travel photography

Return to the Huntington -- November 2018

Return to the Huntington

The Huntington is by far one of my favorite places in Los Angeles — I actually have an earlier less organized set on this blog from my first trip around the Huntington — Clickthrough here. I mean, I know The Huntington Gardens and Library, etc, are in San Marino, which is really just Pasadena, which is really just Los Angeles. Go Figure. I’m not really a huge history buff, so I’m far far too unqualified to talk much about the history, but the whole thing is pretty fascinating. I’m not usually a fan of collectors or flexers, but The Huntingtons really knew how to do it right -- Money can’t buy taste -- but it helped. 

Before I met up with my father for lunch, I took a brief walk  around Downtown LA, near my apartment, and met him at his hotel -- which is by far one of the oddest most surreal places I’ve been to in LA (I stayed there while my building was fumigated two ish years ago -- the Hotel isn’t even one of the most mysterious or haunted ones in Downtown, but again another story/photo series for another day…) I did some street-ish photography, and met up with my father to get coffee before we had lunch.

After lunch, my father and I picked up Kristina and headed over to the Huntington. This round I walked around the grounds of The Huntington Library and Gardens was much different experience — I was going with other people. It was a very different experience roaming the grounds on a weekend, and with other people but not unenjoyable at all. It definitely was good to be able to compare thoughts on the gardens, and the art with other people. The grounds were magnificent as ever, and this round I even saw some interiors (not pictured here).

I believe (rough guess) The route we took was as follows: We Entered normally, cut through some of the grounds, skipped going into the greenhouse and back to the Mausoleum (which, let’s be honest is a pretty awesome way to stunt while grieving). Then travelled through the Chinese Garden (something my father is immensely fascinated with -- gardening, and to a lesser extent, the design and planning that goes into the elaborate Chinese style gardens and grounds.) Then through the Japanese Garden -- took a water break -- it was really unseasonably hot that November/October.

Shooting the Chinese and Japanese gardens were a bit of a challenge this round -- I quickly found that because of the abundance of tourists, I had to be very careful while shooting to get the shots I wanted -- and that within limited reach, I really couldn’t use a wide angle like I had done the last time. So, as has become the standard I slapped my Rokkor 50mm MC PG 1.4  onto the Minolta XD-11 pretty quickly, and it stayed there all day. The only other equipment note I can bother to give here is that everything you’re seeing was shot on Agfapan APX 100 during my test-period for that film. I think some of these photos have my favorite look I’ve ever seen/shot -- I know that for sure while the lighting helped the photos, I was using Rodinal 1:50, semi-stand, pushed to 160, and I think that really “made” the photos. I think while the gardens are colorful, after the major floral bloom it looks much more compelling in black and white too. Everything was scanned through the Epson V600 -- you can read my opinions on that here. That’s gonna be the end of me talking tech/equipment shit here -- there’s really not much else to say.

If you weren’t aware, the Huntington Gardens are large and sprawling complex. After we wrapped up our water break, we headed for the Desert Garden which was of particular interest to my father -- who, I believe if he ever retires, will likely move to a desert of some kind -- provided it has mountains. By this time, we were starting to get the really beautiful diffuse late-day light, you sometimes get in southern California, that’s somewhat like golden hour, but isn’t quite. Word salad I know, but bear with me here. By far the Desert garden is the most interesting garden, or at least it looks the most totally alien.

We walked the Desert Garden end to end, and headed on to the Lilly pond -- Which was likely the only place in the Gardens that day that I felt like the Agfapan APX 100 wasn’t quite fast enough -- don’t get me wrong; I really like the photos I got from it (that I’m presenting here) but some of them felt kinda jank while shooting. Like they worked, and I got more or less what I wanted, but it’s not *quite* optimal. After scaling up the hill, we worked our way back across the grounds once more and then ended up back at the main Mansion, and I suppose one of the three main art galleries. The collection they had was, is? Really impressive, specifically their portraiture gallery. Definitely food for thought for a portrait project. I should’ve taken photos inside, but lacked the film I needed to do it right.

It was late in the day once we’d finished up in the Mansion we were about ready for dinner. We exited out onto the lawn and walked the grounds, down to the Fountain. It’s long been on my must return to/to shoot areas, but that day was not in the cards for me shooting -- there were actors doing some community theatre tier play or something on the lawn, which made it near impossible to get the shots I wanted. So I grabbed a couple last shots of the statues and we all filed out back to the car, and headed for dinner at MHZH over in Silverlake.

There’s not much real technical photographic takeaway here -- maybe label your film so you know you need to push a roll or two differently than the rest. The real takeaways I got were as follows: a 50mm is more than enough lens for you for most applications. Just get clever. And carrying around a giant-ass or even medium-ass sized camera bag sucks, especially when you’re out with non-photographers and you’re really just trying to enjoy your day out, but also get some good shooting done, because you’re a compulsive shooter. Honestly, I had a very nice day shooting and walking, but I think it would’ve been dramatically improved for everyone had I not been toting that stupid bag.

Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed this content -- please pick up a zine or shirt in the shop. Every purchase helps keep the lights on here.



Maine - July/August 2017

Honestly, I probably should’ve posted this a year ago or like whenever I started doing heavy updating to my website/blog on a regular basis, but y’know -- whatever.

This was a while back, when I was in the habit of carrying around *three* separate Minolta XD 11/7/s cameras. Yeah I know, I’m cringing too. Around the same era as the trip out to the Trona Pinnacles. -- Actually some of the film from that trip got processed in the same batch — also in fairness, it’s not like 2 years is that long of a time — it kind of is, but it’s not — really.

Anyway, I typically take one trip home a year, in addition to the holidays. In 2017, I went home in late July or early August. Maybe both. I can’t quite remember the dates of the vacation. Either way, I did a lot of shooting. Too much to be honest.

I hate tech specs, but, this was one of my first real multiple day landscape outings with the  24mm, so that tends to dominate a lot of the photos I took. I think I was also trying out the 100mm/135mm and making a last stab at telephoto landscape -- two years later, I think I’m willing to say I’m not much of a fan, but in selected uses, it’s alright.

I also decided (stupidly) to have a professional lab develop my bnw film. They fucking ruined 8 rolls of it. I had to pull teeth to get to my money back for a lot of the service/film. The owner of the lab is a really nice guy. The lab shall go unnamed, but to this day, it still really pisses me off when I see some of the botched photos -- some of them would’ve been really great. Beyond thaft I still think their scan/dev (on black and white) is way way overcranked/overcooked/contrasty (to my taste). Their interpolation/correction on the color is actually still one of my favorite jobs/batches of film. Also they kinda fucked up the Bergger Pancro 400 (I think this was actually my first time shooting the film). Bergger’s low contrast but this is… special. I’ll also throw in that as much as I generally dislike lab-done bnw development for my own work, there is something really nice about the low amount of dust contamination in the scans. I’m not naming the lab because we more or less reached a reasonable settlement, and genuinely, the seem like nice people, and it was an unforeseeable accident.

At any rate, Acadia is really beautiful, though I doubt these photos are really doing it any justice. That said, I honestly think the ultra-muted Bergger Pancro actually is a fairly accurate representation of Portland Head Light, and probably some of my favorite shots of it, ever.

At any rate, I also ended up taking a few walks around Portland during the trip. I think I finally started to get the city “right.” in terms of portrayal, etc -- I incorporated a bit of that photography into Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but always have looked for a good place to put up some of the rest of my photos from that same period. I’d like to believe I started to get the city “right” but time will tell. I’m actually covering the city for Around the World in 80 Cameras (a Kosmo Foto project) with my Minolta XD-11 (don’t worry, I’m going to produce new content/photos for it, and y’know an actual XD-11 review instead of me joking around about the camera for a couple pages -- I’m going back soon, in May, and plan to cover it then).

I guess of note, also, is that I was shooting mostly Fujifilm Pro 400h for color around this time (I think there’s like one roll of Ektar snuck in -- it’s pretty obvious -- and I think some Ultramax 400), I probably have enough to do one of my writeups/reviews, but for the life of me, it’s just so poorly documented -- I don’t know if I could conscientiously do a decent writeup. Also I wasn’t really in the habit of pushing a film’s limits or exposing 1 stop over for color. Likewise, the same thing follows for Acros -- Shot a lot of it, but the documentation isn’t really there so I have no clue what I’d really report on aside from like “ACROS GOOD” “XTOL and ACROS GOOD.” Or like Pro 400h (and it’s slow speed sibling, Fuji Pro 160NS) is actually really excellent for the East Coast/New England and the color profiles that pop up there, or like the greenery in that region is more conducive to using cool tone film for the blues/greens, where the sunny, warm-toned west coast makes it maybe a little more feasible for Portra 400. I could probably also do a similar thing with Ultramax 400 -- but I dunno -- the documentation just sucks, and while I’m happy enough to share weird (old/past) plateau moments or photosets, providing bad documentation or just another mediocre film/camera/lens review that basically amounts to “look at these photos I shot with this, with no real insight” isn’t really something I’d feel great about doing or posting up.

Anyway, I think this trip is also kind of a weird important piece of chronology for a few reasons. Primarily that A: It was the last time I saw my friend Matt. B. After shooting that much in quick succession, my eye did a huge leap forward. Because these things run in plateaus and spikes more than anything else. C. This was the last trip or set of hikes/walks I took without my Pentax 6x7, and was done entirely on 35mm cameras. I may revisit only using a 35mm camera in the future. I’ve got a lot on my mind gear-wise, most of it seems to involve stripping back more or continuing to limit myself.

One other odd thing is that I had a crappy point and shoot, A pentax 110 iq-zoom I think — nothing special but fun to mess around with. I’ve been kinda re-thinking my stance on zooms lately, so funny to see this here.

I still wish I’d spent a little more time in Lewiston or shot more there. I’m finally making some time to do that, but it’s still a bit of a sore point. I feel like the years of not shooting it or kinda avoiding the city (I’m using the Maine definition of “city” -- not really a city per-se, but definitely a city by the population standards of the state) finally added up into me wanting to take a serious look at it, from both a personal standpoint, and one that lines up with my own family’s history with it. It is what it is.

This is probably the most informal/actual blog-ey post I’ll do, but I just wanted to put some (a lot of) photos up, and keep some kind of stream-of-content running so the website stays up and ranked. So, I dunno -- Don’t read the text if you don’t really care about me grousing and complaining about photo processing -- just look at the nice (ish) photos of Maine, and hope that it helps sell you on why tourism is the number one industry in the state, and rich Bostonians and New Yorkers bought up half of Portland on the cheap, because they’re carpetbaggers.

Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed this content, pick up a zine in the shop or swing by the Independent Art Book Fair in LA next weekend.

Huntington Library (i) -- 12/17

Huntington Library (i) -- 12/17

A walk around the Huntington Library and Garden. Testing a few different films and meditating on losses. Shot on the Minolta XD11, and primarily the 24mm md 2.8. The films used were: Fomapan or Arista 200, Fuji Neopan Acros, and Rollei Ortho 25.

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The Japanese Garden -- 4/18

I normally avoid the Valley. I call it Mordor. But Kristina and I were looking for something to do that Saturday, so we piled out to see “The Japanese Garden” which apparently isn’t just a garden but also a method of recycling sewage. Also it showed up in Star Trek, apparently. Pretty neat, but not quite as cool as the Huntington, or at least the Huntington’s Japanese Garden.

I think I burned a roll of fuji C200 to start, then switched to Ektar at the end. I also know I shot my 24mm lens for most of this.

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Hermosa Beach -- Kodak Photo Walk -- 4/18

Hermosa Beach -- Kodak Photo Walk -- 4/18

Kodak Photowalk around Hermosa Beach led by instagram famous, and generally great photographer, Pete Halvorsen. Shot all on Kodak Ultramax 400 and Kodak Ektar 100. Pleasant surroundings and amazing sunset for the photowalk. I shot it all on my Minolta XD11.

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