Sitting and playing.


he next day. We needed coffee. Good coffee. It turned out that a coffee house was less than two short blocks from our hotel.

Even better were the people who worked there. The were friendly and energetic. One of them took us to this place, an empty club.

Apparently, it was fully functioning until a movie production company used it to make a James Brown biopic. When they tore the set down, they gutted the building.

Those are the kinds of stories that you won’t hear if you just pass through a town, keeping to yourself. I suppose you could look around and never say a word to anybody, but what would be the fun in that?


This little bar or club or cafe is now being rebuilt back, good as it ever was.

One of these days we’ll pass through Natchez again and see it for ourselves. But, not this year.


here is some post production technique to discuss.

As you know, I’m about feeling more than seeing.

The picture was easy to make, especially if I didn’t want to show you the guitar player beyond what I did.

The club felt smokey, with a little bit of mist drifting in and out. I could see people standing around listening to the band, drinking beer and hanging out.

But, the club was empty. There wasn’t a finished wall in sight.

So, I softened everything. I made the scene glow a little bit.

The rest is in my imagination. Or, yours.

Friday Night B
Taking a break in a local watering hole.

So. Back to Central City. I actually made this picture on Friday night. I was driving past a bar that I’d wanted to photograph for a long time. It has great neon light and that’s what I was after. I really didn’t mean to go inside. But, I was driving by and there it was. The sign was on. Big, bright neon light in green and purple. So, I stopped the car and out I went. I looked inside. People were sitting in there, enjoy the early evening. I’ve never seen that in this place. So, I buzzed and the owner let me in. We talked for a while. He gave me permission to photograph inside and out. But, I had to ask the patrons if they minded. Some said yes, I could take their picture. Others said no. I always respect that. This is a neighborhood bar. This is their “home” bar. This guy was the first one to give me permission. He asked if he could have five percent of my sales. I laughed and said that he’d do better if he let me buy him a drink. You know. Rich photographers and all that. Right.

The picture. These new cameras can be pretty amazing. In the old days when I used transparency film, I had to do all sorts of things since the ISO was 50 and dim bars like this were often impossible to photograph. Great photographers did it. I’m thinking of The National Geographic’s William Albert Allard. But, not me. Now, I can set my digital camera almost any way that I want. In this case, I set the ISO to 3200. A lot bigger number than 50, yes? I can hand hold the camera. I can work a lot easier than if I used a tripod and lit the place. So, that’s it. I used a very high ISO and walked around and chatted with people.