If only I had any idea.
I have no idea.

I resumed work on my almost forgotten Central City project. Event though I go there on alternating Sundays to photograph second line parades, I really haven’t taken the time to document the neighborhood’s progress. Or, lack of progress.

I am happy to report that the neighborhood is slowly started to come back. From the storm. And, from years of neglect. It’s got a long way to go. But, it is progressing nicely. I can also report that the shell of a Victorian, gothic-looking three-story house that we bought for back taxes is also coming back. The back wall has been restored. The interior has been restored to the point that the kitchen is almost ready for appliances. The stairs still need finishing and a bannister installed. It is certainly habitable as it stands.

All of that said, I have no idea why this little American Flag is attached to the fence. It caught my eye as I was passing by. I actually drove around the block, down two more streets in order find my through the maze of one way streets and returned to it in order to make the picture.

If you look closely at the flag, it’s very well done. I don’t know why it’s there, but I have a very good idea of who made it. Not the person, exactly. But, that work is very good. The stripes are correct. The stars are correct. It looks like the handiwork of a Mardi Gras Indian.

The picture. The picture as I made it in the camera is just fine. It needed a little darkening. A boost in contrast. You know me. I’m trying to go further. So, I added a lot of aging, cracking, weathering and scratching after the fact.

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Bamboo
Bamboo

Our version of Fall. Southeast Louisiana. Leaves are changing color all over the country. Some will change here too. Eventually. Of course, if you grow bamboo, the leaves don’t change color. One more thing about bamboo. Once you plant it, it will take over everything and you can’t kill it.

The pictures. Just a little depth of field exercise with help from a little bit of glow in post procession.

And other thing…  Since you saw my rain picture, you’ve probably figured out that those of us who live in Southeast Louisiana couldn’t photograph the moon. There was cloud cover just about everywhere. Today still.

It might be just as well.

As I said in a reply here on storyteller, I saw about 2,989,786 pictures of what looked like a pumpkin on a dark background. You really do need an earthly foreground subject to give the moon a sense of place and time. It’s even better if the foreground subject isn’t some predictable landmark. There is actually a Twitter feed discussing just why a smart phone couldn’t get the job done. Most of the pictures are very amusing. Even with DSLR cameras, people keep trying to use lenses that are longer and longer to photograph the moon. I must be an idiot. I keep trying to go wider and wider.

Closer and Closer
Closer and Closer


A night of rain.
A night of rain.

No second line today.

It rained. A lot. Sort of a semi-tropical storm that built up in the Gulf.

Normally, most second lines will run regardless of the weather. Not today.  The leaders had the time to make a decision.

Today, I learned something about why second lines walk in bad storms. Or, walk when nobody shows up. It’s pretty simple. The parade leaders waited too long to cancel. They lose their city  permit money if they postpone later than two hours before starting time.

Second line investments are pretty costly. If a parade is large like today’s was supposed to be, the organization spends a lot of money for the permit itself, policing, paying the bands, post parade clean up and so on. They hold all sorts of fund-raisers throughout the year to do this. It’s hard work. They don’t want to just toss their money away.

So.

The parade was shut down about two and half hours before start time.  As nature would have it, the rain stopped before start time and did not resume until much later.  It was supposed to start falling again about mid-parade. It didn’t. Sheesh. When have you ever known a weather person to be right?

There’s more. About second line rescheduling.

I looked at the second line schedule for this season. There is no open Sunday through the end of the year. A friend of mine as they would just reschedule on a Saturday. Nope. By tradition, only the Black Men of Labor walk on a Saturday.

Can you guess why?

When second lines began to walk free of jazz funerals, many of the social and aid clubs’ members worked six days a week. Sunday was church day, and a time to relax with family. That tradition holds true today even though many members of the clubs work a more normal five days a week, or own a businesses, or work in professional jobs or so on.

A bell rang way in the back of my brain. It seems like this happened in either 2013 or 2014. The club who postponed their second line did walk on Saturday. But, they joined the Black Men of Labor’s second line to do it. I suppose something like that will happen this year. Both social clubs — Young Men Olympian Jr and the Black Men of Labor  — are very old line and well-respected. They’ll work it out. It’ll be a massive parade. I’m guessing that it will have at least four divisions and four brass bands.

That said, “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.”

Out I went into the night. To the French Quarter. To Bourbon Street.

This picture was taken at f5.6 at I have no idea how many seconds. Probably 1/4 or 1/2 a second. In a case like this, I pick the aperture and let the camera pick the shutter speed… up to a point. I want my shutter speed to be somewhere around 1/8 to 1/2 a second. The way to control this easiest is with the ISO control. Of course, the higher the ISO, the more potential you have to introduce a lot of noise. Going to Bourbon Street was by design. It’s better lighted. It’s brighter. The colors are warm. I didn’t have to crank up the ISO quite as far. I also don’t want to have to fiddle with the controls. I just want to make pictures.

Oh yeah. I can check the EXIF data to learn exactly how I shot the picture. But, I don’t really care. I’ve been at this long enough to be fairly certain of what I did. I’m not a pixel peeper.


Moonlight at dusk.
Moonlight at dusk.

Big deal over the moon. As usual, I don’t think we’ll get to see it. It appears that we will have pretty solid cloud cover. So, I photographed it when I could. It has nothing to do with a “super moon” or eclipse. It was a nice evening when I took the picture.

It’s Sunday. That means another second line. So, I’ll keep this post short.

The picture. I just stood there and took it. I helped it a little in post production, but not so much that it would make the sky electric.

Have a good Sunday.


Legs.
Legs.

You need a break. Constant second line pictures isn’t good for anybody. Besides. I’ll start up with them again on Monday.

I made this picture on my last stroll through The French Quarter. A while back. I haven’t gone there in a couple of months because, well, I don’t want to deal with the so-called bad element. I guess it’s time to go again. The poodle needs to go for a walk in his favorite neighborhood. Safety shouldn’t be an issue. I’m taking a dog with me.  Who is going to defend him? I’m not sure there is a really safe place in the city. The latest trend seems to be armed robberies of mid-to-high end restaurants. During business hours. The patrons got to lie face down while the robbers emptied out their pockets and purses. This is happening in our neighborhood. Sort of. Uptown, at least. Combine that with two days of a boil order on our drinking water, the regular murder rate, the potholes, the broken streets, the streetcars that don’t run and the usual other issues and New Orleans is becoming an awfully hard place in which to live.

Why stay?

That’s a good question. I suppose I’m trying to figure that out. I talk a lot about the music, the second lines, even about a little magic of New Orleans. But, when a great day is when I don’t have to leave my property and hang out by the back of the house, I have to wonder. Used to be that I liked to explore. That’s how I make all these pictures. But, lately…

And, it’s not me. I’m not having a shooting block. Or, a writer’s block. It’s that I don’t want to deal with the usual “stuff” anymore. I don’t want to dodge a pot hole, only to hit another — deeper — one. I don’t want to worry about taking a shower without getting unsafe water in my mouth. Or, stopping to take a picture without wondering what those two dudes walking towards me are thinking. Or, even finishing this post without the power failing. Twice.

Nice little rant, eh?

I didn’t mean for that to happen. I guess, I just read too much local news today. I know what it’s like in other places. And, I know it’s not as third world out there as it is around these parts. Drinking water? Come on….  I posted something on Facebook that I read on NOLA.com. It appears that two of the big water purifying boilers were built in 1927. You have to use broom straws to light them. Oh really?

Anyway…

The picture. Wait until the light is a little golden and walk around. Photograph what you see. Try not to get in the reflection too much.


Coming Out.
Coming Out. 

Good Fellas is the only second line that appears on an overhead walkway or catwalk. The parade members come out of a place called the Eiffel Society, make a left turn when they reach street level and start walking.

The Eiffel Society is, in their own words; a club, a bar, a garden, a gallery, a catwalk and a stage. They serve drinks and food. They play a lot of music. DJ style. According to their website, it is the original cafe that was once perched on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was shipped on a boat in boxes and assembled from 11,062 pieces like a giant set of Legos as part of the 1984 World’s Fair. It stands 14 feet tall and is located on St. Charles Avenue only a few blocks away from our house.

I don’t think it’s like Legos. It’s more like an Erector Set, which I don’t believe is made anymore.

That’s really all I know about it. Except that it changes hands fairly frequently and while it may be sort of a local landmark, it sure looks weird. It’s out-of-place. And, time.

The only second line that uses it as a starting point is Good Fellas. That’s sort of cool although that catwalk can get jammed up pretty easily with spectators, photographers and videographers. In fact, if you get behind the second line, you’ll be stuck behind it until you work your way through the crowd at the base of the stairs. For the way that I like to work that’s like death.

The picture. I often like you to see the subject and the surrounding area. That’s what you get in this frame. Mama and her babies. And, the catwalk. The rest is pretty simple. See the picture. Take the picture. Almost no work in post production. I am testing something to replace all forms of Adobe software. So, maybe no more Photoshop. No more Bridge. No more Lightroom.

We’ll see.


Blow dat horn.
Blow dat horn.

“How can you hit and think at the same time?” — Yogi Berra

There you have it. I awoke yesterday morning reading about the passing of Yogi Berra. For those of you who live in other places, he was an American baseball player. A catcher. He caught the ball after it was thrown by the picture. By all accounts, not only was he a great ball player, but he was a good and kind person. He was good for the sport. He was good for the planet. He was 90 years old when he passed.

My memories of him stretch way back in time. Remember, you’re dealing with an old guy here. But, memories aren’t always accurate. We color them. They fade with time. We save the good ones and try to forget the bad ones.

I really started to follow baseball when I was about six years old. I swear that I saw him catch in his last season as a New York Yankee player. But, the data and stats prove me wrong, or partially so. By the time I was ten years old, he was mostly playing left field and a little first base. The Yankees had a new young catcher named Elston Howard. He caught in Yogi’s last year as a player. Yogi may have filled in from time to time, but I doubt I saw him. He played in New York. By that time, we moved to Los Angeles.

Because he passed at 90, I’m not so sad. Mostly, I’m nostalgic. I see ghosts from time-to-time. I’m sure they’ll be in my dreams this week. That’s not always a bad thing. I miss some of those people. And, I get to see them as I remember them.

So. How does this picture and Yogi’s quote fit together? I think y’all are pretty bright and very perceptive. But, I need to remind you. Or, maybe just me.

The picture. Well, you know. In New Orleans we walk in jazz funerals. We blow those trumpets. We sing. We dance. We know that death is just part of life. That’s why we say the word passed instead of died. Death is so final. Passing is not.

The quote. Yogi said that in 1947 to a batting coach who was trying to tell him to think when he was at bat. He did. And, he struck out. Keep in mind that he had great bat control. He did not strike out often. When Yogi returned to the dugout, he looked at the coach and said,  “How can you hit and think at the same time?”

I often write, “Practice, practice, practice.” Do you know why? The more you get used to taking pictures without having to fiddle around with dials, without thinking about this, that and the other, the more you just see, react and shoot… the better and more real your pictures become. Don’t think. Just take pictures. But, in order to do that… well, you know.

RIP Yogi Berra.

 


A little moment.
A little moment.

We talked about moments yesterday.

Here’s another one. This one doesn’t have as much to do with the second line, as it does with the people who come out for the parades. Or, in this case, was taken to the parade. I doubt that he brought himself, especially since I know that his mama was standing right next to him. And, he seems a little young to be hanging out by himself.

What more can I say? A child and a red balloon. That’s pretty good, right?

The picture. F8 and get in everybody else’s way to take the picture. Actually, that dark shape behind this little guy is another photographer. I suppose it could be said that he was in my way. Or not. These things are free for alls. We are used to it.


Happy to see you again my friend
Happy to see you again my friend.

It’s moments like these. That make working in the heat and humidity completely worthwhile. Yeah. Sure. I like the music. I like the social aid and pleasure clubs. The Indians when they come out. Even though I really don’t like big crowds, if the truth be told, I like these crowds.

But, I really like the little moments. Friends meeting. Hugs. Joy. Happiness. Smiles. Whispers.

This is the best of life. “The Family as Man” as the old project once called a collection of pictures like these. In many ways, that’s what these parades are about. A yearly gathering of friends, family and neighborhoods. I may go for the music. For the culture. To take pictures. But, when you get down to it, I’m happy to see my friends and fellow photographers. I’m happy to see pals on the scene.

Not to worry. When it’s time to take pictures, that changes. A little. It’s time for pictures. To focus. That’s also why I came. Mostly why I came.

The pictures. You know that I’m going to say. F-8 and be there. But, there’s more. You really have to pay attention to these “little moments.” The things that happen around you that aren’t directly event related. Then, it’s timing. Anticipation. The moment. The decisive moment.

One Small Kiss
One small kiss.
A Whisper
A whisper.