Evening glow.

T

his post was inspired by a band called Ranky Tanky. They are a Gullah band from the Lowcountry area of South Carolina.

They play a kind of country jazz. I’m always amazed at how many of their songs I know. Songs that were covered by The Rolling Stones and Little Feat. The good news is that both bands always acknowledged their musical roots.

Roots. I think that knowing who’s shoulders you are standing on. That’s another little piece of Storyteller. I haven’t talked about my inspirations in a good long while. (Let’s see if I can write that anymore Southern.)

Maybe I should start doing that again. Whaddya think? I can write about particular artists, or photographers or musicians to authors.

Let me just say that there are only a few photographers who inspire me. Most of them are old now. But, artists and musicians? You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting them. (Southernism number two.)

I wonder why that is.

S

ometimes things that look easy to do are a lot harder than we think.

This picture is an example of that.

It’s a time exposure made on my smart phone. Easy enough, right?

Sure. If you don’t care about the highlights or the deep shadows.

I did everything I could to keep those areas intact. I failed. Either one or the other had to go.

So, I kept the highlights and let the shadows go dark. I tried to hold the shadows, but they lost way too much contrast.

I did the best that I could, which wasn’t enough.

That’ll happen sometimes.


Bare trees in Autumn.

It comes when it comes. Inspiration. I was talking with a friend a couple of nights ago when she said that inspiration is everywhere. I know that. But, I forgot that I did.

So.

Here’s the best possible example. We had a big day out. We went places. Well, two places. The gasoline store and the grocery store. It was the first time I put gas in my car in three months. While we were making groceries as they used to say down here, I kept seeing things. No, not like that. I saw pictures.

I did the only thing that I could. I started making pictures. As we were headed out into the parking lot my seeing didn’t stop. I made a couple more photographs. This is one of them.

I have questions.

Questions like how did this tree get so bare when most of the trees are just beginning to change colors. I don’t need an answer because this is another favorite look of mine.

The tree was planted in the middle of the parking lot along with others in hopes of eventually having shade in a bare parking lot. Define eventually as in about 20 years.

It’s a start and that’s important.

One more little thing. We are into the last three weeks of the race for the direction of our country. Most of us know what we are going to do.

We did an accidental test today. The only news that I read was baseball and the arts. We listened to the Senate hearings for the next Supreme Court Justice while we were running errands. They were polite and as you think that they should be.

But, again, no news.

Our day was so good. I encourage all of you to turn off the news unless something major happens and it can’t be avoided. We didn’t intentionally do it, but it made a world of difference.

Seeing pictures. My friend is right. Inspiration really is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes, your ears, your nose and your heart and you’ll see and feel amazing things.

That is easier than it sounds. For me, something has to cue it up. The conversation last night did it.

It could be something else. Something I hear in a song. Something I smelled that brought back a memory. Something I saw that lead to something else.

When this happens, let your creativity out. Don’t try to edit it on site.

I’m pretty sure people were wondering why I was taking pictures.

Unless they ask, let them wonder.

If they ask, tell them you are a photograph and you just saw something that needed photographing. If they want to see don’t hesitate to show them your LCD. Especially an inquisitive store manger. That didn’t happen today, but it could have.

Making the picture was easy. Remember, expose for the highlights, especially if you want a silhouette.

That’s it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty, Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others.


On a better day.

Yesterday was interesting to say the least.

Apparently, every software company released updates this week. Three hours. That’s how long it took me to get to here. I still don’t think that I’m done because I see that I have six Apple upgrades. I won’t do it if it requires a reboot. That takes forever and I’d actually like to get some work done.

Teacherland

In the schools, it appears that there are already seven new cases of the virus. The students haven’t even returned yet. This is among the teachers, staff and administrators. The school board won’t even tell anyone from which schools they came. That means they are offering the teachers no means of safety. No way of knowing if they need testing.

Oh, if I were a lawyer.

I thought the school boards were bad around here. Ha! In Georgia a student posted pictures of the very crowded school hallway. Very few students were wearing masks. She was suspended for a week. The principal said that he couldn’t make the students wear masks because of their Constitutional rights.

Huh?

Sometimes we have to over ride certain institutions and beliefs. Make no mistake, I believe strongly in our Constitution. If we make a move we have to be careful because legal overrides lead to dictatorship or anarchy. But, this is one of those times when we must think about taking extraordinary measures.

See how I’m tip toeing around this? I’ll stop that, now.

Make the kids wear masks.

You won’t be happy if half of them get sick. You’ll be even more unhappy if 5% of them die. Sheesh. A little bit of courage is all we ask.

The Picture

I said that my pictures would be lighter. This picture is lighter. It’s what I could do yesterday. It’s not what I want. I’ll get there. My excuse is always the weather. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too wet. This porridge is too…

Yes. It’s hot. It’s hot down here from April to Christmas. It’s very wet during the summer. It’s cold for like three days.

I have some ideas for subjects. One is coming up in about three weeks. The 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I’m not obsessing about it. I just want to see how far we’ve come. How we are doing. If certain neighborhoods have been rebuilt.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every bit of summer.


The Cedars are growing brand new leaves.

Yes. Some winter.

When I made this picture, the air was cool. The sun was bright. And, new leaves were already showing on the Cedars around this place. Sheesh.

We had about five days of sub-40 degree weather. It’s possible that we could get more. I remember working on Mardi Gras Day in 30 degree weather when sleet and freezing rain was blowing around in the wind.

I think that’s highly unlikely.

I fear is that this mild winter is a prelude to a very hot summer. I’m hoping that things stay mild throughout the year. For instance, last year, we had a lightly cooler winter, but the summer temperatures never reached triple digits. That matters. Even if it’s only psychological, there is a big difference between 100 degrees and 99 degrees.

I’m taking no chances.

That’s why we are looking for a coolish place in which to hide out for a month or so of the summer. Or, we change our minds and go to work in other places. We’ll see.

Sorry that this post is mostly about the weather. I was surprised to see trees showing new leaves so early.

The picture. At first I left it alone. Almost no correction in post production. There was no way to help it without hurting it. Then, I decided to test some frames. Most were just okay. I came upon this one. I loved it. So, here it is.


Winter purity.

On the first day.

I saw this.

I thought the contrast was wonderful. I almost din’t push the button because in its perfection it seemed a little common. I thought that anybody could make this picture. But, will they? I think the photographers travel way too far to photograph something similar. I’m lazy. In my doddering old age I suppose that I don’t like traveling as much as I used to. At least not for this stuff.

Besides, there are thousands of photographers who crowd all the choice photo sites. Have you every seen the picture of Yosemite where an amazing yearly natural occurrence happens at the falls? It’s called firefall. The low sun lights up the falls so that it looks like streaming fire.

That scene done well is marvelous. However, take a few steps back and look at what’s going on. There are hundreds of photographers climbing over each other try to take a picture. Even without something grand occurring once a year, most National Parks are just slammed with people, especially in the summer.

Ugh.

Double ugh.

I’d rather break new ground and find something that few people have seen so that I can show you something new and a little different. Sometimes it’s mundane, like the subject of the picture. Sometimes it’s a little more. Hopefully I can help you to see and feel what I saw at the time. This is what I call a little picture. I’ve been a fan of little pictures for a very long time.

Oh, yet again I can’t figure out the space-time continuum. I thought yesterday was Sunday. Lo and behold I found out it was Wednesday.


Looking toward the sky.

The headline say it all.

Reaching.

Bare trees look like they are reaching toward each other. It’s not a compositional trick. It’s not a camera trick. It’s not an accident. It’s just what I saw.

I think it’s a giant irony. As trees reach toward other, humans are fracturing more and more. Further polarization is in the air. Just read about the NATO 70th Anniversary meeting. Read the continuing silly attacks on the impeachment process. Red states v blue states. Ignoring the science of climate change for short term profits. And, on it goes.

But, nature knows.

Nature will probably have to destroy us to get us to listen. Maybe with the extreme weather of climate change, maybe with more people dying because of it, our leaders will take notice and listen. Maybe, hope against hope will prevail. Maybe nature will once again unite us.

Probably not. Likely it’ll further polarize the haves against have nots.

Who knows? It’s above my pay grade.

The picture. It was easy. I didn’t do much to it. Nature did all of the work.

There’s that nature thing again.

 


Looking like fall.

Simplicity.

A fall picture. It could be too simple, except that the leaves and the clouds form a nice bow-like shape in the upper middle of the image. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I saw it when I looked into the sky and thought, “yes, that’ll work just fine.”

It’s a kind of photographer’s luck, which is starting to mean if you put the work in, look for pictures, and practice a lot, you’ll make pictures.

I tell my traveling friends this all the time. I say that they should stop waiting for a trip to take a snap. I suggest that they should just walk around their neighborhood and photograph their world. That is, unless their world is made up of fast jets, massive cruise ships and cheap hotel rooms.

I doubt that’s right.

But, I really dislike taking pictures on a trip or assignment and starting out cold. Or, a little rusty. I do best when I’ve been practicing, which is kin to music practice. Would you enjoy listening to a concert when the musicians weren’t well rehearsed? Or, rooting for a sports team that didn’t practice before they took to the field?

It’s the same thing with pictures. You must practice to get to the good stuff. That takes time. As it should. It’s also why I’ve been critiquing myself. I haven’t been wandering around looking for pictures. I write some of that off to the heat. It’s no fun dripping into the lens. I also write some more of that off to physical issues. I don’t always trust myself not to fall down. On a good day I’m great, but sometimes a good day turns marginal.

I find ways to work around both of those. It’s just not as frequently as I’d like.

And, so that goes.


Cadillac Ranch.

Distraction.

With all the big issues going on in the world — the potential of nuclear war, raging forest fires in the west, three major hurricane hits to the country, failed legislation, broken campaign promises, the Russian investigations and seemingly being at war with everybody including his own party and Congress — the sitting president thought it was a good idea to attack the NFL and peacefully protesting professional athletes.

There was no reason to do this. Except he that is the divider, not the uniter. And, he was speaking to his base in Alabama. Oh, there’s another reason. One that I’ve been hammering at this week. The color of a person’s skin.

There might be another.

As we all know, our very thin-skinned president cannot let even the slightest of slights pass without trying to punch back. The NFL owners never liked him. He was too sleazy for even them. He tried an end around and bought a team in the soon to fail USFL, hoping to bully his way into the NFL. No way. No how.  They wouldn’t let him into their circle. Attacking them last weekend was a measure of payback. You and I both know that he doesn’t care about the flag or The National Anthem. After all, they aren’t about him.

And, another.

Distraction.

Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, the bully in chief finally relented this morning and signed The Jones Act waver, after first saying that the shippers didn’t like it because it amounted more competition. Too bad. Lives are at stake. An entire island depends on it. Now, what I’m trying to figure out, is why tons of supplies have not been released from the docks, where they have been stockpiled for days. In the words of Sherman T. Potter of the old television series M.A.S.H, I think I see some “cahootinizing” going on.

All I know is follow the money.

The picture. Cadillac Ranch. Near Amarillo, Texas. I think everybody who fancies themselves to be a travel photographer has photographed this place at one time or another.

My point? The painted American Flag. OMG! Maybe the clown with the crown (he thinks) can attack this place in a tweet.

Since so many things that are common knowledge seem to amaze him when he finds out about them, I doubt he knows this place.

Everybody. Keep your eye on the ball. And, don’t be denied.


Reaching in the summertime.

A summerish picture.

A picture that is about the good things in the summertime. Vibrant greens. A clear blue sky. Glowing light.

Of course, this being Southeast Louisiana, wait about 30 minutes and the sky will turn gray. Storm clouds will form. And, heavy rain will fall. Sideways.

I awoke this morning to a New Orleans Parish bulletin. Apparently during the night a power station caught fire. The city is already down 14 water pumps. Now, the rest of them are down west of the Industrial Canal. I’m not even sure where that is. Around here we say stuff like upriver, downriver, lake side, river side.

Actually, I have a pretty good idea where that is. It’s the rest of the city from the Lower 9th Ward to Uptown. We are expecting a pretty big storm later today. The mayor is telling everyone to stay off the street. Orleans Parish schools are closed. Private schools are closed. Keep in mind, school started on Monday for most students. This reminds me of the Katrina year. Schools were in session for about two weeks. Then, they weren’t. For about a year or two.

Quite frankly, with all the flooding lately, everything reminds me of the Katrina year.  Like many of us, I suppose that I’m suffering from a little PTSD when it comes to floods. I should do something about it. Take a few pictures. I said that I was done with that at the 10th Anniversary of the storm. You know. When every kind of media descended on New Orleans like a pack of jackals and got most things wrong.

Maybe I’m not done with it. Yet.

Besides, making pictures is great therapy.

This picture. I just saw the glowing leaves in the morning sun. I cropped the picture into a square because I couldn’t control the direct highlights caused by shooting into the sun. I don’t make many square pictures. The old school photographer in me says that square images lack conviction. Of course, when Instagram was brand new on the scene, they forced you into a square picture. That changed when working photographers figured out a way to mask squares into normal rectangular shapes. Now, with locations being advertised as being Instagrammable, people with smartphones are forgetting to live their lives and have fun.

Oh.

Did I say that?