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Since 1945

Chicago Cub fans.

Chicago Cub fans.

In the baseball world, The Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant last night. They will play in the World Series. For the first time since 1945. They will play the Cleveland Indians, who last appeared in the World Series in 1948. A long time for both teams.


The last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series was in 1908. An even longer time. Think about it. They last won the biggest prize in baseball before all of us were born. Before our grandparents were born. Before our parents were born. Before WWI. Before WWII. The Middle East was known as Arabia. There were 46 states in The United States. Many of the countries where you live were colonies. There was no passenger plane travel. No internet. No smartphones. Sheesh, there was barely electricity and a hardwired telephone system that was consistently usable.

A lot has happened in 108 years.

My apologies to those of you who live in other places. To those of you who don’t know what baseball is, or even care. Please just enjoy the picture.

For me this World Series is about history as much as anything. Yes. I’m a baseball fan. But, I’m a New York Yankees fan. City of my birth and all of that. My number two team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team in the city where I grew up. They lost last night to the Cubs.

I don’t really say this very often. But, I read a lot of history. That matters to me. Especially in this political and digital age of lies. I hope to learn some truth.

The picture. No. I was not in Chicago last night. I took it the last time the Cubs went to the playoffs. In 2003. The cheer back then was “Fry the Fish,” because they were playing the Miami Marlins. The Cubs lost the game and the series while I was there. I only happened to be in Chicago because I was shooting a location book project on the city. I spent a couple of weeks there. I photographed the usual. I explored the neighborhoods. I hung out a lot in the Polish neighborhood. I ate my kind of soul food. When the Cubs came home to play, I went to Wrigley Field. I didn’t have a ticket.  I just photographed the edges. My publisher was happy that my photographer’s luck kicked in. That I was even there at the right time.

Thirteen years is also a long time. The picture was made on film. Fuji Velvia pulled 1/3 of a stop. That meant I was shooting at about ISO 32. Think about that. Today, if we are working in low light and have a camera with a good sensor and processor, we might start at ISO 800. We might go as far as ISO 5,000 on some cameras. More on some of the latest cameras. This picture has what I call motion wobble. Not really unsharp. But, not as sharp as it could be.

Doesn’t matter. It catches the emotion, the feeling and sense of the time.

Lessons Learned

Road trips and light.

Road trips and light.

I once had a photojournalism professor called Joe B. Swan. He was one of the kindest people that I’ve ever meet. He was from West Texas. He taught at San Jose State University. He had a pronounced West Texas accent. He talked about “shaders and siluets.” That’s what you are looking at right now.

Shadows and Silhouettes.

He also talked about making pictures from the “dog’s eye view.” Or, as I call it, “What the dog saw.”

Lessons learned in 1974 are still true today. Obviously.

Why him? Why now?

I had a couple of WordPress conversations with a couple of you. One talked about how well my picture turned out. One said, even after two years she doesn’t have pictures like mine. The third was about “What would Ray do,” to not shoot a touristy picture.

A dangerous thing happened. I started thinking. You know how that goes. Heh!

I thought about how I learned. Forget the technology. I learned using film cameras, developing the film and making prints in a wet darkroom. Today, most people have never done that. Doesn’t matter. Many people do not even do any post production. They shoot auto everything, make an in-camera .jpg and put the picture on their blog, or on Facebook, or Twitter.

None of that matters. Really. The picture is the thing. The thing that matters. It also matters that the picture is printed on paper. That’s another story.


In order of the conversations.

My pictures never “turn out” good or bad. They are an extension of my vision. Even when I talk about “tinkering,” I’m trying to get to the picture in my head. Not just the look. Also, the feel. If I can do that in camera without any real post production help, so much the better. For me, there are no accidents. That’s the difference between making or taking a picture. By the way, if I can’t get to “my picture,” you aren’t seeing whatever I did get to. No point in that. Think about it.

The other two comments — two years and touristy — are about the same thing.


Unless you are photographing every day, making a lot of exposures, curating tightly, and learning from your mistakes; two years is nothing. You are just getting started. When I say make mistakes, I’m talking like this. Your keepers — the good stuff — usually should average out to about 10% of your entire take. That’s not so much.

Same with not shooting touristy pictures. You have to take them to get to the good stuff. You don’t have to show anybody. If you live in a place in which you can return to a specific location frequently, great. You learn its ebbs and flows. You learn about its shadows and light. It will teach you. If you can’t return frequently then follow this saying… as a wise man once told me, “Don’t take the picture, let the picture take you.” Find a place. Sit there and wait for something to happen. When it happens, you’ll be ready.

Ya dig?

Red & Black

Art in the morning.

This is on me. Not the dog. 

I was walking. I saw this beat up, rusted car. I walked by it. Wait a minute. I went back. I saw. Not the whole car. Details. Bits. Pieces.


This happens when I’m in a zone. When I see. Really see. Likely as not I’m not in a zone. I don’t see. I miss things. Because I’m human. Like everybody else.

Blues Music

Little Freddy King

Little Freddy King

Music City.

That title is usually reserved for Nashville, Tennessee. With the number of musicians who make their home in New Orleans, grew up in New Orleans, who play in New Orleans and record in New Orleans, we kind of give them a little competition.


Jazz was born in New Orleans. That matters.

This is Little Freddie King. He’s 76 years old. A cousin to Lightnin’ Hopkins. Was born in McComb, Mississippi where he has a marker on the Blues Trail. He is a founding member of Jazzfest where he’s played for 42 years. It seems like he took a break of  20 years between records. Now, he records with some frequency.

And, you’ve never heard of him.

Not unless you know the blues. Not unless you live in the region. Not unless you are really “into” music.

He plays in little clubs. Juke joints. Around the city. Clubs like DBA. Siberia. Old Arabi Bar. BJ’s Lounge. He did open in Telluride, Colorado at the same festival that Neil Young & The Promise of The Real headlined.

He can play. He is the real deal.

The picture. I made it at a blues festival. No surprise there, right? I tinkered with it. No surprise there, either. That’s what you are seeing. A blues musician — an old school legend –who’s been tinkered with. By me.


See What I Mean?

Autumn in the pool.

Autumn in the pool.

See? Autumn in New Orleans.

That’s the pool. One day it was nicely clean. Sparkling blue. The next day Autumn fell into the pool. Leaves. Leaves. More leaves.

Trust me. That bit of back lighting makes the leaves look colorful. They are not. They are mostly brown. I also helped a little bit in post production.

The picture. It fills two needs. It shows you what the pool looks like. It fills the bill for the occasional series, “What the dog saw.” She saw this. So did the other dogs. The look on their faces told me all I needed to know. You know. “What is this in OUR pool?”

That Time of Year

And, so it starts. Halloween.

And, so it starts. Halloween.

It almost got away from me.

Between what has become a busy schedule, my own recovery from a slight repair and no real fall weather to speak of, the spooky season almost got away from me. Luckily, a bunch of little people reminded me. Toddlers. You know?

So, here we go.

Spooky. Scary. New Orleans for Halloween. For me, one of the best holidays in New Orleans. Christmas is the other one. Mardi Gras comes in third. Or tied.

Our fall season this year. Very strange. Only a couple of days when the high temperature dropped below 80 degrees. The leaves didn’t turn red. Or gold. Today, they just fell off the trees. Brown. Dead. Into the pool. It looks like a swamp.

The picture. Just something I saw. And, reworked in post production. No. Not my house. Just a place that I stumbled on. One more thing. Halloween posts are on and off this week. Stay tuned. Check out the following week leading up to the big night.