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Mostly Red

A little peek a boo.

Tightly frame photographs. The thing that I like. These days. For now.

I’m really enjoying poking little holes into reality. I posted one yesterday. The trumpet player reaching for the sky. And, again, today. The lady in red. She’s framed by red feathers on the left. And, by another photographer on the right. He’s a friend. They were having a conversation in mid-second line. To the casual observer it may have looked like they were yelling at each other. They were. But, not in anger. They were yelling at each other in order to be heard over the din of the band, marchers and crowd. The general chaos.

The picture. Hmmmm. This is really an example of photographer’s luck. I saw them standing face to face as the second line slowed down. I pointed my camera at her, thinking that I would either have nothing or I’d have made a pretty good picture. There are about four frames of this. All but this one were out of focus or not sharp. This one is on the borderline. But, as a wise man once told me, “Sometime your best picture is not your sharpest picture.”


Look at the dramatic colors and graphics. Her face pops out of red and black. That’s a pretty powerful statement. And, for me, a pretty good picture.

As I continue to photograph second lines, I keep searching for a way to make a little different picture. A picture that doesn’t look like all the rest that I’ve made. This technique seems to be working… for now. It’s really a gamble. I either make a really good picture, or I come up with zero.

It’s all photographer’s luck.


Playing in the Band

Giving his all on the trumpet.

Just when you thought I was stuck on spring, I turned left. I walked right into the street, chasing a second line.

The weather warmed up a bit. Everybody seemed happy to be there. The ladies rode. The kids rode. The bands played on.

No matter what, to me, there is nothing like a brass band playing on the street. It’s music. It’s loud. It makes everyone smile. And, dance.

Oh yeah. It’s chaotic. Good chaotic.

It even makes my poor hip and back feel better. It’s like magic. That’s not entirely true. I walk faster and harder than I normally might. I avoid crashing into other people. I avoid falling into potholes. My muscles warm up. My back loosens. And, I live entirely in the moment.

I did, however, crash into a cop. He was in his thirties and built like an NFL linebacker. He looked at me. I looked at him. We both held our hands out in that “what do you want from me expression,” and we were good. That stuff happens.

The picture. I’d like to tell you that I planned this. That I made the picture just as I thought I would. Oh no. Instead, I was walking with the band. I stuck my lens in between two other musicians and pressed the button. I didn’t know I had it until after I downloaded my take and started editing it. What I did know was that this guy was playing hard, turning his head up into the sun. If I walked near him I knew that I might get a chance to make a picture something like this. I’d call this luck. Photographer’s luck.


Subtle along the wall.

Subtle. Sublime. Shadows.

Sometimes I see. I really see. I saw these shadows on a bit of white washed curb. On another day I might have been in a hurry and walked right by them. Admittedly, there was some pretty strong and low sunlight causing them. But, with me you never know.

I’m kind of floating around right now. I photographed a second line yesterday just as I said I would. Between the necessary pain meds and dancing around on the street dodging first liners and potholes and our fine police force, I came home pretty tired. As I get older, recovery time increases. That’s why I laugh when some older professional athlete like Tom Brady or Drew Brees says they are going to play until they are at least 45. Even if they can continue to compete at a high level, recovery time takes much longer. And…. can you imagine being knocked to the ground by some 325 pound lineman? Ten times a game?

Get real is all I have to say.

I’m hoping to feel like myself by tomorrow. If I’m lucky.

In case you are wondering. I eat well. I haven’t eaten fast food in so long I can’t remember when I did. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I walk about three miles a day. I do two stretching sessions a day.

Yet, time takes its toll. That’s alright. It’s life.

The picture. As I said, on another day I wouldn’t have seen it. After that, it was matter of framing it so the shadows became the most dominant feature. I did a little post production, mostly to bring out the shadows a little more. That’s it.

On Another Sunday

Pink spring.

A Sunday picture.

Bold, beautiful and big. And, magenta.

I’d leave it at that, but there is one thing I’d like to share. This is an iPhone picture. With the latest operating system, Apple made some changes. The phone’s camera has many more tools, including the one I used to make this picture… a macro function. It’s not exactly macro, but it’s close enough.

Apple also changed the image processing algorithm. I made an 18 x 12 print just to test it. No extreme uprezing. No fiddling around. I was able to make the print in one try. And, that was wireless. Press the button on the phone and off the data went to my printer. Amazingly enough, it didn’t take an act of God to install the proper software.

Now, it’s off to the second line.

Have fun this pretty Sunday.

In the Morning

In the springtime all things are possible.

Endless possibilities.

That’s the season. Spring. I know it’s not spring according to the calendar, but in the south spring starts a little earlier. Our spring. Meanwhile in the eastern part of the country, y’all were hit by a northeaster. Apparently, there is no way in and out of New York City unless you use private transportation.


Down here in the swamp, we are in the middle of some perfect weather. Temperatures around 70 degrees. Low humidity. Blue skies.

Not so swampy.

This picture. Not layered. Not compiled. Not stacked. Just one picture. Also, I didn’t use multiple editing programs. Just Snapseed. On my iPhone.


I try to keep things simple. I am, at the heart of me, a photojournalist. I am experimenting. Sometimes I use what I’ve learned here on Storyteller, in my other work. My paying work. But, I’m not a heavy Photoshop guy.


While all art is autobiographical, the viewer makes about 80% of the image’s meaning from his or her life history. In other words, you see what you want to see. And, that’s okay.

Know the World

The world in water.


I was looking through my archives. Again. Because I’m trying very hard not to repeat myself. And, because I realized that some artistic experiments have been going on for eight or nine years. In a couple of cities. Two states. And, on about four continents.


I’m fascinated by nature. By the yearly spring rebirth of seemingly dead stuff. Especially this year when we the temperature nose-dived for three or four days. When the highs were in the low twenties. Our semi-tropical ecosystem is not used to that. Plants died. Fruit trees took a beating throughout the region.

As I look at the brown sticks that were all that was left over after the freeze and see brand new ferns showing their leaves, I’ve come to understand the cycles of nature a little better. I’ve long known that nature always seeks stasis. I didn’t realize that she could bring some things back from the dead.

Of course, the more we beat her up. The more we pollute our home — the planet — the harder it is for nature to recover. I was just reading about this winter near and around the North Pole. Normally, the water there is frozen solid. Long sheets of ice. Not this winter. There is plenty of clear water to sail through.

Think about it.

There was enough flowing water to make this picture. But, photographing it using my normal approach would be confusing. You wouldn’t know if I made the picture in 2016, 2017 or a few hours ago.

I made it a few hours ago.

I decided to use a lot of editing tools to make it look like a painting. An abstract painting. If that wasn’t enough, I turned it on its side because it looked better to my eye. That long red line on the right was trapped in the horizontal version of this.

If there is anything to be learned from this, we in the digital age have amazing freedom. We can leave things alone and make pictures that completely approximate reality. Or, we can take them someplace else.

It’s up to us.

One more thing. Don’t steal. I’ve banged this drum for forever. Just because you see a picture on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free to use. It’s somebody else’s work. Ask permission. Even though the artist really should be paid, at least give them a credit. Acknowledge their hard work as you would like your own work acknowledged.

Soul Mirage

Painted morning light.

March 1. 2018.

February, despite being a short month, was packed with stuff. Mardi Gras. Second Lines. A jazz funeral. And, of course, the horrible tragedy at Stoneman-Davis in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were murdered, most of them children.

This will stick with us for a long, long time.

After watching the survivors take control, I have a little hope. Young people helped change the world in the 1960s and 1970s. If you trace our history back far enough, you’ll find that many of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, were somewhere between 18 and 22 years old.

Think about it.

For the first day of a new month, I chose to do a little painting. Well, digital painting. It’s a funny thing. Even though I keep telling you that this is a new style of work, a quick scroll of my Google Archives reveals that I’ve been doing this for about eight years in one form or another. In many way, I should be a lot further along in this journey. Documenting things like New Orleans culture seems to creep back in to my days.

I was talking to a colleague of mine, who said that as we move into our sixties and — hopefully beyond — that it might be time to give up the street. Time to move into other phases of our art. Of our craft. Of our business.  I suspect that he’s right. For the most part I’ve given up photographing second lines and staying out for hours on Mardi Gras Day. I attributed that to some health issues. But, I’ve worked through most of those. I actually feel pretty good. Today.

That said, I still can’t seem to return to the street. I dip my toes in it. I make a few pretty good pictures. And, think to myself, “so what?” Yes. I know that the costumes and suits change yearly. But, to my photographic eye, the pictures look the same. They repeat themselves. They look dated even when they are brand new.

I’m in the middle of two experiments to help clarify that.

I’m going to photograph Sunday’s second line. Yeah. I know. I know. But, it’s a children and ladies parade. It’s Uptown. I want to see if I can work it in some different way.

Check out Friday’s Instagram post. Mostly I post in black and white. Friday’s image is monochrome and it’s of an Indian. It’s a very different way of doing that kind of post production process. Maybe the trick is to make pictures knowing that the image file is just the very beginning of a much longer process. That even if it looks good in color, there is a different final image.

In either case, you may not see the results. Or, maybe you will. It all depends.

Depends. Hmmmm….

After Time

Beyond the blue.

After time. After the blue hour. By luck. And, by chance.

That’s life. Blink once. It’s gone.

I was on my way to some place. I looked to my left. An interesting scene. But, very dark. I thought, “I wonder if…” I pulled out my handy iPhone. I made four pictures. Three of the four looked good.

You just never know.

Until you try.



Stuck in the mud.

Two leaves. Stuck in the mud. Going nowhere.

Spring rains and construction leave almost no place to walk if you choose certain directions. Either there is mud. Or, pooled water. The dog who accompanies me comes home with muddy paws. I come home with muddy feet. The kitchen floor needs to be mopped twice daily.

I asked one of the guys working on the line (He wasn’t from Wichita) if this was a forever project. He replied that he wished. It’s an easy neighborhood to work in. Or, stand around in. Or, break a pipe in.

All of these things happened.

There’s mud everywhere. If the rains pause for more than two days, it’ll dry out. For now, the mud caught these two leaves. And, I photographed them. In the mud.

It was a simple thing. All I did was figure out how to frame them. You know the next line. In case you forgot, push the button. Yes. I did some post production. I darkened the entire image to make those leaves pop out of the mud that trapped them.

That’s all I did.


Winter Light

And then the sun…

Low winter light. It’s powerful, clean and almost explosive at the ends of the day. Especially if the cloud cover is broken or there are almost clear skies. I got lucky last week. After a day of rain, the sun broke through at just about dusk.

Man, did it break through. It was powerful. It was golden. It was contrasty. Deep, rich shadows were everywhere. My kind of light. The kind of light we rarely see in Southeast Louisiana.

When we were exiled to New Mexico after the storm, I saw this kind of light almost every day. Many New Mexico-based photographers never bothered with it. It was too common. But, when there was rain or snow in the forecast you’d see us scrambling around photographing everything in sight.

Sometimes, we didn’t.

It was too cold. Or, wet. Or, hot. Or, something.

So many missed opportunities.

That’s probably the moral of this story. Time is short. Even if you are young and think you have years and years and years to go. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ll get sick. Or, your parts will start to age early. Or, something violent may happen. Or, or, or…

This all started with a couple of comments and replies with another blogger. She was talking about not going out in the rain and wet, mostly to protect her gear. Gear is protectable and replaceable. Pictures only happen when they appear in front of you. Yes. You might soak a camera. Usually, you can dry them out with the old “gear in a bowl of rice” trick. If that fails, you can probably declare it scrap and buy something newer and better. If you are going dry it out, just do it quickly before moisture can seep into the circuitry. Then the camera is done.

You? You’ll just get wet. My hair is really soft after it’s been rain soaked. Ha, ha, ha.

The picture. See it and react. You’re going to get tired of me saying a version of that. Like F8 and be there. Or, see it and press the button. As I said to another blogger, I love baseball. A batter practices and practices until swinging at the ball is a reaction without a thought process. Same thing with making pictures on the street. When you see it, photograph it. No second guessing. No trying (You know what Yoda said about that). No self editing in your head.

Just take the picture.

Oh, about camera settings prior to “just taking the picture.” If you must, go to auto everything. Remember that the camera will take a little time to think as it tries to focus. You are faster than the camera. If you learn  a little about light you can pre-set your shutter speed and aperture depending what you are trying to do. I can discuss this further if you’d like.

Have a great week.