FURTHER AFIELD: Around Los Angeles

It’s archive time. A string of wet, gray days prompted a look through Lightroom’s bulging files and folders. Sometimes I scroll around arbitrarily, and sometimes I think of a place or subject and type it into the keyword field. Any archive review is bound to turn up something that deserves attention and this time, photos from a 2018 trip to Los Angeles caught my eye.

Before moving on to the photos I want to mention what happened to my Lightroom catalog and workflow process over the last few days. With the expert help of Alex Kunz, my impossibly messy catalog (the result of a computer crash, a hard drive crash and years of bad organization) has been sorted out and cleaned up. It’s a new world in there! And to top it off, I’ve learned that certain habits I had, like creating virtual copies every time I edited a photo, are unnecessary. The recycle bin is full (gotta remember to empty that!) and my editing process is now quicker and easier. What a difference! Kudos to Alex, whose services I highly recommend. Whether you use Windows or Mac he can help solve problems. His rates are reasonable, he’s trustworthy, he’s thorough – and he’s also a fine photographer.

The first image here is a view of Los Angeles from the hills above it, specifically the San Gabriel Mountains, northeast of the city. It’s not an exceptional image but it sets the scene for a trip we took in October 2018 when we spent a day or so downtown, explored the hills around the city, drove out to Joshua Tree and went to the beach.

1. A view of sprawling L.A. from Angeles National Forest.

2. Now we’re in the heart of the city, inside a funicular. Known as Angels Flight, this bit of charm is two old rail cars that run up and down a short, steep hill on narrow gauge track, right downtown. Fans of Harry Bosch books or the TV series may recognize this as the location for one of Harry’s cases; Angels Flight also appears in a number of movies and songs.

4. This photographer looked at home at the Bradbury.

6. The local vernacular style sometimes incorporates quasi-oriental influences like the bamboo motif on this building in Venice Beach.

7. A matte finish on this old Ford pick-up lets everyone know the owner is on trend, which we all know is important in L.A.

8. Back up in the hills outside the city, a yucca thrives in the dry southern California climate.

9. Bark detail, Angeles National Forest.
10. A Topanga State Park trail through oak woodlands. The park is within L.A. city limits.

11. On the side of the road up in the hills, discarded CD’s gathered dew and dirt. No one was listening. Somehow, finding a bunch of CD’s tossed into the grass way up in the hills was not unexpected in media-driven L.A.
12. Joshua Tree National Park is about two hours east of LA, and absolutely worth the trip. Here’s a typical Joshua Tree, actually not a tree at all, but a kind of yucca plant native to the southwest.

13. A fantastic tangle of desert plant material at Joshua Tree NP.
14. Plants and rocks find unique ways to interact at Joshua Tree.

15. One afternoon we drove out to Zuma Beach, a popular surfing spot about an hour west of downtown L.A.

16. These winter-plumage shore birds are probably Pacific Golden plovers. Zuma Beach.
17. A lone Yellowlegs pauses at dusk. This is Hermosa Beach, a beach-front city about 45 minutes from downtown LA that’s popular for hanging out, night and day.

18. Sunset at the pier. Hermosa Beach.



  1. A nice mixture of city and nature impressions Lynn. Again you found such special details, most people would have missed. I am so glad you are on your way with your camera ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to admit I never heard of this Bradbury buildung. How beautiful. I love this ancient architecture. How wonderful the interior has been built. So much details, so nice. These are the things I miss in modern architecture. And you are right: the woman fits perfectly into the scene. – No one was listening ๐Ÿ˜‰ When I read this I thought of nature playing cds out there ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe the grass or weed does play something, haha. I love the Joshua trees and the bark and the Yucca. 6, 8, 10, 14 (amazing!), the Bradbury and the last two pictures are my favourite this time. This “stuff” in picture nr. 13, is it this plant that the wind blows over the desert? And is it a plant at all? It looks like an accumulation of “something”…. Fascinating. It would be interesting to work with it ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • If you like this little taste of the Bradbury Building – google it – you will see much more. It’s hardly ancient compared to what you have in the EU! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it’s a beautiful building and the exposed elevator is really cool. People still have offices there. I like your idea that the grass might play the CD’s – imagine what it would sound like! Joshua Tree is a special landscape, full of magnificent rocks and fascinating plants. You’re thinking of what we call “Tumbleweed” and I bet you’re right! Yes, it would be fun to just hang it from the ceiling, you wouldn’t have to do anything with it (but weaving lights through it would be nice, right?).

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      • I looked for it and I am really excited about this building. Maybe it is not that old, but I like the architecture of this time very much. It is different from ours, more Art Deco I would suppose and different too, but very nice. The inside is awesome too!! – The picture with the stone is marvellous! It must be a wonderful scenery. Green meadows are nice, but the desert with its plants and rocks is fascinating too. – Tumbleweed, thank you. Yes, with lights in it or whatever ๐Ÿ™‚ It is an object which will be interesting at all times. Can I buy it anywhere ๐Ÿ˜‰ So fantastic! Do you have a name for the plant? I looked it up. There are a few similar plants in Europe, but not so great like yours!

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        • I can imagine someone packing up a big piece of tumbleweed for you in a huge box and sending it off to Germany…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I read that there are several different plants that people call tumbleweed because they all have the same property of sometimes detaching and then rolling across the ground. Kali tragus is one – it’s not native. I don’t really know what the normal tumbleweed species is in the American west. Glad you found more about the Bradbury. It really is beautiful.

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        • Haha, yes, a big package ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way I forgot: while reading about your new Lightroom catalogue I was thinking: that is just what I need!!! So great. On my computer I feel like working in a supermassive black hole ๐Ÿ˜‰ – Kali tragus, thank you. Hm, originated Eastern Europe? Was it blown over the ocean? Oh, maybe someone took it with him in a big big package ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. Thanks for the shout-out about my services, Lynn! I am glad that we successfully untied this Gordian knot. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe it will lead to more archive discoveries like this one – you captured a more complete picture of Southern California in a single post than I have in all these years! And interestingly, I found the cityscapes and city-abstracts most fascinating – maybe because that’s not something that I often photograph?

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    • I sure needed help, as you know. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You could be right about the appeal of the cityscapes. I love having the opportunity to photograph architecture and street life in large cities, at least in part because it’s such a novelty, but I’ve always been drawn to the city as well as the country. I’m glad you enjoyed the quick overview. Thanks again for helping me get back to square one, and for the workflow advice. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks Lenny, I had fun with that one…softened the background a bit, brightened the lighter parts, added detail to the foreground…I’m trying to take the time to make more local adjustments rather than adjusting the whole image, maybe like the bits of burning and dodging you would have done years ago. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. A beautiful and balanced set of images between the city and nature!
    It is always good to get details of what we have seen, to remember and, how often, to see with another look.
    Thanks for the tips from your experience with archives. New Year’s organizations are always important!

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    • I do like the city, and you know I like nature. And photography is such a great tool for appreciating what you see when you travel, both before and after the fact, as you know. ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. #9 seems a closeup of some lumbering creature’s eye.

    Your mention of Topanga Canyon in #10 took me back half a century, not to the place itself (which I don’t think I’ve ever visited) but to Neil Young’s album “After the Gold Rush” https://www.lamag.com/culturefiles/neil-youngs-imaginary-western/

    Hermosa Beach looks hermosa in your two pictures of it.

    Based on hours spent at Joshua Tree three years ago, I agree with you about its worth.


    • Maybe watch out for #9 – the bark may be worse than the bite. Oh, that was terrible. Re the beaches, each one’s a little different, and I think as long as your gaze is directed out toward the water, they are all hermosa. For whatever reason, I haven’t listened to Gold Rush in so long. Really takes me back…I think that song was on the jukebox at Max’s Kansas City when I waitressed there….I seem to remember racing along with stacks of dinner plates to it. The jukebox was one of the things that made waitressing doable. Topanga is quite beautiful, but fires are going to continue to be a huge issue there. Thanks, Steve, esp. for the prompt to go to the video. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Well, I like 2, 6, and 10. But 17 is ohhh!. And I love the bit in 7 about being “on trend” – don’t think I’d fit on thereabouts especially well!!!! = thereabouts’ loss??? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But in 3 and 4 your mention of Blade Runner, one of my certain all time favourite films, really got to me – wow!!! Wonderful stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I’d hoped you’d enjoy the birds but didn’t know about your affinity for Bladerunner. Oh, you’d have so much fun in that building! And Adrian, everyone fits in somewhere in L.A. ๐Ÿ™‚ .


      • Yes, my friend, I’m sure everyone fits in somewhere in LA – but the thought of a city of that size … oh! … London has always been too much for me, I’ve always felt very tired there. The UK is in two parts – London and the rest! I did enjoy the birds – and the 2 on the shore certainly looked like some sort of Golden Plover to me. ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. 14. Lynn finds unique ways to interact with plants and rocks. โค

    Sounds like you went through something very similar to my battle with the catalogues…. though mine was the result of a sneaky upgrade that Lightroom tried to pull on me. LR seems to be doing it's utmost to get me to move to the cloud. I've being much more attentive to how I click on its reminders. I simply refuse to rent software. I'm perfectly fine without all the latest bells and whistles. Don't fix what isn't broken! End of rant.

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  7. I’ve got to admit, if I have to look at L.A. I’d like it to be through your eyes…and camera. I doubt I’d ever want to spend much time in the city proper but the more natural areas sure do look appealing. And number 17 is just a wonderful image and not at all anything someone would look at and say “oh, that’s Los Angeles”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Topanga Park, where I assume Topanga Canyon is located, looks like a great spot. Thanks for the tour.

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    • I’ve always liked cities AND the countryside, but that’s an easier stance to take when you have a car and instant mobility. I doubt I’d feel that way if I had to live in a place like L.A. without an easy way out (which is, of course, rarely easy in that traffic). Yes, Topanga is beautiful – unfortunately, it’s the kind of place that goes up in flames only too quickly.

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  8. I never thought to see LA from this angle Lynn not having visited that far west ..always amazed at the sheer size of cities when laid out like this . It’s a fantastic view !
    A revisit to the realms of Blade Runner is definitely on the cards ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess the details pass one by in the midst of the film . Love the art deco style and of course choosing a B&W approach seems to fit so well .
    Lastly .. ah the ocean shots .. much to enjoy *sigh
    PS Sounds like the LR makeover with help was a great success . I bumble along with it Lol one step forward etc but it is my first line of processing for sure .

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    • That’s cool that seeing the first photo was useful, I’m glad. As much as I do focus in on details, I always like to have a context, to get my bearings by knowing what the bigger picture looks like. Yes, the ocean shots are torture this time of year. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      My LR mess was bigger than I realized and I’m still working on it, but having help has made a huge difference. Once it gets seriously out of whack (in terms of the catalog) it takes some effort to put things back in place. Thanks for stopping by!


  9. Southern Cal has some interesting things to offer, and you’ve found an eclectic collection. Actually, that reminds me, I have a couple posts worth of shots from down that way I’d forgotten about. (But I can’t blame a catalog, I primarily use a folder structure. It’s mostly just forgetfulness.)

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    • No doubt there’s a lot to see in SoCal! It’s so easy to forget about photos we have….I’ve been finding quite a few lately I never got around to looking at closely or editing. Now’s a good time, right? Have a good week, Dave.


  10. Hi Lynn, Some familiar scenes but each with your unique perspective. Isnโ€™t the Bradbury wonderful? And your other architectural shots are terrific. The shot of the rock dominating the foreground is excellent…I can feel the tension. I remember your CD shot, or one like it. A relic. Terrific series and one that may soon be closer to my heart.

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    • I bet most of these are familiar to you! Did you ever get up to the Wilson Observatory? That’s what we were doing one of the days in the hills, and we really enjoyed it – the early history of that place is very interesting. The Bradbury is delightful – the beautiful workmanship – that elevator. I like that the scale is manageable and that people still have offices there. It’s not a museum but instead, it’s carefully preserved, and still doing what it was built to do. Glad you like the Joshua Tree rock photo – that was a funny one. So many extremes there, what a great park that is. And the CD – you’re right, I posted a similar photo when we got back from this trip. I kicked myself for not using a smaller aperture on those photos – it was a unique scene I’ll probably never see again. I would have liked to have made better photographs. C’est la vie! Thanks Jane, enjoy your week!

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      • Have not been to Wilson Observatory but it is now on my list. And I have yet to hit Joshua Tree- on my list. On the CD- I think itโ€™s a fine photograph and we are always harder on ourselves but the good news is we are always evaluating, critiquing and striving to improve. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜‰

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  11. Pingback: Blogbummel zum Jahreswechsel – buchpost

    • Well, it’s true you’re not in the neighborhood. ๐Ÿ™‚ He does work remotely (that’s what we did) and he may not have a problem with the time difference – I think he’s used to time zone differences anyway. No harm in asking. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Julie, hope all is well with you!

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