The start of the holiday season.

This one.

This is the picture I mentioned in yesterday’s Storyteller.

The Christmas wish of “peace y’all” has been around for as long as I can remember. Except for some slight rewiring, the lights never change. This picture is probably four or five years old. But, I could wander down to Royal Street today and make the same one.

I dressed this version up in some new bobbles from OnOne. It’s warmer. It has little globe-like things around, which are OnOne’s version of in-computer created bokeh. I’ve opened the shadows some. But, that’s about it.

As I wrote yesterday, I was thinking that I might not even try to photograph this decoration again. Then the light bulb went off. I found an idea. I’lll either show it to you if it works. Or, tell you about it if it doesn’t.

I’d like one thing from all of you who are photographers. I’d love to see where you live dressed up in its Christmas or holiday best. Whaddya think?

 


Looking at the sky.

Look up.

Sometimes, that’s where the picture lies. I did that the other night at around dusk. I was housebound and I need to get outside for a few minutes. I made the picture about ten steps from the door.

Is there a lesson in there someplace? Nah. I’ve preached enough about going outside when you are in a photographer’s block. You don’t need to read it again. Oh wait. You already did just read it. No matter. If  you’re like me, a little brain pounding is needed. If not, sorry.

I’m going to post another reworked picture tomorrow. It’s about something that is seen yearly in the French Quarter. I was going to write something about not having to work the scene again because it’s always the same. While I was thinking that, an idea came to me. It’s an early evening shot, so I’ll go very soon to see if it works. At least, my brain is starting to work.

It hasn’t been working for most of the week. But, that’s another story, for another time. I’ll eventually discuss it, but not now.

The picture. It’s a kind of F8 and be there thing. But first, you have to find the framing.The picture is cropped into a square because I didn’t exactly find the right frame. I cropped it into the right frame. And, that little dot way up there? That’s the moon.

Enjoy.


Looking toward the sky.

The headline say it all.

Reaching.

Bare trees look like they are reaching toward each other. It’s not a compositional trick. It’s not a camera trick. It’s not an accident. It’s just what I saw.

I think it’s a giant irony. As trees reach toward other, humans are fracturing more and more. Further polarization is in the air. Just read about the NATO 70th Anniversary meeting. Read the continuing silly attacks on the impeachment process. Red states v blue states. Ignoring the science of climate change for short term profits. And, on it goes.

But, nature knows.

Nature will probably have to destroy us to get us to listen. Maybe with the extreme weather of climate change, maybe with more people dying because of it, our leaders will take notice and listen. Maybe, hope against hope will prevail. Maybe nature will once again unite us.

Probably not. Likely it’ll further polarize the haves against have nots.

Who knows? It’s above my pay grade.

The picture. It was easy. I didn’t do much to it. Nature did all of the work.

There’s that nature thing again.

 


Old time, good time.

This is a dramatic change.

Mostly, I’ve been posting faux nature pictures as they relate to the season. But, I downloaded an upgrade to my OnOne editing and processing software. I just had to test it. I had to take it for a spin. You know, kick the tires.

I remade an image that I photographed about five years ago. While I won’t be tinkering in this way with the pictures I select, I was able to start an end of decade project.

Remember, 2020 is not only a new year, but a new decade.

That started me thinking about the dawn of this millennium. That’s a story in itself. At least, I started that out properly, by standing on The Great Wall of China as the clock struck midnight. I’d like to say it was a sort of lonely experience which would have been perfect. But, there were more people — Westerners and Chinese — standing up there than at any Mardi Gras parade.

Anyway.

Back to this picture. I tinkered with my upgraded software for a couple of hours. It was two things. A learning experience without a sharp learning curve. And, a lot of fun.

If you ask me exactly what I did, I couldn’t tell you. There was a lot of back and forth. I actually think I went a little too far. I may reprocess it in a slightly more restrained way once I learn more about the software.

I remember submitting the original image to an agency. They were looking for something “spooky” for an ad campaign. They really liked this picture. They asked if I had a property release. I replied that I didn’t need one. The Art Director started to say something, but I cut him off. I said, ” I don’t need a property release because I own the house.”

Yes. I did. We did.

We bought it for pennies on the dollar because the entire back of the house fell off. Three stories just peeled off the house in one big sheet, which broke up when it hit the ground.

We applied for, and received, state and city grants. They came with two requirements. We can’t sell the house for ten years. And, we needed to place a historical plaque on the front of the house.

Flash forward four years. The house is restored to its former glory.

There are a lot of period pieces that have either been restored or internally modernized.

It’s painted using New Orleans colors of the time period, which are not as bright as you’d think. Around here you can go to any Sherwin-Williams paint store and ask for their color chip chart for a certain period of time. Pick the colors and they mix them to 1887 specifications. The year the house was born.

It is leased to a nice young family who treat it as their own.

This house is the anchor to a completely rehabbed, but not gentrified, neighborhood. What was once a run down and Katrina-flooded street is now restored. The people who live there are truly neighbors.

So.

The city got a restored neighborhood. Young families along the street got new homes. Some rent. Some own. We got to test our general contracting and work skills. And, we own a lovely second property in an up and coming section of town.

Everybody wins.


I found some colorful leaves.

Just when I thought I was out, I was pulled back in.

Actually, I went looking for these leaves. They are still hanging around on trees called Japanese Maples. They turn fall colors later in the season. And, the color lasts longer once the leaves do start to change.

I knew where I thought I saw them. I just haven’t walked in that direction in the past month or so, I headed there hoping against hope that I hadn’t missed them. I was lucky — that old photographers luck thing again  — and they were as I expected them to be. Whew.

I made all kinds of pictures of them. I processed a lot of them which is unusual for me. I couldn’t find quite what I wanted until I saw this image. It looks like an explosion of color so I made it look even more explosive. That’s what you are seeing here.

I’d like to say that there is a lesson here. Maybe one of persistence. But, I wasn’t very persistent. Instead, it’s more-or-less how my mind works. Some vision clicks in and I try to find it in real life.

Maybe the best lesson for me is not to self edit in the field. I said about a week ago that one of my pictures was the last of the fall color. If I stuck with that I wouldn’t have walked in a different direction. I wouldn’t have found the wonderful late fall colored  Japanese Maples.


Layering helps.

They say that fall is colorful.

I agree. So, here they all are. Every color.

It must have been my feverish brain that made this thing. This mess. This monstrosity. None of this means that I don’t like what I’m showing you. I do. A lot.

Which brings me to showing our work.

I read a blog recently. The author said that it wasn’t his/her best work, adding that he/she wasn’t sure that they liked it. WHT? If you don’t like it, what makes you think that I’ll like it? That anyone will like it?

The only thing that I can think of that would allow anyone to share something they didn’t like would be a self-promise to publish on certain days. Or, a firm deadline such as you used to find in the old days of newspapering. And, that was usually about hard news. We don’t publish hard news on our blogs.

So, here’s my thing.

Always try to put your best foot forward. Make no excuses. Don’t apologize for your work, especially by saying it’s not good. Let your readers decide if your work isn’t good. This time.

For sure, there are times when I look back and say to myself, “What the hell was I thinking?” That’ll happen. It’s happening now.

Now? No. Not with this post.

It’s happening with a post that I’m thinking about publishing towards the end of the year. I got the idea from a lot of sports sites that I read. It’s an end of a decade thing. My ten best pictures of the decade. Aside from seeing pictures that I like, especially with my current thinking, there are pictures that I think, “why did I make that picture and what was wrong with me?”

Anyway.

Do you know how hard it is picking a decades ten best pictures?

Sheesh.


Into the mystic.

Deep. Dark. Mysterious.

That’s what I saw. That’s what I felt.  Luckily, I was able to make a picture that has feeling rather than just the usual documentation of a thing or place. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen very often.

It was kind of a fluke. Kind of photographer’s luck. Kind of what I tell me people who are suffering from a photography disorder.

It was a fluke because the dog and I normally don’t walk in this direction. It was photographer’s luck because we picked the time of day. It was the solution to the question I had been asking myself earlier in the day.

Together, all of this worked in my favor. Or, really, your favor.

The picture. From a technical standpoint, it was be there, see it, push the button. In post production it was more of the same. Most of the work was about darkening and enhancing the color to the point that I saw it while we were walking.


The last red tree. I promise.

I know what I said.

I was wrong. I found this tree a day or two after I said that all the leaves were down. However, I walked by it this morning thinking I’d add to the red collection. Now, I can safely say that all the leaves are down. The street was covered in the red leaves you see in this picture. I took a picture to prove it. I might post it next week. Or, tomorrow.

I guess this picture proves what I’ve long believed. Don’t mess with mother nature. Or, her trees.

Today is Black Friday in The United States. It’s a silly day created to drum up business. Prices are supposedly deep discounted. People used to line up at malls and big box stores at something like two o’clock. In the morning.  Some stores are open on Thanksgiving Day.

According to some news reports that I read, it’s becoming a thing of the past. And, hopefully buyers are realizing that the deepest discounts are made on old stock, specially wholesaled stock, and stuff nobody needs. The good stuff may or may not be discounted. And, there may not be much of it. A lot of people have also discovered the joys of shopping online.

We don’t go to stores to celebrate overbuying. And overspending, which stretches out your Christmas giving for the rest of the new year.

Even when we do look at Black Friday prices, we actually don’t buy any goods. We might buy services. For instance, last year we subscribed to Hulu for 99 cents a month. This year, I’ll likely buy some photo software at a discount with a bunch of other goodies included. I may also subscribe to The Athletic, a very well reported and written sports website. It’s worth the normal price, but today it’s half price for a year.

What do you, in The United States, do on the busiest shopping day of the year?

Hopefully, like us, you mostly ignore it. Even the two items that I might download and subscribe to for the next year, came to me because I already use those services. I wouldn’t know about them if I didn’t. And, I wouldn’t care.