Merritt, Grand Ave. the Bay Bridge and San Francisco. My quadcopter has a wide-angle lens but even it was not sufficient to get this all in one shot. Backing up wasn’t an option as St. Paul’s towers were in the way. Thankfully, we were granted permission to launch from the roof deck of those towers and positioned the aircraft significantly to the right of the towers and took 3 shots, rotating the aircraft about 30° from that fixed position. The quadcopter is satellite tracked which allows it to maintain a solid position while in the air. We then stitched this beautiful Oakland Panorama in Photoshop.

It’s amazing the amount of new construction in Oakland these days!?!

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Channing Way Video

A colleague of mine hired me to shoot some video of a new refurbishment of a Berkeley house that was being converted into apartments. It presented some issues in that it was unfurnished and had very little light of its own. However, the budget didn’t call for a lot of lighting and all three units needed to be completed in a day. So I took a single LED fixture and my fluid head tripod and just did the minimum in movements to capture the spaces.

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La Jolla Modern

Stephen Dalton Architects


Not all beach houses have to be located right at the beach. Although this modernist-inspired, 2300sf, 3 bedroom/3 bath house is about 6 blocks from the Pacific, it sports those amenities specific to the beach house including an outdoor shower. Its design is a light and airy open plan with a central steel and wood staircase which forms the separating element between the spaces. The living room features a tall ceiling, a fireplace and a sliding panel to conceal the TV. But by far the stand out feature in this room is the large glass-paneled swing out garage door which maximizes the seamless indoor/outdoor experience common with modernist design. Stephen used “volumetric projections” to create a composition of rectilinear masses to avoid flat, boring walls.  The downstairs spaces are further separated by changes in ceiling heights, elevations of the flooring and some sliding African mahogany panels rather than doors or walls. In concert with the owners, Stephen concentrated on using reasonably priced and durable materials such as concrete, stucco and fiber cement panels which are virtually maintenance free. The interior is a tasteful combination of cedar, maple, birch, steel, drywall, concrete and unpainted, formed cement. The owners did it right by completely clearing the old structure, building up the lot with additional soil and starting from scratch. As a result, everything is square and all the doors have a neutral swing.  A new build allowed them to incorporate some of the small extras which really enhance the experience like recessed lighting, built-in sound and data system, laundry shoots and casework. Other features include a separate arts and crafts space and guest house. It also doesn’t hurt to have a roof deck with a view of the entire La Jolla Bay. This is a great case study in a casual San Diego Modernist beach house design.



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2017 Eclipse


It was my first total eclipse and it lived up to the hype! At 10:18 am day turned to night from our vantage point on the soccer field at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, OR. Although the real dark shadow lasted about 30 seconds, it was quite a spectacle on this picture perfect day.

For photo geeks, here’s the tech data for the shot: ISO 640, 560mm, F/8, 1/250th second with no filter. This image is cropped in quite a bit.


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Belvedere by the Water

A roofing client needed to show off his prowess with a project right on the waterfront. I was a perfect project for a quadcopter as you can see by these shots on a great day.

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New Tower in San Francisco

Equity Residential built this 40-story multi-family residence to capture some of the explosive growth in San Francisco. A colleague of mine wanted to get some drone video of the new building to augment his stills for the client. He and the client we’re interested mostly in getting the view from the tower to the Bay Bridge but we got quite a bit more.

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Grand Canyon

It’s not the widest, it’s not the deepest and it’s not the longest but in all other respects, it is the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t been there since I was very young and as I had other business in Arizona, I leaped at the opportunity to get another viewing. In its typical manner, the park didn’t disappoint and was even surprising.

The South Rim has more amenities that I remember, replete with restaurants and shops but also had a very handy shuttle system to get you to all points of interest if you had already burnt out your legs on a hike. The paths were well kept complete with interactive exhibits and colorful information. I had forgotten that it is at 6,000 feet and we were even treated to a brief snowstorm one evening making for some great photos the next day.


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