One of my favorite things in life is to go for a walk with my camera, be it in a foreign country or in my own neighborhood. Many moons ago when my camera and I were best friends I loved walking around downtown Los Angeles and snapping photos of the buildings. Okay, I’ll tell you how long ago it was… in the 1970s… are you happy now?
This was before downtown LA, the heart of the city, was resuscitated. Downtown was still in its death throes. The antiquated, derelict 1920s buildings were ready for the wrecking ball and the blah “modern” architecture was nothing but rectangular boxes. But I appreciated it nonetheless.
I graduated from UCLA in 1973 and my mother decided to buy me a good camera to celebrate. I don’t remember even expressing an interest in having a camera so it came completely out of the blue. Since I was a teeny kid I had always had a camera of some kind, probably Kodaks. But photography was definitely not my hobby.
She took me to some discount store long out of business now and we settled on a Pentax SLR. I had no idea how to use it so I took a variety of classes at UCLA Extension with some pretty high-flying photographers of the day. I loved every minute. I had my own darkroom for processing black and white prints and I was in heaven.
In those days, photography for me was an artistic expression. I enjoyed doing all kinds of weird things in the darkroom which I had set up in my bathroom. I hid in there every night with all those stinky chemicals and my partner at the time, poor guy, had to pretty much make an appointment to use the toilet!
Looking back on that time of my life I realize he put up with a lot from me, but that’s an entirely different story…
Although I respected Ansel Adams, I worshipped Jerry Uelsmann and aspired to be him.
Outside of the darkroom I liked shooting slide film. There was something about the transparency that spoke to me. And looking at the slides through a projector, the images came alive with the light. Slides were magical.
Gosh, if I had known what was to come with digital photography I would have jumped in the nearest time machine and fast forwarded.
In the mid ’90s, a long long time after I had given up on serious photography, I traded in my SLR and suitcase full of lenses and filters for an Olympus point and shoot. It was a great little camera and I loved the convenience.
When digital cameras arrived on the scene I bought another Olympus point and shoot that required four AA batteries. The resolution was low and the batteries lasted as long as a blink. I traded that in for an Olympus SP-350 8.0 megapixel. I still use and like that camera although it is incredibly slowwwwwwwwwwwwww…
So now I have my Canon Rebel T3i DSLR… and once again my camera is my best friend. I am painfully learning all its tricks. I spent a whole year in Auto mode but gradually I am feeling confident to experiment with aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc and get back to where I was with my Pentax SLR.
And once again I am happy to wander around the heart of the City of Angels taking pictures of the wonderful buildings… the Beaux Artes and Art Deco treasures of the 1920s, the boxes of the 60s and 70s, and the glorious designs of the 80s and beyond.
The area where I took these photos is known as Bunker Hill which since the late 1800s was a neighborhood of many lovely Victorian homes.
Over time it pretty much became a slum with working class people living in rooms in the deteriorating houses. So by the 60s the houses were cleared, the hill regraded, and office buildings, apartments and senior living accomodation moved in.
On this day LA was experiencing incredibly high winds. The down drafts from the tall buildings were pretty much lifting me off my feet and I don’t mind saying I was scared. So I was surprised to see these two helicopters circling around and around and around. I found out later the chopper at the bottom was filming the helicopter at the top for a scene in a movie starring The Rock.
I was told that despite the high winds the helicopters had been hired and had to fulfill the contract! You can see the camera at the front of the helicopter.
The 1920s and the late 1970s or early 80s (my guess) meet in downtown.
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