As we all work through summer, I’ve tried to think about what makes a summer picture. Since almost every tree is green, there are few new blooms and we start heading into a visually boring season, how do I find summer?
Especially for my summer project?
In this case, I didn’t. I made summer. I layered two pictures. The obvious tree image was combined with a macro image of condensation on my window. That’s what gave this particular photograph the extra glow.
The picture looks and feels like something summery. It’s not real enough like the rest of the summer portfolio. I won’t include it.
But, it is a nice warm feeling picture. Since I pretty much created it, it’s my summer picture. Just not the right summer picture. I need to find some people doing something. Summer something.
When I saw it, I knew. This was not about the original file. It was about what could be done with it. It was about my vision. My intent after I brought the image home.
To be clear, it wasn’t about heavy post production. It was about doing just enough studio work to bring forth what I saw in the scene. I saw it as something Asian. Maybe Japanese. Maybe Chinese. Makes sense. They borrowed from each other.
It was also about the color green. It’s said to be calming. We all could use a little calming.
These days have gotten completely out of hand. I try not to read much news. That’s one approach. But, that’s like turning down a fast flowing water spigot. It just keeps trickling out. My only alternative seems to be to shut it all down. But, I like baseball. In order to get to it, I have to wade through various news publications and websites.
Also, we are in the middle of hurricane season. I do need the storm alerts. The best storm information comes via Twitter. As much as I try to follow artists, musicians and local people, the news that I want to avoid seeps out.
I’ll figure it out. Eventually.
The picture. I pretty much discussed it at the start of this post. I saw it. My brain broke free of its rust and realized that there was something to this grassy shape.
The shimmering tree is an experiment that I’ve tried once or twice in the past. That’s about it. Point the lens at a tree and photograph it. Do some magic in post production and away we go.
That’s the picture.
The rest of today’s mumblings are about the weather situation.
We pretty much dried out after yesterday’s deluge. The city’s pumps actually worked about as well as they could. We got 9 inches of rain in in three hours. That overwhelmed them. There are two solutions going forward. Tear up every pipe in the city, install pipes that are about double in size and hope that works.
Or, we can adopt the Dutch system which means that we embrace water and build holding ponds, greenways and water features that actually do something with extra water. We had that option once in the years following Hurricane Katrina. We should revisit that kind of thinking.
And, speaking of hurricanes. Hurricane Barry is still not formed as I write. There should be a NOAA update in a little bit.
Currently, it’s projected to make landfall near Lafayette, Louisiana, which means that it has moved to the east. In New Orleans, we should get some rain and some wind. Our fear is still overtopping levees. It looks like there are two places where the levee is built only to 20 feet. They are not near us. One is at the Industrial Canal near the Upper Ninth Ward. The other is at the Jefferson-Orleans Parish border. The people there have a double problem. Not only will the levee overtop, but they’ve built homes in the battature, which is the ground between the river and the levee. It is almost certain that their homes will be flooded and destroyed.
The Army Core of Engineers said that there is no chance that overtopped levees will be broken. From the moment they said that, I revised my estimate from 50-50% that we’ll be okay, to 20-80%. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw this house.
The storm should make landfall on Saturday, sometime in the afternoon. Unless the power fails, I’ll just keep going. Everybody has been shipped to safety. I’m hanging out until the storm passes. Somebody has to close the storm shutters. Then, it’s on the road again.
The dream wasn’t clear. It was muddy. Murky. Like something dredged out of the middle of a brackish lake.
Somewhere in there I saw a lot of my life. Not like you do at the end of a life. Little flashes. Bits. Pieces. Parts. I saw people who I haven’t thought about in years. Sometimes we talked to each other. Sometimes, we didn’t. We just passed.
I awoke with this stuff swimming in my head. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I started thinking about anniversaries. Not like weddings or birthdays. Little things. Like the anniversary of our return to New Orleans. That’ll be eight years on July 8.
Or, the anniversary of scooping up the dog who sees stuff. She’s a rescue. When she came home with us, her person had just passed. She was 85 and had been in poor health for a couple of years. Her person’s care givers didn’t like my dog. They treated her poorly. She was underweight. She was sick. She was scared.
Today, she is happy, healthy, and weighs what she should. She has dog friends, lots of people friends and she’s claimed me. What’s not to like? She’s a very pretty cocker spaniel. She kept the name she came home with — Sophie Rose.
There’s a lot more to write about. Changes. Anniversaries. More changes. I suppose that I’m starting to look back with the wisdom of age. Or, just with age. Likely, that.
The picture. It’s two. The pink flowers are layered over some pure color. You can see it here and there, in the background. I guess, I’m experimenting a little again.
I keep trying to reach some kind of experimental art. Work that has nothing to do with my photographic roots.
It doesn’t come easy.
I can’t just say something like, “I think I’ll go make art today.” It doesn’t work that way. I have to find it. Or, it has to find me. It can’t be planned. It can’t be orchestrated. It just happens.
I have friends that try to plan every detail of what they are doing. Like traveling. Every detail from air travel to car rentals, to hotels and then a daily itinerary. That’s great. The plane arrives late. They miss their connecting flight. That blows their other reservations. When they arrive at their destination they are scrambling to keep up their daily schedule. They think their trip is terrible.
Not for this boy.
Sure. Plan the travel arrangements. Without reservations you could be sleeping on a park bench. Plan an outline of what you’d like to do. Let the day intervene. If you really like something why leave it to keep a schedule? If you dislike something, why stay? Besides, a lot of what I do is determined by light. Sometimes, by nature. My trips just sort of flow. They are never terrible.
That’s for me and mine. Your mileage may vary.
Business trips are entirely different animal. But, usually everybody understands travel delays.
The picture. I walked by it a couple of times. I was carrying stuff. Suitcases. Anvil cases. Gear bags. Finally, I stopped. I saw the picture for what it could be. It took the picture as it was. I went to work in the studio. It took some time. I knew what I wanted. I understood my intent. And, my vision. I just had a hard time getting there. It wasn’t until I tried something radical that I finally came close. This is what I came up with.
It seems that digging into my past work is necessary, but not rewarding.
I can’t keep posting it. For sure, you’ve never seen it. It’s new to you. But, it’s not where I’m at now. In the summer of 2019.
This picture is brand new. As usual, I saw it on the way to some place else. I was in a hurry. I was lucky that the cross caught my eye. Photographer’s luck. When I actually pressed the button, I didn’t see it for what it was. I saw it for what it could be.
Vision aligning with reality.
And, then going further.
I’m not making a statement about religion if this gothic cross means that to you. I don’t attack other people’s belief systems. As the late John Lennon wrote, “whatever gets you through the night.
I am making a statement about my sense of the world right now. We are broken. Everybody seems angry about even the littlest things. The doors and windows are closed. We are taking extreme positions about almost everything.
There’s no point in this.
I’d like to see the window frame painted nicely. I’d like to see the cross glowing. It like to see another version of this picture where everything is sparkling.
Just like the water project, it takes some time to find the pictures. Mostly, they find me. When I’m not looking.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not focused. It means that I’m disciplined, always keeping these projects in the back of my mind.
I’ve been a little unsure of my color palette, and most post production style. I think, that with this picture, I’ve found it. It’s pleasing to my eye with just enough shadows to make the picture a little mysterious. And, enough glow to make it a little ethereal.
I do like letting the pictures lead me, rather than the other way around. I’m pretty sure in terms of the flow of this project, one of two things has to happen. Either every picture stands together. As a group. Or, every picture stands alone. As a single picture.
Even though I like this particular post production process, it could change.
On another subject.
Have a good thought for some friends of mine. They are moving to Mexico from Seattle. Take that ICE. Take that POTUS. They will be living with a lot of other expats. They have a lot of reasons for doing this. Two are cost of living and quality of life.
As they get ready to approach Laredo, where they are crossing into Mexico, the weather has turned un-Godly hot. Around 115 degrees F. They have about a two day window when the temperatures drop. They’ll need that badly because they must transfer their stuff from a U-Haul trailer to a van that will deliver their goods to their destination. That’s very hot work. They are in their 70s, although you wouldn’t know that to look at them. The heat alone will tax them. Broken down heat exhausted cars in the desert could kill them. They also sent a big moving van with their furniture and big stuff.
Currently, they are holed up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The temperature is around 75 – 80 degrees F. I wish I was holed up with them. Besides, Santa Fe and all the wonderful things to do, see and eat there, we have a lot of photographer friends in common that we can hang with. We all have worked with each other in the past.
Long careers seem to equal old friends. Artist friends.
The so-called hump day of the business week. That is if you work five days a week in something like a 9 to 5 job.
I don’t know anybody like that. I was working into the late night after taking a mid-day break. A short one. Same kind of day, today. It doesn’t stop. Sure. There are times when I don’t work as much. You know. Ebb and flow. The calendar might set my schedule, but the clock doesn’t.
How about you? How do you work? When? For how long?
This picture is yours. It’s a simple picture. I turned it into a watercolor painting. Almost. It’s peaceful. Quiet. A positive image.
Paint brushes waiting to be called upon to make art.
No. They aren’t mine. You know better. I was walking a couple of the dogs when we came upon our neighbor who does paint. She likes to say hello to the dogs so we know each other a little bit. Her studio is located in a screened-off section of her porch. When I asked her about summer’s heat and humidity, she said she didn’t mind. It helped her to feel. To feel more connected to her work.
I asked her if I could photograph her studio. And, maybe her. She declined on a portrait saying she looked like a mess. I tried to counter that with you look like a working painter. She’s smarter than that. But, I did make pictures of stuff in her studio.
This is one that I like best.
My post production is kin to something that many photographers have forgotten about. Painting with light. It’s always been around. After all, the word photography is Greek for either painting with light, or, writing with light, depending on who is doing the translating.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it really burst onto the photo world, in part because a photographer-inventor created a machine that controlled how the light fell on a scene.
It looked like a giant vacuum, with a large hose attached to one side. You pointed it and controlled where the light travelled. There were additional tools that you could attach to the hose to create different light shapes. Just like a vacuum and the tools that came with it.
Like all things trendy, it fell out of favor after a few years of everybody doing it. What was art became technique. Sort of like those star field pictures that are so popular today.
I haven’t thought of that machine in years. I’m going to have Google around to see if I can find an existing example.