27 December, 2011


This is a blast from the past. See pages 10/11 of The Tech (Volume 126, Issue 55) for the original coverage.

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble frequently featured guest performers at their concerts. The Nov 18, 2006 concert, entitled "Saxophrenia and Other Benign Maladies," was no exception: it featured guest director Mark S. Harvey (also an MIT lecturer), as well as saxophone soloist Arni Cheatham. I only just discovered that the two had played together in the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, which is directed by Harvey.

Anyway, fast-forward to the end of the concert. The final song was "Movin' On," a piece composed by Harvey. People were trading solos left and right, and the energy was building as the close of the concert drew near. Finally, Cheatham stood up for a solo with saxes in both hands. I could hardly believe my eyes. And from chatting with pianist Matthew J. Rosario (right, rear) afterward, it was apparently a surprise to the rest of the players as well.

Well, wow. Holy smokes. Certainly an evening to remember.

19 December, 2011


10 December, 2011

Toys for Tots, and Grown-ups Too

Last Sunday, while en route to OSH, I spotted a fire truck, with lights flashing, turning into a parking lot and decided to follow it. It turns out that the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (which encompasses both fire and police) was running an annual half-day event where people could donate toys to Toys for Tots in exchange for a round-the-block ride in a fire truck. The event took place in the Toys"R"Us parking lot near Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd.
A woman climbs into the cab of a fire engine.
Public Safety Officer Cortez waits at the head of the line to receive donated toys and usher the groups of people toward the waiting trucks. Many of the toys were then collected in the rear of the vintage fire truck on the left.
The truck, a functional 1929 Ahrens-Fox fire engine, was for all intents and purposes a child magnet. Once one parent had pulled a child off of the truck, it was only a matter of time before another child would climb up into the open cab.
A mother (left, obscured) reaches for the clapper of the fire bell to stop her son from ringing it.
Public Safety Officer Lyons smiles for the camera while visiting with his family. Lyons had spent the earlier parts of the day in the driver's seat of one of the fire trucks.
A public safety explorer helps a father and daughter buckle in for the engine ride.

29 November, 2011

Misty in Mountain View

The weather in Mountain View over the past two days has been downright peculiar. I've been busy with other stuff, but my camera practically forced itself into my hands and I had to take a picture or two.
I liked the contrast of the bright, organic leaves against the neutral sky and the neutral geometric shapes of the building. I shot this Monday morning outside of Posh Bagel, on Mountain View's Castro street, after a quick brainstorm session at breakfast.
And another from this evening. Photography is a great stress-reliever. I was going for a walk and I spotted some color in the dark night sky. I always like these guys since the stand out so sharply against any kind of light on the horizon, which in this case was in the form of a giant, backlit cloud of mist.

25 November, 2011


Spent last weekend pretending to be a street photographer. Photos are in chronological order, starting off in Berkeley, then SF Chinatown, then Pier 39 for the tree lighting.

06 November, 2011

PAW: Together

"Hold on tight"
A man gets dinner as his child holds on for the ride.
"What time is it? Lemme see your watch!"
A boy eagerly checks the time on a relative's watch as they ride on Caltrain. The two were returning from AT&T Park on Saturday, where they watched the UC Berkeley Golden Bears trounce the Washington State Cougars with a 30-7 final score.

30 October, 2011

PAW: Halt for Halloween

Inebriated Halloween revelers control traffic on Mountain View's Castro St. around 11:00 pm on Saturday, Oct. 29th.

29 October, 2011

The CAKE was not a lie

Busy as always. Here's a sneak peak at the last two days.
Candles burn into the night, throwing light on flower petals and other decorations during Google's celebration of Diwali this past Thursday, Oct. 27th.
A Googler brandishes his fangs as another looks on during Googleween, celebrated on Friday, Oct. 28th.
An assistant checks frontman John McCrea's guitar in preparation for CAKE's performance at Googleween on Friday.

25 October, 2011

PAW: bjones minus bjones

Title inspired by garfield minus garfield.

23 October, 2011


If you're jealous, I totally understand. It's not every day when you get to see The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with music performed live by a full orchestra and two choirs.

If you must go and are in the area, the final performance is later today (Sunday), at 6:00 pm at Sacramento's Power Balance Pavilion. Click here to hop over to Ticketmaster.

21 October, 2011


I've been busy doing stuff :o) Still putting things up here and there. Here are two portraits
A firefighter sits in his engine during the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, held Oct. 15th and 16th this year.
Two friends dance during a mid-afternoon performance by Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers at The Googleplex.

13 October, 2011

Full Service

Thanksgiving was celebrated this past Monday, Oct 10 throughout Canada. To visit some friends and join in the celebration, I took a short trip up to Vancouver over this past weekend. While waiting to get on the plane for SFO->YVR, I pulled out my camera and managed to spot some neat stuff.
It had never even occurred to me that jetliner windscreens get dirty until I spotted someone cleaning one. When flights are delayed and travelers are weary, it's all too easy to forget all the different folks who help turn around an aircraft as quickly as possible. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I hope this serves as a small reminder.

This is (I believe) an Asiana Airlines 777-200ER which was parked at the gate next to mine at SFO's international terminal. The windscreen cleaner used a high-mechanical-advantage handcrank to open and close the windscreens. Below and to the left, the guy in yellow is unloading bulk cargo from the front cargo hold. At the same time, folks are restocking beverages and snacks from the SkyChefs scissor truck. I believe other folks had already finished unloading passenger luggage from the aft cargo hold by the time I shot this.
Two members of the ground crew greet each other with a hug while waiting for a bulk cargo pallet to be loaded and secured on the trailer in the top-right of the image.
An Air Canada crewmember for my flight does her hair as she and the other cabin crew chat while on their way to the gate.
Canada bound! A quick photo of a cup against the sky as a backdrop.

04 October, 2011

Google Mela 2011

Google Mela is an annual cultural celebration which is timed to coordinate with the Indian Independence Day, which is celebrated on August 15th. "Mela" itself means "gathering" in Sanskrit. This year's event took place on August 18th. Click on any of the photos to jump to the full set of 30 images.

Above, Googler Stephanie Chiang performs a belly dance routine during this year's celebration.
Audience members nearly fill the Charlie's cafeteria patio area during a performance featuring Bollywood-style dance. The group was organized by perennial dancer and dance promoter Anna Botelho.
A woman spins her parasol while facing away from the audience at the start of a second Bollywood performance, later in the event.

26 September, 2011

The Nightwatchman Rocks The Googleplex

Last Thursday, Tom Morello as The Nightwatchman played a set for the Music Beta by Google concert series. Morello is well-known for his role as guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, as well as for the since-disbanded group Audioslave. During the performance, Morello shared the stage with backing guitarist Carl Restivo.
An assistant helps Restivo to switch guitars between songs. The two played a variety of songs from The Nightwatchman's new album, "World Wide Rebel Songs," including one that Morello described as a "love song" to his new steel-stringed acoustic, "Black Spartacus."
A girl sits on her father's shoulders as the two listen to The Nightwatchman play This Land Is Your Land, originally by folk musician Woody Guthrie. In addition to the more-well-known lyrics of the song, Morello included a hidden verse from the original, which he introduced with a short list of instructions for the audience:
  1. Listen and learn
  2. Answer the question ("Is this land still made for you and me?")
  3. Sing along
  4. Jump the fuck up
Afterward, Morello invited everyone in the audience onstage to help sing "World Wide Rebel Songs," which he had written to celebrate a selfless act by Korean guitar makers. The guitar makers had been fired en masse after forming a union with the hope of improving their working conditions. Morello played a benefit concert for the group, but the group decided to donate the funds toward relief efforts in Haiti after the major earthquake there in January, 2010.

Above, Morello smiles and the audience applauds after the song comes to an end.
After the applause had subsided a bit, Morello asked if the audience wanted to sing it again, and the crowd shouted their assent. Above, Morello strains as he plays the last few harmonica notes near the end of the concert.

Click on any of the images above to jump to the full set of photos.

Correction: the original version of this article incorrectly said that the concert concluded with three singings of "This Land Is Your Land." It actually concluded with "This Land Is Your Land," followed by two singings of "World Wide Rebel Songs."

20 September, 2011

My Precious...

I think this is one of the most sinister-looking cats I've ever seen. The bookstore was closed, and that cat was mostly still, except to turn its head to look at me as I took a couple photos.

15 September, 2011

A Confluence of Sound, part 1

I've spent the last few weeks pondering how to dig myself out of what has become an inundation of concert photos. I've finally figured something out, so here we go, in some kind of weird reverse chronological order.

Correction: I had mistakenly called the second group "Hot Club of San Francisco." The quartet's actual name is "Le Jazz Hot", and they are a subset of the Hot Club of San Francisco.

Note: click on a photo below to get to that respective set of photos.
About two weeks ago, YouTube Presents brought Taylor Swift to the Googleplex for an interview. I was fortunate to be one of the two official photographers for the event.

The interviewer, Kevin Alloca, presented both written and video questions posed by Taylor's fans, along with a couple questions of his own. I think one of my favorites was a video question from a fan: "Taylor[…] what is your definition of beauty?" Her response was succinct and thoughtful: "I think for me, beauty is sincerity."
A week prior, Le Jazz Hot played at the Googleplex on August 26th. Patterned after jazz guitarist Django Rhinehardt's famous band, Quintette du Hot Club de France, Le Jazz Hot specializes in the same style of gypsy jazz and features a similar instrumentation.

Near the end of the concert, the group rotated instruments — everyone in the front row cycled right by one position, and the bassist brought out a trumpet to play.
Fresh off their reunion performance at the Outside Lands Festival, on August 20th Latyrx performed at Google on one stage with Jazz Mafia, Skins & Needles, Kat "O1O" Ouanu, and Joyo Velarde (left, in photo). Latyrx is the partnership of rappers Lyrics Born (center) and Lateef the Truthspeaker (right). Lateef, Lyrics Born, and Velarde were all members of the Solesides collective, which became Quannum Projects in the late nineties.

12 September, 2011

Maybee another?

After spending some time with the bees on Thursday, I stopped by again yesterday to have another try. Those suckers are fast :o)

Also, if you enjoy reading/watching my blog, please consider buying a print or making a small donation. Note that donations are not tax-deductible.

Not only do I spend hours on each and every blog post (yes, even the short ones), I'm also trying to make this whole photography thing pay for itself. And while domain names and hosting are relatively cheap, lens repairs and color calibration tools aren't.

Rest assured that any and all profits or donations will continue to land in the Doppler Photo slush fund, which I only use for expenses related to photography. So if you feel like The Doppler Effect is worth a couple bucks, I'd appreciate any support you might offer. If for whatever reason you don't feel like donating, that's cool too. I'll do my best to keep the photos coming.
—Omari, Doppler Photo

10 September, 2011

Just Beecause…

Was taking a photo walk with a coworker and we decided to stop by a flowering bush in some sunlight, at which point I noticed some bees on the bush on the other side of the sidewalk. Inspired in part by my bee photos from last year (see Why I Do Photography), I decided to give it another go. I ended up with the shot above; not quite what I had in mind, but I think it came out reasonably well.

05 September, 2011

Fear The Tree

After 3 years in the Bay Area, I finally made it to my first Stanford football game this past Saturday, during which The Cardinal dominated the San Jose State Spartans in a 57-3 rout.

I moved down to the side of the field during halftime, and managed to catch this photo of the costumed drum major leading the rest of the marching band back to the stands for the beginning of the second half.

Fake Tone Mapping in Hardware: why and how it works

To all the HDR haters out there, this is an image that you can still love! Of course, to all the HDR lovers out there, it's a forgery!

Why does the reflection look so much like a tone-mapped image? I suspect there are three main factors: 1) many tone-mapped images have little to no micro-contrast, and are soft to the point of seeming surreal; 2) they tend to be highly saturated; and 3) they tend to transition smoothly between highly-saturated colors of different hues

I basically discovered this physical effect by accident, though I imagine it's simply a combination of brightly-colored lenses and some well-documented optical phenomena. Note that what follows is a theory, which could easily be wrong and/or misguided.

So for one, when you stick certain plastics between partially- or fully-crossed linear polarizers, you end up being able to see stress patterns in the plastic. This is called stress-induced birefringence. It's important to mention that both the light source (a large LCD monitor) as well as the mirror itself (an LCD screen in a tablet) contain linear polarizers.

Beyond that, I also noticed that the colors changed as I moved my head/camera. So the stress dependence was only part of the story. The rest of it is probably related to the specific path the light would need to take to pass from the light source, through the glasses, off of the mirror, and into my eyes.

In particular, shorter wavelengths tend to scatter at steeper angles than longer wavelengths — this is why a clear sky appears blue, and a sunset appears reddish. Consistent with this theory, when I approached a steeper angle to the glasses, the reflection of the lenses became darker — the glasses weren't scattering much light at very steep angles because the lenses worked to filter short wavelengths (hence their yellow appearance).

So as the required scattering angle varies continuously across the surface of each lens, the apparent hue of the light changes among various hues that are close to yellow (namely, red and tiny bit of green). Score one for muggle science!