Fall Comes. Finally.
Fall Comes. Finally.

The caption says it all. Fall comes. Finally.

Yes, I’ll publish sort of a Halloween wrap up tomorrow after I photograph Halloween in the French Quarter and a little something for All Saints Day.

Then, in a season of change, I’m making a change.

I’m going to photograph some nature for a while. That’s what it really seems you all like best. Even my one-handed-walk-in-the-park Instagram pictures receive more comments than what I think is my real work. Maybe that’s all social media really is… quick bits of ephemera that blows through like a breeze at night.

But, there’s more. I really am getting tired of being battered around photographing second line parades. The junk — abandoned buildings, broken streets and falling down cities  — that I photograph? Getting more and more sporty every day. Snakes. Baby alligators. Guys with guns. Wild dogs.

Back to social media. A guy I know is at some big deal music-digital conference in Spain. He’s been talking about what he’s learned and from who he’s learned it. So, I Googled around and found some of these “big time” players. Hmmmm…

First off, they ain’t so big.They just have opinions. They don’t have control.

Second, I read a lot of their case studies.They do pretty much what most of us do except they spend a lot of money to get there. The client’s money. More importantly, they define success by increasing clicks. By getting more Facebook likes. By getting more twitter follows. Not once do any of them talk about what really matters. Cash. You know, “Cash on the barrelhead son.” The thing that has no enemies. Quite frankly I don’t care about clicks, likes or follows if it doesn’t convert to earnings. No. I’m not some money-grubbing guy. But, why be bothered doing all this stuff if it doesn’t generate better kibbles for my dogs?

Make no mistake. I like pats on the head as much as the next guy. I like seeing what my friends — as defined by people I know in real life — are doing. I like their success. I like watching their children grow. I like seeing their grand children. I like keeping in touch.

Let’s see what happens. At least I won’t be dealing with guys with guns. The snakes and alligators will be in hibernation. The wild dogs? I’ve got my own dogs. They think they are wild… when they hop up on the bed, make a nest from the pillows and sleep all day. Yep. That’s wild. Alright.


A little southern fall weather.
A little southern fall weather.

Yes. I’m still doing the Halloween thing. I’ll work a good part of the evening tonight and again tomorrow night on all things seasonal. But, I was sort of boring myself with spooky stuff. I can just imagine how you feel. So, I thought how about a seasonal picture of a different sort? I saw this scene glowing in low sunset light and decided this would do it. It’s our kind of fall. Fall without much of a chill in the air. Fall that is still humid. Fall the can be downright hot. But, it’s our fall.

Did I mention that for the last two days, we’ve set high temperature records? That’s saying something. Even here.

This picture. I saw the scene pretty much they way I’m showing it to you. This is phrased carefully. Very carefully. Did I actually see the physical scene this way? Or did I see this version in my head? You decide.

In fact, I’m being very conservative in post production these days. Seems like everybody upgraded almost all the software that I use. There are videos to watch and little arrows to click on. These things are supposed to teach me, and keep me from sending a million emails. There is one question that nobody can answer. Why, oh why, do all the names for the various tools have to be changed when they were just fine in earlier versions of the software? And, why does everything have to be reorganized when most of us have finally just memorized the locations of the tools that we us? Wait. That’s two questions. Sorry about that.

I have the answer to those two questions. The software companies won’t admit it, but their engineers need something to do. How else can they justify the high prices that they charge us?


Skulls and Nails.
Skulls and Nails.

One more picture to go.

Tomorrow night I’ll be chasing the Krewe of Boo, New Orleans very own Halloween parade. And, because we always overdo everything in this city, I’ll just be roaming the streets of the Quarter on Halloween night when just about everybody goes crazy, as well as chasing spirits through the grave yards on All Saints Day. This is not to be confused with the New Orleans Saints, the football team, who is also playing on tomorrow night. That’s a whole other story. They’ll be in North Carolina. I have no idea what kinds of Halloween celebrations they do up there.

I found this smiling skull in The French Quarter. I have no idea if that giant nail had anything to do with his death. Around here anything is possible.


A witch or a clown. It's all the same to me.
A witch or a clown. It’s all the same to me.

That’s right. Clown or witch. It’s all the same to me.

But.

I’d rather it be a witch. I’m one of those people who thinks clowns are scary. I don’t know why. Maybe I had a bad clown experience. At a circus. Maybe, it’s when I watch our political leaders discuss just about anything in a press conference. Wait. I meant presser. All these cool new words that are pretty much made up.

I suppose the language is organic, but sometimes…. For instance, I received an email requesting some photography help. You know, a guy who wants the “photo tricks that will make him a great photographer” in just 13 minutes. He started by writing that he was “gifted a camera.” I trashed the email right there. Why can’t you just say, “given?” I really dislike “verbing a noun.” Sheesh, spell check doesn’t even like “verbing.” Good.

Back on the photo track. I have no idea what it takes to turn an average guy with a new camera into a great photographer in a short time. It takes time. Time to learn. Time to make mistakes. Time to practice. Time to gain experience. To everyone who wants “the secret,” settle down. Make pictures. As often as you can. Stop holding your finger on the shutter button. Shoot less. Think more. Feel more. If you are really serious, assign yourself a project… something like a “picture a day.” Document your life. Document your street. Document your town. Talk to the people around you. Especially, your subjects. Don’t work from across the street, taking pictures of their backs. Engage them. Take a picture of them and their environment. At first, that might be hard for you. Trust me. It’s good for you.

This picture. Sure. I’ll share my secret. Walk. See what you can see. Take your camera off auto. Set the shutter speed. Set the aperture. Press the button.


Stars in her eyes.
Stars in her eyes.

This is a famous skeleton. I don’t know who. I don’t know why. But, she has stars in her eyes. A cool wig. And, ruby-red lipstick. Also, it appears that her face has been folded in half.

Don’t ask. I don’t know. I just saw it and photographed it. I did my best to make it one of those horizontal, tightly cropped portraits that I like to do of living and breathing human people. And, dogs.

Of course, the dogs won’t pose for me so I have to be sneaky. But, they are more sneaky than me. One of them waits until she hears that shutter release button and shakes her head from side to side. You know what I get? A ghost headed dog. The poodle is worse. I start to focus. He walks up to the lens as close as he can get. And, licks it.

At least this skeleton didn’t move. Not that she could.


Celebrity Skull.
Celebrity Skull.

Celebrity Skull. The future is so bright I have to wear shades. I stole that line from an old song. I do that a lot. But, you know that. I sort of guessing that this guy’s future is waaaaaaay behind him. But, who am I to judge?

Not much more to say. What can I say?

Happy Sunday, y’all.


Skeletons on St. Charles Avenue.
Skeletons on St. Charles Avenue.

This picture has everything. Skeletons. St. Charles Avenue. Streetcars. Blue Light. Speeding Traffic. A wrought iron fence.

It isn’t particularly scary. But, it does give you a sense of place. If you know anything about New Orleans, you know where you are.  If you’ve been with me for very long you know about this place. It’s a go-to location for every major holiday. Even if I’m struggling to make seasonal pictures, I know I can make them here.

The owners of this house are very cool. They decorate it to the ends of the earth for every holiday. They make subtle changes, usually that address some news “worthy” topic. This year, it seems that Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty were turned into skeletons. For my foreign friends, that’s a reference to a television show that became — as all things do these days — a topic for our over politicized extremists. Luckily for you, that’s about as about as political as I get. Luckily for me, too.

The picture. F 5.6 and be there. Hand held. Let whatever motion creeps into the picture be part of the picture.

 


Mermaids, or something.
Mermaids, or something.

Day two.

Halloween.

I found this lovely lady on Royal Street. In the Quarter. I knew she would be there. Or something like her. This place is always dressed for the holidays. Christmas. Mardi Gras. Halloween. It’s a funny thing about New Orleans people. We may not have a big house. A fancy car. A lot of money. But, some of us have a whole room dedicated to storing this kind of stuff. I think these folks might have some money given the location of this place. But, it could be an ancient family owned house as well. This one looks to be in good condition. Many family owned properties aren’t.

Another one, a few blocks from this one on Royal Street collapsed this week. That’s right. It just fell down. Turns out that if you don’t care for an old place, they fall down. Bricks are usually good for 200 years. The mortar between them is good for 150 years. There are work-arounds if you maintain the property. The owners didn’t. So, a landmark structure — one of the first three-story buildings in the city, built in 1801 — just fell down into the street. Luckily, nobody was inside at the time. It’s been pretty much closed. Just as luckily, it happened during a time of low foot traffic. Royal street is normally a busy place.

Apparently, there is a couple of rented one of the apartments that collapsed to use when they were in New Orleans. Remember, I said “Pretty much closed.” They live in Baton Rouge. They were quoted as saying, “We don’t know what we’ll do. Our whole life was in there.” Huh? You live in Baton Rouge. Oh, wait a minute. A law suit must be coming.

Semi-rant time. Some guy is interested in what else I might “capture” for the rest of the “Seven Days of Halloween.” Sorry. I’m a photographer. I’m an old guy. I remember when photography meant taking a picture. Making a picture. Even — OMG — taking a snapshot. I don’t capture anything. I’ll leave that to some guy on a safari who is hoping to make his life interesting. I just take pictures.

One more thing. No such holiday storage room in our house. Remember, we aren’t from here. I don’t mask. I don’t wear a costume. We don’t decorate the exterior of the house for any holiday with the exception of a wreath. Of course, the indoor Christmas tree is 18 feet tall. Take that.


Skeletons and Beds.
Skeletons and Beds.

Here we go. One of the biggest holidays in New Orleans.

Halloween.

It happens in just eight days. Seven days plus one.

How could it not be a big deal? In a place that celebrates every weird thing, Halloween is a very important holiday in the city. So for the next week, I’ll show you a little bit of our handiwork. Skulls. Bones. Skeletons. Witches. Voodoo Queens. Devils. Ghosts. Goblins. Pumpkins.

Scary stuff. Cool stuff. Fun stuff.

I hope you enjoy it.