Have you ever taken the subway in Los Angeles? Most likely, if you own a car, you would not even know that there’s a subway system in Los Angeles.
My first subway ride in Los Angeles was for a college class. If I remember correctly, we were learning about the art and murals in the LA subways. It was quite an experience. Strangely enough, my second subway ride was for a class as well. Second time around, it was for a nighttime photo workshop organized by Santa Monica College taught by instructor and photographer Brian Leng; Night Lights via Metro Rail.
At 5 pm on a Saturday evening, all the class participants and our instructor met at the Aviation metro rail station near LAX. The route of the night consisted of going to Union Station, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chinatown, and Staples Center. The ride from the Aviation station to Union station was extremely long; changing trains from green line to blue line to red line. By the time we got to the Union station it was getting close to 7 pm. It would have been more effective if our starting point was Union Station, that way we would of had a chance to shoot during the golden hour.
At the Union station, first, we set up our tripods across the street trying to capture the lights reflecting from the Union station building. I had my Tamron 10-24mm lens on a Nikon d3100 body. We were outside the building at least for 45 minutes. The weather was ideal, not too cold, or windy. It was perfect for shooting. Then, we got permission to shoot inside the Union station. Without a written consent, the security does not allow you to shoot with a tripod inside the building or on the waiting platform. Therefore, if you are planning to head out there make sure you have a permit for your tripod.
Our next stop was Walt Disney Concert Hall. On the way to Walt Disney Concert hall, we had sometime to shoot inside metro station, where 4-5 male manikins were hanging from the ceiling with thin strings. They looked like were flying boys. Then we had sometime to capture the passing trams on the platform.
When we get to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, we set up our tripods across the street from the concert building. This is a great building with different angles and looks spectacular. I was having fun capturing the downtown buildings and taillights of the passing cars by the concert building with long exposures. We were not allowed to shoot on the premises; therefore, we kept shooting from the sidewalks. My only regret was not shooting the building from few different angles. This is such an impressive building that needs all the attention you can give.
After, we took the Golden Line to Chinatown. Unfortunately, due to the nearby Swedish Mafia concert, all neon lights of Chinatown entrance and exteriors of the buildings were not lit. The place was in complete darkness. This was a complete disappointment. Since, there was nothing to shoot we had back to the Union station. On the way to our starting point, we were going to stop by Staples center; however, most people opt-out due to being tired, late hours, and disappointment of the Chinatown I guess.
Overall, I liked the Night Lights workshop. It was worth taking this class since I would not go to those places at nighttime by myself to shoot but it could have been much more pleasant and less time consuming if the starting point was Union station. I will definitely go back to the Walt Disney Concert hall for more.