Along the Expo Line, the doors sometimes open to a really nice looking street.
This bee was coming straight for me.
One of my favorite sights is when I first enter a ballpark and catch a glimpse of the field from afar. While this isn't really that picture, it's close enough.
I like this path.
I followed this band of parrots flying around the neighborhood this week. I heard them too.
I don't really go to Farmers Markets that often, as I just sort of get our groceries when we need them. Nevertheless, here's a picture from a Farmers Market.
Photo of the Week #5
We drove past these at 3AM earlier in the day and I had no idea they hid there in the darkness. Driving past them again a few hours later in full view made us laugh thinking about how much we missed the first time through.
On the road heading back to Los Angeles from Palm Springs.
Walking with Grandma and Grandchild.
The second of the series. Are you shocked?
I've decided to start a photo of the week series.
Here is my first one. :)
Just went for a little walk this evening...not to the liquor store.
I've always wondered about this glowing door, however.
I am a fan of night walks.
Crisp air. Weird shadows. Strange lights.
Just some random pictures of Hawaii from back in December.
Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, London, Istanbul, Paris.
I don't care what city I'm in, when I'm going somewhere I prefer to walk. Forget taxis, give me a sidewalk and I'm a happy guy.
I have memorable walks in all of these cities. Sure, I'll take the metro/tube/subway or whatever else it may be called, but still, please let me walk there.
Walking allows me to get a feel for a city. It let's me see things up close. Stores, faces, dirt, grime, trees, buildings, I want to see all of it. In cars, everything just zips by. On bikes, I'm too worried about potholes, car doors, and just surviving in general.
When you walk a city, you see everything not in the guide books. You can feel when the pavement changes. You can tell when the sidewalks narrow. You can navigate your way around cafe tables, book stands, trash cans, lamp posts, blood, urine, snow, everything that makes a city its own.
Walking through neighborhoods, through parks, through alleys, these are the things that make me fall in love. I want to earn my knowledge of a city by being a part of its structure. I don't want to just drive through it. Let me be a part of its core. Let me see the people that run through its veins.
I have this issue with photographs. I take them and then I don't do anything with them. They stay on my computer. They stay undeveloped. I have rolls and rolls of exposed film in my kitchen drawers and I have no clue what is on them. One day I'll get to them. One day...
After they are taken, they ultimately don't do anything.
It's up to us to do something. That's where the power of a photograph lays; after the picture is taken.
Maybe taking pictures has become too simple. The thought process is gone when there is no value to each pixel. The picture is snapped, posted, liked, skipped over and forgotten. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night.
If pictures were alive, would they have this fear of being forgotten? I may have "liked" your picture yesterday but honestly, I've probably forgotten it already, you'll have to remind me of it.
So I think that's the problem I have with photography these days. Because I see so much of it. I forget so much more, including my own.
I wish I could remember the first book I ever read.
We begin with picture books and things of that sort. Teach us numbers and letters. We read about a very hungry caterpillar at one point in our life, then keep things moving with stories about a curious monkey, and a giving tree. We continue with some pictures and words about a Monday-hating cat, and read panels of another about a mischievous little kid with a stuffed tiger. And there you have my favorite writings all through my first 15 years of life.
I suppose if someone asked me to state my favorite book, I would say The Catcher in the Rye. However, I haven't read that book in years. It was my favorite book in 10th grade, at least. What was I, sixteen when I read that book? I mean, honestly, I've read and spent more time thinking about Harry Potter than I have Holden Caulfield. Can I say that Harry Potter is my favorite story? Is that allowed by a 33 year old guy?
Anyway, these days I try to spend about an hour each day reading something that interests me. Lately it has been more non-fiction than fiction, and sadly something with more words than pictures. However, when I think about reading and the joy that it brought me, I still think I need to make time for Calvin, for Hobbes, and maybe even revisit Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Some time in the late 80s or early 90s, my sister and I beat Super Mario Bros. for the first time. I recall the fire pits and those little axes that Bowser would throw/spin toward my Mario character, and I remember it driving me insane. I must have died a hundred deaths by those axes. I'm glad no one has ever thrown an ax at me in real life. I'd be a goner for sure.
After we beat the game, I went nuts with excitement. I remember running through our house and yelling to my mom while she was in the shower that we beat the game. I don't think she cared as much as I did.
Nevertheless, still a proud achievement of mine.
My first experience reading John Steinbeck was in seventh grade. It was The Pearl. I don't remember the main character's name and I don't remember the plot. For some reason I want to talk about dolphins but I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the book either. The more I think about it, I remember very little about that book. However, despite this, John Steinbeck and The Pearl are forever attached to a memory of mine.
One day after school, my mom picked me up and we made a stop at the local Safeway supermarket. We picked up a bag of those Mother's Pink and White Frosted Circus Animal Cookies, that I feel probably haven't changed all that much in style from when they were first invented by "Mother." Of course, I could be completely wrong about that.
Happy with the treat, I returned to the backseat of my mom's burgundy 1987 four-door Honda Civic, and we drove over to the high school where my sister was part of the tennis team. As we waited for her practice to end, I kept to myself in the back seat, eating cookies and reading my homework assignment, The Pearl. Those cookies were quite addictive, if I recall correctly.
Some time passed, I don't remember how much, but eventually my sister was done with practice and we made our commute back home. I remained in the back, still reading and still eating cookies. I did change position though, finding it much more comfortable to lay down in the back as if I was on my own couch, lounging in the living room.
Our house was a little far away from school back then, and it would be a solid 30 minutes before we'd get back in our driveway, so I had plenty of time to continue my lavish self-treatment of cookies and John Steinbeck. Unfortunately, about half way home I started to feel carsick. I was never one to get carsick, so this was a new feeling to me. I just remember wishing that the bubble in my chest would go away.
However, it didn't. When we finally arrived home, I fumbled my way out of the back of car and leaned up against the garage over a patch of white daisy mums my dad had proudly planted years before. None of that mattered though, because before I could help it, my stomach involuntarily clenched and I vomited a seemingly endless pink and white mixture of elephants, rhinos, camels and whatever other circus animals I ingested.
I'm not sure which of the factors was at play. Was it the over indulgence of Mother's cookies? Was it the reading of a book laying down in a car? Was it John Steinbeck? Regardless of the culprit, I have forever connected John Steinbeck's The Pearl and Mother's Cookies with one of my more violent vomits.
I follow a lot of outdoor blogs and photographers. I love the adventure. I love the beauty of nature. I love the grandeur of it all. Truth be told, I wish that I were out there with my family and friends taking pictures of my own, exploring the trees and showing off how awesome the outdoors can be. But, at the moment, I am not.
Nevertheless, as I was sitting with my wife this past weekend, I wanted to take her portrait, but I wanted it to be different. I didn't want the traditional portrait of the face, nor did she want her picture taken. So I asked if I could take a picture of her hands. She obliged me.
This got me thinking some more. I thought about opposites. Black vs White. Wide vs Close. I got to thinking that perhaps I should explore this world from perhaps a different point of view. Not so much from the epic scale of things like I tend to vision, but maybe instead from the parts of things. The smaller parts.. The components.
Lately in my head, I've been struggling with a vision. I'm taking pictures, but I haven't necessarily had an idea with what I wanted the final image to look like. I'd take the picture, and then just mess around with it until I thought it looked good enough to share. This didn't always make the entire picture process fun.
Wanting to experiment a little, I told myself to work with some limitations. Play with shallow focus and black and white. I didn't have the great outdoors, but instead Robin's childhood backyard. Nevertheless, there was plenty to see and shoot.
Anyway, I don't entirely know where I am going with this text, but I do know that I was happy with the pictures I took. I enjoyed giving myself a little project looking through the viewfinder with a different plan in mind.
We left Culver City later than I had hoped. Instead of leaving at 8:30, we weren't on the road until 10:30 AM. After a pit stop at Sprouts to pick up some plantain chips and a bottle of water, we realized we had forgotten Robin's hat and an unexpected return home didn't get us back on track until 11:00 AM.
The roads were fine until the 405 North hit the 5 North. However, for the next 30 minutes it was pretty much stop and go. After passing the 14, the roads cleared up and we were finally on our way, properly. Over the Tejon Pass we went, down the mountain side, past the Grapevine and up the 99 to the 65. Pretty road that 65, at least once you get through all the oil fields. Golden hills for sure. We continued the drive through the town of Exeter which reminded me of Footloose, with it being a smalll town with a water tower. I even saw an old and white VW beetle. If not Footloose then What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
At the end of the 65 we hit the 198. We drove the road east and finally reached the foothills of the Sierra in Three Rivers. Drove past Lake Kaweah and couldn't help but notice the low levels of the water lines. Continued east as we made our way to the gates of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and paid the dues of $20 at 2:31PM. A solid and relatively close 3.5 hours away from home.
From the gates it was another 15 miles/60 minutes of winding mountain roads (sorry Robin), with Moro Rock towering above us in the distance. After a few stops along the road for some carsick breaks, we finally made it up to the the Giant Forest parking lot. As we meandered up the final miles of road, we were greeted by not only the Giant Sequoias, but also by some beautiful blankets of snow from the night before.
This was Robin's first full on snow experience, and it was a delight to see her brighten up in the crunch, crunch, crunch of it all.
"This smells like Home Depot." she said. She wasn't wrong.
We walked through the parking lot and down the stairs, caught a quick glimpse of The Sentinel and checked out a trail map to gather our bearings. The plan was to hike to General Sherman (the largest tree in the world), then over to Moro Rock and climb the stairs to the top. We started the Big Tree Trail with plans to connect to the Rimrock Trail then the Congress Trail to see General Sherman. However, at our first junction we saw the sign for General Sherman saying it was a 2.5 mile hike away, and with sunlight winding down, we didn't think we could spend the next two hours hiking 5 miles. So, wisely (and thankfully), we stayed on the Big Tree Trail and continued walking a little path around the Round Meadow.
This turned out to be the best case of all. It was absolutely beautiful walking around the meadow. Surrounded by the trees, open to the wonderful woods. The crispness of the air, the white blanket on the ground, truly made the place better than I could have dreamed up.
We made our way around the little loop admiring the perceived stillness of the outdoors, when we came across a trio who pointed out a little black bear out about 100 yards into the middle of the meadow. A bear. A real life wild bear, just doing it's thing around the tall grass and branches. After watching it for a few minutes, we continued along through the loop to come up a bit closer to him around the other side. Along the way we came across a woodchuck/muskrat looking like animal making its den in the base of a fallen Giant. Robin and I stood there wondering what it might be.
After finishing the loop we came across an older couple, thick with southern accents telling us that there is a mama bear and her three cubs heading our way. Honestly, I was unsure what this meant. Was it a warning or an invitation to see some more bears? We decided it was simply an observation and walked the path we planned, until we overheard a Ranger in the distance clapping and yelling out, "Get out of here bears!" He wasn't yelling at us, but instead the bears themselves. Robin and I decided that maybe it wouldn't be the best thing to run into a mama and her cubs, so we turned around and looked for a different path back to the car.
Again, with limited time and daylight, when we arrived back at the car we thought we'd go see how close to Moro Rock we could get. Along the way we also came across another black bear hanging out by the road. Robin and I were alone in the viewing and we were much closer than before. Say 15 feet, give or take. Granted, we were in the car, but still, being 15 feet away from a bear is something that'll make your blood flow. After observing the bear and then letting it go on with life, we continued up the narrow road to see some more wildlife. This time it was two deer munching on some leaves.
As for the drive up to Moro Rock, turns out you can park right near the base of the top and then climb up about 400 stairs to reach the top. After about 10 minutes and some narrow stairwells and overlooking cliffs, we made it to the top, with a brisk chill on our faces. Joining in with the crowd of everyone else taking pictures, it really is quite a view. While the top isn't necessarily a better view than any other view along the road, there is something in just saying, "yeah, I've been to the top of that thing," not that it was that difficult at all.
We returned to our car with the hopes catching one last sight, General Sherman. However, first, we would take a slight detour to drive through the Tunnel Log for some kicks.
After following the signs to General Sherman, we found the parking lot. After another 10 minute walk down a paved pathway, the largest tree in the world finally came into our sight. There it stood, much like all the other giants and all the other animals in the forest, simply doing what it needed to do. It didn't need to be doing anything else, it just had to be a tree. We stayed to stare at General Sherman for a little bit, took a few photos for memories' sake and watched other people come and go do the same thing.
We saw some bears. We climbed the the rock. We saw the tree.
We spent the morning on the road, the afternoon among the trees, and the night back with the road. It was a simple day, but a worthwhile day. It was the day I wanted and the day I hope to have many more of in the future.