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On a Sunday


Peaceful and easy..

” If my words did glow with the glow of sunshine. And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung, Would you hear my voice come through the music? Would you hold it near as it were your own? It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken, Perhaps they’re better left unsung. I don’t know, don’t really care. Let there be songs to fill the air.

Ripple in still water.

When there is no pebble tossed, Nor wind to blow. Reach out your hand if your cup be empty, If your cup is full may it be again, Let it be known there is a fountain, That was not made by the hands of men. There is a road, no simple highway, Between the dawn and the dark of night, And if you go no one may follow, That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water.

When there is no pebble tossed. Nor wind to blow. You, who choose to lead, must follow. But if you fall you fall alone. If you should stand then who’s to guide you? If I knew the way I would take you home.”

— Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter/The Grateful Dead © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

This is a wonderful, peaceful song. A lot of musical acts either close their show with it, or use it as an encore song. I like a version from “Playing For Change.” If you’ve never listened to “Playing for Change,” you should. Their project has been going on for years. They record and master videos using musicians from around the world, some famous, some only known in their region and some unknown. They use technology that you and I can purchase off the shelf. Only, they know what they are doing with it. Heh.

Ripple is a great Sunday song. I hope my photograph can live up to it. Enjoy your day, or night, or Monday.

Oh yeah. WordPress and me. I’d love to post a YouTube link so you could listen, but as you know, I’m not very good at that. Even though I think I’m linking correctly, I keep getting other songs when I test the link. Oh well. If you are interested, just go to YouTube and search for Ripple. One of the first to come up is the version that I referenced.

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Rose Tears


Roses are red…

The rain, the park and other things.

Another experiment. With something that’s almost macro, in the very loosest sense. That’s a whole other story.

I was making pictures of some rose petals. I sort of missed the focus on them. Instead, I focused on the rain drops. If I didn’t tell you that, you might not know. Since I teach a lot on Storyteller, I reckon that you better know what my original intent was.

Once I did the basic edit, I started tinkering. And, playing. And, messing around. The usual things. That’s the only way to learn. As I’ve often written, if you don’t like the direction you can change it. Or, just go back to the original with the caveat that the image you made in camera is not what your eye saw. It’s impossible. Your eye is connected to your brain which is the world’s most powerful computer. Your camera’s software can’t come close.

For some reason as bright as the original file was, I wanted the finished image to be muted. I did make some very bright images as well. But, this is the place for me. Almost pastel.

Enjoy.

When Storms Pass


After a big storm.

Summer storms.

It’s hot, hot, hot.

Everywhere.

Not just in New Orleans. Not just in the United States. All over Europe. All over Asia. Say what you will, but the climate is changing. I don’t remember this kind of hot weather, even in summer. Not like this.

I asked, a while back, where to go for some cool weather. Good luck with that. I read that even Greenland is having a heat wave.

I read a group on Facebook called, “Ain’t Der No Mo’.” Someone was complaining that in the old days the weather people would just call a rain storm, falling rain. Now, they call them what they are. Storms.

My Facebook page was littered with pictures of broken trees. Broken limbs. In some states tornadoes touched down. Cars were twisted, bent and stacked on top of one another. A tourist boat was sunk in Branson, Missouri. At least 11 people died.

Yeah. These are storms. Not some gentle falling rain.

In the Southeast, we are used to this stuff. Supposedly. It is, after all, the tropical storm season. The hurricane season. Hot air finds large bodies of hot water and away you go. A small storm gets refueled making it bigger. More dangerous. Then it reaches land.

I also know what’s coming this weekend. Major heat. With heat indices from 105 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and a tropical storm should cross the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall on Sunday. The storm track looks like New Orleans will get a lot of rain and wind.

There is some beauty to this. For about an hour after a storm, the air is drier. Clearer. Brighter. But what falls down must rise up. Pretty soon the hot air is wet again with even more of  humidity. Unless you get lucky and feel a breeze. For about ten seconds.

The other post storm beauty is the clouds and the quality of the light. That’s what drew me to this picture. True. I’m back into a heavy tinkering phase. This picture doesn’t need it. It’s fine like it is.

This is it.

Post storm, no heavy processing.

What do you think?

Sometimes I go too far. I know that. I think that I am producing some kind of hybrid art, when really the photograph is strong enough to stand on its own.

Working


Working on the road.

Something a little different. For me. More along the lines of what I actually do for money.

But, this time it was luck. I went to visit with a friend, parked the car, let the dog walk over me to jump out, looked up and saw this scene.

Wowie Zowie.

I made a lot of frames of the action. I worked it in the way that I normally would if there was cash on the barrelhead. Funny thing. Once I slipped into that mode, time flew, I was focused (no pun intended), and I could see. Really see.

Then. As quickly as I slipped into that mode, I was done. I slipped out of the mode. When I returned to the studio, I didn’t look at the pictures until I finally couldn’t stand not looking at them.

I found “the picture.” I worked on it. I worked on a couple of versions of it. The way that I usually do. Until I was finished. That’s what you are seeing here.

All the external noise? I stopped listening to it yesterday.

Except for baseball, which really matters to me. The teams are on a short break following the All Star game. But, their management is working. Trading players. Healing players. Getting ready for he second half of the season when the good teams are making a playoff run. And, the bad teams are wondering just what the hell happened? They’ll be trading and hoping for a better year in 2019.

Why baseball?

I was raised in it. I went to baseball games when I was in my mom’s womb. Because the season is so long — March until maybe November — it feels a lot like life itself. There are successes and failures. Ups and downs. Good luck and bad. There is no time limit like most sports with quarters and halves during the game.

Think about it. If you’ve stopped listening to the news, how are you filling your time? Reading books? Watching daytime television? Watching movies or videos on Netflix or Amazon Prime? Actively listening to music? Listen to podcasts?

There are a lot of options. Just like in life.

Golden Leaf


Leaf art.

Day two. Art harder. Art more.

If you read or listen to the news, you’ll understand this. Would I, or wouldn’t I try to make art from something simple?

Heheheheheheheheh.

I made this picture a week or so ago. It is a simple golden leaf that fell onto a wrought iron table. There was some low morning light so snap, snap, snap. I let it marinate until I figured out something to do with it beyond its own simplicity.

Simple would have been just fine. But, you know me. Tinker. Tinker. Tinker. The first couple times were pretty much failures. You learn from failure. The last time I worked on the image – viola (Or, walla as some red state people would spell it). I got it. I went one for three. Probably a good enough batting average for last night’s Major League Baseball’s All Star Game.

Sorry about that “walla” comment. I’m supposed to be turning over a new leaf. No more snark. See what I did there? “Turning over a new leaf” combined with a picture of a leaf.

Heh.

 

If Only


Art harder.

Art harder.

That’s about all I could do. Especially, since art is what I do.

I’m pretty sure that I know what you are expecting. An attack on the orange haired fool who lives in The White House. The one who committed treason according to its very definition, live from Helsinki.

Nope.

All the words that could be written, were written. All the things that could be said, were said. All I could ever add is to tell you that my heart is broken. Many things that I’ve done in the past don’t matter now.

I did what I always do. I worked.

I made this picture a few days ago. It’s a Mardi Gras wreath hung on a neighbor’s door. Seeing one at this time of year is like seeing a Christmas tree in a window in May. You know. It’s like, “WTH?” So I made the picture. I had to.

Then, I tinkered. I played. I experimented. I let my mind stay open and focused. Let is the key word. It was real easy to close down yesterday. Time passed by without me knowing it. It didn’t stand still. It moved forward.

Eventually, this picture emerged.

I didn’t stop there. I reworked it in a couple of different ways. The one you see is the one  I liked best.

It helped. It calmed me down. The work became the prayer. Never the less, I’m still stunned. Like the rest of the world.

Street Photography


Real street photography.

Now, this is street photography.

A picture of the street.

Nah. That’s not what the photographic world means.  In actual fact, the photo world doesn’t know what it means. It’s a catchall for just about every kind of unplanned work. A friend of mine thinks that you just stick your camera out there and push the button while trying to remain anonymous. What happened to the decisive moment? Or, photographer and subject interaction? Then, I guy I follow on WordPress started posting art museum pictures that he took secretly, saying this was a street photography technique.

I can tell you that some of the greatest working photographers do not work secretly.  They work in fairly close with ether a 28mm, 35mm or 50mm lens. You can’t miss them. One thinks when he is working with a 50mm lens that he is using a telephoto.  It’s funny. But, real.

Caution. Rant coming. Sorry too. This is normally a family blog.

Cut the bullshit. Stop the gutless, scared approach to photography. Stop taking pictures from across the street with a telephoto lens. Stop traveling to foreign countries to stick your camera in some surprised person’s face who won’t say no. Because they don’t speak English.

Engage your subject a little, even if all you do is hold your camera out and point to them. And, make sure they can see your work. I once made a picture in Thailand of a farmer way in the back country. He spoke little or no English. After, I was done and was thanking him, he looked at me and asked, “Digital?” So, I showed him what I did. I left him smiling. And, if you can, give your subject a print. Even if you have to mail it to them 8,000 miles away.

See that line about leaving them smiling? Do that.

Some photographers will say that’s not street photography without being to define what street photography really is about. I’m not buying that.

That’s it. Rant over.

The picture. It really is of the street. It’s funny what you can see if you live in the moment. Just a little. I made it with an iPhone. I promised myself that I would stop doing it. This picture shows why. Technically it’s terrible. It looks great on the phone’s screen. But, anywhere else…

 

Working


Almost like fire.

The question remains.

How?

The answer is always the same.

Study. Practice. Study. Practice. Study. Practice.

That’s how you learn and improve no matter what it is that you do.  That’s how you get good, or even great, at anything.

Here’s a story. When I was a young man, I was a semi-gamer. I wasn’t playing computer games at the level that real gamers do, but that’s how I spent my down time. Photoshop was a new tool back then. I decided that it was the tool of the future.  I gave up gaming and filled my down time studying and practicing post production. Not only did I learn what has become essential software for photographers, designers and other visual creatives, but I learned what I didn’t want to do. It brought clarity to the way that I work.

Study. Practice. Study. Practice. Study. Practice.

The picture. Well now. I was out on a walk. I passed by a pick up truck. There were leaves in the bed of the truck. I saw them. I didn’t think twice. I photographed them. I processed them to get to this picture.

That’s another thing.

You can learn to see in the same way.

Study. Practice. Study. Practice. Study. Practice.

Mostly Red


Almost like fire.

On a late afternoon walk.

I saw the backlight on this group of leaves and I couldn’t resist. Could you?

Yes. It took some work in post production to help it be the picture that I saw in my mind’s eye. But, it was straight, normal work. I darkened the over all image, added contrast and leaf detail. That was it. Nothing that couldn’t be done in an old school wet darkroom.

I suppose this brings me to seeing a scene and understanding it for what it could be. I suppose that it’s a kind of expanded thinking.

There are a couple of blogs that I read whenever they are posted. These bloggers travel to some great locations. I want to write in the comments section, why don’t you just stop and hang out for a bit and wait until the light is low and magical?

It seems that they have deadlines to keep. On their vacation.

I understand the sometimes need to get from point A to point B, but if you claim photography as your passion don’t you think you could let the light in a special place drive you?

Sometimes. Once in a while.

The people with whom I travel like my way of traveling a lot. They get to see more. They get to stop more. They get to explore. They get to eat and drink while they are standing on solid ground. And, because we’ve already built that time into the very loose general plan, the trip becomes a journey. Sometimes an adventurous one.

As my mom used to say about different kinds of food, “Try it, you might like it.”

Deep and Dark


What you can see… sometimes.

Take your time. Live in the moment. Be present.

All ways of saying the same thing. Or, about the same thing.

For the past few days I’ve been busy. Very busy. But, I’ve taken an old Chinese proverb to heart. “Walk slower, go farther.” I’ve gotten more done in the past few days than I do during some weeks. I’ve had to slow down time. Time shift, as it were. I’ve also gotten ride of the notion of multi-tasking. I always make mistakes when I try to do that. I bet you do too.

That’s how I came upon this picture. Dogarito was taking her time in the shade. She’s smart. The longer we spent in the shade , then the cooler we would be during our walks. She’s even managed to cut the length of our walks down by at least 30%. That’s less exercise, but she isn’t coming home half dead and very thirsty.

Dogs are the perfect example. No. They don’t think cognitively. But, the know stuff.  They live in the moment. They are always present. Even in the bathroom while you are showering. Heh!

The picture. While were taking our time I looked down to see this little scene. By little, I mean teeny tiny. I wouldn’t have seen it if we were marching our way through our morning walk. It’s like a little secret garden. A secret garden that is all of about ten inches long. The photograph is bigger than the real live scene. The rest was easy. Press the button. Do the post production.