I made it roughly a decade ago. I made it on Christmas Eve 2012. I made it at the bonfires on the river near Lutcher, Louisiana. We light the bonfires to guide Papa Noel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans so all the fine people of the city can receive their Christmas gifts.
This picture is special. Well, it is if you like horrible memorials.
See all those little crosses in the foreground? They are memorials for the children killed at Sandy Hook. There were twenty six people killed. Twenty of them were children between six and seven years old. Six were adult staff members.
Nothing came of it. Nothing changed. Hope and prayers were offered by NRA sponsored politicians. They said it wasn’t the right time to talk about it. It never is.
I watched history repeat itself today. It started on social media. First, it was a few killed and many wounded. Eventually that turned around. There were way more killed than wounded. Nineteen students and two adults.
It happened in Uvalde, Texas.
It watched my friends everywhere post sad and angry words. I watched the president make one of the most saddest, weary speeches I think I’ve ever heard. It was short. Seven minutes.
Now, comes my cynical self.
The nashing of teeth and crying tears of sadness will last for a few weeks. Like those mass shootings that came before this — like the one in the grocery store less than two weeks ago — it will all drift into the mist of history. Or better yet, the fog of war. Because, it is a war.
My WordPress buddy Tim Allen said that he hoped this worked out for me. Me too. But, what he doesn’t realize is that this better work out for me because if it doesn’t he’ll have nothing but problems since WordPress is changing everything.
One helper told me that since technology has changed over the years and gotten more complex all of WordPress systems are getting more complex. Everyone will have to at least use the “customizer panel.” Others will have to use FSE, which is an entirely different and complicated system. This isn’t just for me. Or, for you. This will eventually be for everybody.
I still believe that this has less to do with technology and more to do with keeping staffers employed. That’s fine. I don’t think people should be fired because of bad corporate planning. But, don’t take it out on me. I’m just doing what I’ve always done.
I’ve joined another kind of picture agency called PicFair. Their rates are very fair and I am allowed to build what amounts to a site within a site. Because their rates are fair my rates can be way more fair to you or to whoever is interested in my work.
There’s a philosophical question here.
When I started back in the days of cavemen, licensing fees were expensive, as they should have been. I’m still of a mind that good work is worth good money. But, the rest of the world doesn’t agree. Everybody is a photographer and buyers often believe that work is “good enough.” So, my prices are going to be adjusted according to the world’s needs.
That said, give me a minute.
PicFair’s software is easy to use, or at least easier to use than WordPress. But, I still have to do all of the background work… for every single picture I hope to license for commercial use or sell as art. That’s a lot of work. I tested it the other night. Doing all of the complete work burnt me out after working on 10 images. That means that I started making silly mistakes because I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
Pay attention, you say.
The more I tried the worse it got.
So, that means I can probably work on ten pictures per session.
This is gonna take awhile. Trust me.
I still have to build a number of portfolio pages just to get you to a starting point for PicFair. And, I still have to make sure this version of Storyteller actually works. I’m sure there are things that I haven’t even thought about.
I’d like to think that I’ve finally figured this out. But, I just know that I haven’t. There are plenty of little tells, like my picture in the corner. That shouldn’t be there. My logo should be there. Even though I’ve activated Storyteller Part Two I can’t actually see that I’ve done it.
I suppose that we’ll eventually find out.
The fine young folks at WordPress don’t understand the issue. I’m pretty sure that this whole thing is so complicated that they don’t understand the interlocking parts. Based on some of the things they write I’m pretty sure that they don’t.
few of my friends have asked why we are heading to Virginia and farm life. These pictures might speak to that. But, they are a little romantic, a little nostalgic.
New Orleans is truly the city that care forgot.
The truth is that we’ve gotten as violent as I’ve ever known New Orleans to be. There are daily shootings. Reading the Monday morning newspaper reminds me of the score keeping that was done during the Vietnam War.
Six shot, four dead, two wounded. Ten cars hijacked,
A friend of a friend was putting gas in her car at Costco when her car was hijacked. She was dragged a good 20 feet. She is severely injured. There is a Go Fund Me page set up for her. Two women were shot at over 80 times. That’s a lot of bullets. Somehow they were only wounded.
There’s more. A lot more.
There’s the usual BS that we deal with on a daily basis. Broken streets, broken water mains, broken power lines. And, we are still picking up after Hurricane Ida. Sheesh, I’m not sure we were done with Katrina.
I hate to say it, but I’m getting a little old to deal with this crap. I’m looking forward to the peace, quiet and solitude of the farm. For sure it will take some getting used to, but we’ll feel safe.
his image is about fall. Yes, I know fall came to an end a couple of months ago. But, I finally got around to working on this picture. It’s another one of my layering experiments. This one was much easier to do than yesterday mostly because I used the basic template that I built while I made for the image.
I have’t had time to work on the new Storyteller mostly because WordPress keeps telling me to do stuff that I already know how to do. They are being aggressive about it, sending me follow up emails if I haven’t jumped when they told me to. We are going to have a rather spirited discussion about it during business hours.
‘ve been struggling to find topics to write about. I’ve been trying to keep my posts lighthearted but we are living through some of the worst times that I’ve ever seen.
The country is so polarized that I’m pretty sure that we can’t agree about the color of the sky. Now we’ve got the Florida legislature writing a new law that will protect white people from being made upset by things said about them. Talk about snowflakes.
In Virginia the newly elected governor who presented himself as being moderate during his campaign is turning out to be anything but that. He signed two executive orders. One bans teaching Critical Race Theory. The other bans masks in school.
Where do these people come from? A bigger question is what are they afraid of?
People like him keep talking about freedom. What freedom? The freedom to kill me? Or, you? Or, you and you?
few housekeeping matters. Email. I have email. After waiting for the happiness dweebs to respond I finally gave up and figured out how to validate Laskowitzpictures.com.
When they finally did reply, the first person was mostly worried about my non-renewal of my .net domain. They’ve been nagging me about that since I started the process of moving. I’ve told them more than once that I don’t need that address. That’s not good enough. I’ve cancelled that domain. There is a big red reminder posted at the top of my administration page that I continue to ignore.
I wonder what they are going to say when I tell them that I want to move all of you and my pictures to my new web and blog site.
his isn’t exactly what I meant. I’ve been trying to push back the distribution of Storyteller to about 5pm Central Time. I intended to do it by posting about an hour later every week until I reached 5pm. Oh no. I jumped to 3pm in about two days.
A couple of folks asked about creating pictures like this one as opposed to more traditional photography.
Truthfully, I’d rather talk about traditional photography. I know what I’m doing. I have no idea what I’m doing when I create something like this one. It’s rare when I have a clear intent of what I want something like this to be.
Mostly, I just tinker until I find the magical combination. That’s fun, but very hard to teach. I guess I could just say one of the current buzz phrases. “You do you.”
ometimes you can’t sleep. But that was okay because I slept too much the night before.
While I was laying there my past came into view. Both good and bad memories. I intentionally forced the bad ones away. Who wants to try to fall asleep with bad things in mind?
There were a lot of memories that were driven by intuitive decisions. You could say that I got lucky. But, I think luck favors the prepared. It’s sort of what I call photographer’s luck. If you don’t leave the house you won’t get lucky.
For the most part I photograph what I see. I talk about making pictures as opposed to taking them. You could ask me that if I work by discovery how could I possibly make a picture. That’s simple enough. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. Every picture that I made in the past prepares me for the picture I make today.
I don’t make pictures by machine gunning around. I shoot enough to capture the scene. Usually, that means compositional moves. It also means capturing action — when I shoot too much — or waiting for the decisive moment or expression. A lot of that is hand – eye coordination. The more you do it the better you get. It’s practice, practice, practice.
This was really a test. What happens if I turn a white statue blue and add leaves? Now we know. It looks like this. Sort of mysterious. Sort of like the garden of good and evil. This is another picture that took some time to make. I think about twelve years. I started it in New Mexico. I finished it in New Orleans.
That’s the picture.
emember how I mentioned that every big digital company has a different story? Yeah, well I still don’t have email.
Go Daddy did their job. They transferred everything to WordPress. WordPress mapped my site but forgot to say how I link my email to Google. I found that out by looking through about a billion pages of documentation. Google is opaque. Their methodology changes without documentation. They are so walled off that you can never talk to a human being. Ever.
I need to place a Google token somewhere in the foundation of the new Storyteller. But, I don’t know what a token is suppose to be. I think of tokens as of pieces of metal that look like a coin. You used them to get on a subway or bus. Obviously, that ain’t it. I’ll have to figure this out.
Steven Jobs once said of Apple computers that the technology should be running in the background allowing us to focus on doing whatever it is we do. Obviously, the rest of the digital world disagreed. They make their products impossible to work with “under the hood.”
This picture was assembled from bits and pieces of other pictures. I’d say it was layered, but it wasn’t exactly that. Normally, I lay one entire picture over another. This time I laid a portion of a picture over the base and blended until you can’t see the edge. It took some time, but I learned a lot.
That’s almost more important to me these days than repeating myself.
ow to the point of the post.
I’ve managed to work through the process of creating a second Storyteller using my preferred address of Laskowitzpictures.com. Preferred because I’ve used it since the 1990’s. I’ve also moved hosting from Go Daddy to WordPress.
That was in an effort to keep it simple. It wasn’t simple.
That said, I have a few questions. I’d like to focus on certain kinds of pictures. As sort of a test I post pictures to various social media platforms and it seems my best response is to “real” pictures, not the art that I mostly post here. Even here, the highest response that I’ve seen in January was to the black and white picture of the welder. I’m not sure if that was because the technique or the content.
So, what would you like see?
This is really important so please take a couple of minutes and help me out.
A note, the minute that I activate the new blog, this place will be hard to find. It is Laskowitzpictures.org. The new location will be Laskowitzpictures.com.
I’ll let you know when, but it will be sooner rather than later because at this point I cannot access my email.
reckon we could all use a bit of color. It’s Friday. We sort of made it to someplace else. The weekend. I’m not excited about that. Working from home sort of tones that down. But, this is the start of Carnival and that means something even though I can’t photograph it.
But, during parade time I can wander down the street and stand at the far edge of the crowd and see some floats, maybe catch a bead or two. I’ll be targeted because…
I haven’t cut my hair in a long time. My former stylist shop’s employees refuse to wear masks. Do you honestly think that I’m going to sit in a chair with someone breathing down my neck? For that matter, I haven’t brushed or combed it away from warm lights which made it look brownish-blonde. I finally looked at it in daylight. Oh my. It’s very silver. I look my age.
So, I’ll be targeted for beads tossed to me gently because I’m such a broken down old senior. Little do they know. I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If I weren’t afraid of getting sick and dying I’d be in the front of the crowd making pictures.
The president said, among other things like condemning the former president, that we were going to have to get used to living with CoVid-19. Or, is that a warm up for a speech in Atlanta? I forget.
I ought to be a government adviser. I knew that almost from day one. Read about pandemics for five minutes and you knew where this was headed. The Spanish Flu is still around after 100 years. The strain of yearly flu that comes along right about now is a descendant of that.
It took me a while, but I finally figured something out. I say that photography and music are very similar in approach. And, they are.
There is one huge difference. One that matters most.
When a musician plays with another musician they create a musical conversation. They talk to each other through their instruments. Think about the famous guitar duels between, well, any couple of guitar players and you’ll understand.
Stephen Stills (his birthday yesterday) and Neil Young come to mind. Their duels are stuff of legend.
But, they are not duels. They are a musical conversation that has lasted almost 60 years. It’s probably one reason that they remain friends despite all the ups and downs of their various bands. Today, even though neither of them play live much, they seem very happy to see each other when they share a stage.
That, and age.
The things that seemed so very important in their youth don’t seem to matter much now.
Funny how that happens.
Conversation is important. That’s a large part of what fulfills you. Visual artists of any genre don’t have this. We mostly work in solitude. Sometimes with assistants, but mostly alone. Our fulfillment comes from the inside.
here was a time when I thought that I could actually build something here at WordPress. I asked for help transferring Laskowitzpictures.com. They said they couldn’t do it, at least not the way they did in the past.
What they could do, however, sell me another website with laskowitzpictures.com included. For thirteen dollars.
So, now I have two websites.
This might be a good thing. You know. A new year. A new start. Storyteller has been sort of a catchall. If I move in one direction maybe people would find it while they were looking for something else.
On the other hand, if I can’t bring all of you with me then what’s the point? The idea behind most of these blogs is to build a community. I have one. I don’t intend to start again.
inally. It took a few days to find my footing but I knew that it would eventually come. So, as far as I’m concerned this is my first picture of the new year. It’s headed a little more in the direction that I’d like Storyteller to go, for as long as Storyteller exists.
I figured out what bothers me so much about This WordPress – GoDaddy thing. Steve Jobs once since said that computers and computing should be tools. They do the work while we create.
I’ve been messing with changing one simple thing for at least ten days.
What a waste of time.
Apparently, things have changed. There is a governing body call ICANN that controls who can actually touch a website or its code. This is an attempt to control hacking, to control illegal use, and theft.
Let’s face it. That horse has left the barn long ago. Most privacy is a lost cause. So, all they’ve done is made it harder for the rest of us.
WordPress is laughable.
They say in big advertising balloons. Create a business. Earn Money. Change your life. All the while tying our hands. Want to change your extension? Good luck. Want to design a page that suits you? Good luck while we change the block system every chance we get. Want to talk to a human being? There are no human beings.
had a lot to talk about. Apparently, it wasn’t that important because I can’t think of any of it.
Sleep on it, they say.
Seems to have worked.
At any rate, I’m back. But, I’m not sure for how long. I tried to switch my extension to the one I’ve had for 30 years. You know, .com. WordPress says GoDaddy has to do it. GoDaddy says WordPress has to do it. I say that I will not renew anything here until I get some help. Some real help. Not some kid who speaks in a language that is very foreign to me.
Failing that, I’m just going to walk away from WordPress. I made a promise to myself with the turning of the year. I’m not doing anything that doesn’t make me smile. Also, my year long koan is “Keep it simple.”
This is a powerful koan. Two of us selected it independently of each other.
Oh. Somethings around here.
I have a new doctor. My last doctor quit. I think. We made peace. I asked him where he was going. He said that he didn’t know. He didn’t have a contract for anywhere. Seems odd.
My new doctor. A funny thing happened on the way to the pharmacy. If you recall, I mentioned that I bombed myself. A couple of you reached out and told me to be careful.
My new doctor doubled the amount of narcotic I self prescribed.
started working on this picture so long ago that I forgot what picture I was going to use when it came to publishing this page.
I suppose it’s a leftover of lockdown fuzziness. Or maybe I’m just losing my ability to think and remember stuff.
I’d like to remember important things. Maybe photographs and Storyteller aren’t all the important. Or, maybe they are and should be.
Storyteller wasn’t always that important. I realized through the lockdown until the present that it kept me aware of the date (sometimes) but rarely the time.
I think that’s why many musicians played some version of songs from home. On one day they would check requests, figure out a small set list or song, rehearse and play the song on whatever day they picked.
Some did it live. Some didn’t.
That didn’t seem to matter. They needed to play for people. People were craving anything the approximated any live music.
That worked for a time.
Somehow we all came to the same place. We needed freedom. Eventually, some people gained some. Of course, I’m not one of them. That’s gonna change.
I made my career taking risks. Now I don’t. It’s time to weigh risk and reward and do the best that I can. No. I won’t take stupid risks, but I’ve got to get out and about.
I can’t take pictures if I don’t.
eaceful for Friday. I started working on this picture. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I realized that this image would look best in black and white. Better yet, it needed a very light monochromatic color.
I’m not sure how I started working in light yellow tones, but that seemed to be a good option. Besides, I liked what it did to the bare trees.
So, that’s the direction that I started to work. I added some stuff in OnOne, but not much. It was ready when it was done. That’s how it happens sometimes.
ometimes I forget the work I’ve already done. If you recall I wasn’t posting everyday. That didn’t mean I wasn’t making new pictures and working on others.
I was. And, I forgot about it.
I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon a little group of pictures that I had forgotten about.
This is one of them. Well, three of them to be precise. They are layered and combined. I’ll get to that on the right side.
Questions. I have questions.
After reading the testimony of the former Facebook employee and their crash the other day, I’m thinking about giving up on their products. There’s more to that. Facebook is pushing those of us who post our still photography into posting videos.
I’m not a videographer. I’ve made two videos in my lifetime. They are unedited. One is just a bit of Hurricane Ida as she blew through. The visual isn’t much, but the audio is terrifying.
That said, I’m not posting videos anywhere. That’s not what I do.
The reason to stay with Facebook/Instagram is to show my work. I have a place for that. Right here. Oh, for sure, I get likes and hearts and a few comments. Mostly, from my friends.
Originally, many years ago, I thought that it could be a marketing and sales tool. That hasn’t worked out. So, what’s the point?
I can be found here if anybody wants to find me.
What do you guys think?
he work. That’s what matters. Doing it. Practicing it. Do it for long enough and you might get good.
That’s one reason that Storyteller exists. There are a lot of other reasons, but that’s one of them.
As I wrote over there, this is image is layered and created from three photographs.
There was an adjustment phase because not all of them were the same size or shape.
Once that was completed, I adjust for density first, and color second.
I tinkered with them to sort of smooth them out.
Then, I published them right here, on Storyteller. As if you didn’t know that.
By the way, the title is a title of a song by the same name recorded by Roseanne Cash. Sometimes, I steal — er — borrow things.
This is one of our storm ravaged trees. Branches are broken, but new leaves are sprouting up like today was spring and not fall.
I’m not sure in what form the recovery will take, but at least nature is doing her work. All nature really wants is stasis. One way or another, this tree will be dealt with.
Okay. Enough of that.
Let’s talk about technological dependence. Let’s talk about Monday. Let’s talk about Facebook and all it’s secondary companies. They crashed. There was a DNS problem.
Facebook executives lie about everything. Here’s one now. They claimed service was down for five hours. Oh really?
I was looking for a post so I went directly to Facebook at 7:30am. It was down, at least for any new posting. You could still read whatever was posted before the system came down. You couldn’t reply.
I didn’t have service until around 5pm. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s 9 1/2 hours. Of course, that’s in New Orleans where time moves at a different pace. They say that we are 50 years behind. So, there’s that.
The New York Times published a story about what this really means. Facebook claims a membership of 2.6 billion users. Most just use it like many of us do. Mostly we talk amongst ourselves.
However, about half of that total use it to conduct business, to communicate within companies, to sell stuff, to publish newspapers and — in some countries — it is the prime method of communication.
That’s all great. But, in another story, the Times says that Facebook is weaker than we think and that it is already showing cracks.
There are those who talk about regulatory measures. That’s good. It’s a good idea. Let’s take it a few steps further.
What if Facebook is turned into a utility like electric companies and phone companies? What if the entire internet is declared a utility?
I know, I know. That could take the freedom of the internet away.
That’s been done about a decade ago.
There are only three — or four — big players; Amazon, Facebook, Google and some people say Apple.
There’s no privacy. I could post something on Instagram and see ads for something related on Google. That implies there is no freedom.
It seems simple enough to me. It could be done. It won’t be.
his picture needed something a little different. At least, I think it did.
I made it monochrome. It seemed a little bleaker that way.
It still wasn’t done. I tinkered. I added extra bokeh using OnOne.
I messed around with the basic color because I thought I made it too bleak.
So, this is the finished picture.
Let’s jump back to the other side for a minute. I realized I wasn’t done with it yet.
I concluded that any kind of regulation or reclassification of the internet and its most dominant sites wouldn’t happen.
It’s not because of a lack of political will. There may be. Or, not. I don’t know.
The real issue is that the people conducting hearings — mostly the Senate — have no clue what to ask or how to follow up because they don’t understand the digital world at all.
You’d think that after the last two decades of digital growth they’d take some time to get familiar with these things.
They are busy doing something else; obstructing everything, trying to tear down the good things about government and taking money from certain rich players. You know, bribes. There I said it.
The very least they could do is ask their younger staffers to explain the questions they are about to ask on the floor or in committee so they wouldn’t look like idiots.
esterday was a day of nothing. It wasn’t useless. There are no useless days.
Instead, on a day normally reserved for errands, I did nothing. I awoke at about 8:15 am, looked the clock, turned over and the next thing I knew, it was 10:44 am.
After a bit of stretching and exercise, it was noon. Time for breakfast, er, lunch. If this had been another time in my life, lunch would have turned into drunch. It didn’t.
Then, I did something different. Or, not. I took a nap. Now, we’re talkin’.
Actually, what I probably need is some traveling to someplace far and to the north. That ain’t happen’. I can’t travel now and you know why. For a while I accepted it. Now I’m getting angry. If any of you who follow me are anti-vaxxers for any reason, unsubscribe NOW.
In the next few weeks I’m going on an unholy tear against you and your entire dumbass selfish cohort. If you raise your voice to fight me, trust me when I say that I’ll leave you for dead.
I bet none of you saw that coming. I’m tired of being confined to home, staying away from my neighbors when I walk the dogs, ordering our groceries from Shipt and watching people parade around like the pandemic is over. It is not over.
There. I said it.
unset. As you know I’m not really big on photographing a sunset just because it is there.
I’ll photograph a sunset if it is incredible. I’ll turn around and photograph what it illuminates. Or, I’ll photograph it in a situation like this one.
Three out of four isn’t bad.
This sunset surprised me. I couldn’t really see it until I moved around the tree trunk.
What great light. It reflected off some structure and created even more golden light. It turned bright orange as it passed through the foliage.
That’s where it stopped. I turned around. Nothing.
I did two things to the picture in post production. I opened up the tree so it wasn’t a big black thing in the middle of the picture.
friend of mine used to travel from Michigan to Vermont to photograph fall colors. Now he travels from Florida where he retired.
That seems like an awfully long way to chase color.
I’m lazy. I walk out of my door and take pictures of fall color. Or, I could. We lost a lot of trees around here a month or so ago.
That’s not all bad news.
Downed trees mean new views. New views mean new pictures. New pictures mean new smiles.
That’s what happened when I made this photograph. It seems like this amount of color is way too early, but Hurricane Ida seemed to change everything. Or, maybe it’s climate change… no matter what the Republicans say.
I’m won’t get into the politics of that because it really is just politics based on money. Follow the money, they say.
You know where the money goes. I know you know.
And, that’s enough for a pretty, but weird picture.
his is one of those pictures that needed a lot of help.
It needed cropping. It needed color control. And, it needed art.
So, I gave it art.
I gave it Pointillism, which is an art movement that uses a technique in painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. Unless you enlarge the image, you don’t usually see the dots.
This is an extreme application because you can see the dots with just a glance.
That’s your Saturday art semi-lesson. There’s a lot more, but there always is.
his has been a very quiet time for me. I’m not doing much more than I need to do. That’s not me. Nor, is it good for me.
I’ve always been a believer of finishing your daily work and then do one more thing. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. You are making progress.
Where I come from we say, progress not perfection.
That’s good because I’m never perfect. I make mistakes. I’m the typo king. Some of my best pictures are either motion shaky art out of focus.
That’s not a terrible thing. I learn from all of those things. I edit my words tighter. I compensate for cameras shake either with a tripod or I make sure my shutter speed is high.
But, right now none of that is happening. I reckon that the pandemic and the last 18 months have worn me out. It’s worn a lot of people out. Add to that the pressure of really not working much and I’m probably blown out.
My way of dealing with this is not working. Or, working very well. I probably need a long, long vacation. But, I’d worry about what was going on where I wasn’t.
I suspect a lot of us are in this place.
What about you?
ll reflections, that’s what this picture is really about. I’d finished a very short walk when I looked up and saw the window.
I had to move around a bit in order to make this picture as well framed as it is, which is to say, not very well.
If I could have moved back about 15 feet, I could have aligned the final image a lot better.
There goes that perfection thing again.
Nonsense. I did the best I could with what I had.
Once again, I didn’t do much but darken and sharpen the picture. After all, simpler is usually better.
nderneath the heavens above.” That’s a line from a Bob Dylan song. I heard it just as I started writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”
Y’all know that I listen to music while I write, yes? I’m playing a Spotify play list called Summer Rewind. I’m trying to think about what summer this particular list comes from. It is certainly eclectic mix of songs.
I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Philadelphia, who rents a small apartment in The French Quarter. She and her husband are coming down in a few weeks. It’s hard to beat the weather then. But, I was surprised because we’ve been talking about the crime and how it’s become very hard to take pictures.
I’ll see them while they are here. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay in the Quarter. During the day it may be one of the safest places in the city. As night rolls into early morning all bets are off, especially near upper Bourbon Street where it meets Canal Street.
My city. It’s really something these days. I keep trying to talk myself into staying. That’s getting harder every day.
Like everything, it depends.
his picture was easy to make. Just look up and try to put the moon and a subject on the ground to line up in some way.
Then, push the button.
The exposure was pretty close except for the center of the picture where the high mid-tones were too light, and they always will be. It seems to be a quirk of all smart phone cameras.
he caption says it all. Another way. I keep reading what a great camera the iPhone 12 is supposed to be. I had better be because it’s a terrible phone.
I decided to test it.
I made this photograph towards the end of dusk. That means I made a time exposure. I wasn’t sure about the first couple of exposures. A little yellow wheel caught my attention. It turns out that it shows just where in the exposure time the camera is working.
I tested that theory.
If you want a sharp exposure let the wheel finish turning. If you want motion, move the camera slightly during the exposure, say about in the middle of the wheel’s turning.
Maybe this phone will be more than I thought it was, which is to say no fun at all.
I’m not a video maker, but I did test the phone during Hurricane Ida. For the fist 30 seconds or so I didn’t know how to turn on the microphone. For the next 30 seconds you can hear what it sounds like. It’s very scary.
Try it sometime.
he real experiment was in the camera rather than in post production.
The camera over exposed the scene. It’ll do that when it’s trying to capture detail in the deep shadows.
That’s any easy fix.
It happens with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Digital cameras of all types want to open up the shadows.
That’s great if you are making a RAW file. You have control of everything. Not so much using a smart phone.
In all cases you should darken the file in development. Once I did that all those reds and oranges popped out.
There wasn’t much to do after that.
You are looking at the results of what turns out to be a really important experiment.
hat are you going to do for the fall? It took me a minute to realize my friend was asking about autumn, not the fall of the country.
I really don’t know. I know that I won’t be traveling, at least until sometime until mid to late 2022.
I’m hoping that my booster vaccination will give me some kind of freedom. Otherwise, well, I really don’t know. I’ll have to wait until the virus is manageable or I’ll have to balance risk and reward.
I’m really hoping that I can photograph Mardi Gras 2022, if the virus is under control enough so the it really occurs.
I don’t even know about that.
The last Mardi Gras — in 2020 — became a super spreader event. We were attacked in New Orleans for the sickness that spread across the nation.
Of course, nobody knew that the virus was here or that it would spread so quickly. Well, except one person. The always lying 45th President of The United States.
If he did know, that’s one more act that he’ll have to account for when he reaches the pearly gates and is sent south where the devil will reject him because the devil will say, “That buffoon is worse than me.”
I didn’t intend to wander so far afield but he keeps stirring up trouble and losing as he is known to do.
Anyway, I’ll discuss my green fall photograph on the right hand side.
oday is one of the better days since Hurricane Ida ripped so much stuff apart.
The region is putting some of that stuff back together, but it’s a slow process.
I suppose that this little stand of green was exposed because the storm managed to take down two trees that were keeping them in shade.
I saw them sparkling in the cooler fall air and low light and figured that I should do something.
So, I did it while never leaving my chair by the pool.
inally. The big machine starts. I came to realize that I couldn’t type in my password because the magic keyboard couldn’t type anything. I’m not sure if it gave up the ghost or there is a bluetooth setting that is turned off.
After poking around endlessly on various computer repair suggestion pages I found something that kinda made sense.
So, I did it and it worked.
I went to a big box store and bought an old school wired keyboard for all of $10.99. The end has a usb plug so I plugged it in. Viola. It worked.
Now, I can work.
You have no idea how hard it was to work using a phone. I realized my posts were getting shorter and shorter as I became more frustrated using the phone.
Now, I’m back. And, I’m noisy.
made this picture on a walk. This is autumn. It may be all that you need to know about the season.
It’s a beautiful bridge between summer and winter.
It’s my favorite season. The color is wonderful. The light is even better. It’s low. It’s golden. And, it illuminates everything.
I’ll do my best to work a little every day. Yeah, that’ll help my mood.
ometimes just the sky. And, the trees. That’s all I know. Today. I’m having a terrible time with technology. My main machine has a problem with the logo page. I cannot type my password. The system acts like the magic keyboard isn’t working. After trying every known fix nothing helps. There is one last thing. I can use an old school keyboard that over rides the wireless one.
Good luck finding one. I can buy one from Amazon for ten dollars. It’ll take almost two weeks to get here.
Then, there’s the other gear. But, that’s for another day.
e listen to a lot of podcasts around here. This morning I was listening to The New York Times’ The Daily. The reporter was talking to a viral scientist. It was a pretty good interview until the reporter asked the scientist when the pandemic would end.
She declined to predict that, but did say that because of all the issues we already know about including the politicizing of the virus, anti-vaxers, freedom complainers, and the general lack of concern about masking and potential super spreader events, the soonest the virus could be managed but not eradicated is late 2022 or early 2023.
Think about that. We have another potential 18 months of this stupidity before we even come close to managing this.
In my other world we started cancelling the first two legs of a four leg tour. It’s highly likely that the last two legs will be cancelled too.
The supernutjob fans on Facebook couldn’t understand why. They claimed everything but the truth, including that the star has breast cancer. A legal note will put an end to that.
When I asked who among them could meet entrance requirements of either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 Hours.
And, there you have it. They killed a concert tour and their fun.
om Petty said that they waiting is the hardest part. And, so it is. Most of the preparations have been done. I was about to take the trash out when I remembered not to do it. During a hurricane the trash cans get blown around and the trash gets plastered to your house. Or, your neighbors house.
Besides, a trash can launched in a 75 mph wind and becomes an unguided rocket. What goes up always comes down. Maybe through somebody’s roof. It could rip through the roof, blow through the second floor and land on granny sitting in her chair on the first floor.
That would not be good.
In case you are wondering, my humor gets blacker as the big event gets closer. Besides, it’s not yet time to get into my zone. The cold, very clear eyed one that allows me to respond calmly and not in a panicked way. If I started that process now by the time the hurricane arrived I’d fly into the air and try to stop it by myself. It’s a well known fact that I’m not Superman.
Seriously, here’s what I know.
Unless there is a radical change, Hurricane Ida should make landfall upriver from New Orleans, near Baton Rouge, 75 miles away sometime tonight. That may seem like it’s far enough away to not hurt us. That would be wrong. Hurt us it will because we lie within the cone of uncertainty. Landfall can shift anywhere along that cone. Or, the entire cone can move.
Even if it doesn’t, we will get very strong winds, rain and a big storm surge.
Here are the numbers.
Wind gusts. 50-75 mph over the windspeed.
Storm surge. 12 – 15 feet above normal.
Rain. 12 – 15 inches above normal.
The house is armored for storms. That’s how it was built in 1854 when whole parts of town used to get blown away. Once we close the storm shutters we are safe. The biggest fear is loss of power and cellphone service, which also means loss of the internet.
We can deal with loss of power, partially with the hardwired generator and battery system. It only powers the kitchen and not all of that. We also have one of those little in room air conditioners. It’s useless in a big room, but works fine in the kitchen.
That’s all well and good if we have a few power lines down, but Hurricane Katrina knocked down whole power grids. It look weeks for power to be restored. It’ll get awfully old living like a refugee. No disrespect to our Afghan friends.
We cannot do anything about the loss of cellphone and internet service. I recall that after Katrina, we were able to get service after the telco rerouted us through some unaffected region. I don’t know if that’s possible today.
So, this might be it from me for a while.
Have good thought for all of us in Southeastern Louisiana.
nother weird week. It seems like death is following us around no matter what we do.
I suppose that’s the way it is going to be until we manage the virus and people are able to think again.
I have no idea what killed Charlie Watts. But, it may illustrate something that I’ve long said. Touring is not good for man or animal.
I don’t care how you do it, your body pays for it. I don’t care whether you drive from show to show in a van and sleep on somebody’s couch or fly private and stay in a private home.
Funny, how a musician proceeds up the ladder. You start by sleeping on someone’s floor or couch. You proceed to cheap motels, eventually moving up to five star hotels and finally back into a house.
This time, it’s a 12 bedroom house in an exclusive neighborhood that a sponsor donated to you for a couple of nights.
Still, jumping through time zones, working an upside down day, eating food — good or bad — at the wrong times, coming down from the adrenalin rush and never knowing where you are, is not good for the body, mind and soul.
Did Charlie’s job play a part in his death? Or, was it simply a matter of aging? Or, was it a combination of both.
Does it matter? After all, dead is dead.
It matters to me. In 13 years I’ll be 80. That sounds like a long time, but where the hell did the last 67 years go?
It happened like a blink of the eye.
It always does.
his is my third time around on this post. Once again, the paragraphs locked and no edits or additions could be made.
I did learn something. Up at the top of the page there is a blue “Save Draft” line. Press it and it save the page exactly as it is minus the block edits.
No matter what WordPress claims, the block system is not flexible.
See that white space next to this column?
It came about because I wanted to make the picture larger. It’s a picture that I’d hang on my wall so I wanted you to see a larger version.
That went fine until I tried to build a block there. You can’t. You can’t add another column, or a calendar, or a list of previous posts.
All I know is that programmers are programmers. They have no sense of design or art. It’s all math to them.
That’s why there are so many freelance WordPress coders. The code is so complicated that it takes specialty programmers to create anything different.
Hire one of those folks and guess what? The block system is flexible.
nyone who has been around Storyteller for any length of time knows that there I are things I almost never do.
I rarely post twice in one day.
I rarely post another photographer’s work unless we are working on something together.
And, I never post a picture without a credit line.
All of those things happened yesterday day.
But, with the passing of Charlie Watts, and the musical world in tears, I thought it was the right thing to do.
In the words of Eric Clapton, goodnight sweet prince.
think I wrote that when something really big goes south, like the pandemic, it takes a lot of lesser things with it.
August has certainly proven that to me. The number of non-Covid deaths among people I care about in some way has risen to ten in twelve days.
I have no idea what to make of it except to say, “Yeah, I told you so.” But, what’s the point of that? You know it and I know it.
his is one of those pictures in which I try to make something from nothing.
It’s an almost bare tree in winter. The sky is pretty.
I photographed it, took the detail out of the sky.
ather than be snarky with the “I told you so nonsense,” I thought I’d talk about an idea that came to me in a moment of day dreaming.
Many of you know that I don’t drink. I stopped over 28 years ago with a little help from my friends and hundreds of others who I didn’t know. At one point I even employed a psychiatrist to guide me. He discussed the notion of psychic energy.
It’s not what you are thinking. It’s not a spacey predictability idea. It’s not spooky. Instead, it refers to the amount of truly powerful energy we can put into a project. His point is that once you exhaust that you have to take some time to recharge.
I’ve talked about three hours being the length of time that I can photograph something before I start feeling like “I’ve left it all on the field.” That’s my psychic energy being depleted. If I take some time to rest, I can go back to work.
So, here’s my theory.
The New York Times talks about lethargy being introduced to us via the pandemic and accompanying lockdowns and worry.
What if, our (my) psychic energy has been drained and not been restored to a point that we start everyday full and ready to deal with the day’s issues?
What if we never fully recharge?
For me, I know that half the time I am walking around in a daze. When I do manage to work I complete my task and stop. That’s not me. I’m the Energizer Bunny. I go until there’s nothing more to do that day
You know how “you know what you know” sometimes? That’s how I feel right now. That’s great, but the question is what to do to recapture the energy.
I think routine is important. For almost 18 months I haven’t done what I normally do. I work from home in the studio most of the time unless we are traveling. My routine isn’t that of someone who goes to work everyday outside of the home. I’m either blessed or cursed.
Think about what you do before you go to work. Even though you normally don’t think about it, it tells your body and mind that you are leaving for work. And, to get ready.
Right now my psychic energy is at an all time low, if it exists at all. It’s time to restore that. At least, I’ll be a little more focused. But first, the routine.
e do it for the stories we could tell, so says Jimmy Buffett, even when we know do that something could end badly. It’s especially true if you are a young teenager. I was 13 or 14 when I did that story telling thing.
I went to a day camp during summer. One day we were taken to a pretty big and wild park. We could borrow or rent bicycles. So, I borrowed one.
All good so far.
We road to a sort of big peak. The ride was gradual, but if we wanted to continue in the same direction we had to ride down a pretty steep path. The chose would have been walk down or turn back. We should have chosen either of those two options.
We just had to ride. Being the biggest idiot among us, I rode first. About 30 feet into the ride I realized there was no braking and certainly no stopping. I made it about 75% of the way down. I hit a surface tree root. I went airborne, then I went side wise, and finally upside down.
I landed on my face.
I was battered and bruised. After a little clean up by one of the camp counselors I looked better, but not much. I was lucky. I could have broken all sorts of parts. I didn’t.
When I got home my mom was horrified. My dad just laughed. He asked if I would do it again.
Of course, for the rest of the summer I was called skid face.
Kids can be so cruel.
I was their hero. I did something they were afraid to do.
pologies. If something doesn’t make sense on the other side.
That WordPress programming trick of capturing everything in a block and not allowing editing happened not once, but twice.
If you try to edit, the software deletes whole sentences. The only way to recapture any of it is to revert to a saved version.
But, that only brings your work so far.
So you rewrite whatever you lost.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember sentences exactly. I reconstruct them as best I can.
Do that three times and you have no idea what you originally wrote.
Add to that the newest annoyance, placing the cursor at the start of a sentence even though I intentionally placed it in the middle, and I almost gave up today.
WordPress has to stop this. Even though I said I’d stay here because of the community, I’ll leave if this nonsense doesn’t stop.
I’ll ghost. That’s where I’ll go to a blogging platform called Ghost.
ostly, I say that a picture needs a little post production work to turn into something presentable.
Not this time. What I saw is what you get.
Better yet, I decided to take a little walk because I’m mostly trapped inside. I looked up and there it was. The moon poking through a wisp of white clouds and a bright blue sky backing it.
I made five pictures. That was it. I mostly just moved the moon around in the frame.
When things are right, that’s how my best work comes. Things haven’t been right for many weeks. I listened to a TED Talk by Dewitt Jones. He’s a former NGS photographer who now mostly gives talks. He’s polished and funny.
He discussed his way of working photographically which is to look for the good rather than document or find the bad. I kind of chuckled at that, but thought maybe I should do that. Maybe it would help me get out of this funk.
It did. Making this photograph made me feel pretty good. I don’t know how long this will last, but there’s always tomorrow to make another picture.
here is nothing technical to tell you. Just go outside and let a picture find you.
There’s magic in music and there’s magic in photographs. Let the magic come. Let it embrace you.
That’s all need to know.
From a technical point of you, I’ve been trying not to work so hard. I read that there is a new trend afoot.
For years, we’ve been told to capture RAW files. They are like a negative that you can work with in many ways.
Now some photographers are questioning that. They suggest that if you get your exposure down properly you should be able to make .JPEG files that are as good or better than RAW ones.
There is a way to test that easily. Set the capture to both RAW and .Jpeg and see what happens.
ou’ll never believe what I did to this picture. Before I tell you, let me say that for the rest of this week Storyteller will look a little different.
WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”
I thought about it for a little while and decided that rather than complain out of hand I should at least test some of the new stuff. There’s a lot of it.
Immediately, you see the tag cloud. They have existed from the dawn of WordPress, but not in such a flexible manner. If all I can do is make the text red, this will be my last day of using it. I suspect that I might be able to make color changes in the text block.
I’m also adding a publishing calendar and a comments list today. There may be other things, or I’ll just wait until tomorrow.
here is a period in my life when I liked to make very closely focused pictures that are akin to macro photography.
That period started about twenty years ago and continues to this day. Some period, eh?
For me, this work is something like a palette cleanser between other, more gritty subjects.
Of course, I’ve been trapped lately.
Eventually that will change, but nobody knows when or how. When it does I’ll be chasing all over wherever I am, making pictures of anything, of everything.
Because, that’s my magic. My way of contributing. The thing that I know best. These days I feel old, but i’m young. The age thing will go away once I make magic, with light and color.
Then there’s musical magic.
As I write, I’m listening to an album called, “One Night Lonely.” Mary Chapin Carpenter did a live streaming show from Wolf Trap. There was no audience except remotely. It’s her and her guitars. She doesn’t talk, but she plays for two hours.
She’s doing the same thing that she did when I rediscovered her when she was playing songs from home.
Like James Taylor, she’s doing what she did back then, bringing me peace. We could all use a little bit of peace just about now, right?
his picture is about seeing. For sure, the yellow caught my attention. But, the details took some seeing. Or, luck. Photographers luck.
You make that kind of luck by being there. By being present. By focusing. And, by emptying your mind for just a little while.
I have a routine to do that. I’d tell you about it, but you may want do it differently. There is no one way. There is no right way. There is no wrong way.
We’d get bored if we did things the same way as other people.
I see so many derivative pictures on all social media. There is a saying among new photographers, “Fake it until you make it.”
That’s a saying from AA for newly sober people who are struggling to do what sober people do until they understand it.
It applies there. It shouldn’t apply to someone making pictures.
Stop copying. Stop faking. Start experimenting. Start being you.
ometimes, I can tell you everything about making a picture. You know, the how, what, why, when and who of it?
But, not this picture.
I know where it is located in my archives. But, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the take. My big goal during the lockdown was working on my archives. Some got done. Most didn’t.
To tell the truth, I have no idea where this picture belongs. But, I like it. It brings back feelings of traveling and memories of driving all night and finally stopping for breakfast in some little town.
I’m sure many of you have done that too. You walk into a place like this and your body is still all jangly from the wheels on the road. You look at the menu and the type swims before your eyes.
You give up. You order the old standby. 10,000 eggs over easy. A hunnert pieces of bacon. Five pounds of has browned potatoes and toast, or biscuits if you re in the south.
Oh, and coffee. About five gallons of strong black coffee that leaves you with a stomach ache.
You leave the way you came in. Instead of swaggering you roll.
And, on the road you go.
aking this picture was easy. It was sitting there staring at me.
I raised my camera to my eye and snapped away. The counter person asked why I took it. I said that I liked the scene. She walked away shaking her head.
I ate, paid the bill and left.
All of that is great. But, I have no idea where I took the picture. I’m pretty sure it was in the West. That’s all I can tell you.
I’m mostly just wondering what the hell Numi Tea is supposed to be.
The post production is minimal. I darkened it and added contrast and all that color popped out.
Oh yeah. For those of you who just love the block system, he said with an evil gleam in his eye, WordPress sent me an email. They improved it.
little something pretty for a Friday afternoon. I made this picture a while back, sometime in spring. I did the developing and post production and promptly forgot about it.
I found it looking for something else just as I did yesterday. I reckon if I keep doing that I won’t ever have to take a new picture again.
What would be the fun in that?
Besides, I’d just go crazy.
I just have to find safe places to work. There are plenty of stories I’d like to tell around this place that don’t require me to be part of a crowd.
And, that makes me happy.
After thinking about it I realized that I added 2+2 and really did come out with 4. The twos are simple. I can’t be in crowds ever, or at least until the pandemic has been managed. The second two is my realization that it maybe years before that happens.
That’s pretty depressing.
Understanding that helped. So did a little stiffer med. I feel better now. I have one problem with it. I sleep a lot. I suppose it could be worse. A friend of mine started on a new medicine and within about nine months she gained 40 pounds. She’s working on that now.
I suppose that everybody has something.
lower, flower on the wall. Who’s the fairest flower of them all?
I’m pretty partial to this one. It has a lot of names. Around here people call it a Swamp Iris. Oddly, something very close to this grows in the high dry mountains along the northern Pacific Coast.
I wouldn’t have thought that it could survive in such different locations.
But, what do I know? I name flowers by their color as in that’s a red flower, that’s a blue flower…
I managed to lay the flower over grass that has crepe myrtle blossoms and fallen leaves on it.
Judging by the amount of little broken branches on the ground I must have photographed the lawn after a storm.
I tinkered with it and used a filter that approximates frosted glass.
I found this picture while I was looking for something else. That’s sort of the way I make pictures, on the way to some place else.
The funny thing about the picture is that the subject doesn’t exist. Not anymore. It was a designer’s idea as part of the landscaping of a new venue.
The venue is all angles and made of metal. I suppose bamboo made a nice counterpoint, but the it was planted on the hottest side of the building in really dry soil.
I photographed it the day it was planted. Two weeks later the bamboo was dry and starting to die. Two weeks later there were broken stalks and little more.
Eventually the landscapers got around to clearing it and planting something else. Some of it succeeded. Most did not because they planted it too close to the artist driveway. Big touring trucks rolled over it again, again.
o, while I was working on this post I was listening to a new record by Los Lobos called, “Native Sons.”
It’s all covers.
That doesn’t sound great does it?
But, in their hands the songs are better than the originals. Better yet, I can sing along to most of it.
I can’t sing the two Spanish songs which is my fault for listening to my teachers in high school. They said take Latin. It’ll be fun and prepare you for college.
I never once used Latin in college, but I could have spoken Spanish in a lot of places.
y thoughts brought me to a couple of places. As events start to close down I’ve been thinking about anniversaries.
This picture of a flambeaux during Mardi Gras is a great example of that.
It’s just a picture, right?
To me it means a lot. I was suffering during Mardi Gras 2020. I was at the peak of my back pain which was transmitting even more pain to my right knee. I walked up Jefferson Street to my usual pre-parade stop, CC’s.
The flambeaux were lining up. I stuck my camera through the line and made this picture.
I gave up. Thee pain was too much. I limped back to my car with a couple of stops along the way.
This picture is important. It was my last serious photograph before the pandemic forced the lockdown.
For sure, I’ve been making little pictures on dog walks and my own walks. But, I haven’t made a serious picture since February, 2020.
My doctor thought I was depressed. Well, gee…
have a theory. When something goes south, just about everything else goes to hell.
I knew it a long time ago. I know it now.
This week is four days old.
We lost Jazzfest. We lost the red dress run. We lost Action Jackson. We lost Rosy Guste.
All of that happened during our fourth CoVid-19 surge. The national infections are now just about 130,000 infections a day. Our hospitals are jammed. The two big hospitals in Baton Rouge are filled. They literally cannot take more patients.
Louisiana and the rest of the country are headed south. All manner of smaller bad things are starting to happen. What’s next?
ou just never know. That’s what Action Jackson said to me when we first met.
He was right. Maybe more than he knew.
When you photograph second lines every Sunday to get to know many people.
Photographers cluster together and chat. We get to know each other. We are happy to see each other.
One photographer was Roy Guste. I knew him as a photographer. Once, when his car was broken down I gave him a ride.
There was more to him.
He studied cooking at Cordon Bleu. He was the proprietor of one of our famous old restaurants as his dad was before him. He wrote ten books about our food, traditions and cooking.
He was very well known to the food culture of New Orleans.
I never knew. I wonder how many of the photographers on the line knew.
Roy Guste died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.
any years ago, I used to publish an experimental picture every Sunday. I haven’t done it for a long while. I’d like to say that I’m going to resume, but I’ll probably forget.
Throughout the news sites that I read there have been discussions about CoVid-19 (Over 106,000 daily new infections.), The Olympics, national and global fires, climate change and water.
Since I live in the land of too much water, I thought that I’d focus on that, not so much from a documentary standpoint, but from an artistic standpoint.
This picture is about water. And, leaves. And, branches.
It took some doing to combine these natural elements because they are three separate pictures. We’ll get to that in a minute.
To my mind, all of the news with the exception of The Olympics are nature being nature. Even sports in Japan could fall into the nature category because anyone who competed outside felt the Japanese heat.
I’ve written this in the past, but to me it seems like nature, always seeking stasis, has finally had enough. Ma Nature has decided we — the human race — is the problem and she’s going to do something about us.
Or, we can mend our way. Right this minute. Now.
ayers. That’s my trick. As I wrote on the other side, there are three layers here.
Water, leaves and branches. Each of them was photographed at different times.
I started with the water and dropped the leaves into that. I held that back and worked on the branches, which ultimately becomes the base of the entire image.
There was the usual fine tuning and adding the faux bokeh.
I was finished.
I want to discuss one other topic. A friend of mine wrote blog about light. He said that the “overused painting with light” was really not in the discussion.
I wonder why he did that. Photography is literally the Greek words for “Painting with light.” Or, really, “Drawing with light.”
That’s the very first thing you learn in a photo class at any level.
‘ve made a change. You’ll figure it out. It comes under the heading of who was I really hurting?
In these pandemic days when many people aren’t able to travel, it’s possible to get a European fix right here in New Orleans. After all, we are a French, Spanish and American place. Much of the Quarter was rebuilt after a massive fire and is really Spanish-influenced even though we call it the French Quarter,
But, this place. It looks and feels like it belongs in Paris. It was an old run down apartment building. If you’ve walked on Royal Street, you’ve probably seen it. It is catty corner from Rouses, the only real grocery store in the Quarter.
if you noticed I used the word, “was.”
No worries. It was run down. Now it’s restored. It still exists. Thankfully.
It’s very hard to demo any building in the Quarter. They are all historical. When a building comes down it usually fell down on its own accord. Sometimes, it’s not really on its own. Sometimes, the owner didn’t take very good care of it and it rotted from the inside out.
Anyway, I’ve always liked this building. If there is any kind of pretty light, I usually head over there to make a few pictures, meaning that I’ve got a pretty good archive of this building. Besides, if it’s a hot and humid day, the grocery store is a great place to buy water at normal prices.
And, speaking of normal, nothing is normal in New Orleans as much as we try to pretend it is. We lead the nation in new CoVid-19 infections. Florida is a close second. The rate of infection upriver and in Baton Rouge is so bad that Our lady of The Lake — a major hospital — has no beds for anybody. All of their vents are in use. They were forced to hire traveling nurses to augment their staff.
The entire state is under a governor’s mandate to wear masks inside and outside, if it’s necessary. Many clubs want a proof of vaccination or tests results no older than 72 hours and you still have to wear a mask.
It’s bad and getting worse.
If you are a tourist and you love our city please don’t come.
et’s talk about this photograph.
The first thing you should know is that I cropped it out of a horizontal picture because I wanted more detail than a horizontal picture could show on this page.
I followed the crop with what I consider to be normal improvements. I darkened it a little, added some color to it, and sharpened it.
I went a little crazy. I added glow and softness. I made the picture moody, maybe even spooky.
Finally, I had to repair what normally is a radius issue, meaning that little rim of light you see around subjects, sometimes. This time it was thick and only in one place. It looked like somebody tried to erase the sky. Normally, it is repaired by lowering the radius or “structure.”
Not this time.
I had to fiddle and tinker and fiddle some more. Finally, I found a solution hiding in a vibrance feature. Make the top more colorful and the problem vanished.
reams came to me last night or early this morning. They were about this place. Sorta. In my dream everything was dusty, sort of a tannish brown. It was hard to breath without a mask. People were getting sick in the dusty atmosphere.
It doesn’t a weatherman to know which way this wind blows. We are all worrying about Delta-X. In Louisiana a lot of the hospitals are already full. So too, in many other states. There is some concern about my working in September. I’d like to.
I’m pretty sure that many other people are thinking this way as well. We are getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Eventually, something bad will happen, be it a huge surge or a lot of violence. We do not need either.
We need vaccinations. We need masks. We need people still keeping their distance.
I’m not sure we will defeat Covid 19 anytime soon, but we certainly can manage it if people wouldn’t stay stuck on stupid.
short technical lesson. This picture was made from an original that had earth tones as its core. I decided to make it magenta – pink – purple because I wanted to make it a happier picture than the one in my head.
I think it succeeds on that level.
It’s mysterious without being moody. It evokes emotions without being frightening. And, it is fairly pleasant to look at.
The basic working technique was to remove most of the tan color and replace it with something purplish and let the rest fall where it may. Doing that even created a little blue. Add some fine-tuning and the job was done.
he next day. We needed coffee. Good coffee. It turned out that a coffee house was less than two short blocks from our hotel.
Even better were the people who worked there. The were friendly and energetic. One of them took us to this place, an empty club.
Apparently, it was fully functioning until a movie production company used it to make a James Brown biopic. When they tore the set down, they gutted the building.
Those are the kinds of stories that you won’t hear if you just pass through a town, keeping to yourself. I suppose you could look around and never say a word to anybody, but what would be the fun in that?
This little bar or club or cafe is now being rebuilt back, good as it ever was.
One of these days we’ll pass through Natchez again and see it for ourselves. But, not this year.
here is some post production technique to discuss.
As you know, I’m about feeling more than seeing.
The picture was easy to make, especially if I didn’t want to show you the guitar player beyond what I did.
The club felt smokey, with a little bit of mist drifting in and out. I could see people standing around listening to the band, drinking beer and hanging out.
But, the club was empty. There wasn’t a finished wall in sight.
So, I softened everything. I made the scene glow a little bit.
his is the kind of place that we saw on our drive to Natchez. That’s Mississippi, in case you were unclear on it.
Stopping at little places like this were one of the reasons the drive too so long. This place was closed. The drive would have taken longer if it had been open because the owner would talk to me and I would start a longer conversation.
If you want to take pictures in unfamiliar places that’s how you do it. Talk. Talk. Talk. Let them know that you aren’t a threat in any way.
Make your picture, thank them and move on.
Do that 15 or 20 times on a trip and it adds up to real time. On the other hand, it’s worth it. Meeting new people is always worth it. And, you may learn something about the place you are photographing.
It may not be historically accurate, but who cares? We do it for the stories we can tell. And, for this blog. Well, I do anyway.
And, then there was lunch.
We read about a legendary cafe tucked away between Highway 61 and the river. We knew the crossroad, but that’s all. It took some poking around and looking because the cafe was located in the middle of a trailer park.
That’s also the joy of this kind of travel. Even though the hangries were approaching, we had fun finding the place and eating. The food was really good. Sort of southern home style cooking.
Imagine that. Southern home cooking in the South. What’ll they think of next?
ince there is no technique to making a photograph like this one, other than what I wrote about talking to people, I thought that I would talk about yesterday.
I went to an appointment with a new oncologist. There was nothing wrong with the old one. I liked him a lot. But, he retired.
I kind of grilled him about the efficacy of my vaccinations as oppose to what my CLL did to them.
He looked very carefully at my blood work and saw something encouraging. My hemoglobin numbers look almost normal.
So, in the next week we are going to run a detailed panel just looking at that. If it is as we hope, there is a chance that I don’t have to stay locked down, or at least I don’t have to be quite so strict because if the hemoglobin is near normal then the vaccine will work to a point.
ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.
Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.
The anti-vaxxers are causing this.
Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.
Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.
It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.
Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.
This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.
Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.
What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.
That’s just how angry I am.
hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.
That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.
We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.
We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.
You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.
This is a drive through shooting.
You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.
It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.
ometimes I turn weird. I know what you are thinking. Whaddya mean sometimes? No, no, no. This picture is an example of turning weird.
The image started out as pretty little flower picture then I got ahold of it. It turned into something out of one of my fever dreams. You may be asking why the hell I would do that.
It’s a simple answer.
Because I could.
That’s as good as reason as any these days. We are all split into about a million little tribes. None of them like each other. Even worse they aren’t willing to compromise except in the last couple of weeks when a lot of of reasonably good legislature was passed.
It can be done.
For sure it’s not perfect. There are a lot of compromises. But, that’s the nature of working together whether it’s congress, your class, your tribe, your family, or your dog. Your dog? Think about it. If she doesn’t want to do something you beg, threaten and finally offer a treat. If that isn’t compromise I don’t know what is.
We have to get back to that. We don’t have to win everything in order to be successful. We’d be better off if we worked together and both sides got a little of what they want. They say that if you are negotiating in a meeting, come to a decision and everybody walks out angry, negotiations were successful.
I don’t know about that, but it’s time to stop hating everybody who doesn’t agree with us on the slightest thing.
his whole post might just be a rant. I know what you are thinking. “Oh no” I’ll try to be funny even though I’m not feeling that way.
You know I don’t have much time these days. Time is my most precious commodity. Not just now, even in the best of times. But, especially right now.
I started working on this picture by finishing the it on On1. It fought me every step of the way. It shut down. Then colors wouldn’t stay accurate to what I was trying to use. Finally, The color and type size of that little piece of type on the bottom right. It would not remain at my settings. The color actually reverted back to the one I used two pictures earlier. The type size moved up and back no matter how I set it.
Those were just my problems with editing software.
Then I opened WordPress. Arrggghhh.
It wouldn’t open. It wouldn’t open to the new post setting. I rebooted WordPress. That seemed to help.
And, here I am, almost two hours later.
Now comes a comment from a friend who says he hasn’t been seeing my Storyteller posts on Facebook, and did I shut off Facebook? Short answer, no, I didn’t. I have no idea what happened since the link looks like it works.
How’s your day been?
New Orleans can be just downright spooky even at the best of times. This is an archive picture that I re-discovered for my Picfair project. I accidentally darkened it a little too much and thought, “Wow.” So I decided to work on it a little more. And, I eventually came up with the picture that you are looking at.
I tend to photograph on the colorful side of things. Sometimes the image is true to the colors I see in real life. Sometimes the it is true to the colors I see in my head. This picture is closer to the latter.
Even though we are currently living through a heated, humid summer, the photograph was made in the winter. I think that cold weather’s light is blue. I think that snow should always have a very light blue tint.
So, I made this picture blue.
I photographed it through the windshield and let the water build up. I do that to show the heaviness of the rain. That’s just a trick. A technique.
read a blog that was interesting and wrong. The author thought that it was her new lens that cured her mental photo block. New gear never helps. Sure, it might excite you for a short time, but then you get mired in the mud again. But, she also wrote that she was out in nature when she was using her new lens.
Nature. That’s what broke her out of her photographic malaise. Not the new gear.
Consider this. I made the picture at the top of the page using an old iPhone 6. It worked just fine. That’s the technical side of it. Learning to see is the other side of the story. I used to say that you see with your eyes, heart and soul. And, so you do. But, it starts in the chest. You feel it before you see it.
That’s what I think. What do you think?
Since only one of you comments consistently, I’ll be forced to tell you what you think.
he end of the day was spectacular so I actually made some new photographs. I don’t usually make a lot of cloud pictures but what could I do? The were moving in all sorts of patterns and shapes.
I selected the one I liked best and did minimal work, but I decided to make a vertical crop right into the heart of it.
Then I started tinkering. I decided to do an overlay with the same picture except that I added some pastel color. I lined it up, made a few slight color corrections and I was done after thinking that this newest work looked like a watercolor painting.
I’m not the biggest fan of digital paintings but I can’t paint so this is the next best thing. Before you say that maybe I should take lessons or classes. I did and I have. I just can’t paint. Maybe I should do the ten thousand repetitions thing. These are paintings we are talking about. That many of them would take me into my 90s.
So, I’ll make digital paintings.
But, the photograph has to be just right. The scene has to be just right. And, I have to see just right. That’s rare for the three to come together like they did for this picture. You know, magic and luck. This probably won’t happen again for months. So, don’t expect a big collection of these. I’m hoping for three by the end of 2022.
ugust. This is when strong people turn weird. Myself included. After all, this the month of big hurricanes. First came Katrina. On August 29, 2005. Then came Ida. On August 29, 2021. If that doesn’t spook you, nothing will.
Katrina was the more destructive of the two, although Ida did her mean spirited thing. Katerina proved that the levees weren’t constructed as well as we thought. They broke in 67 places, but the big breaks flooded 80% of the city. It wiped out The Lower Ninth Ward. It wiped out a big swath of Gentilly and it destroyed Lakeview.
My neighborhood flooded with six feet of water. I left on August 28th and didn’t return until sometime in November. I evacuated to Lake Charles were I planed on staying for a few months. Along came Hurricane Rita to change my mind.
I evacuated again to Mountain Home, Arkansas. I found a motel that the Red Cross paid for based on my drivers license address. I met some very nice people at a local coffee house. I traded an extra set of Photoshop software for coffee forever. No worries. I won the software in a contest, but I already owned it. It turned out that they looked after my dog when I took a trip.
A trip? I was on a trip. My whole life was a trip at that point.
I emailed my editor at Lonely Planet Publications and asked if there were any possible assignments that they could offer me. When I told him why, he immediately said that he’d find something. He knew that I had to get away, but that I could probably use some cash. I agreed to the contract which was more than fair. They did a bank to bank transfer the advance to my bank account, which was quicker than any other way at the time. It still is, I think.
I booked a plane ticket, booked a hotel and I left.
I went to Beijing. China.
I had two weeks to photograph the city. Normally that would be plenty of time. But, Beijing is huge. The population is 21.54 million people. It shows. Luckily there is great mass transportation. Subways, buses, a good taxi system. But, with that many people roaming around the city it takes time to go anywhere.
My hotel was great except something happened to me about two days into the trip. My back seized up. I could barely walk. That was no good so I went to a dispensary. Most drugs are sold over the counter. I didn’t even have to talk to the pharmacist. He saw me limping in, held his finger up, went into the backroom and returned with Diclofenac Salts. I didn’t know what they were so I Googled them and found that they were a good treatment for inflammation.
The medicine worked to a point, but my mattress was a little too soft so I took all the bedding off of the mattress and made a nest on the floor. The first night that I laid down, “Ah, sweet relief.” I explained what I was doing to the floor manager who spoke English. She was fine with it, but her shift changed and the new chambermaid remade my bed. No matter. I unmade it again.
Anyway, once the meds started to work and I could sleep comfortably I was working within a day or so. Looking back, I’m sure that was the beginning of my current back issues which haven’t been issues for the last two years.
The picture you are looking and wondering about was the first one I made when I could resume working. I was walking out of the elevator when I saw the lobby caretaker keeping the floor clean and shiny. This is not one of those scenes that needed a tilt, but it was all I could do to grab a camera and point it at anything. I think it worked better than if I had stopped and composed it. It’s very odd that I managed to stop her motion while everything else is moving around.
loating. Sometimes it seems like that’s best path to take, rather than fight my way through whatever is impeding my progress. At least I do that in my photographic work. As you may already know, I have a fairly strict routine that I use to prepare myself to make pictures. It has evolved a little since I’ve retired from the streets of New Orleans.
Now, I learn as much as I can about my subject… without looking at pictures because I don’t want to prejudice my thinking about the subject. As I further prepare, I find a quiet place where I can sort of meditate on something, anything but photography. I am tying to clear my brain of any information at all. I want to see and react with no thought at all.
Very Zennish, isn’t it?
It’s not my intent to put my process in a box, by calling it Zen. But, that’s what it is. Kinda.
That’s what happened when I made this picture. Kinda.
It was Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta time. That means early October. I hadn’t planned on making pictures of the dawn liftoff on this particular day, but I was looking out the windows slurping my morning coffee when I saw balloons headed my way. Uh oh, I thought. The box broke.
The Albuquerque box is a wind pattern that flow west to east, hits the Sandia Mountains, flows along their base, hits an extended bit of mountain and turns west again. When it breaks, the eastbound airflow never reaches the mountain range and breaks apart. Balloons go everywhere instead of staying near the balloon field.
The chase was on.
Some balloons land in neighborhood streets. Some land on roofs of buildings. Some blow south. And, some fliers are able to adjust and fly over more open fields. That’s what this group did. They came right to me. Of course there was no time to get out of my car, plant my feet on the ground and shoot.
I worked through my windshield. What a filter that proved to be. It caused the sun to explode. It created light blobs that are sort of bokeh, but real. It also created a lot of noise that couldn’t be controlled. You can see it near the sun. Oh well.
Funny, about that Zen thing. It kept me focused on my target. I was able to see everywhere at once, allowing me not to crash into other drivers or run over bike riders and runners. You can’t see everywhere at once normally, but I could, if only for a short time. But, that’s all I needed.
Because I was going to the balloon field that dusk, I developed my images well before I normally would. You know that I believe in marinating my work for as long as reasonably possible. I wanted to know how I did in the morning because that could influence how I worked in the evening.
I was amazed at what I was looking at. I made a number of pretty good pictures. I didn’t remember shooting them. It’s that Zen thing.
The past week has been terrible for people of a certain age. We lost Nichelle Nichols, Bill Russell, Vin Scully and Mo Ostin. All people who helped to form me in my youth.
You probably know the first three especially if you like science fiction and sports.
Nichelle Nichols played Nytoa Uhuru in Star Trek. She was about the future, hope and possibilities. just as the show was, and is. My then wife once pointed out that of the seven main characters, three were women. The show was first broadcast in 1964.
Bill Russell was a basketball player, but oh, what an athlete. He changed basketball. He fought for human rights. He might well have been one of the greatest athletes ever. That puts him in a group that includes Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali.
Vin Scully was the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster in my youth. He knew the game and he knew how to leave space between the notes, letting the game and crowd noises take over whenever a great event took place. A lot of people have been playing their favorite broadcasts. Everyone of them took me right back to being eight or nine years old when I listened to him on my transistor radio.
Finally, Mo Ostin. I know, who? Mo was a music man. He was appointed to the position of president of Reprise Records by the man who started the label, some guy called Frank Sinatra. Mo changed popular music by taking chances in the late 1960s through the 1990s when he left Warner/Reprise. He signed musicians like Van Morrison, Arlo Guthrie. Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and Prince. He offered contracts for five records so that the musicians he signed could grow in their own time.
Reflect? I asked you to reflect.
I lost a lot of touchstones of my youth in one week. Of course, it’s happened in the past and it will happen in the future. But, not quite like this. This reminds me that time is short, very short. Don’t waste it. At my age, I try to do what pleases me without causing distress to those around me.
h, the picture. I was watching the espresso stream into the cup from the machine and I thought “I oughta take a picture.”
So I did.
I made it dreamy and a little moody in post production.
I used to travel to Thailand on holiday after working in Hong Kong, sometimes day and night. I liked being there. But, sometimes I could only take a few days so I went to Bangkok, which is a massive city. Some of it is very modern while other parts look like they should have been torn down years ago.
The people are friendly, the food is incredible — especially the street food, which is among my favorite ways to eat — the cost of living is very low, and transportation is as modern as anywhere in the world.
Let’s get back to street food. Before you ask how can it possibly be healthy and safe to eat? It is. It’s cooked fresh in front of you. Fire cleans just about everything. Besides, where can buy five bbq shrimp for less than a United States dollar?
Aside from food, most everything is inexpensive. A good hotel might cost around U.S $40 or $50 a night. You can pay a lot less, and a lot more if you must stay in a big name western hotel.
Transportation is amazing. You can take a taxi or a tuk tuk, but the best way to travel is to take the BTS, which is an overhead subway. One of the tricks to picking a hotel is to find one within short walking distance to a BTS stop. If you do, the city is open to you.
Of course, there are all the sporty things you might have read about, but you don’t have to partake. I do like to walk through the bar streets and make pictures. Some westerners tell you that you can’t take pictures because you might be assaulted. Nonsense. Big smiles and a few Baht help a lot. If someone doesn’t want to be in your picture, don’t take it. Smile and walk away. Or, “Y” them, which is a prayer motion with fingers pointed straight up. They’ll “Y” you back and walk away.
You understand each other.
Unless you are looking for it, it’s very hard to get in trouble.
ne of my favorite streets is what I call Buddha Street. It’s a place where every sort of Buddha is made, plated in gold and sold to whoever wants one. Yes, real gold. I once photographed the entire process of making a standing, golden Buddha. That’s where I found these Buddha heads all lined up in a row.
But, wait, you think. I thought you said you went to Thailand on holiday. Holidays are different for everyone. After working on a large printing press in a huge factory for days and nights on end, making pictures while walking around in an interesting city is a holiday.
Thailand is a great place to visit. I’ve been there 4 or 5 times. My wife is connected to the art world so we went there for seeing and participating in that area. We traveled to places around Thailand.
Art museums art galleries festivals taking photographs.
Thailand is a great place to visit. I’ve been there 4 or 5 times. My wife is connected to the art world so we went there for seeing and participating in that area. We traveled to places around Thailand.
Art museums art galleries festivals taking photographs.
With no imagination it could be a doorway to the building. With just a little imagination it could be a doorway to the unique. With more imagination it could be the doorway to the universe. You pick. I like that latter.
I saw a picture posted on some social media. It was taken in Albuquerque. I knew the place. There was a traffic sign. It said, “Universe closed. Use Rainbow.”
That’s all I needed to know.
They call New Mexico “The Land of Enchantment.” Who knew it was that enchanted?
Hong Kongers practice many religions. Some are Christian. Some are Muslim. Many practice a combination of Family Worship, Taoism and Buddhism. It’s likely the owner of this building practices the latter. That’s just a guess because there was nobody around anywhere.
It was just an example of me taking my life in my hands and wandering down some alleyway, which is another kind of religion. It’s called Stupidism. I’ve practiced it for years.
Seriously, in my Hong Kong era there was no need to worry. There was very little crime and no civilian owned guns. There was only smallish neighborhood where gangs hung out. A neighborhood where there were little yellow neon signs written Cantonese characters that translated loosely to, “One bird, one cage.” You can figure that out I’m sure. Treat everybody in that neighborhood with respect and you won’t get your head or hands cut off. With a machete.
Yes, I’ve been there. Hang on.
I like to explore everywhere. As Neil Young once said, “Whenever I get too close the middle of the road I head straight to the gutter where things are more interesting.” Yes. I went. In the daytime. I may practice Stupidism, but I’m not that religious.
didn’t do much to the picture in post production. I made it on film. The exposure had to be accurate or you didn’t have much to work with. The only work I did after the fact was to darken the image up a little to bring out color without cranking up the saturation.