Symmetry: Eye of the…Mall?


In downtown San Francisco, there’s a multi-level shopping mall with an atrium and a skylight. If you stand in the dead center of the atrium and look up, it resembles an eye, looking down at you through a giant microscope.

A response to the Symmetry photo challenge.


Spiraling Down into the Depths


A few years ago I visited Hearst Castle on a trip up the California coast to San Francisco. The “Castle” is actually several elaborate buildings up on top of a hill overlooking the ocean, surrounded by the Hearst Ranch. If I remember correctly, this stairway wasn’t actually part of the tour, but opened up next to our route, and I paused for a moment to take a look and a picture. No doubt it leads to a wine cellar.

Response to the “Depth” photo challenge.

Icy Hot?


It’s hard for me to really pick a photo that says “warmth.” Perspective on cold is different in Southern California, where winters approach but rarely drop below freezing, and the winter rains make December through April the greenest months of the year. So we don’t use fires much, and flowers and greenery make me think of the cool winter/spring weather instead of the hot, dry, brown summers. Even beaches make me think of late afternoon ocean breezes.

So I thought I’d pull out a shot for irony: An “Icy” warning sign somewhere in the San Gabriel Mountains, seen during the warmth of spring…when it most definitely isn’t icy!

Carpet of Yellow Flowers

Blanket of yellow flowers

There are a lot of jacaranda trees near where I work, lining the walkways through the business and hotel parks and lining the sidewalks along the street. There are also a lot of these trees, which look so similar that I assumed they were more jacarandas until the first spring I was here, when they bloomed bright yellow instead of light purple. From what I can tell, they’re Tipuana trees, also known as Pride of Bolivia trees, and despite the similarities, they aren’t closely related.

The flowers act the same, though, dropping in thick blankets as spring turns to summer.

This particular tree, sadly, is no longer there. It was ripped out this fall, as part of a massive landscaping project to convert one of the office buildings into a hotel.

Abandoned Railroad

Abandoned floppy disk on tracks

This week’s photo challenge is “abandoned” — kind of like this blog was for a few months. 😉

A few years back, I explored a disused spur of railroad tracks branching off of the main line into a light industrial area of town. In many places, the tracks had already been ripped out, leaving only gravel paths (and in some cases stepping stones, as seen below) between buildings that no longer needed freight access.

I found this floppy disk sitting on the track, and the combination of an obsolete data technology and what I thought of at the time as an obsolete transportation technology just struck me.

A path of stepping stones between two buildings.The funny thing is, trains in the form of light rail have made a resurgence in the last few years. Los Angeles’ Metro rail system, started in the 1990s, has expanded dramatically. I actually commuted myself along the Green Line at one point, and while normally that meant driving halfway there to pick up the end of the line, there were a few times I tried picking up a connecting (well, not quite connecting) train from Metrolink, at a station not far from this spot. In fact, the track in the first two photos has since been converted into a footpath connecting a shuttle stop to the commuter rail station.

Let There Be Light! (Weekly Photo Challenge)

In the Lamppost Forest

Urban Light at LACMA is a large square filled with over 200 lamp posts that the artist collected from various locations over several years, spaced wide enough to walk through comfortably. It’s like being in a forest of lamp posts — perfect for this week’s challenge.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t even planning on going there. We went to see the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum at the other end of the park. Oil has been seeping out of the ground for thousands of years, trapping animals and preserving their bones in an incredible collection of ice age fossils. But the parking lot on that side of the park was full, so we parked in the LACMA structure at the other end.

Unexpected (Weekly Photo Challenge)

Tales of the Unexpected

I spent Saturday at a comic book convention, so naturally the first thing that came to mind when I read that this week’s theme was unexpected was this: the old comic book series, Tales of the Unexpected. I had to look through a few back issue bins, but found a few issues.

Long Beach Comic and Horror Con is, despite the name, one of the most comic-focused conventions I’ve been to. Mostly I looked for books, watched displays and people in costumes, listened to discussions by writers and voice actors, and talked with a few artists. Plus in the middle of the day, after lunch, I wandered around the Rainbow Lagoon park adjacent to the convention center. You can read up on the event, or look at more of my photos from the con, featuring costumes, pop culture cars and sightseeing.

Layers by the Sea

Sea Cliff

The Palos Verdes peninsula sits at the southwest corner of Los Angeles. Parts of it are built up in old, grid-style suburbs. Other parts are of the more modern, winding type. And still other parts remain open space, due in part to the unstable geology of the area. Parts of Portuguese Bend are sliding toward the ocean, requiring frequent repairs of the main road along the coast. Way back in 1929, a housing development began sliding into the ocean. Abandoned now, the area remaining above land is known as the sunken city.

Adjacent to those ruins is Point Fermin Park, an ordinary city park that sits atop the cliffs. The Point Fermin Lighthouse (previously featured here) looks over the sea, and a fenced walkway runs along the length of the cliffs.

Looking out here, you can see the layers of rock, and understand how parts of the point could just slide away. The warning signs on the fence don’t surprise me, but I have to wonder just who would want to climb out there.

Eerie: Cave Ghosts, Moon and Fog

Halloween moon

On learning that this week’s photo challenge is “eerie,” I started thinking of all the photos in my library that might fit. My mind immediately went to this one, a shot of a nearly-full moon behind ragged clouds taken, appropriately enough, on Halloween last year.

Just about all of my “eerie” shots involve the moon, or clouds/fog, or both. For instance, this view of fog pouring over a hillside at sunset, and the shadows of the trees inside it.

Fog Shadows - Black and White

Or this one, a this scanned photo of a lunar eclipse from 1994. I’m fairly certain that the bright splotch is the moon, and the rest, including the ring and the sharper image at upper right, are lens artifacts. It’s been so long that I don’t remember any specifics of taking the photo.

Eclipse Ring

Finally I remembered a series of photos I took at the Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii, trying to use natural light (with only the cave walls to brace the camera) and picking up ghost images of the other tourists wandering through.

Thurston Lava Tube Ghost Images

I have some more shots of that cave over at K-Squared Ramblings. That’s also the blog where I’m trying to do NaBloPoMo this month. I started yesterday with a post about yesterday’s shooting at LAX and the spillover it had on the parts of town near the airport: roads closed, constant helicopter noise, sirens, and thousands of stranded travelers leaving the airport on foot, trudging over a mile dragging their luggage in a ragged line. You know, if I’d thought about it and found the right position for a photo, that would have made for a good “eerie” image.