It was a dark and cloudy day.

Everything changes. I had some lessons in that today. I wasn’t going to renew my premium membership with WordPress. It’s digital dump day, or whatever today is called. You know the equivalent of Black Friday. For electronic stuff.

I ended my premium plan yesterday. I received an email from WordPress today. 40% off for the next two days. I’m nothing if if not opportunistic. So, I renewed.

Don’t judge me.

While I have some complaints, especially with the Block System, I like it here. I have a community here.

I’ll still rebuild and redesign my website. That’s still the plan and the project. But, now I have a little more time. Like a year. That’s good because along with being opportunistic I’m lazy.

There is another important change too. You remember how I said that the all seeing dog was showing her age?

Wrong.

I noticed that when she stretched her jaw after waking up she would yelp in pain. I couldn’t find the problem until I put her leash on her. I happened to touch the back of her jaw. A little yelp.

Uh oh.

Another jaw infection. I called her vet and he prescribe the same antibiotics that he did when she lost a few teeth.

A week later and I let her out about 7am. The weather has turned cold here in the swamp. Luckily I had the presence of mind to dress properly even though I thought we’d be back inside in a few minutes.

Wrong again.

We went on the longest walk we’ve been on in the past few weeks.

Yippeeeeeeee.

Clouds. Both sides now. Joni is 77 and Judy is almost 80. My musical heroes may not be with us much longer. We’d better enjoy them while we can.

These are the first clouds of what turned out to be a three day storm and a cold front.

I made the file in color. I started messing with it and thought it looked better in black and white.

For sure, it brought out some things I didn’t see when I made the picture.

You can see the storm front as it moves. And, if I’m not mistaken, I can see a water spout. I didn’t hear any reports of a tornado, so maybe it broke apart.

No telling what a little post production will do.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every snow flake.


All the black and white.

As the calendar turns I thought I would start on something that I haven’t done in a long time. Black and white photography for you. Not only that, but it’s new work, not archival as I’ve done in the past.

My time may be winding down here. It seems that WordPress wants Storyteller to be all or nothing. I may be misunderstanding, but if I don’t choose to do a paid subscription Storyteller might cease to exist on December 18.

If that’s how they want it, fine. It’s not my first choice. But, one of my best traits is that I am able to walk away from any deal if it is not in my best interest.

We’ll see how it goes.

There is a concerning factor in leaving. I was going to take a number of you with me, the ones with whom I talk. I did a little accounting and there is a large number of you who like my work, are very new to Storyteller and never converse. I’d prefer not to not lose you.

If you don’t talk I can’t see your email. No worries. I won’t use it for marketing, but my website and other blog space doesn’t have WordPress’ ability to communicate instantly. So, I have to turn to something like Constant Contact. For that I need your email.

So, please if you want to continue seeing my pictures and laughing at my ramblings, just say hello.

Please.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Follow directions. Forget turkey leftovers, enjoy every pizza.

Black and white work isn’t easy for me. Although I started my career in black and white, I’ve long moved to seeing in color.

Using most cameras, you must work in color unless you prefer to work in .jpeg or buy a $7,000 Leica body.

I work in RAW capture so that my original file is made in color. I have no choice. I convert it from there in post production.

There is plenty of editing software that does the job nicely. I happen to use OnOne, but I could name at least five others.

One more thing about seeing in color v BW is that some folks say BW is true a photograph because you see the subject clearer than you do in color.

Ha! Ever wait for days to get the right color light at the right time of day?


Threes of light rain.

I’m only sleeping. So said John Lennon. He may have been speaking for me. I went to bed last night. I got up once at about 7am to make sure the dogs went out to do their thing. I did my morning stretches. Looked at the bed and decided to read the news.

It’s almost 3pm as I write. I awoke about 45 minutes ago.

I feel great.

As they say, I must have needed it.

As they also say, self care is important. I suppose sleeping the day away falls into the category. I’m glad that I wasn’t disturbed.

I think laughingly that I’ll be up all night. But, I don’t think so. The stress of these last nine months takes its toll even if you think you are okay.

How about y’all? Are you okay?

Green. I told you that I was going through a green phase. A spell of rebirth. I’ll start something new tomorrow.

You know what I do. I see something that interests me and I make a picture.

We’ve been having rain for the past three days so most things are wet. There are droplets everywhere. I happened to like the ones in the picture.

I’m trying to return to the basics a little. No over the top processing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Listen to instructions. Enjoy every leftover.


Life.

Green. I like green. It’s a symbol of life. For plants it’s a symbol of health. We talk about the greens of summer. For folks in the north where the first snow has already fallen, they envy us down here right about now.

Of course our summers are like the second coming of hell. A hot, humid, wet, sweaty hell.

Right now the weather is great. Highs in the low 70s. Lows around 60. I’m told at the start of next week, we’ll be looking at lows in the 30s. Only for a few days.

Because we had next to nothing to do yesterday but eat, watch movies and eat, we are feeling pretty refreshed.

At least for a day or two.

I am headed into a period of green pictures. For a guy who couldn’t see in order to make pictures, I sure did okay on one very long dog walk.

Unfortunately, rain clouds were hovering so the light was a little flat.

I did what I could.

A quick little pop in post production brought me to here.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Don’t travel needlessly. Enjoy all the turkey, cranberry, mash potatoes and gravy sandwiches.


All night.

Happy Thanksgiving. May y’all be blessed with the riches of the day whether you are lucky enough to be with family or happen to be alone.

During this weird pandemic year of 2020, some celebrations must be put aside so that we can celebrate in the future.

The word today on the socials is #gratitude. It’s a great word.

Think about what is good in your life. Simple things are often the best. For me, The words to an old Traveling Wilburys song popped into my head. “I’m just happy to be alive…” That line was sang by the late Tom Petty.

That was true for me in the late 1980s and early 1990s as it is today.

There are plenty of other things to be grateful for, but that is the most basic need.

And, you? What are you grateful for?

Don’t ask me. I have no idea why when I add certain borders to a picture it goes crazy.

This started out as a simple night photograph. Then, blammo.

There is no technique that I can tell you about. There is no trick to this. I just added a border.

I’ve been looking for a little magic. I guess I got some.

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Stay home. Enjoy all the cranberry sauce.


No choice.

There was no choice. If I was going to continue to photograph trees I had to do something different. So I went out at night. More about technique in the right hand column.

Let’s talk about the Coronavirus. We who live in Louisiana are in a hot spot. Luckily, New Orleans is will under the minimal acceptable percentage of Infected people v total population.

That number is 0.05%. We are at 0.015% That’s the good news. The bad news is that infections per capita are rising in NOLA.

The governor closed a lot of service businesses, or at least returned to the old phase two numbers. If we are forced to do this in New Orleans it may just about kill the city.

We are a city of small businesses. When I first arrived here, there were mom and pop grocery stores seemingly on every other corner. That’s changed. I’m not sure how many are left. Very few, I think.

New Orleans always recovers. For the most part we came back from the damage caused by Hurricane. I say for the most part because the poorest areas of town, like the Lower 9th Ward are still in shambles.

We’ve come back from other hurricanes, fires that burned most of The French Quarter when it was the city.

We’ve come back from other pandemics.

But, this one could hurt us. I wonder how the new gentrifiers are going to react. They don’t have the stubbornness and creativity of people who are from here, or have been here for a long while.

When the pandemic is finally managed to a point where we can live with it will they say the hell with it and just leave?

I have no idea.

I wouldn’t leave. Where are you going to go? While it’s true that we are seriously talking about leaving it has nothing to do with fleeing.

It may just be time.

Night time is the right time, so the song goes. I’ve made a big part of my career by working at night.

I’m in a photographic draught. My normal routines and techniques for breaking that don’t work.

A friend of mine said in an email that we are in a general malaise because of the virus, the politics of the country and maybe even fear of climate change.

I’m fairly sure that normally he is a Republican and is certainly more conservative than I. Even he is happy with the presidential change.

That may help free me.

But, I have to do something. So I took a short walk in the early evening.

I made this picture of a tree at night. It is illuminated by a streetlight.

It wasn’t hard to do. I sat on a park bench and hand held the phone. I’ve been getting away with that for years.

So. Nighttime in New Orleans.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every bit of turkey.


Autumn air.

I started tinkering last night. I made this artwork. It was accidental, like so many things in life.

Even the title of today’s Storyteller is an accident. I asked Alexa to make a playlist of Mary Chapin Carpenter songs. I think she liked doing that. When I asked, her response was “Hmmm.”

“I Feel Lucky” was playing when I wrote the title. Accidental.

That’s a thing that I know about. Accidents. Happy or other wise. They happen the minute you put your well thought out plan into action.

As retired boxer Mike Tyson says, “Your plan changes the minute that you get punched in the face.”

The same thing happens in photography especially if you work with people. The minute that you show up with a camera everything changes. You don’t even have to point it at anyone. They just know that you are there.

That leads to another question. Can any picture really be spontaneous?

Sure.

That’s why NGS photographers have 16 week assignments. It’s why I suggest photographing your world when you start out. The people in your life will ignore you, mostly because they always do.

No. I’m not being snarky,

They are used to you. That’s why I try to stay around for a long time. I hope people will get used to me.

But, they never do.

It’s the camera.

Sometimes working with a phone is a better idea. First, they produce pretty technically good pictures. Second, everybody is taking pictures of everything. Nobody notices.

That’s the goal.

About this MCC thing. Somehow I managed to miss 30 years of her music. When I first saw her play her songs from home. I was enchanted by the peaceful feeling that she brought to me, just like listening to James Taylor does.

I watched some more and thought where have I been all your life?

I know now what happened. I relocated to Hong Kong in 1993. Until Virgin records came along, we were lucky to find western music, especially country.

So, now I’m a little obsessed. I just wish that Alexa would have made a playlist that had some of her new music on it.

It’s always something.

Trees. I like trees. They are symbolic of a lot of things. One of my favorites, rebirth, is among them.

As I said, I was tinkering last night. Even though you can barely see it, this image is made from two layered pictures.

I worked to create the color palette that I though suit the picture.

That took some doing. Balancing the lights and darks was a project in itself.

For those of you who are wondering, I started Snapseed and finished in OnOne. I have other editing software, but why confuse myself?

Stay safe. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


Like another world.

Finally. It hit me this morning. I am in mourning. Not for the life we all once had. Although, that’s part of it. I’m in mourning for the passing of time. Not, the time that I’ve been discussing. That time has no meaning, no concept these days.

Another kind of time passing. The kind that catches us all in the end. The time of aging. Not so much for me, although that matters. But, for my loved ones. Even the dogs. Especially one dog.

Sophie Rose, the all seeing cocker spaniel is aging right before my eyes. She came to us when she was eight, so she was already a senior dog. She fit right in. She became my walking companion since the other dogs were very happy with one walk a day, in a pack.

She wanted two or three walks a day, just me and her.

That was fine, if not painful. At least until a senior doctor diagnosed the real issue as bursitis.

Lately, instead of going for a morning walk, she goes outside and does what she needs to do and goes back to bed. Mostly, we go for a short walk once a day.

It crept up on me. I looked but I did not see. I got nervous today so I called her vet. For basic things that seems to be what all medical professionals prefer in the pandemic age.

We talked for a good while. He asked me the usual things. She eats her normal amount of food. She drinks her normal amount of water. She seems happy. She doesn’t express any pain. Her droppings are normal.

Everything is good.

He said very simply that she is getting old. If you use the correct way of measuring dog’s age. Twelve years for the first year. Nine for the second. And, seven for the rest. She is about 93.

I don’t imagine that I’ll even be on the planet at 93. So, at that age she is doing fine.

Never the less, I don’t like it. Cockers live from 11 to about 16 years. At 16 they don’t do much but sleep, eat, pee and poop. If she lasts that long of course I’ll love and take care of her. The other dogs will stay near her as a way to protect her.

Now, I’ve made myself sad. I don’t like getting older for me. I don’t like it for those I care for.

There is nothing to be done. It’s nature.

The picture. This should be short and sweet. That dog, the one I discussed in theft hand column, and I started on her walk. We got to my go to place and I looked up.

What a nice peaceful sky. A popsicle sky.

I did what I always do and we walked on.

I did a little post production and posted it here.

Happy popsicle sky to you all.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Don’t travel this week. Enjoy every sandwich.


It came out of the sky.

Running on empty. I don’t know if it is the pandemic, the political situation or just 2020 — where anything where happens — or something else.

I usually take some time to think about my last year. Some of it, in 2019, was pretty good. The rest not so much.

I could have done better.

Yeah, sure. Nine months of my year was impacted by the pandemic. There were shutdowns, lockdowns, no touring and no traveling.

I could have done a lot more with my time. I had grand plans of really cleaning up my archive. That didn’t get done. I started in the wrong place. My earliest black and white work is not a good starting point even though it seems logical to do so.

Ha!

I store my black and white negatives in strips of five. What do I do with the rest of a strip if only one picture is relevant? I should have started backwards with my latest work. Digital images do not need to be stored that way. Keep the best picture and toss the rest.

Or, something like that. Often when I re-cull my work I come to an image that clearly espouses the “what was I thinking” theory.

I was going to move from here to my website. I haven’t yet.

I never documented New Orleans during the pandemic. For many of you that means The French Quarter. I haven’t been there since last Mardi Gras in February. Since there was nobody there that wouldn’t have been an illness spreading job.

Unfortunately, we have moved into stage red — a new way of classifying virus spread in Louisiana. I may get my chance.

I better get moving.

On all of those projects. Don’t you think?

I cropped this deep vertical picture out of a horizontal image. I did that because horizontal pictures are tiny on this new template. A free template. I told you that I was moving on. I have until December 18th to renew the paid version of Storyteller. I’m not doing it. It isn’t worth it. Luckily, I already removed my payment method so there will be no surprises.

Look at the picture. There ain’t much to it. It’s a crop of a picture I might not publish. But, I needed something. It’s not to say that I haven’t been making pictures on my walks. I have. They all look the same to me. There isn’t much that I like. I am a harsh critic of my own work, but not now. Anything’ll do.

That’s my life these days.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after others. Enjoy every sandwich.