Return to Griffith Observatory

Up until last week I had only two images of Griffith Observatory: one featuring James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood from 1955 and my own, a certainly less traumatic than Rebel Without a Cause sojourn to see the planetarium stars wheel to the kaleidoscope sounds of Pink Floyd, circa 1973. Instead of knife fights or psychedelic music, it was a pretty tame mid-morning occasion to photograph the observatory and perhaps even the un-smogged skies of Los Angeles.

It was a rare clear day in the land of angels and I primarily shot with my newly infrared-converted Pentax K10. I had ordered a non-standard 780nm filter from the gentleman – Clarence Spencer of Spencer’s Cameras – who had previously performed my Pentax DS conversion (to720nm) and my K100 conversion (to 830nm). Both of those are older 6mp cameras and I was looking forward to seeing more images from the 10mp Pentax. I had taken the K10 to the Greater Canyonlands area a few weeks back and was really stunned by one image in particular of the setting morning moon. This would be my first occasion to shoot architectural studies with the infrared camera and I was anticipating more stunning images.

The sun was bright, the shadows deep, the air (pretty) clear, and the observatory lines clean and sharp….perfect for infrared. There was much more to work there than I anticipated. Fortunately there also were not a lot of people at that time, so with a bit of patience, shooting unimpeded was easy. I particularly likely the stairs and archways that provided wonderfully strong and evocative compositions. Lots of lines to work with and the few thin, ethereal clouds provided the perfect foil to an otherwise featureless sky.

It was a good outing with I believe compelling results and I thank my patient family (whom I was visiting) for letting me shoot until I was finished…and, sending only one text, wondering where I was.

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