Southern California Photography by Alan Pavlik, editor and publisher of Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik

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.

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Visitors from February 28, 2006, 10:00 am Pacific Time to date -


Monday, 8 May 2006
Cultural Dislocations
Topic: Oddities

Cultural Dislocations

'Courbet and the Modern Landscape' banners on Sunset Boulevard, May 2006Courbet and the Modern Landscape is running up at the Getty Center, and closes on May 14, before moving on to Houston and Baltimore. The banners line Sunset Boulevard from Vine to Highland, as shown in the two photographs from Friday, May 5th. There is more than a bit of visual irony here.

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) is "Realism" - he coined the term for what he was up to with his landscapes and seascapes, rejecting all that idealized Romantic stuff. Everything was dynamic and changing. The mission of the Realists would be "the pursuit of truth which would help erase social contradictions and imbalances," as noted here -
For Courbet realism was not the perfection of line and form, but spontaneous and rough handling of paint, suggesting direct observation by the artist and portraying the irregularities in nature. He depicted the harshness in life, and in so doing, challenged contemporary academic ideas of art, which brought him criticism that he deliberately adopted a cult of ugliness.
Well, this seedy section of Sunset Boulevard seems the right spot for the banners, as the area is either just a mess or the product of some secret "cult of ugliness" with a devious master plan for Hollywood.

Courbet's "ugliness" and that of the other Realists, Honoré Daumier and Jean-François Millet, gave way to the pretty-pretty impressionists with all that silvery light and water lilies and such. Ugly isn't forever, except here on Sunset.

The Getty press release is here should you wish to drop by - forty-five landscapes from 1855 to 1877 - and a selection of French photographs of the period from the museum's own collection "that resonate with Courbet's work and attest to the role that the new medium played in shaping his modern landscapes." It's free. Parking isn't.

Note this from the press release -
Courbet spent the last years of his life - in the early 1870s - in exile in Switzerland because of his role in the Paris Commune unrest. Cut off from his family and friends, and weakened by alcohol and disease, he produced a number of accomplished landscapes with a haunting, melancholic tone. The exhibition includes Le Château de Chillon (1874), on loan from the Musée Courbet, France, depicting a picturesque medieval castle that was a symbol of isolation and imprisonment. It was among the last paintings he made before his death.
At least he didn't spend his last days nursing a hangover at the IHOP on Sunset (a Swiss company acquired a controlling interest in IHOP in 1979, but eight years later the Americans bought it back).

'Courbet and the Modern Landscape' banners on Sunset Boulevard, May 2006


Posted by Alan at 4:53 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006 10:40 AM PDT
Sunday, 7 May 2006
Framing and Focus
Topic: Technical Exercises

Framing and Focus

San Pedro, at the basin for the small commercial fishing boats, off the main channel with all its giant container ships and lumbering cruise liners - Thursday, March 9, 2006, a study in forced focus. The idea is for everything to move to the seagull at the 3:30 position in the frame - the angles of all the elements lead to that spot.

Seagulls, San Pedro California, Thursday, March 9, 2006



The same shot as a black-and-white print. It works differently with the color elements removed.

Seagulls, San Pedro California, Thursday, March 9, 2006



Posted by Alan at 4:49 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 6 May 2006
Floral Still Life
Topic: Color Studies

Floral Still Life

At the edge of a driveway on Laurel Pass Avenue in the Hollywood Hills, noon, Friday, May 5, 2006 -

Floral Still Life at the edge of a driveway on Laurel Pass Avenue in the Hollywood Hills


Posted by Alan at 3:34 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Friday, 5 May 2006
Small Details: The George Harrison Tree at Griffith Park Observatory
Topic: Historic Hollywood

Small Details: The George Harrison Tree at Griffith Park Observatory

Now here's an odd little historical marker, sitting under an adolescent pine tree.

George Harrison, the lead guitarist of The Beatles, died at the home of a friend, a security specialist named Gavin de Becker, out here in Los Angeles on November 29, 2001, at the age of 58. His body was cremated at Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, and there were reports that his ashes has been flown to India and scattered in the Ganges. The problem is the ceremony was not conducted at the expected time and no one knows where is ashes really are, if that is an issue for anyone (and if so, go here and nose around).

But even if the ashes have gone missing, he does have a tree, at the edge of the parking lot at the Griffith Park Observatory, as you can see in this archived news item from February 19, 2004 -
The City of Los Angeles has declared Sunday 22 February 2004 GEORGE HARRISON DAY. A plaque will be unveiled at the base of the George Harrison Tree in Griffith Park at 3:00 pm and there will be a live musical performance by Keith Chagall and 'The Fab Four' tribute band. Special guests Billy Preston and Jackie Lomax will also be in attendance. Jackie intends playing a song he has written as a tribute to George, "Friend Of Mine."
On that day there was this press release (PDF format) from City Councilmember Tom LaBonge (great name) - 4th District, Los Angeles. The heading reads - "L.A. Musician, Humanitarian and 'Gardener' Lauded by Councilmember LaBonge, Many Others in Free Public Event in Griffith Park as Bronze Plaque is Unveiled to Sounds of Harrison's Music"

Some of that -
The City of Los Angeles proclaimed Sunday, February 22, 2004 "George Harrison Day" in the City of Los Angeles and marked his life and work in a special celebration hosted by Councilmember Tom LaBonge with live performances of his music, remembrances by friends and associates and the unveiling of a bronze plaque in his memory at the base of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park.

"George Harrison was and always will be one of our favorite Angelenos," said Councilmember LaBonge. "His performance with the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl was unforgettable. He lived on Blue Jay Way in the Hollywood Hills and wrote a haunting song about it. He married a native Angeleno, Olivia Arias, and they were a devoted team. His legacy as a humanitarian has few equals in the world. And, sadly, he died in Los Angeles. But upon his demise, he became an angel in the City of Angels and we are forever grateful for his contributions to the world."

... Singer-songwriter Keith Chagall performed "Soundlight" written as an homage to Harrison in Beatles-esque style and was later joined by members of the Fab Four to sing two of Harrison's best known compositions, "Here Comes the Sun" and "My Sweet Lord." Jackie Lomax, one of the first solo artists signed by the Beatles' Apple Records and a longtime friend of Harrison's, was also in attendance. He sang an acoustic version of a song he wrote for Harrison.
Billy Preston didn't show up, but sent a nice statement that was read to all the people who did, as was a message sent by Olivia Harrison thanking everyone for remembering her husband George.

The George Harrison Tree at Griffith Park Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles (Hollywood)



The George Harrison Tree at Griffith Park Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles (Hollywood)



Turn around and you'll see they're almost finished restoring the observatory, and you'll soon be about to walk out there and check out the bust of James Dean, on a pedestal to the right out of the frame, having something to do with all the scenes in his "Rebel Without a Cause" that were filmed right here. Hollywood is an odd place.

Restoration of the Griffith Park Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles (Hollywood)


Posted by Alan at 7:51 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Thursday, 4 May 2006
LA Reflections
Topic: Color Studies

LA Reflections

Sushi in the sky, early in the afternoon, Thursday, May 4, 2006 - a west facing wall on South Serrano Avenue at Wilshire Boulevard. This is so Los Angeles. It's all surface and mirrors, and, now and then, raw fish.

Sushi in the sky, early in the afternoon, Thursday, May 4, 2006 - a west facing wall on South Serrano Avenue at Wilshire Boulevard



What they can see directly across from that window? Across the wide square, that would be the Art Deco Wiltern Theater and the twelve-story Pellissier Building at the corner of Wilshire and Western - as they say, one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the United States, and also very LA.

The Wiltern Theater and the twelve-story Pellissier Building at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue



The Wiltern Theater and the twelve-story Pellissier Building at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue


Posted by Alan at 8:06 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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