"When thou saidst, seek my face; my heart said unto thee, thy face, LORD, will I seek." -Psalm 27:8

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Moment In Time; The Oakland 16th Street Train Station

So what is the 16th Street Train Station in Oakland?  It was a type of building called "Beaux Arts" or Fine arts because of its style.  The station was a major transportation hub in Oakland for many years and was part of the Southern Pacific Railroad line.  It was home of the emigration from the South to the North called the "Second Great Migration", when African Americans came here searching for jobs. The train station and Oakland were the West Coast organizing home of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), the first African American union in this country. When first constructed the station was made of wood, but that was demolished and the station that you see today was opened in 1912.  It is located in West Oakland on the corner of 16th and Wood streets.  It is an impressive building, by anyone's standards.  It is beautiful and speaks to the time when America took great pride in its architecture.  A time when public transportation was seen as an event.  People would get dressed in their finest, and entire families would board the train for special occasions.  The station was a reflection of this era, beautiful, utilitarian; and making a statement for all that entered in.  Bridge Housing owns the building now and it is a redevelopment project today.  Bridge Housing has also built low income housing;  99 units,  about a block away from the train station.  Other private builders have also developed housing in the area.

In 2012 the HBO movie, Hemingway and Gellhorn was filmed there.  It was made to look like Hotel Florida in Madrid, Spain,  where Ernest Hemingway and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn made their base.  This hotel underwent several bombings during the Spanish American War.  As part of the renovations for this movie a beautiful and amazing staircase was constructed that leads to nowhere.  The large bar in the middle of the room was also part of the movie.  The Southern Pacific Logo on the wall is now covered up, but still resides below the round covering that is surrounded by leaves on the wall.  The wainscoting on the lower walls was also an addition from the movie.

When you look at the building you can see the fine details and the time that was taken when building it, both inside and out.  Robin and I were given the awesome privilege of photographing this Oakland icon.   There are three ornate and round elements on the ceilings which once had chandeliers hanging from them. The ornamentation surrounding the doorways is fantastic.  In 1989 the train station was damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake and then in 1994 it was closed permanently.

Just imagine, the number of people that sat and waited for their train, or arrived in Oakland for the first time.  I have seen photos of people buying things at the snack bar,  sitting in its massive seating area relaxing and reading books and newspapers.  All the stories that have played out there.  The lives and generations that have been a part of its history.   It is worth so much more than the sum of all its parts and it is our hope that it will be saved.  Please enjoy now that you know a little bit about it...

Today you must get permission from Bridge Housing in order to enter the building.  We were allowed to be there for about two hours and the time flew by.  We had just finished when the Property manager, Marcus, came back to let us out.  You see, for those two hours we were locked behind a twelve foot fence, but that didn't matter.  We were much too busy capturing the glory of the building to really care about that.  It was an incredible experience and one that we wouldn't hesitate to do again.  It was a huge blessing to be allowed to attempt to capture some of its magnificent history.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bodie California... Just Lucky I Guess?

People ask, so how did you get that photo.  You must really be lucky to be at the right place at the right time.  Well, that is true at times, but more often than not there is much more to it than luck.  It is a combination of things.  Spending hours on the internet, following up on leads that people give you, determining where you are going to go, making sure that everything is ready in your camera bag, and getting there at the right time.  In short, being prepared.

So, I got up last Friday at 4:30 a.m. to head off to Bodie, California,  a Ghost Town, a boom town where gold was discovered, transforming it to a population of 10,000 people at one time.  I knew I had to get up that early in order to be ready to leave at 5:00 a.m. and drive the 4 hours and some odd minutes so that I would be there at the right time.  Why do I leave that early?  There are two major factors.  The first is so that I will have good light.  Part of being "lucky" is to make sure you have good light.  The best light is early in the morning and late afternoon when then sun is lower in the sky.  You have softer light, better colors, and more depth.  I knew I had to be there by 9 a.m. at the latest because that is when the gate opens and the light is still good.  I got to the gate at about 8 minutes before 9 a.m.  So far so good.  The other reason I leave early?  People.  The later you go the more people you are going to encounter.  If you are doing landscapes you probably don't want people in the photos.  It kind of takes away from the whole idea of landscapes.

So I got there on time,  and sure enough,  I was the third car in line.  Not too many people to start off with.  Ok, so what else.  Well, I had looked at the weather.  It was going to be sunny, but with some clouds.  Clouds?  Yes, clouds oftentimes are desired in landscapes.  It gives the photos more interest and really makes you want to look at them.  Set two photos down in front of you.  The main scene may be the same, but the one with clouds, rather than a flat blue sky, will grab your eye quicker and make everything look that much better.  Ok, so I am doing good so far.  Early enough, light is good, not too many people, clouds in the sky, gear all charged and ready.  Yup, everything looks good.  Full speed ahead.  So, take a look at the results and see what you think.

Oh, I forgot one other thing.  It is the most important thing of all.  You can put all those things that I have mentioned all together, you can love to do what you do,  you can have all the energy and drive that you should have, all the knowledge necessary,  but if your missing that most important thing your photos will probably look good, but not "unique"  That one thing, that most important thing, well that would be God.  I look back at my photos 7 years ago and say, well they look ok, but something is missing.  They just look, well, flat and not too interesting.  Yup, God is the key.  I have seen a remarkable change and I know why.  I pray each and every time I go to take pictures.  And what do I pray?  Lord please be with me and allow me to see a glimpse of your face.  Allow me to inspire people.  Allow me to show them that you are everywhere around them.  That you absolutely and without question are real and have created all of these things. And I say, please Lord, let me do your will and somehow further the kingdom through the images I make.  If I ever stop praying and making images to glorify God I will stop.  I will never pick up a camera again.  It would be empty and of little value to me.  And He blesses me.  And I am grateful.  Please enjoy.......

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Morning In Muir Woods

Last Friday Robin and I spent the morning in Muir Woods.  It is an incredibly beautiful place where you feel as if you have been let in on a very special secret.  God is all around you when you are there.  It is so serene and peaceful.  We got there just as the gates were being opened and got to go in free of charge.  Woohoo, what a deal.  God blessed us with some special photos.  Please enjoy!