There is a place where Oak Street meets River Road in New Orleans. There is a restaurant called Cowbell right about there that is supposed to make the city’s second best hamburgers. And, they serve pie. But, that’s only part of the story. There is also a train track right of way there that runs along the Mississippi River, eventually into the freight yards near Harahan and finally all the way to Los Angeles, California. Or, to Texas. Since freight trains have no schedule that non-railroad types — like you and me — have access to, you cannot plan for passing trains. Every now and then I get hung up at the rail crossing there. No. Make that, mostly now. I thought it would be better once I stopped using those streets frequently. But, that only made it worse. It seems like the only time I pass that way is when a train has the right of way. The really odd thing about this, is that there seems to be no pattern to the schedule.
So. What to do?
The usual thing. Make a picture. The sky was ugly with flat overcast. But, a lot of post production helped that. It also helped the general scene. If you look in my rear view mirror, you can see that some people were in a real hurry. I’m not exactly sure where they thought they were going. If you want to get out of New Orleans and head into Jefferson Parish and you are near the river, this is your only option if you are stuck that the tracks. But. What do I know?
So. I did what I usually do I’m feeling a little caged and went looking for New Orleans decaying away. I’ve been meaning to photograph this building which is in Uptown and very near to the cobblestone street where I’ve made so many pictures. In fact, I see it every time that I drive up Tchoupitoulas Street. Yeah. Say that name really quickly three times. Anyway. Traffic is usually against me and I can’t get to that side of the street. But, I could this time. So, I photographed the building to death. There are a number of pictures that I like. But, I really like this image for its texture. I especially like all the ghost signs. As far as the building goes. It’s been a lot of things. It was home, a small factory, a restaurant, a bar. I think it might be a restaurant again. I’ll have to look into it. Not much post production here. The picture is what it is.
So. It’s Spring in New Orleans. That means lots of hard rain. Lots of clouds. And, in between a little bit of sunshine. I decided to photograph some of that as I was driving from one place to another. As I have written in the past, DON’T YOU DO IT. It’s not a very safe thing to do even if you do it the way that I do, which means I never look through the camera and I do not take my eyes off the road. That’s why I make some oddly cocked angles when I do make pictures this way. For me, those angles add to the picture because it really happened that way I photographed it. The secondary point is to make these kinds of pictures without killing myself or others. Maybe, that’s the entire point.
Philosophically, if you believe the journey matters than you have no other choice. Driving in rain or at night is part of the journey. The shooting technique is simple. Set the camera to make it do what you want it to do. Point it and press the button. Yes. The ultimate point and shoot. Or, the ultimate drive by shooting because nobody gets hurt. Oddly, I license a lot of these kinds of pictures. They usually are used for motion or something about the act of traveling or even a kind of urban study. I’d keep making them even if I didn’t get paid.
I think you’ve seen the daylight version of this image. Maybe twice. Once in low sunlight. Once after a storm. But, I’ve never been there at night. Some readers on another forum were asking me where I made this picture. Normally, I’m pretty generous. But, not this time. I thought, “Yeah, right.” Twenty people will go there at one time and pretty soon fences will be built around this street. I won’t be able to work there. So, I said I couldn’t remember. That conversation did inspire me to go back at night. It’s a little more moody at night. But, that’s about it. Unless I can add a real subject to the picture, I actually like the one I made in low sunlight better. What might be very cool is this street at night, in heavy rain with someone running through the picture.
Anyway. There is a lot of post production in here. But, you knew that. The lights are sodium vapor so they are very yellow-orange. That, to my mind, really hurts the night scene. I fixed that. I added a little more grunge and sharpened those cobblestones. There are so many ways to go with this image.
I know. I know. I promised you my last New Mexican picture. But, then I found these images. And, one of my blogging colleagues was talking about Georgia O’Keeffe, so I thought why not? Many people think the desert is bleak and colorless. Sometimes. But, if you take a moment and look for it, there is plenty of color. All kinds of color. Bright color. Wonderful color. Even in winter some of the color pops out. Or, at least, strong graphic shapes show up. Not a whole lot more to write. Enjor the desert flowers.
Well. If the truth be told, this image is ALMOST the last picture I made in New Mexico. As I recall, the move to New Orleans began on a Tuesday. By the previous Saturday night, I was feeling a little blue about leaving. Even though I had gotten a little bored living there, the state had been good to me. It provided a calm and healing atmosphere to recover from the chaos of Hurricane Katrina. But, it was time to go. I needed to make one more picture before I left. So I turned on the music real loud and drove out to Los Volcanoes Road. It had become my go to place when I wanted to make a “country” picture. And, it is only about 12 miles west of Albuquerque on I-40. Short drive to a far place.
Anyway. I had one of those nights. I made a number of good pictures. This is actually the first of the last. This is how dusk looked when I arrived at my place. I’ll show you that last picture tomorrow.
I think what I like most about this picture is the sky. In New Mexico you can see rain falling from far away. Often, the air is so dry that the rain drops you see in the sky never hit the ground. What else? The picture looks like a water color and I didn’t “help it” in post production.
Sometimes when I’m in transit, I start rooting around in files that I rarely see. Scratch that. Files that I forgot existed. This picture is among the last that I made when I lived in New Mexico. The very quick backstory is this. I lived in New Orleans. A big storm called Hurricane Katrina came. It sunk the city. I left. I’d always though I’d like to live in New Mexico. So, why not now? Off I went. New Mexico proved to be a very healing place especially after trauma brought on by the storm. But, after a while, I got bored. So back to New Orleans I went. Before I left the state, I made a lot of pictures. This was one of them. I think the big sky thing that you’ve seen me produce in New Orleans first started to emerge in New Mexico where there really are big skies. Very big skies. If you look very carefully in the right corner of the picture you’ll see that I’ve come to the end of the road. Pretty symbolic, yes? I feel that coming on again. Uh oh.
Sometime. Just when we are trying to get out-of-town and go work some place else for a few days, my email starts burning up. My text bell starts humming. My phone doesn’t ring. Nobody talks on the phone anymore. So. I had a bunch of client requests that had to be filled today. Couldn’t wait until I returned. One potential wanted picture of Melbourne Australia’s lane ways and alley ways. They are a major tour attraction. They also serve the people who work in the business district. For some reason, no other photographer’s seems to be interested in them. I liked them so much that I kept returning to them. I guess there are better places to work in Australia, but I’m an urban guy. I like little alleys and dives and bad cafes. But, what do I know?
The pictures. They were just made by photographing what I see. If there is a recognizable person or two in the picture, I ask them to sign a release. I added a little glow to the second picture. Mostly to hide its deficiencies. At any rate, my client loved these two frames. And, the deed was done. Then I got on an airplane where my government helped us out a lot… by making us two hours late. Where did those air traffic controllers go? Oh yeah. They stayed home. They were furloughed.
Once I start gearing up for the grind of my “day” job, I start missing things. Like Earth Day. Everybody seems to be talking about it on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites. I read right through what they wrote. It didn’t occur to me until last night. Or. Tonight as I write. So. I made this picture. I made it in my garden. I made it on Earth Day. Most of you will see it on the Day After Earth Day. Sorry about that.
Photo? Technique? I intentionally overexposed the RAW file. I used a very slow shutter speed to give the image a little motion. Then I did my post production magic.
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