Looking out in the morning fog.

Morning view.

Another scene that I was lucky enough to photograph. It’s sort of like yesterday’s picture, but this one feels a little mysterious, moody or even scary. At least, it does to me.  I keep expecting to see an evil little troll appear somewhere.

So.

A little local news.

Most of you know about the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. Last week a red tarp blew off the remains revealing the body of one of the men who died in the rubble but couldn’t be removed. People photographed it and posted pictures on social media which prompted local news media to do about the same thing. It was replace by a yellow tarp.

The mayor scolded us for that.

The City Council responded by wanting to start an investigation.

That mayor said no.

The council is doing it anyway.

A few days later, it was revealed that the Hard Rock Hotel developers donated $70,000 to the mayors re-election war chest.

The mayor tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the IRS slapped a tax lien on her and her husband’s house for unpaid taxes totaling $95,000. A little research revealed that they owed back taxes for at least five years.

The mayor responded, trying to spread the blame, by saying they are just other struggling families in New Orleans.

Wut?

She makes $140,000 a year as mayor. Her husband is an attorney who earns about the same money. She doesn’t pay for her own transportation and a whole host of other perks that she is given as mayor of this swamp.

My view is that she should resign for the good of the city. She won’t. Why should she?

The city’s streets aren’t being repaired properly, while murders are down the crime rate is up, the Sewerage and Water Board fails every time that we have a powerful storm and water lines and canals seem only to be inspected once every 15 years or so.

Just once, I’d like to elect a mayor who knows what he or she is doing. I tried this last election. I voted for Desiree Charbonnet, a judge who was known for her honesty and fair mindedness. But, nooo…  she was a little too connected for the folks in the city. They reply that even now is that we should stand by the mayor because she is the first elected black woman. What the hell do they think Ms. Charbonnet is, and would have been?

At least Charbonnete is from New Orleans. Latoya Cantrell came here from Los Angeles. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not from here. But, maybe we need somebody who understands the system and can fight against it, instead of wandering around babbling, “The City of Yes.”

Just sayin’.


Like an antique.

An accidental picture.

I wasn’t even thinking about pictures when I looked up and saw this scene. The gray sky was softly illuminating it which gave the trees a sort of old fashioned glow. In fact, in one version of this, I didn’t care about keeping the color true. It looked like something from the late 19th Century. When I restored the color I thought that the picture still looks kind of classic.

Yesterday, I wrote about photographers luck. Today, my photographers luck was determined by always carrying some kind of camera with me everyday and everywhere. You can’t make a picture without a camera, even if it is your smartphone.

Here’s the deal about my use of smartphones. I use to think of them as sort of a sketchpad used to remind me of scenes that I should return to when I am more fully geared up. These days I’m not so sure about that.

Currently my phone is a Samsung Galaxy 9. It was the best phone available when I bought it discounted because I’m old. It’s coming up to two years since I bought it. I like to refresh my phones every three years. This one may last longer.

The phone is almost too much for me, but by using its forward lens I can make files that are 36.6 megapixels. That’s a huge file. Through the magic of computer math these files are technically equal to files made on a DSLR. I tested that. I had some big prints made. The look fine to my eye and I’m pretty picky.

I suppose that we have finally come to a place where smartphones can replace a lot of point and shoot cameras for folks who just want to document their friends and events of their lives. The point and shoot market has been dropping steadily for the past few years. Now, I think it is finally dead.

For those of us who make a living from pictures, so much of our market has shifted online. Paper products are dropping like files. Even the venerable PDN ceased paper production two days ago. If all we are doing is publishing pictures online, a smartphone can produce perfectly good files. If we are, like me, more focused on books and selling prints for your wall, DSLRs and shutterless cameras are still important.

Those are my Thursday musings. Have a great day or night, wherever you happen to be.


Something to enjoy.

So pretty. So pink.

Yesterday’s sunset was stellar. The sun was hidden by drifting clouds. And, then it wasn’t.

Just then.

Right then, the Japonica (Japanese Magnolia) trees were lighted by wonderful late afternoon golden light. I was lucky. Ten minutes either way and I wouldn’t have seen this little bit of prettiness. I wouldn’t have been able to make this picture.

I know.

You make your own luck. That’s really what photographer’s luck is about. I see that as getting out of your chair and going outside. Not this time. I was outside. I saw the Japonica trees. They were in total shade. I turned around to keep walking and the light broke through. I wasn’t ready and it didn’t last. Then, the light broke through again. I was ready.

Writing this reminded me of something one of my mentors used to say about travel photography. Rather than chasing around trying to find stuff to shoot, and going to tourist sites, he’d find an interesting coffee house or a  bar with a view outside. He’d sit there and wait until something interesting passed by. Then, he’d make pictures.

Sounds strange, yes?

I think he’d have some idea of what he was doing, being both a Magnum and a National Geographic photographer.

Try it. You might make the pictures of your dreams.

 


Into the sky.

After yesterday, what’s left?

The tributes contained to pour in. A man in India created what looks like a sculpture that is a half basketball to memorialize Kobe. A friend of mine in the blogging world said that if you lived in Los Angeles… maybe, but he was given to the world.

Meanwhile, in the political word… never mind. To my way of thinking they are all little criminals or just criminals.

So.

Yesterday was a very busy day, but I had some gaps in my schedule so I went to a place called “the King Cake Hub,” and spent way to much money on sweet cakes. The store is also called “The Haunted Mansion,” during Halloween. What I learned later is that the building was actually a mortuary for the Jewish cemetery which is directly to the side and back of the building. Yesterday was Halocaust Remembrance Day or Yom HaShoah in Hebrew.

I did what I could. Luckily, I was carrying the baby Leica. I made what I consider to be real pictures. I photographed the cemetery, some stored stuff from the haunted mansion and made my way to Holt Cemetery which is sort of the Potter’s field of New Orleans.

I worked there for a little while. At one point I thought that my legs were out of shape because I felt like I was walking in mud. I looked down. And, I was. This cemetery is the stuff of halloween nightmares. There are some really early jazz musicians buried there, like Buddy Bolden. There are some criminals buried there too. One, whose grave I photographed, was Robert Charles. He was a serial killer who, as the police were chasing him, shot 26 people. When he was captured he was beaten to death, an act which started the 1920 race riots.

Then, I went to a meeting and then another meeting and, and, and…

Today isn’t quite so bad.

The picture. Another of my new settings was used to create the final version of the image. Since I try to keep my pictures fresh, and I haven’t processed my new work, I thought that I would show you last week’s work.

I am so torn between art and a kind of photojournalism that I often confuse myself. I went back to my muse, Ernst Haas, and read what he had to say. He didn’t address dual approaches, but he did address what was a big controversy at the time and is raising its ugly head again. Black and White v Color photography. He asked why can’t you do both and let the scene direct you to the appropriateness of the medium. Now you see where my philosophical approach comes from.

Why can’t you?


Upside down world.

The rain stopped earlier then predicted.

It didn’t matter. Water was flowing from America’s eyes. It started with a brief tweet referencing TMZ that said Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. At first, there were disbelievers. Not me. I’m not a fan of TMZ-style journalism, but when this kind of horrible news breaks they are first and they are right. It only got worse. We know that five people died, including his 13 year old daughter, Gianna. We think there are four more dead and the pilot.

The entire world reacted. Athletes from every sport tweeted both their condolences and their admiration for the man. At the NFL All Star game, which is sort of a meaningless joke, many football players were upset. When the stadium announcer asked for a moment of silence the fans did that and then started chanting Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.

I could go on and tell you about his basketball career, but you can read or listen to that anywhere. I could tell you about his failings, but you can read that just about anywhere. To me that means he was a man. A normal man who succeeded and sometimes failed.

He was also just a basketball dad taking his daughter, her friend and her friend’s mom to a game. Like any of us. I know. Most of us don’t do it in a helicopter.

I followed his career pretty closely. I’m not a basketball fan, but I grew up near Los Angeles. I followed the Lakers in good times and in bad. I watched Kobe grow from your typical punkish teenager into a man. A good man. And, I am sad, Very, very sad.

My thoughts are with his wife and three remaining children. His youngest is six months old. I have no idea what it’s like to grieve, recover and work your way through that horrible emptiness.  My prayers — our prayers — are with them.

My thoughts are also with the musicians who are attending the Grammy Awards tonight. The Grammys are held in Staples Center, the house that Kobe built. This should be a night of joy and happiness. Instead, it is muted with most musicians saying something about him. The sadness won’t stop.

There’s nothing more for me to say.

Well, one more thing. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Witnesses say it landed upside down on its rotors. They said it seemed like the pilot was looking for a place to land. That’s not human error. That’s catastrophic failure. We’ll see.

The picture. I had already learned about the sad news, but I need to run an errand. I took the dog who sees things. She jumped out of the car and lead me straight to the scene. It seems appropriate for the day so I made the picture. In case you caught that, “Tonight,” I normally write in the morning but I had to get this out of my head. So I wrote at about 8:30p Sunday might.

Peace.

RIP Mamba 1978-2020


On a winters day.

It’s a blue sort of day.

The weather is frightful. It’s raining outside. Jazz music is playing inside. They say that we are going to get wet. Very wet today. Rain all day. Into the night. The late night.

Some plans went out the window.

I gave some serious thought to photographing one of two things. A walk through The Bywater with a group of photographers. I know. I wrote that I don’t work well in groups. This sounded fun. Or, I was thinking about photographing a second line. The first was cancelled yesterday because the group leader got sick. The second is postponed because of the weather.

Not doing both are fine with me. These days I’m trying to roll on. There’s plenty to do around this place. Or not. Maybe it’s a listening and reading day.

The pictures. I’ve been experimenting with a single way of enhancing pictures with basically one click. One move. I hesitate to call it post production because it’s been incorporated into my normal workflow. My new move seems to enhance the darks and bring out the highlights.

I did have to be careful in my culling. The techniques works best with blues. I tested it on a number of pictures. Warm tones hate it. Colder tones seem to like it.

The trees are just two bare branched winter ones that I saw around the neighborhood.

Even bluer.


Looking into the light.

Looking into the light.

No. Not heading toward the light. That’s something else.

This means breaking one of the rules of photography, and in particular when you are using a digital camera. They tell you not to photograph directly into the sun. They also tell you that doing that with a digital camera will destroy the sensor. I suppose it might, if you left the shutter open for an hour or so. Who’s going to do that?

Besides, who is they?

For the 1/2000th of a second or so that it took to make this picture nothing bad will happen to the camera. But, something good will happen to the picture that you just made. Not only will you make a strong silhouette, but you’ll get some flare and even a bit of sun streaks into the sky.

All of that makes for a more interesting picture than a normal exposure would do. If you are like me, you aren’t done. You’ll also work on the picture a lot in post production to help make the finished image what you really want it to be.

This picture is a great example of how I see these days.


Changing the look of past pictures.

I promise.

You’ve seen the pictures that I layered to make this picture. Based on another bloggers positive comments I thought I would tinker with a couple of them. My intent is to show that while nature always seeks stasis — which is why we are doomed as a species — she is also very flexible.

Stasis is one thing. Static is another. Nature isn’t static. Think about trees for a minute. They change according to season. Leaves bloom, the flourish, they fade and finally die. The tree doesn’t die. The leaves do. We couple explore further, but I think you get the point.

The picture was made from two very different pictures of the same tree. Layering is fairly easy once you select the images. Blending and finishing is not so easy.

I was chatting with a neighbor about my working method. I cannot listen to anything when I am writing. That takes thought. I can listen to music when I’m processing and finishing pictures, just as I can when I experiment. I just react. I don’t really think.

Same thing when I’m photographing. I review everything that I know about the scene and what it takes to make a good picture. Then, I try to clear my head of anything. I just try to react.

That’s also why I rarely go on photo walks. The last time that I did, I worked so far from the group that whatever caught my attention was not apparent to them. Talking in my ear doesn’t help when I’m trying to take a picture, unless it is from somebody I’m to whom I’m very close. Even then, talking takes the form of suggestions and directions.

That’s me. I can’t speak for you. How do you like to work?

 


My version of winter.

I’m listening to an interesting YouTube video as I write.

It’s about “work that matters.”  The visual podcast is called The Art of Photography.

As the speaker talks, he reminds me of me. He says that a picture should strive for something, that it ought to push the boundaries, that it shows artist growth, and it goes beyond gear.

You know me.

I rarely if ever talk about gear. I always talk about subject matter, content and why the picture matters to me. I suppose if I did talk about gear I could monetize Storyteller with corporate sponsorships. But, that isn’t me. Of course I would like some help paying for this blog. But, I want it on my terms.

That’s important.

It’s also why I don’t take numbers very seriously. Sure, the more people who see my work, the more people who could possible know me and become some kind of client. But, as I’ve said to some of you by sharing a Neil Young quote, “Numbers add up to nothing.” Getting a lot of likes on Instagram or Facebook really just means that your picture happens to fit into the flavor of the hour. That is transitory at best.

I want my work to be long lasting and possible have some influence on a few people’s work. I do that now. Sometimes people talk to me about it. Often they don’t. I look at their work and I see my own work in their pictures.

Case in point. Since I’ve been making pictures of winters bare trees around sunset, I’m seeing all sorts of similar — but not the same — pictures that show up on Facebook friend’s feeds.

That’s all good.

It’s good because it means that I matter to somebody. I don’t need the validation because I believe in my own path. I like to know that somebody is watching… and reading.

The picture. I made a really heavily blurred image of some wild flowers a few days ago. By itself it was unrecognizable no matter what I did to it. It was mostly a yellow, green and black blob. I saved it and added some recognizable yellow flowers to it. That’s what you are looking at now.

Happy day.