Deep and dark.

Night. Moody, deep and dark. Sometimes scary. Always interesting. That’s one of my favorite times of day to work aside from the ends of the day.

Working at night means that you can hide some imperfections. You can build in the shadows. Pools of light become subjects in themselves. Trees often become silvery in the winter.

On the other hand, daytime photography assures you of a good exposure, especially if the light falls on the front of the subject. But, to my way of thinking, high noon daylight images are boring.

There I said it. Boring.

I started thinking about this when a friend said, in the comments, that my pictures are different. My writing above sort of explains why.

For many photographers my ways of working are just suggestions. For me, they are rules. I try to live by them religiously. That’s why some of you like what you see.

Sometimes this is an issue. I miss dinners, at least at traditional times. I get up too early, which means that I need a nap. Sometimes, I stay up too late chasing the night.

That’s all in a day’s work. I suppose. Everyone here is used to it, so it’s not a big deal. I’ll hear about it in no uncertain terms if it is.

I’ll explain how I made this image in the other column, where that stuff belongs.

Heh!

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your vaccine. Look after each other. Look up from the dirt to the stars.

Mystical trees. Or, something like that. The bigger this picture gets, the worse the trees look.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels.

This is a layered picture. But all three scenes were made at the same time of day.

Trust me. I tried to cheat. It wouldn’t work.

So.

There is a base picture that doesn’t show up to your eye. It gives the sky depth. There is the sky and there are the trees. I think I reduced the mid-tones a little too much. If you are wondering, the mid-tones are in the trees.

Once the layers were assembled, I set to work tinkering. In this case tinkering means to balance out the layers so they don’t look like layers.

I added a touch of color, but that was it. Too much color and the picture turned atomic. Not enough and the picture became monochromatic.

Anyway.

That’s what I did.


Rebirth in a winter sky.

“Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy.” — Rumi

That explains a lot. That explains why so many of you are worried about me. Mercy. It also explains why I knew better than to keep pushing even on a day that is huge for me. Mercy. That explains this two hour old picture. Mercy.

A little about me today. I am feeling slightly better. I was able to take a couple of dogs on an abbreviated walk. Most dogs are sensitive. Cocker Spaniels even more so. They walked at a slower pace than normal. They made sure I could keep going. They were not bothered by the walk’s shortness.

From a practical standpoint, I can’t see my doctor for about a week. I will have a number of tests before that. When I see him, he should have the necessary data in hand to treat me properly. Likely, this last serious pain will have receded some by that time.

The picture. I really wasn’t thinking about pictures on this walk. I was mostly monitoring myself. I saw what you are looking at. I made the picture. This is a perfect example of “not taking the picture, but letting the picture take me.”

You know what else Rumi said. “The thing you seek is seeking you.”

That’s what happened today.

Thank you. All of you.


Before the parades.

Photographers luck.

I was out walking when I heard police sirens. I looked up. I saw Mardi Gras floats being pulled by their tractors. After being around for so long, I know that the floats are being towed to their parade starting points.

There are three parades in which I’m interested. They are all Uptown parades. However, there are at least three more parades that could be called local.

Today is when my Mardi Gras photographic season really begins. For sure, I photographed some of the downtown parades. They are great fun, but starting tonight the parades have some real  history.  And, tradition.

A couple of years ago the folks who organized the downtown parades thought they were onto something new.The organizers wanted to call their parade season “New Mardi Gras.” That was a non-starter. Nobody wanted that.

I talked to one of the organizers. She wanted to know why I was opposed. I said that it was simple. All of Mardi Gras evolves every year. Krewes come and go. Some are replaced by new krewes. Some reform and return. Some are gone forever. All of the downtown parades are a part of that tradition.

I made this picture about 45 minutes before I published it.

I made it cinematic in post production because I like the style. A thought is rolling around my brain. Tonight, I start photographing parades for real. It’s more or less photojournalism. But, it doesn’t have to be. At least for here on Storyteller. I can make the pictures a little more magical which is the whole point of working on this stuff. That’s for y’all.

A little magic. Because… you know why.

For my client and agencies I’ll take a more straight approach. That’s how all of the images start out. Sometime they’ll enhance my work. That’s their call. I will add some of my enhanced work. They’ll see what I’m thinking. You never know. It might align with their thinking.

I’m a little excited about tonight. I know where i’m going. I know the routes. But, I have no idea what I’ll do. That usually comes to me while I’m standing around wondering what I’ll do.

That’s the story.

No. I didn’t forget the day. Happy Valentines to all of you. Please go to my Instagram feed to see how I celebrated it. It’s different. At least it has that going for it.


 

Looking like a Japanese print.

I was walking the all seeing dog, when I saw this reflection is a water feature that can be found along one of her routes. For some reason it was clear and blue. It was also highly reflective. The bare trees of winter were looking back at me. I made a lot of pictures. I made some with the bank and made some that are much more colorful than this one.

But.

This one reminds of a Van Gogh painting. Of course, his has little cherry flower blossoms in it that really bring it to life. As much as Van Gogh has always been one of my muses, I only recently learned of his fascination with all things Japanese. I have a show catalog that is based on it.

One more thing.

To me, this picture is a bit confusing. It looks upside down. It isn’t. That’s how the trees in the background were reflected. My instinct is to flip it over.

What do you think?

 


A simple view of the moon and what is called Ray’s blue.

Oh, so blue.

That’s what I saw on an early evening walk. I was mostly looking at the bare trees when the moon came into view. “Oh, man,” I thought. I stopped, braced myself, and made four exposures. This, obviously, is one of them.

This color, or one just slightly lighter, used to be called “Ray’s Blue” by some my former editors. Certainly, other photographers made pictures with this shade of blue in the sky, but I worked very hard to get it. That was in the days of film. It’s easier now. Get close enough and fix it in post production. That’s not what I did here. I made the color in camera.

News.

The election season is now truly upon us. A friend of mine who lives in Memphis is sort of upset with me because I’m pretty sure that the current president will win a second term. I think this because he always slides and slimes his way through everything. Almost four years ago I said that if he won we’d leave the country. We didn’t. Instead we watched him and his minions in congress destroy most everything that makes America good. Now, he’s unfettered.

I held a little hope out in front of me like a beacon. Last night Iowa dashed my little bit of hope. The fine folks who are running the caucus tabulation can’t seem to tabulate anything. They blame it on an app. It was apparently designed in secret by some off the wall company.

Of course, it was downloaded last night. It wasn’t tested prior to the the big event.

Who does that?

We all know that technology is tricky. Early versions of software typically house bugs. For example, the new Mac operating system has two updates, or, patches as we used to call them. There is a third one waiting for me. That’s fairly normal these days.

I’m a photographer. When I’m working I have redundant systems. If I’m working with the client and something fails, I kind of joke around and pick up the next tool as if nothing happened. And, that’s after I tested everything a couple of times at home.

All I know is that this is going to be a long campaign season. It’ll be like the Baatan Death March of World War II fame. Worrisome at best.

Sheesh.


On a winters day.

It’s a blue sort of day.

The weather is frightful. It’s raining outside. Jazz music is playing inside. They say that we are going to get wet. Very wet today. Rain all day. Into the night. The late night.

Some plans went out the window.

I gave some serious thought to photographing one of two things. A walk through The Bywater with a group of photographers. I know. I wrote that I don’t work well in groups. This sounded fun. Or, I was thinking about photographing a second line. The first was cancelled yesterday because the group leader got sick. The second is postponed because of the weather.

Not doing both are fine with me. These days I’m trying to roll on. There’s plenty to do around this place. Or not. Maybe it’s a listening and reading day.

The pictures. I’ve been experimenting with a single way of enhancing pictures with basically one click. One move. I hesitate to call it post production because it’s been incorporated into my normal workflow. My new move seems to enhance the darks and bring out the highlights.

I did have to be careful in my culling. The techniques works best with blues. I tested it on a number of pictures. Warm tones hate it. Colder tones seem to like it.

The trees are just two bare branched winter ones that I saw around the neighborhood.

Even bluer.


A little weird.

Weirdness.

I made it that way. Unlike the speeding picture which happened in camera, this image was made after the fact in post production. By me. The original photograph showed a bright and sunny winters day.

I had a vision. I knew my final intent. I wanted to make what I kiddingly call a “Halloween Picture.” So I went to work. I removed most of the color, When I added black, I removed just enough of it to make the silhouette of the tree brown. You can see it mostly in the branches.

I knew when I was finished. That’s the thing about using vision to guide you. You know when you know.

That’s it for today.

If you are in the United States have a good Martin Luther King Day. If you are anywhere else in the world have a good Monday. Or, Tuesday.


Giant cotton balls.

Drifting.

The sky looked almost like rows of crops with cotton ball clouds floating by my discerning eye. I was going to wait to publish this picture. I’ve been enjoying working with “real” cameras. And, sharing those pictures.

But, my Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of these clouds made by local photographers. I think every photographer in town made pictures of them. So, without any further delay I’ll share mine with you.

I was out walking when I looked up. These clouds were passing by my location at a fairly rapid clip. So, I photographed at a fairly rapid clip. This formation of clouds is fairly rare which makes my decision to work quickly begin to make sense. I’m usually not that fast. Unless I have to be.

I actually hung out hoping that they would last until the low, glowing light of dusk would have really made a great picture. That was not to be. The cloud formation fell apart a few minutes later.

You know what they say. “If you snooze you lose.”


Magic sky.

Still waiting.

Seems like that’s what we do. Even though we said that 2020 would be good. That the year would be positive. The first ten days have been anything but that. I’m sensing a very palpable uneasiness. It’s not just me. A lot of people feel it too.

It’s not politics. It’s not just the impeachment, or the failure of government to do their constitutional duties. It’s something else. It’s bigger than that. Something’s coming. And, as I used to say many years ago, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I said that was after looking at the hurricane maps for Katrina.

I have a nightmare feeling about Mardi Gras. I’m not going to tell you. But, I don’t think the Iranians are done yet.

Just sayin.’

That feeling is reflected in my work. The pictures are getting darker. If I photograph something bright and shining I leave it in my archives. I look for scenes that reflect my thinking. After all, they say that artists make images that are autobiographical. The rest of you make your own meaning. Success means that you see and feel things the way that I see them.

Some 2020, eh? Still I’ll hold onto my word for the year.

Anyway.

This picture was bleak. Too bleak. So I added a little color and some strange shapes to it in post production. The picture has a little smile to it now. I think.

The only thing I know to do these days is just to keep going. Art harder as a friend who lives in Memphis says. Play harder. Work harder. Whatever you do, keep doing it. Harder.

There. Is that positive enough?