Cowboy boots and dancing feet.

El Rancho de los Golondrinas harvest festival is one of the best in the nation. USA Today says the they are number two. I don’t know if that matters, but it sure is a lot of fun. You can eat, make food products like cider and watch the entertainment.

Going there made a good day trip from Albuquerque since it is located just a bit south of Santa Fe.

I made a lot of different kinds of pictures there, but this one was the most loved. It ran as an ad for the New Mexico tourism folks. It ran as an advertisement for the gallery of which I was a part. It also is a part of many people’s private collections.

Of course, I like it when a picture is licensed as part of an advertising campaign, but, it’s humbling when it hangs on somebody’s wall. They liked enough to want to live with it.

Whenever I made a day trip like this I included the work in my PAD project. It made that day’s looking a little easier. Over the course of a year sometimes easier was better.

It means you worried more about making the pictures rather than worry about the logistics of looking for the pictures.

Isn’t that what we want? Pictures.

I feel like I’m not helping you at all.

This is the classic F8 and be there picture.

I worked my way around to the back of the stage which wasn’t hard because backstage was just a dusty plot of land and nothing else.

I photographed until I was done. A couple of other photographers saw what I was doing and joined me. There was no competition at all.

Post production was minimal and the final picture was as you see it.

It’s getting boring around here, yes?

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


Into the mystic.

There were days when I drove from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to run errands. Even thought ABQ had to old school camera stores within short walking distance from each other, neither had a great selection of printing paper.

Two stores in Santa Fe did. I’d start my day early, having breakfast out on the road, go paper shopping, go to a nationally known bookstore and poke around looking for pictures. Sometimes, I’d eat dinner on the plaza.

That was always a nice day.

Sometimes I’d head back home to Albuquerque under fairly clear skies like this one, but with rain falling in the far distance. That’s one of the benefits of living in the desert. Long distance views.

If you’ve ever driven cross country, you’ll see this a lot as you get into southwestern states. Sometimes, if the storm lingers and you are driving fast enough you’ll actually catch the storm and you’ll get wet.

Since I enjoy so-called bad weather that was never a big deal. Sometimes, I’d intentionally do it in order to photograph the falling rain.

I’m looking forward to long road trips again. However the virus may still get in the way.

Off in the distance. That’s one of the easiest ways to work if you are a drive by photographer like I am from time to time.

There is nobody near me and nobody in front of me that makes a difference. I could actually make a picture like this without fear of hurting anybody.

I still practice a kind of safety by letting the camera be auto everything and doing its thing. One thumb pushes the button, every other part of my hands are on the steering wheel.

That’s it the technical part of photographing. Processing and editing are easy because, as I wrote yesterday, this is a kind of photojournalism and I don’t mess with the picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs.


Parking in blue.

The picture a day project lead to a lot of day trips. It lead me to a place near Cerrilos, New Mexico. That’s where I found this Bel Air parked in a Trade Post lot.

Normally, I’d go inside, talk to the folks who were there and buy something, usually water. Nobody was around, so I made a bunch of pictures of the car from all angles. As usual, the best view was the simplest.

The car looks pretty original. Northern New Mexico is prime lowrider country. The cars they build are pretty amazing. It’s a wonder that this car hasn’t been scooped up. I’m guessing the owner knows what he has and it won’t come cheaply.

I’d like to stop here, but I’d be wrong not to discuss yet another American symbol. Mass shootings. This time it happened at the FEDEX distribution center in Indianapolis. Eight dead. The shooter killed himself. A few more wounded, one critically. WTFF?

And, in the swamp four people were shot throughout the city, one was killed. I guess the weekend came early. We’ve been averaging seven or eight shot people per weekend for a long time. I suppose that means the pandemic is over in New Orleans.

I’d rather eat a taco or a burger.

Technical stuff. What technical stuff?

I saw it. I photographed it. I processed it. I did very little editing beyond that.

There is a philosophy behind it. I started viewing PAD as a kind of photojournalism. Don’t mess around with pictures.

It’s simple.

Most of the images I post here are a kind of art and I really do tinker with them in post production.

That’s different.

Art is art is art. Do whatever you want to express your vision.

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


Reflections of a far land.
Road Trips.

Driving in New Mexico can be tedious if you are on an interstate. Driving on many roads can be lonely. But, not if you are looking for pictures.

As I recall I made a lot of pictures on this long day trip. None of them summed up being out on the road as well as these two do.

Once upon a time, rest stops were far and few between. Stops like Whitings and Cracker Barrel dominated the old days.

Today, most of those are long gone, left behind as ruins in the dirt. They’ve been replaced by modern gas stations, fast food and stores, all in one well lighted building. And, they are boring. Convenient, but boring.

These pictures were made a one of the boring stops. Obviously, I like the reflection more than I do the scene setter, but you need both to understand what you are looking at.

Technically, there’s not much to these pictures. They were made at dusk at a low shutter speed.

They are, after all, picture a day work.

I did very little to them in post production except sharpen them a bit because it was cold and I was shaking without gloves on my hands.

I did what I could. I was going to walk around the store and make more pictures, but I was making people inside a little nervous.

This restop is a good bit from Albuquerque. It sits at a cross roads. Continue west and you eventually come to “The Q.” Take the intersecting highway, drive northwest and you arrive in Santa Fe.

Stay safe. Safe mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Get your jabs.


Upside down.

Don’t ask me. I have no idea why the doors and windows are upside down. I just chalk it up to living in the Land of Enchantment. Somebody really got enchanted when they were working on this building.

I found this place one day after having lunch in the barrio, which is located well past the old Santa Fe engine yard. I ate and keep going south. I think. Eventually, I came to this place.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You know me, I search out weird and ruined places. But, this one… whew. I worked fairly quickly because I realized I was on somebody’s turf. No need to cause trouble for myself.

I could tell you stories about this neighborhood but let’s just say it’s just about like being in the Lower 9th Ward of my home city. The players change, but the results can be the same.

Tourists rarely come this way. But, I’m not a tourist. I travel. I used to travel for work, but that’s been postponed until 2022.

The WHO says the pandemic is raging on because so many countries don’t have any kind of vaccine. It’s ironic that they also said the Chinese vaccine is not effective. Meanwhile, the CDC while fearing a surge now, predicts one for the fall and winter months.

This is not going away quickly.

I’m starting to get angry. I have friends that live in other places. They claim New Orleans as their spiritual home. They finally arrived after 16 months of waiting.

A group of them got together to listen to some porch music and to take group photos. None of them were masking. When questioned about it, one of them said they took their masks off for the picture.

WTF?

A few minutes standing next to somebody who is infected could make you ill. I’m sure most of them were vaccinated, but how does anybody really know?

I hate to do this.

But…

Stay safe. Stay might. Stay strong. Wear your damn masks. Keep your distance. Look after each other. And, be patient.

This column is really supposed to be about technical tools and technique.

Lately, it’s been used for whatever I want to say. Sorry about that.

Of course, on the day I decide to stay true to this side’s mission, there is no technique to speak of.

Keeping the scene tack sharp is the most important thing to know.

All those details in the door and windows as well as all the cracks in the building are what make this picture a photograph.

I’m willing to bet that those cracks aren’t as bad as we think. Given that the building is in an urban area, I think that it is built with cinder blocks with a thick plaster wash on the coating them.

And, that’s it.


Out on the road.

This is one of those days when the picture has nothing to do with the topics. In fact, I have two subjects that I’d like to discuss.

But first, this is a road on the back side of the Sandia Mountain Range, making it slightly northeast of Albuquerque. Often, search for a PAD meant taking day trips. I enjoyed it. I met some interesting people and ate some real New Mexican food.

Here we go.

Police shootings. While one trial was going on another police shooting occurred in Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The same city. The police department says it was a mistake. The officer meant to tase him rather than shoot and kill him.

There is the case of the active duty U.S. Army lieutenant who was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. He was gassed and handcuffed for no real reason. Later the nastier of the two cops let him go after threatening him if he spoke about it. That is becoming a civil case.

There’s more, but I haven’t read about them except for this. While responding to a complaint of excessive noise two police entered a side yard, rather than ring the doorbell, of the house where the noise was coming from. A twelve week old puppy emerged from the shadows. One cop shot and killed him.

That’s the news as I know it. I’m not going to rant and rave. I’m going to say two things.

If you are so scared while you are performing your job, you need a new safe job. How do you accidentally pull a gun when you are reaching for a taser? Fear. How do you shoot a puppy when he was just defending his turf? Fear.

I can’t really speak to what the cop was thinking when he gassed and handcuffed a soldier except to say the video should what I thought was racist cruelty. The cop didn’t look fearful. He just looked mean. Find another job.

This stuff has gotta stop. Speak out.

Social media. This too, is not a rant. Instead, it’s a discussion of things that have become painfully obvious.

Social media is, for anyone who does business, a necessary evil.

Facebook is like a telephone book. You have to be there. Twitter is useful for local groups like NOLA Twitter or for fast breaking news.

Instagram is important for visual creatives although many posters turn their posts into words.

I don’t see LinkedN or WordPress as social media, at least not in the way I do about the previous three.

What I see in the previous three social media is they lost their helpfulness.

There are way too many fights, mostly of a political nature. Everything becomes political or worthy of being cancelled. Everybody has lost their sense of humor.

Instagram has become derivative and filled with wannabe influencers looking to be seen.

What to do?

I can’t really leave them, but I don’t have to post much.

Facebook and Twitter readers see my pictures because they are distributed from Storyteller.

Whatever I post on Instagram is automatically distributed to Facebook.

I do have to “like” others work on all social media, but I don’t have to comment. After all, “liking” builds your base, not that any of my bases are very large.

In many ways, I’m just going to fade away.


Once upon a time.

Once upon a time.

I made an executive decision last night while I was searching for a particular picture. I didn’t find it, but I did find something called the PAD project.

PAD is the acronym for picture a day. I forced myself to make one picture everyday whether I had paying work or not.

I started this in 2006 while we were exiled to the high desert of New Mexico after Hurricane Katrina.

If you’ve never done it, you should. Not only do your photographs get better, but you learn a lot about yourself.

I liked it so much that I did it for another year, and another year and… until I did for five years when I decided to change it to picture a week. That really didn’t work so I stopped completely.

My decision to start publishing these pictures, many of which have never been seen by anyone, is two fold.

I was emailing with a friend and he said that his wife wanted to join a cloud. I suggested that if they subscribed to Amazon Prime that they use their cloud. It’s free. It’s solid. It offers unlimited storage for any size file.

One of the things that it does is scrape every similar file type into the collection. I decided to see what was in there. Woah! Almost every picture that I’ve made in the last 15 years was hiding in plain sight.

That got me thinking.

Since I’ve been poking around in my own history, hoping that my ghosts are friendly, I thought this would be a great time to revisit and publish those unseen pictures of that time. New Mexican pictures, all.

I enjoyed looking at them. I hope you do too.

Picture a day. That was the project.

I made a lot of decisions after I thought about showing these pictures to you.

The first was not to try to replicate the order in which they were photographed. It’s almost impossible because paying work was dropped in between the project images.

The second was to show you multiple pictures if that’s what the day’s results were. You’ll see a lot of that especially during the Albuquerque International Ballon Fiesta.

The third was not to touch these pictures in post except to sharpen them.

In case you are wondering, they were all made with a Canon G-9, a very good pocket camera.

This is a riastrad, a door or wall hanging made of red chili. It’s an icon of the southwest. They only last in very dry climate.

That’s the story. I’ll see you tomorrow.


Red.

This is a Chinese Rose. I’d never heard of such a thing until a little debate broke out on Instagram. Someone posted a picture of a flower that he called a Chinese Rose.

It wasn’t.

Even with my lack of knowledge about flowers I knew that. So off to Google we went. It turns out that this picture is of a Chinese Rose. It looks nothing like the picture on Instagram. It also turns out that the flower isn’t named because of its color. There are many colors.

My neighbor has a bunch of them growing as bushes. I just thought that they were roses. You learn something everyday.

At least you better.

Life long learning is a partial key to my life. It makes a big difference. I’m not talking about reading the news or staying online too long. Both just barely scrape the surface. Just like Googling. It worked fine for the flower, but it ain’t research.

I think that you have to get as close to the original source as you can possible get. It’s one reason that I don’t use Web MD.

Aside from the notion that you either have a sprained wrist or cancer using a Web MD diagnoses, The Mayo Clinic or John Hopkins have real live researchers who add to the data base well after their work has been peer reviewed.

One more thing about this medical stuff. If you don’t know what you have don’t self diagnose. You’ll be wrong 98% of the time. I use it to learn more about my doctor’s diagnosis or what meds he’s given me to combat it.

That works.

I put a lot of work into this picture. My smartphone still isn’t right.

Nothing was tack sharp. I reasoned that since everything was a little soft that I could make corrections in post production.

Most of those modifications did barely okay.

But, I have a trick. There is a setting in Snapseed called Drama. If I use one of two dark settings, add color and work from there I can sharpen images to the point of hyper sharpening them.

I don’t like doing it a lot because it can make things weird.

I used it this time. Everything that should be sharp is sharp. Still the picture looks a little strange.

I suspect that’s the limitation of a phone. I don’t know, but it’s time to use at as a phone, which is its worst characteristic.

Back to a Nokia flip phone for me. The new ones are trying to compete in the phone market after being left for dead by Apple and Samsung. They make new flip phones for nowhere near the cost of the current smartphones and they do what I really need them to do.


Like a fence.

Seems a bit like summer. At least in this picture. Of course, it’s spring. Sometimes one fills in for the other.

Often in picture making or film making one thing approximates another. There are filters that the movie business uses called “Day for Night.”

I’ve used it on some photographs. It may work when the image is moving, but for still images the effect is just too blue. Every time that I forget and use it I spend a lot of time working on the image to bring it back to something that looks like night time.

But, this picture. It fell right in to the right color palette. Unfortunately, I used my smart phone. Look at the picture carefully. What is the only thing that is sharp?

The fence in the far background.

That’s where the phone focused. I have no idea why. It’s back focused as it could be. If I’m basically working in auto everything I have no idea how to tell the phone what’s important to me. There is a patch that you can place over a section of the scene as you see it in the LCD. I put the patch where I wanted it.

No joy. If anything, that patch made it harder to focus on anything.

Did I mention that I really hate the whole idea of digital capture? Not only does it make actually photographing a little harder, but it’s bringing up a second generation of young photographers who think “spray and pray” is the thing to do when they are photographing anything including a rock.

That’s not where I intended to go with this. I wanted to talk about figuring out how to use a phone in auto everything mode and get the results that I want.

Yes, I know that there are ways of using a smartphone’s camera manually. Have you ever tried that? You better be photographing a rock. In the time that it takes to do the manual settings, the subject could have moved ten times.

Anyway.

Grumble, grumble, grumble. Toil and trouble.

I just about said everything I could say about the failings of this picture in the left hand column.

On the other hand, it is an interesting scene. Maybe when I return I can re-photograph it with a real camera.

We’ll see.

I dislike visiting the same scene twice. I’d like to believe that, but as I’ve mentioned in the past I’ve photographed some of these places at least 20 time, four times during each season and over the past five years that we’ve lived here.

You’d thing with that repetition the pictures would get better.

Oh nooooo.

They are technically worse. Much worse. I’ve changed cameras three times during that time. I’ve used one DLSR and two phones that followed.

What am I doing? A this late stage in my photographic career technological issues should be a thing of the past. The way past.

This means only one thing. War. Back to the mirrorless bodies that don’t even have shutter slap.

I’ll see you then.