This weekend and week is about as rough as it gets. First came Peter Fonda. I didn’t know him, but his work influenced me. Then came Nancy Parker. I met her once at the Krewe of Zulu on Mardi Gras Day. A true sweetheart. Next comes Governor Kathleen Blanco. I met her at some event. She helped rebuilt the city after the destruction caused Hurricane Katrina. She stood down the president when he wanted to nationalize the state in the aftermath of the storm. She was the aunt to a very good friend of mine.
It didn’t stop there.
My oldest friend in New Orleans died on Sunday. She had breast cancer. It was in remission until it wasn’t. She was 48 years old. She leaves a husband and a 12 year old son. They both adored her.
Today, I hurt.
I suppose that I’ll go to the celebration of her life on Sunday. From there I’ll go to the first second line of the 2019 – 2020 season. I wasn’t sure if I’d photograph that. I suppose the decision was made for me. My vision was clarified in no uncertain terms. You know, the people in the Mardi Gras culture call this, “home going.” I guess. It doesn’t hurt any less.
The picture. It’s old. Most of you haven’t seen it. It’s me. Today.
You know what I say. The work is the prayer. It had better be.
When I first saw this place, maybe twenty years ago, the trees were lush and full. There were lots of them. Today, between industrial pollution and being a dumping ground for just about everything, it doesn’t look the same.
It’s very likely that in the next twenty years, most of the remaining trees will be gone because this swamp will be filled with brackish water from the high tides in the gulf. This will happen because we have lost, and will continue to lose, a huge amount of land from the barrier islands and swamp land. In the past, it protected us from storms, from storm surges, and even high tides.
Soon it won’t protect us from anything.
I don’t expect the kind of help we need to come from this presidential administration. They are mostly climate deniers. They don’t like science. Even with a new administration I doubt that there will be enough “political will.”
At least we won’t be alone.
The picture. I made this picture a couple of years ago. It’s one of those “lost” images. It wasn’t lost. I just forgot the proper file in my messy archive. I haven’t been to this place in at least two years. I’ll go back soon, once @NOLAheat cools down. Sheesh. Normally, I describe our summer weather as a sauna. Not this week. It’s an oven out there.
Now and then I get up early. That’s how I made this picture. Technically, in order to get the flare and the starburst I used a very small aperture, probably f/16 or f/22. Normally, that would mean a very slow shutter speed, but not with that sun shining directly at me. I did some work in post production. Mostly, I opened up some shadow areas. And, I made the light a little more yellow.
When I saw it, I knew. This was not about the original file. It was about what could be done with it. It was about my vision. My intent after I brought the image home.
To be clear, it wasn’t about heavy post production. It was about doing just enough studio work to bring forth what I saw in the scene. I saw it as something Asian. Maybe Japanese. Maybe Chinese. Makes sense. They borrowed from each other.
It was also about the color green. It’s said to be calming. We all could use a little calming.
These days have gotten completely out of hand. I try not to read much news. That’s one approach. But, that’s like turning down a fast flowing water spigot. It just keeps trickling out. My only alternative seems to be to shut it all down. But, I like baseball. In order to get to it, I have to wade through various news publications and websites.
Also, we are in the middle of hurricane season. I do need the storm alerts. The best storm information comes via Twitter. As much as I try to follow artists, musicians and local people, the news that I want to avoid seeps out.
I’ll figure it out. Eventually.
The picture. I pretty much discussed it at the start of this post. I saw it. My brain broke free of its rust and realized that there was something to this grassy shape.
Ask AT&T. I was out walking. I’ve been seeing this cluster for a while. I decided to take a few snaps. Since I’m feeling a little salty today, I thought that I’d share one with you. This is a cluster of wires to a still working copper wire system. Unless you have upgraded to their fiber optic system, this is part of how AT&T provides your cellphone and internet service.
When we used AT&T, our inbound services dropped about five times a week whether they needed to or not. They installed fiber optics. Their agents didn’t know about it. I gave up. We switched to Cox. Many people hate Cox. We love them. Cox has dropped once in almost two years. They’d dropped a couple of other times, but that was due to power failure. You know. The New Orleans thing. Two squirrels on the wire.
When you look at Cox telephony boxes, they are enclosed and weather proofed. When, you look at At&T gear, well…
Of course it works well. Not.
The picture. aside from my previous comments, I do sort of like it. I started post production in Snapseed and finished it in OnOne. I’m glad that I did. It’s much richer in this form.
It seems that digging into my past work is necessary, but not rewarding.
I can’t keep posting it. For sure, you’ve never seen it. It’s new to you. But, it’s not where I’m at now. In the summer of 2019.
This picture is brand new. As usual, I saw it on the way to some place else. I was in a hurry. I was lucky that the cross caught my eye. Photographer’s luck. When I actually pressed the button, I didn’t see it for what it was. I saw it for what it could be.
Vision aligning with reality.
And, then going further.
I’m not making a statement about religion if this gothic cross means that to you. I don’t attack other people’s belief systems. As the late John Lennon wrote, “whatever gets you through the night.
I am making a statement about my sense of the world right now. We are broken. Everybody seems angry about even the littlest things. The doors and windows are closed. We are taking extreme positions about almost everything.
There’s no point in this.
I’d like to see the window frame painted nicely. I’d like to see the cross glowing. It like to see another version of this picture where everything is sparkling.
Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.
I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.
Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…
The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.
This picture is not one of them.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.
I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.
This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.
I was wondering just how many pictures of old couches, chairs and furniture would hold a readers interest.
I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I saw this scene.
It hit me.
A picture like this holds the reader’s interest in many ways. Not the least of them being the human need to understand the photograph. To study it. To spend some time with it. To let your brain grasp the details within the details.
The first couple of pictures that I made for the “Junk Project,” were mostly overall scenes. You look at them once, quickly, and you are done. You see everything that needs to seen in less than a second. They rely on color, shape and hue.
This picture relies on content. Subject matter.
This picture would work in black and white, as well as in color.
This picture is also harder to find. Even harder for it to find you.
If somebody wanted it for their wall, I work hard to convince them to use the horizontal version and turn it into wall paper. Something that is about twelve feet wide and eight feet high. Something that when you came home at night, you could stare at and forget the day. You’d mumble to yourself, “Oh wow. I didn’t see that before.”
Just like I’m doing now. That light bulb. They are expensive. It isn’t broken. What was I thinking?
I had a good week. Not only did I find a couple of pictures for the summer project, but I found a couple of pictures for my junk and water projects. I’m not saying that everything I photographed will make it into the final cut, but having many pictures from which to select is better than too few. Right?
I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.
Durability. Sustainability. Repairability.
The furniture that was set out by this dumpster was old. The pieces were probably manufactured in the 1930s. Every piece was well made of good solid wood. Nothing was broken. They needed a little refinishing work, but that was about it.
All they needed was a little loving touch. They would have made a fine collection of furniture for somebody. Anybody.
We live in a time when everything is made so cheaply that it costs more to repair an item than it costs to replace it. That’s too bad. More broken stuff for the overflowing landfills. More broken stuff to add to our pollution. More broken people not working.
A few weeks ago, we went through the great plastic purge. We are still working on it, but it’s damn near impossible. Sheesh. We tried to buy butcher paper locally. Good try. Yes. It can be found in our local and regional grocery stores. But, it’s improved. It has a — wait for it — plastic backing.
Sure. You can buy paper butcher paper on Amazon. And, you add to the carbon footprint by having it shipped. Get this, most of it comes in huge rolls for commercial use.
So, you have to buy a rack and a paper cutter.
I believe that we are at a point beyond which we can’t turn back. Everybody and everything is too invested in the stuff that could kill the planet. Besides, follow the money. How does Mitch McConnell grow his wealth by some $24 million in a couple of years?
The picture. First, I would have taken that furniture if I had a truck. But, I had a dog on a leash. She refuses to carry heavy stuff. Seriously, I photograph my projects as I see potential subject matter. For me, it works better to let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing them. As I wrote earlier, I think I have my color palette figured out going forward. For the junk project.
One more item of semi-interest.
Doctor John was buried yesterday. His family and friends organized a true jazz funeral with a second line and a mule drawn hearse. I didn’t photograph it. The temperature was 96 degrees at 3pm when the parade began. The heat index was 104 degrees. Way too hot for me.
It starts around now and lasts well into August, when even hotter temperatures dry out the air a little bit. A loss of humidity would seem to be a good thing.
Unfortunately, the temperature starts creeping into the triple digits. Like about 219 degrees.
You pick your poison.
Or, you leave.
With climate change — it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not — there are very few cooler places in the United States in the summer months. At least, you might go to a place that has a dry heat heat. Still, it’s hot. I rarely live in anything approaching cool weather from May until October.
So, this is the goopy season in the south. Heat. Humidity. Daily rain.
Move your camera from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the street and you’ve got condensation. On the camera body. On the lens. Do not remove the lens. If you do that you will have condensation inside the camera. Inside the lens. That’s deadly.
Instead, wipe the camera down with some kind of soft, lint free, cotton. Clean the front of the lens with something designed for that job. Lens cleaning tissue, or a micro fiber cloth. Let the camera acclimate and you’ll be good.
Some photographers wear t-shirts to use as a cleaning cloth. Fine, as long as it is cotton, not a blend, and it is clean. Don’t wipe your camera down with your lunch. Or, the egg that you ate for breakfast.
The picture. Running errands. In and out of rain. You can see a fairly good example of that in the picture. To the left, mighty storm clouds. To the center, blue skies.
This picture is a classic example of the modified drive by. It is a drive through. I could have let my errand running partner drive. But, oh no. I can drive. In traffic. And, make pictures at the same time. Sheesh.
I think that may even be more deadly than texting and driving. On second thought, it isn’t. I put the phone or camera on the dashboard, let it focus, and I just push the button while looking at the road. If I have to react quickly, I just drop the camera or phone. Obviously, I’ve thought about it.
Also, in one way or another, I’ve done it for years. Practice, practice, practice. But, this falls into the category of “kids, don’t try this at home.”
This is a weather picture. I made it because I saw it. I’m not sure it falls into the group of ten great summer pictures. Yesterday’s picture did for sure. Many of you confirmed that on various social media and, here on Storyteller. Thank you.
One down. Nine to go. Or, maybe not.
Doing this is a combination of talent, experience and the luck of being there are the right time. The luck thing is a really big deal in this particular series. For yesterday’s picture, a couple minutes on the either side and scene is blown.