This is our greenest time of year. Between the rain and the dripping humidity, we have an outdoor greenhouse. Everything grows.
As we roll into August, the wet season dries out a bit. The hot weather really hits. Instead of the low 90s of July, the temperature rises into the high 90s and, maybe even into triple digits. That’s brutal. That’s also the time to lock down everything in hopes of mitigating CoVid-19 because most everybody closes their businesses. No tourist traffic. You can buy hotel rooms for a fraction of their normal price even in a good year.
Of course, you have to do what we do. Walk slow. Slouch around. Stay hydrated. And, walk in the shade.
That’s the secret.
Bars are closed. Music venues too. Most restaurants are closed for August even without the virus floating around. Small shops may also be closed. But, you can wander around without bumping into too many people. And, very few of us. Locals.
Yes. Please visit. We need your money. You need our vibe.
Peter Green died this week. He was the founding guitar player of Fleetwood Mac well before they became poppy and very famous. He was scary good. He didn’t work for long enough to gain the kind of fame of Eric Clapton, Jimmy page or Jeff Beck, but he might well have been the best of them.l One of his songs was called Green Manalish. Understand now, y’all?
I’ve been watching Live Oak sprouts growing in the swamp grass. Finally, I did something about it. You are looking at the result. It is surprisingly difficult to get green to pop out of another green. I’ve been noticing that on videos. The way those guys do it is to turn the green into something fluorescent. Looks silly. Green grass doesn’t glow.
After two days of clouds, I’m pretty sure that you are getting a little bored. So, I went the other way. I published something that is art for its own sake.
Sometimes you just have to do something for fun. Especially now, when 2020 seems like the devil’s spawn. I don’t think anybody has seen a year like this one. If only we’d paid more attention early on, when our top leaders ignored the whole thing.
My rule of when things go south everything goes south seems to be in effect. Little things, big things, plans, all seem to go awry. My photographic brothers and sisters have no work. Those of them who managed to get federal monetary support are watching that program come to an end today. They face bankruptcy, the possible loss of their homes and businesses.
There is a call via Facebook to do something, anything, to replace their losses in New Orleans. Unfortunately, many of those posting do have not viable idea worth discussing. They want to vent, and that’s good. They want to blame the mayor or the governor and that’s bad.
They don’t seem to want to address the primary core issue. Stopping the virus, or at least mitigating it, is essential to reopening the city, state and country. That may mean shutting everything — And, I do mean everything — down for about a month. Call it a vacation. Ask the feds to make us whole. That’ll cost a lot of money. But, it will cost more money and lives, to continue the way that we are going.
Even though the Facebook group didn’t come to any conclusions, I sent an email to the governor saying just about what I wrote above. We’ll see if I even receive a response.
Forget for a minute, the possible financial cost which is really what I just wrote about. Assume that everybody keeps their homes and businesses and ask yourself this. How are we dealing with it? Physically? Emotionally? Spiritually?
You’ve heard me go on. I’m sad. I’ve lost a lot of hope. But, I still keep walking dogs. One a bad day we get in about a mile. On a good day, which is most of them, we get about three miles in. We are out in the fresh, but humid, air and our Vitamin D intake is through the roof.
How about the rest of you? How are you feeling? If you are emotionally depressed, that’s fine. Just remember that was once emotional becomes physical. That’s much harder to cure. Spiritually, how are your prayers? Are you losing your faith? I’m not talking about a formal religion. I lost that many years ago. I’m talking about something much more primal than that.
While the photography group wasn’t coming to anything that even approached by a conclusion, we were all talking. That’s important. We talk to each other around here. Who are you talking to? Your dog counts. I feel better talking to Sophie Rose.
I get it. You are tired of me rambling on.
I made a couple of pictures on our walks that I didn’t think were all that great. Most of my work these days isn’t all that great. These were below even that standard. I worked on them separately. I thought about layering them. I did that. And, the original version looked pretty good. But, you know me. More. More. More.
I used an app that made the images look older. I used a grunge app. That’s what caused all that fracturing and the hole that looks like a bullet made it. I fine tuned it, adding a glowing layer and I was done. The image was done as well. In more ways than one.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy the best version of yourself.
I could say that I posted them because I felt like it. That’s not the truth. Yesterday’s were after the storm. Today’s were made as the dog and I went for our morning walk. A big storm was coming. In fact, rain fell all day. That was the last time we made it outside.
I guess ya’ll like my story. There were a lot of views and a lot of comments. I’m glad and humbled by that. I have no idea why you responded as you did. I’m guessing that even though your story isn’t my story, it touches something in you. After all, I haven’t heard of a perfect family. Have you?
Mine seems just a little weird.
I’m still trying to figure out how my aunt had so many children well before she was married. Yeah, yeah. I know. But, this is 1939 we are talking about. I’m not aware that anybody on both sides of my family are that far ahead of their time. Mr. Miller must have been great guy if he wasn’t the father, but adopted all of them.
I wish I had more to add. For now, I don’t. I did manage to confirm by looking at maps that both of my paternal grandparents came from where they said that they did. That’s something.
I couldn’t resist. The clouds were just too dissimilar from the one’s the I published yesterday. I really didn’t have much work to do in post production. I probably made the darker clouds a little more purple. By accident.
I’ve written briefly about my paternal family. I knew the family mythology. I knew what we were told. Every bit of it was wrong or a lie. A while back I took Ancestry.com’s DNA test. I reckon not much is private now and they had the biggest database, so off I went.
I few things were confirmed. Sorta.
One day about a year ago I received an email from a guy why might be related to me. We emailed back and forth for a while. I suppose we both got tired of it. Ancestry.com sent me an email telling me that they found more new data.
I decided to subscribe for six months so I could try to dig into the records. What I found was stunning.
We were told that our grandfather jumped ship and deserted from the Royal Russian Navy after being told to fire on their own people during the first Russian Revolution in 1905. That sounded little too much like The Potemkin Affair, a movie released in 1925.
I discounted it.
I thought that he might have left the country, but those circumstances were a little to close. We were told that he made his way to Hamburg, Germany and sailed on a tramp steamer to Ellis Island where he entered the United States.
Somehow he made his way to London where he lived for a little while. He probably got together enough money to buy a ticket on a ship called the Haverford. He left from Liverpool and arrived in Philadelphia in 1910. He met my grandmother about the same time. I never knew him. He died in 1948 at the age of 60 or 61.
Here’s where it gets really tricky.
I thought my dad was an only child. He wasn’t. He had a older sister who was born in 1915 called Ruth Shirley Olga Laskowitz. She lived with her family as documented on the 1920 census. She drops off in 1930. She meets a man called James Albert Miller, with whom she has six children — my cousins.
Again, it gets tricky.
My cousins were born in 1939, 1943 and 1949. I’mm not sure when the other three were born. She and Mr. Miller did not get married until 1962. My cousins are all Millers. Riddle me all of that, Batman.
Mr. Miller — my uncle — died in 1974 on Long Island. Ruth Shirley Olga moved to California where she lived in Cypress, just across the Los Angeles County border in Orange County. We lived about five minute into LA County. We were maybe ten minutes apart. She died in 1990. I never knew her, or heard of her until a little while ago.
Of the Miller family all that is left for me are very distant cousins who call my late aunt, great-great grandmother. They never knew her.
I have no idea why everything was so secret. There is no one I can talk to because they are lost to the fog of time. I wish, when I was younger and my parents were alive, that I had questioned them. But, by then our relationship wasn’t great.
I know where my grandfather came from. I have a pretty good idea where my grandmother came from. I’m not concerned about my maternal grandfather and mother. Their history is quite clear as my aunts and cousins have done quite a lot of research.
I had this big plan to travel to Belarus and a region in Poland that used to be called Galicia. I was going to do it after my big work was finished this year. You know what they say. If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. Along came the pandemic.
That’s why I’m sad. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’ve lost my mojo. I’ve lost my hope. I feel like I don’t know who I am.
I needed this picture. It’s light. It’s happy. The clouds made me smile when I saw them. We had a huge storm yesterday. A cold and warm front clashed. The booms of thunder made me cringe. By mid-afternoon the storm blew out. When the all seeing dog and I took a walk, the clouds in the picture are what we saw.
I didn’t take very long to make the pictures. I took even less time in post production. Mother Nature did her thing.
One of the things that I get paid for its my ability to understand the future. No. I’m not a seer. Not a guru. Not a clairvoyant. I simply do a lot of research. I listen a lot. All the while I’m letting the information roll around in m y head. After that, my ideas comes out. Anywhere. Anytime. In the shower. While I’m cooking. While I’m walking the dogs. Most of them are terrible.
The pandemic isn’t going away soon. Or, even in a few months. Maybe, not in years. I don’t know exactly when. Sheesh. I’m not that good.
New Orleans started to open. People turned stupid. They partied too much. They were photographed in a packed Bourbon Street.
Our per capita rate of infection is the highest in the nation.
The governor got very angry. So did the mayor.
The governor closed the bars. Mandated masks. Reset the opening time table. The mayor cut the bars ability to sell curbside drinks. Between the two, they effectively closed our bars. Restaurants are closing too. Some forever. Some until restrictions loosen. It’s too hard for owners to make any money with a limit of 25 people.
Music venues are closed too. Musicians aren’t able to earn anything. One, who worked a lot including Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest, is leaving NOLA for a while. She’s selling all of her stuff.
As most of you know, I’m not a fan of the president, but I agree with him on one thing. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Most music tour leaders agreed that tours wouldn’t start until October, 2021. Now, touring might not start until late spring 2022. It’s getting worse. Not better.
Humans are impatient. We are angry. We are angry with our leaders, the police, our structure, abuse of black people, the abuse of women. The list goes on. What started as peaceful protest has turned into battlefields. In Portland, some kind of federal storm troopers are beating and detaining people for no reason.
For every action there is a reaction.
The protests are heating up again. Protesters are fighting back. I truly fear that my country is going to turn into a battlefield. That a shooting war is going to break out. Combined with the pandemic my country feels doomed. It’s like we are falling of a cliff.
Fixing this beyond my pay grade. But, I know those of us who have a little hope left must work together, communicate, try to build the house while the house it’s burning down, and look after each other. I’ve said that before. I think it was abstract. Now, it’s real.
I made the base picture of the Black Masking Indian Queen at Uptown Super Sunday 2019. I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever have that chance again. The event would be called a super spreader unless the virus is stopped. During the parade you are shoulder to shoulder and face to faces with everybody. One sick person…
I made the clouds that surround her a few days ago. I’ve been doing this kind of experimentation for the past couple of months. I usually post it on Instagram, but I realized that many of you might not be there and that you should see it. Now you are.
Working this way is a process. It’s using my archive to locate the right images. It’s layering and blending two pictures. And, about finishing them properly. It takes time. And focus. And, intent.
I wrote about “Ray’s Blue” yesterday. Of course, I twisted the color around so much that you barely got to see it.
Not this time.
The sun was low in the sky. Darkness was almost upon me. I made a few quick pictures, unsure if I had an image. I didn’t have time to brace myself. I certainly didn’t have time to grab a tripod, which was called for by the light.
Photographer’s luck came to my rescue.
We’ve been listening to a lot of music this past week. More than we usually do. That’s saying something. Photography saves me. Not this time. I feel trapped since just about everything is closed again.
That’s the fault of people of New Orleans. Far too many pictures of a packed Bourbon Street circulated this week.
A very angry governor gave us a verbal spanking. The mayor closed outdoor sales of alcohol, which combined with the governor’s closing of all the bars, effectively closed the bars of the city.
Still some people protested. The were quickly answered by bar employees who said the closing of their places of work was necessary because the partiers couldn’t do the right thing. The language was much stronger than that. Once again, everybody is angry at everybody else.
If I’m limited in photography, I turn to music. I listened to new music. New to me anyway. It’s been around for awhile. Then, I listened to a brand new song from a yet to be released album. The melody and the lyrics almost brought me to tears.
I felt like we haven’t even begun to feel pain yet. Our world has already been turned upside down. More is coming. It’s like the joke I tell when something in my body breaks down. My body says, “You think that was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The musician? Mary Chapin Carpenter.
I’ve been accused of having a crush on her. I readily admit that I do. Not on her. Her music. Where have I been all these years? At least I found her through her “songs from the kitchen” that she’s been playing during the era of lockdown. I suppose the pandemic has been good for something.
Playing on an acoustic guitar and with no mic to support her singing, she brings the same sense of peace that James Taylor does for me.
Her new, yet to be released album is called, “Between the Dirt and the Stars.” It’s the opening track of the same name that brought an impending sense of doom to me. Her record label has released three songs from the album. Even though she’s very awarded for country music, this album isn’t country. It’s pretty much straight ahead rock and roll.
I think I pretty much told you how I reacted and how I made the photograph. I haven’t said much technically. I did have to do some post work on it. Not to change things as I showed you yesterday, but to fix more deficiencies.
When you make exposures like these you introduce heat noise. The chip and processor generate too much heat and it shows on the file. As noise. My normal repair for an image that will never leave the screen is to darken and smooth it. That’s what I did. That’s what you see.
That’s what an editor called it. It’s really carillon blue. Whenever I was working around dusk I would hope for it. This rarely happens in Southeastern Louisiana because of our never ending humidity.
Humidity is really composed of tiny drops of water that reflect red light. That tends to mute sky colors.
On this day we had lot of rain. The skies cleared out a few hours before dusk. I looked outside and saw my blue. I photographed everything that I could. The tree was one of my first subjects. You know. Make a safety picture in case there is nothing else.
It was fine as it was. I did make a few better photographs. You’ll see one tomorrow.
You know me.
I can’t leave well enough alone.
I started tinkering. And, tinkering. And…
I finally reached the end result.
Here’s what I did.
I cleaned up the first picture and smoothed the blue sky to make it as close to what I saw when I looked up. The camera generated some noise, requiring smoothing. The picture was okay.
The second picture is the result of stripping the color image to black and white and layering it slightly askew over the first picture. This, too, is fine.
Then I decided to add a couple of other techniques and some grunge to it. The third picture is the result of that experimentation. Cool enough.
Finally, I wanted to add a little color just to see what would happen. So, I found a picture that I thought might work. It didn’t. I found the layer that you see on my third try. I fine tuned the layering and the result is as you see it.
I hope that gives you an idea of my working method and maturing vision. Any of these pictures would work. They’d be great as a quadric on your wall, Or, my wall. Hmmm… I wonder if this is a winnable battle.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every last drink. (If you live in New Orleans you were done at 6am today if you were drinking togo cups from a bar. That will return when we control the virus because right now we are number one in the country based on per capita.)
Sophie Rose never poses for a picture. I guess that she felt like it. Or, maybe she knew that I hadn’t made a picture for the day.
This is the all seeing dog. The dog who finds pictures and waits while I make it. Sometimes, she looks up at me as if to ask are you done,
She’s an old lady dog. She’s twelve years old. She’s a rescue dog. She came to us when she was eight. She was scared and confused because her person passed at 85 years old. Her care givers didn’t much like Sophie. She was well underweight and she had a gastrointestinal infection. We brought her to our vet. He fixed her up. I fed her the same food that the other dogs eat, She gained weight. She came to like the other dogs. She came to trust us,
Now I belong to her.
Lately, she’s been sick. She had a gum infection that worked its way into her jaw. Four teeth later and an aggressive course of antibiotics and she’s fine. She’s back to her old self, aggravating the other dogs and shepherding me and everybody else.
She also has a bladder stone, which has finally broken up. We are hopeful that more antibiotics will break the rest up. Otherwise, she could require surgery. We’ll know in a few weeks. I’m not inclined to put her through it. She shows no symptoms. She’s happy. She acts younger than her age. She has no symptoms.
What would you do?
It’s a portrait. A lucky portrait because she normally doesn’t allow it. I didn’t do any post production except to correct the warm light of the room that we were in. Sophie did the rest.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Protect our teachers. Enjoy every sandwich.
I’m really not a nature photographer. For many years I took no notice of it. Along came really good smart phones with cameras that could produce fairly high quality images. Phones are ubiquitous. We carry them everywhere. Like on dog walks. I started seeing things that interested me, so I started making pictures. That made my dogs happy. They could poke around while I composed around.
That was a huge change for me.
Remember, I started life as a photojournalist. I made pictures of events, or people, or hard news. I didn’t have time to look closely at the world of nature. For sure I started to understand the qualities of light.
It wasn’t until I used color slide film almost exclusively that I really put a lot of what I knew into practice. Even then, 95% of my work still involved travel, location, people, places and things. But, not nature.
I think I confuse folks who find Storyteller because my work looks like that of a nature photographer, not a faux nature photographer. I know true nature photographers. They work very hard climbing to the top of a mountain, wading through swamps, walking across deserts. All in the name of photographs.
They typically follow one of the guiding principles of anybody who works on location. “Sometimes the hardest part of making a picture is getting there.” I think the late Professor Will Counts said that.
Me? I’m walking around the block. The hardest part of making these faux nature pictures is crossing the street and making sure the all seeing dog does walk into mild traffic.
That’s okay. It served me very well when I was in too much pain to do much more. My pain taught me to see. To really see. Little things, Subtle changes in nature as the seasons changed, not that they change much in Southeastern Louisiana.
Now, most of the pain is gone. You’ve read that story. While it’s true that I still have osteoarthritis issues, they don’t bother me much. Mild pain meds helps to control that. The pain that was limiting turned out to be bursitis in my hip. It took two years and three doctors to figure that out. Don’t ask me about my feelings. They vary from relieved to aggravated.
If I think about it very much, my former pain helped me to see all the things that I wouldn’t have seen. I’m grateful about that.
I made it on an early morning dog walk. I’ve been getting up way too early. I try not to wake the house. But, she hears. She knows. She’s ready for a walk. It’s not a problem because we beat the heat of the day. Kind of. It’s always hot this time of year. Let’s just say it’s a little cooler.
That’s also when the nights rain might still be drying. If it’s a really humid day, the moisture is pooling.
That’s really how I made this photograph. See it, push the button. Make every sure that image is tack sharp because it needs to be in order to work.