I’ve passed this way. At least a thousand times. I’d made a mental note of it. Those blue and yellow parking lot stripes were just begging to be photographed. But, they needed something. True, the painter was a little sloppy and dropped some blue paint into the yellow. That wasn’t enough.
Yesterday. Nature dropped a leaf right where it needed to go. I photographed the lines, the leaf and the paint drop. Finally.
No. I didn’t put the leaf there. I have a sort of integrity about that. I never move anything to make the picture better. That probably harkens back to my photojournalism years. Instead I wait. I exhibit some patience. When the picture finally comes to me, I push the button. Of course, I know how to manufacture photographs. I do that for clients. There is no real joy in that. Photography by discovery makes me smile.
Again, for those keeping score. iPhone. Snapseed. That’s it. All post production was done using the phone. Now that I’ve got the workflow down, it seems like it’s too easy. I suppose that I’ll have to do something to confuse things.
A simple picture. It surprised me when I did my usual post production tricks. It just popped. The original file is actually kid of drab. Sometimes, photographer’s luck takes over.
Luck is the kind of thing that you prepare for. You practice. And practice. And practice. Then, when the picture, or event, or performance takes you, you are ready for it. That’s what Storyteller is really about. Experimentation. And, practice. So, when I work for one of my clients I can incorporate whatever I’ve learned into a seemless shoot. It keeps my wheels greased so that I don’t have to think so much. Because, for me, that’s where my best pictures are made. I just react. I don’t think. All the rest is inside of me. I’ve learned that over the years. It’s a long and hard lesson. It can’t be rushed. It just comes as you work. It’s well worth it.
The picture. Another picture that I made on the way to someplace else. I saw it and reacted. What I liked was the stacked look and feel. The picture was hiding in there, somewhere. Luckily I found it using Snapseed. Quickly. Easily. That happens when the picture is right.
We were walking early in the morning when I happened upon this little scene. We don’t always walk in our neighborhood. I always carry some kind of camera. So, I used it. I enhanced the picture in post production. And, that’s really it. For those of you who keeps score, it was Snapseed for development, including that cute little bit of typography. And, Stackables for most post production.
The real point.
Our new mayor-elect has been issued a subpoena for credit card fraud. This isn’t new. Her personal use of her city council credit card was revealed during the election campaign. It became a huge issue even though she apparently paid back her personal debt. A couple of local news media did deeper investigation. They found that every council member used their cards for some kind of unauthorized purchases, but were able to justify their use.
That’s the basic story. It’s a little more complicated.
Our mayoral election became a choice between two lessers. As usual. But, the race also meant that for the first time in New Orleans history we would have a woman mayor. And, they are both African American. That’s a kind of progress.
But, one had really big money behind her. Good old boys in the background. And, the other either is guilty of fraud or just doesn’t understand how to manage her budget. Neither is what you want in a mayor.
So, back in the swamp we go.
It’s my swamp. It’s my neighbor’s swamp. It’s my city’s swamp. We can do something about it. Somebody living in — oh, let’s say — California — can’t. They probably should just ask a question, but not comment on social media. You have no horses in my race. No dogs in my hunt. Besides, you make the typical comments about the south and about my city. You know the ones. The same kind you probably made about Meghan Markle.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t work the scene a little. I always do. I don’t “spray and pray.” And, I don’t make more pictures than I need to in order to capture what I’m after. I’m a fairly efficient and economic photographer. I believe that comes from my film days. Back then it cost a lot of money to take pictures. You had to learn the film and how it would respond in different lighting situations.
People with digital cameras just keep pushing the button hoping to get a picture that they like. After all, once you’ve invested in a camera, some SD cards and a computer, taking pictures is free. When I first converted to digital work, I found myself over shooting a lot. Because – wow — pictures were free to take.
Then I retreated back into my older way of working. Fewer exposures usually yield better pictures.
I read somewhere that people are producing something like two billion pictures a day. Or, is that an hour?
Why? What for?
Go to any of the free sharing sites like Flickr. You’ll see way too many pictures of the same thing. That’s just from one photographer. If that person happens to hit upon a certain style you’ll see multiple derivatives of the same picture. It gets to the point where all pictures in a certain genre look alike. Think about that gauzy flowing water. Could be a river. Could be a sea. When I first saw it, I thought, “how cool.” Now, I’m amazed that it’s still a thing. Same thing with filters. Every Manny, Moe and Jack filters their pictures up without knowing why they are doing it.
This post is not a rant. It’s a backwards, sideways explanation of what I do now. At least for this point in time. This picture doesn’t look like anything that I’ve seen. That’s my intent. When it comes down to it, this is a backlighted picture of what’s left of fall colors.
But, as I moved the lens around I saw the sunburst. It’s a tricky exposure because you want some detail in the shadows, but for the straight master image you want the burst to be nothing but white — a specular highlight. Once you start messing with it in post production, you can fill it in with slightly lighter colors and shapes.
This little discussion brings up another topic.
There seems to be a huge business of photographers selling to other photographers. They sell technique. They set themselves up as experts. I came across one — a food photographer — who makes a good part of his living conducting workshops. After watching his promo video, I knew exactly what he was doing. In two-and-a-half minutes. One very large softbox the top. Another from the side or back. He says very quietly, that the student has access to a stylist and chef. All of the students — six of them — are grouped like a bunch of photojournalists at a press conference. They all take the same picture. The food photographer/teacher critiques their work.
I suppose that’s fine. He makes about $3,000 a day for this. And, the students go home with their newly learned knowledge. To try to duplicate what they just learned.
They don’t have his studio. They don’t have his light. They don’t have his stylist. And, they don’t have his chef. Worse, he’s kind of a one trick pony. His lighting is always the same. He doesn’t actually style the food himself. On the other hand, he’s been shooting food pictures for 18 years. He has some pretty good local and regional credits.
Which is better than most of the travel photography teachers who have taken one of those “the top ten photo hacks that you can learn in ten minutes online workshops,” gone on a trip with their significant other and took pictures of each other in some far away place. I read one of their blogs. The photographer/writer/teacher was amazed about where the sun rose and set. How the hell do you not know that?
And, so on…
Where does leave me? I think that it’s my turn. At least I’m the real deal. I’ve done this for forty years or so. I’ve worked for major clients — corporate, advertising and editorial. I know how to make my picture and their picture. You know, the picture that art directors dream up without having scouted the region. Oh, and I know many cities like the back of my hand. I’m also pretty sure that I won’t have photographers shooting in a group or filtering their images just because they can. They’ll actually make pictures that matter. Maybe not many. But, they’ll have learned what it takes.
I have no idea where, when or how I want to do it. But, I’ll figure that out. Sheesh, I could it in New Orleans. We are always on the top of every travel destination list. We are interesting. Or, it could be Brooklyn. Or, New Mexico. Or, Hong Kong. Oooooh. That sounds fun.
This one didn’t work. Yeah. Sure. The picture is fine. But, somewhere in all those little twinkles is a teeny-tiny moon. That’s what I was really going for. The moon. Can you see it? No? Even if you open this picture to its fullest size, it’s worse than “Where’s Waldo?” At least Waldo isn’t buried in color.
I’ll give you a hint. I know where the moon is in the picture because I took it. See that empty space in the right middle? It’s sort of greenish-blue with yellow wrapped around it. The moon is in the there. Somewhere.
The picture. I tried to photograph the moon poking through all of the almost bare tree branches. That didn’t really work, so I worked on the branches and the dusk sky in post production. I made a number of versions before I settled on this one. I made a lot of very bright orange and yellow versions. I liked them well enough. But, I wanted the blue in the night sky to be somewhat dominant. The problem with that is the yellow. It turned sort of greenish. Without making a couple of adjustment layers, I had to live with that. Making layers for a picture like this is a little tricky. This isn’t the kind of picture that I wanted to spend a lot of time adjusting individual components.
There are times when I probably go too far. This picture makes me wonder.
Then, I looked at it harder. It came together. It catches my intention. My vision. The look. The feel. Of the moment that I pushed the button. The light was clean. Sparkling. Cold. By adding the elements that I did in post production, I clarified what I saw. I think that I helped you to see all that I felt.
A little new gear is coming today. A lens, among other things. I never think that gear makes the photographer. But, sometimes it can give you a little kick. It can get you out of a rut. It can get you out looking for pictures. I haven’t been doing much of that lately. Sure. I take pictures of what I see. With my iPhone. That was fine. For a while. But, now it’s time to get back to it. I like to work close to the subject. I like to work with two camera bodies without much gap in lens coverage. Now I can do that.
Since I’m not much of a gear head. We’ll see how this turns out. Heh!
A leaf. Photographed on a simple white background. Brought to life in post production. Into something that couldn’t possibly exist in nature. A painting. Sort of. Kind of. In strange blues. And greens. Very experimental. Certainly singular.
For those of you who follow from other countries, Happy Thursday. Or Friday.
I made this picture from another picture. Which, in turn, was made for another picture. Sometimes I do that.
Sometimes I make typos. After all, perfection is for angels. I post a picture and write a little something every day. Holiday or not. Typos and other mistakes are bound to happen. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’m thankful for that. It means that I’m human.
I’m pretty sure that if you work your way through my 7,000 or so posts you’ll find plenty of typos. I’m thankful for that, especially if you really take your time to read everything I wrote.
Sometimes, people try to make an impression by calling me out for a typo. On their very first or second comment to me. Sometimes they can’t let it go. That’s when I turn a human being into spam. I’m really thankful for that. It helps to keep the peace.
Before you think my thanks are about a kind of negativity, they are not. Here’s a challenge. List everything for which you are thankful. I mean everything. Don’t post them here. Hold them close. Then try to collapse them into themselves. I bet you’ll come up with the very same thing that I did.
I’m thankful for life itself. And, all that it implies.
You know. You say “toe-may-toe.” I say, “tom-mah-toe.”
I made this picture yesterday. During our fall season. Looks about like spring anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s that second growing season of ours. Stuff blooms. There are new buds. Spring fruits and veggies start emerging from the earth.
It’s just like that.
As I said, this is a very new image. I did a little magic, a twist and a spin to make it look a little more like painted art, which is how I saw it. But, the original really didn’t need help. It looked pretty good right out of the camera, er, smart phone. You know how that goes with me.
I might show you one more version tomorrow when it’s all hands on deck to cook stuff. I’ll take the easy way out on Storyteller. Heh!