Los Angeles

The hummingbird whisperer

Researcher’s 200-plus wild ‘fairy’ birds make their home at UCLA

UCLA researcher Melanie Barboni is the hummingbird whisperer. Los Angeles is loaded with hummingbirds year round and Melanie has attracted hundreds right outside her office window.

“They are, in every aspect, remarkable. They are tiny but fierce. They have so much personality, an amazing metabolism,” Barboni said of the birds that drink 8 to 10 times their weight in nectar daily. “They are Mother Nature’s best creation. … She was trying to make one tiny perfect jewel, and I think she got it perfectly right.”

My late mother lived about ten miles west of UCLA and we had hummingbird feeders in her backyard. She was loaded with them and it was incredible to watch, year round. Here in Connecticut we only have one species, ruby-throated and they migrate so we only have them from late spring to early fall; they’re getting read to fly south right now.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Getty Center, various images

Getty Center tiles

The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California.

I’ve been visiting the Getty Center for sixteen years on visits to my recently passed mother. I’ve taken hundreds of images of the place. My wife, however, had never been there so we took some time to visit on our recent trip to LA.

It’s tough to remember to look down at the Getty but in fact, the floors are all made out of limestone, some of which is intricately detailed with fossils and other remnants of its earlier life as sandstone in another time.

Getty Center ceiling

One of the many things that’s great about the Getty is the juxtaposition of steel siding with stone on walls and ceilings. This alcove is one of my favorite such places.

Getty Center ivy

Richard Meier’s Getty architecture is quite stark so finding a wall of ivy there is almost a welcome relief.

Post at the end of Wilshire Boulevard

Post at the end of Wilshire Boulevard

Originally posted at my old site on January 25, 2008.

Santa Monica, California. I’m shooting east up Wilshire catching a wooden post and rope railing with cars behind. There are four serious photographers to my left wondering why my back is to the Pacific Ocean with an incredible sunset happening and what I’m seeing in this wooden post.

When I left two of them came over to inspect the post.

Frances at lunch

Frances at lunch

Santa Monica, California.

I haven’t been able to get and post recent shots of my now 100 + year old mother because it’s tough to get her to open her left eye (she’s nearly blind in it) and she’s been sick. So, the past few trips out here to LA haven’t been fruitful for mom portraits. I managed to sneak one in at lunch yesterday.

Morning clouds over Los Angeles

Morning clouds

Los Angeles, California.

For the past few years my routine trips to LA to visit my mother have been on United in “economy plus” which gives a bit more legroom. I used to get regular business class upgrades but United started charging both miles and money so I skip them.

I have to have an aisle seat; at my age I can’t make it across without using the restroom at least once. This flight was overbooked and after everyone got settled a gate agent came on board and moved me to a remaining business-class seat which was a window but which I gladly took. While getting up to pee mid-flight involved intricate gymnastics to climb over my deeply sleeping row-mate, I did get to do a bit of shooting out the window which I enjoyed doing in years past and missed.

Taking off from LAX on a 6:00 am flight affords some great morning light. Even though the right wing and engine was in my way I knew the Ricoh GR had enough resolution to afford cropping so all I really had to do was get the metering right so the wing and engine didn’t affect what I wanted from the clouds and make sure the camera didn’t focus on the window.

Small squall, small island

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica, California. We took a walk along the beach (on a paved path wheeling my mother) from Venice up to beyond the Santa Monica Pier. The beach is vast and relatively clean.

I have fond memories of early morning skim boarding sessions at low tide along here as well as beach volleyball games a bit further north on a set of four courts.

I never hung out on the pier and until this day, hadn’t ever walked on it that I can remember. Touristy but hey, that’s what I am now too.

Santa Monica Pier

Ginkgo on lotus

Ginkgo on lotus

This image is a high contrast JPEG right out of the Ricoh GR, the RAW, even with aggressive processing didn’t look as “painterly” as this so I chose this one.

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. We returned to this great garden and while my 99 year old mother is mostly experiencing it through memory (she can’t walk or see well anymore) she enjoyed being wheeled around the paths.

The many ginkgo trees were shedding enough leaves so there were dried ginkgo leaves on lots of surfaces, including lotus leaves on a small pond.

Ginkgo on lotus

This image is a RAW image out of the Ricoh GR with minimal processing except to choose a monochrome preset I built in Lightroom for these kinds of shots. Lots of great texture here and the JPEG out of camera didn’t show it.

Lotus leaves

Lotus leaves

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. I’ve been discombobulated enough lately that I forgot to unload my camera on my last outing in Los Angeles a week ago.

It’s not a good sign when you take some pictures and forget to unload them from your camera. No doubt this happens to all of us but it’s bothersome to catch one’s self forgetting.


I do like this image and I remember taking it (thank god).

My mother is 99!

My mother is 99!

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. Yesterday, May 26, 2014 my mother had her 99th birthday. I took some great group shots of the wonderful family and friends who came over for her party, but in each one she was dozing off. So, this picture of her from today on our regular outing to this wonderful garden will do.

She’s almost blind in one eye, can’t walk at all on her own anymore and she’s fading into dementia but she’s still with it enough to tell me “enough with the pictures already!”