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Summer Sky


As twilight comes.

Another picture that just sort of sat in my archives.

Or, really never made it that far. It sat in RAW files waiting to be worked on. At some later date.

Another picture that speaks to summer. Summer in the south. As the late, great Allen Toussaint sang… southern nights. There is something special about them.

Truth be told, there is something special about everywhere’s summer nights. Especially if you are from there. Where ever there happens to be. You know what I mean. Your place doesn’t have to be country. Or city. It just is “that” place.

The picture. Yes. It’s time to get back to that discussion. First, I have to change my set of tricks a little. Change my locations. I have places that I head to when the light begins to change because they are easy. To get to. To position myself. In which to feel somewhat safe.

It’s time to stretch a little.

Don’t ask me what that means. If I knew I’d tell you. That’s the joy of it. I don’t know. I’ll have to discover it as I go.

That’s always a good thing. And, lots of fun.

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Dog Days


Summer glow.

Yes. Dog days.

As summer continues to roll on we get to a place called the “dog days.” It’s a time when the air is too hot for even dogs to wander about. They hide out in the shade. If there is a body of water, they swim. They don’t ramble about in the mid-day sun. Only mad dogs and Englishmen do that.

I realized that with all my layering experiments I haven’t really made any summer pictures. Normally, my goal is to make ten great pictures. Usually, I come up with one or two. There are many ways to photograph a kind of summer icon. But, it’s hard to make great pictures.

I’ve been a little busy with other stuff this summer. I haven’t had the time to think through what I wanted those pictures to be. I certainly didn’t have time to roam around looking for them.

This picture just sort of fell into my lap. I looked up. There it was. I made the picture. I tinkered with it. And, here you have it. I’m not sure it fits into even the remotest definition of greatness. But, it is a summer picture.

In a week or so, I’ll be able to get back to it. I’ll be able to make new, fresh images. That doesn’t mean the layered series is coming to an end. I’m happy to say that the series is fleshed out and full. To be sure, there is more to come. Much more. The most important take away is how much I learned by working through the process.

That may be the most important thing.

Learning. Always learning.

Across the Bridge


In the lead.

Once upon a time.

In the fantastical land of Las Vegas, I stumbled upon this scene. It was late afternoon. It was at the Venetian Hotel and Casino. I saw a tour guide leading his folks up the bridge to the hotel. The light was low and wonderful. Not only were the people silhouetted, but their shadows were elongated. Wow. Oh wow. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Then.

Much later in the picture’s life, I did my layering thing and created this image. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen it there. A few months ago. For those who don’t — which is most of you — this a brand new image. Some of you may have also seen it on Facebook since Instagram directly links there. But, I doubt it. Facebook has become a waste of time to me.

About Las Vegas. I don’t drink. My idea of gambling is playing the nickel slot machines. I do eat at some of the good buffets, but I’d rather eat somewhere in the huge Chinatown just away from the Strip. Mostly, I go to Las Vegas on the way to someplace else because I can make a lot of interesting pictures fairly quickly. After all, people are so weird when they go there. To Sin City.

So.

For me, what happens in Vegas leaves Las Vegas.

Floating


Drifting through the sky.

I’ve been having a lot of very colorful dreams lately. Things are whirling around, spinning and popping. So, I decided to try to make a picture that looked something like I saw in my slumbers.

This image is not exactly like what my mind saw. To be sure, it isn’t even close. It’s getting there. Sorta. Kinda.

It’s not from lack of trying. No machine can equal a human brain. Artificial intelligence, indeed.

The picture is a combination of a number of images. Five to be exact. The main picture is black and white. You saw it a few days ago. The secondary picture in which you see power poles is older and the flowers and floating bits are detail images that have sort have become my own kind of stock collection.

There. I said it. Stock.

I’ll post about that sometime later. THAT’S a really long story. I’ll just say this about that. Most stock libraries and companies are denigrated because of the, well, vanilla imagery that they produce and license for a dollar. Or a penny. They are a large part of why the professional photo industry is in tatters. Not all of us are in tatters. I’m not. Many of my friends are.

There you have it.

By the way, this is the second attempt at this picture. My first go was very dark and gloomy. It didn’t suit the energy of the colors.

The Garden


Into the woods.

“We are stardust, we are golden

We are billion year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden”

My muse lead me back to the garden. I actually had time for a little walk where I stumbled upon this scene.

Not exactly.

This was the scene in my mind.

From the minute I walked into this little place, the words in those first three sentences came into my head. They are the bridge to an old song called. Woodstock. Joni Mitchell wrote it. And played it. Crosby, Still, Nash and — sometimes — Young brought it global fame.

I suppose you had to be alive in 1969 to understand the song. We were at the edge. Pretty much like we are now. In August, there was a music festival in Upstate New York. It’s historical. Today, it is simply just called Woodstock. Three days of music. And, rain, And mud. It was a paid festival. Eventually so many people came that the promoters made it free. It was the symbol of the era.

Did I go? Oh no. I’m not one of the 589,897,654,000 people who have claimed to be there over the years. I was riding on an eastbound train with my family going from Long Beach to Brooklyn. But, the radio was on in the lounge. We could hear bits and pieces of it. I knew right then…

So.

That’s what going for a walk can do. I saw this little place. All of the memories came back at just about the time I clicked the shutter button. That’s how you clear your head of the cobwebs that interfere with your art. That clears the so-called emotional flatness. That cures writer’s block. In my case, I’m not suffering from any of that. But, my walk sure opened me up.

Oh. The version of Woodstock that’s in my head? A later version that came as Joni was transitioning for folk to jazz. She played with a band called LA Express. They released a live album called Miles of Aisles. Spotify tells me it was released in 1974.

Like my pictures, the song took some time to teach her how to play it. To marinate.

Freedom


Contrails light up the sky.

Freedom. Light. Surreal.

That’s what a very few people who looked at this image before I posted it said about it. How cool. Those are great words. I wonder what you think.

I’m seeing a little differently now.

I’m seeing shapes rather than color. I’m using some of the post production tools in different ways. Remember, for me, Storyteller is an experiment. This is a grand experiment. I normally see in color. The camera makes a color file. The only way to make a black and white file in most dslr bodies is to switch from RAW to jpg. Leica makes an all black and white body. There may be others. Leica is out of the question. The black and white images are just another link in the chain of my own learning and development (no pun intended). I don’t think I want to pay $7,500 for that. Yep. That’s the cost of the Leica BW body.

This picture came from just being outside and taking a walk. It is locationless. It is timeless. It combines a couple of elements in nature. Trees and skies. And, one man-made element. The jet contrail. The post production is done to give the picture a softer, more vintage, and more other worldly look. It seems my post work has gone from experimental to intentional. I have a pretty good idea of where I want the raw file to go.

One more thing. Cropping. I wanted to make the image really deep to emphasize the light.

Into the Sky


Into the sun.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I remember what I wrote yesterday. But, my muse had other ideas. So, I made a couple of black and white cloud studies.

From my ongoing art studies, I know that this falls into very a classic style of photography. That, and self portraits… which have morphed into selfies. I’m not big on that for a lot of reasons. I suppose that after the 14,987th selfie that you instagrammed I have a pretty good idea of what you look like. At least, as you want me to see you. I want to see where you where. What you did.

And, there’s also airplane pictures. You know the ones. They have a wing tip in the picture and something in the background. Sometimes they are interesting because of the light and background. But, mostly they are copies of copies of copies. When I first started in photo agency work, we rejected them out of hand because we had thousands of them in the files already. In 1989. All I can advise is to photograph something beside the wing. Or, if your airline is buzzing something unusual like the US Capitol or the Eiffel Tower. By all means keep that wingtip in the picture. It might be useful for identification purposes after your plane is shot out of the sky. Heh!

Seriously. A little black and work for a little while. I’ll go back to color in a bit. That where I work. Where I like to work. But, sometimes my muse calls, says hey you, and clubs me over the head.

Over the top.

For Today


Stormy skies.

Yes. Just for today.

Because I make pictures every day without even thinking about doing it, I have a large backlog of images that I wouldn’t even consider to be in my archives. They haven’t made it that far. Yet.

I also do believe in the notion of marinating the work. Just because I made the picture today doesn’t mean I need  to post it today. Tomorrow is fine. Next week is fine. A month is fine. I like to get away from the emotions I felt when I actually pushed the button. Sometimes, they over ride the actual image. Because of that, I see something that you can never see.

To be sure, assignments and commissioned work have deadlines. But, I try to build a little time between the shoot date and the delivery date.

This picture was made the last time I actually set foot in my little swamp. It lived on a hard drive until it called out to me. I did some of my usual post production. This time to bring out the details that make this picture interesting to me. And, left it alone after that.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the layered series. Everybody needs a break. Even me. especially me. I just go about it a little differently than most.

One more thing.

Creativity. Make no mistake. I think everybody should try. At the same time, they should understand the reality. Timing being everything, a buddy of mine went to a thing called The Classics Festival. In Los Angeles. It really wasn’t a festival. It was a package concert featuring the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and Eagles. If you were around in the 1970s, you understand how powerful the music was. My friend was talking about the quality of the playing. The bands were well rehearsed. They played flawlessly and they wove the music into the night. One of the Eagles commented, on stage, “well this is what you get when you play for 40 or 50 years.”

Ya dig?

Creativity


A little rain must fall.

Creativity.

Make from the picture what you will. There are two layers. The base picture and a slight sprinkling of flower petals on top of it. That’s it. That’s the picture.

Once again, most of the words do not match the picture.

This post is about creativity. It is driven by a number of other blogs, emails, texts and so on.

From the blogging world, two people are giving up (they say slowing down, but we know what that means) because they needed a break from “creating content.” A phrase that sends chills down my spine. I don’t create content. I make pictures. Other artists make paintings. Creating content in the digital era means filling up space so that a large company can make money from it. They don’t care what the content is. Just keep it original. No heart. No soul.

Then, there are four photographers with whom I talk a little. They are all suffering from a kind of writer’s block. They are uninspired. Can’t seem to take pictures. Are casting about for a solution. Any solution. Not one of them ever took a course in photography. They are “self-taught,” which is fine if you live what you are learning. But, taking pictures is easy now. And, inexpensive after the initial investment. Like so many others, they bought cameras thinking that anybody can take pictures. If they had learned the old-school way, when every exposure cost money, they’d have a learned a lot more than they know now.

Then, there are the writers that I read here, on WordPress. They read, so they want to write. That’s great. Most of them write similar kinds of books. There are variations on themes, but not much. Their submissions to professional publishing houses are routinely rejected. And, why not? It’s a buyers market. So, they self-publish. They don’t understand the marketing lift it takes to get a book into the general public’s hands. Or, even a medium-sized audience. They either sell about ten books, or they sell to other like-minded authors who support each other.

I suppose that they are all trying to express themselves, but not everybody is an artist, a writer or a musician. It would be a pretty boring world if that’s all we did.

Of course there is a point to this. I don’t write my truths without a point. Time is short.

Creativity is not for the faint hearted. Doing whatever artistic work people do is all-consuming. You live with it from morning until night. Sometimes, it shows up in your dreams — as it did this morning for me. It takes years of practice to learn your art.

Usually, it takes some kind of formal training even if it’s only to help you build a foundation. That doesn’t mean college. It could be a voice coach, a painting instructor who comes to your home or even a more veteran photographer who becomes your mentor. YouTube is fine for many things. Human interaction is way better.

No matter what, it doesn’t happen overnight. You mess with it. You tinker with it. Sometimes you even succeed. Mostly you fail. But, you keep going and going. And, when you get there you find another ledge. Another new high point.

And then, you have to tell people. In person. Online. Through social media. You have to sell. And, sell. And, sell some more.

It never stops.

It’s about a 16 hour a day job. That doesn’t count the time your brain is spinning around and around.

That said, according to WordPress data, the lifespan of most blogs is less than two years. Some of them are project-specific and close when the project is fully realized. But, most of them just sort of wither and die. To be sure, there are plenty of blogs like Storyteller. I’m headed into my seventh year. I post every day. Only once per day. I try not to wear you out with endless daily posts. That’s what Twitter is for. I really haven’t tried to sell anything from here. I use it to test ideas. And, the pictures that come from those ideas. It doesn’t take me as long as it seems to take many of you because the pictures are made in the course of my everyday life because that’s who I am. And, my words are sort of thought out during the days events. I don’t sit in front of the screen and think, “what am I going to write about?” My biggest issues are that I am a horrible typist. And, I can’t spell for dirt.

There you have it.

Creativity.

Once, a Silver Man


The glowing silver man.

You’ve seen these guys. I know you have.

Mimes who are painted silver or gold. They are folks working for tips at almost every walking tourist location in the world. I found this guy in The French Quarter. I distributed the original silver man picture through my various agencies. Then, he languished in my archives until Google Images found him again.

You know what came next. Tinkering. Layering. Fiddling. The silver paint actually turned blue with all of the extra work until I scrubbed it clean and back to silver. Or, white.

Yes. In case you are wondering, with my tip came a model release form. He had no problem with it as long as my tip was more than the usual dollar or two.  That’s how this stuff works. That why it’s called the photography business rather than the photography friendship. Same with any artistic work. You might do it for yourself as a form of self-expression, but the minute you start trying to make money from it, the rules change. I just wish the newer generations understood that and stopped being so proud to give their work away… so that others can make money from it.