Water Street Trestle

Water Street Trestle
At some point in Petaluma’s past, trains ran down this stretch of track in downtown. Since I’ve lived here, it’s been a hazard and an eyesore. The trestle runs along the water front of the Petaluma River turning basin, a main pedestrian thoroughfare in downtown. Several years ago the trestle was fenced off to prevent people walking on it because it had deteriorated to the point where it became a safety hazard. Now the 85 year-old trestle sits, neglected, in the heart of town as a sad reminder of our past.

But, there are some who care about preserving history for future generations. The Petaluma Trolley Project is working to get the trestle and trolley service restored to Petaluma. There is even talk of putting the trestle on the National Register of Historic Places. I would love to see the trestle restored with trolleys running along the river. I’m not sure it would help traffic, but it would be cool, kind of like the Cable Cars in San Francisco. OK, maybe not as cool, but for a small town like Petaluma it would be great.

So much local history gets lost, and it seems there is little support for preserving old landmarks. Developers want to make money off the land, or turn places into resorts to generate profits. I’d like to see more historic places preserved for everyone.

The Petaluma Argus-Courier has a good article on the efforts to restore the trestle and its history.

This shot has a Geotag on Zooomr for those that want to know the exact location. This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org.

Playing Catch Up

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been behind in the 2008 Challenge. This week I’m trying to catch up a little by posting two shots, both of which I took this morning while on a walk with my dog.


Only a few blocks from downtown sits one of the town’s dairies. I don’t know how long this one has been around, but I’m pretty sure the site has been a dairy since Petaluma became a town. This one also sits across the street, diagonally, from city hall. Petaluma has a long history as a diary town, so it’s nice to some reminders right in the middle of everything. The trucks coming and going are probably a nuisance since it’s a residential neighborhood, but I like seeing it.

What Remains
Petaluma has its share of graffiti problems, but this is actually authorized graffiti artwork. I am totally opposed to graffiti as vandalism, but completely support property owners who allow graffiti artist to paint walls as a form of
expression. In Petaluma, the Phoenix Theater allows graffiti art on the back wall of the building. The art is clearly visible from one of the busiest streets in town and has grown more colorful and expressive in recent months. This shot is inside an old room attached to the building that has no roof. Fortunately the left over cans and trash aren’t visible from the street.

Both shots are hosted on Zooomr for those that want to know the exact location. Both shots were also taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org.

The Sky We Live Under

The sky we live under
I took this for the 2008 challenge last week and posted it to Zooomr and Flickr, but haven’t had a chance to blog it yet. I also submitted it to JPG Magazine under the “Fresh” theme for Issue 16. I’d appreciate a vote if you like it.

This scene is very representative of the farmland around Petaluma at this time of year – green and yellow with a bright blue sky. Even though much of the country is still in winter, California gets to experience Spring starting in February. We’ll get some more rain before Summer, but at least we have color early. The color will fade by June and the fields will all be brown then, so I always enjoy the green while it lasts.

The irony of this shot is that the county landfill is nestled in the hills in the background. Fortunately, you can’t seen it in this shot.

This shot has a Geotag on Zooomr for those that want to know the exact location. This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org.

First Zooomr Survey

This week I decided to take Google Forms for a spin to test out a new feature that allows you to feed data from a web form into a spreadsheet. Since Zooomr had a major upgrade on March 3 and because the community there is awesome, I figured a Zooomr survey would be a good topic for my little experiment. If you haven’t taken the survey, please do.

Before I talk about the survey, I want to be clear about a couple of things. First, Zooomr is awesome. I believe it is the future of photo sharing online. Kris is building an incredible site to match the incredible community. Second, this survey was designed more for me to learn about Google forms and spreadsheets, not as a way to promote or vent about Zooomr. Take it with a grain of salt, less than 60 people have responded so far, so the sample size is way too small to hold any statistical significance. I had fun doing the survey and think people had fun taking it. That was the point.

Survey Results

Here’s what I learned about Zooomr users: They’re almost all guys who live all over the world, most like Barack Obama, use Windows, and use a DSLR camera. Ok, a bit of an oversimplification, but still mostly accurate based on the data. For those that want to see the summary data, you can view it at http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pdevXlWEbsfBu89OaL9_KYQ. This only shows the multiple choice questions, not the text fields. I even threw in a couple of pretty charts for those visual folks. I think a few people reading this like visuals, just a hunch.

I want to focus on the open answer questions. There were only two open answer questions on the survey (aside from DSLR model); here’s my take on the responses. Some commentary on the other questions is at the end.

What’s the coolest thing about Zooomr?
In a word, Community. The community and social aspects Zooomr are definitely what people like about the site. Oddly, no one mentioned quality of photos. I’m ok with that. My answer was community, not photography. My favorite response was “You and everyone else like you.� I think that pretty much sums it up.

A close second is the features Zooomr offers, specifically unlimited uploads and Zipline (which could be considered part of Community). A couple of people mentioned Kris, which is worth noting here because Kris has done an incredible job of building a great social site that also happens to be a great photo sharing site. There may be features we still want, but the main draw to Zooomr is the people and Kris understands that. He’s made it easy for us to be part of a community. So my personal thanks to Kris Tate.

What’s the one thing you want that Zooomr doesn’t have right now?
Even though I said “one thing� most people listed several. The responses to this question didn’t have any surprises because I’ve been using Zooomr for a long time and have closely followed the bugs and feature requests in the groups.

It’s hard to pick one or two things, so here are a few of the more common requests:

  • Make all sizes viewable based on contacts and/or licensing (there were several variations on this, I’m paraphrasing)
  • Bulk editing for things like licensing
  • Improvements to Groups, like photo pools and searching
  • Fix Geotagging

There were people that said they were happy with Zooomr and the recent upgrade. I’d like to say I’m glad to see EXIF data for my photos. The best response was “A direct link into my brain?�

All the other questions

I wasn’t overly surprised by any of the results. For example, the overwhelming majority of Zooomrites use a DSLR camera with a fairly even mix of Canon and Nikon users with some Pentax and Sony users in the mix. Based on the quality of photos I see on Zooomr, I expected that most people use DSLRs. DSLRs have come down in price in recent years, so people can afford them.

In terms of demographics, I was a little surprised that only 4 people who responded are female. I thought there were more women using Zooomr, or maybe it’s just that they didn’t respond. Geographically, users are all over the globe, which I think is great. One of things I’ve always loved about Zooomr is finding shots from parts of the world I’ve never visited.

Oh, people were split on the smiling clouds. Half got rid of them, half said they’re cute. As a side note, Kris put up a lot more themes that did not include clouds after the survey went online. The best part, you can change your theme. If you’re inclined, you can put rainbows and unicorns on your Zooomr page, but I’d caution against it.


Zooomr Rocks.
Seriously, people like Zooomr and the community. If you spend any amount of time there, then you already know that. The really cool thing is that you get a great photo sharing site along with the cool people.

Oh, and the Google tools worked great. I’m not a spreadsheet guru, but I was able to learn what I needed in a couple of hours.