If you have spent any time exploring even a bit of the LA River, you have no doubt seen its many different landscapes and incarnations, I have found and stumbled upon many of these in my journeys to photograph it. Last week I was shooting for a client who needed some printed photos of the Sepulveda Basin to display in a nearby housing development. Most of the river throughout the Basin is pretty calm and flat-watered as it runs a fairly straight course to the Dam at the southeastern end of the Recreation area. Thick brush lines the banks and there is not really much to shoot.
I parked near Balboa Blvd and ventured down to the river under the bridge. Walking about a hundred feet I heard some rushing water sounds and cut through the foliage where I came upon a small little waterfall gurgling amidst some rocks and tall grass. As far as I know it is the only bit of whitewater in the area and it made for quite a little tranquil scene. I sat there for a bit setting up some shots and taking in the atmosphere. Looking around it was hard to believe I was smack in the middle of the Valley with its more than fair share of traffic, congestion and blazing heat. Here it was cool, quiet and calm, so I sat there and enjoyed the respite.
I shot the humble little falls and then turned to my right and caught sight of a bunch of trash and garbage that had collected in the water just a couple of feet from the falls. A stark reminder of the urban runoff and human negligence that still affects the river, all 51 miles of it.
Notes on shooting: To get the shot of the small waterfall took a bit of doing. In order to get the blur of the water, I needed a tripod and a long time exposure. I usually carry a small table top tripod for just these occasions and gently set up the camera on it and balanced it precariously on the mossy rocks near the small falls.
A time exposure in the middle of the day is tough as you cannot usually stop down the aperture enough to let you use a longer exposure, even in the shaded area I was in. I wanted at least a one second exposure, but even at ISO 100, the longest exposure I could manage was ¼ second. A neutral density filter is the best answer in a case like this, but not having one, I used a polarizing filter, which will not really affect color, but will take off about a stop and a half to two stops from the exposure. That got me to a 1 second at f/22, which did the trick.