The Time Before


The beginning.

Starting somewhere.

It came to me last night.

I’ve known all along that the pandemic was going to change a lot of things forever.

Small businesses will close. Shopping centers too. Restaurants operate on a razor thin margin. Many will close. New ones may replace them. They will be created for the new world before they open.

Airlines and airports will have to rethink what they are doing today. In fact, we won’t be able to travel like we used to do. In my other world, the concert business won’t be back until October 2021, if then.

Schools? That’s a topic for a big argument. K – 12 schooling is in flux as we speak. Small, private colleges probably won’t survive. Big universities will survive, but nobody knows what they will look like.

Universities are already cutting sports. Stanford ended 12 fall sports forever. The Big Ten with schools like Michigan State and Ohio State are not playing football this year. Nor, are the Ivy League schools.

And, so it goes.

I’ve been saying that we have the opportunity for positive change.

We have to be smart about it. We have to talk to each other even if our philosophies are opposing each other.

We can’t run around willy nilly.

In New Orleans, some people took down statues of people who helped many people. They destroyed two statues of John McDonogh. He was a businessman and slave owner. After his death his will specified that schools be built to serve everybody. He funded freed slaves if they wanted to go to Liberia.

Redemption. That’s a big word. Apparently in our cancel culture, nobody is allowed to atone for their mistakes.

Except for one person.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He spoke out against the action of kneeling on a football sideline. He said the American flag comes first. Within hours he walked that back and apologized after he spoke with many of his Black teammates. He apologized again. Then, his wife apologized.

All is apparently good. My friends don’t trust him. They say the apologies came to fast. That they didn’t feel right.

I don’t know.

These are the thoughts that have been running around in my head.

I’m pretty good at logistics and making things right. I know one thing about every issue I’ve raised. Well, two things.

We are going to have to work very hard at whatever we do. I think that we need the wisdom that comes with age not to correct, but to consult.

And, money.

This is going to cost a lot of money. Money that only the federal government can provide. Money that comes from good leadership, not some babbling nabob of negativity.

The picture

It’s about time that I talk about that, yes? It’s a layered picture, made to show the richness of a summer forest floor. In posting it, I have finally found my direction. At least for this hour.

I’m following a lot of artists on Instagram. There a couple whose work excites me. They also understand that they have to earn a living. I’ve talked with them via private messaging. I’m trying to pick their brain about modern marketing and seo.

For the record, I think maybe 85% of the photography on Instagram is derivative. One photographer makes a kinda cool picture and 1,000 more follow him. Sorta like masks. Everybody is making and advertising masks. Derivative. That’s why I follow artists. Their work is mostly original.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy all the M&Ms.

It Takes You There


clouds-05
Around dusk.

Dusk.

Purple skies for which to be grateful. The picture doesn’t exactly look like clouds, but trust me, they are. I was out walking, I wasn’t doing too much talking, when I looked up and saw this. Whew. Nature outdid herself, I thought.

I went on a fool’s mission of trying not to be out done by nature. I headed right into a ditch. The ditch of post production. When I got to a place where I thought that I had gone far enough, I kept going. This image is the result.

So.

It happened. 2020 Jazzfest was cancelled today. The Jazz and Heritage Foundation is working on the normal timing of April – May 2021. Good luck with that. It’s pretty much¬† agreed upon by the big promoters, little promoters and artist management, that the music touring season won’t start until October 2021.

Of course, I went to Facebook read the fine local folks’ comments about the music festival. Even though the J&HF posted a letter that discussed refunds, the first question was, “Where can I get a refund?”

Then came the people blaming the mayor even though all she did was recommend closing big venues until next year. Some guy wrote, “Well, she can’t cancel the Saints playing in the Superdome.” No, she can’t. But, the governor can.¬† They seem to working hand in glove. And, the mayor of Los Angeles says that he is going to close mass events until 2021, potentially meaning that three NFL teams have no home fields.

Get over it people. 2020 is pretty much a wash. I hate to retreat so early in the year. But, I want a fighting chance next year. I’ll be happy if some of the non-essential workers can get back to it. I’d be happy to actually sit down and eat insde of a restaurant. Or, go shopping without gearing up. Or, not yelling at my neighbor in order to talk to him.

Oh yeah. It’s a general election year. What about that?

Stay safe. Care for others. Help the elderly. When you go grocery shopping ask your neighbors if they need anything. Keep your distance. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Enjoy all the popcorn when you watch Netflix.

fb_img_1584157504658

 

Never Had It So Good


Someone had fun.

Not my normal location. Wandering from my normal scenes lead me to find these shoes. I have no idea why they were left behind. But, they are neatly aligned as if someone was returning to get them. I don’t know what the soles look like, but it could be that she was slipping and sliding. It could be her feet and shoes got soaked, so she left them to dry in the rainy weather.

It could be the she is a he.

This is a good example of photographer’s luck. If I hadn’t started running errands, I wouldn’t have seen these shoes. Many people don’t believe in luck, but I do. At least in small doses like this.

The second interesting subject in the picture is the moss. After three days of intermittent rain, it is flourishing everywhere. I’ve never seen it in a parking lot, but during 2020 anything can happen. Most of it bad.

However, as we come to the end of what was a very brutal year, maybe it’s time to look forward, to look at the little things that may actually be just a bit good.

I’ll tell you what a really good thing is for me. The background noise has been tamped way down. The current President of The United States is not in my head as he has been for the last five years. Yes, five years. He got into our heads from the moment he rolled down the golden escalator.

His steady drumbeat was brutal. Now I have to seek him out. Don’t get me wrong, he will make plenty of noise between now and January 20, but it’s irrelevant.

Not only is that a small thing, but it feels really good.

Shoes. To me, in my doddering old age, they look like nighttime shoes. Shoes that you’d wear to a night of dancing. But, what do I know? Today they could be worns on the street with jeans or shorts

Anyway.

I found them without the help of the all seeing dog. I was running errands. She was home sleeping or annoying the other dogs.

I did it again. I saw it. I framed it. I pushed the button. The day was overcast so I didn’t have to deal with harsh light, shadowss and contrast.

Development and post production was minimal.

That was it.

Shoes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.

Dog of the Hour


Sophie Rose.

She just had to look at the lens. So, I made her portrait. I made three frames and off she headed.

As I wrote yesterday, WordPress made me a deal I couldn’t ignore. So here I am. I would have still been here until December 18, even if I hadn’t taken the deal.

The funny thing about that is WordPress is treating me like a new customer. They are teaching me how to use the site and block. As I commented on a friend’s blog, “Block sucks.”

There, I said it as clearly as I can.

It does allow me to create this page almost everyday. Trying to do something else is like an exercise in terror.

I see this as change for change sake. I agree that the only constant is change. But, sometimes you go with what works for most people. And, it certainly doesn’t work the way it is intended.

On your phone.

I can’t see what I’m doing. It was hard enough in the past, but with block it is near impossible.

Let’s change something else.

Dog of the hour. Sophie Rose. As I said on the left hand column, she decided to see what I was doing. She stuck her nose in the lens.

That’s my girl. Cocker Spaniels are, by nature, inquisitive. She leads her pack.

I’m working in black and white for a little while just to figure out if I can still see in black and white. Once that test is done I’m back to color.

Could be today. Could be next week. Could be next months.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy your life.

Catch The Wind


It was a dark and cloudy day.

Everything changes. I had some lessons in that today. I wasn’t going to renew my premium membership with WordPress. It’s digital dump day, or whatever today is called. You know the equivalent of Black Friday. For electronic stuff.

I ended my premium plan yesterday. I received an email from WordPress today. 40% off for the next two days. I’m nothing if if not opportunistic. So, I renewed.

Don’t judge me.

While I have some complaints, especially with the Block System, I like it here. I have a community here.

I’ll still rebuild and redesign my website. That’s still the plan and the project. But, now I have a little more time. Like a year. That’s good because along with being opportunistic I’m lazy.

There is another important change too. You remember how I said that the all seeing dog was showing her age?

Wrong.

I noticed that when she stretched her jaw after waking up she would yelp in pain. I couldn’t find the problem until I put her leash on her. I happened to touch the back of her jaw. A little yelp.

Uh oh.

Another jaw infection. I called her vet and he prescribe the same antibiotics that he did when she lost a few teeth.

A week later and I let her out about 7am. The weather has turned cold here in the swamp. Luckily I had the presence of mind to dress properly even though I thought we’d be back inside in a few minutes.

Wrong again.

We went on the longest walk we’ve been on in the past few weeks.

Yippeeeeeeee.

Clouds. Both sides now. Joni is 77 and Judy is almost 80. My musical heroes may not be with us much longer. We’d better enjoy them while we can.

These are the first clouds of what turned out to be a three day storm and a cold front.

I made the file in color. I started messing with it and thought it looked better in black and white.

For sure, it brought out some things I didn’t see when I made the picture.

You can see the storm front as it moves. And, if I’m not mistaken, I can see a water spout. I didn’t hear any reports of a tornado, so maybe it broke apart.

No telling what a little post production will do.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every snow flake.

Directions


All the black and white.

As the calendar turns I thought I would start on something that I haven’t done in a long time. Black and white photography for you. Not only that, but it’s new work, not archival as I’ve done in the past.

My time may be winding down here. It seems that WordPress wants Storyteller to be all or nothing. I may be misunderstanding, but if I don’t choose to do a paid subscription Storyteller might cease to exist on December 18.

If that’s how they want it, fine. It’s not my first choice. But, one of my best traits is that I am able to walk away from any deal if it is not in my best interest.

We’ll see how it goes.

There is a concerning factor in leaving. I was going to take a number of you with me, the ones with whom I talk. I did a little accounting and there is a large number of you who like my work, are very new to Storyteller and never converse. I’d prefer not to not lose you.

If you don’t talk I can’t see your email. No worries. I won’t use it for marketing, but my website and other blog space doesn’t have WordPress’ ability to communicate instantly. So, I have to turn to something like Constant Contact. For that I need your email.

So, please if you want to continue seeing my pictures and laughing at my ramblings, just say hello.

Please.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Follow directions. Forget turkey leftovers, enjoy every pizza.

Black and white work isn’t easy for me. Although I started my career in black and white, I’ve long moved to seeing in color.

Using most cameras, you must work in color unless you prefer to work in .jpeg or buy a $7,000 Leica body.

I work in RAW capture so that my original file is made in color. I have no choice. I convert it from there in post production.

There is plenty of editing software that does the job nicely. I happen to use OnOne, but I could name at least five others.

One more thing about seeing in color v BW is that some folks say BW is true a photograph because you see the subject clearer than you do in color.

Ha! Ever wait for days to get the right color light at the right time of day?

A New Man


Threes of light rain.

I’m only sleeping. So said John Lennon. He may have been speaking for me. I went to bed last night. I got up once at about 7am to make sure the dogs went out to do their thing. I did my morning stretches. Looked at the bed and decided to read the news.

It’s almost 3pm as I write. I awoke about 45 minutes ago.

I feel great.

As they say, I must have needed it.

As they also say, self care is important. I suppose sleeping the day away falls into the category. I’m glad that I wasn’t disturbed.

I think laughingly that I’ll be up all night. But, I don’t think so. The stress of these last nine months takes its toll even if you think you are okay.

How about y’all? Are you okay?

Green. I told you that I was going through a green phase. A spell of rebirth. I’ll start something new tomorrow.

You know what I do. I see something that interests me and I make a picture.

We’ve been having rain for the past three days so most things are wet. There are droplets everywhere. I happened to like the ones in the picture.

I’m trying to return to the basics a little. No over the top processing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Listen to instructions. Enjoy every leftover.

On and On it Goes


Life.

Green. I like green. It’s a symbol of life. For plants it’s a symbol of health. We talk about the greens of summer. For folks in the north where the first snow has already fallen, they envy us down here right about now.

Of course our summers are like the second coming of hell. A hot, humid, wet, sweaty hell.

Right now the weather is great. Highs in the low 70s. Lows around 60. I’m told at the start of next week, we’ll be looking at lows in the 30s. Only for a few days.

Because we had next to nothing to do yesterday but eat, watch movies and eat, we are feeling pretty refreshed.

At least for a day or two.

I am headed into a period of green pictures. For a guy who couldn’t see in order to make pictures, I sure did okay on one very long dog walk.

Unfortunately, rain clouds were hovering so the light was a little flat.

I did what I could.

A quick little pop in post production brought me to here.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Don’t travel needlessly. Enjoy all the turkey, cranberry, mash potatoes and gravy sandwiches.

Gratitude


All night.

Happy Thanksgiving. May y’all be blessed with the riches of the day whether you are lucky enough to be with family or happen to be alone.

During this weird pandemic year of 2020, some celebrations must be put aside so that we can celebrate in the future.

The word today on the socials is #gratitude. It’s a great word.

Think about what is good in your life. Simple things are often the best. For me, The words to an old Traveling Wilburys song popped into my head. “I’m just happy to be alive…” That line was sang by the late Tom Petty.

That was true for me in the late 1980s and early 1990s as it is today.

There are plenty of other things to be grateful for, but that is the most basic need.

And, you? What are you grateful for?

Don’t ask me. I have no idea why when I add certain borders to a picture it goes crazy.

This started out as a simple night photograph. Then, blammo.

There is no technique that I can tell you about. There is no trick to this. I just added a border.

I’ve been looking for a little magic. I guess I got some.

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Stay home. Enjoy all the cranberry sauce.

On An Autumn Night


No choice.

There was no choice. If I was going to continue to photograph trees I had to do something different. So I went out at night. More about technique in the right hand column.

Let’s talk about the Coronavirus. We who live in Louisiana are in a hot spot. Luckily, New Orleans is will under the minimal acceptable percentage of Infected people v total population.

That number is 0.05%. We are at 0.015% That’s the good news. The bad news is that infections per capita are rising in NOLA.

The governor closed a lot of service businesses, or at least returned to the old phase two numbers. If we are forced to do this in New Orleans it may just about kill the city.

We are a city of small businesses. When I first arrived here, there were mom and pop grocery stores seemingly on every other corner. That’s changed. I’m not sure how many are left. Very few, I think.

New Orleans always recovers. For the most part we came back from the damage caused by Hurricane. I say for the most part because the poorest areas of town, like the Lower 9th Ward are still in shambles.

We’ve come back from other hurricanes, fires that burned most of The French Quarter when it was the city.

We’ve come back from other pandemics.

But, this one could hurt us. I wonder how the new gentrifiers are going to react. They don’t have the stubbornness and creativity of people who are from here, or have been here for a long while.

When the pandemic is finally managed to a point where we can live with it will they say the hell with it and just leave?

I have no idea.

I wouldn’t leave. Where are you going to go? While it’s true that we are seriously talking about leaving it has nothing to do with fleeing.

It may just be time.

Night time is the right time, so the song goes. I’ve made a big part of my career by working at night.

I’m in a photographic draught. My normal routines and techniques for breaking that don’t work.

A friend of mine said in an email that we are in a general malaise because of the virus, the politics of the country and maybe even fear of climate change.

I’m fairly sure that normally he is a Republican and is certainly more conservative than I. Even he is happy with the presidential change.

That may help free me.

But, I have to do something. So I took a short walk in the early evening.

I made this picture of a tree at night. It is illuminated by a streetlight.

It wasn’t hard to do. I sat on a park bench and hand held the phone. I’ve been getting away with that for years.

So. Nighttime in New Orleans.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every bit of turkey.

I Feel Lucky


Autumn air.

I started tinkering last night. I made this artwork. It was accidental, like so many things in life.

Even the title of today’s Storyteller is an accident. I asked Alexa to make a playlist of Mary Chapin Carpenter songs. I think she liked doing that. When I asked, her response was “Hmmm.”

“I Feel Lucky” was playing when I wrote the title. Accidental.

That’s a thing that I know about. Accidents. Happy or other wise. They happen the minute you put your well thought out plan into action.

As retired boxer Mike Tyson says, “Your plan changes the minute that you get punched in the face.”

The same thing happens in photography especially if you work with people. The minute that you show up with a camera everything changes. You don’t even have to point it at anyone. They just know that you are there.

That leads to another question. Can any picture really be spontaneous?

Sure.

That’s why NGS photographers have 16 week assignments. It’s why I suggest photographing your world when you start out. The people in your life will ignore you, mostly because they always do.

No. I’m not being snarky,

They are used to you. That’s why I try to stay around for a long time. I hope people will get used to me.

But, they never do.

It’s the camera.

Sometimes working with a phone is a better idea. First, they produce pretty technically good pictures. Second, everybody is taking pictures of everything. Nobody notices.

That’s the goal.

About this MCC thing. Somehow I managed to miss 30 years of her music. When I first saw her play her songs from home. I was enchanted by the peaceful feeling that she brought to me, just like listening to James Taylor does.

I watched some more and thought where have I been all your life?

I know now what happened. I relocated to Hong Kong in 1993. Until Virgin records came along, we were lucky to find western music, especially country.

So, now I’m a little obsessed. I just wish that Alexa would have made a playlist that had some of her new music on it.

It’s always something.

Trees. I like trees. They are symbolic of a lot of things. One of my favorites, rebirth, is among them.

As I said, I was tinkering last night. Even though you can barely see it, this image is made from two layered pictures.

I worked to create the color palette that I though suit the picture.

That took some doing. Balancing the lights and darks was a project in itself.

For those of you who are wondering, I started Snapseed and finished in OnOne. I have other editing software, but why confuse myself?

Stay safe. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.