from Angelino Heights to Turkey and back again

Mitch is safely back home from recent travels, with photos of Turkey from the new Leica camera that turned out to be problematic in that it needed a learning curve longer than a few days. Before departure, he took these test photos of his neighborhood with the Leica in roughly late May/early June and sent them with some notes to a friend. Angelino Heights is one of the oldest neighborhood in Los Angeles, and where Mitch ecstatically calls home in between travels. This hilly, historic neighborhood has views of downtown LA and is within walking distance of Echo Park. (Some of the best Al Pastor tacos I’ve ever had can be found here on Sunset, from a stand that sets up after 5 p.m. most every night. Lines are long but move fast.) The reference to living “termite free” refers to the construction of older homes, like his and ours in Long Beach, that defy termite depredations. New fences and decks are chewed up in short order, but the early 20th century bungalows made of tight, old-growth redwood foil the little cellulose-chewing bastards.


I’ve been walking our neighborhood thoughtfully with this new camera to prep for Istanbul street shooting. The camera is beastly difficult to operate, and I can’t get our neighborhood to look good. These are two separate problems. After the commercial districts of downtown and the shotgun shacks of Bunker Hill, Angelino Heights is the oldest neighborhood in Los Angeles — mansions from 1880 at the top of the hill and 1905 by the time you get to our street. We live termite free in tinderboxes of old-growth redwood and tight-grained mahogany. Detailed façades still enjoy fish scales, turned-wood spindles, deep-set sleeping porches, geometric carvings that reference the heavens, or sometimes all of the above at once.


It is explicitly a beautiful place to walk and live. And yet photographically I can’t bring the elements together in the frame. This is because I have already lived here too long. A younger Mitchell, breathless with discovery, could have wrapped these visual anachronisms into a pool of magic hour butter light and made a worthwhile expression (saccharine as it may have been). This beginner’s mind is somewhat lost here at home, but it is the mode we hope will overtake us on foreign streets, bathed in an evening light that tastes of kaymak rather than butter. Or maybe something spicier and not as fat.

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Without the arduous air travel, but still condensing time and space, now we’re leaving Los Angeles for spring wildflowers in Turkey.


Scrolling thru the hundreds of photos taken, skipping splendid mosques and nonrepresentational art, animals and plants are always my touchstones when traveling


And coming full circle, from the bougainvillea of Angelino Heights to the bougainvillea of Turkey and back again. I’ll have to ask Mitch if he plans on keeping the Leica.

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5 Responses to from Angelino Heights to Turkey and back again

  1. Gerhard Bock says:

    I know how critical photographers are of their own work, but I, for one, think Mitch’s photos are fantastic. They make me want to visit both Angelino Heights and Turkey!

    I hope Mitch will warm up to his Leica. Or get a camera that suits him better. There are plenty of choices. Leica isn’t as unique as Leica wants you to believe :-).

  2. hb says:

    Great photos. My favorite is the 3rd view from Turkey. Beautiful.

    My great uncle the first of the family to come to California built his house (by himself, with hand tools!) from redwood in the 1920’s. Yes, indeed termite free.

  3. Kris P says:

    I agree with Gerhard that the photographs are great but I understand that Mitch has a much more critical eye than mine. It did strike me that the Leica photos of homes in Angelito Heights had distinctly crisp edges, which is perhaps not what he was going for to reflect the aging grace of the structures. I love the poppy and wildflowers shots taken in Turkey.

  4. Denise says:

    @Gerhard, the Leica has already been returned!
    @Hoov, your family goes way back, and has skills!
    @Kris, seeing the perennial Oriental poppies in bloom around town, I have to say I prefer the annuals! The OP flowers are just too big and out of scale with the plants. Some seeds of my Poppy of Troy hitched a ride up here and are now blooming — months after they bloom in LA (Papaver setigerum) — one of my spring favs.

  5. Elaine says:

    Wish I could take photos half as beautiful as these. Love the houses in Angelino Heights. Each loaded with character and a charm that is lacking in more modern architecture. Would love to visit Turkey some day especially when the steppe and alpine plants are blooming in Spring.

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