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.


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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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Sugar Magnolia.

The things that make us who we are. All of those things. How we were raised. What we did when we were young. The things we did later. All of our actions and deeds.

That’s who we are.

Although I did many things, music was my greatest influencer.

Deja Vu was re-released yesterday. That’s right, the 51 year old album by Crosby, Still, Nash and Young hit the streets again. This time it is one of those box sets that is usually just a ploy to put a few more dollars into the musicians bank accounts.

Not this time.

The main album is remastered to match modern sonics. The rest… whew.

The out takes, the songs that were left out, the demos remind me of what could have been.

But, that never happened. The band fractured and broke apart and came back together until it cracked for the last time just a few years ago when Neil Young started dating Darryl Hannah, who he eventually married. Crosby said what he shouldn’t have and that was it.

That’s all history. You can read about it.

What’s important, as I keep saying about pictures, is how it made us feel.

It was pure joy listening to the sings. A few tears fell thinking about the years in between. And, we were wondering just how the hell they hit those notes as we tried to sing along.

A few friends — the ones who don’t know what they are talking about — say that I should write a book. They are wrong. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t see how my life is any different from so many people who grew up during the era that I did.

But, that doesn’t mean no books.

My long postponed two book set of broken buildings and places in the New Orleans area is back on the front burner.

My publisher asked me if I also wanted to take part in a photographer’s series of books that are street photography based.

It’s a good thing that he’s based in Great Britain because I was about to say that I didn’t see how that was feasible. It takes a long time to produce a book’s of worth of street images.

It was his Friday night when I received his email. I didn’t reply because there was nobody to reply to.

That’s a good thing.

While I was writing this, it hit me. I’ve done this for over 40 years. This is my golden opportunity to publish in real book — not a custom book — most of my life’s work.

It’s going to take a long while to get this together. By the time I’m done, I really will be ready to retire and play with the vegetables in the garden.

Finally.

Technical? Ha! Just stick the lens in a tree and fire away.

That’s all there is to making this picture of a Magnolia in early morning light.

I told you, that dog gets me up too early.

Without her I wouldn’t have a golden Magnolia, I’d have a white one, the real color.

I think golden light is so much more interesting, don’t you?

Magnolias are mostly a southern thing. It occurred to me while I was ruminating on the other side, that I’ve spent the majority of my career somewhere in the south. I never intended it that way. But, time flies when you are having fun.

At least, I think I was having fun. Sometimes, I can’t remember.

But, I do remember how to make pictures. For me, that’s what matters.

Which brings me back to the other side.

This third book is gonna be hellish. While I review and produce all those years worth of pictures, everything is going to come back to me.

Pictures and smells, you know.

That reckoning that I was talking about a few months ago? That was nothing. That was a drill.

This is the real thing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. I don’t care what the CDC says. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Be patient. Look after each other.


Smell the roses.

You’ve heard it before. Stop and smell the roses. I did that. I also made this photograph. It’s my version of art.

I made it soft, dark and velvety. This image makes me want to touch it. No worries. I didn’t. I like to make pictures, not touch things.

Which brings me to this. Somehow.

The CDC issued a new directive. No masks with few exceptions as long as you have been vaccinated. This confused me and just about everybody else including some very highly thought of doctors.

For some reason I’ve lost my faith in the CDC. This directive just doesn’t sound right. Until Orleans Parish relaxes the mask requirement, I won’t be walking around barefaced.

Ask The New York Yankees about this. They have seven staffers and on player isolated because of positive tests after being jabbed. They call it breakthrough contagion. Call it whatever you want. It means that there is no certainty of anything pandemic related.

It seems that everybody is rushing to open up far too quickly. I have a bad feeling about this.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, everybody is cheering.

The damn block system won’t let me edit to fix typos. Damn is not really the word I’m thinking of but this is a family blog.

If this keeps up, community or not, WordPress is going to drive me away.

Get close I always say. Fill the frame I always say.

I took my own advice and did that. I worked so closely that the purple background is really a bit of another rose.

After that I made sure to keep a little separation in processing.

There you have it. A rose.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty, Wear your mask, Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Ignore the CDC. They’ve become politics over science.


Almost like summer.

The long way home, that’s what we took. Really, really, the long way home. I’m not sure we found what we were looking for, but we found other things. We found the peace that comes with sitting under big trees. We found quiet. We found comforting greens.

After the long year that we all had, I’m happier finding these things than I am for finding a favorite restaurant is open or knowing that live music is coming back.

Those things matter, but in order to enjoy them you’d better be fairly whole emotionally and physically. Luckily, throughout the lockdown we did walk the dogs. Granted, they were exactly speed walking but we were walking.

We also ate fairly well. There wasn’t much eating of junk, nor did we eat easily accessible fast food. We actually cooked at home. We do normally, but we made a point of it.

That point was driven home today, when I saw a photographer whom I don’t know all that well walking ahead of us. From behind, it looked like there were two and a half of him. I’m not being mean. It’s just what I saw.

So, now that hope is back and some people think we are turning the corner we probably should take care of what we didn’t do while we were sitting around.

More importantly, we shouldn’t be stupid. Now that the CDC finally said that six feet really wasn’t enough and that the virus lingers in the air inside or out, we probably should take a few precautions.

Yes. I know that most of us who have been vaccinated probably stand a very good chance of not catching the virus. And, if we do it will likely be a mild case. But, what about those who for some reason or another — about 70% of the population currently — come in contact with us? Was if we pass it to them and make them deathly ill?

How would you feel knowing you accidentally did that?

Give me the greens of summer sang Paul Simon. It’s still spring, but close enough.

I like the way greens look in spring or in early summer. Down in Southeastern Louisiana, by mid-August the greens look washed out. By September they are limp. That lasts until fall which starts late.

So, pictures like this delight me. They are magic, not taking away from someone in this house who thinks music is magic.

Making this picture was easy but…

You really need back lighting to make it work. See all those light green leaves in the background? Without them this picture would be dark and foreboding.

I’ll leave that for Halloween.

After making the picture, a little work was needed in post production and viola, I was done.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Use your brain. Look after each other. Enjoy all the peaceful greens.


Flower, my way.

Happy Mother’s Day.

For a long time I used to post a picture that I made in 1980 of my mother and grandmother. It’s called, “Two Before Me.” Make no mistake that may be one of the best pictures that I ever made. But, I feel like moving on.

My grandmother passed in 1982. My mom passed 25 years ago in 1996. I’m not going to forget them. It’s just time for other pictures. At least here, on Storyteller.

I was testing my new phone. I returned to an iPhone and wanted to see how the camera function had improved. I made this picture. I intentionally photographed a portion of the flower because capturing the whole flower seemed too boring.

The image was a little soft, but I thought that this was for Mother’s Day so I softened it some more. Then, I made it dreamy. There, all done.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Read the latest CDC advisory. Look after each other. Be patient. Give your mom a kiss from me.