The eye.

I thought I would do something different today.

We, in New Orleans, have started our celebrations for Carnival.  So, that’s in my head. It’s also a way to get out of a dark place. The one that is influenced by the real world as opposed to the fantasyland that we live in on a daily basis.

I also realized that because of the way I publish multiple pictures some of you might not have seen them. There are also a lot of you who are new to Storyteller. You’ve never seen them. You should see them.

The pictures on this page were made during Mardi Gras 2019. That was the year I mostly spent my time at a Mardi Indian wedding on Mardi Gras Day. Enjoy.


Magic sky.

Still waiting.

Seems like that’s what we do. Even though we said that 2020 would be good. That the year would be positive. The first ten days have been anything but that. I’m sensing a very palpable uneasiness. It’s not just me. A lot of people feel it too.

It’s not politics. It’s not just the impeachment, or the failure of government to do their constitutional duties. It’s something else. It’s bigger than that. Something’s coming. And, as I used to say many years ago, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I said that was after looking at the hurricane maps for Katrina.

I have a nightmare feeling about Mardi Gras. I’m not going to tell you. But, I don’t think the Iranians are done yet.

Just sayin.’

That feeling is reflected in my work. The pictures are getting darker. If I photograph something bright and shining I leave it in my archives. I look for scenes that reflect my thinking. After all, they say that artists make images that are autobiographical. The rest of you make your own meaning. Success means that you see and feel things the way that I see them.

Some 2020, eh? Still I’ll hold onto my word for the year.

Anyway.

This picture was bleak. Too bleak. So I added a little color and some strange shapes to it in post production. The picture has a little smile to it now. I think.

The only thing I know to do these days is just to keep going. Art harder as a friend who lives in Memphis says. Play harder. Work harder. Whatever you do, keep doing it. Harder.

There. Is that positive enough?


Today.

We have agreement.

There is a big, huge storm headed this way and to the rest of the Southeast coming tomorrow. Supposedly, there will be punishing rains, high winds and the possibility of tornadoes.

Some say.

The storm will be warm. Others say the storm will be cool and will usher in another cold front. People are also talking about the storm eventually reaching the Northeast where for sure there will be snow.

I just have to laugh.

Our local weather folks have been wrong the last three storms that headed this way. They predicted that two of them were going to be a big deal. They weren’t. They said the last storm would amount to nothing. They were wrong. It was something.

We’ll just see about this one.

I still say that I want a job in which I can be wrong 100% of the time and not get fired.

The picture. It is a fresh as possible. I made it this morning. It’s the beginning of something, or nothing.


Sparkling in the sunlight.

They seem early. Spring buds.

In fact, the first Japonica buds were early. They arrived in early December. A couple bloomed, another cold spell arrived, and they died. The buds in this picture are right on time. They’ll grow, bloom and fully open towards the middle of carnival.

I know this because I’m a creature of habit. When I photograph the parades at the start of Mardi Gras I park in the same approximate place. There is a pretty white center hall house located on the street where I park. The owners have two Japonica trees in their front yard. They are in full bloom around the first parade. By the end, the petals are on the ground.

I was sitting outside while waiting for the dog in question. I looked up and there were little bitty buds, back and side lighted by the early morning sun. I made a compression picture and stacked an early version on top of a final version to give the image a little movement. You are looking at the result.

I’m really having an internal debate concerning Mardi Gras. Part of me thinks that I’ve photographed it enough. The other part of me thinks that’s nonsense and that’s why I’m here. We’ll see.

My apologies for being late. The all seeing dog went to the vet today. She had her annual physical. She’s fine. I found a little lump when I was petting her. It felt to me just like one that the late Debbie had. I was right. A fatty Lympoma, not to be confused with Lymphoma which is cancerous. I have long thought that medicine in any form is a combination of science, art and experience. Two out of three for me ain’t bad. And, I rarely make diagnoses because I don’t even play a doctor on television.


Like a tree spirit.

A tree spirit.

A bare winter tree photographed at this angle looks like a mythological tree spirit. It could be  a Dryad. A nymph. Usually female.  A tree nymph. Dryads — dry is oak in Greek — tend to stay around one tree. If the tree starts to die so does the nymph. If the tree blossoms so does the nymph. They are kind of shy. Like me.

There.

That’s your dose of something new. Besides, we could use a little magic, a little mythology right about now. The world seems to be a very heavy place these days. So much for positivity, and it’s only been seven days into the new year.

So.

Last night we went out doing early carnival things. We chased a street car. We got stuck in the middle of a parade. And, hung out with friends. Of course, this was all on foot. I could barely walk back to the car. My knee hurt like it was on fire. It felt like someone was sticking a knife in it.

When I arrived at home I probably took too much pain medication. No. Not that much. Sheesh. What do you take me for?

Anyway.

I went to the Mayo Clinic’s website. Normally, I use WebMD since I have a different kind of account there. They are a client of mine so they gave me staff access. But, the joke around the internet is that every symptom ends with something about dying. It goes like this,  “You my have a sprained wrist or it could be something else leading to death.”

I typed in three words into the search box. Knee. Fire. Knife. That took me to a page that used those exact words. I don’t believe in self-diagnoses, but since my words were exactly their words, it gave me pause. It looks like I have a pinched nerve in my knee.

They suggest getting x-rays, an MRI and maybe even a Cat Scan. There are no cats in my knee because the dogs wouldn’t allow it. Did I just write that?

Seriously, by doing those three tests they are suggesting that we look for the root cause of the issue. I don’t need that because we already know that my osteoarthritis is working in new and painful ways.

Treatment.

Early treatments is R. I.C.E.  That’s rest, ice, compression, and elevation. No problem there. The next treatment is stop doing whatever you are doing that causes the pain. That is a problem. Some people develop a pinched nerve by stretching. Others, by crossing their legs. Mine comes from walking. There is no way around that. That would be a two week fix if I could do it.

Other treatments are more medical. I could actually have minor out patient surgery to free the nerve. For me, that’s the last option. The best option may be an injection of corticosteroid which will calm the inflammation and allow the nerve to heal.

At least I know what’s going on since this is a new and improved pain.

Ain’t life grand?

The picture. I knew you were going to ask. I was walking (not good for my knee) in the morning with that dog. I looked up to see the sunlight illuminating the edges of the tree. I moved to a position right underneath it.

The resulting picture was good as it was. Blue sky, early morning golden light and a bare tree.

I wanted to experiment. I removed most of the color, replacing that with muted color and kept sharpening the tree so that the branches were very detailed. I put a frame around it because I liked the look. A wood nymph look.

That’s it. All of it.


An amazing turn of events.

After a while, winter’s bare trees start to get boring.

I set out to make something that is a little different. Something that adds 1+1 and makes the answer come out to three. I think that I did it. What I made is a huge image. One that takes up the entire top of Storyteller.

That’s cool. I like big pictures. Very big pictures. This image could easily fit from floor to ceiling in most houses. This one might actually get printed for the studio.

Generally, I have an idea of where I want to go when I’m doing this amount of post production. I didn’t this time.

I started with a fairly straight forward edit. I knew I could make more of the picture. I cropped out branches that were in the way on the left. I removed all of the saturation. I made the background as clean as possible. It looked great like that. It was just pure black and white. I lightened the black to a sort of brown. I added and layered another picture. I fine tuned that and added a frame to control edge bleed.

That’s it.

I’m laying off of politics for now. The guy in The White House ordered something horrible. In short, he fired the first shot of a war. Then, he doubled down and said he would attack 52 sites, many of them cultural and historical artifacts. That’s terrorism. The last time anybody did that it was the Taliban. I guess that’s how far we’ve fallen.

Sorry about that. I couldn’t help myself.


Wonderful winter light.

What a day can change.

Two days ago, the sky was muddy gray. There was rain in the air. It was, in a word, yucky. Then came yesterday. Wowzer! Beautiful cold air. The sky turned blue. The light was spectacular. It turned even better around dusk.

Cotton candy.

Cold. Like winter is supposed to be. But, not so cold that you didn’t want to be outside. What a show nature put on for us.

In case you are wondering, I’m ignoring the news. I suggest that you do it too. Besides, it’s Sunday. The New Orleans Saints are playing in the wild card game of the playoffs. What could be better?

Oh yeah. I’m not the biggest football fan. I am a big baseball fan. Only six weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Then it starts. Soon after we’ll all be complaining about New Orleans Heat.

Heh!


Those little bulbish things turned into this.

Looks like a southern winter.

Bright yellow and deep greens along with some unknown flower.

Debra, a blogging buddy, asked if i could post a picture when the little yellow pods turned into something. They only took a few days, but here they are. Pretty little wildflowers.

Wildflowers?

I thought that they were growing out of some Elephant Ears. They aren’t. They are growing very near to them. I learned that by finding some of them growing in the grass by themselves. They weren’t all that colorful and healthy. I think that is because the ones in the picture grew recently turned soil that was mixed with fertilizer.

Partial mystery solved. It’s partial because I still have no idea what they are called. I’ve also stopped called wildflowers by their negative name. Weeds. These are not weeds. They are wildflowers.

Happy weekend.

 


Machines pale in comparison.

Flying.

“If man were meant to fly he’d have wings.” That’s what they said at the dawn of air travel. I wonder what they’d say about this helicopter that doesn’t have wings.

Once upon a time when I actually worked for a living at a photo agency, I helped to create an archive called, “Big-Little,” for lack of a much better name.  Generally, the pictures in that file contained a little, tiny man-made subjects contrasted against the bigness of nature.  Just like this picture.

Once upon a time this picture would have sold well. It speaks to the grandness of nature, the freedom of flight and man’s place in nature. Now, the picture industry is about dead.

There are actually online portals — not to be confused with a  real photo agency — that photographers upload their work to in hopes of getting “found.” The owners of the portal give the work away for free. The picture user doesn’t have to credit the photographer and — get this — if the user modifies the picture in any way, that modified picture is the user’s picture. The user is free to use it, license it, for sell it outright.

How does that work? The photographer earns nothing. If the user decides not to credit him or her, the photographer stands no chance of getting “found.” Oh sure, the user knows who the photographer is, but the world doesn’t. By the way, WordPress is encouraging bloggers to use one of these portals.

While image libraries have been racing to the bottom for more than a decade, these portals just about kill whatever is left. I’m not ranting or complaining. It’s just the facts, ma’am,

Luckily, I have other revenue streams and I think that I can create a couple more. How positive is that? That’s my word. Positive.

The picture. I heard the beating blades of the helicopter. I located it in the sky and waited for it to come into my view. There was no luck involved. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Anybody can do this. Set yourself up and wait. When whatever you want to photograph passes through the scene that you want to capture, press the button. You don’t have to machine gun it. I made just three frames.

That was enough.