Left Behind.

The dumpster project. Part two.

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.

We’ll see.

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.




Pretty, pretty.

The middle day.

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.

That was my intent.

Working tools.

Painter’s tools.

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.


This is my take on a vase full of paint brushes.

If I can’t use them, I can photograph them.

New office?

I’ve long said that when I die, just throw my body in a dumpster somewhere. People can grieve or celebrate my passing, but I won’t care where you leave me.

There’s a lot of tongue in cheek in that paragraph, but seriously. Physical remains don’t really matter.

That said, I was driving by a location that is a common trash depository. I took a look inside, and the mattress and chair is what I found. What a scene. What a picture,

I did what I do. I made the picture. The purer, more documentary version, is very strong. But, these days I’m messing with photographs as a base to a more painterly-like piece.

My photojournalist friends will gasp at this. I don’t care. I haven’t been a pure photojournalist since 1990. These days, I’m closer than ever to getting outside myself and into the image. They say that all art is autobiographical.


What does this picture say about me.? In this time? In this place?

I’m thinking quite a lot.

We are living through a period in history when it seems goodness is retreating. Democracy is fighting to live on. Leaders have become autocratic. And, others think they have the right to determine what goes on in other human being’s bodies. The planet is suffering. The climate is changing. Plastic seems to be ruling the earth. (I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Dark. Dark. Dark.

History shows us that when darkness is at its highest point, artists become more creative. We feel less inclined to go back to our old standbys. We tend to explore more. We tend to take more chances. Our work might not be beautiful. Instead, it makes a point.

This picture is about how we got here. Our disposable society. I went in and took a close look. The chair didn’t have a whole lot of wear on it. One  arm rest was torn and patched with duck tape. I know an upholstering place that could fix that like new for about fifty dollars. The mattress? It was fine. It still had a sheet on it. Surely, it could be saved. At least, the sheet could be.

The picture. I went through a lot of changes on this one. Me, as well as the picture. It started out as a pretty good documentary piece. I kept working and working. I made a lot of false starts.

I had the image in my head. Getting there was a different issue. I finally did.

For instance, the dumpsters — the two dark frames on either side of the picture — are black. By removing as much color as possible, they revealed themselves to have a red undercoating. Likely, that’s how they came from the factory. When they reached the garbage collection company they were painted black and branding was added. I layered another picture over that. It was about nature. Nature retreating.

That’s it.

Oh yeah.

Plastic. It way worse than we thought. We make a big deal out of plastic water bottles. We make a big deal out of single use plastic straws.

That’s nothing.

I decided to save a month’s worth of plastic trash, with a little help from my friends. Today is March 25th. Six days to go. Two large paper grocery bags of plastic. Filled to the top. Admittedly, we ran out of some long lasting items like condiments. They added to the monthly total. But, what we found scared the hell out of me. And, that takes some doing.

Almost everything we buy has a plastic component to it.

Prescription bottles, prescribed and over the counter. All condiment bottles like mustard and catsup. Even vinegar bottles are made of plastic. Every possible kind of food wrapper. We normally buy different kind of lettuce in bags. We stopped. Doesn’t matter. Even a plain old head of ice burg lettuce is wrapped in plastic. Every fresh veggie or fruit that is carried out of the store is wrapped in plastic. Just a bag, but still.  Meat. Sure the bottom of the package is made out of styrofoam, but the whole thing is wrapped in plastic. Frozen veggies? Plastic. Spices come packaged in plastic bottles. Buy a takeout sandwich? It is wrapped in plastic and shoved into a plastic bag. The only fast food place that doesn’t do that is Five Guys. Everything comes in paper. How many hamburgers can I eat in a week?

I could go on. And, on. And, on.

Instead, I’ll leave you with this.

Nature’s ultimate protective package is a banana. It comes with its own wrapper. The skin. You’d think that would be enough. Nope. We saw bananas wrapped in plastic. Oh no. Not the bunch. Each individual banana. Then, that was wrapped in plastic as a bunch. What are these people thinking?

There are some solutions. For fresh veggies and fruits you can buy mesh bags. The best are made of hemp. You can buy them in many health food stores or online.  You can have a butcher cut and wrap meat in paper. You can buy bulk spices, and store them in your own containers. But, you have to be able to use them before they start tasting like colored saw dust.

So many things are hard to replace. Prescription bottles, for instance. Reusable glass bottles would be great. I suspect most people won’t remember to return them. We used to have glass milk bottles. When we had milkmen. My parents used to buy seltzer the same way. A delivery guy would come by and collect the empties which he replaced with refilled bottles. We drink seltzer today. We buy it at the grocery store. It comes in cans or bottles. Plastic bottles.

We can grow some staples. Tomatoes grow like mad down here. We’ll have 500-600 this year. Our basil plant is now a bush about to grow into a tree. We’d have strawberries too. But, the little jerks who call themselves dogs, smell them as they are ripening. When they are ripe, one bite and they are gone. They try to act like they aren’t guilty. Hard to do with red juice dropping down their chins.

In any case, shopping in store that uses paper, buying your own bags and containers, growing stuff and such, is going to get expensive. You don’t need to buy a lot, but you shop more… using your car. It never ends.

I think it’s worth it.

Sometimes, I never listen.

They told me.

Leave well enough alone.

Do I listen?


If I did, I wouldn’t be me.

After I made the blue watercolor-like picture, I kept going. And, going.


I came out here. With this picture. I added a couple of things. More color. All kinds of color. That’s easy to spot. What isn’t so easy to see are the leaves. I added more of them to the background. They fill the space. They change the intent. The picture moved from minimalistic to something more full throated. More full bodied.

Even though the base picture is the same as yesterday’s image, it’s different.

I could try to go further. I’m not sure what that will reveal. We’ll see.


Drifting. Floating.

It’s pretty much the same thing.

Air. Water.

Does it matter?

It’s gentle.

A good way to start the week.

I made the picture on Sunday. You’ll see it on Monday. Either way. It’s the beginning of the week. For some of you.

I’d tell you more. But, what’s to tell?

Enjoy it for what it is.


For technically inclined.

I’ll tell you a bit about the post production. If you’re old, like me, you’ll know. Back in the good old film days, we used Polaroid film much like we use an LCD today. We took a picture with a Polaroid camera to check the framing and lighting. It was hard to check the exposure. Then, we used a film camera to make the real photograph based on what we saw.

We usually threw the Polaroids in the trash.

Some smart art photographer realized that by pressing the wet Polaroid film onto a piece of art paper you could transfer the image to the paper and make — you guessed it — art. It was tricky. The pressure had to be correct. Timing was essential. Usually you managed to make one out five transfers close to the way that you’d hoped.

It fell out of vogue.

Now you can do it with editing software.

That’s what I did.

Gone to seed. Or, something like that.

A brand new day.

I read something that said if you wake up and put your feet on the floor, half the battle is won.

Think about that.

If everyday starts the same and you do those two things, you have a brand new slate. A tabla rasa. You can fill your day with whatever you want. You can also react to whatever happens in any manner that you chose.

My day started out great. I made this picture. That’s right. At the time of publication this picture is three hours old.

The day shifted. Apparently overnight, Apple installed an upgrade. That’s fine, except I turned the auto function off. Months ago. But, a few days ago, they downloaded an upgrade to their latest operating system. They turned the auto function on. To make matters worse, they insist on turning on their browser, Safari. I’ve tested Safari. It’s limp. It isn’t as robust as Google Chrome or even Firefox.

It pops up and collides with just about everything else. Chrome freezes. Everything slows down. Even typing a sentence gives you the spinning wheel of death.


I rebooted the computer. Twice. It seems fine now. But, rebooting an Apple computer takes time. You must be patient or you’ll collide with the reboot. In the past, I would have grumbled. I would have gotten angry.

Not today.

I’ve been working my yearly word. Remember? Learn.

Apparently, I did learn. Instead of grumbling, cursing and wanting to threaten Apple for their paranoid nonsense, I walked a way.

I read my mail. I paid a few bills via my phone. My newish Android phone. Yes, there is a method to my madness.

For the next reboot, I did something even better.

I went to lunch.

I’m a little late for my self-imposed deadline of noon, my time. But, I feel great. And, by being gone for a longer time than normal, I gave the computer a little time to settle down. It seems to feel great as well.


The picture. I saw it on a walk. I did all of my usual development and post production and took a long look at it. I turned it on its side. And, flipped it from left to right. I think it works. My work added some shape and movement.

One more thing.

I’ve started using  National Geographic’s “Your Shot” website. It’s pretty cool. It gives me a chance to reach another new audience. I uploaded a picture and shared it. Sheesh. The response was overwhelming. I think it gives me a way to separate my various genres to different audiences. On Storyteller, y’all seem to like my more artistic works. Pictures like today’s post. On NGS, it appears they like my cultural documentation. Cool. Everybody gets what they like.

But, never put Ray in a box. You’ll see my cultural work as well. Just not so much of it. Correct me if I’m wrong.

There’s other marketing moves on the horizon. Stay tuned.

No matter where you are.

There’s going to be a lot testing going on.

I’m not exactly sure what I did to myself, but this new format is fairly time-consuming to use. Hopefully, that I’ll change as I get used to working with it. Most of my fears were for nothing. A big one surfaced. It is very hard to stack multiple pictures. There’s a way around it. It took me a while to find it.

My restroom life refers to nothing except that I often make pictures in restrooms of hip cafes. Usually, in coffee houses.


So, that learning thing. I said it was mostly about myself and it is. Learning to use a more photo-centric template is going to teach me a lot. The big take away is learning about my limits of patience. My former “look” was easy to produce. I rarely even thought about it. This one? Wow.

And, speaking about patience, I watched a friend of mine melt down and self destruct in real time on Twitter. I feel terrible for him.

Here’s a short version of the story. He’s a chef. He cooked for a well-known uptown restaurant. He was fired on Sunday night for reasons that are fairly unclear. He proceed to tweet, and tweet, and tweet. 90 tweets in all. At one point, after talking about nobody caring if he was gone and thinking about leaving the planet, somebody called the NOPD out of deep concern for him. They visited him and left, but the tweets continued. He called out his former place of employment, the owner, the restaurant industry in New Orleans. He called out the friend who called the police out of concern for his welfare. It only got worse from there.

Apparently, at one point, his former employer may have threatened him with the classic, “you’ll never work in the town again,” line as he was leaving the restaurant.

This whole thing caught the attention of both local newspapers. Since the restaurant owner does no social media, she had no idea of what was being said. She is concerned for her reputation, which as I know it, is spotty at best. That’s another story for a time when it can be substantiated. After all, this isn’t a fake news site. It’s not really a news site at all. Storyteller is about art. Cooking at his level is an art.

My biggest fear is that with all his tweeting, he made her alleged threat true. He might not be able to work in New Orleans again.

One point that was unintentionally made in The Advocate’s story is that he’s been in town for six years. He’s had six jobs. If I’m hiring for any kind of business that’s a huge red flag. As a high-end human resources person once told me, it takes a year to get into a job and a year to get out. We want to have a lot of good years in between. Certainly, when you are very young and just trying to make your career there is a lot of job jumping as you rise, but my buddy is a veteran chef.

The pictures. I had to use the restroom in a coffee-house. You know. You stay there for a long while, sipping coffee. Some more coffee. Maybe some water.  I walked into the restroom and thought “wow, there is a picture in here. I made a few. I added something to the post production and there you have it.

Details, details, details.






Experimental Flower.

Sunday used to be the day that I experimented. I got away from that for a while. I resumed it yesterday. But, I played with pictures later in the day. Well after I posted for the day.


You get to see it today.

I did so much work that you might not be able to tell what it is. What it was.

It’s a flower. It started off as a color capture. Somewhere along the line I converted it to black and white. I made it creamy and soft. Like something out of the early Twentieth Century. Then, I converted it back to an approximation of color. I made it as abstract as possible without losing too much shape. If you look carefully, you know it’s a flower.

It’s a quiet day. For a Monday. For any day. Even my Spotify curated playlist is quiet. Like the calm before the storm. Tuesday’s storm. The storm of voting. The storm of certain politicians yelling at each other… and us.

You’d think that we’d get a little break.

But, oh no.

After the votes are counted. And, the losers congratulate the winners,  the presidential race 2020 starts.

It never stops. It won’t stop. We’ve come to the never-ending news cycle. The never-ending political discussion. I read The New York Times online. For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been running “The State of The Midterms,” every day. Almost like a sports scorekeeping card. Today, if you looked the top of their report, it’s as if there is no other news.


I agree. It’s news. But, this ought to do it. Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote.

That’s it. Go vote. If you haven’t done it by mail or via an early ballet, go vote.

For those of you in other countries — many of you are — have a good thought for us. The American drive towards Fascism must be stopped. Here. Now.

One more thing.