Sammy the dog on his favorite bed



Sammy the dog on his favorite bed.



Pumpkin pie


Taken with Hipstamatic, Loftus lens and Ina's 1982 film, no flash. 

--S.H.


Tough life of a Painted Lady



Get up close to a butterfly and you better appreciate the tough life they must have. Looks like someone took a chomp out of his/her right wing; I think this is a Painted Lady, the very common butterfly seen around Southern California.


Bee, macro



I'm still playing around with my new macro lens (Nikon DX 85mm). Here's an image I captured at the Huntington Gardens this past weekend. 

It's almost really good. The mix of colors is great. Only one problem and you've probably spotted it: looks like there was something in front of the flower in the foreground. With the thin depth of field of macro lenses, it's hard to tell. 


Spectacular sunset over downtown Los Angeles



The sunset on Nov. 22, 2013, over downtown Los Angeles. The photo was taken from the 25th floor of the Metro headquarters building behind Union Station. 


Yellow aloe



Yellow aloe plant at the Huntington Gardens. Click above to see larger.


Finch



More bird action from my backyard. I believe this is a finch, but I'm never sure. If the birds aren't carrying a driver's license or other ID, I'm never really sure. 


Los Angeles graffiti



Shot this one for work, the reason I needed to get a bus into the photo (I work for a transportation agency). There's probably a better way to compose the scene (at 7th and Hooper in L.A.) although vantage points are somewhat limited. 


Horse closeups



More after the jump! 


Tomatoes

Tomatoes at a farmer's market shot with iPhone5 and processed with Snapseed.

--S.H.

 

Stable horse



Went over to Burbank to see the 100 Mules at the L.A. Equestrian Center; the mules just traveled 100 miles from the Owens Valley in California's Eastern Sierra to L.A. to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.



My first macro lens: Nikon 85mm DX micro lens








I went to the regular camera swap held at the Pasadena Elks Lodge on Sunday. Never been there before and I was lucky to come home with only one lens: the Nikon 85mm DX micro lens designed for extreme closeup photography. 


Freeway ramp photography



Took this one for work -- it's a new onramp to the notorious 405 freeway in Los Angeles. I had access to the ramp a couple of days before it opened to traffic. 


AMC Pacer


A retro looking car deserves a retro look -- courtesy the iPhone5 and the Snapseed app's retrolux filter.

I can't recall the last time I saw one of these on the road. This one was parked in West Hollywood along with a sign in the window offering it for TV and film shoots.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon 2013 and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission.

The poor condition of the Veterans Administration campus in West Los Angeles

UPDATE: My timing on this post was impeccable! One day later the National Trust for Historic Preservation came out with this study criticizing the VA for its poor stewardship of historic structures and campuses around the country. Of course, it's not just about architecture -- many of those buildings are used to care for our vets. 

I was in West Los Angeles during my lunch hour the other day and took a stroll through the sprawling campus with my camera. Here are a few shots along with some commentary:

 

Here is a building at the VA that looks like it was last painted seven or eight wars ago. (I think that gets us back to WWI or Spanish-American). I later learned that this is an old streetcar depot that was built in 1900 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Gee, glad to see it's being meticulously cared for.

 

Far too many buildings appear to be either shuttered, neglected or in disrepair. It makes me think that vets aren't super high on Congress' list.

 

One of the main buildings. Like everything else, it looks like it has seen better days. 

 

So...we have the money to ship people over to Mideast to get blown to bits but a basketball net at the VA when they get home? Nope. The campus does have a golf course although I didn't see any vets walking around with their clubs. 

 

A piano that was apparently donated to the VA and now sits on an outdoor patio along with a tarp in case it rains.

 

While taking pics of the VA chapel that is closed -- vets can find God elsewhere, I suppose -- a VA employee in new silver Mercedes drove up and told me I'm not allowed to take photos of federal property without permission. Even though a parade of choice words was lining up in my brain in response, I was literally too flabbergasted to respond. 

This isn't a military base. Nor is it a courtroom. It's a campus dedicated to caring for our soldiers. And shooting the side of a dilapidated chapel is a far different thing than taking a camera into a doctor's office or waiting room. 

At home later, I went on the VA website where it explained that journalists need permission to shoot ahead of time because of patient privacy concerns. Okay, I get that. But it's a big campus and precluding photography also serves another dubious purpose: it discourages people from trying to show the poor -- a charitable word -- condition of much of the VA. 

Are the above great photos? Not really. The second one is decent, a few of the others are good ideas badly executed. I shot all of them within the space of an hour with my Nikon D5100 and 10-24mm wide angle lens. I didn't spend a lot of time composing shots or being artful -- I just shot what I saw and then processed quickly last night. The point of the exercise was to weave together images to try and tell a story. Easier said than done, people. 

Missing are a few photographs showing the sprawl of the place - it literally covers hundreds of acres on both sides of Wilshire Boulevard. More egregious is the absence of veterans in the photos. When you drive around, it's easy to see that the VA is likely the last resort for many of these men and women who served our country and now must rely on government healthcare. That's the story waiting for a talented photojournalist.

Go see the campus for yourself; it's Brentwood and Westwood adjacent, meaning it's next to some of Southern California's priciest real estate. Of course, respect patient privacy. Always. And bring a camera for everything else. It's your government and you have a right to take photos of it. 





--S.H.

The photos on this post are ©Steve Hymon 2013. Feel free to use the VA campus photos as you see fit. 


Getty Center cafe



The one decent shot I got at the Getty Center yesterday. Great place to take photos -- the architecture is spectacular, but you really need time to figure out how to frame decent shots. 


Moonrise over the Inyo Mountains



This is a moonrise over the Inyo Mountains, photographed just south of Big Pine in California's Owens Valley. The shadow was created by the sun dipping behind the crest of the Eastern Sierra. 


Putting fall colors in the Eastern Sierra in the proper context



Another one from my fall colors trip to the Eastern Sierra in October. This is a closeup photo of Laurel Creek near Mammoth Lakes. I'm going to show several different views, including one that I posted earlier and is my favorite. 

I tried photographing this from several different places, near and far and with different lenses. I went out in the morning when light was best and had the time to explore some vantage points. (Actually, it's smarter to explore in advance). 

Here's a super closeup, which is kind of colorful and also kind of boring: 




And here's one taken from far away but with a 70-300mm telephoto lens on my Nikon D5100:
 

This one's actually pretty interesting but raises some questions. Is the tree line too close to center of the frame? Is the telescoping effect of the lens a little too obvious? I think the answer to both questions is 'yes.' Which is the reason I keep circling back to that first photo:
 

For me, it just works. There are nice diagonal lines, the frozen pond makes the foreground interesting and the colors of the aspens can be appreciated more when seen in their larger context. 

I've shown it to several people and shared on one of my favorite forums and the collective response has been "eh." Nonetheless, I'm sticking to my photographic guns on this one -- I think this one is best. 

Check out more of my work on my newly-redesigned SmugMug site. If you're interested in joining SmugMug, click here for a $5 discount on membership. Very affordable prints of any of the above images are available -- click on the image above and then click on the buy link. 

--S.H.

The above photos are ©Steve Hymon 2013 and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission.