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Downtown Lens: Just Be There

By Dave Bullock
Published: Sunday, July 27, 2008, at 03:48PM

Downtown Los Angeles is always ready for its close-up. If you count the movies filmed (on a per-frame basis) Downtown is probably the most frequently photographed location in the world.

One of my favorite pastimes is walking randomly through Downtown with my camera at the ready. Having a camera hanging over my shoulder inspires me to notice visually interesting things that I otherwise might ignore.

Normally, when I'm walking around my neighborhood I wouldn't stop to look at an abandoned building. In the case of the photo above, I stuck my arm through a hole in the fence to get a shot of this building atop a hill near Dodger Stadium. I find beauty in things that many people think are ugly. Peeling paint and rotting wood gives this dilapidated structure charm and character.

As far as technique goes, this first post illustrates one of the most important rules in life:

Eighty percent of success is showing up.
— Woody Allen

In photojournalism the rule is "f/8 and be there," which is commonly attributed to the great photojournalist Weegee. If you aren't there and you don't have your camera, you're not going to catch that once in a lifetime shot.

These days most of us have cameras on our cellphones. I have an iPhone which I rarely use to take photos with. Instead, I also carry a small point and shoot camera just in case I stumble upon something amazing. I find, though, that I don't really look for things to shoot unless I have my camera out and ready to go.

That's my first bit of advice to you. Have your camera out and ready to go. Walk around and look for the unique, the unusual. Look for the beautiful and the ugly. When something piques your interest, snap the photo.

This post is the first part in a weekly series entitled Downtown Lens in which I will discuss a photograph and the technique that relates to it.


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