Comes a time

There comes a time when the world gets the better of you. Or, as the say “Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.

Technology completely got the better of me in the past few days. Or, most likely, incompetent people did.

Everything thing that I did last week to repair the situation is undone.

I need a break. No matter what we think about a new vaccine or president the world is still spinning out of control.

So, about this break thing. Today is my last post until January 1.

My head needs to clear.

Have a very merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate. As always, stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Peace. ✌


With explosive power.

Man oh man, Forty years already. Where did the time go? Better yet, why did my time go? Today is December 8. A horrible anniversary. I didn’t know until the next day so for me December 9 is just as bad.

I hope by now you know what I’m talking about. If not, this is the day that John Lennon was murdered in cold blood outside of his home in New York City forty years ago.

There are days that will live in infammy. December 7 was one of them. The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. That affects me too. My dad served during WWII. I might not be here if things had gone sideways.

But, December 8 lives on in my heart and soul.

Here’s my story.

My then wife and I lived in two different states, North Carolina and Virginia. She worked as a reporter for the Roanoke newspapers and I was a photographer for the Winston-Salem newspapers. It’s not as bad as it sounds. In Virginia — our base — we lived in Christiansburg about two miles from the interstate. In North Carolina we lived in Kernersville, the home of the North Carolina Klu Klux Klan. They have nothing to do with this story.

It’s still not as bad as it sounds.

By a quirk of shift scheduling, we managed to spend six nights together. We would pack and leave straight from our respective newspapers. It was a little less than two hours door to door. We took a small road across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There was no radio reception up there so I played tapes. No CDs. No streaming. This was 1980.

I got home to Virginia, unpacked my stuff and went to bed. I didn’t watch or hear the news.

The next morning the phone ring. It was my wife telling me the horrible news.

Eventually, I got myself together and went to meet a friend at my old newspaper chain. To be quite honest, we were going to drink our lunch. As I walked in the back door where the pre-press work was done, out came the new publisher.

The driving force behind my leaving was that my old newspaper was bought by a terrible newspaper chain. One by one we were all leaving. The new publisher was a guy who drove the biggest car that he could. He was also very heavy. I never comment on people’s looks, but between his weight and his face which was round with a sort of a snout for a nose, he looked like a pig.

He started screaming at me for some reason that I still don’t know. I just stood there. I didn’t reply. The one thing I remember was that he yelled, “You are making a fool of yourself.” I did reply to that. I said, “No, that would be you.” The gathered crowd of my former coworkers started laughing. He stormed off.

That’s how my mourning for John Lennon began.

It continued on and on.

When I returned to work in Winston-Salem, my boss, Chief Photographer Bill Ray — a wise older man from North Carolina — made sure not to schedule any assignments for photographers during the commemoration which, for us meant climbing on the roof and looking into space at the stars.

Somewhere during those early days my wife joined us. We went to my friends house — another photographer — to remember Lennon. They had a piano. He played “Imagine.” My wife, his wife and I sang the best that we could. You didn’t want to hear that.

A week or so later my parents, who still lived in Long Beach, sent a giant special section from the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram. It was about Lennon.

A young writer named Tim Grobaty wrote an editorial. It was probably the best thing I read during that time. He concluded with something like this wasn’t just another entertainer death, it was like a death in the family.

And, so it was.

Time fades away, so says Neil Young. Luckily, he’s still alive. He’s 75 and as productive as ever. He’s right. It does.

I have no picture to commemorate John Lennon, so I made something a little bright and a little pretty.

It’s a layered combination of two images. Sword Ferns and the blooming of one of those flowers that I showed you yesterday.

It takes time to make these kinds of pictures. I tinker and I tinker until I get it right. Then, I look at it on the big monitor and think, “Oh, man. It’s too dark.” So back into the tinker toys I go.

See what I did there?

Anyway.

There is no trick to this. It just takes time. Maybe 40 years. And, patience. Maybe a lifetime.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Imagine. Just imagine.


Time is lost.

All the time in the world. That’s how numbers felt early in the pandemic. It was flexible. It stopped and started on its own. Many people felt that way, especially people like me who lost both businesses in the short term.

Timelessness did produce one huge thing. People got creative. People experimented. Some folks even found out that we didn’t need to work according to hide bound procedures.

New found creativity produced something else. Offices emptied out, some never to repopulate again. Mass transit systems were not overflowing, which caused an issue with monetary support. This list is endless.

Importantly, at least for people who like music, small venues closed their doors. Others just flat out shuttered. Not only have people lost their livelihood, but music will have a hard time recovering.

Small venues lead to medium venues, which lead to sheds, which leads to arenas which lead to stadiums. Bands learn how to be, how to talk to an audience, how to deal with hecklers.

Want proof?

The Beatles. You may have heard of them. Do you think they arrived at Shea Stadium fully formed without starting small? They played church events, they played high schools. Then, they started playing clubs like the famous Cavern Club. They went to Hamburg, Germany, where they played four shows a day, six days a week. Hard work. Young men learning.

When the time was right, they broke out.

That’s how it works. Sure, a band can build an audience via streaming. They can go out on the road and play. If they start out too big when they weren’t ready they can burn out. They’ll lose confidence and fans will lose patience.

They say a building is only as strong as its foundation. Well, there you have it.

Watches. A long time ago my dad thought that he wanted to repair watches. The work was precise but it wasn’t physically demanding. He took classes. He did a kind of internship. He stopped. I have no idea why. I was too young to even notice.

I have all of his watch making tools and broken watches. I started photographing them a long time ago. This is one of those images. It is a tiny file so I hid what I could and called it art.

As you know, I’m getting bored with nature. I’m also not inclined to be around other people. I may start photographing his tools and watches again.

Hopefully, I’m a better photographer than I was 15 years ago.

This picture looks stretched and contorted because the file is just too small. I can fix that next time around.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Don’t waste time, it’s all we have.


Mellow yellow.

Gulf Coast. Fall. Florida too. This is one reason why people move down here. Mild autumn and winters. Some flowers die or hibernate. Many do not.

You’ve seen these flowers earlier this year during spring. Here they are again in autumn. Apparently, they thrive in cooler weather, which a Gulf Coast summer is not.

I say this with no snark, but while you are cold and snowy in the north, we are mild and colorful. I freely admit that I like cold and snow. My poor spine does not.

That’s what happens as you age. If we wanted to stay somewhere along the Gulf Coast, we should probably move to someplace like Destin or Tampa, both of which are in Florida. For us it would probably be Tampa because we do like an urban environment.

There are a couple of other places too. I’m not talking. I don’t want to casta bad spell on those options.

Oh. More about the flowers. They appear to be growing on Elephant plants. I think that’s wrong. They are growing between them. They are their own flowering weed. I prefer wildflower.

The flowers are greatly enlarged in this picture. They are no bigger than my thumbnail.

Seeing. These yellow flowers called out to me from about 50 yards away. They are very bright. They are also brand new, which means that they haven’t faded.

It’s kind of the same old thing for me. See it. Photograph it. Develop it.

That comes with a lot of practice. Don’t be afraid to photograph everything.

When people look at me as if to say what are you doing, I usually say out loud, “don’t you wish you were taking pictures?”

Pictures are fun. Not work.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy all the flowers.


Autumn Light

Light. Autumn light. As autumn fades into winter, the light is amazing. Shadows are long and have golden edges to them. The air fades to orange. The light around dusk is magical.

That’s what I see, anyway. The all seeing dog likes to go outside around that time. That’s good. We see all sorts of things together. She knows my moves and stops when she sees me look through the viewfinder. When I’m done she walks on.

Last evening she confused herself. She didn’t know which way she wanted to go. So, we went both ways. If you circle back you can do that.

I think that we both like this time of year, as does everyone else in the house, canines and humans.

One more thing about this time of year. I just read that Saturn and Jupiter will be so close that they will look like one, making The Star of Bethlehem. That will happen on the day of winter solstice. Even if you can’t photograph it, you should see it. The last time it happened was 800 years ago.

You don’t want to wait another 800 years, do you?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy all the low golden light.

Dusk. One of my favorite times to work. It is a little richer than dawn because there are so many particulates in the air.

Of course, like everything, timing is everything. And, luck. Clouds have to move. The sun has to shine.

For me, a scene like this must be spectacular. I’m not a sunset guy unless the sky is stunning. This one was.

I made a bunch of exposures, framing and adjusting the light into the camera. I selected the one I liked best. I added a formulaic set of filters and I was done.


A mystery wrapped inside a riddle/

All patience is gone. I’ve had nothing but technical problems here. I spoke to the minions — oh wait, I meant automattitions — at WordPress. They say that I don’t understand the block system. Really? Nobody understands the block system. The only people who really do are the coders who work for their VIP clients. Brands like The New York Times, Federal Express, UPS and so on. Clients with entire technical staffs, a few of which are dedicated to their websites.

Well, I’m just me.

I don’t have a staff. I have about a thousand things a day to do. None of those are about photography. Photography? Sheesh. No wonder I think that I have a shooting block. I don’t have a block. I just have no time. If I had a client of course I would have time. These days clients are far and few between. That’s in both industries.

So, I work to improve things within my own realm and that goes bonkers. We decided to change checking accounts because our bank has no branches in Louisiana. It’s a quirk of state law. We open a new checking account, while leaving the old account open.

I should have known better.

The first thing to know is that we keep a solid balance in our working accounts. We also have credit cards with that new bank. Had them for years. I paid one of those credit cards from the new checking account.

A few days after I tried to pay the credit card bill, I received an email saying the money was returned because of some refusal to pay.

WTF?

I contacted the bank. Three agents later the problem is declared repaired even though they can’t say what the problem was.Of course, during that time, the entire bank’s computer system went down. Thisn’t some small commercial bank. This is a major institutional bank.

Guess what?

Yesterday I received the same notice about the same payment. And, today I received the same notice about another payment.

I give up. I should have known better.

So, on Monday, I get to start all over again. For the third time.

Art. Before I get started, I’m still unhappy here. I tried to tell those minions about the drop cap problem. If you flip the little switch to start a paragraph with a drop cap, the software moves the drop capped letter to the end of the word. No. It should be at the beginning of the word.

I guess what it really comes to, after reading both main subjects, is that technology is not my friend. It never has been. It’s just that I’ve learned enough out of pure self defense that I’ve fooled myself into thinking I know something.

Anyway.

The picture is layered. Two pictures create a third new one. It’s about a little vision and a lot of tinkering. It’s time consuming. Even though few people aren’t working, and time doesn’t really matter, based on the number of emails and PMs I receive, it seems like many people still want a shortcut to doing what it’s taken me close to 50 years to learn. Either I’m stupid or they are lazy. I pick the second one.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other.


Tiny flower.

I had a lot written. I wrote a lot about the soon to be vaccine. I talked about picture theory. I thought I was going along pretty good. As I attempted to switch columns I accidentally hit something — I don’t know what — and the entire written piece was deleted. I know that there is an earlier version saved under all posts. I’m sure some of the writing is saved there. But I just don’t have the time to mess with it today.

The reason I was switching to the right column was the usual thing. Two different subjects. But, copy editing the right hand column was a nightmare. I couldn’t place my coursor where I wanted it. When I tried to re-write a sentence by changing a few words, the entire sentence was either garbled or deleted.

WordPress tried to blame Safari. Good try, but they are lying. Their spell check takes over. Safari has no ability to override it. WordPress’ AI and spell check suck. And, blow.

I may have resubscribed because the price was so low, but I don’t need this nonsense. I spent all of yesterday doing things three times because of others’ incompetence. I completed my tasks on the third try because you know,”If you want anything done right, do it yourself.”

I am not doing that again today.

I have a lot of work to do that didn’t get done yesterday, and I have errands to run.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Don’t make me come over there. I’m in no mood. Enjoy every blog because you never know when the author may disappear.


Someone had fun.

Not my normal location. Wandering from my normal scenes lead me to find these shoes. I have no idea why they were left behind. But, they are neatly aligned as if someone was returning to get them. I don’t know what the soles look like, but it could be that she was slipping and sliding. It could be her feet and shoes got soaked, so she left them to dry in the rainy weather.

It could be the she is a he.

This is a good example of photographer’s luck. If I hadn’t started running errands, I wouldn’t have seen these shoes. Many people don’t believe in luck, but I do. At least in small doses like this.

The second interesting subject in the picture is the moss. After three days of intermittent rain, it is flourishing everywhere. I’ve never seen it in a parking lot, but during 2020 anything can happen. Most of it bad.

However, as we come to the end of what was a very brutal year, maybe it’s time to look forward, to look at the little things that may actually be just a bit good.

I’ll tell you what a really good thing is for me. The background noise has been tamped way down. The current President of The United States is not in my head as he has been for the last five years. Yes, five years. He got into our heads from the moment he rolled down the golden escalator.

His steady drumbeat was brutal. Now I have to seek him out. Don’t get me wrong, he will make plenty of noise between now and January 20, but it’s irrelevant.

Not only is that a small thing, but it feels really good.

Shoes. To me, in my doddering old age, they look like nighttime shoes. Shoes that you’d wear to a night of dancing. But, what do I know? Today they could be worns on the street with jeans or shorts

Anyway.

I found them without the help of the all seeing dog. I was running errands. She was home sleeping or annoying the other dogs.

I did it again. I saw it. I framed it. I pushed the button. The day was overcast so I didn’t have to deal with harsh light, shadowss and contrast.

Development and post production was minimal.

That was it.

Shoes.

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


Sophie Rose.

She just had to look at the lens. So, I made her portrait. I made three frames and off she headed.

As I wrote yesterday, WordPress made me a deal I couldn’t ignore. So here I am. I would have still been here until December 18, even if I hadn’t taken the deal.

The funny thing about that is WordPress is treating me like a new customer. They are teaching me how to use the site and block. As I commented on a friend’s blog, “Block sucks.”

There, I said it as clearly as I can.

It does allow me to create this page almost everyday. Trying to do something else is like an exercise in terror.

I see this as change for change sake. I agree that the only constant is change. But, sometimes you go with what works for most people. And, it certainly doesn’t work the way it is intended.

On your phone.

I can’t see what I’m doing. It was hard enough in the past, but with block it is near impossible.

Let’s change something else.

Dog of the hour. Sophie Rose. As I said on the left hand column, she decided to see what I was doing. She stuck her nose in the lens.

That’s my girl. Cocker Spaniels are, by nature, inquisitive. She leads her pack.

I’m working in black and white for a little while just to figure out if I can still see in black and white. Once that test is done I’m back to color.

Could be today. Could be next week. Could be next months.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy your life.