Two Faces of the LA River - from LA River Pix

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.

Los Angeles River in Sepulveda Basin Recreation area
Los Angeles River in Sepulveda Basin Recreation area

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.

US_CA_48_3549
US_CA_48_3549

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 ┬╝ 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.