A range of motion.

This wasn’t today’s picture. At least it’s not what I planned.

I thought that it was a little too bleak for a Sunday picture. I read a lot. Especially on Sunday morning when I have a little more time. I probably shouldn’t do that.

There was a story that appeared on Twitter with a link back to it. I know. I know. Twitter. It may be one of the meanest places on earth.

I followed the link.

What I found made me horribly sad. The story was about a ten-year old boy. A cute little guy. He had a butterfly bandage over his eye. His lips were swollen and cut up. He had been bullied in school.

That’s bad enough. What happened next was truly horrifying.

He killed himself by hanging.

Where does a ten-year old boy get the knowledge of how to hang himself? Sure. You might see it on the tube. But, you don’t see the technique.

A whole host of questions came to mind.

Where were his teachers? Where were his school caregivers? Where were his parents? How does this stuff happen?

I stopped reading Twitter. I stopped reading news stories for today.

We’ve got some errands to run. I’ll watch some baseball. Yankees baseball. Eventually, I’ll recover. For today. There’s always tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t get stopped in my tracks again.

The picture.

That’s why you came here. Even though we’ve had some glorious spring days, there are others that are cloudy and a little bleak. Today is one of those days. There is rain in the clouds. It’s about noon as I write, and the temperature is at its high of 49 degrees.  No wonder the dogs are lazy. They don’t want to go outside. But, because I publish every day, I have to make a picture. In this case, I made the original picture. Then I removed the color and made it black and white. I layered it over the original color image. And shifted it slightly. You are looking at the result. A bleak picture. One that suits my mood. Today.


Blooms of Spring.

And so.

It goes.

In the last 24 hours, one person passed. Another is having a birthday. A big one. And, the all-seeing dog found these flowers on a route we rarely take.

Obviously, the birthday was expected.

The dog did her usual thing. She turned a fifteen minute walk in a 60 minute walk because, well you know, all things must be explored.

The passing was not expected. He was a member of my krewe.

The Krewe of Backsteppers, which is not to be confused with backsliders. Backsteppers are the third line, but we walk before the first and second lines. We are the photographers who document second lines, Indian events and all sorts of Mardi Gras cultural events.

As I wrote to a friend of mine, it’s never good when there is a second line during the week. It almost always means some has died. And, so it did. Randolph “Mookie” Square was so well-known in the Treme community that the mayor issued a proclamation upon notification of his death. May he rest in peace. Or, as we say around here. RIH. Rest in Heaven.

So.

Even though I didn’t know it when I made this picture. The flowers are for Mookie. And, the birthday girl.

I’m pretty sure that there will be a jazz funeral. Usually, for well-known community members it’s a really big deal. When Uncle Lionel Batiste passed (You know his nephew if you watch Late Night with Stephen Colbert), it took a while because there were a lot of very violent rainstorms, but when his second line finally got going it was huge.

So huge that the Louisiana State Troopers closed two exits on the interstate where it passes over Claiborne because people were on the off ramp dancing and photographing. Yes. I was one of them.

I expect about the same thing this time.

I’m not sure I have the energy I had back then. That was a long time gone. But, I’ll do my best. You know why.

Sometimes, in New Orleans, it’s about learning. It’s about learning how to deal with death. Of course we mourn. The first steps in a jazz funeral are a dirge. But, we know that all things must pass. That dying is part of living. So, when the dirge is over the music soars. People dance. In the streets. We send the one who just passed, out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, we’ll miss them. But, we’ll always remember them. And, the good times we passed with them.

For me that means on the parade routes. Mookie had a habit of finding the picture at the last-minute and jumping right in front of you. After a couple of times of “WTH?”, you realized that he was no better or worse than you are. I can’t begin to tell you how many how many times I did that to other photographers. I won’t even apologize for it. It is what it is.

Life on the streets.

Peace, y’all.


Tiny, little flowers.

Tiny flowers.

Some would call them weeds. But, what’s a weed? Isn’t it just something that pops up in nature without being planted by man? I think that most weeds are pretty. Some people call them wild flowers. That seems about right.

When I say tiny, I mean that. This little cluster is smaller than a quarter. A U.S. 25 cent coin. I just got close and worked the camera lens. To be honest, I did crop the sides but there wasn’t any necessary information. Cropping this way doesn’t mislead you. It just brings the subject in sharper focus.

That’s an important issue in any post production. Are you being honest? Or, are you misleading the reader? Usually, the pictures that run into trouble in the big photo contests are ones that are misleading. Even in small ways.

If a picture speaks a thousand words, what words do you want them speaking?

As usual, this picture was made on a dog walk. She saw them and lead me right to them. What would I do without her? I probably wouldn’t photograph nature. Or, at least, my version of it.

Leica tales.

Oh, this baby Leica is a Leica. It’s heavy. It’s extremely well-built and for the most part, well thought out. It has a touch screen that makes life very easy. Or, you can set the camera using very old school dials.

Its lens is sharp as it can be. The color rendition is very Leica. Just like in the old slide days, when you could pick out Leica produced slides without much thought, these files are instantly recognizable.

The down side?

The shoulder strap. The lugs on the camera are very heavy. That’s good. There are these little spring like things on the strap, itself. They are very light and hard to pull apart. They don’t fit into the lugs very easily. Not so good.

It took well over an hour’s struggle and finally digging through my dad’s old watch-making kit to find a tool that would work. It kept the metal coil separated wide enough to work its way through the lugs.

It’s good now. But, oh, it’s a Leica. And, all that it implies. Before you ask, I’ll answer. I would have used one of my older straps. They’ve been around for forty years. They’ve been used on Nikons, Canons, Sonys and even the odd Pentax body. Most camera lugs are interchangeable. But, not Leica.

So.

Repeat after me. Even though it has a small body. Only one lens. And, costs less than top shelf Leicas. Oh, it’s a Leica.


Reflections.

“Thank you, my love.”

That’s what the female FEDEX driver said after I signed for the Leica. Don’t get excited. It’s a southern thing. It’s a nice thing. A good way to treat each other when we interact.

Anyway.

I had the days wrong. Today is Leica test day. A good day too. The light is stunning, once again. It bounces around from lightly overcast with white puffy clouds hiding the sun, to changing the light to bright and contrasty. Wowie-zowie.

I have an idea that I’m going to wander around the Quarter. It’s a good place to work during the day. It’s very different from the usual night views. For one thing, there are very few tourists. All locals. Doing their jobs. Getting ready for the night. And, tourist dollars.

The picture. I’ve been eyeing this window for a while. It takes bright, contrasty, low light to make it work. Even with that, you have to be careful of the window frame since you can’t get an angle that prevents keystoning. Rather than fight it, I just photographed it knowing I would crop it in editing.

I thought that I wanted it bright and colorful. But, after testing different approaches, I liked this version best. Almost no color. All monochrome.

Enjoy.

I’m off to Disneyland. Er, the French Quarter.

But, first I have to figure out this camera.


Ferns.

Chasing Light.

That’s what I do. Except when it comes to me.  Yesterday evening, it came to me.  It was so strong and calling to me so loudly that I could not help myself. I had to make the picture. It was almost too strong. I had to work in post production to tune down the contrast and the color.

If you know my work, you know that doing that is very rare. I’m usually more color. More contrast. More shape. More. More. More.

Not this time.

After all, things change.

It’s a lovely spring day. I’m going outside.

I have a new toy to play with, er test. A new camera. A baby Leica. It’s small. It has one lens. 24-75mm, which is about my perfect range. Its aperture is fairly fast at f1.7 to f2.8. My working theory is that often when I travel I don’t have enough time to really work, but when I do I’d like to travel lightly. Very lightly. This camera should do it. The reviews are outstanding. Sheesh. No matter what size, it’s a Leica.

Wish me fun and luck. And, that my editing software actually can process the Leica’s files.


Layers of Spring.

Spring Suite.

Although there are other pictures waiting to be shared, you are seeing an image that I made last night as dusk was waiting. The light was incredible. I found a couple of places to make use of it. For now, this is the best of those.

The light is almost winter-like. Low. Golden. Pretty.

It makes this, and almost any picture, look great.

It certainly made me smile. Especially after a long and stupid day.

Let’s just say that the staff of a hospital has no idea what they are doing. A 30 minute trip took over three hours. Most of that was spent waiting for the folks who clear insurance, even though it had been pre-cleared by my doctor. It wasn’t exactly their fault.The senior hospital management thought it would be a good idea to lump all predicting procedures together.

So.

I sat waiting for a x-ray with the folks waiting for blood tests, or MRIs or…. oh you get it.

Keep in mind my set of x-rays was driven by me. I haven’t had a x-ray of my hip or back in almost two years. I want to know what’s going on back there since osteoarthritis is progressive. My doctor agreed.

So, off to the hospital I went. The stuff that I described above took so long that the out-patient x-ray technicians’ shifts were over and there was nobody to replace them. I went to inpatient services where there were people in the middle of surgeries — er, procedures — and had to “play through.” Even so, that staff was professional and very efficient.

I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. They don’t stop with the series ordered by my doctor. They check their work and keep going until the make the right film. Sort of like me with a camera. Of course there is a little radioactivity to this. If I look at you for a long time, you glow. Heh, heh.

I bet most of you have stories like this. At least, those of you who live in the United States. For a major first world country, our healthcare is primitive at best. Usually, the word sucks covers it. I have to wonder what happens if you really need the emergency room. Do the guys who make sure you have insurance talk to you while the doctor is using heart paddles to try to save your life? If it doesn’t clear, do the tell the doctors to turn off the juice?

Sheesh.

Anyway. We are having a coolish, bright and colorful spring day. I’d better not waste it with trips through bureaucracy.


Reflections.

I see pictures everywhere.

I make a lot of pictures when I’m walking the dog who sees things, or any of the others. The difference between walking them is simple. She’s used to stopping while I make a picture. The others aren’t.

We have about five general routes that we take. Sometimes, we take a break. Sometimes, we go visiting. Sometime we walk for about two miles without a break. When we get home, she takes a nap. She’s ten and a half years old. She’s got great spirit. She never wants to stop. But, age is age.

I made this picture on one of our visiting walks. It’s actually two pictures. Reflections in a pool. And, one of the few bare trees left this season. Most have grown their full foliage. I decided to layer them because at first glance they seemed to work together. I was right. They did. I inverted the tree. I also made it a lot lighter and more fluid. That made sense since I overlaid it on water.

Before you ask about particular steps, you should know that I do this by trial and error. Mostly, error. When I manage to make the overlay presentable, I work on fine tuning the total picture. I could take five minutes if I’m lucky. Or, it could take two hours if I’m not.

The cool thing about my way of working is that I think I can do it with any two pictures as long as they make sense together. We’ll see. I’ll test that further down the road.

But, for this week.

Spring.


Beads, beads, beads.

Sometimes…

I forget stuff. Current research says that if you do that, you might be brilliant. That’s all well and good if you are young. But, if you are older…ho, ho, ho. Either you are just plain forgetful. Or, you are showing signs of early dementia.

I’m older.

I forgot these two pictures. You see these folks at almost every street event. They are selling something. Beads. Water. Jello Shots. Little cloths. I’m not sure, but some of them make a small living working one or two days a week. For sure, some of them supplement some kind of government aid. Like the guy in the wheelchair.

In case you’re wondering, people in this house bought some of the beads. They are well strung and very suitable for every outdoor event. None of us bought jello shots. Even if I drank, yuko. Way too sweet for me.

The pictures. Here’s a little thing that I do. I could make a fairly tight photograph. A facial portrait. To me, that’s meaningless. Sort of like making a full moon picture with no context. So, I use a wide lens. I like to see what’s going on in the background. I want you to see where I’m working. Where these folks are working.

Oh yeah.

I made these pictures a week ago. On Super Sunday. Even if my main subject — Indians — isn’t around, I am always seeing. Always working.

Jello shots.


You’d think.

You’d think.

Spring. Rebirth. All green and bright blossoms, leaves and green shoots.

Oh no.

Not down here in the swamp. I made this picture on the first official day of spring. Those leaves look like the arrival of fall. You know. Fall colors and all. But nope. These are fairly fresh leaves. Red leaves. Orange leaves. Yellow leaves.

What do I know?

It’s spring. I know it’s spring. The calendar says it’s spring. The rest of nature looks like spring. But, not this little tree.

We all know one thing. Despite how humans try to restrain her, shape her, or move her, nature seeks stasis. She does what she wants.

What do you think climate change is about? Humans are polluting and destroying the planet. Nature. Climate change is about rebalance the earth back to where it should be. Nature doesn’t care if humans are involved. We are an irritant to her. A temporary irritant. She’ll destroy us. Or, banish us to a different planet. She doesn’t care.

Think about that. Think about that when climate change deniers spout their nonsense. It’s happened before. It could happen again.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Easy stuff. Except for the seeing it part.