“U

nderneath the heavens above.” That’s a line from a Bob Dylan song. I heard it just as I started writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”

Y’all know that I listen to music while I write, yes? I’m playing a Spotify play list called Summer Rewind. I’m trying to think about what summer this particular list comes from. It is certainly eclectic mix of songs.

I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Philadelphia, who rents a small apartment in The French Quarter. She and her husband are coming down in a few weeks. It’s hard to beat the weather then. But, I was surprised because we’ve been talking about the crime and how it’s become very hard to take pictures.

I’ll see them while they are here. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay in the Quarter. During the day it may be one of the safest places in the city. As night rolls into early morning all bets are off, especially near upper Bourbon Street where it meets Canal Street.

My city. It’s really something these days. I keep trying to talk myself into staying. That’s getting harder every day.

Like everything, it depends.

T

his picture was easy to make. Just look up and try to put the moon and a subject on the ground to line up in some way.

Then, push the button.

The exposure was pretty close except for the center of the picture where the high mid-tones were too light, and they always will be. It seems to be a quirk of all smart phone cameras.

Maybe I should go hunting with a real camera.


All of the mysteries.

T

iming. It’s everything. Look in one direction and you see nothing. Turn around and there’s the picture. Make some great music and nobody hears it unless the timing is right. Play sports, maybe baseball. The difference between striking out and hitting a home run is timing.

You get the point.

This picture is a great example of timing. I was trying every which way to get under the wires to get some of the orange cloud into the picture. I couldn’t do it.

I turned to the side and thought, “There is a picture here after all.” This one. The one you are looking at.

Here’s an extreme example of timing. As you know, I can’t be in crowds. That means I can’t photograph second lines. Normally. I start at the beginning, walk a good bit with the parade. Then, I get back to my car and jump to the end.

If I had been out on Sunday, I could have been way too near a shooting that left one dead and one critically injured. I’m pretty sure it was gang related. For sure, it was Black on Black.

That, alone, makes me sad.

But, a misfired bullet in the air doesn’t see color. It just zooms through the air hitting whatever it comes in contact with. It would be one thing if these boneheads could actually shoot. But, they can’t. They spray bullets everywhere trying to hit the one poor guy they are after.

Think about it.

I was on the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and St. Claude on one Mother’s Day a few years back when two fools started shooting into the crowd in order to hit their target. They didn’t hit him, but they did hit a lot of innocent people.

They hit my friend, and just about everybody’s friend, “Big Red” Deb Cotton in the stomach. That may be the worst survivable wound. She survived, but after years of painful surgeries, she died.

Murders are up by 24% in New Orleans. Gun deaths are the highest they’ve ever been in the city.

A

fter I saw the picture I did everything I could to avoid those power lines, but I couldn’t.

It’s ironic. If I photographed this scene about a month earlier those lines wouldn’t have been in the way. They’d have been in the street.

My biggest trick was to darken the entire picture to bring the color out. I did add some soft glow because I like it.

If I left the picture horizontal there would have been way too much black. The color would have receded into the scene. So, I cropped it.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of square pictures. Obviously, I use them when the situation calls for it.

Nothing is set in cement. Photographic rules should be learned and understood so that you can break them when your work calls for it.

I suppose that’s the same with most rules. Live by them until something goes way south. Then, do what you have to do.

Hopefully, it will be subtle and peaceful.

Unlike this photograph.


Another way.

T

he caption says it all. Another way. I keep reading what a great camera the iPhone 12 is supposed to be. I had better be because it’s a terrible phone.

I decided to test it.

I made this photograph towards the end of dusk. That means I made a time exposure. I wasn’t sure about the first couple of exposures. A little yellow wheel caught my attention. It turns out that it shows just where in the exposure time the camera is working.

I tested that theory.

If you want a sharp exposure let the wheel finish turning. If you want motion, move the camera slightly during the exposure, say about in the middle of the wheel’s turning.

Oh man.

Maybe this phone will be more than I thought it was, which is to say no fun at all.

I’m not a video maker, but I did test the phone during Hurricane Ida. For the fist 30 seconds or so I didn’t know how to turn on the microphone. For the next 30 seconds you can hear what it sounds like. It’s very scary.

Try it sometime.

T

he real experiment was in the camera rather than in post production.

The camera over exposed the scene. It’ll do that when it’s trying to capture detail in the deep shadows.

That’s any easy fix.

It happens with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Digital cameras of all types want to open up the shadows.

That’s great if you are making a RAW file. You have control of everything. Not so much using a smart phone.

In all cases you should darken the file in development. Once I did that all those reds and oranges popped out.

There wasn’t much to do after that.

You are looking at the results of what turns out to be a really important experiment.


Wet and wild.

S

torms bring and leave their own unique beauty. That’s what I was attempting to capture in order to give you an idea of what it feels like when a big storm moves into my neighborhood.

I think of this picture not as a photograph, but as art. Art isn’t often literal. It’s autobiographical in many ways. That doesn’t mean the viewer must agree with the artist.

Oh no.

The viewer brings about 75% of the meaning to the work of art that is based on their own life experiences. You may see something in this work that is completely different from my intent.

As John Lennon once said when he was asked what his music meant, he replied, “Whatever you want it to mean.”

He said more in that sentence than many people can say in book.

It also confirms my own personal belief, that simpler is better.

What do y’all think?

T

his little attempt at art began as another tree picture.

Hurricane Ida brought the look of fall about two months early.

Once I stripped it down to almost a silhouette I started thinking about improvements.

Make no mistake, often improvements make the image worse. Much worse.

I decide to play with layering. This is tricky. It took me some time to find a picture that might work.

There were a lot of false starts. Finally, I located a picture that was composed of rain drops on a window.

It worked well. All that was left was fine tuning and posting it here.


Weirdness.

M

y thinking changes a little bit every day depending what I read or see or do. I made this photograph a couple for days ago. I started playing with it last night. The picture lead me to the way it looks. Look at the next column for that.

I generally listen to music when I work, especially when I write. Today’s first selection is a new live album, from a very old band. Steely Dan. The album is called, “Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live”

For me, it is really about memories because most of the tunes are their signature songs.

In a way that’s too bad. I’m someone who really wants to hear new music. I don’t get fixated on the past music.

Today is a very good day, although it started late. For some reason even though we went to bed early, for us. I slept until 11:49 am. I had over ten hours of sleep. I rarely need that much. I guess I needed it.

Sleeping so long sure cleared my head of the accumulation of stress that had been building over the past month.

Maybe it’s going to be a much better ride over the next few months. I sure hope so because if it’s good for me, it might be better for a whole lot of people.

H

ere’s what happened.

A lot of trees have been left bare branched after the winds of Hurricane Ida blew through.

This is one of those trees.

Oddly, other trees that had their leaves blown off are starting to regrow them. They look like springtime.

How’s that? Spring and fall at the same time. In the same place.

Anyway.

I started tinkering with this picture and it lead me to this version. When I let the picture lead me I rarely go too far unlike the times I try to impose my will on it.

I wish I could tell you what I did, but I was on auto pilot. And, we were watching a movie. That may be the best way for me to work.


So, everything doesn’t turn into fall colors.

W

hat are you going to do for the fall? It took me a minute to realize my friend was asking about autumn, not the fall of the country.

I really don’t know. I know that I won’t be traveling, at least until sometime until mid to late 2022.

I’m hoping that my booster vaccination will give me some kind of freedom. Otherwise, well, I really don’t know. I’ll have to wait until the virus is manageable or I’ll have to balance risk and reward.

I’m really hoping that I can photograph Mardi Gras 2022, if the virus is under control enough so the it really occurs.

I don’t even know about that.

The last Mardi Gras — in 2020 — became a super spreader event. We were attacked in New Orleans for the sickness that spread across the nation.

Of course, nobody knew that the virus was here or that it would spread so quickly. Well, except one person. The always lying 45th President of The United States.

If he did know, that’s one more act that he’ll have to account for when he reaches the pearly gates and is sent south where the devil will reject him because the devil will say, “That buffoon is worse than me.”

I didn’t intend to wander so far afield but he keeps stirring up trouble and losing as he is known to do.

Anyway, I’ll discuss my green fall photograph on the right hand side.

T

oday is one of the better days since Hurricane Ida ripped so much stuff apart.

The region is putting some of that stuff back together, but it’s a slow process.

I suppose that this little stand of green was exposed because the storm managed to take down two trees that were keeping them in shade.

I saw them sparkling in the cooler fall air and low light and figured that I should do something.

So, I did it while never leaving my chair by the pool.

Sometimes, it’s easy. Mostly, it’s not that easy.

Photographers luck. You know?


All the red that fits.

F

inally. The big machine starts. I came to realize that I couldn’t type in my password because the magic keyboard couldn’t type anything. I’m not sure if it gave up the ghost or there is a bluetooth setting that is turned off.

After poking around endlessly on various computer repair suggestion pages I found something that kinda made sense.

So, I did it and it worked.

I went to a big box store and bought an old school wired keyboard for all of $10.99. The end has a usb plug so I plugged it in. Viola. It worked.

Now, I can work.

You have no idea how hard it was to work using a phone. I realized my posts were getting shorter and shorter as I became more frustrated using the phone.

Now, I’m back. And, I’m noisy.

I

made this picture on a walk. This is autumn. It may be all that you need to know about the season.

It’s a beautiful bridge between summer and winter.

It’s my favorite season. The color is wonderful. The light is even better. It’s low. It’s golden. And, it illuminates everything.

So.

I’ll do my best to work a little every day. Yeah, that’ll help my mood.

I hope.


A kind of blue

I

t began today. Cool air. Not exactly cool but very dry. And, the temperature struggled to reach 75 degrees.

For us, after our usual very hot summer that included a hurricane and a half this is the start of something very good.

Fall.

Thankfully.


Moody and misty.

S

ometimes just the sky. And, the trees. That’s all I know. Today. I’m having a terrible time with technology. My main machine has a problem with the logo page. I cannot type my password. The system acts like the magic keyboard isn’t working. After trying every known fix nothing helps. There is one last thing. I can use an old school keyboard that over rides the wireless one.

Good luck finding one. I can buy one from Amazon for ten dollars. It’ll take almost two weeks to get here.

Then, there’s the other gear. But, that’s for another day.