Hal Bergman Photography - Portfolio

Archive | September, 2011

New Orleans by Night

30 Sep

Just getting caught up on the blog. Here is a timelapse I shot on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I didn’t have time to add titles and a sound track, but think of it as a “moving photo”.

 

And here are some still photos:

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Shot from the Train

21 Sep

I’m posting things a bit out-of-order, but just pretend I’m not.

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If you hadn’t noticed by now, I’m working my way across the South and up the East Coast, mostly by rail.

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It’s my favorite way to travel. When I have gear to carry I drive, when I need to be somewhere quickly (or I’m crossing an ocean) I’ll fly. Otherwise, the train is the best way to go.

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On the longer stretches, I’ll set up a whole mobile office at my seat — or spread out in the snack car — and be more productive than I could be at any static location. If I’m California, I often get distracted by social obligations (although calling them “obligations” would be lying as I get sick of working on the computer pretty quickly when there is stuff happening outside). If I’m in a foreign city, I want to explore, not sit on my computer.

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Consequently, if I’m on a train for a whole day, or two, I have zero distractions other than making smalltalk with other passengers. More often than not in the rural South or Texas wilderness, I can’t even get cell phone service or internet access. I can usually blow through a 4-day editing backlog in a single day. After a few days of walking around a city, sitting at my computer on a train and doing the “boring stuff” on the way to the next spot is downright physically and mentally relaxing.

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I also like watching the country roll by. Unlike a freeway, there usually isn’t a wall to block your view out the window.  The photos I shoot from the window have a unique quality, due to the windows being tinted, filthy, and not being made of optical-quality glass. Most of the time the photos are horrible at best from a technical standpoint — and thus frequently useless commercially — but I’ve had several “from the train” photos do well in the stock libraries.

But that certain lo-fi retro quality they have…  I like it.

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Sometimes a crew member will turn a blind eye while I hang my camera out of one of the few windows that open, but I try not to push my luck.

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Of course, shooting from the back window offers the second most interesting view on the whole train (the first being from the locomotive), so when I’m not working at the computer I can often be found watching the view from the last car, camera firmly in hand.

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Freak Electrical Storm, New Orleans

20 Sep

I shot this last night on the West Bank (which is actually South of the city, but whatever).  This storm rolled in literally without warning… The weather went from 70 degrees and humid, partly cloudy, to pounding rain in under 15 minutes.  At first, I threw my coat over the camera to protect it from what was initially light drizzle so I could at least attempt one shot of the lightning, but within a few minutes it was pouring so hard I frantically packed up and dashed for the safety of the car, which was a quarter-mile trek, over a levy and partially through bayou. By the time I got back to the car I was completely drenched (equipment was fine), and when I got back to the French Quarter, the storm had completely cleared and you could see the stars in the sky.

I didn’t realize it was striking downtown New Orleans until I got back and looked at it on the computer.  Counting down the seconds from the flash is apparently not an accurate measure of distance.

Clouds glowing from lightning:
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The bolt hitting the Central Business District:

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The above photo cropped and zoomed in a bit:

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Leaving California

16 Sep

I boarded a train in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon heading East, this will be the last time I’ll be in California for at least a few months.

The weather put on quite a performance as we headed through Palm Springs.

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The weather always puts on the best performance when I have zero option of timelapsing it.

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The sun set over the Salton Sea just before we crossed the state line into Nevada.

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Port of Los Angeles

15 Sep

Continuing the industrial theme, I went out last night to the Port of Los Angeles with Mike and Harrison.

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Every time I make my way down that way, I discover something new, or explore further down a direction I’d been before. Failing either of those, I at least shoot somewhere I’ve already in a completely new way, noticing details or angles I’d never noticed before.

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This abandoned oil terminal (above) was completely covered with no-tresspassing signs, but the main gate was also unlocked and ajar, allowing me to get this shot. Some lights were still on, leading us to believe that venturing inside would be poor logic, so we moved on to other locations.

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I spent a chunk of time exploring the idea of these un-light cranes being silhouetted by brightly light cranes in the background, glowing in the fog and melting into pastel colors in the black water below.

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Benicia, California

8 Sep

While out shooting in Wine Country over the weekend, I made a stop on the way back to my hotel in Benicia, an industrial city on the edge of the Bay Area that I keep coming back to.

There was a spot I had in mind that I saw the last time I was there with dozens of pipes of various sizes snaking along the contours of a hillside. When I went to scout it out, I discovered that since the last time I’d been through the area, a brand-new 10′ tall chain-link-topped fence had been erected where I was hoping to shoot.

Not to be deterred, I went back to a favorite spot of mine underneath the Benicia-Martinez bridge, and started hiking around that area.

I loved the way the shadows from this bridge came into focus on the water, blurred from the long exposure.

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This is a Northbound Amtrak Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle. The 4-minute exposure was more than enough time to capture the entire length of the 14-car passenger train:

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This is a dock used for unloading crude oil from tanker ships, or loading finished gasoline back onto them:

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Here’s the underside of the Benicia-Martinez bridge.  It’s a 5-minute exposure, the streaks in the sky are stars:

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Here’s that oil terminal again. This is the base of the pipe system I was trying to shoot earlier in the night:

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On the way back, I got lost and wound up in an abandoned warehouse district. It being almost 2am by the time I left and without the energy to keep shooting (it was cold, too), I decided to make a mental note to return the next time I was on the north-eastern edge of the Bay Area.

Sand Harbor State Park, Lake Tahoe

7 Sep

Following up on my other post about my travels to Lake Tahoe, I figured I’d post some photos from Tahoe that aren’t of the team working.

Here’s one of two timelapses I shot, this one in Sand Harbor State Park on the Nevada side:

And these are…  well, the rest are from Sand Harbor too.  I shot these with my other camera while the timelapse camera was doing it’s thing.

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Day Trip Over Black Rock City

6 Sep

Remember how I mentioned in my last post that the Magic Window dev team typically goes to Burning Man every year?

And that instead of going, we holed up in Tahoe to get work done?

Well, we wound up going to Black Rock City anyway.

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Sort of.

Josh and Moshen have this awesome friend Mike, who owns a 6-seater single-engine airplane:

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Josh and Moshen had planned doing a fly-over of Black Rock City, and at the 11th hour, the invitation was extended to me. Moshen drove us to Minden, a tiny town in Nevada near Tahoe, and there we met up with Mike and Leslie.

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Here’s Josh and I looking horribly scruffy.  I also look somewhat nonplussed, but the A/C hadn’t kicked in yet, and Nevada is an uncomfortably warm place in the winter, and extra-uncomfortable at the tail end of summer.

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After fueling up and going through customary pre-flight safety rituals, we took off on a 40 minute flight to Black Rock Desert.

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Here’s Pyramid Lake from the air. Our camping spot from my previous post is just beyond the furthest-visible outcropping on the left edge of the lake:

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More photos after the jump…

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Lake Tahoe Coding Retreat

1 Sep

For the last week, I’ve been holed up in a cabin in Tahoe with Josh Michaels, Michael Ang, and Moshen Chan.  They’ve dubbed it “Coding Man”, as the three of them typically go to Burning Man every year but decided to skip it this year to hole up in the Sierra Nevadas and crank out code.

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We’ve done a little bit of hiking, and I’ve shot a few timelapses up here, but for me, it’s been a break from traveling so that I can sit down and focus on work I need to get done at the computer. It’s work I can do anywhere, but this is a beautiful place, and it’ll do just fine.

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Josh and Mang have been working on getting the new versions of Magic Window for the Mac and iPad/iPhone out, while Moshen works on his app (and Magic Window’s sister app), Living Earth.  Let me tell you, it’s going to be a killer update.  I’ve been going through all the content I’ve shot in the last five months (I’ve shot almost 100 timelapses) and preparing 20 new scenes for the new updates. Once this is done, I can start over again gathering even more content for the next updates.

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The only irony in the situation is watching three programmers who make their living writing relaxation apps get frustrated and swear at their computers and iPads every half hour or so, while completely surrounded by the type of “relaxing” aspirational lifestyle we sell to our customers.

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C’est la vie.