Looking like a Japanese print.

I was walking the all seeing dog, when I saw this reflection is a water feature that can be found along one of her routes. For some reason it was clear and blue. It was also highly reflective. The bare trees of winter were looking back at me. I made a lot of pictures. I made some with the bank and made some that are much more colorful than this one.

But.

This one reminds of a Van Gogh painting. Of course, his has little cherry flower blossoms in it that really bring it to life. As much as Van Gogh has always been one of my muses, I only recently learned of his fascination with all things Japanese. I have a show catalog that is based on it.

One more thing.

To me, this picture is a bit confusing. It looks upside down. It isn’t. That’s how the trees in the background were reflected. My instinct is to flip it over.

What do you think?

 


Maybe too far.

Did I? Or, didn’t I?

Go too far.

This image started out as one of my night time blue sky pictures. I thought the foreground subject matter was a little boring, so I set out to change that.  After adding and subtracting for a little while, I almost gave up.

Then.

I started piling up various actions. The picture started getting weird. I kept going. And going. Things got even weirder. I kept going. And, here I am.

If I could tell you all the steps, I would tell you. But, once I get going in some direction I move pretty quickly without too much thought. That’s the only way to create something that even approximates art.. You know me. I try not to think when I’m out making pictures.

Because.

You know what the legendary New York Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra, said to his manager while he was trying to work out of a hitting slump. His manager said, “Think Yogi, think.” Yogi replied, “You want me to hit the baseball and think?”

Some things are better done without too much thought while you follow your instincts.


Like an antique.

An accidental picture.

I wasn’t even thinking about pictures when I looked up and saw this scene. The gray sky was softly illuminating it which gave the trees a sort of old fashioned glow. In fact, in one version of this, I didn’t care about keeping the color true. It looked like something from the late 19th Century. When I restored the color I thought that the picture still looks kind of classic.

Yesterday, I wrote about photographers luck. Today, my photographers luck was determined by always carrying some kind of camera with me everyday and everywhere. You can’t make a picture without a camera, even if it is your smartphone.

Here’s the deal about my use of smartphones. I use to think of them as sort of a sketchpad used to remind me of scenes that I should return to when I am more fully geared up. These days I’m not so sure about that.

Currently my phone is a Samsung Galaxy 9. It was the best phone available when I bought it discounted because I’m old. It’s coming up to two years since I bought it. I like to refresh my phones every three years. This one may last longer.

The phone is almost too much for me, but by using its forward lens I can make files that are 36.6 megapixels. That’s a huge file. Through the magic of computer math these files are technically equal to files made on a DSLR. I tested that. I had some big prints made. The look fine to my eye and I’m pretty picky.

I suppose that we have finally come to a place where smartphones can replace a lot of point and shoot cameras for folks who just want to document their friends and events of their lives. The point and shoot market has been dropping steadily for the past few years. Now, I think it is finally dead.

For those of us who make a living from pictures, so much of our market has shifted online. Paper products are dropping like files. Even the venerable PDN ceased paper production two days ago. If all we are doing is publishing pictures online, a smartphone can produce perfectly good files. If we are, like me, more focused on books and selling prints for your wall, DSLRs and shutterless cameras are still important.

Those are my Thursday musings. Have a great day or night, wherever you happen to be.


All on a wall.

The caption says it best.

All on a wall.

I was headed to my car after having coffee with Kim of Glover Gardens. She happened to be passing through on her way from Bay St. Louis to Houston. After she went her way and I went mine I saw this art-driven store. I looked in the window, but what I really liked was this wall. I think the door is their delivery door.

But, that wall.

I have no idea where these creatures came from. Or, from whose twisted imagination they sprang. It didn’t matter. I liked them. So, I photographed the wall. It’s been a long time since I did anything like that. I used my baby Leica. The whole thing made me smile.

Leica glass. Not only is the lens very sharp, but the resolution is amazing. There is another quality that I’ll call richness and depth. This is a flat wall with paintings on it. Look how the creatures just seem to be popping off the wall.

It reminds of the days when I exposed a lot of film. I shot slides in those days. I could tell the difference between slides made with Canon or Nikon cameras and those that were made with Leicas. There was just this sort of special quality about them. Apparently, Leica has been able to translate that in the digital world.

Magical.

 


Chance.

Art.

All art is autobiographical. But, the reader makes his or her own meaning.

Sometimes, it seems that art being autobiographical is a stretch. How is making pictures of Mardi Gras Indians about me or my life? Or, second lines? Or, about broken and abandoned buildings? I’m drawn to those things, especially living in New Orleans, but what do they say about me?

Or, are those subjects art at all? Am I stepping back into my old roll as photojournalist? Even my faux nature pictures like this one is stretching the boundaries of my life. I make these pictures because I live in a swamp. They are local and easy to make. They may be more about my skills than they are about me. They are more about my seeing and organizing than they are about who I am.

This picture, for instance , is a combination of two other pictures.The base are pavers and fresh growth near me. The flower-shaped objects are just that. Flowers. I worked very hard to make the new image in the studio. On the computer. What does this image say about me other than I see tiny details, have a few computer skills and I have an imagination? Yet, it’s art. My kind of art. Or, not.

 

 

 

 


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.


In another neighborhood of the 9th Ward.

This time I wanted to feel it.

So, I played with everything that I could in post production without going too far. I suppose this is a kind of art, but I’m not sure. It could just be a mess. Ironically, in my world of typos I originally wrote that, “I could just be a mess.” That’s probably closer to the real story.

These two houses are located very near to the one in yesterday’s post. The neighborhood wasn’t in the best shape when the storm arrived. When Katrina blew through it sort of dealt a death blow to the area. Houses stood. Brick buildings remained. The streets were still there. But, for the first couple of years of recovery this area was a ghost town. People didn’t start returning until at least 2012, seven years after the big event.

That’s how it went. Many people were forced to take the long way home either by lack of funds, or by FEMA, or by the passing of a loved one either during or after the storm. Some people never came back.

This is an odd subject to write about during the holiday season. Once our holidays are upon us they don’t stop. Christmas, followed by New Year, followed by The Twelfth Night, followed by Carnival and Mardi Gras, followed by the Lenten season. And, finally Easter.

I suppose that I want to remember my thoughts as they come to me. It’s the end of the year. The end of the decade. These little histories matter to me, if nobody else.

After all, somebody might ask me how I spent my decade. Probably not.

I have a question.

I’m going to publish my ten best pictures of the decade right here on Storyteller. The editing wasn’t as hard as I imagined. Storyteller is ten years old. The decade is ten years old. My signature pictures — the ones that I didn’t make on assignment — are all right here in my archive.

So.

The question.

When do you think I should publish them? All the big publications have already published their “best lists.” I could do it next week, or I could do it the week in between Christmas and New Year. What’s your pleasure?


Golden light everywhere.

Golden light. My favorite light.

As you might remember, I very rarely photograph sunsets. Instead, I make pictures of the sky right before and after sunset. I also turn around a look at where the light is falling. Sometimes that’s much better than a predictable sunset.

It’s a little risky.

You might come home with something wonderful. Or, you might return with nothing. If this stuff was easy what would be the fun in that?

However.

I believe that I was made to make pictures. I think that I’m a natural. Or, I’m just whistling through my hat. There are all kinds of naturals. Athletes. Musicians. Artists. Doctors. Nurses. The list goes on forever. They are the ones in class that never seemed to be trying and yet did very well. An old friend of mine used to call me “the zen photographer.” He said it never looked like I was trying and yet I came back with good pictures.

It annoyed him.

He worked really hard. He made great pictures. But, each one was like giving birth to twins. Very painful. Well, I really don’t know what kind of pain giving birth is like. I’m not equipped that way. But, you get the point.

Comments like his were common over the length of my career. Even now, when I think I’m barely working. When I’m making fake nature pictures. A lot of you like them. I’m grateful for that. But, I just see stuff and make a picture. Maybe it’s easy because I’ve done this for 40 some years, but it doesn’t feel right to me.

This looking back in review is great. Or, it’s miserable.

Along with the understanding of 40 years of image making comes the realization of many, many failures. We’ll get to that later. Much later. It’s enough to ask, how many of you have awakened in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and think, “my God, why did I do that?” You try to write it off to being young until you realize that you did something similarly stupid about a month ago.

It’s human.


The last red tree. I promise.

I know what I said.

I was wrong. I found this tree a day or two after I said that all the leaves were down. However, I walked by it this morning thinking I’d add to the red collection. Now, I can safely say that all the leaves are down. The street was covered in the red leaves you see in this picture. I took a picture to prove it. I might post it next week. Or, tomorrow.

I guess this picture proves what I’ve long believed. Don’t mess with mother nature. Or, her trees.

Today is Black Friday in The United States. It’s a silly day created to drum up business. Prices are supposedly deep discounted. People used to line up at malls and big box stores at something like two o’clock. In the morning.  Some stores are open on Thanksgiving Day.

According to some news reports that I read, it’s becoming a thing of the past. And, hopefully buyers are realizing that the deepest discounts are made on old stock, specially wholesaled stock, and stuff nobody needs. The good stuff may or may not be discounted. And, there may not be much of it. A lot of people have also discovered the joys of shopping online.

We don’t go to stores to celebrate overbuying. And overspending, which stretches out your Christmas giving for the rest of the new year.

Even when we do look at Black Friday prices, we actually don’t buy any goods. We might buy services. For instance, last year we subscribed to Hulu for 99 cents a month. This year, I’ll likely buy some photo software at a discount with a bunch of other goodies included. I may also subscribe to The Athletic, a very well reported and written sports website. It’s worth the normal price, but today it’s half price for a year.

What do you, in The United States, do on the busiest shopping day of the year?

Hopefully, like us, you mostly ignore it. Even the two items that I might download and subscribe to for the next year, came to me because I already use those services. I wouldn’t know about them if I didn’t. And, I wouldn’t care.