Sometimes just leaving Orleans Parish is like going on a road trip, not that I drove very far, maybe 12 miles. But, it’s another world.
I had to buy some electronics and a paint bucket. Best Buy is the best place for digital gear. I was grumbling while I drove. I had to buy a charger for my new iPhone 12. Who sells a phone without a charger?
Apple, that’s who.
Even the folks at Best Buy laugh about it. Of course the store makes money, but the people who work there think that Apple is just greedy. And, their charger costs twice what other legit makers charge.
Oh, they do give you the charging cable.
I actually like going to that big shopping center except for it’s organization. It was built in stages by different developers. To go from Best Buy to Home Depot required me to drive through two parking lots and work my through two stoplights.
But, I was able to stop by a cool little restaurant that we used to eat at when we first returned from New Mexico. Entering it is like stepping back in time.
I took a look around and asked the guy behind the counter if I could take a few pictures. He shrugged his shoulders, so I did.
This picture makes me think of trips through tiny little midwestern towns. It sort of excited me when I looked the finished product.
Stopping and eating here was a big deal for me. It was my first time actually eating inside a restaurant since the start of the pandemic. It’s true that we have eaten at two restaurants previously, but we were outside and about 6 miles from the next table.
Let me tell you, it felt really good. Better yet, the food tasted really good.
Now that’s something to feel a large measure of gratitude for being able to do.
Now you know why I’m late with this post. I ate lunch. Sorry about that.
No. I’m not.
There is nothing to this photograph other than that I like the subject matter.
There is little to no work done in post production. Mostly, I brightened and sharpened it a bit.
Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy a restaurant or two. They need us.
The tourists haven’t awakened yet. The only folks out are locals. Either they are getting ready for church. Or, they are getting ready to work. Or, they are just coming come from a long overnight shift somewhere in the Quarter.
Before they go where ever they are going, they stop for breakfast. At the Clover Grill. They can eat heartily. They can eat 24 hours a day. And, they can eat in a place that has been around for a long, long time. It’s one of those places where everybody knows your name. And, you’ll never know what will happen. I’ll leave it at that. If you ever go there I want you to be surprised.
Oh. You want to know where it is? Lower Bourbon Street. At Dumaine. On the corner. You can’t miss it.
The picture. One from the archives. When I first returned to New Orleans I used to go walking in the French Quarter on Sunday morning. The light was wonderful. There weren’t many people on the street. It wasn’t too hot, but I did have to deal with the early morning goopiness. Eventually, I stopped doing that in favor of photographing second lines. Because of the decline of the number of second lines, I may resume walking the Quarter on Sunday morning. We’ll see.
Even though we were trying to cover a lot of ground fairly quickly, I slowed things down when we got to one of my intended destinations. My colleagues looked around and talked to the bartender. I made pictures of whatever I saw. Inside and out.
It really was just that simple.
Talk to people. Make pictures.
That po’boy sign always draws my attention. It’s been there, in that state, for at least the 19 years that I’ve been in New Orleans. It’s a sort of a landmark. It’s weathered all manner of storms, including Hurricane Katrina.
The bar has survived too. Unlike a couple of bars in the French Quarter, it closes during hurricanes. No matter what, it re-opens. The regulars come back. All is good.
I used to walk around The French Quarter sort of early in the morning on Sunday. I’ve pretty much stopped that, mostly because I rarely go to the Quarter. No real reason. It’s just one of those things.
On this morning I was walking on Bourbon Street, toward the downriver end. Where things are quieter. I saw this man sitting in the Clover Grill behind all that window condensation. What else could I do? I took his picture.
Even when I do walk around the Quarter, I typically am not looking for the ten best tourist photographs. I’m looking for little moments. Slices of life. I think that this picture qualifies. It’s a tiny moment. For those of you who have been around Storyteller for some time — let’s say six years — you may recognize it from an earlier version. But, since about 80% of all bloggers do not make it past two years… well, you know. It’s new to you.
The picture. I wanted to tinker with it. Beyond cleaning up and making the man a little crisper, there is not much that I could do. So, the original image is pretty much how you see it. It’s not that the picture is perfect. It’s that adding my twists to this image wouldn’t do much. It would be trying too hard.
About those ten best locations. I probably should go reshoot and refresh them. Things do change, no matter how stuck in the past we are in New Orleans. Even if it’s just in tiny increments. Besides, New Orleans is the number on tourist destination in the country.
The road trip. The grand tour. Mostly along Route 66. In New Mexico.
Or better said, by Neil Young:
“Well, they say that Santa Fe is less than ninety miles away,
And I got time to roll a number and rent a car.
I’ve been flyin’ down the road, and I’ve been starvin’ to be alone,
And independent from the scene that I’ve known.
So I’ll stop when I can, find some fried eggs and country ham.
I’ll find somewhere where they don’t care who I am.
Oh, Albuquerque, Albuquerque.”
I think these pictures get the same place. Isolation. Aloneness. Disconnectedness.
But, not in me.
After all the year is 2017. It’s all gonna get better. In a minute. So, they say. Me, I’m just exploring. And, in a few minutes I’m going to go explore New Orleans. In dense fog.
The pictures. These were once vibrant color works. Then I got to them. I changed everything. The mood. The tone. The feeling. I guess I’m auditioning for the film industry. Or not.
It just must have been the day. A little weird. It seemed that in every blog, on every photography website and even the couple of paper magazines that I read, the main writer was talking about having to go someplace far away in order to take pictures. Or, being completely unprepared when they saw something that caught their attention.
Pictures are everywhere. Sometimes, they are hidden in the details. Sometimes, they are hiding in common everyday sort of items. Like this commercial coffee pot. They are in your house. They are just outside your door. Everywhere.
All you have to do is look. And, see. And, react.
Of course that means carrying some kind of camera with you. Always. Or, at least most of the time. It’s pretty easy these days.You can make some pretty good pictures with the smart phone that never leaves your side.
The moment happens when it happens. Once it’s gone it’s lost. Maybe you can take a picture of something similar, but the light, the timing — the moment — that caught your eye in the first place is gone. Forever.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s up to you. Not everybody is driven to make pictures all the time. Not everybody wants to think about what they are seeing or the quality of light, or, or, or… But, you don’t have to travel a billion miles to some exotic location to take pictures. You don’t have to go on some kind of picture safari or walk about. Quite frankly, some of those kinds of pictures are so overshot that unless everything is perfect and you get really lucky, they are really boring. I think — “little pictures” — the ones of every day life or every day things are far more interesting. Especially if you put the same effort into them that you do with something exotic.
I took a break. In the middle of chasing around on St. Joseph’s Day, I knew I needed coffee. Espresso. Something to keep me going. I arrive at Croissant D’ Or just as they were closing. Being a good small business, they were happy to make me something even though everything had been cleaned. They even let me sit even though the floors were being washed. Since I believe like that you really should have a camera everywhere, I was ready. I made this picture.
When I lived near this neighborhood, I used to stop by “Liuzza’s By The Track” a lot. It’s classic New Orleans. A neighborhood dive-cafe-bar that serves great food quickly. You can have New Orleans-styled food or you can have a cheeseburger. You can ice tea or a beer. Or, something stronger. Or water.
It was heavily flooded during the storm and recovered very nicely, mostly because it is about three streets from the fairgrounds where Jazzfest is held. Tourists come from far and wide. Locals come from around the corner. I haven’t been there for a long time. I was hungry. It was lunchtime. And, I was in the neighborhood.
I call pictures like this one, “little pictures” because they are small snapshots in time. Usually, I keep the detail as the main subject with the action going on in the background. These pictures are hard to take. The minute somebody sees me focusing, they try to get out of my way. So, I have to be sneaky. Not because I don’t want them to know I’m taking a picture. I usually talk with them anyway. I just don’t want them to be nice and get out-of-the-way.
I’m moving a lot of my daily publishing to Instagram. The doesn’t mean I’m ending this. To the contrary, I’ll try to make Storyteller better. But, I reckon more people will see this blog if I tell them about it on more photo-oriented sites. Even though I have a lot of feedback on Facebook, it takes forever to grow anything from that platform. It’s the same for me with Twitter. It may turn out to be the same using Instagram, but unless I experiment I’ll never know.
To me, this take is amazing. It is still part of the 45 minute dusk shoot that I had in Cairo. In that short time, I pretty much made pictures that capture the sense and feel of a long road trip. I kept saying that I was “photographically fulfilled,” which is a riff from “musically fulfilled.” I can’t help saying that. I was. And, it was pretty amazing. It normally would take me days to make these pictures. It was either photographer’s luck times ten, or I was just full of energy after driving about 9 hours. And, I released it all in one go.
These pictures are pretty much what I saw. I added a few different techniques in post production, but that was just for fun. The pictures could stand on their own. In fact, the picture I call “The Real Thing,” does stand on its own. No added extras. Just a little cleaning up. But, that’s normal. Nothing comes out of a digital camera that is ready for prime time.
One more thing. I thought that I would be showing you pictures of Mardi Gras Indians and Super Sunday. But, the Indians postponed it because of predicted rain. Of course, there was no rain today. Something is blowing in tonight and the temperature should drop into winter highs. So, they say.