Cold winter rain.
Once upon a time.
I used to travel between Northern California and the Reno area pretty frequently. It began even years before that when I lived in Southern California. It was about a nine-hour trip for Long Beach. Or, about a five-hour trip from the Bay Area. I had family there. Old family friends that I looked at as an Uncle and an Aunt. Eventually, my parents moved there. To retire.
In those days I liked to explore wherever I went. So I got to know the region fairly well. Because I’m also a creature of habit, I used to visit the same places. Mostly to see what’s changed. I watched Virginia City grow from an almost ghost town to a place where people lived and worked. I still like to explore wherever I go. That hasn’t changed. Much.
I haven’t been there for many years. It’s coming up to a decade. I broke a promise by not returning sooner. A promise to myself. I told myself I’d come back at least every five years. But, sometimes life gets in the way. Or, something like that. Or, maybe it’s just an excuse. I keep telling myself, that driving from New Orleans to Reno would be a great road trip. A long one, but I could be really photographically productive. And, then…
Besides, my real destination is Fernley, Nevada. About 15 miles east of Reno on Interstate 80. That place has really changed. It’s sort of a boom town now. Amazon stuck one of their western distribution centers out there. They created all sorts of employment at many levels.
That’s not why I would go. The National Cemetery for the region is there. For veterans of all wars. It’s high desert. It’s somewhat bleak. It suits me. My parents are buried there. They were part of the Greatest Generation. My dad served in the Pacific Theater. He was part of the occupation forces based in Tokyo.
The picture. I’m getting a little repetitive. You know. Film. Print. Scan. Tinker. Post. Check out the details. Look at the gas price. 67 9/10 cents per gallon. That was expensive for the time. But, it had to be trucked into Virginia City from either Carson City or Reno. I’d guess Carson City because that is a much easier drive.
Spaceships and other things.
Even the name conjures up all sorts of meaning. Cowboys. The West. Freedom. Big food. Big hair. Big hats. I’m pretty sure that most people think don’t about space aliens when they think about Texas.
I found this interestingly shaped house when I was traveling around Texas back country. I didn’t stop. I didn’t ask. In retrospect, I should have. Knowing my ability to work with all sorts of people, I might have even been invited inside for a quick look around. But, really? This scene was enough for me. How often do you see something like this?
I once showed this picture to a friend of mine. A Texan. I said something like, “this explains everything.” She replied, “what the hell do you mean by that?” Texans take their state and their mythology seriously.
Sort of like New Orleanians do.
Many of them are in a serious uproar about the removal of the first of the Confederate statues. Me? I think all things must pass. Especially things memorializing a very dark chapter in my country’s history. I say grind them up and turn them into gravel to repair the potholes on my street.
But, that’s just me.
I’m not a native New Orleanian and that’s been made clear to me. I can fix that. I own property in Brooklyn. New York. I was born in Brooklyn. Maybe it’s time to reclaim the neighborhood of my birth. I’m not sure I want to live in a place where three statues memorialize traitors and slavery. And, the so-called natives support that. Oh wait. One of them said he was indigenous. I didn’t know that he came from Native American ancestory. You learn something every day. Around here.
Rant over. He said. With a smile.
The picture. Oh, the usual these days. Film. Photo paper. Scan. Tinker with it until the result is unrecognizable. Then show it to you. I think I like all the stuff that I added to the sky. The picture appears, at first glance, as if it was made on another planet.
A little storm.
So. A cold front passed through Southeast Louisiana. The temperatures dropped into the upper 50s. That might be on the warm side for some of you right about now.
Obviously, I didn’t make this picture yesterday.
But, the notion of a cold front started my brain spinning around. Especially this late in the year. We are a week away from Jazzfest. Usually during the second week of the festival, the weather turns hot and very humid. And, wet. Lots of rain. Summer starts even though the calendar says it’s still May. Early May.
I rooted around in those long missing archives and came up with this picture. A cold front. Of a different sort. Snow. Ice. Really cold weather. I made it in New York City many years ago. How long ago? Well, that’s an interesting question. There are no notes to go along with the picture. I’m willing to bet I made it between 1992 and 1999. Probably closer to 1992 when I spent a huge amount of time in the city.
The picture. I use f 5.6 as my base exposure for a lot of subjects. Even at night. If I can hold the camera, or brace it, or place it on a tripod, that works very well. Even at night. You get some motion — the falling snow. But, the main subjects — the trees and buildings — stay fairly sharp. Once again, the picture was made on film, printed, scanned and then tinkered with. I sort of like this process. I’m even starting to shoot a little film on newer projects.
Bike attendant in Shanghai.
One thing leads to another.
While I was poking around my newly resurrected archives looking for the Earth day picture, I found this one. I made it in Shanghai, China in 1989. In those days Shanghai was still a dark city. No lighting. Electricity was marginal. You bought your groceries in little shops or on the street. When the food ran out, you had to wait. Until the next day. The joke was that you could send and receive a piece of mail quicker than you could make a telephone connection.
And, there was very little automobile traffic.
But, huge bike traffic. Everybody rode bikes. Bike crashes were the leading cause of injury and death. You had a little bell on your bike. You were supposed to ring it whenever you passed somebody or crossed an intersection. You can imagine how that went with a city of about 12 million biker riders. Bells ringing from every direction. You just rode on and hoped for the best.
Things change. They always do.
Today, of course, everybody in China wants a car. And, many cities are hyper-polluted because of it. So, in many ways, this is still about Earth Day. It comes under the heading of WTF were we thinking?
The picture. The same the past few days. Black and white film, printed, scanned and tinkered with as usual. After doing a little reading, I’ve come to learn this is becoming a thing. Even when a photographer makes new images using a digital camera. It appears a lot of us are getting tired of razor-sharp, clean factory-like pictures. So, we are combining old and new schools. Of thought. Of theory. Of technology.
Through the tube.
Forty years or so. I know, I know. What does this picture have to do with Earth Day? Not much. Except I made it on either the first or second Earth Day at a festival. For the life of me, I cannot remember what this tube was supposed to teach. I do remember that the children loved running through it. If you think about it, this child is probably now in his or her late forties or early fifties today.
That’s a point reference for just how long this day has been going on. Along the way, there have been some real world gains and losses. The two most current are; yesterday England powered the country without coal for the first time since the 1800s. That’s something. On the other hand, the current United States leadership wants to bring the country back to the 1800s. The president is trying to revive the coal industry. Even when the industry itself doesn’t really want that.
You know me. I don’t get very political on the pages of Storyteller. But, I live here. On Planet Earth. With all of you. It’s the only home we’ve got. I’d like to see it live on. Healthily. For my children. Your children. Their children. Their children’s children.
The picture. Well. It’s forty years old. I made it on black and white film. Tri-X, most likely. I scanned a print and worked on it digitally. That combination seems to be a real winner. One of these days, I’ll actually get all of my archives scanned. Or not. My archives are deep. Likely, my children’s, children’s, children couldn’t complete the job. If they had an interest.
Around the back.
From the inside. A lot of you liked the Aztec Motor Court sign. I thought I would show you what the actual court area looked like. My kinda place. Bed sheets for curtains. Paintings hung on the OUTSIDE of the building. Bits of New Mexico folk art hung just about everywhere.
I’d like to say that because I passed by so frequently that I got to know some of the people who lived here. Even though their art and what-not were left as a reminder, they were fairly transient.
The picture. I said that even though I mostly tinker I do have some intent. I wanted the faux adobe to look sun-baked without being too bright. And, I wanted some details in the shadows. That’s it.