For Friday.

I

started working on this picture so long ago that I forgot what picture I was going to use when it came to publishing this page.

I suppose it’s a leftover of lockdown fuzziness. Or maybe I’m just losing my ability to think and remember stuff.

I’d like to remember important things. Maybe photographs and Storyteller aren’t all the important. Or, maybe they are and should be.

Storyteller wasn’t always that important. I realized through the lockdown until the present that it kept me aware of the date (sometimes) but rarely the time.

I think that’s why many musicians played some version of songs from home. On one day they would check requests, figure out a small set list or song, rehearse and play the song on whatever day they picked.

Some did it live. Some didn’t.

That didn’t seem to matter. They needed to play for people. People were craving anything the approximated any live music.

That worked for a time.

Somehow we all came to the same place. We needed freedom. Eventually, some people gained some. Of course, I’m not one of them. That’s gonna change.

I made my career taking risks. Now I don’t. It’s time to weigh risk and reward and do the best that I can. No. I won’t take stupid risks, but I’ve got to get out and about.

I can’t take pictures if I don’t.

P

eaceful for Friday. I started working on this picture. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I realized that this image would look best in black and white. Better yet, it needed a very light monochromatic color.

I’m not sure how I started working in light yellow tones, but that seemed to be a good option. Besides, I liked what it did to the bare trees.

So, that’s the direction that I started to work. I added some stuff in OnOne, but not much. It was ready when it was done. That’s how it happens sometimes.


What happens when…

S

ometimes I forget the work I’ve already done. If you recall I wasn’t posting everyday. That didn’t mean I wasn’t making new pictures and working on others.

I was. And, I forgot about it.

I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon a little group of pictures that I had forgotten about.

This is one of them. Well, three of them to be precise. They are layered and combined. I’ll get to that on the right side.

Questions. I have questions.

After reading the testimony of the former Facebook employee and their crash the other day, I’m thinking about giving up on their products. There’s more to that. Facebook is pushing those of us who post our still photography into posting videos.

I’m not a videographer. I’ve made two videos in my lifetime. They are unedited. One is just a bit of Hurricane Ida as she blew through. The visual isn’t much, but the audio is terrifying.

That said, I’m not posting videos anywhere. That’s not what I do.

The reason to stay with Facebook/Instagram is to show my work. I have a place for that. Right here. Oh, for sure, I get likes and hearts and a few comments. Mostly, from my friends.

Originally, many years ago, I thought that it could be a marketing and sales tool. That hasn’t worked out. So, what’s the point?

I can be found here if anybody wants to find me.

What do you guys think?

T

he work. That’s what matters. Doing it. Practicing it. Do it for long enough and you might get good.

That’s one reason that Storyteller exists. There are a lot of other reasons, but that’s one of them.

As I wrote over there, this is image is layered and created from three photographs.

There was an adjustment phase because not all of them were the same size or shape.

Once that was completed, I adjust for density first, and color second.

I tinkered with them to sort of smooth them out.

Then, I published them right here, on Storyteller. As if you didn’t know that.

By the way, the title is a title of a song by the same name recorded by Roseanne Cash. Sometimes, I steal — er — borrow things.


Time fades away.

W

hat remains.

This is one of our storm ravaged trees. Branches are broken, but new leaves are sprouting up like today was spring and not fall.

I’m not sure in what form the recovery will take, but at least nature is doing her work. All nature really wants is stasis. One way or another, this tree will be dealt with.

Okay. Enough of that.

Let’s talk about technological dependence. Let’s talk about Monday. Let’s talk about Facebook and all it’s secondary companies. They crashed. There was a DNS problem.

We think.

Facebook executives lie about everything. Here’s one now. They claimed service was down for five hours. Oh really?

I was looking for a post so I went directly to Facebook at 7:30am. It was down, at least for any new posting. You could still read whatever was posted before the system came down. You couldn’t reply.

I didn’t have service until around 5pm. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s 9 1/2 hours. Of course, that’s in New Orleans where time moves at a different pace. They say that we are 50 years behind. So, there’s that.

Anyway.

The New York Times published a story about what this really means. Facebook claims a membership of 2.6 billion users. Most just use it like many of us do. Mostly we talk amongst ourselves.

However, about half of that total use it to conduct business, to communicate within companies, to sell stuff, to publish newspapers and — in some countries — it is the prime method of communication.

That’s all great. But, in another story, the Times says that Facebook is weaker than we think and that it is already showing cracks.

There are those who talk about regulatory measures. That’s good. It’s a good idea. Let’s take it a few steps further.

What if Facebook is turned into a utility like electric companies and phone companies? What if the entire internet is declared a utility?

I know, I know. That could take the freedom of the internet away.

That’s been done about a decade ago.

There are only three — or four — big players; Amazon, Facebook, Google and some people say Apple.

There’s no privacy. I could post something on Instagram and see ads for something related on Google. That implies there is no freedom.

It seems simple enough to me. It could be done. It won’t be.

T

his picture needed something a little different. At least, I think it did.

I made it monochrome. It seemed a little bleaker that way.

It still wasn’t done. I tinkered. I added extra bokeh using OnOne.

I messed around with the basic color because I thought I made it too bleak.

So, this is the finished picture.

Let’s jump back to the other side for a minute. I realized I wasn’t done with it yet.

I concluded that any kind of regulation or reclassification of the internet and its most dominant sites wouldn’t happen.

It’s not because of a lack of political will. There may be. Or, not. I don’t know.

The real issue is that the people conducting hearings — mostly the Senate — have no clue what to ask or how to follow up because they don’t understand the digital world at all.

You’d think that after the last two decades of digital growth they’d take some time to get familiar with these things.

But, noooo.

They are busy doing something else; obstructing everything, trying to tear down the good things about government and taking money from certain rich players. You know, bribes. There I said it.

The very least they could do is ask their younger staffers to explain the questions they are about to ask on the floor or in committee so they wouldn’t look like idiots.

But — once again — noooo.


And, so it came to be.

Y

esterday was a day of nothing. It wasn’t useless. There are no useless days.

Instead, on a day normally reserved for errands, I did nothing. I awoke at about 8:15 am, looked the clock, turned over and the next thing I knew, it was 10:44 am.

After a bit of stretching and exercise, it was noon. Time for breakfast, er, lunch. If this had been another time in my life, lunch would have turned into drunch. It didn’t.

Then, I did something different. Or, not. I took a nap. Now, we’re talkin’.

Actually, what I probably need is some traveling to someplace far and to the north. That ain’t happen’. I can’t travel now and you know why. For a while I accepted it. Now I’m getting angry. If any of you who follow me are anti-vaxxers for any reason, unsubscribe NOW.

In the next few weeks I’m going on an unholy tear against you and your entire dumbass selfish cohort. If you raise your voice to fight me, trust me when I say that I’ll leave you for dead.

I bet none of you saw that coming. I’m tired of being confined to home, staying away from my neighbors when I walk the dogs, ordering our groceries from Shipt and watching people parade around like the pandemic is over. It is not over.

There. I said it.

S

unset. As you know I’m not really big on photographing a sunset just because it is there.

I’ll photograph a sunset if it is incredible. I’ll turn around and photograph what it illuminates. Or, I’ll photograph it in a situation like this one.

Three out of four isn’t bad.

This sunset surprised me. I couldn’t really see it until I moved around the tree trunk.

Then, wowie-zowie.

What great light. It reflected off some structure and created even more golden light. It turned bright orange as it passed through the foliage.

That’s where it stopped. I turned around. Nothing.

I did two things to the picture in post production. I opened up the tree so it wasn’t a big black thing in the middle of the picture.

And, I cropped it.


All the fall colors.

A

friend of mine used to travel from Michigan to Vermont to photograph fall colors. Now he travels from Florida where he retired.

That seems like an awfully long way to chase color.

Me?

I’m lazy. I walk out of my door and take pictures of fall color. Or, I could. We lost a lot of trees around here a month or so ago.

That’s not all bad news.

Downed trees mean new views. New views mean new pictures. New pictures mean new smiles.

That’s what happened when I made this photograph. It seems like this amount of color is way too early, but Hurricane Ida seemed to change everything. Or, maybe it’s climate change… no matter what the Republicans say.

I’m won’t get into the politics of that because it really is just politics based on money. Follow the money, they say.

You know where the money goes. I know you know.

And, that’s enough for a pretty, but weird picture.

T

his is one of those pictures that needed a lot of help.

It needed cropping. It needed color control. And, it needed art.

So, I gave it art.

I gave it Pointillism, which is an art movement that uses a technique in painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. Unless you enlarge the image, you don’t usually see the dots.

This is an extreme application because you can see the dots with just a glance.

That’s your Saturday art semi-lesson. There’s a lot more, but there always is.


What do you see?

T

his has been a very quiet time for me. I’m not doing much more than I need to do. That’s not me. Nor, is it good for me.

I’ve always been a believer of finishing your daily work and then do one more thing. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. You are making progress.

Where I come from we say, progress not perfection.

That’s good because I’m never perfect. I make mistakes. I’m the typo king. Some of my best pictures are either motion shaky art out of focus.

That’s not a terrible thing. I learn from all of those things. I edit my words tighter. I compensate for cameras shake either with a tripod or I make sure my shutter speed is high.

But, right now none of that is happening. I reckon that the pandemic and the last 18 months have worn me out. It’s worn a lot of people out. Add to that the pressure of really not working much and I’m probably blown out.

My way of dealing with this is not working. Or, working very well. I probably need a long, long vacation. But, I’d worry about what was going on where I wasn’t.

I suspect a lot of us are in this place.

What about you?

A

ll reflections, that’s what this picture is really about. I’d finished a very short walk when I looked up and saw the window.

I had to move around a bit in order to make this picture as well framed as it is, which is to say, not very well.

If I could have moved back about 15 feet, I could have aligned the final image a lot better.

There goes that perfection thing again.

Nonsense. I did the best I could with what I had.

Once again, I didn’t do much but darken and sharpen the picture. After all, simpler is usually better.

This time it was.


“U

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

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

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

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

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

Like everything, it depends.

T

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

Then, push the button.

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

Maybe I should go hunting with a real camera.


Another way.

T

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

I decided to test it.

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

I tested that theory.

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

Oh man.

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

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

Try it sometime.

T

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

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

That’s any easy fix.

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

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

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

There wasn’t much to do after that.

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


So, everything doesn’t turn into fall colors.

W

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

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

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

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

I don’t even know about that.

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

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

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

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

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

T

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographers luck. You know?


All the red that fits.

F

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

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

So, I did it and it worked.

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

Now, I can work.

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

Now, I’m back. And, I’m noisy.

I

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

It’s a beautiful bridge between summer and winter.

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

So.

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

I hope.


Moody and misty.

S

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

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

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


M

ore water. More reflections. Even as we dry out, some things don’t change. I think most people have power. Not everyone has internet, which doesn’t seem important but in the modern world it is.

We use Cox. They don’t know what they are doing. They sent us a long email apologizing for the lack of service and yada, yada, yada,

That’s great, but our service returned about an hour after our power was restored.

I guess we are lucky.

The house suffered some damage but it is in the process of being repaired. Compared to our neighbors we did pretty well.

Now it’s time to help where we can.


S

ometimes I really don’t have much to say about world events. I’ve read enough to know that some days I’m better off staying in bed.

And, on other days I just go for a walk.

This picture found me on a walk. Aside from the square crop, I did nothing to it. It is simply what I saw. Or, what saw me. You know what Rumi said, ”What you seek is seeking you.”

Better be careful what you wish for.

Peace.


Dark skies.

W

e listen to a lot of podcasts around here. This morning I was listening to The New York Times’ The Daily. The reporter was talking to a viral scientist. It was a pretty good interview until the reporter asked the scientist when the pandemic would end.

She declined to predict that, but did say that because of all the issues we already know about including the politicizing of the virus, anti-vaxers, freedom complainers, and the general lack of concern about masking and potential super spreader events, the soonest the virus could be managed but not eradicated is late 2022 or early 2023.

Think about that. We have another potential 18 months of this stupidity before we even come close to managing this.

In my other world we started cancelling the first two legs of a four leg tour. It’s highly likely that the last two legs will be cancelled too.

The supernutjob fans on Facebook couldn’t understand why. They claimed everything but the truth, including that the star has breast cancer. A legal note will put an end to that.

When I asked who among them could meet entrance requirements of either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 Hours.

I heard.

Crickets.

And, there you have it. They killed a concert tour and their fun.

Morons.


Out of the black and into the blue.

T

om Petty said that they waiting is the hardest part. And, so it is. Most of the preparations have been done. I was about to take the trash out when I remembered not to do it. During a hurricane the trash cans get blown around and the trash gets plastered to your house. Or, your neighbors house.

Besides, a trash can launched in a 75 mph wind and becomes an unguided rocket. What goes up always comes down. Maybe through somebody’s roof. It could rip through the roof, blow through the second floor and land on granny sitting in her chair on the first floor.

That would not be good.

In case you are wondering, my humor gets blacker as the big event gets closer. Besides, it’s not yet time to get into my zone. The cold, very clear eyed one that allows me to respond calmly and not in a panicked way. If I started that process now by the time the hurricane arrived I’d fly into the air and try to stop it by myself. It’s a well known fact that I’m not Superman.

Seriously, here’s what I know.

Unless there is a radical change, Hurricane Ida should make landfall upriver from New Orleans, near Baton Rouge, 75 miles away sometime tonight. That may seem like it’s far enough away to not hurt us. That would be wrong. Hurt us it will because we lie within the cone of uncertainty. Landfall can shift anywhere along that cone. Or, the entire cone can move.

Even if it doesn’t, we will get very strong winds, rain and a big storm surge.

Here are the numbers.

Wind gusts. 50-75 mph over the windspeed.

Storm surge. 12 – 15 feet above normal.

Rain. 12 – 15 inches above normal.

The house is armored for storms. That’s how it was built in 1854 when whole parts of town used to get blown away. Once we close the storm shutters we are safe. The biggest fear is loss of power and cellphone service, which also means loss of the internet.

We can deal with loss of power, partially with the hardwired generator and battery system. It only powers the kitchen and not all of that. We also have one of those little in room air conditioners. It’s useless in a big room, but works fine in the kitchen.

That’s all well and good if we have a few power lines down, but Hurricane Katrina knocked down whole power grids. It look weeks for power to be restored. It’ll get awfully old living like a refugee. No disrespect to our Afghan friends.

We cannot do anything about the loss of cellphone and internet service. I recall that after Katrina, we were able to get service after the telco rerouted us through some unaffected region. I don’t know if that’s possible today.

So, this might be it from me for a while.

Have good thought for all of us in Southeastern Louisiana.


Luna at dusk.

W

ordpress has beaten it out of me. After yesterday’s fiasco I think I’ll go back to simple things because WordPress really doesn’t like photographers.

Instead of fostering community growth and spirit by suggesting we work together on projects, they want writers to use Upsplash if they need photographs.

Upsplash is a portal. Photographers upload their work. If a user needs a picture, they find it, use it with no payment or credit line.

Even worse, if the user makes modification to the image, the copyright flows to them.

It’s licensed robbery.

Young photographers are so anxious to get noticed that they see this as a way to build up clients and tear sheets.

Hahahahahaha.

If your name isn’t seen, you don’t get noticed.

In fact, it would be very easy to go to Upsplash, cull the best pictures, download them, modify them ever so slightly and stick my copyright information on the images.

Hmmm…. I’d never have to leave my house again.

But, that would be boring.

T

hat little quarter moon is what caught my attention. It was really hard to photograph, which is why some of the trees look a little soft.

But, the moon is sharp and that’s what matters to me.

For sure, there was some editing going on here. I did what I often do. Instead of adding colors, I remove the mid tones to reveal the colors hiding in the gray fog.

That’s what you are looking at.

I

was done writing, thinking less is more.

Apparently, WordPress is watching or scanning Storyteller.

They fixed the problem of the jumping cursor.

I complained here, not directly to WordPress.


The summer wind blew through the grasses of the season.

A

nother weird week. It seems like death is following us around no matter what we do.

I suppose that’s the way it is going to be until we manage the virus and people are able to think again.

I have no idea what killed Charlie Watts. But, it may illustrate something that I’ve long said. Touring is not good for man or animal.

I don’t care how you do it, your body pays for it. I don’t care whether you drive from show to show in a van and sleep on somebody’s couch or fly private and stay in a private home.

Funny, how a musician proceeds up the ladder. You start by sleeping on someone’s floor or couch. You proceed to cheap motels, eventually moving up to five star hotels and finally back into a house.

This time, it’s a 12 bedroom house in an exclusive neighborhood that a sponsor donated to you for a couple of nights.

Still, jumping through time zones, working an upside down day, eating food — good or bad — at the wrong times, coming down from the adrenalin rush and never knowing where you are, is not good for the body, mind and soul.

Did Charlie’s job play a part in his death? Or, was it simply a matter of aging? Or, was it a combination of both.

Does it matter? After all, dead is dead.

It matters to me. In 13 years I’ll be 80. That sounds like a long time, but where the hell did the last 67 years go?

It happened like a blink of the eye.

It always does.

T

his is my third time around on this post. Once again, the paragraphs locked and no edits or additions could be made.

I did learn something. Up at the top of the page there is a blue “Save Draft” line. Press it and it save the page exactly as it is minus the block edits.

No matter what WordPress claims, the block system is not flexible.

See that white space next to this column?

It came about because I wanted to make the picture larger. It’s a picture that I’d hang on my wall so I wanted you to see a larger version.

That went fine until I tried to build a block there. You can’t. You can’t add another column, or a calendar, or a list of previous posts.

All I know is that programmers are programmers. They have no sense of design or art. It’s all math to them.

That’s why there are so many freelance WordPress coders. The code is so complicated that it takes specialty programmers to create anything different.

Hire one of those folks and guess what? The block system is flexible.

Sheesh.


A cold wind blowing from the north.

A

nyone who has been around Storyteller for any length of time knows that there I are things I almost never do.

I rarely post twice in one day.

I rarely post another photographer’s work unless we are working on something together.

And, I never post a picture without a credit line.

All of those things happened yesterday day.

But, with the passing of Charlie Watts, and the musical world in tears, I thought it was the right thing to do.

In the words of Eric Clapton, goodnight sweet prince.

I

think I wrote that when something really big goes south, like the pandemic, it takes a lot of lesser things with it.

August has certainly proven that to me. The number of non-Covid deaths among people I care about in some way has risen to ten in twelve days.

I have no idea what to make of it except to say, “Yeah, I told you so.” But, what’s the point of that? You know it and I know it.

T

his is one of those pictures in which I try to make something from nothing.

It’s an almost bare tree in winter. The sky is pretty.

I photographed it, took the detail out of the sky.

Viola.

R

ather than be snarky with the “I told you so nonsense,” I thought I’d talk about an idea that came to me in a moment of day dreaming.

Many of you know that I don’t drink. I stopped over 28 years ago with a little help from my friends and hundreds of others who I didn’t know. At one point I even employed a psychiatrist to guide me. He discussed the notion of psychic energy.

It’s not what you are thinking. It’s not a spacey predictability idea. It’s not spooky. Instead, it refers to the amount of truly powerful energy we can put into a project. His point is that once you exhaust that you have to take some time to recharge.

I’ve talked about three hours being the length of time that I can photograph something before I start feeling like “I’ve left it all on the field.” That’s my psychic energy being depleted. If I take some time to rest, I can go back to work.

So, here’s my theory.

The New York Times talks about lethargy being introduced to us via the pandemic and accompanying lockdowns and worry.

What if, our (my) psychic energy has been drained and not been restored to a point that we start everyday full and ready to deal with the day’s issues?

What if we never fully recharge?

For me, I know that half the time I am walking around in a daze. When I do manage to work I complete my task and stop. That’s not me. I’m the Energizer Bunny. I go until there’s nothing more to do that day

You know how “you know what you know” sometimes? That’s how I feel right now. That’s great, but the question is what to do to recapture the energy.

I think routine is important. For almost 18 months I haven’t done what I normally do. I work from home in the studio most of the time unless we are traveling. My routine isn’t that of someone who goes to work everyday outside of the home. I’m either blessed or cursed.

Think about what you do before you go to work. Even though you normally don’t think about it, it tells your body and mind that you are leaving for work. And, to get ready.

Right now my psychic energy is at an all time low, if it exists at all. It’s time to restore that. At least, I’ll be a little more focused. But first, the routine.


Out of the blue and into the black.

W

e do it for the stories we could tell, so says Jimmy Buffett, even when we know do that something could end badly. It’s especially true if you are a young teenager. I was 13 or 14 when I did that story telling thing.

I went to a day camp during summer. One day we were taken to a pretty big and wild park. We could borrow or rent bicycles. So, I borrowed one.

All good so far.

We road to a sort of big peak. The ride was gradual, but if we wanted to continue in the same direction we had to ride down a pretty steep path. The chose would have been walk down or turn back. We should have chosen either of those two options.

Oh no.

We just had to ride. Being the biggest idiot among us, I rode first. About 30 feet into the ride I realized there was no braking and certainly no stopping. I made it about 75% of the way down. I hit a surface tree root. I went airborne, then I went side wise, and finally upside down.

I landed on my face.

I was battered and bruised. After a little clean up by one of the camp counselors I looked better, but not much. I was lucky. I could have broken all sorts of parts. I didn’t.

When I got home my mom was horrified. My dad just laughed. He asked if I would do it again.

Yes.

Of course, for the rest of the summer I was called skid face.

Kids can be so cruel.

I was their hero. I did something they were afraid to do.

So there.

A

pologies. If something doesn’t make sense on the other side.

That WordPress programming trick of capturing everything in a block and not allowing editing happened not once, but twice.

If you try to edit, the software deletes whole sentences. The only way to recapture any of it is to revert to a saved version.

But, that only brings your work so far.

So you rewrite whatever you lost.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember sentences exactly. I reconstruct them as best I can.

Do that three times and you have no idea what you originally wrote.

Add to that the newest annoyance, placing the cursor at the start of a sentence even though I intentionally placed it in the middle, and I almost gave up today.

WordPress has to stop this. Even though I said I’d stay here because of the community, I’ll leave if this nonsense doesn’t stop.

I’ll ghost. That’s where I’ll go to a blogging platform called Ghost.


Into the mystic.

M

ostly, I say that a picture needs a little post production work to turn into something presentable.

Not this time. What I saw is what you get.

Better yet, I decided to take a little walk because I’m mostly trapped inside. I looked up and there it was. The moon poking through a wisp of white clouds and a bright blue sky backing it.

I made five pictures. That was it. I mostly just moved the moon around in the frame.

When things are right, that’s how my best work comes. Things haven’t been right for many weeks. I listened to a TED Talk by Dewitt Jones. He’s a former NGS photographer who now mostly gives talks. He’s polished and funny.

He discussed his way of working photographically which is to look for the good rather than document or find the bad. I kind of chuckled at that, but thought maybe I should do that. Maybe it would help me get out of this funk.

It did. Making this photograph made me feel pretty good. I don’t know how long this will last, but there’s always tomorrow to make another picture.

T

here is nothing technical to tell you. Just go outside and let a picture find you.

There’s magic in music and there’s magic in photographs. Let the magic come. Let it embrace you.

That’s all need to know.

From a technical point of you, I’ve been trying not to work so hard. I read that there is a new trend afoot.

For years, we’ve been told to capture RAW files. They are like a negative that you can work with in many ways.

Now some photographers are questioning that. They suggest that if you get your exposure down properly you should be able to make .JPEG files that are as good or better than RAW ones.

There is a way to test that easily. Set the capture to both RAW and .Jpeg and see what happens.

I’ll let you know.


One day, one night.

Y

ou’ll never believe what I did to this picture. Before I tell you, let me say that for the rest of this week Storyteller will look a little different.

WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”

WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”

I thought about it for a little while and decided that rather than complain out of hand I should at least test some of the new stuff. There’s a lot of it.

Immediately, you see the tag cloud. They have existed from the dawn of WordPress, but not in such a flexible manner. If all I can do is make the text red, this will be my last day of using it. I suspect that I might be able to make color changes in the text block.

I’m also adding a publishing calendar and a comments list today. There may be other things, or I’ll just wait until tomorrow.

December 2021
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

L

et’s start with the tag cloud text color. I can’t find a way to change it, but I’ll leave it for today.

On to the picture.

I made it in broad daylight probably around 10 am. It is a winter tree against a cloudless blue sky.

My original post production turned the sky a very dark blue and the branches almost a silvery white. I posted that some time ago.

Last night I started messing with it because I had to clear my head of a day in which another New Orleans photographer died. I’ll write a bit about him tomorrow.

I turned the branches green and the sky turned black on its own after color overlap from the branches.

I made sure the image was as sharp as possible and gave it to you.


Something wild, something yellow.

T

here is a period in my life when I liked to make very closely focused pictures that are akin to macro photography.

That period started about twenty years ago and continues to this day. Some period, eh?

For me, this work is something like a palette cleanser between other, more gritty subjects.

Of course, I’ve been trapped lately.

Eventually that will change, but nobody knows when or how. When it does I’ll be chasing all over wherever I am, making pictures of anything, of everything.

Because, that’s my magic. My way of contributing. The thing that I know best. These days I feel old, but i’m young. The age thing will go away once I make magic, with light and color.

Then there’s musical magic.

As I write, I’m listening to an album called, “One Night Lonely.” Mary Chapin Carpenter did a live streaming show from Wolf Trap. There was no audience except remotely. It’s her and her guitars. She doesn’t talk, but she plays for two hours.

She’s doing the same thing that she did when I rediscovered her when she was playing songs from home.

Like James Taylor, she’s doing what she did back then, bringing me peace. We could all use a little bit of peace just about now, right?

T

his picture is about seeing. For sure, the yellow caught my attention. But, the details took some seeing. Or, luck. Photographers luck.

You make that kind of luck by being there. By being present. By focusing. And, by emptying your mind for just a little while.

I have a routine to do that. I’d tell you about it, but you may want do it differently. There is no one way. There is no right way. There is no wrong way.

That’s good.

We’d get bored if we did things the same way as other people.

So don’t.

I see so many derivative pictures on all social media. There is a saying among new photographers, “Fake it until you make it.”

That’s a saying from AA for newly sober people who are struggling to do what sober people do until they understand it.

It applies there. It shouldn’t apply to someone making pictures.

Stop copying. Stop faking. Start experimenting. Start being you.

You’ll go farther, faster.


At the counter.

S

ometimes, I can tell you everything about making a picture. You know, the how, what, why, when and who of it?

But, not this picture.

I know where it is located in my archives. But, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the take. My big goal during the lockdown was working on my archives. Some got done. Most didn’t.

To tell the truth, I have no idea where this picture belongs. But, I like it. It brings back feelings of traveling and memories of driving all night and finally stopping for breakfast in some little town.

Somewhere.

I’m sure many of you have done that too. You walk into a place like this and your body is still all jangly from the wheels on the road. You look at the menu and the type swims before your eyes.

You give up. You order the old standby. 10,000 eggs over easy. A hunnert pieces of bacon. Five pounds of has browned potatoes and toast, or biscuits if you re in the south.

Oh, and coffee. About five gallons of strong black coffee that leaves you with a stomach ache.

You leave the way you came in. Instead of swaggering you roll.

And, on the road you go.

M

aking this picture was easy. It was sitting there staring at me.

I raised my camera to my eye and snapped away. The counter person asked why I took it. I said that I liked the scene. She walked away shaking her head.

I ate, paid the bill and left.

All of that is great. But, I have no idea where I took the picture. I’m pretty sure it was in the West. That’s all I can tell you.

I’m mostly just wondering what the hell Numi Tea is supposed to be.

Anyway.

The post production is minimal. I darkened it and added contrast and all that color popped out.

Oh yeah. For those of you who just love the block system, he said with an evil gleam in his eye, WordPress sent me an email. They improved it.

Oh, God.


Southern spring.

A

little something pretty for a Friday afternoon. I made this picture a while back, sometime in spring. I did the developing and post production and promptly forgot about it.

I found it looking for something else just as I did yesterday. I reckon if I keep doing that I won’t ever have to take a new picture again.

What would be the fun in that?

Besides, I’d just go crazy.

I just have to find safe places to work. There are plenty of stories I’d like to tell around this place that don’t require me to be part of a crowd.

And, that makes me happy.

After thinking about it I realized that I added 2+2 and really did come out with 4. The twos are simple. I can’t be in crowds ever, or at least until the pandemic has been managed. The second two is my realization that it maybe years before that happens.

That’s pretty depressing.

Understanding that helped. So did a little stiffer med. I feel better now. I have one problem with it. I sleep a lot. I suppose it could be worse. A friend of mine started on a new medicine and within about nine months she gained 40 pounds. She’s working on that now.

I suppose that everybody has something.

F

lower, flower on the wall. Who’s the fairest flower of them all?

I’m pretty partial to this one. It has a lot of names. Around here people call it a Swamp Iris. Oddly, something very close to this grows in the high dry mountains along the northern Pacific Coast.

I wouldn’t have thought that it could survive in such different locations.

But, what do I know? I name flowers by their color as in that’s a red flower, that’s a blue flower…

I managed to lay the flower over grass that has crepe myrtle blossoms and fallen leaves on it.

Judging by the amount of little broken branches on the ground I must have photographed the lawn after a storm.

I tinkered with it and used a filter that approximates frosted glass.

And, there you have it.


Never more.

R

escued from my archives.

I found this picture while I was looking for something else. That’s sort of the way I make pictures, on the way to some place else.

The funny thing about the picture is that the subject doesn’t exist. Not anymore. It was a designer’s idea as part of the landscaping of a new venue.

The venue is all angles and made of metal. I suppose bamboo made a nice counterpoint, but the it was planted on the hottest side of the building in really dry soil.

I photographed it the day it was planted. Two weeks later the bamboo was dry and starting to die. Two weeks later there were broken stalks and little more.

Eventually the landscapers got around to clearing it and planting something else. Some of it succeeded. Most did not because they planted it too close to the artist driveway. Big touring trucks rolled over it again, again.

Oh well.

S

o, while I was working on this post I was listening to a new record by Los Lobos called, “Native Sons.”

It’s all covers.

That doesn’t sound great does it?

But, in their hands the songs are better than the originals. Better yet, I can sing along to most of it.

I can’t sing the two Spanish songs which is my fault for listening to my teachers in high school. They said take Latin. It’ll be fun and prepare you for college.

I never once used Latin in college, but I could have spoken Spanish in a lot of places.

Oh well.


One night, long ago.

M

y thoughts brought me to a couple of places. As events start to close down I’ve been thinking about anniversaries.

This picture of a flambeaux during Mardi Gras is a great example of that.

It’s just a picture, right?

Maybe.

To me it means a lot. I was suffering during Mardi Gras 2020. I was at the peak of my back pain which was transmitting even more pain to my right knee. I walked up Jefferson Street to my usual pre-parade stop, CC’s.

The flambeaux were lining up. I stuck my camera through the line and made this picture.

I gave up. Thee pain was too much. I limped back to my car with a couple of stops along the way.

This picture is important. It was my last serious photograph before the pandemic forced the lockdown.

For sure, I’ve been making little pictures on dog walks and my own walks. But, I haven’t made a serious picture since February, 2020.

My doctor thought I was depressed. Well, gee…

I

have a theory. When something goes south, just about everything else goes to hell.

I knew it a long time ago. I know it now.

This week is four days old.

We lost Jazzfest. We lost the red dress run. We lost Action Jackson. We lost Rosy Guste.

All of that happened during our fourth CoVid-19 surge. The national infections are now just about 130,000 infections a day. Our hospitals are jammed. The two big hospitals in Baton Rouge are filled. They literally cannot take more patients.

Louisiana and the rest of the country are headed south. All manner of smaller bad things are starting to happen. What’s next?

Y

ou just never know. That’s what Action Jackson said to me when we first met.

He was right. Maybe more than he knew.

When you photograph second lines every Sunday to get to know many people.

Photographers cluster together and chat. We get to know each other. We are happy to see each other.

One photographer was Roy Guste. I knew him as a photographer. Once, when his car was broken down I gave him a ride.

There was more to him.

He studied cooking at Cordon Bleu. He was the proprietor of one of our famous old restaurants as his dad was before him. He wrote ten books about our food, traditions and cooking.

He was very well known to the food culture of New Orleans.

I never knew. I wonder how many of the photographers on the line knew.

Roy Guste died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

RIP.


In a quiet place.

M

any years ago, I used to publish an experimental picture every Sunday. I haven’t done it for a long while. I’d like to say that I’m going to resume, but I’ll probably forget.

Throughout the news sites that I read there have been discussions about CoVid-19 (Over 106,000 daily new infections.), The Olympics, national and global fires, climate change and water.

Since I live in the land of too much water, I thought that I’d focus on that, not so much from a documentary standpoint, but from an artistic standpoint.

So.

This picture is about water. And, leaves. And, branches.

It took some doing to combine these natural elements because they are three separate pictures. We’ll get to that in a minute.

To my mind, all of the news with the exception of The Olympics are nature being nature. Even sports in Japan could fall into the nature category because anyone who competed outside felt the Japanese heat.

I’ve written this in the past, but to me it seems like nature, always seeking stasis, has finally had enough. Ma Nature has decided we — the human race — is the problem and she’s going to do something about us.

Or, we can mend our way. Right this minute. Now.

L

ayers. That’s my trick. As I wrote on the other side, there are three layers here.

Water, leaves and branches. Each of them was photographed at different times.

I started with the water and dropped the leaves into that. I held that back and worked on the branches, which ultimately becomes the base of the entire image.

There was the usual fine tuning and adding the faux bokeh.

I was finished.

I want to discuss one other topic. A friend of mine wrote blog about light. He said that the “overused painting with light” was really not in the discussion.

I wonder why he did that. Photography is literally the Greek words for “Painting with light.” Or, really, “Drawing with light.”

That’s the very first thing you learn in a photo class at any level.


At night in the French Quarter.

I

‘ve made a change. You’ll figure it out. It comes under the heading of who was I really hurting?

In these pandemic days when many people aren’t able to travel, it’s possible to get a European fix right here in New Orleans. After all, we are a French, Spanish and American place. Much of the Quarter was rebuilt after a massive fire and is really Spanish-influenced even though we call it the French Quarter,

But, this place. It looks and feels like it belongs in Paris. It was an old run down apartment building. If you’ve walked on Royal Street, you’ve probably seen it. It is catty corner from Rouses, the only real grocery store in the Quarter.

if you noticed I used the word, “was.”

No worries. It was run down. Now it’s restored. It still exists. Thankfully.

It’s very hard to demo any building in the Quarter. They are all historical. When a building comes down it usually fell down on its own accord. Sometimes, it’s not really on its own. Sometimes, the owner didn’t take very good care of it and it rotted from the inside out.

Anyway, I’ve always liked this building. If there is any kind of pretty light, I usually head over there to make a few pictures, meaning that I’ve got a pretty good archive of this building. Besides, if it’s a hot and humid day, the grocery store is a great place to buy water at normal prices.

And, speaking of normal, nothing is normal in New Orleans as much as we try to pretend it is. We lead the nation in new CoVid-19 infections. Florida is a close second. The rate of infection upriver and in Baton Rouge is so bad that Our lady of The Lake — a major hospital — has no beds for anybody. All of their vents are in use. They were forced to hire traveling nurses to augment their staff.

The entire state is under a governor’s mandate to wear masks inside and outside, if it’s necessary. Many clubs want a proof of vaccination or tests results no older than 72 hours and you still have to wear a mask.

It’s bad and getting worse.

If you are a tourist and you love our city please don’t come.

L

et’s talk about this photograph.

The first thing you should know is that I cropped it out of a horizontal picture because I wanted more detail than a horizontal picture could show on this page.

I followed the crop with what I consider to be normal improvements. I darkened it a little, added some color to it, and sharpened it.

Then…

I went a little crazy. I added glow and softness. I made the picture moody, maybe even spooky.

Finally, I had to repair what normally is a radius issue, meaning that little rim of light you see around subjects, sometimes. This time it was thick and only in one place. It looked like somebody tried to erase the sky. Normally, it is repaired by lowering the radius or “structure.”

Not this time.

I had to fiddle and tinker and fiddle some more. Finally, I found a solution hiding in a vibrance feature. Make the top more colorful and the problem vanished.

I don’t know why.


Into the sun.

I

was rooting around in my archives when I stumbled upon this picture. I made it very early when we returned to New Orleans.

We used to live in Jefferson Parish, near to where The Saints football team practices. I used to walk on a track. Depending on direction you could walk about 1.5 miles or 3 miles.

Getting there was easy. Parking was ample. People were friendly. I wish that we had something closer to home now. I could go to one of the big parks, but that takes effort.

So, I wander around the streets. Sometimes that’s more interesting. But, I’d like not to have to think about traffic.

Anyway.

No dreams, or at least that I remember. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I think when I see things like I did yesterday, it helps my creative juices to flow. After all, I made a pink picture. 🙂

And, now a word from our sponsor. Or, something like that.

David Crosby — yes, that David Crosby, founder of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash and sometimes Young — released a new album called “For Free” after a Joni Mitchell song.

At 79 years old he is dealing with his own mortality. He understands it and is ready, even though he doesn’t want to go.

Unlike most of us, he has a transplanted kidney. He was a serious drug abuser who has been clean for years. And, he’s had at least three heart attacks. So, at 79 he’s been living on borrowed time.

Y’all need to listen to it. The entire record album (I’m old, so sue me) is great from end to end. Amazingly, he’s managed to keep his voice. That sweet caramel and chocolate voice.

For me, the song is called, “I think I.” The next line is “found my way.”

It only took him 79 years.

Maybe it’s time for the boys in the band to forgive him and hit the road one more time, before they can’t.

A

well known photographer once said that if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

He’s right.

I always say that if you’ve got a block of some kind, just go outside and take a walk.

Creative blocks are really just a twisty or a yip. That’s what got Simone Biles at the Olympics. The minute she explained it and said the word twisty, I thought a yip.

They are worse than you know. When you practice long enough certain things become instinctual.

I could go on about what happened to her, but enough has been written about that.

What she forced me to understand is something that has been going on for a long time for me.

I have the yips.

For some reason my energy, my routine, my focus has been broken.

And, that’s frustrating.

Photography has always been my way of grounding myself. And, now it doesn’t work.

I’m not sure of the steps needed to work my way back. Ms. Biles is going to work the balance beam for her last Olympic event. I think I know why she’s doing it.

I’ll watch her very closely. Maybe there’s a clue for me. Or, maybe I already know it.


Magenta dreams.

D

reams came to me last night or early this morning. They were about this place. Sorta. In my dream everything was dusty, sort of a tannish brown. It was hard to breath without a mask. People were getting sick in the dusty atmosphere.

It doesn’t a weatherman to know which way this wind blows. We are all worrying about Delta-X. In Louisiana a lot of the hospitals are already full. So too, in many other states. There is some concern about my working in September. I’d like to.

I’m pretty sure that many other people are thinking this way as well. We are getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Eventually, something bad will happen, be it a huge surge or a lot of violence. We do not need either.

We need vaccinations. We need masks. We need people still keeping their distance.

I’m not sure we will defeat Covid 19 anytime soon, but we certainly can manage it if people wouldn’t stay stuck on stupid.

A

short technical lesson. This picture was made from an original that had earth tones as its core. I decided to make it magenta – pink – purple because I wanted to make it a happier picture than the one in my head.

I think it succeeds on that level.

It’s mysterious without being moody. It evokes emotions without being frightening. And, it is fairly pleasant to look at.

The basic working technique was to remove most of the tan color and replace it with something purplish and let the rest fall where it may. Doing that even created a little blue. Add some fine-tuning and the job was done.


Flowers, water, and grass.

U

pside down. That’s what’s happening to my days. I go to bed early, as in early in the morning. I get up late, like around noon. I’m not sure why my body is doing this, but it’s fine with me.

The weather is very hot and humid. Summer in southeastern Louisiana.

Walking during the day is draining. Walking at 3 am isn’t so bad. Nobody is ever out in my neighborhood so I don’t worry about bad guys.

I just have to remember to do the things that are expected, like Storyteller, before I go to bed. That’s kind of the long way of telling you why I’m late.

I mentioned this to friend who suggested that I just go to bed earlier. It doesn’t work that way. All I do is toss and turn for an hour or two.

So, I might as well make the best of it.

Sometimes, I work a little bit rather than read or watch a movie. I have to be careful with that because it stimulates my brain which keeps me awake even longer.

That would be a problem.

A

little magic. That’s what it took to make this image.

There are two images that were layered in such a way that the bottom image almost doesn’t show up.

You’ll be amazed when I tell you what the bottom image is.

It’s pool water that I darkened to the point that it turned greenish black.

Then, I layered those little flowers on top. These flowers, by the way, are smaller than a dime in real life.

I also removed some darkness from the base layer once I had the flowers in place.

That’s all there was to it. Ha!


Sitting and playing.

T

he next day. We needed coffee. Good coffee. It turned out that a coffee house was less than two short blocks from our hotel.

Even better were the people who worked there. The were friendly and energetic. One of them took us to this place, an empty club.

Apparently, it was fully functioning until a movie production company used it to make a James Brown biopic. When they tore the set down, they gutted the building.

Those are the kinds of stories that you won’t hear if you just pass through a town, keeping to yourself. I suppose you could look around and never say a word to anybody, but what would be the fun in that?

Anyway.

This little bar or club or cafe is now being rebuilt back, good as it ever was.

One of these days we’ll pass through Natchez again and see it for ourselves. But, not this year.

T

here is some post production technique to discuss.

As you know, I’m about feeling more than seeing.

The picture was easy to make, especially if I didn’t want to show you the guitar player beyond what I did.

The club felt smokey, with a little bit of mist drifting in and out. I could see people standing around listening to the band, drinking beer and hanging out.

But, the club was empty. There wasn’t a finished wall in sight.

So, I softened everything. I made the scene glow a little bit.

The rest is in my imagination. Or, yours.


One stop shopping.

T

his is the kind of place that we saw on our drive to Natchez. That’s Mississippi, in case you were unclear on it.

Stopping at little places like this were one of the reasons the drive too so long. This place was closed. The drive would have taken longer if it had been open because the owner would talk to me and I would start a longer conversation.

If you want to take pictures in unfamiliar places that’s how you do it. Talk. Talk. Talk. Let them know that you aren’t a threat in any way.

Make your picture, thank them and move on.

Do that 15 or 20 times on a trip and it adds up to real time. On the other hand, it’s worth it. Meeting new people is always worth it. And, you may learn something about the place you are photographing.

It may not be historically accurate, but who cares? We do it for the stories we can tell. And, for this blog. Well, I do anyway.

And, then there was lunch.

We read about a legendary cafe tucked away between Highway 61 and the river. We knew the crossroad, but that’s all. It took some poking around and looking because the cafe was located in the middle of a trailer park.

That’s also the joy of this kind of travel. Even though the hangries were approaching, we had fun finding the place and eating. The food was really good. Sort of southern home style cooking.

Imagine that. Southern home cooking in the South. What’ll they think of next?

S

ince there is no technique to making a photograph like this one, other than what I wrote about talking to people, I thought that I would talk about yesterday.

I went to an appointment with a new oncologist. There was nothing wrong with the old one. I liked him a lot. But, he retired.

I kind of grilled him about the efficacy of my vaccinations as oppose to what my CLL did to them.

He looked very carefully at my blood work and saw something encouraging. My hemoglobin numbers look almost normal.

So, in the next week we are going to run a detailed panel just looking at that. If it is as we hope, there is a chance that I don’t have to stay locked down, or at least I don’t have to be quite so strict because if the hemoglobin is near normal then the vaccine will work to a point.

Have a good thought for me.


Out on the road.

L

ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

W

hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


You’ll never guess the name of this flower.

L

earn something new every day, they say. I did. I learned the name of this flower from a friend of mine who’s lived here forever.

Care to guess?

It’s an Okra blossom. I never noticed any pods, but even if I had I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at.

I always thought of the bloom as a pretty, fragile, little flower.

But, I never knew what it was.

One of these days I’m going to learn more about flowers than, “This is a yellow flower, this is a red flower… ”

This post has taken all day to write. Business got in the way. Then, Wal Mart got in the way. In an effort to keep me healthy we started using their home delivery service.

It’s supposed to be simple, it’s anything but that. Deliveries go to wrong addresses, the order might not be complete, the driver gets lost while she is standing in front of the gate.

Last night the thing turned weird. Wal Mart sent me two emails saying sorry for the delay, we’ll let you know when it is coming. The groceries are supposed to be here between 7 and 8pm.

Nothing.

Yesterday morning at 6:20 am, they sent me a list of what had been substituted because they were out of stock. This is supposed to mean that the delivery will be made within an hour.

Oh no.

I finally arrived this morning, after cancelling the original order, calling customer service four times and reordering everything. Only 36 hours late.

They forget that customer is king. The CEO of Wal Mart has an Instagram account. Guess what I did? I wrote to him outlining these problems. Then, I wrote to you.

Safe yourself some grief, don’t use Wal Mart’s delivery service.

W

alking by, I saw these flowers. They usually bloom during late spring and last through early summer.

Okra.

I suppose if I tell some young millennial chef about it, he or she will use them in place of the real thing.

Hmm… deconstructed gumbo.

There is not much to making this picture. Find the angle, frame the scene, push the button.

Back in the studio, I processed the image and cropped it. That’s what I did. Nothing more.

Sometimes, being simple is better.

That reminds me of an ancient saying I learned at least 150 years ago.

“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

That applies to the many things that we all do.

Ever get in a rush and nothing goes right? Slow down, you’ll get more done.

Getting more done, if you aren’t working until the early hours of the morning, is very affirming.

For people who are like me and are built to work it’s essential.

It may just be the start of pulling me out of this funk. That is, working until all hours of the night and getting things done that I want to get done.


The sky.

T

hey say to tell another human being. I suppose that’s what I did yesterday. I told all of you. It worked a little and it didn’t. I slept a little better, my head is a little clearer but, that giant hole is still there.

So, I called my primary care doctor and asked for a teleconference. They are big on that lately because they are trying to keep people out of their offices unless we absolutely have to be there.

Their first question when I told them why I wanted to talk to him was are you a danger to yourself or others?

Nah.

Taking my own life is not within me. Ever. There are two ways to look at that. Either I’m pretty strong emotionally even though I’m down now. Or, I’m a coward because it takes courage to end your own life.

Hurting others?

Nah.

For me, violence is only for self defense. Besides, I’m sad not mad. And, I am mostly just quiet.

Anyway, my doc and I talked for about 12 minutes, which is the normal span of an office visit. I take a medicine for pain that was originally developed as an antidepressant. He raised the dose. I’ll check in with him or his office in 72 hours.

For y’all, no worries.

A

fter looking and not seeing I pretty much gave up trying to make a few new pictures.

Then, I took the trash out. This wonderful sky is what I saw. I took a bunch of pictures.

I suppose that photographer’s luck comes into play when you aren’t trying so hard.

I wasn’t trying at all.

Editing and post production was minimal, just enough to define the clouds a little better than the original file.

This is not my usual style or work. I’m usually bolder and use more contrast than this.

This picture just sort of floats. It’s what I needed at the time.

Something light, lacy, floating and almost ephemeral.

Maybe you could use that too.


Inside out.

W

hen I awoke, I was feeling confused. Something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.The feeling passed. I let it go.

It came back when I started working. I still couldn’t place it.

I played some music. Music is magic. I takes me to other places. It inspires me. It centers me. And, if I’m lucky, it clarifies my thoughts.

That’s what it did.

I don’t know why I selected an album called “Age of Miracles,” by Mary-Chapin Carpenter. The backstory is complicated. It was her first album after leaving Columbia. It was her first album after she recovered from two pulmonary embolisms. It was the first album after her divorce.

I don’t listen to it often because she seems confused. She’s trying to break free of her country reputation, yet she falls back on it. She does sing one of the saddest songs in the word called, “I have a need for solitude.”

But, it caught me. I realized what I was missing.

And, it made me very sad.

I’ll work small to larger. You’ll understand. And, you’ll understand this picture.

I miss Sophie Rose terribly. We have other dogs, but Sophie chose me. I was her person. I feel like I let her down. I know that I didn’t. After a lot of reading, it’s very possible that she had been coming to her end for couple of months. It was just her time. But, that may give me a pass, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Then, there is my CLL, a blood cancer. It likely will never do anything terrible to me. But, it limits me. My CoVid-19 vaccinations do nothing for me. That means, no festivals, no second lines, no Indian events, no Mardi Gras.

If that isn’t depressing enough, we are back to wearing masks because our infection rate, like most of the country has grown by about 150%

Being in my condition of combined illness, sadness and depression makes it very hard to work. I can’t seem to let a picture find me and I can’t work. I have all sorts of projects that could take the rest of the year or more. You’d think I’d be excited to get started.

What do I do? I sleep.

When I finally start my day, I find everything to do but work.

In a word, it sucks.

I wish I knew the path. Maybe I’ll get lucky and stumble onto it. I doubt that. It’s bigger than letting a picture find me. It’s all of me.

Writers give advice about being authentic. Is this authentic enough?

F

or us, down in the swamp, late summer is already approaching. It’s gotten hot. It’s turned dry.

Stuff is dying.

I took a walk with a couple of the other dogs. They need walks too. I was looking for a picture. Or, was open to letting one find me.

No pictures because there is no color. The flowers die in the heat.

It’s also hard to stay motivated because after five minutes you are too hot. After ten minutes your shirt blooms with sweat.

The dogs felt it too. They were ready to turn around after they did what they needed to do.

So, that’s the technique. Walk until you can’t. Make a picture of whatever you see and return home.

The picture suits my mood.

In that way, I suppose I was successful. Or, not.


Summer rain leaves droplets on the leaves.

S

ummer is our rainy season. We had an amazing amount of rain this month. They said we had five times the normal amount of rain for a July. That’s something for us because July is very wet.

The constant rain gets a little bit tiresome, but it does yield scenes like this one. It’s a combination of nature and magic.

Look at those reds. Those blues. Those purples. Those colors are something aren’t they? They look like fall colors except that it’s July.

It’s all about the water.

I’ve written a lot about the lack of water in most of America. We don’t have that problem. We have another problem. We have too much water. We don’t take drought seriously. When we talk about it, it’s after ten days of no rain.

It’s a matter of perceptions.

Those of us in the Gulf Coast States don’t think about the lack of water when we should be thinking about how to distribute our water to people living in the west.

It’s a funny thing. I was thinking about all of the infrastructure proposals and I haven’t seen anything about water issues. Nothing. Zero. Zip.

Well, I have a proposal. Let’s move some of our unneeded water west. A series of giant pipes might be cost prohibitive, but maybe not. Not if we want fresh fruits and vegetables.

Or, maybe there’s another way. I’m not the smartest person in the room but others are. It’s time we start thinking about this. It’s time for those smart folks to get going.

After all, we all get thirsty.

T

his picture didn’t take much post production. I made the picture as I saw it and added a bit of color that the sensor couldn’t seem to see.

But, I only added enough color to make the photograph look like the scene that caught my attention so that you can see it too.

I had to be careful because these rich blues, reds and purples are some of my favorite colors. My natural inclination is to take them too far.

That’s the trick sometimes, knowing when to stop. Maybe that’s the trick with everything in life. Knowing when to stop.

I dunno. I’m just thinking out loud.

Maybe I should stop.

O

ne more thing. You knew it. I couldn’t stop.

Seriously, after a lot of thought, I’m staying here on WordPress.

The basic community building theory is what’s most important. I know a lot of you here. I can’t build that again, because it’s only taken me eleven years.

There’s more too. It’ll take a lot of time to build anything. Time is short these days. Time is expensive. No matter how you use it.


Darkness at the edge of town.

O

bviously, I made this picture a while ago, like in winter. I tucked it away and you’ve never seen it. I’m starting to work through that collection now.

Unfortunately for me, these pictures are scattered throughout the last few months which means that I have to find them. Hard to do when you’ve forgotten about them. That’s how the infamous lost files are found.

This is a prime example of me seeing a scene for what it could be and making that happen in post production. It’s very likely the sky was pale winter blue and the foreground in good light.

That’s fine.

But, it doesn’t always fulfill my photographic needs. In fact, the deeper my journey becomes the more I want to make pictures that express my vision.

Usually, that doesn’t mean making a documentary style photograph. Nor, does it mean just throwing a couple of filters on a picture and calling it done.

The best of my work is brought about by thinking about, and then working, on the picture.

That doesn’t always happen.

I get rushed. I don’t think clearly. Even worse, I don’t feel clearly. I believe that you, the viewer or reader, can tell that. You see right through me.

At least that’s what I think.

N

ow, here are some technical issues to overcome.

First, as I wrote on the other side, the picture was made in color.

As I also wrote, the image was made in pale winter light. It was pretty enough, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

So, I thought about it and decided it might look like winter feels. Brooding. Moody. Even scary.

I took out as much color as I could. But, if you notice, not all.

Then I softened the sky and enhanced the silhouetted subjects.

I blurred everything to soften the feel.

That’s it. That’s enough.

How about those of you who are photographers? How do you achieve your vision?


Free falling.

T

oday got rolling just about the time I got up. I told you that I was going to get busy. I didn’t think that I meant right this second.

I thought I could cruise into the work a little bit at a time. Silly me.

I made my first mistake when I started listening to music. I started with something soft, slow and nostalgic. I almost couldn’t get started. I switched things up. I started Playing a playlist called “Ray’s Mix.”

Yeah. That’s me. I made it when I thought making play lists on Spotify was important. It’s loud. It’s s noisy. And, I know all the words.

Anyway.

This one will keep me working for hours.

I’ll keep this short. Work awaits.

Darn.

D

o you want technique? This one should fill you up. To the top.

The picture really is about nothing. Since all art is autobiographical what does that say about me?

That aside, this was a picture made from desperation. Or, it was an attempt to come back from wandering in the wilderness.

I made the picture, developed it and thought, “Now what?”

I removed a lot of color and muted it. Then, I tinkered around with different modification filters until I came to this place.

The picture highlights something I’ve been saying, and saying, and saying…

Go outside and take a picture. You’ll find one, or it will find you.


Asit shall be.

T

here is a lot of talk about water, especially in the West. Climate change is creating havoc, not only with heat, but with fire and the use of water.

In New Mexico the famous acequia system that provides water to farms has all but dried up.

In California farmers are deciding which crops to grow and what livestock to raise because they have no water.

In Nevada, the water that is backed up into Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam is as low as its been since it was originally filled. In the 1930s.

Meanwhile, the fire in Oregon has turned the skies of New York City gray. The pictures look great with a big bright orange sun up against a deep grey sky. But, pictures can be deceiving. How is that hurting the people of the city?

There are wildfires all over the west.

if we want, we can return to the heat. This’ll make you hot.

The West Coast was broiling a couple of weeks ago. In Death Valley, the highest temperature ever — 135*/F — was recorded one day. In Las Vegas, which is hot enough on a summer day, temperatures of 116* were recorded at 10 am.

If you can’t tell, this stuff is scaring me.

In Louisiana things seem to be normal. If anything, we are having a coolish summer with lots of rain. Of course, the minute I write that, the temperature will rise by ten degrees and the humidity will climb to numbers unknown.

If we don’t want to put our children in hell, we’ve got to get on this.

Now.

Droplets.

T

echniques and stuff. See it, photograph it, develop it, publish it.

There. Now wasn’t that helpful?

Truthfully, I made this in New Mexico, during a spring thaw.

I photographed it with a huge aperture, probably F 2 or so. That’s why there is such a tiny depth of field.

That’s all you need to know.

The rest of this side is about me. It’s about nostalgia. The pictures I’ve been publishing are of my past.

I’m not motivated to make much new work. You know why.

But, I am very nostalgic. I think I’m seeing the past fairly clearly.

This may be time to add to my pile of work.

Over the past few years some people are saying… Wait a minute. That sounds strangely like the words of the president who shall not be named.

Some of my friends have suggested that I write a book. My response has been fairly standard. “I have nothing to say.”

I’m thinking as this stuff rolls around in my head that maybe I could do it. Maybe it’s about me and what I’ve learned along the way. Maybe, you read about me. But you expand it to you, or something more general.

After all, that how most movies are made. Focus on a particular subject as a symbol for something greater.

O

h yeah. The picture to the right. More water. It was made in southeastern Louisiana. I added it because it was there.


Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


Turn and frayed.

T

he original image is ancient. I was playing around during a snowstorm in New Mexico. It was one of my picture a day images.

It’s shredded newspaper.

Everything came together at once. I need to make a picture and I had a new shredder that I wanted to test.

So, I shredded up a lot of newspaper and made a few pictures.

This was the result. Something huge for your wall. Maybe even wallpaper. Of course, your house would have to be able to pull it off. I’m not sure what kind of house that might be.

I’m thinking something very modern, all in white except for one wall. This wall. The one with shredded newspaper as wallpaper.

I make no claims about being an interior designer. My idea of covering walls is to fill them with framed art until there isn’t any more room and then rotate pictures in and out. The goal is to keep much of my work off the walls as possible.

After all, I know what my work looks like. I want to know what your work looks like.

I used to do some trading here. I thought we were doing a simple transaction. Mine for yours. Yours for mine. I didn’t work out that way. I’d send mine. I never received yours.

So, I stopped dong that. The experiment failed as most do here. I’m not sure why that happens. I have my theories, but I’ll leave that alone unless you really want to know and ask.

A

s I look at this picture a lot of memories come flooding back.

I’m one of those unfortunates who remembers everything.

Sometimes those ghosts are friendly. Often they are not.

Today is one of those days when they aren’t friendly. The biggest memory is why I moved to New Mexico in the first place.

We are a little over a month from the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina changing life as we knew it in New Orleans.

I’d wanted to retire in New Mexico. That would have been a good thing. It wasn’t good because of the way I went there.

I wasn’t done with New Orleans. I missed everything about it.

I remember my first Mardi Gras there. A parade was held in Old Town at the plaza. I got all excited.

What a come down it was. There was one cart that was supposed to be a float and a few people walking with it.

Luckily, it was held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day. I hopped on an airplane and got back to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras Day.

It was glorious. Most of us hadn’t returned to the city yet. The city was in shambles. The parades were small. The Zulus had been scattered to the four corners of the country. Somebody paid for The Shaka Zulus to come from South Africa to replace them.

But, man did we celebrate. We were alive. As Mardi Gras Indians say, “Won’t bow down. Don’t know how.”

That’s what’s in my head today. I don’t know why. I suppose that it’s a kind of PTSD that comes and goes whenever it feels like it.

It’s one of those things that inspires me to say, “Control is overrated.”

It is.

You must be wondering about technique by now. There really isn’t any. Shred all the newspapers you have in the house and take picture of the remains.

That’s it.

A perfect picture of the newspaper industry as it stands today.


Suddenly it hits you.

L

isten to it. This photograph feels like a song. For me, it’s a Steely Dan song. For others it’s probably something different.

It helps that Sunday afternoons — when I write Storyteller’s Monday post — is generally Steely Dan day. I usually listen to one or two albums will I develop, process and work on post production before I get ready to write.

When I write, I turn the music up louder. It works. I tried to listen to podcasts while I wrote. My words got confused with their words so I gave it up. For a while I tried listening to a podcast while I read something else.

Can you say word salad?

It sounded like a politicians trying to speak out of both sides of mouth at once. Or tweeting, or something like that.

Anyway, Steel Dan seems to work with this picture. I could drop lyrics anywhere into my so-called prose and it might make sense or certainly fit.

Drive west on Sunset…

A little more Sunday magic.

Y

ou’d think this was some super duper post production thing.

Maybe a layer or two.

It’s not.

The entire image was made in camera. It was adjusted in post, but it wasn’t added to, subtracted from or layered on any way.

I swear.

Let’s talk about another technique.

Writing.

It seems brighter to me today. I suppose it helps that I drank a double espresso before I started writing.

The thing is, I’ve been sleeping too much. I’ll sleep for 9 or 10 hours, start reading and sleep for 2 or 3 more.

I suspect it’s simply the stress of these last 18 months leaving my body.

There could be worse ways.


Magical night.

P

laying. Having fun. Tinkering. Messing around. That’s some of what we should be doing. But, often we get sucked into making a living. Or, we really get sucked into the gear of the thing.

Experimenting and playing is what Storyteller is about, has always been about. Oh sure, a client or two has found me here. Or, I’ve sold a couple of photographs to private collectors.

That’s it.

I’m trying to make a big decision. You heard about this in the past. I’ve been quietly building a new website.

It’s a portfolio-commercial site that contains a blog within the website itself. Oh for sure, I’ll take all of you with me who want to come along.

Some of you would like me to stay here. That’s humbling. If I send you an email link that takes you to the new site you shouldn’t see a difference, except you probably won’t be able to “like” a post without commenting.

That’s not the real question.

Actually, there’s two. Will a semi-folksy blog like Storyteller confuse the commercial users? Will LaskowitzPictures confuse the folksy readers?

And, the bigger question.

What is this new website? Do I continue to publish a lot of New Orleans pictures? Or, travel pictures? Or, a giant portfolio from 45 years past?

Or, should I go with my instincts? And, make the site about artistic pictures?

Or? Or? Or?

Please, you tell me what you think. Please.

L

et’s assume that Storyteller becomes an art website and an artistic blog.

See where I am really going with this? Heh!

There are many forms of art.

Some are like these layered things that I’ve been doing a lot over many years. See the picture.

Others are minimalist, almost Zen-like in nature.

Others are a collection of dark, moody and mysterious pictures that I’ve been making.

Do I show a small portfolio of each of them? Could I turn those portfolios into more pictures with a click on the original image? Like a tree with branches?

Do I know how to do that coding and linking?

Does anyone?


Summer skies.

W

alking around yesterday for the first time in a long time revealed a very pretty sky framed by a few nice Live Oaks.

I chose a time somewhat close to dusk because, well you know, the light s usually pretty olden, If not that, then the light very golden. In the picture the light is kind of a mixture of both.

I think that was just timing. Or, photographer’s luck. Actually, at this time of day it’s usually both.

T

hat’s it for me.

I have a little infection in my gums. I’m taking and antibiotic for that, but it is very painful. The doc gave me an antibiotic and a pain killer. It’s the same medicine that the late Sophie Rose when she had a gum infection. It’s just a little different dosage.

It’s a thick liquid that comes in a bottle and is applied with aa syringe.

My gums are no longer painful. But, I’m lucky that I can sit up and write this.

Hopefully, I won’t need it tomorrow,

I

looked up and saw the sky framed by the tree.

It was actually framed on both sides, but I cropped it enough to allow the picture to become a very deep vertical photograph.

I also made the yellow clouds a little darker and richer.

I opened up the tree that was questionable when the black was plugged up and looked like a black mass.

The i added a frame to ut and I was done.

But, am I?


N

ormally, you would see Our Lady of Guadalupe paintings in some Southwestern State, usually in New Mexico.

I was surprised to see this one in the Seventh Ward. This location was heavily flooded during the storm. When I made the picture there was mud, and gravel and leftover bits and pieces covering the streets.

A few people returned to their homes and were working on them to make them whole. It’s likely that one of them sprayed out that tag on the building. That tells the tagger that somebody cares. It doesn’t stop them from doing it again, but it may make them think.

The guys who tag buildings are smart, said no one ever. They could come back and get caught in he act. No telling what would happen then if they were caught.

So, there is some CoVid-19 news in New Orleans. Apparently, the virus has increased by 53% over the previous week. It’s mostly the Delta variant. The city is talking about requiring masks in certain situations and they are thinking forward to fall when it’s likely to surge.

This fall is very busy. Voodoo Festival bowed out until next year. But, French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest are scheduled to take place over three weekends. The city said that there may have to be some modifications to crowd numbers, or — ouch, ouch, ouch — the festivals may have to be cancelled. That’ll make four tries over two years for Jazzfest.

Since none of this is firm, Jazzfest is moving head and today The Jazz and Heritage Foundation announced the daily schedules.

The biggest fear may be that if there is fall viral surge that any of these festivals could become a super spreader event.

It’s all guess work ay this point, so stay tuned.

O

bviously, this picture didn’t take much post production.

It didn’t take much photo technique either.

All I did was see it, be surprised at what I saw, and make the picture. I got back in my car and drove away.

I should have investigated further. There are two sheets of paper posted to the left hand side of the picture, where the diagonal door is located. Those will tell you the disposition of the building.

I like to know those things in case I want to come back before it is demolished. In this case, I’d likely have had some time because demolitions didn’t start for another few years.

This building is a good candidate for destruction because the boarded up window looks like it was closed well before the storm.

One of these days I should return and find out what really happened.

One of these days.


I

showed this picture another similar one to a friend of mine who plays in the gallery world. He said these pictures are worth a lot in that world.

I suppose, but I really don’t see it. I made these pictures because they were there to be made. Eventually, these pictures will become parts of a book. I certainly never saw them as having interest in the art world.

I’m not even sure they are worth much in the so-called photography fine art world. So-called because a photographer claims to be a fine art guy and shows a picture of a sunset or something just as banal as that. How is that art of any kind?

All art is autobiographical. The viewer brings meaning to it. That’s how it works. How is a sunset that 239 people photographed autobiographical?

I like sunsets well enough. I rarely photograph them because most are mundane. But, when the sky goes crazy I’m out there with everybody else. I never think of that work as fine art. If that is fine art what is Van Gogh or Degas?

There is a group of galleries that do show and sell photography as art, but it is nothing like a sunset picture or a snapshot of a flower. The photographers who they represent are artists in sheep’s clothing.

I just don’t see my pictures of broken buildings as a match for them. Maybe they are.

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Heh!

T

here isn’t much that qualifies as technical in this picture.

But, there is a technique to making a picture like this.

Most of these abandoned places are in funky neighborhoods. You have to be careful.

You need to use situational awareness.

Look in all of your car’s mirrors before you get out. When you get out head straight to your subject with that photographer’s swagger I wrote about a few days ago.

Then, pull out your weapon and fire a few rounds in the air. That’s how we greet each other in New Orleans.

Of course, I’m kidding.

Guns bring more guns. Never shoot one in broken neighborhoods or any neighborhood. Just look into a passerby’s eye and nod pleasantly.

There have been times when I’ve done that only to get a reply back, “Hey Mister Photographer do you remember me? You took a picture of me at so so second line. Do you think I could get a picture?”

Then, in this case, he said there are too many dealers — and he points to a group of houses — and then said, “I’ll just hang wicha while you take pictures.”

He had my back. He got his pictures.


Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


Customized nature.

Y

es, it’s true. I wrote that caption which says customized nature. It’s true because I performed so much digital editing on this tree that it might not look anything like the original.

That really wasn’t my intent but it looked good at the time so I went with it. I probably should have reworked from the start but stuff got in the way. So I left it alone.

That’s been the story of the last two years.

Even with no traveling and mostly staying at home until very recently, stuff got in the way.

The real problem comes when I try to think of what that stuff was. No. I’m not suffering from memory loss even though during the year of lock up minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and calendar pages never turned. The stuff just wasn’t important enough to remember or even be documented.

But, it got in the way.

And, you?


Interstate 80 east of Reno, Nevada.

R

oad Trips.

Road Trips are essential if you want to stay sane, at least for me and a lot of my friends. Kindred spirits you know. I have been to Virginia a couple of times for business. But, we avoided every possible person which wasn’t a lot of fun. I’ll show you why eventually.

This is Interstate 80, eastbound. This is one way home. I like to make circular trips. I started in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Interstate 80 where I eventually turned right on State Route 93. I made my way through Las Vegas until I came to State Highway 95 and kept going until I arrived in Reno via State Route 95 and backtracking on Highway 50.

When I left Reno I took Interstate 80, stopping at Fernley and eventually connecting to Route 50, The Loneliest Highway in the World — they haven’t been to Mongolia — where I travelled to somewhere in Utah and eventually returned to I-40 and home.

All of that to tell you I usually take the long way when I’m on a road trip that doesn’t involve business. Pictures can’t find you is your are speeding through at 90 mph. It’s great to get so far out there that the only communication devices that work are a couple of AM radio stations, or Spotify if you’ve downloaded music to your phone, a phone that won’t get internet or telephone signal. Before you get worried about having an emergency and needing a phone, just think about road trips you’ve taken with your parents. in an earlier era.

The picture was made on I-80. My co-pilot fell asleep so I made this picture on my own. No, the car ahead is not heading toward us. That’s water being kicked up behind it and lighted by the sun.

There was nobody but the two of us on the road so I took advantage of that and drove up the dividing line to get the angle that I wanted. We do something like that in New Orleans to avoid potholes.

Oh yeah.

The rain started falling again. It turned into snow, but not ice. Snow is fine. Ice isn’t.

Remember that. Just in case.


Out on the road.

O

ut on the road, heading to Reno and Fernley, Nevada, for Thanksgiving. We were going to Reno for Thanksgiving with my extended family who live there. Traveling to Fernley was to visit the National Cemetery and my parents grave sites.

The National Cemetery is a dedicated site that sits on high desert land. The area is covered with tumble weeds and other desert plants. I’ve only been there in cold weather months so I know it to be cold and wind swept. It suits me.

The VA buries veterans at the cemetery closest to them. In New Orleans it used to be at Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought during the War of 1812. But, it is full. So, my next resting place is in Slidell. But, by buying the farm and living there, I’ve upgraded myself to the pinnacle of national cemeteries. Arlington.

Not that I’ll care.

Fernley was just a little desert town when I buried my parents about 18 months apart. I almost didn’t recognize it this time. FEDEX built a huge distribution center there. You know what happens when a big company moves into a little back water town. The town explodes. The people are flush with cash. New people move in. All the funky little businesses are gentrified out of business.

When I buried my parents, and returned to visit their graves I drank coffee at a little cafe where the waitress greeted everybody with, “Hon, sit anywhere that you want.” It’s gone, replaced by a Starbucks with counter help that misspell your name. Every single time.

Anyway.

This is Area 51, or a gateway to it. True believers think there are captured space aliens here. They think the government uses them for experiments. Try going on the fenced off land. You won’t get 500 yards before soldiers armed to the teeth riding in Humvees turn you back to the public roads. They are authorized to shoot to kill. That’s just how serious they are.

The soldiers are intense because Area 51 is a skunkworks. Experimental planes and rockets are developed there. Most never see service and are left in the far reaches of the barbed wire desert. There are also conventional planes, B-29s and the upgraded version called the B-50. There are probably others. They were used to test experimental things. They are left to molder and rot in the desert. They don’t rust. The desert is too dry for that.

The little rest stop in the picture with the pink building is fairly well known. You can buy gas there. You can buy food to go there. You can eat in the cafe there. Or, you can visit the cathouse in the back. You know, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.”

Everything is expensive so I usually refuel closer to Las Vegas. I do stop to make pictures. And, some times I buy road food, No. I don’t go to the backroom. I pass no judgement on those who do, but I’m not that guy. Besides, my co-driver would kill me. But. I am a guy who enjoys road trips. I haven’t taken one in over two years.

You know why.


Driving, photographing, waiting.

A

nother drive by shooting. Well, sorta. I was waiting for the light to change looking at the traffic in front me. I had an ah ha moment. I turned off the windshield wipers to let the rain water accumulate. When there was enough water I made a few pictures. The light turned green and down the road I went.

As some of you know, sometimes I put the camera on the dashboard while the car is moving and let it do its thing while I have both hands on the steering wheel. But, never in the rain. Too many bad things can happen. I need total concentration.

I started reading the news today. All of it was bad. Really bad. Sure, news organizations report bad news. But, this is extreme. My biggest fear is the new variant. I can see how this is going to go. I really don’t want to live in my self imposed lock down forever.

I see something else too. Remember how some people attacked Asians because they thought CoVid19 is a Chinese infection? Well, this variant apparently started in South Africa. Think about the ramifications of that.

Racism to numbers unknown.

This is a chance to show each other and the world what we are made of. Likely, we’ll show everyone that we are made of gutter trash. At least Trump isn’t president with the ability to stir things up.

I think we need to stay cool, think before we act, and to always stay mighty.


They say, “if you bought it a truck brought it.” New Mexico is a crossroads state where I-25 runs north and south while I-40 runs east and west. You can go everywhere in America from here.

T

his was an experiment. Not the picture, the final editing. The caption says it all. The processing takes it to another higher level because to me it says what it means to travel. For some it means slipping into the mist in order to get away from daily life. For others it may mean something about being on the road. It means different things to each of you.

Hopefully, it will make you think.

Now to the heart of this post.

T

his is so hard to write, but I have to do it. It was an incredibly sad day around here. As some of you may know I am the legal godfather to an adopted child who came from Russia. She came as a baby and now she is fifteen years old. She joined a rambling southern family.

A few day ago her cousin went missing. The State of Mississippi issued a silver alert, which was broadcast or published in every kind of media. State Troopers found him. He was dead by his own hand. Suicide. I am unclear if it was yesterday or the worst possible day. Thanksgiving.

I cannot imagine what his immediate family is going through. I know that his big sister, who has a good career, is married and who is living her life is not doing well with this.

I have always had two thoughts about suicide. It is either the most cowardly thing a person can do. Or, it is the most courageous thing a person can do. Cowardly is giving up and hurting who and what you leave behind, especially your family. Courageous is that you are making the ultimate choice not knowing what is in front of you. No worries. I’m not that guy. I started thinking about this years ago in a psychology class.

That’s all from me except for this.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is open 24 hours a day. Use it if you need it. 800-273-8255

Peace, y’all.


After lunch.

O

nce upon a time, in a far away place, I took this picture. I forgot about it. Amazon Pictures found it. It was something I saw after lunch with a friend, as I was walking to my car. I stopped for a few minutes and photographed the hell out of it.

I used my favorite camera of the time, even though it wasn’t anything big time. I used Nikon for most work, but I carried a Canon Powershot G-9 everywhere. It was a little thick to fit in my pockets so I wore it like a big camera on a strap and slung it over my shoulder.

I made so many pictures with it that I it wore out. Canon couldn’t repair it, but they were amazed at the number of times I pushed the button.

340,781

That’s a lot.

I sorta bought a used one from a kid on Craigslist. We met at some coffeeshop in Albuquerque. He wanted $250.00. I offered him $100. He asked why he should take such a low price. I replied that it was obviously stolen and there are two cops sitting right over there. He asked how I knew. He left the SD card in the camera. There were a bunch of family pictures stored on it. He claimed it was his family. I showed them to him. He was a blonde white boy. I smiled at him and said, “so you’re Black, who’d have thunk it?

He walked away before I could do anything.

So, being the law abiding soul that I am, I it mentioned to the cops. They shrugged their shoulders. Unless I could prove it was stolen they couldn’t do much about it.

That’s how I got my first free camera.


A crack in the wall.

T

his is a New Mexico picture. Sometimes I just see shapes and I want to see what they look when I photograph them. I’d forgotten this picture until Amazon found it some buried sub-archive. Boy, was I happily surprised.

I’d tell you that this is an adobe wall, but it is not. It is some kind of concrete that is made to look like adobe. It’s sort of a touristic thing to do when you want to attract people to your business as they are wandering around Santa Fe.

Some would say that this is not real adobe that the picture isn’t true.

Of course it’s true. It’s not a study of construction method, it’s a study of the shape created by that dark gap in the wall.

Some people, Sheesh.


From another perspective.

D

o you remember what I said yesterday about November 21 being the start of my year? Well, I started that. After some thought I decided that I wanted to take a look back at my traveling life.

This does two things.

You get to see photographs that you might never have seen. You know. Exclusive to the readers of Storyteller. I have further plans for that.

This also forces me to work through my archive and do something about the 50 year old mess.

I also am playing with, tinkering with, and experimenting with different art forms.

Anyway.

T

his is The Church of Saint Francis Assisi located in Taos, New Mexico. It’s actually in Rancho de Taos. The plaza that is built around the church is dusty and has seen better days.

Just about everybody and their brother has photographed it. And, their brother’s brother too. It’s a challenge to do something different. I think I did, but only because of luck and timing. Saying that is a gamble. Obviously, I haven’t seen every picture that was taken there.

Happy Tuesday.


The soft underbelly.

This stuff never changes. It’s swamp growth. It doesn’t care what season it is unless it’s super cold with temperatures down in the low twenties. Then, like every other plant, it dies. But, it grows back in a fairly short time.

So, my year starts today. A friend of mine suggested that I start my year on my birthday rather than January 1 or even on a financial quarter. I think that’s a pretty good idea. So away I go.