Wait, There's More!


(970122_5081_19, View looking west from the Chateau Marmont, January 1997)

Darkness changes the urban landscape. Visual clutter is stripped away, and the artificial light selectively isolates objects. Night photography has always fascinated me. There is a more heightened sensory experience when walking outside at night. The sounds are different. Jasmine when in bloom can be more intoxicating at night than in the harsh sunlight of daytime. Although the darkness can simplify, reducing what you can see, it is that absence of what you can see that invites the imagination.

The transition from day to night and the drawn-out and often spectacular winter sunsets in Los Angeles make up for the early darkness of the season.

I waited over a few hours for this moment on a balcony at the Chateau Marmont. It was worth it to be able to capture the natural beauty of the sky changing simultaneously with the onset of artificial light on the ground below. It also marks a period of time when the Marlboro Man still glanced at you from a billboard.

(170917_015-026, September 17, 2017)

Shorter days can make doing mundane errands like washing your car seem like a late-night activity. However, the early darkness is wonderful for someone like me who likes to wander and observe. For one thing, it’s cooler. But it also provides me with an extra shield of anonymity when working with limited, yet multiple, light sources of the night.

This is actually two images pieced together to form a wide view, almost like setting a stage.

(161228_001-003, December 28, 2016 )

In the daytime this building looks very different, details flattened by bright sunlight. But at 5:25 pm on a December day, spot illumination and low light reveal rich colors and depth at the same time. There is a static quality because there is no activity going on – creating tension as though waiting for something to happen.

(161030_001, October 30, 2016)

The porch light of a classic California bungalow can be welcoming. But how odd that on the day before Halloween there were no pumpkins or other fall ephemera decorating this entrance. Back when trick or treating was a regular Halloween activity, one might be tempted to skip this house based on this lack of decoration.

(131216-v3-2, December 26, 2013)

I took this photo with an old Samsung cell phone. Later I added grain to the image to create a film like quality and to enhance the richness of the shadows and light. It’s a simple scene of a wet walkway after the rain yet it triggers so much relatability and longing for the damp, cool air that Angelenos can look forward to in the winter.

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I’m 80 years old. These images were all made this year and I think that they suggest that the best is yet to come, a culmination of decades of mastering both technique and vision.

I always seem to be on the outside looking in, making quiet observations of the things I see, leaving the viewer to pick up on details that are often overlooked. They say the devil is in the details and the layers in every inch of these recent images are loaded with unexplained information that invite questions, perhaps prompting a nebulous memory, and challenging the imagination.

(220402_010, West Hollywood, CA 2022)

I like the cool detachment of this image. There are two figures that are disconnected, framed by layers of landscape and objects, both elegant and ordinary. People have said that the flatness of the color in the woman’s face is reminiscent of the paintings of Alex Katz. I take that as a compliment because I like his work.

The photographer Ansel Adams talks about pre-visualizing (seeing) the final resulting

photograph before taking it. I have a general idea of what I want, but there are too many moving pieces to know exactly where things will go. When I see the raw files in post-production, I have a better idea of how the final result will turn out.

(220708_002-v2, West Hollywood, CA 2022)

This is actually one photo, intentionally cropped to compose the final image which looks like collage of details. As one who has lived in West Hollywood for a long time, this is my in-

camera mash up of a typical street scene.

(220708_002-v2, raw image)

The original image is broken into several parts that don’t easily connect to one another. There are a number of extraneous elements that distract from the story that I’m trying to tell. Cropping out the unnecessary elements, and visually bringing out others, ties everything together.

(220409_004, West Hollywood, CA 2022)

In the previous images, details are stacked in layers like a deck of playing cards. Here, you can see the details laid out side by side. The reflections in the windows give us three separate views of the street, with my reflection and the woman seated inside the window in the middle scene. We are reminded that the photographer is always present in an image whether seen or not.

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(010400_12A-14A, West Hollywood, CA 2001)

For years I carried around a small Olympus point and shoot film camera. I liked it because it had good glass and made all the technical decisions easy. I loaded it with high-speed black and white (and sometimes color) film which allowed me to shoot inside and outdoors. I composed through the viewfinder or pointed in the general direction of whatever interested me.

I like to walk. In 2001, I was taking a walk when something caught my eye. It was a courtyard. I took a photo. Something about that image sensitized me to this subject matter. I shot commercial architecture professionally. Maybe there was something in the bygone era architectural details of these older buildings that resonated in my imagination. For the next couple of years, I walked around my neighborhood of West Hollywood and environs, visually recording residential courtyards and bungalow courts.

(023483-29A, West Hollywood, CA 2002)

Built between the early 1900s to the 1950s, courtyard apartment buildings were very popular, particularly around Hollywood and West Hollywood. Those, as well as bungalow courts, the one-story detached or semi-detached cottage type buildings also arranged around a communal courtyard and walkway, would serve an influx of people moving to California in pursuit of their dreams. Film and literature are full of characters born out of the minds of writers who lived in these places.

(141031_011-020-2, West Hollywood, CA 2014)

The shared green space provided an instant sense of community while enabling residents to enjoy the outdoors and the California weather. One can imagine the letters written – especially during the winter - to those back home marveling about the sunshine, the excitement of working on movie sets, and maybe seeing stars.

(018410_2, West Hollywood, CA 2001)

Later versions of these apartment buildings would often include swimming pools, a precursor for the next generation of ubiquitous LA dwellings, the dingbat.

(120427, West Hollywood, CA 2012)

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