Work In Progress: Last Post, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 01-12-13

Echo Park Avenue & Montana Street, Near Sunset Boulevard

Echo Park Avenue & Montana Street, Near Sunset Boulevard

      It was cold, standing in the early morning shadows of Sunset Boulevard. The early morning light played games with me as I scrambled for the camera to make a shot and found the light had fallen off the subject, and at that particular moment, the direction and quality of the light would have to wait for another photographer’s eye.

   Sunset Boulevard is a four-lane ribbon of asphalt which connects diverse cultures and neighborhoods together. Sunset starts in the Barrio as East Cesar Chavez Avenue, then northward to the bourgeoisie enclaves of coffee shops and boutiques. And after a dogleg bend in its path, boutiques are replaced with skyscrapers casting shadows on the street-life below; until the ribbon of Broken Dreams finishes with the glamor of ”The Strip.“ In a few months Sunset Boulevard will go through its umpteenth restoration, and my year spent looking at it will be become a portal of memories and images.

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                                All Content ©Copyrighted 2012 Craig Carlson All Right Reserved


Work In Progress: Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 11-18-12

  Early morning light would be held back until mid-morning, but wanting to work on Sunset was bigger than the weather report. Partly cloudy skies left light rain the night before which I drove north through from San Diego. Sunset Boulevard reflects its subtle changes; if you look. Advertisements are renewed for the branding of new desires and old ones the culture shapers do not want you to forget.


Real Estate & Bill Board Graphic, Along Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

    It’s all around, the meaning of life along Sunset, and It’s easy to read because it shouts at you in LARGE Helvetica type.

    Coffee houses are filling-up and the traffic thickens which chokes you away from your work as a photographer.

    Late morning arrives and the clouds part a bit to let directional light boldify facts, and in my mind’s eye I begin to develop the negatives made on this trip.

    Do the photographs push forward the meaning for making them or, have I covered this subject with no reason to expose another frame; am I chasing its twilight.


Big Bird Graphic, Near Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

  When do you know you have wrestled the truth to the ground and pinned it? Is it truth that throws in the towel or does the photographer decide there is no more of it hiding in his subject. It has been for me almost a year photographing Sunset Boulevard; a project like no other I have worked on. Rather than grandiose individual photographs of great resolve, I have made a hundred small cuts into this street, absorbing its stain into my reality, my camera.

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                                All Content ©Copyrighted 2012 Craig Carlson All Right Reserved

Work In Progress: Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 8-19-12

   I arrived from San Diego early to begin shooting before dawn, and paid $3.99 cent per gallon to fill up the tank. It was a Metro gas station and the attendant was behind 5 inches of polycarbonate bullet proof plastic with his head down, reading. He never moved until I asked for a receipt.

   There was a slight separation in the dawn sky against the building edge as I set up my first shot two blocks from the gas station near a corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue (old Sunset Boulevard). The corner building had a small ledge built into it that held unlit votive candles which stood in front of a large ceramic Byzantine icon of Jesus Christ.


Alma Avenue & Cesar Chavez Avenue, (Old Sunset) Los Angeles, California

   My next shot was to reshoot a part of a very early 101 freeway sign which still had small ceramic reflectors outlining the number of the freeway’s designated name. The ground around the base of the sign was uneven and covered with discarded clothing and debris. It was difficult to level the ladder to the vantage point needed to make the shot.

Route 101 Reflector Signage, Hollywood Freeway, Los Angeles, California

   The day wasn’t an hour old and you could already feel the early-morning August heat starting to build by stepping from direct sun to shade. Early light along Sunset is distributed sporadically by surrounding buildings and the serpentine shape of the street. The earliest morning light on Sunset drops in on the Silver Lake area and then retreats south toward Echo Park. The last of the first light along Sunset falls on Hollywood, again a mix of large and small skyscrapers, temples, radio towers, and fast food signage that obscures most of the light.

   As expected, much of the graphic signage along Sunset had changed since my last shoot on July 24th. The changes were less interesting and the vanity boards (large scale building graphics to satisfy the egos of Hollywood stars) were more about television sitcoms than new large-production movies.

   I was bothered by the senseless abuse of a pit bull when his owner tried to distract the dog from barking at a chihuahua, by repeatedly twisting the dog’s ear, which elicited a painful whimper from the pit. The character of the owner with graying hair and a stumped posture, was brutish and he seemed annoyed by the dog’s refusal to obey. The chihuahua owner picked up his toy dog and held him in his left arm, shielding him from the pit and the annoyed owner.

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                                All Content ©Copyrighted 2012 Craig Carlson All Right Reserved

Work In Progress: Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 7-22-12

   It was still early morning. The light haze toward the eastern horizon made the rising sun a perfect yellow tennis ball with fresh fuzz still on it. I felt it was going to be a great morning for photography and for this photographer. Traffic on Sunset was light; so was my spirit.

   The man was wearing one of those flat, wide-brimmed cowboy hats with a Spanish Crown (made with stitched leather). The arch of his hat caused by his posture hid his face from my view. He was in the street pushing a baby stroller with swivel-wheels; the front left wheel was broken and swerved the buggy into the curb. Forward progress was made by using the street’s asphalt edge against the concrete curb edge to keep the broken swivel wheel straight. Crawling silently northward, he passed me without notice.

   Near the Metrolink building, mostly empty buses were making their morning runs with passengers seating themselves as factory workers parked their early model compact sedans into scarce, wedge-like parking spaces.

Diptych, Metrolink Area, Along Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

   There are few birds in downtown L.A. and fewer trees for them. I wonder if trees have a purpose without birds. Even the raven has not been seen lately. He loves fast food, especially french fries which can be carried away with his strong beak.

   This would be one of those mornings where some decisions in the viewfinder would make me revisit a subject. It would also be the type of morning when I looked at something but decided not to use the camera to see it; indecision is a great excuse to work the camera again, and to see a better picture at another time.

Diptych, Two Trees Near The School For Visual And Performing Arts, Along Sunset Boulevard, Los Angles, California

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                                All Content ©Copyrighted 2012 Craig Carlson All Right Reserved

30. June 2012 · · Categories: All, Sunset Boulevard

Work In Progress: Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 06-24-12

   The young Latino boy slept in the fetal position on a discarded couch adjacent to the curb, with both the couch’s back and his against the street. His pastel green vomit, which I had just skipped over, had pooled on the sidewalk.

   In the very early morning hours along Sunset, small Christian Hispanic Churches the shape of Cracker Jack boxes open up to receive morning worshipers. The congregants wear mostly black, and seem to oftentimes be middle-aged woman without their male counterparts. Besides cars the only other sound this Sunday morning is the breaking of beer bottles by recyclers, and the cleaning out of a bar painted completely black-all of it. The thirty-something cholo breaking the bottles looked only once at me and then went back to using his left hand to sort dark glass and his right for clear glass. He tossed the bottles in an arc like the flight of an artillery shell, so they would surely break.

Congregant, Along Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

   Occasionally, a pedestrian will murmur a greeting but will not look into my eyes. If people do talk, all I hear is a soft whisper of Spanish trailing off behind me. Kitchen help open up side doors to Mexican restaurants, and you can hear the smack of stainless steel a half block away.

   As the temperature rises this morning, so does the frequency of traffic. It is now becoming difficult to flip a U-turn on Sunset to take a second look at a possible subject. You keep from making left-hand turns onto Sunset Boulevard because the cross street lights are set to turn green whenever. I spend my last few moments working a back alley behind a theater and find another abandoned couch. On this pass it is unoccupied.


Bus Kiosk & Rhinestone Scissors, Along Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

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                                All Content ©Copyrighted 2012 Craig Carlson All Right Reserved