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In the Morning

One of those beautiful mornings.

So many changes. In nature. These trees were still shaking of their winter’s bareness a weeks ago. Now they are full, light green, and glowing in the early morning sunlight.


As I look out of my study window, the branches are still bare with not a new leaf showing. I can’t imagine that those frozen days could kill these trees. They are pretty old. But, you never know. Nature works in funny ways.

Just like life.

The picture. I saw the golden light filtering through the trees. I was having trouble finding a foreground subject that would add a little depth to the picture. I took a couple of steps backward and saw the four trees. Exposing a little more for the light I kept the trees in almost a silhouette. That made the picture a little more powerful. Especially since everything behind is glowing and soft.



The Beauty of Green

Into the green.

The power of nature is on display in this very green picture. Because spring is about rebirth. And, because about a week ago these new leaves didn’t exist.

Rebirth can be a generational thing too.

Watching the young students walk out of their classrooms in order to protest gun violence, and to commemorate those who died needlessly in the last school mass shooting a month ago, brought tears to me eyes.

They gave me hope.

They brought back memories of other protests. In different times. Struggles for equal rights came to mind. Struggles to bring an end to the war in Vietnam came to mind. This is not exactly original thinking on my part. Seeing this next generation of young people do what their hearts, souls and minds told them that they must brought it home in no uncertain manner.

To be sure, there were naysayers. Some claimed they should have been in class learning something. Fine. This is putting what they learned into action. Some say they are too young to know what they were doing. Fine. At 18 years of age they can enlist in the military. Possibly to fight and die for their country.  Some asked what does an 11 and or 12-year-old kid know? The know the fear of going to school and possibly not coming home. Some know the terror of practice drills.

Shall I go on?

A lot needs to change in my country, possibly in your country. These are the people to do it. Bob Dylan talked about that over 50 years ago in one of his signature songs, “The Times They Are A Changing.” A song that has been covered more times than I can count. A song that has been studied in every way more times than I can count.

As he said, if you don’t change you’ll sink like a stone.

And, that’s the story from high on Storyteller hill.

The picture. Seems anti-climatic, but I just stuck my camera into a long hanging tree. I pushed the button. The bright, almost emerald-green caught my attention. An early seasonal green. The green of rebirth.

Just a Little Moody

Changing weather.

As winter shuffles off into spring, the weather gets a bit contentious. One day is bright and sunny. But, cold. The next day, a storm blows in. Humidity reigns. It’s warmer. The rain breaks the humidity. Within a day or two, the weather is back to where it started. Sunny and cold.

That’s the nature of things down here in the swamp. Probably everywhere. I wasn’t always paying attention or observing it.

The picture. I saw the bare trees backlighted against the cloudy skies. Rain was not falling. By the time I was done working the scene a little, big fat raindrops were pouring down.

The dog who sees things and I were soaked by the time we got back to the car. She doesn’t mind baths. She truly hates rain falling on her. I know that. I keep one of her towels in the car, this being the rain swamp. She really likes being rubbed with a towel. All was good.


Most of what you see was done in post production. I thought about making it gray, which would have been fairly accurate. As usual, I tinkered around. I really liked the warm tones and a little glow. It seems to set the scene.

One more thing.

I’m going to give a little workshop on SEO from the point of view of WordPress in the real world. The topic is very important today. As we move away from more and more printed matter, it is essential for the future. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but how do you find the picture?

This is important from a writer’s point of view as well. My writing friends work very hard on marketing. Still, the question remains how do you find their book without being told about it?

In both examples, SEO is important in building a culture. Communities are great. We’ve built a nice one on Storyteller. But, the culture is the thing. That’s where communities come together. That’s where you can sell books, pictures, music, outside of a relatively small circle of friends and few passersby.

My thoughts are on paper. I’m still working them out. In the music world, I’d be starting a long sound check on the day of a concert.

Would you like me to share this with you?

Cloud Play

Cloud play.

I talk like it’s spring. With colder temperatures and big rain storms mother nature reminds me that we are still officially in winter months.

That’s a good thing.


Low winter light makes pictures like this possible as it bounces through the remaining clouds of a fleeting storm.

Yeah, I enhanced it a little bit. But, not much. I didn’t need to. Nature saw to that.

Wowie Zowie.

In the Springtime

Really rebirth.

Spring. Rebirth. Renewal.

We aren’t used to very much cold weather. This year we had some very cold weather, with temperatures in the low teens. That cold spell killed everything especially our semi tropical plants which are not used to freezing weather. Dead and brown ferns are pretty ugly, so we cut them down to the ground. Nobody dug them up. It was either because we were too lazy or knew that they might likely rebound. I choose the former. We are very lazy.

Sure enough.

Nature did her thing. While this little patch of ferns isn’t as full as it was, it’s coming back, Rebirth is here, with bright fresh colors that I like.

And, that’s nature. And spring. A time to repeat a circle of rebirth from a cold, often dead winter. I never fails to amaze me, although I know it well. I just need to be reminded.

The picture. I saw it. I photographed it. I tinkered with it in post production. But, not in the way you think. The new ferns were looking way too neon, so I tuned them back. A little. One thing to take away. If you see the light that you like from one angle, that’s the angle from which to make the picture.


More Buses

They gotta go somewhere.

Remember those buses lined up on Magazine Street. You know, Friday’s post. Well they gotta go somewhere.

I was walking back to my car, when the big school buses started rolling to get to the parade’s endpoint. The only way in or out is through the very small Uptown side streets.

New Orleans is an old city. Most of the original street layout in places not The French Quarter was done in the mid to late 1800s. To be sure, not all of the houses are that old, but the streets are. They are tiny compared to most modern cities. Often on a two-way street, one car has to pull over in order to let oncoming traffic pass. To help relieve that pressure many Uptown streets are one way.

You get used to it.

You be surprised at how easily you can pull your car into a tiny space in order to let traffic pass you by. We are used to it. Problems arise when some huge double dually pickup truck with Texas license plates get lost. The driver thinks he has the right of way. Always. He has the truck to prove it. During Carnival Season this happens a lot. Tourists. We can’t live with them and we can’t live without them. We need the money.


Here come the buses on those little streets. This picture was made while I was walking up a two-way street. They barely can pass through. They are lead and followed by NOPD with their flashing blue lights. The streets are closed until they pass through. Luckily, I parked well behind their route. No, not luck. Years of experience.

The picture. I saw it. I photographed it. I had no idea what I had because I just did the right thing. I reacted. The camera came off of my shoulder and into my hand. I focused and pushed the button. The camera’s meter is so dead on that I did almost no work in post production. In fact, any work I did made the picture worse not better. So I went back to the original.

Happy Sunday. I hope y’all got enough sleep.

Where I Work

Where I work.

This is where I work. On the street. When I photograph second lines.

As you all know, I like to work close with wide lenses. I think wideness not only propels the subject into the foreground, but they also help with context by setting the scene.  In this case, it helps when the subject is dressed in bright red which was the social club’s color for 2018.

That said, I thought I would share this with at the request of my digital pal on the scene, Tim Allen. You can have a look at his work here. We were talking in comments and he suggest that I show you where and how I work.

I think this picture gives you an idea of what I go through when I kiddingly say that photographing a second line is like being inside of a rugby scrum. To make this picture I was crouched on the ground. After my tales of my arthritic back and hip, you know this is no small task. I can get down. It’s hard to get back up. I’m working between two other photographers, even though one is working with a smart phone. That doesn’t matter. It’s a public street. He has as much right to be there as I do. What you can’t see is that there are two or three photographers over my back.

This work isn’t like photographing professional sports, or even Olympic sports. When you work those, you are credentialed and given a place to work. Usually from a pit or a sideline. You are not directly involved. When you photograph a second line you are in the middle of things. Even once the coming out phase is over, I end up in one of three places for as long as I walk.

I’m either in one of the brass bands. Or, I’m at the front of the second line walking backwards. Or, the second line catches up with me and I’m in the middle of the social club. That, by the way, is a no-no. The people walking with the club will just shove you out-of-the-way if they don’t recognize you or you foolishly think you can stand your ground.

One more thing. Most second liners walk anywhere from four to six miles. The rarely return to the place where they started which means you either have to walk back or park your car where the parade ends, and walk to the start. So, anywhere from 8 to 12 miles for a photographer covering the complete parade. This is over potholed streets and sometimes dangerous neighborhoods. When you are with the second line you are safe. But, carrying cameras by yourself? That’s another matter. You’d just better have some great situational awareness. I do. But, I’m getting old. I might miss things. And, if I happen to be walking in pain, I’m usually gritting my teeth and forging straight ahead.

And, that’s the story.

Thanks, Tim, for the great idea.

Out on Magazine Street

Dusk comes to Magazine Street.

Back to the past. Just a little.

Generally, whenever I photograph something I don’t self edit in the field. I photograph whatever I see. As I work through my take, I curate pictures that don’t fit into — Oh, let’s say Mardi Gras — but were made at the same time into another collection.

This is one of those pictures. I made it as I was leaving the staging area of a parade. The school buses in the mid ground have just dropped off a high school marching band. Eventually, once some streets have cleared, they will make their way to the end of the parade to pick up their exhausted band members. Well… the buses won’t do anything unless the drivers get into the act.

I have a nice little portfolio of these kinds of semi-Mardi Gras pictures that I’m going to start sharing with you over the course of the next few days. I think that I’ll mix them with some new spring work.

The picture. Newer gear means easier tricks. This picture is hand-held. I was walking back to my car when I saw the scene. I made a few frames without anybody walking in the street as sort of insurance. I waited until somebody crossed the street. This was one of those rare occasions when you can wander in the middle of the street because it’s closed to traffic. The cars you see in the background are police or sheriff’s cars. Once I made the picture that I thought I wanted, I left and headed to my car.

There is one trick that I can tell you about. If you are in low or changing light set your ISO to automatic, even if everything else is manual. Not only does this compensate for changing light, but because cameras these days are really small computers, they also make much better exposures. For instance, at this time of day you might set your ISO to 2,000. But you might not need an ISO of 2,000. By setting the ISO there you might introduce a lot of noise into your image. If you let the camera pick the ISO, even if it says 2,000 it might really be seeing at an ISO of — just guessing — 1875. Better exposure and less noise. Also less work in post production. And, if you are shooting JPEGS you are probably dead on.

Of course, the best way to meter light is with a hand-held meter and all manual settings. But, sometimes when the action is fast paced you just don’t have time to do that.

The Time Is Now

Women of the world.

Today is International Women’s Day.

Celebrate it.

It comes at a time of change. It comes during a time of #MeToo. It comes at a time when our children are demanding change in gun laws. It comes at a time when women are demanding to be treated truly equally. It comes at a time when the so-called president of my country thrives on chaos and destroying the rule of law and just about everything else that makes my country great.

Take a short break from all of that, and celebrate the women in your life. Celebrate the women bloggers you read and with whom you interact. And, celebrate the children in your life, especially the young girls who may look up to you.

Because. This.

“And try to find a peace within,  Without stepping on one another

And do respect the women of the world,  Just remember you all have mothers

Make this land a better land,  Than the world in which we live”

—  “Yes, We Can, Can”  — Allen Toussaint

The picture. It’s one of the pictures from the Ladies and Kids second line. I made it as they were coming out the door of a club where they were preparing. At first glance I almost passed it by. I looked again. It’s not the smile of the woman in the middle. It’s the smile and the look of joy in the woman’s eye in the corner of the picture. The one that fills half the frame. The one that’s unintentionally cropped in a slightly strange way. The one that is slightly out of focus. The one that I made by accident in a crowd of onlookers and photographers.

The technical stuff. I could look at the metadata. I suspect that the basic data is somewhere around f 5.6 at about 500. There were lighting problems with this one because we were shooting almost directly into the sun. That’s where the ladies and children came out of the door. Oh well. You can’t always pick the perfect location and light. Just like real photojournalism.

Mostly Red

A little peek a boo.

Tightly frame photographs. The thing that I like. These days. For now.

I’m really enjoying poking little holes into reality. I posted one yesterday. The trumpet player reaching for the sky. And, again, today. The lady in red. She’s framed by red feathers on the left. And, by another photographer on the right. He’s a friend. They were having a conversation in mid-second line. To the casual observer it may have looked like they were yelling at each other. They were. But, not in anger. They were yelling at each other in order to be heard over the din of the band, marchers and crowd. The general chaos.

The picture. Hmmmm. This is really an example of photographer’s luck. I saw them standing face to face as the second line slowed down. I pointed my camera at her, thinking that I would either have nothing or I’d have made a pretty good picture. There are about four frames of this. All but this one were out of focus or not sharp. This one is on the borderline. But, as a wise man once told me, “Sometime your best picture is not your sharpest picture.”


Look at the dramatic colors and graphics. Her face pops out of red and black. That’s a pretty powerful statement. And, for me, a pretty good picture.

As I continue to photograph second lines, I keep searching for a way to make a little different picture. A picture that doesn’t look like all the rest that I’ve made. This technique seems to be working… for now. It’s really a gamble. I either make a really good picture, or I come up with zero.

It’s all photographer’s luck.