Sunday, December 14, 2008

Huntington Drive at Sunset

After living on the west side of Los Angeles for almost two decades, Huntington Drive is like a dream street to me. Four smooth, curving lanes with a grassy center median gently easing through the San Gabriel Valley areas of El Sereno, South Pasadena, San Marino, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Monrovia and Duarte. I've lived in South Pas for almost a year, I drive Huntington almost every day, and I've never really been caught in traffic. In fact, it's easy to drive Huntington during rush hour (what rush hour!?) all the way to Arcadia with few stops.

I often hear long-time residents complaining about the traffic on Huntington. I just don't get it because I've never seen any real traffic on it. Go to Pico or Olympic on the west side at any time between the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM where gridlock is the norm and the driver behind you will lean on the horn if you don't manage to roll into the intersection .05 second before the light changes. Now that's traffic! But I know... it's all relative.

Oddly, this driving dream is named after heir to the Southern Pacific Railway fortune, Henry Huntington who introduced the Pacific Electric Railway as a vehicle for developing the fertile landscape surrounding Los Angeles. The railway stretched east into the San Gabriel Valley, hugging the hills directly south of the San Gabriel Mountains. When the mighty car began to eclipse the humble train, more areas of track were converted to roads and divided highways. By 1953, most of Pacific Electric track had been replaced with bus routes.

Here's a quick snap on Huntington at sunset yesterday. It's always fun to try and capture the magic hour moment as the sky blasts you with technicolor tricks before suddenly fading into the muted grays of twilight. I think I was a fraction of a second late, here, and I was shooting with low megapixels to squeeze more shots out of a full memory card. But isn't it pretty?

UPDATE:
Okay, for all of you who have emailed me concerned that I might be shooting pictures while driving, please understand that I pull over and park at the curb to take all road pictures. The only exception is the tunnel shot where I actually stopped on the late night empty road and shot out the drivers side window with my hazards on. I've shot pics from the passenger side while my hubby drives, but I'm not idiotic enough to try drive-and-shoot tactics. Plus, I'm an overprotective mom whose little one is almost always strapped in the car seat during the day. So... you can all rest easy that the streets of South Pas are safe...

Now, carry on!

17 comments:

dbdubya said...

What a spectacular photo. Looks like a water color painting. In addition to the palm trees nearby, I like the ones in the distance. I can't believe you snapped this picture while driving, and I don't know what you mean by being a fraction of a second late. It looks perfect to my untrained eye.

Compared to the westside, we are truly spoiled when it comes to traffic - and many other things!

Jutilda said...

WOW - I'm probably taking this personally, but that's heaven in that sky if I've ever seen it. And that one lonely car. Outstanding shot. Symbolic. I may make it my wallpaper.

Hilda said...

It sure is! I love all the colors up there!

Taking pictures while driving? For shame! Be careful please, Laurie!

San Diego Farmgirl said...

Wow, Laurie, this photo really is stunning! Just beautiful. And as for traffic, yes, anyone who complains about the traffic on Huntington needs to move to Santa Monica and Sawtelle, or Westwood and Pico, and spend 45 minutes trying to get on the 405 each morning. I think that's why they call it the 405, because no matter where you live, it takes 45 minutes to squeeze onto an on ramp. haha

Tanya said...

Gorgeous sunset!

Sharon said...

Very beautiful. The lowering sun and a few clouds can make such beautiful magic.

Dixie Jane said...

You know how I feel about sunsets. This is so beautiful. Like Jutilda, I may make it my wallpaper. On my many visits there I don't think I have ever seen a sunset like this one. Wrong place, wrong time.

ben wideman said...

This is incredible Laurie! If you just missed the good part, it must have been pretty amazing!

Mister Earl said...

Laurie - looks like you and Ben captured the same sky today. If you ever have an ad for your blog, you can use my comment from yesterday as an endorsement.

Yakpate said...

THIS is why I don't want to move back to Louisville, in spite of the affordable housing and the proximity to so many people I love... this sunsets, and the year-round California flowers, and the palm trees, and my fabulous, creative friends.

Thank you, Laurie, for documenting all this inspiration!

Virginia said...

Were you driving and shooting again young lady??? You and D.C.Confidential are going to get smacked one of these days!!! Great shot and it looks just perfect to me!

babooshka said...

Be careful. Less of my flippancy for once serious. It's a Searcher's sky for sure really intense colours.

USelaine said...

The crisp silhouettes are gorgeous against that fantasy sky! I'm intimidated by your apology!

Trish said...

beautiful shot, again!

Rumor has it, there are still tracks under that lush center median of Huntington (Fair Oaks too). Didn't bother to pick it up, just paved over or put dirt over---cheaper.

Huntington Drive can be "crowded". Out in the burbs, traffic is relative. I lived in SoPas, worked in Arcadia and took Huntington...took 1/2 hour plus on a good day, without track traffic at Santa Anita---stopping at most lights. One of my more memorable drives home was when New Kids on the Block did "Grandma Got Runover By a Reindeer"...I nearly drove off the road near Ralph's.

A REAL photographer CAN shoot and drive without causing a 10 car pileup...it is a passion, fetish and a requirement...ask me how I know.

Cafe Observer said...

LA, have you ever told your readers the reason 4 your season of moveing outta L.A., to come out & over to the other side? The land of milk, honey, loco creatives & creatures...and dogs.

ps, i hope you copied those pics bcuz I'm about ready to take them down.

Laurie said...

Hey all,

FIrst of all, I don't shoot while driving -- well, not usually. I pull over to the side of the road! Here, I used my side mirror as a tripod to play with the settings. This was a particularly long exposure, but I forget which one worked. I took a few shots. My little daughter is so patient.

"Mommy, are you finished yet?"
"Just a couple of more shots, honey..."
"Aren't you ever going to be finished with that blog?"

I hope not!

I rarely get exactly the moment of the sunsets I try to photograph. Usually it's because I see that gorgeous magic hour moment and then grab my camera as it fades. This is pretty close... but a few seconds before was even more intense, if you can believe it.

Mister E, I should have thanked you properly yesterday for such a wonderful comment. You can bet I'd love to quote you! Thank you for your support and kind words, and for all of your amazing information.

Trish, Trish, Trish... spoken like a true South Pas native! :-) I'm sticking with San Diego Farmgirl on the traffic issue. Too many years spent trying to get from Barrington to the Water Garden at 6:30PM -- a 7 minute drive that could take up to 50 minutes. And then there was the Westwood creep from Olympic for a UCLA night class -- better leave at 6:00 to slowly drive there, find a parking space and trek to the classroom by 8:00. And the Century City Mall's 20 minute circling in the parking garage to try and park to see a movie...AGHHHHH! Needless to say, I'm so happy to be here! Oh, and I AM asking how you know about driving and shooting pics... sounds like you have a good story for us!

Yak, you're not allowed to leave Southern California. I think you'll be stopped in your tracks and unable to move even if you tried -- kind of like if you try to take shopping carts out of the parking lot and the wheels lock up. Face it, woman. You're just supposed to live here!

Thank you all for such nice comments and kinds words. Until tomorrow...

Tash said...

PERFECT SoCal winter sunset. PERFECT.
I tried taking a class at UCLA & driving the 405 from South Bay years ago - gave up after 3 sessions.
I pull over too - & usually try to position the car so I don't have to get out - really lame.