Kurt M Lawson Photography »

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A day at the beach

Magic hour

Magic hour

Yesterday I took a bike ride along the coast of Santa Monica Bay. While this was mostly just a recreational trip, I found that the gloomy marine layer that extended from Santa Monica to El Segundo had opened a hole over Malibu, and that this provided a stunning backdrop to some surfers that I happened to notice as I rode by on my bike. Had I not looked up at this moment I would have missed it. I hauled my bike into the sand and shot a series of pictures as the light faded. I had taken my entire photo kit sans tripod with me and was glad I did as I whipped up my new 100-400mm zoom lens to frame up these shots. This was quite a magic hour!

Surf's up under the god rays

Surf's up under the god rays

Crashing waves and god rays

Crashing waves and god rays

The waves crashing over the edge of this break wall in Venice is what caught my eye in the first place. The waves were splashing 20 feet into the air.

Two surfers

Two surfers

Crashing waves and couple

Crashing waves and couple

Waiting for the waves

Waiting for the waves

I don’t know what it was about the air – perhaps moisture content – but looking towards Malibu revealed this mirage like image of an island. The island is of course not an island, but rather the ancient rock of Point Dume at the far west end of Santa Monica Bay.

Looking to join the fun

Looking to join the fun

Big crash

Big crash

God rays over the life guard hut

God rays over the life guard hut

Not all the shots from the trip were at the one spot. Here are a few others from different parts of the coast.

Sailboat at the edge of darkness

Sailboat at the edge of darkness

This boat was right at the edge of the massive marine layer cloud, with the water in front in direct sunlight while the boat was in shadow.

Blue heron

Blue heron

These two photos are from a fenced off area that allows these birds to hang out without human and pet disturbance. I believe they are Great Blue Herons and there were four of them when I went by in Marina Del Rey. They are big, pretty birds.

Blue heron II

Blue heron II

Finally here is a little time lapse I did showing the movement of the marine layer cloud taken from the edge. This is approximately 10 minutes sped up to last only 38 seconds.

Steam Maintenance

I paid a quick visit to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society yesterday. Their locomotive, Nickel Plate 765, traveled by my house when I was growing up and I always like to see it when I can. On this day they were working on the frames that support the wheels of the locomotive’s tender. I walked away with two shots that I really liked of the work being done, although the depth of field could have been bigger. It’s always challenging to shoot pictures in their shop since it is very dark. You can see some of my other shots of 765 and other trains by clicking here.

Sparks flying

Sparks flying

These two gentleman were grinding bits of steel that they had welded onto the trailer trucks. The steel they were adding was of greater strength than the original steel in the trucks. This will hopefully be more resistant to wear and tear. In these pictures they are grinding down the welded on pieces.

Sparks flying II

Sparks flying II

A visit to Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Recently I was up in the area near Redmond, Washington for a friend’s wedding. On the last day of the trip, we stopped in on Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery to walk around the grounds and take a tour of the bottling facility. Fortunately I had my camera with me and took some shots of the beautiful surroundings as well as inside the winery itself.
The tour mentioned that the original owners of the winery had a fondness for planting exotic plants and trees on the grounds. This tree caught my eye almost immediately.

European Copper Beech

European Copper Beech

The tree is a European copper beech.

I loved the views looking up at its trunk and branches.

Beautiful colors in the leaves

Beautiful colors in the leaves

Just a gorgeous tree

Just a gorgeous tree

And here’s a quick not very exciting look at the tree from afar:

The copper beech from afar

The copper beech from afar

This tree was not the only sight that caught my eye.

Mushrooms and green

Mushrooms and green

Beautiful lawn and garden

Beautiful lawn and garden

Soon it was time to go on the tour of the winery. Since we were there on a holiday, no one was working to bottle any wine that day. This made for some fun shots of the empty industrial apparatus that makes up the winery’s bottling operations.

Wine tanks

Wine tanks

Wine tanks detail

Wine tanks detail

We later encountered a series of tanks which I think were steel but reflected the copper colored lighting and maroon walls in spectacular fashion. The rivets made really awesome patterns.

Tanks and copper light

Tanks and copper light

Rivet detail. Really beautiful patterns.

Rivet detail. Really beautiful patterns.

Tank study in black and white

Tank study in black and white

3068 gallons each - that's a lot of wine

3068 gallons each - that's a lot of wine

Giant wine barrel

Giant wine barrel

Barrels of wine in the showroom

Barrels of wine in the showroom

It was a really fun diversion.

June 16, 2010 - 6:23 am

Nancy Culbertson - Beautiful pictures!

Looking back at the Griffith Park fire of 2007

Three years ago a fire swept through parts of Griffith Park in the heart of Los Angeles. On this day for whatever reason I had brought my camera in to work. I was glad I did. From the rooftop of my workplace, we could see this during the day:

Griffith Park fire from a rooftop in Santa Monica

Griffith Park fire from a rooftop in Santa Monica

This looked big, and it was the first time I had seen a fire this close. Usually area fires had been far away in the San Gabriel Mountains or elsewhere away from the center of the city. Borrowing a telephoto lens for the night, the view became much more dramatic. Tragically the buildings and smoke are slightly out of focus in the series of shots I took from the rooftop at night.

Griffith Park fire gives an apocalyptic glow behind the buildings of Century City

Griffith Park fire gives an apocalyptic glow behind the buildings of Century City

Having seen this, and knowing that the park was surrounded by the city, I decided that this would probably be the safest fire I could chase with my camera that I’ll probably ever see. So, with a friend of mine along for the ride, we set out to check out this crazy sight.

A surreal alien firey landscape

A surreal alien firey landscape

What we saw blew our minds. I had seen fires in the past on TV but to see one with my own eyes was something else. It was insane. Whole hillsides right behind residential neighborhoods were black with glowing red embers. It looked like a mountain of lava with dark alien trees growing from it (where there were some left).

A neighborhood's light and power silhouetted against the firey landscape

A neighborhood's light and power silhouetted against the firey landscape

Hotspot in a forest of embers

Hotspot in a forest of embers

View of a red planet

View of a red planet

It was just surreal.

The fire and the freeway

The fire and the freeway

Our last stop was on the bridge of Los Feliz blvd over the 5 freeway. Here thousands of people were just driving on by the burning hillsides going about their business. Dozens of local Angelino’s were hanging out on the bridge under a rain of ash watching the action unfold and taking pictures. Everyone was super friendly. In fact, I noticed during the Station Fire last year that everyone I encountered was super friendly and helpful, giving me tips on where to shoot from safely.

As we get into the hot summer months I am sincerely hoping that we don’t have a repeat of last years devastating fire season.

June 10, 2010 - 5:36 pm

Kristen - Hi, Kurt! Those are some awesome and frightening pictures. I hope you guys don’t have to go through that again this summer.

June 11, 2010 - 9:20 pm

Nancy Culbertson - Kurt, You photographs and story could be in National Geographic.
Your pictures are amazing.

June 14, 2010 - 4:43 pm

Mark E - Kurt!
Amazing Photography! Keep up the great work.

May 3, 2012 - 10:47 am

John N. Maclean - Kurt,
Great photos. What is the status of the photos now? Have they been exhibited?
Sincerely, John N. Maclean

Photographic Print Store

I’ve been searching for some time for a simple solution for presenting a web store for selling prints. The closest thing I’ve yet found is the service from bigcartel. I’ve set up a basic store with them. Basically, you select the size of print you want and it will set up the transaction through Paypal. You need to specify which picture you would like printed, and then I will carefully and personally print the requested picture and send it to you. Check it out and tell me what you think!

http://kurtlawson.bigcartel.com

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