Spring rains and construction leave almost no place to walk if you choose certain directions. Either there is mud. Or, pooled water. The dog who accompanies me comes home with muddy paws. I come home with muddy feet. The kitchen floor needs to be mopped twice daily.
I asked one of the guys working on the line (He wasn’t from Wichita) if this was a forever project. He replied that he wished. It’s an easy neighborhood to work in. Or, stand around in. Or, break a pipe in.
All of these things happened.
There’s mud everywhere. If the rains pause for more than two days, it’ll dry out. For now, the mud caught these two leaves. And, I photographed them. In the mud.
It was a simple thing. All I did was figure out how to frame them. You know the next line. In case you forgot, push the button. Yes. I did some post production. I darkened the entire image to make those leaves pop out of the mud that trapped them.
Low winter light. It’s powerful, clean and almost explosive at the ends of the day. Especially if the cloud cover is broken or there are almost clear skies. I got lucky last week. After a day of rain, the sun broke through at just about dusk.
Man, did it break through. It was powerful. It was golden. It was contrasty. Deep, rich shadows were everywhere. My kind of light. The kind of light we rarely see in Southeast Louisiana.
When we were exiled to New Mexico after the storm, I saw this kind of light almost every day. Many New Mexico-based photographers never bothered with it. It was too common. But, when there was rain or snow in the forecast you’d see us scrambling around photographing everything in sight.
Sometimes, we didn’t.
It was too cold. Or, wet. Or, hot. Or, something.
So many missed opportunities.
That’s probably the moral of this story. Time is short. Even if you are young and think you have years and years and years to go. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ll get sick. Or, your parts will start to age early. Or, something violent may happen. Or, or, or…
This all started with a couple of comments and replies with another blogger. She was talking about not going out in the rain and wet, mostly to protect her gear. Gear is protectable and replaceable. Pictures only happen when they appear in front of you. Yes. You might soak a camera. Usually, you can dry them out with the old “gear in a bowl of rice” trick. If that fails, you can probably declare it scrap and buy something newer and better. If you are going dry it out, just do it quickly before moisture can seep into the circuitry. Then the camera is done.
You? You’ll just get wet. My hair is really soft after it’s been rain soaked. Ha, ha, ha.
The picture. See it and react. You’re going to get tired of me saying a version of that. Like F8 and be there. Or, see it and press the button. As I said to another blogger, I love baseball. A batter practices and practices until swinging at the ball is a reaction without a thought process. Same thing with making pictures on the street. When you see it, photograph it. No second guessing. No trying (You know what Yoda said about that). No self editing in your head.
Just take the picture.
Oh, about camera settings prior to “just taking the picture.” If you must, go to auto everything. Remember that the camera will take a little time to think as it tries to focus. You are faster than the camera. If you learn a little about light you can pre-set your shutter speed and aperture depending what you are trying to do. I can discuss this further if you’d like.
A bright, happy and energetic Sunday picture it there ever was one.
Oh. For those of you who want to learn a technique, here it is. Set your gear to everything auto. Stick your phone or your camera into the bush, flower, tree or whatever. Push the shutter release button and let your gear do what it does best. You almost don’t have to compose the picture. Just know your gear’s limits and point and shoot.
After a long hard week, this is what I saw as daylight came to an end on Friday. I don’t think it could get any better for me unless I was in the French Quarter. The picture contains two things that are close to my heart. Rainbows and trains. On some days, it doesn’t get any better.
I did help this picture some.
The light meter looked at that dark cloud and made its version of the image way too light. I darkened it, helped the colors a little bit and added a little twist that would bring the picture more in line with the work that I’ve been doing lately. But, not much. You don’t need to tinker with Mother Nature when she lays a rainbow on you.
Land of the weird. Mysterious. Moody. Almost evil.
A place that you would not go.
Often, I’m inspired by book covers, or Netflix thumbnails for direct to video scary movies. I think that’s what I was working to in post production, all of which was done on my smart phone, using Snapseed and Stackables. My working method is simple. I do the first development in Snapseed. where I set the basic color, sharpness and mood. I switch to Stackables to do the heavy artistic work. I make a couple of versions. I select one and finish it in Snapseed.
What is the image about? I don’t know. But, they say that all art is autobiographical. I certainly didn’t grow up in an evil-looking forest. I suppose that it reflects my mood. We are at a really pivotal point in my country. The more I learn, the more scary it becomes. I’m pretty sure that most systems are broken. As they say, “the center cannot hold.”
Here’s an example. There was an armed sheriff at Parkland. A good guy with a gun. He did nothing. When the police rolled in, they found him taking shelter behind a column. Yes. I know. It’s a horrible choice to engage the shooter. The sheriff might have been wounded or killed. That’s part of his job. The really big downside. He was suspended without pay. He resigned by retiring after 33 years on the job. I certainly hope he gets no retirement pay. I’m sure a deal was cut. Something like, “Resign right now and you’ll keep your retirement benefits.” His department is still investigating him.
By the way, I missed another way of ending gun violence. Yesterday, I suggested repealing the Second Amendment. That’s one way. It’s a long painful process.
A better, quicker way is to kill the NRA financially. They are the ones who are dancing with the Second Amendment and actively promoting more guns everywhere. Guns, guns, guns.
Already, the big car rental companies like Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise have ended any business relationships with the NRA. Banks and credit card companies are starting to refuse to do business or fund the NRA.
That’s why Wayne LaPierre, the president of the NRA, is screaming so loud. Their so-called Second Amendment rights are being attacked by kids armed with the First Amendment. He and is ilk are terrified. Their game might be over.
One more thing. Arming teachers is stupid. Since that idea is supported by the president who loves the NRA, that’s all I need write.
I’m sorry to have turned this into a political column. Aside from art being autobiographical, it is also influenced by current events, disruption and emotional distress. I’m not in distress. I typically get very cold-blooded and clear-headed when I have to deal with negative situations. I am very influenced by killing kids. Children who did nothing wrong. They went to school.
I was looking at my 2018 archives. I realized that aside from Mardi Gras and a few second lines, I’ve been doing the same thing over and over and over… and hoping for something different. For almost two months.
In some places that’s the classic definition of insanity.
I don’t think I’m a little crazy, but being a photographer… well, you know. Heh!
Even though this the same kind of wintry picture I’ve been making, I thought that I’d stretch myself out a little bit and get back to a little more artistic way of working.
Before you ask, don’t. I just kept adding and subtracting until I got to a place that expressed my mood at the time. A little deep. A little dark.
Did you happen to watch the Florida town hall yesterday? The senator — Marco Rubio — got hammered by the kids, by the parents, by the teachers. One parent flat-out told him that he was weak. Yet, he refuses to give up NRA funding because that represent another group. Gun advocates. The representative from the NRA, who shouldn’t have been there at all, doesn’t even want to make minor changes to the laws.
After sleeping on it. I’ve come to this. We need to flip the entire Congress in November. We need to take the power away from the usual suspects in the House and the Senate. Elect new blood that is not yet tainted.
Once that is done, we must repeal the Second Amendment.
That’s radical. It will take a lot of time. The process is long and usually nasty. Sorry, our children’s lives are at stake. Take away the law that the gun folks hide behind and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be safe. Maybe our future will be safe.
If Marco Rubio wants to keep earning the kind of money that he’s used to, about $172,000 a year, I’m sure there’s a management position for him at a hamburger chain out west. He can probably get pretty good health insurance too.
I pass by this place almost every day. One day the trees looked like winter. The next day they looked like spring. That’s great, I suppose.
The temperature is too hot. Our low temperatures have been higher than our normal highs during this time of year. I’m not a highly paid television weather person, so I’m not really qualified to ask this question. If it’s so warm now, what is summer going to be like? Are we in for a 120 days of 90 degree plus weather? Or, will the temperatures drop back down to about normal? Or, or, or…
Questions. So many questions.
The picture. I think, for a little while, I’m going to talk a little photo technique. A few of you are starting your photographic journey. I’ll tell you what I did. Please ask as many questions as you like.
Here’s what I did to give the image a good starting point.
Normally, you’d average the exposure between the shadows and highlights. That’s fine. That would make a good picture. I knew that I want something a little different. I exposed for the white clouds giving them some texture and feeling. That dropped everything else into a dark range, which is also what I wanted. To be sure, I did some work in post production. I upped the contrast a little. I made the scene warmer. I gave the edges a little vignette to make sure nothing was hanging out. And, I cropped the picture to make it a deep vertical shape. But, I could have left it alone.
One more thing. I probably made around ten pictures while I worked this very simple scene. Some were tighter, others looser. Some were horizontal, while most were vertical. I even made a sort of diagonal shape in an effort to do some in camera cropping.
I suppose that’s the biggest take away. Since making pictures is almost free once you make your initial investment, you can and should experiment while you are in the field. I’m not suggesting that you pray and spray. I am suggesting that you should work the scene thoughtfully because you’ll never have those few moments again.
As usual, I was in the wrong place. So, I did what I could. This picture fits nicely into a sub-genre of landscape pictures called, ” New Landscape.” Me? I just call it a picture. Or, photograph. I don’t think photography has to be sliced and diced into little tiny meaningless data points.
Yes. There is a lot of post production going on here. The clouds were reflecting the low winter sunset. The shadows were pretty cool. The sense of time and place was what I was really after. A sort of wrapped in cotton candy, feel good kind of thing. There is also a nice contrast between nature and man-made.
Please don’t think yesterday’s post was a one-off. It isn’t. There are a lot of teachers in my life. Still working on logistics, but I’ll document what happens around here. The students want to walk. For now, it looks like 17 minutes at the end of one class. You know why.
I’m still thinking about it, but the adults around my age can mobilize and make certain everybody votes in November. Traditionally, mid-term elections have a tiny turnout. Those who vote can flip Congress. What happens if we have a massive turnout? What happens if the newly elected Congress people are beholden to nobody but us, the voters? And, dare I say it, what happens if most of the newly elected leaders are women?
Think about that for a minute.
We need change. We are crying out for change. That’s how the guy in The White House got elected. How Bernie never really stopped running. How Hillary never really stood a chance although the race was hers to lose.
What if youngish women replaced all the grumpy old white guys? I say this being and old white guy, myself. I’m grumpy sometimes.
What if that’s how both Houses of Congress get flipped? What does that do to the abuser in chief? I say that as much as he mistreats women, he is really afraid of them. Likely, they’ll get what they want, which is what we want.
Let’s find out.
Oh. Thank you to those who said such nice things about yesterday’s post. I keep that in perspective by reminding myself that I’m a photographer. Writing is something I do out of self-defense. Or, something like that.