This past Sunday, I joined a quarter of a million other Los Angeles residents for CicLAvia, and rode my bicycle with a handful of friends from where I live in Downtown out to Venice Beach. CicLAvia is prettywellcoveredaroundtheinternet, so I won’t elaborate too much, other than: it was awesome, if a little too popular for it’s own good, and definitely needs to happen more often and run later.
When I got to Venice, I met up with several other friends, including my good friend, colleague, and extremely taleted cinematographer Richie Trimble. Riche had, only the day before, completed building a new bicycle from scratch, albeit one that was 14.5 feet (4.5 meters) tall.
Note that the other two bicycles behind Richie are other “tall bikes”, albeit ones of standard size made from two bicycle frames welded together.
I can’t imagine it would be possible to build a bicycle any taller and still ride it. As we rode around Venice and Marina Del Rey, Richie was constantly ducking under bridges and power lines only a few inches over his head.
At some points, other riders would ride ahead and clear pedestrians and vehicles out of the way to make a path, so Richie could ride under parts of obstacles that had more clearance.
I’m sure you’re thinking “how does he get off?” “How does he stop?”. These are all very good and valid questions, so I will direct you to this very fine video, shot by Richie himself from the GoPro strapped to his chest. If you think it’s scary to see photos *of* the bicycle being ridden, you should see the view from the driver’s seat from the man himself:
I did a photoshoot with the amazingly talented Kenneth Hill several months ago at my studio in Los Angeles. I had some electricians in at the time doing some work that took a whole lot longer than I expected, so we didn’t wind up using the studio part at all.
This was shot on the building’s fire escape:
And a few in my living room:
And then a few on the balcony, in front of a typical, bright Los Angeles sunset:
That final image was picked by one of my editors and appeared on iStockphoto’s homepage for a few months after that:
I’ve found myself defending my use of Instagram to other photographers.
I’ve heard the saying that goes “the best camera in the world is the one you have with you”, which oftentimes is just my phone. Even when I’m carrying a full SLR or two with me, I’ll still take my phone out and take pictures, to the amusement of people around me.
Below are some photos I took in Paris on a recent trip there.
On this flight, I was required to check all of my camera gear, so the only camera I had was my phone. This is a moment that wouldn’t have been captured otherwise.
Often some of the photos I take are relevant in the moment, but having a small, ubiquitous camera allows for capturing images that have a feel all of their own, a feeling of spontaneity. If I were to take a full DSLR out, meter, get the settings right, the moment would be over. Sometimes, there are just situations where it’s just not really appropriate to whip out a 5D.
Sometimes I just like the aesthetic, and the instant filters available. Half the time I can have a polished, processed image right away, something I’d be happy with if I had later edited the image with the computer.
And other images I don’t think I’d have bothered to take out a DSLR to shoot, but in the moment, seemed like an interesting composition, and later, I was glad I did.
These I took while bored and waiting for a train:
These I took because it didn’t seem appropriate to take out my DSLR at the time, although in hindsight I wish I had:
I think the “tilt-shift” filter can be super cheesy sometimes, but when used in certain contexts, has a really nice effect:
And, of course, I seem to have a strange obsession with stairs.
I borrowed a really neat vintage Super-8 camera from my friends at the Hand Prop Room, a massive warehouse full of all kinds of film and TV props. It covers two floors, and has everything you’d need to make a room look like the 1970’s, or to make a team of dozens of unthreatening extras look like a police SWAT team with assault rifles.
No SWAT team today, but I thought this old handheld movie camera looked pretty neat, so I took it back to the studio and spent a few hours lighting and shooting it.
Up-close with a tilt-shit lens:
I love the little details, like the visible shutter in this lens, and the etched-in focusing points. It’s got the same aesthetic as a Swiss watch, except it’s a bit grungy with age.
I got to spend a month in Japan last year, and I got to looking through a lot of the photos I’d taken there. I’m going to make a few unconventional posts, starting with this one, of the random things I’d noticed walking around while I was there.
It took me awhile to realize it, but I tend to photograph bicycles a lot. I do enjoy bicycling and tend to use a bicycle for my primary form of transportation when I’m not working, but there is also a nice pleasing aesthetic to bicycles as well. In older and/or denser cities, like those in Japan, much like Northern Europe, bicycles are the most practical form of transportation, and so bicycles tend to be utilitarian and designed with reliability in mind. We’re talking baskets, panniers, fenders, and chain guards.
The other thing I noticed, is that much unlike the US and Europe where bicycles tend to get stolen and are locked well, Japanese bicycles tend to be left unlocked, or at the most have a simple locking mechanism that locks the rear wheel to the frame. Petty theft just doesn’t seem to be an issue in Japan, and I’ve heard stories from friends there that have had lost wallets returned to them with cash still in them.
Bicycles more often than not seem to be left standing upright in their most convenient location.
There are, of course, also bicycles that have been tricked out to be unique and match the rider’s personality:
As with most dense cities, there was no shortage of motorized two-wheel vehicles, but they tended to be economical scooters. I didn’t see too many motorcycles, and the ones I saw were simple and small.
There were also lots of cars I hadn’t noticed anywhere else in the world, like this squashed-looking compact van in Kyoto that seemed to typify most of the cars I saw in Japan:
Or this typical taxi cab:
Interestingly, every cab in Japan has a little button that the driver can press to automatically open and close the rear door. Upon returning to the states, I stood in front of a cab for several long seconds before realizing that the door wasn’t going to open automatically for me.
Japanese taxis also seem to have their side mirrors placed really far forward, and I never asked why.
Just a quick update to apologize for letting the blog languish for a year. I fell off the wagon, and then the blog got hacked, and I procrastinated for a long time on fixing it because honestly I didn’t know -how- to do it. Half a day of learning new things about WordPress later, it seems to be working again, and better than I left it.
I don’t have too much travel coming up in the near future, but I’m going to keep the blog going with photos and adventures that I’ve missed blogging about in the last year. There’s some good stuff in there.
Above: the view from my Downtown Los Angeles studio balcony just after sunset on 12-21-12.