About passings.

We were talking.

A friend and I.

About music. Musicians. How fast time seems to be passing. How old they are getting. Compared to us. Seriously, they are around ten years older than I am. That’s not much older.

This morning, I learned that Gary Duncan passed. He was 72. He was one of the founding members, as one of two lead guitar players, of Quicksilver Messenger Service.

You’d have to be a fan of San Francisco music from the 1960s and 1970s to know who they were. They broke out along with Moby Grape, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. The so-called San Francisco sound.

In Southern California, where I grew up, we had the Los Angeles sound. Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Doors and The Beach Boys were among the household names.

Both musical sounds are my bedrock. Sure. Earlier, I listened to my parents music. Big band. Show tunes. Some jazz. I broke away from that when The Beatles, Rolling Stones and the rest of the British Invasion poured through the radio sound waves.

But.

I started to come of age with California music. I am forever grateful for that. Rest in Peace, Gary Duncan. I’m sure you are playing around with Skippy Spence. And, your co-lead guitarist, John Cippolina. I’ll save Skippy’s story for another post. I barely know John’s story.

Which brings me to stories.

Today is the last day ever of our New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune. It was bought by the competing paper, The Advocate. They sort of merged. The masthead will have the T-P’s name over the Advocate’s. For now.

By completing the merger, they had too many editorial staff members. So they terminated all of T-P’s staffers. They gave them two months notice because they had to under laws governing mergers and acquisitions. They kept producing quality journalism.

Eventually, they rehired 6 or 7 of the former staffers back at 20-40% lower salaries. The rest are looking for jobs. Some are creating start ups.

As the days wound down, the soon to be ex-reporters started asking what stories we, the readers, wanted told. For the last month or so, they told a lot of my kind of stories. Little stories. With little pictures.

The best kind.

Any newspaper can publish big national and international stories. The buy AP memberships, the subscribe to New York Times or Washington Post feeds. That’s easy. You pays your money and you get your stories and pictures.

But, little stories.

The kind where reporters talk to local people about, well, anything. Why are you interesting? What makes you a little different? Or, a little the same? And, that’s where some of the best pictures are made. That’s what I think.

Anyway.

I have no idea what my words have to do with my picture. Except to say that everything flows in its own good time.

Gary Duncan passed because it was his time. The newspaper merged and partially closed because printed newspapers are coming to an end. Actually, almost anything printed is coming to an end.  A smart newspaper owner, at every level, has long ago made the digital product the prime method of delivery. Papers like the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are great examples of that.

There’s more.  Just a little.

Online newspapers can’t make the advertising money that they once did. The business has inverted. They need your subscriptions. Paid subscriptions

Yeah. I know. We are in the era of “nobody wants to pay for nothing.” Artists of all stripes suffer because of this. If you want us to produce, we need the money to produce.

In the journalism world, it’s different. If you want to hold people accountable, they must be exposed. Usually by reporters. Photographers. Editors.

Journalists.

That costs money.

 

Advertisements


Like magic.

The light.

Like magic. In nature. On this day.

Two more to go. Then home. Happy to be here. Happy to be there. Time to take a break. Time to rest. Time to work. Harder.

No. I’m not trying to be any kind of poet. Most of you know that I’m lucky to be able to write in the English language. Or, any language. I confuse people. Sometimes. Sorry. Then, typos. Typo king. That’s me. My mind goes in one direction. My fingers in another.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels. They say. Do you know any? I ask.

I listen to music when I write these posts. Spotify has a playlist called, “Sunny Day.” It’s light and energetic. But. Too much musical miss. For me.

The picture.

Hmmm. Mostly point and shoot. Make sure there is a window. In the background. To reflect light directly into the lens. Refraction. Reflection. Strange circles of light everywhere. That’s it. Simple. You can’t do it. Because. I can’t duplicate it. Again.

Very cool song. By Sufjan Stevens. Called Chicago. He’s got a trumpet going on. Reminds me of Mexican trumpets. I’ve always like that.

 

 


In the shadows.

It seems that digging into my past work is necessary, but not rewarding.

I can’t keep posting it. For sure, you’ve never seen it. It’s new to you. But, it’s not where I’m at now. In the summer of 2019.

This picture is brand new. As usual, I saw it on the way to some place else. I was in a hurry. I was lucky that the cross caught my eye. Photographer’s luck. When I actually pressed the button, I didn’t see it for what it was. I saw it for what it could be.

Finally.

Vision aligning with reality.

And, then going further.

I’m not making a statement about religion if this gothic cross means that to you. I don’t attack other people’s belief systems. As the late John Lennon wrote, “whatever gets you through the night.

I am making a statement about my sense of the world right now. We are broken. Everybody seems angry about even the littlest things. The doors and windows are closed. We are taking extreme positions about almost everything.

There’s no point in this.

I’d like to see the window frame painted nicely. I’d like to see the cross glowing. It like to see another version of this picture where everything is sparkling.

We can do that, you know.


So close, yet far away.

It’s a funny thing.

We all think of New Orleans as being a giant city. It’s not. It’s a city of about 375,000 people. We are losing about 1,000 people a year due to all sorts of reasons. Broken infrastructure. Institutional racism. Crime. Horrible schools. High Taxes. Very high rental prices. The list goes on.

That’s not what this post is about.

Instead, it’s about the region in which we live. Fifteen minutes outside of the city lies Southeast Louisiana. If it matters, leaving the city means traveling from a blue city to a red state. It doesn’t matter to me. Even though we might not agree politically, I find the people to be sweet, kind and caring.

So, we don’t talk politics. Or, religion.

Aren’t those topics what you are supposed to avoid during holiday dinners? With people who really look like you because they are you. Sort of.

I like crossing the big muddy and tooling along the roads on the Westbank. You never know what you’ll find. I find pictures like this one. I find good almost home cooked meals in gas stations. I find people who ask why you are taking a picture. When you tell them, they ask to be in a couple frames. They either tell, or guide you, towards locations that they think might make a good picture.

They are country folk.

To them, New Orleans is the “big city.” A place in which they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe. And, yet, the are only 10 or 15 miles away.

The picture. Wandering along River Road around sunset. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out the rest.

 


Way Out West.

Morning fingers.

Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.

I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.

Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…

The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.

This picture is not one of them.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.

I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.

This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.


It’s all in the details.

Details. Details. Details.

I was wondering just how many pictures of old couches, chairs and furniture would hold a readers interest.

My answer?

Not many.

I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I saw this scene.

It hit me.

Details.

A picture like this holds the reader’s interest in many ways. Not the least of them being the human need to understand the photograph. To study it. To spend some time with it. To let your brain grasp the details within the details.

The first couple of pictures that I made for the “Junk Project,” were mostly overall scenes.  You look at them once, quickly, and you are done. You see everything that needs to seen in less than a second. They rely on color, shape and hue.

This picture relies on content. Subject matter.

This picture would work in black and white, as well as in color.

This picture is also harder to find. Even harder for it to find you.

If somebody wanted it for their wall, I work hard to convince them to use the horizontal version and turn it into wall paper. Something that is about twelve feet wide and eight feet high. Something that when you came home at night, you could stare at and forget the day. You’d mumble to yourself, “Oh wow. I didn’t see that before.”

Just like I’m doing now. That light bulb. They are expensive. It isn’t broken. What was I thinking?

Oh yeah.

Pictures.

 


Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.


The good stuff.

The junk project.

I had a good week. Not only did I find a couple of pictures for the summer project, but I found a couple of pictures for my junk and water projects. I’m not saying that everything I photographed will make it into the final cut, but having many pictures from which to select is better than too few. Right?

I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.

Durability. Sustainability. Repairability.

The furniture that was set out by this dumpster was old. The pieces were probably manufactured in the 1930s. Every piece was well made of good solid wood. Nothing was broken. They needed a little refinishing work, but that was about it.

Abandoned.

All they needed was a little loving touch. They would have made a fine collection of furniture for somebody. Anybody.

We live in a time when everything is made so cheaply that it costs more to repair an item than it costs to replace it. That’s too bad. More broken stuff for the overflowing landfills. More broken stuff to add to our pollution. More broken people not working.

A few weeks ago, we went through the great plastic purge. We are still working on it, but it’s damn near impossible. Sheesh. We tried to buy butcher paper locally. Good try. Yes. It can be found in our local and regional grocery stores. But, it’s improved. It has a — wait for it — plastic backing.

Sure. You can buy paper butcher paper on Amazon. And, you add to the carbon footprint by having it shipped. Get this, most of it comes in huge rolls for commercial use.

So?

So, you have to buy a rack and a paper cutter.

I believe that we are at a point beyond which we can’t turn back. Everybody and everything is too invested in the stuff that could kill the planet. Besides, follow the money. How does Mitch McConnell grow his wealth by some $24 million in a couple of years?

The picture. First, I would have taken that furniture if I had a truck. But, I had a dog on a leash. She refuses to carry heavy stuff. Seriously, I photograph my projects as I see potential subject matter. For me, it works better to let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing them. As I wrote earlier, I think I have my color palette figured out going forward.  For the junk project.

One more item of semi-interest.

Doctor John was buried yesterday. His family and friends organized a true jazz funeral with a second line and a mule drawn hearse. I didn’t photograph it. The temperature was 96 degrees at 3pm when the parade began. The heat index was 104 degrees. Way too hot for me.


Cool shade.

Despite the heat of summer, I actually like the season. I like the rich greens. I like the cooling shade. I even like the torrential rains that cool the air and knock down the humidity temporarily. Of course, in the heat of summer, what falls down must rise up… in the form of ground humidity.

At a glance that sounds terrible.

It isn’t.

In Southeast Louisiana, folks live in a natural greenhouse. Everything grows. And, it grows well. In little home gardens, you need only care for the plants. No watering necessary. There was one year, before the storm, that I grew something like 500 large tomatoes. I kept the plants neat and pruned. I removed tomato worms and that was about it. I rarely watered them. I never misted them. The yield was a little problem. Normally, I give away what I can’t use. Usually to neighbors. Not that year. Everybody had too many tomatoes.

It’s about the same thing with every vegetable or fruit. I planted a little basil bush that I bought at a grocery store. It stood about three inches tall. It was a skinny little thing. Today, it’s at least four feet tall. And, four feet around.

The picture. A tree that I saw on a walk. I liked the backlighted look. I turned it into a painting in post production. I also used a stretched paper look for the shape. Fairly easy to do. If you like experimenting.