Pearl of the Quarter


Life in between.

On the edge.

It seems that all the president’s men are clamoring to open up the country.  They are hoping for business as usual. I’m not. I think we can be better in just about every way. I believe that even before CoVid-19 most of our systems are broken. The virus just provided clarity.

I could go on and on about the broken issues. I’ll just discuss one. Infrastructure. I can’t speak for your city, but mine is in horrible shape. We still don’t have full capacity pumping stations. Our streets are mostly a mess. Potholes are everywhere.The city and the contractors still haven’t demoed the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel. Two bodies are still trapped in the debris.  A building collapsed yesterday. It just fell down. There are some 30,000 buildings in dire condition. And, so on. And, so on.

I’m not ranting. We can get this stuff done. We can fix the national infrastructure too. Those folks who lost their jobs, jobs which may never return, could be put back to work. In this case, history really does repeat itself.

More importantly, we can change ourselves. We can change personal stuff that might make our lives better. We can also be honest about how we feel. An artist that I follow on Instagram realized that she didn’t have to work right now. She now bakes and cooks and has a drink while she’s doing those things. She allowed herself to be sad. She passed through her dark moments.

Where does the leave me?

There is a photographer I like called Todd Hido. He’s a couple of years younger than me. He makes books. He does major shows. His work is hanging in the Smithsonian. He’s a true photographic artist. He discussed his projects in a piece that I read. He said that even if his project lasts for ten years (He photographs multiple projects at once), when it is done, it’s done.

Ah ha.

My own over arcing project is done. I can’t seem to make myself go out to photograph second lines, Indians, Zulus and all things of that nature on the street. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that. Reading Mr. Hido’s comments gave me permission to say I’m done.

I’ve been pursuing my art-like the pictures I’ve been posting on Storyteller. That’s where I’m headed. That’s where I want to go.

This lockdown time has given me time to think, to let stuff roll around in my brain. Sometimes to get clarity you have to let your thoughts or pictures marinate.

Oddly, just as I arrived at that conclusion, WordPress sent me an email about blog site renewal. I’m using a business plan. I can roll my prorated funds into the top plan. If I do that. I have to sell art from here to make it worth doing. I’m doing it.

There’s a lot to learn. I understand and have fairly good business practices. I understand SEO to a point. The point being like dipping a toe into a giant swimming pool.

There you have it. You’re stuck with me.

The picture. Make that two pictures. The foreground silhouette is something I saw two days ago. You’ve seen the background image. I layered them, making sure that the bright background colors did not overwhelm the foreground. I tinkered some more and it was complete.

Stay Safe, Look after each other. Take your time reopening your lives. Wear your masks. Wear your gloves. Keep your distance. Don’t congregate. Enjoy every left over Easter egg.

Sunday Best


Like your Sunday best.

Easter Sunday.

A big day, today. Normally, Christians of every stripe pack churches on this holiest of days. Not this Sunday. I’d never thought I’d see the time when going to church could get you killed. This is one of those times. Yes. I read history. I know some things about the past.

While priests will say mass, and preachers will give praise, we’ll all be home watching the services on television, via Facebook or on the church’s own website. Other places, too.

I wrote a few weeks ago that this was like life during wartime. And, so it is.

We all make sacrifices. We all try to help each other while avoiding each other. We are all in this together even though we are all apart. We wear masks. We wear gloves. We wash our hands with soap in hot water. We use hand sanitizer. We keep our distance. Eventually, social distancing combined with all that I just wrote will flatten the curve. Don’t ask me when. Don’t get excited with today’s numbers. Don’t let your guard down.

The picture. My Sunday best. That’s how you are supposed to dress when you go to church. In your Sunday best. At least, you used to do that. Today, that’s been relaxed. Although on Easter Sunday, I don’t know how you could wear your best falling apart jeans and flip flops to church, unless that really is your best.

I made the picture walking to someplace else. The sun dropped just low enough to create a very high key scene, with a set of light streaks. I took the picture to the next  level in post production. Then, I got crazy. I took it to levels unknown. That’s all I did.

Happy Easter if you celebrate.

Stay safe. Care for others. Keep your distance. Wear a mask in public. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Enjoy every Easter Egg.

On This Holy Weekend


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.

Alchemy


Friday follies.

Prettiness on a Friday.

I actually planned this picture for earlier this week, but CoVid19 killed John Prine. So, I waited. Call this his funeral flowers. Call it art. Call it a confusing mess. Call it whatever you like. I just hope that you like it.

Some of the news that almost fits.

Two things today.

From the city of my birth there is concerning news.

The coroner’s office is taking bodies from homes where they died. The numbers are astounding. Normally, they retrieve bodies at the rate of about 138 per week, which isn’t much considering the population of New York. Now they are retrieving at least that many per day. Common sense says that most of them are virus victims. They can’t be counted as such because the mortuary staffs just don’t know. Think about that. That’s almost 1,000 per week. In six or so weeks, that’s almost 6,000 bodies that are likely not counted as CoVid19 deaths. That’s probably happening in other cities as well.

In New Orleans, at least, some people are dying from something other than the virus. It’s pretty clear cut. You can’t miss the cause of death. Gunshot wounds. For a couple of weeks, the streets calmed down because of the stay at home advice.

Now? Not so much.

The drug dealers are losing money just like every other small business. They are doing something about it.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, mass graves are being dug on an island where there is an ancient potter’s field. Since victim’s families can’t collect the bodies of their deceased because of fear of infection, the city has to do something with them. That is horrible.  You can’t say goodbye and you can’t memorialize them properly.

In New Orleans, we’ve had seven Zulus die, one big chief and a man who meant everything to the social clubs. Normally, there would be a second line for each of them. You know, a jazz funeral. Not Now.

I suspect — no, I know — that when we finally can gather, when the virus is behind us, there will be the mother of all second lines. It will be a combination of celebration and memorialization. As the Indians say, “Won’t bow down, don’t know how.”

That’s pretty much how the city feels right about now.

Stay safe. Care for others.  Wash your hands. Wear a mask in public. Keep your distance. Don’t gather. Enjoy all the cheesy shrimp and grits.

Survive


Red, red, red.

Red.

They say in design school that if you want to make your readers or viewers happy use warm colors rather than cold. So, that’s what I did. And, a red rose. For love.

The picture is simple. It is a macro photograph. A real one. I saw it. I stopped. I made a few pictures. In fact, you’ve seen another version of this in some of my layered images. This one took very little post production. Nature did the rest.

Some virus notes. No statistics. No bad news. Just a few observations.

I saw a couple of folks shopping in their PJs. At least PJ bottoms and a house t-shirt. You know the ones. They are really ready for the rag bag, but they are so comfortable that you never put them there.

A lot of people stopped combing their hair. For the first week or so everything was unique. As we entered in the third week, people gave up or just don’t care. I’ve a had a number of online meetings. At first, people looked like they were dressed for work. Now? Not so much. Some people look like they haven’t shaved since stay at home rules were put in place. Some of them, like me, may have started with some kind of chin hair. Now, I’m really close to having a full beard.

At least I get dressed. And, wear pants.

Then there are groceries. I have no idea what motivates people. One day there are no paper products at all. I’m not sure why people are buying everything. How many fancy dinner napkins do you need? The next day, those shelves are restocked. But, other shelves are empty. Why, oh why do people need every potato chip in New Orleans?

And so it goes. And, goes. And, goes.

Stay Safe. Look after others. Wash your damn hands. Keep your distance. Wear a mask in public. Enjoy every piece of sushi.

 

 

Stripped Away


Taking back the pavement.

Is the pleasure worth all the pain?

That’s a line from an old Jimmy Buffett song. After warnings, and a few arrests, people of our fine city still seem to think that gathering is okay. I’m sure their momentary pleasure will cause them a lot of pain later.

I’m going to take a break from CoVid19 commentary. Y’all probably read and watch way too much coverage of it already.

Let’s talk a little bit about pictures.

I’ve been asked to participate in a couple of Zoom round table discussions about pictures. I’m hoping they won’t turn into gearhead discussions. I have no interest in that. If the organizers want to talk about philosophy, I’m all in. If they want to talk about art, I’m all in.

If it turns into “which is better a Nikon or a Canon camera” discussion, I’ll reply Leica and fade away.

A little housekeeping.

I’ve developed a very strange problem with WordPress. For many of you I cannot “like” your posts without doing a major work around. Usually, when I hit the like button, I get a blank pop up screen for about a second. Often when I comment, I’m asked to fill in my contact information as if I weren’t part of WordPress. Sometimes a WordPress button pops up. If I click on that, I’m sort of logged in.

I know it’s a WordPress bug because I’ve tested this across computer systems, using Apple and Windows. I’ve also tested it across browsers. I’ll talk to the fine folks at WordPress today. Storyteller is a business account so I have access to immediate help. They are pretty good about that.

The picture. It’s a little bitty detail that I was able to photograph near macro. But, not really macro.

That’s another story.

I see so many people misusing the term macro on WordPress blogs. Macro is the ability to focus so close that the details of a bee’s wing are in sharp detail, sometimes without the whole bee filling the frame.

Most people are focusing on a subject, like a rose on a rose bush and calling that macro. It’s not. Really, those folks are just isolating a part of the scene in front of them. It’s about time.

One more thing about focusing on the subject.

Another blogger likes my work because it has a 3D quality. That’s easy. Use a wide angle lens, set the camera to everything auto, and stick it right into the middle of the thing you are photographing. You’ll get what appears to be 3D . Of course, if you are mostly driven to photograph sunsets, you’ll always have a compressed looking picture. Or, you have to fly to the sun. That’ll get mighty hot.

Stay Safe. Look after each other. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Don’t gather in groups. Enjoy every crawfish.

 

Beautiful World


Out making groceries.

Morning glory.

Maybe I should be out and about in the morning. Pictures made then are usually a lot of fun. I usually have things to do then. Not the least of them being taking the all seeing dog on her morning walk. Maybe I can work around that.

Here’s a morning picture now. This one came after we parked in the grocery store lot. I made two reasonably good pictures there and one that is of the time. You’ll eventually see all of them

All the news that fits.

Covid19 rages on and on and on. In some American cities it may peak toward the end of April. New Orleans is following New York’s path, but only two weeks later. That means that we are nowhere near the midpoint. The rest of this week should get interesting. May you live in interesting times is the worst possible Chinese curse. We are cursed.

It seems that a lot of people are going through some kind of reevaluation of their lives. I’m no exception. I awoke this morning counting all the places that I’ve lived. There are a lot. I use to write it off to making career moves. Now, I just think it was caused by personal stupidity.

My career cost a lot. People, cool places, family. It’s harder to regain any of those things the older that you get. I could go further, but I’ll just depress myself.

On a positive note, I always had a lot of fun. I did get to see a lot of very different locations. I did get to participate in some great events. I met some interesting people. I am coming up to my 50th high school reunion. Many of my classmates grew up in Southern California and there they stayed. That’s great for some people, but it’s likely I would just have gotten bored.  I’ll never know.

Stay Safe. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Care for others. Enjoy every po’boy.

Illegal Smile


Wonder.

Just give me one good season.

So sang John Prine. The singing mailman. A national treasure. He’s got Covid19. He’s been intubated. He’s 72. He’s beaten cancer twice. He’s been through chemo. He’s been radiated. He’s probably got even more underlying issues. His family asked from prayers last night. You know what to do.

I was feeling pretty down last night. I had this feeling that I wouldn’t come out on the other side of this.

Until.

A friend of mine sent an email saying “open now.” Luckily, it was about two minutes old. I read it and joined a Zoom meeting. One of the lead doctors at Columbia University Hospital was hosting it. The hospital is a 1200 bed leading research hospital. There is a team who takes data, spins it around and provides practical information.

There are four main points. You don’t have to get sick if you follow them.

  1. Keep your hands clean. After you touch anything that isn’t in your own circle, hit yourself with Purcel.
  2. Keep your distance. Covid19 doesn’t live in the air. You have to be hit by droplets. Or, if you come in contact with an infected person and stay too close to them for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Keep your hands off of your face. The virus enters through your, mouth, nose and eyes.
  4. Masks are really not needed for protection unless you are going to spend time with an infected person. They really serve to remind you to keep your hands off of your face.

There’s a lot more, but most are examples.

This doesn’t mean we are safe, but if we follow those four rules, there is a high probability we might be.

One more CV issue. Our grocery store opened even earlier for us oldsters. 7am. For some reason I awoke at about 7:15. Out the dogs went. Out we went. There were about ten people shopping in the entire store. We bought everything we needed. But, if you wanted paper goods, no joy. We didn’t need anything. We don’t have toilet paper dreams.

The picture. Layered again. Three different images combined into one. It took some time to get things tinkered in the right direction. You haven’t seen the individual pictures. You will.

Stay safe. Care for one another. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy every burrito.

Bye & Bye


Smile though your heart is breaking.

I needed this picture.

The news is grim, getting grimmer. The virus is growing exponentially in New Orleans. I live in a country in desperate need of a leader. Many people, most not from NOLA, are trying to blame the mayor for not cancelling Mardi Gras. None of us knew. We certainly had no direction from the president or even FEMA. I’m not the mayor’s biggest supporter. I stand with her this time.

I followed my own advice. One day at a time. Doing what I do. Making art.

I started tinkering with the base picture which is a very tightly composed and cropped picture of a rose. You’ll see other versions of it eventually. I added the little tiny flowers on the lawn. You’ve already seen those. I started  working on the color, brightness and glow.

I started smiling. I started laughing. This picture is so whimsical that it brought out my hidden happiness. I hope it works for you.

Stay Safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.