Art, beach, california, Creative, Drone, los angeles, Nature, Night Shots, Philosophy and Photography, Redondo Beach, South Bay, travel

La Couleur Locale

This is a small study into the colors of Los Angeles. When you think of Los Angeles, and Coastal Southern California, you think of a warm mix of yellow, turquoise, purple and blue. And, basically, very little words.

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Art, california, los angeles, Nature, Sensor Fresh, travel

Euphoria

Euphoria signifies a “a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness.” This word kept coming back to me as I climbed the Josephine Peak trail this morning, and as I walked down. You will understand me, because this is what the world looked like to me between seven and eleven in the morning.

I am lucky, because the trail leading to Josephine Peak is one of the favorite of Anne-Claire and of her Trail Running Club. Today they went for an 18 miles loop, while I just hiked to the peak and back. For me, it was four miles up and four miles down. I will not elaborate too much on the fact that it took us exactly the same time. Know that I took my time and took 126 photos and sang my heart out on my way up and my way down and played the penny whistle to the hawks before the saddle and the harmonica to the beat of my feet on my way down.

Josephine Peak is a feast for the senses at any season, and it changes month by month. From the sizzling summer to the snowy winter, it’s one of the rare places where you can appreciate Fall within a half-an-hour drive from DTLA.

What’s the most magic about Josephine Peak is how the environments change. As you climb the south face, it’s desert mountain. Agaves, desert brush, lizards and hawks.

As you get to the saddle and cross to the northern side, it’s a totally different wonderland. It’s a forest with pines and oak trees, and the weather gets noticeably cooler as soon as you initiate the final ascension towards the peak.

The peak and the view from the peaks are almost… Lunar. I must have hiked to the trail half a dozen times by now, and every time I can’t help thinking “I’m sitting on top of the world.”

Only one word for this.

Euphoria.

All photos were taken with my FUJIFILM X100V, which is the quintessential hiking camera. It’s also the quintessential everything camera, but having such a small object that packs such a big punch lets you use your energy to move around and not to carry stuff around – hence its importance on any situation involving some degree of mobility.

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Art, california, los angeles, Night Shots

Coyotes are liquid (…and other things I learnt as I waited for the Sun to rise at Griffith Observatory)

On Sunday morning I was out and about pretty early, and I was to pick up a Polaroid from a friend in Silver Lake at nine, so I decided to make the most out of my trip to Los Angeles and be at the Griffith before sunrise.

In the best movie ever made about Los Angeles, Harry Telemacher (Steve Martin) says these words in one of his many aside: “As far as I’m concerned, there are three mystical places in the world. The desert outside Santa Fe, the tree of life in the Arab emirates of Bahrain, and the restaurant at Sunset and Crescent.”

Watching the Sun rise over Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory is another mystical time and place.

The first thing I learnt is that it’s popular enough not to be scary, but exclusive enough not to feel crowded. I was actually afraid there would be parking restrictions until a certain hour in the morning, but being a popular hiking destination (a gateway to the park itself) there were no restrictions (except for the meters starting at noon on weekdays, and at ten on weekends). Some people were preparing to hike or bike, others were already hiking or biking, some worked out, some did tai chi, some were just there for the view. I must have counted about fifty people around the observatory. Being all there, so early in the morning, on a Sunday, created a beautiful and soft sense of kinship – no matter the purpose.

That’s when I learnt that coyotes are liquid. That’s probably the biggest takeaway. No one was afraid, it’s as if they were part of the Fellowship, too. A few people, me included, warned a lady who was walking a small dog but she didn’t seem much bothered, nor the coyotes did pay much attention to the pooch.

If you’ve ever seen a coyote, you must have noticed this fascinating dissonance: a coyote is a bit like a dog with the presence of a cat. Coyotes don’t walk: they seem to glide on the land. They make no noise with their muffled paws, the only sound you hear is the rustling of the brush they move through. They are liquid, they are little squirts and faintly colored splashes that emerge out of the darkness into a spotlight and melt back into the night they came from.

Overall, there was a big La La Land feeling. Even more than at Sunset, or at night. Because of the glimmers of dawn far away to the East, out of the Sierras and the desert.

The Sun warms the dreams of the nation and the wind blows their scent all the way to the Griffith. The smell of Griffith Park is unique. It smells like a perennial midsummer’s night. Dust, plants, flowers, hopes, a faint whiff of airplane fuel make the olfactory experience almost akin to that of a non-place.

The view… ah, the view from the Griffith, on a clear night giving space to a clear morning, it’s everything you would expect it to be. Different from Kenneth Hahn, different from Baldwin Hills, different from Palos Verdes. One of the reasons might be that you are on top of LA.

Fun fact, I’ve always thought that the cover art of Frank Sinatra and Quincy Jones’ L.A. is My Lady (1984) was a view of DTLA from the I-110, looking north, but it’s actually a perspective similar to the view from the Griffith, just a little bit less elevated and more to the west. Maybe from Runyon Canyon?

Now comes the part where you just stand by the parapet and look at the Sun do their thing. You will be surprised to notice to what extent dawn precedes the actual Sunrise. It was already this bright to the East, but the Sun wasn’t due to appear for another half hour.

The closer the Sun, the rosier the dawn. And you really get what Homer meant and you become rosy-fingered too as every push of the shutter release makes you more of a poet and less of a photographer.

When the Sun finally appears, it’s as if the tip of a hill was suddenly ablaze.

I thought that DTLA gave her best at sunset, as the last rays of our daily star make her glimmer and shine, but now I am not so sure anymore.

Right?

And now, ready for another day of Sun.

And to go get that Polaroid, so that we can soon explore the esthetics of intimacy and affection.

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beach, california, Drone, los angeles, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Sensor Fresh, South Bay

Into the Night

Yesterday night that gorgeous sunset drew me and my drone out. I had my safety beacon on so I lingered above my house a little longer, because I could not take my eyes off this. I think Redondo by night has a wonderfully rich vibe. It’s not the unmistakably Californian beach city is it by day. Once the Beach Boys store their surfboards, Redondo dons two completely different souls.

Looking South, it looks more Mediterranean than ever. Almost a busy Greek city, close to Athens, or Crete, with the Palos Verdes Hills adding to the Hellenic flavor.

Looking North, it’s totally different. It’s Urban, it’s Hard Boiled as Redondo fades into the rest of the South Bay and into Los Angeles, further away. It looks like intrigues and nightlife and warm drives in a slow but nervous traffic. A song started playing in my head, B.B. King’s “Into the Night”.

As some of you may know, the song introduces a John Landis’ movie by the same title, and the opening scene is an airplane approaching and touching down at LAX at night, as the song begins.

I’m curious to see what these views inspire in you, what they remind you of, what they make you feel like?

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beach, california, Drone, los angeles, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Sensor Fresh, South Bay, video

The End of No-Sky July?

The endless skyway has been a constant source of inspiration in the past few weeks. The Western monsoon clouds, flying my drone in Arizona and Utah, yesterday’s serendipitous encounter with the flight to Seoul… and this morning I took my drone up here at home, in Redondo Beach.

Two sunny mornings in a row? After a very gloomy beginning of summer, this might be the end of the No-Sky July? Waiting to find out, I produced a little video to celebrate the beauty of a summer morning where everything is green, golden and blue.

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Art, beach, california, Creative, los angeles, Our World, Personal, Philosophy and Photography, Redondo Beach, Sensor Fresh, South Bay, travel

KE8208 Korean Air to Seoul

I brought my 100-400 lens to the beach earlier as Anne-Claire and I ordered pizza from a new truck on the Esplanade. A few minutes ago I was looking at my idle captures, I zoomed in, and I realized I could see it was a Korean Air Boeing 747.

I looked it up among the LAX departures. It was a long haul headed to Seoul. It was more than half an hour late.

I don’t know. If I was to be in the air for thirteen and a half hours, I would be really upset about the delay. Or I would cherish half an hour longer on the ground. Or maybe I would not care.

I developed a strange attachment for this flight. Tomorrow morning I will check what time they landed. Maybe I won’t but right now I like to think that I will.

I am wondering who’s flying. Are they flying home? On a business trip?

Such a long time with a mask on, they must barely have a face when they arrive in Seoul. I barely had a face last time I flew to Italy.

I am not looking forward to any thirteen-hour flight.

But a thirteen hour drive, just give me a sign and I’ll be on my way.

Los Angeles + 13 hours, where would that get us?

Au revoir, à Seoul.

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Art, california, Creative, los angeles, Our World, Personal, Philosophy and Photography

Daniela and the (Obsidian) Edge of Time

Disclaimer: This blogpost is a review of an art show in images and words. It does not represent nor aims at representing the ideas or the intentions of the artist. It is a philosophical and artistic way to vibe on another philosophical and artistic work.

Daniela Cueva’s show “Obsidian Edge” is on display at the One Trick Pony gallery at 1051 S Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90019 until July the 17th.

Most good art deals with Time and Death. This has been the case since the Ancients invented Art. “What about Love?” you might wonder. When art is good, love is a function of time and death. Think of Shakespeare: all of his (their?) dramas about love are ultimately tales about death and time and how the two are joined in a ribbon. Time, timelessness, but also timeliness. Death, mortality, or (the unlikely) lack thereof.

Daniela Cueva’s powerful art show takes these two themes and rides them hard.

There’s an image about Daniela’s art that I cannot shake off, so I might as well share it. Think of Death as a Hot-Wheel car, Time as its track, and the artist as the hand what grabs the small car and pushes it back and forth along the track.

Time and Death are the recipients of Daniela Cueva’s interrogation, but the direction flickers as it emerges from this questioning. Questions about composition, decomposition and recomposition are laid out by the artist, and they are given multiple answers, as many as the traits of pencil that Daniela uses to carve her visions out of rough paper.

Where is time going? Daniela Cueva’s drawings don’t look still at all. They go somewhere and they come from somewhere. Possibly the same place, in a never ending circle, but they are not static. There is a depiction of silent pain (for instance in the three the birds, not alive, with their beaks open), a surgical labor of what is not alive, but which might be dead or about to live (again?). This is how Daniela Cueva plays with Time and Death, preventing the viewer from fully realizing where they stand with respect to the frame.

Daniela’s background includes a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University. This makes her an artist, but also a designer, and most of all an artisan. The scaffolding, the structures that bind the seemingly organic material together in her works do remind, on the one hand, of the pikes and hooked ropes in Hieronymus Bosch’s theological frenzies; on the other hand, it is also a tacking thread. It is something that keeps together mysterious materials as soft and shapeless as ancient textiles. Is she preserving them? Is she slowing their decay? Or is she crafting the sinews and the organs and the vessels of a new creation? What if it’s somehow both, like a metaphysical salvage? Perhaps the bodies are not dead, only sleeping.

The show features a video, sharing the same title. Not only the eye of the artist is involved, but her hands and the rest of her senses do play a crucial role in this installation.

Time and Death are once again like waves crashing on the shore: you can hear them too, as Daniela’s hands dissolve a weird fabric in an even weirder-looking bath. The sense of oddity and displacement is reinforced by the juxtaposition of digital and analogical layers of recording to achieve a liminal monster: not so much in the horror sense, but according to the Latin etymology of “monstrum”, a wonder, something to be warned about (the same root is in the english verb “demonstrate”).

Daniela Cueva’s exploration goes indeed beyond paper and colors, as she has been working on the artistic and communicative potentialities of novel organic materials, such as the discarded coils of bacteria that she grew herself in her studio. Time, and the death of the microorganisms produce a material that the artist – half weaver and half sculptor – may use, until time (again) brings about the death (sic!) of the organic artwork… unless the artist decides to bring about its dissolution/decomposition as part of the performance itself.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. (Ecclesiastes, 1:9-10)

Daniela Cueva‘s show “Obsidian Edge” is on display at One Trick Pony gallery at 1051 S Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90019 until July the 17th.

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beach, california, Drone, los angeles, Nature, Redondo Beach, South Bay

Redondant Gallery

In the past few weeks my photography has been very Redondant: that does not mean that I always photograph the same thing, but rather that much of my work revolves around Redondo Beach and the immediate surroundings.

On the cusp of Spring and Summer, our Western skies turned into a kaleidoscope of gorgeous displays, some offering a foretaste of the heat to come, other reminiscing of colder months.

A few days ago, I got this classic afternoon vibe.

And the view was amazing from Malaga Cove as well, with a flock of pelicans heading my way. It’s actually rare to see the mountains so well in the hotter months.

This is a similar view but shot from higher up, precisely from the Queen’s Necklace Overlook in Via Del Monte.

The Redondo Beach Pier has been offering some very rewarding sights, too. I love to get cozy with the timeless impression you get down there.

And every image becomes dense with the emotional recollection of Kodak Chrome.

But what you see from the Pier is most magical and awe-inspiring, too: consider this morning view of Redondo, Torrance, and Palos Verdes shot from the southern side of the pier. The sky looks like a cross-seasonal patchwork mixing marine layer and scrambled cotton candy clouds.

Since getting my FAA Part 107 license in April, I’ve felt the growing lure of the endless skyways over the South Bay (at least where they are not restricted by LAX and Torrance Airport).

Thanks to the drone, I can see how lucky the hawks and the seagulls can be as they soar high above our beautiful shores.

And if you go up high and look to the north, the view is not shabby one bit.

The drone has often become my go-to for driveway photography. Meaning, all I have to do is go to my driveway, unfold the propellers, and climb to the allowed clearance. And this is what I see.

You know as they say, work smarter not harder. Once upon a time, whenever I saw a dramatic sunset in the making, I would grab my gear and run to the Esplanade. Sometimes I would get there in time, sometimes it was a bust. Now, when I see some promising sunset, I can just release the drone and have a look from up high. This does not only let me catch more sunsets, but also affords a new framing of the sunset into the geographical and esthetic fabric of our city.

And I can embrace all of the beauty in the space of a single gaze.

But do not worry, some special accents of our Redondo State of Mind can only be captured by being there, boots on the ground: so you will still see me with my camera in hand trying to frame that perfect sunset, although I know very well that the best shot is always yet to come.

You can see more of my photography of Redondo Beach and the South Bay on the dedicated page in my website or on my Instagram.

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beach, california, Drone, los angeles, Palos Verdes, Sensor Fresh, South Bay

Gloomy Cove, Pretty Cove?

As you might already know, I have issues with June Gloom. Just as I dislike May Gray and No Sky July and Fogust. As some of you might also know, I have decided to (kind of) embrace it and look for facets of beauty in the gloomy weather.

That is why this morning I took my drone to Malaga Cove, Palos Verdes, to see if that wonderful neighborhood is just as marvelous when the Sun does not turn the scenery into a dazzle of emerald, gold, ivory and turquoise.

Let’s find out!

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california, los angeles, Our World, Philosophy and Photography, South Bay, travel

My LAX kind of feeling

I am not a big fan of flying. First, I’m sort of heavy set and each time I sit in an airplane I wonder if they got even smaller or I gained more weight (and I usually delude myself into thinking it’s a bit of both). Second, I don’t do well with turbulence: I am rationally aware and persuaded that they won’t cause the plane to crash and that they are a little bit like driving on a bumpy country road at dusk with poor headlights, still my body doesn’t like them. For a couple of years, even a gentle rumble would make my body brace for a Tower-of-Terror-style drop: not having flown for a year and a half, from October 2019 till March 2021 kind of eased that feeling – my body did a bit of a reset. More importantly, I love to drive. I love my car. I love to stop, I love to own my itinerary and be able to make last minute stops and detours.

And yet, I love airports. I especially love LAX. At night, we stand on the Esplanade at look into the North and see the flashing red lights of the surrounding structures. For us, that is the connection with the rest of the world, especially with Europe. That’s where family and friends come from, and return to their homes. To me, it’s like a Stargate.

I especially love picking up people at airports. I smell the excess fuel dumped by incoming aircrafts. I hear the the tourists crossing each other, some arriving, some departing, trolleyed around by the nightmarish car-rental shuttles. I rub against the Stargate, feel its overwhelming potential to take me anywhere and I politely decline: “No thank you, I’m just picking up”.

The light, the clouds, and the mood were just perfect when I picked up Anne-Claire last Thursday, and I was really glad my nimble Fujifilm X100V was at my side on the passenger seat.

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