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?
I biked to my Friday breakfast burrito at Joe’s, so I could detour by the Pier on my way home. It’s not a heroic feat, but it did take a little motivation to ride my bike at 5:50 instead of just slipping into the Mustang whose engine would have hummed a smoother transition from sleep to wake.
(The recommended soundtrack to these images is Chet Atkin’s album Sails).
The motivation paid off, I think. I love the Pier at any time of the day, but especially in the early morning when it’s all half asleep and pink and light blue.
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.
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.
I love how the drone helps me put everything in a new frame. I’ve always been a sunset-chaser. “I really hate sunsets”, said no photographer ever, but before the drone, the sunset was a piece of its own. Now, through aerial photography, I can frame the sunset into a broader narrative, for instance the sunset and the city.
I caught a glimpse of the Sun setting over Redondo, last night. Summer solstice was just a couple of days ago, which means that the Sun sets at the most Northern point. From Redondo, the Sun is basically setting behind Malibu. That was quite a show.
I’ll try to keep this short, as a postcard. My first batch of postcards have arrived!
I don’t see them simply as postcards: to me, they are mini-artworks. If you are old (or hipster) enough, you will recognize the inspiration. Notice the editing, the kitsch lettering, the color palettes, the iconic views from the air and the rounded white bezel surrounding the image: I tried to recreate the feeling of the “golden age” of postcards.
I place such age at the apex of mass tourism, just before the appearance of low-cost flights (when trips became too frequent and too short to allow for postcards). In other words, postcards belong to summer holidays. Most of my childhood spanned over the Nineties. I learnt to write in the fall of 1992. In the summer of 1993, I started scribbling my first postcards.
Before the appearance of smartphones, tablets and the ubiquitous data connection, time was a different experience altogether. Vacations were a peculiar mental space in which boredom was welcome, and we garnished it with games, books, naps, and postcard-writing sessions. We would send postcards to our grandparents, to aunts and uncles, and to a carefully curated handful of schoolmates. Some were just a greeting and kisses, others were short novels packing as much information as a thin handwriting could inscribe in a couple of square inches – paying a sacred attention not to trespass into the holy field of the recipient.
Maybe it’s because, in Southern California, hardly a day goes by without someone saying that “we live in a postcard”. Maybe it’s the forced immobility of the past year, which made us long to travel and recall all of the special experiences surrounding our journeys that we would so easily take for granted. And maybe it’s my drone work, producing several aerial landscapes that kept my mind running back to the dozens of postcards I had sent as a kid.
Anyway, here’s my postcards!
These postcards are for sale at $2.50 each, or 10 for $20, mix and match (any selection you want, one of each, 10 of one, 5 and 5…). If it’s convenient to you, I am happy to add US (36 cents) and international stamps ($1.20) with no markup.
Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get them ready for you! I have most of these designs in stock. If you’re local, we can meet. Otherwise, shipping is an option.
Please come back to this page periodically, as I will keep uploading new designs as I create and have them printed!
Update July 26, 2021: Two new designs arriving next week! The Point Vicente Lighthouse in Palos Verdes, and a dreamy sunset view of Redondo Beach!
“Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.” Nightswimming is one of the songs I love to listen to when I drive at night. It’s a dreamy song by the R.E.M. (from the 1992 album Automatic for the People). The R.E.M. played a dreamy kind of alt rock. One thing that I like about the notion of dream, and its adjective dreamy, is that it is a vox media. It denotes something neither good or bad, or maybe both good and bad. Even without turning into a nightmare, a dream is strange. You can mean it in a positive way, when you say “it feels like a dream”, but you are nevertheless opening to the ambiguity of the dream, to its lack of rationality, to how you feel like everything is crystal clear, and yet when you try to focus on something, it blurs away.
The key turns in the ignition, the ten year-old Mustang purrs softly and off we go nightswimming.
In case it was not clear, I went to the Pier. That beautifully fat sign makes sure you cannot be mistaken. You’re at the Pier. It’s a colossal sign. It shouts at you. It has an intrinsically epic quality, a little like the poster of Ben-Hur. The-Pier.
I love the Pier because, now that at least dine-in-outdoors has reopened, it feels kind of normal. I do get fishermen: them and I, we were into the night hoping to catch things that we like. Fish for them, images for me.
I hope they were as happy as I was with my catch. Old Tony’s, the seafood restaurants, those sail-shaped shelters on the outer walkway, Kincaid’s, the Police hut, they are all icons of Redondo Beach, and tonight they came to me one flash after the other, a vision and then a blur and then another vision.
My body and my mind were protesting that it was way past dinner time, and the smell of fried seafood didn’t help, but I was not done yet. I wanted to dip a little longer in the quiet of this Super Bowl night. I got back to my car and headed towards the Riviera Village. The quiet was almost palpable. I could take several shots in the middle of Catalina without ever fearing that a car would run me over. It was like being in a dream. It was magic and a strange and I did miss the people a little bit. It’s not easy to be social these days, so I went for the name and let my local journey end at the Social Republic. Plato would have appreciated. Gas heaters outnumbered patrons three to one, and kept my body warm(er than the soul). The Space Dust IPA and the House Burger with fries and pickle were able to warm my soul as well.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
The high wind and surf advisory was right. Those, they are usually right. And they are surprisingly precise, they know almost down to the hour when it starts and when it ends. I got a new jacket yesterday at REI. To go to the snow (as they say here), so that I don’t freeze to death while Anne-Claire is out running and I don’t start whining “It was so cold” once she’s back.
ANYWAY I packed all of my cameras (I really did) and headed to the beach this morning. The wind had kept us awake most of the night, so I might as well do something useful with it. Redondo Beach did not disappoint.
There were very few people but a lot of birds. Some parts of the beach were actually paved with birds.
I tried calling these birds because it would have been a beautiful group shot, instead of a butt shot, but they did not tern around.
The Topaz Getty, with its iconic lifeguard tower, is one of my favorite landmarks in Redondo Beach. I wish I had not left the 23mm in the car, but I think this image still conveys the way it majestically stands facing the weather. I also really like the Lifeguard trucks.
As I walked back to my car, on the Esplanade, I saw the same birds and they would still not tern. I can’t blame them, the Ocean was nothing short of mesmerizing.
After all, I was not behaving much differently than them, looking out into the Ocean.
My parking meter was nearly expired so it was time to go. Instead of just driving home, I followed my hunch that the Point Vicente lighthouse could be quite the show, and so I headed there. On the negative side, the elements were even more unchained down there. It was wild! But the view was amazing, totally worth getting battered by the raging wind.
At that point, my eyes were full of sand and my hands were starting to feel numb, but most of all I could not find the restrooms at the Interpretive Point, so I just packed everything up, got into my warm car and drove home.
If you liked these photos, you can find them – with many others – in the section of my website dedicated to the landscapes of the South Bay!