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One More Time


Seeing the flag.

It happens in threes. That’s what they say.

I suppose that depends on which three you mean. For me, it was a friend, Bernie Jones, with whom I worked in my newspaper days. That was a couple of weeks ago. Then, Anacaleto. And, yesterday it was Pete Turner.

I knew them all. I didn’t know Pete well. I worked with him a little in my Image Bank days. But, along with three other photographers he was the driving force of what I do today. He was one of the fathers of modern color photography. Along with Ernst Haas and Jay Maisel, he taught the world’s photographers what color photography could and should be. The fourth photographer never used color film as far as I know. He was Gene Smith, the legendary Life and Magnum photographer.

We all age. Sometimes we get sick. Eventually we leave the planet. You know, all things must pass. George Harrison wrote a song about that. He left way too early at age 58. According to his wife, Olivia, his last words were, “Love one another.”

Think about that. For a while. A long while.

Me? This is the end of my triplets. For a while. I hope.

You never know.

The picture. I made it in The French Quarter. I did some stuff to it in post production. As Gene Smith used to say, “I want the damn picture to say what I want it to say.” As, Pete Turner used to say in the days of film and adding to the picture in the darkroom, “The picture isn’t finished until the dupe is done.”

One more thing.

For all the young photographers who read Storyteller, learn about all of these guys. Photography wasn’t invented when digital cameras came on the scene. It was invented in the 1800’s and has been improved upon since then. You can grow a lot if you learn about the art and craft of what you are trying to do.

One little thing. A dupe is a duplicate. In the film days, you made corrections or additions on one piece of film. You layered that on the original picture and took a picture of the two. It was time-consuming and painful. If you worked in a darkroom and wanted sharp images, your enlarger had to be set in cement. Literally. And, you better hope a large truck didn’t pass by your building.

RIP Pete Turner. And, thank you.

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Plaster Angels


Angels in St. Louis Cathedral.

Some days you eat the bear. Some days the bear eats you.

Yesterday was one of those days when the bear won. After four years of battling colon cancer, an old friend of mine passed.

We went to college together. We worked in newspapers for many years. I left them. He did too. Everybody does. Printed newspapers are a dying breed. Worse, they’ve always eaten their young. To advance you have to move on and on. And, on. Eventually, you find a home. Either you move out, or you get moved out. In his later career he taught. I edited and published.

That’s only a small part of the story. All of our stories are individual. But, they are the same.

So is the final chapter. I suppose we all knew that his time was short. But, when it came, it seemed unexpected. It seemed sudden. Like bricks falling from a storm-blown building, they hit us in the head.

Our Facebook pages lit up with remembrances and expressions of sympathy. Your know that I’m not big on social media. Any of the platforms. I use them because I have to, not because I want to. I usually discuss my thoughts and emotions here. On Storyteller. Whatever drifts onto my social media pages is accidental, not intentional.

Anyway.

Anacleto or Michael, depending on what point of our lives intersected, was a helluva a photographer. In the past, he led Los Angeles Times photography teams on coverages of things like last night’s Emmy Awards. That’s probably not all that important.

This is what is important.

He was Yoda. Quiet. Positive. Gentle. A leader without trying to be. Even as the end drew near and his family came to see him, to say goodbye, he made the group portraits. He simply said, “‘Tis the season of reunions.” To a person, everyone who posted yesterday said that he made the world a better place. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years. You know. Life. Distance. But, there is giant hole right now. In the world.

Rest in Peace, Anacleto Rapping.

Out There in Blue


Out on the road.

This is fun.

I’m revisiting old work. I’m tinkering with it. And, showing it to you. There’s a secret to this picture. I made it during the day. The dusk-like quality came in post production. I wanted to see if I could do it.

Apparently, I can.

Now you know that the old saying, “a picture never lies, ” is — well — a lie. Even in the old darkroom days, you could burn (darken) and dodge (lighten)and do overlays. It was just a lot harder to do than it is on a computer. Don’t get me wrong. If this was some kind of photojournalism, the picture would be an accurate rendition of what I saw with my eyes. Since it’s not, I can make the picture I saw in my brain.

So There.

I made this picture in New Mexico. On another back stretch of the roads to the west of Albuquerque. I used to prowl around a lot when I lived there. For that matter, I used to prowl a lot in New Orleans. I don’t do it as much these days. I’m probably a little burnt out on this place. It happens.

I Lit Up From Reno…


Over the mountain.

“I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night

Till the morning came around, I set out running but I’ll take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight, I ran into the Devil, babe. He loaned me twenty bills

I spent that night in Utah, In a cave up in the hills, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran down to the levee, But the Devil caught me there, He took my twenty dollar bill

And he vanished in the air, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine,  If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight. ” — Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead)

From a  song I like called, “The Friend of the Devil,” because it speaks to this place. I-80, just east of Reno, Nevada on one winter morning as I was headed toward Utah after stopping by the military cemetery at Fernley, NV.

The picture. I made it through the windshield as I was going about 80 mph. I dressed it some in post production. I even added a running frame to it.

Road Trips


Out on the road.

It’s pretty rare that I make two pretty nice pictures within minutes of each other. But, that’s what happened. You saw yesterday’s post. Here’s today’s.

Five minutes apart.

I forget which came first. Doesn’t really matter. I suspect this one was second because there is no setting sunlight in the sky. Just blue light. Blue hour. The time immediately after sunset.

Today is Friday. Or, Saturday. Depending on where you are.

So.

I’m going to take a break from serious comments. Except to ask, did you read about the two ex-Google staffers who are trying to disrupt bodegas and corner stores with their digital vending machine?

More disruption. I told you.

Except this time, it ain’t happening. They invented a vending machine. Congratulations. And, most people like their little neighborhood stores.

Desert Light


Late spring in New Mexico.

New Mexican light. There is nothing like it.

I miss it a lot. There are days when I wonder what I did. I wonder why I came back. But, that’s pretty much another story. It has to do with the romance of place. The swamp. A lot of culture that I’d grown used to in New Orleans. And, the food.

However.

The place is falling apart. The swamp smells. I’m kind of over the culture. And, I’m bored with “New Orleans” food. Besides, as I try to get healthier and healthier, New Orleans food is the last thing that I need.

I’m not complaining. I was happy to come back. I’m glad that I did. And, I sure made a lot of cool New Orleans pictures. I even got to know a lot of the players in the Mardi Gras Culture. And, then there’s Mardi Gras itself. People pay a lot of money to travel to New Orleans to see the Mardi Gras. I walked out my front door and up two blocks. Same thing with The French Quarter. People travel from miles around. I drive five minutes.

Anyway.

This is a New Mexican picture. It has the kind of light that artists of all genres revere. At the time, I was comparing man to wide open spaces. Those big, huge electrical power poles feed the west. They sure don’t look so big in this picture. It makes the statement that no matter what man does, nature is always bigger and grander. You’d think we learn that during Hurricane Season. I guess you have to be there.

Shapes


Shapes in the garden.

I saw the line. Then I saw the rest of the picture.

It took the right light to illuminate the scene. I’ve probably walked past this place 100 times and I never saw it this way. The light fell on all of the highlights and that’s what caught my eye. The rest is pretty normal. Finally see it. Photograph it. Process it.

A quick little discussion.

I made this picture with my iPhone. Really, just about the only pictures I make with it are the dog walking pictures or something that just sort of happened. No matter what the sales and marketing pitch happens to be, that little, bitty, teeny, tiny sensor just cannot hold up to the sensors in DSLRS or mirrorless cameras.

Oh sure. If you make a smart phone picture in just the right light you can enlarge it. Some. I have a 16 x 16 inch print hanging on the wall. But, it’s made in my more painterly post production. It looks fine. Maybe, even good. That’s about its limit. Of course, if all you are doing is posting pictures on something like Instagram, it’s just fine because the pictures are small.

There was a big discussion this week about a Time Magazine cover that was taken by a photographer who works exclusively with a smart phone. The Time editor hired her because she has 40,000 followers on instagram. And, her work is consistent.

Oh goody.

I wanted to see the cover for myself. The real thing. Not the online version. The paper magazine. I went to the last news stand in the area. To be honest, the cover looks like hell. First, the picture just ain’t that good. I can pretty much assure you that a few years ago it would have never seen the light of day. It’s an out take at best.

As image quality decreases, so does the talent. Younger creatives have no frame of reference. I was stunned when I was watching a video in which one of the better newspaper photographers working today said that he never shot on slide film and didn’t even know the correct way to view a Kodachrome slide. What?

This isn’t a rant, but it seems to me that all this disruption doesn’t make things better. It makes them cheaper (different from inexpensive) and the practitioners don’t seem to know anything about the history of art with which they are working. History matters. Craft matters.

Anyway.

This discussion came out of my smart phone comments. So let’s return.

While I’m not big on using mine as a main camera, I just about live the rest of my life on it. It’s a very useful tool to me. Apple just released iPhoneX (Roman numeral 10) and two slightly lesser models. The starting cost for the “X” is $1,000.00. That’s a lot of money for a phone. By the time, I add more storage, my phone would cost around $1,300.00.

Whew. For that money, I could buy an iPad Pro or a bottom line Macbook Air. For a little more money, I could buy a lens that I’ve been coveting.

I’m not sure what to do. I normally upgrade every two years, so I’m due for a new phone. Apple will buy my old phone for about $250.00. Of course, you pay for your new phone as part of a monthly payment plan. It’s not that painful.

But, still… $1,300 for a phone.

Pretty soon, I’ll be charged $6.00 for a coffee. Oh, wait…

After


It takes a long time.

Hurricane recovery.

It takes a long time. I have friends in Florida. In a number of cities. One, who is located near Fort Lauderdale started posting in Facebook, about an hour after Hurricane Irma cleared out. No Power. An hour later. No power. A couple of hours later. Still no power. This morning. The lights are on a “XZY” center, no power here.

He keeps charging his phone somewhere. Maybe in his car.

There are two news stories today. One in The New York Times. One in The Washington Post. Both of them are about electric power restoration after a severe hurricane, and how it is “triaged.” It is likely that my friend won’t have power restored for five or six weeks. Could happen sooner. But, almost the entire state of Florida is having power issues. Electric companies are coming from all over the country to help out. Even ours sent a convoy of trucks. Still, it takes time. And, patience.

That said, a Katrina story.

My neighborhood was flooded and lost all electrical power on August 29. Power was finally restored on the day that I moved to New Mexico. November 20. I used one of those big moving companies. Something like Allied. They put together a package that wasn’t expensive because they picked up five resident’s furnishings in New Orleans and everything went to New Mexico where they broke it down by city. They made a lot more money, even though it was less expensive for us. That’s sort of normal procedure if you can’t fill a truck, but this time they narrowed the local areas.

Anyway.

November 20, 2005. Down the street comes a huge truck and trailer. Electrical power had just been restored to my neighborhood. But, it was hanging by a thread. One power line which crossed the street. Of course that big truck and trailer snagged it, ripping it down. Power gone again after finally being restored after almost three months.

Three months.

Luckily, for me — the neighbors probably wanted to kill me — Entergy, our electric company — was still working on the street. The workers laughed at the look on my face. And, the crowd carrying hand tools, axes and machetes advancing on me. That’s not quite true, but the neighbors were all working so they did have tools in their hands. Entergy reattached the power cable in about 15 minutes. They probably saved my life and the lives of the driver and loader. I’m kidding. But, just barely.

The picture.

Sometimes things are never the same. This picture was made on a block in Hollygrove. All these years after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city. Whoever lived here left. They never came back. Electricity was restored to the neighborhood, just not on this one block.

Yes, there a lot of post production and color management going on. To my eye, these remaining leftovers of the storm are always bleak. I want them to look that way. I made this picture near dusk, during the transition from golden to blue hour. The original image was just too pretty for the scene.

I couldn’t have that.

Today


Blooming in the sun.

Today is September 11.

9.11.

The anniversary of the day the towers fell. In New York City. And, the Pentagon was attacked. In Washington, D.C. On September 11, 2001. Today, it almost seems like an afterthought, because most of the past 30 days have been close to hell on earth. In some cases, a watery hell. But, hell never-the-less. The date shouldn’t be forgotten. But, it shouldn’t be mourned.

Not anymore.

Today, I met a woman walking her dogs while I was walking mine. She is staying with her family. She is from Florida. She left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She decided to settle in Florida.

It seems to me like that is going from the frying pan into the fire. Never mind.

We talked. Mostly she talked. I listened. She was worried that she would go home to nothing. She would have to start over. Again.

So.

Let’s not mourn for what happened on September 11, 2001. Remember it. But, instead of mourning, let’s try just try be extra kind to each other. Talk to each. Listen to each other. Be patient. Be grateful. While we are all going through the things we know about, none of us really knows what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.

Peace.

Then the Sky Went Crazy


The sky exploded.

It looks serious.

It’s not. It’s what happens when you mix jazz with photo editing. Things go a little crazy.

I made this picture in Albuquerque. New Mexico. It was one of the first serious pictures that I took with my iPhone. It was an early model. And, it was the back up to the back to the back up. I ran out of storage space and batteries. If you know one thing about me, I have way too many SD cards and even more batteries. It was just one of those days.

So. I tinkered with this last night. And, even more today. It’s not what you are thinking. I just ran out of energy to keep going. I stayed out of energy this morning, which should help explain why this post is later this morning.

It’s not just that.

I went for a walk with the dog who sees stuff. While a lot of people around us in other regions are suffering, we in New Orleans are having a fall day in summer. Temperatures are in the high 70s or low 80s. Low humidity. And, a gentle breeze. When we got to this little park, she sat down. She looked at me as if to say, “there is no way that I’m leaving.” Grass, cool sunlight, a breeze. What could be better? So we hung out.

The picture. A combination of all that processing software that I’ve been using. Again. I’ve been asked what exactly I do. I don’t know. You just sort of have to play around until you like what you see. Lighten it a bit if you are going to print it. Darken it a bit if it’s going on a monitor.