Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Man on Rings

I have never actually been out on the Santa Monica pier before, so that's why we went down there.  After coming off the pier we went to this nice beach park that had regular swings, and this great set of rings.  There were about 6 or 7 rings hanging down from a long bar, so you could start at one end and swing from ring to ring.  What I hadn't expected was that some of these guys were really strong, and could swing with enough energy that they would end up way up in the air, as this guy did. He makes it look effortless, but if you have ever hung from these, you know it takes a lot of strength.  I love that this happened at sunset.

Monday, December 30, 2013

I Ate This!

We went to Border Grille in Santa Monica for dinner on the last night.  It is a great Mexican restaurant, and Liz, Amy and Kathy love Mexican food.  I wasn't quite in the mood for some reason, so when I spotted this burger on the menu, I was all in. Here is the description on the menu: CHILE RELLENO BURGER ground black angus brisket • roasted poblano stuļ¬€ed with manchego, panela, cotija cheeses • brioche bun chipotle aioli • romaine.  Wow!  I think this was the best burger I have ever had! Wow! Confession:  I could not eat the poblano - the girls shared that.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pretend That I Am Not Home Yet...

We arrived home Sunday night, but I have SO many photographs from Los Angeles that I haven't posted yet.  So please pretend that I am not home yet, and I will continue to show you some more photographs from the trip.  Betsey asked for more photographs from Matador Beach, and this is one of them - a view looking down at people walking on the beach, as seen from the cliff overlooking the water.  I think this one is pretty decent.

The Wedding Photographer

On the way down to Matador Beach from the top of the cliff, I saw a woman in a wedding dress being photographed by a guy in a tee shirt and an expensive camera.  She was sitting in the dirt, in her wedding gown, which seemed strange to me.  Later on I noticed that she was down at the water with her partner, and I watched as the guy in the tee shirt had them run into the water!  What?  In her wedding dress?  I guess.  So I did speak to him, and he said he was their wedding photographer.  I must admit, this is a very cool shot of the couple!  What I didn't ask was "When was the wedding?"  Like last week?  I mean, her gown was in no condition for any kind of reception, after this was over.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Matador Beach

After we had lunch at the seafood restaurant, Amy said that she wanted to show us a beach.  She said "there won't be any surfers there, though."  So she was setting us up, obviously.  THIS is the beach, called Matador Beach and it is absolutely stunning, with tall, steep cliffs going all the way to the beach, and in the water, these huge rock formations!  What an amazing and beautiful place.  This is the view from the top, and we walked down stairs all the way to the beach.  There were people with cameras everywhere and they all seemed to appreciate the beauty here.

"Neptune's Net"

Several days ago Amy took us up to this seafood restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway up in Malibu.  It is a destination place for everyone, but especially bikers.  There are special parking lots just for the bikes.  There were large groups gathered there that had ridden there together.  I had a lot of technical questions about the motorcycles, and everyone I talked to was really friendly and glad to share their knowledge.  I was talking to one guy who said he was from Bakersfield.  I offered that it seemed a long way to come for fried clams. (Bakersfield is two and a half-hours away.)  He said, "Hey, it is a beautiful day, I am on my bike, and riding with my buddies, and my wife and kids are home.  What's better than that!"

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Joy!

We have had such a nice day today!  After Christmas dinner, and leftovers, and a few games of "Balderdash" and "Catchphrase" the girls sang for us some Christmas carols in lovely and unusual harmonies.  They have been practicing for a couple of weeks now, and it was all acapella! You would not believe how beautiful their voices are together.  Then one of my favorite Christmas songs came on - Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby please come home)" and it is such a rocking tune, that Amy and Liz  and Sarah just had to dance around the living room.  Christmas joy, indeed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Our morning routine while here in Venice, is to go over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard and have coffee and some wonderful pastry at Abbot's Habit, a wonderful funky coffee shop.  This morning as we walked over, Amy brought along her new elf hat, which is just spectacular.  So naturally as we walked down the street, I was jumping around trying to get a good shot of it  And I think I got it!  I love this shot, as something new and different.  So from all of us, to all of you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


This is Chance.  Or rather Chantz.  I saw him on the Promenade where he was one of the street performers.  And what a performance!  Wow!  He starts out by singing a jazz number, and then he starts tap dancing, and THEN he starts playing his trumpet!  What a performance!  If all he did was one of those things, he would be amazing, and to do all three is incredible.  He always had a crowd around him watching, and a majority of the people made a donation to his "treasure chest."  I went up to speak to him during a break.  He is from New Orleans, and now lives in New York City, but travels around the country and the world performing.  He is the most exciting performers that I have ever seen on the Promenade!  I tried to photograph him while performing, but the light level was too low, and almost all the images were blurry. You can see him perform on Your Tube - search for Chantz Powell, or  try this link: < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W60_On-nxws >

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Accidental Twins

We went to the Santa Monica Promenade for dinner tonight, and then we wandered the promenade to do a bit of last minute Christmas shopping.  Of course, on the promenade, there are always performers of one kind and another singing, or dancing, or playing an instrument.  More on that later.  Meanwhile when we picked up Liz, we discovered that she and Amy were wearing the same jacket!  They knew they had these jackets, but didn't expect to be wearing them at the same time.  So I decided that this event required a photograph.  So here they are in the middle of the promenade.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cloud Shadow

We traveled to California today, for Christmas with our girls!  I, of course, took pictures out the window of the aircraft whenever I could, which wasn't very often.  The country was covered in clouds almost completely along our route.  We were somewhere in the western part of the United States when I looked down through a clearing and saw this black shadow on the red earth.  I figured that it was a cloud shadow, but which cloud?  A little more flying and it became obvious.  I just though that this was so unusual, to see a long cloud, and its shadow on the ground

Friday, December 20, 2013

Magic Trees

The woman who lives here is a theatrical lighting designer, so when Christmas comes around she always has interesting decorations.  I love the subtlety of these trees.  They are done with LED lights, and there are the more bluish ones, and the warmer, more yellow ones.  I had to photograph this scene on two different days.  The trick is to pick just the right time of day, so that there is still some daylight illuminating the rest of the scene.  The first time I did the shot, it was so dark that there was no detail in the house and lawn.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

ALMOST an Arizona Sunset!

I went into the back room late in the afternoon, and noticed a pink glow in the sky.  I quickly grabbed my camera and drove down to the water.  There I saw one of the more spectacular sunsets I have seen in a long time.  This morning I was reading a post by my friend Dean on his blog < http://theketelsens.blogspot.com > about watching a spectacular Arizona sunset, and I was feeling badly that we never get to see things like that.  Six hours later, and I have my very own Arizona sunset!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Night Walk II

These are relatively new natural gas turbine generators down near the old power plant.  I photographed them several weeks ago but didn't quite like the photograph.  I was in a bit of a hurry, for some reason, and some transmission towers I included along with the turbines made the picture busy and confusing.  So I planned my walk to take me back there at the right time, and made this picture.  The color of the lights illuminating the turbines and stacks is what first attracted me to this scene..

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Night Walk

Lately I have been going for my walks to the power plant at dusk, well after sunset.  Today it was really dark with overcast clouds and drizzle as well.  What's really interesting is how different the familiar landscapes seem in this light.  Fortunately, I am using my Canon 6D with high ISO sensitivity, so I can easily shoot in the really low light. I found all kinds of wonderful things today, but I am showing you this one because this is probably the best photograph about the weather, which has been snotty all day with light snow, then ice pellets, then freezing rain.  I am not looking forward to cleaning the driveway tomorrow morning.  It is solid ice.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Cup of Tea and a Reindeer

I was finishing up my cup of tea from breakfast, and noticed the light on the mug on the placemat.  I thought it would make an interesting photograph because of the dramatic shadow.  So I got my camera and started looking.  While I was looking, the sun moved, and I started to get the shadow of a metal reindeer candle holder on the place mat next to the mug.  I took it both ways, but thought it was far more interesting with the reindeer shadow in the picture.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

She Seems so Cold

I was coming up the driveway after getting the mail the other day, and glanced over to where the angel sits in the garden.  I decided to walk over to see how she looked.  She sure does look cold, doesn't she?  Brrrrrr.  She also looks lonely.  She has been sitting in the garden for a whole bunch of years now, and has only gotten better looking with age.  There appears to be lichen growing on her, which gives a sense of being old and weathered.  When I bought the statue in a garden store, I never dreamed I would photograph her so much.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nightscape II

This is another one of my nightscapes, from my late afternoon walks.  Obviously I didn't do this today - it's been snowing here all day long. One of the really cool things about my new Canon 6D is that I can shoot at high ISO settings (that's like "film speed" from the old days) and still get high quality images.  1600 was as high as I could go with my Nikon D300, but I can easily shoot with my Canon at 6,400 and still end up with decent quality images.  This is a loading dock for oil barges, and the yellow arms sticking up are davits for the boat that is used to install an oil boom, when needed.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Arnie's Book

This is Arnie, my friend and former colleague.  We both worked at Newsday for a long time, and we worked on a number of stories together.  His career included a number of years in Vietnam reporting on the war, and a number of years as a national correspondent.  He decided he wanted to put together a book showing some of the best stories from his career, so his grandchildren would know both what he did, and what journalism was during the golden age.  So he brought one of his finished books to the Dinosaur Breakfast today, and we got to look at it.  It is simply stunning!  Because the newspaper pages were scanned, and then reproduced in the book, you can see how the stories originally ran, and it is so cool to slight yellowing on some of the pages, which adds a powerful sense that these were newspaper stories.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Decorated for Christmas

This is the house just down the street, which I have photographed before.  What I loved when I passed by today was to see that the Christmas decorations were so subtle.  Simple and beautiful.  My impression is that this is pretty rare - most houses seem to be overdone, at least to my New England sensibilities.  Interesting, I photographed this at about noon this morning thinking I had a good shot.  I went out to get the mail at about 3:30 and thought the light was better, so I grabbed my camera, walked down the street, and shot it again.  So you're seeing the best photo!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


During one of my late afternoon walks I started to see familiar subjects in a completely different way.  This is the north end of the power plant that is being torn down.  During the day it looks completely abandoned, and so I was surprised to see lights in this section of the building where the offices are.  I love the blue light of dusk and the glow from both the windows, and from lights across the harbor.  I have never thought of photographing this plant from this spot.  It is only the light that makes it good.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gentle Snow

It was snowing when we woke this morning.  It was a gentle snow, with no wind to speak of, so the flakes stuck to the tree branches, making the world a magical landscape.  I started by shooting this out the bathroom window, AFTER opening it, so the window glass wouldn't ruin the sharpness of the image.  I did some other photographs a bit later on, but none had the wonderful feel that this one has.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Father Greg's House

We went out to visit our friend Father Greg where he lives and works.  He is in charge of training deacons for the diocese and lives at what was once a seminary.  I have been there before for stories for the paper, but had forgotten  so many details.  So tonight we got the full tour.  The building is beautiful, and the architectural details are just stunning.  It was built in 1929.  This is the painted ceiling of the chapel - can you imagine what it took to paint all of this?  Please click on this to see it in more detail.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Sick Trees

The trees are sick.  They have been for a while now.  I didn't really notice it at first, but there was a mention of the trees in the Sea Cliff village bulletin, where they described how they are dying, but they are being replaced.  These are Sycamore trees, and two rows of them line the walkway by the harbor.  As you have seen, these rows of trees are one of my favorite subjects.  You will notice in this photograph that these two trees have most of their limbs removed.  And you will see where three others have already been cut down and replaced with new, younger trees.  I don't remember what the cause is - it may be just old age, because they are replacing the old trees with new Sycamores.  It is sad to see the trees die, and the symmetry destroyed as well.  This photograph below is what the trees that are still healthy look like in all their strange beauty.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's All About The Background

I was bagging the last of the leaves, and as I looked down at the pile on the ground, I noticed this single Hosta leaf on the top of the pile.  It stood out because it was black around part of its edge.  So I saved the leaf because I liked that the colors were so muted.  I wanted to photograph it, but I realized that the background would make all the difference.  I thought about pieces of wood both light and dark, or other leaves, or cardboard, or brick or the surface of the driveway.  Then I thought of dirt.  That would be a natural background, and since it was dark, it would become less significant.  So I went over to one of the gardens with a rake, and pulled up some weeds, and carefully raked the soil clean, and here was my perfect background. I love how the whole picture is muted, and warm.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The "Salvage Princess"

I went for a walk late in the day, and while photographing the power plant from some distance away, a man came out from behind a gate next to me to talk about how beautiful the plant is.  There has been a marine salvage yard hidden behind a fence for at least 20 years.  I always wondered what was in there.  Turns out, the man who spoke to me was the owner, and is a really friendly guy and we talked about the history of the waterfront.  He invited me inside, and this was the first thing I saw.  It is a sculpture he bought down in Florida and he shipped it up here, where it sits in his yard.  He called it "The Salvage Princess."  I am glad he let me photograph it.  He also invited me back to take more photographs at another time.  What's better than that!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I saw fog outside the window when I woke up this morning, so I jumped in the car and headed down to the water to see what I could find.  The fog was not that dense, but I wandered around and photographed the trees from different angles and from different spots along the road.  Then I turned around and did some photographs of the tree and bench on the point by the water.  After a while I turned around and was stunned to see that the fog was so dense I couldn't see to the end of the street!  I guess the wind shifted just a bit and more fog blew in from the water.  Man, you have to be paying attention all the time!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Madonna in the Window

It was late in the day, I had no blog shot yet, and I needed to go to the post office to buy some stamps.  I happened to look up at the house across the street as I left the post office, and way up high I saw this small window.  I have photographed this house before - the last time when they had pumpkins on their front porch.  I saw something small and white in the window, and then realized what it was, so I grabbed my camera out of the trunk, and put the telephoto lens on it to shoot this.  There is something wonderful about people who would put this statue in a tiny upstairs window, to look out on the world. Please click on the photo to see the statue in more detail.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An Ordinary Sunset

I am tired of overcast skies and snow, so when I was out on my bike ride today I was thrilled to see a beautiful orange sun low in the sky.  When the sun gets this low in the sky, it has to shine through a lot more atmosphere before reaching us and as a result it is much dimmer, and we can see it as a disk, on the right kinds of days.  Like today.  So it is an ordinary sunset, but it brightens my day to see it.

Monday, December 2, 2013


We went to a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, and while waiting for a table, stood by this fish tank. When I first saw this fish - I hate to say it - I thought it was ugly.  Then I spent more time studying it, and realized that it was an amazing fish!  I have never seen anything like this, and the more I studied it the more I realized how beautiful it is.  There are curious markings on the side of the fish that look like Chinese characters.  I wish I knew more about what kind of fish it is.  Please click on it to study it in more detail.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Not Quite Ready for Christmas

One last photograph from upstate.  While wandering around in the back yard I came across this small pine tree.  It reminded me of a Christmas tree, except for the fact that it was so sparse.  It is only a seedling, I think, and perhaps one day it might fill out enough to be brought inside.  But that will be a long time away, I think.