Urban Photo Adventures’ Tours on the L.A. River
September 22, 2008 § 4 Comments
I spent much of this weekend touring around the Los Angeles River with Urban Photo Adventures. They’re a start-up business headed by a pair of savvy Hollywood location scouts named Mark Indig and Ken Haber. Urban Photo Adventures is organizing a series of special 2-day Los Angeles River photography tours. Their first full-fledged tour will take place on Saturday/Sunday November 8th and 9th 2008. Conflict of interest note: Urban Photo Adventures are indeed paying me to docent portions of their river tours, so I do have a small financial stake in what I am promoting on this blog entry.
The Urban Photo Adventures tour is a bit different than tours I’ve led in the past. It includes background on history and revitalization efforts, but it’s a bit less focused on the most natural areas, and more on photogenic gritty urban parts of the river, and the neighborhoods around them. Think L.A. Conservancy‘s Cruising Industrial Los Angeles plus some of FoLAR‘s River Revitalization Tours added to the mix. Usually when I lead a tour, we move along relatively quickly from site to site. Urban Photo Adventures’ photo tour gives plenty of time for photographers to explore and capture each site. These extended tours run two full weekend days from 8am-6pm each day.
The past weekend’s dry run went well – Mark and Ken have done a lot of scouting to find excellent unusual and hidden spots. They even showed me a couple nooks and crannies in places that I had never seen before – including some off-the-beaten-track locations at the ports. One of these included a great gaggle of urban sea lions relaxing on a low industrial wharf. It’s just the kind of natural/unnatural juxtaposition that is found in many spots along the L.A. River. Some other photo tour sites include: Sepulveda Dam, Devil’s Gate Dam, downtown historic bridges, the soft-bottomed scenic Glendale Narrows and Lower Arroyo Seco, and neglected rail- and graffiti-strewn areas on and near the river. The photo tour includes a brief wine tasting at the San Antonio Winery (the last of the remaining wineries that once were prevalent in downtown Los Angeles, wineries that grew grapes watered via zanjas from the river) and a 45-minute boat ride at the Los Angeles Harbor (at the mouth of the L.A. River and the Dominguez Channel.) The port views there are monumental and spectacular -huge cranes, tankers, pelicans, sea lions, and the longest bridge in the city.
I was struck today in seeing many of the most concrete parts of the river looking rather green. Over the course of the dry season, sediment settles in places on top of the concrete river bed. Plants begin to grow in these shallow sandbars. The plants attract insects; the insects attract birds. In the “exclusively industrial” city of Vernon, the stretch of the river near the Soto Street Bridge was teeming with dozens of swallows swooping and curving through the air. I like to think of it as instant nature – just add earth and water. Unfortunately a lof of these sandbars will wash out during the rainy season… but they’ll be back.
I’ve interspersed various example photos Ken and Mark have taken at river tour sites. Larger versions and many more photos are viewable at their website gallery.
If you’re interested in photography and in checking out some of the hidden faces of the mighty Los Angeles River, consider signing up for a tour. Full tour information is available at Urban Photo Adventures website.
In the 90’s I spent a lot of time in the City of Industry as an inspector for the Department of Toxic Substances Control, inspecting RSR Quemetco, a lead-acid battery recycler. In addition to inspecting RSR, I conducted a study of heavy metals fall-out from the battery recycler’s emissions. That was when I was introduced to San Jose Creek. My point is that your blog reminded me of the surreal experience of taking soil samples amidst nesting killdeer in the rocky field adjacent to the battery recycler. There were lots of sandpiper, avocet, and other waterbirds feeding in the bottom of the creek, and I saw a hawk explode into a flock of pigeons – feathers floating in the slight breeze after the hawk successfully picked out lunch. I met a woman who spoke wistfully about when San Jose Creek was just a creek and not a concrete channel. The algae grows in the concrete, attracting the insects and other invertebrates, which were providing food for the waterbirds and their predators. Ah, the cycle of life (with a added concrete)!
[…] more photos from the LA River Urban Photo Adventures expedition from last weekend. I present them here for your enjoyment. https://lacreekfreak.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/urban-photo-adventures-image-gallery/%5B…]
Nancy mentioned talking to a woman about San Jose Creek before it was channelized. When I was a boy I played in San Jose Creek innumerable times. Then, it was perennial and had a very nice flow year-round with more in the winter and spring, of course. It was a great place before it was channelized and there are very few such resources remaining in southern California.