Classic Antique Cars in Southern California

During my time in San Diego in Southern California I spent a lot of days to see classic antique cars. It seems to me that many people are collecting them, they enjoy working on them, let them shine like new in the warm Californian sun and go on shows.

I remember well my very first time in a Chevrolet. I felt like Miss Daisy with her chauffeur. It was so much fun and I felt so honored to sit in a car so beautiful and precious. Until now I have been sitting in this beauty for many more times, but the feeling is still the same. Even on the way to Yoga…

The many times I have seen these amazing cars from until a hundred of years ago of course I took photos. Many of them. Again and again. So many that I decided last Christmas to make a calendar for a friend of mine in Germany who loves antique cars.

Here I just want to show you some of the cars I have seen. Unfortunately they are all night photos and suffer from artificial light. But in other articles you will find them again and again also shining in the sunlight. And I think I will not stop to have them always somewhere around in my articles as they seem to be ubiquitous, omnipresent here in Southern California.

Enjoy these amazing cars!

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San Diego, California/USA:

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Salton Sea – Smelly Lake in the Desert

I have been a few times in the desert near to San Diego in California. And one time we passed Salton Sea.

For me my first vision of the lake was: beautiful. Until I got out of the car. A really stinky air was waiting for me to be breathed. I know that smell from the Baltic Sea, it has the same ‘stink’ of rotten water plants and animals. Actually: dying mussels. If that is the exact reason at Salton Sea I ignore but could be because the beach is not sand but dead mussel shells.

The lake is situated in the Coachella Valley east to San Diego. It is located on the famous Andreas fault in the Colorado desert of southern California. I was very surprised reading about the deepest point of the lake: just 13 m/43 ft. The lake gets it water from a few rivers like the New River, the Whitewater River and the Alamo River. To me it appeared it gets no water at all, being stagnant.

The lake was once formed by the Colorado River, flowing in and out and by the quantity of water the lake was more salty or a freshwater lake or even a dry desert basin. Salton Sea looks large, it is actually 24 km/15 miles per 56 km/35 miles and the largest lake of California.

In the 1950s there were a few resort areas like Salton City, Desert Shores, Bombay Beach and Desert Beach. But shrinking in size and a more and more upcoming smell due to the death of water animals and pollution, the resort areas were soon abandoned.

There are mud pots and mud volcanoes on the eastern side I haven’t visit.

There should be a good avian population. I found out that more than 400 species are living here. I saw some seagulls, nothing more. There is a fish population as well even though it seemed to me a really dead water pot.

I happened to be there right in the late afternoon. At sunset it would have been perfect. The light anyway was beautiful and I thought it is a place where one can really make some great shots. The smell is something one can get used to for a while. Living there would be not really that great I think.

We passed in the town Salton City, it didn’t really look much appealing to me. But maybe I missed something? The lake itself is a good place to get some good quality photos of landscape.

Salton Sea, California/USA:

For further information:
Salton Sea

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Rusty Animals in the Desert

So I have seen the wildflowers during spring that were really spectacular and magic to me this time I had another astonishing surprise. One of the most wondrous things I have seen are huge rusty sculptures in the middle of the desert near to the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center. But there is a reason for…

More than hundred full-sized metal sculptures are seen as far the eye can reach. They are inspired by living beings that once roamed the area even millions of years ago. Prehistoric mammals, dinosaurs, historical characters and a serpent which seems to me a dragon are ‘moving’ around in a landscape that looks like being on the moon.

The artist Ricardo Breceda created all these sculptures after Dennis Avery, the land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates, asked him to create free standing art. These steel constructions over the time got the rusty yellow brown color I think that matches so good with the environment.

We saw horses ‘running’ in the middle of fields, a camel mommy with her baby, dinosaurs coming against us and a serpent that looked to me like a dragon. And was the most fascinating to me. Especially the head, really well worked into the tiniest detail.

When you drive to the visitor center you can’t miss them, but when seen from far they sometimes seem to be strange, like “Hey, what’s that coming against us? Is it moving? Looks like a dino..” It makes you feel like in a movie, Jurassic Park alive. Especially in the heat of the summer, when already the air is moving everything you look at and often a ‘Fata Morgana’ appears.

It is worth to take a brochure at the visitor center and to drive to see most of them, there are around 130, to much maybe to see them all unless you want.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California/USA:

For further information:
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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Light Makes Photography. Embrace Light. Admire it. Love it. But Above All, Know Light.

The Museum of Photographic Arts is situated in a beautiful Colonial-style building in the Balboa Park of San Diego. As I love photography I wanted to visit the museum and was very surprised. It was for me a little like a theme-walk. The photos are beautiful. I was more looking at the presentation of the photos as in that moment I had the ‘problem’ that I didn’t know how is the best way to present my photos. Large frame, no frame, black or light passepartout, how big the photos.. there are so many ways and I found a lot of inspiration right in this museum. And courage to present my photos also in a bigger size. On canvas for example. But that’s another story…

A little bit of history? The Museum of Photography Arts – short: MOPAs – was founded in 1983. It shows photos from the 19th century to the present day with a range from documentary to expressive photography. More than 7.000 images are collected here, from over 850 photographers. The building housing the museum is the Casa de Balboa at the Balboa Park and easy to find.

There is a print-viewing room, a classroom, a theater, a book store and more. More than 100.000 visitors come here annually and there are up to 10 major exhibitions. They give classes and workshops, lectures and films.

I read this on their website): “The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film, and video”

Sounds promising and I would say they are fulfilling their mission.

I had a long walk around to see the photos – and their framing/non-framing. It gave me a lot of inspiration.

One room was dedicated to light and I liked something I read: “… Night only suggests things, it doesn’t fully reveal them. … it frees powers within us which were controlled by reason during the day…” Night photography is something very special and not easy at all. But always very intriguing and mysterious, revealing without revealing. And a great play-ground for photographers.

Light Makes Photography. Embrace Light. Admire it. Love it. But Above All, Know Light.

The museum is closed on Mondays and opens the other days at 10 am. Very interesting is the fee: pay as you wish. So everyone can give what he/she thinks would be the right amount. That is nice as it gives the possibility to visit the venue also to people they don’t have money.

MOPAs, San Diego, California/USA:

For further information:
MOPAs San Diego
Balboa Park San Diego

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Pomposa – The Abbey of a Book

I am a big fan of the Italian writer Marcello Simoni. One of his book sequels are “L’abbazia dei cento peccati”, “L’abbazia dei cento delitti” and “L’abbazia dei cento inganni”. I read all of them of course.

They are crime and mystery stories, situated in the middle age. The kind of story I like the most. I learn about history in a very entertaining (and intriguing) way.

The story of the books is about the lapis exilii, a precious relic, mentioned in an old parchment. Maynard de Rocheblanche, a knight, tries to find out what it is about and to bring back the parchment and the relics to the original place, an abbey in France. On his way to find the subjects he has to stay for a long time in Ferrara and the abbey of Pomposa.

Reading the books I was getting very curious about this abbey. It is situated south of Venice, halfway to Rimini, not far away where I live when I am in Italy. So last summer I had the opportunity to drive to Ferrara and Pomposa together with a friend.

The abbey is a Benedictine monastery not far away of Ferrara and once upon a time built on an island. It is famous today not because of the books but because it keeps Carolingian manuscripts in its library.

Already in 874 in this very place there was an abbey, very well known for the Carolingian art. For long time it was one of the most important places in Italy with a rich cartulary. In 1152 during a winter of heavy rain the river Po broke through the dam near to Ferrara and as a consequence the river re-located its riverbed. The area around Pomposa got more and more swampy and gave the perfect base for malaria. Due to this and the black death the abbey lost its importance to the impoverishment of the dying neighboring area.

The last monks left the abbey around 1671, it became at some point a private property and only in the 1930 of the last century it became property of the state and restored.

The church of Santa Maria is a triple-nave Ravennan Romanescque style basilica. Beautiful the arcaded aisles and carpentry rafters. During the time the abbey grew in power and influence and was also enlarged during the 11th century with a segmental apse.

Inside the church there is a geometric decorative inlay stonework, a so called cosmatescque. It’s a typical Medieval architecture art and used for a special kind of mosaic inlaid pavements. The frescoes in the apse are by Vitale di Bologna (also mentioned in the book) and some other masters of the area. Instead in the hall the frescoes are by a scholar of Giotto.

Really impressive is also the campanile, the bell tower. It’s free-standing, 48 meters high and Romanesque.

We entered the place from the Palazzo della Ragione, which was built before 1026 and facing the church. Here we got the ticket to see the ground.

My friend didn’t know anything about the place, I knew all out of the books I read. So we had all to be surprised.

The first place we entered after the Palazzo della Ragione and crossing the garden was the refectory. It has beautiful paintings. The ceiling is a masterpiece of woodwork, the pavement a huge mosaic. No furniture, a bare room with some information boards explaining the paintings.

We got out of the refectory and up to the Pomposian museum. It is situated in the dormitory, once divided into cells for the monks. Today it is a huge room with a lot of artifacts found on the ground during restoration. I liked a lot the pottery and glass as I am always fascinated by old glass. From the windows – once every monk’s cell had a window – I could see a little forest right behind the abbey.

Just behind the dormitory there is the chapter house. It was the monks meeting place. The pavement is lightly wavy, maybe due to an earthquake. And again the beautiful wooden ceiling. Dark wood with bright colorful paintings at the wall and a mosaic pavement that doesn’t distract at all.

I was amazed by the beauty of this place. Of course it looks completely different to what I imagined out of the books. Especially because today there is no way anymore to see it was once an island and surrounded by woods. The land is flat and really bare of trees.

I felt a little like walking in my books, sitting inside the church or outside in the sun and thinking about the story, the people walking and living here. What a fun to go in places you read before in a historical thriller!

Pomposa, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna/Italy:

For further information:
Abbey of Pomposa

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