Floating into the distance.

Amazon pictures is the problem. Every time that I open it up I find more and more “lost” pictures. It doesn’t help that I’m a little lost myself.

You’d think that I want to travel. I don’t.

Although some big news about travel happened yesterday via Live Nations’ president Michael Rapino. He’s booked the three major festivals in the UK. He believes that touring in the United States is a little more difficult because of individual state restrictions, but that by late summer the mid-sized music halls could be in play.

Yipee.

Music. Work. Money. Tour buses. Hotels. Catered food. Bad food. Gallons of coffee. People messing with you 16 hours a day.

Funny. Even my last line sounds good to me right now.

With that will start to come photo jobs. Pictures. Work. Money. The rest is not applicable.

Of course this all depends on the people in the country. I was reading something on Facebook about local venues starting to open up. A woman said just to break the law. Since I always want to know who is going to fight with me I went to her page. A lawyer. Can you believe it? A lawyer.

She graduated from Loyola New Orleans Law School. As I recall from my days at the university, three kinds of lawyers came out of there. Very good and moral lawyers. Ambulance chasers and liars.

What can I say? She doesn’t come from the first group. And, she and her ilk are going to be what delays everything.

I saw it a little yesterday when I went to get injected. The hospital is in an active area of the city. Little cafes, bars and restaurants line the streets. I didn’t see much social distancing. For sure, I saw no masks.

Everybody looked like they were having a good time. Come on folks. Think.

The sky and other stuff, namely balloons.

I like to try to make unusual photographs. At the balloon fiesta that’s not easy. Working photographers like me are all trying to do the same thing. Make a lot of different kinds of pictures.

There’s a lot of good to that. If we do our jobs we will make pictures that you haven’t seen. And, we won’t get into each other’s way doing it.

This is one of those pictures. I made it from an overlook near I-25.

I’d like to say that it’s a little gauzy and soft because I wanted the picture to look that way. In truth, the sky had a lot of noise in it so I had to correct it.

I don’t know why. That’s not the usual place for noise to appear.

No matter. I like the outcome.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Do all the rest. And, get injected. Enjoy all the outcomes.


All the color you can see.

My kind of photograph. Lots of big, bold, bright color. I didn’t actually see quite as much color when I stopped to press the button, but I did see the tree reflection. That’s what caught my attention.

You know me. I’m of the opinion that anything can be a picture. Not in all light. Or, at all times of day. You have to be patient. Or, have an all seeing dog. She knows all. Even though she see monochromatically, she can see how the light and shadows fall.

In fact, she stood right in front of this car. Well, SUV. She moved when she saw what I was doing.

I should be somewhere in the picture, but I can’t find myself. Maybe you can.

The big news of the day is that I get my CoVid-19 vaccination today. The hospital scheduled me for my second injection as well.

I don’t think much is going to change for me in how I address the virus. I’ll still social distance. I’ll still mask. I’ll still growl at the person who stands too close to me in the grocery. Or, has his mask way down over his nose.

If I don’t speak for me, who will?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoying all the seeing.

Seeing and looking are two different items in sort of a continuum. You can look and see nothing. I know a lot of people like that, including me sometimes.

Or, you can look and see. That’s a very different thing. It’s what enables me to see this car and the tree reflections. It enables me to feel the picture.

I think making a photograph is mostly by feel, rather than intellectual or mechanical.

For sure, you have to understand your gear and you have to understand who and what you are as a photographer. But, that’s not directly involved when you actually make the picture. It hovers in the background.

Of course, you have to have another kind of vision when you are developing and editing the picture.

If you do, you might make something with which you are happy.


All the color in one place.

Color. That always makes me smile especially as we cruise into the weekend. I need a little color. I’m guessing that you might too.

Besides color, I need music. Not the usual stuff we listen to around here. I need a playlist that Spotify assembled. It’s called, “Echoes of the Canyon.” It’s about that time.

That time in California when all things seemed possible. The time when I was young, fresh and maybe a bit naive.

It sure seemed fun back then.

The Canyon refers to Laurel Canyon. During the 1960s and early 1970s music flowed from there. I could name names, but there are so many. Bands were formed there. Music was written there. Music was made there. The stories are lost in the haze.

I’ll tell you this. As the set list plays I have tears in my eyes. Tears of joy. The ones that are good and welcome because my memory of the music and the time are sweet.

I find myself wondering just how the hell we got to this place in history. What happened to our hopes and dreams? Who stole them?

Two more things.

I’m about to start trouble. Or, I’ll be ignored. There is a professor called Dr. Nina Asary. She’s Iranian. She’s American. She a women’s rights activist. She is very highly thought of. For some reason she pops up on my Instagram feed. We don’t follow each other. She’s had a set of portraits made that she uses often. She never smiles. I realize her work is weighty. But still. I’m going to message her and ask if it wasn’t time to let somebody else carry her armor. We say that a lot around here when the serious grumpies come.

In the pandemic age. I put my name on a number of lists for vaccinations. The first one to come through is my hospital. They scheduled me for Saturday. Then, another provider called, and another called. I could have three injections between Saturday on Monday.

That’s how it works sometimes.

Down here in the swamp, spring is upon us. Yes, I know there are a few more days of winter. In the north winter will last a little longer. Well, a lot longer.

We did have a setback when the deep cold arrived. The Japonica blooms were killed. They are back.

All of the ferns were killed as well. They are brown and dead. They must be cut back to the earth. They’ll grow back in a while.

This picture is about the coming spring. The spring that is upon us today.

It’s a couple of layered pictures. The color is enhanced. For sure, there is a lot of work done in post production.

This picture makes me smile just as the music is…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy all the color and all of the music. Everyday.

Just as I close, Joni Mitchell is playing — what else — “Ladies of the Canyon.”


All the water in the sky.

Here I go again. Driving and making pictures. You know how I do it so I won’t go there. I will head over to intensity.

I talk about not taking the picture, instead letting the picture take you. I discuss the zen of photography. I talk about practicing until you don’t think about what you are doing.

That’s all true.

Yet, there is another quality that is every bit as important.

Intensity.

When I work I’m intense. When I work it’s about the picture. Nothing else. I’m laser focused. I see everywhere and nowhere. At the same time.

This picture is an example. I knew that there were no cars around me. I knew what was happening in front of me. I knew that water was starting to accumulate on the windshield. I knew how fast I was traveling. And, in what lane I was in.

All that data was rolling around the best computer of all time. The human brain.

This picture is simple to make. The intensity doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. But, let me work for more than a few hours and I’m toast. I’m exhausted. Generally, when I get home I need a nap.

This all sounds terrible doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s refreshing. It’s knowing that I left it all on the field.

That’s satisfying.

This place is strange. The main road dips under a railroad bridge and a cloverleaf.

It is so strange that it has a water measurement gauge. Yes. This place floods.

If the weather changes quickly and a big storm blows through it’s best not to drive on this road.

The picture was made in the usual way. A drive by shooting.

The overall weather made the picture. The light was right. The clouds were bluish – gray. The rust on the railroad bridge popped right out. The cement sort of glowed.

There was very little post production. Mostly, I darkened and added contrast to the image.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You all know the rest. Enjoy every flood.


Drifting higher and higher.

The wheel is turning and it won’t slow down. Can’t back up and you can’t stand still

I learned a lot today. I learned it before breakfast. I watched The President’s discussion about the horrific number of pandemic dead in our country.

500,000.

That’s 120,000 more than the city of New Orleans.

I listened to a much hyped podcast on Spotify. It’s a discussion between former president Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen. Today was podcast one. I think that there are eight in total.

Of course I learned different points from each of them, but when I spun it around in my head I came up with two things.

I realized that like most of the country I’m in mourning. I mourn for the 500,000 dead. I knew a few of them.

I also mourn for a way of life that will never return. When you think of what’s changed in your life you realized that the world shifted.

Make no mistake. I still believe that whatever the new normal is, wecan be much better than where we were pre-pandemic.

To get there, first you have to mourn. You must pass through the five stages of grief. And, then you can go on.

I can’t speak for others, but I am not particularly happy right now. It’s nothing in particular. It’s just the remains of the past year. And, this year. It is sort of a clod or fog that me feelings are in.

This year has also become a year of reckoning. It started with music. The music got into my head and I started thinking about it. It’s time to think about and work through my past life. It’s time to confront all of my ghosts, good or bad.

In case you are wondering, I’m not the only person going through this. Pandemic times opened a lot of people. We have time to think. Time to reflect. Time to make ourselves crazy.

About that last one, you know what I mean. You think about something you did in the past and you say to yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?”

Remember one more thing.

My koan or word for the year is truth. Not telling the truth. Inside truth. The one only I know. And, God.

More balloons. This is what people from all over the world come for. Mass ascensions.

The sun is low in the sky. Balloons are up.

Albuquerque has a wind pattern called The Albuquerque Box. Wind hits the Sandia mountain range, bounces along its face and pushes back out in the direction from which it came.

In theory, that should make photography easy.

You know about theories. They break down. Sometimes the balloons drift away. The end up all over the city.

One morning when I wasn’t going out, I walked into the kitchen to see a balloon almost in my backyard.

That’ll happen.

Instead of making pictures, I helped the pilot since his chase car couldn’t get anywhere near him.

I’m not that good of a guy. I didn’t want my windows broken. We were renting then. I could just imagine walking into the management office and asking for my kitchen windows to replaced. “What happened?” “They were hit by a balloon.”

Right.

The picture itself. F8 and be there. Point your camera into the sun even though they say not to do that and fire away.

“They” is often wrong.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You are experts in the rest by now. You know what to do. Enjoy every Albuquerque Box.


One glorious morning.

Once upon a time. I lived in New Mexico. We lived there after Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans. We needed a little peace. Solitude. Quitetude.

I don’t know how long we planned to stay. I thought maybe a year or two. It turned out to be almost five years.

We heard the pounding of the Mardi Gras Indian drums. The noise of second lines. The brass music on the streets.

In the distance.

We returned to the place from which we came.

Now, almost ten years later I have a feeling. It’s not a good one. It’s one that’s been creeping up on me a little at a time.

I made a mistake. A big, huge mistake.

Looking back, we should have just stayed there. Maybe we should have moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe or even Taos.

And, now?

It seems like it would fun to return but we’ve got too much invested in the other “new.” Not New Mexico.

New Orleans. I don’t know if I have the energy to move a quarter of the country away.

Ten years in one place means ten years older. Ten years means 67 years old. If I move it would be my last move. Yeah. That sounds ominous. It’s not. But, who wants to keep moving?

As I worked to make my career I moved many times. That got old, but I had a direction. Upward. Ever upward. Now? Not so much.

I have friends with whom I went to high school in Long Beach. A good number of them married their high school sweethearts. Others married a little later. But, they stayed. They stayed for 50 years. In Long Beach. Or, Southern California.

Some days that sounds really good. For some of them, their big trip is to Las Vegas. That sounds good.

Now.

For a long time that sounded boring. For me, it may have been. I think you learn a lot by being in a place. I know a lot of cities pretty well. Of course, some of those memories have drifted. But, a little strolling around and I’m right back where I left off.

That sounds fun. But, who’s traveling now?

Not me.

One more thing. I’m mostly thinking out loud. I’m not going anywhere.

Are you?

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That’s where I made this photograph. We lived about five miles from the balloon field.

That meant I photographed it almost every year. I used to scrounge up a letter of assignment from a friend of mine. That got me press credentials which don’t matter on the balloon field, but they give you parking. That matters.

Of course, the great equalizer is the traffic.

There were some mornings when I got tied up in traffic. Those fives miles took 45 minutes to work through. I arrived late so I had to find other ways to make pictures.

New Mexico has wonderful light. Some photographers think that means all day. For sure the light is crystalline even at noon. But, the usual rules apply. Work at the ends of days where the golden light is the best.

Morning balloon lifts are great for working in some amazing light. If I arrived late I just chased balloons which allowed me to make pictures like this one.

A picture that speaks to solitude. To peace. To nature.

Man (the balloon) becomes a tiny speck in the universe.

Isn’t that what we are? A blip. That is reinforced time and again. It’s what brought us to New Mexico. It’s what happened to the people of Texas last week.

So, really. That’s what this picture is about. Man. Nature. Our relationship.

Which isn’t so great right now.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy your universe.


Painted sky.

Pastel Sky, looking like a water color. That wasn’t my intention, but that’s what happened.

In this day of all things digital photographers are trying to make their work look like anything but photography. I understand the need to take things to the next level. I do it myself more times than not.

Just don’t force it.

It’s more of a Zen-like approach for me. I try to let the scene teach me how to take the picture and the picture try to show me how it should look.

It works most of the time.

That’s why my work looks all over the place sometimes. In fact, I think as I build new portfolio pages for Storyteller I’m going to group images by color and hue rather than by subject matter.

I saw a friend’s bookshelves organized that way and I thought it was just the coolest thing. I don’t imagine that you could organize a public library that way because you’d never find anything. But, for home or office… why not?

Yeah.

Why not?

The cold is the cold. Managing to make a picture look that way is something else.

This picture was mostly the result of seeing rather than developing.

The picture looks cold because it was cold when I made it.

I didn’t have to do that much to it to make it feel that way.

I used only one technique. I minimized the structure and just barely sharpened anything. That brings a water color look to the finished image. It also plugs up the shadows which makes them look a little moody.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy all the color.


The region of storms. And, kings.

The rain came down. Then the temperature dropped. Finally, we are turning a corner into pleasantness. At least, for now. The passing of winter to spring is always interesting in the swamp.

May you have an interesting life is one of the most harshest of Chinese curses. I think most people are like dogs. We like routine. That’s what’s been so hard living in the pandemic era. Routines are blown. Lifestyles are blown.

We’ve lost a lot. Everything is changing. Nothing is normal, or at least what we used to call normal. I’ve discussed that a couple of times. The new normal is a chance for us to do better. At least I hope that it is.

I have a better sense of hope, even though you can’t eat it, as Neil Young says.

But, with the change of presidents and governing administrations issues are being dealt with in an efficient manner. I just wish the other side would stop lying. The New Green Deal, which is only an idea, did not shut down power in Texas. Nor, did it blow out all kinds of water pipes.

I don’t see the gain in saying such nonsense. Eventually, the truth comes out. Especially these days when you don’t have the last president creating chaos everyday just to see his name out there. That noise is just about gone.

Yeah. He’s gonna run again. After four years of healthy change even his base is not going to be interested. Yeah. He’s going to start a new social media. Just like his steaks, wine, and university.

He’ll be so buried in legal issues that he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to suck money out of the last true believers to pay his legal fees that he’ll never raise his head again.

Now, that’s hope.

See where the picture of the rainy street lead me.

Now, that’s imagination.

drive by shootings. No. Not those kind. The kind where I make photographs from a moving car.

I’ve discussed this enough in the past that you know I don’t take silly chances. I’m not going to get hurt, nor am I going to hurt you.

Look at the picture. Not a car close enough to see me.

The real trick to this picture and the other picture from a couple of days ago is to find a color palette that makes sense for the subject.

The next trick is to be able to duplicate it in such a way that you can make subtle changes to suit the picture.

Once you’ve figured that out the rest is easy.

To be sure, the subject really should dictate the color palette. I don’t think bright, sunny scene would look great using this one.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every color palette.


One sunset in the cold weather.

This doesn’t happen very often, but when the sky lights up like this it’s usually in winter, with nice low, golden light.

Because I know that some of you may be wondering, I had my “procedure” yesterday. It lasted for less than two hours, which includes a mountain of paperwork and a billion questions.

The actual time between prepping me and making me comfortable — Fentanyl and Valium — took less than 30 minutes. After 30 minutes in recovery I was wheeled down to the car, where musical miss was waiting. They said the driver used to sit in the office, but in these pandemic days, the driver sits in the car.

Somewhere in the recovery instructions I read that I couldn’t drive for 24 hours and that I shouldn’t make any big decisions. The second one was funny.

I learned about the first one when I tried to help cook dinner. I’m a very efficient cook. I forgot stuff. My timing was off. I got in the way.

So much for that.

Now, into my second day of recovery I’m fine with all that weird stuff. Although an epidural is just steroids on steroids and can take up to about two weeks to take effect, my back feels lighter.

Today is dog food cooking day. Usually, I cannot make it through prep before my legs start feeling lighter than air and buzzy. No problem. Worked through everything and still had plenty more where that came from.

That’s a huge change.

On to the right hand column.

The right hand column.

You know that I’m not a big sunset photographer. I’d rather turn around and see what the golden light is illuminating.

Sometimes, if you are lucky a good subject appears before you. That usually means something in silhouette.

That’s what I had. Trees and buildings. That combined with the wonderful light and the sun made for a better picture.

I typically try to expose for the sun which pretty my assures me that I’ll have good silhouettes.

There is little to no work in post production unless I went to clean up the shadows which I did.

And, that’s it.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every sunset.