Another Mardi Gras Indian Portrait
Another Mardi Gras Indian Portrait

Hmmm… I posted a version of this picture yesterday. It is a vertical and it is just the young indian. I called it “The” picture. I shouldn’t have spoken so fast. I’m not so sure that it is the right picture. Here’s what happened. As usual, if I want to post something from the same day’s events I quickly look over my work. The pictures you see usually jump out at me. Then,  in the next day or so I do a full edit. I really do like to let my pictures marinate if I don’t have some kind of client-imposed deadline. So, in this case, I curated my work a lot more carefully today. I found this picture. It’s not the portrait I showed you yesterday. But, to me, it is more interesting. There are things going on in the background that I like and that you don’t see in the original image. It also gives you a little insight into how I work. Normally, I try to keep my images very clean even in a very crowded or busy situation. Sometimes, I think that’s not such a great idea. With the advent of my little mirror less cameras, I’ve been able to loosen my framing up a bit. It shows in this picture. It’s a 24mm shot with a pretty open f-stop. Maybe f4. Something like that. Very little post production because once again, the image didn’t need it.

Oh. One more thing. I like to teach. Especially on this blog.  Usually I teach from experience. Usually it comes from some mistake that I just made. Here’s a big one. A BIG mistake. After reading what I wrote in the last paragraph, you probably came to the conclusion that I have pretty good discipline when it comes to curating and work flow. Normally that’s right. But — you knew this was coming — in the three weeks of Mardi Gras parades and events — I cherry picked pictures for Storyteller and just let everything just sit. After three weeks you can imagine the mess I made. It was a big one. Add to that the images I made on the trip to the “Frozen North” and the mess just grew and grew. It took two days to clean it up, get images sorted and placed in the proper files. When I write two days, I mean it. Two 10 hour days.

Your take away? Don’t be like me.


My little portrait.
My little portrait.
Mz Charise.
Mz Charisse.
All smiles.
All smiles.
Zulu Queen
Zulu Queen

Super Sunday. It was postponed twice this year, but the wait was worth it. It was very crowded. More than I remember, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s talk about what you are seeing. First. A couple of things to know. Super Sunday is the premier of the Mardi Gras Indians suits for 2014 – 2015. Until today, everything is kept in secret. I just learned today that the official close of a suit is the walks that are down on The Feast of St. Joseph. Second. A little history. Originally, when the indians came out things could get a little violent between tribes. Tt was the first time Uptown and Downtown tribes would meet for the year. But the violence hasn’t happened for a long, long time. Now they sort of strut their stuff, greet each other, talk and move on to the next tribe. It’s more a family affair.

The top picture is “the” picture. I didn’t even know that I made it quite the way you see it. I was talking to the young man more than I was paying attention to what was in the viewfinder. That’s one of the good things about mirror less cameras. You can work with the person you are photographing a lot more than you can if you always have to look through the viewfinder.

The second picture — the pink picture – is Mz. Charisse. She taught me more about working with Mardi Gras Indians than anyone else. The real key to having successful relationships with Indians as they are getting ready to walk is to “present yourself.” That means paying them the respect of talking to them, introducing yourself, offering a business card and asking “may I?” It’s an easy thing to do. But, often in the wall of color you forget to do that. I don’t. But, I’ve been trained by the best… Mz. Charisse.

The third picture is interesting. She is dressed more for a second line parade than for and Indian walk. That big, huge smile caught my attention and what could I do. I asked, she smiled again, I pushed the button and said thank you.

This is Georgette Lang-Mims. Who? The Queen of Zulus for 2014. I was surprised to see her at this parade, but Mardi Gras Indians walk during the Zulu parade on Fat Tuesday so she returned the favor. It’s always a treat to Zulus when they come out for a second line or something a little special.

The pictures. Nothing special. F8 and be there. No heavy post production. No need to. This is really just photojournalism.

Now, about the crowd. When I first started coming out for Super Sunday, it was a smallish event. Yes, all the tribes came out, but the crowd was mostly local. Very local. As in folks from the neighborhood. Not any more. It’s packed with people from all over. About 75% of them are trying to be photographers. They don’t bother me so much. I’m sneaky. I work around them. I walk through them, behind them and past them. I have a lot of practice. But, they don’t know the unwritten rules. The rules I briefly discussed when I was talking about Mz. Charisse. That’s just the minimum. These “new” people forget that we are in the indians home. We are just guests. This is their neighborhood and it should be respected as much. Over the years that I’ve been working in Central City, I’ve come to know a lot of people. Some are indians, most are not. When we see each other, we visit. Of course, someone seeing cameras hanging off my shoulder think that whomever I happened to be talking with is fair game. Especially if they are all feathered and sequined. A couple of times today, it was like a feeding frenzy even when we walked around the corner to just talk for a few minutes. I’m not sure what can be done, or if anything should be done. The “new people” bring money into a fairly poor neighborhood. They have a lot of fun. But still… Aretha Franklin sang it best. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Rant ends now. Thanks mom.


French Quarter Purple
French Quarter Purple

This picture was made when the poodle and I had our guy’s night out in The French Quarter. I’ve been walking past this building for years, but on that night the light made the building look bluish-purple and oh so photographic.  So I stopped and worked the building for more than a few minutes. I added a little to it in post production, but not that much. The evening light did most of the work.

One of the aesthetics of The Quarter that I like so much is that you can just mentally put yourself in some part of Europe while you are standing in the middle of New Orleans. See? I never have to travel. I can just pretend. When I think about that last sentence I kind of have to chuckle. People come to New Orleans, and especially The French Quarter, from all over the world. Me? It’s about a ten minute drive. I couple probably walk to The Quarter from the house in a half hour. I may have to try it one day.


Mid City Junk
Mid City Junk

I think I’ve shown you this house many, many moons ago. That’s the point of this picture. This house is on the edge of the soon-to-come hospital zone. Actually, now that I think of it, I showed you the back and side of the house. I’m not sure who owns it. It may now belong to the city. I guess you could say that it is in storage rather than abandoned.

Here’s a short version of what happened. After the storm, the powers that be and some that didn’t be, decided to rehab the city by building a huge hospital area in Mid-City. That’s a good idea because we need hospitals and there are already a couple of big hospitals in the area that were included in the plan. Additionally, we are getting a new VA complex. And, there will be plenty of new jobs at all levels of employment. All good stuff.

However, In order to do that, a huge section of the neighborhood was condemned and either torn down or moved. There were neighborhood protests about that. There were those long-suffering home owners who refused to be bought out. Eventually, something was worked out. They left.

Many houses were moved to Hoffman Triangle were they continue to rot. Just a few miles away. I’ve written about those houses in the past. In some cases, the houses were moved just a block or two. This house is one of those. It’s been sitting on those temporary blocks for at least five years. It’s a big house. It’s pretty much settled into our soft, loamy ground. Apparently, this house was moved very quickly. Look on what’s left of the upstairs balcony. On the right. There’s an outdoor, or lawn chair, sitting up there. This must have been the fastest that anyone has moved in New Orleans in years. Heh!

The picture. This time there was no question in my mind. I needed to help it to make my point. Or, any point. Especially since it was made a little too early in the late afternoon light and was really bland. So, I did a few of my tricks in post production and this is the result.


Stilll there.
Still there.
Broken Streets.
Broken Streets.
More Pink.
More Pink.

New Orleans junk. My junk. I wasn’t going to post this today, but I read a story in the local newspaper about a new bike path and green belt that just broke ground. It’s been about four years in the making. It stretches from The French Quarter to way out into Mid-City. This project will cost about $ 9,000,000 when it is finished. Of course, nobody knows how it will be  maintained when it is done. Nor does anyone know how it will be kept safe since it passes through some very dicey and drug ridden neighborhoods. Given that the NOPD is losing officers and detectives at the rate of four a week and that morale is at an all time low, there doesn’t seem to be an answer to the safety question. Oh yeah, there are no new officer trainees in the pipeline. And, our crack city council wants to lower the qualification standards.

But, that’s not my rant… for the day. It’s another rant.

These pictures were all made in Hollygrove a few days before I left for the Great Frozen North. Hollygrove is a very rough neighborhood that abuts a very good neighborhood called Broadmoor. Look at these pictures. The damage you see is still left from Hurricane Katrina. Look at the middle picture. The blue picture. Look at the streets. They look like they belong out in some old country place. This area isn’t alone in such horribly maintained streets. New Orleans is pot hole city. It makes Detroit look good be comparison when it comes to streets.

So.

Here’s my question. Doesn’t our local government think that $9,000,000 could be better spent on street repair, unrepairable structure demo and rehabbing neighborhoods than spending it on a greenway that might not be able to be maintained or secured properly? I dunno.

The pictures. This is a little complicated because I let each picture teach me how to process and modify it. So, I used three very different approaches. The middle picture — the blue picture — got the heaviest treatment because I wanted to make a very strong statement about that street, that house and that fractured tree. It works for me. I hope it does for you.


French Quarter lights... and darks.
French Quarter lights… and darks.

Wow. Let’s start with the bad stuff. Yeah. I hate doing that too. It seems like all social media sites know better than I do how I want this picture to look. I posted this — to test it — on Google+. It opened up all my shadows. WordPress thinks it needs to open my sky. I’m afraid to know what Facebook will do. And, Twitter. I use this service called networked blogs. When I post here I post on Facebook and Twitter as well. Everybody’s compression software is different. And, none of it plays well together. I’ve never understood that. proprietary, indeed. It’s all ones and zeros.

Anyway.

Now that I have that out of my system.

I made this picture on the same night that I made yesterday’s picture. On the night the poodle and I had a guy’s night out. See? I told you he is a pretty good guy. He lets me stop and take pictures as long as he is allowed to stop, smell, look at stuff and visit with his friends — canine and human. And, like many dogs, everybody is his friend.

I’ve always been attracted to the warmth of lights on a dark night, so I made this picture. The shapes in the frame help this picture a lot. The chimneys and the shape of the old dependency add a lot to the silhouette of the picture. They add age to the picture. Post production is minimal. That’s always a good thing. A very good thing.


Motion on Royal Street
Motion on Royal Street

I’ve got a couple more pictures from the Frozen North. I thought that I would take a break and post a couple of New Orleans pictures.

I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. The first is pretty simple. The poodle and I went for a guys night out in The Quarter. He has a dog friend there. A Standard Poodle. So, we go for a walk, a visit and I try to make a couple of pictures if I’m allowed. It’s his walk, so it’s his call. He usually lets me pause to make a picture or two. He’s a good guy.

The second reason comes with a confession. One of my guilty pleasures is watching NCIS. I’ve watched it since its start. It’s been spun off once into NCIS LA. That’s Los Angeles, not Louisiana. But, it is coming to Louisiana in a second spin-off. NCIS NOLA. Lot of letters, but it’s pretty cool. To transition into that, the original NCIS is helping out on a case in my city. They’ve mostly been working in The Quarter, where they’ve managed to make the streets look huge, wide and almost modern. Yeah. Right. They also make all sorts of New Orleans references. It’s almost overbearing like they are trying just a little too hard. It’s a two-part show. It appears that next week they get into The Garden District. My neighborhood. This may also explain why my street was closed and I had to prove that I lived there to get in while some crew was filming. We’ll see. As they say in the television business… stay tuned.

Anyway, because the first half of the show was on tonight I thought that I’d better honor that with a French Quarter picture.

This picture. It’s Royal Street. In The French Quarter. My version. Night. Light. Color. And, lots of movement. Easy enough to do. Use a slow shutter speed, an aperture of about f5.6 to get some sharpness and jiggle the camera in the direction that you want the movement.

Housekeeping, part who knows. WordPress made some changes in the way we format our blog sites. One of the biggest changes is that we can size pictures simply by pulling on the edges of them. That allows us to make images of varying sizes. I like that flexibility a lot. Of course, WordPress told us about it after they did it. I say that with a chuckle. It is fairly intuitive, but it did confuse me for a little bit. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use this to design an old school newspaper picture page. Mine are very clean. I think you’ll like them once I do some experimenting. We’ll see.


Sunset
Sunset

Remember that sunset at frozen Lake Michigan? The one with the lighthouse that I published about a week ago? Well. This is a picture I that made on the way driving to it.

Here’s what happened. My friend — John Fulton, a way better photographer than I am — and I, waited too long to get to the lake. We left from his house late. We kept watching the sun sink. We didn’t think that we’d make it. Yes, that’s what we thought. Obviously, you know from last week’s picture that we made it. But, since he was driving I just started shooting. Not that me being in the driver’s seat would have stopped me from taking pictures. You already know that.

So. This picture was made on the way to somewhere else. When I first looked at my files I almost passed it by. But, I looked again. I darkened it some and that was it. Nature did the rest. And, John’s driving.


Dusk. I found more junk.
Dusk. I found more junk.
The real thing.
The real thing.
Old school motel. Very old school.
Old school motel. Very old school.

To me, this take is amazing. It is still part of the 45 minute dusk shoot that I had in Cairo. In that short time, I pretty much made pictures that capture the sense and feel of a long road trip. I kept saying that I was “photographically fulfilled,” which is a riff from “musically fulfilled.” I can’t help saying that. I was. And, it was pretty amazing. It normally would take me days to make these pictures. It was either photographer’s luck times ten, or I was just full of energy after driving about 9 hours. And, I released it all in one go.

Anyway.

These pictures are pretty much what I saw. I added a few different techniques in post production, but that was just for fun. The pictures could stand on their own. In fact, the picture I call “The Real Thing,” does stand on its own. No added extras. Just a little cleaning up. But, that’s normal. Nothing comes out of a digital camera that is ready for prime time.

One more thing. I thought that I would be showing you pictures of Mardi Gras Indians and Super Sunday. But, the Indians postponed it because of predicted rain. Of course, there was no rain today. Something is blowing in tonight and the temperature should drop into winter highs. So, they say.