That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. Maybe everybody does it. We chase light. Photographers need it to make pictures. Artists use the interplay between light and dark to work. All of us needs light to live.
Artificial light is fine, but sunlight is the real deal.
Of course, humans can alter that. We can create different environments. Some are good. Some aren’t. And, some are terrible. Just think about the environment we are creating for ourselves called climate change. Australians sure are thinking about that right now.
The light that I’m talking about is pretty. It’s created by late afternoon winter sun when the blue sky. That’s what this picture is about. The scene is common. Cars parked in a parking lot. But, the light. Oh my God, the light. I wish I were in a better place to work this light. But if I was, I might have lost it. Or, it might not have the reflective strength. So, I took what I had. I worked the technique to make it as good as I could.
After all, that’s all we can do with anything. We can do the best that we can. Do that and be a happy person.
I’m not talking about the perfume. I’m talking about a mental and emotional obsession. I’m talking about the one that I have when it comes the closing of 2019. Normally, I don’t really care. It’s just the pages of the calendar turning. Not this time. I can hardly wait. Even though a lot of people have said the same things about other years in this decade, 2019 seems worse.
Many people who I know feel the same way. They are worn out. They are tired. They are depressed. They feel beaten down. A writer who I read religiously said, that in this year of truth being turned upside down, she’s gotten to the point where she’s not sure she can trust herself.
I fear that in 2020, in a general election year, it might only get worse. I really fear that the worse possible thing can happen. I am scared that a re-elected president who is unhinged and free to do whatever he wants will finally blow up the country. Not physically, but at least existentially.
Enough of that because there are ways to combat the fear and loathing that so many people are feeling right about now.
Go outside. Leave your house. Life will immediately become unpredictable. It will become, well, life. To be lived in. You can work. You can play. You can meet new people. It’ll will also take the daily pressures off of your soul.
If you are an artist or creator, art harder.
A friend of mine said that at the beginning of this year. It helped her. It helped me. Sink your teeth in to a couple of long term projects. You’ll think more about that and less about the state the world.
See the good in everything and everybody who you meet on your journeys outside. Smile at people. Greet them with a friendly face. Ask for help when you need it. Eat well. Sleep well. Play well. Take care of yourself. Whatever you do spiritually, do it more.
Pick a one word koan to keep in your heart and soul. Trust me, it helps. It becomes the guiding principle for your year. Because of all the bad things that might happen in 2020, I’ve chosen my word for the year. “Positive.”
I’ve never seen this plant in the time that I’ve moved here. I’ll have to wait until these blooms open. I think I know what they might be, but I won’t know until I see them.
Sorta like life.
Make all the plans that you want. The minute you put them into action everything changes. Wise generals know you can plan and plan a battle, but the minute you step on the field everything changes. Former boxer Mike Tyson once said that you can make all the plans you want for a match, but the minute you get punched in the face those plans go out the window. That’s why I say to empty your mind and not to take the picture. Let the picture take you.
But, what do I know?
I’m still feeling my way as I go. Just like all the rest of us. I may know a lot about photography and some visual stuff, but what I don’t know about most of life could fill up the worlds largest land mass.
That said, this years single word koan is “learn.” I did learn. I learned mostly about me. That’s always good. I learned a tiny bit about the world around me. Not enough. What should next years word be, do you think?
The year that was. The closing year of the end of a decade. Ups. Downs. All arounds. This year wasn’t as great photographically as it could have been. That was pretty much my fault. Between physical issues and a general lack of motivation I mostly produced a lot of faux nature pictures. Some where better than others. Some are found here. My biggest natural successes were trees. They are well represented here.
I did manage to make some of “my” pictures. I photographed second lines and Mardi Gras Indian events. Those are here, too.
The one link between nature and a kind of photojournalism is that I work the same way to make both. I walk. I see things. I make the exposure.
As far as my version of nature pictures goes, most them were made in a healthy way. The dog who sees stuff and I went for walks. Despite my physical pain we managed to walk three miles a day whenever I was home. That’s good for me and her. She’s a sweetheart. Because she’s a cocker spaniel she’s as funny, loyal, and affectionate as she can be. Cockers are notoriously stubborn. She is too. She thinks nothing of standing in the middle of the street with me in tow staring down a car just daring the car to come closer.
There are 12 pictures here. You know why.
There are a few more days left in 2019. There are a few more days left in the decade. I’ll make and post a few pictures between now and then. But, for the most part, the year and decade are over for me. This is the strange in-between time. I mostly use it to clean up yearly messes and plan the new year.
A lot happened. A lot didn’t happen. I can’t remember half of it. That’s probably for the best. But, this is what I know. A made a helluva (that’s a technical term) lot of pictures in ten years.
Some were really good. Some were good. And, a lot of them fall under the heading of “what was I thinking? ” I spent way too much time photographing my version of faux nature. As I reviewed that work I realized that no matter how I try to see things differently, I keep repeating just about everything. That’s bad news for a guy like me who wants to move forward.
I spent two years of the decade in New Mexico, so that is reflected here. Luckily, I do like the two New Mexican pictures a lot. There are eight New Orleans pictures. Culling them was hard. There are at least six others that could have made the cut. I opted to go with pictures that I really like rather than some signature images.
The pictures are organized in no particular order. The best pictures come to me whenever they do. You know. “Don’t take the picture, let the picture take you.” I’m certain that these pictures are not chronological, but they are an honest representation of what I believe are my ten best pictures of this closing decade.
I hope that you enjoy them. I enjoyed making them.
After celebrating enough Christmas I adjourned to the patio chairs. Some of the dogs had enough excitement and joined me. I was sitting and wondering about the trees and the night light. I made a few exposures. Sure enough the cloudy sky trapped the night glow which is caused by city lights.
The sky looked orange to the camera’s sensor. To the naked eye it looked sort of gray-black. If the night sky had been clear or maybe with a few fleeting clouds there would have been no color. The city lights color would have traveled to the heavens.
I know the theories. But, since I can’t really see the color I have to test the theory. That’s a little secret of photography. Aside from capturing the moment and preserving certain subjects so that future generations can see them, there are a lot of optics, color and pure physics to test. Good photographers do that when they are playing. I wouldn’t want to test them when I am working for a client.
The week between Christmas and New Year is always calm. I do things to prepare for the next year, 2020. Can you imagine it? It sounds the like a title for some futuristic book and film. This year the dates of Christmas and New Year are putting my brain into a dizzy. A Wednesday holiday seems to make time seem either really short or very long. I woke up today thinking it was Saturday. I looked at my calendar and thought — or, rather, didn’t think — what is going on?
Then, I had a coffee.
How about you? What’s this week like for you? How do you feel about a Wednesday holiday?
A magical time of year. Living in the semi tropics makes so.
It’s Christmas Eve. It’s time for children to go to bed early. A night when the kids leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. It’s a night of hope and wonder.
Around here we do a couple of things before bedtime. We travel about 40 miles upriver to Lutcher, where huge bonfires are lit to guide Papa Noel to New Orleans. Then, it’s off to a holiday diner, after first eating a not so light but traditional Russian meal earlier in the day.
Unless we are someplace else these are our traditions. They are fairly new. We need traditions, just like we need magic, music and light.
This is what we do on Christmas Eve. What do y’all do on the night before the big day?
The first day was stormy. It wasn’t a heavy rain. But, it lasted all day and night. The dog who sees stuff wouldn’t go out except to do what she needed to do. The rest of the dogs acted about the same way.
If I wasn’t so lazy I would have gone to the Quarter and made some nice reflection pictures. My agencies would like that. Of course, they way they license images these days it doesn’t really matter. Some agencies are going to a modified royalty free system. Royalty free is a misnomer. It doesn’t mean a client can use a picture for free. It means that they don’t have to negotiate.
Here’s the problem for photographers.
That generally means that we earn less per image. Agency managers say that we’ll make it up on volume. That sounds like the old joke that goes something like this, “A small business loses money on every item they sell. That’s okay, they’ll make it up in volume.” What that really means is that they’ll just lose more money faster.
That’s happening across the arts.
Unless you are well known, or have a long career, or are a shining star, arts like writing, photography and music are so oversaturated that most people can’t support themselves working at their art. This has occurred for three reasons. Disruption. Democracy. Recession.
Disruption and Democracy go hand in hand.
Digital nerds decided they could do things better and cheaper. Sometimes it works. Mostly it doesn’t. Disruptions generally means the products, whatever they are, don’t get better. They get cheaper and worse. Democracy means that the tools to make something are easy to use partially removing the gatekeepers. Once again the the quality declines and the products get cheaper.
When the country tanked in 2006-2007-2008 at lot of people lost their high paying jobs. Some lost their property and homes. Many of those people decided that if they couldn’t make their usual wages, they might as well have fun. What emerged was a glut of wannabe writers, photographers and musicians of all stripes. Most had no idea what it means to be an artist. Even if some of them had the talent, they didn’t take the time to let it mature. They want tips and tricks.
That lead to our current state of affairs.
Too much of everything. Lesser and lesser high quality products being released. And, a general lowering of prices across the board. There is even an agency that doesn’t pay royalties. The photographers license pictures for exposure. WordPress recommends that writing bloggers use them.
This is the long way of explaining why I’m lazy. If I went to The French Quarter in the rain and worked, I’d get wet. I’d run the risk of hurting myself because of my “bad” left leg. I could damage my gear. And, with our great drivers, I could get in a car accident.
I’m willing to risk all of that if i could make some money with my pictures. But, I can’t say that I will. Sure, it’s still fun to do. But, slipping and falling scares me. Speaking of that, after the first of the year I’m going to have “Come to Jesus” meeting with my doctors. My issues need to be repaired, not masked. I don’t want to live this way any longer.