My version of winter.

I’m listening to an interesting YouTube video as I write.

It’s about “work that matters.”  The visual podcast is called The Art of Photography.

As the speaker talks, he reminds me of me. He says that a picture should strive for something, that it ought to push the boundaries, that it shows artist growth, and it goes beyond gear.

You know me.

I rarely if ever talk about gear. I always talk about subject matter, content and why the picture matters to me. I suppose if I did talk about gear I could monetize Storyteller with corporate sponsorships. But, that isn’t me. Of course I would like some help paying for this blog. But, I want it on my terms.

That’s important.

It’s also why I don’t take numbers very seriously. Sure, the more people who see my work, the more people who could possible know me and become some kind of client. But, as I’ve said to some of you by sharing a Neil Young quote, “Numbers add up to nothing.” Getting a lot of likes on Instagram or Facebook really just means that your picture happens to fit into the flavor of the hour. That is transitory at best.

I want my work to be long lasting and possible have some influence on a few people’s work. I do that now. Sometimes people talk to me about it. Often they don’t. I look at their work and I see my own work in their pictures.

Case in point. Since I’ve been making pictures of winters bare trees around sunset, I’m seeing all sorts of similar — but not the same — pictures that show up on Facebook friend’s feeds.

That’s all good.

It’s good because it means that I matter to somebody. I don’t need the validation because I believe in my own path. I like to know that somebody is watching… and reading.

The picture. I made a really heavily blurred image of some wild flowers a few days ago. By itself it was unrecognizable no matter what I did to it. It was mostly a yellow, green and black blob. I saved it and added some recognizable yellow flowers to it. That’s what you are looking at now.

Happy day.

 


Very cold this week.

So cold.

The air is cold. The wind is cold. The trees are bare.

It’s winter. Even in New Orleans. It doesn’t last like it does in the north. But, it does get cold. Combine cold air with ambient humidity and we feel it. Last night, the weather guy said the weather wasn’t quite as cold as the night before.

Yeah. Right.

When I let the dogs out for the final time, they were hunkered down. I was wearing something heavy. I wished I took my gloves. My 45 year old Isotoners. Once, a Christmas present. A gift, now a memory.

That’s another story for another time.

I was asked again about how I find the subjects that I photograph. I don’t know. I don’t really go out hunting for stuff. I just walk and see stuff. I take pictures of the stuff that I see. Sometimes I modify it a lot in post production. Sometimes I don’t.

It’s like that peanut commercial. Mr. Peanut.

“Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.”

Mostly, I’m just nuts.

That’s the secret.


A kind of rebirth.

I’m just happy to be here and to be alive.

That’s a line from “End of the line, by “The Traveling Wilburys. ” It was the first song that I heard this morning. It sums up the day so far, but a little nostalgia hit me.

The band was a true supergroup. Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Jeff Lynn, and Roy Orbison. Of the five, only two survive today. Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynn. Roy Orbison died of a heart attack between their first and second albums. In the accompanying video the remaining four play the music, while Orbison’s guitar rocks in a chair to complete the musical circle.

There was sort of a magic to those albums. Almost as importantly, the five of them — know to have pretty good sized egos — worked together like happy brothers. It was wonderful to see Tom Petty and Bob Dylan singing harmony into one microphone.

I have no idea how long the remaining two will continue. Jeff Lynn is actually touring for the first time in years, with his current band, Jeff Lynn and ELO. Dylan just keeps moving on with his so-called never ending tour. A couple of his bandmates have been on that tour since it began, nineteen years ago.

I’m pretty sure that we should cherish them just like we do all our aging legends.

And, just like this day. It’s cold. When we hit the streets the “feels like” temperature was 29 degrees. That’s cold for down here in the swamp. But, the sky is a beautiful blue (You can see it a little in the pictures) and the sun is shining.

“Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey, Well it’s all right, you still got something to say, Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live, Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive.” —

Nelson Wilbury, Lucky Wilbury, Charley T. Wilbury Jr, Otis Wilbury, Lefty Willbury, or, Harrison, Dylan, Petty, Lynn and Orbison.


A little weird.

Weirdness.

I made it that way. Unlike the speeding picture which happened in camera, this image was made after the fact in post production. By me. The original photograph showed a bright and sunny winters day.

I had a vision. I knew my final intent. I wanted to make what I kiddingly call a “Halloween Picture.” So I went to work. I removed most of the color, When I added black, I removed just enough of it to make the silhouette of the tree brown. You can see it mostly in the branches.

I knew when I was finished. That’s the thing about using vision to guide you. You know when you know.

That’s it for today.

If you are in the United States have a good Martin Luther King Day. If you are anywhere else in the world have a good Monday. Or, Tuesday.


Evidence.

Winter.

I have a friend in Milwaukee who was complaining because his four year old snow blower broke down yesterday. I have friends further east who were just waiting until the big snowstorm reached them. Even in Seattle, where the weather is fairly mild, the streets were tangled by snowfall.

Not down here. Oh no. Not down here in the swamp.

Instead, the temperature yesterday was in the mid to high 70s. The Japonicas are blooming. So are all sorts of new little buds. The squirrels are complaining. I’ve heard bird sounds that I’ve never heard in the past,

Not to worry. Today turned chilly. The rest of the week will be downright cold. Lows in the low 30s. At least cold for us.

Then, around the first week of May, things will heat up. NOLAHeat will come after us until October. If I could think of a place where we could spend our summer, we’d go there. But, every place is hot. Some air is dryer. Some air is moister. But, it’s still hot.

My neighbor suggested that we go to the beach. Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to stay for at least eight weeks? If I were going to the beach — which sounds very nice — I’d like to go to the ocean, not the gulf. I’d rather go to the Pacific, not the Atlantic. If course, beggars can’t be choosers.

Where would you go for a couple of months if you could?


Night work on the street.

Night time, not in the switching yard.

Things change at night. Things look a little mysterious. Things look a little spooky. And, night photography can hide a multitude of sins.

I wasn’t hiding anything this time. It was mostly just timing because guess who wanted to go for a walk at night time. We normally don’t do that because with my hurting parts I don’t want to make them worse by tripping over some unseen pot hole.

Anyway.

We were walking along a street when a thought came to me. I had no idea how a smart phone would respond to a situation like this one. My first two test shots were sharp as a tack. My phone can approximate a DSLR by changing the settings to manual. I did that and this is the result.

Normally you could deal with this setting by panning. That would keep the car fairly sharp. I wanted to make amore artistic attempt at the picture. I think I succeeded. The strange thing is the color. This is the color as it came out of the phone. All I did was clean up the picture a little bit. I’m not sure why it is almost monochrome. Every other night picture is full color. I’m going to do a little research. It could just be that I was at the end of the phone’s capability.


Giant cotton balls.

Drifting.

The sky looked almost like rows of crops with cotton ball clouds floating by my discerning eye. I was going to wait to publish this picture. I’ve been enjoying working with “real” cameras. And, sharing those pictures.

But, my Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of these clouds made by local photographers. I think every photographer in town made pictures of them. So, without any further delay I’ll share mine with you.

I was out walking when I looked up. These clouds were passing by my location at a fairly rapid clip. So, I photographed at a fairly rapid clip. This formation of clouds is fairly rare which makes my decision to work quickly begin to make sense. I’m usually not that fast. Unless I have to be.

I actually hung out hoping that they would last until the low, glowing light of dusk would have really made a great picture. That was not to be. The cloud formation fell apart a few minutes later.

You know what they say. “If you snooze you lose.”


All on a wall.

The caption says it best.

All on a wall.

I was headed to my car after having coffee with Kim of Glover Gardens. She happened to be passing through on her way from Bay St. Louis to Houston. After she went her way and I went mine I saw this art-driven store. I looked in the window, but what I really liked was this wall. I think the door is their delivery door.

But, that wall.

I have no idea where these creatures came from. Or, from whose twisted imagination they sprang. It didn’t matter. I liked them. So, I photographed the wall. It’s been a long time since I did anything like that. I used my baby Leica. The whole thing made me smile.

Leica glass. Not only is the lens very sharp, but the resolution is amazing. There is another quality that I’ll call richness and depth. This is a flat wall with paintings on it. Look how the creatures just seem to be popping off the wall.

It reminds of the days when I exposed a lot of film. I shot slides in those days. I could tell the difference between slides made with Canon or Nikon cameras and those that were made with Leicas. There was just this sort of special quality about them. Apparently, Leica has been able to translate that in the digital world.

Magical.

 


Trains in the fog with help.

Foggy days. Foggy nights.

I took a little walk to a nearby train yard. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. We’ve had a lot of fog so I wanted to photograph the fog at night. I found two engines with their motors warming up. I was astounded to see a caboose sitting between them. Of course, there is a fence between me and them. I heard them before I could see them.

I did the best that I could.

I made this picture and added some roundish highlights to the image. I really didn’t have to, but you know me. I also had help from some business behind this little group. They had their big lights turned on, which helped me to make perfect silhouettes up against a glowing foggy sky.

The caboose is another story all together. My amazement arose because no railroads use cabooses today. Congress changed a law that required them to be attached to freight trains. Once the law changed most cabooses were headed to the scrapyard or to your favorite park. This is a working caboose. It is not used for its intended purpose, but rather as a place for the train crew to rest on long haul rides.

One more thing about the picture. Notice the quality? It’s much better than many images that I post here. I used my baby Leica. It’s a great camera for pictures like this and for many of the subjects that I photograph. It’s not so good for second lines or Mardi Gras Indians. When I say baby I mean it. It has a fixed zoom lens. It’s range is from 24mm to 75mm. It’s also fast. very fast, since it has a large f stop at f1.7.

About walking. I didn’t take a dog. This was a little photo walk.I learned that if I walk at my normal pace, rather than stopping, and letting the dogs explore, my legs don’t hurt anywhere near as much as they normally do.

And, so it goes.