Weirdness.

M

y thinking changes a little bit every day depending what I read or see or do. I made this photograph a couple for days ago. I started playing with it last night. The picture lead me to the way it looks. Look at the next column for that.

I generally listen to music when I work, especially when I write. Today’s first selection is a new live album, from a very old band. Steely Dan. The album is called, “Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live”

For me, it is really about memories because most of the tunes are their signature songs.

In a way that’s too bad. I’m someone who really wants to hear new music. I don’t get fixated on the past music.

Today is a very good day, although it started late. For some reason even though we went to bed early, for us. I slept until 11:49 am. I had over ten hours of sleep. I rarely need that much. I guess I needed it.

Sleeping so long sure cleared my head of the accumulation of stress that had been building over the past month.

Maybe it’s going to be a much better ride over the next few months. I sure hope so because if it’s good for me, it might be better for a whole lot of people.

H

ere’s what happened.

A lot of trees have been left bare branched after the winds of Hurricane Ida blew through.

This is one of those trees.

Oddly, other trees that had their leaves blown off are starting to regrow them. They look like springtime.

How’s that? Spring and fall at the same time. In the same place.

Anyway.

I started tinkering with this picture and it lead me to this version. When I let the picture lead me I rarely go too far unlike the times I try to impose my will on it.

I wish I could tell you what I did, but I was on auto pilot. And, we were watching a movie. That may be the best way for me to work.


One day, one night.

Y

ou’ll never believe what I did to this picture. Before I tell you, let me say that for the rest of this week Storyteller will look a little different.

WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”

WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”

I thought about it for a little while and decided that rather than complain out of hand I should at least test some of the new stuff. There’s a lot of it.

Immediately, you see the tag cloud. They have existed from the dawn of WordPress, but not in such a flexible manner. If all I can do is make the text red, this will be my last day of using it. I suspect that I might be able to make color changes in the text block.

I’m also adding a publishing calendar and a comments list today. There may be other things, or I’ll just wait until tomorrow.

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L

et’s start with the tag cloud text color. I can’t find a way to change it, but I’ll leave it for today.

On to the picture.

I made it in broad daylight probably around 10 am. It is a winter tree against a cloudless blue sky.

My original post production turned the sky a very dark blue and the branches almost a silvery white. I posted that some time ago.

Last night I started messing with it because I had to clear my head of a day in which another New Orleans photographer died. I’ll write a bit about him tomorrow.

I turned the branches green and the sky turned black on its own after color overlap from the branches.

I made sure the image was as sharp as possible and gave it to you.


Airspace and other stuff.

T

his will be very short. I’m taking a break from writing. It happened this way. An old friend of mine from my college decided to drop in here and tell me that I need a new copy editor. I haven’t talked to this guy in at least a year. He said he found typos. That’s rich coming from a guy trained the exact same way that I was, but never worked as a photographer. The sold printing supplies, mostly for large presses, I think. Then he retired.

To my mind, you do whatever it takes to succeed, but if I was able to make it in my chosen field anybody could. I’m not that good. So, anything less is failure.

Criticism is cheap if you’ve never done the job. Besides, perfection is for angels.

T

echnically, I will say this. The finished image is layered. There are two pictures hiding in one. One was made in Albuquerque at the Balloon Fiesta. The other was made here during winter. I tinkered with them as usual. I found out something new. I saw it happen once before, but I didn’t think much of it.

Do you see how the image sort of looks like it’s blowing up? That happens when you put a border on it. I don’t know why. But, I’ll look into it. Anything less than perfection is unacceptable. Right?


Sugar Magnolia.

The things that make us who we are. All of those things. How we were raised. What we did when we were young. The things we did later. All of our actions and deeds.

That’s who we are.

Although I did many things, music was my greatest influencer.

Deja Vu was re-released yesterday. That’s right, the 51 year old album by Crosby, Still, Nash and Young hit the streets again. This time it is one of those box sets that is usually just a ploy to put a few more dollars into the musicians bank accounts.

Not this time.

The main album is remastered to match modern sonics. The rest… whew.

The out takes, the songs that were left out, the demos remind me of what could have been.

But, that never happened. The band fractured and broke apart and came back together until it cracked for the last time just a few years ago when Neil Young started dating Darryl Hannah, who he eventually married. Crosby said what he shouldn’t have and that was it.

That’s all history. You can read about it.

What’s important, as I keep saying about pictures, is how it made us feel.

It was pure joy listening to the sings. A few tears fell thinking about the years in between. And, we were wondering just how the hell they hit those notes as we tried to sing along.

A few friends — the ones who don’t know what they are talking about — say that I should write a book. They are wrong. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t see how my life is any different from so many people who grew up during the era that I did.

But, that doesn’t mean no books.

My long postponed two book set of broken buildings and places in the New Orleans area is back on the front burner.

My publisher asked me if I also wanted to take part in a photographer’s series of books that are street photography based.

It’s a good thing that he’s based in Great Britain because I was about to say that I didn’t see how that was feasible. It takes a long time to produce a book’s of worth of street images.

It was his Friday night when I received his email. I didn’t reply because there was nobody to reply to.

That’s a good thing.

While I was writing this, it hit me. I’ve done this for over 40 years. This is my golden opportunity to publish in real book — not a custom book — most of my life’s work.

It’s going to take a long while to get this together. By the time I’m done, I really will be ready to retire and play with the vegetables in the garden.

Finally.

Technical? Ha! Just stick the lens in a tree and fire away.

That’s all there is to making this picture of a Magnolia in early morning light.

I told you, that dog gets me up too early.

Without her I wouldn’t have a golden Magnolia, I’d have a white one, the real color.

I think golden light is so much more interesting, don’t you?

Magnolias are mostly a southern thing. It occurred to me while I was ruminating on the other side, that I’ve spent the majority of my career somewhere in the south. I never intended it that way. But, time flies when you are having fun.

At least, I think I was having fun. Sometimes, I can’t remember.

But, I do remember how to make pictures. For me, that’s what matters.

Which brings me back to the other side.

This third book is gonna be hellish. While I review and produce all those years worth of pictures, everything is going to come back to me.

Pictures and smells, you know.

That reckoning that I was talking about a few months ago? That was nothing. That was a drill.

This is the real thing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. I don’t care what the CDC says. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Be patient. Look after each other.


In the wind.

You’d think this is one of my layered pictures. It’s not. I just happened to line myself up with multiple bare trees. I did make a bunch of exposures because I didn’t believe it myself.

A painter followed me here in WordPressland. I followed her back. Her work is good as it is, but she seems to want to define art and artists. She thinks that she isn’t artist because she never had formal training. And, a few other things.

Musical Miss would say that she thinks too much. And, to just do the art. After all, the only way to get good at something is to keep doing it.

Ansel Adams said that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst ones. That seems to be true of almost anything that can happen fairly rapidly.

During that long time of what amounts practice you learn a few things. The two most important are learning not to think. And, to learn your gear so well that it as an extension of yourself.

There was a book called something like Zen and the Art of Archery. It illustrates both ideas.

A young student wants to learn to shoot with a bow and arrow. The master tells him to shoot at a target. The student does this for years. He never hits the target.

He tells the master that he can’t do it. The master asks him to try it one more time. The student pulls an arrow out of the quiver, mounts it on the bow without a thought.

He hits the target in the center. Amazed, he tries again and again, all with the same result.

That’s how you get good at anything.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Seeing is a technique that I rarely talk about. I should because it is as important as any editing trick.

There are a couple of ways to look at it.

The first is to set out to make pictures. Your senses are on high alert. You see because you force yourself to see.

I do that all the time. Photographing for clients, photographing for myself at events like second lines.

I also have learned over many years to keep my eyes open. When I walk the all seeing dog I’m not out looking for something in particular.

I just look here, there and everywhere. I don’t stare at anything. I just look.

I’m not sure how to teach you to do this except to start by going on an intentional photo walk with your eyes wide open. Once again, practice, practice, practice.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Be patient. Enjoy all the seeing.


Everything you need to know is in this picture.

Thoughts that cross my mind. Not everyday, but more often than not during our pandemic times. There’s another random thought that crossed my mind. “Pandemic Times.” A good name for a newspaper in these non-newspaper days.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Lately, my thoughts have been roaming and random. Like the one above, but it doesn’t count.

I think about how to fix the streets after the mayor made a big deal out of starting a big project in the area of the city in which I probably venture to twice a year. Meanwhile, my street has potholes in potholes. Some people grow crops in them. Some people decorate them.

I fix some of them the same way that my neighbors do. Fill the base up to about two inches from street level with unneeded Mardi Gras beads. Then, a layer of quick set concrete and finally a layer of a compound that looks like asphalt that you buy at Home Depot.

This is all illegal, but when the NOPD beat cops come by in their cars, they pull over blocking us from the street and turn on their red and blue lights. They are protecting us, so in return they get coffee, tea, water and some kind of snack.

This is one of the reasons we like our street level cops. They use their heads. They don’t over react. Besides, if they hit potholes near my house, their teeth rattle in their heads.

If you are wondering why they just can’t avoid the pothole, well, when you do that you just hit another pothole, probably worse than the one you’re avoiding.

The subject in the picture reminded me of all that. I’ll tell you about that in the right column.

The right hand column. It’s mostly used for technical issues. Because I’m not a huge technician there isn’t much of that.

I saw a car that was reflecting the foreground scene almost perfectly so I stood back and made a few frames.

I stood back because I didn’t want to be in the picture. That succeeded but I managed to capture a few letters. I have no idea where they came from.

I also had to use a border to hold in the bottom which looks like a mistake. It’s not. It’s just a part of the car’s hood.

The rest looks pretty cool, I think. It really needs those bright leaves to make the picture pop.

All of this was done in camera with just a bit of tuning up in editing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the weather.


On a very cold day.

Sometimes you look and see. Sometimes you only look. Despite my talking about not being able to produce good pictures or think creatively, I keep making photographs. I must be seeing.

I think I want to move forward into another kind of photography. I’m tired of making faux nature pictures.

A couple of you suggested workshops or listening to other photographers who share inspirational videos. I did that. I Googled to find Sean Tucker.

He is a British photographer who works in all genres of photography. He seems to like nature work the best. His video was interesting because he says what I’ve said for ages. Quiet time. Turn your brain off. Sit. Meditate. If any idea comes to you write it down so it clears your head for other ideas. Zen. Zen. Zen.

My problem isn’t that I don’t have creative ideas. My problem is moving well beyond where I am today. In my dog walking faux nature work I find myself making pictures with an idea of how I can edit them into something else.

I’ll tell you more about that on the right hand side of the page.

That’s fine as far as it goes. But, that’s not what I want to do. Remember my project? Jefferson Highway? I don’t want to produce a story. I want to produce 12 to 20 pictures that I can collect in a portfolio. I want that to be a gallery hanging. And, a very slim volume that people can collect as I move forward.

That sounds fairly straight forward. It isn’t. There are lot of questions to be answered. Color? Black and White? Day? Night? Dusk? And, so on.

I think before I settle into that project, I’m going to have to make a detour. There are a lot of houses being decorated as floats since there are no parades for Mardi Gras. Some are quite elaborate. I’d better photograph them before I don’t.

At least, I’m a lot less frantic than I was earlier when I was discussing this. Thank you to those who reached out.

Into something else. The picture is a great example of what I did to make it something else.

I made the picture about 10am. The sky was blue. The sun was peaking through the bare winter branches.

It was a boring picture.

I thought about what it could be. I exposed for the sun which darkened everything else a little.

I worked on it a lot in post-production. I let the sky go dark. I helped the sun to pop. I enhanced the sky’s color.

The process took a little while. For me, it is process over product. Enjoy the process and the product will always be right.

And, experiment within your process. I cannot tell you how many times that I went too far with this photograph. If you don’t go too far how will you know when you’ve reached the right place?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy the process.


Into the farthest place.

Life in a cartoon. Any choice that I made that turned out good was a lucky guess. Well. That sounds terrible. I have to be honest, I almost feel like retiring from the photo business. And, from the art of it.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I came to a local NPR post. Gwen Tompkins is going interview local photographer who won the Michael Smith Award. That’s a big deal around here. He’s had more shows than many people who seek them out. I say this without jealously, he’s a terrible photographer. His work is marginal at best.

I’ve applied to that contest. Nothing. Crickets. If not me, I can tell you about ten photographers are more worthy than this guy.

I don’t get it.

I really don’t understand why my time in New Orleans has been so unacknowledged while I thought that I was being very productive. Maybe my work isn’t what I thought it is.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.

I suppose that I can accept that, especially since my early career was so good. I spit out good pictures without thinking about it. The awards came too. They don’t really matter, but everyone needs a pat on the head once in a while.

It’s time to come to a reckoning. I make pictures pretty easily. It’s all the other stuff that is time consuming and hard work.

Maybe I don’t want to work that hard anymore.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every photograph because you never know when they will come to an end.

This picture is supposed to be my art. For sure, this is something that I enjoy.

Sometimes.

My heart isn’t t this stuff. I photograph and tinker with it because right now there is nothing better to do.

I could blame it on the virus. I could blame it on the dogs who demanded walks. I could blame it on my broken physical state.

Or, I could accept that this is about the only kind work I can produce these days.

I dunno. This is just see it, photograph it. I am a photojournalist at heart. That’s what I was trained to do. That’s what I did.

I’m not really whining. I’m just thinking out loud. I had a great career once. I had fun. Time passes by.

Oh yeah. Three layered pictures to make one. The spooky tree is the base. The orange blood-like splotch is the second image. The red grass like area on the left is the last and it is really red grass. Don’t ask.

The rest is all tinkering. Eventually the layered pictures come to a place where I like it.


Alabama. Hurricane Sally tuned even further eastward. She made landfall at Alabama. She dumped 24 inches of rain in about three hours. She’s moving so slowly that falling water combined with storm surges is turning catastrophic.

We, in Louisiana and especially in New Orleans, felt the outer bands of wind and a little rain. We are grateful for that. Well, wait a minute. I can’t speak for everybody. So, I am grateful for that.

Leftovers.

The picture. This might be the extent of our damage. A few downed branches that are laying on the ground. I’m pretty sure that we can recover. Besides, the tree needed trimming.

I saw the scene. I pressed the button. I cleaned it up a little and straightened the vertical lines. I added a weird frame that seem to fit it, called torn paper.

As you can see, I’m still experimenting with design ability. In can you are wondering, I set this page up with two columns and went of from there.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy every po’boy.