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The Wheel


Big horns and light.

“The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go and you can’t hold on

You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will

Won’t you try just a little bit harder, Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?

Won’t you try just a little bit harder, Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?

Round, round robin run round, got to get back to where you belong

Little bit harder, just a little bit more, A little bit further than you gone before

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go and you can’t hold on

You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will

Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, Big wheel turn by the grace of God

Every time that wheel turn ’round, Bound to cover just a little more ground

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go and you can’t hold on

You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will”

— Lyrics and melody by Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia — The Grateful Dead.

Which brings me to this.

For some reason I started poking around in my own past. It started by listening to a lot of Grateful Dead on three cold and rainy (the snow came, but on the Northshore) days. Somehow the Dead triggered thoughts of people in the past.

I decided to Google one of them.

He and his girlfriend (now wife) actually brought me to the band. In 1970. What I found made me sad. It’s not what you are thinking. They appear to be fine. They own a fabric company. Something like my parents used to own. They have been on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles for years.

They were there at a time when I worked and lived in the city. They are in the very neighborhood in which I traveled because a lot of photo companies were there. Film developers, camera rental companies, prop companies.

I never knew. I never even thought about it. We didn’t have falling out. We went to different colleges. To different worlds. But, dammit, forty-five years has passed. True, the last time that I lived there, the internet was barely a thing. We still sent telexes rather than emails. But, we had these things called telephone books. I could have looked, but I just didn’t.

That damn wheel. It’s always turning. It never slows down.

The picture. It’s from the last second that I photographed. May 2017. Big Red Cotton’s second line. She was shot in the Mother’s Day second line mass shooting a few years back. She was seriously wounded. After three years of living in pain and new surgeries, she finally passed. Her spirit was strong. Her body couldn’t hold out.

I reworked the picture to be brighter. More “heavenly” like angels horns. Yes. I dropped that little burst of light in there. It just enhances a natural burst of backlighted reflection, which is really what the picture is about. Reflections.

That damn wheel. You can’t go back. And, you can’t stand still.

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Street Photography


Leaf in the street.

Street photography. At its best.

If you are a photographer, this is kind of an inside joke. If you aren’t, let me explain it to you. I’d venture a guess that about 80% of “new” photographers call themselves street photographers. That means wandering around and taking pictures of whatever you see. Most of them don’t have a clue. Street photography, at its best, has an element of the decisive moment. It can also mean some kind of engagement with the photographer’s subject. Lately, there has been a trend of hiding the camera, or just sort of pointing and shooting. This is justified under the mistaken thinking of “what does it matter if you get a picture?” To which I reply, “A picture? How about THE picture?” And, “What are you so afraid of?”

One more thing. I don’t ever “get” a picture. I make a picture.

Anyway. This is a street photograph. At its best. Or not. I took a picture of the street. With a fall leaf laying on it. Then, I did my tinkering… and there you have it.

Funny thing. Somebody added me to a Facebook street photography group. I’m not exactly sure why. It’s a downtown (where The French Quarter is and further down river) hipster group who meet at a beer laboratory. Whatever that is. I think when I was growing up, that would simply be called a beer bar.

Two other points. I’m just a photographer. I don’t sub-classify myself. For instance, most street photographers of this generation have no lighting skills. I can light. Sometimes so subtly that you don’t realize I did it. And, I don’t drink. What am I going to do in a beer “lab?” Experiment with water?

The picture. I was crossing the street. There was a nice red leaf hanging around, so I took the picture. I did my post production thing in order to make some kind of art. Or, so I claim.

Yeah. I know. Very snarky this morning. Here’s why. Even though I always put my main computer to sleep, Apple thought it would be a good idea to fix some stuff remotely. I know this because things like their cloud which didn’t work properly since the new OS was installed now works. When I finally gave up and rebooted the computer this morning, one of their first prompts was to ask me if I wanted their help to set it up. Huh? I will, a little later, send their executive group a little legal love note reminding them to stop invading my privacy. Harsh? Maybe. But, sometimes these things have to be done.

I ought to send them an invoice for my lost time. That’ll make them smile.

In the Winter


All in one day.

It arrived. Winter. All in one day.

Yesterday, the high temperature was somewhere between 79 and 82 degrees, depending on which weather service or local media you believe.

Today?

42 degrees when I woke up. 44 degrees when the amended dog walk took place. She’s not stupid. She’s a New Orleans kind of dog. Warm weather is what she likes. Normally in the morning, we walk around a mile and a half. No way. Not today. Around 500 plus steps. I know that because my Fitbit told me.

For us, this is cold. Remember, just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean the humidity goes away. Combine cold air with humidity and 42 degrees feels like 32 degrees. It’s the reverse of summer, when the air temperature is 90 degrees with 90% humidity and it feels like 110 degrees.

This weather is predicted to stay. As the rest of the week rolls on, the temperatures will drop even more. There is an event I want to photograph tonight. It lasts for a couple of days. It’s called Luna Fest. Gallier Hall is lighted with images. It’s beautiful. I missed it last time because I didn’t know what it was. Now that I know… well, you know. I can’t keep away.

Anyway.

This picture. A very short storm rolled in a few days ago. It was a prelude to today. I started seeing what was left of the leaves stuck to everything. These particular leaves are piled up on a windshield wiper. I especially liked what I saw because so many trees are reflected in the background. Those trees are a mix of pine and Texas live oak. One never loses its bristles. The other doesn’t shed its leaves until spring. This picture didn’t need a lot of post production. Mostly I darkened, brightened and sharpened it a little bit. I’m of the belief that every picture needs at least that. Or, something close to that.

Another Thing


Sunlight, reflections and leaves.

Morning walks. When the light is low. When things turn a little magical.

That’s the prose. Here’s what really happened.

We had a little rain followed by a fairly strong breeze a couple of days ago. Any leaves that were hanging on for dear life were knocked down by the combination of water and wind. There were leaves everywhere. If they fell onto a car, they stuck to it. I had a great time photographing leaves, water, cars, reflections and so on. I even appear in a couple of the pictures.  As I was editing them, I saw for the first time in the clear light of day, just how old I look. Uuuuugh.

You’ll see more of my take as the week rolls on. You may or may not see me. I’ll think on it.

The picture. I just stuck the phone down on one end of the car’s trunk and took the picture. The glow and mystery were added later in post production. I know people try to make the case that everything should come out of the camera as it was photographed. I won’t go into all the justifications for why that is wrong, except to say that it is wrong and very creatively limiting.

Supermoon Part Deaux


All around the world.

I forgot.

Yes, I forgot about the big supermoon. That is, until I went outside to do something and I looked up. I didn’t really have to look up. The moon was so big and so bright that it illuminated everything.

Armed with only my smart phone I took a couple of pictures. Most people can’t do much with a smart phone during a big natural event like this one. I’m one of those most people. The moon was either too small or the image was a technical nightmare.

I almost gave up.

I remembered that I have been experimenting and experimenting and experimenting in order to make my kind of art from just this kind of situation. So that’s what I did. I tinkered. I played. I messed with the picture. Until it became something that I liked. During my journey I discovered two things. Too much color and the final image looked silly. And, use some kind of canvas-like setting to hide the really big technical blemishes.

One more thing.

This is about general moon photography. It may be a good starting to point to photograph just the moon. But, nothing distinguishes that from any other moon picture. You really need to frame the picture with something, earth-bound or not. I probably went a little too extreme in that direction. It was what I could do at the time.

Bottom line. Don’t edit yourself in the field. Take the picture. If you aren’t messing around in post production like I do, you don’t have to share it if it didn’t work. Or, maybe the new saying is true. It didn’t happen unless you took a picture of it.

I’m sure that Ma Nature has a few words about that. Like… “here’s a hurricane out of season just because.”

What You Get


A little light and magic.

Fog.

That’s what this is. Not an explosion.

Sometimes if you make a picture with the lens fairly stopped down — smaller aperture  — you can get star-like effects. That also happens in foggy weather when you shoot into a light. That’s what I did. Obviously, this picture has been through some heavy post production. But, at its original base is a bright light photographed through heavy misty fog. That’s what created the star burst and the rings of light that are shining past it.

The Irish band, U2, released their newest album on Friday. By all accounts 2017 has been a pretty miserable year. Pretty much everybody has been in a cynical funk. The band decided to counter that with an upbeat and positive album. Typical of them to talk about love. To talk about “the best of me being you.” And, being grateful for that.

To that end, a few personal course corrections are in order. More music. Played at a pretty good volume so that I can hear the middle. Even more art. Two friends of mine have determined that I sit behind the computer all day and grind. I don’t really, but I’m not making enough original large file art.

Here’s the big one. Less time reading the news. The world is a mess right now. You know it. I know it. We don’t have to be beaten over the head with it. With less news comes less of the current President of the United States. He’s like the worse ear worm in the world. He’s constant. Every day. Screaming via Twitter. Who needs that? I just have to plan for my future based on his, and his political party’s, nonsense.  With less online reading comes another benefit. More reading. Books, long form pieces about music, about art, about cooking, about travel. Before I forget, and get barked at, more books about dogs. Mostly about how they age.

These aren’t your typical New Year resolutions. They start today. And, they won’t end when I blow it and miss a day. I’m not counting anything. I’m not making a bucket list. Instead, they  become just another part of my daily routine. Like posting on Storyteller.

So.

The picture. Oh wait. I already told you about it. I suppose that I could tell you that I made it with my iPhone. That I processed it in Snapseed. And, finished it in Stackables. That’s it. Simple. As it should be.

A Little Deeper


Deeper, and deeper, and deeper.

He said, “I’m going to drain the swamp.”

Like just about everything else, he lied. Sometime in the early morning the swamp creatures voted to hurt just about every normal human in the country. Oh sure, corporate big business gets a break. And, the tip-top of the so-called 1%.  You know the ones. The ones who leave off of stock earnings, fly private and don’t produce a damn thing. Luckily, they can write off their private jet expenses.

They voted to do this without even allowing anybody to actually read the tax bill. How bad would it have been to take the weekend to read what this monstrosity contains? It would have been very bad. That’s how bad. Everyone would have realized just how bad this so-called tax reform bill really is… bad, bad, bad.

I’m looking at two choices once we see what’s in this bill, and how it will change as it passes through the house and senate. I can either plan on working until I die. Or, retire right now. And, basically say, the hell with it.

That’s my morning. I hope your’s is better.

The picture. Well, it really isn’t a swamp. It’s some fern along a pathway. I just stuck the camera — er, smart phone — into the leaves. It helped to make a fairly flat scene a little more 3-D. There is some post production working going on. No more than the usual.

Hurricane Season


Rain drops, leaves and a black car.

Yesterday was a big day.

Oh, in the grand scheme of news it pretty much went unnoticed. After all, we are about to be decimated by a new tax scheme (I use that word intentionally), we are on the very edge of a nuclear war, the man known as the president is not only corrupt, but he’s crazy. That was just the morning news.

Yesterday was the last day of the 2017 hurricane season.

I’m not going to say that hurricanes didn’t hurt a lot of people this year. The entire Caribbean region was pummeled. Florida was hurt. Houston was deluged. And, Puerto Rico has yet to even come close to recovering. That matters a lot, but we in Southeast Louisiana skated through with just a touch of one big storm which turned out not to be so big. And, yes, parts of New Orleans were flooded by a big storm. The flood was man-made and due to stupidity, indifference, malfeasance and corruption.

For the last day of hurricane season in the irony of ironies, we had rain after about a month of dryness. It wasn’t much. It ended by mid-afternoon. But, the humidity was through the roof. How humid was it? Well, the dog who finds things came in after her evening walk with her coat soaked and she hadn’t even poked around under wet bushes. That’s wet air.

The picture. The caption tells you what it is. As usual, I just saw it and took the picture. I brought the overall picture down and added a little color. That took all of about ten minutes. The app is Snapseed. I’ve talked about it enough for you to know what it is. But, I haven’t said this. It’s a pretty good post production tool, unlike the things you find on Instagram which are no more than filters. I know how popular Instagram is, but I’m getting a little down on it as I am with all social media. That’s a whole other story.

Colors and Luck


A kind of zen seeing.

I’ve passed this way. At least a thousand times. I’d made a mental note of it. Those blue and yellow parking lot stripes were just begging to be photographed. But, they needed something. True, the painter was a little sloppy and dropped some blue paint into the yellow. That wasn’t enough.

Then.

Yesterday. Nature dropped a leaf right where it needed to go. I photographed the lines, the leaf and the paint drop. Finally.

No. I didn’t put the leaf there. I have a sort of integrity about that. I never move anything to make the picture better. That probably harkens back to my photojournalism years. Instead I wait. I exhibit some patience. When the picture finally comes to me, I push the button. Of course, I know how to manufacture photographs. I do that for clients. There is no real joy in that. Photography by discovery makes me smile.

Again, for those keeping score. iPhone. Snapseed. That’s it. All post production was done using the phone. Now that I’ve got the workflow down, it seems like it’s too easy. I suppose that I’ll have to do something to confuse things.

Glowing


Fall glow.

A simple picture. It surprised me when I did my usual post production tricks. It just popped. The original file is actually kid of drab. Sometimes, photographer’s luck takes over.

Luck.

Luck is the kind of thing that you prepare for. You practice. And practice. And practice. Then, when the picture, or event, or performance takes you, you are ready for it. That’s what Storyteller is really about. Experimentation. And, practice. So, when I work for one of my clients I can incorporate whatever I’ve learned into a seemless shoot. It keeps my wheels greased so that I don’t have to think so much. Because, for me, that’s where my best pictures are made. I just react. I don’t think. All the rest is inside of me. I’ve learned that over the years. It’s a long and hard lesson. It can’t be rushed. It just comes as you work. It’s well worth it.

The picture. Another picture that I made on the way to someplace else. I saw it and reacted. What I liked was the stacked look and feel. The picture was hiding in there, somewhere. Luckily I found it using Snapseed. Quickly. Easily. That happens when the picture is right.