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In The Hour


Mysterious way.

Land of the weird. Mysterious. Moody. Almost evil.

A place that you would not go.

Often, I’m inspired by book covers, or Netflix thumbnails for direct to video scary movies. I think that’s what I was working to in post production, all of which was done on my smart phone, using Snapseed and Stackables. My working method is simple. I do the first development in Snapseed. where I set the basic color, sharpness and mood. I switch to Stackables to do the heavy artistic work. I make a couple of versions. I select one and finish it in Snapseed.

What is the image about? I don’t know. But, they say that all art is autobiographical.  I certainly didn’t grow up in an evil-looking forest. I suppose that it reflects my mood. We are at a really pivotal point in my country. The more I learn, the more scary it becomes. I’m pretty sure that most systems are broken. As they say, “the center cannot hold.”

Here’s an example. There was an armed sheriff at Parkland. A good guy with a gun. He did nothing. When the police rolled in, they found him taking shelter behind a column. Yes. I know. It’s a horrible choice to engage the shooter. The sheriff might have been wounded or killed. That’s part of his job. The really big downside. He was suspended without pay. He resigned by retiring after 33 years on the job. I certainly hope he gets no retirement pay. I’m sure a deal was cut. Something like, “Resign right now and you’ll keep your retirement benefits.” His department is still investigating him.

By the way, I missed another way of ending gun violence. Yesterday, I suggested repealing the Second Amendment. That’s one way. It’s a long painful process.

A better, quicker way is to kill the NRA financially. They are the ones who are dancing with the Second Amendment and actively promoting more guns everywhere. Guns, guns, guns.

Already, the big car rental companies like Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise have ended any business relationships with the NRA. Banks and credit card companies are starting to refuse to do business or fund the NRA.

That’s why Wayne LaPierre, the president of the NRA, is screaming so loud. Their so-called Second Amendment rights are being attacked by kids armed with the First Amendment. He and is ilk are terrified. Their game might be over.

One more thing. Arming teachers is stupid. Since that idea is supported by the president who loves the NRA, that’s all I need write.

I’m sorry to have turned this into a political column. Aside from art being autobiographical, it is also influenced by current events, disruption and emotional distress. I’m not in distress. I typically get very cold-blooded and clear-headed when I have to deal with negative situations. I am very influenced by killing kids. Children who did nothing wrong. They went to school.

 

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Mood Swings


From my artistic side.

A little change for you.

I was looking at my 2018 archives. I realized that aside from Mardi Gras and a few second lines, I’ve been doing the same thing over and over and over… and hoping for something different. For almost two months.

In some places that’s the classic definition of insanity.

I don’t think I’m a little crazy, but being a photographer… well, you know. Heh!

So.

Even though this the same kind of wintry picture I’ve been making, I thought that I’d stretch myself out a little bit and get back to a little more artistic way of working.

Before you ask, don’t. I just kept adding and subtracting until I got to a place that expressed my mood at the time. A little deep. A little dark.

How come?

Did you happen to watch the Florida town hall yesterday? The senator — Marco Rubio — got hammered by the kids, by the parents, by the teachers. One parent flat-out told him that he was weak. Yet, he refuses to give up NRA funding because that represent another group. Gun advocates. The representative from the NRA, who shouldn’t have been there at all, doesn’t even want to make minor changes to the laws.

So.

After sleeping on it. I’ve come to this. We need to flip the entire Congress in November. We need to take the power away from the usual suspects in the House and the Senate. Elect new blood that is not yet tainted.

Once that is done, we must repeal the Second Amendment.

That’s radical. It will take a lot of time. The process is long and usually nasty. Sorry, our children’s lives are at stake. Take away the law that the gun folks hide behind and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be safe. Maybe our future will be safe.

Oh.

If Marco Rubio wants to keep earning the kind of money that he’s used to, about $172,000 a year, I’m sure there’s a management position for him at a hamburger chain out west. He can probably get pretty good health insurance too.

 

In One Day


Spring is upon us.

One day. That’s all it took.

I pass by this place almost every day. One day the trees looked like winter. The next day they looked like spring. That’s great, I suppose.

The temperature is too hot. Our low temperatures have been higher than our normal highs during this time of year. I’m not a highly paid television weather person, so I’m not really qualified to ask this question. If it’s so warm now, what is summer going to be like? Are we in for a 120 days of 90 degree plus weather? Or, will the temperatures drop back down to about normal? Or, or, or…

Questions. So many questions.

The picture. I think, for a little while, I’m going to talk a little photo technique.  A few of you are starting your photographic journey. I’ll tell you what I did. Please ask as many questions as you like.

Here’s what I did to give the image a good starting point.

Normally, you’d average the exposure between the shadows and highlights. That’s fine. That would make a good picture. I knew that I want something a little different. I exposed for the white clouds giving them some texture and feeling. That dropped everything else into a dark range, which is also what I wanted. To be sure, I did some work in post production. I upped the contrast a little. I made the scene warmer. I gave the edges a little vignette to make sure nothing was hanging out. And, I cropped the picture to make it a deep vertical shape. But, I could have left it alone.

One more thing. I probably made around ten pictures while I worked this very simple scene. Some were tighter, others looser. Some were horizontal, while most were vertical. I even made a sort of diagonal shape in an effort to do some in camera cropping.

I suppose that’s the biggest take away. Since making pictures is almost free once you make your initial investment, you can and should experiment while you are in the field. I’m not suggesting that you pray and spray. I am suggesting that you should work the scene thoughtfully because you’ll never have those few moments again.

Pieces of Paper


Late afternoon winter sky.

Amazing.

Last evening, the light was just amazing.

As usual, I was in the wrong place. So, I did what I could. This picture fits nicely into a sub-genre of landscape pictures called, ” New Landscape.” Me? I just call it a picture. Or, photograph. I don’t think photography has to be sliced and diced into little tiny meaningless data points.

Yes. There is a lot of post production going on here. The clouds were reflecting the low winter sunset. The shadows were pretty cool. The sense of time and place was what I was really after. A sort of wrapped in cotton candy, feel good kind of thing. There is also a nice contrast between nature and man-made.

And.

Please don’t think yesterday’s post was a one-off. It isn’t. There are a lot of teachers in my life. Still working on logistics, but I’ll document what happens around here. The students want to walk. For now, it looks like 17 minutes at the end of one class. You know why.

I’m still thinking about it, but the adults around my age can mobilize and make certain everybody votes in November. Traditionally, mid-term elections have a tiny turnout. Those who vote can flip Congress. What happens if we have a massive turnout? What happens if the newly elected Congress people are beholden to nobody but us, the voters? And, dare I say it, what happens if most of the newly elected leaders are women?

Think about that for a minute.

We need change. We are crying out for change. That’s how the guy in The White House got elected. How Bernie never really stopped running. How Hillary never really stood a chance although the race was hers to lose.

What if youngish women replaced all the grumpy old white guys? I say this being and old white guy, myself. I’m grumpy sometimes.

What if that’s how both Houses of Congress get flipped? What does that do to the abuser in chief? I say that as much as he mistreats women, he is really afraid of them. Likely, they’ll get what they want, which is what we want.

Let’s find out.

Oh. Thank you to those who said such nice things about yesterday’s post. I keep that in perspective by reminding myself that I’m a photographer. Writing is something I do out of self-defense. Or, something like that.

 

Twenty One


Mysterious Moon.

Twenty One.

I’ll discuss that in a minute. But, first, let’s talk about the moon picture. It’s moody and mysterious. It’s probably better used as a Halloween picture. I made it yesterday. I wanted to show it to you today. I still have no idea what’s causing the reddish glow. Sunset is way over beyond the far right of this picture. There is really nothing to reflect that reddish light. Maybe the swamp is on fire. Or, the river. I’m pretty much looking towards the Mississippi River from this location.

But…

The coolest thing about this picture is opening it up and staring into it. It appears to be translucent and layered. The trees seem to be way in a separate foreground. The moon is floating off somewhere way in the distance. I discovered that while I was working on it in post production.

I made the picture a few steps away from home. I mention this because a number of you still think you need to travel to take a picture. You don’t. You are better off making pictures around home. Practicing. Practicing. Practicing. When you do travel, your pictures will be so much the better.

That’s the picture.

Twenty One.

That’s the number of shootings in New Orleans this past week. Of those, eight people died. This, combined with the killings of 17 young students in Florida and you have a pretty violent week. I have no idea what happened in the rest of the country. I’m pretty sure that Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore where pretty competitive with us in New Orleans. The list is longer than that. Bang, bang, bang. In too many places.

Before I write more, let me say this about that. Nixon used that phrasing. Heh.

I’m pretty much in the middle of the road politically. I’m a registered independent. As they used to say, I vote for the person, not the party.” I’m not particularly anti-this-or-that. I think that the federal government should stay out of certain things, not making those things legal or illegal. I think they should take care of us in ways that no smaller entity can.

You know where this is headed.

Guns.

I know the arguments, both pro and con. And, I don’t care about them.

What I know is that there are too many guns. Everywhere. I have no idea why any civilian needs an AR-15. I feel about them just about the same way I feel about people holding the shutter button down on a camera, hoping to “get” a good picture. Spray and pray never works. The difference — and it’s a big one — is that with a semi-automatic weapon you can hurt a whole lot of people in a couple of minutes. But, that’s just one aspect. There are guns everywhere.

The ONLY reason that there are guns everywhere is money. People all up and down the line make a whole lot of money on guns, bullets and accessories. The people screaming about 2nd Amendment gun rights, don’t have a clue. They are at the bottom of a long cash chain. And, they are spending their cash.  Making everybody up the line rich. Very rich.

Break the chain, and the problem starts to wither. Death by gun starts to slow down. Not having a weapon that fires lethal projections from any distance changes the violent dynamics. There’s no argument. It just does.

If there’s not a gun in your hand you won’t pull the trigger. You won’t, in a moment of anger, shoot somebody. You might get into a physical thing. You might yell and scream at each other, but you’ll both be alive in the end.

So.

Am I a flaming anti-gun liberal? No. I already told you that I wasn’t. I’m just appalled at so much needless violent death. I’d like to see everybody’s children grow up. I’d like to see people not be afraid to go to school, to a concert, to a Mardi Gras parade. I’d like to see people walk the city streets — my city streets — and not have to look over their shoulder. And, not practice “situational awareness.”  That phrase is for people who are in combat. Not for people outside watching a Mardi Gras parade and raising their hands for beads.

I know what I think and what I’m going to do. You can decide for yourself.

Finally.

There are three student strikes planned over the next couple of months. Some are short. One is very long. Support them. They may be the only people who can lead us out of our violent ways.

I suggest this.

Clear the way for them. Have their backs. But stand aside and let them do what they must. Big changes are often led by young people. Let them lead.

 

Dusk


Dusk light.

I honestly have no idea. Something was lighting this tree from the front, but I have no idea what, why or how. I didn’t do it. There were no external lights shining on it. I saw it and I photographed it.

That was just a little tricky. The first frame was fairly washed out. Since I made this picture with a smart phone, I had to fool the sensor into making an underexposed image. After all, every smart phone sensor and processor wants to make the “perfect” exposure, just as light meters in old school SLR cameras wanted to expose for 18% gray.

I  focused on the cloud, which is a highlight and then quickly refocused so that the branches would be sharp. If you look at my take, which is about ten frames, you’d see one image that was light, then one that was seemingly too dark and so on. It was up to me to select the one that worked for me. All I did in post production was clean the image up a bit, add a tiny bit of color since no sensor can see what you see, and I was done. In case you’re wondering, I use an iPhone 6s. It doesn’t even have the best possible photo processing software. I’ll leave that to the Google phones and the latest of almost every brand.

Winter Tree


This is what I saw.

What a strange transition. It’s still winter. In the Southeast winter transitions into spring very early. That’s normal. But, the high temperatures are normally still around 65 degrees. For the last couple of days the temperatures have hovered around 82 degrees. Setting new records.

That’s pretty hot for this time of year.

It’s confusing too. The light looks winterish. Still low. Still fairly golden. Most of the trees are still bare, making great silhouettes. But, the temperatures. Ouch.

I guess I can hardly wait for summer. 500 degrees. On a cool day. Time to find someplace way, way north. For the summer months.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Enhance everything a little bit in post to bring out the colors. Done. Post it. Done.

Weird Winter


Silhouetted trees in the dreary sky.

Remember how happy we were when 2017 came to an end. 2018 was going to be great. It was going to be grand. Wonderful. We were all starting over.

Well.

Has it been?

I’m not going to run through the litany of bad things that has happened so far. You know how this week went. Geeze. Seventeen people killed for no reason. Most of them were children. In New Orleans, we couldn’t get through Carnival without eight people getting shot, and three of those dying. On Mardi Gras Day.

So. I saw this weird scene as I was walking. I photographed it. Then, I made it weirder in post production. While I was working on it, it came to me that today is Chinese New Year. A whole new lunar year. Starting today.

So.

I lived in Asia long enough to celebrate the lunar new year. I was in Hong Kong for many celebrations. So I reset my calendar. Today is the start of my new year. All that came in the first six months of 2018 are last year’s news. I’m starting over.  You can too. You probably should.

Oh yeah. This is the Year of the Dog.

The dogs are excited.

The Day After


Mardi Gras beads in monochrome.

Mardi Gras 2018 has come to an end.

Today it is Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, which confuses some people. Yes, I made pictures yesterday. This is one of them. I decided in a dream to change my approach a little. I’ve been working toward my kind of art for a while. It just seemed like this is a good day to take it further. Especially after what I wrote yesterday. Thank you, old friend.

Besides, it very well may be the last time that we see these cheap plastic beads. While the city was cleaning out the storm drains following the floods of August, they removed 46 tons of plastic beads. There are already moves afoot to ban them. Many people say they are just filler. They say that what parade goers want are everything else. Stuffed animals. Better beads with the krewe’s symbols on them. Doubloons. Nerf footballs. Frisbees.

All I can tell you is what happens around here. We keep the good stuff and give all the beads to charity. We don’t want them either. A few years go by and we don’t even want the good stuff. We keep the handmade throws like Muses shoes, Nyx purses and Zulu coconuts. Those matter. We know who made them.

I have to wonder about the tourists who chase beads. They jump around, flash, beg, and are tossed a few beads and then what happens? Do they take them home and put them in their closets only to be tossed in the trash a few years later? Do they cherish them as a reminder of their Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans?

This picture. I made the picture on the street as I was walking by. Then I went to work on it. I did this, that and the other thing. And, here we are. I think it’s a pretty good closer for Mardi Gras and an opener to Lent, when many people give things up. And, life gets a little colorless for 40 days.