Category Archives: Photography

[LA Life] Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Scenic Highway

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Image may contain: sky, mountain, plant, cloud, nature and outdoor

Mother’s Day Weekend is a special weekend, a fruitful time for family and a fitting occasion to embrace the divine feminine, and within that – our true Mother – Earth, Nature, Gaia – if you will.  As Danny and I gallivanted away this past weekend to go spend some quality time with his mom in Lancaster, we had (what we considered) a brilliant idea: instead of taking the 14, let’s take a leisurely drive through the Angeles Crest Highway.  And what a magical adventure that became.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

The Angeles Crest Highway is often referred to as the ‘Highway to the Heavens‘, and in my opinion – rightfully so: just one cruise through it’s winding trails, your car eagerly hugging the curves and you’ll be confused if you’re still in Los Angeles, let alone California – or the United States.  At times, the drive reminded me of Zion, my fiance kept thinking of the Grand Canyon and it’s easy to think that you’ve instantly been transported to the Swiss Alps or somewhere picturesque in the South of France.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Considered one of the most beautiful non-coastal drives in the United States, the Angeles Crest Highway spans the northern most portion of California State Route 2, reaching from the the tip of Los Angeles County in La Cañada-Flintridge to Wrightwood in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Wander along the winding roads and you’ll find picturesque views of every angle of Los Angeles from the ridge-line of the Angeles National Forest.

The area is befit with a rich history that dates back to the turn of the 19th Century, and boasts plenty of turnouts with epic views, and hiking trails for those willing to adventure. And with nature just off of a stunning Superbloom season – or as I’d like to think of it, still marinating in the tail end of it, the hills are currently lush with bright yellow, violet and pink blooms.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest HighwayStopping literally at every turn out we could – because, why not?! – we quite accidentally took a hearty nature break where Mill Creek intersects with the scenic byway.  As Danny found himself enamored by the tunnel born out of the mountain slabs, we were stopped in our literal tracks by the serene sounds of a bubbling brook. Danny eagerly clamored down the hill, reveling in the diamond in the rough that we just discovered – I was busy freezing in my flip flops, overthinking my way down to the water’s edge. After negotiating, and then poorly navigating my way down – spoiler alert: I slipped several times anyways – it was absolutely worth it.

Because we live in the wonderful Mediterranean climate of Southern California, it’s pretty much always a good time to go for a drive on the Angeles Crest Highway, but during the winter months (and some awkward days of June gloom), the snow can shut down parts of the mountain pass and the fog induced poor visibility is actually terrifying – just trust me on that one.  So, before you hop in your car and ride away into the sunset – make sure you check the road conditions to ensure a smooth, beautiful drive.

There’s something absolutely sacred about the way a car hugs a tight turn along a scenic cruise, whipping the soul around to enjoy a palpable, panoramic landscape in a heartbeat; albeit I think the windows should be down and music up to take full advantage of the moment – but who am I to tell another soul how to enjoy a leisurely, weekend drive.

Take a peek at my recent adventures on Flickr!

For more on the Angeles Crest Highway, peruse their website and social media channels – or just take yourself out for a spin; trust me, it’s worth it – and you can thank me later.

Website | Facebook


Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

[Tech Talk] Painting and Photography Collide with Prisma

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Have you ever wanted to marinate inside of a moment? Venture into mind melding visions of alternate realities while mediating comfortably in place? If you’re my kind of human, then you’re answer is undeniably, unequivocally – yes.  In my opinion, we’re all several shades of guilty – from real dreaming to daydreaming, and everything in between, as humans our escape fantasies eagerly, effortlessly and egregiously effuse from our souls like pheromones in search of a higher purpose, catalyzing creativity and breaking us free of old molds and mindsets.  To me, it’s part of the reason we create, coddle and crave the arts: through music, literature, art and theater – we discover new, previously hidden parts of our personalities while filling our soul with passion like a warm meal on a cold night.

Photography is an out of body experience where distortions of reality, mind melding visions of what’s possible and bends in time and space, painting – double so.  But unfortunately some of us (waves hand), weren’t blessed with a drawing gene or with a paintbrush in their hand  My stick figures are relatively lackluster and the cat face I’ve been trying to draw for the last 31 years hasn’t gotten much better. Suffice it to say, I’m in awe of true artistry when it comes to painting, drawing and all things in between and will try ad nauseam. So, when I caught wind of a photo app that alters your images with filters of popular artists – I was immediately sold; hook, line and sinker.

It’s happened before, and my heart swoons as it happens over, and over again: every once in a blue moon, a smart phone photography fad stops me dead in my tracks and requires hours of endless exploration.  Now that we’re 7 solid months into this year, I can safely proclaim that Prisma has been that app. Just a quick upload of a square sized photo (thank you, Instagram), and you’ll be on your way to fantastical results.  Once inside the app, Prisma applies an intricate and advanced learning algorithm to your photos that combines artificial intelligence with neural networks.  Basically, it’s like Deep Dream, Photoshop and Instagram had a psychedelic love child and it doesn’t matter if that last sentence made sense to you or not – because any way that cookie crumbles, the results are simply stunning.

Try on the tantalizing stylings of esteemed artists ranging from contemporary pop art legends Roy Litchenstein and Andy Warhol to classic stylings of Van Gaugh and Picasso, with detailed renderings that from a repository that looks like the lovechild of Android Jones art, fractals and street art.  There are also nods to artists such as Miyazaki, Kadinsky, Mucha, Chagall, Hokusai and Kadinsky – as well as eras of artistic prowess like Impressionism, Gothic Art, Manga, and more. Once your new work of art manifests in front of your eyes, you’ll have the option of taking the photo at 100 proof, or adjusting the edits down to a smaller scale.  If you just tap into your settings you can remove the watermark from the app, and last but certainly not least – it’s free! The only slight downfall of the application is the need to be connected to the Internet to query the algorithms to work – as the app gains popularity, the servers are also noticing a surge and have rendered themselves as over capacity; quick solution – just try, as try again – you’ll get through eventually!


From top, Left to Right: Tears, Urban, Tokyo, #GettUrban, Illegal Beauty, Dreams, Mononoke, Gothic, Curly Hair

My current favorite filters include Tokyo, Urban, and the Natalie Ratkovski-inspired Illegal Beauty – and I think I’ve even found a favorite way of manipulating the photos a second time using Instagram’s Layout app and creating a photo stack from the same image.  The results? All sorts of magical.

 

Did I pique your photography curiosity? i surely hope so, this is one of the most fun photography apps I’ve played with in a while – and admittedly, I play with a LOT!  The proof is in the blogged pudding, head here to check it out

Download for iOS | Download for Android

For fantastic edits and more information on Prisma, head to their website or social channels:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

[Tech Talk] Say Sayonara to Facebook Image Compression

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No matter if you’re an amateur photographer or an expert photo editor, if you load your photos to any sort of web server or social media site then you face the issue of image compression and for some of us – the results can look like a near nightmare.  Vibrant nuances of color, sleek lines and keen tones are lost to algorithms that take redundant chunks of your data’s bits and bytes.  The eventual result is that by pairing down the “redundancies” you’re left with a photo that your 10 year old cousin could have taken with last year’s iPhone.  Yikes.  Good news is there’s a fix for that, and I’m here to share the good news.

In the past few years, I’ve grown a lot more accustomed to editing photos in Lightroom as opposed to Photoshop.  Though I’m proud of most everything I can do – it’s felt like the one thing I couldn’t do was get the pretty picture to appear in Facebook the way I want.  I’m incredibly thankful that first, I’m not the only person to experience this problem, and secondly that I’ve come across multiple resources helping me fix the issue. So I can’t very well take all the credit, but I did do all the internet sleuthing by myself, so I can at least own that part; and through trial and purposeful error, I’ve seen the results first hand.  First, for those super excellent editors out there – I’ve heard through the wire that the compression algorithm affects JPG files more than PNG files, so if you’re willing to convert all of your images to PNGs – your photos will retain their crisp clarity and luminescence.

Master the Settings

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Do you know what the real difference between the top and bottom picture are? The bottom picture has smooth lines on faces and an even keeled blast of water, while the top looks more grainy, and less appealing.  I’ve heard some conflicting advice out there about exporting with a length of 720 or 960, and what I can say after some hands on experience – including the photos above, is that you really want to export at 2048 pixels, which is what the bottom picture is set to.  How about the one below? Between the left and right image – the sharpness of the right one is retained more than the left, and that’s the difference of loading a smaller image size, approximately 100k or less, so Facebook doesn’t compress the image itself.

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One more time, for your cheat sheet:

Length at max: 2048

Resolution: 96

Image Size: 100kb

To save these proper settings – On the bottom left of your Export Window, toggle ‘Add’ to save your user pre-set. When you’re loading your pics, make sure that you Easy-peasy, happy exporting!

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What are your perfect export settings for lossless Facebook photo albums? I’ve read a lot of variations of the metrics I’m using and would love to hear from other photo gurus out there! Let me know in the comments below.

[LA Life] A Gloomy June Afternoon In Ernest E Debs Park

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This past weekend the all too timely June Gloom hit Southern California, but that didn’t stop Danny and I from adventuring off into the great outdoors and exploring a nearby park that’s been on our bucket list.  As it turns out, there are actually upwards of 200 beautiful landscapes, parks and hiking trails scattered throughout the previously presumed concrete jungle of Los Angeles.  The parks themselves cover nearly 24,000 acres of land and are the perfect destination for those looking to romp, roam, rock and roll their souls all over the city.  Over the last few months, we’ve done some due diligence in the great outdoors, exploring the nooks and crannies of diversely delicious landscapes around the city from Cahuenga Peak and Point Dume to Lincoln Park and Griffith Park, so this time – we thought we’d keep it local and see what we could discover in our backyard.


For the last few weeks, Danny’s been raving about this wonderful outlook where you’re served a stunning 360 view of the city – including the skyscrapers of downtown (when it’s a clear day, that is) – and when I heard there was a little lake on top of the hill, I was sold; it was off, off and away on a Sun-date adventure to Ernest E Debs Regional Park in the heart of East Los Angeles.  Open every day from dawn through dusk, the park is never staffed and boasts a bevvy of picnic tables and BBQ fits perfect for parties and public use, and yeah – a gorgeous lake with lots of  little fish for those inclined to take their gear for a spin – and it’s smack dab middle of the city!  

As it turns out – that “little walk” up the hill to the lake has a pretty impressive incline, it’s short, sweet and way worth it…but don’t say you weren’t warned.  On our way up, as we stopped to catch our breath, we noticed a few black and white snails – and then a few more….and all of a sudden, we realized that there were literally hundreds of them swarming the plants.  I’ve never seen so many snails in one place!  If they could move quickly, I might have been a little nervous about the whole ordeal but I mean an infestation of snails is one of the least aggressive infestations I’ve personally ever heard of (or, seen, for that matter).

For more information on Ernest P Debs Park, head to their website or socials – or if you’re local to the Los Angeles area, just drop what you’re doing and pay the park a visit; I mean, when was the last time you took a real lunchbreak outside?  If you’re curious how your local parks stack up to the rest, take a gander at ParkScore.  A sucker for my city’s walkability, Park Score gives you a metric based, analytical overview of your favorite public spaces.  Give it a whirl!

Website | LA Parks |  Yelp | Facebook

[Traveling Tales] A Whimsically Introspective Walk Through Dr Seuss’ Sculpture Garden

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“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

By in large, I live life anticipating adventures around every corner while my eyes overflow with wanderlust….except for lately; I’m typically a happy go-lucky, bouncy lady – but over the past week, there’s been a somber strain in my step and heavy hesitation in my heart.  An emotional being by nature, I’ll more often let them take the reigns of my soul as I watch the ego dissolve. From the loud moments of synchronicity to softer, gentler nods to our impending mortality, life is full of consistent reminders to attack each day with passionate vigor.  The other week while I was away at a music festival my aunt passed away from cancer and it’s been a hard, jagged pill to swallow.  I’m sad…but, it’s more than that (not to mention – I’ve discovered that sadness is typically rather selfish); truth is, I’ve been marinating in introspective inquisition of my purpose and being. I feel resolved and analytical, pensively and perpetually lost within a moment and found within myself because regardless of the places we go in life – we all end up the same. ‘Be noble for you are made of stars; be humble for you are made of earth.’ Whether we climb mountains, swim oceans, extend the field of scientific discoveries, land on the moon or simply sit on our asses doing absolutely nothing – we end up back in the ground.  Whether we live passionately or deviously, timidly or boldly, courageously or lazily, we disintegrate back into the nothingness from which we came.

With the right sort of perspective, the bittersweet, impromptu trip to the East Coast for my aunt’s memorial turned into a lovely family reunion with a touch of local lore and history.  A lot of the local residences were built pre-1900, and many had signs with their build year – some of them dated back to 1860…we even saw a house used in the Underground Railroad.  On our last day, we took one little liberty to visit a park I’d always dreamed of visiting: the Dr Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in historic Springfield; it’s only fitting that the man I attribute so many colorful, wonderful memories of my childhood to was helping me on my path through adulthood.

Life is jovial, enjoyable, lovable and ephemeral, while the beauty and anxiety we experience is nothing more than a mental construct, obscured by our personal vision.  The only static, the only constant, is that there is something greater than us, there has to be something greater than us, because we only exist for a figment of time – yet this world, it’s forever. Death can be called many things, but one thing it’s not is discriminatory.  The only guarantee for anything that is brought into existence, is that it will eventually disintegrate back into the same obscurity it came from.  I’m going to die, you’re going to die, and your great-grandchildren are going to die – so don’t prevent yourself from living while you still have time.

We all sacrifice bits and pieces of ourselves for something else’s good, we place parts of our personalities on the back burner because we’re afraid that some people can’t handle it, we remain silent when inside we’re passionately screaming because we’re nervous of the reaction we’ll get; we tiptoe around our personalities, deferring our wants and needs just to make other people comfortable. In a million ways, it feels like we die a thousand deaths before our actual death – so stop running fast just to stay in place.  Change the rules, change the game, change your perspective.  Our time here is limited, how will you spend yours?

[Oh, Snap] Eagle Rockin’ and Eagle Walkin’ V10

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Spring has most certainly sprung in Los Angeles and though the weather can seem a bit finicky at times, the neighborhood mornings have been beyond lovely and have given me ample inspiration to restart my “workout routine”; whatever that means.  But, between a three months of unlimited membership at One Down Dog, the local yoga studio to Eagle Rock, and the LA Fitness in Pasadena – something has to give….eventually…maybe.  Until then, I’ll enjoy my morning frolics outside, breathing in the fresh(ish) air of the city and filling my soul with the hearty buzz of the city.  The flowers are blooming, the sun’s up early – not to mention, I’m up with the sun.  I smell some big things brewing for the rest of the year and I’m excited for what’s to come.

Is that a painting? Nope! We found a mirror on our morning jaunt and it made for some fun photos of the town.

These last few pics aren’t necessarily of Eagle Rock, but they’re a few of my favorites that I’ve taken lately and they go to show just how beautiful it really is right now in each and every corner of the city.

 

 

[Oh, Snap] An Adventure Down The Gabba Gallery’s Animal Alley

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Hints of them are creeping around corners, lurking between alleyways while beautifying the backside of buildings, casually creating a sensation while transforming the world.   Some adorn the sides of old train cars or the underside of bridges, and others are more purposely placed, adding character to the communities around them with technicolor trickery and awe inspiring art work.

At this point, I have a pretty long list of my favorite things about Los Angeles  – but the art here is definitely one of them. This city is literally swimming in a sea of immensely talented artists that use a multitude of mediums, from lights to sculpture, mixed media, dance, theater and more but I’ve realized in the last five years that by in large when it comes to the types of art I truly enjoy – I have hearts for eyes for architecture and Graffiti. The creativity within the community bubbles over effervescently, adorning buildings in a similar tone to the hieroglyphs to ancient Egyptians, with a menagerie of talented artists with unique styles, focusing on spirituality, humanism, perspective and mountains of wisdom.

Back when I lived over in the Miracle Mile and Fairfax District, I was what I’d consider artistically spoiled: the alleyways behind the sorted shops all along Melrose and the Fame Yard sponsored by SportieLA boasted a bevvy of newly commissioned artwork, and I loved the juxtaposition of high end retail (well, let’s be honest…Melrose is pretty much every type of Retail) against a rich cacophony of freshly painted art.  The art scene was so big over there that you would see paintings that honestly looked like those huge plastered billboards on the wall across from Fairfax High School (/ and the Melrose Trading Post); but once you got up close and incredibly personal with the wall, you’d see the intricate details in their labor of love and realize how much raw talent went into it’s creation.

This past weekend with Daylight Savings Time rearing it’s incredibly stupid head, Danny and I took it upon ourselves to get into the mood by diving into one of my favorite seasonal rituals, Spring Cleaning. We went through each and every nook and crany of our apartment, and ended up donated or throwing away roughly 30% of what was in our closets!  On our way back from a quick jaunt to Koreatown, we realized we were right by The Gabba Gallery, which has been this proverbial, mythical creature of an art gallery to me.

Curated in tandem by gallery owner Jason Ostro and gallery manager Elena Jacobson, The Gabba Gallery plays host to talented local, national and internationally respected contemporary artists, honing in on the modernization of art through photography, sculpture, collage, mixed media, fine art, street art and design. You never know what you’re going to find at The Gabba Gallery, especially when you don’t even know it’s hours.  Right.  As it turns out, the venue opens for showings but doesn’t keep normal “9-5” hours every day of the week. After a bit of research, it looks like the Gallery is open either by appointment or by exhibit opening; so, there’s that.   The good news, is that right around the corner was an awe inspiring amount of art to explore in the freshly painted offshoot of The Gabba Gallery – Animal Alley!

Adorning the alleyways in Echo Park between Beverly, N Vendome and N Dillon St, Animal Alley is a collaborative public art installation that contains upwards of 80 murals by over 50 different artists.   The project has been underway since April of 2015 and finally came to completion this past December, featuring a wide variety of animal inspired artwork around each and every corner.

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For more on The Gabba Gallery, head to their socials:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Yelp | Tumblr

If you’d like to head straight to Animal Alley: