beverly hills

Jessica Alba’s Back

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I attended a luncheon on Friday that had originally been scheduled at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. Well, as the principle owner of the Pink Palace is the Sultan of Brunei, and Brunei has just passed laws permitting the stoning of women for… well… we can stop right there. What else do you think anyone here in LA needed to know? Event cancellations become the norm for the Beverly Hills Hotel and this particular event, The Helping Hands 2014 Mother of the Year awards, was moved to the Beverly Hilton.

Anyway, Jessica Alba was awarded 2014 Mother of the Year. We all sat down and ate our lunch and I, of course, had no idea that the movie star was sitting about ten feet directly behind me. I was there as a guest and I couldn’t stalk the situation for shots or even make myself obvious to anyone. My Leica M-E is discreet, that’s for sure. But I wasn’t able to get up from my seat and take images.

Nevertheless, I was able to grab a handful but certainly nothing to write home about. I sure hope the shots at least get you in the room for a moment. 😉

Thank you!

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T-Max 3200 at Beverly Hills Fashion’s Night Out 2011

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A Rodeo Drive Wedding

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City People

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No great shakes here. More like a feeling. All these images were taken this past Saturday and Sunday. Seems to me that LA has shed the tourists and the holiday spirit and settled into itself once again. It’s a colder place than it was a month ago. Anyway, there’s a lot of shots. I do try to give anyone who visits here their money’s worth.

I left the last image, the stunning blonde sitting at a distance in the cafe , so that the image can be clicked on and examined at a larger resolution. It’s not a great or meaningful photograph. I posted it because I find it amazing sometimes what unlikely things you can do with a Leica pressed flat against your face. Thanks for looking!

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Stalking Beverly Hills

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Christmas Light

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Layers

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Blonde, Skirt, Building

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Figurines

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Raging Rivers of Steel

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About the biggest favor a resident of Los Angeles can do for an obvious non-resident standing in the street with his entire family is toot the car horn at him and motion for them all to get back on the sidewalk.

LA is a famously fast driving city, no one walks, cars tear through every last half-foot of pavement. It’s not unpredictable. It’s actually extremely predictable. Virtually every inch of roadway in Los Angeles will at various moments of the day have automobiles thundering over it. Curbs are worn with the tell-tale signs of drivers who have slammed and scraped into them.

So let me say it here to anyone who ever comes to L.A. to visit. Wait for the walks signs. ON the sidewalk. When you get the walk sign, proceed warily. If you don’t yet have a walk sign. Wait on the sidewalk. Let me repeat that last part.

ON THE SIDEWALK.

With your precious family. All of them. The children. If you don’t, and someone has to toot the horn at you to make sure you don’t walk into their two-ton motor vehicle, just wave and step back. Maybe with some quiet reflective gratitude.

Maybe not like this this guy. Who began shouting at us in a language I’d never heard before after Mrs. 50’Lux tooted the horn at him. But the tone was unmistakable nevertheless at conveying the message that he wasn’t at all appreciative of the fact that we were sending him a gentle warning that could save his life.

Shooting at night with the Leica M-E

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Two years of shooting film with my M7 and then an M6, limited but unconcerned by the usually 200-400 ISO range of the film loaded in my cameras, I think I learned to stop whining about high ISO performance and noise and learn to do the things necessary to take pictures after the sun goes down.

Yes, sometimes I would shoot some really wonderful and cheap Kodak 800 speed film I’d picked up. But the process and discipline of making what in the digital sense are low ISOs work, holding the camera very still, tight against the face, learning to love shooting at 1/8th of a second instead of needing 1/250th… these are the changes that have enabled me to feel free and easy shooting with a camera that most photographers today consider to be lagging in the ISO and image noise performance area.

A while ago someone surmised that with the high ISO capability of modern digital cameras, we don’t really need the superfast 2.0 and 1.4 lenses that Leica happens to specialize in making and selling for thousands of dollars. Who needs any of that when your camera will produce clean usable images at 12k ISO?

Well, that kind of thinking and that kind of equipment will certainly give your photography a certain look, along with the capability afforded in the high ISO performance. And for professionals, at this point, there really isn’t any substitute for great high ISO performance.

But I would counter that the opposite of the idea of chucking super fast and expensive glass is equally as true for photographers wishing to use their cameras to create unique work that differentiates itself from most modern digital photography by its emphasis on photographing light where it exists and an adherence to the old ways like simply holding a camera as still as is humanly possible.

But as evidenced here and in a lot of images to follow, there’s also other ways to get around the problem of shooting low ISO film or digital camera sensors we can’t push much beyond 800 ISO and that is to photograph lights themselves or things that are well lit.

The images here aren’t intended to be a demonstration of any one technique for shooting in low light. They’re intended to be a demonstration of boldness and an attitude of let’s get over blaming equipment for what it doesn’t do and instead praise the almighty dollar that we can afford a cell phone or a Diana or a Pentax or a Leica film or digital camera and just get out and make the pictures your gear allows you to make. 

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