RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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A gift membership to the Huntington Library

The Huntington

A friend very kindly gave me a membership to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, approximately 20 miles (32km) northeast of Culver City and 13 miles (21km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. So as it was such a glorious day on Wednesday in the 70s (21+C) and sunny, I decided to make the trip.

My first stop to take a photo was at a fountain in the California Garden area. Two little girls were playing with the water. One was wearing a bright pink dress and the other was in blue. The reflection of these dresses in the water gave me the colors at the right hand side of the image. I’m sure the mother thought I was trying to capture pictures of her kids so I did my best to make it obvious I was only interested in the fountain. I took several shots but the one I liked the best was out of focus so I decided to play with it in Photoshop and make an abstract image out of it!

The Huntington

The Huntington

Now I have a membership I didn’t feel the need to rush around to every part of the gardens or visit the galleries as I can come back whenever I feel like it! So I just walked around looking for flowers and plants and scenes that struck my fancy.

The Huntington

I set my camera on Aperture Preferred (AV on my Canon) which is now my preferred setting! For a long time I set it to Program as the default and changed the aperture and shutter speed as necessary. But now I believe AV is better.



The Huntington
I know there are “purists” who scoff at anything other than strictly Manual. Good for them! I talked to one professional landscape/street  photographer who told me his dirty secret that 95% of the time he stayed in Program and let the camera do the work. It’s like painting. Anybody can take a brush and make a mess on a canvas. But it takes an artist to make something beautiful.

Walking towards the Desert Garden



The Huntington

Whether you are using a paintbrush or a camera, you still have to have an “eye.” I have a friend who owns all kinds of camera equipment but has no sense of composition. that’s the most important element.



The Huntington
So it doesn’t matter if you are shooting in Manual or Program or Aperture Preferred or with a point & shoot camera or a smart phone. If you capture a good picture, that’s the only thing that matters.



The Huntington
For me, walking around with a camera forces me to see things I probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. Today I was on my own. But I also enjoy going out with a friend because they might spot something I missed and vice versa.



The Huntington
The other issue that comes up is post processing. I happen to enjoy working in Lightroom and Photoshop. You can’t start out with a crappy photo and make it into a masterpiece on the computer. Ain’t gonna happen. But you start out with a well-composed, in focus, reasonably well-lit image and there is a chance you can make that into a masterpiece! I shoot in RAW so all my images have to go through Lightroom (or Camera RAW) anyway.



The Huntington
My favorite part of the grounds is the Desert Garden so I pretty much concentrated on that area. Next time I may avoid it completely! I was attempting to get some closeups and some general views. My favorite lens is my 18-135 zoom. It’s a kit lens and if I ever want to upgrade I am out of luck as there apparently is no stand alone lens in those lengths. But I’ll worry about that when I get there.



The Huntington

I’m hoping I can choose a couple of these to upload to Fine Art America where I have my portfolio. This one above might be a candidate.



The Huntington

The Desert Garden includes more than 5,000 species of desert plants in sixty landscaped beds. I don’t want to be the one to count them.



The Huntington

The weather was unbelievably pleasant. Cool and sunny is my favorite. I remember one visit to the Desert Garden when it had to be 100  degrees F (38C) and I couldn’t get enough water inside me. I’m sure all the cacti and succulents were having a great day!

The Huntington

I’ve never seen so many lizards cross my path. They must have liked the weather too and decided to come out for a stroll. One after the other they were darting out in front of me. No fear of humans.



The Huntington

I took almost 250 pictures this day! Lucky for you I won’t show all of them! But there are 42 in this post.


The Huntington

Unbelievable that it is necessary to post a sign reminding visitors not to carve their names or initials on the bamboo. Aaaargh…. people!

Click on an image below to see slide show of the rest of the photos, if you even made it this far!

See one of my previous posts about The Huntington here.


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Deck the halls of DTLA

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Los Angeles City Hall at right mirrored with Christmas tree

Thanks to my friend SB for walking around Downtown Los Angeles (otherwise known as DTLA) with me today. It’s no secret I love downtown and I especially love it at Christmas… otherwise know as “The Holidays.” As anybody who knows me is aware, I embrace all religions and follow none. But I was brought up with Christmas, so that’s the way it is!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

The above photo advertises El Dia de Los Muertos which is celebrated at Grand Park with installations honoring the dead, a Mexican tradition. The N.Y.E.L.A. poster is for the New Years Eve party hosted at Grand Park. At right is the reflection of the fountain.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

A reflection in a window of the fountain with Christmas decoration on the left half. I always love Christmas with palm trees! After being too hot, today the temperature was around 70F (21C), my perfect temperature!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We walked over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This was the window of the gift shop. We assumed the colorful tubes represent the pipes of the organ in the hall. And you can see the reflection of City Hall peeking up behind the pipes.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Decorations in the window of the gift shop with reflections of clouds and palm trees. How Southern California is this?

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

The exterior of the Broad Museum mirroring a reflection of the building next to it.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We walked over to California Plaza to look at the decorations. The Angels Flight train was coming up the track.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

City Hall in the background.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas trees reflected in the pool at California Plaza.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas tree and wreath inside the building with reflections from outside.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Another tree inside lobby of a building with reflections from outside. Obviously I’m obsessed with reflections!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Decorations inside the lobby, yes, with more reflections!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Looking upwards from California Plaza

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Next we moved on to Grand Central Market. Loved this neon ad for Frontier Whiskey!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Grand Central Market Christmas Tree

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

One Bunker Hill didn’t disappoint with their decorations. But the coffee bar was closed for the weekend.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations
One Bunker Hill is one of my favorite buildings any time of the year.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

A very decent tree at the US Bank Building, the “real” tallest building in LA.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We then transported ourselves over to the Biltmore Hotel. We had lunch there at Smeraldi’s. We each ordered the mushroom bisque.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Absolute heaven. And we split the prawn sandwich. Equally as good. Just enough food. Would do that again for sure!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

I adore the Biltmore. I could live there!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Now this is what I call a Christmas tree. The photo really doesn’t do it justice. Sorry.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations
They do a really great “tea” in the afternoons.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas in LA cannot be complete without a visit to the skating rink at Pershing Square. The little kids have “penguins” to hold on to. It’s great to see them fall and get up again and still enjoy themselves. A lesson there for all of us!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Looking up from Pershing Square.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Pacific Mutual always has some good decorations. I love all the 1920s buildings in downtown but this one is special to me as when I did my LA Conservancy training this was the building I had to present in order to become a docent. It’s hard for me to believe now but I was so nervous I almost decided to quit the program before I had to give my talk. Glad I didn’t!

After this we visited the brand new Wilshire Grand Hotel. We took the elevator up to the lobby on the 70th floor. I had a bad vertigo attack looking out of the windows as there are no railings to hold on to. Why not??? In any case it was horribly hazy from all the fires so I could not have taken any photos anyway. But it would certainly be an impressive view on a clear day. Some other time, for sure!


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FIDM: Fashion exhibit at the Gallery

FIDM

Last weekend I visited the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles for an exhibit. I was early so as I waiting for the other ladies in our group I wandered around with my camera.

FIDM is located in the south part of downtown now known as South Park. As you probably know, the city of LA is a sprawling mass and our downtown is appropriately spread out. I had never spent much time in this section of downtown. In recent years it has gained popularity as a residential area after being mostly occupied for decades by industrial buildings and residential hotels.

FIDM

FIDM

FIDM is adjacent to Grand Hope Park which I believe was created in the mid 90s. The park makes a nice campus area for the institute and includes a clock tower, kids’ playground area and a fountain. A small corner of green to relax in.

FIDM

You can see the buildings of downtown in the background behind the bougainvillea.

FIDM

One of the older 1920s office buildings amidst newer residential apartment buildings.

fashion-institute-121215-26-C-700px

FIDM

Nice to see water running in the fountain area. In the drought some places seem to be trying to make a politically correct statement by keeping the fountains dry, but it doesn’t make sense for various reasons. Anyway, this makes a very attractive area to sit and contemplate the world.

fashion-institute-121215-33-C-700px

FIDM

Grand Hope is such a lovely name for a park, not to be confused with Grand Park which is much larger and further north in downtown. This park is bounded on the west by Hope Street and on the east by Grand Avenue.

FIDM

With the conversion of so many 1920s office buildings to residential lofts, which in turn spurred the development of new apartments and condos, thousands of people now call downtown home. This necessitated facilities for families such as this jungle gym play area.

fashion-institute-121215-9-C-700px  fashion-institute-121215-10-C-700px  FIDM

The women I was waiting for showed up and it was time to venture into the Fashion Institute Gallery to see the exhibit.

FIDM

But first a couple of shots of this angel sculpture on the Grand Avenue side:

fashion-institute-121215-44-C-700px

FIDM

We see a lot of different kinds of angels around our “City of Angels,” but I’ve never seen one with a cat mask before… especially one with Donald Trump hair. If I had an angel outside my house it would have to be a cat!

FIDMThe first exhibit we saw was Fleurs: Botanicals in Dress. From the Gallery websiteRoses…Tulips…Orchids…Lilacs…Botanicals have grown around the human body for centuries through trompe l’oeil woven petals, shade-embroidered leaves, and dimensional silk bouquet applications. Fleursexamines these sartorial techniques that allow springtime to be eternal and the flowers to never fade.

I could certainly see myself walking into a room wearing this coat of chrysanthemums… hmm, maybe not. In 1967 this dress cost $3,000, a small fortune at the time.

I’m really not a dress or dress-up kind of gal but some of these are quite striking.

FIDM

This straw hat I was sure was from the 1960s so I was shocked to see it was actually from the 1820s.

FIDM

If I had to wear a dress I could enjoy wearing this black number

FDIM

And I’m sure if my beau showed up at my house wearing this jerkin I would swoon. But only if I was living in the 1600s!

FIDM

This piece is from the student gallery. Quite clever in its own way… the shirt folds up flat to fit in your suitcase!

FIDM

This wedding gown is from 1978 although some of us thought it looked more like a nightie… perhaps she was anticipating the next event. The groom’s suit behind was very natty… I liked the bell bottom pants.

We also saw the Donald and Joan Damask Design Collection, including art books, high fashion photography and a section devoted to Cecil Beaton, who among other things, was an Academy Award–winning stage and costume designer for the movie industry.

I am not generally that interested in fashion but I never turn down an opportunity to look at anything related to art and design. There is always something new to learn.

And now I think my camera and I will have to come back to this part of town and wander around some more.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Spidies, dragonflies and lions

spider-pavilion-093015-034-C-750px

It’s that time of year again for the annual Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum. This year I was able to get the earliest time slot for my visit, 10:00am. Last year my slot was at 2:00pm (you can see that post here) and I wondered if a morning visit would be better.

los angeles county natural history museumAs it turns out I think the afternoon was a better time. It seemed like last year there were more and different kinds of spiders hanging out!

los angeles county natural history museum

I asked one of the guides and she mentioned that in the afternoon is when most of the spiders like to spend time repairing their webs and generally tidying up. In the morning they have just had breakfast.

I had intended to just pop in, say hello to the arachnids, then jump back on the train to go home as there were a lot of things I needed to work on.

los angeles county natural history museum

But once I was there anyway, I decided to wander through the Nature Garden. I am a member so (other than my $45 annual membership) I have free access to the museum.

I love spending time in the garden as there is something different to see with each visit.

This beautiful orange dragonfly (above) caught my attention.

los angeles county natural history museum

Then I saw this couple swooping crazily around the pond. They finally settled on this leaf to consummate their nuptials. Baby dragonflies coming soon?

los angeles county natural history museum

The original couple abandoned the leaf and moved on to a twig that was floating by.

Word got around and pretty soon another courting couple arrived. A dragonfly orgy.

I was using my 18 – 135 telephoto lens from afar and had to crop the photo down quite a bit so the quality is not that great.

los angeles county natural history museum

 

los angeles county natural history museum

You can see why I wanted to take a photo of this bush. Even with the dried up brown flowers it is still spectacular. And you may remember I was visiting Catalina Island recently. (See post here.) On this trip we didn’t go far enough inland to see any specimens. But now I know about it, I’ll be sure to look for it next time.

los angeles county natural history museum

I was very happy to see this fountain working again. On my last visit it was shut off and I was afraid it was a permanent situation because of the drought. But I see no reason why fountains with recycled water cannot continue to run. City birds (and other creatures) have come to rely on human-created water features. And I love to see water fountains myself.

california science center

Next door at the Exposition Park Rose Garden this normally exuberant fountain has been silenced while surrounded by well-watered, green lawns. What is wrong with this picture?

http://www.laparks.org/exporosegarden/rosegarden.htm

Meanwhile, back at the Natural History Museum, I wandered into the Gem and Mineral Hall. From the NHM website: The Gem and Mineral Hall displays more than 2,000 spectacular specimens within two large galleries that comprise what is considered to be one of the finest exhibits of gems and minerals in the world.

If you click on this link there is a good photo of the hall. My photo above is of the Quartz Crystal Ball, one of the largest flawless quartz crystal balls in the world at 10.9 inch (27.7 cm) diameter and weighing 65 lbs (29.5 kg).

los angeles county natural history museum

Photo of just one wall in the hall. Whenever I visit the museum I never miss the opportunity to see the gems and minerals. I never cease to be amazed at the different varieties and configurations.

los angeles county natural history museum

Some photographers travel thousands of miles at great expense to shoot pictures of wild beasts. I only have to swipe my TAP card on the Expo Line for a 20-minute ride to NHM! These black rhinos were kind enough to pose for me.

los angeles county natural history museum

And these African lions are having way too much fun.

The dioramas in the African Mammal Hall (and North American Mammals) have been maintained since the 1920s. I still have vivid memories of seeing them the first time I visited the museum in the 1960s (the first time my family moved to LA). Although exhibits like these probably wouldn’t be created today, they stand the test of time and I enjoy the opportunity to study the animals up close and personal.

At this point in time I was ready to go home.

And it so happens I’ll be back at the museum on Sunday meeting some friends for the Mummies Exhibit.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


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Los Angeles Grand Park – Part Two – Arthur J. Will Fountain

grand park fountain

My visit to Grand Park in Los Angeles’ Civic Center concluded with a look at the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. (You can click here for my previous posts Part One and Part One and a Half.)

los angeles grand park

The fountain was originally constructed in memory of Arthur J. Will who was chief administrative officer of the County of Los Angeles from 1951-1957. According to the plaque, “His vision and leadership for more than 25 years of service to this community helped provide this great civic center as a symbol of good government and an inspiration for cultural growth.”

Los Angeles Grand Park

The restoration of the historic fountain included the installation of a new wade-able pool. As this was a very hot day I felt like stripping down to my underwear and joining the kids, but I restrained myself.

Los Angeles Grand Park

The mere sight of the water cooled me down considerably.

Los Angeles Grand Park

Los Angeles Grand Park

This is truly a beautiful fountain and I enjoyed walking around it taking photos from different angles.

Los Angeles Grand Park

If you can’t be at the beach, downtown is the place to be on a sweltering day!

Los Angeles Grand Park

Los Angeles Grand park

Before Grand Park was opened in the summer of 2012 this area was known as Civic Center Park because it is surrounded by county and city buildings.

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

City Hall in the background

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

As you can see the fountain is programmed to change the form of the water.

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

I told you I couldn’t get enough of this fountain.

Los Angeles Grand park

Los Angeles Grand park

So I hope you agree the Arthur J. Will Fountain is a pretty cool place to hang out on a summer’s day.

Please click on photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!