Pulled Into San Pedro Early One Night

I have to admit: Until last night my only exposure to the City of San Pedro came from a reference in a Commander Cody (and His Lost Planet Airmen) song published back in ancient times.  The town’s come up in conversation between Mitzi and me since  we’ve been scheduled off and on since February to go on a whale watching trip that launches from the harbor there. I guess I knew vaguely that San Pedro’s the sort of place that Jimmy Buffett would have, back in the day, referred to as a Pirate Town (Arrrrgggghhh), but that’s it.

Not exactly a Hot Rod Lincoln but you get the idea

Then came these photo walks. The previous post was about a walk I tagged onto in San Francisco mid-April and last weekend I participated in a Drink and Click (TM) walk around Old Downtown Los Angeles. These things are fun. And they are wonderful photog mixers. The photography community on Google + has embraced the concept full force.

Last night was a variation on that theme: The First Thursday Art Walk in Old Town San Pedro. And it was really a blast!

Tools Of The Trade

Unless you’ve lived on another planet for the past decade or so you know that these types of events have become regular affairs usually underwritten by the local Chamber for boosting interest and commercial return in the center city. There are First Fridays and Second Tuesdays and Fourth Wednesdays and so on in almost every town in the country. And though they’re not specifically designed to focus on the artist community, they usually do. Certainly that’s so when they’re “Art Walks”. And they are excellent excuses for doing photography.

Despite being aware of this trend and for that matter even having arranged participation at the one in Greensboro, NC for a local photography group  a couple of years (and a couple of lifetimes) past, I had never personally attended one – of any type. So I got through two firsts last night.

Well, really three firsts. Since I knew that most of my shooting would be in low light I equipped the camera with my 50 mm f/1.4 prime lens and committed to using it exclusively. I’d never done that before. (Thank you Dave Powell.) In fact I don’t use this lens very often, even though it’s the fastest one I own.  It worked wonderfully – when I did. Funny how that is. Since I had no personal experience, it’s hard for me to assess how well this event stacked up in comparison to other of its ilk, but I have a reasonably good idea the effort that goes into pulling it off. Impressive!

On The Air

There are art studios of various size and description everywhere within this roughly 3 square block area of Old Downtown San Pedro, with a few theaters and clubs scattered in their midst for good measure.

Last night food trucks ringed the place – a SoCal institution I’ve come to learn  – and taken as a whole it had much a carnival atmosphere.

The Principal Artist and Owner at Studio 347

The studio artists and owners were warm and welcoming and many of them had wine, cheese, cookies and the like awaiting our arrival. And they all had smiles. How they do it I’m not sure. Hundreds if not thousands of lookers wander through these places tediously asking  the same questions couched in different accents and perhaps one in a thousand of them buy anything. The business of art at this level is fun for the lookers and exceedingly annoying for the artists. But they abide. I have to admire that.

I should have asked what this window decoration was but I’ll leave it up to you.

For me it seemed a constant struggle between looking for a good shot – oh come on! Sorting through the tsunami of good shots available –  or getting completely immersed in the scene around me. Mitzi kept me moving. That helped.

I believe we spent the most amount of time at a place called The Loft at 4th and Mesa. It’s a four-story building devoted entirely to artists from Redondo Beach. They produce work in almost every medium imaginable. Truth is one could probably spend the entire evening in this  one spot. I could have spent much more time with Carol Hungerford. Didn’t, but it was tempting.

This is one of my favorite pieces from The Loft and it’s followed by one of my favorite shots on the walk.

Sunset Under Glass – rgharrison

All told this ran for three hours and we capped it off with dinner at Neil’s Pasta and Seafood Grill (recommended). AND,  one of the artists tipped us that on every Third Thursday on Main Street in Huntington Beach a similar event takes place.

Huntington Beach is yet another place I’ve wanted to get to. I was there only once, back in the 70’s, having been guided by a California Girl I met on a business trip. She drove a red Alfa Romeo Spyder, the sun shone in her exotic blue eyes and the wind made a magical streamer of her long blonde hair. Elton John was on the radio with Bennie and the Jets. Just one of those scenes that finds a comfortable spot in your head and, in my case. pops up anytime either Huntington Beach or Bennie and her electric boots and mohair suit are mentioned. They’ve probably changed Huntington a bit since then. I’m sure I’ll adjust.

If you’re so inclined, you can take in all the photos at richardharrison.smugmug.com

Thanks for dropping in! Come back again soon.


Change o’ Pace

I ‘follow’ my own blog (someone has to) if for no other reason than to be able to see what others see when it launches to the net. Sort of a quality control procedure I suppose. I rarely find anything wrong although with a little help from my old business associate Andrew in Australia I did learn that I had the settings for photo display set incorrectly and that anytime I posted a pic from my iPhone it was displaying in a very tiny pixel framework. It had nothing to do with the iPhone, which delivers excellent quality with its camera, but with my ignorance. After I got over the mental rant against WordPress and set about to research the issue I was able to make the necessary corrections. Then I had to mentally apologize to WordPress. Strange things rattle ’round inside my head at times – an alternate reality that hopefully will never see the light of day. Perhaps some of you can identify with that. Oh, and thank you Andrew! And just so you know I have been looking into making another trip downunder if I can figure out how to fit a month or so into my budget. Might finally have to get serious about my connection with CouchSurfing and AirBnB.


Something I did notice all too often when I checked my site was the inclusion of an ad at the bottom that WP claimed was necessary to help offset the expense of providing free siting. I did not like it but wasn’t disgruntled enough to fork over the extra dough to make it go away. Then I noticed I was getting all those links you see connected with various places like HuffPost and OutsideMagazine with the come-on titles and scantily clad models. I have nothing against scantily clad models mind you – but just not on my site.

So, I gave in last night and upgraded to the Big Kahuna package, which is why you’ll be receiving this from richardbegone.com instead of from richardbegone.wordpress.com. Hopefully this will not disappoint those of you who might have been dropping in for the prurient trimmings that will no longer be availble. As consolation I will try to occasionally find a model or two of my own whose images can be offered up. Problem with me there is I rarely shoot anything (other than dogs) that either breathes or moves. And dead models are of little interest to anyone outside a mortuary. We’ll see. I’m going on a photo-walk tomorrow in downtown LA; maybe something interesting will pop-up.

This will be my second Google+ Photographers’ ‘walk’. The last was in San Francisco on the 14th April. I don’t think I posted anything from that walk here on the blog other than an iPhone shot of Rodeo Beach on the Marin Headlands and an errant Street Car on Polk.

I’ll make up for that now.

The start of the walk at Marina and Scott about 1400 hours:


The walk leaders, Dave Powell (r) and Chris Cabot: Dave was visiting from Tokyo where he lives and works. Chris works locally for Google.


Some of the folk who joined in for the event:


“Accidental” Models along the way:


The Post-walk Camera Throw at the pizza place:


And last but far from least from my perspective my finally being able to get a couple of decent night shots of the Golden Gate Bridge – to add to the gazillion other shots that have been made but with my prints on the image.


And then it was over:


Ok, not quite. I loved this dog-chases-ball series so I’m tacking it on:




A Touch Of Tahoe

I had really hoped to catch up on a weeks worth of shooting today. I’ve covered a lot of territory and have more to explore before reaching home base on Friday. Two days in San Francisco that included lunch with my brother Pat and a Google + Photo Walk led by Dave Powell and Chris Cabot. Then a short drive by Pt Reyes that consumed nearly an entire day. And last night a trip up to Tahoe through a driving snow storm. Phew!

And we’re only half way.

So let me throw some iPhone pics at you for now and get some other stuff later.


This is Emerald Bay near South Lake Tahoe. The island is called the Tea House.


The pier at Sugar Pine Point State Park.


King’s Beach Launch Area


The most common view of the Lake as you circle it is through gorgeous evergreen stands like this one.


And finally a rocky out cropping near Memorial Point on the Nevada side.

Cholla Garden

Not exactly in chronological order but Thursday we set out from LA in search of Hadley Farm in Cabazon and wound up day tripping into Joshua Tree NP. The Cholla Garden is a highlight In the park and we managed to reach it just as the sun was setting.

These plants are gorgeous and damned dangerous. The spines are needle thin and razor sharp. The garden provides cover for small critters since the larger predators aren’t dumb enough to run into the place or for that matter swoop in.

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Yosemite Redux

Back in Yosemite this weekend for the annual Yosemite Conservancy Spring Opener. Another shot of a shot of Half Dome. Very mild winter here snow was never heavy and is all but gone since the visit in February. Drought may be in the forecast.

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Interesting chat with a Canadian photog named Bruce who had been on the road for most of three years. Had this neat minivan he’d converted to a sleeper. I need to look into that. If you read this Bruce, drop me a note. And let me know how it went in Death Valley.

Paper Flowers

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PineRidge: Sunrise to Sunset


Mo asked me the other day how I go about selecting the photographs I post. Now I’d like to say that I diligently process the images as a I go along and attempt to post each one in chronological order replete with backstory. Obviously that’s not the case although I do occasionally give it some thought.

Recently I’ve been randomly culling through my archive and post-processing files that have languished all too long. And as I do that and see a few things I like I pull them out for the blog and beyond. You’ll notice too – I hope – that these are now click-through links to the SmugMug galleries I’m beginning to (finally) populate. If you don’t know what a click-through link is just put your cursor on the face of the picture and click. 🙂 And not to worry; your machine will not explode. This image comes from the PineRidge Indian Reservation that surrounds Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It was taken when I passed through there in August 2011. It was the first area I tent camped in on that particular trip. That was a big deal for me at the time. That was many tent-poles ago.

There are lots of ridges in this area of the country but I do not recall seeing any pines.


Scotty’s Garage


Scotty’s Garage


Sunrise Near Dickinson, ND

Sunrise Near Dickinson, ND

Hard by The North Dakota Badlands

Crescent City Sunset

Crescent City Sunset

Along Merced Creek

Along Merced Creek

On the outskirts of Yosemite Valley


Checked into Yosemite today in hopes of catching a shot of

20130221-232802.jpgthis years Firefall at Horsetail Falls. It was a no go today – not enough melt to create the ‘falls’. So I ran up and took some shots at Tunnel View. Had I not left my laptop’s power cord in LA you would have seen some of those. But alas….. So here you have the iPhone shot and I suppose that’s all you’ll get until I get home and upload some stuff to Smugmug.

A Valentine’s Day to Remember

Blue sky. Sunshine. Comfortably cool temps. A small park in West Hollywood along the edge of what used to be Rt 66. Anne Hathaway: a thirty-something looking not a day over 15. Jane Fonda: a seventy-something looking about Hathaway’s age. Marisa Tomei: looking, well,  just like Marisa Tomei. And dozens of women, as well as a few men here and there, decked out in various shades of red and pink engaged in dance routines that would fit well into almost any zumba room. For V-Day? Not exactly.

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This was One Billion Rising, a planned flashmob (oxymoronic?) occurring today worldwide to raise the level of awareness of the violence  imposed daily on women and girls and to support a sustained movement to bring it to an end.

I was there because Mitzi and her client and friend, Bonnie, had signed up and had practiced their participation for a week and invited me to come along and bring the camera. I didn’t research the event and honestly wasn’t sure what would happen other than a bunch of women would be carrying signs and dancing in the street. And I suppose if you’re of a certain jadedness that would be one way to look at it.

But these women, young, old and everywhere in between, were on a mission.

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And they loved it.

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And it showed.

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And it was impossible not to get caught up in the energy-charged net of enthusiasm they spread all over their assigned section of Santa Monica Boulevard. And that’s what I tried to capture.  I’ll let you be the judge. In addition to the photos included here – my favorites –  I’ve posted a few more in this gallery. For those of you who took my card and asked where they would be published – this is the place. Feel free to use the images but also please make sure you attribute them to Richard Harrison (moi).

And!!!!!! Be sure to catch the video produced by Voyage Vixens. There are several on the net but none even comes close to the Vixens’ production quality.

And incidentally, that lead pic was a deliberate tease to get you to click the link and learn about something a little more important than cleavage.

One last note: I’m coming to believe that no event is complete without a dog. Pina De Rosa2013-02-14 024 feels the same and brought Wellington along to prove it. Put a couple of extra pluses on a day  inundated with them. But Wellington came out on top. You can learn all about him here.


Red Light Birds

I’ve had a number of new visitor on the blog recently. I have no idea how they find me but I’m certainly glad they do. I love traffic but more I love reciprocating with visits to their blogs because I get to enjoy their work in return. Blogging I suppose, can get incestous. So here’s a post I really loved from Moments I’ll Never Forget. I hope you like it as much as I did.


Think of nothing

Everything was white and bright today. I’m not sure whether the birds, they happen to be very visible citizens in Amsterdam too, appreciated the crisp weather. They were everywhere today, but most gathered in the Red Light District, fighting each other – probably because they were cold and grumpy.

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I was reading the latest post at Leanne Cole Photography last night about how she had been influenced by various artists but in particular by Edward Hopper – one of my favorites. It’s a good post that generated some interesting feedback.

People seem  torn between Hopper, the artist of renown, and Hopper the self-centered egotistical wife-abuser.

I can admire his work as a gift to humanity without connection to his character defects although I doubt I would have wanted to be personally acquainted.  Knowing him through his art is fine with me. And in that respect he is a giant of a human being, whose work, as a result of its later commercialization, is probably better known to the public than that of many of his peers. If you’ve never seen his tremendously popular painting Nighthawks , you almost certainly have seen one of the many parodies.

Anyway, I was culling through some of my pics this afternoon to select a couple more for my 500px gallery and I came across this one. It’s from a series of shots I took last October in early morning in eastern Montana and the lighting in it is unlike anything else I’ve ever captured. The distinct lack of shadow tends to flatten the scene, eliminating much of the depth of field. It appeared both strange and familiar to me but I could not quite put my finger on why. Now I know.

The photo is a link and if you follow it you’ll find one other of the series. I shot them both from the roadway. This one was on my left, the other on my right.  Incidentally, the photos depict a scene of utmost calm but there was a strong wind blowing that made it difficult to steady the camera. I felt lucky and pleased to have gotten what I did.


Santa Monica Red


Sunset At Pt Dume State Park, Malibu

Sunset at Pt Dume 01-13-7802

On 12 Jan Mitzi and I went to the first major west coast exhibition of the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art (thekellycollection.org) at the Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University. By invitation of the collection owner I might add. The opening reception ran from 5-7 to be followed by dinner at a restaurant a few miles up the coast. We over-estimated traffic and arrived early so I drove up the PCH to make sure I knew the restaurant’s exact location. As it turned out it was on the entrance road to the Park. So we drove out to the beach to see what we could see. Now you can see what we saw.


Sometimes Sunsets Are Silver

Sometimes Sunsets Are Silver



Birds In Flight

I’m getting a little better at capturing birds in flight – or maybe they are taking pity on me and slowing down when I come into sight – so I thought I would put a Flickr set together that I could collect them into. This is the first installment – some gulls that came my way on a recent trip up the coast to Santa Barbara. These were in Port Hueneme.



Here’s a couple of photographs that so far as I know I haven’t posted anywhere. The first: Mt Whitney, at 14,505 feet the tallest peak in the lower 48. Just a touch of snow at the time – early December 2012.

I like it. But I had not gone into the Alabama Hills that morning to shoot Whitney. I was after a shot of another icon, the Möbius Arch, the signature natural landmark in the Hills.

I was out early and was lucky enough to run into two other photogs who were skilled and who had been there before. So I followed their moves. That’s how I got not only my best Arch shot but in process managed an image of an icon within an icon. The peak to the left which appears to be higher – and isn’t- is Lone Pine Peak.



It’s my shot but I’d never have gotten it without help from Bernie and Jim. Thanks guys!


SF Giants Victory Parade

Not what you’d call timely reporting but while I was in Oakland visiting Charles the SF Giants won the World Series and of course had a parade. Charles and I took the BART over to the City to get a look-see. If you click on the photograph shown here it will take you to FLICKR where the entire set is located. Nothing spectacular but some rather good candid fan shots – including one of Charles – rare indeed


I couldn’t bring YoYo along on this trip and I miss him every day, especially in the mornings: he is great to wake up to. Big smile. Tail wagging. Reminding me that no matter what I have a purpose – and a friend. And that he’s going to have a wonderful day and I’m invited to tag along should tag along.

I checked in on Yo a few days ago. He’s doing great. I doubt he misses me. Dogs are enlightened beings – unlike their humans.

I’m not without a four-legged friend though. I find them everywhere when I’m out shooting. They particularly like beaches and seem to like people with cameras. Sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m looking for them or they’re looking for me.

I ran into this guy roaming round Malibu with his humans. He was much friendlier than they were. Dogs are like that. So are humans.



At The Point

So, how’s your day coming along?


Sunrise – Moonset – Sand Dunes

One of the things I had been looking forward to on my recent camping trip to Death Valley – also my first visit – was seeing the night sky from one of the darkest places on earth. Being an eastern urbanite that sky is something that I am otherwise routinely deprived of.  I wasn’t fully aware of the depths of my deprivation until one summer night sitting outside my dwelling in Arroyo Seco, near Taos, I glanced up and really saw the Milky Way for the first time. It was almost as if I were looking at the underside of a very sparkly lid – it was that tangibly imposing to me. I had been in a few planetariums in my life and in a few dark areas; but nothing I ever saw displayed in any of them came close to looking at the real thing hanging there over my head that night. So, I figured this would be one of the many treats to expect in the Valley. A super dark sky and a big ol Milky Way.

Typically, I paid no attention to the state of the sky before arriving. I just go. I thought I would see exactly what I intended to see: A gazillion stars spread out endlessly across the night sky. The moon had different plans and for most of my stay was up early shining like a flood light and not setting until late the next morning.  But even had I done the research ahead of time my visit schedule wasn’t going to change. Fortunately I’m going to be under wide open western skies for some time and the Valley is only a short 5 hour drive from my base camp in Los Angeles. There will be other chances, assuming the Mayans weren’t hiding the real date somewhere.

I went with what I had and since I had to be up early for sunrise lighting I was also able to get moonsets. I suppose I could have done the moonrise but when it’s full like this it’s very difficult to acquire any contrast on its face and a moon without contrast just looks like – well, a big flood light. Nothing especially interesting about that.

I already posted one of my Zabriskie shots on Google+ in the Death Valley Photographers Community – a part of which I now count myself, but nothing’s come through the blog yet so here you have a sunrise scene that I took from the top side of the Texas Springs campground area – nice when the shots come to you – and then a shot of the moon setting on the western side of the Valley over the Panamint Range. These were shot on different days because the sunrise shots I got from the Zabriskie overlook just didn’t work. (I feel as if I’m lucky when any of them turn out.)


I also have to admit that this sunrise caught me by surprise. I was a little late getting out of the tent on this morning and hadn’t expected to see anything other than a bright morning sky. The gear was locked in the car. The camera had no lens mounted. So I had to scramble. Hand held. The shutter was a little on the slow side to get the image and it suffered as a result from a lack of sharpness. But still. I can’t remember the last time I saw so much sunfire in the morning sky. It is what it is. And that ‘is’ works for me.


I was more prepared for the moonset and I like the result. The geology and the astronomy that manifest their ways in Death Valley make it a wondrous place. This Valley certainly earned its name. It holds the bones of many men and animals who arrived in its depths at the wrong time and became permanent footnotes in its long and violent history. Even today taking anything in this place for granted can cost you your next sunrise – all your next sunrises. No matter. It is a visual delight and one of the grandest exhibitions Nature puts on anywhere on earth.

Since I’ve been recalcitrant in getting any of the première shots online let me add one more; this of the Mesquite Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. I’m sure as people make return trips to DV that favorites places established in earlier visits become replaced by new ones that hadn’t quite resolved for them earlier. This place is simply too grandiose (is that redundant?) for anyone to make a selection for all time. But they can one at a time – and I did. The Dunes. They are mesmerizing. They are also easy to get lost in if you fail to hold the high ground. I posted a couple of videos on Facebook of my walking round these piles of sand and acquired a pretty spiffy self-portrait that is posted in the Selfy-Sunday Group on Google +. This shot is my favorite – so far. It’s a soft exposure and I just like the way so many of the colors that define this place blend together in it.


This was taken late morning and so the light here is also from the sunrise. The area in the foreground I think is referred to as The Devil’s Corn Field but I’m not entirely sure. If it weren’t so late and if I weren’t so lazy, I’d look it up.  As it is, if you’re really curious – or perhaps know – you can chime in.


Street View East vs Street View West

When I left the East Coast back in early October I did so with the idea that I might not return, at least as a permanent resident. I’ve been there for decades but the more time I spend in the West, the weaker my ties to The Commonwealth become. So when I left I rented my condo out for an indeterminate period to my friend Barbara. Yesterday she sent me this pic, a view from the bedroom window. It speaks for itself. All chilly thoughts I might add. It was certainly a shock to Barbara too: she just returned from Phoenix. I doubt there was snow there.

It got me thinking. So I went to our living room window and took the other shot. I don’t know that you’d call it a stark difference but its unquestionably a sunny one. I know which one I prefer. She’s got flakes piled one upon the other; we’ve got a couple of wayward palm fronds.

It’s a little more expensive to live here, a fact brought home every time sales tax is applied. But so far as the weather is concerned, you get what you pay for. Lacking an earthquake, or the return of the Republicans to the Statehouse, this place is looking better with every passing ray of sun.