Tag Archives: los angeles

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Sometimes a change of scenery can be the perfect push to increase creativity.  So, instead of heading to the beach, I got on a long sleek train and headed up to Los Angeles.  I’ve only ridden a train a few times in my life, but I wanted to explore whether or not the train would be a better option than driving myself through typical weekday LA traffic.

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The Surfliner takes a coastal route as it leaves my place, offering spectacular views of the ocean.  A young woman sitting across from me on her way to Disneyland informed me that the views end when you can no longer see the ocean.  But I kept my eyes peeled for interesting images–and was rewarded by a rich palette of visual textures.

It’s interesting to see what occupies the places near the train tracks. Where the tracks are near the ocean, there are restaurants and homes…and lots of apartments.  As we moved more inland, the spaces near the tracks were filled with building goods stacked high. The rough rusted back of this sign made me wonder what it said from the other side and the stacks of yellow-tipped smooth black pipes caught my eye.

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After some very slow going because of a freight train with a lopsided load, as we came around a corner, the LA skyline came into view. Short and tall, old and new, metal and painted, my eye was drawn to the arrangements that make up downtown.img_9741

As we pulled into Union Station, I caught a glimpse of the sun peeking out from behind the nearby building.  The milky clouds, the bright sun, and the dirty train window all create an interesting textural composition.

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As we changed course and headed toward Burbank, I noticed all the lines of the electrical towers.  Vertical, horizontal, and crisscrossing lines create floating tic-tac-toe boards against the blue and white sky.

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And the LA aquaduct came into view.  These mostly empty cement riverbeds run through the city bisected with bridges of different types and purposes. In some places you might notice the tags of graffiti artists along the cement sides and ducks floating in the shallow pools.

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These iconic palms lined up in rows against the pinks and tangerines of the buildings signaled our approach to the suburbs.  And the blue skies became more mottled white as the weather shifted from summer in February to impending rain.

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As I waited for the train to take me back home later that evening, shiny wetness reflected the lights of the station. And in the distance you can see my train making its approach.

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So take a look around for some visual texture this week.  Will you find it in your ordinary outings or will you need to venture out into parts unknown?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #texture for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Keep your eyes peeled for texture this week…it may be created with color, with line, because of the clouds or even a dirty window.  I look forward to seeing how texture fills your life…and your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through the Window

Family is everything.  And sometimes you do crazy things to make sure you can spend time with your loved ones.  Like battling Los Angeles traffic on the day before Thanksgiving, knowing that the drive that should take between 90 minutes and 2 hours will likely be at least double that.

We left early in the morning on our way up to LA, well before sunrise, and were treated to a huge and gorgeous full moon sitting over the Pacific ocean as it got ready to set.  I would have loved to have had time to park at the beach and try to capture this rare moon viewing through my camera lens, but this was a day for travel.  And since I wasn’t driving, I pulled out my camera and did my best to shoot through the car window.  In the dark, my camera shutter was slow–and the car was fast (yay…no traffic yet!), creating a streaking and blurring effect.  I was delighted to find this abstract portrayal of light as I shot the moon.

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After a wonderful day with my son and daughter-in-law, we got back in the car to head back home knowing that traffic would be heavy–but wanting to get home not too late so my husband could start baking his pies for Thanksgiving.  And heavy was an understatement.  After inching along the I5 for about 30 minutes and covering less than 10 miles, we decided to let Google maps on my phone take us on an adventure.

As we moved from one freeway to the next, we glimpsed views of downtown LA, watched airplanes and helicopters in their own freeway in the air, and noticed public transport rolling by on raised platforms.  All along the way I pointed my lens out the window, trying to capture the interesting and beautiful things that caught my eye.

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With the drought on our minds, we’ve been noticing the aqueduct system running below the power lines.  Without the ability to stop and frame shots, I had to focus and shoot quickly hoping that I captured the image I was envisioning.  This is my personal favorite, a serendipity of light and shadow and composition.

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Part of the time we found ourselves on city streets, deep in an industrial area.  Street art decorated the walls of buildings–some sanctioned (like the mural on the Farmer John compound) and some probably not. As I looked up, I noticed the graffiti-laden train overpasses and snapped a few more shots.

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Heading onto yet another freeway (we found numbers we didn’t even know existed in Southern California!), I noticed tons of white birds sitting in a nearly empty aqueduct.  Since I couldn’t see over the railing, I shot through the cement openings hoping to capture what I was seeing below. I’m pretty happy with the effect!

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As the sun began to sink, the sky took on a gentle glow, silhouetting another of the miles of power towers that line the freeways.

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And while our adventures in LA were fun and interesting, we were not alone or without traffic. Brake lights glowed red, lighting up the freeway like Christmas decorations.

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Our trip ended much like it began as we watched the full, huge moon rise into the sky.  It played hide and seek, first with the buildings and overpasses and later with the clouds.

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It’s hard to know whether our “fastest route” actually saved us any time (we’re guessing we saved about 30 minutes), and it certainly wasn’t fast.  But it was such a relief to keep moving and not spend hours inching in stop and go freeway traffic.  We explored, we chatted, we noticed, and I took photos.  We arrived home tired, yet relaxed.  And we might just try that choose your own adventure route through LA again someday.  There is so much to see when you take the time to look through the window.

So…what are you seeing through the window these days?  Is it a car window, your house, or someplace else?  Or is it a metaphorical window–the space between stormy weather conditions, phases of activity in your life, the break between holidays?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #window for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What are you seeing through the window?  Take out your camera and give us a glimpse through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Manmade

I love spending time outside, appreciating the breathtaking beauty of nature.  The brilliant blues of the waves crashing on the shore, bees buzzing near vibrant blossoms, colorful sunsets and more…  Yet, sometimes I find myself in places where nature’s beauty takes a backseat and I find myself noticing interesting manmade creations.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t nighttime, so I didn’t get to star gaze and experience the telescope…but the building is spectacular!

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The beautiful sunny day created a perfect backdrop for the architecture of this building.  And from another angle, you can see the dome that houses the telescope.

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Indoors, there are many informative exhibits–open to the public, free of charge, everyday!  From the Foucault’s pendulum to the design of the windows, this is an extraordinary place.

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While I didn’t get to go in where the current telescope operates, this “retired” version was on display. I am struck by its intricacies and beauty!

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And looking out from the park, you can see the LA skyline from one side and then spy the iconic Hollywood sign in the other direction.

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And sometimes interesting isn’t necessarily beautiful.  A trip to LA is almost always accompanied by traffic–and this trip was no different.  But since I wasn’t the driver this time around, I could take some photos out the window.  I was interested in watching the train that traversed the freeway…although the moving car didn’t allow me the best angle!

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So take a look around for photos that feature the manmade.  Where do you find manmade beauty or objects of interest?  Is it in the architecture?  In the technology or transportation available?  Something right in front of your eyes that you hadn’t paid attention to?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #manmade for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Take a look at the manmade this week…what do you notice?  I can’t wait to experience manmade (or womanmade) through your lens!

Shades of Gray

It’s not what you think…this isn’t about the book or the movie.  Instead, this is about winter and all the grays I’ve been seeing lately.

I’ve noticed icy grays…not here at home, but while I was in Chicago and the temperatures hovered between negative numbers and teens I noticed icicles hanging from the bumpers of cars in the parking lot while I was taking a brisk stroll around the hotel where I stayed.

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And after some adventures in the airport, I found myself in a window seat in the last row of the plane.  On the positive side, I was able to take photos throughout the flight, including this one as we began to taxi to take off for the flight to San Francisco.

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So much of the country we traversed from high in the sky was covered with snow.  At one point when I looked out I noticed this snowy map, with roads and rivers etched into the landscape below.

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I came back home to much more reasonable temperatures and headed off to Los Angeles to spend the day with my son.  (You saw some pictures on this post)  The historic Bradbury building offered a glimpse of some different gray…with lots of ornate metalwork including this amazing working elevator.

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As we headed out of the downtown area, we traveled through this tunnel.  And because I wasn’t driving, I got to take a photo and capture the gray textures illuminated by the row of lights.

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From up on Mulholland Drive, the entire city skyline including the Hollywood sign were on display.  Unfortunately, the day was gray and hazy, making the skyline a shadow in the distance.

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And back at home, I made my way back to the beach.  It wasn’t cold…sweatshirt and bare feet weather…but it was gray.  I’ve been a bit obsessed with seagulls lately, and found myself taking shot after shot.  This one captures the shades of gray visible on the beach this week.

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So, for this week, as we head toward the end of February, look for shades of gray.  Will you find them outside or inside?  The result of weather, the color of metal, or on the feathers of a local bird?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #gray for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So go out in search of gray…all the shades you can find!  Let’s reclaim those shades of gray and capture images that reflect the range of grays that we see.  I’m looking forward to seeing all the shades of gray in your life…through your lens!

Exploring Symmetry…LA Style

I know that symmetry is a mathematical concept…one of precision, perfectly matched halves. But mostly, in the world, symmetry is not so perfect.  But there are echoes of symmetry all around us.  My eyes were hearing the echoes of symmetry the other day as I explored downtown Los Angeles with my son.

There is something so special about spending the day with my son and our cameras.  We walk and talk and take photos, noticing details, trying new shots, seeing the world through each other’s eyes.  And there’s a certain symmetry in that too.

My eyes were drawn to this old building visible from the parking garage.  The symmetry has been spoiled by graffiti, age and disrepair.  But there is still something beautiful about it.

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In contrast, this old historic building has been preserved, both inside and out.  Inside, the exquisite marble floors and intricate wrought iron frame the antique mechanical elevators.  And outside, I had to angle my shot to exclude the modern Subway sandwich sign and stoplights to capture the beauty of this elegant old building.

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We also ended up climbing flight upon flight of stairs as we explore the is old rail system called Angel’s Flight.  Built in 1901 it traveled up and down a block…and after scaling the stairs…I see why they wanted a railway!

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Grand Central Market was an explosion of colors and smells…and quite a tasty place for lunch! I was drawn to these cactus pads…there is a certain symmetry in these bins of produce and the jumble of price signs rising out of them.

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I’m not sure that any of my photos fit the mathematical definition of symmetry…but for me they communicate the idea of symmetry, the creation of purposeful balance and arrangement. Just like my day with Nick…the perfect balance and arrangement of time, exploration, and connection.  And the cherry on top…dinner with my daughter-in-law!  Symmetry!

Exploring: A Family Trait

Yesterday’s holiday offered me the opportunity to do some exploring…with my son.  Now that my children are grown, married, and living in cities away from me, I treasure the time we get to spend together in any configurations of our family.

So yesterday morning, with a day off from work, I got into my car and headed up the freeway to Los Angeles to spend the day exploring with my son.  In many ways, he is my inspiration for taking photographs.  He has fancy cameras and takes amazing photos.  I use my phone and continue to learn.  And he is quite the cheerleader for my growing skills and like me, enjoys looking for interesting photo opportunities.

Los Angeles has its downside: most notably, traffic!  But it is rich in interesting history, eclectic neighborhoods, memorable landmarks, and famous people along with a beautiful natural environment.  So after an amazingly quick commute in light traffic from my home to his, we set off for a day of exploring and picture taking.

We spent the morning at the La Brea Tar Pits (can you believe neither of us had even been…even though we both grew up in Southern CA?), the Page Museum, and the sculpture gardens at LACMA.  Then after lunch, we decided to drive the surface streets of the greater Hollywood area as we ventured off to find the Ennis House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural gems.  (More about that later this week!)

And in the process of driving up the narrow, winding streets of the hillside above the greater LA area, we found so much more than Frank Lloyd Wright’s treasure.

We found a place to park on the steep streets of an obviously exclusive neighborhood and set off on foot with lenses in hand.  As we walked, I found myself searching for a space where I could see the view beyond us.  I did sneak this view through the opening in a fence.

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But I wanted more.  A side road beckoned with what looked like ruins of some sort.  A closer look revealed stairs leading to a door…to something that is no longer there.

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But when I turned around…the view I was looking for revealed itself!  I’ve written before at how hard it is to capture distant landscapes with my iPhone (but it never keeps me from trying!).  With a little help from post production, I did manage to create a photo that gives a glimpse of what I was able to see!

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I love that I could see the Los Angeles skyline in the distance.  And you can see what a beautiful sunny day we were experiencing (it was easily 80 degrees at its peak).

And best of all, Nick and I had a wonderful day together exploring his city through our lenses. The fun thing is that we don’t have to do something “special,” just spending time exploring and talking and being together was enough.  I can’t wait to see all the photos he took…and you’ll get to see some of the other photos I took later this week.

What traits do you share in your family?  How do you enjoy spending time together?