I couldn’t help myself. As pretty as yesterday’s version of this picture was, I had to take it to the limit. One more time.
This image is the result.
I replied to one of you yesterday that I made a new version of the picture. I also said this location is not far from the old nuclear bomb testing sites. Maybe that thought inspired me. I don’t know.
I’m going to change things up a bit for May. I really haven’t been producing enough new work. So, I’m off to do that. Not actually making new pictures eventually drives me crazy. I’m not sure how I’ll present them. I’m not sure if there will be heavy post production or not. I’ll let the picture tell me that. Maybe, you’ll see a couple of versions of the same image. Process. From start to finish. Who knows?
This picture. Most of you saw yesterday’s picture. It was kind of pretty. I worked on it again and made it kind of evil. Foreboding. Scary. I dunno.
A little different color palate. But, the same vision. Under my theory of letting the picture take me, I decided not to turn this into some kind of apocalyptic nightmare. Instead, I thought about how this time and place felt. I built on that. A lot.
The road is Highway 95 somewhere near Tonopah, Nevada. If you recall, even though I might stay in Reno while I’m in the northern part of the state, my real goal is Fernley. You turn left at Fallon and head directly to Fernley. Then, west to Reno on I-80. This drive is mostly boring. Except when weather plays a part. Depending on your attitude, it is either treacherous or magical.
Me? I like weird weather. That’s where the best pictures live. Unless conditions turn really icy, when you have no steering control, I usually keep going. Same thing with rain. I like working in it. Especially in a New Orleans summer. Your clothes are already moist from the blanket of humidity, so what’s a little rain wetness? Besides, if you have some soap, you can leather up your clothes and wash them while you walk. Heh!
The picture. It’s a digital image. Yes, I did a terrible thing. Something that I’ve done for years. I made a drive by shooting. Yes. There is a lot of post production work going on. Mostly to bring out my what my mind’s eye saw.
I seem to be stuck in a western mode. That could be telling me something. Maybe a long road trip is due. But, it would be really long. I’m not going to take this trip many more times. So, I probably should make the best of it. And, just go.
Of course, there are complications. I have to fit it into an already busy schedule. And, then there is Storyteller. I don’t have the need to take a break like I did last summer. I fixed that overworked problem. Now, I look forward to working here. Like many things, it was mostly an attitude adjustment. I suppose that I could do what I really never do, and post from the road. The easiest way to do that is to photograph some scenes twice. Once with cameras and once with my smart phone.
I’m also trying to decide about the timing. If I traveled during summer, which is fast approaching, the weather would be hot and the pictures would have sort of a nostalgic feeling. It would harken back to the days of family road trips. If I waited until fall…well, you know. The light and color would be outstanding. But, it would look and feel much different from summer pictures.
We’ll see. I do have to move soon.
The picture. This was made with a digital camera, as opposed to being made on film. A friend of mine asked via an email what the difference is. This picture feels completely different to me. It’s probably technically superior to the film-based pictures. But, it feels too sharp and mechanical. Even with my tinkering. That’s still not to say one is better than the other. They are just different.
Where did I make this image? New Mexico. Those of you who live and work there will know this place. Those of you who don’t, but like to photograph this kind of stuff, won’t. Oh well. Reciprocation is fine. But, many people want locations and such, but refuse to share theirs. There is no mystery to this place. Still…
You’re driving along and you see something that interests you. You stop. You starting making pictures. You start talking. Your newly found subjects know that they are somewhat interesting in this day and age, so they agree to let you keep working. It’s a kind of luck. Photographer’s luck.
When people get stuck, I usually tell them to go outside and take a look around. That usually will open your eyes. Don’t worry about it. Just go do something. The more that you worry, the harder it becomes to break free. That’s what I know.
The picture. More experiments. In terror. Actually, I wanted this picture to have an old-fashioned feel even though it was taken in modern times. So, I tinkered with it. This is the result.
I used to travel between Northern California and the Reno area pretty frequently. It began even years before that when I lived in Southern California. It was about a nine-hour trip for Long Beach. Or, about a five-hour trip from the Bay Area. I had family there. Old family friends that I looked at as an Uncle and an Aunt. Eventually, my parents moved there. To retire.
In those days I liked to explore wherever I went. So I got to know the region fairly well. Because I’m also a creature of habit, I used to visit the same places. Mostly to see what’s changed. I watched Virginia City grow from an almost ghost town to a place where people lived and worked. I still like to explore wherever I go. That hasn’t changed. Much.
I haven’t been there for many years. It’s coming up to a decade. I broke a promise by not returning sooner. A promise to myself. I told myself I’d come back at least every five years. But, sometimes life gets in the way. Or, something like that. Or, maybe it’s just an excuse. I keep telling myself, that driving from New Orleans to Reno would be a great road trip. A long one, but I could be really photographically productive. And, then…
Besides, my real destination is Fernley, Nevada. About 15 miles east of Reno on Interstate 80. That place has really changed. It’s sort of a boom town now. Amazon stuck one of their western distribution centers out there. They created all sorts of employment at many levels.
That’s not why I would go. The National Cemetery for the region is there. For veterans of all wars. It’s high desert. It’s somewhat bleak. It suits me. My parents are buried there. They were part of the Greatest Generation. My dad served in the Pacific Theater. He was part of the occupation forces based in Tokyo.
The picture. I’m getting a little repetitive. You know. Film. Print. Scan. Tinker. Post. Check out the details. Look at the gas price. 67 9/10 cents per gallon. That was expensive for the time. But, it had to be trucked into Virginia City from either Carson City or Reno. I’d guess Carson City because that is a much easier drive.
Even the name conjures up all sorts of meaning. Cowboys. The West. Freedom. Big food. Big hair. Big hats. I’m pretty sure that most people think don’t about space aliens when they think about Texas.
I found this interestingly shaped house when I was traveling around Texas back country. I didn’t stop. I didn’t ask. In retrospect, I should have. Knowing my ability to work with all sorts of people, I might have even been invited inside for a quick look around. But, really? This scene was enough for me. How often do you see something like this?
I once showed this picture to a friend of mine. A Texan. I said something like, “this explains everything.” She replied, “what the hell do you mean by that?” Texans take their state and their mythology seriously.
Sort of like New Orleanians do.
Many of them are in a serious uproar about the removal of the first of the Confederate statues. Me? I think all things must pass. Especially things memorializing a very dark chapter in my country’s history. I say grind them up and turn them into gravel to repair the potholes on my street.
But, that’s just me.
I’m not a native New Orleanian and that’s been made clear to me. I can fix that. I own property in Brooklyn. New York. I was born in Brooklyn. Maybe it’s time to reclaim the neighborhood of my birth. I’m not sure I want to live in a place where three statues memorialize traitors and slavery. And, the so-called natives support that. Oh wait. One of them said he was indigenous. I didn’t know that he came from Native American ancestory. You learn something every day. Around here.
Rant over. He said. With a smile.
The picture. Oh, the usual these days. Film. Photo paper. Scan. Tinker with it until the result is unrecognizable. Then show it to you. I think I like all the stuff that I added to the sky. The picture appears, at first glance, as if it was made on another planet.
So. A cold front passed through Southeast Louisiana. The temperatures dropped into the upper 50s. That might be on the warm side for some of you right about now.
Obviously, I didn’t make this picture yesterday.
But, the notion of a cold front started my brain spinning around. Especially this late in the year. We are a week away from Jazzfest. Usually during the second week of the festival, the weather turns hot and very humid. And, wet. Lots of rain. Summer starts even though the calendar says it’s still May. Early May.
I rooted around in those long missing archives and came up with this picture. A cold front. Of a different sort. Snow. Ice. Really cold weather. I made it in New York City many years ago. How long ago? Well, that’s an interesting question. There are no notes to go along with the picture. I’m willing to bet I made it between 1992 and 1999. Probably closer to 1992 when I spent a huge amount of time in the city.
The picture. I use f 5.6 as my base exposure for a lot of subjects. Even at night. If I can hold the camera, or brace it, or place it on a tripod, that works very well. Even at night. You get some motion — the falling snow. But, the main subjects — the trees and buildings — stay fairly sharp. Once again, the picture was made on film, printed, scanned and then tinkered with. I sort of like this process. I’m even starting to shoot a little film on newer projects.
While I was poking around my newly resurrected archives looking for the Earth day picture, I found this one. I made it in Shanghai, China in 1989. In those days Shanghai was still a dark city. No lighting. Electricity was marginal. You bought your groceries in little shops or on the street. When the food ran out, you had to wait. Until the next day. The joke was that you could send and receive a piece of mail quicker than you could make a telephone connection.
And, there was very little automobile traffic.
But, huge bike traffic. Everybody rode bikes. Bike crashes were the leading cause of injury and death. You had a little bell on your bike. You were supposed to ring it whenever you passed somebody or crossed an intersection. You can imagine how that went with a city of about 12 million biker riders. Bells ringing from every direction. You just rode on and hoped for the best.
Things change. They always do.
Today, of course, everybody in China wants a car. And, many cities are hyper-polluted because of it. So, in many ways, this is still about Earth Day. It comes under the heading of WTF were we thinking?
The picture. The same the past few days. Black and white film, printed, scanned and tinkered with as usual. After doing a little reading, I’ve come to learn this is becoming a thing. Even when a photographer makes new images using a digital camera. It appears a lot of us are getting tired of razor-sharp, clean factory-like pictures. So, we are combining old and new schools. Of thought. Of theory. Of technology.
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