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In the Summer


Summer tree.

Summer tree.

I make pictures in the weirdest places.

I took this one in the parking lot of a strip mall where I gone to run a couple of errands. At this point, I should say that I really don’t see myself as a nature photographer. I just sort of make it up as I go along.

Anyway.

We had one of our usual summer hour-long torrential downpours and I guessed, correctly, that everything would be washed and even the air would sparkle without its usual summer heaviness.

It did.

So I took some pictures. This one was almost an afterthought. I photographed what I thought that I wanted to, and it wasn’t really working. I was standing pretty much under this tree and looked up. I thought, “what the heck” and pressed the button a few times. This picture surprised me. I jumped off the screen while I was reviewing the images.

Of course there is the weather. Severe summer heat. Everywhere. Not just in New Orleans. Apparently, the country is in some kind of dome. A heat dome. Like the thunder dome, only worse. Or like Stephen King’s story called, “The Dome.” A dome even occurred in the Simpsons. None of them were good things. And, to make things worse, corn crops are sweating adding to the humidity in the Midwest. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Apparently, the worst is yet to come. According to NOAA, which is the national weather service that meteorologists use and the guys whose weather brief prior to Hurricane Katrina said something like, “There is a powerful Category 5 hurricane coming which will result in death, disaster and severe suffering,” the entire country with the exception of a strip of land in Washington State stay will stay hot. Luckily, they also said that it will cool down soon. In October.

October? Soon? Huh?

I say November. Around Election Day in The United States. That’s when the political hot wind will finally stop blowing. For a while.

Signs, Symbols & Stuff


 

Lone Star in black and white.

Lone Star in black and white.

Signs and Symbols.

That’s what we see. Every day. But, they become ubiquitous. We stop seeing them. Sometimes, when we take the time and have a little stroll, we start to see — really see — our surroundings. And, sometimes we don’t.

I made these pictures while I was waiting for my buddy to arrive. I just walked around because I am an impatient sort. So I walked. And took pictures of whatever I saw. Here and there. This and that.

The pictures. The lone star is a little weird because it’s not the traditional colors of a Texas flag. Two pictures are fairly easy to recognize. Then there’s that sort of Batman like symbol. I have no idea what that little piece of graffiti means. It just took the picture.

One more thing. About cropping. If I really thought about it, I could have cropped the image called, “Red, White & Blue. Twice” and framed the stars and bars with the with brick-red, blue and white of the door frame and made it an entirely new picture.  Oh. I guess I d think about it.

Touch of Grey


Sweltering in the gallery.

Sweltering in the gallery.

One thing lead to another.

It started with a couple of Facebook posts by a friend of mine, Jeremy Hogan, who is one of about 4,789,217 journalists covering the Republican National Convention, in the city of rock ‘n roll, Cleveland. He was talking about how just about everybody was trying to keep photographers from working, credentialed or not. He was talking about how everybody has a camera this days. Welcome to the new world.

Then, he posted a YouTube link to a Grateful Dead song, which lead me to this, another Grateful Dead song:

“Must be getting early
Clocks are running late
Paint by number morning sky
Looks so phony
Dawn is breaking everywhere
Light a candle, curse the glare
Draw the curtains
I don’t care ’cause
It’s all right
I will get by, I will get by
I will get by, I will survive
I see you’ve got your list out
Say your piece and get out
Yes I get the gist of it
but it’s all right
Sorry that you feel that way
The only thing there is to say
Every silver lining’s got a
Touch of grey
I will get by, I will get by
I will get by, I will survive”

— ” Touch of Grey,” written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.

Which, of course, lead me to this portrait. See how my mind works? Scary isn’t it? Luckily, those two Grateful Dead songs pretty much made my day.

I made this the other day when I was hanging out with my friend Christopher Porche-West. That’s his gallery, called The Bank of Soul. It’s more-or-less a shell of a building, which he has filled up with his work. Some is photographic. Some is found stuff and repurposed. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, you should go. Head over to the Bywater and you’ll find him. You probably should call, or text or pm first. You can find him on Facebook. Or, just Google him.

Anyway. We had a quick lunch. A three-hour lunch. A New Orleans lunch. In a Middle Eastern restaurant. In a strip mall. In St. Bernard Parish. We talked about a lot of stuff. I learned a lot. He’s real deal. He’s been photographing Mardi Gras Indian culture since the 1980s. He remembers when the Indians weren’t quite the scene that they are today. More importantly, unlike most of us out there today, he knows many of them very well. He told me stories. Boy, did he tell me stories. Most of them are pretty funny.

The picture. Oh, you know me. I was just shooting around. Since his gallery doesn’t have  air conditioning, things get a little drippy sometimes. No matter. That’s also a New Orleans thing. Like a long lunch.

Don’t Think Twice


Candles and flowers.

Candles and flowers.

It’s alright.

I stumbled upon this little scene as I was heading to my friend’s gallery in The Bywater. Considering the memorial stretched across the street, I thought it was a pretty good idea to document it. Nobody paid any attention to me except for one guy driving by. He asked me what I was doing. I replied, “Taking pictures.” Yeah. I know. I can be so helpful sometimes.

I don’t know all the circumstances. But, after looking at the “murder map” the local newspaper publishes, I have a pretty good idea of how this young man met his end. I also know from reading the inscriptions on the wall that he was a husband and a dad.

I suppose, for me, this is a fitting memorial to all the people who have been killed in this city — 77 this year — and, 1,000 exactly since I returned from my exile in the high desert. All is not lost. According to something I read, the fine trauma surgeons in this city managed to save another 2,000 plus who were shot or stabbed. Saving one out of three… if they were playing baseball, they be hitting .300. That would probably make them all-stars.

In hell.

 

 

 

Circle


Circles in a wall.

Circles in a wall.

Rust never sleeps. So, they say.

I suppose this picture makes that point pretty well. I’m not exactly sure what this thing is really. I looks like a kind of vault lock. Or, it may be just a simple base to a door knob. I found it on the wall of a building that houses an art gallery. I was waiting for a friend to meet me at the gallery when I started wandering around in search of pictures. I saw this. I knew. I just had to press the shutter button. A couple of times. I should have asked my friend about this thing. Since it is his gallery. And, he collects stuff like this. But, nooooooooo… I forgot.

Yes. There’s some pretty heavy post production going on. I wanted the green, the corrosion, to pop out of the picture since it seems so organic. I also find that with pictures like this one, deeper, richer tones tend to enhance the picture. And, make it better. I think.

Rainy Season


Wet sidewalk and flowers.

Wet sidewalk and flowers.

Yes. The rainy season.

About this time of year we have real interesting days. They are mixed with bright sunshine, clouds, heavier rain clouds, a hard-hitting storm and then the cycle repeats itself. Sometimes, the rain falls in such specific areas that one side of a street is dry, while the other side sees rain falling so hard that a flash flood warning could be announced.

That’s The Gulf Coast for you. In the summer.

This is all good news. The very hot days of early summer have left us. Those 115 degree days are gone. They may come back in late August or September. But, our temperature for this time of year is fairly normal with ground readings in the high-80s and the heat index in the mid-90s. Of course, it is also quite humid.

The rain. We’ve had a little everyday. A hard rain but not for very long. That keeps stuff green and does lower the humidity briefly. It helps make pictures. The sidewalks and pavement sort of glow. Subjects, like these flowers, are washed and sparkle.

For me, this means that there are pictures where normally there might not be. Yes. I have to do a little heavier post production to make the picture look like my brain saw it. But, what did Ansel Adams say? “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score and the print, the performance.”

This kind of summer light does one more thing. It expands my photographic time. The time I take pictures. You know me. I prefer to work at the ends of the day. The time when light and shadows turn even the most mundane subjects a little magical. But, on days like these, the light changes minute-by-minute. Magic happens all day long. And, that’s a lot of fun.

One Sunday Morning


On my window.

On my window.

One Sunday morning.

A day of peace. Which was not to be. I made this picture about an hour before I posted this story.  Somewhere during that time of post production, somebody decided to get revenge. In Baton Rouge. Many police were wounded. At least two were killed. Maybe three. Breaking news is always sketchy at first.

So much for a peaceful Sunday morning.

Prayers? Again? Three times in during a calendar week. Seems like a lot of violence to me. What do I know? I just work here.

And, speaking of that. I’m back. My break really wasn’t long enough. But, if this extreme violence is going to continue I’m going to respond in the only way I know how. Make pictures. And, show them to you.

A little housekeeping. I have about 501 of your emails. Believe it or not, I actually read your blogs. Sooooooo… I’m going to get started. Maybe 25 to about 50 a day.