The glowing dusk.

W

eird scenes inside the gold mine. On one hand, a friend suggested that I write a book to which I replied as I always do. I don’t think I have a book in me.

On the other hand, I was told to stay in my lane by a person who didn’t like it when I told her that it was the law of supply and demand rather than Joe Biden’s fault that gas prices were so high.No one person has that much control.

Well, not exactly stay in my lane. “Stick to pictures,” is what she said. I haven’t said much yet because I just know this will go on and on.

It was started by another woman who is a flat out idiot. She’s taking the usual social media beating. I might return to the fray, or I might not. We’ll just have to see what happens.

The bottom line for me is stop trying to limit me or anyone else to your own tiny imagination. We just might fool you.

We usually do.

T

his picture needs a little technical talk.

You might be wondering how I took a perfectly sharp photograph and turned it into a soft, painterly like image.

I did it by accident.

I was trying to do something with it when it was sharp. It wasn’t working.

I managed to soften it in about three moves. I liked what I saw so I continued in that direction.

Glow came next which softened it some more and I stopped.

I liked it. I hope you do too.


Late afternoon glow.

Light.

There would be no photography without it. After all, we know that photography means painting or writing with light. In many ways, this picture is the essence of it. The bushes are wet, the sunlight found the water droplets and this is what we have. I’m sorry to say that even though I compressed the image my own way, WordPress did a number on it.

That’s just part and parcel of the way WordPress treats photographers and our work. If you are a writer WordPress suggests free sources of pictures. They have also created their own library. It’s free too. Why can’t they suggest as a way of community building that writers develop friendships with photographers and do special projects together?

Oh. I know that’ll take time. It’s easy to go to some free stock collection and find a picture that is good enough. It also inhibits learning the necessary skills to collaborate on high end projects. Sure, it’ll work in today’s bottom end print and digital projects. But, who wants pictures or words that are just good enough?

I may be an old dinosaur, but just good enough isn’t good enough. These days everything seems transient. Art, writing, muic, video projects. One day that will change. Mark my words. Covid 19 is the driver.

Eventually, even though new ways of working at everything will open up more time, many people will think, “I just don’t have the time to waste on this junk.” If I’m going to invest two hours or so on a film it had better be worth that. Same with music.

Same with photo books. Very few publishers are printing photo books these days. So, photographers are publishing books that are the visual equivalent of naval gazing. There is a guy online who’s got a little power. I followed him among about 30,000 other photographers.

I finally gave up.

The work he champions are out takes for guys like me. I finally washed my hands of it all when he saw pictures from an old friend of mine. He said somewhat incredulously that “this guy can really shoot.” Gee. Ya think? He’s only been doing it for 50 years. He’s been National Geographic’s golden boy for 25 years.

Even one of my mentors has gotten in the act. He did a short video on Instagram. He discussed another photographer’s book. He asked us to buy it. He suggests we should all buy each others’ books. Huh? Talk about navel gazing.

When I went to the other photographer’s website, the books were for sale. $400. Right. Let’s see. Say there were ten of us. I’m going to invest $3,600 to make $3,600? Now, you understand why so many photographers are broke.

Anyway.

This is not a rant. This is my way of heading back to photo discussions.

I want us all to think about quality and what it means to us. I want us all to understand that unless we have some other source of income, photography was a business.

Was?

Yes, was. I’m not sure how most photographers can sustain themselves during the pandemic era. OTH, you might as well keep going. 40,000,000 people are without jobs. Many of those jose aren’t coming back. Quite a problem, eh?

I can’t stay angry at everything, so…

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Eventually, nature seeks and gets stasis.

It’s nature’s way.

One of you commented something along the lines of nature has a way of overcoming whatever humans do. Nature seeks stasis. Nature is patient. Nature always wins in the end. Nature doesn’t care.

I wasn’t sure where  I was going with this, then it came to me. Human beings are a speck in nature’s eye. As we move to further harm the planet, the temperature will increase, the waters will rise, and people will go hungry. I’m sure as people go hungry and get desperate we’ll start killing each other. Finally, nature will have had enough. She’ll say, “basta!” and fling us off the planet like a dog shakes water off of her back. (Basta is Italian for enough.)

We’ll all be gone. Nature will go about her business. The earth will heal. And, it will once again be the healthy blue marble you can see from space.

This picture is an illustration of the start of the process. I made it in an odd corner of the 9th Ward. The neighborhood was flooded during the levee breaks following the storm. Some people were able to move back and repair their homes. Others could not. Apparently, the folks who own this place are either waiting for help or just gave up.

Have you ever seen what happened to an abandoned building?

The roots of plants begin to seek purchase. They find cracks and crevasses. At first, it’s nothing. Rip them down and the building is fine. Don’t, and that’s the first step. Eventually the entire plant will find its way inside. It’ll be both inside and out. Wood will start to split. Plaster will begin to fall. The floorboards will begin to collapse. Eventually, the house will cave in upon itself. There will be nothing left but a pile of rotting wood. And, leftover pipes and other bits of metal, assuming scavengers don’t get to them first. What’s left will disappear under heavy growth.

This house will be gone.

That doesn’t happen quickly. It usually takes from 10 to 20 years. Nature is patient. Nature picked her place carefully this time. It’s hot. It’s humid. There is heavy rainfall. There is constant moisture.

Oh, did I mention creatures? Unless we take countermeasures, Formosa Termites are happy to eat their fill of houses like this one.

Think about it. Think about this happening on a grand scale all around the globe. Mankind will be gone. Maybe other animals will make their return. The planet will be quiet and undisturbed by humans.

Mother Earth is probably better off without us.


Cold weather days.

Finally.

Autumn looks like it is suppose to look. Leaves falling. Bushes turning. Flowers dying.

After months of complaining about the heat, cool and cold weather finally arrived. How cool? How cold? The last cold front brought us into the 40s and highs in the 50s. We will warm up a little into the high 60s over the weekend. Cold front number two blows in. This time the lows are predicted tp be in the 30s and the highs in the mid-40s.

For some of you that’s nothing. But, I can’t remember weather this cold in November since I’ve lived in this state. I don’t know what that means for the real winter months, but there’s an old southern saying that is along the lines of “when it’s cold in November, winter remembers in December.” I heard that for the first time today.

That’s a chilling thought.


So much color.

All the color.

Normally, I do my best to isolate the subject in my work. When, I saw this scene I was wowed. After fiddling around, I knew the best way to capture what I saw was to stand back and take in as much as I could. There was only so far back I could stand before I might fall in some water, so I was a little limited. I also went as wide as I could in my lens selection. I think it worked.

I think it could also work as some very busy wallpaper, probably in your house. Heh!

On another matter near and dear to me, I went to the doctor today for my pain management session. This is mandated by the federal government so that I don’t become addicted to Tramadol which greatly reduces my pain. It is really intended for much stronger drugs, but this is a mild opiate so testing and tracking in this way doesn’t really make sense.

There is no medical personnel from my doctor, to my pharmacist and, the lab technician who tests me, that thinks this is worth doing. They agree that it is well intentioned, but that this approach fails on all counts.

Anyway.

This is the long way of saying that after complaining a little about my knee hurting, I was x-rayed. Yep. Osteoarthritis in my right knee. Sheesh. I once heard a joke about getting old. It is your body’s way of saying, “If you thought that was bad, just wait until…”

I can see my future.

Eighty year old Ray using a powered scooter. Except mine will have a 496 big block engine in it that will propel me along any highway faster than the cars I’m passing.

Take that.

Seriously, it’s not something that is always painful. It just hurts on my bad days. It is something to understand. We are going to try a more holistic approach for this. Imagine that. A medical doctor who thinks outside of the box.

Stay tuned.

 


I told you. A swamp.

See?

A swamp. Where we live. Well, kinda. Sorta.

A real swamp would likely be very deep and wet this time of year. Most of the real swamps have been developed. Into concrete. But, here and there, you can find some little groves of what came before us. This one takes about ten minutes to walk through.

If I was really feeling my oats, I’d drive down to Barataria Preserve and walk along the wooden plank sidewalk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park where alligators lurk underneath you, and snakes watch you from above. Jean Lafitte was a pirate. Not only did he serve with U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans, but he wasn’t afraid of alligators and snakes. Like I am.

You’d think getting to such a primitive place would take hours. Nah. Forty-five minutes to an hour and you are there. A lot of tourists visiting New Orleans take a tour of the swamp by boat, then drive upriver to plantation country. Between the two, it’s a nice day trip and not all that far from the “big” city. And, it’s really hard to get lost.

The picture. I didn’t have to do much to it. I made it in the early morning sun which gave it a nice yellow glow. But, not that early. In order for the light to penetrate the foliage, the sun had to get high enough to find the right angle to do its work for me. That’s it.

One more thing. If you take a swamp tour by boat, the guide usually has a couple of chickens that he or she bought at the local Wal-Mart. Cold. Not alive. The chickens are tossed into the water where gators are known to lurk. That creates a commotion so that pictures can be taken.


The waiting is the hardest part.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

That’s the hardest part said Tom Petty.

As of now, the storm has slowed down a bit. We should get rain and winds along towards the end of the afternoon with the storm passing through around midnight. Or, after midnight as J.J, Cale wrote and Eric Clapton sang.

It’s a Category 1 Hurricane, which means the lowest possible wind speed that you can classify as a hurricane. It should make landfall at the Mississippi – Alabama border. I mention all of this again, because my friends have been calling and texting. When something like this makes the national news it becomes something frightening.

It isn’t.

And, we’ll be alright.

Okay?

The picture. I had something else planned for today, but I saw this on a dog walk. It was funny. She — the dog — walked to this place and kept circling around. It wasn’t like she does when she’s looking for a place. It was more like every time I wanted to move on, she kept coming back. To the place that you see in the picture. So, I made a bunch of pictures. After all, she’s usually right about a lot of things.

She also wanted to be outside longer than normal. She won’t go out in the rain. She knows something is coming.

It is.

Two to four inches of rain. Meh.


In the summertime.

I’m trying to make ten great summertime pictures. This could be one of those pictures.

It speaks to me about the hot sun, the wild plants growing along fences, buildings and up and over anything that has been abandoned. We don’t really have Kudzu down here in the swamp. But, just about everything grows.

For me, all this picture really is, is a good start. It means that I got outside and had a look around. Summer says and means a lot more to me that just wild plants reaching toward the sky. That’s one thing, but it’s easily replaceable by a better picture. The best thing about our summers — and there isn’t much — is that they last so long. Almost six months. That gives me a little time. Or, I can do what i usually do, and waste a lot of it.

The picture. It’s a dog walk picture. But, she didn’t see this. It’s a good six feet above her head. I saw it. But, if truth be told I was just grumbling about the sun in my eyes. Eventually, my brain clicked in. Oh yeah. That.


Garden of Eden
The Garden

At one time, the place where I happened upon this Blessed Virgin statue, must have been something to see. To the left of this scene are big sweeping stairs that I imagine lead to a big impressive front door of whatever house was there at one time. Today… “ain’t der no mo'” I have no idea what was there. Or, what happened to it.  But this place was so strikingly pretty that I had to make a few pictures. The interesting thing about this place is that it is located directly behind the building where I made the Edward Hopper-like picture. In fact, if you count the two abandoned pictures that I posted yesterday, I made four pictures in walking distance of each other. That’s a lot. For me or anybody. It usually doesn’t happen that way. But, now I’m running out of fresh work. That cold that I wrote about last week never really went away. In fact, it’s come back with a vengeance. Like it or not, I’m going to have to make some new pictures tomorrow, or, I’m going to have to root around in my files. You know how colorful that can be.