We lack water here in Southern California. There are lots of things all of us can live without – water isn’t one of them.  It’s getting worse. We’ll probably survive it; at least my generation will. I’m not so sure about our progeny. There are some consolations. This is one of them. It won’t quench our thirst, not for hydration anyway. It might serve to inspire us to find ways to pass it on to our grandchildren.

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Moonrise Over Molera Beach

Among the many plus points associated with Big Sur is that if you’re near the shore camping is pleasant year round. I went this past March for two days and wound up staying for four. My main mission had ben to shoot the Bixby Bridge in moonlight.  Well, we had a moon, as you can see. But Bixby wasn’t located such that this particular one was going be useful. I did get a few shots but nothing I was very excited about – excuse to go back again. The beach near the campground was a different story so it became Plan B. Pretty good deal.

Looking Into Big Sur


Short Tour Around China Town


Eastern Sierra Rainbow

Rainbows Without Borders

Rainbows Without Borders




Mitzi & Diana

Mitzi & DianeIMG_0325


Because They Answered The Call

Because They Answered The Call


Earthquake’s Over

Back to work..


Yard Sale On Rose

This goes back a few months but a number of things have transpired to bring it to the fore.


Cool Pakul

Cool Pakul


Eastbound and Down

I arrived in Los Angeles late last October with the idea of spending a few weeks before heading south to Baja for the winter and then working my way back east and home to Virginia. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. And I’ve been in LA ever since. I’ve yet to change my voting registration and driver’s license but I’ve come to think of this beautiful place as home. For a died-in-the-wool Virginian that’s hard to believe – but it is what it is. Still, there are places back east I need to be in the near future – principally my daughter’s wedding in September – and people scattered between here and there I need to see so next week after dawdling lo these many months in the SoCal sun I begin the long trek eastward.

One of my projects, not that I’m burdened with many, is to visit and photograph each of our National Parks at least once. There are 59 all told and so far I’ve taken in 27. Nine of those by the way are in California, the state which is home to the largest number of national parks. The trip back will consume 37 days primarily because I intend visiting a few more along the way. Eleven in fact. This project gets tougher as the number increases simply because at some point it’s no longer possible to drive to my destination: there are parks in America Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii. And eight in Alaska!

I’ll figure it out.

For now I thought I’d share the itinerary in word and image:


  1. 10 July                       Depart Los Angeles, CA
  2. 10 – 12                       Mono Lake, CA
  3. 12                               South Lake Tahoe, CA
  4. 13                               Ely, NV – Layover Point
  5. 14                               Great Basin NP, Baker, NV
  6. 14 – 16                        Capitol Reef NP, Torrey, UT
  7. 16                               Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
  8. 16 – 17                        Blanding, UT – Layover Point
  9. 17                               Hovenweep National Monument, UT
  10. 17 – 18                        Mesa Verde NP, Cortez, CO
  11. 18 – 19                        Heron Lake State Park, NM
  12. 19 – 22                        Taos, NM – Summer Writer’s Conference
  13. 22 – 23                        Great Sand Dunes National Park, Alamosa, CO
  14. 23 – 25                        Black Canyon of Gunnison NP, Montrose, CO
  15. 25 – 27                        Rocky Mountain NP, Estes Park, CO
  16. 27 – 28                        Wind Cave NP, Custer, SD
  17. 28                                Badlands NP, SD – Stopover
  18. 28 – 29                        Jamestown, ND – Layover Point
  19. 29 – 31                        Voyageurs NP, International Falls, MN
  20. 31 July – 2 Aug            Isle Royale NP, Grand Portage, MN
  21. 2 – 3                             Ironwood, MI – Layover Point
  22. 3 – 4                             Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI
  23. 4 – 5                             Saginaw, MI – Layover Point
  24. 5 – 6                             Parma Heights, OH – Layover
  25. 6 – 7                             Cuyahoga Valley NP, Brecksville, OH
  26. 7 – 12                           Elizabethtown, KY – Layover
  27. 12 – 14                         Great Smoky Mountain NP, Gatlinburg, TN
  28. 14 – 16                         Triad, NC – Layover
  29. 16 – 17                         UVA, Charlottesville, VA
  30. 17 Aug                         Arrive Reston, VA

The trip covers a little over 6,000 miles and will consume about 115 driving hours. I’m won’t get to spend as much time in each of the parks as I’d like but I know I’ll get back to many of them over the next several years.

I’m looking forward to visiting my longtime friends and maybe to making a few new ones along the way. More about the wedding later. For now I’ll just say I’m probably looking forward to it as much as any father does when it comes to his one and only (and favorite) daughter. But I’ve known my future son-in-law now for half a dozen years or more and he’s a wonderful young man. I’m sure AnnaSummer will mold him into something workable. 🙂

And next winter?  Baja, of course.


Memorial Day

I’m in California this Memorial Day (spoken as an Easterner) and I’m certain there are hundreds if not thousands of image possibilities nearby that would be appropriate for posting on this holiday but I’m stuck inside getting ready for the next week’s trip to Mono Lake for my continuing volunteer training. So, I dug into my archive and came up with these shots.

They were taken in June 2012; not on Memorial Day but close.  I was downtown to attend a Summer Solstice ceremony being put on by the local Lithuanian Community, within which I have several friends.

I tried to take advantage of the early evening sun and then decided to stay on and attempt a few night shots of the WWII Memorial. To my eye it’s much more attractive at night than during the day. The shadows lend to the ethereal air. You can judge for yourself.

Click the photo to go to the portfolio containing all the photographs.

South Coast Botanic

I’ve come to find that Groupons lead me to places I might otherwise not find, or not find so easily. That’s certainly the case with South Coast Botanic. It popped up on a daily deal a couple of weeks back offering a one year family membership for $20. I’ve really come to enjoy visits to botanic gardens and arboretum so I took the deal.

It was a very good decision. For one, as you’ll see, this is an extremely well-presented garden and well worth the price of admission. As it is that $20 will allow for visits throughout the seasons – such as they are here in SoCal – for the next twelve months.

And a Bonus! It seems there are 23 reciprocating gardens located here in California and over a hundred throughout the country. My membership is good for all of them. If you’re in the area you might want to look into this. With or without a Groupon it’s hard to beat.

International Readers: Google “Groupon” 🙂

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe

The Pier at Sugar Pine Point


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:




Blue Ridge Sunset

No, I’m not back on the East Coast yet, though if I were I’d be in Lexington with David Toczko at the Rolex Three Day. It was a highlight of my year in 2012. This particular picture was a backdrop for another type of highlight in 2010, the sort that comes ones way just as they’re falling over the edge of a cliff. The good with the bad you know. It was taken in North Carolina. And like the song says, for a while falling can feel like flying.  It looks much more appealing to me today than it did in the days shortly after it was taken. Still….

I’m throwing it up because for the last couple of years I’ve been shooting craggy western peaks and the sunsets that seem to crash over them on their way to Australia and beyond. The eastern mountains that I grew up with have a more soothing effect. The peaks older and smoother and  covered with evergreens dotted with patches of deciduous trees here and there: Just enough to ensure a colorful display each autumn. The ridges interlock with one another creating corridors that zig and zag and invite you to explore further. They draw you in. This particular sunset was especially hypnotic and on the day it was taken was all but intoxicating. The results were so predictable – to everyone but me.


I miss these vistas. They can be replicated to a degree by the mountains that surround the northern boundaries for the Los Angeles Basin, the Santa Monica hills to the northwest and the San Gabriels immediately to the north and east. Given just the right amount of haze they take on that blue aura so familiar too habitués of the eastern mid-Atlantic. But sage brush and juniper give the illusion away. They have their own appeal of course and I’d be the first to tell you that it is no less compelling an environment than the one with which I am most familiar. Just not the same.

When you stand on the Blue Ridge and look west you’re gazing at the long-held promise of America. Everything you see for as far as you can see constitutes the portfolio of freedom that has stood at the core of our existence since before we were a nation. What you see is the tangible vision that fueled our drive to explore and discover and claim and capture and hold dear. It was not always a clear vision. Not at all. Our saving grace has been that it prevailed.

When I stand on the mountaintops here in California and look west I see the periphery of the largest ocean on earth. For decades it provided a boundary that protected our endeavors and a sea upon which we could pursue more diversified interests than were available to us otherwise. But to my mind it never ever drove us to achieve the way that Blue Ridge promise did. The ocean has always been something we could take or leave – at least so far as our national identity is concerned. In fact that is not true; in feeling it is spot on.

I wound up where I am now for many of the same reasons that our ancestors did. I am working on gaining a greater understanding of the tagline Mr. Thurber provided for this blog. I’m grateful for the trails my predecessors blazed. They certainly made it easier for me to get here. But it’s left to me to figure out why. And to take in any sunset anywhere for what it’s really worth: the promise, though not the guarantee, of a new day to come.


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.


My favorite exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.










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.

2013-03-22 18.59.47

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.

China Ranch

(This post has been languishing in my draft queue for many weeks. It all took place early December 2012. Hopefully no less interesting. )

I never seemed to have gotten many visuals up from my visit to the Amargosa Valley and to China Ranch so mabye now is a good time. I learned of China Ranch when I happened ot mention my love of dates (specifically fresh dates which I am having a hard time finding in Los Angeles) to my son who’s a near expert on the local territory. He pointed me south and east of Death Valley, where I was encamped, into the Amargosa that runs along the California and Nevada borders. This took the better part of a day but was well worth the trip.

The route to the Ranch traverses through Shoshone, CA and then Tecopa, home to some hot springs, both commercially exploited and naturally available, as well as through a gorgeous desert landscape that was displaying its late fall colors. I’m beginning to beleive that this is the absolute best time to be in the desert but I’m reserving my opinion until I get to see one in bloom this coming spring. Perhaps it will be a tie.

I stopped in Shoshone long enough to get directions from a sheriff’s deputy who was standing next to the Shoshone Museum and visitor’s center and to grab a couple of pictures of that august establishment. When I left the town I zigged at the fork instead of zagging and found out 30 miles later that I’d taken the wrong turn. Things like this used to upset me. But it was beautiful scenery, a bright and sunny day and these days I spell ‘schedule’ with a very small ‘s’. The only shortcoming was that at this time of year the light is not available for long and I had just cut some of what I would need out of the picture.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at China Ranch. First off I was thinking of it in terms of a, well, of a ranch. Livestock, Ranch implements. Fields. And maybe a cowpoke here or there. Typical eastern imaginings of western terrain. But I couldn’t reconcile all that with dates. I couldn’t imagine them being poked or corralled or rounded up. And to tell you the truth I wasn’t sure just how dates made the journey from God’s lips to the Whole Foods Market. People my age are supposed to know these things right? Do you believe it is only recently that I learned that blueberries grow on bushes? (That was a very tough lesson but also another story.) Maybe it’s that I had never thought about it before. But I had also never thought about the source of dates either. Trees? Bushes? Vines? Roots? Not a clue.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago on a business trip to Abu Dhabi that I made a serious first encounter with a date. My hotel room was stocked with them and no sooner had I finished the supply they’d be replenished. They were unbelievably fresh, melt in your mouth delicious. A real treat. The only thing I remember about that trip, despite having sold quite a bit of product. I had been on a quest for similarly fresh dates ever since but the closest I came was the Reston Harris Teeter’s offering of Mejools. But in Los Angeles? Nothing.

I drove through Tecopa, up the China Ranch Road and past Cynthia’s Desert Hostel arriving finally at a steep decline that snaked its way down into the creek wash that contains China Ranch proper. No cattle. No Cowpokes. No horses (in sight) even but date palms scattered all over. Dates, you see, grow on palm trees. But you knew that, right?

I found that not only could I buy dates here but that I could buy them from seven different strains (brands? lines? What?). I could also buy date bread and date butter and maybe date wine – I didn’t inquire – and I didn’t even have to drive out here each week because the good folk at CR ship. I bought my mejools and some date bread for Mitzi and some pumpkin butter and then chatted a bit with the owner. She was familiar with Charles’ Green Tortoise Adventure Travel. All you have to say out here is Big Green Bus (not to be confused with this Big Green Bus) and everyone is familiar with it. They don’t know what it is but they’ve seen it somewhere. GT gets around. I also learned that the Ranch covers a lot of acreage and that trails of varying difficulty have been cut through it. So I took off to see some of the rest of the place. The watershed that runs through the wash and supplies the ranch with its life blood also feeds hundreds of cottonwood and mesquite trees. The former were in full fall bloom. It was an incongrous sight all this arid area awash in leafy color. A veritable oasis. But it was certainly a sight worth seeing.

Along the walk I ran into Cynthia of Cynthia;s Desert Lodging and we chatted about her business. She noticed my camera gear and wondered if I might have time to drop by and capture a few images for her web site overhaul. But was running short of light and had a long way to go ti get back to my camp at Furnace Creek. So I declined. Being an amateur has its benefits. As you can see though I managed a few shots of the ranch. Well, of things around the ranch.

And also of the surrounding area.












Scotty’s Garage


Scotty’s Garage


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.

2013-02-14 065

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.