Giant cotton balls.

Drifting.

The sky looked almost like rows of crops with cotton ball clouds floating by my discerning eye. I was going to wait to publish this picture. I’ve been enjoying working with “real” cameras. And, sharing those pictures.

But, my Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of these clouds made by local photographers. I think every photographer in town made pictures of them. So, without any further delay I’ll share mine with you.

I was out walking when I looked up. These clouds were passing by my location at a fairly rapid clip. So, I photographed at a fairly rapid clip. This formation of clouds is fairly rare which makes my decision to work quickly begin to make sense. I’m usually not that fast. Unless I have to be.

I actually hung out hoping that they would last until the low, glowing light of dusk would have really made a great picture. That was not to be. The cloud formation fell apart a few minutes later.

You know what they say. “If you snooze you lose.”


Trains in the fog with help.

Foggy days. Foggy nights.

I took a little walk to a nearby train yard. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. We’ve had a lot of fog so I wanted to photograph the fog at night. I found two engines with their motors warming up. I was astounded to see a caboose sitting between them. Of course, there is a fence between me and them. I heard them before I could see them.

I did the best that I could.

I made this picture and added some roundish highlights to the image. I really didn’t have to, but you know me. I also had help from some business behind this little group. They had their big lights turned on, which helped me to make perfect silhouettes up against a glowing foggy sky.

The caboose is another story all together. My amazement arose because no railroads use cabooses today. Congress changed a law that required them to be attached to freight trains. Once the law changed most cabooses were headed to the scrapyard or to your favorite park. This is a working caboose. It is not used for its intended purpose, but rather as a place for the train crew to rest on long haul rides.

One more thing about the picture. Notice the quality? It’s much better than many images that I post here. I used my baby Leica. It’s a great camera for pictures like this and for many of the subjects that I photograph. It’s not so good for second lines or Mardi Gras Indians. When I say baby I mean it. It has a fixed zoom lens. It’s range is from 24mm to 75mm. It’s also fast. very fast, since it has a large f stop at f1.7.

About walking. I didn’t take a dog. This was a little photo walk.I learned that if I walk at my normal pace, rather than stopping, and letting the dogs explore, my legs don’t hurt anywhere near as much as they normally do.

And, so it goes.


Sparkling in the sunlight.

They seem early. Spring buds.

In fact, the first Japonica buds were early. They arrived in early December. A couple bloomed, another cold spell arrived, and they died. The buds in this picture are right on time. They’ll grow, bloom and fully open towards the middle of carnival.

I know this because I’m a creature of habit. When I photograph the parades at the start of Mardi Gras I park in the same approximate place. There is a pretty white center hall house located on the street where I park. The owners have two Japonica trees in their front yard. They are in full bloom around the first parade. By the end, the petals are on the ground.

I was sitting outside while waiting for the dog in question. I looked up and there were little bitty buds, back and side lighted by the early morning sun. I made a compression picture and stacked an early version on top of a final version to give the image a little movement. You are looking at the result.

I’m really having an internal debate concerning Mardi Gras. Part of me thinks that I’ve photographed it enough. The other part of me thinks that’s nonsense and that’s why I’m here. We’ll see.

My apologies for being late. The all seeing dog went to the vet today. She had her annual physical. She’s fine. I found a little lump when I was petting her. It felt to me just like one that the late Debbie had. I was right. A fatty Lympoma, not to be confused with Lymphoma which is cancerous. I have long thought that medicine in any form is a combination of science, art and experience. Two out of three for me ain’t bad. And, I rarely make diagnoses because I don’t even play a doctor on television.


Like a tree spirit.

A tree spirit.

A bare winter tree photographed at this angle looks like a mythological tree spirit. It could be  a Dryad. A nymph. Usually female.  A tree nymph. Dryads — dry is oak in Greek — tend to stay around one tree. If the tree starts to die so does the nymph. If the tree blossoms so does the nymph. They are kind of shy. Like me.

There.

That’s your dose of something new. Besides, we could use a little magic, a little mythology right about now. The world seems to be a very heavy place these days. So much for positivity, and it’s only been seven days into the new year.

So.

Last night we went out doing early carnival things. We chased a street car. We got stuck in the middle of a parade. And, hung out with friends. Of course, this was all on foot. I could barely walk back to the car. My knee hurt like it was on fire. It felt like someone was sticking a knife in it.

When I arrived at home I probably took too much pain medication. No. Not that much. Sheesh. What do you take me for?

Anyway.

I went to the Mayo Clinic’s website. Normally, I use WebMD since I have a different kind of account there. They are a client of mine so they gave me staff access. But, the joke around the internet is that every symptom ends with something about dying. It goes like this,  “You my have a sprained wrist or it could be something else leading to death.”

I typed in three words into the search box. Knee. Fire. Knife. That took me to a page that used those exact words. I don’t believe in self-diagnoses, but since my words were exactly their words, it gave me pause. It looks like I have a pinched nerve in my knee.

They suggest getting x-rays, an MRI and maybe even a Cat Scan. There are no cats in my knee because the dogs wouldn’t allow it. Did I just write that?

Seriously, by doing those three tests they are suggesting that we look for the root cause of the issue. I don’t need that because we already know that my osteoarthritis is working in new and painful ways.

Treatment.

Early treatments is R. I.C.E.  That’s rest, ice, compression, and elevation. No problem there. The next treatment is stop doing whatever you are doing that causes the pain. That is a problem. Some people develop a pinched nerve by stretching. Others, by crossing their legs. Mine comes from walking. There is no way around that. That would be a two week fix if I could do it.

Other treatments are more medical. I could actually have minor out patient surgery to free the nerve. For me, that’s the last option. The best option may be an injection of corticosteroid which will calm the inflammation and allow the nerve to heal.

At least I know what’s going on since this is a new and improved pain.

Ain’t life grand?

The picture. I knew you were going to ask. I was walking (not good for my knee) in the morning with that dog. I looked up to see the sunlight illuminating the edges of the tree. I moved to a position right underneath it.

The resulting picture was good as it was. Blue sky, early morning golden light and a bare tree.

I wanted to experiment. I removed most of the color, replacing that with muted color and kept sharpening the tree so that the branches were very detailed. I put a frame around it because I liked the look. A wood nymph look.

That’s it. All of it.


Machines pale in comparison.

Flying.

“If man were meant to fly he’d have wings.” That’s what they said at the dawn of air travel. I wonder what they’d say about this helicopter that doesn’t have wings.

Once upon a time when I actually worked for a living at a photo agency, I helped to create an archive called, “Big-Little,” for lack of a much better name.  Generally, the pictures in that file contained a little, tiny man-made subjects contrasted against the bigness of nature.  Just like this picture.

Once upon a time this picture would have sold well. It speaks to the grandness of nature, the freedom of flight and man’s place in nature. Now, the picture industry is about dead.

There are actually online portals — not to be confused with a  real photo agency — that photographers upload their work to in hopes of getting “found.” The owners of the portal give the work away for free. The picture user doesn’t have to credit the photographer and — get this — if the user modifies the picture in any way, that modified picture is the user’s picture. The user is free to use it, license it, for sell it outright.

How does that work? The photographer earns nothing. If the user decides not to credit him or her, the photographer stands no chance of getting “found.” Oh sure, the user knows who the photographer is, but the world doesn’t. By the way, WordPress is encouraging bloggers to use one of these portals.

While image libraries have been racing to the bottom for more than a decade, these portals just about kill whatever is left. I’m not ranting or complaining. It’s just the facts, ma’am,

Luckily, I have other revenue streams and I think that I can create a couple more. How positive is that? That’s my word. Positive.

The picture. I heard the beating blades of the helicopter. I located it in the sky and waited for it to come into my view. There was no luck involved. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Anybody can do this. Set yourself up and wait. When whatever you want to photograph passes through the scene that you want to capture, press the button. You don’t have to machine gun it. I made just three frames.

That was enough.


As night fell.

After celebrating enough Christmas I adjourned to the patio chairs. Some of the dogs had enough excitement and joined me. I was sitting and wondering about the trees and the night light. I made a few exposures. Sure enough the cloudy sky trapped the night glow which is caused by city lights.

The sky looked orange to the camera’s sensor. To the naked eye it looked sort of gray-black. If the night sky had been clear or maybe with a few fleeting clouds there would have been no color. The city lights color would have traveled to the heavens.

I know the theories. But, since I can’t really see the color I have to test the theory. That’s a little secret of photography. Aside from capturing the moment and preserving certain subjects so that  future generations can see them, there are a lot of optics, color and pure physics to test. Good photographers do that when they are playing. I wouldn’t want to test them when I am working for a client.

The week between Christmas and New Year is always calm. I do things to prepare for the next year, 2020. Can you imagine it? It sounds the like a title for some futuristic book and film. This year the dates of Christmas and New Year are putting my brain into a dizzy. A Wednesday holiday seems to make time seem either really short or very long. I woke up today thinking it was Saturday. I looked at my calendar and thought — or, rather, didn’t think — what is going on?

Then, I had a coffee.

How about you? What’s this week like for you? How do you feel about a Wednesday holiday?


Something about the winter solstice.

The long night.

The longest night of the year when autumn formerly turned into winter. When the day was short and rainy. Many local artists couldn’t do their work because they need light and there was only gray skies.

Later that night the rain slowed and finally stopped. The moon poked its head out and away we went.

And, I found a tripod.

The picture that I made is spooky. It’s mysterious. It’s even a little scary. For me, it caught the feeling of the solstice. Summer solstice is people dancing around. Winter solstice is people hunkering down. That’s what I think.

The picture. A tripod is required to make this picture. Yes, I actually own a couple of them. Once that is in place the rest is easy. I exposed for the moon because I wanted everything else a little dark and moody. That blew the moon out beyond repair. It’s way over exposed. The moon is a week removed from being full. The picture isn’t entirely about the moon. It’s about the mood that the rest of the picture shows. It’s deep, dark and a little evil.

That’s about the best I could do on short notice. A years notice.

Sheesh. There’s no accounting for me.


Cold air and a warm patio umbrella.

Winter seems to have arrived a few days early. Everywhere.

That gives me a chance to make some of my favorite kinds of pictures. Bare trees. Faded blue skies. And, a feeling of cold.

That’s one of the tricks they teach you early in photography and in commercial press printing. If you want your snow scene to look cold add a little bit of cyan. Just enough to give the viewer the feeling of cold, but not enough to overpower the picture.

That’s about it for a Friday. I’m sure that you have plenty of last minute holiday stuff to do that is much more important than reading blogs.

Bare winter like trees.


New Orleans traffic.

Everybody is going somewhere.

This is Central Business District traffic at right about rush hour. There is rain falling in the light dusky shadows. Drivers are trying to dart in and out of traffic blockages.

I got bored. I did what any photographer would do. I made pictures. Before you think that I’m crazy, let me say that I was stopped for a red light. Cars were crawling through the cross street at about two per green traffic light. Most of us were stopped, foot on the brake, just waiting. I had about five minutes to make this picture.

I did this in the days when I used to explore the streets of New Orleans. I sought out situations like this one. I’d like think that I was the only driver who didn’t care if the traffic moved.

As I recall, this picture was made pre-storm. That makes it about 15 years old. This kind of work kept popping up as I was looking for the decade’s best ten. You might ask if this picture is 15 years old, how does it fit into the decade collection? It doesn’t. A version of it was simply misfiled. Actually, it was likely in one collection, was moved to a second collection and it followed along the unorganized pathways of my archive.

I gotta do something about that.