Rediscovery

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Walt Disney Auditorium — Los Angeles, CA © jj raia

Walt Disney Concert Hall — Los Angeles, CA © jj raia

As is usually the case during a photo trip, plans can change and adjustments have to be made; and that was the case as the trip to California in 2017 was ending. The plan was to arrive at the Walt Disney Concert Hall well before sunset in order to get a good feel of how I wanted to photograph the wildly shaped architecture designed by Frank Gehry as the light changed. Because of a much longer than expected hotel check-in and car clean out, along with the horrendous nightmare of Los Angeles traffic, arrival turned out to be just minutes before sunset. There was absolutely no time to walk around the building to view the interplay of the dynamic shapes and begin to mentally frame some compositions. This shoot would be all about instinctive reaction to a subject totally different from those of the previous 20 days, and different from what usually falls before my lens.

Facade Detail — Walt Disney Concert Hall © jj raia

Facade Detail — Walt Disney Concert Hall © jj raia

Looking back through the images taken so quickly that perfectly clear afternoon, only 4-minutes elapsed from when there was some good sunset color reflections on architectural surfaces (above), and when it dissipated. So the majority of images were taken during the shift from natural light to the artificial lighting of the building and general street lighting, as it grew darker. Originally, very few of the images from that day were ever processed because, I suppose, they were not images I was looking for. They did not possess the glorious pink and mauve color of a sunset with clouds. And so there was disappointment. Only the image directly above was processed then, while all the others here were done two days ago, over 2-1/2 years after they were taken!

Facade Detail — Walt Disney Auditorium © jj raia

Facade Detail — Walt Disney Concert Hall © jj raia

As the artificial replaced the natural lighting, the building took on an entirely different drama as shapes and shadows struggled for dominance. In the image above, shadows created by multiple light sources dominate, creating a cubist sense in addition to a partial optical illusion making it difficult to determine which shapes are shadows and which are the actual building, while the two images below are strictly shapes and the convergence of edges. The image at the top was one of the last taken using long, 30-second exposures at f/22 to get a bit of a starburst around the lights, while playing with white balance settings because of the differing types of lighting in the area. I would have liked to include more of the building, probably by adding a frame for a small panorama, but there was a very bright double door just to the left which ruined that idea.

I wish I could say with certainty that the coloration is correct in that one as well, but the intervening years have dimmed the memory, and have gone with what seems to work with each of the images included here. I also noticed that a 2:3 format was used for all the photos, even though my general preference is 5:4, especially for verticals. Not sure why that occurred… maybe just to get as much in as possible and worry about cropping later since many of these are based on balance, and being hurried may have warranted less than precise frame placements, so a larger frame was chosen. But no cropping was done to any of these images, so the mystery remains.

As dusk edged toward darkness, I had a difficult time leaving, fearing I had not accomplished the set goals for the Disney, and that these were the final frames of the trip with the early flight home the next morning. So there was a reluctance to give into the feeling of failure by leaving. But exhaustion from the grueling trip, spending all but three nights in the SUV, when not shooting the Milky Way, finally won out, and I sadly packed up and headed to the hotel for the gargantuan task that was waiting: squeezing everything back into the bags for the trip home, a well needed shower, and three hours of sleep.

If ever in Los Angeles, it would be worth your while to visit this incredible structure. If I ever return, I will make a point to spend a day, both inside and out, soaking in this beautiful piece of art and architecture.

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