Trains and Roads.
Trains and Roads.

It’s Sunday. I experiment. Or, I go photograph a second line parade. I’m too still sick to go out in the street and work. I thought I was better yesterday. But, this damn flu just won’t let go. I haven’t been able to really work in a week. It’s making me crazy. But, it is giving me some time to read. I usually only pay halfway attention to social media. For the past couple of days I’ve been reading it too much. I’ve come to the conclusion that it should be heavily regulated. People who can’t read should not be allowed to post.


Rant time.

There is a 16 month old story about Facebook trying to claim the rights to just about everything we post and being able to monetize it in advertisements, marketing and so on. When that story was published, the creative members among us went to war. Our trade groups united and wrote to Congress. I doubt they would have done anything. After all, they don’t do much. But the folks at Facebook didn’t want to face any kind of Congressional review so they backed off. They have not attempted any sort of end run. This doesn’t mean they won’t do so in the future. But, for now there are other battles to fight.


Some newbie just read the old story. He didn’t bother to read the date. He just posted it under the “Oh my God” category. In the echo chamber that is social media this started getting passed around like it was breaking news. It isn’t. Read what I wrote above. Of course, that was followed by a meaningless quasi-legal bit of boiler plate that people have been posting on Facebook that generally says, “Hands off.” Read what I wrote. It’s meaningless. It prevents nothing. The people who over reacted should be regulated. Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to post for a period of time. I’m not a big rules guy. But, stop passing around bad information.

It just gets better. One of my blogging colleagues sees it and starts yet another discussion on Facebook. I just had to know how she was defending herself from online theft. I went to her blog. I opened a picture. Guess what? It was  5097 x 3400 pixels at 300 ppi. That’s a full frame Nikon produced file. Oh sure, she put her watermark on the picture. Guess again? All I had to do was drag and drop (right mouse click on a Windows machine) and put it on my desktop. If I wanted to, I could have removed her watermark and claimed that picture as my own. I would never do that. It’s HER picture. But, you get the point.

The least — the very least — she could have done was make the picture smaller for web use. I make these pictures around 1800 x 1200 pixels at 72 ppi. Not only does it limit the usage to web only if somebody steals it, but it makes it a lot faster to upload. Besides, there is no computer LCD that can “see” at more than 72 ppi. Some people say that new LCDs can see as large at 96 ppi. That may be, but it’s not 300 ppi which is the quality you need to make a large paper print or publish in a book or magazine or somewhere.

Bottom line. Do everything that you can to protect yourself. Acknowledge that the internet is the wild west and people think all art should be free. They will steal it if they can. Just limit the damage. Oh yeah… if they manage to steal something bigger and use it and you see it, without a doubt be ready to drop a huge legal hammer.

Back to what you came here for… pictures. I made this in The Bywater facing the sun. In the summer. It is really golden and pretty. But, I just wanted to see what it looks like in black and white. Besides, I really don’t want to make my illness worse by going out and enjoying a very nice day. We are heading into winter. It’s 77 degrees out, Sunny. No heavy humidity. Why ever would I want to go outside and enjoy that?


A piece of paper... or so it seems.
A piece of paper… or so it seems.

I found this crumpled piece of paper in my computer. No, no, no… that’s not it. I made this picture look this way. There is no crumpled picture. It’s all digital now. Zeros and ones. Data. But, you know that.

This is Florida Street. It’s located in the Lower 9th Ward. When you get to those two towers, which is really a kind of draw bridge, the street is closed. Water is seeping through the street and flooding it. Not over the street. Or around the street. Literally, through it. In a city that is mostly under sea level, this is probably the lowest neighborhood anywhere. It is a mix of Mississippi River water, which seeps in through the canals, and lake water which seeps in from the other direction that keeps the street wet.

Low Land.

And, the area is nasty. There used to be an old project there. You know. One of those places that housed a mass of human beings, supposedly for a short time. But, usually for generations. Most of that is gone now. Really gone. As in doesn’t exist. The rest is semi-fenced and abandoned. You can see part of the fence on the right. Barbed wire. Yes. We take our abandoned land seriously down here. The neighborhood got about 15 feet of water from Hurricane Katrina. When I say 15 feet of water. I mean 15 feet deep. Standing. Not surging. I have no idea how high the storm surge was. I suppose that I could Google that. But, I really don’t want to know.

Sunken Lands.

This is also very near to where I made the picture, “I’m getting paid regardless.” The neighborhood looks like that. Some houses have come back. Most have not. The further you get towards I-10, the more recovery you see. But, there are still things abandoned everywhere. Small businesses. Houses. Even a McDonald’s. The usual stuff. Have it your way. Indeed.

The picture. This is one of my drive-bys. Or, to be more accurate, drive through. I took it through the windshield of my very slowly moving car. If you see  two white spots below the bridge, those are headlights from a car coming toward me. I’m sure the driver was wondering what I was doing. Me too. What was I doing? Better yet, what was I thinking?

The rest is all post production. The sky was a light brighter and more happy. But, that’s not what I saw. This sunken land is very strange to me. I wanted to make the picture feel that way. It’s really just a world of strange design. Maybe you see that too.


I'm Getting Paid Regardless
I’m Getting Paid Regardless

“I’m getting paid regardless.”

I don’t know who wrote that on this building. I don’t know why. Or, when. But, I like the sentiment. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I took this picture on the way to some place else. It seems that I do that a lot. This time I was headed to the second line that you saw for most of this week. Some times you see stuff along the way. Sometimes you don’t. I was lucky. I did.

Back to, “I’m getting paid regardless.” I have no idea why the tagger wrote that, but… I think I’m starting an online art and talent agency. Not quite sure of the name, but, that little ditty is going to be the tagline.

Here’s why.

For most companies, the close of business this week was Wednesday. That is if you don’t work in retail when, of course, today is Black Friday. I had three emails from potential clients who started out by saying, “I just luuuuuves yer work.” That’s always trouble. Right there. You know what’s coming next. They usually don’t want to pay anything for it. They want me to be happy with a credit line because that will be good for my business. Right. One guy even tried to hit me with heavy guilt. “This is a non-profit,” to which I replied, “do you get paid?” Uh, uh, uh. Then, “If you say no, I’ll have to start searching all over again.” Poor baby. He’d better start searching. My dogs like high-end kibbles. They can’t eat photo credits. For that matter, either can we.


This picture. It really is the result of just passing by. Yep. Lots of post production to make it say what I thought it should.

Oh yeah.

What did I forget? I almost forgot to write and post this.


Trumpet player
Trumpet Player.

This is about the last of the musical second line parade adventure. I have more pictures. Many more pictures. But, there comes a time when you just don’t want to show every picture that you took on a particular shoot. There isn’t enough time in YOUR day for that. I have some blogging colleagues who publish 20 or 30 pictures every time they shoot something. Anything. Why? Can’t you curate well enough to pick the very best one or two pictures? Don’t you have the confidence to stand by the one or two pictures you selected? Does the crowd have to do everything for you?

Here’s a little tip. The crowd doesn’t know anything. They like cat pictures. And, pictures of puppy dogs.

There is a big brouhaha right now about Yahoo claiming rights to pictures on Flickr. Stuff about Creative Commons, which is nonsense anyway. It was designed to allow people to share pictures without asking. It also allows somebody who shares one of your pictures to license it and put that money in his pocket. The artist gets nothing. That’s the loophole that nobody likes to discuss. Yeah. Right.

I’m willing to bet big money that the pictures Yahoo is going to steal from the photographers who post on Flickr are pictures that they deem salable. Pictures of cats doing stuff. And, puppies being cute.

My dogs are worse than celebrities. No pictures. No cats live here.

These pictures. Another second line. Amazing post storm light. The only thing that I can’t explain is the trumpet player in the third picture. Just how does he go from blowing his horn as hard as he can to smoking a cigarette on a break?

A Little Dance
A Little Dance
Smoke Break
Smoke Break
Showing the Colors.
Showing the Colors.


I seem to be consumed with brass instruments. With Horns. And, trumpets. If this picture had been made in a studio or just in my own location it wouldn’t mean so quite much to me. But, I made this in the middle of a parade. I was being jostled around. Bounced around. Knocked around. I am truly amazed at the sharpness and general quality of this picture. I’m still trying to figure out the weird round circles in the bokeh. I guess that lens that I used just doesn’t like those kinds of reflections.


BW Horn

I write about working closely to the subject. Is this close enough? I was working so closely that I could be playing this trumpet. I could if I knew how. Actually, I was standing in the band and I sort of stuck my camera out in front of all of us to make this picture. A kind of selfie. But, not really.

Yes. I’m expermenting a little more with black and white even though that’s really how I started. Some of you like it. I’ve made most of my career working in color. Publishing black and white imagery takes a lot of thought on my part. And… as I’ve written. I don’t really see in black and white. My world is very colorful.

Trumpet Player
Trumpet Player

Another Sunday, another second line. This one was walked by The 9 Times Social Aid Club. It was located way, way out in the Lower 9th Ward. So far out, that it was quicker to take the interstate home rather than work my way through city the streets. It took driving out there to figure that out.

The light was amazing. The parade was huge. The people were into the music. I was lucky to be there. I’ve been suffering from the flu. I really wanted to photograph this parade so I went. I got very lucky. I made a lot of very nice pictures. It cost me. Commute time out to this end of the 9th Ward was about an hour. I worked for about an hour. I spent five hours on the couch recovering and coughing and sneezing and thinking maybe I made a mistake. Fortunately, it didn’t cause a real relapse. Lying around gave me a little time to review these pictures and find the ones I like best. Pictures that were a little more than pure documentary.

This is one of them.

This trumpet player is a guy I’ve been seeing play on the streets for maybe three years. We know each other by sight. We always wave, smile or nod at each other. Yesterday, he surprised me. He walked up behind me and blew a note into my ear. Full blast. I turned around and saw who it was. We both started laughing. I decided this was the day to make a better portrait of him. This is the portrait. Enjoy it.

Fort Pike.
Fort Pike.


A few weeks back when I took part in the black & white challenge a few of you said you’d like to see more work in my “new” media. Okay. Thank you.

My new media isn’t so new. Like many photographers around my age, I first started working in a wet darkroom when I took pictures. We did a lot in there. We developed film. We learned how to print in a darkroom. When we did “photo editing” we did it while we were printing the picture. If we made a mistake we had to reprint the picture. We couldn’t save our working files in a computer. We just had negatives and photographic paper. Chemicals too. Lots of chemicals.

There is a giant irony in that old-fashioned work. When developed film and made prints if we performed the work properly, the negatives and prints could last for a life time. Longer, even. Today, in order to protect ourselves we make redundant sets of digital files and back them up multiple times in multiple places. It seems that the easier things become, the more complicated they become.

This is Fort Pike. Louisiana. A pre Civil War fort. Now a national landmark. Do you know how you can tell it is located in Southeast Louisiana? Stuff grows out of the walls and roof.

Between two bodies of water.
Between two bodies of water.

Every now and then I remember to head east. Towards Mississippi. But, not into the state. Just to the edge of Louisiana.

I pass by the edge of Lake Ponchartrain where I usually have a look around at what is left of Lincoln Beach and the old amusement park. It is mostly gone now after having been the destination spot in the in the 1950s and up until 1963 when the beach was closed to swimmers. The amusement park was also a musical venue drawing acts like Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers and Earl King. There have been big plans for reviving the area. So far, nothing has really happened. There was a clean up of the area in 1999 when the lake water was determined to be clean enough to swim in, but the project ran out of funding. There was another, smaller attempt in 2005ish. Katrina got in the way. Now the area is still recovering from that.

From there, I sort of follow the streets and roads along the edge of the lake and swamp until I make a cut over to Chef Menteur Highway or Highway 90 as it is officially called. This used to be the only way to travel along the Gulf Coast from Florida to almost El Paso, Texas. That must have been a long, hard trip. Today, of course, folks just blast through the Gulf States on Interstate 10. Or, they really give up, drive to the airport and fly.

The top picture is Highway 90 as it crosses just past Fort Pike and over the Rigolets which is a water passageway between Lake Catherine, Lake Borgne and Lake Ponchartrain, with Lake Borgne really being the gate way to The Gulf of Mexico.

The next two pictures are really what is left to see of the Lincoln Beach amusement park, at least until winter really arrives and kills a lot of the plant life. I’ll explore a little deeper then. For now I’ll leave it to the snakes and alligators who make their homes there and hide in the high, dense brush waiting… waiting for me. The arrow is what remains of one of the entrances to the main parking lot. The bottom picture is the part of the back parking lot. As always, nature wins.