Tough stuff.
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his is a bit of an email I wrote to a friend of mine; I’m not sure why, but I needed to tell these stories. I’ll tell them to you.

We are in Cobble Hill. Brooklyn. The home of my home. I took both of my traveling partners to my old neighborhood. I showed them the schoolyard where I used to play stickball. I told them about my world’s greatest hit. The schoolyard where we played was below the normal height of the surrounding buildings. So if you were on the playground you could barely see the street.

Home plate was at about 14th Street. The school building was sort of the left field wall. If you hit the ball over the school’s roof you were out. A lot of people did that. There was an outfielder who played beyond the far schoolyard fence on 15th street. Just because you hit the ball over the fence didn’t mean you were safe

My at bat.

I could hit pretty far so the defense backed up. I got a hold of a good pitch and hammered it. I watched everybody’s eyes looking up as I started to run. The ball kept rising and rising and rising. It came down in the middle of 12th street near 5th avenue. It crossed a corner of the school’s roof. I hit a long out.

Then, I took them to 16th street. My street. The beginning of my beginning. The upper part of the street is gentrified, the lower part not so much. I’m from the lower part.

Our favorite bodega is now a cafe. My stoop was across the street. We used to shoot paper clips into the store and bounce them off of a fruit scale. Yeah, I was that kid. So were my friends. Once, there were about six of us hanging out on the stoop. We aimed and fired. It sounded like a machine gun as those paper clips hit the scale.

We got yelled at in Spanish.

Then we walked to 3rd street. That street used to be dangerous. All the hitters went to the bar on the corner. A hitter is a guy that could win any fistfight. No guns back then, and only a few knives, On the other hand, they always had the backs of everyone from our street.

I showed my companions the interstate that passed by the very tip of 16th street. I told them about the great lobster incident. We used to drop cobblestones down onto the interstate. We never hit anything. We didn’t try.

I was home when it happened. Luckily.

One of another group tossed a cobblestone onto the road. It hit a truck in the windshield, which shattered. The driver lost control of the truck, which turned over. Lobsters everywhere. The whole neighborhood ran down to get free lobsters. Before the NYPD could arrive, the lobsters were gone, the driver was patched up and he left the truck where it lay. He left too.

And, nobody saw nuthin’.

These stories are starting to seep out of me. If you want more please let me know in the comments. It would help if you told me the year as a prompt for me to take a trip inside my mind.


Customized nature.

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es, it’s true. I wrote that caption which says customized nature. It’s true because I performed so much digital editing on this tree that it might not look anything like the original.

That really wasn’t my intent but it looked good at the time so I went with it. I probably should have reworked from the start but stuff got in the way. So I left it alone.

That’s been the story of the last two years.

Even with no traveling and mostly staying at home until very recently, stuff got in the way.

The real problem comes when I try to think of what that stuff was. No. I’m not suffering from memory loss even though during the year of lock up minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and calendar pages never turned. The stuff just wasn’t important enough to remember or even be documented.

But, it got in the way.

And, you?


Free falling.

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oday got rolling just about the time I got up. I told you that I was going to get busy. I didn’t think that I meant right this second.

I thought I could cruise into the work a little bit at a time. Silly me.

I made my first mistake when I started listening to music. I started with something soft, slow and nostalgic. I almost couldn’t get started. I switched things up. I started Playing a playlist called “Ray’s Mix.”

Yeah. That’s me. I made it when I thought making play lists on Spotify was important. It’s loud. It’s s noisy. And, I know all the words.

Anyway.

This one will keep me working for hours.

I’ll keep this short. Work awaits.

Darn.

D

o you want technique? This one should fill you up. To the top.

The picture really is about nothing. Since all art is autobiographical what does that say about me?

That aside, this was a picture made from desperation. Or, it was an attempt to come back from wandering in the wilderness.

I made the picture, developed it and thought, “Now what?”

I removed a lot of color and muted it. Then, I tinkered around with different modification filters until I came to this place.

The picture highlights something I’ve been saying, and saying, and saying…

Go outside and take a picture. You’ll find one, or it will find you.


This one works.

The only working pay phone in New Orleans lives in Central City. It’s sort of in one of the worst areas of the neighborhood. I suppose people need to communicate or — forgive me — set up drug deals.

That’s what makes this corner of the area so dangerous. When drug deals go bad, there is gun play. When there is gun play innocent people get shot. Innocent like a little three year old girl who was celebrating her birthday.

Even though that was a few years ago, I won’t soon forget that. I had an assignment. I photographed her grandma. We had no real contact information but we knew where she lived.

I knocked on her door with my heart in my mouth. She stepped out of her door and screen door just enough so I could make her picture. I took a couple of steps back so I could set the context and found success. As much success as you can have photographing a grieving family member.

I haven’t been to Central City in a long time. I don’t really feel unsafe there, but the pandemic changed everything.

And, speaking of that, don’t make me start having to type that tagline again. The United States is on its way to a fourth surge. The head of the CCD was almost in tears as she talked about it. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do it. Please keep your distance. And please wear your masks in public places.

And, please be patient.

I know that we are burned out from being isolated or in a lock down, but now is not the time to take chances.

One more thing. None of this is a political thing. The last president made it so. He’s a moron. Don’t listen to that. This is a health issue. A big, giant health issue.

Honestly, this is an older image. There are a couple of reasons for that.

You know me. I’m marginally digitally incompetent.

I downloaded and installed an upgrade for OnOne. Everything works as it should except that it can’t seem to see my desktop. That’s where new pictures go until they are archived.

It sees everything else. It even archived the unarchivable.

I can find no solution or even the same question anywhere. I have an idea that it’s not OnOne, but it’s Apple. Apple hates everybody. So does Adobe.

There isn’t much to say about this photograph. I found it in my archive. I’d forgotten about it. I fine tuned it with something that OnOne calls cinema and that was it.

The pay phone is an added bonus. And, yes it really works.


It is gonna be bad.

You could see it coming from miles away. The storm. The cold. The wind. Luckily, we didn’t have heavy rainfall. Maybe a couple of inches. But, we are having a cold spell that is as cold and long as anything in recent memory.

I’ll tell you more about this picture in the right hand column.

For now it’s enough to say that it was made in the parking lot of a grocery store that we went to after running errands in Jefferson Parish.

We didn’t want to load and unload groceries in the cold rain.

It’s called Postcard Blues for two reasons. It’s mostly blue and because of that McDonald’s sign in the background. It struck me how many people photograph something in the foreground and forget to look in the background.

No. That didn’t happened to me. I saw it as a little point scene to all the rest of the picture.

A way station, if you will, in that dense dark air. A place that you can call home if you like that sort of thing. I’m not big on their food, but for an emergency cup of coffee it’s pretty good.

As they say, anyplace in a storm.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wear two masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every McDonald’s coffee.

Anyplace in a storm, but not standing in the middle of a parking lot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pictures are everywhere. Just look and see. They’ll reach out and grab you.

When I made this picture the sky was dark and gray. I decided to just enhance how the picture looked.

I made it moody and, maybe even scary.

I could have moved my location or removed that McDonald’s sign in the middle of the picture. I didn’t want to. It makes a good focal point for the entire picture. I did brighten it up a bit, but not so much that would be a glaring beacon.

The more that I look at the picture, it looks like something from the dinosaur era. With a McDonald’s sign.


Time is lost.

All the time in the world. That’s how numbers felt early in the pandemic. It was flexible. It stopped and started on its own. Many people felt that way, especially people like me who lost both businesses in the short term.

Timelessness did produce one huge thing. People got creative. People experimented. Some folks even found out that we didn’t need to work according to hide bound procedures.

New found creativity produced something else. Offices emptied out, some never to repopulate again. Mass transit systems were not overflowing, which caused an issue with monetary support. This list is endless.

Importantly, at least for people who like music, small venues closed their doors. Others just flat out shuttered. Not only have people lost their livelihood, but music will have a hard time recovering.

Small venues lead to medium venues, which lead to sheds, which leads to arenas which lead to stadiums. Bands learn how to be, how to talk to an audience, how to deal with hecklers.

Want proof?

The Beatles. You may have heard of them. Do you think they arrived at Shea Stadium fully formed without starting small? They played church events, they played high schools. Then, they started playing clubs like the famous Cavern Club. They went to Hamburg, Germany, where they played four shows a day, six days a week. Hard work. Young men learning.

When the time was right, they broke out.

That’s how it works. Sure, a band can build an audience via streaming. They can go out on the road and play. If they start out too big when they weren’t ready they can burn out. They’ll lose confidence and fans will lose patience.

They say a building is only as strong as its foundation. Well, there you have it.

Watches. A long time ago my dad thought that he wanted to repair watches. The work was precise but it wasn’t physically demanding. He took classes. He did a kind of internship. He stopped. I have no idea why. I was too young to even notice.

I have all of his watch making tools and broken watches. I started photographing them a long time ago. This is one of those images. It is a tiny file so I hid what I could and called it art.

As you know, I’m getting bored with nature. I’m also not inclined to be around other people. I may start photographing his tools and watches again.

Hopefully, I’m a better photographer than I was 15 years ago.

This picture looks stretched and contorted because the file is just too small. I can fix that next time around.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Don’t waste time, it’s all we have.


Autumn Light

Light. Autumn light. As autumn fades into winter, the light is amazing. Shadows are long and have golden edges to them. The air fades to orange. The light around dusk is magical.

That’s what I see, anyway. The all seeing dog likes to go outside around that time. That’s good. We see all sorts of things together. She knows my moves and stops when she sees me look through the viewfinder. When I’m done she walks on.

Last evening she confused herself. She didn’t know which way she wanted to go. So, we went both ways. If you circle back you can do that.

I think that we both like this time of year, as does everyone else in the house, canines and humans.

One more thing about this time of year. I just read that Saturn and Jupiter will be so close that they will look like one, making The Star of Bethlehem. That will happen on the day of winter solstice. Even if you can’t photograph it, you should see it. The last time it happened was 800 years ago.

You don’t want to wait another 800 years, do you?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy all the low golden light.

Dusk. One of my favorite times to work. It is a little richer than dawn because there are so many particulates in the air.

Of course, like everything, timing is everything. And, luck. Clouds have to move. The sun has to shine.

For me, a scene like this must be spectacular. I’m not a sunset guy unless the sky is stunning. This one was.

I made a bunch of exposures, framing and adjusting the light into the camera. I selected the one I liked best. I added a formulaic set of filters and I was done.


Tiny flower.

I had a lot written. I wrote a lot about the soon to be vaccine. I talked about picture theory. I thought I was going along pretty good. As I attempted to switch columns I accidentally hit something — I don’t know what — and the entire written piece was deleted. I know that there is an earlier version saved under all posts. I’m sure some of the writing is saved there. But I just don’t have the time to mess with it today.

The reason I was switching to the right column was the usual thing. Two different subjects. But, copy editing the right hand column was a nightmare. I couldn’t place my coursor where I wanted it. When I tried to re-write a sentence by changing a few words, the entire sentence was either garbled or deleted.

WordPress tried to blame Safari. Good try, but they are lying. Their spell check takes over. Safari has no ability to override it. WordPress’ AI and spell check suck. And, blow.

I may have resubscribed because the price was so low, but I don’t need this nonsense. I spent all of yesterday doing things three times because of others’ incompetence. I completed my tasks on the third try because you know,”If you want anything done right, do it yourself.”

I am not doing that again today.

I have a lot of work to do that didn’t get done yesterday, and I have errands to run.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Don’t make me come over there. I’m in no mood. Enjoy every blog because you never know when the author may disappear.


Threes of light rain.

I’m only sleeping. So said John Lennon. He may have been speaking for me. I went to bed last night. I got up once at about 7am to make sure the dogs went out to do their thing. I did my morning stretches. Looked at the bed and decided to read the news.

It’s almost 3pm as I write. I awoke about 45 minutes ago.

I feel great.

As they say, I must have needed it.

As they also say, self care is important. I suppose sleeping the day away falls into the category. I’m glad that I wasn’t disturbed.

I think laughingly that I’ll be up all night. But, I don’t think so. The stress of these last nine months takes its toll even if you think you are okay.

How about y’all? Are you okay?

Green. I told you that I was going through a green phase. A spell of rebirth. I’ll start something new tomorrow.

You know what I do. I see something that interests me and I make a picture.

We’ve been having rain for the past three days so most things are wet. There are droplets everywhere. I happened to like the ones in the picture.

I’m trying to return to the basics a little. No over the top processing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Listen to instructions. Enjoy every leftover.