The Perfect Date

My #1 recommended place to visit in Los Angeles is without a doubt the Griffith Observatory.  It is also the best place to go on a date. A friend of mine, who is new in Los Angeles, asked me where would be an ideal place to take a girl on a first date. I answered without hesitation, “The Griffith Observatory”. It can be many things at once: romantic, picturesque, inexpensive, adventurous, educational, etc. With all the walking, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other better so it helps if you are interesting. And, it’s just as great during the day as it is in the evening. When I took this photo, I was one of the last persons to leave since my intent was to photograph the wonderful views of LA without any people in the shot.  The only people still there were this young couple who were probably out on a romantic date.  Me? I was all alone…again. I guess I should start taking my own advice.

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The Griffith Night » PixamundoFebruary 16, 2012 - 2:21 am

[…] mentioned before how much I love the Griffith Observatory and recommend it to everyone. Not only is it the best […]

Notre Dame de San Francisco

When I was in San Francisco, I went out to photograph the area around Chinatown. I took some photos but overall, it was a little too crowded for my liking so I left. I was on my way to get some lunch when I came across this quaint looking church right around the corner nestled among the high-rises. I went across the street to set up a shot just as the final churchgoers were walking out of Mass. Turns out it’s a 155 yr. old French/English church and you can go listen to Mass in French if you so desire. For a minute there, I considered going to the next Mass on the schedule but they probably have a trap door at the entrance just for me. As soon as I would walk in, the heavens would bellow out: “Faire attention, le mal païen!!”

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New York Las Vegas

If hotels in Las Vegas knew that I barely spend any money in their casinos, they would never let me in. I don’t gamble at all, I will usually only drink one or two beers all night, and I refuse to pay the exorbitant cover charges at all the clubs. I might catch a Cirque du Soleil show now and then. After a day or two though, I want to get out of town like Sheryl Crow. But one great thing about Vegas are the multiple photo opportunities on the strip. I’m a sucker for all the neon lights, the digital billboards, and the fountain show at the Bellagio. So while my friends hit the roulette tables, I walk up and down the strip with my camera gear like a paparazzi.  Then we all meet up later and hit the buffet.

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ConnieDecember 3, 2011 - 6:35 pm

Love the colors. That’s exactly how I remember Vegas. I’ve only been there once but I had a great time.

ClazinhaDecember 27, 2011 - 6:51 am

Perfect shot!

Hiding in the Redwoods

There is a nice little college town up in Northern California named Arcata. On one side of town is a bay but on the other side are thousands of acres of Redwood forest. In the winter, the mountains get packed with snow that melt in the spring and fill their rivers and streams with some of the cleanest fresh water you will find anywhere. And it goes straight to your faucet, too. No need to buy those 5 gallon containers with filtered water. After I took a shower, my hair was soft and fluffy like in those shampoo commercials.  Whenever I shower in L.A., my hair feels like a scrub sponge.

Anyhoo, I was visiting my sister and she took the whole family on a nice hike into the forest with its amazing trees that go on forever. She mentioned that homeless kids will sometimes set up camp up here. Apparently, the cops in town are pretty rough on them so they head for the forest. Can’t say I blame them. It’s beautiful up here.

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The Fairy Tale Castle in Bavaria

When I visited Germany during the 2006 World Cup, I kept seeing postcards of this fairy tale looking castle at all the shops.  But when I would ask the shopkeepers where this castle was located, none really knew. Finally, an older Turkish gentleman in a cafe told me that it was located near a town named Füssen close to the border with Austria. After Brazil was booted out in the quarter-final game by Zinedine Zidane and friends in Frankfurt, our World Cup party came to a sudden end. My traveling compadre, Robert, and I had a few Hefeweissbiers and we went looking for a new adventure. So we rented a car and hit the autobahn southbound towards Bavaria in search of the famed castle. After a four hour drive, we finally arrived to catch the final tour of the day.

Turns out there was nothing fairy tale about the origins of the castle. Schloss Neuschwanstein was built by the reclusive King Ludwig II and was under construction for 20+ years. The good king was kind of an eccentric fellow and devoted more time to building his extravagant castles than he did to affairs of the state. Also, he was fascinated with Richard Wagner operas and spent a considerable amount of money sponsoring operas & plays. When he exhausted his personal funds to continue the construction of the castle, he just went further into debt until no one would lend to him. In the end, the Bavarian government declared that he suffered from mental illness and had him deposed. Then one week later his body was found floating in a nearby lake. Authorities ruled his death a suicide. Hmmm…sounds like the plot to a Martin Scorsese mob movie minus The Rolling Stones soundtrack. Poor King Ludwig, they took him out Fredo Corleone style.

About two months after the king’s death, the acting prince opened up the castle and converted it to…a tourist attraction. That was in 1886 and it’s been a popular tourist destination ever since. The castle that was meant to be King Ludwig’s II own private Neverland is now visited by over a million tourists every year.

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Closing Time at the Disney Hall

Los Angeles has many popular destinations, but as a long time SoCal native, my personal favorites are the Griffith Observatory and the Disney Concert Hall. So next time you are in Los Angeles, make it a point to visit the Walt Disney Concert Hall located downtown. It really is quite a site to behold. The celebrated architect, Frank Ghery, designed it and it is now one of the city’s most iconic buildings. They offer 45 minute tours but you can just walk around and admire the twisted curves of the stainless steel exterior. I wonder what Ghery was attempting with the design. Is the building supposed to represent a blooming flower or sails on a ship? And what do those have to do with music anyway? Whatever his intent was, I admire the bold creativity. It’s interesting that the project was close to being suspended halfway through construction due to lack of funds. In the end, some of LA’s most powerful citizens came together and saved the day.

I was surprised how many other people were also photographing the building this evening since a show had just ended. When all the attendees had finally left, a couple of security guys came out and told us all we had to leave. We had been hanging out like groupies after a rock concert. While they shooed everyone away, I put my earphones on and pretended not to hear them. When I saw them approaching me, I took my last shot and walked away. This was the shot.

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Roberto CurielNovember 14, 2011 - 11:23 pm

Really like the way you capture the shadows and shapes great picture. Let me know when you’re going shooting again. I’d like to join you.

MarieNovember 16, 2011 - 5:29 pm

I pass by the Disney Hall on my way to work every day but I have never been to a performance there. Looks great at night. Great photo of a beautiful building.

The Beatles on Hollywood & Highland

I admit…I am a huge Beatles fan. It has always fascinated me how they influenced music, art, culture, and politics on such a global scale in a span of only 7 years.  And here we are, almost 50 years later and their influence is still being felt.  So driving around Los Angeles last winter, I couldn’t help but notice the marketing campaign by Apple promoting The Beatles on iTunes.  It seems everywhere I was driving, I saw the larger than life Beatles staring down on the city.  As far as advertisements go, it’s actually pretty cool.  The simplicity of the black & white billboards is striking, especially when you compare it with all the other flashy billboards around it.  It comes across more like a museum piece rather than an ad for an online music store. Sort of reminds me of the iconic “Think Different” campaign Apple had back in the late 90‘s with other larger than life figures like Picasso, Jackie Robinson, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (to name a few).  This being the busiest corner in Hollywood,  I figured I better snap a photo before the latest Adam Sandler movie poster takes it place.

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Roberto CurielNovember 14, 2011 - 11:25 pm

I like the way you capture still objects while creating a great effect with the lighting and moving cars. Great work

Lili AyalaNovember 29, 2011 - 1:39 pm

Wow this is a beautiful picture makes Hollywood look nice!!

Denise LugoJuly 6, 2013 - 2:19 pm

LA and Hollywood via digital enhancement…

Midnight L.A. Blue

On one of my late night ventures around Los Angeles, I was driving around  downtown looking for one of those ubiquitous LA taco trucks that serve delicious, unhealthy food. I turned the corner on Spring and Temple and was mesmerized by the bright blue City Hall building. At first, I thought that the city of LA was honoring the Dodgers by lighting up City Hall in striking Dodger Blue. But considering the Dodgers stunk for most of the season, I figured there has to be another reason. Sure enough, this day happened to be Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. So guys, if you haven’t had a prostate exam recently, the city of LA kindly reminds you to stop procrastinating and go get it checked out. Speaking of avoiding a prostate exam, I bettter…uh, never mind.

On a side note, I would like to publicly thank the LAPD for not storming out and tackling me while I was photographing a government building in the middle of the night. While I was setting up my shot, I kept looking over my shoulder for the tripod police.  I was smack in the middle of LAPD Headquarters, City Hall, and the LA Courthouse. And to top it all off, I parked in a no-parking zone. I kept thinking “Hurry up and take this photo or you will end up in jail with a fractured skull and a broken camera.” All for the sake of art. As soon as I was finished, I gathered my equipment, got in my SUV and sped off in search of that taco truck.

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Roberto CurielNovember 14, 2011 - 11:26 pm

Awesome work with the lighting and colors.

Paul Di RuizNovember 16, 2011 - 5:21 pm

I used to live in L.A. and I can’t imagine how they lit up the whole building. Looks awesome though. Great shot. So did you find the taco truck you were looking for?

[…] Every city has its share of iconic locations to photograph. In LA there is the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, Sunset Blvd., Santa Monica pier, and the downtown skyline to name a few. Well now we can add one more. This fountain, along with Grand Park, was unveiled just last year and it’s part of Downtown LA’s continuous reinvention. A nice touch was that the City Hall building was lit up in bright blue. The city of LA lights it up every September as part of Prostate Cancer awareness month. Last year, I also photographed the City Hall in blue. Check it out. […]

Dancing Blissfully in Treasure Island

One of these years I am going to break down and finally attend Burning Man. I have been invited on many occasions and always find an excuse not to go. The thought of hanging out in the middle of the scorching desert, late in the summer, with sand blowing wildly in every direction, does not really appeal to me. Then there is the fear of tiny grains of sand creeping into my camera’s innards. I would not be able to afford the antidepressant medication if that were to happen. Unfortunately, I get to miss out on all the creative works of art that can only be seen during the festival (some are even burned down). Take for example this beautiful sculpture celebrating feminine beauty by the artist Marco Cochrane.  She was unveiled at Burning Man in 2010. The 40 foot tall sculpture is constructed by transparent steel of some sort and is built to withstand the strong Bay Area winds all while standing on one leg. Don’t ask me how he did it (I can barely figure out my camera, much less the laws of physics). Lucky for us, Marco decided not to burn her down and we can all admire her graceful pose with the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop. Her name is Bliss Dance.

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Roberto CurielNovember 14, 2011 - 11:31 pm

Let me know when you overcome your fear of damaging your camera and I’ll join you for the festival… If this is the kind of art being display I can only imagine how creative the other pieces or art may be.

Leo DNovember 16, 2011 - 5:09 pm

Awesome photo. I really love the SF skyline in the distance. Looking forward to seeing more of your pics.

RafaelinhoDecember 14, 2011 - 12:22 pm

Robert: Burning Man usually happens at the end of August. Let’s go.

[…] I had previously posted a similar shot way back when. Check it out here. […]

Thank You Steve

Here’s to the crazy ones…

I only ran into Steve Jobs once.  We were both driving into the Apple parking lot and we almost had a traffic altercation since we tried driving in at the same time.  He won.  From what I have read about him, I don’t know if I would have related to him on a personal level.  I had read all the stories about his difficult temper back in the early days.  But boy did I admire him and his many accomplishments. When he died this week, I felt such a huge sense of loss. It was like a punch in the gut, as if a close relative had died.  All day long I just kept thinking over and over that he died too young.  Maybe I was just being selfish.

Just a couple of days after Steve’s passing, I was at a children’s park in Hollywood with my little boy. As we were leaving, I saw this mural and immediately pulled over. I took a few pictures including some with my son & myself.  All he knows is that this is the man who invented the iPhone & the iPad on which he plays his favorite games.  He said to me that when he is bigger, he is also going to make cool games for everyone to play with.  As Steve Jobs would say: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

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Alexis HernandezNovember 19, 2011 - 12:44 am

Cool tribute to a great man. And I love the story about your son.