Feb 202018

Venice Beach Street Photography

Sometimes I liken photography to fishing. You just have to pick your spot and be patient. I know I’m not the first to make the analogy, but it’s often fitting. With varying success I’ve waited in one spot for close to an hour at times, hoping something would materialize in front of a background I’d found interesting. Some serious nature photographers have been known to stay in one spot for days. Yesterday an opportunity to go fishing arose after a rare hailstorm visited Venice Beach. The weather, which lasted all of 5 minutes, was enough to get me outside, but didn’t itself yield any great images. But the late-afternoon, white winter light light mixed with the overcast skies and freshly soaked pavement motivated me to stay out a while longer looking for photos. One of the first things to catch my eye was a beam of light illuminating some corner shops on the boardwalk, causing their bright yellow signage pop out against the dark, grey-blue skies behind them. I knew the spot would make for a great image if something interesting passed by and decided anchor myself, to continue the analogy, and see what would happen. A couple skaters passed by as well as a group of pedestrians who, after the rain, had reemerged in search of rainbows. I made some decent frames over the course of a few minutes before a cloud passed in front of the sun, taking the life out of my background. I figured that might be it and nearly moved on. That’s when I looked to my left and and spotted a couple walking my way pushing a bulldog in a pink-lined baby stroller. I decided to stay put. Just as they approached the sun re-emerged and everything lined up and I reeled in a big one. Okay, that’s enough of that. The point being, it’s nice when you put in the time and are rewarded with a nice fish. Er, photo.

Jan 092018

Frail ankles, Paris

First snow of the year - Montmartre, Paris

Eiffel Tower at night - Double Exposure

The best way to see a city is off season and on foot. This is a belief held and practiced by both my wife and myself, sometimes to our own discomfort, but usually more to our benefit. In the past few years we’ve sweat our asses off in Bangkok and New Orleans, frozen our asses off in New York, racked up some serious kilometers in Vancouver and most recently, strolled throughout Paris and, for a day or so, nearby Beaune in Burgundy. In short, the advantages of the off season are that it’s cheaper and less crowded, allowing us to see and do more with less money and time. The downside? The weather. It usually means very hot or very cold conditions, which is of course what keeps the tourists away. However, living in Venice Beach, the 2nd most visited place in California next to Disneyland, we’ve come to appreciate visiting places when most others wouldn’t. We also both grew up in the midwest and somewhat pride ourselves in being able to tolerate extreme temperature swings on both ends of the spectrum. Therefore, in late November, we found ourselves somewhat freezing as we put in roughly 6-12 miles a day walking throughout Paris.

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Jun 152015

Bangkok China Town

Bangkok Silom red light district

The Tiger Balm burned my skin and eyes, mirroring the burning sensation in my mouth still lingering from the chili pepper I’d bitten into moments earlier while eating breakfast in Lumphini Park in 90-degree, muggy weather. It was only 9 a.m. on the first day of our visit, and so far Thailand could be summed up best in just one word. Hot. Only 24-hours earlier I would have probably passed on all three of these circumstances — receiving a massage from a stranger in a park, eating spicy street food for breakfast and willingly sitting outdoors where the temperature and percentage humidity seemed to compete to be the first to reach triple digits. But as the saying goes, “When in Bangkok … sure, I’ll try that.”

It was late April and we’d arrived in Thailand the night before to kick off a 17-day trip around the country. It was the first time for both of us visiting Southeast Asia, and we were excited to see as much as possible, heat be damned. We’d chosen late April through early May because it was the shoulder period between the high-tourist season and rainy season. The tradeoff is heat, but we thought it was still the best option and had the added incentive of lower travel prices. The trip started in Bangkok and from there we went to Chiang Mai and Pang Mapha in the north, followed by Krabi and Ko Jum in the south and back to Bangkok to fly home. While the travel itinerary was pretty tight, we only had a few major objectives. See as much as we could, eat as much local food as possible and, last, but certainly not least, get married.

Mission accomplished on all counts! Though the last objective turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, I am happy to announce that on April 29th we officially tied the knot! I’ll get to that story later though, as too much happened to include it all in one post.

Bangkok is a bustling, dirty metropolis. In some ways, it was my favorite leg of the trip. A visual smorgasbord of signs, power lines, vehicles, people and markets teeming with things to buy, it’s a street photographer’s paradise. It also doesn’t hurt that the king himself, whose visage is plastered on numerous walls and billboards throughout the country, is known as a hobbiest photographer to the point that he is pictured on the 1,000 Baht note holding a camera. I was a little disappointed that it was overcast much of the time we were in Bangkok, but there would be plenty of color to be found later in the trip. We covered much of the city on foot, managing to wind our way through a number of areas including Chinatown, Bo Bae, Wat Pho, Silom, Khao San Road and places in between. Each had their own flavor, and often, the places in between turned out to be more interesting than the intended destinations.

When we weren’t walking, we found relief for our aching feet on the modern BTS train system or by taking an incredibly affordable water taxi up the Chao Phraya River. The air was surprisingly cool on the water and offered a unique view of the city.

While the food was amazing through most of the trip, Bangkok gave us some of our best experiences. While we stopped for meals, it was often just to take advantage of the restaurant’s air conditioning and to rest our legs over a water or ice cold Singha. The abundance of great street food allowed us to snack our way through the days. Khanom khrok, kuay tod, khanom bueang and moo ping, (to name a few foods whose names I’ll never remember) followed by copious amounts of water and iced coffee, kept us going through the afternoon. Dinners would often be something along the lines of tom kha kai soup or a noodle bowl and a Chang. One night we splurged at a high-end restaurant, and while it was amazing, were were often just as happy with the quality of the street food we found at a fraction of the price.

After a few days in the city, it was time to head north to Chiang Mai and to the caves of Pang Mapha. I’ll pick it up from there on the next post. Lot’s of photos after the jump!

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Nov 112014

Los Angeles Grand Central Market

Los Angeles Mark Twain Hotel Hollywood

I’ve been too busy to post regularly lately, but I recent visit from my sister and her boyfriend gave me an excuse to take a break, play tour guide and explore the city.  Here are a few scenes and encounters taken along the way. Places visited include Grand Central Market, Hollywood Blvd., the Griffith Observatory and Little Tokyo. While we had a great time, please note that we were not entirely responsible for all of the empties pictured at the bar!

View from Griffith Observatory

Hollywood Blvd. Star Maps

Hollywood Blvd. Homeless

Little Tokyo Near East Bar bartender

Feb 142012

Love is in the air - Valentine's Day

Love is in the air

Happy Valentine’s Day! I caught this scene while waiting in line for an amazing rattlesnake and rabbit sausage at Wurstküche in downtown Los Angeles two weeks ago. I thought I’d save it for a Valentine’s Day post. The hearts are a creative take on the ubiquitous, and most often ugly, bolts that have been applied as seismic retrofitting for many of the city’s older buildings.

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