Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


New Mexican delight.

D

ream or nightmare, you tell me. I’m going with nightmare and I’ll tell you why. You know that I post most of my tales the afternoon before the publishing date.

I sat down at 1 pm to start editing the picture. It is now 5:43 pm. The computer just gave me hell when the night previous, it was smooth and fast. It wouldn’t load. Every app gave me a hard time.

I finally rebooted the computer and that took three tries. OnOne took four tries to load. WordPress, for once, worked as as expected.

I don’t understand what happened. Apple suggests that you put the computer to sleep for extended periods of non use. I did that.

Apple says this because it takes a good 30 minutes to reboot from a cold start. Even when it is finished, apps don’t respond very quickly.

It could be the age of the computer. But, I’ll tell you this. We bought a refurbed Hewlett Packard Windows 10 computer just as a test. It runs smoother and faster than my main machine ever ran.

Here’s what happened. While Apple was making smartphones and watches, they weren’t paying attention to what should be their core product, computers. They made tiny, incremental changes while Windows products were getting better by leaps and bounds.

The latest iMacs reflect that trend. There is a new chip. But, the really big deal, apparently, is now they come in about five colors. Like that’ll help.

There is a new iMac coming out sometime soon. That’s supposed to have the big upgrades. We’ll see. It probably means five more colors.

Along with my change of blogging location I might as well just switch to a Windows product. After all, Windows 11 is supposed to look like an Apple desktop.

I probably won’t notice the difference except it’ll be much faster.

T

here is a lot of manipulating and technical work that went into this photographic piece of art.

The original picture is simple. It’s an old blue Chevy pickup truck parked in front of an abode building.

I started tinkering with it. Slowly at first, then I went a little crazy.

It may seem like I did everything possible to it. I stopped just before that. But, honestly, I do not remember adding that film strip to the bottom of it.

I must have been in a fine frenzy.

Whatever happened, is the result of going out of my mind. But, not knowing it at the time.

And, here’s more technical nonsense just in case you haven’t had enough.

We’ve decided to not pay so much to cool the house during a normal Southeast Louisiana summer.

The electric bills can be outrageous.

So, we set the thermostat to 75 degrees.

I’m freezing.

Maybe my thermostat is broken.

Sheesh. It’s always something.


Into the light.

E

xperiments are something that helps me to create art. Sometimes I succeed. Other times I fail. That’s okay. That’s how I learn.

Instead of thinking the project was useless, I’ve learned over time that there are no useless days, nor are there useless projects.

However, that doesn’t mean that I have to publish my failures. I see that all the time, especially on Facebook or Instagram. A couple of my friends who photograph New Orleans culture are racing to see who can post the most pictures.

I hate to say this, but well over 50% of the pictures that they post are not very good. Many of them are just plain boring.

That’s not really my business. Do what you want.

For me, less is more. Make a lot of pictures on the scene. Edit them loosely. Then run through them again and again until you are down to about 0.3% of the total take. That’s where the best pictures hide.

Publish, post, or share them.

Trust me. At the very least you won’t bore your followers and friends. At best, maybe you’ll fool them into thinking you are a great photographer.

T

he subject is a magnolia. They grow all over the South.

I photographed just a portion of the flower.

I removed all of the detail making the subject into a graphic shape.

Then I lowered the overall exposure until the color appeared. The colors that you are seeing where there all the time. They weren’t enhanced.

Over the years of color work, I’ve learned to predict which way the colors will go.

Living things, especially as found in nature tend to go toward the warm side.

But, something found in the shade will move toward the cold side.

Keep that on mind the next time that you are photographing around.


My places.

N

o patience. That describes my attitude these days. I have almost no tolerance for technical issues and yet I know better.

I understand that everything made by man eventually breaks. That’s why there are so many service people. Mechanics, technicians, plumbers, the Maytag repairman, even doctors are working because stuff breaks.

Thinking about leaving WordPress I realized it’s not about the platform. Most of the time it is solid and stable. What aggravates me is the constant changing of workflow. That, and the lack of communication about those changes.

I know one thing about being creative. We need some sort of routine on which to hang our imagination. If the routine changes frequently all we are doing is swimming in place.

It’s one thing to shake things up in order to jump start the creative process, it’s another thing to be perpetually confused.

Take the block system for instance. What was wrong with the older so called classic template?

Nothing.

The block system is supposed to be faster. Nonsense. At best, it’s just a bit slower than the classic system. At worst, it creates extra work because it crashes or traps type, or traps drop caps.

Yes, I know there is a classic template in the block inserter. But, it’s a very early version. It may predate me.

So, that’s it.

I’ll discuss the picture on the other side.

T

his picture is more about feeling and a bit of nostalgia than any type of documentary work.

There are two images layered into one. As usual I was tinkering with number of pictures when all of a sudden it came together.

That happens sometimes when you put the work in. But, you have to put the work into your art. No work, no art.

The pictures in their literal form are of Mardi Gras beads on a fence, and of Kowloon, Hong Kong.

It’s nostalgic. It’s about looking back at my life and understanding that I likely won’t do these things again unless a vaccine is developed for people like me. That will take the federal government’s help. I’m not holding my breath.

I don’t know what you see or feel when you look at this image. After all, you bring your own life to the picture when you view it.

They say that all art is autobiographical. If this photograph isn’t that, I don’t know what is.


One night, lonely.

O

nce, when I used to live in Asia, I traveled around the world to Denmark. I left Singapore exhausted and beaten down by a very rough press check.

My press checks were never rough. I know enough color theory and the art of making compromises when I couldn’t manage everything on the page the way I wanted.

We printed either 8, 12, or 16 pages to view. Or, we printed a certain number of pages at the same time so that when they were folded and trimmed they formed a section of a book. The trick is to make sure the color was what you wanted on, let’s say page one and page eight.

This press check was grueling because it was a co-production with a small sports agency based in New York. They thought we could print one of those big pages, send it to New York where they could make changes, maybe even substituting pictures.

Nonsense.

We’d have been printing the book for a month. Normally, that’s about a three day job.

So.

I went forward without sending them anything. My press, my call. I said they should call me in a couple of days.

When are you going to send the first pages they asked? The book is done I replied. The yelling started. The screaming started. I just listened. Finally, they settled down. I asked if they were done. I also said that if they started in again, I’d dump the whole thing in The Sea of China.

They threatened to call my boss, not realizing that I didn’t have a direct boss. But, I did have a president. Did they actually think that I’d go off half cocked with out making sure my back was covered.

Boy. This is a long set up.

I left Singapore for Denmark. We flew to Switzerland and then to Denmark. When we landed in Switzerland the flight attendant apologized, saying that she tried to wake me, but I was in such a deep sleep that she decided to let me sleep. Good call. She found me something for me to eat while we were on the ground.

When I finally arrived at what would now be called an Air BnB, I was about dead. I turned on the television to keep me company. The only channel that I could understand was a music channel.

I saw and heard it at about the same time.

There was the lead singer wearing long dreads, and leather fringe jacket. He was jumping around and looking happy. It woke me up.

The singer was Adam Durwitz. The band was Counting Crows. The song was Mr. Jones. You’d have think back to the mid-1990s to remember it. It was a huge hit from their first album. I still listen it to this day.

Finally.

S

o, that was a long story wasn’t it?

Just as well.

This side, the technical side won’t be near as long.

I saw the light from my studio. I was a little late. So, I did what I could.

I went to my go to location and started making pictures.

When I started looking at them while I was editing I realized that I didn’t know what was doing.

Figures.

This morning I couldn’t make an espresso to save my life.

I dropped the capsule on the floor. I picked up and dropped it again.

The basket was full so I emptied it into small trash can where we put recyclables. They fell on the floor.

I washed the basket.

I added more water. While I was pouring it into the machine the hatch that covers the water fell back in place. The water flowed all over the counter.

In what world do I think that I can make pictures?

Anyway.

I did some post production magic and made something that is intriguing.

At least I managed to repair all of the noise that was in the sky.

Now, do you want me to tell you about making breakfast?

Sheesh.


Is this the dream?

The dream returned. This picture could have been part of it, but I can’t remember.

What I do remember was walking towards Long Beach but ending up in a broken down place like New Orleans.

I bought a house. It was huge house. It was ancient. I mostly lived in the back of it where the kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a sitting room was located. In many ways that’s how I lived in my first New Orleans house which was built in 1834. It was too big for me, but it was a great deal.

This dream house wasn’t like that real one. This was huge. A lot of it was falling down. It was also much older. It had broken down fireplaces throughout the house. I dug down into one of them which was about three times the size of a normal fireplace and found a tunnel that lead underground to the back of the house. It was some kind of commercial production building that was mostly hidden.

Some friends were helping me work on it. All of us kept finding weird things throughout the house. As we were coming out of the industrial fireplace a couple of people were walking by.

We asked them what they knew about the history of my house. Neither of them wanted to talk about it, but they suggested that I talk to the owner of the “food store” that was across the street.

All the owner would say that was my house had “bad juju” and that I should abandon it and find something else.

What the hell kind of dreams am I having? Everything I pass through or live in is broken down, spent and abandoned.

What is my brain telling me?

I’m not sure that I want to know.

I’m not sure if this picture was part of my always weird dreams, but it fits in very nicely.

It’s really just a simple picture of a tree in a forest. It’s not layered although I tried. Layering just never worked.

Instead, I used different filters in On One.

I played with them until I made a picture that I liked. That took endless moves because every time I got close, I went too far or didn’t like the result.

Finally, I stumbled on this version which was nothing like I intended but caught my eye.

I finished it and you lucky folks are seeing it.


The flower exploded.

Did you ever have a day when the flowers were exploding? Seems far fetched, but it could happen…

…in your dreams.

That’s not what happened to me. I don’t think.

I photographed a dandelion and while I was processing it, it came to me that I could make it look like fireworks. Or, a day on the sun. Or, a summer’s day in Southeastern Louisiana.

So, I did.

It’s got a combination of exploding suns, too much faux bokeh and a whole bunch of other imperfections that I added to ruin the look of a pretty flower.

What could I do? It was in my head. I had to get it out.

Wouldn’t you do the same thing?

If you could.

How? How? How?

First, I took a picture.

Then, I processed it in Snapseed. That gave me a healthy looking Dandelion.

Then, I went to work in OnOne. I used a look called hot desert. I added faux bokeh. I added a sun refraction. Finally, I added a border.

That’s it.

Just 8,420 easy steps. Well, not that much. But, a lot.

Wow! Wow! Wow!


Something like art.

This little cloud drifted by. It was front lit by the sun. No matter what I did, I couldn’t quite help the image to be what I saw, so I did what you are seeing.

I tried a lot of attempts. Nothing looked right. I’ll, show you a couple in a few more lines. Sometimes, photograph goes this way. Sometimes, it’s even worse.

Anyway.

So, what did I do to these pictures? In a word, everything.

I tried all the tricks in my bag. Nothing looked very good to me.

Then, I tried pulling everything back.

See what I mean? The middle top picture of this group is about how the cloud and sky looked to my eye when I saw it. It felt weak to me.

Try as I might without going into a lot of layering, I could not bring out the colors in any way that I really liked.

So I just made it different.

To tell you the truth, the picture I like best is the really dark one on top. The big picture. It is so different that it became its own form of art.

I’m also interested inn the bottom left image. It almost looks 3-D.

What do you all think?

I made the very dark picture and thought that it had nothing to do with reality but it did look like a nice piece of art. So, I stopped before I turned the orange dark and the image would have been just a dark blob.

As I’ve written in the past sometimes I just go back and forth with certain sliders until I’ve gotten to the picture.

Obviously, I did that six times. More than six times, but these are the images that I’m showing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Don’t be stupid. Be patient. Look after each other. Look at all the clouds in the sky.


Nature’s colorful light.

Have I ever told you how I make this kind of picture? It’s not quite as directed as you think. I usually do this kind of post production at night, usually while we are watching something like the local news.

Since I don’t need to see the video, which is usually boring, I work on a picture using my phone and Snapseed. So, I have about a half hour to finish my work.

Early on this was a push. Now that I’ve learned the software, I move a lot quicker. A half hour is usually enough time.

I’ll talk about how I created this picture over there on the right hand side.

The why of it is a discussion for right here.

I suppose that I see spring as a cacophony of color. I see nature working her magic with a color wheel. I realize this picture might look a little Christmasy to some of you, but I don’t plan the colors when I see them.

They just are.

I think it’s important to look closer at the image so that you can really see all the colors and how they drive the final work.

Promise me that you’ll do that. Won’t you?

Stay safe. That’s it. I read a lot this morning about the virus. The pandemic will morph into an endemic. That’s a viral condition of permanence. It’ll be like a common cold or seasonal flu… someday.

It’s likely that we will never reach herd immunity. Ever. In The United States that’s on us because some people are too concerned with their own freedom rather than doing something for the good of many.

In many parts of the world, like India, that’s also on us because although we have a glut of vaccine we won’t share with other countries. That matters. A safe world is a safe country.

Making a picture like this is always an experiment. Even though I usually create the work in about thirty minutes, I back in and out of looks and feelings.

Working quickly has its benefits. I don’t think too much about what I’m doing. I just do it.

There are three layers that make up the image. There are two layers of greens and blues and a third layer of reds.

The order in which they are layered matters. Red comes last because the second layer of cool toned colors will bury the red.

That completed, I work to fine tune it. I’m careful with the sliders called structure and sharpness. Too much of either in both directions and pieces of the image disappear.

I wish I could tell you when to stop, but this is one of those things that are, “You’ll know it when you see it.”

You’ll see it. I promise you.