China Rose

A while back I had an interesting discussion on Instagram. It was probably my only one. It wasn’t about photographs. Instead it was about flowers.

The photographer that I was talking with misidentified a flower that he called a China Rose. I knew that it was something else because I grew up with them.

We both started Googling and found out what a real China Rose looked like. We learned that it isn’t the color, but the smallness and the shape.

These are China Roses produced my way.

Artfully.

I have more traditional pictures, but today we are still headed towards confusion and mixed up imagery. That’s just fine. It’s what I feel like producing.

If anything, this image gets me closer to how I saw it in bright and contrasty sunlight. It was a little dream-like at the time. If I went out today, it would also be the same. I’m having trouble waking up.

That’s after finishing packaging homemade dog food, and having a coffee and a donut. Don’t judge me. I know that you’ve eaten worse. Gummy Bears for breakfast just shouldn’t be a thing.

Which brings me to one of the lamest things I’ve heard in years. Some Republican know-nothing is claiming that President Biden won’t let us have meat in our beer.

Imagine that. Meat Beer.

And, the world turns.

Whatever did I do to this picture?

For one thing, nothing is in sharp focus but by tinkering with it there appears to be sharpness. Trust me, there isn’t any real sharpness.

The next thing I did was remove all of the mid-tones. That caused overly bright contrasty color which I added more color. I give that saturation slider a good, hard pull.

The result is what you see. I don’t know about you, but it’s art to me. Sorta.

We’ve been through that before. I don’t need to repeat it just to make a point or fill space.

So. I won’t.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask inside. Keep your distance everywhere. Wash your hands. Get your jabs, especially your second one. Look after each other. Be patient because we are getting close.


Of the past.

I like the caption better than I like the headline. Okay, the title. The base image is of the past.

It’s a long story, but many, many years ago, my Dad thought that he wanted to work as a watch maker. Like me, he lacked the patience to do that kind of meticulous work. That’s why I’m not a studio photographer.

I don’t fuss over every detail. I let the picture find me. I let the picture tell me how to make it. I’ve made some fine pictures. And, sometimes I wonder what I was thinking. Or, not thinking.

I’ll tell you more about the picture over there in the right hand column.

Finding those tool images felt just about right. I’ve been going through a journey through my past lately. That may account for some of my dreams. It certainly is a coming to terms with things I did or didn’t do long ago.

You know, my own reckoning.

Weird scenes inside the goldmine. That could be this picture.

As I was writing this I turned on a Spotify play list called 1969’s Top 200 Albums.

It’s a strange mix. It goes from some very eclectic jazz to songs by the Doors and Beatles.

“This is the End” by The Doors started playing. That’s where “weird scenes” line came from.

Makes good sense. This picture is a pretty weird scene.

There’s all sorts stuff going on in it. All made by the magic of layering four pictures.

There’s the tools. There are leaves. There is a tree. And finally some flowers all tucked into the picture somewhere.

This is one of those pictures that comes under the heading of I don’t know what was thinking. This time that’s a positive because I kind of like it.


Something for winter.

Something for winter. Something yellow. Something bright.

The change is coming. In one day. Many of us will be watching it online via the socials. Many of us will be happy.

There are also those who have convinced themselves with no evidence that there is no way Biden could have won the election.

The pillow man thinks that he uncovered all sorts of thing. He brought them to the president who wasn’t interested and suggested that he bring them to the DOJ, who said that’s nice and promptly forgot them.

That’s it.

I’m sorry that the current president won’t even be at the inauguration. He’s skipping out. Heading to Florida. He wants to leave will he’s still president. That call sign, “Air Force One” is important to him. He doesn’t want to fly on a plain old plane.

What a punk.

I know that there is a chance he could be convicted by the senate. I know he has financial and commercial troubles that could choke a horse.

I don’t care.

Let the folks who deal with that stuff deal with it. I want to move forward. That’s what’s important to me. Even though I’m searching for me I know that working to benefit others will help.

So, that’s where I’m headed. To the future. See y’all there.

Bright flowers. Sun flowers. I didn’t even know that they could be grown down here.

Then I read that there are huge fields of them in Mississippi just across the border.

These aren’t them. I have a neighbor who grows everything. He’s got a small greenhouse. He’s got a hydroponic garden. He’s got a regular garden.

There are sunflowers in his greenhouse. I asked if I could photograph them. Obviously, he said yes. In return I’ll give him some prints.

The image is the result of layering. There are five layers of the same picture. Each slightly skewed. Doing this was so easy that I didn’t even have to adjust the picture.

That’s it.

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


A little motion.

More experimental than not. That’s this photograph. It’s about wind, which arrived in about 30 mph gusts. Even the all seeing spaniel wanted very little to do with it.

We walked for a while and after watching her ears fly around I thought it was better to head home.

That’s what we did.

We went home. Where I turned on Spotify and was immediately frustrated by its inability to load music at a reasonable rate. I’ve talked to them. Remove, reboot, reinstall.

No joy.

The internet has become our connection to — well — everything. We’ve seen some effects when some part of it crashes. People went crazy when Facebook burped, taking Instagram with it. Without knowing what happened, my day got quieter.

Solitude.

I know that many people take a digital holiday. I also know that many of them stare longingly at their phones, pads and computers while they attempt a digital detox.

I’m not someone who is against all of this. I’m no luddite.

On the other hand, don’t we all need a break from whatever we are doing? That is, except for photography. Heh.

Sometimes digital technology becomes restive. This is the third time that I’ve written this. I know that WordPress will blame me, but some glitch has deleted my work twice. It wasn’t even in the all posts file.

What do I know?

Maybe I need a break from everything. I’ll drive to Florida and lay on the beach for 67 days, or three. Whichever comes first.

Speed. Speed kills they say. I say put your foot to the pedal and fly.

Sometimes.

There are times when you just glide waiting for your opportunity. When it comes, you put the pedal to the metal.

That’s what the wind did yesterday. It was mild during the morning. Then, it got going in the afternoon.

It was about 3pm when I pushed the button on this picture.

I just let the shutter pick its own speed. It slowed down. This is the result. I’m blaming technology for making a good picture. That, and nature.

I had nothing to do with it.

It’s true. All I did was hold the phone. Speaking of technology, AI had this sentence written with “wash” instead of “was hold.”

Sheesh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Where your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all of the wind.


Not spring. Still winter.

Yesterday. After the riot and the final certification of Joe Biden as president, you would have thought that the day would have been calmer. For sure, it wasn’t dramatic as Wednesday but the stupidity kept going. The far right senators like Ted Cruz tried to blame the riot on Antifa. They said the rioters are Antifa members pretending to be Trump supporters.

I realize that he lives in Texas where things are slower, but surely he most know that cameras are a thing. And, that cameras were able to pin the tail on the elephants.

Even the woman who was killed was well known in San Diego. She was a Qanon leader. She was an Air Force veteran who apparently forget the oath she took when she joined the military. She certainly wasn’t defending the Constitution when she was shot.

I’m sorry that she was killed. I don’t want anybody to die like she did.

I read enough to know that the whole world was watching. Our allies were sad and concerned. Our enemies just laughed.

I hope and pray that Biden can heal my country. He has the full congress behind him and turtle face no longer runs the senate. I fear the country is so divided that the hatred will last.

That’s some of the news that is not fit to line your birdcage. I promise that I’ll be back to art and other happier stuff.

Flowers in her hair. Flowers everywhere. A line from an old song from the happier days of hippiedom.

I keep saying that our winters are mild. This picture proves that.

Just as I write those words, the fine folks at weather central are predicting the possibility of snow this weekend. The temperature has certainly dropped enough for that to happen.

The last time that occurred was when we were exiled to New Mexico. But, during the winter prior to Hurricane Katrina’s arrival, we had so much snow that I slipped and slid my way to The French Quarter to make pictures.

I can drive in snow, but most New Orleanians can’t drive in good conditions. If it wasn’t dangerous, I would have enjoyed the show.

It’s true. I made this photograph a few days ago. I wonder how they’ll look with snow on them.

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


With explosive power.

Man oh man, Forty years already. Where did the time go? Better yet, why did my time go? Today is December 8. A horrible anniversary. I didn’t know until the next day so for me December 9 is just as bad.

I hope by now you know what I’m talking about. If not, this is the day that John Lennon was murdered in cold blood outside of his home in New York City forty years ago.

There are days that will live in infammy. December 7 was one of them. The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. That affects me too. My dad served during WWII. I might not be here if things had gone sideways.

But, December 8 lives on in my heart and soul.

Here’s my story.

My then wife and I lived in two different states, North Carolina and Virginia. She worked as a reporter for the Roanoke newspapers and I was a photographer for the Winston-Salem newspapers. It’s not as bad as it sounds. In Virginia — our base — we lived in Christiansburg about two miles from the interstate. In North Carolina we lived in Kernersville, the home of the North Carolina Klu Klux Klan. They have nothing to do with this story.

It’s still not as bad as it sounds.

By a quirk of shift scheduling, we managed to spend six nights together. We would pack and leave straight from our respective newspapers. It was a little less than two hours door to door. We took a small road across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There was no radio reception up there so I played tapes. No CDs. No streaming. This was 1980.

I got home to Virginia, unpacked my stuff and went to bed. I didn’t watch or hear the news.

The next morning the phone ring. It was my wife telling me the horrible news.

Eventually, I got myself together and went to meet a friend at my old newspaper chain. To be quite honest, we were going to drink our lunch. As I walked in the back door where the pre-press work was done, out came the new publisher.

The driving force behind my leaving was that my old newspaper was bought by a terrible newspaper chain. One by one we were all leaving. The new publisher was a guy who drove the biggest car that he could. He was also very heavy. I never comment on people’s looks, but between his weight and his face which was round with a sort of a snout for a nose, he looked like a pig.

He started screaming at me for some reason that I still don’t know. I just stood there. I didn’t reply. The one thing I remember was that he yelled, “You are making a fool of yourself.” I did reply to that. I said, “No, that would be you.” The gathered crowd of my former coworkers started laughing. He stormed off.

That’s how my mourning for John Lennon began.

It continued on and on.

When I returned to work in Winston-Salem, my boss, Chief Photographer Bill Ray — a wise older man from North Carolina — made sure not to schedule any assignments for photographers during the commemoration which, for us meant climbing on the roof and looking into space at the stars.

Somewhere during those early days my wife joined us. We went to my friends house — another photographer — to remember Lennon. They had a piano. He played “Imagine.” My wife, his wife and I sang the best that we could. You didn’t want to hear that.

A week or so later my parents, who still lived in Long Beach, sent a giant special section from the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram. It was about Lennon.

A young writer named Tim Grobaty wrote an editorial. It was probably the best thing I read during that time. He concluded with something like this wasn’t just another entertainer death, it was like a death in the family.

And, so it was.

Time fades away, so says Neil Young. Luckily, he’s still alive. He’s 75 and as productive as ever. He’s right. It does.

I have no picture to commemorate John Lennon, so I made something a little bright and a little pretty.

It’s a layered combination of two images. Sword Ferns and the blooming of one of those flowers that I showed you yesterday.

It takes time to make these kinds of pictures. I tinker and I tinker until I get it right. Then, I look at it on the big monitor and think, “Oh, man. It’s too dark.” So back into the tinker toys I go.

See what I did there?

Anyway.

There is no trick to this. It just takes time. Maybe 40 years. And, patience. Maybe a lifetime.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Imagine. Just imagine.


The cracks are beginning to spread.

There are a few flowers still blooming and growing. I came across the remainders of a little Camellia. Wow, I thought. A possible picture.

So I clicked the button a couple of times. I continued on. I felt lucky. You know, I’m not seeing pictures all that well.

In fact, I might not be seeing anything very well. I’m still out of time. A lot of people feel the same way. I’m procrastinating.

I read something about that. Most people think it’s a time management problem. It’s not. It’s depression. A different kind of depression than most, but still it’s depression.

That made sense to me. After all, most of us are in mourning. We miss the life that we had. I know I say that our “new” normal can and should be better. But, just cutting off one life and starting another isn’t exactly easy.

I realized last night that I haven’t seen most of my friends since March. Eight months. That’s a long time. Oh sure. We text, talk on the phone, hold Zoom talks. But, it ain’t the same.

It can never be the same.

We talk about businesses struggling. The food and music industries are hit especially hard. So is the travel industry. Combined, that just about kills New Orleans.

That’s not what concerns me.

I have a little pod. We stay together. We touch. We laugh. We talk.

That’s not it.

I’m writing this close to publication time. Normally, I would be at a second line. We either shake hands or hug. I haven’t had that since just after Mardi Gras.

We call second lines our church. Church is where you find it. So is God, or whatever you call your higher power.

No church for us. No noise. No music. No dancing. No BBQ smells.

Damn. I almost brought myself to tears.

I miss that stuff. I didn’t think that I would, but guess what?

I do.

Peace.

Pictures. They are really something. I’ve made my living from pictures since 1974.

During these pandemic times, I’m almost not working. I’m not working in my other business.

Luckily, we have a little money and and income, sorta.

I’m starting to think that I should find something to do just to keep me busy.

Anyway.

The all seeing dog and I were walking. I saw this little flower hiding among the Elephant Ears. I made the picture.

When I started developing and post production I found my settings for the last picture I worked on.

I thought, why not? So I just used that. Mostly, that doesn’t work. Two different pictures require different approaches.

It really didn’t work this time, either.

But, I liked what it did. In fact, I enhanced it. I made it more atomic. I stretched it out beyond my imagination.

There you have it. My own imagination was stretched.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. I don’t care what anybody says, enjoy every sandwich.


Glowing.

Maybe this photograph is a little too radioactive. In my defense I cannot predict how WordPress will compress my already compressed .jpeg. Many times I over compensate. Don’t we all? Now that a bit of my life is getting back to some kind of normal feeling workflow I have to be very careful not to move too fast.

I still believe that we can emerge from these pandemic days better than we were before the virus came roaring through the country. I know we can do better. Much, much better.

I make no bones about my political leanings. I hope for a change of leaders in two weeks. Whether you are a democrat or a republican, I’m pretty sure that you’d like a leader who believes and trusts in science instead of his gut, a gut filled with five pounds of McDonalds fried food. I have nothing against McDonald’s, but everything in its place.

I’m not sure why months slipped by, but I could have put the time between March and July to better use. I’d like to claim that I was getting used to working from home, but that would be a lie. I always work from home.

Finally, I got going.

I think that we accomplished a lot as summer rolled on and fall arrived. But…

What about y’all? How did you do during this virus months?

Flowers. The best thing about moving on from WordPress will be the way drop caps are programmed. As you type the first letter of the word you are writing drops to the back of the word. So, Flowers is lowersF. I have no idea why this happens.

Anyway.

Back to flowers. These are the same ones that I turned into the autumn photograph. I reworked one picture into something bright, bold and energetic. It didn’t take long. Between Snapseed and OnOne I think it took me a total of 20 minutes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty.Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay focused. Vote.


It’s all light.

Light. It’s all light. That’s what makes or breaks a photograph. After all, the word photography is Greek for writing with light. No. It’s not all Greek to me. I actually know this word.

Hurricane Delta passed us by for the most part. We did have some strong gusts of wind and a little rain. Those outer bands can reach way out.

I had to run an early morning errand. You know, a honey do. Pancakes were in the offing, but we were out of eggs, milk and chocolate chips. Mmmm…

So, out I went sometime around 7:45. The light was stunning. The wind blew out the ugliness and humidity of the past few days. The air was clear. The light was sparkling as well as being stunning. I said that already, but I cannot emphasize that enough. Stunning. Stunning. Stunning.

On the way to the grocery store I made some obligatory pictures. You know. The ones you expect in this kind of light.

I parked and looked across the lot. I saw what you see above. Now this is a light picture, a picture about light. The subject isn’t particularly attractive, but the light makes it so.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Shadows and silhouettes is what we learned in college. Look for them. They can save a bad assignment. In order to have them you must have light. I also think you have to have bold, bright light.

So, I saw the scene. What then?

I kept reminding myself, expose for the highlight, expose for the highlight.

Apparently, I got that right. There is just a hint of color in those giant highlights. And, the darks go really dark.

Of course, there is a little post production to help shape the details, but that’s about it.

Questions? I’ll be happy to talk.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Look after each other. Chase the light.