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.

Contact the Editor

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

Wednesday, 28 June 2006
Clouds: Storms Over Hollywood
Topic: Light and Shadow

Clouds: Storms Over Hollywood

Two on the afternoon on Wednesday, June 28, above Hollywood, on a brutally hot day - the whole basin baking in the harsh sun - eighty at the beaches, in the mid-nineties from downtown to Hollywood to Beverly Hills, and on the other side of the hills, in the San Fernando Valley, well over one hundred. On Mulholland Drive, at the turnout above the Hollywood Bowl, even at six hundred seventy feet above sea level, it really is ninety-three in what little shade there is. But off to the east above the San Bernardino Mountains - Baldy and Big Bear (Mount San Gregornio) - the thunderheads are building - storms coming up from the Baja that will never get here.

To the northeast, they frame the Hollywood sign, and directly west, they make a nice backdrop for the Griffith Park Observatory.

Thunderheads over the Hollywood sign

Storm sky behind the Griffith Park Observatory



Posted by Alan at 5:50 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 27 June 2006
Old Trains - Guest Photography
Topic: Guest Photography

Old Trains - Guest Photography

There's something romantic about old trains, and out here in the west we have a great collection of them, restored to perfection, as shown in photographs here and here. But our friend, the high-powered Wall Street attorney, reminds us they have great old trains back east.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad Scenic Train runs between Phoenicia and Boiceville, New York, about twelve miles. The trip takes about an hour and a half. You leave from Mount Pleasant, ride along the Esopus Creek, looking for bald eagles, great blue herons, hawks, deer and such things. On the north is Mount Tremper and on the south Mount Pleasant and Romer Mountain. At the Phoenicia stop there's the Empire State Railway Museum in the restored 1900 Railroad Depot.

This is what is left of the Catskill Mountain Branch Line of the long-gone Ulster and Delaware Railroad. Bluestone for the sidewalks of New York was quarried near here, and produce and dairy products from these parts were sent along with that to the city by rail. Traffic the other way was city folks off to the Catskills' boarding houses and hotels - 676,000 passengers in 1913. Automobiles changed that, and the New York Central ended up using the tracks for general freight. In October 1976 the Ulster and Delaware Railroad folded, and in 1979 the County of Ulster purchased the Catskill branch to make it a tourist thing. In 1983, the Catskill Mountain Railroad was chartered to operate a tourist passenger operation as well as freight service. The whole line will be back in operation one day.

Catskill Mountain Railroad Scenic Train

Phoenicia, New York - the Empire State Railway Museum in the restored 1900 Railroad Depot

Old roadbed of the Catskill Mountain Branch Line of the long-gone Ulster and Delaware Railroad

Photos copyright © 2006 - M. A. Hewitt, all rights resevered

The location -

Phoenicia, New York - from Google Earth

Posted by Alan at 6:46 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 26 June 2006
Topic: Light and Shadow


Hollywood was miserable this date - Monday, June 26, 2006 - dark all day and in the nineties, with the feel of thunderstorms nearby, but they never came - just distant rumbles now and then. The sky turned an odd sick yellow in the late morning and the air was throbbing - time to unplug a few things before the electrical storm. But that passed and the whole basin reverted to a dark and steamy calm. This is not how it's supposed to be out here at the edge of the Mojave, with the mild Pacific just down the road.

This is hard to capture in a photo or two. At LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, down on Wilshire) there's a new David Hockney exhibit - portraits this time. The man is famous for his swimming pools. From the LA City Beat review -
The prolific Hockney has by far a more widely disseminated body of work than any current L.A.-identified artist. Ed Ruscha's output, much more subtle and ironic, is a distant second in this regard. Hockney's swimming-pool paintings in sun-bleached pastels (like "A Bigger Splash" and "Pool with Two Figures") have come to define a kind of sequestered gay Southern California privilege. The later long rectangles of various local canyons received wide public display as well. Winding roads and sprawling flora in neo-Fauve colors became emblematic - for better or worse - of a chamber-of-commerce veneer that is, in reality, a precious commodity. Hockney may make sharp observations about L.A., but he's never been one to lacerate the city's most vulnerable foibles.
But if Hockney were to paint a Hollywood Hills pool on a day like this, it would look like this, outside the window here. Printed as a negative, this is how it felt here.

Red pool (negative image)

The sun at six in the evening, obscured by the low steamy clouds -

Sun and palm - through low clouds

Note: These were shot with the medium telephoto lens - AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G - using a polarizing filter.

Posted by Alan at 7:19 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006 7:22 PM PDT
Sunday, 25 June 2006
More Blue
Topic: Color Studies

More Blue

The view from the sand at Huntington Beach, Wednesday, June 21, with a sailboat and a gull, and the cool blue waters of the Pacific
If you visit Just Above Sunset, the weekly magazine-format parent to this website, you'll find scads of new photographs there, including amazing shots from our correspondents in Paris and Tel-Aviv. And there are all new high-resolution botanicals, and new architectural shots. That issue was posted mid-afternoon, Pacific Time.

But on this date - Sunday, June 25, 2006 - Hollywood was overcast and muggy. The day was dark and it was in the mid-nineties. It felt more like Tupelo Mississippi, not Los Angeles. Steamy and uncomfortable. So the photo this date is one more blue study, one that didn't make it into the weekly - the view from the sand at Huntington Beach, Wednesday, June 21, with a sailboat and a gull, and the cool blue waters of the Pacific.

Posted by Alan at 9:12 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 24 June 2006
The Unexpected
Topic: Color Studies

The Unexpected

The banana is an herb, in the genus Musa, which, because of its size and structure, is often mistaken for a tree. It's often mistaken for many things. It's just an odd plant, and in most large gardens in Southern California. Here are some odd views, a specimen in Will Rogers Park on Sunset Boulevard, right in the middle of Beverly Hills.

Banana, Will Rogers Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills

Banana, Will Rogers Park on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills

Posted by Alan at 4:00 PM PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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