It must have been the roses.

There is a piece in The New York Times that is the opposite of last week’s languishing. This time it’s flourishing.

The author gives you some steps to take to move from languishing to flourishing. There are seven of them. Most of them are smallish things like clean the kitchen or take the trash out. Others are more predictable like gratitude and hope.

I’m with Neil Young on the hope thing. You can’t eat it.

I suppose that moves me back into the languishing column but you can’t have hope without something to hope for. I suppose I do. If you read my comments about gratitude, turn them upside down and that’s what I hope for.

What are your hopes? Dreams?

I do have gratitude. I’m lucky to have a roof over my head. I’m lucky to the people and dogs in my life that I do. I’m really happy that the pain in my back and legs is mostly a thing of the past. I’m also very grateful that I haven’t caught CoVid-19 because it is a death sentence for me.

And you? What are you grateful for?

More importantly what are we going to do going forward?

Me? Well for starters, I’m going to clean this trashed studio.

Oh boy. This picture was a nice straight picture of some roses.

But, I couldn’t help myself. I just had to tinker with the picture.

Luckily, I had a vision for it before I ever started.

I wanted the picture to look like the emulsion of an old school photograph.

This actually starts with the border. Then, I worked to fill it in an appropriate way.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this picture that you don’t see right off. The background is one So are the shadows.

Even the roses are tuned up.

The total package works, but some stuff without the rest wouldn’t work. Believe me. I tried.

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Rebirth even now.

I was thinking.

Yeah, I know. That’s very dangerous. But, after the constant flood of bad news about CoVid-19, I think that we all need our moods lifted, even if it’s only for the length of time that you need to read Storyteller.

There’s magic in photography. I should use it. You should embrace it.

For me, making a photograph always lifts my mood, even if I’m in a good mood. Things just get better. If I’m in a bad mood, it changes. That’s the power of art. So, I advise you to keep making art. Keep doing what you do. At the very least things won’t get worse.

Here’s one thing.

We did a massive grocery shopping. I think we bought enough food for about a month. Even the dogs have that much unprepared food. What I saw was encouraging. Instead of moving on certain products such as toilet paper like sharks on a feeding frenzy, people actually helped each other. What a wonderful thing. We can’t self isolate. We must work within our communities to look after each other, to care for each other.

The picture.

What a weird exposure. The light meter sought out the brightest part of the scene, so much so that I can’t brighten the shadows beyond what you see. If I do that I lost contrast and depth. I made this on another dog walk. I forget exactly where. And, that’s another thing. That steroid injection I got about a week ago is seemingly doing its thing. Now THAT’S something to be grateful for.

Stay safe.


New blooms.

Art.

I read a lot about fine art photography. I read a lot about art. I look at a lot of both. The term fine art photography seems very misplaced to me. How is another picture of a sunset fine art? Or, the waves breaking on a beach when the water has been slowed down so much that it turns to mist? How is another painting of an animal, fine art?

I really don’t know.

For me, art — forget fine — is something that expresses an unknown truth or brings you closer to something that is unseen in the physical sense. It also simplifies a subject down to its purest sense.

I always liked Robert Mapplethorpe. No, not his later explorations that gained him a measure of infamy. I have no problem with that work, but most of Middle America did. I’m talking about his studio work. The work that looked at something from its barest essence. That brought the viewer inside.

Especially flowers.

I suppose that this is my homage to his work. I try very hard to produce simplicity. It’s not easy. You can’t just turn this way of seeing on and off. Even with my routine, even with my zen-like approach to getting into a zone, getting to this place is almost impossible to achieve.

That’s probably how it should be.

As an old friend of mine use to say when I would complain about some difficulty, “If it was easy any poodle could do it.”


On early morning walks.

It’s only love
It’s only love
You know how it feels
Feeling is easy
I know
When I was young
When I was young
You know
It was real
My heart was open
But now
I know
I know
I know
I know better
I’ve been shown
The other side
And now I see the way
Things are
It’s only love
It’s only love
You know how it feels
Feeling is easy
I know
Feeling is easy
I know
Feeling is easy
I know

— Melody by Anoushka Shankar, Karsh Kale, and Guarav Raina. Lyrics by Norah Jones

Easy lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Walt Disney Music Company, Universal Music Publishing Group, A Side Music LLC D/B/A Modern Works Music Publishing

Man. All those publishing credits. And, you think I’m crazy?

Sunday. Either a day of rest. Or, a day of fun work. I think the later. Especially after yesterday.

When we were are out roaming around running errands, I always carry a real camera. Jokingly, I say I do that in case a second line pops up.

Well.

One did.

A four lane blocking, jazz funeral with a brass band and the old fashioned carriage drawn by a mule. There was no way around it, so I parked and made pictures.

The photo gods were talking to me. They were saying get off your butt and get back to work. They asked what would Chef Chase say? Oh, I know, I know. Hand raised in the air trying to catch someone’s attention.

“Pull up your pants and get to work.”

Uh huh.

Unless the world falls in, I’m back on the street today and tomorrow and whenever. Once thing did float through my mind. While we are all about mourning our local heroes, we are forgetting that life and death goes on. The second line was for a Zulu. An honored member of our community. On any other Saturday, there might be ten of fifteen photographers making pictures. There was only me. By accident.

Think on that for a while.


Another way.

Learning.

That’s my word of the year. My koan. My focusing point.

Sometimes it’s about the inside. Other times, it’s about the outside. Today’s picture is about the outside.

Here’s the background. The all-seeing dog and I were out walking. Yesterday was a bad day in the pain department. I had to sit twice. Not because I was out of breath. Because my hip really hurt. This is a new one. This is where my NASA grade plastic cup and my titanium femur insert come together. That’s not supposed to happen. Ever.

I made the best of it. We slogged through about a mile-and-a-half walk. Sophie, the all-seeing dog, is very aware and she slowed down. That’s probably worse. In my case, faster is better. Not that it’s all the fast. A toddler is faster than me.

Anyway.

While we were sitting, I started messing with my phone. It doesn’t matter whether you use the latest Samsung or Apple phone, they both have about the same camera functions. I set mine to “pro,” which is really manual. I started messing with the settings. I changed the ISO, reset the shutter speed, changed the f stops and set the compensating wheel as well as changed how the phone’s camera focuses.

Once I was ready to walk again, it was time to test what I had done. Yesterday’s picture. remember that? It was a mistake. I made it. I turned it into some spring-like and pretty. It worked.

But, what about my intent?

This picture was my intent. By using “pro” and changing just about everything to how I like to make a RAW file, I made this picture effortlessly. How effortlessly? The only thing I did in post production was crop the picture.

That’s the real goal in digital photography. To make a file so well exposed and so clean that you don’t have to do anything. Unless you want to.

I love the quality of this image. You can see the texture of the Japonica blooms. You can see the soft, fuzzy fur along the leaves. And, the background. The bokeh, if you will. It’s creamy and gentle. It’s as it should be.

For sure, I won’t stop working with mirrorless cameras. Real cameras. But, this tells me that in a pinch I can make a high quality picture that can be enlarged to at least 16×20. I know this because I tested it. I think it will go bigger.

Learning.

Sometimes, it’s from the inside. Sometimes, the outside.

That’s the beauty of it.


Japonica blooms.

New Blooms.

Wait. What?

It’s winter down here. Just like it is throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Our winter is fairly mild. We get a few sub freezing days. Not that many. We’ve had a long streak of cold fronts and gradual warming for the last month or so. Normal for us. In a few weeks, the weather will turn mild and stay that way. Until mid-May when summer arrives.

That’s the weather report.

My neighbor thought that these blooms were early. She thought they meant a hot summer. They could.

But.

I divide seasons by events. Normally, Mardi Gras falls in February. Sometimes, it’s very early. This year, it’s late. The first week in March. Even when Mardi Gras is early, when I walk to the streets where I like to work during parade season, the Japonica trees are in full bloom. Some flowers may even be starting to die.

These blooms mean nothing when we talk about summer weather. On the other hand, I was surprised when I shouldn’t have been, when I read the baseball’s spring training begins in three weeks when the pitchers and catchers report to camp.

Thank God.

Pro basketball means nothing to me. Football, just a little more. But, baseball? That’s a whole different story. Baseball is about life. The season is long. It stretches from very early spring to late fall. It has its ups and downs. You learn how to deal with adversity over the long-term. Events play out over many months rather the short 17 week season of football. It’s slow. You can think about it. You can study each game. You can learn from your mistakes. If you are watching it at home, on your television or on your computer, there is enough time during the natural inning breaks that you can go into the kitchen and get one of those things you like to eat or drink. It also means that for many of you, the cold and snow is coming to an end. Although the early games played in late March and early April can get a bit cold. So too, towards the end of the season and certainly during the playoffs and World Series.

You came here for pictures. Most of my pictures are about life. You can figure out the connection. Yes?

This Japonica tree is one of the few things that I haven’t documented around here. I see it changing every spring. I think I’ll get to it in a couple of days. It’s one of those scenes that I know I can come back to. It’s a picture in my pocket. That goes on for a few weeks. The flowers are gone. Oh well. Next year.

Not this season.

I photographed it when I first saw the little pods that contain the flowers. That picture went to my Instagram feed. This is the second picture from the Japonica series. I’ll keep doing it until the flowers fall to pieces.

They say that you should live in the moment. That moment is today. This hour. Those few minutes. Live those when the present themselves. You won’t go wrong.

Learning.


Flowers bloom, Autumn or not.

I told you. We have a second growing season down here in the swamp.

I found this scene on a walk. A long walk since we weren’t dodging raindrops.

I’d say this is a good exercise in seeing, but how could I miss? The flowers were calling to me from thirty yards away. The only thing that I had to do was frame them in a way that made sense to me, and hopefully, to you. I wanted them reaching for the light and the sky.

I think the picture works.

The picture makes me smile, or laugh. Speaking of laughter… oh, never mind. I just hope the world was laughing at him, not the country. We still matter.

 


 

Circle game.

Sometimes… a you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.

That little saying comes from an old advertisement for Planters Peanuts. It’s the same thing for me. I’m mostly photographing junk or found objects or something I brewed like yesterday’s coffee picture. That doesn’t mean I stopped making pictures of what I see.

This picture is a case in point.

How could I not stop and make a picture of brand new purple buds? I made a few pictures in the usual way with the buds in sharp focus and the stems slightly out of focus. Then I stuck the lens into the plant. I wasn’t sure what I had until I started culling and playing. The actual file was fairly light because the phone was trying to compensate for being in deep shadow. The minute I darkened the entire file, everything started popping. The colors were amazing. A few minutes of further tinkering and I was done.

That’s the picture. A coffee blog started following Storyteller yesterday. I suppose it was based onthe coffee cup picture. I hope I didn’t disappoint this guy because how often do I post about coffee?  Maybe I should start posting about coffee. With all NOLA’s indy shops I could have a year-long project.

 


Blooming in the sun.

Today is September 11.

9.11.

The anniversary of the day the towers fell. In New York City. And, the Pentagon was attacked. In Washington, D.C. On September 11, 2001. Today, it almost seems like an afterthought, because most of the past 30 days have been close to hell on earth. In some cases, a watery hell. But, hell never-the-less. The date shouldn’t be forgotten. But, it shouldn’t be mourned.

Not anymore.

Today, I met a woman walking her dogs while I was walking mine. She is staying with her family. She is from Florida. She left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She decided to settle in Florida.

It seems to me like that is going from the frying pan into the fire. Never mind.

We talked. Mostly she talked. I listened. She was worried that she would go home to nothing. She would have to start over. Again.

So.

Let’s not mourn for what happened on September 11, 2001. Remember it. But, instead of mourning, let’s try just try be extra kind to each other. Talk to each. Listen to each other. Be patient. Be grateful. While we are all going through the things we know about, none of us really knows what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.

Peace.