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.

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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.


On Sunday. Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mother in Storyteller land. For those of you who live in countries that don’t celebrate today, happy Sunday. Or, Monday if you live on the other side of the dateline.

I have a classic Mother’s Day picture that I’ve posted in the past. Guess what? Our friends at Facebook dug it out of their archives as one of those “this happened in the past, do you want to share it again” things. So, I shared it. Without thinking about it. The picture received a lot of likes. But, I also shot my load in doing that.

So.

You get flowers on Mother’s Day. That’s not bad. Is it?

The picture. kind of a combination. Old style. New style. I couldn’t take this picture very far. That would sort of send the wrong message.

Oh, what the heck.

Two Before Me.

My mother and my grandmother. The picture was made in 1980. 37 years ago. My mom passed when she was 80 years old. In 1996. My grandma passed not long after this picture was made at 96 years of age. The picture. Tri-X black and white film.

 

 


Colorful explosion.

Spring.

The weather has been delightful. The temperature has warmed up slightly, but the humidity hasn’t risen. This is just wonderful. I was so inspired that I walked out just beyond the garden and made this picture. Then I sat by the pool. And stared off into the future. Hard work if you can get it.

Oh, and I was playing an Oscar Peterson and Count Basie record from 1978 called Night Rider. Through the outdoor speakers. Pretty loudly. I’m sure the neighbors enjoyed it too. That’s how you start the day off.

The picture. For those of you who want to know how I did it.

First, it’s an iPhone picture. I wasn’t prepared for it so I didn’t have any sort of dslr with me. I could have taken the 30 or so steps into the house to grab a camera. But, you know me. I’m lazy. Very lazy. I suppose I could reshoot it. But, this picture works just fine. Besides, the native file was something like 42 x 32 inches at 72 ppi. Uprez that to 300 ppi and you’d have a huge picture that doesn’t have to be technically perfect.

Then, I worked on it in Snapseed. I brightened it, turned up the color, added a filter from their retro collection, made it glow and eventually softened the edges to help make the center pop. Why?

Because. It needed it. To make it be what I saw.

I was reading a friend of mine’s post on Instagram. She said something like this. If the scene is good and the light is great you don’t have to add filters.

Nah.

Tell that to Ansel Adams, Eugene Smith or Pete Turner. Nothing comes straight out of the camera, even if all you are doing is adjusting the contrast and sharpening it due to technological limitations. I do not believe that you can save a bad picture. But, you certainly can make a good picture a little better. And, in this day and age you certainly can expose the image with that in mind.


A flower explosion.
A flower explosion.

Apparently, I like explosions.

First — yesterday — I had Joan of Arc exploding. Today, a mass of spring wildflowers. Luckily, none of these things will hurt you.

Well. That statue could fall over. And, spring brings allergies like the one I have right this minute. I’m not sniffling or sneezing so much. But, my eyes are blurry. That makes things sort of interesting for a photographer.

Especially when Mardi Gras parade season starts tonight. It’ll be okay. It’s a night parade. As I said to a friend, I can’t see all that well at night. So, this probably won’t make much of difference. Just point. And shoot.

Maybe I should pray too. To St. Anthony. The patron of lost things. Some people say lost causes. This makes great sense. Guess where I attended high school? Yep. St. Anthony’s High School. In Long Beach. California.

That explains a lot.

The picture. Stick the lens in the middle of the scene. Push the button. Let the camera and lens do its thing. No real photography skills necessary.

This also explain a lot.

Heh!