This picture is a rare look at I-10 with no traffic as you enter the city. Normally, I’d write this off as dumb luck, but it’ was really about 8am on a Sunday morning when people are either getting ready for church or getting ready for NFL football. Me? I was taking advantage of a beautiful, but very hot day, to work a little in the French Quarter. Hoping on and off the interstate is one way to move around quickly… when there isn’t much traffic. Oh yeah. The picture is just another former of my “drive by” working style. 

Usually, the phrase “white picket fence” means something about American Traditionalism. It is sort of an icon that speaks to a certain kind of life — sort of a dream — to which you aspire. Those standards probably have changed. That dream seems a little shopworn. Or not. Depends on who you are, and what you believe. I swear that I didn’t make this picture with any of that in mind. For me, it was a way of changing the usually framing. But, once I started working on post production. The picture took on a life of its own. That usually happens. Many musicians say that if you play a song repeatedly, the song itself will teach you how to play it. So too with pictures. If you mess with them long enough, they’ll teach you how to make them. 

In yesterday’s post I talked a little bit about the small St. Bernard Parish town of Algiers. It is really known for two things. Maybe more. But, the two that come to mind is that’s where the Domino sugar plant is located. You can’t miss it. Its smokestacks tower about everything. The second landmark is a little less known, but probably even more interesting. It’s called The Le Beau Mansion. And, guess what? It’s haunted. Well, so they say. If you Google around, you can find all sorts of comments about that. Apparently, slaves where badly mistreated there. There were at least two hangings on the second floor. And, until the cupola was boarded up, many nearby residents claimed that they could lights turn on and off at that highest point.

Historically, here’s a little bit of what I know. It was built in 1854. Until 1854, the land on which it was built was called the Eclipse Plantation. It was a mansion, a hotel and even later, a gambling house. It is built in a district of Arabi called Friscoville, which was laid out on land that was originally belonged to the plantation. Historians call it “the last grand River Road Plantation near New Orleans.” It is now owned by the Joseph Meraux Estate. That’s a whole other story. But, The Meraux Estate is one of the biggest landowners in Southeast Louisiana. They even own one of the oldest buildings in the city. The Jean Lafitte Blacksmith Shop in The French Quarter. It is now a bar.

This picture. Well, just about everybody who has passed through the area has photographed it. I haven’t seen much night work. So I will eventually go back to do that. But, this image, photographed through the summer growth during the day is my attempt to do something a little different. 

I was poking around in Arabi. No, not in The Middle East. It’s a little town across the border from Orleans Parish, located in St. Bernard Parish. For the most part, it’s a pretty little place. The houses look like they belong in New Orleans. And, they are just about as old as the ones found there. But, every now and then you run into something like this. I’m sure the palm trees were bent and broken by Hurricane Isaac. But, it doesn’t look like the house as been lived in, or at least worked on, since Hurricane Katrina. That was seven years ago. It still has its inspection “X” on it. Those were left by early responders as they went from door-to-door looking for anything, or anyone still inside — living or dead.  MD means some officers from the Maryland state troopers was there. The zeros mean that no human or animal bodies were found inside. There are also two condemnation notices attached to the house. I have no idea how badly this is damaged, but those two notices mean it will be torn down soon since the house is blighted and abandoned. Oh. Somebody thought that it would be a good idea to flood the place as well. The fire plug is just gushing water.

The picture. I actually did a lot of post production on it. Between the environmental conditions and the way I photographed, my picture had a very Disneyland-like quality to it. That didn’t really speak to what I saw, so off to work I went. This was actually done using OnOne’s Perfect Effects. 

A little while back, I took a ride into the country outside of New Orleans. Depending on which way you drive, you can be in swamplands, gulf coast scenery or even what I tend to think of as just “The South.” “The South” is where I went. I traveled downriver towards Delacroix. Even though it’s less than 30 minutes from New Orleans, scenes like the one in my picture are what you find. Yeah. I gilded the lily a little bit by going on a day when the sky had some character.

Here’s another picture from what has become an occasional series. I guess I’ll call it “Looking in Windows.” I do this when I’m going from one place to another and I’m just sort of poking around. Generally these kinds of pictures are made with one of my Sony NEX cameras since they are tiny, but use the same sensors that certain Nikons use. For instance, the sensor used in a NEX5n is the same sensor that a Nikon D7000 uses. In fact, it is probably slightly better since it is newer. In all things technology, newer is better. They say. And, since the NEX cameras are mirrorless, they are much smaller and lighter than their Nikon cousins. So. Why not switch to all mirrorless NEX-sized cameras? Simple. I photograph a lot of things that move. The Nikons are just much more responsive. But, they are heavier.

Anyway. I saw this in a window. I placed the lens directly on the window’s glass and pushed the button. Why did I do it that way? No reflections and the camera is held pretty steady against the glass so no movement. I told you. I’m a simple photographer. If I were a painter I wouldn’t even be discussing this stuff. 

Yesterday, I wrote a little about Freret Street and its relationship to Central City. I thought I’d give you all a quick look at the street and some of the things that you can see there. It’s an overview and I’m sure I’ve missed something that somebody might think is important, but these kinds of shoots are always a work in progress.

A lot of people who talk about the redevelopment of Central City point to the Freret Street corridor as a good model. One that the developers of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard should follow. I’m not sure about that A dozen or so semi-upscale restaurants does not a community make. But, as a walk up to the Central City work, I had a look at Freret Street. Well. Mostly I go there to eat. Yes. There are some good restaurants and some over rated ones. But, I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder. Anyway… here’s my idea of a busy restaurant. This is a server at Dat Dog. Yes. Hot dogs and sausages. They start at about $8. That’s a lot of money, huh? It’s a lot of money for different sausages that are grilled on the same grill, and therefore, all taste about the same. Andouille? Kielbasa? Tastes about the same.

I’m not a foodie. I’m a photographer. A storyteller. So I won’t say anything further about the food. Here’s the picture. I shot it at a very slow shutter speed to capture the energy in the place. Funny story. The server looked it at on the camera. She said something to the effect of too bad it’s out of focus. It’s classic me. Oh well. She’s not a photographer…

Sometimes when I photograph events I use them to document more than the event itself. I look for little slices of life that might — I emphasize that — tell me something about the people who are taking part in the vent, or the location or just something about the parade, or second line, or… whatever. Usually, it’s nothing more than a fleeting moment.  Since I can’t be everywhere, this usually works best if I let the subject come to me. I tend to see better. I’m not worried about tripping over someone or something.

So. This picture was made at a second line parade in Central City. Yeah. I know. Where else? The man in the hat is part of a band. He happened to see a friend — the man in the foreground — and they were talking.

Technically? The usual. F8 and be there. A little post production work in Snapseed on my i-Pad. I’m really starting to like that method of post. It’s portable and as long as it’s for web work or something very small., it entirely appropriate. Now that Google bought Nik, who makes Snapseed, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.