Downtown Los Angeles plays Garfunkel to Hollywood’s Simon. Taken from Mullholland Drive.
I had heard that the Griffith Observatory, which sits on the same mountainside as the iconic Hollywood sign, is a great place to view the city, especially at sunset. Turns out, that is hardly a hipster secret; the serpentine road leading up the hill was jammed with parked cars, as the observatory’s small parking lot had long since filled up. The Griffith is a large facility, with many terraces overlooking the city, so that even with hundreds of people milling about, I could find a place to set up a tripod without much trouble.
On the whole, I will call this shoot a learning experience. There are a lot of factors involved in getting a good sunset shot, and I was trying to figure them out on the fly. After over an hour of shooting, I came away with precious little photographically that would stack up to the live experience. The pano-cropped shot below seems to be my best effort. It was taken probably 10-15 minutes after the sun had dipped below the horizon.
I’ve begun posting shots from my trip to LA, but I will back up a bit here. We took the Amtrak (that’s the passenger rail service here in the states, for those unfamiliar) out to the coast, a 48 hour trip from Chicago to Los Angeles’ Union Station. I took a few photos from the train, though I packed the wrong lens on my carry-on and was stuck with my wide angle the whole trip. Here’s what I managed to get.
A mountain in New Mexico
A shot from downtown LA. In this photo I tried to channel a bit of the style of Meho, who is a photographer you should check out.
I’ve returned from a week in LA with a few shots to share. It wasn’t explicitly a photo trip, but I got some pictures which I think don’t suck. On the first day, we rode up the Pacific Coast Highway, which I think may have to be a destination in itself one day. Shot this from the beach while fog (or, as it’s referred to here, the marine layer) was rolling in.
A small cave-in
admits a cold cascade
Chicago, South Side
A rotted out section of floor gapes open
Factory under demolition
South Side Chicago
Abandoned chewing gum factory, Chicago.
Conveyor belts stretch out and double back on themselves in an abandoned chewing gum factory.
Means of escape are provided, should misadventure occur.
-slightly modified quote from Ernst Fischer
“Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.”
When JuniorBBQ met us for the first time in Detroit to explore the Packard plant, at one point she remarked, “You guys really like stairs!”. And I suppose it’s true. Staircases offer the kind of Escheresque perspectives and patterned geometries that make for dizzying photography. So here’s some stairs from myself and Moribund’s visit to a gum factory yesterday.
We spent most of the day inside this location, and, whatever photogenic virtues it may have, it has forever changed how I will smell wintergreen gum. More photos soon to come.
From within a building in our old haunt of Gary, Indiana.
In a derelict movie theater, in a room adjacent to the old projection booth, stands this inexplicable high chair. Wherefore, chair?
HEY! we do urbex, too. Who knew?
These birds have a particular “dance” they do. It incorporates all the necessary elements necessary to impress a potential romantic partner: strutting, wing-spreading, hopping about, as well as the occasional tossing of straw or dirt clods into the air. We witnessed the last maneuver, but my shots of it were too blurry to be of use. Suffice it to say that witnessing this spectacle of crane dancing is worth getting up at six AM for.
Since this blog has taken a turn toward animals lately (both dead and alive), we’ll stay on theme with a post or two on Sand Cranes. These are large migratory birds that converge by the thousands on the same field in Indiana every fall and spring. Until this weekend, I had no idea such a sight was to be had within ninety minutes’ drive of Chicago. When a friend suggested taking a trip to see them, the Idiot Photographer and I jumped at the chance. After all, road trips are always fun, and we needed some photo opportunities since the urbex has been in a little lull of late. So 6AM this past Sunday found us on the road, trying to get to the wildlife preserve shortly after dawn when these birds would be most active.
Some quick lessons learned: the lenses optimal for shooting decaying buildings are not so hot when it comes to capturing birds in flight. I had thought my 250mm lens was quite the zoom; it was neither “zoomy” or fast enough to get the kind of shots I was hoping for. Live and learn. I will post a few more shots tomorrow, including a couple of the cranes’ famous mating dance.
Two shots of birds from last weekend’s trip to the Brookfield Zoo. First, the instantly recognizable Greater Delta Mardi Gras Bird. (Bourbonaisse Plumarius)
And a portrait of the handsome Tufted Blue Gargler (Indigo Emesis)
From a trip to Brookfield Zoo. A giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, the only extant species in the genus Giraffa which is in the Giraffidae family.
As a younger man, I played a lot of basketball. Sometimes I would go by myself down to the gym, get on a pick up team, and play. Other times I would have three or four friends with me, a ready made team, and we’d take on whoever we could find. Certain courts or gyms in the area were known to have great competition; we’d seek those out when we could. It was a scene similar to Rucker Park, though on a much lower level, of course.
Whatever the level of play was, the competition was always fierce. The informal rules were that the winning team would stay on the court and play the next challengers; if you were lucky enough to be on a solid team that day, you’d play for a couple hours straight. If, however, you stepped on the court and recognized immediately that you were outclassed, it could be a quick and humbling game.
And so it was when after the Idiot Photographer and I decided on a Saturday trip to the zoo, I knew I was going to be in for a photographic drubbing. My friend and co-blogger knows animals like few others. Animal behavior is mysterious to most of us, but to her, it is clear as day. It really is kind of awesome. And her understanding of animals informs her photography. She seems to know how to wait for a good picture, whereas I wish someone would taxidermy the damned critters so they’d stop moving and I could get my shot.
IP has already posted a couple shots from our trip to Brookfield Zoo, now it’s my turn. It’ll feel a bit like chucking up bricks on the court, but you still have to play the game.
From a little school in Gary, Indiana.
Three B&W shots from an abandoned theater in southern Wisconsin, including a monochrome take on a shaft of light previously photographed from a different angle in color.
A shady physician awaits his next patient.