About changes.

A little Friday art.

Pure art. The picture is as I saw it. Very little post production on this one. It’s meant to be soft and gentle. It’s meant to be a break from real life. A little peace. A little quiet.

I could stop right here and wish you happy Friday.

You know me. Lately, that hasn’t been my way. Lately, I have the need to talk, er, write.

This is about joy. Joy from anywhere. I started thinking about this after watching and Amazon show called, “The Grand Tour.” It was created after the original Top Gear team left the BBC. It stars Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Last nights show was the final episode, not of the series, but of the entire thing.

History. Clarkson got fired from the BBC for punching a crew member. Over a sandwich, I think. The other two realized that two without one didn’t add up to much, so they asked to be released from their BBC contracts. Clarkson went through some behavior modification counseling and the three of them joined Amazon. The new name reflects what tours of the world used to be in the 1800s. They were called a grand tour and used to last for months.

The original version was Clarkson’s brainchild. Prior to the arrival of Top Gear, car shows were boring. I like cars, but I never watched them. Once I saw Top Gear during its first year I was hooked. Comedy reigned supreme. Things crashed. Things blew up. Things burned. Richard Hammond almost got killed (for real). Only his short height saved him from losing his head.

Last night they said goodbye. Clarkson, who can be a giant knob as Richard May would say, fought back tears during their entire announcement. They played some highlights, some of which were borrowed from the BBC, to the tune of the original ending of Eric Clapton’s “Layla.” For me, that has always been a leaving song, especially the end  piece with Eric Clapton and the late Duane Allman playing intertwined guitars over a piano.

I was in tears.

They’ve done this for 17 years. I’ve seen every episode. Think about that. I’m 65 now. I started with them when I was 48 years old. They’ve made me laugh and laugh some more, even during the dark days immediately following Hurricane Katrina. When I say laugh, I mean laughing out loud, rolling on the floor.

The audience was crying. They talked about their favorite shows.

Then.

Finally, the three of them made another announcement. The talk show, the in studio work and their local race track scenes were ending. The show as we knew it was ending.

But, they love Amazon and Amazon loves them. So, Clarkson claims. Instead of thirteen weeks every year, we were going to see what they do best. Long treks in some foreign country with either junkmobiles or the best of the high-end Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche cars. Those are the episodes that to me, and I’m pretty sure, most of us liked best. We won’t have to wait a year to see new work. It’ll be released as Amazon continuing series.

My heart jumped. I immediately felt better.

One more thing for you to know.

Anyway.

I borrowed that from them. Since they really drive the cars, catch on fire and get in crashes, they decided how to move on if one of them was killed. They would briefly tell the studio audience what happened and would immediately move on with…

Anyway.


The eyes that made other pictures.

 

Eyes.

They say that eyes are the window the soul. I believe that to be true. I think most portraits should be simple. See into the person. See what they are about. See who they are.

I’ve been using this little girl’s eyes as a design element.

After discussing the eyes with a number of you, I thought it would be a good idea to show the portrait. I cropped they original image to get this tight image. The background information just cluttered the important part of the picture — her eyes.

Then, me being me, I had to tinker with the image until I arrived at this point. My vision was fairly simple. I wanted the final image to look ancient. I wanted it to look beaten up, like it had been buried somewhere. You have to understand that I’m easily influenced. I have been watching a couple of archeology-based shows on various streaming services. The information sort of went into my brain through my eyes. I had to dump it somewhere. So…

That’s the story. What influences your work?

 


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Dinosaurs.

This may be it. For a while.

I begged them not to do it. But, just like every other tech company today, they think they know better than their clients. Their customers. They deleted the backdoor to Storyteller. I have no idea what I’m doing with this so-called new, improved, and fucked up method of posting. They started this last year. A lot of us complained about it. They left the backdoor alone. They said they might eliminate it. New Year. Nothing better to do. So their engineers removed what was a very elegant way to add “content.”

I have no idea what MY page looks like. Before I post it. And, I have to add all the metadata by hand. Yeah. This is better. Not. And, what’s with the “beep-bop-beep?” What am I? 12 years old?

These pictures. Hmmm. The dinosaur. That’s black and white Tri-x film that I scanned and started adding stuff. You’d be surprised how unclean black and white film looks after it’s scanned. There is all sort of latent color even when you turn all color sources off. I played to it.

Chicken Mart. A landmark. In Central City. There’s another out in the Ninth Ward, I think.

Ladders and chairs was made on Magazine Street in The Lower Garden District. On a break from Mardi Gras festivities.

Oh yeah. Sorry for the so-called “f-bomb.” I have no time to mince words anymore. It is what it is.

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Chicken Mart.
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Up and down.


New Mexican balloon.
New Mexican balloon.

Well, I’ll be…

I wouldn’t have thought I would have gotten such a favorable response to this kind of tinkering around. It really hit me when an old friend of mine said this is where he hoped to go with his new-found love of photography.

Hmmmm…

I think I got to this place sort of out of self-defense. And, a desire to learn where I could really go with my work. This, to be sure, is not a new thing. I worked my way through some of my archives and these images go back a ways. A long ways. Not only did I take them a few years back, but I started experimenting with them around the same time. Maybe as long as 8 or 9 years ago. Different software to be sure. But, my vision was headed in this direction. These pictures are evidence.

I can remember clearly when I started doing this kind of post production work. I used to play a lot of computer games. I suppose there is some kind of problem solving and hand eye coordination to be learned from them. I thought back then that if I was going to spend so much time at the computer that I might as well learn something that I could really use. I stopped playing games and started to learn about Photoshop and what is well beyond.

I suppose that it’s like being a musician, which by the way, my friend with his new photographic passion, happens to be. You mess around and mess around until you find something the strikes you. You don’t have to rush through the process because it is uniquely yours. And, nobody else is expecting a finished production. It’s a kind of art for its own sake. Until you decide to show it.

The pictures. Two from New Mexico. One from Hong Kong. The balloon is from the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. Since I lived nearby I could return to the event repeatedly. Mostly, I looked for low light images. Sometimes, I’d just take a singular picture as the basis for some later work, not even knowing what that might be. In the stock photography world, that’s called a component.

The space flower is also New Mexican. I saw the backlighted flower and put the camera on the ground. It’s been around in various forms, but never like this one. Not that you’ve seen.

Hong Kong days was made from my roof. You know that I’m lazy and sometimes don’t like to roam far from home. I asked the building management for permission. They gave me the key to the roof door and said don’t fall off. They were used to my odd requests by this time. The post production work is sort of prescient. Hong Kong has degraded a lot since the time when I made this picture.

Hong Kong days.
Hong Kong days.
Space flower
Space flower


Interpretation of the Ninth Ward.
Interpretation of the Ninth Ward.

I keep saying that all art is autobiographical.

I began to think about that when a younger colleague in Australia started to worry that I had enhanced a couple of my second line pictures. I said I didn’t care because these pictures are about my intent. My vision. And, I used that phrase… “all art is autobiographical.”

How exactly are my pictures of a second line parade, or Mardi Gras Indians or brass bands, autobiographical? In short, they aren’t. My life, my family, and whatever culture I have, is very different from the people in the pictures. And, that’s okay. After all, everybody is different. As the song says, “You don’t know what it’s like to be me.” That cuts both ways.

So.

The work. Hmmm. I suppose my pictures of second line parades, Mardi Gras Indians, local musicians, are really a kind of photojournalism. We live in a time of  “If there are no pictures, no videos of a thing, than it didn’t happen. That’s kin to the old questioning saying, “If a tree falls in the woods…”

In many ways, those of us out on the parade routes are taking pictures that are really bearing witness to what happened. Preserving that moment in time when the musicians, the benevolent associations, the indians and the crowds were on the streets. Celebrating. Singing. Dancing. For us, and the people who see our pictures, that one moment will always be there. Or, until current technology says it is. But, that’s a whole other story.

What does that say about me? My work? Is it simply just a vessel? If that’s so, that’s fine. I was raised and trained to be a photojournalist. Or, is there something more?

I starting tinkering with a picture I made two weeks ago. I made it on the way to some place else. Even though the subject is kind of funny, I didn’t show it to you because the light was all wrong for the content. It was bright and sunny. Sort of happy light. The subject was gloomy. For the record, I don’t know if the out-building blew over during a storm or somebody just did it for fun or out of maliciousness.

But.

I decide to process it. And, I started to tinker with it. I really had no sense of direction or intention. I was just experimenting. At a certain point in the process it hit me. Like a bolt from the blue. I was making a picture that reminded me of my slide film pictures that I found when I finally was able to enter my house after the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina receded. The subject obviously wasn’t the same. But, all of that stylish post production induced funk looked just like some of my film. Not only did the water get to it, but the heat of summer baked weird color into it, and mold was starting to creep in. This is what one of those pieces of slide film would have looked like if I had scanned it and tried to work on it.

Now, that’s autobiographical.


One way of boarding up an abandoned house.
One way of boarding up an abandoned house.

This is one way.

There are many other ways to board up windows on an abandoned building. I think I’ve just about documented most of them. But, this one is new to me. Cover the windows with brightly painted boards. I didn’t get close enough to see what these coverings are made of; I thought plywood. But, I’m not sure.

No matter what.

They are certainly better looking then the aging and rotten bare plywood that normally covers windows in most abandoned buildings. True, the color is fading from rain and bright sun. But, still…

The picture. I was driving by. I saw the colors almost before I saw the building itself. It was one of those WTH moments. I stopped. I got out of the car. Took a few pictures. And that was it. F 8 and be there. Or, something like that. More likely, F 5.6 and be there. That’s it on the scene. I also didn’t do much in post production. I brightened the color and added a little glow to help you see what I felt.

Oh. What did I feel? Mostly surprise. Right there in a neighborhood that is mostly abandoned and torn down, there was this house. Blammo.

Then there is this, Please help a guy out. By now, you know the rest.

https://www.gofundme.com/gk8bajd8


Florida Street Bridge.
Florida Avenue Bridge.

Yes. Time to get back to documenting stuff and playing with it in order to turn it into some kind of art. Or, something like that.

This is the Florida Avenuei Bridge located in the lowest part of the Ninth Ward as possible. It’s closed for now. That’s a good thing. It crossed the Industrial Canal near the turning basin. It is so far below sea level that every time I drove across it, there was leaks. From the bottom up. Not from overtopping. Heavy trucks used it. I always thought that one day, somebody would end up under water for no reason other than the bridge is too low and very old.

In case you are wondering, it was the levee walls that support the Industrial Canal which collapsed causing the devastation in the Lower Ninth ward during the storm.

If you turn right before you get to the bridge, you end up at a giant landfill. Then, a huge overflow canal. Some place, eh? People lived not 100 yards away from this.

Sometimes, as nature seeks stasis it also does the right thing. People shouldn’t live here.


Manufacturing on River Road.
Manufacturing on River Road.

“Whenever I find myself in the middle of the road, I hate straight to the gutter where things are more interesting.” — Neil Young.

Well, sort of.

This is yet another picture from our River Road ride. Not all the places are bucolic plantation houses and very, very green nature. Historical sites with little brass signs.

No.The region lives and breathes.

River Road runs along the mighty Mississippi River. Massive shipping. Massive manufacturing. Massive oil production. Massive chemical production. Freight trains run along the river. They cross the river at various points. A town on the Westbank is called Westwego because train engineers, brakemen and conductors used to start their trains by pointing and saying, “West we go.”

So.

This picture is a look at another side of River Road. The manufacturing side. It also combines something that is new to my latest friends.

Experimental Sunday. That’s right. Sunday is the day I usually post versions of my pictures that are very experimental. Little tests. Big tests. It’s my day for tinkering around. Please don’t misunderstand. I rarely do this for my clients. I wish I could. Mostly, they want a little more literal approach. Fine with me.


Ice Art 1
Ice Art 1
Ice Art
Ice Art

As I said in a Tweet, that friends of mine picked up on, “There’s an ice storm today. I’m not going out there. People in New Orleans can barely drive in great conditions.”

And so, I didn’t.

But, I photographed around the house, lawn and garden. I made macro ice pictures. These are some of them.

As far as the “Great Ice Storm of 2014,” goes… well, the weather guys got excited. The streets were slick and glazed in my neighborhood. In other places, not so much. A friend of mine posted a picture of a glass, some ice cubes and a lawn chair on Facebook. That just about said it all.

So, we stayed home for a day. The dogs had to be forced to go outside. We probably ate too much. We got bored. Really bored. But, nothing really happened.

That’s not true. One thing happened. All of our tropical plants are dead. In addition to wandering around and taking pictures today because today — three days later — the temperature was 78 degrees, I had to chop down the plants. 15 feet tall Banana trees are now six inches tall. I’m told if they are pulpy or woody inside, they may survive. We’ll see.