All the blue.

A

s long as there’s a sky turning in the darkness after day… everything worth knowing is in the sound of your old D-35.

I borrowed these words from a song. A D-35 is a particular make of a Martin guitar. It’s fairly rare. Now you know.

I actually didn’t choose these words. They chose me. I was listening to them and they sort of called out to me while I was thinking of what to say about this photograph.

I think it was the moon that caught my eye.

I really didn’t have lens reach that I need to make good picture of the moon so I made it part of the general scene. That’s it. I did what I could do.

When I got it home, I decided darker was better so I did something about it. I don’t consider that much post production so there is no right hand column.

This is a simple picture. Sometimes is simple is better.


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.


All the magic.

S

ometimes I just like to experiment with picture and forget WordPress experiments. That’s what I’m doing today.

I started thinking that way yesterday, after I added a new contact form to my contact page. It was the same as my current contact page.

It occurred to me that a lot of these new blocks were nothing more than shuffling the deck again to see what rises to the top.

I looked at the calendar that I used. Same. I looked at the tag cloud. Same. I looked at the group of past posts. Same.

Good job, WordPressateers (They like another word, but I like mine better), you’ve managed to muddy the waters again.

In other words, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Unless… you have to your programmers something to do in order to keep employing them.

They say, follow the money. That’s where the trail leads to. On the other hand, they might not pay programmers properly. WordPress is always advertising for them,

What do you think? Should I apply? Think about it, me — not having any programming skills — could create havoc everywhere in the system. Your page could become my page. My page could become part of FEDEX’s page (They are a VIP client.) They’d probably pay me a lot of money to leave and deny I ever worked for them.

Obviously, my mood has improved.

A

rt. Once in my days in newspapering we had city editor who would walk around the picture desk looking for photographs for local pages.

He used say, “Art, art, art?” He sounded like a seal so I asked if he was one. Luckily, he had a good sense of humor and laughed.

Paybacks are hell. He waited until the last budget meeting — the meeting where we editors discussed what and where stories and art were going in the newspaper — then, he nailed me. I laughed.

And, paid him paid the next day.

This could have gotten out of hand if we weren’t adults. Or, where we?

I’ve almost written enough to not have to talk about this picture. Almost.

It’s layered. It’s enhanced. It’s tinkered with. And, I just published it.

I’d make a good politician.


The dark end of the street.

T

he age of experimentation continues. I found out yesterday that I had no idea how to change the color of the tag cloud or the calendar. I’m sure instructions are buried deep in the 900 pages of “how to” notes. Until I find it, you won’t be seeing those blocks again.

Today, I’m experimenting with making the blog page look more like a website page. The biggest issue is with the drop caps. If you notice there is a space between the first letter and the rest of the sentence. I don’t believe that I can correct it because that would eliminate the drop cap.

It’s something that I can live with.

The picture. Ah, the picture.

The photograph is of The French Quarter during the blue hour. It’s a residential street, rather than someplace like noisy Bourbon Street.

This angular shaped buildings are called dependencies. They served as a place where the servants lived and worked. I’d add slaves to that, but the Quarter in pure-Civil War days was mostly populated by Free People of Color. And, various other people. Like Italians and other Europeans, the French for example.

L

et’s start with why I am discussing page experiments.

We all complain about the block system. Unless we want to revert to the so-called classic system, which is one of the earliest versions, we have to keep moving to the future.

I reckon that I can be your canary in the coal mine.

One thing to note right off, is not to trust WordPress AI when it comes to spelling. You should see the things it comes up with.

For instance, coal mine is calming according to them.

For a while it fooled me. I’m a notoriously bad typist, but these errors weren’t even near my key stroke pattern.

Now I know and you do too.

Ain’t Done Yet


T his was once good business. Along came Hurricane Katrina who changed everything with her floodwaters the poured through broken federal levees. A lot of businesses were destroyed or closed. Smith Tire seemed to linger. Whenever I passed by, it seemed to be closed. Or, was it ever open? I have no idea. I’ve heard, […]

Down On The Corner


A s you know by now I change my mind a lot. Whaddya want from me? Heh. I’m an artist. Or, so I think. I will still do my experimental layering, but those images come together when they are ready. I tried to do a couple yesterday. They were forced and it showed. I also […]

Have You Seen Me Lately?


T his picture was made of a little of this and a little of that. I mean it. There are three pictures in there lurking somewhere. None of them were made at the same time. One was made in New Mexico. One was made in New Orleans. And, one was made in Shrewsbury. The last […]


At night in the French Quarter.

I

‘ve made a change. You’ll figure it out. It comes under the heading of who was I really hurting?

In these pandemic days when many people aren’t able to travel, it’s possible to get a European fix right here in New Orleans. After all, we are a French, Spanish and American place. Much of the Quarter was rebuilt after a massive fire and is really Spanish-influenced even though we call it the French Quarter,

But, this place. It looks and feels like it belongs in Paris. It was an old run down apartment building. If you’ve walked on Royal Street, you’ve probably seen it. It is catty corner from Rouses, the only real grocery store in the Quarter.

if you noticed I used the word, “was.”

No worries. It was run down. Now it’s restored. It still exists. Thankfully.

It’s very hard to demo any building in the Quarter. They are all historical. When a building comes down it usually fell down on its own accord. Sometimes, it’s not really on its own. Sometimes, the owner didn’t take very good care of it and it rotted from the inside out.

Anyway, I’ve always liked this building. If there is any kind of pretty light, I usually head over there to make a few pictures, meaning that I’ve got a pretty good archive of this building. Besides, if it’s a hot and humid day, the grocery store is a great place to buy water at normal prices.

And, speaking of normal, nothing is normal in New Orleans as much as we try to pretend it is. We lead the nation in new CoVid-19 infections. Florida is a close second. The rate of infection upriver and in Baton Rouge is so bad that Our lady of The Lake — a major hospital — has no beds for anybody. All of their vents are in use. They were forced to hire traveling nurses to augment their staff.

The entire state is under a governor’s mandate to wear masks inside and outside, if it’s necessary. Many clubs want a proof of vaccination or tests results no older than 72 hours and you still have to wear a mask.

It’s bad and getting worse.

If you are a tourist and you love our city please don’t come.

L

et’s talk about this photograph.

The first thing you should know is that I cropped it out of a horizontal picture because I wanted more detail than a horizontal picture could show on this page.

I followed the crop with what I consider to be normal improvements. I darkened it a little, added some color to it, and sharpened it.

Then…

I went a little crazy. I added glow and softness. I made the picture moody, maybe even spooky.

Finally, I had to repair what normally is a radius issue, meaning that little rim of light you see around subjects, sometimes. This time it was thick and only in one place. It looked like somebody tried to erase the sky. Normally, it is repaired by lowering the radius or “structure.”

Not this time.

I had to fiddle and tinker and fiddle some more. Finally, I found a solution hiding in a vibrance feature. Make the top more colorful and the problem vanished.

I don’t know why.


Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


Artists of all dsiciplines have been coiming to New Mexico for years. Most will say that it for the amazing New Mexico light. Some of the best light comes during the late winter when storms roll in and out with great frequency.

T

here are days and there are days. On the day that I made this picture I needed a little solitude.

A group of photographers gathered in a coffee shop. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the most wonderful pre-sunset in a long time.

That’s saying something because New Mexico is the land of great sunsets.

I said that I was going to chase light and asked if anyone wanted to come. The other photographers looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them followed me out and said that he’d have to go home to get his camera. I asked why he didn’t always carry one because we live in a land of incredible light. He didn’t quite know what to say except that he only used his camera on planned excursions.

I hit the road and made five pretty good pictures. I made small work prints and brought them with me to the next meeting in a coffee shop. The other photographers were amazed.

That cause them to change. They probably still aren’t prepared. And, they still make tropes.

I guess it must be the photojournalist in me. I make those kinds of pictures too, but as a way of warming up. But, then again, my landscape work doesn’t look like anybody else’s work.

I’d probably make more money if I took the easy way, but what would be the fun in that?

I’d lose myself in the rush to cash.

T

here are a few technical challenges that I’d like to discuss.

They aren’t really in post production except for a little clean up.

Instead, they are in the making of the original file.

First, comes patience. I found the location. Then, I waited for something to happen.

Without that little touch of red from the car’s tail lights there would be no counterpoint to the isolation.

The actual exposure was easy. By this time of day the light is relatively flat and lacking extreme contrast.

My post production mostly consisted of using a subtle glow filter which gave the clouds a mild 3D effect and separation from the main scene.

Of course, I didn’t do that when I first developed the RAW file. As I recover these pictures I’m reworking them to my current look and feel.

It’s just like playing a song a different way live than a musician does in the studio.

A wise musician once said that after playing the song 500 times on stage, it finally taught him how to play it.


W

hen we were getting ready to leave New Mexico we did a thing that some New Mexican like to do best. We went cruising. We weren’t showing off our cars. We were looking for our last pictures.

And, we ate dinner at all of our favorite places. We went to places like Garcias, The Frontier and Sadies. If you know Albuquerque, you know these places. If you watched Breaking Bad, you know some of them.

This picture was made on Central Avenue as it heads out of town toward the West. You might know it as Route 66. We, however, were headed east so I could catch the blue hour with some traffic on the street. This is about the location from which the late, great, photographer Ernst Haas made one of his very famous photographs.

You know what this driving around really was, don’t you? We were fixing things in our minds knowing we wouldn’t be back for a long time. We were making nostalgia.

I’m glad we did it. After a year like the last one when we didn’t move around at all, those memories helped our travel jones.

I’m sure you do things like that too.

What are they? When do you do them?

N

o joy yet. These templates are as twitchy as ever.

But, that’s not what I want to talk about, so goodbye bad code.

Instead, let’s discuss the picture.

It’s a drive by, or drive through. It helps to have a co-pilot who knows my moves. I just talk about the objective and the lane and the only thing I worry about from that point is making pictures.

I typically like to meter from a middle highlight like the back of that silver Jaguar. Get that close and everything falls into place.

Of course, there is work to do in post production because fine tuning is needed in a lot of little points of the picture.

That kind of good work is worth it in the end.


Mystery

The day’s conclusion.

I wrote about “Ray’s Blue” yesterday. Of course, I twisted the color around so much that you barely got to see it.

Not this time.

The sun was low in the sky. Darkness was almost upon me. I made a few quick pictures, unsure if I had an image. I didn’t have time to brace myself. I certainly didn’t have time to grab a tripod, which was called for by the light.

So.

Photographer’s luck came to my rescue.

Again.

Music

We’ve been listening to a lot of music this past week. More than we usually do. That’s saying something. Photography saves me. Not this time. I feel trapped since just about everything is closed again.

That’s the fault of people of New Orleans. Far too many pictures of a packed Bourbon Street circulated this week.

A very angry governor gave us a verbal spanking. The mayor closed outdoor sales of alcohol, which combined with the governor’s closing of all the bars, effectively closed the bars of the city.

Still some people protested. The were quickly answered by bar employees who said the closing of their places of work was necessary because the partiers couldn’t do the right thing. The language was much stronger than that. Once again, everybody is angry at everybody else.

Anyway.

If I’m limited in photography, I turn to music. I listened to new music. New to me anyway. It’s been around for awhile. Then, I listened to a brand new song from a yet to be released album. The melody and the lyrics almost brought me to tears.

I felt like we haven’t even begun to feel pain yet. Our world has already been turned upside down. More is coming. It’s like the joke I tell when something in my body breaks down. My body says, “You think that was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The musician? Mary Chapin Carpenter.

I’ve been accused of having a crush on her. I readily admit that I do. Not on her. Her music. Where have I been all these years? At least I found her through her “songs from the kitchen” that she’s been playing during the era of lockdown. I suppose the pandemic has been good for something.

Playing on an acoustic guitar and with no mic to support her singing, she brings the same sense of peace that James Taylor does for me.

Her new, yet to be released album is called, “Between the Dirt and the Stars.” It’s the opening track of the same name that brought an impending sense of doom to me. Her record label has released three songs from the album. Even though she’s very awarded for country music, this album isn’t country. It’s pretty much straight ahead rock and roll.

Anyway.

The Picture

I think I pretty much told you how I reacted and how I made the photograph. I haven’t said much technically. I did have to do some post work on it. Not to change things as I showed you yesterday, but to fix more deficiencies.

When you make exposures like these you introduce heat noise. The chip and processor generate too much heat and it shows on the file. As noise. My normal repair for an image that will never leave the screen is to darken and smooth it. That’s what I did. That’s what you see.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every mystery.