Way inside.

Memorial Day. If you’ve been around for a while you know what I think. There is no “Happy” to Memorial Day. There are only thoughts of those who never made it home. Those who paid the ultimate price. For freedom. For your hot dog. For your hamburg.

Generally, I feel guilty.

Instead of a flag or cemetery picture I thought that I would post a picture of pure light, pure color. A picture once made in New Mexico.

It’s the food stands at one of the International Balloon Fiestas. In Albuquerque. New Mexico.

That’s not what this post is about. It’s about going deep inside. Finally. Ironically, on a day the we mourn our war dead. My war dead. Your’s too.

It started as a dream. A dream that won’t let go. A dream that’s come back to me four times on two different nights and mornings.

The dream that began in New York. I was returning from a trip with a bunch of other people. The vehicle was so filled up with stuff that I had to stand outside and hang on to he back end.

That was just as well. When we got into the city traffic was so backed up that I just jumped off and walked faster than the cars were going. I needed a way out. I came to a hole and I jumped into it.

No comes the wired part.

I started walking down, down, down. I walked past piles of junk. I walked past abandoned vehicles. I walked until I came to the bottom where everything was just a brownish-gray mud.

I made my way to the surface slowly. Very slowly. There were broken down and used up military vehicles. Some people were working on them. They ignored me. I watched them. The tanks and cannons weren’t blown up. They were used up. They no longer ran because they couldn’t be repaired.

I eventually came to the surface. I was covered in mud. I was gray. I was brown. I went to a locker and changed into newly washed clothes. They were old fashioned dungarees. I had to pass through a sort of check out where I was sent onto the street… in Los Angeles.

I started walking. I knew where I wanted to go. Home. Home was in Long Beach. I started walking in that direction. I passed through all sorts of neighborhoods, all of them run down and broken. The people looked mean but ignored me as I walked.

Eventually, I came to a river…

I awoke.

Making this picture was easy. Maybe, too easy.

Slow the shutter speed down. Set the aperture for F 5.6. Stand tall so that everything doesn’t move. Hit the button.

Done.

Keep things clean in post production and everything is golden.

What I can’t figure out is how my dream lead me to this picture. Or, was it the other way around?

I think the grays and browns lead me here. No matter. There is more of the dream to come. Maybe you’ll find out. I’m still not sure that I did.

Maybe it’s just my reaction to so much drab color. After all, this picture is the antithesis of that. It’s all color.

And, it’s simple. As simple as gray and brown, but the other way around.

There is one thing I sort of understand about my dream. The worn out tanks and cannons come from reality.

The Nazi Germans built a couple of huge tanks. The Tiger and the King Tiger. Allied armament couldn’t penetrate them yet they were defeated.

There were three reasons.

The US armed forces sent five smaller M4 Shermans to attack them. Four were blown up. The fifth got through and was close enough to destroy them.

The Tigers were gas guzzlers. Something like eight gallons to the mile is what it took to move them.

Worse. After about 10 miles they needed an overhaul. They broke down in the field of combat and needed to be repaired.

They were used up.


Dancing in the dark.

There’s an elegance to this flower that I like a lot. It made me think of a reversed bell. That’s not why I photographed it. I did that because it was wet, although you can barely see the water drops.

Never the less, that’s what caught my eye especially since there isn’t a lot of contrast or sunlight. In all, I think this is a fairly delicate image.

It’s also a Sunday kind of image so I’ll leave it there for now.

No tricks here. Just some good seeing. There are 12 water droplets hiding on the whiteness of the flower.

That’s what I saw. That’s what I want you to see.

I will say this, there is quite a difference between an Apple sensor and a Samsung sensor.


Drifting around and around and around.

See what I mean? Worry about not making pictures and you start making pictures. Or, I suppose that the pool needs cleaning.

One or the other.

No worries. After I got done pressing the button, I sent children out to do a man’s work. I tried to tell them it had to be done from above and not in the pool, but who listens anymore these days?

Normally, I’d go off on some tangent about nobody listening to anybody these days. That the state of the country — mass shootings and passengers attacking airline staff onboard the plane — has do to the remnants of a failed president.

Why bother?

Nobody listens to anything these days.

Just as well. There is no privacy online. That doesn’t matter if nobody listens because nobody hears.

That’s fine too. I just keep writing into the wind. I guess somebody needs hot wind.

No technique needed here. Just walk by the pool and realize that it needs cleaning.

But, before that happened I did something really important. I made a bunch of pictures.

I processed them in a way that would make them a little abstract without turning them unrecognizable.

Then the pool got cleaned, from the inside out. After all. the pool needed to be ready for the big Memorial Day BBQ.

Or not.


Nearing some end.

With the all seeing dog on the mend I hit a wall. I wasn’t making new pictures. I did the next best thing. I worked on older pictures, experimenting every step of the way.

The good news is that the dog in question is feeling better. She took me for a walk this morning. I put the brakes on about half way through a normal routine because I didn’t want to tire her out.

So.

I did make some new pictures. You’ll see one tomorrow since I was already was working on this one.

Of course, even getting this picture here took an act of God. It started when a client forced me to use some alternate way of uploading PDFs.

It took me the better part of two days to fix all the issues including working in the safe mode to clean out the bad data.

This guy still wants to be a client. That’s fine. My basic billing rate is triple what I normally charge. Shut me down for two days and his accounting department is going to have questions.

Anyway…

Finally, a picture that can take some technical talk.

I built this one sort of backwards. Normally, my pictures are full of color.

This time after layering the images and getting them approximately where I wanted them, I worked backwards.

I removed color. I removed contrast. I almost came close to just leaving the dots in the file. Them I built the image up a little and that’s what you are looking at.

It’s a picture for late spring as we near summer. The brightest colors are fading. Others are starting to appear.

The mystery of life.


The flower exploded.

Did you ever have a day when the flowers were exploding? Seems far fetched, but it could happen…

…in your dreams.

That’s not what happened to me. I don’t think.

I photographed a dandelion and while I was processing it, it came to me that I could make it look like fireworks. Or, a day on the sun. Or, a summer’s day in Southeastern Louisiana.

So, I did.

It’s got a combination of exploding suns, too much faux bokeh and a whole bunch of other imperfections that I added to ruin the look of a pretty flower.

What could I do? It was in my head. I had to get it out.

Wouldn’t you do the same thing?

If you could.

How? How? How?

First, I took a picture.

Then, I processed it in Snapseed. That gave me a healthy looking Dandelion.

Then, I went to work in OnOne. I used a look called hot desert. I added faux bokeh. I added a sun refraction. Finally, I added a border.

That’s it.

Just 8,420 easy steps. Well, not that much. But, a lot.

Wow! Wow! Wow!


Wonderful color, wonderful smell.

There’s nothing like Jasmine in the morning. You smell it before you see it. It’s like perfume for the outdoors. It is found all over the South and north until — well, I don’t know.

The little yellow flowers don’t last long so I recommend that when you see them you just stand there and smell your fill.

They may not be there the next day.

Sort of like life.

They say that, “He who hesitates is lost.” How many times do you, do I, have to be taught that?

Think about it. I don’t want to think about it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve passed up way too many opportunities starting when I was a child. One comes to mind.

But, I’ll leave that alone for now because I’d like to finish this post sometime today.

This reckoning stuff ain’t easy. But, if you want to be free, truly free, I highly recommend it. Just be sure that most of your ghosts are friendly or I’m pretty sure you’ll hide under the covers like I did yesterday.

Actually, I didn’t stay there all day and mostly I was just worn out. The all seeing dog isn’t feeling well. She has a gastro infection. She refuses to take her medicine so I mostly slept with one eye open.

Today, even with very little medicine in her she seems to be feeling better. It makes sense in a way. My oldest family doctor once said that most of us can fight off an infection on our own, but antibiotics speed up the process and we feel better sooner.

We’ll see.

Photographing Jasmine is just about like anything else. See it, press the button.

The trick is to make the picture on an overcast day, or you’ll have blown highlights like I do.

The way that I dealt with it was to add a glow filter so it looks intentional.

They say that, “Garbage in equals garbage out.”

Looking directly across to the left hand column I see they say a lot of things.

I’m still trying to figure out who they is. I see that all the time.

“They won’t do this,” “They won’t do that.”

Who is they?

Oh, never mind. They won’t tell us who they is.

After adding “glow” the picture became simple to edit. So I did that and I present it to you.

Jasmines with no smell.

Ouch.


Not late for the sky.

Sometimes this picture is all you need. Sometimes nature fixes everything. Sometimes nature settles everything. Often as not, it’s not what you were hoping for.

We’ve had an awful lot of rain this spring. Something like 40 inches during a time when the normal rainfall is less than 20 inches. I don’t know what that means for our rainy seasons which is summer.

I do know that in six days hurricane season starts, with a heavier than normal year predicted. According to those folks whose job it is to know, there will be three major hurricanes to hit our shores this year. All the storm names will be used.

Oh joy.

Even when storms turn out to be nothing, there is anticipation. There is a fear rising from deep inside. A remembrance of storms past.

Or, just the big one.

When I see clouds like this I’m amazed. Look at them. Wow! They seem to be boiling up from somewhere unknown.

The unknown. That’s where I’d like to go. Today

And, you?

Point and shoot. F8 and be there. See it, shoot it.

That’s all this was. I wish I could tell you about some secret, but this is just literally walk out of the door and take a picture.

Post production was nothing too. I think I darkened the picture a little to help it be what I saw and felt.

That’s the thing. Feeling. That’s what matters. Today, we seem to be wrapped around taking pictures that show our technical prowess. Sharpness matters. Content matters. Pixels matter.

That all fails when you look at a bazillion pictures on Instagram or Facebook. Most of the pictures you see there are shallow and derivative. I find myself getting bored looking at them.

I’ve said I was leaving social media. I can’t seem to do that. As a working photographer I need it. But, I find myself liking less and less work as the weeks roll on.


Sandias in autumn.

The changes started with the album, “Dirt and the Stars.” The entire thing hung me up, but the closing song of the same title got me digging around in my past, coming to a kind of reckoning.

That’s not done yet.

Then, we watched “Solos” on Amazon Prime. As I wrote to a friend of mine, “If you do nothing else, watch this.” I say that to you as well.

It’s a short series of solo actors, although there may be a little helper to guide them through their thoughts. The actors are some of the best working today.

The first episode is a little weird, but catchy.

The second episode took me apart piece by piece. Finally, now comes Morgan Freeman. Not only was I taken apart, but the parts were left in puddles.

That’s all I’m saying. I hope you watch it. If you do, I don’t want to spoil any part of it for you.

I know I said I was done with posting older pictures, but this one surfaced at about the same time as all this reckoning is going on.

This is the very first picture that I ever took with a cellphone. It was an Apple iPhone 5. It must have been because the pixel count is so low.

Even though I claim to always carry a camera, there are times when I’m charging batteries and I just need to run a couple of errands.

Then this happens. The Sandias blew up in color as dusk fell on the high desert.

The rest is on the other side.

There is really no technical achievement here even though it is my first smart phone photograph.

I did beef everything up because the little file is pretty wimpy.

I know what you are thinking. You are incorrect. This intense color was what inspired me to think, “Oh yeah, I have a smart phone in my pocket.”

Truth be told about the location… I’m in a Whole Foods parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There are pictures everywhere, we just have to open our eyes and not make them so precious.


New camera, new fun.

New smart phone, new camera… a lot easier to work with. I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes gear can make a difference.

When I switched to Samsung I was trying to get away from the Apple ecosystem. I think that most Apple gear is overpriced and that the folks who lead the company are arrogant.

How arrogant? They’ve managed to let Windows catch their products at a time when Apple was almost crash free. Now, they are about the same depending on what your main use is for the gear.

How overpriced? My new iPhone is reasonably priced because I managed to wrangle a deal out of my carrier, but think about this. New EarPods are about $500. Huh? For that amount of money I could be some really good over the ear headphones that would blow away anything a pod could do.

One reason to return to Apple is the camera. I’m not sure that either Apple or Samsung is that much better depending on who released phones last. I find the iPhone to be sharper and more contrasty than the Samsung camera.

More importantly, when I push what amounts to a shutter release button it does what I tell it to. I can put the camera down on the ground without me having to crawl around in order to make my picture.

These giant plant leaves are nothing more than blades of grass. I did it to test the phones ability to make a picture like this.

It worked just as I’d hoped for.

Big, huge blades of grass. That was my dream, to make a picture of grass.

Not really. I just wanted to see if the phone could do it.

It did.

My technique was simple. I set that lens at about 2.5 times the normal field of view. I bent over, putting the bottom of the phone on the ground. I pushed the button a couple of times.

That’s it. Done.

I tinkered with it a lot in post production because that’s who I am. And, I wanted to make the finished picture a little mysterious. After all, these are just blades of grass.