Yearly Archives: 2015
Family Fall Photography in Central Park and the Natural History Museum
Fall Family Photography in Central Park
Continued from California – Part 1 – San Francisco
Arriving on a late evening flight into LA, we headed straight down to our hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard (which you apparently cant actually say without singing it in your best Sheryl Crow impersonation). With a slightly later start the next morning we headed into Beverly Hills to kick off our LA trip in celeb style for brunch at The Ivy. The neighbourhood is all that you would expect from Beverly Hills with boutiques upon boutiques like Kitson and Madison all along Robertson Boulevard and most likely where Us Weekly photos are born.
The Ivy itself is actually curiously a very quaint bright little place with romantic garden style décor, strewn with vast numbers of vases with luscious smelling roses. It was very quiet that morning and we were able to relax over poached eggs and Bloody Mary’s. I must admit I was thrilled that they offer a glass of champagne upon arrival even before you’ve been shown to your seat.
We decided to forego any tourist style transport – which allowed our young traveler to lounge in her car seat and nap whilst the parents took in the various sights of the city. We planned to drive past some of the key tourist attractions like the Hollywood walk of fame, Sunset Boulevard and Chinese Theatre. Not being one for elbowing my way past tourists yet being one, I was happy to skip the throng of sweaty people on Hollywood Boulevard and head into the hills to Beachwood Canyon drive. Beachwood Canyon drive takes you through some stylish neighbourhoods in the Hollywood Hills with properties to die for, and headed up towards the Observatory where there are scenic views of the Hollywood sign, you inevitably get stuck behind some tour busses headed the same way. On a positive note, I was astonished to see many interesting hikes along the canyons where locals clad in Lululemon were headed, which reminded me of my treks up Table Mountain and Lions head with the Cape Town crew. If I lived there, it would definetly be a favourite pastime of mine sans the weird drum beating and humming one could hear from just over the rise.
After having our fill of tourists we decided to head back to Santa Monica taking the scenic route down Rodeo drive which as expected had every designer store you can name with extravagant window displays much the same as Fifth Avenue NYC but with many more palm trees framing the entrances.
Our final tourist drive by was the famous Mulholland Drive, a long winding road high up in the Santa Monica Mountains which boasts houses (read palaces) that were owned by Jack Nicolson, Demi Moore & Bruce Willis, Marlon Brando, John Lennon, Faye Dunaway, and Madonna to name a few, although many of the estates have extensive gated entrances with security to guard against prying eyes (i.e mine).
Back in Santa Monica we took a sunset stroll onto Venice Beach and the canal walkways. I must have watched some dodgy rerun of CSI based at the canals once and had a very seedy impression, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the walkways, houses and canals, are not only pristine, but absolutely beautiful with small private jetty’s and boats moored along the canals. Having been to Venice, the connection to why this place was called Venice beach makes total sense. The canals are one road away from the beach and form a maze of walkways and bridges and its easy to get lost without making landmarks for your turns (cross the bridge at the yellow boat and turn left at the red gate). Back along Venice Beach Boardwalk itself, you immediately get engulfed by the surf and skate culture. The throngs of skaters, blonde honey toned scruffions and the medical marijuana guy feels like you could have just walked onto the set of Lords of DogTown. Not surprising though since this sub culture has been thriving in the area since the 70’s when surfers turned to skateboarding when the swell wasn’t good for catching waves. Skaters such as Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay Adams hailed from this hood and there is an enormous concrete skatepark that sort of looks like a few empty swimming pools melted together and a hive of activity for both skaters and bystanders. Also to be found along this stretch of hedonism, you will find Muscle Beach, the location of the birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the US during the 20th century but was originally a meeting place for gymnasts in the 1930’s. Mr Universe himself frequented this area pre Terminator and being California Governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
DAY 2 was all about the beach and no better place to experience LA coastline than Malibu. Driving into Malibu along the Pacific coast highway, you half expect The Hoff to come running up the beach in his red trunks and you are certainly struck with the exclusivity of the beach houses. Much like Clifton in Cape Town, the houses are set against and into the rock face overlooking the ocean, and the fact that there is hardly any road parking nor walkways down to the beach would mean that the average joe wouldn’t be frequenting the strip of beach in front of the houses. We headed to Zuma beach, a large expanse of pristine white beach sand overlooked by some Baywatch style lifeguards huts. Apparently Pamela Anderson lives right there too. My husband being an avid surfer was keen to hit the waves, so we headed back to Malibu Pier which is a hotspot for surfing and headed to the beach. We saw someone famous that we both instantly recognised, he was very friendly and said Hi, but for the life of me I cant remember his name, perhaps one day I will update this blog post with his name when I accidentally watch a movie and he pops up! You can lunch on the Pier over looking the surfers or head across the way to a great little Mexican place which is less crowded.
Our afternoon was filled up with a stroll down Santa Monica pier and boardwalk. It is here were the fitness fanaticism of LAers truly hit home. Everyone was either doing yoga, walking on tightropes (yes I said tightropes), climbing rope ladders, jogging, cycling, roller bladeing, skating or doing gymnastics. The Pier itself has a year round amusement park and hosts twilight concerts.
Next stop San Diego!
Ill be the first to admit that the next few blog posts will be far more travel log than photography blog, but being on holiday, not worrying about the best angle, the perfect light or the odd rubbish bin in the frame speaks to the vacation state of mind. At the same time, travelling with a 7 month old, doesn’t really provide you with too much time but to point, shoot and cross your fingers that you got the shot!
We started our California coastal trip in San Francisco, with only 3 days in each city, we wanted to make sure we cashed in on the highlights but also felt the vibe and culture of the city. We decided to stay slightly north of San Fran city and over the Golden Gate Bridge in a suburb called Sausalito by booking an “artists studio in the trees” through Airbnb. The words cant quite describe how beautiful this neighbourhood is. Nestled into the trees and rock are these pseudo 70’s style revamped houses with some streets and driveways at over 45 degrees angles. I kept thinking that San Franciscanites must have incredible calves walking those streets! At the base of the streets is this quaint little seaside village with fishermen along the edge of the road and Seafood style restaurants and cafes overlooking the bay. The road between San Fran over the Golden Gate and down to Sausalito also looks to be very popular with cyclists, with many of them stopping enroute for pizza and beer.
On our first morning we decided to catch an early start and drove to Vista Point – located on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, we had planned to hike Battery Spencer, which is a 0.7 mile hike to another viewpoint, but the views were so spectacular from the parking area we were able to hop, skip and jump back over the bridge over to the Marina District and Fisherman’s Wharf. The Golden Gate Bridge is apparently the most photographed man-made structures in the world. Im not sure where those statistics come from, but I added to them.
The Marine District became famous for its scenes of destruction after the 1989 earthquake and is one of the most coveted patches of local real estate. Here, along the northern edge of the city, multimillion-dollar homes back up to the bayfront, where harbours filled with sailboats and the Golden Gate Bridge make for a magnificent backdrop. Fisherman’s Wharf is a bit further on and is humming with tram stops, Segway tours, seals, tourists and clam chowder. Some of the best fresh seafood and the best prices can be found here and sharing a few oysters off a paper plate on the side of the road is considered totally normal and acceptable. Walking around this area, you will see crabs being prepared, humungous lobsters and pots of bubbling clam chowder as the wharf workers sell their wares. Just off the bay is the infamous Alcatraz. Unfortunately we decided to skip this attraction as I had researched that is wasn’t very stroller friendly, however, I was utterly surprised at how close to land it was (2.4 km). Coming from Cape Town and having visited Robben Island Prison which is 6.9km away, the swim from Alcatraz to land seemed totally doable, plus San Francisco bay doesn’t have any Great Whites looking for snacks.
Day 2 led us to the Napa Valley Wine Region. Once again, I have to use Cape Town references here, as the similarities between Napa and Stellenbosch were astounding. Winding little roads through acres of vineyards with blue toned hills in the background and extravagant wine houses dotted along the way was the perfect Sunday drive. We had planned to leave early as I had heard that the traffic on weekends could get a bit congested along Highway 29 therefore we left the main road for a more authentic and peaceful experience to the Silverado Trail, which is a small highway on the eastern side of Napa Valley.
Our first stop was Silverado Winery which holds tastings for 6 smaller wineries in the area. The winery was also well situated on the top of a hill and offered gorgeous views over the vineyards and the valley from a shaded terrace, and for wine tasting at $30 between 2 and all the free breadsticks you could eat, we had a nice long rest stop here!
We continued north on the Silverado Trail and cut west across Zinfandel Road and back onto Highway 29 and pulled into V. Sattui, which is famous for its wine and outstanding deli. The winery was quite busy due to it being lunch time on a Sunday, but there was a large shaded grass area where we could throw some blankets down and grab some gourmet items from the deli. You could also do cheese tastings in the deli and buy chilled wine to enjoy with your picnic.
Day 3 was our city sightseeing day where we planned to visit all the city famous landmarks, such as Lombard street (a famous steep street with 8 hairpins turns), the Painted ladies (remember the colourful houses across the park in the opening sequence of Full House?) and the Japanese Tea Garden to name a few. There were certainly a few moments where we felt compelled to start a car chase scene down one of the steep streets! I was completely drawn to the gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian architecture of the houses. About 48,000 houses in the Victorian and Edwardian styles were built in San Francisco between 1849 and 1915 (with the change from Victorian to Edwardian occurring on the death of Queen Victoria in 1901), and many were painted in bright colours. The “Painted Ladies”, across Alamo park, made more commercially famous by the Full House series in the late 80’s to mid 90’s is a term in American architecture used for Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colours that embellish or enhance their architectural details. While heading to the Japanese tea garden in the Golden Gate park we made an impromptu stop at the California Academy of Sciences to escape the midday heat. This also happened to be one of the highlights of our trip where we visited 4 stories of an indoor rainforest and one of the most spectacular aquariums I have seen to date. Our last stop on our San Francisco tour was the Japanese Tea Garden, a 5 acre garden with paths, ponds, sculptures, bridges and a tea house of course. This is the oldest tea garden in the US, and is filled with native Japanese plants and a massive Koi pond.
Next stop Los Angeles!
New Jersey Family Photography: We recently visited our friends to meet their new adorable son, Zane, who is now 5 months old. Obviously, I could not resist an impromptu family lifestyle shoot with this gorgeous lot!