New Mexican Transportation.

W

hen I was a young child my family used to travel from Long Beach, California to Brooklyn, New York. In those days we either took Santa Fe’s El Capitain or Super Chief.

Those were the days. The food was great. The cars were luxurious. The staff was helpful and friendly. Though the ride was very long, it was enjoyable. Four nights total. We were traveling coast to coast.

Usually, the train was at least three hours late. Once your train got late, it kept getting later because we’d pull over for passing freight trains. We didn’t know it at the time but passenger trains lost money, while freight trains were big earners.

That caused real problems for us.

If our late arriving train was any later than three hours, we’d have to stay over night in Chicago.

If we got a little lucky we could travel across the city to another train station to catch a New York Central System — later a Penn/Central — train to New York City called The Broadway Limited. That train was usually late too.

That didn’t matter because all we did was catch a taxi from Grand Central Station to 16th Street in Brooklyn.

Amtrak is a ghost of those days. In 1971 all but one of the legacy railroad companies joined a national system called Amtrak in an effort to staunch the flow of red ink. It’s never worked. One by one, routes were closed.

Coastal trains still flourish, sort of. Long distance coast to coast trains are not so great even with fairly new equipment.

Until this year.

President Biden is a big fan of Amtrak. He famously used to work in Washington D.C. and return home each night to Delaware. He supports Amtrak and is looking to fund it as part of the infrastructure bill.

Amtrak immediately started to plan new routes and restore older routes. Cities and towns are clamoring for new or restored service.

We’ll see.

T

rain time. That’s a song. I cannot count how many train songs have been written.

There’s a reason for that.

At the very least, riding the rails is romantic. At it’s best, it is wonderful way to relax while still moving toward your destination.

This photograph is part of my Picture A Day project. I’m fairly fearless when I approach people. I asked if I could take their picture and they were happy to pose. But, they’re used to it. Train riders take pictures of them all the time.

All I did to the picture is darken it, which seems to be a trend for me these days.

Oh, and the headline?

This is post number two. I was trying to multi-task and forgot to schedule it.

So, you received two posts yesterday. Storyteller Squared.

Sorry about that.


Little things.

So, people are saying spring is finally upon us. Down here in The Gulf Coast we’ve had spring for about a month. But, in the last day spring exploded. The greens are greener. The flowers are vibrant. Leaves have just exploded out of their slumber.

Luckily, it’s still cool bordering on cold. In a month or so summer’s heat and humidity will be upon us. Until October. Five months of three showers a day. Five months of dog walks as early and late as possible. And, six months of hurricane season.

The world turns.

Nature always seeks stasis. She doesn’t want to move anything too much except for us. That’s why the climate is changing. We will either deal with it or we’ll be gone. And, sooner than we think if we don’t act today.

I read that 40% of all Republicans will not be vaccinated.

This isn’t a political issue. This is a health issue. Both climate change and the virus will kill us if we aren’t careful.

I did get involved a little today. For the first time in 19 months we took a walk through the French Quarter. The air is cool and bright. We’ve had our jabs. We wore our masks. We arrived at the front of St. Louis Cathedral where parishioners were coming out after the Good Friday Stations of the Cross.

No social distancing. Not a mask among them. They were touching each others hands. The Archbishop of Orleans Parish was right there with them.

We weren’t about to get too close. But, worked my way around so that he could see me. I gave him the ultimate teacher’s stink eye. I didn’t say a word, but he thought I might be having a problem.

He came over and asked if I was okay. I said that I was, but he wasn’t and a wondered how many of these people he would be officiating funerals for. He didn’t know what to say. He’s supposed to be a community leader and this is how he leads the people closest to him?

If the thunder don’t get you than the lightening will.

The green, green grass of home. That’s what I saw. There were about a billion of little snowball like wildflowers just about everywhere.

I put the phone down on the ground and pointed it toward the subject. I’d like to say it was easy, but you have no idea how hard the phone fights you in that position.

Tools are supposed to do what you need them to do. Not anymore. Programmers think that they have to save us from ourselves. I’m not that stupid. If I point the lens at something, I want to take a picture of it.

It took me four or five times to make this picture. I’m not talking about extra pictures made as I explored the scene. I mean I’d press the button and nothing would happen.

Working at it in post production was fairly simple. I made it brighter and warmer because that’s how it looked to me when I saw it.

And, that’s it.

A pre-Easter picture because I found it and I could.


Like a spring snow.

I’ll leave it at that for a short post by phone

Sheesh. I forgot. I forgot my second jab. So, here I sit at the clinic waiting for twenty minutes in case that I have an extreme reaction. So far so good.

Another way to see by looking down. Little wildflowers that look like stars or snow

Believe it or not, there is more editing than you’d think. Darkening and contrast were added while color was subtracted.

That’s the story.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Get your jabs. Enjoy all the spring


Left overs.

We ate it. If truth be told since carnival season began on January 6, we ate three. Three king cakes.

During a normal Mardi Gras year we’d eat way more than that, but they’d be consumed at the brunch that we would have had yesterday.

The subject of this picture is what’s left after eating the cake. And, the baby. Tradition says that if you eat a slice of the cake with the baby hidden inside you are king for a day. But, you must buy the next king cake.

Those green and yellow things are granulated sugar. They fell off the cake. Did I mention that New Orleans is not the healthiest place during Mardi Gras, or ever?

Anyway.

Nature made her statement today. Texas is snowed and iced under. It’s very cold. Like 4 degrees. Many people have lost power. They are cold and miserable.

In New Orleans the weather isn’t quite so bad. When I left to run a few errands, my car’s thermometer registered at 29 degrees. It’s always 4 degrees high so the air temperature was really 25 degrees.

We’ve have spitting rain and ice on and off all day. But, we have power.

The dogs were not amused. They went out, did their “business,” and came right back into the house. They rolled around on the floor. I guess they were generating heat. Or, just having fun.

Nature. She made sure that if the pandemic didn’t keep people inside, the weather would. There were a lot of tourists who ignored our warnings. They came anyway. I’d feel sorry for them if I didn’t think they were so stupid. It’s one thing to not know and be ignorant. It’s another thing to be told and be arrogantly stupid.

Anyway.

This is still a holiday for us.

So, Happy Mardi Gras to all y’all.

Green, gold and purple. Mardi Gras colors. That’s how most king cakes look.

But, there are plenty of other versions including the true French brioch version which doesn’t have color at all and certainly no granulated sugar.

There is really no trick to this. I made the picture with my phone in the kitchen a few minutes ago.

I cleaned up the file. I made sure the white background was white. By doing that I toned down the baby who was too red. And, I added glow to the image to pull your eyes to the baby.

And, that’s it.

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Stay dry. Stay warm.

And, always have a Happy Mardi Gras.


Crossisngs.

All you need to know is in the headline. I had an interesting day. It occurred to me just how common the threads that bind us together really are.

We all seem to forget that.

There has been an ongoing and emotional discussion in one of the photographers groups to which I belong. In many ways it was annoying. The group’s founder was trying to understand why a certain genre mattered. I’ll leave out exactly what for obvious reasons.

Once it got going it really got going. There were some 400 comments before they were shut down because one of the moderators had to leave so she could prepare for four classes that she was reaching.

I’d like to say that the usual suspects squared off, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The usual extremists did battle, but the rest of us just talked.

It eventually evolved into old white men being blamed for holding back the marginal photographers. That’s where I left the discussion before I said something that would come back to bite me in the butt.

I’m an old white guy. I worked very hard to get where I am. In two years I will hit the 50 year mark as a working photographer. It wasn’t easy. When it should have gotten easier it got harder through no fault of anybody unless a virus is a person.

The loudest person is a woman who is beyond a feminist. I’m a feminist. I don’t really know what she is, but when I get ready to engage somebody like her I have a look at who she is in real life.

She’s young. She takes pictures. By now you know the difference between taking and making pictures. If you are unclear still, she isn’t very good in any genre. She wants to be championed because she is on the margins.

Screw that. Work hard. Get good. And, everyone will champion you. A while back photographers like her declared themselves to be the founding women of photography.

This didn’t sit well with one of the best photojournalists working today. A woman. She started asking all of us, her colleagues, to name women with whom we’ve worked that were older than the current crop.

I’ve managed a couple of photo departments. I’ve managed regional photographers of the year. I’ve managed two Pulitzer Prize winners. All of them women.

Sheesh. One of the Pulitzer winners covered the downfall of the Soviet Union for The Associated Press. She’s Russian and speaks the language. I’m pretty sure that she managed me while working for me. That was a good thing.

I tossed their names in the ring. Pretty soon there were over 600 women photojournalists who came well before the current crop.

If you disagree with the way pictures are made within a certain genre of photography, that’s fine. Speak loud and clear. But, for God’s sake don’t complain about being on the outside as part of that discussion.

That’s a different discussion.

That’s a discussion that people like me can offer you some tough love. If you don’t fight it, maybe you’ll get good. Or, at least, you’ll understand the hard work and effort that it takes to get good.

Sometimes contrasts are a good thing. Sometimes they aren’t.

Apparently, I’m having real problems with yellows. Or, rather, my phone’s sensor is having problems.

This time I set it to make an HDR picture. That should have settled down the contrast issues.

I didn’t.

I did the best that I could to tone things down. This is where I managed to finish.

This group of flowers are interesting. They bloom at the wrong time of year. They die at the wrong time of year.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I’m seeing things at the wrong time of year.

Who knows?

I should just leave this behind, but I want to talk about the right hand column.

Ansel Adams once said that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst ones. He also said that if he made ten good pictures in a year he had a great year.

To me, it seems that the loudest complainers are the ones that don’t want to put the work in. Making 10,000 pictures takes a long time if what you really want to photograph 10,000 subjects.

Time?

That takes too much time. Often, they want it now.

Ten great pictures in a year? Huh? Maybe ten great pictures in an hour is what they want.

I dunno. Remember, I’m an old white guy. I’m the one who is supposed to be privledged.

Of course I am. That’s historically, not photographically.

Think about that.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every day because there are no useless days.


A little motion.

More experimental than not. That’s this photograph. It’s about wind, which arrived in about 30 mph gusts. Even the all seeing spaniel wanted very little to do with it.

We walked for a while and after watching her ears fly around I thought it was better to head home.

That’s what we did.

We went home. Where I turned on Spotify and was immediately frustrated by its inability to load music at a reasonable rate. I’ve talked to them. Remove, reboot, reinstall.

No joy.

The internet has become our connection to — well — everything. We’ve seen some effects when some part of it crashes. People went crazy when Facebook burped, taking Instagram with it. Without knowing what happened, my day got quieter.

Solitude.

I know that many people take a digital holiday. I also know that many of them stare longingly at their phones, pads and computers while they attempt a digital detox.

I’m not someone who is against all of this. I’m no luddite.

On the other hand, don’t we all need a break from whatever we are doing? That is, except for photography. Heh.

Sometimes digital technology becomes restive. This is the third time that I’ve written this. I know that WordPress will blame me, but some glitch has deleted my work twice. It wasn’t even in the all posts file.

What do I know?

Maybe I need a break from everything. I’ll drive to Florida and lay on the beach for 67 days, or three. Whichever comes first.

Speed. Speed kills they say. I say put your foot to the pedal and fly.

Sometimes.

There are times when you just glide waiting for your opportunity. When it comes, you put the pedal to the metal.

That’s what the wind did yesterday. It was mild during the morning. Then, it got going in the afternoon.

It was about 3pm when I pushed the button on this picture.

I just let the shutter pick its own speed. It slowed down. This is the result. I’m blaming technology for making a good picture. That, and nature.

I had nothing to do with it.

It’s true. All I did was hold the phone. Speaking of technology, AI had this sentence written with “wash” instead of “was hold.”

Sheesh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Where your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all of the wind.


Comes a time

There comes a time when the world gets the better of you. Or, as the say “Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.

Technology completely got the better of me in the past few days. Or, most likely, incompetent people did.

Everything thing that I did last week to repair the situation is undone.

I need a break. No matter what we think about a new vaccine or president the world is still spinning out of control.

So, about this break thing. Today is my last post until January 1.

My head needs to clear.

Have a very merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate. As always, stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Peace. ✌


Then, they floated away.

Come down in time. That’s what Elton John sang back in 1971, when my life began. Or, something like that.

There are moments that truly amaze me. I had one of those today. I received a letter that said my checks could no longer be sent to me because they didn’t have my address. Okay. But, at the top of the letter there was an address. Mine.

Before you ask.

Yes. It came from the federal government. I tried to call them. They are closed. I forgot.

It’s Veterans Day. Before I forgot to do this, for all of you who served, thank you for your service. For all those who served in Vietnam, welcome home.

We watched a movie last night called “Outpost.” It was about a distant firebase in Afghanistan. It was an army compound. Whenever something fubar happened, one soldier would say snarkily to another, “And, thank you for your service.”

They know, as I do, “Thank you for your service,” has become very empty. Most people say it without thinking. It means something. Or, it should.

And, that’s the story for today.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves.

What the hell is that thing? I know that’s what you are thinking.

It’s a couple of flower blooms. You know the drill. I tinker with this stuff until something emerges.

Not this time.

A few weeks ago I published a picture of a truck that was all mist rolling down the highway.

A friend of mine really liked it. He said that I should stop talking about paintings and the like.

He added that no matter how we try, digital is digital. It is its own art form. Stop apologizing.

I took that to heart.

I made a picture of some tiny pink flowers that seem to bloom whenever they feel like it.

It was slightly soft, so I thought why not this one? I did my usual tinkering. I sent it to him.

He replied that it might need some color in those white “blobs.” He meant flowers.

I did that. And, that’s what you are looking at.


Ghostly .

The time of year. Spooky. Ghostly. A good time of year when things aren’t what they seem.

This is another short post. We have power, but no internet. Our gear is new and works fine. It turns out that our internet provider took some heavy hits. They are working to repair the damage but who knows when.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Two days… vote.