Leaf as a still life.

I saw a leaf.

My normal instinct would be to photograph it in situ. Instead, I brought it home. I worked on it in the studio. I simplified the picture by photographing the leaf by itself, on a light table. The result was pretty good.

That was just a start.

I knew it would be post production time. Usually, I have a clear vision. Not this time. I tinkered and tinkered. There must be twenty versions of the image at which you are viewing. Once I saw them all together I picked this one. I wasn’t done yet. I gave the image a little more energy by sharpening everything. I added the frame.

Now, I was done.

That’s my working method unless I’m making some kind of documentary picture, like second line participants or Mardi Gras, itself. I don’t treat those like art except when I experiment a little. That’s just me. But, I came from a pure photojournalism background. That means change nothing except to fix the flaws and maybe adjust the contrast and color.

Housekeeping.

In the next week, starting on October 15th, I’ll do my Halloween thing. Last year I didn’t photograph enough. This year I will. Stay tuned for new Halloween material.

My new and improved website is in its last stages of completion. I want to add some more pictures. I need to add a lot of captions and fine tune the SEO.

But, it’s truly ready for prime time.

My biggest problem is that I have not found a way to let you know when a new Storyteller story is online. For right now, the best I can do is email you all individually. That’s hard, and one of the biggest pluses of a WordPress blog. Create a new post, hit the button and away it goes. I’ll do some research and figure it out. Soon.

Enjoy the season.

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More fun with layers.

It must have been the heat.

That’s why I got crazy. And, made this picture. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It starts with a deck umbrella and goes on from there. I know. Find the umbrella. I added a couple of layers to this one. Layering, refining, rinsing and repeating. Don’t ask me to tell you exactly what I did. I don’t remember. I was working in a heat crazed frenzy.

Seriously.

New Orleans is not alone in its heat induced craziness. This “warm” spell stretches west to Arizona, north to the plains states and east to the Atlantic Ocean. Even Washington D.C. is not immune. Apparently, yesterday they had temperatures in the high 90s, with a heat index making it feel like it was over 100 degrees. Of course, that may just becoming from the White House.

Black humor is a New Orleans thing. You need it in order to survive in the swamp. Somebody wrote “isn’t this brisk 90 degree fall weather much better than the 95 degree heat of summer?”

Heh.

I am so tired of it. The dogs and I go out by around 7:30 am. Sure. It’s a little cooler. But, it’s very humid. We all come home with our tongues hanging out of our mouths. We all run into the kitchen for drinks of water.  They drink from their bowls. I use a glass. Maybe, it’s the other way around.

One of these days I’ll actually be able to wear long pants. I feel like one of those old retired guys in Florida. Shorts. T-shirts. Grumbling about those kids these days.

Sheesh.


Sun, diesel engine in the morning light.

Morning light.

That’s what caught my eye. A little too much. I couldn’t really open my eyes with such direct sunlight. So, I made this picture with my eyes closed. A true point and shoot. Then my fingers got in the picture. I thought I was trying to shield my eyes. I shielded the lens instead. That’s why I used a square crop. I wasn’t being creative. I was being pragmatic.

Aside from my practicality with this picture, I am also a creature of habit. I returned to the scene of a past crime, er, picture. Add practicality with being habitual and it could equal boring. Luckily, the backlighted train engine, plus just about every other thing in the picture wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Oh yeah. The tilt. I couldn’t see the subject so I didn’t exactly know where the lens was pointing. See? This picture is all mistakes.

The curious thing about the picture is all those power lines. As I worked in post production, I built an unintended consequence by creating light lines around them. I’ve done it in the past. The only way to avoid them is to not shoot into the sun. I know this. I don’t follow the rule. Or, I could have not done so much post work. What fun is that?

And, that’s the story.


Until the end of time.

Until the end of time.

That’s what this picture feels like. I made the post production match my dreams. I really need a city to do this properly. I have some old cityscapes that might fit the bill.

Some dreams I have, eh?

They say that dreams are about some unsettled issue, or an answer to a question that you didn’t know you were asking. In my experience, unsettled issues are always part of life ,so I think it’s the unanswered question. I still don’t know the question.

Mostly, I till don’t know why the interpretation of my dream seems so bleak. I have some ideas, but I’m not ready to share them.

Anyway.

The picture. It started out as one of my power line pictures. I added another, flopped them and started in the sky. The original sky is perfectly pleasant. Along I came to destroy it. I worked back and forth a little until my vision became a reality. I made one version that took the changes beyond this. That’s a picture for another day. That’s truly until the end of time.

 


Storms come, storms go.

We had a storm.

Storms aren’t unusual this time of year. We are in the rainy and hurricane season. Lately, our storms are overwhelming all of our drains, canals and pumping systems.

We accumulated five inches of rain in about 90 minutes. Everywhere Uptown was flooded. I don’t mean with a few inches of water. It was more like two to three feet. I had to walk through it. The water is dark, muddy and who knows what’s in it. I was marking potholes so young drivers wouldn’t break their car axles not being able to see where they were. I made one picture. I showed it to a friend of mine who liked it. I’m not so sure.

Once things started drying out, I made a few more snaps. I had some intent in making these three pictures. I had to wait until the sun popped out after a big storm because I knew what to do.

Here’s the deal.

The picture I showed my buddy is documentary. It’s just fine as far as it goes. But, I’m really trying to reinvent myself into some kind of artist.

Make no mistake. I’m not a photographer who takes normal pictures and labels my work as fine art photography. What so fine art about pictures that look like normal photographs showing no intent?

Fine art photography to me is like the early work of the late Robert Mapplethorpe. His work hangs in museums. I don’t believe photographers like Ernst Haas, Jay Maisel or any of my heroes call themselves fine art photographers.

This isn’t that.

This is my attempt to be a painter. Maybe a water colorist. At least that’s what this work looks like to me. I’d actually paint these if I could. Years of attempts have taught me one irrefutable  fact. I have no painting skills at all. Except to paint a wall.

So, I modify photographs to the point where they don’t really look like something made with a camera. I was lucky that these three pictures could take almost the same style of post-production. Often, a series takes a huge amount of work to make them look like sisters.

Enjoy them. Please let me know what you think.

Skies after the storm.
Through the trees.


Royal purples.

Pixeleen.

That’s the title to a Steely Dan song. It seems to be more about digital photography than music. But, what do I know?

I saw this flower. I almost passed it by. I’ve photographed pink flowers all summer and even before. I had an idea. Yet, another vision of what could be.

I returned to the portable studio in my hand. I went to work. I couldn’t quite get there. I used an application I rarely use. Voila`. I had it.

This image is as I saw it in my head as I pressed the button. This has been happening lately. I have an idea for a complete picture, make the basic file and fulfill my idea in the studio. That’s what is supposed to happen. It took a long time to get there.

One more thing. One more nitpicky thing. Voila`. It sounds like walla. I keep seeing people write it as walla. People. Take some French lessons.


Extra special.

Flowers. Summer flowers. Two flowers in one.

I found this delicate little white flower. I made a clean version of it. I decided to play nature and added a pink flower to it. That’s how this picture came to be.

It was just that simple.

Since the flower was above her height, the dog who sees stuff didn’t help.

And, speaking of dogs, if you are on Twitter, please follow Keith Olbermann. The one time political commentator and always sports analyst has been doing something new. He tweets to save dogs who are in kill shelters. He says that dogs teach you all you need to know about essential truths. Those of us who follow him, usually save about 12 dogs a week through donations and retweets. You can help too.

That’s it.


My spring.

Spring.

I think it’s easy to take a picture of flowers or whatever says spring. It’s much harder to express what you feel. This image says spring to me. It’s poppy. It has energy. It is very colorful.

I got lucky. Sorta.

I made the magenta portion of the image about a week ago. I made the yellow flowers a day or so ago. Both pictures stand on their own. I started tinkering. I do that at night when I’m not thinking about the business side of my world. It’s pure creation.

The magenta flower was complete right after I photographed it. I finished working on the yellow flower, saved it and thought… hmm.

Often when you try layering, there are a few false starts. Not this time. The two pictures looked great together. It was a matter of adjusting the intensity of both pictures and fine tuning.

That’s it.

In case you are wondering, there isn’t a lot of hardware involved. the work was done on my smart phone. I could have created this post from there, but I like working on a big monitor for that. I usually can find and correct my mistakes easier on a large screen. Or not.

Even though you might not be interested in layering, there are a lot of little photographic tips throughout this post. They may help you. Or not.


People out to have some fun.

“Successful hills are here to stay, Everything must be this way, Gentle streets where people play

Welcome to the Soft Parade,  All our lives we sweat and save, Building for a shallow grave,

Must be something else we say, Somehow to defend this place, Everything must be this way

Everything must be this way, yeah, The Soft Parade has now begun, Listen to the engines hum

People out to have some fun, A cobra on my left, Leopard on my right, yeah.”

—  Soft Parade lyrics © Doors Music.

I made the picture. Then, I found the lyrics. The song starts with this, “When I was back there in seminary school.” That’s how I replied to a friend of mine who was discussing the road and sky picture that I posted the other day.

That got me started.

I listened to the song. I used to love The Doors. I worked on the picture. I found the lyrics. Here we are. The start of the work week for some people. You can find a line in the lyrics about just that. I guess I still love The Doors. Their music is still relevant after 50 years. It also sounds very contemporary. And, seeing the “© Doors” tells me that the surviving members of the band managed to recover all the rights to their songs. Good. Never lose the rights to your art, whatever it may be.

The picture. The last of the images that I made on that wonderful cloudy day. WordPress’ compression software stepped on it a bit. The chrome and backlighted cars glistened. It added balance to the picture. I can hardly wait to see what Facebook will do to it. Aaaargh.

I don’t know what it is about me. I really like power and telephone lines in my work. I was taught (back there in seminary school) to do whatever it took to avoid them. A few years back I realized that they are just part of the scene. If I’m being honest with my work they should remain. On the other hand… this may be a little over kill.

One more thing. It’s another drive by picture. Notice, the red stoplight. It’s looking right at me. This is also one of those corners where you can’t turn right on red. See? I’m obeyed the rules. I don’t think the rules say anything about taking pictures, but that’s got to be better than texting. Right?