Red Beans and Rice

Majorettes in red.

The big wind down. I made these pictures on Lundi Gras. Today is Mardi Gras. I’ll go out in a bit. I decided not to really chase anything. I’ll go to a place. I’ll let the pictures come to me. As someone just said to me, “Aren’t you getting a little bit old to be doing this shit?”

Of course, she is right.

Forget the aches and pains that come with my back and hip issues, instead think of it this way. If I were playing major league sports, my retirement would come around 40 years old or so. Add twenty-plus years to that, and that’s me. While we aren’t intentionally knocking each other around on the streets, working the way we do is like being in some kind of football — no, make that rugby — scrum.

It didn’t help that I awoke in a terrible mood. A friend of mine passed. She was responsible from moving my creative thinking from photojournalism to whatever it is that I do today. She was a visual thinker/creative/agent. She found my first big assignment. For Delta Airlines. And, then for Bord Failte (Ireland’s Tourism Group) That was years ago. She was 59 years old. Cancer killed her.

So here I am playing Irish rock n’ roll.  The Waterboys to be exact. A band that she turned me on to in maybe 1990. Letting memories wash over me. Yeah. I know what I always say. ‘The work is the prayer.” I just don’t feel like doing any damn work right now. Besides being tired from two weeks of pounding the streets, bouncing off of people, getting coughed and sneezed on, being pushed and shoved and getting rained on, I’m just not in the mood for it right now.

But, it’s Mardi Gras Day. To some it’s a spiritual day. To others, it’s one big drunken brawl fighting for beads and trinkets. For me, I’m just glad it’s coming to an end.

I could use my late friend about now. I need a shove. And, a push. In another direction.

Secret garden.
A little noontime sip.

The pictures. One of you — Kim of Glover Gardens — asked some questions about my working methods. It’s buried in the comments section of a couple of day old post. I thought I would share the conversation with you where you could easily find it.

She wanted to know what I carried on the street. Do I work from a camera bag? What lenses I use when I’m making pictures like these?

As usual, it depends. It depends on my intent. But, my basic philosophy of working on the streets or taking travel pictures is simple. Getting lighter is righter. If I were just wandering around making travel pictures, I would use one camera body and one lens. Usually that would by my 18-105mm short zoom. If I wanted to get really small, I’d used a 24mm. My camera would be one of Sony’s small mirrorless cameras, like anything in the a 6000 series. Assuming that I actually make it out the door, that’s how I’ll work today.

I’m not trying to be a gunslinger. I’m just observing.

Hold on though.

That isn’t how I photographed all of these parades. I added another camera body. A matching body. This one has a 10-18 mm attached to it. I had a full range of 10-105 mm, which on an APC sensor is like using a 15-157 mm set of lenses. That gives me all the reach that I need since I like to work close.

I stuff extra SD cards, batteries, filters and a lens cleaning cloth into my pockets. Carrying a fully loaded camera bag was what destroyed my hip and helped to create the osteoarthritis that lives in my vertebrae. I don’t change lenses on the scene because you can introduce bad things into your camera body and rear lens element. Dust, dirt, water droplets.

No. I don’t use photographer’s vests. To me, they scream out “Hey, I’m a photographer. Rob me.” With the smaller camera bodies that I use, I can sort of tuck them against one side of my body and most people don’t see them.

I hope that helps.


Leave a Comment

  1. Back in the film days before Digital I carried a camera bag with 3 camera bodies, five lenses weighing about 30 pounds that made me lopsided. With Digital I have a small non-descript bag I bought at a thrift store that will hold the camera with an 18-270 Tamron zoom , a Nikon TTL flash and extended cord. in the small pockets I have a plastic box with SD cards, a battery charger. Most of the time I just carry my bag, from the house to the car and once I get where I am shooting I pull the camera out of the bag and lock the rest in in the car. My camera strap is adjusted so I can sling it over my right shoulder and tuck the camera under my left arm, allowing me to access it to shoot. If I tote a second camera it is equipped with 17-50 MM Tamron F2.8 zoom, but I seldom do that. I’d guess that my whole bag and contents weighs a little under five pounds. With the light that Ray is working with, faster lenses than the Tamron F3.5-5.6 would be needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Film days, ahhh. Three Nikon bodies — whatever the latest F model was and five prime lenses. I didn’t trust zooms until the end. Usually, a 20, 35, 50, 85 and 180. Two strobes and filters. And film. Remember how heavy a lot of film was?


  2. I love the photo of the playful ladies coming through the “secret garden.” I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. Any age with Cancer is too young, but 59 really is tough. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome pictures. Majorettes in Red and the Noontime Sipper leap off of the screen and into one’s heart.

    The info about the approach, the lenses and the camera is really interesting to me.This work that you do is knowledge transfer; you are making art more accessible through your descriptions. Thanks for answering my questions! There will be more…

    Losing a friend is like losing a piece of your body. You will never be the same…but then, you never were the same once your friend made her mark on you. That’s something I grapple with constantly: the impact others have on us, and the world in general, even after they are gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kim. I can’t remember the even, but it was somewhere in New Mexico. There were a bunch of photographers using big back packs or slings. They struggled for every shot. It was right then and there that it was confirmed for me that less is much more. I had one camera and one lens. I kept shooting. They kept struggling to get stuff out of their bags.

      Yeah. Unfortunately, we’ve been having a string of people passing. Everybody leaves their mark.


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