If you are lucky, you’ll be outside to see it as it drops down over the earth like a dark curtain. For me, it just depends. If I’m done with inside work and a dog wants to go out, I get to see nature’s magic. Magic and renewal. A 24 hour cycle. A kind of rebirth.
Sometimes, I’m trapped inside. I see dusk and nightfall through my studio windows. Sure, I can see the light. I can see day turn to night. But, it’s just not the same.
We — the dog and I — were walking along a little fence. When we turned the corner this is what I saw. I almost got too excited. I calmed down within a few seconds. I steadied myself. I made five frames. I knew I made a picture of what I saw.
That’s how it’s been for the last few days. A lot of photographer’s luck, combined with timing and a little bit of knowledge. When the weather finally cools down, I’ll go looking for pictures in earnest. This is the time when we all got impatient because it seems like summer will never come to a close.
I saw a little meme of Facebook. Southerners say, “We made it through 20 weeks of summer. Only 32 weeks to go.” That feels about right. Right now.
It looks fairly normal. Just wait until I tell you about it. You’ll understand.
I was walking by a fence. There was a hole in it. I looked through it. And, what did I see? The very scene before you. I thought it would make a cool picture. What to do? What to do? The hole is about the size of tennis ball, or a little smaller. I knew that if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t have a picture.
I stuck the lens up to the hole and looked through the LCD to make sure I didn’t include the ragged edge of the hole. I continued to look at the LCD and waited for some kind of truck, which I knew would eventually come. I made four exposures, managed to get my hand in the fifth, and called it a picture.
I’ve made pictures in just about every way a person could. This was a new one for me. For my next trick I’ll take a picture behind my back while still looking forward. You never know… some days feel like that.
I made a musical picture. At least, that’s how I see it.
I don’t know why, but it does. It’s very likely that it will look like something else to you. That doesn’t matter. We all bring our life, our experience and our influences to all art. That’s why you like a piece of art or a bit of music, and somebody else doesn’t like it. It has nothing to do with being good or bad. It has everything to do with you.
To do with you. That little phrase is really a mouthful. That’s the key to making changes. Rather than blame outside influences, change yourself first.
We’ve all being complaining about social media, news media and what have you. It never stops. It’s ugly. People are nasty. The change is simpler then we realize. Adjust your thinking. For instance, I had a lot of political commentary on my Twitter feed. That just was wearing me down. So, I changed things around. Now, I mostly have people discussing music, art and photographs. Much better. I even removed the White House. 24 hours of propaganda gone. Better yet.
I did the same thing on Facebook. I’m only there to share my work and to talk to old friends. I’ve silenced any political discussions for 30 days. I expect those discussions to be even more shrill as the 2020 general election approaches. I’ll just keep putting those threads on a 30 day silence.
I feel so much better today. Mondays are usually hard for me. I start out in a bad mood. Then, the usual stuff starts. Not today. I have a smile on my face.
You can do it too. Should you? That’s up to you.
Consider this, the general din, the hollering and the continual nonsense from our leaders isn’t going to change anytime soon. Who needs to keep hearing it?
Now, about this picture. It’s really three pictures layered over each other. The base was a Fourth of July wreath. I followed that with a dirt pathway. And, finally I added the pink flowers. You’ve seen the flowers. The other two images are new to you. But, not to me. For instance, the Fourth of July picture was made before the big celebration… in 2018. I just never had a use for it.
The rest of the process is mostly adjustment. The layers have to make some kind of sense to me, and, hopefully, you. There are color, brightness and contrast adjustments too. That little extra tinkering takes some time. There are a lot of false starts. There are some close, but no cigar, starts. Eventually, it all works out.
It was hidden in plain sight. So small that I had to look twice and break my cardinal rule of photography. I had to move some of the greenery around to photograph the flower. I try never to move or change anything when I make these kinds of semi-nature pictures. I had no choice. If I wanted to make the flower’s picture, I had to be able to see all of it.
Honesty. Full disclosure.
It’s a very peaceful picture. After another week of political craziness, more lies and memorial sadness, I think we could all use a picture that’s a little quiet. Besides, it’s Sunday in the U.S. It’s a Sunday kind of picture.
That’s what caught my eye. A little too much. I couldn’t really open my eyes with such direct sunlight. So, I made this picture with my eyes closed. A true point and shoot. Then my fingers got in the picture. I thought I was trying to shield my eyes. I shielded the lens instead. That’s why I used a square crop. I wasn’t being creative. I was being pragmatic.
Aside from my practicality with this picture, I am also a creature of habit. I returned to the scene of a past crime, er, picture. Add practicality with being habitual and it could equal boring. Luckily, the backlighted train engine, plus just about every other thing in the picture wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Oh yeah. The tilt. I couldn’t see the subject so I didn’t exactly know where the lens was pointing. See? This picture is all mistakes.
The curious thing about the picture is all those power lines. As I worked in post production, I built an unintended consequence by creating light lines around them. I’ve done it in the past. The only way to avoid them is to not shoot into the sun. I know this. I don’t follow the rule. Or, I could have not done so much post work. What fun is that?
So bright. So pretty. I don’t photograph enough of it. Lately, in an attempt to beat the heat I drag myself out of bed early. Early enough to see low light. Golden light.
In Southeastern Louisiana, and most of the south, the heat just won’t break. We are ten to fifteen degrees higher than normal. But, if I’m reading the weather reports correctly, most of the country is too hot.
Is climate change a thing?
Certainly. And, most of the people who could make a difference are ignoring, or are attacking the scientists who are telling us that time is at hand. Most of the climate deniers are grumpy old men. They don’t care. They’ll be dead before the most extreme changes occur. Don’t they care about their children? Their families? Their friends’ families?
We all gotta go sometime. That doesn’t mean that we don’t want to leave something good behind. I’m not even going to get started on our current presidential administration except to ask, how the hell can they roll back clean water standards? The biggest wars of the rest of this century will be fought, not over oil, but over clean drinking water. And, they want to poison ours.
And, this was gonna be a happy Friday post.
The picture. You know when I made it. You know why I made it. But, you don’t know what I did. I actually used the same post production settings that I used on yesterday’s picture. And, then I brought the color down in order to make my statement.
A real swamp would likely be very deep and wet this time of year. Most of the real swamps have been developed. Into concrete. But, here and there, you can find some little groves of what came before us. This one takes about ten minutes to walk through.
If I was really feeling my oats, I’d drive down to Barataria Preserve and walk along the wooden plank sidewalk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park where alligators lurk underneath you, and snakes watch you from above. Jean Lafitte was a pirate. Not only did he serve with U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans, but he wasn’t afraid of alligators and snakes. Like I am.
You’d think getting to such a primitive place would take hours. Nah. Forty-five minutes to an hour and you are there. A lot of tourists visiting New Orleans take a tour of the swamp by boat, then drive upriver to plantation country. Between the two, it’s a nice day trip and not all that far from the “big” city. And, it’s really hard to get lost.
The picture. I didn’t have to do much to it. I made it in the early morning sun which gave it a nice yellow glow. But, not that early. In order for the light to penetrate the foliage, the sun had to get high enough to find the right angle to do its work for me. That’s it.
One more thing. If you take a swamp tour by boat, the guide usually has a couple of chickens that he or she bought at the local Wal-Mart. Cold. Not alive. The chickens are tossed into the water where gators are known to lurk. That creates a commotion so that pictures can be taken.
Today is a sacred day. On a bright fall morning in 2001 our world changed. Terrorists crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers in the city of my birth, New York. They crashed a third plane into the Pentagon, the hub of our military in Washington D.C. They tried to steer a fourth plane back to the district, when very brave passengers, knowing they would lose their lives, forced that plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.
If you ask me about my personal opinion, I’ll say this. Of course, I’m sad. I was even scared at the time. But, I believe the bad guys achieved their purpose. They changed the world. As one false step lead to another, we ended up — for now — in hateful place. A polarized place where seemingly everybody is against somebody who is even remotely different from them.
I’m happy to report that I’m not that way. I guess, for the most part, I’ve seen enough in my life to not really be afraid of much. Even death. I don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of it. I don’t know when these changes came to me. They sort of just slid in there. In a way that also explains this picture.
For sure, we should stop, think and reflect on this day. We should make an extra effort to be kinder than we were yesterday. But, we also have to move on in our own ways. For me, that’s making pictures. It’s the only way that I can defeat the bad guys. A friend of mine who lives in Memphis say that as artists we need to “art harder.” I agree.
For those of you who do something different, keep doing it. Do more of it.
That’s how we win.
This picture hasn’t got anything to do with my thoughts for today. Sometimes that happens. I’m just chasing the wonderful autumn light these days. Someday, the weather will actually change and the temperatures will match the light. #nolaheat is relentless.
A deep blue sky at just around dusk. I was lucky to make the picture. This is one of those times when a tripod might come in handy. In my own defense, I wasn’t expecting to see such a sight. So, I did what I could.
Dan Rather tweets and posts on Facebook. Yesterday, he said that the points of light in this dark time, are the arts. He talked about any of us who keep going. To keep making work. To continue to grow. I guess that I’m one of those artists to whom he was referring.
I never really think of myself that way. I suppose that you never do when you are in the midst of your work.
Speaking of photographer’s work, I’m in mourning today. Photographer and videographer Robert Frank passed yesterday at 94. Without him there would be no me. Without him, there would be none of the guys and ladies I came up with. Without him there would be no photojournalism as we know it today.
He turned the photography world on its head when he released his seminal work, “The Americans.” The self-congratulatory photographers, and a lot of photography critics at the time, thought his work was terrible. It was grainy, sometimes the horizons tilted, he made statements about America that weren’t so pretty. He told the story of the underclass.
Basically, his work was honest but it wasn’t pretty.
That’s what opened the door for a lot of us.
You know what Neil Young would say about that. He once famously said that, “when he was in the middle of the road he headed towards the gutter where things were a lot more interesting.”