You’ll never guess the name of this flower.

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earn something new every day, they say. I did. I learned the name of this flower from a friend of mine who’s lived here forever.

Care to guess?

It’s an Okra blossom. I never noticed any pods, but even if I had I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at.

I always thought of the bloom as a pretty, fragile, little flower.

But, I never knew what it was.

One of these days I’m going to learn more about flowers than, “This is a yellow flower, this is a red flower… ”

This post has taken all day to write. Business got in the way. Then, Wal Mart got in the way. In an effort to keep me healthy we started using their home delivery service.

It’s supposed to be simple, it’s anything but that. Deliveries go to wrong addresses, the order might not be complete, the driver gets lost while she is standing in front of the gate.

Last night the thing turned weird. Wal Mart sent me two emails saying sorry for the delay, we’ll let you know when it is coming. The groceries are supposed to be here between 7 and 8pm.

Nothing.

Yesterday morning at 6:20 am, they sent me a list of what had been substituted because they were out of stock. This is supposed to mean that the delivery will be made within an hour.

Oh no.

I finally arrived this morning, after cancelling the original order, calling customer service four times and reordering everything. Only 36 hours late.

They forget that customer is king. The CEO of Wal Mart has an Instagram account. Guess what I did? I wrote to him outlining these problems. Then, I wrote to you.

Safe yourself some grief, don’t use Wal Mart’s delivery service.

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alking by, I saw these flowers. They usually bloom during late spring and last through early summer.

Okra.

I suppose if I tell some young millennial chef about it, he or she will use them in place of the real thing.

Hmm… deconstructed gumbo.

There is not much to making this picture. Find the angle, frame the scene, push the button.

Back in the studio, I processed the image and cropped it. That’s what I did. Nothing more.

Sometimes, being simple is better.

That reminds me of an ancient saying I learned at least 150 years ago.

“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

That applies to the many things that we all do.

Ever get in a rush and nothing goes right? Slow down, you’ll get more done.

Getting more done, if you aren’t working until the early hours of the morning, is very affirming.

For people who are like me and are built to work it’s essential.

It may just be the start of pulling me out of this funk. That is, working until all hours of the night and getting things done that I want to get done.


They call this winter.

Funny things are happening. This picture is an example of them. It’s winter. It’s fairly cold. But, it feels like spring. That’s why I made this photograph. It is spring-like.

I’ll get into the technical stuff in the right hand column. Over here, I’d like to discuss feeling. How a picture makes the viewer feel is more important than documenting the subject. That human connection, that feeling is something that is almost impossible to set out to do. Usually, it is accidental.

For me, if I set out to produce a gallery or portfolio piece the image just doesn’t sparkle. It may work from a technical approach, but not from an artistic perspective. It certainly doesn’t promote viewer feeling.

If I’m really in my zone I might even change your perspective. Or not.

That’s really the best thing.

Ever.

Layers, layers, layers. That’s how I made this picture.

The base layer is brown. The second layer is brown. The third layer is green. They are all made from the same photograph and slightly skewed.

Normally, I would tinker until I reached the point that I wanted. This picture is minimal. Not much tinkering required.

Feeling. Feeling the scene. Feeling your own feelings. This picture works for me because it makes me think about spring even though the high temperature today is 40 degrees. My feelings.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy your feelings. May they be spring-like.


Deep and dark.

Another way. Another look.

This image was bright and colorful. Once.

Then, I got my hands on it. I wrapped my brain around it. I started tinkering with it. The next thing I knew, I created a monochromatic picture in post production. I flipped it this way and that.

I decided I liked the building’s highlight pointing into the picture from left to right like a giant arrow into its heart. It’s the roof line of a building, but it looks like an arrow. I like the look. The tonality. It’s moody. Almost scary. Like a Halloween picture.

The picture. I saw the light reflecting off the building. It caught my eye. The original file is nice, bright and colorful. It didn’t move me. Made this way, the picture seems old. Maybe from the dawn of photography.

That’s just me.

What do you think?


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She saw me and she just locked right in on my camera.

What a look. Wow. I’m not sure what else I can say. She’s either focused on me or getting mentally prepared for the walk ahead of her. I know it was okay for me to photograph her, because I asked her.  And, I asked her dad for his permission. I introduced myself to both of them.  I always ask the parents when it comes to making pictures of children. Usually, it’s just fine. If they say no, then it’s no. Anyway. I think it’s just great that so many children participated in Super Sunday parade. As long as that keeps happening, this bit of culture will never pass.

The picture. I stood as close to her as I could and shot with a 200mm lens and focused on her eyes. I guess her eyes caught my attention, just as I caught her attention. After I made the final picture of her, I thanked her. And, she answered very sweetly “You’re welcome Mr. Ray.”


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Mardi Gras Indians are really about multi-generational folk art. This little girl is getting a very early start.

A little one. A little indian. A very cute indian. Mardi Gras Indian are a kind of cultural folk art. Despite its rougher origins, it really is family oriented. Traditions, customs and routines are passed down from generation to generation. You see an example of that here. She can’t be more than four or five years old. And yet, look at her. Her costume as just as detailed as the other indians in her tribe. That bead work you see on her chest was done by hand. Each individual reflecting bead is hand sewn. Maybe even more importantly, look at her face. She’s focused. She knows what she’s doing. With luck and some work, she’ll have whatever her dreams are, but she’ll always come back to this tradition.

The picture. Get in close and press the button. Smile and be respectful. Ask about their costumes and their tribe. That will make them smile because they know that I care about their traditions and their hard work.


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Inside the Wild Tchopitoulas Tribe with Queen Kim.

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Waiting for her turn to walk.

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On the parade route.

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Big Chief of the Wild Squatoulas

St. Joseph’s Day. Yes. March 17th is also St. Patrick’s Day. In New Orleans, we celebrate both. On Saturday, there was a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade that wound around Uptown on Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue. I photographed that some. It’s a really big deal. Instead of all the traditional Mardi Gras type throws, the float riders also toss cabbages and potatoes. Stuff like that. They also throw beads. That wasn’t my big day. I enjoy being out in Central City celebrating St. Joseph’s Day on what the Mardi Gras Indians call Super Sunday. It really is super. It’s a day when the Uptown and Downtown tribes meet and parade fully masked. It’s a great event. In many ways, it’s New Orleans at its best. It’s serious culture. It’s great music. It’s street food. And, you know how much I like street food. It’s a day when everybody gets along. And the weather? Mid to low 70s. No humidity. Clouds drifting by. All in all, a wonderful day.

The pictures. They dovetail very nicely with my Central City project since the parade takes place within the boundaries of Central City. You also get to compare my most dominant style of shooting… all in one post. The “Inside” picture is a good example of my blurred, more painterly look. Slow shutter speeds and a pretty good depth of field. And, as you know, I like to get in the middle of things. The Wild Tchoupitoulas invited me to be in their section of the parade. In bigger news, because I “presented myself” to them which means I introduced myself and asked if I could photograph them, they invited me to document their creating their costumes for 2014. That’s a year-long project and quite an honor. I am very humbled.

“Waiting” is an example of my own decisive moment. In case you are wondering, I asked their parents permission if I could photograph these two girls as they waited their turn to walk in the parade. After that, it’s just hang out for a few minutes and wait until something happens.

“On The Parade Route” is simple documentation. I made the picture first and asked their names and tribe later. I earn great street cred doing that. I see people from different parades and second lines, and we know each other and are happy to see each other. My world grows.

“Big Chief” is my idea of a portrait. This is a version of what some people call an environmental portrait. I guess his environment is his costume. Obviously, we worked together on this one. However, when I wrote down his tribe I got it very wrong, It took a little googling to get the spelling correct. Squatoulas. How hard can that be? Well.

Oh yeah. I made lots of pictures. Over the next week, I’ll publish more of them. Stay tuned for a lot of colorful pictures.

 


So. My newly redesigned blog site met with huge acclaim. Two people responded to it. They liked it. No matter. Around here we just keep going.

This picture. Hmmm. It is Photo Month in New Orleans. I’m not in town, but I’ve been looking at all the art awards online. I must confess that I don’t get it. The winners are called picture stories. That’s great, except they have no beginning, middle or end. They show no process. And, they don’t complete a portrait of a person or a place. Those are things they taught us when I was in photography school. The winners are just a collection of things that I suppose could be called a portfolio. But, there isn’t much energy or life to them. I guess photographic art has passed me by. With luck, I’ll be back in time to attend a few seminars and learn a thing or two. Or not.

So. Back to this picture. I selected it as sort of an homage to the winning pictures in the NOLA Photo Week. I actually made it just before I left. I didn’t think all that much of it at the time, but I liked the lines, the contrast between the old and new corrugated metal and the bit of nature creeping back into the picture. It may tell a story if you stretch a bit. And, I’m not sure you can call it art. I did have fun processing it. Maybe that’s all I can expect. Fun processing a picture. Lucky me. 


Okay. You know I like bricks and brickyards. So, while most photographers are taking pictures of the famous sights of Melbourne, I’m poking around the lesser known alleyways and laneways of the city. Some are relatively wide and house cafes, coffeehouses, restaurants and stores. Others are really just tiny passage ways, like this one where I waited and watched for the perfect passerby. I found one and this picture is the result.

Yes. There is a lot of post production involved in the picture. I wanted, and achieved, a lightly dreamy feel.By the way, you can go to a website called http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au to learn a lot more. You’ll even find out that Corporation Lane has been renamed to ACDC Lane after the band of the same name.


I’ve posted about this topic in the past. I make a lot of photographs through the windshield of my car when I am driving. As odd is this may sound, it’s probably safer when I’m driving 70-75-80-85 mph than when I am driving slower and in traffic. Even though I brace the camera on the dashboard and let all the auto functions do their things, I’m still not fully and totally concentrating on the thing that I should be doing which is driving. In traffic, that can mean tapping some other car’s rear. On the road, I can see down field and take appropriate measures. One day this may come back to haunt me, especially as I get older. But, for right now it seems to be okay. Having written all of that, as far as picture-taking goes, I never really see what my camera sees until I am stopped somewhere and take the time to review the images. Often times, I don’t even do that. I just wait until I’ve downloaded them on to a computer so I can see them bigger then 1″ x 3.” That also should give you an inkling into how I work. I rarely chimp. When I do, it’s mostly to check the exposure not to see what I photographed. Who can tell anything on that little itty bitty LCD?

Anyway.

These are all New Mexican pictures. The brownish image is made at the end of Route 66/Central Avenue to the west. The darker blue image is made on I-40 northbound in Albuquerque, and the lighter blue image is made on I-25 southbound, just south of Santa Fe. I like the light. I like the feeling. And, most of all, I like that I didn’t get killed making them.