Day Three. Halloween.


Skeletons on St. Charles Avenue.

Skeletons on St. Charles Avenue.

This picture has everything. Skeletons. St. Charles Avenue. Streetcars. Blue Light. Speeding Traffic. A wrought iron fence.

It isn’t particularly scary. But, it does give you a sense of place. If you know anything about New Orleans, you know where you are.  If you’ve been with me for very long you know about this place. It’s a go-to location for every major holiday. Even if I’m struggling to make seasonal pictures, I know I can make them here.

The owners of this house are very cool. They decorate it to the ends of the earth for every holiday. They make subtle changes, usually that address some news “worthy” topic. This year, it seems that Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty were turned into skeletons. For my foreign friends, that’s a reference to a television show that became — as all things do these days — a topic for our over politicized extremists. Luckily for you, that’s about as about as political as I get. Luckily for me, too.

The picture. F 5.6 and be there. Hand held. Let whatever motion creeps into the picture be part of the picture.

 

Day Two. Halloween.


Mermaids, or something.

Mermaids, or something.

Day two.

Halloween.

I found this lovely lady on Royal Street. In the Quarter. I knew she would be there. Or something like her. This place is always dressed for the holidays. Christmas. Mardi Gras. Halloween. It’s a funny thing about New Orleans people. We may not have a big house. A fancy car. A lot of money. But, some of us have a whole room dedicated to storing this kind of stuff. I think these folks might have some money given the location of this place. But, it could be an ancient family owned house as well. This one looks to be in good condition. Many family owned properties aren’t.

Another one, a few blocks from this one on Royal Street collapsed this week. That’s right. It just fell down. Turns out that if you don’t care for an old place, they fall down. Bricks are usually good for 200 years. The mortar between them is good for 150 years. There are work-arounds if you maintain the property. The owners didn’t. So, a landmark structure — one of the first three-story buildings in the city, built in 1801 — just fell down into the street. Luckily, nobody was inside at the time. It’s been pretty much closed. Just as luckily, it happened during a time of low foot traffic. Royal street is normally a busy place.

Apparently, there is a couple of rented one of the apartments that collapsed to use when they were in New Orleans. Remember, I said “Pretty much closed.” They live in Baton Rouge. They were quoted as saying, “We don’t know what we’ll do. Our whole life was in there.” Huh? You live in Baton Rouge. Oh, wait a minute. A law suit must be coming.

Semi-rant time. Some guy is interested in what else I might “capture” for the rest of the “Seven Days of Halloween.” Sorry. I’m a photographer. I’m an old guy. I remember when photography meant taking a picture. Making a picture. Even — OMG — taking a snapshot. I don’t capture anything. I’ll leave that to some guy on a safari who is hoping to make his life interesting. I just take pictures.

One more thing. No such holiday storage room in our house. Remember, we aren’t from here. I don’t mask. I don’t wear a costume. We don’t decorate the exterior of the house for any holiday with the exception of a wreath. Of course, the indoor Christmas tree is 18 feet tall. Take that.

Seven Days. Plus One. Halloween.


Skeletons and Beds.

Skeletons and Beds.

Here we go. One of the biggest holidays in New Orleans.

Halloween.

It happens in just eight days. Seven days plus one.

How could it not be a big deal? In a place that celebrates every weird thing, Halloween is a very important holiday in the city. So for the next week, I’ll show you a little bit of our handiwork. Skulls. Bones. Skeletons. Witches. Voodoo Queens. Devils. Ghosts. Goblins. Pumpkins.

Scary stuff. Cool stuff. Fun stuff.

I hope you enjoy it.

Out on the Road. Take 63,781. Or, Something Like That.


Avondale ship building cranes.

Avondale ship building cranes.

Well, well, well…

Remember when I got sort of turned around and went the wrong way? You’ll also remember that I wasn’t lost. I just got turned around. Guys, dudes, men, even boys never get lost. We always know where we are. Of course we do. We are generally on the planet. We think. Beyond that…

At least I found my way to my original destination by taking the longest possible route to it. I just followed the river. And, the road. The river is shaped like a crescent. That’s why one of New Orleans’ nicknames is “The Crescent City.” Following the river is not traveling the shortest distance between two points. But, it’s interesting.

It wasn’t so bad. I was able to make these pictures. I really wasn’t expecting this. This is the classic example of pictures finding me. Yes. They are made from the diver’s seat. I was trying to get somewhere on time. Remember? The driver’s seat did provide a nice hook for these three pictures. The yellow line. The broken yellow line. And, me drifting across the yellow line, hoping not to get killed while I took the picture.

The thing about New Orleans that many people don’t realize is that we and the surrounding parishes are really industrial-based. Or, at least we were. Today, our biggest industry is tourism. So… Y’all come on down, ya hear. We need your cash.

Seriously, when work runs out, the economy of the surrounding cities dries up. Those big cranes? They are located at a ship building site in a little town called Avondale. The company last built two very modern United States Navy ships, moved the rest of their operations to their other site in Mississippi and closed this one. There were rumors that this site was going to be sold to a Korean shipbuilder. Rumors. It’s been well over a year. So far nothing has happened. Despite the fact that Avondale is really only 15 minutes from the heart of New Orleans, it’s a different world. Need a house? I can find you a nice fairly modern 3 or 4 bedroom house in good shape for about US $30,000 or less. Meanwhile, in New Orleans that same house might cost US $300,000 or more.

One more thing about those two ships. Both of them broke down on their shakedown cruises to San Diego. Big internal motor parts failed. One ship broke in the Panama Canal. Apparently, Panamanians don’t like that. They both had to be towed to San Diego. Maybe people from Louisiana aren’t good at building boats. I don’t know. Just saying’.

The pictures. All made around dusk. All made from the driver’s seat. Very little help in post production except to add a little dusky glow.  I really like the crane picture. From this angle it looks like some old Martian invasion movie. Maybe, they all came from Planet Claire. Let’s just see if anybody catches that line.

Oil processing in Westwego.

Oil processing in Westwego.

Just Passing Through.

Just passing through.

A Little More


Second line silhouette.

Second line silhouette.

Sort of a quiet Tuesday. There is a lot of work to do today. I probably should just get on with it. Keeping up on various social media sites takes a lot of time. Probably too much time for the return.

The pictures were made at the Black Men of Labor second line. The top image is sort of an experiment in framing. I’ve been playing with this a lot. The main subject — the sharpest man — is pushed way to the right, leaving the background out of focus, but containing a lot of information. This picture might be caught in the middle. The focus might really should have been on the man’s sleeve where there is a stylized musical note.

There was one really odd thing about this parade, aside from being walked on a Saturday. There was a very fast loss of general energy. Normally, these guys are dancing and bopping around from stop to stop. They started with a little dance, but within maybe 100 yards of the starting point the parade sort of slowed down and the energy drifted away. Or… maybe it was my energy. Could have been. I feed off of the paraders.

Celebration in the streets.

Celebration in the streets.

Coming at me.

Coming at me.

What I Saw


Glowing  Buildings.

Glowing Buildings.

On the way to some place else.

Again.

I was pretty much racing around last weekend. So much to photograph. So much to do.

Oddly, a lot of it didn’t get done. It wasn’t my fault. It’s a New Orleans thing. People didn’t show up. Events get canceled. Plans fall through. That’s all a part of life. But, here in NOLA it’s magnified. It think it started on weighing on me in not such good ways. The last line of this post is very telling.

As I was passing through the CBD — Central Business District — the sun lighted a building that was directly ahead of me. It was glowing at me. What else could I do? I did my “shoot through the windshield” thing. Funny thing, I like big city urban pictures. I just don’t make them enough. Oh. That’s a whole other thought.

The other subjects that I photographed? You’ll see a couple. I couldn’t get my head in the game last weekend. Most of the pictures are pretty marginal to me. Oh well. That happens.

My Kind of Portrait


My version of a portrait, made at a second line.

My version of a portrait, made at a second line.

Sometimes I’m asked to make a portrait. Hopefully, the asker knows what I do. And, what I don’t do. While I reasonably comfortable working in a studio and can light just about anything, that’s not what I do. There are guys who are really good at it. Some can turn a white background and the subject into art simply by their own creative lighting. That’s not me. I make what used to be called environmental portraits. I try to tell the viewer something about the subject’s life by including a lot of background information. I also don’t believe that the subject has to be looking into the lens to make a good portrait.

So…

I know a lot of the various social aid and pleasure club members simply by being on the streets. I might not know all their names, but I know their faces. If nothing else, we nod and smile at each other. If there is more time we introduce ourselves and shake hands. I know this guy… a little. He asked if I could take his picture. I did. I gave him a business card. When he contacts me, I’ll give him a picture. I don’t make portraits for a living. It’s not part of my revenue stream. Giving him a picture helps to make my street red a little better. It helps to make a new friend. Most of the guys who photograph second lines on a regular basis do the same thing. By the way, we are forming our own social & pleasure club. The Backsteppers. That’s what we do. Isn’t it?

This parade is a big one. It is organized by The Black Men of Labor. Every sort of job is represented. There are lawyers. Doctors. Construction workers. Chefs. Police officers. It is also a Saturday parade. Very rare. In fact, for now, the only one. They moved it out of respect for the two other clubs and krews who are walking today, on Sunday. They still hold their Sunday place on the schedule. That’s the thing about New Orleans. We work things out. Maybe better than other cities.

This picture. He’s staring over my shoulder almost like he’s not trying to pose. But, he is. He’s holding his symbolic fan across his chest. That’s some fan, yes? The background is what makes the picture. Take a look at it. It’s chaos. A jumble of happy people. It’s information about the man.

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