If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me
These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0
The original large-format raw files are available upon request.
Zigzag Time Topic: Historic Hollywood Zigzag Time Sometimes driving around Los Angeles one is suddenly reminded of the old Astaire-Rogers "white telephone" musicals, with their French farce plots and Manhattan-skyline sparkle, as James Wolcott once described them. That might happen if you drive past this.
Smith House 1929-30 J.C. Smale 191 South Hudson Avenue Los Angeles
"One of the few Zigzag Moderne houses in the area in the Los Angeles area and probably one of the greatest. It is very elegant in an extremely elegant neighborhood. Paris would be proud of it." - David Gebhard and Robert Winter, A Guide to Architecture in Los Angeles and Southern California, 1977, Peregrine-Smith
Paris? Maybe. Fred Aistaire could have danced here, but there's no record of that. But it feels right.
Zigzag Moderne - "Zigzag Moderne developed from the classical-inspired designs of Bertram B Goodhue, the vertical Gothic schemes of Eliel Saarinen, the forms of the Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratif of 1925, and the early twenties designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. It was also influenced by the developing International style. The principal characteristics of Zigzag Moderne are: smooth surfaced volumes; windows arranged in sunken vertical panels; frequent use of central tower, whose summit recedes in a stepped pattern; a flat roof; symmetry and balance for each elevation; tendency for buildings to be monumental, formal and heavy; ornamentation of zigzags, chevrons, sunbursts, spirals and stylized plant and animal motifs."
Gaudy Beverly Hills Topic: Technical Exercises Gaudy Beverly Hills These are botanical studies, and exercises in getting the color right, and working "close in" with various depth-of-field decisions.
These are from Thursday the 28th, the only sunny day this week. (It's the rainy season in Los Angeles, as February and March are pretty much it out here.)
The location is Beverly Gardens Park, created in 1911 - a narrow, two-mile-long strip of lawns and a few flowerbeds. It runs for fourteen blocks along the northwest side of Santa Monica Boulevard, the complete length of the city of Beverly Hills. It does have a rose garden, and a few stone park benches, a lily pond, fountains, tall trees, a cactus garden, and a gravel path for joggers. The Beverly Hills Police Station is across the street from the small rose garden at Maple Drive. The whole place is more foliage and shade than much in bloom. But there are these.
Hollywood Storefronts Topic: Historic Hollywood Hollywood Storefronts The date, Thursday, March 30, 2006.
The time, ten in the morning.
The location, the six thousand block of Hollywood Boulevard, where this woman is chatting on her cell phone - and of course no one turns right in Hollywood, where all the liberals are. In the far background you can just make out The Montecito (1930, Marcus Miller) up on Franklin, where at one time or another James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, George C. Scott and Ronald Reagan once lived, but now it's a retirement home.
The boulevard is still waking up. The security doors are stenciled with the images of dead celebrities.
Betty Grable? Who remembers her? And what's this about Dickies?
Betty Grable and Scientology, together at last? Who'd have guessed? Take the stress test, as Betty may have raised your blood pressure. And maybe Tom Cruise will drop by.
The late, flamboyant and seriously strange pianist from Milwaukee presides over his potted plant. Egyptian gifts? What?
The "Hollywood Madam," Heidi Fleiss, is gone from the scene - after her three years in federal prison she now lives in Nevada, running her reverse brothel, for women, and hawking trashy lingerie on the internet. She gets her door. Why not?
But let's get serious. Sunset Boulevard runs parallel to Hollywood Boulevard, and down there, on the same block, we get this, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and its "Psychiatry: Industry of Death" museum. It's more likely you'll find Tom Cruise here. These are Scientology outfits, and "human rights" is not used here in its usual political sense. Don't take pills to make you feel better. Whatever.
But it looks impressive, and makes for a pleasant visual composition.
Green After the Rain Topic: Color Studies Green After the Rain
Wednesday, March 29, 2006, a day after record one-day rainfall in Los Angeles, the geraniums in the window were happy, and it was a good time to work on close-up technique.
If those two shots are too artsy for you, and you need some "man art," you could visit this place on 2nd Street in downtown Los Angeles, near the Los Angeles Times offices, just off Broadway. (Photo, January 26, 2006.)
Raining in Los Angeles Topic: Light and Shadow Raining in Los Angeles
A steady, heavy rain all day - they call this the Pineapple Express. There's a big low sitting up above San Francisco, rotating counter-clockwise, pulling whatever is offshore down here onshore, and what's offshore down here is an old storm that formed south of Hawaii and drifted westward.
So the warm rain all day, which should total two or more inches by midnight, is what was lifted out of the Pacific over the last few days, pulled ashore by the onshore circulation of the northern low, and it's falling here. It doesn't pass us by. The wall of mountains at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, that separates us from the rest of the continent, stops the storm dead right over the Los Angeles basin. It'll sit here for a while.
The freeways are at a dead stop here and there - people being careful. Now it matters that there's not much tread left on the tires, which were fine when it was sunny and in the eighties for months on end. And all that sunshine messed up the windshield wipers - the ultraviolet made them all chalky (and the ozone in the hot smog made the brittle). Can't make any sudden moves, and can't see that well. It's a slow drive out there. And Hollywood looks like the set of a noir film from the late thirties.
But this washes away all the desert dust that blew in off the Mojave when the winds, week after week, blew the other way - and the landscape, called Mediterranean and savanna mixed, suddenly looks kind of lush.
The wall of mountains at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, that separates us from the rest of the continent - Big Bear Mountain from Mulholland Drive, as seen from the tourist lookout above the Hollywood Bowl, last Thursday, when the wind was blowing the other way. The Hollywood Sign is out of the frame to the left, the Griffith Park Observatory out of the frame to the right. This is looking between them. (The shot was taken while standing amid a crowd of elderly tourists visiting from Germany, chattering away in that language. They seemed impressed, but my German isn't that good.)