Tag Archives: Photography

[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Over the last year, my life has uncovered a bevvy of nuanced ways that it has to re-prioritize what’s important. Call it a quarter life crisis, or simply just growing up – but the things that used to sit on top of my pyramid of needs have reorganized themselves into a quieter, calmer lifestyle.  An avid audiophile through and through, when I pulled away from going to music festivals and concerts it was like I spearheaded an investigation into who I was at my core.  A daughter, a dreamer, a lover, a cat lady, a nature nymph, a very silly girl who cares very deeply about the world she cultivates around her. Two years ago, four years ago, ten years ago – I couldn’t escape the monotony of my home life enough:  living in Los Angeles, there is literally something to do at every second of every day, and I dove in head first, exploring new eats in new cities and musing around music festivals like it was my job, which eventually – it was.  At 23, it was the perfect lifestyle – at 28, still amazing; but as I cruise into the meat of my thirties, that’s just not what I want out of life at this current moment.

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What do I want? I want to be nurtured by nature, I want to analyze my psyche through the scope of the arts and I want to take things just a little more slowly, a little more sweetly.  Over the almost nine years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve watched as this self professed ‘City Kitty’ has evolved into more of a ‘Country Cat’.  I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Big Sur and Sequoia, breathing in the the crisp, clean air while I revel in the romanticism of the great outdoors. Though we’ve been in a major drought these last few years, major rains during this past Winter have done their part to change the lay of the land and bring some much needed water to the area – and the Springtime Southern California desert has responded in kind with the Super Bloom.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Just a hop, skip and a jump up the 14 Freeway from Los Angeles lies the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  Sitting right on the outskirts of Lancaster, and potentially one of the only valid reasons to go to Lancaster at all, the AV Poppy Reserve is surrounded by rolling hills and a sweeping skyline.  Part of the California National Park system, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve spans 1,781 acres acres and boasts a wide variety of trails to take you from corner to corner of the park. The state natural reserve is located on the states best natural poppy bearing land. But, beyond the orange beauty of the California state flower, the Poppy Reserve and outlying areas are covered with luscious blue lupines, and yellow goldfields and cream cups.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Though the Poppy Reserve is stunning, and boasts plenty of walkable trails – I found that the best Poppies were right on the side of the road.  With ample turnouts available from Castaic Lake all the way up to the Reserve, you could literally spend the entire afternoon staring into the soul of flowers.  And boy, do those flowers sing back.If you couldn’t get enough of the sprawling desert landscapes of Lancaster, the Arthur B Ripley Desert State Park is only about 8 miles West of the Poppy Reserve, and has plenty of wildflowers and juniper woodland, in addition to the area’s native Joshua trees.

For more of my photos from the Poppy Fields, check out my album here 🙂

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Southern California and plan your trip to the Poppy Reserve now! For more on the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, head to their website and social media channels –

Website | Facebook | Yelp

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

[LA Life] Getting Artsy at ARTIC

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“Time goes faster the more hollow it is.
Lives with no meaning go straight past you,
like trains that don’t stop at your station.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

One of my favorite things about photography is the belief that each and every one of us views the world through their own technicolor lens. We all see different shades of beauty in the world, and photography gives a keen insight into the way that each person’s visual interpretations can differ.

To say that I have an obsession with beautifully unique architecture and lavish locations is a bit of an understatement.  My wanderlust propels me to constantly explore, adventure and discover each and every corner of the world, but mostly – my own backyard of Southern California. Boasting a beautiful menagerie of natural settings, from the diamond blue oceans of the Pacific to the snow-capped mountains, fields of flowers and the deserts between, California’s got a little bit of everything for every type of nature lover. So, when I tell you that for the past year I’ve been itching to go take pictures of a Transit station, you might not get it – until you see for yourself. Ever since Instagram introduced their geotagging feature a few years ago, I’ve been building, developing and adding to an epically long list of places I want to frolick around like a little fairy, or at the very least photographically capture them to my heart’s desire. And one of the very first places on that list was ARTIC, otherwise known as the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.

Located part way between Angel’s Stadium and the Honda Center, ARTIC was unveiled to the public in December of 2014. Depending on who you ask it’s, the venue itself is either $188 Million Dollar drain, or a photographer’s wet dream with great lighting, lots of color, loads of reflections and a whole lot of symmetry. Since I don’t live in Anaheim, I’ll go with the later – but after visiting, I definitely understand the former as well.

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Even though I’d permanent markered ARTIC into a list of epic, must-shoot places, it was purely a beautiful coincidence that I happened across it.  Just the other weekend, I was down in Anaheim with Danny to handle some family business.  We were getting a bit famished and my craving for happy hour oysters had set our hungry kitty sights on Oyster Bar SKC.  As we pulled into our parking spot, the technicolor haze of lights inside ARTIC danced across the sky and I felt like a little kid that just got to the amusement park.  Words spilled out of my mouth as I bubbled over with excitement as we walked between the Palm Trees, underneath ARTIC’s rainbow ceiling, and into a technicolor daydream.

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Come for the pictures, stay for the oysters. Currently, there are plans to build a Pinkberry on the first floor of ARTIC – but until then, the one tried and true food favorite is the Oyster Bar SKC which boasts $1 oysters during happy hour, half-off appetizers and beer as well as some of the most delicious drinks I’ve had in recent months.If you’re a fan of the venue but don’t live nearby, you’re in luck because Oyster Bar SKC is opening a second location down in sunny San Diego, with a third in the works just around the corner from Los Angeles in Pasadena. Though there aren’t very many reasons to visit ARTIC, there are definitely a few – catch a baseball game at Angels’ Stadium or catch a concert at the Honda Center, Chapman University and Disneyland are also just a little jaunt away.

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For more on ARTIC, head to their socials, browse through my favorite photos – or just jump on the local transit lie and take a little trip – I promise you, it’s so worth it.

ARTIC on Instagram

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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First and Last Photos by Daniel Leist Photography

[LA Life] Get Lit at the Descanso Gardens This Holiday Season

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I’ve been known to gush about the plethora of wonderful parks, gardens and green areas in Los Angeles – so when I found out that the Descanso Gardens was hosting an illuminated evening befit with lights from every direction – I was all ears and eyes.  In tandem with the LA Zoo Lights event, the fabled Descanso Gardens in Altadena is joining in the fun – creating their own Enchanted Forest for the holiday season.  During the day, the sprawling landscape of Descanso consists of a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden – and at night  for the next four weeks, it’s transformed into a whimsical wonderland with expertly curated and interactive exhibits.

 

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Daytime at Descanso

Technically, hypothetically – it’s helpful if you and your crew acquire your tickets ahead of time but I’ve discovered that anything is possible the day of, especially if you put your mind to it.  If you’re into planning, tickets for the Enchante Forest can be purchased either online or in person at the Descanso Gardens during normal operating hours. Tickets for the Enchanted Forest event run about$30 for weekends through their official website, but I found a discount link through a company called Goldstar for only $21 for as long as tickets last.  Each ticket is timed to a specific entry time, and you’re allowed to enter at any point after and stay until close at 10pm.

Purchase Tickets to Enchanted Forest

As a warning, it gets packed – not to the brim, but you should know that to get in, there’s only one line; it moves fast, but it gets pretty lengthy by the end of the night. There are several bars inside that give generous pours, and some snacks and winteresque drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate.  Perfect for a date night, family night or just a night out on the town with friends getting a dose of something a little different in their lives.

For more on the Enchanted Forest + Descanso Gardens, head to their social media channels:

Facebook | Website | Instagram | Yelp

1418 Descanso Dr

 La Canada Flintridge, CA

 

 

 

[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at LA’s Best Botanical Gardens

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With the weather we’re blessed with in Southern California, it’s no surprise that we spend the better part of our lives outside.  Beyond the fact my wardrobe is perfectly equipped for it ( my daily uniform consists of a tank top, cut offs and flip flops – thank you, working from home), there’s an impressive amount of outdoor activities to partake in.  You want wine tasting? You don’t have to go to Sonoma or Santa Barbara, just head to Santa Monica or Malibu – skiing and snowboarding are only a few hours away at Big Bear, and the beach is equidistant in the opposite direction.  Fun, sun, snow, sand – we’ve got it all, and then some.  Now that Summer season is in full swing, I’m finding it near uncomfortable to be stuck indoors with so much amazing weather, so when it comes to daily adventures –  it’s time to start thinking outside the box – or at least, outside the home – for some fun day trips and day-tes in the area.

Though Los Angeles can come across as a completely concrete jungle, once you’ve found the right nooks and crannies you’ll realize it’s anything but! From the West in Santa Monica to the East in Pasadena, Los Angeles has been blessed with a gregarious amount of green space throughout the city, and it’s only right that as residents we get to revel in it.  The fabled Griffith Park Observatory offers up acres and acres of fresh green space smack dab in the middle of the city and it feels like you’re on a wild safari when you’re trying to trek towards the Hollywood Sign, while assorted areas like Ernest E Debs Park and NELA’s Lincoln Park provide a pop of vivaciously contrasting greens in the heart of residential neighborhoods and burrows.

Even though I’ve lived in LA for over eight years, I’ve realized that here’s still so much to discover and uncover.  There’s simply so many options to choose from that I have a hard time narrowing it down – after all, they all have their je ne sais quoi moments of sheer bliss, utter beauty and vivacious blooms.  Between the neat little retreats and hidden gems with sincere botanical beauty, I’ve definitely made my way through a pretty solid chunk of what the city of angels has to offer and I’m eager to share my favorite botanical gardens and nature nooks with you.



The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

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The trifecta of artistic expression, creation and perfection – The Huntington boasts a bevvy of fantastic art collections, a wonderful library rich library and of course – a delectable amount of shrubbery, flowers, trees, flora and fauna.  There natural areas are broken out by region, and you can take a leisurely stroll through a Japanese Tea Garden, a Chinese Garden and even a banzai exhibit, which is even cooler when you realize you’re staring at tiny Sequoias and Redwoods – it’s actually unbelievable.  With over 120 acres to revel in, it’s easy to get lost – and even easier to not see absolutely everything the park has to offer.  Good news – you can get an annual pass and visit whenever you want.  Seeing as the park spans the globe, there are always wonderful specimens in bloom.

Check their website for the latest exhibits as well as their Summer hours, from my knowledge the venue is open from 10:30 to 4:30 every day except Tuesday.

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA

Website | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

The Descanso Gardens

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Though I’ve only visited in the Winter (which in Los Angeles just means it’s below 60), the Descanso Gardens boast a stunning landscape that includes a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden.  Open year round and only $9 for adults, botanical gardens offer a menagerie of courses and programs, and host a wonderful series of summer concerts.

1418 Descanso Dr, La Canada Flintridge, CA

Facebook | Website | Instagram

Los Angeles County Arboretum

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Located off in Arcadia on the East Side of Los Angeles sits one of my absolute favorite venues, and every time I go I’m absolutely astounded by the fact it exists within Los Angeles county.  Just one stroll around the LA Arboretum, in through the tall bamboo shoots or the indigenous South American trees, and you’ll feel instantly transported into a new land.  Each corner and every inch of the park is impeccably maintained and absolutely stunning to marinate on.  Plus, the third Tuesday of every month is free!

301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden

Located off the beaten path, in the residental neighborhoods of Pasadena is one of the city’s unique hidden gems.  The Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden is a stunning piece of throwback landscaping and architecture built by the one and only  Kinzuchi Fujii in 1935, not to mention – the last standing one he ever created.  Over 80 years later the two acre span is more beautiful than ever with a teahouse, relaxing areas to sit and meditate in and an active coy pond. The venue is tiny, only about two acres, but there simply so much to see that you could be there all afternoon.

270 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, California 91105

Website | Facebook

Arlington Botanical Gardens

One thing about the wonderful botanical gardens in the area – is you more or less have to pay for them.  Great news about the Arlington Botanical Gardens, is they’re open to anyone, any day, for Free.99. The Arlington Botanical Gardens stand as the only public open space in Pasadena and it offers a great arena to walk and relax among it’s community maintained garden, or the rich array of Californian and Mediterranean trees, bushes, flowers and succulents with a wonderful amount of benches scattered among them – so bring a book, get comfortable and get into your R&R.

275 Arlington Dr, Pasadena, CA 91105

Website 


I’ve by no means gone to all of the local gardens, but I’ve been blessed with the opportunities to visit a great number of them and be awe struck by their beautiful, blooming bounties.  Also, if you couldn’t tell – I effing love reflection shots!

What are your favorite Botanical Gardens and Open Spaces – in Los Angeles, or your favorite city?

Let me know in the comments below!

[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.

[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.

 

 

[LA Life] Morning Bliss in Lincoln Park

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A picture might be worth a thousand words, but what they often won’t tell you are calamity, chaos and all around entropy surrounding those perceived moments of serenity.

Just minutes before I found my mental zen at East Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, I was frustrated to my boiling point with the DMV – infuriated that we’d wasted over two hours of the morning and I’d had essentially had it up to my ears with any semblance of ‘humanity‘ before the clock had even struck noon.  There are few tribulations that we can all share here in this world, and dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles is definitely one of them.  As we were gallivanting throughout the city’s side streets on the way to the DMV, I noticed glimpses of pastel and primary colors in delicious dichotomy with the multitudes of green in a park across the street.  against the multitude of greens.  And now that the morning had manifested in its own auspicious way, it felt like the only remedy was to delve back into whatever nature I had found as soon as I could.

The second we parked, I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough –  I took a breath of Spring air as I gingerly skipped from the parking lot pavement to the grassy landscape encroaching the tranquil lake.  Technicolor buildings reflected against the lake in a kaleidoscopic fashion as we slowly made our way around in a giant pseudo-circle.  Strolling in synchronicity, we shared a bakers dozen of laughs – enjoying what little time was actually left of the morning hours, blissfully aware that under any other circumstance we would have been tethered to our work lives and inundated with tasks that would require us to stay in doors.

Like treasures tucked away in uncharted territory, there are a plethora of small city parks located around the city of LA simply waiting for you to discover them.  I’ve loved Echo Park Lake for a long time, but Lincoln Park is almost a miniature version and a whole lot less populated. Founded all the way back in 1881, Lincoln Park was originally named East Los Angeles park, only to be renamed ‘Eastlake Park‘ in 1901; you wouldn’t know from looking at it now, but the park used to house a full zoo,  cactus garden and a private alligator farm. Renamed Lincoln Park in 1917 after the local high school, this portion of paradise has been a staple of Los Angeles’ beautiful cross section of counter culture humanity and the arts.

The park itself comes equipped with a menagerie of of activities for all ages, lush lands to picnic on, a playground that has adult swings (yeah, you heard right), a skate park designed by a professional,  BBQ pits, fishing in the lake and last but most certainly not least – the wonderful Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts + Education,  a prominent meeting spot for the community and the only multidisciplinary building of its kind in the city.  Not to mention, my favorite touch, sprinkles of large scale art around the edges of the park.

 
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For more on Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, head to their social media pages – or better yet, just drop on by and pay it a visit.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |  Yelp

What are your favorite local parks?

Let me know in the comments below!

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