Of the past.

I like the caption better than I like the headline. Okay, the title. The base image is of the past.

It’s a long story, but many, many years ago, my Dad thought that he wanted to work as a watch maker. Like me, he lacked the patience to do that kind of meticulous work. That’s why I’m not a studio photographer.

I don’t fuss over every detail. I let the picture find me. I let the picture tell me how to make it. I’ve made some fine pictures. And, sometimes I wonder what I was thinking. Or, not thinking.

I’ll tell you more about the picture over there in the right hand column.

Finding those tool images felt just about right. I’ve been going through a journey through my past lately. That may account for some of my dreams. It certainly is a coming to terms with things I did or didn’t do long ago.

You know, my own reckoning.

Weird scenes inside the goldmine. That could be this picture.

As I was writing this I turned on a Spotify play list called 1969’s Top 200 Albums.

It’s a strange mix. It goes from some very eclectic jazz to songs by the Doors and Beatles.

“This is the End” by The Doors started playing. That’s where “weird scenes” line came from.

Makes good sense. This picture is a pretty weird scene.

There’s all sorts stuff going on in it. All made by the magic of layering four pictures.

There’s the tools. There are leaves. There is a tree. And finally some flowers all tucked into the picture somewhere.

This is one of those pictures that comes under the heading of I don’t know what was thinking. This time that’s a positive because I kind of like it.


The Other Side.

The world gone wrong.

“One of the bloggers that I read posted a funny meme. It said something along the lines of, “2020 sounded so futuristic. Today, I traded a handkerchief for a carrot.”

Besides the huge irony, those words struck me as being one of the funniest things that I’d read recently.

There’s always a little truth behind every joke.

We aren’t to that point around here. Yet. But, it doesn’t seem so far away to me. Especially if people keep hollering about their constitutional rights and storming leaders’ houses with large military grade weapons. Yes. Military grade. I saw a picture of some wannabe human being holding something that could only be a reloadable RPG. Where the hell did he get that?

More to the point, what did he think he was going to do with it?

See what I mean about wannabe human? I’m willing to bet if this country brought back the draft, he would find some way to get out of it. You know, like bone spurs.

Anyway.

We live in an unreal time. Truth isn’t the truth. Facts aren’t facts. And, the current president wants to blame everything on the past president. Now, he’s dreamed up something called, Obamagate. Yes. Everything is Obama’s fault. The truth is that he’s trying to rewrite history. He thinks that we have short memories. Like we’d forget everything he said the day before.

That isn’t helping.

Stay focused on the task at hand. It’s a really big task.

He isn’t helping that either.

I guess it’s all on us. We, the people. We have to look after each other. We have to rebuild. We have to begin again.

In a way that’s a very good thing. If chief bone spurs doesn’t want to take responsibility, that means we can do whatever we want. We can do the right thing. And, we can vote. If the last three months haven’t convinced you that the Republican leadership doesn’t care about us, nothing will.

I promised that Storyteller would not become political. I’ll try to keep it that way. Mostly. There are days when nothing helps. I’m pretty sure that happens to you.

The picture. I’m out of new work. Really. So, I’m reworking some newer imagery. When I started playing with the picture that you are looking at, I didn’t have real clear intentions. I shipped directly to OnOne without even trying to work on it on my phone. That gave me a lot more options.

I worked this way and that. I didn’t like what I was seeing. Finally, I found some filters that allowed me to invert colors. From there I was off to the races. Some of the purple flowers are blue. Others are red. I have no idea how the AI function reads color, but it left me with the start of what you see here.

Even if you don’t like it, you have to admit that it’s something different. Real diferent.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


On a wonderful morning.

This is a pretty good way to start the work week. Don’tcha think?

I’m pretty sure that if we start out on a positive note, the negative curve will flatten. Even a little helps. It’s important because a lot of people are really starting to feel it. Depression is in the air. That’s a pretty good way to get sick. CoVid-19 may not strike you, but something else will. Something like a heart attack. Or, whatever chronic illnesses you may have will elevate..

My job, should I choose to accept it, is to contribute to your well being. Two things about that. Hopefully, I’ve been doing that for the last ten years. I know that it’s only for a few minutes. Every little bit helps. For those of you who are new to Storyteller, I encourage you to take a deep dive in my archives. There is a lot of fun stuff that you may not have seen.

Yellow. According to color science, yellow is a mood lifter. From a large press printing perspective, it brightens the picture. Is this yellow enough for you?

The picture. I made it in the morning. As usual, I was walking. I made a lot of pictures of this swamp flower. You’ve seen some of them. I blew the exposure on this one. I didn’t do anything with it. In a later review I saw its graphic possibilities. That’s the reason I suggest that you never delete any file from your take.

Anyway.

I started working on it. Rather than to darken it, which was my first impulse, I made it lighter. I made it yellower. I added a little circular bokeh. I smoothed it out a little. That’s it. Hopefully, it will brighten your day.

Stay safe. Enjoy every meal.


Wonder.

Just give me one good season.

So sang John Prine. The singing mailman. A national treasure. He’s got Covid19. He’s been intubated. He’s 72. He’s beaten cancer twice. He’s been through chemo. He’s been radiated. He’s probably got even more underlying issues. His family asked from prayers last night. You know what to do.

I was feeling pretty down last night. I had this feeling that I wouldn’t come out on the other side of this.

Until.

A friend of mine sent an email saying “open now.” Luckily, it was about two minutes old. I read it and joined a Zoom meeting. One of the lead doctors at Columbia University Hospital was hosting it. The hospital is a 1200 bed leading research hospital. There is a team who takes data, spins it around and provides practical information.

There are four main points. You don’t have to get sick if you follow them.

  1. Keep your hands clean. After you touch anything that isn’t in your own circle, hit yourself with Purcel.
  2. Keep your distance. Covid19 doesn’t live in the air. You have to be hit by droplets. Or, if you come in contact with an infected person and stay too close to them for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Keep your hands off of your face. The virus enters through your, mouth, nose and eyes.
  4. Masks are really not needed for protection unless you are going to spend time with an infected person. They really serve to remind you to keep your hands off of your face.

There’s a lot more, but most are examples.

This doesn’t mean we are safe, but if we follow those four rules, there is a high probability we might be.

One more CV issue. Our grocery store opened even earlier for us oldsters. 7am. For some reason I awoke at about 7:15. Out the dogs went. Out we went. There were about ten people shopping in the entire store. We bought everything we needed. But, if you wanted paper goods, no joy. We didn’t need anything. We don’t have toilet paper dreams.

The picture. Layered again. Three different images combined into one. It took some time to get things tinkered in the right direction. You haven’t seen the individual pictures. You will.

Stay safe. Care for one another. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy every burrito.


Flight of fancy.

I was bored. Then I got inspired. That lead to a burst of creativity.

This picture emerged from the “stay at home blues.” I believe that art comes from somewhere else. Call the inspiration, God. Or, Buddha. Or, Ronald McDonald. Doesn’t matter. An artist  is lucky if he or she knows that they are just the conduit.

I say this because as y’all already know I’ve been experimenting with photographs in order to find my place in the art world, in the world, in the cosmos. Sometimes I think that I have it, but it doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I try to force it, but that doesn’t feel right.

This picture feels right.

I’ve always hidden from the word artist. After all, I came out of the womb as a photojournalist. Some people want to grow beyond that. I changed. Even though I continued to practice photojournalism, I started doing it in my own way. I probably still will. I enjoy it.

Enjoyment is the best reason to do anything.

This picture is where I want to be. It looks and feels like a painting, something that I don’t have the talent for doing. That’s too bad. It’s hard to get the images out of my head using a camera. This picture comes close. It took a lot to get here. You won’t see these every day.

What is it about?

As the late John Lennon replied when he was asked about the meaning of his songs, “Whatever you want them to be.” He said in six words, what it took me 212 pages to do in a dissertation.

I suppose that one could jump to the conclusion that it’s about CoVid19 since that’s what on everybody’s mind. It isn’t. At least for me it isn’t. If not that, than what? That’s a secret for now. Heh, heh, heh.

What does this picture mean to you?

That’s the real question.


Coffee Pods.

Call this “Coffee Pods III.”

I was emptying the little bin in the espresso maker when my phone pinged. The Associated Press was telling me that Aretha Franklin just passed.

I never knew her. I photographed her once. In the days of black and white film processed in a newspaper’s wet darkroom for publication the next day. I have the negatives. But, I’d have to root through a very rudimentary file system. Then, I’d have to scan them and retouch them and, and, and… you wouldn’t see them for weeks.

In that moment, I decided to make a new series of images that are completely controlled by external sources. For now, let’s just call them, “What were you doing when you heard?” Sure, this picture is also the third in a series of artistic coffee pods.

So.

Aretha died of pancreatic cancer. Another one with the “Big C.” She was fairly private about it. I liked something Marianne Williamson, the spiritual guru and seller of motivational things, said about the first night that we heard Aretha was coming to the end of her road. She said something like, the whole world was praying and it was a sacred night.

It was. In the midst of all this disruption, meanness and polarization, people all around the world said a little prayer for her. You know that I’m not the most religious person on the planet, but I’m pretty sure we could use more prayers and less arguing.

The picture. It’s less than three hours old. I made it. I worked on it. It is here.

In New Orleans we would sing two songs for Aretha. “Golden Crown” which would open like this, “Aretha Franklin got a golden crown… And, “I’ll Fly Away.”

Fly away Aretha. Rest in peace. Say hello to all the rest of the musicians that I miss. Thanks for all of your music.


Light everywhere.

Inside, out.

Light everywhere. Since a photograph is actually a Greek phrase that means drawing with light, I suppose a picture like this is about as pure as it gets. All light. Almost no subject. Content producers will probably hate this picture. It doesn’t sell anything or even try.

I made it on a day when I was strolling around. I saw a scooter. Later, I saw a big motorcycle. I saw this. Light bouncing around through a car’s windows. I did what I usually do. I made a picture even though the light was essentially backwards and I was photographing into it. It did take a little post production, mostly to darken it and give it some shape.

There you have it.


The world in water.

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.

However.

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.


The Asia that’s in my head.

My Asia. The Asia of my dreams.

Literally.

I’ve been having some very cool dreams lately. They are so interesting that I seem to willing myself to stay asleep longer so I can explore them. That’s very nice. Dreams can go either way. There are times when dreams are close to nightmares and you can’t wait to get out of them. And, there are good dreams.

My dreams are colorful. Kind of makes sense. That’s how I see. I think the world is a colorful place. I aim to help you see it that way. I also hope that you enjoy exploring with me.

I have no clue what my dreams are about. All I know is that I am having a lot of them. They seem to be sequential.

The best and most workable theory about dreams came from Jung. He said that dreams are answer to questions that you haven’t thought of yet. The word best is relative. Best for who? In this case, me. If you’ve got a better idea, I am all ears. And eyes.

The picture. I wouldn’t wish this on any of you. I’m not sleeping all that well. I have a good idea why. I’ll tell you later. As I awake these dreams come to me. It might be 3 am, but I get up and mess with a couple of pictures. I try to get what I saw in my mind’s eye into some sort of digital file. Of course, that means I’m up even later. But, then I fall back asleep. Into a deep, sound, sleep.

In the clear light of day, some of my early morning work doesn’t make sense. I’d probably have wake up in the middle of a dream to understand it. But, this image did make sense. So, I finished it in the morning.

What is it? I can hear you thinking. Magical powers. Tinfoil coming next.

Seriously. You’ve seen all of the elements in the past. Some on Storyteller. Some on Instagram. And, some in the background of other pictures. What looks like windows came from the Winter Palace. The portrait is the Thai farmer. The floating bits of color are little flowers that were stuck on the black hood of a car after a rainstorm.

I cannot tell you about the mixing, blending and leveling. Remember I was awake when I did this, but I was trying to live inside my dream. My work transitioned to my own personal autopilot. So I made this image which, really doesn’t  look like the dream. Except in the color palette.

So.

Is this from the past? Is this in the future? Or, should I be headed to some fine institution?

I don’t know. I’m not sure that I care. Just let it roll.