China Rose

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

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

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

These are China Roses produced my way.

Artfully.

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

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

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

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

Imagine that. Meat Beer.

And, the world turns.

Whatever did I do to this picture?

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

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

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

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

So. I won’t.

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


Jones.

I did a lot in the past 24 hours.

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

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

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

And.

I did what I said I would do.

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

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

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

We’ll just see how this goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leaving town.

There are many ways out of Albuquerque, but this is my favorite. If you are going on a road trip you can kind of say goodbye to the city as you leave. Even if you are not, you can pretend.

This is what is left of Route 66 west of Albuquerque. Just a little over the rise in the far center of the photograph is where it meets I-40 and all points west.

There are little bits and pieces and parts of Route 66 that run along I-40, but not enough to really get anywhere. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t photographable. They are.

There have been a lot of reflective articles lately about photography. There have been a few concerning how it relates to social media. I’ve said on Storyteller that each has their specific place in the branding world, but do they?

I have never gotten even a nibble from anything that I post on Instagram, which is distributed to Facebook. Oh sure, I get a lot of likes. But, you can’t eat likes. I read Twitter mostly for NOLA Twitter and news. I really don’t know most of the local folks who post on Twitter. And, I read news at the source.

So, why do it?

A photographer/writer who I read and like, reckons that we waste 2.5 hours per day on social media. Think about it. That’s 17.5 hours per week, or 70 hours per month, or 840 hours per year.

That’s 35 days.

What could you do with 35 days?

I have to think about it for another ten minutes, but I think I may do that. There are plenty of ways to reach, find, and talk to me.

Or, I can stay around, not post and just read here and there.

We’ll see.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere here, on Storyteller.

Wowie Zowie. Look at the big ball of light. Wouldja? Oh wait, that’s the sun as it blasts its way through the windshield.

Yes, if you leave Albuquerque at around sunset, this is your view.

There are some big businesses outside of the city limit so you have an inbound rush hour of sorts.

The finished picture takes some explanation.

I tried to keep some details in the sun. Yeah, right. But, doing that made the surrounding everything very dark. It also added a lot of contrast which is no problem for me.

Of course, all of that created a lot of shadows and silhouettes. A lot of people don’t like that which is why HDR was invented.

I like shadows and silhouettes. If anything, I want to make them stronger and more defined.

It’s all a matter of personal taste.

For me, this is how it looks and feels if you are leaving Albuquerque around sunset.

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


Prayers in Albuquerque.

When I lived in Albuquerque I was invited to take part in a photo competition. I usually don’t do those things because often they become popularity contests.

Not this time.

This was, what we used to call in school, a shoot off. Every photographer competed with every other photographer for a specific period of time, an hour in this case.

Most of the shooters were amateurs. For some reason they decided to dog me. I didn’t ever say that this is what I did for a living. I rarely do. But, I do have the photographer’s swagger and with a camera in hand I’m superman.

I did whatever I could to dodge and lose them. Or, if they did find me I’d look at exactly the wrong place. Sorry guys and gals but we are competing.

Anyway, I found this little chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Ah ha. My picture. The statue was backlighted and very hard to photograph. Getting any detail in the flowers was next to impossible, so I didn’t worry about it.

I also made other pictures during the time allotted. Some of them were pretty good. But, this picture was the grand prize winner. It also put me in touch with The Albuquerque Photographers Gallery. They are a co-op. I became a member and for a time, the director.

This picture is still among my signature collection, I usually add it to my travel portfolio when I’m showing it.

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

The biggest technical issue with this picture is the backlighting from the window.

Expose for the highlight and the statue would have been so dark that I doubt I couple have repaired it in post production.

So, I went the other way and exposed for the statue, which is the subject of the picture.

I did what I could to darken those flowers in post production.

I had two other alternatives.

I could have moved the flowers, but I am loathe to do that with this type of work. It’s a kind of photojournalism.

Or, I could have used fill flash. But, this is a tricky location. Make the proper adjustments and the picture might work. Go too far and it becomes blown out. In a small room like this, that happens all too often.

One quick WordPress technical comment. Between yesterday and today they made a change.

Typing is now predictive. Normally I complain about changes in the night. Not this time. This saves my rear end.


In the winter.

We had snow. It melted. We had rain. The water stuck around long enough to freeze. We had snow on top of that.

I ran some errands a few miles from home. I came to this street and thought, “Oh oh.” I had no idea if it was just wet or icy. It was wet turning to ice as the day got colder.

Even though I like to say that I enjoy bad weather, mostly because you can make pictures like this one, driving in it doesn’t make me happy.

Even though it’s been a while, I’m fairly comfortable driving on snow. Ice is another story. You have no control. The car slides whichever way it wants to go unless you have studded tires or chains.

And, then there’s getting trapped in icy and snow conditions. With my car if you turn on the anti skid settings, you cannot drive out of a snow drift or ice. If you turn it off, out you go. I’m sure my friends in northern climes have something to say about this.

I’ll tell you an ice story.

My newspaper career started in Virginia. I was married to a woman who is not my wife now. She was a great reporter. As I understand it, she’s retired now. I have nothing bad to say about her. Not ever.

Anyway.

We spent the weekend in Washington D.C. We were headed home on Sunday racing a big snow storm coming from the East behind us. We got to a really steep drop on I-81. At the bottom were two state trooper cars. One trooper had a flashlight and was slowing everybody down.

No problem.

My wife was driving. She applied the brakes slowly. Nothing. Finally a little grab. She managed to slow down to about 1 mph or so. She really had no control. We were right upon the trooper when he stepped slightly to the side and she hit him. At less than 1 mph.

He wasn’t hurt but he was angry. He got to our and started yelling, when he saw my arm holding her back and a terrified look on our faces. When he saw that his anger faded. He understood what happened. He saw us sliding down the highway.

We talked for a few minutes and he told us to be safe.

As I recall that happened somewhere between Roanoke and Christiansburg, where we lived. My then wife drove home. We brought the luggage in. We were exhausted. We went to bed.

When we awoke there was eight feet of snow on the ground. No way to get out until the snow plows arrived sometime in the afternoon.

We should have just stayed in the District

A friend of mine complimented me on a picture that I made in Southeastern Louisiana that looked something like this one.

No, not the scene. The light.

I told her that it is a very hard picture to make because of the light. I also said that the last time I made a picture like it was in about 1978.

It turns out I was wrong.

I made this picture about 12 for 13 years ago.

It has the same quality of cold, silvery backlighting that makes the road sort of shine and drops the edges into a bit of shadow.

Oh okay. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve been at this since about 1972. Next year makes 50 years.

You can’t expect me to remember everything.

If you ever come to light that looks like this, stop your car, get out of it and make a few pictures. That’s all there is to it.

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


The streets were wet.

One of my road trips during the PAD days was to Reno, Nevada. There is a story behind this adventure which I’ll tell in a bit.

I drove from Albuquerque through Las Vegas and north on state route 95. I stopped along the way. I turned a two day trip into three.

I made a huge amount of signature pictures. Most of that was just due to timing. Arrive at a place that you want to photograph in good light and guess what happens.

When I arrived, I was tired, grumpy and wet. The grumpiness was at myself. Nobody else. I checked into the hotel at time when nobody was traveling. The hotel was a pretty good one, but my room cost ten dollars.

The front desk manager took one look at me and upgraded my room without asking.

What a room.

It was one of those high roller suites. It was located on a very high floor so I could see the city. It had a huge bigger than kingsize bed, a 60 inch television right in front of the bed. If you didn’t want to watch anything you could lower it and see the rest of the room.┬áThere were sitting areas with couches and deep, plush chairs.

There was a heart shaped couples bathtub in the room. There was a shower for two. There was a wet and dry sauna. And, get this, the minibar was free.

I stayed three for three days. Thirty dollars for all of that.

Anyway.

My parents retired to Reno. They also passed in Reno. They are buried at the veteran’s cemetery in Fernley about 15 miles away. That’s really why I came. When my dad passed I promised myself I’d come every two years.

I’m sorry to say that I was last there in 2007. Fourteen years. That’s too long. Maybe when I feel like it’s safe to travel I’ll go there. It’s gonna be a long road trip.

I like road trips.

If the weather is my kind of weather, it’ll take me a week to get there even though from New Orleans I’ve only added an extra days driving time.

Maybe the fall.

Picturing things, I walked out on the street into the pouring rain.

I din’t care. I was wearing rain gear, my cameras were protected and I felt like making pictures. After all, that was the secondary reason for this trip.

I had dinner in a Thai restaurant that I knew from past trips. I finished that and started walking.

I walked up behind this couple and started making pictures. I never look at my work even when I return to my hotel room. I had no idea what I had until I returned to New Mexico.

It may be superstitious of me, but I never look. Or, it just may be the realization that I can’t do anything about a blown set of pictures.

The take away is that this picture was made in the camera. The only change I made in post production was to sharpen the image a bit.

When the picture is right, it’s right.

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


Sunlight serenade.

I try to write Storyteller sometime the night before they are actually published. As they often do, things got in the way. So, I wrote two posts in one day.

That’s hard to do.

I barely have enough to say for one post. Now, two? I’ll give it a go.

Let’s talk about New Mexico.

Let’s talk about the light. The light that every artist, who travels there, loves.

I could get all scientific on you and talk about particulates in the air, or how the rain clears every thing out and makes the light a different kind of beautiful. Or, I could talk about the high altitude.

But, but, but…

That’s all fine, but how does it feel? How did it make me feel?

It was magical to me. Early morning and late afternoon was alway spectacular. There were no useless days. Even the rare overcast day was special.

There were days that were headed towards dusk. I’d be running errands and I’d stop and find a subject for the wonderful light to illuminate.

No. I wasn’t depending on my phone. In those days I always carried a real camera. In fact, it wasn’t until my last few months there that I realized I could take pictures with my phone. Oh, I knew it. It just never occurred to me to do it.

Do I sound like I miss it?

I do. But, I doubt I’m going back to live, at least anytime soon.

That’s kind of too bad.

Ahh, the glowing Airstream trailer. I found it because it called to me. I say that sometimes about other subjects, but this time it did.

That polished aluminum was reflecting light all over the place.

I wrote a couple of times that I am playing it straight because these pictures are a kind of photojournalism.

Then it came to me. Nonsense. These are my pictures. I can do whatever I want with them. Especially since I’m pretending to be an artist.

So that’s what I did.

I made a file that is as a close to perfection as I’ll ever come. Then, I added glow, followed by the sunburst and more glow.

That did it.

Even there is no license plate to see, you can tell this is a New Mexico trailer.

Look at the propane tanks. Look to the left. You’ll see different shades of reflection. In the green area look again.

Two bullet holes.

Yep. New Mexico.

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


All the reds and oranges.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Normally, I’d post something on the day of the event. This time, I thought I’d give you a little time to plan.

What are you going to do to make the planet a little healthier?

Me? I’m going to pick up trash.

It’s locals and tourists.

Once, I heard a tourist in The Marigny say that all this trash on the ground was just terrible as she proceeded to throw her trash on the ground.

Huh?

Once, after watching a guy throw trash on the street in front of our house, I asked him to pick it up. When he refused I said, “Pick that up. This isn’t your mama’s living room.”

He did.

It doesn’t matter what you do, but do something.

On another note, justice was served yesterday. Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges: second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.

At the time that George Floyd was killed, the Minneapolis police department claimed that he died in transit. Their lie was exposed by a courageous 17 year old teenager named Darnella Frazier. I think I read that the city honored with a medal.

I agree with Stephen Colbert. I find it hard to celebrate when a man is still dead. I think, like many people do, that this is just a start.

Of course, just as the verdict was being announced, another teenage girl was killed by a cop in Columbus, Ohio. The police department immediately released the body camera footage and it looks like the shooting was clean.

I have some thoughts about that.

When I was a young man — a teenager — cops were not so heavily armed. They didn’t carry tasers and their weapons were a revolver and baton.

Back in the day, they would have tried to talk her down. If they couldn’t do that and she threatened them, they’d hit the arm holding the knife with their baton. Likely, they would have broken her arm.

A broken arm isn’t dead.

Maybe that’s how you reform police departments. Go back to the basics. Most departments are way too up armored. They often look like soldiers going into combat. They are on the street to protect and serve, not kill people.

Now is the time for technical comments.

But first, a rant.

This damn block system has got to go. Once again, it put a box around my writing. Click anywhere near the box and everything is gone.

I’ve been having what the Brits call a spirited conversation with a “happiness engineer.”

The picture. It’s really two layered horizontal pictures. I twisted them up in a program that is designed to help you correct compositional problems like a tilted horizon line.

Then, I turned the horizontal picture to the vertical. I corrected whatever I thought was a problem and pushed the contrast and sharpening until it looked like an illustration.

That’s it.

If you want to learn about actual settings I’ll tell you, but first make sure that your phone is equipped with Snapseed, which is a free product.

Then, ask me questions. I’ll guide you through the process.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. (Don’t turn red state on me) Look after each other. Be patient.


Into the mountains.

Sometimes, while I lived in New Mexico I would take long, long drives just to explore and see things.

It was on one of those day trips that I found this little country church. I stopped, walked around it and made a lot of pictures. Even though this picture isn’t the most detailed, I like it because it is what I first saw as I happened upon it.

It is a good illustration of why artists like coming to New Mexico. It’s the light. Even in this light, there is a special quality to it. You know it when you see it. I haven’t seen it in a long time.

I sometimes wonder what I did by moving away. Oh sure, I was pulled back to New Orleans by the culture, by the folks you’ve seen in my pictures. Black Masking Indians, Social and Benevolent Societies, brass bands and Mardi Gras, itself.

But, in my mind after ten years, that project is over. There isn’t much more for me in New Orleans. I certainly get out into the “country” a lot, but still it’s not my country.

So, I return to my picture a day project and remember…

Still, nothing technical to talk about. Once again I’m not helping the photographers among you.

Working in a semi-photojournalistic way means no trickiness.

No trickiness means no technical discussion, except to say that you should be patient when you are making these kinds of pictures.

I wasn’t patient with the church. If I had waited another hour, I would have had New Mexican golden glow.

I guess that’s the lesson. Patience.

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