Los Angeles Capitol Polution City of the World.

Discussion in 'Travel' started by frank_skomial, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. Question is how to shoot panoramas and city wide photographs in Los
    Angeles?

    Los Angeles regained again the infamous crown and became the most
    poluted city of the world. Smog (smoke + fog) is normally so bad,
    that all pictures taken from higher elevation (mountains or tall
    buildings) as so hazy and foggy that it does not make sense to print
    them.

    The best bet are the few days of opportunity during the year when
    SANTANA Wind blows (Santana is the correct name from Spanish for
    devilish strong wind. The term was twisted around in media and they
    call it mow Santa Ana wind - possibly due to direction of it - or
    more likely due to plain ignorance.)

    Any other suggestions, or techniques to improve pictures in such
    conditions?, like haze filters, post processing advice, etc. ?
     
  2. Move to Alaska? -- :^)
     
  3. Jim,

    Actually I was on Alaska cruise 2 years ago, and have great pictures taken there.

    I was hoping to make pictures of similar clarity/quality in Los Angeles. Any better advice from you?
     
  4. You can do either of two things, choose not to shoot or roll with the punches and shoot it for what it is. An overdeveloped dust bowl. Smog is a reality so I don't see any reason to romanticize something that doesn't exist. The sunsets are very nice in So Cal because it's so hazy. Ever notice how red the sun gets? And avoid the telephoto. Get closer if you have to.
     
  5. http://www.rwongphoto.com/SCA.html
     
  6. Hey Frank!
    You sure paint a bleak picture of LA and the air quality. I've heard that Los Angeles got back the dubious distinction of the worst air quality back from rival Huston, TX, but the world? I find that hard to believe. And I don't know where you've been all week, but with the exception of one day, it has been spectacular and I could have made 100 panoramas that would not be possible in the place you have described.

    The pollutants that do the most harm are not visible and having not read the report, I don't know what the award had been based upon. Having witnessed, through red, teary burning eyes, and inhaled more than a half century of what passes for air the Los Angeles basin, I am astonished at the dramtic improvement in air quality since the car, fuel and industrial emmission controls became effective. Growing up in the good old days, I can recall many occasions when being too active on a smoggy day made me sick and unable to take a deep breath. We called it "smog lung" as kids and it would be described as having 25% of normal lung capacity with any effort to go beyond that would be met with severe pain in both lungs. I can't remember the last time I felt anything but the mildest case of smog lung. I have to hand it to those who have implimented the changes the air quality reflects. With the 25% increase in population and half of them driving huge gas guzzling SUVs they only need as a personal statement of how little they care about the environment, responsible fossil fuel consumption and global warming, I can't imagine how bad it would be if the standards were kept at the 1960 level. It would be so poisonous that natural selection would step in and weed out those weak of lung.

    To reply to your question, a few tests of UV and haze filter combinations with your camera and film of choice is a good start. I find the tendency of transparency film to intensify the magenta cast of the band just above the horizon line most annoying. Instead of more versions of the same old variation on Photoshop, someone should get creative and come up with algorythms that identify, correct sharpen and balance the damage done by airborne pollution. It can't be that hard and it would be very popular for sure. I don't know if using aerial films and filtration might help, but their spectral responses and over the lens filtration is designed to minimize haze. Some of those films are kind of slow but have granularity and resolution specs that would cause beads of sweat to bust out on your hi rez scanner.

    Last but not least, shoot your panos in LA on New Years Day. It is always spectacular for the Rose Parade (inspires tens of thousands of SUVs to move here every year) and traffic is light except in Pasadena. You might have to be careful the B2 bomber doesn't spoil your pictures with that nasty thin, black line of a profile. It putts around the basin each year as a kickoff for the festivities and you can't see the damn thing until it banks in a turn and then it is pretty spooky looking. This year the bomber had some fighter jets riding shotgun and they are much less discrete. I overslept and missed the B2 this year. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings and figure out the fighters flying at treetop level with the afterburners lit wasn't the second coming of Christ afterall. But as far as shooting Panos in LA goes, try shooting between December and May when about 80% of the time you should have no problem with natural haze or man made smog fouling up your pictures.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. The only thing "Santana" means in Spanish is a latin american rock musician.
    The origin of the term is sometimes disputed, but it seems likely to me that it comes from the Santa Ana canyon, through the Santa Ana mountains. Big mystery.
    I was hoping to make pictures of similar clarity/quality in Los Angeles.
    I'm hoping to marry a multimillionaire heiress with nymphomaniacal tendencies who looks like a young Nastassja Kinski.
     
  8. Or you could visit Mexico City.
     
  9. Worse than Beijing or Mexico City? I don't think so.
     
  10. Good call Ellis:

    http://www.portfolio.mvm.ed.ac.uk/studentwebs/session4/27/citydiff.htm

    However, Bangkok is not on the list.
     
  11. "Question is how to shoot panoramas and city wide photographs in Los Angeles?"

    Get out and about right after a rain. And whatever those winds are called, yes, they seem to have blown most of the man-made crud out over the Pacific this morning-- there's some haze but it's not the usual brown-yellow stuff.
     
  12. "However, Bangkok is not on the list."

    No one worries about air pollution in Bangkok, they're too busy avoiding being run down by some vehicle or the other.
     
  13. Clearly (OK I guess pun intended) the best opportunites are weather related, a morning of santa anas or especially after a cold front passes through. Even windy conditions can be iffy as often looking east from here in the Chino Hills you can see dust being blown up below some of the canyons and passes. I'd guess the best thing would be to be prepared, have your locations scouted out and be ready to shoot first thing in the morning although good conditions can last all day. The Hahn rec area near Baldwin Hills allows and almost ideal location of downtown in front of Mount Baldy, Palos Verdes can allow you to shoot the basin with surrounding snow capped mountains (a winter storm relic) and crisp canyons on Catalina. Shooting early gets the best air and also the defintion of the mountain ridges and canyons from the low light angles.

    But the basin has been known for dust and capturing smoke since the first Spanish explorers observed it from the sea. It's important to keep announcements like that in perspective. There are a variety of areas were the back to nature types have caused significant wood stove pollution as well. We could go back to horses but the idea of 17 million peoples worth of "post-processing" is mind boggling and having tourists walk across the Mojave Desert to get here was never popular and often deadly.
     
  14. Ocean Physics seems to have his head screwed on properly and priorities/dreams well chosen. A young Nastassia indeed, and all the rest. But in working out the probabilities, I need some help with where those things rank odds wise compared with being struck by lightening. That seems to be the standard reference point in our society and must be experienced before the Lotto can be won. Or so I'm told.....

    It is beautiful today and there is some haze visible with the sun at its highest point. I still can't believe there is this much trouble capturing LA on one of those ideal days. Maybe that is the problem. It is like trying to make a pristine Ansel Adams landscape in 2005 without beer cans and electric fences in the picture. Poor LA. It gets such a bad rap for mostly the things that make it great. And now you want a desert clarity that never existed due to the geography (as pointed out above) and isn't found even in Las Vegas any more. I suppose this pano would also include light freeway traffic (all hybrid cars too) with people waving hello instead of waving a guns, neighborhoods filled with friendly people interacting, and last but not least, people walking!

    Yer pipein' Dude!

    This is why they invented Photoshop....

    I'd watch for the signs that your picture is coming: All members of your immediate family will be struck by lightening and win the Lotto the following week. Then bust out the camera and don't miss the shot! Imagine the odds of it coming around again.

    Oh, I almost forgot! The other sign is that your cousin marries a wealthy heiress that looks like a young Kinski. You get to marry the Botox version. But you get the picture you're after.

    Have a nice day! (Dang! Where are those little smiley face things you tack on a posting?)
     
  15. However, Bangkok is not on the list.
    Neither is Seoul- is there a more comprehensive list anywhere?
     
  16. Thanks you all for advice.

    The latest I received is:
    "When you can see the Pacific Ocean from the Ocean View Boulvard in La Canada - Flintridge, then there is time go out take clear pictures".

    The Ocean View Boulevard is far away from the ocean, and high into the San Gabriel moutains. The view is, or rather WAS!, spectacular, and the street was named Ocean View Boulevard. This only happens now during very few days per year.

    To OCEAN PHYSICS benefit: an Associate Press correspondent mistakenly changed SANTANA into Santa Ana winds..., as per Los Angeles Almanac:

    The name Santana Winds is said to be traced to Spanish California when the winds were called Devil Winds due to their heat. The reference book Los Angeles A to Z (by Leonard & Dale Pitt), credits the Santa Ana Canyon in Orange County as the origin of the name Santa Ana Winds, thereby arguing for the term Santa Anas. This might be supported by early accounts which attributed the Santa Ana riverbed running through the canyon as the source of the winds. Another account placed the origin of Santa Ana Winds with an Associated Press correspondent stationed in Santa Ana who mistakenly began using Santa Ana Winds instead of Santana Winds in a 1901 dispatch.

    http://www.laalmanac.com/weather/we23.htm
     
  17. Shooting LA without the smog is like shooting midtown Manhattan without the skyscrapers. Why?

    Actually, there are plenty of clear days in LA, but they don't occur year round. I used to live on Beachwood Dr, which leads up to the Hollywood sign. On crystal clear days, you'd often find video crews set up in the middle of the street to shoot stock footage of the sign.
     
  18. Frankly, in six years of shooting in and around LA (okay, so there weren't any guns involved),
    I have only experienced one day that made want to get high up and take panoramic shots.
    They turned out extremely well and I always hoped to capture the same spectacular clarity -
    it never happened. What I am saying is that these days are rare in my book and all you can
    hope for is some serious luck.
     
  19. Sorry, LA is far from being the most poluted city in the world. Swing by Beijing, Shanghai or such places. Every day you come back to your hotel and blow your nose, the tissue will be black. First hand experience here. Buildings across the street were hazy.

    Wait for Santa Ana conditions, those are the best. There are other days after rain, too. You can shoot IR, that would cut through much of the smog. Patience is the best pre-processor around.
     
  20. Skip Los Angeles....mosey on south to Sunset Beach/Huntington Beach and check out the sunsets, surfers, and a really cool converted water tower that is now a house complete with elevator. Take a trip out to Catalina Island and spend the night. Drive the PCH north to Monterrey....in my view the 8th wonder of the world. Heck...even roll out towards the Big Bear area.

    Otherwise...wait until one of the rare heavy rains blows through the LA basin...you will get clear conditions for about 12 hours or so before the nasty brown haze parks itself once again!
     
  21. While crystal-clear days are not exactly frequent, they are much more frequent than you think. You have to get up into the hills - do not use the orange cast near the horizon as a guide. There are a few days a year when I can see the Santa Cruz islands (north of LA!) from south Orange County - something like 110-130 miles visibility. I can see Santa Catalina island (45-55 miles) clearly a few to several days most months.
    As to the pollution in Los Angeles - I grew up here and can assure you that the air quality in the 1960's and 1970's has far worse than today.
    Do not use the color of the sky near the horizon as a judge of visibility, as this can be deceptive - visibility may be much better than you think.
     
  22. In LA many postcards are shot right after a rain which clears the air. I have worked in the Valley when the rains in the early spring cleared the air looking east to Pasadena. A rather cool shot is when there is snow on the mountains above the basin. The air in LA is WAY better today than in the late 1960's or early 1970's. Some far east cities usch as Bangkok I worked in were way smoggy than back in LA today. Inland china has some smoggy areas; plus Mexico City is no gem either.
     
  23. The LA Times prints "Santa Anna winds" at times. John And Ken on KFI; Dr Laura has used the term other way too. Also I have seen it printed like this in the Ventura Star; The Valley rags; and The Orange County newpaper too. The first rain in LA after many months will pull alot of crap out of the air. Have an extra white shirt handy if you are a formal; non LA person :) The first rain may cause a midwestern chap to fishtail switchback mountainous road, the roads oil is built up on paved roads. It is common to have a peaking of bodywork; tow truck activity after the first rains. The long term rain average for entire July in Los Angeles is only just a few sheets of paper in height!
     
  24. OK I made as many smart remarks as anybody in response to Frank's question but I did start wondering what Dr. Danylo Kozub of Helicon Imaging Software might do with this challenge. If you don't know Helicon, check it out. The good Dr. doesn't seem to see any sense in doing yet another variation on Photoshop. Hooray! Anyhow, I exchanged emails with Frank and his job prevents him from emailing images to other countries. I though he would be the best consultant to Danylo since he started this in the first place but we might as well use this forum to figure things out. I suggested we poll photographers and see if there is a "Haze Standard" that can be agreed upon as a reasonable level of haze to aim for minimizing with software. The color, content and spectral peculiarities of aerial haze and polution varies all over the world and no doubt is one of the trickiest problems to solve. In the meantime, Dr. Kozub seized the idea, found a hazy image to work on and has produced a first sample and would like some feedback. I'm going to try and tack on the before and after tests and see what you all think.
    00ENXc-26773584.jpg
     
  25. These are too small but still pretty amazing. I have to hand it to Doc again. This is very cool. Anyhow, I hope the full size tests I'm tacking on will work as a link so anybody interested can have a closer look. Comments??
    00ENYJ-26773984.jpg
     

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