Sky pilot deluxe.

S

omeone asked me what kind of projects I want to do. I talked about two, but they require some major culling.

Reviewing archive work is taxing. Not only to you sit in a chair with your eye glued to a loupe and stare into a light box, but all sorts of emotions crop up. Some are those ghosts that you hope are friendly. Some are simply photographic like, “What was I thinking?” You start wondering how many misses you had that should have been hits. And, how many hits were just luck. Or, wishing you had better technical skills.

Between the physical and the emotional issues you often can’t work more than four hours. Anything more will put you in bed the next day. I’m not sure that the emotional memories aren’t worse than sitting in a chair.

As I may have written, the black and white project could almost be life long. In many ways it has to be done in its entirety if my archives will be meaningful to future generations. The goal is a couple of art books, but I don’t think that I can just stop and start whenever I feel like it. I suppose I could do it in year collections, but that probably won’t yield enough material for even a “chapter.”

The other project is a little more personal. It’s about my days on the musical road. The images are made digitally so that the culling is easier. These images could actually be profitable but I have to be a little careful. Some people assume the wrong things. Or, the right things.

Anyway.

If I delve into these projects that’ll just about put a stop to making new work. By now you might be wondering if I’m only working four hours a day why can’t I made new images. I can’t really work much more than four hours on photography without making too many mistakes.

Besides, the older I get (I can’t get much older can I?), the lazier I get. Or, is it that I tire more easily?

That’s a whole other story.


Minimal food art.

T

his is one time that I’m not going to discuss what you are seeing. I’ll leave that to you. Let’s just say this. I almost converted this picture into black and white. After looking at it, I realized that I didn’t what I was looking at.

I’ll add one more thing to get you onto the right track, or some kind of track. I made this picture while dinner was cooking. I saw it and I photographed it. I learned something about an iPhone 12 camera. By extending the “lens,” you can actually make macro pictures. That’s very cool.

Now it’s your turn.

What are you looking at?


Once again.

A

nother day. Another block. Another time. Another house.

This is a place that I know for certain was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. I’ve watched it over the years. It follows the laws of nature with the overgrowth. In the winter, such as it is in the Gulf Coast, you can see more of the house as the vines and plants die and turn into branches.

In mid-to-late summer the house looks as you see it. Overgrown and almost beautiful in its ruined state.

Even though I’ve photographed and watched this house over the years, I have no idea what happened to the residents. If a house is still standing over the years, it usually means that the person who lived there moved on, either in this world or in the next.

If the move was made in this world, it means the owner doesn’t have the money to restore it.

The owner’s family usually comes into play if the owner passed on. If that’s the case a potential buyer has to jump through the usual New Orleans hoops in order to find the past owner and line of succession. Even then, the past owner might not really be the owner, but the child of the past resident who may be the child of an even older relative. And, so on.

This house was probably built in the late 1800s to the very early 1900s. If the house was passed on without a deed transfer buying this house could prove to be lost impossible.

That’s why there are so many derelict houses in New Orleans.


Looking and seeing the music.

A

s I recall, it was hot. A lot of us were sucking down water and sweating it out as fast as we drank it. We were tripping all over each other. I stepped on someone. I turned around to apologize mostly with my eyes because we couldn’t hear anything.

They guy I stepped on held has hands out as if to say it’s all good. Then he pointed at something behind me. I thought that I was going to be run over.

Nope.

He was pointing at the shadows the brass players made with their instruments. I made as many pictures as I could and then got out of there as they were headed straight toward me. And, they weren’t stopping.

I never saw my new “friend.” I wanted to thank him for the picture. I would have never seen it on my own. I was too busy heading in the wrong direction.

On that day, I was doing that a lot. I’m not sure what it was. It could have been the heat, the sweat, or my timing was off. Usually, I’m pretty instinctual on the streets.

I made my usual crop of good, but standard, pictures. But, this one. It sneaks up on you. I think it was one of my best from that second line year.


With his friend, a jealous monk.

T

here’s a story behind every door, but I don’t know what they are. A good guess is that this place received some of Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters, but not that much because a lot of Central City is above sea level which makes it that last great ungentrified piece of land in the city.

There was talk a few years ago of Central City being developed fairly quickly because parts of it are near to the train station and The Super Dome. Prime land you know. Unless you count a couple of restaurants and a failed grocery story-cafe complex not much has happened.

That’s how it should be.

Between storms and gentrification in every other neighborhood of the city this is the only place where original dwellers can continue to live. In a time when social aid & pleasure clubs have to drive from places way upriver in order to participate in their former neighborhood’s second lines that’s saying something.

How long this will last is anybody’s guess.

If I had any brains at all, I’d buy this house, restore it and lease back to someone who lives in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, tracking down the owner, or owner’s survivors or worse — looking through tax rolls, or deeds — is a big undertaking. I did that once. Of course, in that neighborhood the original deeds were written in French. I don’t think Central City, let alone this building, is that old.

Of course, I think of all this just as we are getting ready to pull out and leave the city. Unlike the post-Katrina years, we aren’t thinking of coming back. Hurricanes, potholes, shooting and car hijackings be damned. It’s time.


What once was.

A

s you know by now I change my mind a lot. Whaddya want from me? Heh. I’m an artist. Or, so I think.

I will still do my experimental layering, but those images come together when they are ready. I tried to do a couple yesterday. They were forced and it showed.

I also want to do the black and white thing. But, that’s a lot of research and a very long term project. I just hope I complete it before I’m completed. Yes. It’s that long.

There’s another project that’s been rattling around in my brain. I’m sort of publishing bits and pieces of it on Instagram. I think that I’ll start publishing some of them here.

You deserve to see them if you aren’t following me on Instagram. Or, maybe it won’t be Instagram since Facebook is changing their name, maybe IG will too.

Anyway.

This should be a lot of fun. I don’t have to force myself to make pictures of the same scene repeatedly. That’s never any fun.

But.

Doing that did teach me a lot about discipline and photographing what you see in different ways in order to make the pictures interesting.

So, limiting myself wasn’t all bad.

T

here is a lot of little technical trickery involved in making this image.

I’ll tell you the steps of converting this picture to whatever it is now.

This is really a horizontal picture. I cropped it early in the process. It’s a radical crop.

The picture had already been processed and edited, so I had to push the image further.

I stripped a lot of mid-tones out of it. I stripped a lot for color out of it. I added a lot of contrast.

Then, I finally manipulated what little color was left.

If anything, there is almost nothing left of the original picture. It’s all been replaced.

That’s all there was to it.

Heh.


All the blue.

A

s long as there’s a sky turning in the darkness after day… everything worth knowing is in the sound of your old D-35.

I borrowed these words from a song. A D-35 is a particular make of a Martin guitar. It’s fairly rare. Now you know.

I actually didn’t choose these words. They chose me. I was listening to them and they sort of called out to me while I was thinking of what to say about this photograph.

I think it was the moon that caught my eye.

I really didn’t have lens reach that I need to make good picture of the moon so I made it part of the general scene. That’s it. I did what I could do.

When I got it home, I decided darker was better so I did something about it. I don’t consider that much post production so there is no right hand column.

This is a simple picture. Sometimes is simple is better.


Green to orange.

L

earning. Always learning. Practicing. Always practicing. Mostly trying to have fun with the pictures I make. It wasn’t always that way. Pictures were how I made my living. I don’t do that so much now. For sure, I still accept assignment but I don’t go courting them.

That is too much work.

As you know, I’m lazy. Maybe not so much, but if you are busy chasing assignments and all of the rest of the stuff that goes with it, you spend 80% of your time working on business and 20% of your time making photographs.

How much fun is that?

These days, if there is something I really want to photograph for someone, I’ll build a campaign which could take months to come to fruition. That’s really old school, but I’m not looking to be discovered on Instagram. A lot of picture buyers and assignment makers used to troll there. I’m not sure how many of them continue to do that.

A lot of younger photographers still think that they do. At least that’s based on their tags. They won’t tell you a thing about the picture. Instead their tags are directed to various publications. That may be the big difference. Publications still pay pretty much what they did when I was getting started.

Who wants to work for that?

Meanwhile corporate clients, the kind that I want, understand that assignment fees rise just like everything else in a normal economy. They aren’t on IG looking for the next great photographer.

That’s a good thing.

You should earn your way to that level. Photographers shouldn’t be famous because of the number of followers they have or the number of likes and shares they generate. Photographers should be famous for the work they generate over a long period of time.

At least, that’s what I think.


Sun splash.

I

was thinking about the rest of my photographic career when I stumbled upon a photographer called David Carol. What caught my eye was something in his biography.

He said that he was the first Image Bank assignment photographer. The division of Kodak for whom I worked was The Image Bank. The only TIB photographer and staffer was me.

Eventually, I’ll try to get to the bottom of this because it’s akin to stolen valor.

However, after looking at his work and reading about him I don’t much care about his bio because he shoots like I do, or I did. And, his philosophy is like mine. He said, “I don’t photograph homeless people or people who can’t defend or protect themselves. I genuinely it’s exploitative and it doesn’t interest me to do or see. Pick on people your own size.”

The difference between us is he’s published a large number of books and hangs in all sort of galleries and museums.

I ought to be jealous, but I’m not. He spent his time cultivating street photography as art. I spent my time doing just about everything else.

They keep saying that age is just a number. I’m going to test that.

I have a huge black and white archive. You’ve seen the best of my photojournalism in past Storytellers. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I must have ten thick binders. I started to try to archive them when I realized they were organized by date.

Good enough.

But, those images were made the same quirky way that I photograph sometimes. There are probably gems in there that I haven’t seen in years. It’s time to revisit every one of those binders. Or, it’s all a bunch of rubbish.

I’ll find out.

T

his is all technique so you get a right hand column.

I made this picture while I was sitting by the pool, looking up.

The picture is on point. The point being that you’ve seen this kind of image in the past.

I decided to do something about that.

I left well enough alone in Snapseed. But, then I came to OnOne for finishing.

That’s when I went crazy with experimentation.

I aded and subtracted stuff. I looked at a finished image and tossed it in the bin.

I started again.

After more of this experimentation I started to find a thread.

I followed it. I eventually came to the end. That’s the image you are seeing.

I darkened the image. I added fake bokeh. I added that sunburst. I added some glow.

The picture was done.

Finally.