Into the mystic.

Deep. Dark. Mysterious.

That’s what I saw. That’s what I felt.  Luckily, I was able to make a picture that has feeling rather than just the usual documentation of a thing or place. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen very often.

It was kind of a fluke. Kind of photographer’s luck. Kind of what I tell me people who are suffering from a photography disorder.

It was a fluke because the dog and I normally don’t walk in this direction. It was photographer’s luck because we picked the time of day. It was the solution to the question I had been asking myself earlier in the day.

Together, all of this worked in my favor. Or, really, your favor.

The picture. From a technical standpoint, it was be there, see it, push the button. In post production it was more of the same. Most of the work was about darkening and enhancing the color to the point that I saw it while we were walking.


Continental drifter.

Clouds.

From both sides, now.

I can’t remember seeing clouds shaped like these. They looked as if they were following each other after being pulled apart in the sky. There wasn’t much wind, at least down below where I was standing. It could have been quite gusty up above. That would have done it.

I don’t photograph many clouds unless something dramatic is going on. This isn’t dramatic. It’s interesting to me. I liked the repeating shapes. I liked the pristine blue of the sky, something that only happens around here after rainfall. When the rain stops and the storm clouds blow out, I try to take advantage of my time outside to make pictures like this.

Funny thing about going outside.

There was another discussion of how to break a photographic block. A writer’s block but with pictures. The discussion got complicated. Photography is fun. Folks should stop making it hard. Finally, I jumped into the question. Here’s what I said. “Get your camera, attach your favorite lens to it and go outside. Walk around. You’ll see pictures. Lots of pictures.”

The discussion ended right there.

Presumably, everybody was outside taking pictures. Or, not.


Water and flowers.

We had a storm last night.

It wasn’t the usual kind. This thing was a fairly big tropical storm. I heard the the winds at about 3am. I got up to close the storm shutters. As I looked out the windows, I was amazed to see the gale force winds. Things were blowing around. Tree branches snapped. Our very heavy pool furniture blew around and into the pool. One of the umbrellas was open when it sank to the bottom. That’s going to be fun to rescue.

Oddly, all of our local meteorologists mostly said this storm would barely pass us by. The one that I trust the most, said it would stay out in the gulf and make landfall in Alabama.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’m pretty sure that they downplayed this storm because they well oversold the last two storms. One was a severe tropical storm. The other was a hurricane. Both fell apart before they came close.

But, this one was cooking all day long. We had rain for about 28 hours. We had six inches fall during that time and then the winds arrived.

Right now, we are looking at overcast skies with the sun peaking through from time to time. The sidewalks are dry and the ground is starting to dry out. But, the broken tree limbs and tossed outdoor furniture will take some work. Normally, when the weather folks go crazy, we close the umbrellas and maybe move all the furniture undercover. They didn’t so we didn’t.

When the dogs and I went for a walk, we looked around our neighborhood. There were some pretty big trees pulled out by their roots. There were a couple of broken windows. But, luckily no cars or homes were damaged seriously. It just looks like a low level bomb went off.

The picture. That’s a car hood with water droplets and a bunch of windblown stuff on it. I saw it, I photographed. F8 and be there, or something like that.


Looking into the blue.

Blue sky. Gentle white clouds.

This picture was made on the day of the “big” temperature drop. The changing weather was pushing the clouds from white puffy to whatever these are called. It looks like they were broken apart, stirred by some giant with a big spoon.

That’s how I see them.

I needed some kind of point of reference, so I added a parking lot light. Its leading lines re-enforce the direction in which your eyes move. Or, at least, in the direction I want your eyes to move. Up.

This is going to turn into a little political commentary. It won’t be a rant. But, you can stop now and enjoy the picture.

Our wise and stabile genius decided, on a whim and after a telephone call, to abandon our long time allies. The Kurds. They fought along side of U.S. troops for a long time. Almost a decade. By doing that, he put our troops in harms way. He allowed Turkish troops to brazenly kill Kurdish fighters and civilians. The Kurds, in order not to be slaughtered, made a deal with Syrian national forces. By the way, the Syrian government is supported by Russia.

From day to night in a weekend.

That’s the abridged version of the past week.

U.S. troops are cut off on every side. It’s likely they’ll have to be extracted by air. This, after being shelled by Turkish forces and being ordered to retreat.

Where I come from, you never leave anybody behind, including your allies. You return fire if you are being attacked for no reason. And, you make damn sure that you have the support to retreat in an orderly manner.

How did all this happen?

The U.S President who shall not be named made a gut decision. You know, the chosen one. He consulted no expert counsel. He relied on just his gut, which he says knows more than expert’s brains.

And, what a gut it is.

Fueled by a steady diet of fast food, it’s ballooned up to at least ten normal guts. It’s flabby, fat and flaccid. It doesn’t think. It just reacts.

Between this, and all the issues being investigated in congress, the steady rolling back of laws that protect us, and the denial of climate change, we — in the U.S. — live in hell right now.

In the old days, just three years ago, I didn’t think about the president on a daily basis. But, today there is the steady sound of boots on our ground. I hear trump, trump, trump.

Happy Monday.


Cool blue pool.

Summertime.

Sometimes, the living is easy. This was one of those times. I was sitting by a pool when the clouds started dancing around as a seasonal storm was getting ready to pass through.

I couldn’t even see to focus because the light was so strong. I just pointed my smart phone, hoped for the best and pressed the button. Most of my pictures where about what I wanted. Some are just funny.

I cleaned up the picture in post production because there was a lot of debris floating on the surface of the water. I left the yellow leaf to show a sense of scale.

Today’s rant.

It’s not a rant. It’s funny. Well, not so much if you are a working photographer or serious about the art and craft of making pictures. Yet, it may amuse you.

A young woman decided that she is a photographer and was going to open a business. She asked for monetary donations as well as a camera, a photo editing computer and other associated gear. Oh, and she’s never taken a picture.

Apparently, she was turned down by the usual crowd funding sources, and Facebook removed her advertising. So, she went directly to the crowd.

The internet was as mean as only people hiding behind a monitor can be. Petapixel — a super blog — published a long snarky story about it. That was mostly a waste of time.

Most working photographers, like me, didn’t say too much. I must confess that I was laughing so hard at her request and the responses that I almost came to tears. I did not reply. I have better things to do.

I’ve seen people ask for funding so that they can travel. So that they can take a vacation. I’ve even seen people as for help with a down payment for a car or a home. To my way of thinking, if you don’t have the money you shouldn’t be doing these things and asking me to pay for it.

On the other hand, I’ve donated to people who are very sick, have insurance, but the co-pay is huge. Or, to a family whose bread winner was killed in an accident. I’ve even helped to bury somebody.

But, start a career? No. I don’t think so. You can do what I did. Study, practice, work and buy gear as needed. That’s what most of us did. Sometimes we incurred debt, but we paid it off. Sometimes if we had a big assignment which left us with unplanned money, we reinvested it our business. In ourselves.

Granted, I would not want to be starting a photo career now. There is way too much competition, especially at the entry level. New photographers are cutting their rates to get a job to the point where they actually lose money.

They are underselling everybody.

Not only does it kill their nascent  businesses, but it hurts old pros like me. My stock sales are lower even though my volume is higher than it’s ever been.

I won’t lower my creative fees because I sell myself as you get what you pay for — you know, my clients get what they want and beyond. Sometimes, I get called in towards the end of the creative cycle to fix what a low priced photographer broke.

As much as dislike cleaning up a mess, my pay is very good because the creative team is now getting desperate. No worries. I never overcharge. I do make a point to tell them that if they’d worked with me in the first place, the job would be done and for less money.

Guess what happens next time? Either I get the job or I lose it to another veteran professional who I know will do a good job. That’s okay with me. We established a beach head and took back the bidding process.

To wrap this up. Could you imagine hiring the photographer who is asking for gear? What could she bring to the table? Sheesh, she thinks that there are photo editing computers. I don’t know about you, but I use my main machine for everything.

That’s the story of the day. I hope it got you thinking. No. No. No. Don’t even think a bout donations so you can buy gear.

Wait a minute…


Fallen leaves drifting in a swimming pool.

Summertime and the living is easy.

In this picture, even nature is taking a break. Or, so it seems. It’s likely that either a storm or a big wind blew through, knocking leaves to the ground. If there is a pool nearby, into the water the leaves go.

Somebody better than me has to come along a skim the water. I just take pictures. If this was my pool, it would be another story. In New Orleans, even if the work is zen-like, it’s hot work. A lot of rehydration is necessary. Maybe some sun screen at about a PF rating of 90. And, a hat. Maybe even long sleeves, which makes it feel even hotter.

This picture was made just passing by, like so much of my work. I was exploring a little. You know me. I never self-edit in the field. I see it. If it’s remotely interesting, I photograph it. I can delete the files later.

Which brings me to Sony’s latest and greatest camera. It’s a A 7 IV. It makes a 61mp file. That’s about a 183 mb working file. Add a few layers to that and you are well over a 200 mb file, even with compression. That sounds interesting, yes?

No.

That file is way too big and bulky for most of us. With that camera, not only would I need to upgrade every lens I own because the lenses must have proper resolving power. I’d need increased storage. Given that I save final files in three places, that’s a lot of storage. Then, there’s computing power.  A new computer with about 64 mb of RAM is needed, along with a very fast video card and a lot of onboard hard drive space.

Whew.

See where I’m headed with this? For most of us it’s overkill. Way overkill. For sure, there are working photographers who could use the equivalent of medium format film. Small product photographers need files of this size. Fine art and landscape photographers could use these huge images. Exposed properly, files of this size could make great 16×20 prints. That’s in feet, not inches.

For the rest of us?

This means we can pick up the last year’s latest and greatest camera for pennies on the dollar. I’m already starting to see the “gear head” photographers on social media selling their year old cameras. These are great deals. This group of photographers use their camera to take pictures of their gear. Maybe they take a few pictures to prove how good the camera performs. They rarely use their cameras as I would. As a tool to make pictures. For them, collecting gear is deal.

Boy, oh boy.

New to me gear.

 


Color painted over color.

Just color.

Back to my later origins. Back to seeing what most people can’t see. Back to leading people to their own questions. With luck, I’ll blend this with my true beginnings — photojournalism — and, I’ll make some real pictures along the line of my first summer picture. The boy on his bike with the train passing in the background and the school bus reflected in my car’s mirror.

Or not.

This is simple. It’s pavement. Once there was a handicapped sign painted there. Then, that was painted over with just yellow lines. Now, that’s fading away.  You know. Like time. Fading away.


A little bit blue.

This comes under the heading of “what the hell?”

First, the thing to know is that there was a breakfast meeting this morning of some local political heavy weights to discuss the reprehensible coverage of New Orleans and tropical Storm Barry by the national news media. When Walter Issacson gets into the discussion you know something is wrong. He’s not a politician. He’s a heavyweight editor, author and thinker who ran the Aspen Institute. He lives here.

Call this a rant if you’d like.

But, before you do, please understand that I spent the early years of my career — roughly one third of it — working as a photojournalist. I’d like to believe that I was even handed and fair minded. I’d like to think that my pictures and my words told the truth. I’d like to believe that I didn’t pour fuel on any fire.

The national coverage as it relates to this storm has been terrible. From my admittedly limited viewpoint, it was designed to elicit clicks. It was done to sell advertising. And, it was done with no thought to the people they were impacting.

At the very least, it was misleading. At the very worst, it was fear mongering. And, it scared our friends and family who don’t live nearby. I am grateful for all of those people who reached out to me. Old high school mates, college mates, even people who I know only from Storyteller. Some offered their spare rooms and guest rooms as shelter.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Trust me, I’ll take you up on your offers if we have a big hurricane. Especially if New Orleans is in the bullseye.

This nonsense has got to stop. The president who shall not be named calls it “fake news.” In his case, that means anything with which he disagrees. In my case, I’m sorry to report that most of the coverage was fake news. For me, the distrust that it sows means that I question everything that they publish or broadcast.

So.

What’s the situation right now?

There is no wind. Rain is falling so softly that it isn’t pooling. It is so soft that the dogs who will not be rained on, didn’t realize that they were wet until we’d been out for ten minutes or so. Even then, when I asked “go home?”, they hesitated. Yeah. They know the word, “home.”

Of course, we knew that we’d get rain. Of course, we knew that we’d get a little wind. But, we weren’t scared. We weren’t fleeing. And, no. That wasn’t just our friends. When we went to the store to buy storm-related items as most of us do, there was no anxiety. I didn’t know the other shoppers. We all went about our business of preparing for a storm. Just as we always do. We  helped each other a little. Just as we always do.

The picture. A couple of Crape Myrtle blossoms on a car trunk. With a few water droplets. I saw it and did what I always do. I made a picture.

That’s it. That’s the entire story. For now.

It appears, from rereading this post, that I always do a lot of things. Hmmmm.

 


Reflections.

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

See those little white dots? They are little flowers blown off of a bush. That’s what I set out to photograph. Rather than work tightly, I used what amounts to about a 28mm lens. It wasn’t until I started framing the picture in the LCD that I realized what I had.

I captured a late spring or early summer picture in blue. In my swimming pool. Nature was just floating around. I only made a couple of pictures. This one, another slightly tighter horizontal picture. And, a couple of vertical pictures which didn’t work at all.

The image took almost no post production. Mostly, I just tuned it up a bit.

How you see the picture is up to you. We all make meaning of art in different ways, based on our own personal experiences.

I wonder about the future. The future of photography.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at the pictures other photographers posted. Before I get into this, please know that I don’t take the so-called wisdom of the crowd all that seriously.

What I found was interesting. The truly unique and challenging pictures had almost no likes. The derivative, technically current popular ways of working had many, many likes. This is partly due to the Instagram effect and young photographers trying to gain popularity so that the become influencers. That may have mattered once to image users and buyers, but that ship has sailed. They know that the waters were very shallow.

If anything, Instagram and Facebook have hurt photography. If you follow the crowd and play for likes and reposts, you’ll never break out. You’ll never really find your own style. You’ll just be copying some other photographer, who copied some other photographer and… you get it. Out of that comes a new photo philosophy. “Fake it until you make it.”

Copy other photographers work until you learn enough technique to start trying to make your own pictures. I don’t know when or how that came to be. It’s the worst possible thing to do. I was taught about 150 years ago to photograph my world as I saw it. Sure. Some of my early work wasn’t all that great, but it taught me to think for myself.

Certainly, some photographers influenced me. They still do, today. But, I didn’t copy them. I learned a lot from how they thought. I learned a lot from how they worked. But, I never set out to make a particular picture like one of them did.

That’s it.

As Sam Abell said, “Take YOUR picture.”