A kind of blue

I

t began today. Cool air. Not exactly cool but very dry. And, the temperature struggled to reach 75 degrees.

For us, after our usual very hot summer that included a hurricane and a half this is the start of something very good.

Fall.

Thankfully.


Yes. It’s August in Southeaster Louisiana. That means lots of rain storms. Lots of heavy rain coming out of nowhere. And, once in a while, a tropical storm or  –worse — the threat of a hurricane. And, sometimes… oh, never mind. Katrina is history. That said, I have long believed that pictures are everywhere. You just have to let them come to you. In effort to provide full disclosure, that’s not an original thought and I just wrote those very same words in an email to a friend of mine. Okay?

So. I was stick in traffic. In a rain storm. Since traffic was stop and start and I always have a camera with me, I did the only thing I could do. I took a picture. Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of post production going on here. It’s more complicated than normal since I even though I made the exposure on a regular camera, not my i-Phone, I imported it into my i-Pad and used Snapseed to do the improvements and modifications. Snapseed, by the way, is a Nik product. It is my go to software when I work using my i-Pad. I like working on my i-Pad because I can lay around, watch a bad movie on the tube and work at the same time. That’s on guilty pleasure. There’s more. There are lots of other photo enhancing plug-ins out there. I’ve tested a lot of them. But, this for my work, is the most elegant.


Everybody around me — myself included — was grumpy. So, we went to the French Quarter. I don’t know why. We just did. We ate at Maspero’s. The real one. The one that is supposed to be a tourist trap. Not the one on Decatur which is supposed to be good.  Surprise. The food was good. The waiter was a good guy. And… they gave us 15% off for a locals discount. I’ve never gotten that in any French Quarter restaurant. But, this post isn’t about the food. It’s about the quarter. It was roaring on a  hot early summer’s night. I mean 92 degrees at 9pm is hot, isn’t it? Every place was busy. We started down Bourbon Street, got bored, made a right turn on Orleans toward Royal and I stumbled into this picture.  I wasn’t heavily armed, but I was carrying my semi-new Sony NEX5, which I think is a great little camera. A few minutes of post production later and here it is. Oh yeah. This is the back of the St Louis Cathedral. Looks a like like Paris to me. Someone told me the reason for the crowds is that there is a giant Baptist Convention in town. Yeah. Like the Baptists are going drinking on Bourbon Street. Good one. 


More from my summer roads series. There is one problem with this picture. I’d forgotten that it’s been around a bit. When I Googled Tres Piedras his picture comes up as number one on Google images and number 9 in general Google search results. That’s okay. It’s part of my editing project so those of you who have never seen it, will finally see it. Those of you who may have seen it can have sort of an encore.

Here are some things I should have known, but I just learned. It’s located at the crossroads of Highways 64 and 285. I think that’s how I first stumbled upon it. It’s located just past the Earthship Landing Zone in Taos County, New Mexico. Figures. Well, earthships are off the grid, self-sufficient homes that are pretty much organically constructed. Sometimes they are made of trash. Actor Dennis Weaver owned one build of old tires. They seem to work well and have become very expensive to buy.

The picture obviously got a little help in post production. Lot’s of painting going on here. But, if you ask me what exactly I did, I probably can’t tell you. Sorry, but I was just experimenting at the time. No matter what I did to this picture, one thing remains. It’s old. I think I’d better go make some new summer pictures.


Summertime means traveling. It means tourist season. And, road trips. While I’m perfectly at home in some five star hotel where my every wish is their command, I really like dumps.You know. Old motor courts. Motels. No tell motels. The places where they haven’t seen a credit card in five years. The ones that are designed in the shape of a cowboy hat, or a tee-pee. It’s sort of that “get your kicks on Route 66” sort of thing. The places where your wish is nobody’s command. And, they’ll tell you that. It’s a kind of special living Americana.

This place isn’t a place any more. It’s part of the group of old neon signs that you find near Fremont Street in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most it is sort of on loan from the Neon Museum, which is closed for renovation every time I’m in Las Vegas. If went there frequently, I’d be suspicious. But, since I don’t, I guess that maybe the timing is just off. Or not. Maybe I should be suspicious. Even though this sign is a kind of tourist attraction, check out the light bulbs. Some haven’t been changed in a long while. Perfect.


Okay. Two things. I borrowed the title from Bing Crosby. And, I’m happy to be back to a single picture. Creating categories and writing tags for a 30 picture selection from Picture A Day is hard work.

So.

This picture was made in Hong Kong at Victoria Harbor, or Harbour if you prefer. This is not the famous junk that the tourism group uses as part of their logo. This is a new junk. In actual fact, it is a floating restaurant. But, those red sails against the light blue Hong Kong night look pretty good to me eye. Why is the night light blue? Because the image is a long exposure to account for actual darkness of the sails, the night sky is overexposed. But, for the purposes of this picture it looks pretty good.And, it made the red sails pop.


Everybody knows this place. But, they know it from a different angle. This is the famous San Francisco de Asis church in Rancho de Taos, New Mexico. Viewed from its back side, which faces the road, it is probably one of the most painted and photographed places in The United States. But, seen from the front it almost looks like just about any New Mexican church that is surrounded by a village plaza.

The picture. If you make a time exposure in deep shadow that natural blues in the cold light will appear.

However, I did enhance this image to make it look my mind’s eye saw it. Here’s the deal. When we make a picture of a scene there was something that attracted us to it. But, quite often neither a digital capture of an exposure made on a piece of film — remember that — can capture the scene as we remember it. That’s due to the limitations of chemistry, optics or even physics.So, I chose to help the picture along in post production. There is also an opposing philosophy that says the picture should look exactly as the camera captured it. Some photographers make a big deal of that. Why? The photographer whose name everybody knows is Ansel Adams. He never left the image alone as it came from the camera. In fact, he created an entire method of developing and printing the picture called The Zone System. He sought to improve the raw image and turn it into the image he saw when he actually pushed the shutter release button.

There you have it.


There doesn’t seem to be much to add to that except to tell you were the picture was made. My favorite street in Albuquerque is Edith Blvd. It starts as a fairly normal urban road as you leave central Albuquerque, but eventually peters out into a two lane country road and finally it turns into a dirt road that somehow makes its way about 45 miles to Santa Fe. There is a tiny church and cemetery located just south of El Paseo del Norte called Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The church cemetery is just across the street. How tiny is the church? A priest comes down from Santa Fe once a week to hear confessions and to say mass. The cemetery looks like an old Boot Hill kind of place. But, both the church and the cemetery have kind of simple and humble kind of beauty.

Anyway.

Happy Easter, y’all.


I think this will be the last of my experimental pictures that I’ll post for a while. I have no reason for not posting more of these images other than that I get bored easily and there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn pictures like these into clients, or as they say in the high-tech business world, “to monetize” them. Besides, I’m not that much about selling one-off prints as I am about finding long-term projects.

I’m just sinking my teeth into a more long-term project. I’m photographing a fitness club — oh, alright — a gym, for their website. Instead of the usual pictures, I’m trying to create some very different kinds of pictures. Or, at least different from the usual health club fare. Then, there  is French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest and what will prove to be a very long summer’s work. All of that should keep me busy. Or, busy enough.

So. This picture. This was my first i-Phone image. I was in the parking lot of a grocery store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when the Sandia Mountains lit up and turned red as the sun set. I thought, “I wish I had a camera,” and then “Oh yeah, I do have a camera, it’s in my pocket.” Add a little painted from an i-Phone app and this is the result.