Featured

Fly Me to the Moon


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.

Featured

Nocturne


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.

Featured

The Time Before


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.

Featured

It Takes You There


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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Deeper Than Dreams


Everything you need to know is in this picture.

Thoughts that cross my mind. Not everyday, but more often than not during our pandemic times. There’s another random thought that crossed my mind. “Pandemic Times.” A good name for a newspaper in these non-newspaper days.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Lately, my thoughts have been roaming and random. Like the one above, but it doesn’t count.

I think about how to fix the streets after the mayor made a big deal out of starting a big project in the area of the city in which I probably venture to twice a year. Meanwhile, my street has potholes in potholes. Some people grow crops in them. Some people decorate them.

I fix some of them the same way that my neighbors do. Fill the base up to about two inches from street level with unneeded Mardi Gras beads. Then, a layer of quick set concrete and finally a layer of a compound that looks like asphalt that you buy at Home Depot.

This is all illegal, but when the NOPD beat cops come by in their cars, they pull over blocking us from the street and turn on their red and blue lights. They are protecting us, so in return they get coffee, tea, water and some kind of snack.

This is one of the reasons we like our street level cops. They use their heads. They don’t over react. Besides, if they hit potholes near my house, their teeth rattle in their heads.

If you are wondering why they just can’t avoid the pothole, well, when you do that you just hit another pothole, probably worse than the one you’re avoiding.

The subject in the picture reminded me of all that. I’ll tell you about that in the right column.

The right hand column. It’s mostly used for technical issues. Because I’m not a huge technician there isn’t much of that.

I saw a car that was reflecting the foreground scene almost perfectly so I stood back and made a few frames.

I stood back because I didn’t want to be in the picture. That succeeded but I managed to capture a few letters. I have no idea where they came from.

I also had to use a border to hold in the bottom which looks like a mistake. It’s not. It’s just a part of the car’s hood.

The rest looks pretty cool, I think. It really needs those bright leaves to make the picture pop.

All of this was done in camera with just a bit of tuning up in editing.

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

On My Wilderness


In the morning, when you rise.

Walking and seeing. That’s what’s been happening lately. For some reason unknown to me, I seem to have recovered my ability to see.

It may have been my own doing. I started trying to make art that wasn’t me. I was trying to tailor my work to a certain gallery, rather than find a gallery that was tailored to my work.

Once I realized the difference it took me a couple of weeks to work through that, but eventually I came out on the other side where my process was my process, and my pictures were my pictures.

Muted art be damned.

So, now I’m back at it. I can see, feel and think again. I’m not sure if my work is good, but I’m sure that’s mine.

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

Processes are different for all of us. Lately, mine has changed. Since I’m not a photojournalist I can do whatever I like.

Lately, I look at a scene and see it for what it can be. That’s what happened when I saw the scene that eventually became this picture.

We were out about about 10am. Winter light is better than many other kinds of light. That was in my favor.

But, blue sky and a tree wasn’t much. It came to me that I could do something with this scene and make it a little special.

I framed the tree in the sky and went to work back home in the studio.

There was a lot of experimenting going on. After that came tinkering and finally some kind of success. I finished it in OnOne and it is as you see it.

I’d ask if you had questions. I can teach you the technique. But, your vision is your vision.

Rainbow of Colors


Art is where you find it. Sometimes what you find may not look like art until you open your mind and let your imagination out.

Seeing and using your talents and mind isn’t always that easy. Sometimes you have to throw a little science in there too. And, luck. Luck always plays a big part if you work like I do.

That brings me to, er, luck. They say that you make your own luck. I believe that to be true. Chance favors a prepared mine, or something like that.

Here’s how luck works.

You learn. You study. You always read. You practice. You make pictures, both good and bad. After about 10,000 pictures you are almost ready.

In order to be ready you must walk outside whether you want to or not and look around.

You’ll make photographs. Probably some pretty good ones. All that you did to prepare will bring you to this place. You’ll see. Really see. You’ll see pictures in the most banal of scenes. You’ll understand how to make them into something else. Your imagination will grow into your vision.

You’ll see.

Parking lots. You wouldn’t think there would be pictures on concrete or asphalt.

There are.

You just have to let your imagination loose and be prepared.

Being prepared brings you luck. That’s how I found the scene.

I framed it snd pressed the button.

I worked on it in development and editing. Once again, this is more about what I took out than what I added. If you remove some of the haze, the colors pop.

That’s what I did.

Stay safe. Be strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Use your imagination.

For a Brand New Day


Blue skies for a while.

Like just about everyone else who could watch it, we watched it. We watched a new president be sworn in as a very small crowd watched.

For many of us it was areligious experience. I think the administration planned it that way. It was all inclusive. It was inspiring. It moved everyone in this house to tears.

Tears watching Kamala Harris. Tears watching Joe Biden speak. Tears of joy watching the past president who shall not be named leave.

A four year nightmare was over.

A day or two ago I felt the weight lift off of my shoulders. Many of the folks that I talked with felt the same way.

Today, I’m positively giddy.

I heard the words, “Make friends of your enemies,” echoing something Abraham Lincoln said immediately after the Civil War ended. We’d better listen.

I don’t know about all of you, but this really is a new day. Will the new administration be miracle workers? I doubt it. But, they are on the right track and so are we.

Peace.

I made this picture a few days ago. I was saving it for something special.

Today is the day.

I did not publish the picture on the actual day of the inauguration. I’m pragmatic enough to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

The best happened. The worst never did.

The picture was actually pretty easy to make because f the time of day and quality of light. It was also easy to develop and edit.

You know you are on the right track when that happens.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Keep your head about you, but enjoy the rest of the week. It’s the best week that we’ve had in a long time.

Peace.

9:20 Special


On the road.

A bunch of tests. I’m always trying to learn something, anything, from the WordPress block system. Let’s see how you like the lead column to be smaller than the technical column.

This is a good day to do it because of the subject matter, graffiti on an old train car. From my limited knowledge this version of tagging comes from the train yards in Los Angeles. From East LA and a little rough neighborhood called Frogtown. It’s just across the cement encased LA River from the train car holding area.

Frogtown makes our Central City look tame by comparison. Someone once asked me if I’m armed when I work in neighborhoods like these. What’s the point? I pull out a gun and there would be ten guns pointed at me.

Anyway.

For a guy who whines about being blocked, I sure am producing a lot of pictures. It’s the same subject matter seen in a different way.

Who knows?

Maybe I’m on to something. Or, not.

Whoopie! A column to write lots and lots about how I made this picture. I doubt that I’ll need all of this space.

First, I was wandering around a little without the spaniel. I’ve come to realize that she’s a homebody. It’s not that she wants to stay home, but she likes her comfortable and familiar routes.

This was in an area that is not familiar to her.

The railroad company, CN I think, is doing some kind of work in some other part of the city. They are tearing out old train tracks. They were stacking broken wooden ties along a spur. I thought, that’s it. When has a railroad ever moved discarded gear.?

I’ve seen train cars and engines parked on some side spur because they were no longer useful. Really, they were abandoned. Come back ten years later and the equipments’ rusty hulks are still there rotting away.

In fact, a few years back I published a picture of an abandoned Amtrak engine. It was still bright and shiny. There didn’t appear to be very much wrong with it aside from being old and out of date.

I came back to that rail storage yard a few years later. The engine was still there. But, one side of it rusted, rotted and fell off. Now it looked like a stage prop.

Surprise, surprise. A few days ago, two crane equipped trucks arrived and started loading the ties onto gondolas. This picture was made of one of them.

Getting there was the hardest part. I made a few pictures. Nobody seemed to care if I was there. I returned to home and studio and started tinkering. This is the result.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all of your neighborhood’s graffiti. If there isn’t any, let me know. I’ll come by with some cans of spray paint.

Sun King


Something for winter.

Something for winter. Something yellow. Something bright.

The change is coming. In one day. Many of us will be watching it online via the socials. Many of us will be happy.

There are also those who have convinced themselves with no evidence that there is no way Biden could have won the election.

The pillow man thinks that he uncovered all sorts of thing. He brought them to the president who wasn’t interested and suggested that he bring them to the DOJ, who said that’s nice and promptly forgot them.

That’s it.

I’m sorry that the current president won’t even be at the inauguration. He’s skipping out. Heading to Florida. He wants to leave will he’s still president. That call sign, “Air Force One” is important to him. He doesn’t want to fly on a plain old plane.

What a punk.

I know that there is a chance he could be convicted by the senate. I know he has financial and commercial troubles that could choke a horse.

I don’t care.

Let the folks who deal with that stuff deal with it. I want to move forward. That’s what’s important to me. Even though I’m searching for me I know that working to benefit others will help.

So, that’s where I’m headed. To the future. See y’all there.

Bright flowers. Sun flowers. I didn’t even know that they could be grown down here.

Then I read that there are huge fields of them in Mississippi just across the border.

These aren’t them. I have a neighbor who grows everything. He’s got a small greenhouse. He’s got a hydroponic garden. He’s got a regular garden.

There are sunflowers in his greenhouse. I asked if I could photograph them. Obviously, he said yes. In return I’ll give him some prints.

The image is the result of layering. There are five layers of the same picture. Each slightly skewed. Doing this was so easy that I didn’t even have to adjust the picture.

That’s it.

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

Hope For Us


A day of reflection, a day of hope.

Farther along and further in. Those words are about learning, reflection, truth and peacefulness. That’s what today is about.

We celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. There is a lot we can do or not do. I started this day with — what else — a dog walk. I made a few pictures. You know me. The work is the prayer. The prayer turned into a sort of meditation.

Reflection.

Where to go from this place in time. Not necessarily about my work. More about me and my place in the universe. I looked at my past, not to worry about it, but as a guide post to my future.

What kind of person do I want to be? I think that I know, but a little thought always helps as long as I don’t obsess about it. How can I help? How can I be of service?

That’s just the start.

In a little while I’ll help clean up a stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Central City. You know, the work is the prayer.

The hood. My hood. Where I photograph second lines, Black Masking Indians, Zulus and Mardi Gras. Where I eat BBQ sausages. And, talk to the folks who live there.

And, then back to work. You know…

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Do a little reflection.

Street portraits. For me they are easy to do. But, I talk to the people that I photograph. I don’t work from across the street. I learn their names and why they are doing what they do.

That’s how you do it.

Anything else is just cultural theft.

So.

The picture is small because I made it for another project with a maximum size.

No matter.

The picture is really about this young man’s eyes. And, maybe the flag.

I made this photograph while we were waiting for a Mardi Gras parade to start. It’s the best I could since I was very young when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. I never had the chance to photograph him.

That’s how it goes sometimes. You do the best you can with what you have.

Bleak Mid-Winter


On a very cold day.

Sometimes you look and see. Sometimes you only look. Despite my talking about not being able to produce good pictures or think creatively, I keep making photographs. I must be seeing.

I think I want to move forward into another kind of photography. I’m tired of making faux nature pictures.

A couple of you suggested workshops or listening to other photographers who share inspirational videos. I did that. I Googled to find Sean Tucker.

He is a British photographer who works in all genres of photography. He seems to like nature work the best. His video was interesting because he says what I’ve said for ages. Quiet time. Turn your brain off. Sit. Meditate. If any idea comes to you write it down so it clears your head for other ideas. Zen. Zen. Zen.

My problem isn’t that I don’t have creative ideas. My problem is moving well beyond where I am today. In my dog walking faux nature work I find myself making pictures with an idea of how I can edit them into something else.

I’ll tell you more about that on the right hand side of the page.

That’s fine as far as it goes. But, that’s not what I want to do. Remember my project? Jefferson Highway? I don’t want to produce a story. I want to produce 12 to 20 pictures that I can collect in a portfolio. I want that to be a gallery hanging. And, a very slim volume that people can collect as I move forward.

That sounds fairly straight forward. It isn’t. There are lot of questions to be answered. Color? Black and White? Day? Night? Dusk? And, so on.

I think before I settle into that project, I’m going to have to make a detour. There are a lot of houses being decorated as floats since there are no parades for Mardi Gras. Some are quite elaborate. I’d better photograph them before I don’t.

At least, I’m a lot less frantic than I was earlier when I was discussing this. Thank you to those who reached out.

Into something else. The picture is a great example of what I did to make it something else.

I made the picture about 10am. The sky was blue. The sun was peaking through the bare winter branches.

It was a boring picture.

I thought about what it could be. I exposed for the sun which darkened everything else a little.

I worked on it a lot in post-production. I let the sky go dark. I helped the sun to pop. I enhanced the sky’s color.

The process took a little while. For me, it is process over product. Enjoy the process and the product will always be right.

And, experiment within your process. I cannot tell you how many times that I went too far with this photograph. If you don’t go too far how will you know when you’ve reached the right place?

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

Wind and a Tree


A little motion.

More experimental than not. That’s this photograph. It’s about wind, which arrived in about 30 mph gusts. Even the all seeing spaniel wanted very little to do with it.

We walked for a while and after watching her ears fly around I thought it was better to head home.

That’s what we did.

We went home. Where I turned on Spotify and was immediately frustrated by its inability to load music at a reasonable rate. I’ve talked to them. Remove, reboot, reinstall.

No joy.

The internet has become our connection to — well — everything. We’ve seen some effects when some part of it crashes. People went crazy when Facebook burped, taking Instagram with it. Without knowing what happened, my day got quieter.

Solitude.

I know that many people take a digital holiday. I also know that many of them stare longingly at their phones, pads and computers while they attempt a digital detox.

I’m not someone who is against all of this. I’m no luddite.

On the other hand, don’t we all need a break from whatever we are doing? That is, except for photography. Heh.

Sometimes digital technology becomes restive. This is the third time that I’ve written this. I know that WordPress will blame me, but some glitch has deleted my work twice. It wasn’t even in the all posts file.

What do I know?

Maybe I need a break from everything. I’ll drive to Florida and lay on the beach for 67 days, or three. Whichever comes first.

Speed. Speed kills they say. I say put your foot to the pedal and fly.

Sometimes.

There are times when you just glide waiting for your opportunity. When it comes, you put the pedal to the metal.

That’s what the wind did yesterday. It was mild during the morning. Then, it got going in the afternoon.

It was about 3pm when I pushed the button on this picture.

I just let the shutter pick its own speed. It slowed down. This is the result. I’m blaming technology for making a good picture. That, and nature.

I had nothing to do with it.

It’s true. All I did was hold the phone. Speaking of technology, AI had this sentence written with “wash” instead of “was hold.”

Sheesh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Where your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all of the wind.

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