Transition time.

T

ransitions between dark and light, the end of the day and daylight is what I look for. Sometimes I’ll wait for that time rather than burn myself out shooting daylight pictures which I’ll never even look at after the fact.

It’s the light. It always the light. For me transitional light is the best light. Dawn or dusk. It doesn’t matter, but I have trouble getting up for dawn light.

As Bart Simpson said, “There’s a five o’clock in the morning? When did they start that?”

This is a dusk picture. It what was made during the blue hour while what was left of the day’s sunlight was reflecting off of the cloud.

In nature’s way, the orange and blue contrast very nicely. It’s no wonder that designers have been using that combination for years. Being a sometimes New Yorker, I think of The New York Mets.

Let’s not go too far down that track because I was born to be a Yankee fan, but blue and white is boring to me.

So.

It’s really about light and color. That is photography, no matter what or who the subject happens to be. Find a subject can be fairly easy. Finding the patience waiting for the light to be right is hard. Very hard.

I used to know a photographer who worked for National Geographic Magazine. He find the place where he wanted to work. He’d set up camp and he would sit. And sit. And sit.

When the light was right he’d wake himself and expose maybe twenty rolls of film and then, finally, he was done with that scene.

Do you have that kind of patience? Well, do you?

I don’t.

M

aking this picture was harder than you’d think. I exposed for the clouds which plugged up the tree.

It’s still pluggy because in order to bring up the clouds I had to darken the entire image.

When I lightened the image a little and now you can see the overly light area in the center. I could have done a couple of other approaches.

But, as you know, I’m lazy. So, what remains is what remains.

I darkened the edges of the picture a little to make it look old school burning and dodging. The kind that you did in a wet darkroom.

And, that’s it.

I’d tell you about working in a darkroom. I’d tell you about the peace it brought sometimes. I’d tell you about the smells. I’d tell you what it was like to watch a photograph come up in the developer. And, how we fine tuned little bits of the unfinished print.

I’d tell you that whenever I get a chance to just walk into one that it feels like I’m visiting a dear old friend.


Magenta dreams.

D

reams came to me last night or early this morning. They were about this place. Sorta. In my dream everything was dusty, sort of a tannish brown. It was hard to breath without a mask. People were getting sick in the dusty atmosphere.

It doesn’t a weatherman to know which way this wind blows. We are all worrying about Delta-X. In Louisiana a lot of the hospitals are already full. So too, in many other states. There is some concern about my working in September. I’d like to.

I’m pretty sure that many other people are thinking this way as well. We are getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Eventually, something bad will happen, be it a huge surge or a lot of violence. We do not need either.

We need vaccinations. We need masks. We need people still keeping their distance.

I’m not sure we will defeat Covid 19 anytime soon, but we certainly can manage it if people wouldn’t stay stuck on stupid.

A

short technical lesson. This picture was made from an original that had earth tones as its core. I decided to make it magenta – pink – purple because I wanted to make it a happier picture than the one in my head.

I think it succeeds on that level.

It’s mysterious without being moody. It evokes emotions without being frightening. And, it is fairly pleasant to look at.

The basic working technique was to remove most of the tan color and replace it with something purplish and let the rest fall where it may. Doing that even created a little blue. Add some fine-tuning and the job was done.


In the wind.

You’d think this is one of my layered pictures. It’s not. I just happened to line myself up with multiple bare trees. I did make a bunch of exposures because I didn’t believe it myself.

A painter followed me here in WordPressland. I followed her back. Her work is good as it is, but she seems to want to define art and artists. She thinks that she isn’t artist because she never had formal training. And, a few other things.

Musical Miss would say that she thinks too much. And, to just do the art. After all, the only way to get good at something is to keep doing it.

Ansel Adams said that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst ones. That seems to be true of almost anything that can happen fairly rapidly.

During that long time of what amounts practice you learn a few things. The two most important are learning not to think. And, to learn your gear so well that it as an extension of yourself.

There was a book called something like Zen and the Art of Archery. It illustrates both ideas.

A young student wants to learn to shoot with a bow and arrow. The master tells him to shoot at a target. The student does this for years. He never hits the target.

He tells the master that he can’t do it. The master asks him to try it one more time. The student pulls an arrow out of the quiver, mounts it on the bow without a thought.

He hits the target in the center. Amazed, he tries again and again, all with the same result.

That’s how you get good at anything.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Seeing is a technique that I rarely talk about. I should because it is as important as any editing trick.

There are a couple of ways to look at it.

The first is to set out to make pictures. Your senses are on high alert. You see because you force yourself to see.

I do that all the time. Photographing for clients, photographing for myself at events like second lines.

I also have learned over many years to keep my eyes open. When I walk the all seeing dog I’m not out looking for something in particular.

I just look here, there and everywhere. I don’t stare at anything. I just look.

I’m not sure how to teach you to do this except to start by going on an intentional photo walk with your eyes wide open. Once again, practice, practice, practice.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Be patient. Enjoy all the seeing.


Golden light.

We walk around. We see things. We see transformation. We see change. We saw what nature tells us. That clocks can’t tell us. In the pandemic era time meanders. We act normal. As hard as we try we can’t be normal.

Not no. Maybe not ever. That is a good thing. To be normal in this day and age is truly silly. Some people keep trying. They crowd the streets of The French Quarter. Maybe two percent of them are wearing masks. There certainly is no social distancing.

The virus rages on. We are seeing record infection rates almost everyday. Hospitals are crammed. Some are full. Most medical personnel do have the proper gear. They are using masks meant to be worn once per patient for the whole day. We are dying at the rate of over 1,000 per day. In some places freezer trucks are being used to store the dead.

The dead passed alone. Their families can’t bury them. Before we head directly into the chaos of March and April we need national leadership.

We won’t get it.

The president is sniveling and whining about his electoral loss. He hasn’t done a single thing except Tweet and play golf since he lost. He spent a whole seven minutes laying a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Oh yeah. According to the president, those guys who gave their full measure to our country are losers and fools.

Some Republicans are saying it’s over. Some means a few. The American Stooge trio of McConnell, Graham and Cruz are spouting nonsense. Let’s call them what they are. Traitors. They are duty bound to honor the Constitution. They aren’t.

It’s time to move on.

Trees. And, the picture. I photograph the things that I see and like. I return to the scene of the crime because I know where pictures could be.

That isn’t to say that I am making a lot of pictures. Everything gets in the way. I spent almost an entire day chasing down parts of one single issue. It wasn’t me. I think the people who are actually working have turned Covid stupid.

Normally, good hard working and competent people can’t seem to agree with each other on simple procedure. They are getting too cute in their attempt to solve problems.

That word. Simple. That’s how I try to keep things. That’s I try to photograph. It really is the only way to work. Especially now, when I am sure that I too have a little Covid head.

How about you?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

I’m supposed to attribute some things. So. The title “The Memory of Trees” came from Enya. “American Stooge” and “Stay Mighty” came from Mary Chapin Carpenter.

See? Sometimes — not often — I do what I’m told.


Changes in latitude.

The season of changes.

We’ve had cool and dry weather. The best kind. Now, we have moist and warm weather. The worst kind, this early in the season. The weather blabbers on the local television stations are already talking about hurricane season. Settle down. That’s just under two months away.

Anyway.

I get to make different kinds of pictures without traveling far and wide to do it.

Lately, I’ve had two problems. You know that I don’t feel like photographing much. I also don’t feel like traveling much. Too bad for me. I have to do both in a little bit. Money beckons.

It’s not that I don’t like photography or traveling. I love both. I just don’t like what it takes to do them.

Since everybody is a photographer, I have to figure out a way to make a picture that is different, but not necessarily better.

Since everybody wants to travel, the actual act of doing it has become crowded and hellish with so many inexperienced travelers not knowing what they are doing. I like to be comfortable when I’m flying somewhere. But, I don’t wear my pajamas and flip-flops onboard a plane.

I’m not whining or ranting. It’s life in the real world. If you were able to plop me down in my destination I’d have a great time. Despite all this new technology, that hasn’t happened yet.

I have no doubt that it will. At least that’s what they say on all the science fiction that I watch.

Oh.

One more thing about traveling to photograph. Since everybody is a photographer, the classic locations are crowded with people trying to make the very same picture the first 2,745,981 photographers did. I jokingly say that there are tripod holes at prime locations.

That leaves me with a lot of choices. Let’s say I’ve gone to New Mexico. Let’s say I’m staying in Santa Fe. I could get very lazy and photograph the city. Or, I could move on and work outside of the city, coming back at night. That’s what I would likely do. That works for me because I do like to explore.

Anyway.

That’s how I think. These days. Going to a place isn’t enough. Not any more.

The picture. Just about everything has bloomed and has settled into summer’s green. Except for here and there. This tree is an example of here. Or, there. As the storm clouds started to blow in, I started making a few pictures. This is one of them. Since the light was low at around dusk, there is some nice highlight on one side of the tree. That’s also what’s causing the clouds to be yellowish.

You know the rest.

F/8 and be there.


Reflections.

“Thank you, my love.”

That’s what the female FEDEX driver said after I signed for the Leica. Don’t get excited. It’s a southern thing. It’s a nice thing. A good way to treat each other when we interact.

Anyway.

I had the days wrong. Today is Leica test day. A good day too. The light is stunning, once again. It bounces around from lightly overcast with white puffy clouds hiding the sun, to changing the light to bright and contrasty. Wowie-zowie.

I have an idea that I’m going to wander around the Quarter. It’s a good place to work during the day. It’s very different from the usual night views. For one thing, there are very few tourists. All locals. Doing their jobs. Getting ready for the night. And, tourist dollars.

The picture. I’ve been eyeing this window for a while. It takes bright, contrasty, low light to make it work. Even with that, you have to be careful of the window frame since you can’t get an angle that prevents keystoning. Rather than fight it, I just photographed it knowing I would crop it in editing.

I thought that I wanted it bright and colorful. But, after testing different approaches, I liked this version best. Almost no color. All monochrome.

Enjoy.

I’m off to Disneyland. Er, the French Quarter.

But, first I have to figure out this camera.


Higher and higher.

My fascination with trees. In all seasons.

Especially in winter. I counted. In the last two weeks, I’ve mostly published pictures of trees. I like them. I like their shapes. Their form. I like them when their branches are bare in the winter cold. I can see all sorts of thing going on. I like them in spring bloom. Everything seems possible. I like the shade they provide in the heat of summer. I love the color of their leaves as fall arrives and the air turns cold.

They give me hope. They are about rebirth.

Unless they get sick, they live for years. More years than I will. That’s okay with me.

The cycle repeats itself year after year.

In the Gulf South, nature takes care of them. The former swampy earth is moist and healthy. Rain falls every month. Humidity keeps them young and tamps down the threat of fire.

Unless a hurricane blows through, it’s a perfect world for trees. Down here in my swamp.

That’s why I make so many pictures of them. Besides, Helen Keller had something to say about them. She had a lot to say about a lot of things.

The picture. I looked up in the cold winter light and saw this little cluster of trees and branches.  I exposed mostly for the highlight in the branches and let the light do the rest. I did a little work in post production and that was it.

Today. Friday. A quiet, but busy day for me.


That wonderful low winter light.

Nature always teaches. At least, she teaches me.

This picture could have been nothing. The day was cold. Cloudy. No highlights. No shadows. No shape or form.

Then.

Just before dusk the clouds blew out and that wonderful low winter light fell upon the bare trees. I didn’t think. I didn’t pre-edit in the camera. I just took the picture. Good thing too. Two minutes later and the clouds at the northern edge of the picture blew in and the scene was gone. No. light. No shadow. No magic.

This is my lesson for today. For me. For you. It is prompted by my friend Hedy. We were talking in the comments about practicing and I wasn’t clear since she replied that worked for her because she is a visual learner. I am too. But, that’s not what I meant.

I was trying to talk about a Buddhist way of thinking. Do or not do. Wait, that’s Yoda’s thinking as in, “There is no try, there is only do or not do.” But, the Buddhist belief of living in the moment — which everybody seems to be talking about for 2018 — is what I mean.

This picture, for example, would not exist if I had thought about it. If I looked for the “perfect” angle. Tried to make the perfect exposure. I just pointed and pushed the button. That is what the old masters of street photography teach. “Clear your mind of all thought and just take the picture in front of you.”

THAT, takes practice. Not only in using your camera gear, but in clearing your head. Buddhism, baseball and photography… all the same to me.

Wait. What?

How did baseball creep in here? It’s an old story. When New York Yankee great, catcher Yogi Berra was in a hitting slump, his manager said to him, “Think, Yogi, think.” Yogi looked at him for a second and replied, “You want me to think and hit a baseball?”

There you have it.