Oakland Romantica

Oakland Fox Theater photo by Bernardo Grijalva

I was fortunate enough to have a great deal of fun on a commercial assignment not too long ago. My client commissioned me to create a photo story of some of the historic architectural treasures in and around the Oakland, CA area. Having grown up in a city some 40 miles away and what seems like a little sister in comparison, San Jose is twice the population of the City of Oakland. With it’s large city blocks large skyscrapers and a skyline that looks like more of a metropolitan town than San Jose, it’s surprised me that Oakland is as small as it is when compared to the other two large cities around it. It’s true that for some time it was often plagued with a reputation of violence and police corruption in the not too distant past.

The Oakland I got to visit was far from that, the Oakland I got to photograph was perhaps that of an earlier era, a romanticized version of a city with a vibrant downtown, a beautiful lake and an assortment of historic edifices that ran the gamut in style, from Gothic churches to emerald green treasures of the Art Deco movement.

One particular favorite out-take was the Fox Theater. It was built in 1928 in a blend of Indian and Moorish aesthetic; a truly one-of-a- kind building in the Northern California area and a treasure from an era when perhaps money was plentiful and Architects and Artisans were given free reign to make their dream projects a reality.

Using a toy camera and a long exposure on traditional black and white film was pure bliss once I was finished with the final printed piece. The actual negative was a bit on the flat and dull side due to the guestimated over exposure and plastic optics of the Holga lens. Luckily, through my digital post processing and with the help of Nix Silver Efex Pro, I was able to punch up some of the contrast and toning to create an image that Henry Fox Talbot would be envious of.

Please look for some of my work from my Historic Oakland Series to be shown during Oakland’s Art Murmur Event, TBD


    One Response to “Oakland Romantica”

  1. September 20, 2012 | Reply
    Sally says:

    Bernie, Wow! You definitely took an old building in Oakland, California and gave it a whole new meaning! Your picture has the 1940’s dramatic/romantic feel that one might see in old-time movies. The way you captured the image of the car going by, gives the picture movement. Quite an inspiration!

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