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The Dog


Curly headed Cocker Spaniel.

Yes. This is the dog.

The dog who sees things. The dog who leads me to pictures. The dog who demands walks.

The picture was made from above. Here’s the story. If the weather is just right. Not too hot. Not too cold. Bright. Sunny. A slight breeze.  She will walk to a certain point and just stand there with her nose in turned up in the air. Then, she sits. Enjoying the nice day.

That’s great if she is in the yard with the rest of the dogs. They all do about the same thing. Sometimes in one area. Sometimes, about as far away as they can get from each other. Dogs need a break too.

But.

If we are walking, as sweet-tempered as she is, she can get stubborn. You can’t move her from enjoying the day until she’s ready to move.

So.

What to do? What to do?

I just take pictures. Usually, I look at my surroundings. But, the morning light was so pretty that I decided to take a few pictures of her. Not normal portraits. Pictures of body parts. At least the ones that I could see while she was sitting.

I really like this view. The top of her head. As winter comes on, we don’t trim the dogs as much as we do for summer. Right now, she looks a little poodley even though she is a cocker spaniel.  Once I started dragging the picture around in post production all the little hidden colors started to emerge. Oddly, she’s not gray. She’s buff with a little white trim. I know that light and shadow have different basic hues so, one side of her head looks golden. The other, sort of blue.

Happy weekend.

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A Little Urban


Fire hydrant and words.

A little change.

Something a little more grungy. A little more urban. A little more made by hand.

Some people think graffiti is some kind of blemish. A kind of destruction. An attack on civilized society. Others think it is a kind of street art. I fall into the latter category. Sometimes. Some of this is just tagging for tagging’s sake. Leaving a mark.

It gets controversial when an artist like Banksy came to town a few years after Hurricane Katrina. He tagged 18 buildings. Almost immediately, 17 of his works was painted over in gray, by a guy who took it upon himself to cover all graffiti with gray paint. The remaining one was removed along with the wall on which it was painted. The owner of the building did that. He also had it restored a bit, and it is now on display as part of another show.  I think it just opened.

I made these four pictures in The Bywater. I also turned the graffiti into my own art by cropping in camera and then bringing out the color in post production. On the other hand, if I actually knew who did the original tagging, I would love to credit them too. Unfortunately, unless you know the taggers’ work by name, secrecy is kind of the whole point.

My Fall… a Version


A little faded.

Most of the leaves have fallen.

In Southeast Louisiana we are getting ready to head into winter. Well, as much winter as we get. True, the weather can get cold. But, it nothing like our friends get in the north. And when the temperatures do take a real dip, it’s only for a few days.

We need those couple of frozen days. The dogs need them too. A couple of days of sub-32 degree weather kills a lot of insect eggs. Fleas. Mosquitoes. Like that. As it is, our dogs get shots to keep fleas at bay. That’s life in the swamp.

Anyway.

The picture. Lately, I’ve been using my iPhone a lot. It’s not because I think it replaces larger “real” cameras as many casual users do. It’s because it’s what I carry when I walk the dogs. These days, I’m mostly just making pictures around my neighborhood for Storyteller. With a little careful interpolation (uprezing) I can make prints up to around 16×20 inches. But, most of this work is intended for online media.

I also use Snapseed and Stackables which are apps that I downloaded to my phone. Between both of them, I can pretty much explore my evolving artistic vision. When I want to do a lot more, I make pictures with a mirrorless camera and use a variety of post production tools. I can see a huge difference between the two approaches. That’s just me. Once images are posted here, they all sort of look the same because of WordPress’ and other social media data compression.

Technically… hmmm.


In all its glory.

Fall. In all its glory.

This is one of those just-as-the-sun-is-starting-to-go-down in late fall pictures. It looks pretty good to my eye. But, I do have a huge technical concern. I’m pretty sure this picture as it appears here could not be reproduced on paper.  I rarely look at histograms, while I am in the field or in the studio. I mostly want the picture to look how I want it to look. After all, I was raised in the 18% gray card era. Exposing exactly for that guaranteed a fairly flat picture, lacking either highlights or shadows. I think the same thing about a perfect bell-shaped histogram.

But.

I glanced at the histogram  as I was adding my watermark. It was so far skewed to the left that it was all shadow and very little highlight. I could never print this picture on paper which is always the goal. After all, you are looking at a collection of ones and zeros. Nothing you can hold in your hand. If I printed this image as it is, all that shadow area would be hidden under a blog of black ink.

I’ll rework it if I want to print it.

That’s the picture. The rest is easy. See it. Photograph it. Rinse and repeat.

Fire on the Mountain


Fire in the sky.

Another night.

Another amazing sky. I’m lucky to see them. That’s what you get when the dogs demand their last long walk of the day at around that time. You get to see some cool stuff.

Which reminds me.

I have friends, and colleagues, who think the only time you can take a picture is when you travel or are at some event. I keep trying to tell them that pictures are all around. Just open your eyes. Especially if you are used to photographing events. For those guys, my work lately would be like the empty space between a couple of notes in a song. By doing this, you let your main work breath. For those of you who only make pictures occasionally, you don’t have to go to Paris or Greece to take a picture. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Photograph what you see. Talk to your neighbors. Let your dog pee on a new piece of dirt. Just sayin.’

That’s it. My lesson for the day. I’m not really talking to you. Well, I am. But, I’m reminding myself. For when I get a little grumpy. But, that’s another story.

The picture. Oh yeah. That. Outside and be there. Let the camera do most of the work. Do a little more in post production. On Snapseed. Oh, did I tell you? Snapseed’s (well — Google’s) last upgrade added something called tools.  You can do some things with one click. More importantly, it saves your last setting. Ooooooohie. Now, I didn’t even have to think. Which is the whole point of art. Or, baseball.

Falling Windows


Falling through the skylights.

A kind of little picture. That grew bigger.

This one is all on me. I have no idea why I didn’t see this before. I guess that I should look up more often. When you walk with dogs, you look down a lot. You don’t want them accidentally tripping you up. Especially on our streets which often looks like Berlin 1946. Even the sidewalk in front of the house is a mess. Up. Down. Cracked. Broken. Roots pushing through. Grass peeking through.

Should I repair it or not? I would. But, I can’t. It’s a funny thing. If we had a sidewalk with a strip of grass growing on the street side, the grass would be mine. The sidewalk is the city’s. If I repair it on my own, I’m guilty of something. Likely, working without a permit since I wouldn’t be issued one anyway.

It’s so much fun living in an ancient city that is built on a swamp. Okay, okay. My neighborhood wasn’t so swampy. It’s on high ground. It’s six feet above sea level, which makes it high ground compared to 80% of the city. But, the soil still shifts and sinks. It’s sort of like quick sand. Oh well. Now that New Orleans is rapidly gentrifying, our house is worth a lot more than we paid for it only four years ago. If we move, we win. Or, lose. Something like that.

Anyway.

I made this picture in the shop/storage space/junk drop/tool shed/refuge. It’s also a sort of pass through between one out building and the next. When the dogs and I finish our walks we generally walk through this room. I looked up. Yes. I did have to do some work in post production. The contrast between extreme highlights and deep shadows was just too much. So, I messed with it some and darkened the shadows to emphasize the highlights.

Have fun.

Oh, funny thing. When I ran this through spell check it wanted to turn gentrifying into petrifying. That’s about that same thing. Heh!

A Day


Flowing like a river.

I’m a little late. This is why.

“The wind in the willow’s playin’ “Tea for Two”; The sky was yellow and the sun was blue, Strangers stoppin’ strangers just to shake their hand, Everybody’s playing in the heart of gold band, heart of gold band. ” — Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia — The Grateful Dead.

It wasn’t because the dogs felt like walking until the end of time. They didn’t. It was because everywhere that we walked we met people. Some who we already knew. So who were new to us. We stopped. We talked. We visited. Sometimes, their dogs met our dogs. Sometimes they growled at each other, as dogs do. A greeting. Then they played.

Just like that.

What a nice Sunday morning. A little warmish with a cool breeze. Pretty light dancing, shimmering, and shining, everywhere. I may be forced to make some real pictures. Or, just be lazy and enjoy it.

The picture. The funny thing about this picture. It was finished before I worked on it in post. I just darkened it a little, made the color a little brighter, added some contrast and a vignette… and wowie zowie. It was done. I told you it’s Sunday. 🙂

By the way, if you’ve never heard the song, “Scarlett Begonias,” you should. It was written at the peak of Robert Hunter’s song writing abilities. It is a very happy song. It’s a little magical. He nailed it. You can find it anywhere. YouTube. Spotify. iTunes.

Into the Mystic


Swirls.

I was just thinking. And, you know how that goes.

This isn’t what you think. Yes. The temperatures have dropped some down here in the swamp, but I doubt that we’ll see any ice from it. This is just foam from fast flowing water. I was lucky enough to make this picture as it was dispersing. Most of the other frames don’t have near the shape that this one does.

Yes. It’s another dog walk picture. They are really patient when they see me start to photograph something. They stop. And, wait. That’s because they just walk longer as a sort of payback. Of course, that might mean that I stop again. But, they just walk longer. And, so the cycle goes.

Of course, I did a little post production. This picture didn’t really need much. It was just sitting there waiting for me. I helped it for sure. I sharpened it a bit and darkened the edges. But what you see is pretty much what you get.

That’s it.

Friday Follies


Mystery season.

I couldn’t resist.

I saw this picture in a really cool cloudy sky. So, I made it. Then, I made it some more in post production. Something like that, anyway. Even though I’ve been drawn to working with my “real” cameras lately, I did this all on my iPhone.

Because.

I downloaded and installed the new Apple OS on my main machine. Usually, that can be a painful experience. Not this time. Easy Peasy. But, there are quirks. And, I wanted to be prepared for them. Even opening up WordPress for the first time took three tries. The first time brought me to the basic design tree. The second time took me to a page something like this, but without any left column controls. The third time… joy.

No problem. I knew that might happen. That’s a little thing. Apple and my apps have to find each other and shake hands as they used to say. Me? I ‘d rather be safe than struggling to make my own self-imposed deadline. That’s the photographer in me. Or, the boy scout. Always be prepared.

So. The picture. A dog walk picture in my neighborhood. I’m still a little restricted. And, of course, with the cool weather the dogs are crazy. We have normal walking routes. They are something that the dogs can do and that I can do right now. In and hot humid weather, they are fine with that.

Today, we went for two walks in one. We got to the end of one route which is home, and they thought it would be a good idea to turn before the gate and walk a second route. That hurt a little bit. When we got home the second time, I went inside and they stayed in the yard. They aren’t wasting this cool, dry weather.

Anyway.

The clouds were really nicely structured so I made the picture. It was really cluttered — that’s not like me — so I cropped and shaped it — and then went to town on it. A little of this. A lot of that. And, some of the other. Or, as we say around here, “dis, dat and de udder.” By the way, the text was made using Snapseed. Even the copyright symbol. I’ve never figured out how to make one on an iPhone keyboard. Probably most people know this, but it struck me like thunder. Just go to the emojis. It’s right there in symbols. Doh!

 

Serve Somebody


Color in the Bywater.

Serve Somebody. That’s from an old Dylan song. I’m listening to the live version which was just released. Recorded in 1979. Released in 2017. It’s a long story. Let’s just say it was made during his “Born Again” period. A lot of people didn’t take him seriously. But, he was at his live musical peak. His voice was in great shape. His stage presence was amazing. He played Christian rock before it was a thing.

Anyway.

The picture was made on that day in The Bywater. Just like yesterday’s post. In fact, it was made about three minutes later. That should give you an idea of how I work the scene. When I’m on the scene. And, it isn’t moving. Like a second line. All I can say about this picture is find the pay phone. Heh!

The image works on almost pure color. Even before I tinkered with it, the thing that caught my eye is the contrast between the red car and the blue door. I made a couple of pictures without the car. Doesn’t come close. The picture needs the car. It needs the clutter of the stop scene.

That said.

Boy, I get so confused. The reaction on other social media to yesterday’s post — the one that focused on the pay phone and the building behind it — was wonderful. People who I respect as knowing something about art really like it. Thank you very much.

But.

I never saw that image as being very good. So, either I’ve managed to get so good that I just burp out good pictures and don’t know it, which is as likely as me living to 300 years. Or, I have no idea what I’m doing and just get lucky sometimes. That’s more like it.

I’ve been thinking about it some. That’s always a bad idea. I think it harkens back to my photojournalism days. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you kind of know what I mean. All those black and white pictures really make me smile. They are of people. They are of the places in which those people live. They are comfortable to me.

This new work — all of it — is experimental. I have no idea if it matters. To me. Or, to anybody else. It isn’t very comfortable. I suppose that’s okay. It’s in that little zone where growth comes. Based on comments going back to may layer experiments of a few months ago, you like them. And, that matters. Some people say to do whatever you want without any concern about what others think.

Or.

That title? Serve Somebody. We all gotta serve somebody.