Once upon a time.

H

ere it comes. Hurricane Ida blowing through the gulf. She is expected to make landfall in Louisiana around 2pm on Sunday, August 29.

Something just walked up my back as I wrote that. A kind of chilling thing. A kind of dread.

Because.

August 29th is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

I had a bad feeling then, and I have a bad feeling now.

According to the NOAA map and cone, at this time it should actually hit about 75 miles north on a line with Baton Rouge. That can change hourly. The barometric pressure is about 1002. By the time IDA arrives the BP will be in the mid to upper 800s.

There will be a very high storm surge since that time of day will host a high tide.

That should not affect us. That’s because we bought this house in a place that has never flooded in NOLA history. It’s located on very high ground; 6 feet above sea level he wrote with a large dose of snark.

We are getting ready, but we are always mostly ready. The last thing we’ll do on Sunday is close the storm shutters.

We aren’t evacuating because of CoVid-19. What good will it do to leave a place that might get damaged to end up on a place that could kill me?

I’ll post again on Sunday. It’ll be short and mostly discuss current storm conditions.

B

elieve it or not, this is a Hurricane Katrina picture. I made it the next summer after the storm.

I came back to sell our New Orleans house which has been flooded by four inches of water that came through a door in the service area.

floor If the people who did the add-on would have built it to the rest of the house’s height, our home would have stayed dry.

But, they didn’t.

I wanted to have a look around. I made my way to The Lower 9th Ward, a place that was flooded by 14 feet of water and is sacred ground because so many people died there.

I was looking for a landmark house. Seeing it would tell me where to to turn.

I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there. A stand of bamboo took its place.

Nature always seeks stasis.

I

want to talk about one more thing. Mental health. After the storm and the heavy destruction about 85% of the returnees were on some kind of mood stabilizer. Every one and anyone.

Most of us stopped using those meds because we had, in the words of many psychological practitioners, “Situational Depression.”

Nobody thought about our next phase of mental upset. PTSD. Anybody who has been through an extreme trauma can suffer from it. It doesn’t just affect former military personnel.

It manifests itself in different ways. A photographer I know tried to commit suicide by cop. Thankfully, he’s known about town. The NOPD knew him and talked him down. Drinking reached an all time high in a city that is perpetually drunk. There was a very high divorce rate in the first couple of years after the storm.

On the other hand, when we ran into each other for the first time after the storm we’d greet each other with hugs, kisses and dancing in the streets. And, that was just the men.

Me? Only a kind of PSTD plagues me every year about this time. I start getting hyper vigilant. I start checking our storm plans. And, I start getting clumsy. For a big guy I’m pretty light on my toes. In the house, we all are.

Ha!

Let’s talk about today. I started to make espresso. We have big plumbed thing that is a PIA to use so we bought a little Nespresso machine. I noticed the water tank was almost empty. I filled a measuring cup and started to pour it into the tank. I missed it by that much and the water ended up on the counter and floor. I dropped two full cups of espresso on the floor. I went upstairs and walked into a wall. That wall has been there since we lived into the house. And, so it went.

I can hardly wait for tomorrow.


Never more.

R

escued from my archives.

I found this picture while I was looking for something else. That’s sort of the way I make pictures, on the way to some place else.

The funny thing about the picture is that the subject doesn’t exist. Not anymore. It was a designer’s idea as part of the landscaping of a new venue.

The venue is all angles and made of metal. I suppose bamboo made a nice counterpoint, but the it was planted on the hottest side of the building in really dry soil.

I photographed it the day it was planted. Two weeks later the bamboo was dry and starting to die. Two weeks later there were broken stalks and little more.

Eventually the landscapers got around to clearing it and planting something else. Some of it succeeded. Most did not because they planted it too close to the artist driveway. Big touring trucks rolled over it again, again.

Oh well.

S

o, while I was working on this post I was listening to a new record by Los Lobos called, “Native Sons.”

It’s all covers.

That doesn’t sound great does it?

But, in their hands the songs are better than the originals. Better yet, I can sing along to most of it.

I can’t sing the two Spanish songs which is my fault for listening to my teachers in high school. They said take Latin. It’ll be fun and prepare you for college.

I never once used Latin in college, but I could have spoken Spanish in a lot of places.

Oh well.


Bamboo
Bamboo

Just a walk around.

I never look for just one thing. Even though I might have an idea in mind. I made these pictures while I was working on Halloween art. The light was great. I was on foot. I saw a lot. In my own neighborhood.

Most of it was green. The organization comes in the curating.

Just photograph what you see. Don’t edit yourself in camera. That comes later.

Funny thing. I didn’t even know there is a big stand of bamboo in the neighborhood. See what you learn if you just slow down? And, keep your eyes open.


Bamboo
Bamboo

Our version of Fall. Southeast Louisiana. Leaves are changing color all over the country. Some will change here too. Eventually. Of course, if you grow bamboo, the leaves don’t change color. One more thing about bamboo. Once you plant it, it will take over everything and you can’t kill it.

The pictures. Just a little depth of field exercise with help from a little bit of glow in post procession.

And other thing…  Since you saw my rain picture, you’ve probably figured out that those of us who live in Southeast Louisiana couldn’t photograph the moon. There was cloud cover just about everywhere. Today still.

It might be just as well.

As I said in a reply here on storyteller, I saw about 2,989,786 pictures of what looked like a pumpkin on a dark background. You really do need an earthly foreground subject to give the moon a sense of place and time. It’s even better if the foreground subject isn’t some predictable landmark. There is actually a Twitter feed discussing just why a smart phone couldn’t get the job done. Most of the pictures are very amusing. Even with DSLR cameras, people keep trying to use lenses that are longer and longer to photograph the moon. I must be an idiot. I keep trying to go wider and wider.

Closer and Closer
Closer and Closer


Traffic art.
Traffic art.

Power lines and clouds.
Power lines and clouds.

Bamboo.
Bamboo.

Levee construction.
Levee construction.

Stuck in traffic. Again. It used to be that driving on River Road was a pleasure. It was like driving on a pretty country road… in the city. Not so much any more. The traffic hasn’t gotten worse. The fine folks at The Army Core of Engineers are doubling the height of the river levees. So, the traffic jams should be temporary. That’s a good thing.

Or, is it?

This region hasn’t had river levee problems. Those levees were fine during the storm. They didn’t over top. They didn’t break. Those were other levees. More downriver. In New Orleans.

This is one of those things that falls under the heading of, “it can’t hurt.” So, it’s all good.

But, the construction really hurts the traffic flow.

There are a lot of ways to deal with stalled traffic. You can zone out. You can turn up the music and start singing. You can get angry. You can start texting.

I’m not sure that any of those things are good ideas.

I’m not sure if my idea is any better. I made photographs. Or, maybe just snapshots. I opened the sun roof. I took pictures of trees and bamboo. I took pictures through the windshield. I let the camera focus on nothing. I’m not sure what I really did. At least it wasn’t my version of a drive by. I’ll let you decide. At least, I didn’t zone out, sing loudly and badly, text or get angry.

After all, it was a nice day. The sun was out. What’s wrong with sitting in the sun? And, taking pictures?

 

 


A peaceful Sunday. A little break. Three pictures. Quiet pictures. Made at different times and places. For different reasons. The three of them are: Taos Dusk, Bamboo and Morning Spider Web. Yes. I have some shot back stories to share.

Taos Dusk. Everybody photographs this place. Everybody paints it. Ansel Adams made a landmark photograph there. Georgia O’Keeffe painted it. Just about every photographer and painter who is on some kind of Southwestern trip stops there so who am I to try to photograph it? This place is located in Rancho de Taos a few miles away from the town of Taos. It’s real name is San Francisco de Asis. And, why the try to capture it in some way? How would I make my own statement? How would I make a picture that is a little different? I had no idea. I’ve photographed it in the past and the pictures were okay. Just okay. So, I was out looking around in the fields and roads just behind the church when the late afternoon light started turning into an exciting and bold dusk. I got to the church just as the light was at its most striking. I made maybe 20 frames. This image is the result. It is sort of my signature piece of the location. Nature did it. I didn’t. Sometimes, that’s how it works.

Bamboo. Need a quiet place to take a break in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong? Head to the cemeteries in Wan Chai. They are located almost in Happy Valley. They are beautiful and very quiet, yet just outside their gates the streets are roaring with traffic and people. There are three. Muslim, Indian and Christian. As you wander through them you might find a stand of bamboo. What am I saying? Might? You’ll find bamboo everywhere. The day that I was there was warm, but not the hot like the weather is in July and August. There was a nice breeze so I slowed down the camera’s shutter speed, and popped a little flash. More nature. Mixed with a little technical skill. Very little technical skill.

Glistening Spider Web. Yet another storm story. Three hurricanes in 2005 that struck somewhere in Louisiana. The first was Cindy. Originally, it was called a tropical storm. But, insurance findings later caused it to be upgraded. Get that? INSURANCE findings. The last two are better known. They are hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After Katrina, I re-located to Lake Charles, Louisiana. That seemed fine… for a few weeks, when along came Rita and another evacuation. Good thing too. Rita touched down at Sabine Pass, just about 70 miles from Lake Charles. It was brutal. The evacuation was hellish for everybody. It was a super hot summer. Houston, Texas was threatened by the storm. The main highways became parking lots. Cars ran out of gas on them. People ran out of food and water on them. You couldn’t budge for hours. So, I took back roads aways from Lake Charles. There were no motels available that would take pets until I reached Mountain Home, Arkansas. There, I found a Best Western that took in everybody. Best news was that FEMA/Red Cross paid the bill. But, that drive took 18 hours as compared to 7 when we made our way back to Lake Charles. 3am and I’m wired as I could be from the drive. But, I did fall asleep… until 6am. I awoke and decided to take a walk. It turned out that this little B

est Western had a beautiful garden that was a cross between something Asian and an English garden. I always carry a camera. This is the first picture I made after the hell that was Katrina and Rita. It had to be peaceful. I needed that.