Photo Challenge

Antoher Spring

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Flowers, Landscapes, Outdoor on February 28th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – Be the first to comment

Another Spring
It’s the end of February and Spring is in full force. In typical California fashion, a few weeks of bad weather was followed by a week of upper 60s and low 70s, so all the plants have started budding and blooming. I drove by this house kind of on accident today and had to stop to take a picture.

Even though I didn’t plan the shot, it’s perfect for the 2008 Challenge for this week because the weather has been spectacular, as it usually is in February. Our town has a lot of flowering trees and several beautiful Magnolias. This tree, in particular, is stunning and the photo just doesn’t do it justice. So, no long blog post for this one, just enjoy the weather, if you can.

I used a polarizing filter, so the sky is really dark. I did some minor contrast adjustment, but this one is pretty
much “as is”. This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org. The photo is hosted on Zooomr, along with these others I shot this week.
Signs of Spring There is beauty in imperfection

Alone in this world

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Black and White, Landscapes, Outdoor on February 26th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – 1 Comment

Alone in this world

Corner of Rohnert Park Expressway and Stony Point Road, Rohnert Park, CA.

Rohnert Park is not really in my local community, but my family does bit of shopping in Rohnert Park and we drive through it often. This particular location could have a dramatic impact on my local community, though. The land in the middle distance of this shot is slated to become a Las Vegas style casino built by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. Imagine a large building with lots of blinking lights obscuring the view of the mountains in the background. For those that cherish open space the casino will be a horror. The cow pastures will be replaced with parking lots. The street I stood on to take this will likely be too busy for me feel safe standing on. Not that the view would be worth photographing if the casino gets built.

Most folks don’t want the casino, but with the casino the city will get a nice kick-back for fire and police service. I think there will also be money for schools and other organizations as well. The tribe says they have the right to develop the land, even though the local community is vehemently opposed to it. This impacts Petaluma because Petaluma is only 11 miles South, and between Rohnert Park and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Basically, everyone coming from all points South and East will have to drive through Petaluma to get to the casino. The casino would be about 45-60 minutes from San Francisco. Well, not considering the extra traffic that will no doubt clog Highway 101.

Another concern for Petaluma is that another tribe has bought land on the southern edge of Petaluma. The tribe claims they have no plans for a casino, but residents don’t believe them. Just because they don’t have plans today doesn’t mean they won’t in the near future. If the casino gets built in Rohnert Park, Petaluma will be next. The goal of the casino developers is to buy land as close to the Bay Area as possible while paying the lowest prices. Petaluma is not cheap, but it’s not as much as Marin County or the South Bay. Our suburban town with a history in farming and agriculture will be transformed into a gambling destination. I don’t care how much money comes to the city or county, it’s not worth it. How much is your soul worth? More than a couple of casinos.

The Stop the Casino 101 Coalition has more information on how the casino will impact Sonoma County. The City of Rohnert Park also has information including environmental impact statements regarding the development.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org. You can see where the shot was taken by viewing the Geotag on Zooomr.

Tour of California

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Other Photos, Outdoor on February 20th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – Be the first to comment

The rest of the pack
The Tour of California bike race is happening this week. On Monday, the race came through Sonoma County and one of my favorite towns, Tomales. My daughter and I drove out to Tomales, or rather to a spot on Hwy 1 near Tomales, to watch the race. I picked the spot because it was out of the town in the middle of cow pastures. I was surprised that about 50 other people thought it would be a good place to watch. That actually made it a little more fun and exciting.

Tomales is not in my immediate community, but I feel it is part of my extended community, and biking is definitely part of my community. Tomales has the best bakery on the West Coast, Tomales Bakery. I visit as often as I can, and pretty much every time I go to Dillon Beach, probably my favorite beach. I used to ride out to Tomales at lunch on my bike on a regular basis, but my latest job makes that ride a bit of stretch.

There are a lot of bikers in Petaluma and Sonoma County, so the Tour generates a lot of excitement in this area. The route the race takes is popular with riders, although I prefer some of the back roads with fewer cars. The stage ends in Santa Rosa, where large crowds gather to watch the final laps in the center of downtown. I haven’t gone to watch the end of the stage, but I hear it is quite an event. The tour web site has a live race tracker if you want to follow along during the day.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org. You can see where the shot was taken by viewing the Geotag on Zooomr.

Here’s a shot of Jackson Stewart, who had an 11 minute lead when these shots were taken:
Jackson Stewart

Transit

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Night Photography, Outdoor on February 13th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – Be the first to comment

Transit

For as long as I’ve lived in Petaluma, the main bus stop for the West Side has been at the corner of 3rd and C streets. It’s very convenient for people who commute to the San Francisco, but the large buses don’t really fit on the narrow streets through downtown. They have a hard time making turns.

In November a new $2.7 million transit mall opened that will hopefully reduce the number of buses running through downtown and adjacent residential streets. I’m all for
having some buses make stops in downtown so that it’s easy and convenient for people, but the commuter lines don’t need to go through downtown. The new transit mall has plenty of room for passengers to wait and plenty of room for buses. It’s only a couple of blocks from downtown and probably a 5-10 minute walk from the old stop at 3rd and C.

Although the cost seems a bit high considering the transit mall isn’t much, I’m glad the city made the effort. It will make it safer to walk and bike downtown, reduce traffic on already congested streets, and encourage people to use public transit.

A recent article with more information can be found at the Argus Courier web site.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org. You can see where the shot was taken by viewing the Geotag on Zooomr.

As side note, I’m trying to catch up on shots for the 2008 Challenge. I have several shots planned, but not enough to make the 52 needed for one a week in 2008. I guess I’ll have to get creative.

Vallejo’s Petaluma Adobe

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Outdoor on February 8th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – 1 Comment

Time has no meaning

Six weeks into 2008 I’m doing my third post for the 2008 Challenge. It’s definitely been a slow year for me, at least in terms of taking pictures. Everything else is completely insane, unfortunately photography has been moved to the back burner. This week I forced myself out of my cube and took a long lunch just to be outside taking pictures. I decided to go to the Petaluma Adobe State Park.

I’ve lived in Petaluma for 13 years and had never been to the adobe until this week. I may have been there as kid in grade school as part of a field trip, but I don’t remember. It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit that I haven’t visited this cornerstone of my community. The Adobe is probably the most historically significant place in the area. For a complete history and description see the official web site at http://www.petalumaadobe.com/index.html.

Aside from the historical significance of the building, it’s also an impressive structure that has stood for 160 years through several earthquakes, including the 1906 and 1989 quakes. General Vallejo built the Adobe in the 1830’s as part of his 100 square mile land grant from the Mexican government. The building is made out of adobe bricks and redwood. I love old buildings, especially simple, natural structures. As soon as I walked up to the building I knew I could spend the day just taking pictures and appreciating the simple beauty of construction and architecture.

I choose this photo because it gives a sense of the size of the building and shows the adobe and redwood construction. The second floor has a wide balcony the runs around the entire building, this shot was taken along the back wall of the building on the balcony. I took about a hundred shots and haven’t processed them all, but a few are up on Zooomr:
I'll always hold you Petaluma Adobe Reflections

I plan on going back to the Adobe with my family and spending more time going through all the exhibits. The Adobe is a state park and is open everyday. The admission fee is very low, I think it was $2 for adults. If you’re in the area it’s worth a stop just to see the building.

Near Flooding

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Outdoor on January 27th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – Be the first to comment

Petaluma River
This is the Petaluma River in downtown Petaluma. Normally the river is several feet lower, but heavy rains on Friday pushed the river to flood stage. This shot was taken several hours after the rain stopped and the river had actually started to go down.

Petaluma didn’t have any major flooding, just the normal amount in the lowlands of the river basin North of downtown. Some parking lots and roads were flooded, but no there was serious damage that I heard about. Flooding is pretty much a yearly event here. Some years are certainly worse than others, and compared to the December 31, 2005 flood, this weeks flood probably won’t be remembered as a “flood”. The river just got to really, really high.

I live in an area above the flood plain so thankfully never have to worry. As a community however, seasonal flooding is something we all think about. Many streets in town get flooded because the run off has nowhere to go because the river is full. Businesses in the flood plain have to sandbag, commuters get stuck in snarled, flooded roads, and sump pumps in basements are working overtime.

Many people point to growth in the flood plain as a primary reason for flooding. The controversy has been ongoing for decades as far as I know. There hasn’t been real development in the flood plain in recent years, but there has been development in areas near the flood plain that have probably made problems worse.

Taken as part of the 2008 Challenge (although I’m a week behind).

Boulevard Cinemas

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Night Photography, Outdoor on January 17th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – 2 Comments

Boulevard Cinemas
In 2001 the only movie theater in Petaluma closed its doors largely because the company that owned it had recently opened a huge 16 screen theater 11 miles away in Rohnert Park. That left residents two options – drive to the new Rohnert Park theater or drive to Novato (both are about the same distance). Imagine, a town of 55,000+ with no movie theater. Bear in mind that scenes from many movies have been shot in Petaluma, most notably American Graffiti. Residents were not happy, especially those with teens.

Seven young teenage girls decided to do something. To make a long story short, in 2005 they got our town a new theater. (You can read about opening night and the history at SF Gate.) Our town owes a huge debt of gratitude to Noƫlle Bisson, Elizabeth Comstock, Ditmer, Liza Hall, Sarah Marcia, Taylor Norman and Madison Webb.

It’s not just that we again have a place to watch movies locally, it’s what the theater has added to the community, especially downtown. The old theater was at the North end of town in a commercial/business area. You had to drive to get there. The new theater anchored a huge redevelopment effort on edge of the historic downtown shopping district.
Boulevard Cinemas
and the accompanying Theatre Square retail/office/urban housing center are only a couple of blocks from the true heart of downtown where local shops and restaurants dominate the retail landscape. Also, the entire downtown area is within easy walking distance for many residents.

Many feared the new development would bring more chain stores and ruin the small town feel, but so far the theater and accompanying retail stores have been a huge boon for our town. The new theater, restaurants, and shops have added greatly to what was already a wonderful downtown.

In the past couple of years the movie theater has sparked a revival of night life in downtown Petaluma. On Friday nights teens and tweens swarm to the theater in droves. When new releases come out, long lines are not uncommon. Because the new theater is downtown, it’s easy to go out to dinner and movie because you can walk from one of the many local restaurants to the theater. Every month I go with a group friends to have a beer then see a movie. We would not have done that without a downtown theater.

The theater is thriving, and that is driving people to downtown pretty much every night of the week. Every time I go to the movies or walk around the theater district, I see friends. It’s become a great place to hang out and relax, and enjoy the community.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Photo Challenge at www.photochallenge.org.

2008 Challenge

Posted in 2008 Challenge, Black and White on January 9th, 2008 by AlwaysBreaking – 1 Comment

Dairymen's Co-op

Well 2008 is upon us, and with it a new year of photos. Trevor Carpenter, who has posted a series of Photo Challenges, put together Photochallenge.org to organize a year long Community Challenge. Last year I tried the photo-a-day thing with somewhat mixed results. I ended up doing 1-2 per week, and completely missed the month of December.

This year I’ve decided to take Trevor up on his challenge, although I’m getting slightly late start. The idea is pretty simple: take one good picture a week of your community. I think I can do that, aside from missing Week 1. I have legitimate excuses, but they don’t matter much now. You can follow everyone who is participating in the challenge on both Flickr and Zooomr. I’m posting to both sites, but hosting the blog shots on Zooomr. It’s pretty amazing to see photos from all over, especially through the eyes (and lenses) of individuals, not through the media.

About this shot, I set out at lunch today to take a picture and as I was driving I thought, duh, why not start with the most obvious thing you can. So here’s the first shot in my year long effort to document my community.

In my community this structure dominates the view near downtown. I don’t know the history or building, but it’s pretty old. Last year there was a fire in one of the grain elevators that burned for over a week, stinking up the town with acrid yellow smoke. Everyone was grateful when the fire department finally put it out, although there was quite a price tag attached to their efforts. Not sure who paid that bill.

It is an impressive and imposing building that adds to the character of the town, and the economy. Petaluma still has a thriving dairy industry and I think is, at heart, a farming town. This building provides a visual reminder of the history of this town. Oddly enough, a new apartment complex sits just to the left of the building. Another reminder that the town is growing. Petaluma is definitely a place where the new and the old mix, generally to the benefit of the community.