On Your Shore


Green is like.

There is something that I’ve mentioned is the past. I’m repeating myself. Some of you replied that it didn’t matter because nature changes in subtle ways. Some of you were wrong. After I made this picture I happened to scroll through my Storyteller archive. Guess what?

Not only did I find a a very similar picture, but I found the exact shooting sequence. This is almost picture for picture. Whew!

I have no idea what it means.

Or, do I?

I haven’t been able to make very many pictures this month. I made a few images, but not anything that I really like.

I’m trying to figure out way.

I know that I am bored with the scenes and subject matter. I feel a little trapped by the virus. I’m not comfortable going to places where other people go.

I suppose that I also see an end to my photographic career. That’s a really hard issue. At best, it means I move on. At worst, it’s very depressing. I don’t feel sad. I feel sort of stuck.

Maybe when we have a vaccine, I might feel more comfortable among people not in my pod.

How do y’all feel?

The picture. Remember, I have practice with this subject and with the scene. So making it a second time was no big deal. See it, keep the flair to a minimum, push the button. That’s it. Do that, and there is minimal post production.

Stay safe. Stay mighty, Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

Oh yeah, the title is borrowed from Enya.

20 Million Things


Trying the sunlight.

A little minimalist.

New growth reaching toward the sky.

I’d talk about the first day of teaching but it would just make you sick. Let me just say this. Everything the school district said to the parents and the teachers were lies, lies and more lies. This will never work. People will get sick. Some will die.

Dying is the only way to get these smart thinkers attention. I can pretty much guarantee that the lawsuits will cost far more than just doing the job properly in the first place.

I’d like to use this photograph to jump into a discussion of going forward in the face of the pandemic, but I can’t. I’ve lost my driving wheel. I’ve long said that the country’s recovery from the virus is a marathon, a sprint.

Oops.

I made a mistake. I didn’t think the first surge would go on and on and on. I now think recovery will be a long slog through hip high mud. There are just too many people who don’t take this seriously.

I never reply to the comments on a story because that’s like asking for a ton of bricks to be thrown on my head, but I do read some of them.

I don’t care whether I’m reading a newspaper, or a tweet or something on Facebook, the people who do the most hollering, who pass on the most conspiracy theories, or the people who are just plain angry at everything, I’m worn down. My hope is shattered.

I’m trying to figure out if there are a lot of people who think in those terms, or if there are a few of them who are very noisy.

Hopefully, it’s the later.

The Picture

Another dog walking picture made in the late afternoon. I was watching the sunlight dancing around trees, bushes and plants. I asked the all seeing dog to stop whenever I saw something that struck my fancy and I made a few pictures. She always agreed.

Lately, my pictures have been fairly simple. I suppose it’s a reaction to the world around me. It’s my brain’s way of making order out of chaos. It’s either that, or I’m sinking into the swamp.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy all the sunlight.

Two Sides


Weird, almost evil winter skies.

This picture. Moody. Mysterious. Maybe even a little evil.

I didn’t see it quite that way when I made the picture. But, once I started working on it. Tinkering with it. Pushing it.  That’s when I started to see it. The picture became something else. I would say that I did it. No. The picture lead me. I just followed along. When I tried to lead, it didn’t work. Sometimes I went too far. The look changed.

Workflow.

That’s what kept me on track. Part of my post production workflow is that I save every step. Even though my editing is non destructive, I don’t want to have to go back to the start of the process. I want to be able to get back to where the picture took a left turn, headed south, went wrong. I want to work from there. Only in the most drastic situations do I think that I’d better go back to the RAW file. And, try again.

Kind of like life. In theory, we learn as we go. It would follow that unless there is a serious problem, we should be able to go back to where we went wrong. And, rebuild. Start again. Do whatever it takes to get back on track. Maybe it’s a huge effort. Maybe it’s just setting my ego aside. Walking in another cat’s shoes, as they say.

See?

I told you that after a horrible 2017, that 2018 would be clean up time.

I’m working on it.

Sometimes It’s Art


Morning glow.

Sometimes it’s art.

Mostly it isn’t. That’s the time in which we live.

I have a buddy who makes real, live travel videos. For National Geographic Traveler and clients at that level. He was on a great Facebook rant. He was getting tired of seeing some guy and that guy’s girlfriend taking empty and vacuous travel videos and then immediately selling their teaching services when they don’t know what they are doing or selling.

I was reading in a couple of places, about food photography. About how hard it is. Then I looked at the work. I saw ill-composed collections of bits of food that really made no sense. The pictures didn’t come close to classic food photography. At best, those kinds of pictures are a kind of still life. Real food photography takes a long time to create. It takes skills and techniques that most photographers never even heard about. And, a big studio with a working kitchen. Digital disruption hasn’t changed that.

Then there’s my favorite.

Travel photography. There’s a group of photographers who all know each other. They photograph the same things, which usually means they hike someplace far, use all the “latest techniques” of slow shutter speeds to make swirling and foggy water. They take pictures of each other. The pictures eventually start to look the same. They sell their workshops to each other and “newbie” photographers. The worst group of these guys are the ones who hang around OnOne. It’s long story how that happened. Not for nothing, OnOne makes software. They want to be a big digital community for the benefit of member photographers. They say. My cynical self says, no. They want an enclosed market… to sell digital software.

The photographers in each of these examples have no clients. They have no idea how to make a storytelling picture. They have no idea about deadlines. And, they have no idea how to make a group of pictures that hang together but don’t look the same.

Is this a rant?

No.

My thoughts actually came from something I just read about what Congress really should be. The one that Senator John McCain keeps talking about. Before I write further, know this. I’m not his biggest fan. But, I do believe he cares about the country.

One particular word came up.

Paideia.

It’s a Greek word for the education of one another for the growth of citizenship. It’s done for free. It’s done by real experts. And, it’s done for the betterment of the country. It’s not being done right now.

As usual, I took that line of thinking a step further. Instead of trying to make a profit from other artists, why don’t we just try to make the art world a little better for free? Why? Just because. No other reason is needed.

Art is important. Veteran artists should teach. Those coming up behind them should want to listen.

Of course, that would mean the guys with about a year’s worth of experience would have to actually take the time to learn something and not sell what they learned 15 minutes ago to the next guy in line. It would also mean that they would have to produce something meaningful for a client who is paying really money and is demanding.

How about it? Can we do it?

The picture. Another dog walking picture. Even though I’m pretty busy these days, I’m not making the kind of work that I usually do. There are a couple of reasons for this. A couple of you who know me best, know why. However, the dogs demand walks and I always carry something with which to take a picture. And, I like to play in the digital studio. I’m starting to believe that my next level of art comes from a mix of working styles.

Nature’s Glow


Backlight and weeds

Just another day. In nature.

These pictures are more about mood than documentation. Today’s light is drifting in and out. Sometime the light is and powerful. And, sometimes it looks about like it does as I am writing this. Soft and shadowless.

I there a political comment for today? Not really, except to say that I guess it would take a fake president to create the word fake. That’s what he’s claiming. He invented the word fake because he never heard it before. That’s what you get when you aren’t intellectually curious.

The pictures. Really just scenes that I saw as I was passing from one place to the next. I helped them some. But, not much. Nature did most of the work. It’s better that way.

Morning glow.

Never Ending


Streetcars and construction.
Streetcars and construction.

It never ends.

Construction. Along the streetcar tracks. Along the three major river-to-lake streets. Everywhere. Streetcar tracks have been torn up. Work done. Tracks replaced. And torn up again.  These major streets have not been construction free for years. And, won’t be for many more years. People cannot park in front of their homes. Businesses have been forced to close. Traditional Mardi Gras routes have been changed. The construction companies don’t care. Why should they? It’s a never-ending revenue stream. Now, it seems that there is more cash flowing into the area. Construction companies say this state of chaos is eternal. By dead reckoning, back of the envelope math, a couple of media outlets say we are in for at least 18 more years of this. 18 years. Imagine that.

Upon hearing and reading this news, a group of Uptown residents have filed a large class action suit. Why would they do that? The people who initiated the suit live closer to the construction than we do. Their homes are literally being shaken to pieces. Foundations are breaking. Walls are cracking. Pipes are leaking. Personal items are being destroyed. Houses are being covered in construction dust, mud and junk.

Further up the road, for people like us, the streets are looking like Berlin 1946. Broken. Potholes. Patches that need patches. Water leaking from broken underground pipes. Make no mistake, New Orleans has always had a broken and cracked street problem. After the waters of Hurricane receded the streets got worse seemingly overnight. A week or so ago, FEMA just poured some $350 million in city coffers to repair the streets. That, at first glance, is a good thing.

But.

Why, oh why, do I think that the streets will finally be repaired and then torn up again to fix the leaking pipes? Because. I know this city. I know the city government.

I didn’t mean to go off on this tangent, but we realized we have never lived in this house when some kind of major construction was going on. Near us. Very near us.

I meant to talk about this picture.

It’s about a lot of things. Construction, for sure. But, it’s also about streetcars. Everybody loves our street cars. It’s also about winter light. Light that I love. It’s also about technique. Real live, on the street technique. See those circles? That’s trendy bokeh. But, these circles are real. Not added. Not created. Part of the scene as I saw it. As the camera recorded it. As the lens could control it.

I hope that you like it.

I’ll get a little more Christmasy this week. I promise.

Let’s Face It.


Summertime light and leaves.
Summertime light and leaves.

Yes. Let’s face it. Let’s talk turkey. Tell the truth.

I’m pretty lazy.

So, even though we in the middle of a cool front and the temperature is down to 94 degrees, I just can’t be motivated to chase around making pictures. It’s too hot. Too humid. And, the drivers are terrible.

Let me rant about that last sentence for just a minute. I saw a woman — I’m not taking sides here, it’s just who I saw — make a u-turn from her far right lane across six lanes of traffic while she was talking on her cellphone. No. The other drivers weren’t stopped for a light or anything. But, they stopped. They stopped out of pure self-defense. I was one of them. Make that, “We stopped.”

Okay. Back to your summertime entertainment. It’s too hot. I’m too lazy. And, I’m not going out looking for pictures. These pictures were made from our garden or lawn. I didn’t even have to put shoes on to take them.

That’s it. End of story.

Summertime light and leaves.

The End of Something


There are lots of oil refineries in Southeast Louisiana. Between their strangeness and the weather, the picture became very, very moody.
There are lots of oil refineries in Southeast Louisiana. Between their strangeness and the weather, the picture became very, very moody.

So. A drive along River Road or Bayou Road in any direction along The Mississippi River will bring you to… oil refineries. They are generally hard to photograph because all of them have roving guards in pickup trucks who seem to be use some kind of radar or infrared scanning to locate anybody who stops to make a picture. That’s sort of tongue in cheek, but the next line isn’t. When they catch you, they point an automatic weapon at you and question you. They believe anybody with a camera is a terrorist. But, not on Sunday. I photographed the refinery as part of the overall picture… while we were rolling. That sure fooled ’em, eh?

Anyway. Between the eeriness of the scene and the backlighting which caused some reflection on the recently wet roads and heavy silhouetting, I thought I made a picture that compliments the current trends of the end of the world style films and television shows. I won’t call them apocalyptic, but they are very close. I guess it doesn’t help that the last  two books I’ve read were about bio-terrorism. Don’t blame me. I didn’t know that was the topic  when I selected the books. But, I’ve been influenced. Easily, it appears.

The picture. Yep. It was one of my drive-bys. Or, rather more accurately, a drive through.  When I returned to my home studio, I worked a little post production magic to bring the picture that I made a little closer to the picture that I envisioned.

A Walk In The French Quarter


The French Quarter
Sun, lights, bricks in The French Quarter.

As I was wandering around The French Quarter waiting for the Easter Parade festivities to start, I took walk on a couple of streets and through a couple of alleys that I normally sort of ignore. I’m glad that I did. I saw some new angles and views. At least they were new to me. The funny thing is that as I became more engrossed in exploring, I almost forgot my real purpose. Easter Sunday parades. For me, the longer I’m in a place like New Orleans the more I sort of get bored with the constant stream of parades, fairs and festivals. For instance, I wasn’t home for a good part of Mardi Gras and I didn’t care. That’s some kind of sacrilege. I think. I almost didn’t care about the Easter events. But, I did care about the Easter second line parade in Pigeon Town. To me, those kinds of traditional cultural events matter much more than every possible festival. But, this weekend I’ll attend the Freret Street Festival. But, I have an excuse. Great food. Some pretty good art. Good music. And, a nice spring day.

The picture. It was more about seeing and post production to help complete my vision. I saw the traditional French Quarter street light. But, it was about 10 am. Obviously, it wasn’t turned on. I managed to position myself so that the sun peaking over the clouds was framed by the light. That’s what I exposed for. The extreme highlight. That kept the clouds rich and made the buildings dark. I came close with that exposure, but it wasn’t quite there. So I helped it along in post production. I made the picture a little closer to the image I saw in my mind’s eye.