Posts Tagged ‘laguna niguel’

Hittn' the road and on to the next one.  Her big smile tells us she doesn't seem to mind

Hittn' the road and on to the next one. Her big smile tells us she doesn't seem to mind





Saturday, I was in Laguna Niguel early and saw that the “Annual Moon The Amtrak” event was going to be big.  It was only 9 am and there were already a lot of people.  I went off and did some errands and came back through around 1:30.  I got there just in time to see the Orange County Sheriff Helicopter come in over the tracks and announce that the crowd would have to disperse and leave the area as it was an un-lawful assembly.

A huge “ahhhh…” went up from the crowd at the same time and shortly after a black undercover type sedan went through on Camino Capistrano and announced the same thing.  I was on the other side of the tracks and where I was there was no one.  I thought for a moment and called the photo desk at The Orange County Register to see if they wanted the shots.  They shot it last year for the mooning part, but this was different.


I talked to Thomas and he explained that they already had a photographer down there and then hesitated.



If you want to shoot it on your own go ahead and we’ll see what you get…so send it to me if you get anything good and I’ll look at it…we’ll just see…”


OC Sheriff deputies moniter the crowd as they leave southbound on Camino Capistrano.

OC Sheriff deputies moniter the crowd as they leave southbound on Camino Capistrano.




I carry a change of clothes in my van and so quickly changed from my shorts, got my equipment together and made my way over.  By now, there was a definite movement to comply with the order.  The Sheriffs were lined up on the bridge that is there just south of “Mugs A-Way” saloon.  They had their squad cars lined up and stood beside them in groups.  A single file line of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboarders, scooters and  walkers made their way in the single open southbound lane under the watchful eye of the Deputy Sheriffs.

I really expected this to erupt into something and so was trying to keep my eyes open to be safe and get a good shot of it all.  I think mostly the event has been very innocent and a way for adults to let off some steam and be a part of the quirky history in Orange County.  I have shot enough events to know that a few drunks can ruin a regular event and this looked like something that would ignite but I was relieved as soon as I got there and started shooting on the bridge.


OC Sheriff Deputies and Security from Mugs Away Saloon consider the options together.

OC Sheriff Deputies and Security from Mugs Away Saloon consider the options together.
















The Orange County Sheriff Department was out to disperse the crowd with no issues and that is exactly what they did.  I thought their approach and demeanor was excellent.  They just wanted to get everyone out with out incident and I cannot say enough for their efforts in getting this done.  I personally saw where deputies observed more than one  ambulatory drunk stumbling around and just let them keep moving on their way out; no doubt that if anyone wasn’t moving out they would have intervened.





A few “discussions” occurred between participants and deputies and as well, although heated, the deputies gave everyone a way out while remaining firm.  I think this humbled more than a few folks that should have gone to jail and they realized the break they were getting and cautiously did as the deputies asked. 



Cool Couple on a Cool bike.

Cool Couple on a Cool bike.

In general, I followed the deputies, while hanging back, so as not to encourage anyone form trying to make the news.  The deputies were calm and conversed normally with anyone that approached then.  I saw several times deputies and attendees laughing together as if they were at a Jaycee softball game.  There was an obvious method on their part as they moved through the crowd and gave everyone plenty of time to get handled anything illegal and in the open.  I saw one sheriff sergeant speaking for awhile with an apparently upset woman and then was speaking with someone, using her cell phone.  I got a shot of it and it was especially interesting to see a helmeted sheriff using her cell phone with a fluffy ball dangling form it.  He must have solved the problem as she walked away much calmer than when she came up to him.






On the crowd’s part, they were generally upset that as there had been no incident, why was it getting shut down?  I was asked several times if I knew what had happened as they believed in general that something must have occurred.  I had asked a deputy if he knew early on and he responded that he didn’t know and that he just got the word to go down and here he was.  This is standard as information is always handled through a public information officer.  There still could have been something but didn’t seem like it.        








OC Sherrifs shoot the breeze with an attendee on Saturday.

OC Sherrifs shoot the breeze with an attendee on Saturday.












The crowd behaved well in general except for a few drunks but they were wise enough to lay low; everyone seemed to know that they were getting a pass so even in a stupor they maintained order.  I heard a few people in cars drive by and make random rude comments about the deputies and un-doubtedly it was heard; they just ignored it and kept a watchful eye.  Then again, I heard plenty of event goers compliment the sheriff deputies on their calmness, “nice job”, “…you guys are doing great…” or  “Thanks for coming out…”


Peace out.

Peace out.



I tink this couple pretty much have a good time where ever they go.

I tink this couple pretty much have a good time where ever they go.

I heard someone say that it had started with a medical aid and the emergency personnel had a difficult time making it down.  I don’t know if that was true.  This was really a good crowd actually and I think the only impediment to emergency response would be by someone drunk getting in the way on accident, getting run over or becoming belligerent because of a uniform.  I don’t remember seeing any bathroom facilities and that could be an issue.  Everyone was minding their own business and the crowd was gentle.  I have seen much more controlled, sanctioned events with a similar theme, and the feeling for me has always been that something could easily happen.  Once I was there, I was wary of course, but this crowd just didn’t have that vibe. 




Ultimately, I will reason that some over the top and repeated nudity shattered the day for the “Moon The Amtrak” event.  Its true that anyone down there would have to expect this type of stuff going on to a certain degree and as well, it’s not like they were around any homes where innocents would have happened upon them.  If you were down there then you were there for the party. 










Its always a few jerks that ruin it but a good job must be recognized on the part of The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and especially because they obviously meant for it to be that way.  Maybe our new Sheriff has already had an impact; I would really like to think so.  The crowd deserves credit as well.  They definitely didn’t agree with the order and yet peaceably did as they were asked and without incident.


An OC deputy Sheriff helps out an event participant using her cell phone

An OC deputy Sheriff helps out an event participant using her cell phone




I don’t look forward to the day that things don’t turn out they way they did today but then we’d be like any other country where things go wrong and get worse by the minute.









The artcle in The Orange County Register:


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Ruaridh (Rory) Stewart (shown at left photographing a car at the recent LA Car show), 37, of Laguna Niguel, knows the business of what makes photos work.  He describes a photo of a Vietcong guerrilla captured by US troops photographed by Philip Jones Griffiths, a Welsh photojournalist from the 60’s and 70’s.


“Griffiths set the standard for what makes a news photo…how he shot events, no one had done before, his approach…everything…students of photography should begin with his books and photos, he started it all really…”



Griffiths published Vietnam INC, and the book had major influence on American perceptions of the war and became a classic of photojournalism with astounding and compelling images.  All qualities that Zuma Press, a full service photo agency based in Dana Point and where Stewart works as News Director, look for when they license photos for magazines like Time, Newsweek and National Geographic. 



This image conveys the tragedy that is war, there are multiple elements to his images that cause the viewer to really pause and look…”


Stewart, born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1971 is tall, lean and serious, but not without a certain kindness in his gaze.  He pauses between points and reflects, seemingly editing his words one last time, just before telling you what he thinks.  It’s his thoughts on photography and how he got started that you realize his greatest trait must be his innate compassion.


“I was always taking photos when I was young and while traveling in India over the summer in 1993, I was doing travel photos, I knew it was what I wanted to do, something just clicked …I traveled all over Asia and it was the people…taking pictures of the people….you just have to go for it and make it work and that’s what I did…”


Stewart’s work at Zuma Press as News Director is what you might think at first to be the standard faire of deadlines, fact checking and the eenie, meenie, miny, mo of where to send which photo to which publication.  Consider that Stewart deals with over 700 contract photographers from all over the world and in every possible situation at any one time and delivers to hundreds of magazines worldwide; there is no doubt that many of the photos you see in your favorite magazines, he sees first.


It wasn’t too long ago that Stewart was looking through the lens and seeing it all first hand.  In 2000 he was selected as Photographer of the Year by the Hong Kong Press for a photo that depicts children praying at an assembly after their Principal has just shared that the Chinese takeover in Hong Kong would no longer allow English to be taught.  Stewart had the opportunity to work for several newspapers and magazines in Asia and traveled extensively on assignments that included sports, politics and earthquakes. 



“In 1999 I was assigned to cover the aftermath of the earthquake in Taiwan where over 2000 people died…the devastation was impressive….to see people in those conditions was humbling…”


Stewart had the unique nuts and bolts experience of literally working through the change from film to digital.  Assigned to cover the fall of  President Suharto of Indonesia in the spring of 1998, he was given a digital camera to take with him along with his equipment for film; that first digital camera cost more than $10,000 dollars and had less than 2 megapixels; soccer moms would scoff at anything less than 6 megapixels today.


“We would shoot maybe 5 rolls a day of the rioting and protests and then return to the hotel room to process the film in the bathroom and use the hotel hair dryer to dry the negatives….eventually I ran out of chemical and so I started using the digital camera…the image quality was terrible but it was that immediate result and even more I appreciated the speed”


Stewart explains that after returning to the hotel and developing the film it still took hours to edit the photos down to two or three that would get sent out to the paper.  He details the methodic orgy of using the bathroom as a darkroom, developing in the bathtub, drying the negatives on the shower rod with the hair dryer, scanning the negatives into the computer, getting a dependable international phone line, usually splicing the lines himself and then spending 3 hours to download 3 images.  The confusion, chaos and imminent collapse of President Suharto’s regime made for excellent and emotionally charged photos but wasn’t the safest spot to be.


“ I was shooting from behind a crowd, towards the government troops…I was getting the rioters throwing rocks when the soldiers began to shoot into the crowd…it all broke loose at that point…there was a wave of people…everyone was scattering, except for me…at one point I looked out over the top of my camera….in front of me just 10 feet away was a soldier…he was franticly trying to pull out his pistol from its holster but he had forgotten the little leather strap that held it in…he kept trying to get it out and then he was working on the strap…it just wouldn’t come…I just stood there watching until a hand from behind pulled me out…an Indonesian photographer I think…I don’t know what would have happened…”


Stewart is in the office now mostly and likes it better that way because now he can pick the assignments he wants to do and at the end of the day he goes home to Laguna Niguel, his wife, Sylvia and his little girl, Ailee, 18 months.


Stewart has had an ongoing assignment at US military installations photographing, the  Army as they train and prepare for duty in Iraq.  It keeps him close to home, it’s safer and it’s an easier commute but it’s not the only thing that’s easy.




 “When we first got the digital stuff…the image quality was not that good and the batteries were huge and we had to carry extra batteries where ever we went…now the cameras are just phenomenal…the point and shoot cameras that we have today take better pictures than what I had in Indonesia…”


Stewart feels that with the quality of digital cameras today, there is no reason why a reasonably skilled photographer couldn’t take a shot where you would be unable to tell if it were color film or not; digital only keeps getting better every day.


“There are some great digital cameras out there right now but, you know, I still have all my film cameras…”


Stewart knows what he’s doing; he’ll make it work out.


Ruaridh Stewart:



Philip Jones Griffiths:









 Zuma Reportage:






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