So. It’s Halloween Day. And, we have about a 98% chance of rain tonight. I thought I’d better get going and make a few pictures before it gets too wet for the trick or treaters to get outside and do their thing. This group of pictures was born from conversation with a friend of mine who lives in New Mexico. She asked what I was going to photograph after Halloween. Well, in terms of holidays that’s easy. All Saints and All Souls days. We even have a second line parade and a jazz funeral to celebrate that stuff. People clean the graves of their ancestors. They leave flowers and small meaningful objects.
But, in my terms, the answer to “what are you going to photograph next,” is even easier. The next thing. The next picture. I don’t know what that is, but it’s really easy. F8 and be there. You know?
I read about that sometime over the weekend. There was a discussion online about what makes an artist. It seems that one of the components of being an artist is a sort of restlessness. When you are done with a thing… let’s call it a project, you might rest for a period of time. But, then you are ready to move on to the next thing. You don’t sit around waiting for it to appear. You make it appear. That said, I’ve fought against the artist label for a long time. In my mind, I just do what I do and as I tell people, “I never close.” But, that’s a key part of being an artist. So… I guess that I am. Ouch.
So. These pictures. There is a house on St. Charles Avenue that is always decorated for each big holiday. I’ve photographed it for the last few years. I thought I might pass on it this year because, well, what could change? Wrong. Wrong. And, wrong. It’s a living thing. It grows, morphs and changes every year. I’m glad that my instincts over rode my brain. This year, the skeletons seemed to have moved a bit. They are encroaching on the sidewalk. There are new bones. A lot of them. And, this place has become sort of local attraction. People pull over and take pictures. Like me. While I was waiting for the traffic to pass an EMT pulled up. The driver and the medical technician took pictures. We were all talking and laughing. That’s one of the best things about New Orleans. Talking to strangers like you know them.
Moondance. Those of you who listen to a lot of music know where this comes from. Van Morrison’s breakthrough album. It was re-released this week as a remastered and deluxe album with about a million out takes of songs you know very well. Like, “Caravan” and “Into The Mystic.” If you still buy discs, it’s big. It’s a four disc set. Despite music being a big part of my business life, I don’t buy very many discs these days. I stream from Spotify and if I really like what I’m hearing I buy the music on vinyl. Yep. I’m back to that. Lot of reasons why. We’ll get to that later. This blog is supposedly about pictures.
I would never have thought it. Witches don’t need their brooms to be fast and stealthy. I thought that they did. They passed me by so quickly that this picture is the best that I could do. They were on their way to some place else. Just like me. The only difference being, they were on their way to haunt somebody. I wasn’t. Well, maybe I was. That’s probably what some of the people think when I stop to take their picture. Heh, heh, heh…
Truth be told. I was just trying to stand in front of better stuff when they appeared on the scene. Most of the look is due to a slow shutter speed in a low light situation. The rest was done later. In post production. But… for me, base content drives the manipulations that come later.
I dunno. Whenever I see a face made up to be green, I always think of the old joke. “I’m so sick, was it something I ate?” “Probably, it was everything you ate.” I have no idea what this costume is supposed to be. Maybe a female Shrek. Ha! You probably thought I didn’t know about Shrek. I do.
When I stuck the camera in her face she smiled nicely and locked in with her eyes. So. I made another sort of backstage kind of picture. The kind of picture that comes from getting to the parade — or really — any kind of event, a little early. After all, that’s where the real action is. Anybody can take a picture of a parade. Or of a musician on stage. But, it’s everything around the event that is visually interesting to me. For me, there is a lot of visual information to process. But, I’m used to it. I’m able to see through it. But, maybe you aren’t. So, I try to distill my pictures down to their simplest form. In cases like this, that usually means some form of portrait… although, you know that I often switch gears and go into my motion study phase. You’ll see some of those in the next post or two.
Not much more to say about this picture. Well, there is one thing. I guess stage make up or paint isn’t like every day make up. It seems to accentuate every line and wrinkle. I decided not to do what I did yesterday. I just let it be. Hopefully, she knew what she was getting into. If not. Sorry about that.
Only a couple of more days now. I made this portrait as The Krewe of Boo was getting ready to roll. I like working the very beginning of parades because there is more time to talk to the folks who are going to actually walk in the parade. There is more time to make pictures that may be more meaningful than the usual parade picture. Please don’t misunderstand, I like photographing parades. After all, I live in a city of parades. But, the more I keep going on the harder it is to make a picture that is very different from the ones I made the year before. Or, the year before that. Or…
So. I make my way to the front of the line. Paraders are getting read to walk or ride. You catch them putting on the finishing touches to whatever costume they are wearing. They let you instruct them, which I usually just do by motion and the placement of my cameras.
This picture. Funny thing about it. I was just saying that the SONY NEX kit lens, a 18 – 55mm variable f-stop lens, is sharp as a tack. Very unusual with a kit lens because often camera manufacturers use some cheap add-on lens to sell the camera body. But, not this one. It is so sharp that I actually used my post production to tone it down a bit. Why? The picture was so sharp that I could see every imperfection in this woman’s face, even though she is obviously wearing a lot of make up. So, I used a portrait photographer’s trick, er, technique. I lightened the picture just a bit and added some “glow.” But, not so much that I made her skin look like plastic. I can still see the imperfections. Just, not so much.
I’ve published a picture of these two, er one, babies in the past. But, I forgot exactly where I made the picture. I stumbled upon them again while I was looking for Halloween material. Somehow this baby turned himself around. He now faces the front of the window. And, he found a colorful, but spiky bracelet. It costs $5.99. Looks like a dog collar on steroids. I think that I’ll buy it for one of my dogs. She’ll be bright and colorful while having a “don’t mess with me” look.
If you stand back and look at this picture, one thing emerges. A lot of big mouths filled with very pointy teeth. A nightmare. A Halloween nightmare.
And, the thing you need to know……………….. this is all written pretty tongue in cheek.
New Orleans. Masking. Add those two together and you just have to know that Halloween is a big day for us. Generally, decorating starts early in the month. Then, it keeps rolling along until it hits the peak. It’s everywhere. In The French Quarter. Uptown. The Garden District. The Bywater. The Marigny. Everywhere. And, then there is tonight. Saturday night. October 26th. Not even Halloween night. The Krewe of Boo rolls at dusk through a piece of The French Quarter and into the CBD, the Garden District and finally concludes at Mardi Gras World in what could — I guess – be called The Lower Garden District. The way Lower Garden District.
That’s the krewe of Boo. The rest is just masking on steroids.
The pictures. Do I really have to discuss them? Skulls. Witches. Dead witches. Two very monochromatic pictures. That’s about all. It’s about all I need to say or write.
Ghost Stuff. I love it. You know that about me. But, I don’t usually show much of that work on Storyteller beyond falling apart places. For many people, that work is boring. By its very nature that’s all it can be. Sometimes it’s colorful. Mostly it’s not. But, it is about history, a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Not all history. Just some of it. Knowing my local history is very important to me. We live in a house the was built in 1854. I’ve spent some time researching its history. But, not a lot. Yet. Prior to the storm, I owned a house that was built in 1837. It was the first or second common house that was built on an old plantation site. When I finally dug through all the old deeds and conveyances, I found the original document. It was written in French. How cool is that? In later years, that house gained some notoriety because two people were murdered there when it was the living quarters to an Italian food store and bakery. Some guy called The Axe Murder of New Orleans broke in and did the deed. He was, in his time, about as famous as Jack The Ripper was in England. Apparently he “worked” wherever he could walk to a streetcar. He was never caught. He disappeared. Some say he ended up in San Bernardino, CA. If you’ve ever been there, you know that it’s hell enough.
I don’t know that much about the new house, except it’s date of construction, the original builders and the past owners. But, I’ll dig more.
One more thing about that old house. The murder site. Every now and then I could smell fresh bread being baked there. I wasn’t alone. My dog would sit up and start sniffing. I don’t know what to make of that. Do you?
Anyway, These pictures. Two were made in Central Business District of New Orleans. The top two were made a few days ago. I like them a lot because you can see just how many buildings were built on that property. The middle picture shows the outlines of at least six. They grew taller as the decades wore on. What were they? I don’t know. I’ll have to start by Googling the address of the remaining building. The very bottom picture was made in the Lower Garden District at the crossroads of streets with two very interesting names. Race and Religious Streets. I don’t know much about Religious Street. But, Race Street once dead-ended up against an old horse racing track. As with some many things New Orleans, “it ain’t der no mo’.”
By the way, if you ever want to start rooting around online for these sorts of buildings and signs, you can Google Urbex, an acronym for urban exploration, or for ghost signs. I’m sure you can figure that one out, but just in case, they are the old fading signs of a bygone era that show up on the sides of old buildings. There are quite a lot in New Orleans… where time moves at a very slow pace.
I showed you one view of Lafayette Square yesterday. I made that picture looking away from the sunset with the light falling on the subjects. The color was pretty amazing. Today, I’m showing you what the light looked like if you looked directly at the sunset. Still, pretty amazing. Well, that’s an understatement. Astonishing. might be a better word. Keep in mind, I’m not really a person who chases sunsets. But, when the light looks like this I’m really left with no choice. The decision is simple and it’s pretty much made for me. All I do is point the camera, push the button and say “oh, ah, wow.”
One more thing. In many of my posts I might leave you with the idea that all of New Orleans lives up to one of its nicknames. “The city that care forgot.” Not always so. Look at the buildings that form the frame around the statue. Pretty modern. Very well cared for. I don’t often photograph them because to me they just aren’t all that interesting. But, yes. New Orleans does have a pretty vibrant and upbeat Central Business District.
Once again. I added no extra color. In fact, I mostly reduced the color some. Those clouds were turning too neon for even my taste.
Light. I talked a lot about a few days ago. It’s the main ingredient in photographs. There’s light and then there’s light. This was the latter. Big light. Magenta and gold light. It’s come to New Orleans a couple of times this year. Usually after big storms. Once the clouds blow out and the sun shows its face this starts around dusk and ends with an amazing sky. Some folks who follow Storyteller are convinced that I’m adding a lot of color to these pictures. I’m not. In fact, if I’m doing anything in post production, it’s bringing the color down somewhat because it is so garish. It’s almost unbelievable. But, it’s also nature’s colors. And, what or who could make better color than nature?
The place. The pictures. I photographed a piece of The Blues & BBQ festival in New Orleans. Most of the work is about the festival and the musicians. But, when the light turns great, I have to move. Luckily when I walked down the alley to make the top picture, there was a band change on the stage where I was working. So, I just trotted off down the alley and up a couple of streets chasing light. The bottom picture was made while I was in the center of the festival. That guy portrayed on the statue is Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Or, as he is simply known, Lafayette. Some name, eh? And, people complain about my family name. Yeah. Right. He was a direct link between the two revolutions. French and American. He was a major-general under George Washington. Many cities and towns in the US are named after him, including the Cajun stronghold of Lafayette, Louisiana. He is known as “the hero of two worlds.”
That’s it. No post production tips because nature did that work for me. I’d rather it always be that way. But, well. You know.