The ripple effect.

An eerie silence has taken over,

I can’t speak for every city, but I can for my home city. New Orleans. It’s quiet out there. For sure, people are walking, walking our dogs, making groceries, and running short to the point errands. That’s it. Take me, for example, I like to roam around in my car looking for pictures to find me. I haven’t done that since all of the various forms of social distancing were out in place. I enjoy that and quite frankly doing that shouldn’t matter. But, there is the guilt factor.

On the other hand, my gas mileage is wonderful. Three weeks to the gallon.

Most of the  pictures that you are seeing were made on dog walks around my home. In that way, I can do two things at once. That also means that I use my smartphone more than I’d like. As I’ve written in the past, the files that it makes are 36.6 mp. Through the magic of computational photography, the files enlarge just fine. I’ve made very large test prints and they look good.

The picture. I’ve found a way to make the genre of pictures that made me. Pictures that make good use of motion. Pictures in which motion gives a picture a little more life. That’s a little hard to do with a smartphone.

Unless you are working manually, the phone tries to make the sharpest possible picture. That’s a big selling point… to the masses. I’m not the masses. In order to do this while the dog who sees things is on the prowl, I have to work fast. No problem, because that’s my working style. It also means that I can’t fiddle around. So the phone’s cameras stay on auto. I have to fool it in order to make pictures like this one.

You should try it when you are out and about.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Wear a mask. Wear surgical gloves. Enjoy every chimichanga.


Hanging around.

Despite whatever you are thinking, the picture is not upside down.

I know. I know. It looks upside down. I made the picture standing directly under the tree and looking up. It is the perfect symbol for our current times.

The world seems upside down.

If everybody isn’t busy hating people who are not like them, then they are busy being fearful of just about everything. In some places people are marching in the streets. In some of those places marches turn into riot. In my country, the president has turned our allies into foes, and his has turned dictators and despots into his friends. He thinks. They are playing him like a fiddle. I could go on. I won’t.

That’s not all.

There is a virus that the same president thinks is named after beer. Mexican beer. In less than a day, New Orleans grew for one infected person to six. This does not bode well. The City of New Orleans essentially closed the weekend. They cancelled two St. Patrick Day parades. The Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday and a second line.

I would have likely photographed Super Sunday and maybe the second line in normal times. Even if it wasn’t cancelled, I would not go to the Indians event in these times. Everybody is hacking and coughing and they might be standing six inches in front of you. That’s the last thing I need.

I have no idea what our future holds, both here in NOLA or in the rest of the world. That’s so far beneath my pay grade that I can’t even get close.

Anyway.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. And, keep your hands off of your face.


Like a guiding finger.

Yes. It’s here.

It came earlier than I thought it would. It came like an onrushing tide. CoVid-19 arrived yesterday. The person who caught it lives in Jefferson Parish. He or She is being treated at the new Veterans Administration hospital in Mid-City, New Orleans. We haven’t yet been told much beyond that. I suppose we could deduce from the treatment hospital that he or she served the country.

However, that’s the least of our questions. Where did this person live? Who did he come in contact with? How long did she have the virus? Where does he work? Did she travel or did she catch it from someone else in Louisiana?

That’s not all.

There is the personal aspect. I’m old. I have a compromised immune system. I’ll stay within my community except for essential trips, like to buy food and water and soap. I’ll follow the protocol as laid out by the CDC. That leaves me with the ultimate question. If I catch the virus will I live or will I die?

It still may be too early to ask the question. If the virus’ rapid spread is any indication it’s time to think of some tactics to cope with this and come out on the other side with my life intact. Of course, we don’t know when the otherside will be, nor do we know if the summers heat will kill it, or if it will just return in October. The thing about our heat and humidity is that everything grows.

So.

I made this picture the other day. I thought the clouds are what makes it even a little bit different. I suppose it works on that level.

What do y’all think?


Another fine mess.

Testing technique.

Another dog and I headed to the airport. On the way we stopped to visit friends. As we were leaving I saw this scene. It really didn’t look much in camera and after basic development. So, I tinkered. And, tinkered. I arrived at the picture that you see before you. I’m still not entirely sure about this one. But, as I always say this is an experimental blog.

I’d like to think the a high percentage of pictures that I publish on Storyteller are pretty good. But, we all know the truth. I know the truth. Sometimes, after living with a picture on the digital page, I wonder what I was thinking. Likely, I wasn’t. Thinking.

I was reading a general purpose blog. The owner fancies himself to be a sort of deep thinking anti-mainstream kind of guy. In short, he is populaist conspiracist. Sorry — not sorry — if I offend anybody with that. He also attacks the so-called lamestream media. He follows to YouTube based commenters who discuss CoVid-19.

I decided to listen to one of his speakers, a supposed doctor. A doctor who wants me to believe he is well informed. That he knows the truth.  He went through his list of things that the “lamestream” media wasn’t telling us. I knew everything that he discussed. Care to guess where I learned it from? If you said the “lamestream media,” you win a taco.

Sheesh.

When does this basic kind of BS stop?

I read two-and-a-half online newspapers everyday. The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Orleans Times Picayune/Advocate. I pay for two. I refuse to pay for the local half of a paper until they actually report the news, write it, and edit, properly. That’s where I learned everything this wannabe doctor was rattling on about.

I say all of this to warn you. Don’t be fooled. Between bots, Russians and people who think they are smarter than we are, there is more fake news than real news. If you read something that doesn’t ring quite true with you, check other publications. Check sources if you can. Check the person or group writing about the topic. Check Snopes.

You’ll find the truth. It’s out there.


Cinematic.

I made this picture.

I’m quite proud of it. Because, when I said I made it, I meant that. I took a picture of an overcast sky with power poles scattered throughout. I saved it, mostly because it wasn’t much.

I started reading about Todd Hido, who is one of the photographers interviewed in the book I mentioned a few days ago. If you Google his images, you’ll see quite a lot. He’s built the artistic pedigree that I wish I had.

Everything that he does is made in camera, using a medium format body and film. He does no post production. I thought about that for a while and wondered if I couldn’t make an image with similar atmospherics in the computer.

Note. Similar. Not copying. Not faking it until I make it. Just experimenting. This image is the result.

Whaddya think?


The lone wintery tree.

Decadence.

I’m reading a rather long op-ed piece by The New York Times’ Ross Douthat. It is a take out of his upcoming book called, “The Decadent Society.”

The name is not what you are thinking.

He quotes Jacques Barzun, who says, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable . When people accept the futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.”

I don’t know about you, but I keep saying that all systems are broken. They are broken to the point where I am thinking seriously about leaving the country in November if the worst possible thing happens.

That said, let’s limit this to what we do. Most of us either write, or make pictures.

There is no new or newly broken ground. There hasn’t been for a long time. In the book world, I have to ask how many new vampire books do we need? Seems like Anne Rice broke the mold on that one. Or, how many historical fictional novels do we need that feature a good looking bare chested guy squeezing the hell out of a beautiful woman?

It doesn’t get any better in the photo world. Sunsets, sunset and more sunsets. There are so many that they are loaded to Upsplash, the site that doesn’t pay photographers. Or, night photography featuring star fields? Or, slow motion water so that the water looks smooth?

I’m guilty of it too.

All these faux nature picture that I produce. are not new. I made the same thing eight years ago. And seven years ago. And, six and five and four and so on.

This work is easy to make. This work breaks no new ground. It doesn’t move my art forward. I’m not certain that I can move it forward, but I’d like to try. Realizing this is hard. Even though I love photographing Mardi Gras, I’ve been fighting to get myself to go.

Yes. The floats and themes change. So do the people. But, I’ve done it for how many years? A lot. This year I’m getting paid by one of my clients to set them up for next year. I’m incentivised. I’ll go. Once I get there I’ll have fun. It’ll turn magical. But, they are paying me for work that is yesterday’s. That’s the funny thing about showing portfolios. If the client likes your work, they want more of the same.

Ouch.

Think about this. How does it apply, or, not?

For sure, don’t confuse yourself with all the things you did to get to the picture. Often times the hardest thing about taking a picture is getting there. But, that ain’t the picture. The picture is the picture.

 


 

Looking like a Japanese print.

I was walking the all seeing dog, when I saw this reflection is a water feature that can be found along one of her routes. For some reason it was clear and blue. It was also highly reflective. The bare trees of winter were looking back at me. I made a lot of pictures. I made some with the bank and made some that are much more colorful than this one.

But.

This one reminds of a Van Gogh painting. Of course, his has little cherry flower blossoms in it that really bring it to life. As much as Van Gogh has always been one of my muses, I only recently learned of his fascination with all things Japanese. I have a show catalog that is based on it.

One more thing.

To me, this picture is a bit confusing. It looks upside down. It isn’t. That’s how the trees in the background were reflected. My instinct is to flip it over.

What do you think?

 


A wintery blending of a wonderful sky and pink Japonicas.

I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that when I photographed the Japonica trees a day or two ago that it would be my last chance. Normally the flowers would last another two or three weeks. But, we had a pretty bad storm this afternoon. Not only did we get a lot of rain, but we also had a lot of hail.

The hail knocked off about 95% of the Japonica’s flowery petals. I’m glad that I photographed the fully blooming trees when I did. Now THAT’S photographers luck.

The best thing about the storm is it that sits on the leading edge of a cold front. That’s good because the weather was starting to get a little too warm for this time of year. I like winter to feel like winter for more than a day.

The winds did something else.

They blew down the scaffolding at the yet to be completed Intercontinental Hotel near the river. Luckily, nobody got hurt, although a couple of cars were badly damaged. One was a taxi with passengers in the back. Once the riders got over the shock of having metal rain down upon them, they walked away without injuries.

As a friend of mine tweeted, “we are not so good at constructing tall buildings around here.”

Indeed.


On Holocaust Memorial Day.

I made these photographs last Monday.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought of photographing a cemetery on Holocaust Memorial Day. I was buying king cakes at the King Cake Hub that happens to be located in a building that houses the Haunted Mansion on Halloween.  Behind the mansion building, which looks like it once belonged to the cemetery, is The Gates of Prayer – Canal Street.

That name is important. When I tried researching the history of the cemetery, I found The Gates of Heaven. Every link took me a Reformed Jewish congregation and cemetery that is located Uptown. There is plenty of information about them. They have a pretty good website and they have a Facebook page, as does this Canal Street location.

Unfortunately, there is no information about this place.

Enough of my confusion.

My king cake expedition happened to take place on Holocaust Memorial Day, or Yom HaShoah. After “finding’ the cemetery I thought that I’d better make a few pictures. These are some of them.

This is a smallish cemetery tucked in between other cemeteries and buildings. The images reflect that.

I was really struck by the little grave markings that simply said, “Mama” or “Papa.” These were added to the foot of a plot in addition to the memorial markers. They were every place.

Follow the words to the bottom of the page. Please.

Papa.
Mama
Behind dormant trees.

The day was cloudy, weighty, and sort of a reminder of the sadness of the place. I let the pictures reflect that. I could have brightened them in camera, but I toned down my usual settings. I could have reworked them in post production, but I didn’t. If anything, I toned them back. These are somber pictures. They are meant to reflect the Holocaust in which 6,000,000 people were killed for no reason.

One more thing.

My interest in this subject is great. When I made catalogs and edited at The Image Bank/Kodak, one of the photographers that I edited had the numbers of a camp tattooed on his fore arm. We talking about it for a few minutes.

Once.

Along came Schindler’s List. At the end of the movie, former concentration camp prisoners walk down to a cemetery and place a remembrance on individual gravestones. Most of them were only pebbles which means, “Someone was here.” There on film was my photographer. He wasn’t just a camp survivor, he was one of Schindler’s Jews.

Mine blown.

It just goes to show that if you know, you know.