In the middle of things.

In the middle of things. That’s how I like to work. Sheesh. I’m in the middle of the band. I’m making pictures with a 10mm lens. That means I’m close. Real close. I might even be in trouble. Check out the saxophone player. He doesn’t look too happy. He might be looking past me. Or, he’s shooting daggers at me.

Oh well. He’ll get over it.

This is what I like to do. Standing on the sidelines taking pictures isn’t me. Those pictures pretty much look the same to my eye. Mixing in. Working with a wide lens. Those pictures look different. Feel different. That makes me smile.

Of course. I haven’t been able to do that very much over the past six months. Pain and fear of falling in the middle of the street created a lingering, limiting self-doubt.  I’m not used to feeling that way. So back at it I go. I recovered pretty quickly this weekend. That’s a good thing.

Funny thing. When the brass bands started playing, I started swaying. I realized that I didn’t feel the usual back and leg pain. Maybe that’s it. Not only do I need to listen to more music. But, I need to listen to brass band street music. A little loud. A little chaotic. And, a whole lot of fun.

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Freedom or something like that.

Krewe du Vieux number three.

Although there are still more pictures from a surprisingly good shoot, I think it’s time to move on. After all, I did manage to sneak in a second line parade in on Sunday. And, there are all sorts of Mardi Gras things hanging around the city. They need photographing too.

I may post one more image from Krewe du Vieux. It’s very experimental. I turned the whole thing into pure bokeh. It’s this gauzy, drifty thing. First, I have to find it.

Huh?

How could I lose a picture in three days? In my self-defense, these pictures are very large files. It seems that Affinity, the software that I use for watermarking, can’t seem to open large file thumbnails if there are a lot of them. So, I have to sort of guess at the picture based on memory. My memory. Like that’s gonna happen.

So. Once I find it. It’ll be yours to view.

These pictures are simply walk, see, photograph. The Marigny, especially downriver, is fairly dark. The trick is to find some little pool of light to illuminate the subject just a bit. Doesn’t matter how much you can turn up your ISO, it’s still better to have some light than to try to see in the dark.

Out the fog.


A little alone time.

Day number two of one night in New Orleans. A little more from the start of the Krewe du Vieux parade.

I suppose that I have turned events in opportunities to make my picture. Or, pictures. I really don’t have the connections to be in places that say “this is Mardi Gras.” Like access to elevated working areas. Or, working from a float. Or, even the ability to move much once I’ve selected a working location. That’s not about me. That’s about crowds, and traffic, and streets, and parking.

Or…

Maybe I don’t need them. If Mardi Gras is about people than all I need do is hang with the people involved in the celebrations. With a camera in hand that’s easy… I’m superman.

The pictures are what they are. Except for the bottom right hand one called “More Than You Know. ” That’s a special picture to me. Yes. It’s just an environmental portrait. But, I’ve been photographing her for six years. Usually, she’s going in one direction and I’m going in another. This is the first time we’ve actually stood in the same place at the same time. We introduced ourselves. Now we know each other’s name. I don’t know much more about her. We are both creatures of Mardi Gras. Usually at night. We just move on. With other real lives in the real world.


Smiles.

And, so.

It begins.  With Krewe du Vieux. The adults parade. Every Mardi Gras parade has a theme. This one is no different. Bienville’s 300th Wet Dream. They attacked everybody this year,  from the mayor — an obvious choice — to John Besh, who was the first of the big name chefs that was taken down by #Me Too. Oh, are we are celebrating our 300th Anniversary. The city looks it. Especially the infrastructure. I’ll leave that rant for another day.

The pictures. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that for me sometimes the actual event is not the thing. Mostly, it’s the start of the parade that I like to work.  That’s where the interesting pictures happen. As musician Neil Young once said, “When things get too middle of the road, I head straight for the gutter where things are more interesting.” I’m not saying these pictures were made in the gutter. But, they were made in New Orleans. Oh. Nevermind.

Anyway. These pictures are just me photographing what I see. It’s funny. The real old school working photographers seem grumpy as hell when we do this work. We aren’t. We are just looking for pictures. Typically when we see each other we shake hands while we are in motion and ask if we are alright, and keep going.

I had a fairly good shoot. You’ll see more pictures throughout the week. I’m trying to give you three weeks of Mardi Gras. But, the next parades walk on Friday. There’s plenty of pictures from last night. And, there’s plenty of stuff to see in the city. I’ll do my best to show it to you.


Into the mystic.

Questions. Questions. Questions.

I made this picture. It’s another image created almost from whole cloth. I made a kind of Mardi Gras picture as well. I thought that might be more appropriate since Mardi Gras parade season starts tonight. Then, I thought, I like this picture. I’ll probably drown you in Mardi Gras pictures for the next couple of weeks.

So.

Moody, scary and maybe evil is what you get. Today.

Assuming that I actually make some good pictures tonight, in the rain, at the adult parade called Krewe du Vieux, you’ll see Mardi Gras pictures tomorrow. Yes. In the rain. For all I know, this could be one of those Mardi Gras. Wet. Cold. Kind of miserable.

Why bother?

For the stories you can tell. It’s like a badge of honor. It’s like this. I can say later that I worked in wet conditions, I got soaked, my cameras got wet but I didn’t drown and they didn’t explode. And, all that wet pavement should add a lot of sparkle and color to the images.

This picture. I don’t usually title my work. But… this could be called something like, “When Buildings Fly.” I’ll leave you to work that out. It’s like a scene from a bad tornado chasing movie.

Anyway.

I made the base picture because sunlight was reflecting off of the “flying” building. I did all the rest in post production. This work is a lot of fun to do. I just wish that I knew how to market it. I’ve produced four series over the past nine months or so. Those layered scenes. What the dog saw. And, my version of nature. As well as this new collection which is just beginning.

Everybody seems to like them. All of them. That’s how I ended up with a new gallery showing in the next month. Everybody, and all, are very big words. When a travel writer says this is the “best” restaurant, store, shop or whatever in a city, my response is “so you’ve been to every one of them?”

In this case, it really is everybody and all. Whenever I show this work people take their time looking at it and “oh and ah. ” They don’t just electronically thumb through each picture. They study them as if to ask, “just what the hell kind of photography is that?”

I hate to be crass, but I’d sort of like to make some money from these collections. That’s how anybody moving from commercial work to art keeps going.  No. We aren’t broke or anything like that. I still do corporate and advertising work along with working the other side of me. But, I’d like this new work to pay for itself. Unless I find a gallery who takes the lion’s share of the sales profits, I pay for everything. Printing, matting, glazing and framing. That ain’t cheap. Since most work doesn’t sell right off the wall, it’s usually a sunk cost.

I am excited about new work. And, my final decision about photographing Mardi Gras. I’m doing it. After all, if I don’t do it this year, I’ll be another year older when I start again.


Winter glow.

There’s a world. The winter world. It came. It will go.

Like all things in life.

A friend of mine is excited that there are buds on the Japonica trees. The cold weather followed by a bit of warmth forced the buds. She said. Nope. Japonicas start to show buds in late january. They start to bloom in early to mid February. Every year. They are the first flowers to bloom. Every year.

We may still have another cold snap. In New Orleans we have different season than the rest of the world. One is Mardi Gras. Carnival season. There have been years when the temperatures never rose above 30 degrees on Mardi Gras Day. We had rain, which turned into sleet. All day. I can’t tell you if it will happen this year. But, Mardi Gras is very early. We could turn very cold again. Or, not.

That’s not really the point of this.

The real question is, why do you want to rush things? All things happen in their own time. Seasons change. And, change again. As Bob Dylan wrote, borrowing this from Ecclesiastes, and The Byrds made famous, “To Everything There is a Season.”

Remember that.

There is no sense rushing life. It’ll keep happening whether you want it to or not. Enjoy it.

The picture. Aside from seeing the scene and pressing the button, this image is wholly made in the computer. The strong light, the color, the contrast, the hue were added after the fact in post production. I made this picture to be what I saw in my head. The truth is that the light was sort of flat. The clouds were “mushy.” This is a perfect example of the old saying “Don’t take the picture, make the picture.” There are a lot of ways to make the picture.

A bright red Cardinal just tapped on my studio window. I forget if that’s good or bad. But, it just happened. Maybe he knew I was talking about nature. I couldn’t wait. I just Googled it. I found a site called California Psychics. Yeah. I know. They say that a Cardinal is an spiritual messenger. They are like a hinge on a door. The open a spiritual point and are usually associated with good things. Renewal. Change. Growth. Answers to important questions.

It’s gonna be a good day.


Winter sky.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

This picture, for instance, looks like a sunset. It’s not. It’s a reflection of a sunset. It’s all optics and physics. This picture is made looking south and east. Since when does the sun set in the east? It confused me for a while until I realized that the light from the setting sun was bouncing all over the place in the post storm sky. That’ll happen. Especially in the clear light of winter. Yes. Even in the swamp.

The whole thing got me thinking about perspective. About changing your view in order to change yourself. For instance, I’m in some physical pain. I wrote about that a few posts ago. That pain seems to have helped me to understand the pain of others. I was talking about Tom Petty. And, to a far lesser extent, Prince. I get it. They were trying to medicate severe physical pain.

But.

What if? What if I flipped this around? What if I thought that my immobility is slight compared to so many others? I can walk. No matter what. I walk about three miles a day. What if I came to understand that I’ve become a much better photographer? Or, artist? What if I realized that I see the little things much better? I’ve always talked about little pictures. But, these are really little. What if I looked at the collection of pictures that I’ve made in the past few months in their entirety?

Well. I did the last one. Last night. It’s quite a collection. I think this will be my next gallery show. Downtown. In hipsterville. They like this work. I’ve been given a gallery show. I told you about that. But, I had no idea what to show. I do now.

It’s all a matter of perspective.


Story in red.

I thought this picture was about red. And, just how lucky I was to find color in the middle of a fairly drab and dreary winter.

It wasn’t until I started editing in post production that I saw what the picture is really about.

Connections.

Look closely. Look at the red branches that connect one group of leaves to another. It’s subtle. But, that’s it. Yes. Everything in the picture that is red, is really red. Straight from nature.

Connections.

There is a lot that I could say about connections but I won’t. At least not today since I’m sort of grasping at my thoughts.

Instead, there’s this. Most of my writing is done to music. I’m listening to new music today.

The album is called “All in My Mind.” By Dr. Lonnie Smith. This song is called “Ju Ju.”  It’s live. It sort of rambles around, like I am today. Take a listen.  https://youtu.be/JSMhUS8NnAs

In case you are wondering, I have no idea how to embed the more slick way to post a link. I don’t even know where to ask the question. I did once to someone who fancies herself to be a WordPress expert, writer, photographer, traveller, superstar, all-star and, and, and. She snarkily replied that I should Google it. Google what? I don’t really even know what to call what I would like to do. Could she please just instruct me? She said that she is a volunteer and works for free. Okay. Thanks for your help. And, I Googled her. Heh.

Well. That wasn’t a connection.

So, I muddle on. I’m not an expert. In anything. Even photography. There is always something to learn. An old friend of mine said that somebody should write a book about me. It would either be the world’s shortest book, or a comic book. Or, a short comic book.

Anyway.

I’m influenced by the music when I write. Not by the lyrics so much. By the melody. By whatever is hiding in the song itself.  That’s what happens almost every day that I write for a post on Storyteller. The music gets into my brain, swirls around and comes out in my words.

I’d actually like to write about connections. But, I can’t seem to form the coherent thoughts. Except to say, that I think they happen in real life when we have to look each other in the eye. That WordPress person would have actually done her job if we were sitting face to face in a coffee shop. My country would be in far better shape if that walking slab of brain damage in The White House didn’t tweet. If, for example, he had to say that Obama wasn’t born in The United States, to Obama’s face.

That’s why 99% of all photographs are cool. Good or bad (that’s an opinion, anyway) they have to be made in the real world. The photographer has to interact with something, someone or be some place. Even when I do heavy post production on a photograph and turn it into something that doesn’t resemble the original, I had to be some place to make a picture of something.

I suppose that’s a connection. Right?

Oh. I almost forgot. Do you know why Dr. Lonnie Smith is called doctor? No? He doesn’t have a degree. It’s because he does a lot of musical session work for other musicians. Whenever he is in the studio working on a song, he doctors it, usually making it better.

Ha! I suppose you could call me the tinkerer. Tinkerer Ray. The Geppetto of Storyteller.

 


Weird, almost evil winter skies.

This picture. Moody. Mysterious. Maybe even a little evil.

I didn’t see it quite that way when I made the picture. But, once I started working on it. Tinkering with it. Pushing it.  That’s when I started to see it. The picture became something else. I would say that I did it. No. The picture lead me. I just followed along. When I tried to lead, it didn’t work. Sometimes I went too far. The look changed.

Workflow.

That’s what kept me on track. Part of my post production workflow is that I save every step. Even though my editing is non destructive, I don’t want to have to go back to the start of the process. I want to be able to get back to where the picture took a left turn, headed south, went wrong. I want to work from there. Only in the most drastic situations do I think that I’d better go back to the RAW file. And, try again.

Kind of like life. In theory, we learn as we go. It would follow that unless there is a serious problem, we should be able to go back to where we went wrong. And, rebuild. Start again. Do whatever it takes to get back on track. Maybe it’s a huge effort. Maybe it’s just setting my ego aside. Walking in another cat’s shoes, as they say.

See?

I told you that after a horrible 2017, that 2018 would be clean up time.

I’m working on it.