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.”

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Not often.

It’s been a while.

I can’t remember the last time I photographed yellow stripes in a parking lot. I’ve actually been watching this one for a while. I started with the striping effort that city contractors did a few months back.

I knew it wouldn’t last long.

Nature always seeks stasis. Mankind wins. Only for a short while. Then, nature’s campaign begins. Rain. Wind. A Slight Flood. Rebirth. Heat. Cold. Drivers parking their cars on the line.

Eventually, the painter’s work begins to wear away.

You can see that in this place, mankind has lost the battle numerous times. It looks like at one time, this place was even a handicapped parking area. That’s the blue and bit of white at the bottom of the picture.

What can we do about this? Nothing. Accept that nature will always win. She doesn’t care. She just wants stasis. See that green growth? Stasis. It’s nature’s way of starting the process of cracking the pavement.

Same thing with climate change. Nature seeks stasis. She’s fighting back. I’ve said this in the past, but we, humankind is just a flea on her back. Be nice and we continue to exist. Keep on our greedy ways, and well you get it. My city, New Orleans, could cease to exist in less than fifty years. So will most of the Gulf Coast. So will most of Florida. Work your way up to most of the big coastal cities and you know the rest. On both coasts.

Me? I’ve retired from street photography. At least from photographing Mardi Gras culture. I’ll still come out now and then for something big.

I’ve got other things to worry about and photograph. You know about the book projects. You know about agency projects. Those are all very important to me.

But, water. In Louisiana we have too much of it. In other states there is too little of it. That’s my next big self assigned project. Gulf Coast water. For me, the trick is how to do it in a way that makes good sense. There are plenty of great photographers starting to do just what I’ve proposed to myself. But, we really aren’t competing. We are building something together. I just have to figure out how I fit in.

What do y’all think?

Wow! “The painter’s work begins to wear away.” I was copy editing this piece. I came to something I just wrote quickly, without thinking about it. “The painter’s work begins to wear away.”

Who’s the painter? What work? “Where?”


It can fool you.

It can fool you.

The picture. Sometimes, the weather. This picture looks cold. It’s not. I made this picture yesterday. The high was unseasonable. It was 80 degrees. The winds blew, a storm followed and the temperature won’t get above the mid-fifties. For the next four days.

Yippee.

With Mardi Gras Indians Uptown Super Sunday, and St. Joseph’s Night to photograph, colder is better than warmer. Besides, if I get too warm I can start taking layers off. If the day starts out warm, well, nobody wants to see that.

This picture. I really did make it yesterday. It really was 80 degrees. But, the way that I photographed it combined with the post-production it looks and feels cold. Yeah. A picture says a thousand words. These days, you can’t always trust a thousand words.


Rebirth under moon glow.

The moon under a cold winter sky.

That’s not all.

See those lumps on the bare branches? New blooming leaves. Spring is upon us down here in the swamp. Yeah. I know. Most of you are buried under many inches of snow. That’s a benefit of living down here. Of course, there are the summers. I’ll complain about that in a few months.

Anyway.

That’s not what this post is about. It’s about a dream. And, a book. Maybe.

I had a dream last night. Make that a series of dreams. About the same subject. When I awoke as old guys do, the dream ended. When fell back asleep, the dream restarted. This happened a couple of times. It was a very strange dream. One of the emerging characters was a musician who called himself Jim, but whose real name was Augie.

I couldn’t get the dream out of my head. I wrote down the main parts of the dream in a little day book. Usually, when I do that, whatever is stuck in my head is let out.

Not this time.

Then it hit me. One of those shower things. This could be a book.

Not a photo-driven book because there may be places on earth like this place but I’ve never seen them. Or, pictures of them. There is no way for me to visually portray this place. Or, the people.

I decided to scribble my dreams into a book. A novel.

I’m not going to say much more. For me, this is a moon shot. If it does nothing more than get my dream series on paper, that’s good enough for me. If something grows out of it, all the better.

You knew I’d tie this picture back into my story. Didn’t you?

The funny thing about this new, maybe project, is that now in retirement I’m busier than I’ve ever been. Photo books, a potential novel, archive work, tours, travels. Sheesh.

I should have retired earlier. I could have gotten something done.

The picture. I knew something was up. No pun intended. I’ve been sneezing and been stuffy for a couple of days. Tree pollen really gets me. When I saw the moon and looked up through the leaves, it was confirmed. Tree pollen. I focused on the moon. That’s what originally caught my eye. Besides, I’m not giving those pollen-filled buds any more credit than they deserve.

 

 


Engine in blue.

Sometimes I can’t make up my mind.

I was poking about looking for abandoned railroads for one of my book projects. The book title is in hand. “Abandoned Railroads of New Orleans.” That would be great, except that most of our rail yards and tracks are fully working. Certainly, you can find abandoned railroad stuff here and there. But, not enough to make a book.

I did find one thing of serious interest. A working railroad turntable. It’s tucked in behind the offices of  the New Orleans Belt Line switching yard. I didn’t think there were any in existence. Working or not.

Notice the word. “Working.” That doesn’t help my project.

I talked to my editor. I suggested that we broaden it to all of the state. He had a positive reaction. He wanted to discuss it with his colleagues because this book is one in a series. If we change the parameters, we change the parameters of all the books. Luckily, it’s the first book. The publisher can set the template anyway that he wants. Other photographers can work to my lead. I’m pretty sure they’ll be relieved. It’s hard to do this in one city unless the city happens to be New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Big railroad terminus cities.

Anyway.

The pictures. I was looking for trains. I know where they are. I don’t know where very many abandoned ones are. Same scene, developed and processed two different ways. I worked on the bottom one first. You know me. I can’t let something rest until I push the limits a little. Which do you like? Why? Do you hate one of them?

 

A more modern look.


The queen and her court.

Royalty in Blue.

The queen and her court roll by at the head of the Treme Sidewalk Steppers second line. This was a big deal since it is their 25th Anniversary.

Unfortunately, they start on Rampart Street across from the Quarter. A few years ago, they started putting up police barricades and hiring security guards. You know the ones. The ones who wear badges that say the word security. The kind you can buy online for ten dollars.

I dealt with it that year, didn’t go last year and decided to get as far away from that silliness as I could this year. I went into what was just about my old neighborhood. The same so-called company was still working the ropes. I just walked around them.

I actually don’t like to photograph the floats since I normally can’t get a good angle on them. I did this time. I sort of had to make a picture like this because the actual second line was chaotic. The brass band was scattered amongst the walkers. The walkers were all over the place. The guys with the ropes couldn’t control anything. Everybody walked around them.

I let the second line come to me. That was the best thing that I could have done. I stood on my little patch of ground and made pictures.

That’s the story of the picture.

I have another story. It deals with wondering what we why we are on the planet. A friend of mine sent me an email about that. I don’t know why people come to me. I’m no guru. I barely understand what I do, let alone what others do. I have to process his words before I reply to him. Then, I may talk about it here. In general terms. No sense in embarrassing anybody when they are reaching out. Or, ever, really.


Higher and higher.

My fascination with trees. In all seasons.

Especially in winter. I counted. In the last two weeks, I’ve mostly published pictures of trees. I like them. I like their shapes. Their form. I like them when their branches are bare in the winter cold. I can see all sorts of thing going on. I like them in spring bloom. Everything seems possible. I like the shade they provide in the heat of summer. I love the color of their leaves as fall arrives and the air turns cold.

They give me hope. They are about rebirth.

Unless they get sick, they live for years. More years than I will. That’s okay with me.

The cycle repeats itself year after year.

In the Gulf South, nature takes care of them. The former swampy earth is moist and healthy. Rain falls every month. Humidity keeps them young and tamps down the threat of fire.

Unless a hurricane blows through, it’s a perfect world for trees. Down here in my swamp.

That’s why I make so many pictures of them. Besides, Helen Keller had something to say about them. She had a lot to say about a lot of things.

The picture. I looked up in the cold winter light and saw this little cluster of trees and branches.  I exposed mostly for the highlight in the branches and let the light do the rest. I did a little work in post production and that was it.

Today. Friday. A quiet, but busy day for me.


Special security in Mid City.

I saw this little guy while I was meeting friends for lunch.

This little carving may be the best possible security in New Orleans.  Better than the NOPD. Better than the guys in jeeps and drink coffee in my neighborhood. Would you try to break into this house with this guy sitting there? Lord knows what’s waiting for you once you get in.

Now that I’m back, I’ve been reading blogs.

I get so confused.

There seems to be a trend in picking a word for the year. I guess this is supposed to replace resolutions. If a word is going to be your mantra, why don’t you just read some Buddhism? You don’t have to change your religion to do it. You’ll learn a lot. About the world. About yourself. You might even understand your dog a little better.

Then, there’s some kind of concert going on at one blogger’s site. I’ve never understood the rules, of which there are too many. The last time that I tried to play, I apparently didn’t know the correct title to a song. The person who wrote it was sitting next to me at the time. Her comment was something along the lines of that’s how I introduce it on stage. Now, people are picking their favorite Beatles songs. Yes, “Day in the Life” is one song written separately by two musicians. They combined the lyrics during rehearsals. Anybody who claims them as their favorite band knows that.

Sheesh folks.

We all want 2019 to be much better, much more positive than 2018. Lighten up. Have some fun. Grow beyond one word. Stop making rules up for something that should fun. If you like something, go do it. If you want to grow, go do that. Otherwise, 2019 is going to be a giant let down. It’s gonna be rough in the political world. Imagine, calling out a brand new Congresswoman over dancing that she did in college. Her reply was wonderful. She walked out of her new office and danced.

Go dance.


Merry Christmas.

I made an executive decision.

At least I’m not throwing the world into turmoil with my choice. I’m just taking a break. I realized that I’m a little bit burnt out on daily pictures and musings.

Even though the actual process of posting doesn’t take a long time, I find pictures and process them. I work on the metadata. That’s the stuff you never see.  The stuff I do so you can find my work. Keywords (tags). Resizing the image so it loads quickly. Building categories.

There’s the constant reading. That’s easy because I am sort of a news junkie. That’s coming to an end. You know why. After yesterday, POTUS threw the world into chaos in every possible direction. You know the rest.

In short, I’m tired. If not physically, than mentally. Maybe a little bit emotionally. No worries though. A little break and a recharge is good for us all. Besides, it’s Christmas time. Family time. Friends time. Neighbors time. The guy in the street who I pass by, time.

I also realized that I haven’t taken time off from Storyteller since July 2017, when I took about ten days off. I will respond to your comments, but I’ll likely not read many blogs.

I’ll see you all on January 2, 2019.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Peace, Ray