A House in The Bywater
A House in The Bywater

I was driving  through The Bywater when I saw this house. How could I not see it? It was freshly painted and glowing like a beacon. I think I saw from two blocks away. It drew me like a moth to a flame. These aren’t exactly, New Orleans colors. And, it isn’t exactly painted with a craftsman’s care. But, it is sure colorful and eye catching. Would I paint my house in those colors? Nah. I like some of the colors, but together they are a bit too jarring for me. Certainly, they are a little too jarring to live with for any length of time. I do, however, have a room painted in something like that maroon color.  But, that’s just me. It’s fine for the people who live in this house. And, it may be fine for you. No matter. I also had a fleeting thought… suppose the owner invites someone over? Someone who has never been there. That person says to the owner, “how will I know your house?” The owner replies, “Oh, you’ll know it.” Heh.

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Soaring at the Ascension Parish Balloon Festival.
Soaring at the Ascension Parish Balloon Festival.

Friday. Very, very long and hard week. So, I did what I could do. I made pictures. We went to The Ascension Parish Balloon Festival. It’s located in Gonzales, Louisiana. About 50 miles for New Orleans. It’s nowhere near as big as The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. But, few ballooning events are. When we relocated to New Mexico following the storm, I had the pleasure of photographing four big balloon happenings. They are great fun. And, they are a great challenge. After photographing one or two of these events, the pictures start looking the same. So, I have to start seeing a little differently. For me, that means seeing graphics rather than seeing the event itself. In Southeast Louisiana, the scenery is very different so that helped a lot. Even so, I still worked on shapes rather than capture the event. This is one of those pictures. It’s sort of a classic. Balloon. Sunset. A little bit of scenery as a base. I normally don’t suggest this, but open this one up. It’s worth it for the details.


Dusk comes to Bourbon Street.
Dusk comes to Bourbon Street.

New Orleans is known as a party town. To some degree it is. People work to live, not the other way round. But, nothing in the city gets as crazy Bourbon Street on a Saturday night. Even Mardi Gras, which is two weeks of celebrations, is not so alcohol-fueled as some nights on Bourbon Street. Even when the rest of The French Quarter is somewhat quiet, Bourbon Street is usually pretty busy. Don’t mistake my comments for liking Bourbon Street. Like most locals, I avoid it as much as humanly possible. Aside from drunken tourists, there is every sort of scam artist, ripoff king and low life looking to make an easy buck by reaching into people’s wallets. Legally and illegally. It is amusing to see people who would never do certain things at home, do them here. I suppose that’s good. It’s better than having them go on a murderous rampage at home driven by some frustration. Or, something like that. Anyway, I mostly cross Bourbon Street from wherever I’ve parked. I very rarely actually walk up or down the street, itself.

The picture. I made it at dusk on THAT night. Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m getting a little bit stale. Not to worry. New pictures are headed up the pipeline. I made them over the past couple of days. Some of you know and understand why.


My favorite building in The French Quarter.
My favorite building in The French Quarter.

I’ve been photographing this building for years. In all sorts of light. In all kinds of weather conditions. And, I’ve made some okay pictures. Yes. Just okay. That may be the reason I keep returning to the scene… of the crime. I hadn’t made “the” picture. The picture that really works. The one that shows you my vision. It’s also located on one of my favorite routes so I usually pass it from two or three directions. But, not that night — the night of the harvest moon — I came to it from yet another direction. A fourth direction. I also had a slightly longer lens with me which gave me some compression when I moved closer to the scene. That helps when you are trying to photograph buildings in an urban area. Then, there is the timing thing. I’ve never seen those shutters open. I’ve never seen the windows lighted in any way. That bit of golden-yellow light seems to make the picture.

Yes. I took this picture in The French Quarter. On Royal Street. But, look at it. Just where is Paris could you see this scene? Or, something very much like it.

 


Mule drawn carriage rolls by on Royal Street.
Mule drawn carriage rolls by on Royal Street.

Seems like I make some of the pictures that I like best on the way to some place else. This is picture was made on Royal Street as we walked back to the car after making all those Harvest Moon lighted pictures. It was one of my last for the night. There were actually a couple of carriages rolling down the street and I just couldn’t resist doing my version of an old, but effective motion study. Somebody asked, on Facebook, if I use a tripod when I shoot this kind of picture. Nope. I depend a lot on my body’s own natural motion to contribute to the painterly feel of the picture. Work at a low enough shutter speed and you can’t help but capture some of that. And, that’s what you are seeing here. Well, partially. Even with a tripod, because of the slow shutter speed needed to work in a pretty dark place, there would still be a lot of motion blur. But, there wouldn’t be a very slight up and down movement that you perceive in this picture.  Yes. I like Royal Street much better than I like Bourbon Street. Even though it still attracts a fair amount of tourists, it is quieter and not quite so honky-tonk. Well. Not at all honk-tonk.


A French Quarter traffic jam. Pedicab drivers take a meeting.
A French Quarter traffic jam. Pedicab drivers take a meeting.

I never would have thought it. But, by looking at the names on the back of these pedicabs, I just learned something. There is more than one pedicab taxi company in New Orleans. I should have known that because I am starting to see them in places that aren’t The French Quarter. They ride around in The Marigny, Treme and The Bywater. That is reasonable, since those places are pretty near to The Quarter. But, I’ve even seen them in the CBD and heading into Uptown. That makes sense. This things are very popular. It’s an odd night when you see a couple of drivers just sitting by the side of the street chatting. If you look closely, there is one passing by and a fourth on way up ahead. None of them were carrying passengers. But, it was a very slow night in the quarter.

 


There is a little alley near St. Louis Cathedral called Pirates Alley. A couple of small restaurants are at both ends.
There is a little alley near St. Louis Cathedral called Pirate Alley. There is an unnamed alley the cuts through from there to St. Peter Street. This is the cafe at one end of it.

If you wander around The French Quarter long enough, all of its nooks and crannies will show themselves to you. If you walk through Pirate Alley either to or from Jackson Square to Royal Street, you’ll see it a little, tiny alley. It isn’t really hidden. But it’s tucked away. It has no name. It’s a passageway from Pirate Alley to St. Peter Street. It’s a great place to make pictures since it as old as The Quarter, itself. The cafe that you are looking into is called — what else — Pirate Alley Cafe. There is a sign hanging on below the cafe sign that calls it The Old Absinthe House. That isn’t correct. That is another building entirely which is located way down river on Bourbon Street. It’s legendary. It IS The Old Absinthe House.  But, it could be because they sell the drink which was outlawed in 1912 and re-legalized (is that even a word?) in 2008. It is made from wormwood. There are claims that it has a narcotic property. I don’t know. By the way, that name. Pirate Alley. Nobody really knows if pirates walked through it. We do know that it was a dirt pathway until 1830 when it was paved with the cobblestones that are currently there.

The picture. I made it on the way to Jackson Square on that night. The night of the Harvest Moon. This picture was pretty simple. See it. Take it. But, something occurred to me about the Jackson Square picture that so many people liked. It could have not be so illuminated so wonderfully without the light of that huge moon. I’m going to test that theory sometime this week. But, I’m pretty sure that the extra light had a lot to do with the quality of that picture.


Harvest Moon over The Mississippi River
Harvest Moon over The Mississippi River

That’s right. No choice. Everybody is loading up their Harvest Moon pictures, so I just have to show you mine. It’s not great. Sheesh. I made this picture with a 16mm lens. Okay, okay. On an APS sensor it’s sort of like a 24mm lens. But, that still isn’t much. I really dislike having to tell you what you are looking at, but… Obviously, there is the moon popping out over some low-lying clouds. Then there is the Mississippi River, itself, in the foreground. In the background, to the left, are the lights in The Bywater. On the right, is Algiers Point. The picture is a little noisy. I was asking too much from the camera, without a tripod. So, to mask the noise a little, I left the picture a little darker than I would like… oh well. Perfection is for angels.

So to entertain you, I thought I would pass this on from yesterday’s Farm Aid concert, in Sarasota Springs, NY.  There is about 400 years of musical talent on stage. John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, Dave Matthews and Neil Young. Look at all the legends in awe of a true folk hero… Peter Seeger. Oh yeah, Woody Guthrie wrote it. Not to worry, the great folks at Farm Aid want all of their YouTube videos to be shared.

https-::www.youtube.com:watch?v=mt9jWoXmrLw