Out on the road.

L

ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

W

hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


Asit shall be.

T

here is a lot of talk about water, especially in the West. Climate change is creating havoc, not only with heat, but with fire and the use of water.

In New Mexico the famous acequia system that provides water to farms has all but dried up.

In California farmers are deciding which crops to grow and what livestock to raise because they have no water.

In Nevada, the water that is backed up into Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam is as low as its been since it was originally filled. In the 1930s.

Meanwhile, the fire in Oregon has turned the skies of New York City gray. The pictures look great with a big bright orange sun up against a deep grey sky. But, pictures can be deceiving. How is that hurting the people of the city?

There are wildfires all over the west.

if we want, we can return to the heat. This’ll make you hot.

The West Coast was broiling a couple of weeks ago. In Death Valley, the highest temperature ever — 135*/F — was recorded one day. In Las Vegas, which is hot enough on a summer day, temperatures of 116* were recorded at 10 am.

If you can’t tell, this stuff is scaring me.

In Louisiana things seem to be normal. If anything, we are having a coolish summer with lots of rain. Of course, the minute I write that, the temperature will rise by ten degrees and the humidity will climb to numbers unknown.

If we don’t want to put our children in hell, we’ve got to get on this.

Now.

Droplets.

T

echniques and stuff. See it, photograph it, develop it, publish it.

There. Now wasn’t that helpful?

Truthfully, I made this in New Mexico, during a spring thaw.

I photographed it with a huge aperture, probably F 2 or so. That’s why there is such a tiny depth of field.

That’s all you need to know.

The rest of this side is about me. It’s about nostalgia. The pictures I’ve been publishing are of my past.

I’m not motivated to make much new work. You know why.

But, I am very nostalgic. I think I’m seeing the past fairly clearly.

This may be time to add to my pile of work.

Over the past few years some people are saying… Wait a minute. That sounds strangely like the words of the president who shall not be named.

Some of my friends have suggested that I write a book. My response has been fairly standard. “I have nothing to say.”

I’m thinking as this stuff rolls around in my head that maybe I could do it. Maybe it’s about me and what I’ve learned along the way. Maybe, you read about me. But you expand it to you, or something more general.

After all, that how most movies are made. Focus on a particular subject as a symbol for something greater.

O

h yeah. The picture to the right. More water. It was made in southeastern Louisiana. I added it because it was there.


Suddenly it hits you.

L

isten to it. This photograph feels like a song. For me, it’s a Steely Dan song. For others it’s probably something different.

It helps that Sunday afternoons — when I write Storyteller’s Monday post — is generally Steely Dan day. I usually listen to one or two albums will I develop, process and work on post production before I get ready to write.

When I write, I turn the music up louder. It works. I tried to listen to podcasts while I wrote. My words got confused with their words so I gave it up. For a while I tried listening to a podcast while I read something else.

Can you say word salad?

It sounded like a politicians trying to speak out of both sides of mouth at once. Or tweeting, or something like that.

Anyway, Steel Dan seems to work with this picture. I could drop lyrics anywhere into my so-called prose and it might make sense or certainly fit.

Drive west on Sunset…

A little more Sunday magic.

Y

ou’d think this was some super duper post production thing.

Maybe a layer or two.

It’s not.

The entire image was made in camera. It was adjusted in post, but it wasn’t added to, subtracted from or layered on any way.

I swear.

Let’s talk about another technique.

Writing.

It seems brighter to me today. I suppose it helps that I drank a double espresso before I started writing.

The thing is, I’ve been sleeping too much. I’ll sleep for 9 or 10 hours, start reading and sleep for 2 or 3 more.

I suspect it’s simply the stress of these last 18 months leaving my body.

There could be worse ways.


My places.

N

o patience. That describes my attitude these days. I have almost no tolerance for technical issues and yet I know better.

I understand that everything made by man eventually breaks. That’s why there are so many service people. Mechanics, technicians, plumbers, the Maytag repairman, even doctors are working because stuff breaks.

Thinking about leaving WordPress I realized it’s not about the platform. Most of the time it is solid and stable. What aggravates me is the constant changing of workflow. That, and the lack of communication about those changes.

I know one thing about being creative. We need some sort of routine on which to hang our imagination. If the routine changes frequently all we are doing is swimming in place.

It’s one thing to shake things up in order to jump start the creative process, it’s another thing to be perpetually confused.

Take the block system for instance. What was wrong with the older so called classic template?

Nothing.

The block system is supposed to be faster. Nonsense. At best, it’s just a bit slower than the classic system. At worst, it creates extra work because it crashes or traps type, or traps drop caps.

Yes, I know there is a classic template in the block inserter. But, it’s a very early version. It may predate me.

So, that’s it.

I’ll discuss the picture on the other side.

T

his picture is more about feeling and a bit of nostalgia than any type of documentary work.

There are two images layered into one. As usual I was tinkering with number of pictures when all of a sudden it came together.

That happens sometimes when you put the work in. But, you have to put the work into your art. No work, no art.

The pictures in their literal form are of Mardi Gras beads on a fence, and of Kowloon, Hong Kong.

It’s nostalgic. It’s about looking back at my life and understanding that I likely won’t do these things again unless a vaccine is developed for people like me. That will take the federal government’s help. I’m not holding my breath.

I don’t know what you see or feel when you look at this image. After all, you bring your own life to the picture when you view it.

They say that all art is autobiographical. If this photograph isn’t that, I don’t know what is.


In City Park, New Orleans.

T

his is the backside of City Park in New Orleans. For the life of me I cannot remember why or when I made this picture.

It just turned up in my iPhotos files.

But, wow, do I like it.

The picture almost came out of the archives just about the way that you see it. Of course, I did a little work which I’ll discuss on the other side.

Apparently, the building was a maintenance shed. There were a few buildings a couple hundred yards away. I once used them as a location for a commissioned shoot. I’m glad that I did because the next time I went to the area they had been torn down.

That’s what’s happening in New Orleans these days. After Hurricane Katrina there were over 60,000 abandoned and destroyed buildings in the city. Between two mayors and their administrations about 30,000 buildings were torn down. There are a lot of buildings remaining.

The city government celebrates each building that is demolished, yet violent crime can’t be curbed. In fact, it’s getting worse to the point of breaking records. The potholes aren’t fixed. Parts of the city flood every time there is rain. The power goes out when two squirrels are on the line at the same time.

It seems to me that the priorities are skewed.

My friend was murdered. Other people’s friends and families have been murdered or mugged or had their cars hijacked.

Apparently, those crimes are trending upward throughout the country. There are all kind of theories about why this is happening. I’d love to tell you what I think but that’s well above my pay grade.

Let’s just say that we are all lockdown addled.

My fear is that we are turning into the wild west. It’s already happened in The French Quarter. A drunk guy broke into a front door, walked into the house where the owner shot and killed him. The owner was exonerated.

That’s no way to live.

In Texas you can walk around with a gun without weapons training. In Florida you can shoot somebody if they threaten you. That’s called, “The stand your ground law.” It was tested a few years ago. The shooter was cleared of any crime.

Flash forward to a few years in the future. You already know what I could write.

This won’t end well.

H

ere’s the story. The picture came out of the camera just about the way you see it.

The image didn’t take much post production. I’m not sure why.

My little knowledge of color theory tells me that the almost blue hour gray skies reflected blue light every where, especially in shadows.

Or, I could have accidentally reset the camera.

It’s likely that’s what happened.

None of that matters.

The resulting picture is what matters. And, how you and I feel about it.

I really like this picture. It may end up being a hero picture on my website.

I’ve located a number of dark and mysterious pictures in my archives. A post a lot of them on my Instagram feed.

I think that I’ve built enough of an archive that I can build a portfolio page with them.

And, speaking of websites… I’ve wavered again. I work with a number of public relations and marketing people.

When I told them how many followers I have on Storyteller, they told me that I was crazy to leave my community behind even if there are a lot of ghost followers because you never know.

“You never know” became a reality when a blogger who follows Storyteller, but one that I don’t know, reblogged about five posts. I’ll have to look at his readership, but anything is good.

Right?


Blue. My picture. Joni Mitchell’s song. My eyes. The sky on a sunny day. A clear lake. The ocean away from land.

I made this picture in New Mexico. Older pictures keep resurfacing on Amazon Pictures. They are pictures that I’ve forgotten about. Pictures that have never been seen by anybody. Pictures that were “lost.”

So.

Lucky you. You get to see them before anybody else.

I’m not sure what these desert flowers are called. They come out in late spring and stay for the summer.

Once, when I could actually crawl around on the ground and get back up without aid, I used to make pictures like this with a DSLR camera. Those days are gone.

There is a song in which one line says that we don’t know how much we would lose. Even though I think this picture is happy, the day is sad.

Yesterday, I read a quick two inch story about somebody getting killed in New Orleans. I didn’t think much about it because rarely does a day go by that somebody doesn’t die by violent means.

We were watching the 10 PM News. The murder was across the street from my old house. Uh oh. A woman was killed. My oldest friend in New Orleans. She was stabbed to death as she was walking to her car to go to work, by a guy who was stealing it.

Rest in Peace, Portia.

June is starting out like a hellhound on my trail. A dog, and a person died. Makes me wonder what’s next.

This column is going to be more of a rant.

Sorry.

WordPress is running terribly. Yesterday, I blamed it on the huge internet outage.

Today, it’s on WordPress.

There is still no caption line. Worse, making this two column alignment took an act of God.

I’m not sure what it was doing, but the software was stacking column on top of column. The paragraph template didn’t know where to go.

It turned out that pressing the column template once dropped six templates on top of each other.

Leave well enough alone. The block system is bad enough without WordPress making it “better” every time the programers think about it.


Drifting around and around and around.

See what I mean? Worry about not making pictures and you start making pictures. Or, I suppose that the pool needs cleaning.

One or the other.

No worries. After I got done pressing the button, I sent children out to do a man’s work. I tried to tell them it had to be done from above and not in the pool, but who listens anymore these days?

Normally, I’d go off on some tangent about nobody listening to anybody these days. That the state of the country — mass shootings and passengers attacking airline staff onboard the plane — has do to the remnants of a failed president.

Why bother?

Nobody listens to anything these days.

Just as well. There is no privacy online. That doesn’t matter if nobody listens because nobody hears.

That’s fine too. I just keep writing into the wind. I guess somebody needs hot wind.

No technique needed here. Just walk by the pool and realize that it needs cleaning.

But, before that happened I did something really important. I made a bunch of pictures.

I processed them in a way that would make them a little abstract without turning them unrecognizable.

Then the pool got cleaned, from the inside out. After all. the pool needed to be ready for the big Memorial Day BBQ.

Or not.


Not late for the sky.

Sometimes this picture is all you need. Sometimes nature fixes everything. Sometimes nature settles everything. Often as not, it’s not what you were hoping for.

We’ve had an awful lot of rain this spring. Something like 40 inches during a time when the normal rainfall is less than 20 inches. I don’t know what that means for our rainy seasons which is summer.

I do know that in six days hurricane season starts, with a heavier than normal year predicted. According to those folks whose job it is to know, there will be three major hurricanes to hit our shores this year. All the storm names will be used.

Oh joy.

Even when storms turn out to be nothing, there is anticipation. There is a fear rising from deep inside. A remembrance of storms past.

Or, just the big one.

When I see clouds like this I’m amazed. Look at them. Wow! They seem to be boiling up from somewhere unknown.

The unknown. That’s where I’d like to go. Today

And, you?

Point and shoot. F8 and be there. See it, shoot it.

That’s all this was. I wish I could tell you about some secret, but this is just literally walk out of the door and take a picture.

Post production was nothing too. I think I darkened the picture a little to help it be what I saw and felt.

That’s the thing. Feeling. That’s what matters. Today, we seem to be wrapped around taking pictures that show our technical prowess. Sharpness matters. Content matters. Pixels matter.

That all fails when you look at a bazillion pictures on Instagram or Facebook. Most of the pictures you see there are shallow and derivative. I find myself getting bored looking at them.

I’ve said I was leaving social media. I can’t seem to do that. As a working photographer I need it. But, I find myself liking less and less work as the weeks roll on.


Sandias in autumn.

The changes started with the album, “Dirt and the Stars.” The entire thing hung me up, but the closing song of the same title got me digging around in my past, coming to a kind of reckoning.

That’s not done yet.

Then, we watched “Solos” on Amazon Prime. As I wrote to a friend of mine, “If you do nothing else, watch this.” I say that to you as well.

It’s a short series of solo actors, although there may be a little helper to guide them through their thoughts. The actors are some of the best working today.

The first episode is a little weird, but catchy.

The second episode took me apart piece by piece. Finally, now comes Morgan Freeman. Not only was I taken apart, but the parts were left in puddles.

That’s all I’m saying. I hope you watch it. If you do, I don’t want to spoil any part of it for you.

I know I said I was done with posting older pictures, but this one surfaced at about the same time as all this reckoning is going on.

This is the very first picture that I ever took with a cellphone. It was an Apple iPhone 5. It must have been because the pixel count is so low.

Even though I claim to always carry a camera, there are times when I’m charging batteries and I just need to run a couple of errands.

Then this happens. The Sandias blew up in color as dusk fell on the high desert.

The rest is on the other side.

There is really no technical achievement here even though it is my first smart phone photograph.

I did beef everything up because the little file is pretty wimpy.

I know what you are thinking. You are incorrect. This intense color was what inspired me to think, “Oh yeah, I have a smart phone in my pocket.”

Truth be told about the location… I’m in a Whole Foods parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There are pictures everywhere, we just have to open our eyes and not make them so precious.