About ten miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, there are some strange hump-like hills. These are volcanoes. Theyare long dormant having last erupted some 30,000 years ago when most of the land around them was ocean bottom.

N

ew Mexican skies. There’s nothing like them. Along with the light, that’s what draws artists from every place in the world.

That’s not why I went there, but I exploited those things every chance that I could. So, you get to see a lot of sky photographs.

This place is interesting. If you read the caption you know that the hump-like mountain is really a volcano. You also know that it has been dormant for 30,000 years, which is certainly older than you or me.

The clouds in the sky looks almost like smoke. It isn’t but, the shape is interesting to me.

I used to like driving here. You could leave Albuquerque by what was left of Route 66, make right hand turn on the road facing the volcano, drive north for about ten miles, turn right again and head towards the city.

This was especially good working on PAD projects because you could see a lot of different stuff along the way. And, as you know, if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

Do you stand in front of better stuff?

O

nce again, I’ve failed you. There is almost no technique to discuss.

See it. Stop your car. Photograph it. Get back in your car. Drive away fast, like you robbed a bank.

Kidding.

Post production is fairly simple.

Once again, I learned that darkening the picture works really well.

And, rather than make really detailed clouds, I’ve been reducing the sharpness with a slider called structure in the app called Snapseed.

Move the structure slider so that it is 100% soft and you’ll make these kinds of dreamy clouds.

Move it the other way and the clouds will have a surprising amount of detail.

How detail oriented are you?


New Orleans from the Westbank.

I

‘ve had two useless days in a row. A friend of mine says there are no useless days. She’s wrong.

Let’s just start with today. We had a power failure before noon. The power companies estimate for restoring power was 4:20 pm today. To their credit they had us up and running around 1:15 pm.

When the computer shuts down like that it takes forever to get things running smoothly again. Apps are funky as well. It took me a good thirty minutes just to load this one. Even now I’m getting speed mystery type. That’s when you type, nothing shows up, and then a whole line of type appears.

At this rate, I’ll get about 15 minutes worth of work done in just four hours.

I decided to publish good pictures that you haven’t seen, no matter where I made them. We’ll start today with the City of New Orleans and our massive downtown. Massive if you live in some little place.

I’m not going to be photographing little pictures for a while. It’s just not the same without Sophie Rose.

You understand.

T

his picture is more about seeing than anything else. If you can’t see this you’d better quit photograph or else you are blind.

This is a fairly accurate representation of what I saw when I blindly stopped the car and made the photograph.

I did darken the picture which brought out more color. But, I didn’t add to the color. In fact, I scrubbed the mid-tones of the red on the ship to bring the color out.

That’s what I did, alright.

Oh yeah, the other useless day. Yesterday.

I awoke at about the normal time. I worked until about 10am when I started feeling groggy so I thought a little morning nap might be in order.

I awoke at just before 2:30pm.

Four hours.

I’ve been talking with some friends and they’ve been doing that too. We believe it’s our way of coping with extreme stress.

That’s better than a stroke or a heart attack.


New Mexican Roads

W

owzer! WordPress fixed the things that they broke. I have captions and I don’t have to do a work around just to use columns and paragraphs.

I have other stuff to say, but I’m excited. It’s the little things, you know?

If it seems like I’m publishing a lot of road pictures, you’re right. But, that’s what I did in New Mexico. I traveled around, learning about the state and making pictures. I also learned about the people and enjoyed a lot of wonderful food.

It’s odd. I really like Northern New Mexican food, which is kin to Mexican or Tex-Mex food, but nowhere near the same. I cannot say the same for New Orleans food. The only time that we eat it is when out of town guests come for a visit and they want to sample New Orleans food.

That’s not quite true. I like a restaurant called Mandina’s which is Northern Italian – Creole. It’s not fancy and yet you can see the city’s moves and shakers.

I really like taking guests there because we can tour. We walk up our street to the green streetcars, ride along St. Charles and transfer at Canal Street to the red streetcars. Get off in front of the restaurant.

Our guests love it. They get to ride our famous streetcars, they get to see parts of the city the they might not normally see. They get real locals food. And, if they want, instead of transferring at Canal Street, we can get off and walk around the Quarter.

They wonder, what’s not to like?

My guests learned what’s not to like, one night when we returned home. The lawn was flooded up to our porch. WTF?

Turns out a water main broke in the middle of the street. By the time the city came to repair it, there was a lake that stretched for about two blocks. This happens a lot in the city.

Yeah.

What’s not to like?

T

here’s not very much to talk about from a technical standpoint.

The most important take away, is to think about reworking your pictures every now and then.

As much as I liked the perspective and compression, the picture never really never did it for me.

After tinkering with a few day ago, I finally figured out the problem.

The picture was too light.

I made it on a cold winter day. It didn’t feel that way.

I darkened it, added colors of winter and I like the picture way more than I did.

One more thing about this picture. It doesn’t look like what you think of when you think of New Mexico does it?

When you drive east of the Sandia or Sangre de Christo Mountains, the land starts to flatten out as it makes its way into western Colorado.

It looks like what it is. High plains and farm land as you leave the high desert.

Can you guess which way the mountains are?


Artists of all dsiciplines have been coiming to New Mexico for years. Most will say that it for the amazing New Mexico light. Some of the best light comes during the late winter when storms roll in and out with great frequency.

T

here are days and there are days. On the day that I made this picture I needed a little solitude.

A group of photographers gathered in a coffee shop. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the most wonderful pre-sunset in a long time.

That’s saying something because New Mexico is the land of great sunsets.

I said that I was going to chase light and asked if anyone wanted to come. The other photographers looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them followed me out and said that he’d have to go home to get his camera. I asked why he didn’t always carry one because we live in a land of incredible light. He didn’t quite know what to say except that he only used his camera on planned excursions.

I hit the road and made five pretty good pictures. I made small work prints and brought them with me to the next meeting in a coffee shop. The other photographers were amazed.

That cause them to change. They probably still aren’t prepared. And, they still make tropes.

I guess it must be the photojournalist in me. I make those kinds of pictures too, but as a way of warming up. But, then again, my landscape work doesn’t look like anybody else’s work.

I’d probably make more money if I took the easy way, but what would be the fun in that?

I’d lose myself in the rush to cash.

T

here are a few technical challenges that I’d like to discuss.

They aren’t really in post production except for a little clean up.

Instead, they are in the making of the original file.

First, comes patience. I found the location. Then, I waited for something to happen.

Without that little touch of red from the car’s tail lights there would be no counterpoint to the isolation.

The actual exposure was easy. By this time of day the light is relatively flat and lacking extreme contrast.

My post production mostly consisted of using a subtle glow filter which gave the clouds a mild 3D effect and separation from the main scene.

Of course, I didn’t do that when I first developed the RAW file. As I recover these pictures I’m reworking them to my current look and feel.

It’s just like playing a song a different way live than a musician does in the studio.

A wise musician once said that after playing the song 500 times on stage, it finally taught him how to play it.


New Mexico Light and Scenes

L

ittle pictures. Details. Something to show the texture of a place. You’d think they would be the easiest to find and see.

They aren’t.

Usually, you see them on the way back from whatever caught your eye in the first place. In a design piece they are often called point pictures which is the opposite of a hero picture. Alone, these pictures can’t carry the page. But, together they have some power.

Sounds like human beings doesn’t it. It takes a village. There is no I in team. Stuff like that. That’s why The U.S Army’s old advertising campaign of a team of one, never worked. There are no teams of one. And, before I forget, Happy 246th Birthday U.S. Army.

I’ve given some thought to another approach to using little pictures. What if I compiled a collection of these and printed them huge and turned them into a kind of art statement?

I’m starting to do the ground work to some new projects. Maybe this could be a component in one of them.

T

here really is no secret technique to making these photographs.

The key is to not edit yourself in the field. See it, shoot it. Don’t think about it.

Try your best to keep pictures like these clean.

This is no time for fancy post production and modifications.

You might want to work on these at their biggest magnification. There is no telling what’s hiding in the background.

El Sancturio de Chimayo, the Lourdes of The United States. The church is called that because of its healing properties.


T

he edge of town. No darkness here. Just raw, bright New Mexican light.

This is where Route 66 sort of comes to an end. It’s about as far west in Albuquerque as you can go, without leaving the city line.

I think that these ruins, probably once a gas station and cafe, were caused by the move to Interstate 40, which is south of here. Motorists just didn’t drive though here as much and locals wouldn’t stop here since this is very close to modern gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

I’d have probably never run into this place if I hadn’t been roaming around looking for PAD images. But I cruised far and wide.

I went further west than this place, to where the casino and the remains of route 66 re-emerge at a rickety old bridge. I went east out past Moriarity, where the junkyard and car museum is located. I went south as far as Las Lunas and north as far as the San Felipe Pueblo where I made two signature images.

I travelled as much as I could on surface streets. Interstates are not the way to go when you are looking for pictures.

I met great people along the way and some not so great people. I remember going into a small town grocery store about the size of a 7-11. I asked to use the restroom. “You hafta buy something.” “Okay I’ll take these two waters.” “That’s not enough.” “Okay, you’ll lose the sale and I’ll go pee on your driveway.”

I bought the water and used the restroom.

M

ore technical nonsense that I don’t want to deal with.

It seems that WordPress continues to make changes. At least some of the stuff works that didn’t work.

Of course, WordPress didn’t say a word, meaning that I caused myself all sort of problems doing an unneeded work around.

Anyway.

This picture was easy to make. Just shoot almost directly into the sun and pray.

If you expose the bright light properly the buildings will be silhouetted, which is what I wanted.

I added some faux bokeh and stuff, actually to tune down the electric color on the tumbleweeds in the background. The color was real but my eyeballs vibrated.

At least I’m having fun with color drop caps. What a day.


O

ne of the benefits of having software finding old files is that they are almost new to me, and certainly to you.

I made this picture on Memorial Day 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

No worries. To me this is just about the picture, nothing more.But I do want to tell you about what I think is a very cool tradition.

Yes. Memorial Day still means what it should mean to the rest of the country. We honor our war dead. The troops that gave their all. The ones who never came home.

But, New Mexicans do something different.

They bring a blanket and a picnic and they sit near the grave of their loved on and enjoy a meal with them. There are toasts and offerings and prayers.

There is one thing which makes New Mexicans like New Orleanians. As I walked around photographing — and you know me, I want people in my pictures — they would ask me to eat with them.

I think refusing a small bite would dishonor both the living and the dead. So, I ate with whoever I photographed. Besides, we got to know each other. And, they were able to enjoy a few pictures that I sent to them.

T

his photograph was made with a Canon G 11. It was my picture a day camera. It was a great little camera. I wore it out. It did everything that I wanted it to do.

Many pixel peepers (folks that go too far in their technical evaluations) say that cameras like this one are not good for much more than just snapshots.

Does this picture look like a snapshot?

Besides, these days most clients want images for online projects. The few who want images for paper uses aren’t using them much bigger than a magazine cover. A camera with a good sensor and processor, no matter it’s classification, is just fine.

That’s the real world.


T

he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

P

ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


Blue. My picture. Joni Mitchell’s song. My eyes. The sky on a sunny day. A clear lake. The ocean away from land.

I made this picture in New Mexico. Older pictures keep resurfacing on Amazon Pictures. They are pictures that I’ve forgotten about. Pictures that have never been seen by anybody. Pictures that were “lost.”

So.

Lucky you. You get to see them before anybody else.

I’m not sure what these desert flowers are called. They come out in late spring and stay for the summer.

Once, when I could actually crawl around on the ground and get back up without aid, I used to make pictures like this with a DSLR camera. Those days are gone.

There is a song in which one line says that we don’t know how much we would lose. Even though I think this picture is happy, the day is sad.

Yesterday, I read a quick two inch story about somebody getting killed in New Orleans. I didn’t think much about it because rarely does a day go by that somebody doesn’t die by violent means.

We were watching the 10 PM News. The murder was across the street from my old house. Uh oh. A woman was killed. My oldest friend in New Orleans. She was stabbed to death as she was walking to her car to go to work, by a guy who was stealing it.

Rest in Peace, Portia.

June is starting out like a hellhound on my trail. A dog, and a person died. Makes me wonder what’s next.

This column is going to be more of a rant.

Sorry.

WordPress is running terribly. Yesterday, I blamed it on the huge internet outage.

Today, it’s on WordPress.

There is still no caption line. Worse, making this two column alignment took an act of God.

I’m not sure what it was doing, but the software was stacking column on top of column. The paragraph template didn’t know where to go.

It turned out that pressing the column template once dropped six templates on top of each other.

Leave well enough alone. The block system is bad enough without WordPress making it “better” every time the programers think about it.


Apparently, that huge internet outage affected WordPress since I can’t seem to organize anything this morning after not be able to even logon to the site.

So.

I’m late. Late to posting. Late to the party. Late for the sky.

Anyway.

I was going to say that there will be some changes made. That’s song lyrics, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one.

Timing is everything. A website in a box company sent me an email yesterday. They’ve imrpoved everything. Even their best plan is half of what WordPress charges me. If I wave one of my degrees around I can get a 50% discount off of that.

Since I’m semi-business driven this all sounds good. Still one problem remains. I cannot take all of you with me simply by transferring my reader list. The only way to do it is to transfer you by hand. I think we’ve discussed this in the past.

The good news is that even though I have a large group of followers, the real readers list is about three percent of that. I can hand entire that by email.

It’s a lot of work but I was just reading a nice article about making passive income. Once you get the basic work done you might earn some money. But, the basic work is really work and time consuming. You just have to decide if it’s worth it.

It’s worth it.

The picture. It’s just another of those that I made when I could start seeing again. Not much to it, just a lot of detail. Enjoy.


John Lennon once called times like these clean up times. And, so they shall be. But, first I want to thank every one of you who reached out to me about the passing of Sophie Rose. It means more to me than I can say. I appreciate each and every one of you.

I will miss her more than you can know. Even just writing these few words brings that sting to my eyes.

As someone very dear to me said, “You can have until the start of the week to languish, then it’s time to pull on your pants and get to work.” The last time I heard that was after Hurricane Katrina struck and the late great chef, Leah Chase said the same thing about rebuilding the city.

They are both right.

So, was Lennon.

I don’t know what that means for Storyteller. I don’t even know what it means for my photography. I do know that it will be very hard looking for the “little pictures’ I used to make with Sophie Rose. I also know that second line and Black Masking Indian photography is a thing of the past. My illnesses won’t let me work in the middle of large disorganized crowds. That probably means Mardi Gras photography is done as well.

Worse.

Music hurts me now. I’ve always found solace in music. Now even the screaming guitar of Jimi Hendrix brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know why.

So.

I carry on. I’ll make needed and necessary changes to this blog. To my work. To my life. And, how I look at things.

And, one day.


Is this the dream?

The dream returned. This picture could have been part of it, but I can’t remember.

What I do remember was walking towards Long Beach but ending up in a broken down place like New Orleans.

I bought a house. It was huge house. It was ancient. I mostly lived in the back of it where the kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a sitting room was located. In many ways that’s how I lived in my first New Orleans house which was built in 1834. It was too big for me, but it was a great deal.

This dream house wasn’t like that real one. This was huge. A lot of it was falling down. It was also much older. It had broken down fireplaces throughout the house. I dug down into one of them which was about three times the size of a normal fireplace and found a tunnel that lead underground to the back of the house. It was some kind of commercial production building that was mostly hidden.

Some friends were helping me work on it. All of us kept finding weird things throughout the house. As we were coming out of the industrial fireplace a couple of people were walking by.

We asked them what they knew about the history of my house. Neither of them wanted to talk about it, but they suggested that I talk to the owner of the “food store” that was across the street.

All the owner would say that was my house had “bad juju” and that I should abandon it and find something else.

What the hell kind of dreams am I having? Everything I pass through or live in is broken down, spent and abandoned.

What is my brain telling me?

I’m not sure that I want to know.

I’m not sure if this picture was part of my always weird dreams, but it fits in very nicely.

It’s really just a simple picture of a tree in a forest. It’s not layered although I tried. Layering just never worked.

Instead, I used different filters in On One.

I played with them until I made a picture that I liked. That took endless moves because every time I got close, I went too far or didn’t like the result.

Finally, I stumbled on this version which was nothing like I intended but caught my eye.

I finished it and you lucky folks are seeing it.


July 4, 2008 – June 2, 2021

Sophie Rose was fighting a gastrointestinal infection. She seemed to be getting better until she wasn’t. She passed sometime last night. My heart is truly broken. Have a good thought for her and for me and for my family.

I’m going to take some time to mourn her. I’ll be back whenever I am back.

Thank you for understanding.


What came before.

The city that care forgot. That’s us. New Orleans. Even as some areas are gentrified and priced out of the locals ability to buy or rent, others still languish almost 16 years after they were flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

It’s likely that many of these neighborhoods were failing long before the storm did its thing and put the final nails in their coffins.

And, that’s too bad. In this day and age of low housing stock and extreme rising costs of home ownership or rental, these flooded houses might have been able to reduce the pain.

However, these old buildings have been sitting for a long time. The city deems them unrepairable and demolishes them. I suppose that might be the way to go. But, it seems wrong to me even though I know it costs less to build something new rather than to restore and rebuild.

And, you wonder where my weird dreams come from?

Mix real life New Orleans with other real life experiences with whatever is buried in my brain and you get strange dreams.

I’ll write more about part of my dream in the next coming days. I haven’t forgotten. I can’t forget.

When I first photographed this abandoned house, the bushes and trees were green but manageable.

The next time I went back everything was overgrown. And then, the last time I returned everything was dying in place.

I haven’t been back in a while. I suspect that by now the little remaining wood of the house has started to rot. The bushes aren’t dying because they have truly been embedded themselves in the ruined building.

Photographing them is easy. It’s really just documentary work, and presenting the pictures to you.

As always.

One more thing. I’m starting to lose direction. I replied to a friend, that for me, social media has become a waste of time. It started from a question of privacy. She posted something on her blog and I started receiving ads for it here, on Storyteller.

Enough.

I’ll let you know, but I’m giving serious thought to ending Storyteller after 11 years of almost daily posting.

When I started this blog I thought it would be a way to generate work in one form or another. That hasn’t happened. I thought it would be a good way to build a community. I’ve grown a good number of readers but I never hear from you.

I read a lot of other blogs. I started looking at some of their comments. They get 80 or 90 on each post. At best, I get two or three on every other post, or something like that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s me. I don’t know what it is about me but it is me.

They say with age comes wisdom. Understanding “It’s me” is very wise. I think.


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.


Sugar magnolia blossoms blooming.

Magnolias. I love them. They are big, bold, white and fragile. I suppose a lot of spring flowers are fragile. All of the pinks, magentas and purples are done for now.

Aside from their obvious beauty, I suppose I like flowers because like life itself, flowers are passing, somewhat fragile and shine for a while.

You think I’m going to write about life don’t you?

I’m not. I have nothing to say about life. In fact, I’ve come to one of those times when I’ll have to let my photographs do the talking because I have nothing to say.

I guess yesterday’s battles wore me out. Musical Miss and I went around and around about the inner workings of the music business as it relates to touring and playing live. A project may have been compromised. And, after thinking about it, I’m not sure that I can complete three books on deadline. On any deadline.

Those books, there’s at least a year’s worth of work on each of them.

Between both careers, I could be booked for the next five or six years. A few year ago that would have been great, but that will just about account for the rest of my working life. I’m not Joe Biden. I don’t want to work in one of the world’s hardest jobs until I’m in my mid-eighties.

I guess I had something to say.

Sometimes I wish that I was a more complicated photographer. I’d have something to write about on this side of the page.

But, alas, I’m a simple photographer. Even when I did something like I did yesterday, it’s nothing compare to what really good Photoshop drivers can do.

I do what I do because I don’t have the patience to do the little fiddly things that you must do in a studio, either in the real world or on the computer.

I liken myself to a Zen photographer. I like to clear my head of distracting noise and just react to whatever is around me.

That’s how this photograph was made. I saw it. I pointed. I pressed the button. I was done. Even post production was a matter of doing a couple small things.

That’s me. That’s how I am.


Blue dreams.

What I saw… in a dream. I woke up with this in my head. Well, not exactly. But, this picture is close enough.

In my dream, I was swimming upward through the color blue in this picture. I was swimming up and up until I broke through the surface with a spray of water and glowing light surrounding me.

I awoke feeling happy and smiling at the thought of my dream.

So.

I tried to duplicate it in a photograph or two. Instead of me rising to the top I added flowers. Blooming flowers.

I wanted to make a happy picture. I think that I did. I’ll tell your more on the other side.

Why do this picture at all? Hmmm. Since lockdown I haven’t really been very happy. It’s one thing to stay home when you want to, but what about when you want to roam about?

I read a piece in The New York Times about ten steps to achieving a kind of happiness and coming back from the brink. I don’t think that I was near any brink, but I wanted to know more.

Of course, the Times made t hard. They were are going to post one step a week. I had a bad thought and remembered that I know how to Google along with about 200,000,000,000 people.

So.

I Googled. I found what I was looking for.

The first step is to recalibrate your thinking. In short, make yourself believe that you are happy. Where I come from we say, “Fake it until you make it.”

It worked once, why not twice?

They say you can’t catch lightning twice. I agree. But this is something different. Maybe thunder.

I’m anxious to see where this goes.

Making this photograph took a bit of thinking before I started.

Normally I experiment along the way.

Not this time.

I knew which two pictures in my current archives might work. If it matters, I made both of them last week.

I worked on each of them then I layered them. They fell into place easily, which means that I’m on the right track.

I fine tuned them. And, I fine tuned them a second time.

The finished picture is what you are looking at.

Makes me smile. Maybe you’ll smile too.


The swamp and the tree.

There is one corner where the land looks like this. It looks and feels what it must have been like 25,000 years ago.

I don’t really know. I’m not that old. I swear.

All I know is that it’s green and can get kind of noisy when squirrels talk and birds chirp.

Sometimes wilder animals than those make their way through the foliage. I’ve seen raccoon and possums pass by. I rarely see snakes, but they are there too. Nothing poisonous, just the usual black snake or two.

Scrape away 160 years and this neighborhood is wild and swampy. Well, not that wet. This is ridge land. Kind of. It’s six feet above sea level when so much of the city land is below sea level.

But, that’s enough.

It survived the big hurricane in my memory — Katrina — without getting flooded. That’s one of the reasons we live where we live.

It’s not the oldest neighborhood in the city, with much of being built in the 1850s. It was annexed to be part of New Orleans a little before that. People built here for three reasons. The land was fairly inexpensive. The area was a little cooler which kept the viral outbreaks down. And, it isn’t near the French Quarter and “those people.”

That doesn’t mean what you think. It really means a wilder, rowdier bunch.

Even now, it’s removed enough that if I want to go to the Quarter, I can hop on the streetcar and be there is 10-15 minutes. And, that’s a two block walk from the house. I can watch the craziness and come home to quiet.

Sometimes living here is easy.

Jungle land. The hardest part of making this photograph is the light.

Most of it is dark. That’s easy to expose for. But, look at the highlights. They are way blown out.

The way to account for that is to expose for the shadows and add a little flash. Not much, just something we used to call a kick light.

I could have done that but didn’t. Remember, I make these pictures on dog walks or going from one place to another.

The result is slightly gray highlights caused by the processing that takes a RAW file to a JPEG. It crunches some of the highlights to make them fit within the JPEG gamut.

Never the less, I think this is a fairly striking representation of my neighborhood.


They come in late spring.

This delicate little flower begins to arrive in late spring and last through summer. For me, it’s a symbol of summer.

This may be one of the cleanest captures that I’ve made of them since I’ve been photographing them.

I think that’s because the light was muted which kept the exposure simple. Often, I photograph them strongly backlighted.

The creates a whole host of problems.

Since I try not to move my subjects around and photograph them how I find them, I have to deal with their quirks after the fact.

It’s Sunday so I’ll give you a break from my commentary about the state of the world. You should always remember whatever I write about that is just my opinion.

Some call this an Iris. I cannot find it in my big book of flowers. So, I’ll go with Iris.

As I mentioned on the left side, the light was muted so the exposure was easy.

That made post production simple.

The biggest issue was making sure a flower so translucent as this held enough yellow so that you could view it accurately.

I’ll talk about accurately v creative intent in another post.


Something like art.

This little cloud drifted by. It was front lit by the sun. No matter what I did, I couldn’t quite help the image to be what I saw, so I did what you are seeing.

I tried a lot of attempts. Nothing looked right. I’ll, show you a couple in a few more lines. Sometimes, photograph goes this way. Sometimes, it’s even worse.

Anyway.

So, what did I do to these pictures? In a word, everything.

I tried all the tricks in my bag. Nothing looked very good to me.

Then, I tried pulling everything back.

See what I mean? The middle top picture of this group is about how the cloud and sky looked to my eye when I saw it. It felt weak to me.

Try as I might without going into a lot of layering, I could not bring out the colors in any way that I really liked.

So I just made it different.

To tell you the truth, the picture I like best is the really dark one on top. The big picture. It is so different that it became its own form of art.

I’m also interested inn the bottom left image. It almost looks 3-D.

What do you all think?

I made the very dark picture and thought that it had nothing to do with reality but it did look like a nice piece of art. So, I stopped before I turned the orange dark and the image would have been just a dark blob.

As I’ve written in the past sometimes I just go back and forth with certain sliders until I’ve gotten to the picture.

Obviously, I did that six times. More than six times, but these are the images that I’m showing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Don’t be stupid. Be patient. Look after each other. Look at all the clouds in the sky.


Nature’s colorful light.

Have I ever told you how I make this kind of picture? It’s not quite as directed as you think. I usually do this kind of post production at night, usually while we are watching something like the local news.

Since I don’t need to see the video, which is usually boring, I work on a picture using my phone and Snapseed. So, I have about a half hour to finish my work.

Early on this was a push. Now that I’ve learned the software, I move a lot quicker. A half hour is usually enough time.

I’ll talk about how I created this picture over there on the right hand side.

The why of it is a discussion for right here.

I suppose that I see spring as a cacophony of color. I see nature working her magic with a color wheel. I realize this picture might look a little Christmasy to some of you, but I don’t plan the colors when I see them.

They just are.

I think it’s important to look closer at the image so that you can really see all the colors and how they drive the final work.

Promise me that you’ll do that. Won’t you?

Stay safe. That’s it. I read a lot this morning about the virus. The pandemic will morph into an endemic. That’s a viral condition of permanence. It’ll be like a common cold or seasonal flu… someday.

It’s likely that we will never reach herd immunity. Ever. In The United States that’s on us because some people are too concerned with their own freedom rather than doing something for the good of many.

In many parts of the world, like India, that’s also on us because although we have a glut of vaccine we won’t share with other countries. That matters. A safe world is a safe country.

Making a picture like this is always an experiment. Even though I usually create the work in about thirty minutes, I back in and out of looks and feelings.

Working quickly has its benefits. I don’t think too much about what I’m doing. I just do it.

There are three layers that make up the image. There are two layers of greens and blues and a third layer of reds.

The order in which they are layered matters. Red comes last because the second layer of cool toned colors will bury the red.

That completed, I work to fine tune it. I’m careful with the sliders called structure and sharpness. Too much of either in both directions and pieces of the image disappear.

I wish I could tell you when to stop, but this is one of those things that are, “You’ll know it when you see it.”

You’ll see it. I promise you.


Nature’s best.

Lately, I’ve been waking up way too early. That would be fine, but the all seeing dog is ready to go. I haven’t even had a coffee and she’s waiting by the door. Since she’s usually right, out we go.

Sometimes, but not always, pictures like this result from our early morning walks. This picture was made on our return route so the sun is a little higher in the sky than something like a dawn picture.

I would have preferred not to have the power pole in the picture. I’ve pretty much given up on that idea because in New Orleans power lines are above ground. Most of the city is built on elastic soil of the swamps below. That’s why we lost power seemingly forever after Hurricane Katrina. Above ground power lines.

Now do you see my problem?

My ground is elastic. Time is elastic. My clothes aren’t.

No matter, only the ground’s flexibility matters to this picture.

Morning light. Normally, I mostly work with late afternoon light. That’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to get up early.

For some reason, that’s changed. Of course, because I haven’t gotten enough sleep I take a nap… at 9am.

Who does that?

There really is no secret technique to making a picture like this. See it, click the shutter, do it a couple more times to be sure and you’re done.

Studio time is minimal too. Finish your picture and live your life.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Don’t be stupid. Enjoy all the early morning light.


Purple, just a royal color.

I remember, I remember.

Those words almost brought me to tears this morning. There was a piece in The New York Times sports section about Johnny Bench.

For those who you who don’t follow baseball, he was a Major League baseball player. He was a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. He was probably the best catcher in history.

Catching is a hard job. You work in a squat. You are involved in every pitch of every game. In a close play at home plate other players tried to knock you down. And, you are supposed to be able to hit.

In other words, Johnny Bench is a tough guy.

He’s in the baseball Hall of Fame along with a number of other players with whom he played. Being a catcher allowed him to get to know a lot of players. You talk at the plate sometimes. It’s a fraternity of sorts.

This last year has been brutal for all of us. It has been very brutal for MLB, and the living Hall of Fame of players.

Ten of them died.

He spoke about each of them. When he got to Tom Seaver — a world class pitcher — he said that he was very nervous catching him the first time because he was Tom Seaver.

Tom Seaver passed this year.

Then he got to a point where he talked about his feelings and he said, “I remember, I remember, I remember.”

It broke my heart.

The late musician John Prine, another victim of CoVid-19, wrote a song called, “I Remember Everything.” When he passed it broke my heart and about a gazillion other musicians and fans hearts.

He won a Grammy this year for that work. Some where in the universe I know he smiled his crooked smile.

The main story in the Times was about never being able to reach herd immunity. There are a lot of contributing factors, not the least being that about 40% of the country don’t want the vaccine.

Combined with other issues like a mutating virus, economic conditions, and temporary surges many scientists believe this will never end, that the best we can do is manage it.

One scientist went so far as to say that he believed that it will take about two generations to manage it to the point that it will be like getting a common cold.

I was taught that a generation is 40 years. Many people say 30 years. It doesn’t really matter. Reaching that point will take somewhere between 60 and 80 years.

That’s something to look forward to.

This is especially important in light of what I just wrote. Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all the purple.

Well, that left hand column was something. It took a lot out of me to write.

This side won’t be anywhere near as compelling.

Luckily, the dominant color is purple. I like purple. It’s the color of royalty. It’s a Mardi Gras color. I used to wear purple shirts.

This picture was edited fairly straight forward in post production. I really didn’t add much color. I just darkened things up and added contrast.

That’s an old approach. People used to say that I added too much saturation.

No, I didn’t. I just brought out whatever was there in the first place.

Oh yeah. Of course, I sharpened it. I had two ways to go. I could edit it as you see it, or I could add a lot of glow and make it soft and fuzzy.

One more story.

The war against working photographers is heating up.

A photojournalist, documenting the number of tortoises in a place where the sand of the beach was being eroded at a very fast pace, ran into a self-proclaimed speaker for the group who was working there.

She demanded that he leave and destroy his files. He left but didn’t destroy anything. Most comments were in his favor citing the usual legal findings.

I didn’t say anything. If I had, it would be along the lines of what I would have said to the woman on the beach.

I have looked at her and said, “Ma’am, this is a public beach. You have no authority over me or anyone else.”

Apparently, she was pretty aggressive. If she continued with me, I’d have concluded like this, “Ma’am step back and away from me,” In my most low but authoritative voice.

Then, without warning, I’d call the local sheriff.


More than you know.

These things are delicate, very delicate. They usually last less than a day. Wind, water and animals destroy them just by touching them.

They can be very hard to photograph. Get too close and they sway in the light breeze you created. Get even closer, touch them and they fall apart. Stand over them to make a picture like this one and your shadow makes them too dark, which is why you should wait for an overcast day.

It’s a timing thing. It always comes down to timing. I suppose that’s what I call photographer’s luck. Look one way and you see the picture. Look the other and… nothing.

When I post to Instagram, it’s all New Orleans culture and locations. Yesterday, I posted a picture of a Black Masking Indian that I made during Big Chief Bo Dollis’ funeral.

A woman who is a friend of a friend really liked it. She said so. I thanked her and replied, “Photographer’s luck.” She replied with “LOL,” and some laughing emojis.

She mostly photographs birds and flowers.

She has no idea how hard it is to work in the street during any of the cultural events that I photograph. I always liken it to working in a rugby scrum. There’s pushing and shoving. There’s twisting and turning. There’s looking and seeing nothing.

Making a picture in that environment is damn near impossible. And yet, we do it. Almost every Sunday. Or, at least, we did. Maybe, soon, we will once again.

I still say that after not being able to properly mourn our New Orleans dead for over a year that we need one giant second line and jazz funeral. God’s own second line. Twenty divisions. All the social aid and benevolent societies. All the Indians. All the brass bands. Let it stretch from one end of the city to the other. Thousands of people watching and dancing.

Wouldn’t that be something?

And, that’s how I got from a dandelion to New Orleans culture.

As I wrote on the other side it’s hard to photograph these delicate little wildflowers.

They are easy to find during springtime, but you have to work carefully in order to get even as close as this picture is to photographic perfection. And, that’s not very close.

Even as good as the base exposure was, the picture needed help. It looked too thin to my eye.

So, I layered it. I layered one finished layer over another. The picture looks richer and fuller. And, it doesn’t really look that over done.

I fine tuned it a little and I was done.

It didn’t take all that long to do the work, but I had some idea of where I wanted to go which wasn’t far.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all your days because you never know.


Too early for me.

The thing about going to bed early means that I awake too early. I mostly sleep around six hours a night. You can do the math. If I go to bed around 11 pm, well, you know.

It’s a little maddening. It means that I haven’t gotten quite enough sleep. It also means that I usually need a nap. In the morning.

Of course, the dogs hear me moving around even if everybody else doesn’t. They want to go out. That would be fine if all they wanted to do was empty themselves, but oh no, they want to go for a walk.

Today it was just the all seeing dog. Big dreamer. We walked about a third of our usual walk and she turned around and headed for home. She drank some water and went back to bed.

Uh huh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Large venues are starting to open to full capacity. Don’t go to them. I predict another surge. Many of the newly sick will be Texas Ranger or Atlanta Braves fans.

I’m not a big sunset or sunrise photographer. I know that each one is a little different, but they all look the same to me.

I’d rather photograph what they illuminate, or at least stick something in the foreground. That’s what I did here.

Of course, looking into the sun I couldn’t quite see what I was photographing.

There was a bunch of junk in the bottom area. I cropped that out.

I also added some bokeh mostly because I could and to hide a couple of imperfections that came from looking into the sun.

It might not sound like it, but there are a lot of tricks to the trade buried in those few paragraphs.


Lost explorer

Things fall apart. Things get lost. Especially little kids toys. We had a week of rain. When it stopped falling this little happy man drifted to this pile of leafs and twigs.

When everything dried out enough so the dogs wouldn’t get their precious paws wet out we went. We found this little stranded guy. They sniffed at him and kept going. I called out “stop,” and they listened for once.

I made a couple of pictures and away we went.

I said very early on in the pandemic that the so-called new normal could be a lot better than it was in the past.

Apparently, our transitional president prefers to be a transformative one. I’m sure many of you might disagree, but I fully support his plans. Totaled together we are talking about trillions of dollars. The money will come from raising taxes on the rich and on corporations. In many ways it’s a redistribution of wealth.

Sounds socialist, yes?

If you said yes, you don’t know much about socialism. I lived in China. I’ve seen socialism up close. Even though the country has turned more capitalistic, the laws and rules are draconian.

These plans ain’t that. Instead they go a ways to fix the huge inequities that The United States faces today. Besides who doesn’t want the country’s infrastructure repaired and made better? Who doesn’t want to give young children their best start at life? Who doesn’t want to make sure all people are healthy?

Well, one Republican woman congressperson doesn’t. Most Republican lawmakers sat on their hands which is to be expected. If they made comments it was after the president’s speech and they didn’t attack the entire thing. She did. And, she did it while he was speaking.

The setting spoke volumes about the state of the country today. The chamber was quiet. Only 20% population of a normal joint session was allowed. Food was restricted. There were no guests. There were no aisle hogs.

Outside, there were fences. There were at least a thousand National Guardsmen and women. There were police. Movement was restricted.

Is this also part of the new normal?

I hope not.

I’d like to say that there was a lot of technology involved in making this picture.

There wasn’t.

This picture involved seeing. My seeing and the dogs seeing and sniffing.

Then, it was just a matter of making the proper exposure and doing very little in editing and post production.

I know this little toy guy is a character in a movie, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one. At least he is dressed properly for a flood.

A day or two later we passed by the place where we found the toy. It was gone. Hopefully, the child who lost it found it.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask (I don’t care about the lifting of restrictions). Wash your hands. Keep your distance (Opening sports and venues for full crowds seems short sighted). Get your jabs (Especially those of you who are getting your second injection). Look after each other. Be patient (See above.)


China Rose

A while back I had an interesting discussion on Instagram. It was probably my only one. It wasn’t about photographs. Instead it was about flowers.

The photographer that I was talking with misidentified a flower that he called a China Rose. I knew that it was something else because I grew up with them.

We both started Googling and found out what a real China Rose looked like. We learned that it isn’t the color, but the smallness and the shape.

These are China Roses produced my way.

Artfully.

I have more traditional pictures, but today we are still headed towards confusion and mixed up imagery. That’s just fine. It’s what I feel like producing.

If anything, this image gets me closer to how I saw it in bright and contrasty sunlight. It was a little dream-like at the time. If I went out today, it would also be the same. I’m having trouble waking up.

That’s after finishing packaging homemade dog food, and having a coffee and a donut. Don’t judge me. I know that you’ve eaten worse. Gummy Bears for breakfast just shouldn’t be a thing.

Which brings me to one of the lamest things I’ve heard in years. Some Republican know-nothing is claiming that President Biden won’t let us have meat in our beer.

Imagine that. Meat Beer.

And, the world turns.

Whatever did I do to this picture?

For one thing, nothing is in sharp focus but by tinkering with it there appears to be sharpness. Trust me, there isn’t any real sharpness.

The next thing I did was remove all of the mid-tones. That caused overly bright contrasty color which I added more color. I give that saturation slider a good, hard pull.

The result is what you see. I don’t know about you, but it’s art to me. Sorta.

We’ve been through that before. I don’t need to repeat it just to make a point or fill space.

So. I won’t.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask inside. Keep your distance everywhere. Wash your hands. Get your jabs, especially your second one. Look after each other. Be patient because we are getting close.


Jones.

I did a lot in the past 24 hours.

I redesigned Storyteller to make it cleaner and a lot more website-like. I decided to start publishing more art and less pictures from the past.

I have to think about photographing second lines whenever they resume.

I did that for a long time. Sometimes a project ends after you realize you’ve done about all you could.

And.

I did what I said I would do.

I dropped out of social media. I didn’t eliminate my accounts because I do need to monitor somethings about once every two weeks and Storyteller is distributed to Facebook and Twitter. I just won’t be there to see if anybody likes my work. I kind of don’t care.

This is a one day at a time project. With luck, one day will turn into two, two will turn into a week, weeks will turn into months and I’ll have accomplished a lot more than I’ve done in a long, long time.

That started today. I completed two projects that I’ve been nibbling at. I have one more to go and I am free to do whatever I’d like today. Maybe I’ll finish up this website.

We’ll just see how this goes.

Art is a funny thing. It means something different to everybody who looks at it.

After all, we know that no matter what I do as an artist it’s up to the viewer to make meaning of it, bringing his or her entire history into the image.

That’s why I don’t really care what people think of this work on Facebook, or Instagram.

That said, here’s what I did to the picture.

After I made the picture, I darkened it in post production. Then, I layered it with those big leaves at the top. Finally, I ran it through the grunge setting on Snapseed.

the caption is called Jones, not because I’m jonesing for something, or because of the singer. The manhole cover was made by a company called Jones.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


I was very lucky.

Moonrise over New Orleans. I wasn’t going to publish this picture yet, but a friend of mine posted a moonrise over the Long Island Sound, so I thought I’d better do this today.

Moons seem to have a lot to do with 2021. If you believe in such things, we are entering the Age of Aquarius. You remember the last time we did that. Flower children. Hippies. Peace. Great music. Love-ins. Be-ins. Woodstock.

Oh yeah. And, the war in Vietnam. Let’s be careful out there. We’ve been fighting unending wars in too many places.

I think good things will happen this time around. There were too many creative approaches to just about everything when our hands were tied by lockdowns and quarantines.

Let me loose now and there’s no telling what I’ll make better. Or, worse if you are on the other side.

So.

Hope and faith in 2021.

I usually pick a word to use as sort of a koan for the year. This year and since I’m trying to be farther along and further in, I selected the word “truth.” Not as in me telling the truth. But, digging into myself and some outside influences to find the truth.

And, you?

The photograph. I made the picture on a dog walk. My hurting little cocker spaniel started feeling better so she lead me on a fairly long walk.

The moon popped up on the way back.

I was kind of blown away by the brightness of the moon and the sky. It’s not often the clouds appear so clearly at night.

I made the picture. I thought that I had it. Oh no. I had it alright, among tons of noise. It took some serious post production to clean it up.

But, here it is. Just as I’d hoped for.

You know what I said about hope and faith in the left hand column? Sometimes, it takes a lot of work to achieve them.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy all the pizza pie since sometimes it looks like the moon in the sky.

That’s amore.


Where I went.

Somewhere into my own world. That’s where I went during my publishing break. I continued to make pictures, and make pictures and make pictures. I produced a large quantity of good work.

That’s what you’ll be seeing in the next couple of weeks. Then, I’ll move on. I have all sorts of projects going on right now. But, there is one that I’m working on for Storyteller. I had to separate that one from the rest as if Storyteller where a client. I realized that I would never complete it if I didn’t do that.

It’s called “Jefferson.”

There is a Jefferson Parish on the east and west banks of The Mississippi River. That’s not it. There is a Jefferson Highway that starts in New Orleans and works its way upriver all the way to the Bonnet Carre Spillway. That’s it.

Every time that I travel on a piece of the road I get interested in it. Much of it is light industrial or commercial properties.

There is a place where it makes a hard “S” turn. That’s where streetcars used to run. There is a cafe called “Crabby Jacks” located about there where you can eat great friend chicken.

There are abandoned places and upscale places, if hospitals are upscale.

It ends at the spillway, right on the river. When the spillway is closed you can drive in it. When it’s open, flood waters from the north bring it to almost overflowing. You can see larger freighters pass by on the river that look like they are taller than the roadway.

That’s my project.

Jefferson Highway from beginning to end. I thought of it while we were going to Best Buy, which we’ve done a million times, or less. It just sort of clicked in.

But, first I have to start photographing it… with real cameras. And, I want to show you how I spent my winter break.

The picture. This is a fine example of my winter break experimentation. It’s actually three layered pictures.

The winter tree came first. I added the blue sky as a background and finished it with magenta flowers that don’t look like flowers.

All of that took some doing, but all of it was done in Snapseed. There is no further post production.

I’ve also started taking off copyright information because it bothers potential users. Storyteller is copyrighted so why double the notice?

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


The beginning.

Starting somewhere.

It came to me last night.

I’ve known all along that the pandemic was going to change a lot of things forever.

Small businesses will close. Shopping centers too. Restaurants operate on a razor thin margin. Many will close. New ones may replace them. They will be created for the new world before they open.

Airlines and airports will have to rethink what they are doing today. In fact, we won’t be able to travel like we used to do. In my other world, the concert business won’t be back until October 2021, if then.

Schools? That’s a topic for a big argument. K – 12 schooling is in flux as we speak. Small, private colleges probably won’t survive. Big universities will survive, but nobody knows what they will look like.

Universities are already cutting sports. Stanford ended 12 fall sports forever. The Big Ten with schools like Michigan State and Ohio State are not playing football this year. Nor, are the Ivy League schools.

And, so it goes.

I’ve been saying that we have the opportunity for positive change.

We have to be smart about it. We have to talk to each other even if our philosophies are opposing each other.

We can’t run around willy nilly.

In New Orleans, some people took down statues of people who helped many people. They destroyed two statues of John McDonogh. He was a businessman and slave owner. After his death his will specified that schools be built to serve everybody. He funded freed slaves if they wanted to go to Liberia.

Redemption. That’s a big word. Apparently in our cancel culture, nobody is allowed to atone for their mistakes.

Except for one person.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He spoke out against the action of kneeling on a football sideline. He said the American flag comes first. Within hours he walked that back and apologized after he spoke with many of his Black teammates. He apologized again. Then, his wife apologized.

All is apparently good. My friends don’t trust him. They say the apologies came to fast. That they didn’t feel right.

I don’t know.

These are the thoughts that have been running around in my head.

I’m pretty good at logistics and making things right. I know one thing about every issue I’ve raised. Well, two things.

We are going to have to work very hard at whatever we do. I think that we need the wisdom that comes with age not to correct, but to consult.

And, money.

This is going to cost a lot of money. Money that only the federal government can provide. Money that comes from good leadership, not some babbling nabob of negativity.

The picture

It’s about time that I talk about that, yes? It’s a layered picture, made to show the richness of a summer forest floor. In posting it, I have finally found my direction. At least for this hour.

I’m following a lot of artists on Instagram. There a couple whose work excites me. They also understand that they have to earn a living. I’ve talked with them via private messaging. I’m trying to pick their brain about modern marketing and seo.

For the record, I think maybe 85% of the photography on Instagram is derivative. One photographer makes a kinda cool picture and 1,000 more follow him. Sorta like masks. Everybody is making and advertising masks. Derivative. That’s why I follow artists. Their work is mostly original.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy all the M&Ms.


clouds-05
Around dusk.

Dusk.

Purple skies for which to be grateful. The picture doesn’t exactly look like clouds, but trust me, they are. I was out walking, I wasn’t doing too much talking, when I looked up and saw this. Whew. Nature outdid herself, I thought.

I went on a fool’s mission of trying not to be out done by nature. I headed right into a ditch. The ditch of post production. When I got to a place where I thought that I had gone far enough, I kept going. This image is the result.

So.

It happened. 2020 Jazzfest was cancelled today. The Jazz and Heritage Foundation is working on the normal timing of April – May 2021. Good luck with that. It’s pretty much¬† agreed upon by the big promoters, little promoters and artist management, that the music touring season won’t start until October 2021.

Of course, I went to Facebook read the fine local folks’ comments about the music festival. Even though the J&HF posted a letter that discussed refunds, the first question was, “Where can I get a refund?”

Then came the people blaming the mayor even though all she did was recommend closing big venues until next year. Some guy wrote, “Well, she can’t cancel the Saints playing in the Superdome.” No, she can’t. But, the governor can.¬† They seem to working hand in glove. And, the mayor of Los Angeles says that he is going to close mass events until 2021, potentially meaning that three NFL teams have no home fields.

Get over it people. 2020 is pretty much a wash. I hate to retreat so early in the year. But, I want a fighting chance next year. I’ll be happy if some of the non-essential workers can get back to it. I’d be happy to actually sit down and eat insde of a restaurant. Or, go shopping without gearing up. Or, not yelling at my neighbor in order to talk to him.

Oh yeah. It’s a general election year. What about that?

Stay safe. Care for others. Help the elderly. When you go grocery shopping ask your neighbors if they need anything. Keep your distance. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Enjoy all the popcorn when you watch Netflix.

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Life in fantasia.

Y

es. I know what I said. No brand new pictures until I recovered. I still stand by that although this one is a day old.

It doesn’t mean that I’ve recovered. That’s going to take a long time. But, this picture was calling to me. “Ray, Ray, Raaayyy, come here. Take my picture.”

So, I did.

I’m glad that I did because it makes me smile. You know that I like bright color. I made it brighter. And, more colorful. I reckon it’s a good Sunday picture.

It is Sunday, isn’t it?

Somehow I managed to slip into that place of elastic time that was so common during the lockdown. That is probably related to my weird sleeping habits. You know. If you take a long nap when you wake up you are a little disorientated.

Anyway.

Enjoy your Sunday.

O

h boy. Did I do a lot to this picture.

The image probably could have stood on its own because it is backlighted and I pointed the phone almost straight into the sun.

You know me.

That wasn’t enough. First, I corrected the color then I made it “better” by adding color and contrast and glow.

The picture was fine, but it was horizontal which yields a small picture on Storyteller.

So, I cropped into the heart of it, turning it into a vertical image.

And, there you have it.


New Mexican Transportation.

W

hen I was a young child my family used to travel from Long Beach, California to Brooklyn, New York. In those days we either took Santa Fe’s El Capitain or Super Chief.

Those were the days. The food was great. The cars were luxurious. The staff was helpful and friendly. Though the ride was very long, it was enjoyable. Four nights total. We were traveling coast to coast.

Usually, the train was at least three hours late. Once your train got late, it kept getting later because we’d pull over for passing freight trains. We didn’t know it at the time but passenger trains lost money, while freight trains were big earners.

That caused real problems for us.

If our late arriving train was any later than three hours, we’d have to stay over night in Chicago.

If we got a little lucky we could travel across the city to another train station to catch a New York Central System — later a Penn/Central — train to New York City called The Broadway Limited. That train was usually late too.

That didn’t matter because all we did was catch a taxi from Grand Central Station to 16th Street in Brooklyn.

Amtrak is a ghost of those days. In 1971 all but one of the legacy railroad companies joined a national system called Amtrak in an effort to staunch the flow of red ink. It’s never worked. One by one, routes were closed.

Coastal trains still flourish, sort of. Long distance coast to coast trains are not so great even with fairly new equipment.

Until this year.

President Biden is a big fan of Amtrak. He famously used to work in Washington D.C. and return home each night to Delaware. He supports Amtrak and is looking to fund it as part of the infrastructure bill.

Amtrak immediately started to plan new routes and restore older routes. Cities and towns are clamoring for new or restored service.

We’ll see.

T

rain time. That’s a song. I cannot count how many train songs have been written.

There’s a reason for that.

At the very least, riding the rails is romantic. At it’s best, it is wonderful way to relax while still moving toward your destination.

This photograph is part of my Picture A Day project. I’m fairly fearless when I approach people. I asked if I could take their picture and they were happy to pose. But, they’re used to it. Train riders take pictures of them all the time.

All I did to the picture is darken it, which seems to be a trend for me these days.

Oh, and the headline?

This is post number two. I was trying to multi-task and forgot to schedule it.

So, you received two posts yesterday. Storyteller Squared.

Sorry about that.


G

oing where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. That’s what the song says. That’s what it felt like on many days out there in the high desert.

This is the other end of Central Avenue, Route 66. In Albuquerque. It is a business district. When I lived there two old school camera shops were within short walking distance. One kept shrinking but still exists. The other went out of business a few years after I left. I had nothing to do with that. I swear.

The light of New Mexico draws many artists to the state. Like this. Light that I had to tune down in order for it to make sense.

I may have made a mistake in doing that because it’s been a long time since I saw that light. My mind is playing tricks on me.

Hey! What was I doing again?

This is actually a picture a day image. I used to pick good times of day to look around. That increased the chance of what I call photographer’s luck.

That’s really luck that you make yourself, usually by walking outside of your door and taking a look around. Or, by using bad weather to make better pictures. And, by standing in front of better stuff.

That’s all I know. And, that’s really all you need to know about the philosophy of making photographs.

T

his is a drive through kind of picture. You can tell because a normally straightly aligned street is tilting to the left.

That’s because I put my camera on the dashboard and let it do it’s thing.

It did its thing, alright. I’m lucky this picture exists. It set the F stop at 1.8.

Huh?

Something like this should be at least f 11. Maybe even a smaller aperture.

With such a gross over exposure I’m lucky that I could fix in post production.

There shouldn’t have been enough data in the file to produce any kind of image.

Let this be a lesson to you. Check everything. Control your camera. Don’t let your camera control you.