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Far Away


Nature’s reflections and refractions.

I looked up. I saw it.

I have no idea what caused that bright streak in the middle of the cloudy picture. I’ve seen a lot of amazing things in the sky. Some have names. Some don’t.

But, that streak?

I can’t tell you.

I can guess. I made the picture in the late afternoon sky after a violent but short rain storm passed through. It’s like that the sunlight was bouncing around water droplets in the sky. It could be seen with the naked eye which is why I took the picture. Sometime these sorts of things reveal themselves in development or post production. Not this time. It was there in the sky.

Oh sure. I did a lot of post production, but that’s because I wanted to make the picture how my mind’s eye saw it the overall scene. I wanted you to see what I saw.

I think it’s pretty. But, it could be God’s finger pointing down at us. It could be that he or she or whatever you believe is saying, “clean up your acts, or the next time you see me you’d better run.”

Just a lot of food for thought. So think.

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A Little Bit of Soul


Starting Again.

About nature.

In some regions of the country and world, winter lasts for just a few days. Even when the weather turns cold, it is mild compared to places located further north. With mild weather we get — drumroll please — a second growing season. When I first moved here I was amazed. I’d never heard of such a thing. Anybody who grew up here, or was from here, knew. They taught me. I learned.

These days I can recognize the signs. New leaves appear on plants that were once done with the summer heat. It helps that there is a lot of rain this time of year. The lingering heat combined with rain and humidity make outdoors a natural greenhouse.

Anyway, the spring and summer crops — such as they are — have been planted.

The picture. I saw it. I worked sort of hard to frame it with the sun backlighting the leaves. When I got into the studio I decided to take it to the limit. I backtracked. The limit was too far, even by my standards.

This image is the result.

Oh.

I forgot to mention that this deep vertical picture started out is a horizontal image. Even though I post produced the hell out of this picture, I left one flaw alone.

Can you see it?

See the horizontal line between the sky and the black area? That’s called purple fringing. It’s caused when the sensor and the lens cannot handle extreme backlighting. It’s a bad thing. Normally. If I were offering this image to a client, I would use editing software to remove it.

For a semi-artistic picture, I chose to leave it in the image.

It’s art. They say.

I left another flaw alone.

It’s art. They say.

Smile


A little stumble.

Just smile.

Sometimes that’s all you can do.

That’s why I published these two pictures of a little guy, who is starting out young, making his way down the stairs at the Good Fellas second line, last Sunday. This is probably his first second line. His confidence will build as he prepares year after year.

This is probably the last of my pictures from the event.

No worries.

There is another one on Sunday. The big one. The Young Men Olympians. This one will be about a million divisions long and will take at least four hours to complete. It’ll probably sideline us with some kind of heat related ailment.

Oh well. We do it for the stories we can tell.

Smile. It’s good for us. For me, I lost two photographers this week who were mentors to me in my early days. My work is influenced by them, even now. My thinking is influenced by them. That’s why I figured out where to stand so I could photograph both divisions of this second line.

One passed from cancer. The other slipped and fell in his backyard. He hit his head. He lasted a few days and then… gone. I’m alright. It just means that I have to work very hard this weekend. You know why.

On the other hand, a photographer called Burk Uzzle is getting a lot of photo press. If you don’t know his name or work, you should. Especially if you are a photographer. You can go to his website at http://www.burkuzzle.com and check him out. His way of thinking is inspiring. His work is inspiring. His website organization is inspiring. I don’t know him personally. I knew his brother a little bit when I worked in North Carolina. Burk is the real deal.

On the right track.

The pictures. I was waiting for the social clubs to come out at the base of the stairs, rather than on the bridge itself. Aside from positioning myself to be in two places at once, I was shooting into heavy back and side light. I knew, for the children, that the crowd would for a natural scrim against all that extra light. At least, I hoped. Turns out that I was right. Thankfully.

Then This Happened…


Getting ready.

It’s exactly what you think happened… if you look at the entire sequence.

He looked at me. I looked at him. We nodded to each other. Up he went. Right over me. Imagine that. All of this to brass band music since they were passing by right at that moment.

The pictures. I suppose that if there’s a take away, it’s that sometimes photography takes a little bit of courage even when you think that it doesn’t. It’s one of those things about making a picture in which you are apart of that comes into play. Just don’t fall on your camera or your smart phone while you are trying to snap a shot. Heh. See what I did there?

Up and over… me.

Marching, Marching, Marching…


The band plays despite the heat.

Brass bands.

You know me. There is something special about them. The minute that I hear them,  my poor hip and back feel better. I move easier. I move freer. I move faster. I dance with them. I am more flexible. I am convinced my pictures are better than usual.

I’ll get to the pictures a little further down, below the tuba picture.

A musician friend of mine who lives in the Pacific Northwest once described brass band music as being chaotic.

I suppose.

What do you expect? The musicians first heard the music on the streets. It’s very likely that they learned to play their instruments in high school. Different high schools for each of them. And, they rarely rehearse. The members come together on the street right before the second line begins. If they don’t have enough members on the scene, musicians from other bands show up to fill in the gaps.  Cell phones are working overtime.

Yeah. They all know the same songs because the music is among New Orleans standards. But, each of them might play a song slightly different. Yes. That breeds chaos.

That’s just wonderful. After all, at her best, New Orleans is the home of wonderful chaos.

Isn’t that what many of you come to the city for?

The tuba starts it. Always.

The pictures. I think you have to be in the middle of something to be able to make the best pictures. These pictures were made with a wide angle lens or a very short telephoto… like 70mm. The scene sort of envelopes me.

I have the same theory about music. I never use ear buds. Even when they are free. I sometimes use over the ear cans, when I have to be quiet or I want to hear a certain detail. Mostly, we just have a bunch of speakers that put us in the middle of the music. We can hear. We can share.

I feel the same way about pictures. Standing on the sidelines is the same way. Sometimes you have to. And, that’s fine. I don’t imagine the NFL would be very happy if photographers worked in the huddle or the line of scrimmage.

But, when you can you should try.

It’s a whole different sense of place. For me. For you.

This works even with travel pictures. For instance, I recently saw a picture of Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Everybody makes a picture like that. Then I saw one from inside the steeple. Whoa. That was something. I imagine getting permission takes some time and effort. That’s tough enough. But, what if you want to work around golden time and blue hour. Good luck. But, oh, what a picture.

That has me thinking. Hmmmmm.

The drummers pound out the beat.

Coming Out


Taking it to the streets.

Gold and Brown.

Those are the Good Fellas colors for the 2018 – 2019 second line season. You could see them coming.

Joyful colors. Fall colors.

They came down the long ramp at the Eiffel Society. You could see them there. They came down the stairs. You could see them there. They hit the streets. You could you see them there.

Like Mardi Gras Indians, and the Baby Dolls they wear suits. Not costumes. Costumes are what “civilians” wear for Halloween. And Mardi Gras.

That matters.

Guys like me can wear shorts, light t-shirts, running shoes. These guys can’t. They won’t. Their suits are heavy. Their collars are heavy. Their feathers are heavy.

Heavy equals hot. At least this time of year.

Even in cooler months, their sweat drips down their faces. I’ve said it before. These guys are my heroes. I can’t do what they do. They’d laugh if I told them that. For them it’s just part of their deal. Their honor. Their pride. Their dedication to their neighborhood.

Read below for picture information.

The tuba starts it at the Eiffel Society.

The pictures. Yesterday I wrote that I finally got smart. I guess I did. By staying on the ground I was able to photograph the children’s division. Then, I circled back and worked my way through the crowd to make these pictures.

See those two Good Fellas on the long bridge? Photographers go out there. One is on the bridge in the picture. Likely, he’s working for them. If you are out on the bridge when the second line comes off and onto the street you are trapped behind them.

That’s a good teaching point.

Never put yourself in a place in which you can be trapped. A few years ago, friend of mine opted to work from a construction bucket. The kind you see on electric power trucks. The truck broke down. The power to the bucket failed. The bucket was stuck about 25 feet in the air. By the time it was repaired, the entire event that he was covering was over. He made one good picture and a lot of similars, but that was it. He was angry. His editor was disappointed.

All in feathers.

184 Degrees


All eyes.

Good Fellas Second Line.

The children go first. Then the adults. It’s a two division second line.

Thankfully.

Even though the second line walked forever, it was on the smallish side. A good thing, because as a friend of mine wrote about another outdoor event in the city, it was 184 degrees out. Not really, but by start time the air temperature was 98 degrees. My car’s sensor which reads ground temperatures said it was 102 degrees.

Not too hot. If it’s in the middle of summer.

But, it’s not.

It’s fall. In three days that calendar says it’s fall. I read a group on Facebook that is all about fall and pumpkin spice everything. They say it’s fall. Sure it is. The light is getting low. The shadows are getting long. But, it’s 184 degrees outside, or 98 degrees. Whichever you prefer.

The picture. Normally, I’d get on the long bridge runs outside of the Eiffel Tower to the street. Yes, yes. We have a small one in New Orleans. But, I always feel trapped up there. It might not be healthy for me with my ailing hip and back. Moving very fast is not really an option these days.

Instead, I worked from ground level. A great choice. I managed to photograph both divisions — children’s and adults — in their entirety as they made their ways to the first turn at Jackson Avenue. That was my stopping point. My plan was to jump to the next stopping point. Unfortunately, my head was spinning by the time I returned to my car. With discretion being the better part of valor, I decided that heat stroke wasn’t worth more pictures.

Speaking of more pictures, there will be plenty of them from the Good Fellas Second Line as the week progresses.

Seeing Green Differently


Making a little layered art.

Another Sunday. Another experiment leading to something a little more artistic than documentary.

It appears that I’m confused. I’m not. We’ll get to that in a few lines.

I’m pretty convinced that Mother Nature is angry with us. I think that normally she seeks stasis, but not these days. In the U.S. we were hit by a major hurricane. In Asia we were hit by a super typhoon. At the same time. In two different oceans. My beloved Hong Kong has taken a beating. Buildings were swaying. Streets were flooded. Over 500 flights were cancelled from one of the world’s busiest airline hubs. People were bailing water out of their balconies trying to prevent floods at — oh, let’s say — the 18th floor.

What does all this tell you? What should it tell you?

I could do a litany of weather-related events this year. But, you already know them. I think it’s time to get started. Really get started. Banning plastic straws isn’t enough.You already know the rest. Act on it. If our leaders don’t believe in science, you know what to do. Vote. Vote them out. It is time for a change. Across all levels of government. Across both major parties. At the top. Vote the old white men out of office who are stuck in the last century. Or, maybe the century before. The 19th Century.

I’m sorry to say that you are going to be stuck with my exhortations to vote. To make a difference. To make a needed change. I’ll do this maybe once a week until the mid-term elections. It’s necessary.

Anyway.

The picture. Obviously, I’ve been chasing a lot of green. This time I layered two images and merged them together to make more of an artistic statement. I’m not confused about vacillating between documentary and artistic work. One supports the other. Maybe, somewhere along the line, I’ll make a breakthrough.

Who knows?

Very Green, Very Simple


Rain drops on green leaves.

Life, and life itself.

Fresh growth. Water droplets. Leaf veins. Symbols for life.

I made this picture a few days ago, when we knew Hurricane Florence was about to hammer the Carolinas. And, that Super Typhoon Mangkhut was about to tear through the Philippines and parts of Southern China.

I started thinking about the simplicity of nature and how we — most of mankind — were doing our best to destroy it. We use every tool we have at our disposal to create severe weather change. To pollute. To destroy.

As Bob Dylan once wrote, “It doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.” He was talking about political winds, but isn’t weather change a kind of politics?

Already every place in the world is hotter, wetter and more humid. Where it isn’t wet and humid, it’s dryer and more extreme. Storms are more powerful and the season is longer. Where it’s dry, wildfire season is longer and more dangerous. The changing weather, in part, helps drive refugee migration. The window for stopping irrevocable change is already beginning to close.

Some world governments are trying to work against this. All but two. Whether it is too little or too late remains to be seen. One of the two used to be a world leader.

Now?

Not so much. In fact, The United States is regressing in the name of corporate power and earnings because the current presidential administration doesn’t believe in science, thinks that weather change is a hoax, and thinks that what might have been good before we knew better — say 75 or 100 years ago — is good now. For instance, the president seems bent on reviving the coal industry, claiming that there is clean coal. There is no clean coal. Besides, why would you want to burn coal when there are plenty of renewable energy sources around such as sun and wind?

Oh wait. I know. I know.

Anyway.

Pictures like this one make statements more elegantly than all the words I just wrote. Keep it simple. Keep it on point. Make it powerful. A little tiny detail of something can make a grand statement of its own.

At Least


Taking our minds off of all the news.

Storms to the east. Fires to the west. A liar up north.

I don’t know about you, but I need a break. From the news. From thinking about prepping for the next three potential storms.

That’s what this picture is about.

Rain poured down at night. By morning, the sky was bright and clear with just a few white puffy clouds. The all-seeing dog and I went for a walk. She decided that sitting was in order. We found a bench. I sat on it. She sat on the grass. I looked up and saw this picture. I pushed the button. We sat a while longer. When we got home, I headed to the studio where I tinkered with it and helped it to glow.

That’s what I wanted. A bright, glowing picture that reminds me of  1930s Art Deco posters.