Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Huntington Library--an incredible, must see Los Angeles destination

If you have never been to the Huntington Library in San Marino, you owe it to yourself to set aside a day and head up there with a good friend or loved one.  The experience of it's vast gardens along with it's library of rich paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, and books makes this a top-5 destination of places to visit if you're new to the area.

“The Huntington”, as it is known by the regulars, is a collections-based institution established by Henry Huntington (1850–1927) with a focus on 18th and 19th-century European art and 17th to mid-20th-century American art. The property also includes approximately 120 acres of botanical gardens, most notably the "Japanese Garden", the "Desert Garden", and the "Chinese Garden".  According to Wikipedia, Henry Edwards Huntington, a landowner, businessman and visionary, was born in Oneonta, New York, and was the nephew and heir of Collis P. Huntington, (1821–1900), one of the famous "Big Four" railroad tycoons of 19th century California history. In 1913, after relocating from San Francisco to Los Angeles,  Henry purchased more than 500 acres of what was then known as the "San Marino Ranch”.  Huntington's interest in art was influenced in large part by his second wife, Arabella Huntington, (1851–1924), and with art experts to guide him, he benefited from a post-World War I European market that was "ready to sell almost anything". Before his death in 1927, Huntington amassed a collection, then worth $50 million.

I’ve made numerous trips to the Huntington over the years, and each time have enjoyed myself immensely.  Whether strolling through the vast and richly cultivated gardens, resting on one of many benches under shade canopies of its innumerable mature trees, or marveling at the many paintings, sculptures, or manuscripts, the Huntington is one of Southern California’s most treasured destinations.    I could go once a month and never tire of the experience…

My entire collection of photographs from the Huntington can be viewed at:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, CA

One of many place in Southern California that I’ve NOT been to is the El Dorado Nature Center…that is, until today!  Nestled between the San Gabriel River and the 605 Freeway, the El Dorado Nature Center is 105 acres with trails that wind around two lakes, a stream and forested areas. I was surprised at the extent and maturity of the forested areas considering the urban environment surrounding this oasis.  

I had no idea what to expect in terms of fauna and flora, and I’m sure like many similar nature preserves, time of year affects what one will see, and multiple visits are required to gain an appreciation for the variety and change that different seasons bring.  That said, there were still a number of photo opportunities, and today’s weather made for a terrific day to visit!

I still get excited when I see the Great blue herons!  They are so big, and the foliage around this one made for a pleasant composition.  After waiting nearly an hour to see if I could catch some in-flight photos, I eventually had to give up…even the bird yawned!

This cormorant was quite interesting to watch.  It swam around and occasionally dove under the water to search for food.  One time it came up with a MOUTHFUL!  It sure looks like the head of a bird!  I watched the cormorant swallow the whole thing!  (see the next picture)

There was a small waterfall, and since subject matter to photograph was limited to this point, I created a couple of images with a slow shutter speed to create a nice silky water flow.

I heard the characteristic chirping of an osprey while walking around, and at one point off in the distance I saw it perched high up in a tree.  I was able to get a little bit closer, and since I was fortunate to be using a telephoto lens, I’m able to give you a nice close-up photograph!

This Yellow warbler was enjoying these berries along with about 20 of his friends!  It was hard to settle on which bird to photograph…the additional challenge was that with them buried in the tree branches, they were typically in mottled lighting, so it took a bit of patience and luck to wait until one was mostly in shade (or sun).

The Great egret is another of my favorite birds to photograph…so elegant!

To see these and other images from my El Dorado Nature Center collection, visit: