As a young boy, Tim Blake was fascinated by watching his father, a mortgage broker, take real estate pictures with his Polaroid camera. Part of it was an early appreciation for the architecture and environment of his subjects, but more enchanting was seeing the image emerge, seeing it come to life before his eyes, through photographic paper.
His father’s gift of the Eastman Kodak Brownie box camera turned young Blake into a photographer, capturing just about anything that caught his eye. At 16, he took up water skiing and honed his photographic skills by documenting his days in the Delta, which was almost as much fun as crossing the wake behind the boat.
“When I was a boy,” Blake said, “I had a dream that I still remember. I was looking at a picture on the wall, a bucolic scene of a valley like we had when we were growing up, of a road wandering through the valley and a barn at the edge of the valley.” background, amid rolling hills under sunlit clouds. In my dream, I studied the image, mesmerized by it, as I watched it come to life.”
Blake remembers, even then, wondering if an image could really come to life. If “Mary Poppins” could do it, why not him? But this would not be a caricature. He wanted the real thing.
“Seven years ago,” he said, “clients of mine rented the Palace of Fine Arts event space in San Francisco and created what they called the ‘Innovation Hangar,’ where people could gather to present technology. On one wall hung a picture whose image, if someone held their iPhone, would come to life on the screen. It was the main image recognition software.”
Fascinated as his childhood dream came to life before his eyes, Blake realized he was witnessing the start of his new book, “Imagery to Life,” first published in 2018.
“I have taken many photographs and videos of nature over the years. I thought, what if I start a video of the place where a photo was taken, case them in an app (ROAR) and create the illusion that the photo comes to life? He had many things to solve. It took me a while,” she said, “but I’ve always been a techie, so I finally had it.”
Sharing your vision
In June 2019, Tim Blake gave a presentation about his book and how he created it, to the Carmel Foundation photography group.
“There’s some extra magic behind the photographs in the book,” he said. “Behind each image there is a scene alive from the moment these images were taken. A smart device app is used to bring these images to life. Part of the effect is the audio of the live scenes. 3D recordings are made possible by 3Dio microphones, and recordings feel like you’re right where the audio was recorded. The results are extraordinary.”
A year later, the Carmel Foundation invited Blake back, so he created a second talk about why he created “Imagery to Life.”
“I wanted to encourage people, especially children,” he said, “especially children with health problems, challenges in life, children who, for whatever reason, never get a chance to experience nature. I wanted them to see it.” almost as if they were actually there.”
Once Blake figured out how to create the book, he had to figure out how to present it to his target audience.
“I wanted to bring books to children’s hospitals and the Ronald McDonald House. So, in addition to selling books through my website,” he said, “I designed my contribution sponsorship program, a multi-tiered program based on how many books people buy.”
Blake started out among friends, asking them if they would like to partner with him and purchase several books to donate. An anonymous donor purchased enough books to place them in the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the Stanford Ronald McDonald House. Blake then met with Maggie Walsh of Coldwell Banker Los Gatos, and the mother of Olympic volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings, who chose the $5,000 Platinum contribution level, purchasing 100 books at $50 each to donate.
“Images to Life” is now in the Ronald McDonald Houses in Pasadena and Long Beach. Blake says that he is just warming up.
Born in Palo Alto and raised in Portola Valley, Tim Blake has vacationed on the Monterey Peninsula since he was a child. He always remembered the fragrance that came from the cool ocean breeze from Asilomar and thought, “One day I will live here again.” That someday is now.
Before coming to Carmel Valley, Blake attended UC Berkeley where he majored in architecture and minored in business. Instead of designing buildings, however, he turned his attention to his father’s career as a mortgage broker. Having held the end of a tape measure for his father, he felt ties to the business and turned to real estate, which, in addition to his photography, he pursues on the Peninsula.
Blake will speak again at the Carmel Foundation on June 30. His book is available at www.ImageryToLifeBook.com.