At night in the French Quarter.

I

‘ve made a change. You’ll figure it out. It comes under the heading of who was I really hurting?

In these pandemic days when many people aren’t able to travel, it’s possible to get a European fix right here in New Orleans. After all, we are a French, Spanish and American place. Much of the Quarter was rebuilt after a massive fire and is really Spanish-influenced even though we call it the French Quarter,

But, this place. It looks and feels like it belongs in Paris. It was an old run down apartment building. If you’ve walked on Royal Street, you’ve probably seen it. It is catty corner from Rouses, the only real grocery store in the Quarter.

if you noticed I used the word, “was.”

No worries. It was run down. Now it’s restored. It still exists. Thankfully.

It’s very hard to demo any building in the Quarter. They are all historical. When a building comes down it usually fell down on its own accord. Sometimes, it’s not really on its own. Sometimes, the owner didn’t take very good care of it and it rotted from the inside out.

Anyway, I’ve always liked this building. If there is any kind of pretty light, I usually head over there to make a few pictures, meaning that I’ve got a pretty good archive of this building. Besides, if it’s a hot and humid day, the grocery store is a great place to buy water at normal prices.

And, speaking of normal, nothing is normal in New Orleans as much as we try to pretend it is. We lead the nation in new CoVid-19 infections. Florida is a close second. The rate of infection upriver and in Baton Rouge is so bad that Our lady of The Lake — a major hospital — has no beds for anybody. All of their vents are in use. They were forced to hire traveling nurses to augment their staff.

The entire state is under a governor’s mandate to wear masks inside and outside, if it’s necessary. Many clubs want a proof of vaccination or tests results no older than 72 hours and you still have to wear a mask.

It’s bad and getting worse.

If you are a tourist and you love our city please don’t come.

L

et’s talk about this photograph.

The first thing you should know is that I cropped it out of a horizontal picture because I wanted more detail than a horizontal picture could show on this page.

I followed the crop with what I consider to be normal improvements. I darkened it a little, added some color to it, and sharpened it.

Then…

I went a little crazy. I added glow and softness. I made the picture moody, maybe even spooky.

Finally, I had to repair what normally is a radius issue, meaning that little rim of light you see around subjects, sometimes. This time it was thick and only in one place. It looked like somebody tried to erase the sky. Normally, it is repaired by lowering the radius or “structure.”

Not this time.

I had to fiddle and tinker and fiddle some more. Finally, I found a solution hiding in a vibrance feature. Make the top more colorful and the problem vanished.

I don’t know why.


Like fall only different.

Like Autumn.

That’s the light. Low. Golden. Contrasty.

But, this is Southeastern Louisiana. Even though today marks the end of summer according to the calendar, it’s still very hot. This week promises highs in the low 90s.

I call this the weird time of year. It looks like Autumn but it isn’t. Our actual fall will come in another two months. Some leaves will turn colors. Some leaves will fall. Others won’t.

We were doing a Labor Day BBQ thing over in another parish. I looked up and saw some cool light, so I followed it a little bit. I needed a subject so the dusk light could be shown off. I found some nice graphic shapes. I made a few frames. I fine tuned the picture in post production using a combination of Snapseed and OnOne. And, that was it.

Fall light in summer’s weather.


French Quarter street lights.
French Quarter street lights.

A funny thing happened. One of my agencies asked me to photograph some of the top ten tourist locations in New Orleans. So, I Googled around. In general, most of the top ten lists of places to go in New Orleans are located in The French Quarter. Maybe eight out of the top ten.  I know it’s a chicken and egg deal. The tourism board markets the French Quarter very heavily, so the tourists go to the French Quarter. They tell their friends and they go to the French Quarter. So it goes. As I’ve written in the past, many of them don’t even realize that there’s a pretty big city outside of the Quarter.

As a resident, I think that’s too bad. There are a lot of wonderful places to visit is the city. You’ve seen a lot of them here. But, I earn my living this way so if an agency asks, I’ll do what I can. I will drag it out a bit. Not intentionally. Or out of protest. If I’m going to photograph the same old tourist locations, at least I want the pictures to be a little different from most. That difference is found in the light. I think. And, really great light doesn’t appear just because I want it to. I have to wait for it.

Here’s an example. The bottom picture. You’ve probably seen the location on Storyteller maybe ten times. It’s the falling down apartment on Royal Street. Everybody who passes by it photographs it. Me too. But, every now and then the light gets really good. And, I get really lucky.

You've seen this before.
You’ve seen this before.


Royal Street
Royal Street

This place has been photographed about a billion times.

Everybody stops and takes a picture of it. And, I do mean everybody. That is, everybody who visits the French Quarter and especially Royal Street. This old building just sucks everybody right in.

Even me.

I’ve probably photographed it about 500 times. Or more. In all kinds of light. The trick is to either arrive very early in the day, or towards the end of the day when the light turns colors. If you shoot in the white, bright late of mid day, the place is just an old run down building. If you shoot at the ends of the day or in cloudy and rainy conditions, the place turns mysterious and moody. It looks and feels like it belongs on some run down street in Paris. France. Not Texas.

It also helps if you change angles. Everybody — again, me included — usually photographs it kind of at a kitty corner angle so that the front of the building faces the camera. That’s what I did for this picture. I changed angles. I did a little post production to make the picture a little more moody and… there you have it.