What to make of Bodie?

The Cain House Past
The Cain House Past by I Nancy, on Flickr

There are advantages and disadvantages of being married to a raving railroad fanatic. The advantages is that he loves an adventure and anything involving trains and railroad history. The disadvantage is that, even when you are on an Eastern Sierras fall color trip, the historic gold-rush town of Bodie, just north of Mono Lake, is one of the first stops on the trip. Go to Bodie, go directly to Bodie, do not stop and take pictures of the flaming mountain scapes on Conway Summit, do not dally in the yellow and orange Aspen forests or creekside on the many canyons and creeksides, do not collect 200 photographs.

But the weather was incredibly photography friendly for our afternoon jaunt to Bodie and my husband drove the dirt roads which, though shaken and rattled, our trusty silver Prius managed just fine.

As I walked the streets I started my visioning process, a process I learned through the writings of David DuChemin’s Within The Frame series. David talks about creating a mental checklist of all the things you feel and observe at your photographic location. Bodie is an odd town and a microcosm of California’s gold-rush history. One of the largest and most successful gold mining towns in California. At it’s height, around 1880, it had a population of ten thousand people, hundreds of saloons, and was renowned for its lawlessness. It is a town of bitter winter cold and dramatic summer heat. The boom was short lived and began a stead decline from 1881. In 1932 a fire, fabled to be started by 2 1/2 year old “Bodie Bill“, destroyed over 90% of the town.

It was cloudy enough to provide that big softbox-in-the-sky effect but with just enough patches of blue texture to capture dramatic patterns. The builds have an undisturbed patina and in a state of “arrested decay”. I wanted to capture the notion of Bodie still inhabited with each building alive telling the stories of its dramatic past. With a wide-angle lens, and some judicious HDR,  here is my approach to breath life into these structures so that they can tell us their story in their own words.

No Sermons Lately
No Sermons Lately by I Nancy, on Flickr

Just another beautiful day on Muscle Beach

The Original Muscle Beach, just south of the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California

Dedicated in 1930s and popular through the 1950s. In 1989, Muscle Beach was rededicated by the City of Santa Monica, complete with new equipment.

I remember a picture that my brother took of me and my sister with a very well oiled and well built black man on Muscle Beach in the late 60’s or early 70’s. I wonder what has happened to that image?

The Egyptian Theatre – 1921

The Egyptian. 6712 Hollywood Blvd. 1921. Meyer & Holler, architects
The first of Sid Grauman’s Hollywood Boulevard theatres, the Egyptian’s styling was the result of the American fascination with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1920. The theatre opened in 1922 with the premiere of Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Los Angeles – Yesterday’s Places Today
Buy the book at Blurb.com
On Flickr preview A Gallery of selected images
Get prints at inancy at Smugmug

The Book is Out! Los Angeles – Yesterday’s Places Today

The book is out! The Book Is Out! THE BOOK IS OUT!

Well, I’m pretty excited about my first photo essay book Los Angeles – Yesterday’s Places Today. It is available at Blurb.com and I am selling it at cost.

You can also buy single prints at inancy at Smugmug or see a preview of some of the images on my Flickr site.

Here is the foreward which will tell you more about the book.


Nearly a century since its beginnings, Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs are still dotted with historic reminders of the city’s early 20th century emergence as a modern metropolis with lavish theatres and grand buildings in a variety of architectural styles ranging from Beaux-Arts to Neo-Gothic to Art-Deco. The images presented here illustrate our modern 21st century life integrated among these vestiges from the past and covers the areas of Los Angeles’ South Broadway Theatre District, Hollywood Boulevard, and Santa Monica.

While compiling this collection, I became fascinated with the political, sociological, and economic factors that spurred the growth of this pueblo outpost located nearly twenty-five-hundred miles from New York City. During the process of research and preparation, I relinquished all notions of turning this volume into a history book. The images collected here present neither a comprehensive account of the Los Angeles area nor are they presented in a documentary style. A documentary photographer would aim for a perspective-perfect architectural rendering with few human distractions. Instead, I have exploited these beautiful historic buildings as the backdrop for a glimpse into our 21st-century life and way of thinking. I have stretched the perspectives and captured the pulse of life on the street as it intermingles among these aging structures. My simple wish is to capture some poignant images of historic Los Angeles in its current 21st-century context. The majority of these images were taken over a short period during the Spring of 2008.

Family History Part I

My family, on both my mother’s and father’s side, has roots in Los Angeles since the 1920s. I have created a project to document what our historic family sites look like in 2008.

This first post documents the tomb stones of family members buried at (what is now called) the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica Blvd between Van Ness and Gower in Hollywood.

Sam Bonar – Merrill Bonar’s (my father) adoptive father
Samuel Bonar

Jack Bonar – Merril Bonar’s stepbrother (son of Sam Bonar)
Jack Bonar

Wolf Brin – Sandra Bonar’s (my mother) maternal grand father, my great grand father
Wolf Brin