The sun was peaking through a slight gap in the branches of a tree. There were little pink blossoms everywhere. What a morning scene.
I did what I do.
I started to make pictures. Auto focus was having a very tough time with such strong backlighting and direct sunlight into the lens. I held my finger on the button. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the autofocus function says “oh, no you don’t.” This time I did. And, it did.
That’s what I made.
A completely out of focus picture. It just happened to be the best of my quick little take out of about ten pictures.
I worked on it a bit in post production. Mostly, I brought what wasn’t understandable back to my eye. That was it.
Today is a really fine day. The weather is wonderful. The pictures are coming. And, in a spring of a lot of brand new music, Bruce Springsteen released a new album. “Western Stars.” I’m often a little cautious when it comes to any big musician’s new work. Often, it isn’t all that.
Not this time.
This one is so good. It reaches into my soul. I know words that I’ve never heard as he sings them. I know the melody. A lot of his songs are what some folks call “high lonely.” It’s hard to write one song that carries that feeling. The whole album carries is that.
The record will arrive in this house soon. I want to get as close to the original master as I can.
That’s the season. Spring. I know it’s not spring according to the calendar, but in the south spring starts a little earlier. Our spring. Meanwhile in the eastern part of the country, y’all were hit by a northeaster. Apparently, there is no way in and out of New York City unless you use private transportation.
Down here in the swamp, we are in the middle of some perfect weather. Temperatures around 70 degrees. Low humidity. Blue skies.
Not so swampy.
This picture. Not layered. Not compiled. Not stacked. Just one picture. Also, I didn’t use multiple editing programs. Just Snapseed. On my iPhone.
I try to keep things simple. I am, at the heart of me, a photojournalist. I am experimenting. Sometimes I use what I’ve learned here on Storyteller, in my other work. My paying work. But, I’m not a heavy Photoshop guy.
While all art is autobiographical, the viewer makes about 80% of the image’s meaning from his or her life history. In other words, you see what you want to see. And, that’s okay.
Like a footprint set in cement. I must have walked past it 20 times. I either didn’t see it, or it just didn’t register in my brain. One morning I saw it. Clearly. Because the light was lower and the footprint was cross lighted. I photographed it with the intent of using it in a picture in this series. I just didn’t know how. Or, with what. But, I do like the flower blossoms that I return to because they give the image a sense of movement, especially when they are layered on top of each other.
So. That’s what I did.
Thank you for all the kind words about my “how to” series of pictures yesterday. I wish I could show you more. But, the next step is really my creative thought process. That’s hard to discuss, because every one of us is an individual with our own memories and dreams. I guess the one tip I could offer is fairly simple. Once you start to understand the technique, turn your brain off. Don’t think. Just do.
Oh yeah. For certain; you’ll make mistakes, stumble around and backtrack. That’s part of the creative process. Enjoy it. And, share it.
I like circles. They are infinite. I like fire. It is purifying. And, I like flower blossoms. They are restorative. All exist in nature. Nature seems to be where I’m headed in this new style of art. If I am intentionally making any kind of statement, it has something to do with nature. Or, the abuse of it. At least, lately.
This is a picture that anybody could make at home. Since some of you have asked, here’s a little primer.
Light the wick of a candle. A big fat candle. Let it burn a while. Photograph it. Just stick your lens over it and take a picture. Not too close. We don’t want a flaming camera. Go outside. Look for fallen flower blossoms. Preferably after a rain storm. Photograph them. Find some other bigger blossoms or flower petals. Photograph them.
Pick your favorite editing software. Make three layers. Pick one of them for the base layer, which is most important. I used the candle since I wanted the round repeating shapes. Add the remaining layers. Manipulate them until you get the approximate final picture. Finish the picture however you chose. I usually adjust color, brightness, saturation and contrast. Sometimes I add a glow.
When you export the final image don’t forget the meta data and tags. You can see some of the tags on the page. No more than 15. Google will drop them all out if their software thinks you are gaming the system. More than 15 is gaming the system. Be accurate. Your tags should reflect what is in the picture, not what you are dreaming about. For example, let’s say I took this picture while I was on holiday at the beach. I would not add beach as a tag. The picture has nothing to do with a beach.
It could take you ten minutes. Or, ten hours. It just depends on how much you practice. I practice a little every day. It’s like playing a musical instrument. Even if you have the raw talent, you’d better practice a lot of you hope to appear on a big stage.
I’m sorry for those of you who are in the freezing cold. And, hate it. Not to worry, I’m looking at an early and very hot, humid summer. I don’t like that any more than you like the cold.
That’s it. For today. Maybe for the foreseeable future. No more writing. Not until WordPress can get their act together. My time is short and not for wasting with programming nerds who think that’s what “content providers” live to do. I don’t write code. I don’t want to learn. And, no matter how much somebody tries to shove it down my throat I won’t do it. Nor well I switch desktops just because yet another corporation wants me to do something that makes my life harder.
Sorry. I’ll write more some day when I know that I won’t have to repost two, three or four times to get the job done. Once.
My writing usually comes from something that I’ve read or saw a day or two before I publish a post. Whatever new information I picked up spins around in my brain for a bit and comes back out in the form of a few comments on Storyteller.
Normally I write about whatever is on my mind then I talk about the picture. I’m going to reverse that. You’ll figure out way. I think.
This is one of those pictures that I made on the way to someplace else. In New Orleans. On the street. At this time of year, hurricane season is upon us. Even with no major storms lurking in the gulf, it is still the rainy season. It is still monsoon season. The weather changes hourly. No. Make that every fifteen minutes. Or, five minutes. First, it’s hot. A little wind blows. Rain falls. The humidity breaks. Then it gets worse. Then the cycle repeats. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
I ran into a friend of mine. A fellow photographer. He was soaked. I said, “Man, you look hot.” He replied, “I just got rained on.” I replied to that, “Oh, so you are evaporating.” We both laughed. That’s how it is. You’re soaked from above while you are standing on one street. Cross the street and you are soaked from below.
That’s how this picture came to be. One street was soaked. From above. I saw the blossoms that had been knocked to the ground by the hard rain. Oooh. Oooh. Oooh.
The picture would never have been this dramatic if the pavement wasn’t darkened by the rain. The blossoms would not have been on the ground. And, the picture wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have a camera with me. At most times. Everywhere.
As National Geographic photographer Sam Abell once said, “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.”