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.


One of the oldest Creole shop houses is collapsing, but the pizza place on the ground floor marches on.

Blue Hour.

A little mysterious. A little funky. Sometimes deep and dark.

It’s a great time to make pictures, especially as late blue hour turns into night. If you like working on that edge take care. Street level details will fade into the shadows. That’s what you are seeing in this photograph. I opened the deep shadows in post production. I like this version better.

I like deeper, richer photographs as opposed to the lighter, less contrasty pictures that are currently in vogue. I think that they have more power and possibility. They hold the eye a little longer, as the brain tries to see what is in the shadows. Be sure to hold a little detail in those dark areas. The brain needs a reward.

The subject of the photograph is an old Creole shop house that is falling apart except for the ground floor which houses a Louisiana Pizza Kitchen.

In the weeks following Hurricane Katrina it was the only restaurant open in the city. Citizens cleaning out their flood damaged houses, police men and women, the National Guard and elements of the 82nd Airborne ate lunch there. We all were armed to the teeth because you never know when a bad guy might pop up in an empty neighborhood.

We all joked; pity the poor fool who thought that he’d rob the place.

Stay safe. Enjoy every slice of pizza.


New Orleans

This is a test. I’m trying to learn how to do combined multiple picture designs.

Combined, because I’ve crashed two templates. I’ve also used some older pictures that those of you who are new to Storyteller may never have seen. They highlight a couple of tourist areas. Places that some of you might go if you came to my fair town.

While I was writing, I learned something very new. It appears that the block in which I am working expands to contain the new text. That’s great, but I have to watch the depth if I want some air between the text and the images.

The Pictures

I suppose that you’d like to know a little bit about them because this is, after all, a photography blog.

The top image is Canal Street at dusk.

The bridge is the Crescent City Connection, which crosses The Mississippi River to the Westbank.

Next to it is Bayou St. John.

Below that is a French Quarter scene,

Far left is Magazine Street.

Canal Street. Streetcar.

I hope you’ve me followed this deep. I’d love some feedback. Positive — of course. Negative — because it’s needed.

All About learning

Learn from me if you’d like. You are going to be right behind me. I like challenges, but many of you won’t. There is an old school template that I believe predates me. That means it’s at least ten years ten years old. That’s the option if you hate the block system.

One design note. I’ve thrown just about every design tool that I’ve used to date into this page. Drop caps. Headings. Multiple pictures. Offset text. I could do other things that I’m not so sure about when it comes to contemporary design. I could change the color of the pages. I could do that in one go, or block by block. I could change the color of the type, again in one go or block by clock. I’m more minimal than all of that.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


The long night.

A little more magic.

That’s what I saw when I was developing this picture. I didn’t quite know what I had when I pressed the button. But, after… wow!

In many ways, This image reverts back to a style I used in the late 1990’s. Tilted. Skewed. A little motion. And, very bold colors. I kept my sense of color and moved on from the other stuff as times changed.

But, every now and then…

So.

The corticosteroid injection that I had on Wednesday seems to be working. While I was walking the dog who sees stuff, I experienced something strange. Something I hadn’t felt in a while.

No pain.

Instead, there was an emptiness (if that’s the right word) where there was always something buzzing in the background. We walked, and stood and walked a little more. No pain. For the first time in months.

If my doctors are right, and if what I read about this is correct, I might actually be pain free from this particular issue for the next six months, when it might be time for another injection. I am not sure how this relates to my stenosis issues. It could be that relieving the inflammation in one area of the leg reduces the it down the line. I guess that I’ll find out.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am.


Into the night.

This is what I saw.

A deep blue sky at just around dusk. I was lucky to make the picture. This is one of those times when a tripod might come in handy. In my own defense, I wasn’t expecting to see such a sight. So, I did what I could.

Dan Rather tweets and posts on Facebook. Yesterday, he said that the points of light in this dark time, are the arts. He talked about any of us who keep going. To keep making work. To continue to grow. I guess that I’m one of those artists to whom he was referring.

I never really think of myself that way. I suppose that you never do when you are in the midst of your work.

Speaking of photographer’s work, I’m in mourning today. Photographer and videographer Robert Frank passed yesterday at 94. Without him there would be no me. Without him, there would be none of the guys and ladies I came up with. Without him there would be no photojournalism as we know it today.

He turned the photography world on its head when he released his seminal work, “The Americans.” The self-congratulatory photographers, and a lot of photography critics at the time, thought his work was terrible. It was grainy, sometimes the horizons tilted, he made statements about America that weren’t so pretty. He told the story of the underclass.

Basically, his work was honest but it wasn’t pretty.

That’s what opened the door for a lot of us.

You know what Neil Young would say about that. He once famously said that, “when he was in the middle of the road he headed towards the gutter where things were a lot more interesting.”

Robert Frank embodied that.

May you rest in peace, Robert Frank.


Out on the Westbank.

The long way home.

After a long day driving upriver towards Baton Rouge on the Westbank’s River Road, I came to this little spot in the road. Blue hour coming. Dusk coming. Trains on one side. Power lines on both sides making great leading lines. What could be better?

Actually, there are two River Roads. One on the east bank of The Mississippi River, where I live. And, one on the Westbank, which some people call “the best bank.” Maybe if you live there. I always get lost on there.

Anyway, it feels like you are way out there when you drive along the river, even if you are fifteen minutes from home. You are in the countryside. The southern countryside. There are still little tiny communities of former sharecroppers homes, that were slave quarters even earlier in history. Yes, descendants of both of those eras still live there.

Even though I always get lost, I like going there. I’ll be back once hell’s weather begins to cool down a bit. Air conditioning or no air conditioning, it’s no fun to get out of the car to make a picture and walk into a blast furnace.

The picture. After a long day of looking for pictures, I was vibrating. So was the camera. What you see here is the result of that.