Artists of all dsiciplines have been coiming to New Mexico for years. Most will say that it for the amazing New Mexico light. Some of the best light comes during the late winter when storms roll in and out with great frequency.

T

here are days and there are days. On the day that I made this picture I needed a little solitude.

A group of photographers gathered in a coffee shop. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the most wonderful pre-sunset in a long time.

That’s saying something because New Mexico is the land of great sunsets.

I said that I was going to chase light and asked if anyone wanted to come. The other photographers looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them followed me out and said that he’d have to go home to get his camera. I asked why he didn’t always carry one because we live in a land of incredible light. He didn’t quite know what to say except that he only used his camera on planned excursions.

I hit the road and made five pretty good pictures. I made small work prints and brought them with me to the next meeting in a coffee shop. The other photographers were amazed.

That cause them to change. They probably still aren’t prepared. And, they still make tropes.

I guess it must be the photojournalist in me. I make those kinds of pictures too, but as a way of warming up. But, then again, my landscape work doesn’t look like anybody else’s work.

I’d probably make more money if I took the easy way, but what would be the fun in that?

I’d lose myself in the rush to cash.

T

here are a few technical challenges that I’d like to discuss.

They aren’t really in post production except for a little clean up.

Instead, they are in the making of the original file.

First, comes patience. I found the location. Then, I waited for something to happen.

Without that little touch of red from the car’s tail lights there would be no counterpoint to the isolation.

The actual exposure was easy. By this time of day the light is relatively flat and lacking extreme contrast.

My post production mostly consisted of using a subtle glow filter which gave the clouds a mild 3D effect and separation from the main scene.

Of course, I didn’t do that when I first developed the RAW file. As I recover these pictures I’m reworking them to my current look and feel.

It’s just like playing a song a different way live than a musician does in the studio.

A wise musician once said that after playing the song 500 times on stage, it finally taught him how to play it.


Parking in blue.

The picture a day project lead to a lot of day trips. It lead me to a place near Cerrilos, New Mexico. That’s where I found this Bel Air parked in a Trade Post lot.

Normally, I’d go inside, talk to the folks who were there and buy something, usually water. Nobody was around, so I made a bunch of pictures of the car from all angles. As usual, the best view was the simplest.

The car looks pretty original. Northern New Mexico is prime lowrider country. The cars they build are pretty amazing. It’s a wonder that this car hasn’t been scooped up. I’m guessing the owner knows what he has and it won’t come cheaply.

I’d like to stop here, but I’d be wrong not to discuss yet another American symbol. Mass shootings. This time it happened at the FEDEX distribution center in Indianapolis. Eight dead. The shooter killed himself. A few more wounded, one critically. WTFF?

And, in the swamp four people were shot throughout the city, one was killed. I guess the weekend came early. We’ve been averaging seven or eight shot people per weekend for a long time. I suppose that means the pandemic is over in New Orleans.

I’d rather eat a taco or a burger.

Technical stuff. What technical stuff?

I saw it. I photographed it. I processed it. I did very little editing beyond that.

There is a philosophy behind it. I started viewing PAD as a kind of photojournalism. Don’t mess around with pictures.

It’s simple.

Most of the images I post here are a kind of art and I really do tinker with them in post production.

That’s different.

Art is art is art. Do whatever you want to express your vision.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other.


All the color you can see.

My kind of photograph. Lots of big, bold, bright color. I didn’t actually see quite as much color when I stopped to press the button, but I did see the tree reflection. That’s what caught my attention.

You know me. I’m of the opinion that anything can be a picture. Not in all light. Or, at all times of day. You have to be patient. Or, have an all seeing dog. She knows all. Even though she see monochromatically, she can see how the light and shadows fall.

In fact, she stood right in front of this car. Well, SUV. She moved when she saw what I was doing.

I should be somewhere in the picture, but I can’t find myself. Maybe you can.

The big news of the day is that I get my CoVid-19 vaccination today. The hospital scheduled me for my second injection as well.

I don’t think much is going to change for me in how I address the virus. I’ll still social distance. I’ll still mask. I’ll still growl at the person who stands too close to me in the grocery. Or, has his mask way down over his nose.

If I don’t speak for me, who will?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoying all the seeing.

Seeing and looking are two different items in sort of a continuum. You can look and see nothing. I know a lot of people like that, including me sometimes.

Or, you can look and see. That’s a very different thing. It’s what enables me to see this car and the tree reflections. It enables me to feel the picture.

I think making a photograph is mostly by feel, rather than intellectual or mechanical.

For sure, you have to understand your gear and you have to understand who and what you are as a photographer. But, that’s not directly involved when you actually make the picture. It hovers in the background.

Of course, you have to have another kind of vision when you are developing and editing the picture.

If you do, you might make something with which you are happy.


All about rain. No. This isn’t Hurricane Sally. These pictures were made during a typical gulf coast summer storm. Usually, the humidity collects and sometime in the afternoon all that water needs a place to go.

It’s interesting to see. These pictures were made in a grocery store parking. It was raining pretty hard where i was parked.

At the other side of the lot, nothing. The pavement wasn’t dry because there had been rain earlier. But, nothing was falling while we were getting soaked.

Waiting game.

Anyway. Hurricane Sally may not be much in New Orleans. She’s slowed way down, picking up more water from the gulf. She’s also turned further east. We are not even in the cone any longer.

We’ll probably get a little wind and some rain, but nothing like we were expecting earlier this week.

Droplets on the windshield.

The pictures. I decided to wait out the hardest rain. I get bored easily so I decided to make a few pictures. These are mostly just point and shoot. I see this kind of work as being close to photojournalism so I don’t tinker with them.

The real trick is to get as much information as you can into the frame. That means a wide angle lens. Smartphones usually have the equivalent of a 28mm which is intended to keep every part of the subject sharp.

Some smart phones have an adjustable lens. Mine does. The lens “sees” anywhere from 28mm to 600mm. This gives me some great reach, but good luck keeping it steady. Generally speaking one out of about every six images is sharp, and that’s with good bracing technique.

I could use a little tripod, but who does that while you are carrying your phone everywhere?

Looking back.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy every burrito.


Way beyond me.

2020.

That’s all I know.

If it can happen, it will happen. Apparently this guy was sitting in a car in the Louisiana heat and he died. I was so hot that his skin seared off and we are left with bones.

Dem bones.

That’s the best I can come up with on short notice.

What really happened was this. We went to visit some friends at a place where we could socially distance ourselves. We were walking between two parked cars and I happened to glance to my right.

Wait. What?

A skeleton.

I thought I’d better take some pictures of this. So I did.

Before you ask, I haven’t a clue. Probably, just as well.

If you look closely you can see me. Or, is it me? I wasn’t wearing sunglasses. My hair isn’t that short. My fingers aren’t that long. Spooky.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy all the fried soft shell crabs.


Inversion.

Reflections.

An image found within a photograph. That’s what you are looking at. An accidental picture. I didn’t see it. The dog didn’t see it. I made another reflection picture. I stooped down to do that. When I stood up I saw this one. Really, part of this one. I had to reposition myself so that you wouldn’t see me.

That’s about it.

While I was ranting yesterday, I said something that needs more explanation. I first read about it in late March or April. It’s called the BS Theory. Just about everything we do is governed by some kind of procedure or company imposed rule that makes no sense.

Here’s an example.

I take Tramadol for my hip and back pain issues. It is essential in managing my body’s ills. About a year ago, it wound up on a restricted list. It was the federal government’s way of helping to solve the opiod crisis. It’s heavy handed. None of the medical professionals who treat me like it. The doctor didn’t like it. The insurance company didn’t like it. Nor, did the pharmacy. It was just more red tape.

Part of the process is a urine test, than a doctor’s visit, followed by my signing a form proclaiming that I would use it correctly and that I wouldn’t sell the pills.

This whole thing actually took bits of three days.

Along comes the coronavirus and that goes out the window. I still took the urine test, but everything else was done by teleconference. Even the prescription that I was supposed to pick up in person was faxed to the pharmacy.

See what I mean?

BS procedures.

Admittedly, I’m pure as the driven snow. That may count for something. If it does, why go through all the rest of it?

Think about procedures that you have to follow. They don’t make sense. Even the telephone agent who you may have to talk to doesn’t understand them, but insists that you follow them.

And, so it goes.

Stay safe. Keep might. Enjoy every sandwich.


Seeing reflections.

My eyes.

I see things that others might not. I think this is the part of photography that can’t be taught. This is where talent comes into play. It’s not artistic talent. It’s not like being able to paint. Or, play music. That’s talent.

Seeing is something else entirely. It’s something given to those of us who have it. I could look at something and see maybe five pictures. Someone else might just pass it by.

I suppose it’s like singing. Some people were born with a thick set of vocal cords, which are really flaps. They can sing from the moment they open their mouth. Other singers are trained. They do good work with what they have.

I see photography and music in the same way. Both industries have been blown apart, and I’m not talking about the results of the pandemic. Even before that, it was getting harder and harder to earn a living.

The onrush of the digital world hurt us both. Photography has gotten to the point that anyone can take a picture. With a little more effort, almost anyone can record a song and upload it to any number of streaming platforms.

Are the pictures good? Is the song good? That’s a matter of taste.

But, the marginal songs and pictures get in the way of the good work. It becomes mostly noise and very little signal. You have to fight your way through all of the pictures and songs to find the good stuff. The one big difference between the two art forms is that a musician with a record deal has his or her record label to do the heavy lifting of promoting, distributing and marketing the song.

That’s partially why photographers blog, and post to all manner of social media platforms. We hope someone will see us. Again, there are so many pictures floating around that it’s very hard to find us.

I believe that the one way to find us is with proper meta tagging or key wording. Folks searching for a particular image might find it by just typing a few words. The process of tagging takes time and effort. It’s probably the most time consuming phase of posting to Storyteller. You can’t see them, but every picture I post here has 15 tags embedded in the file. That’s done at the final stage of post production.

How are you enabling people to find your work when they’d start with a Google search?

The Picture

I was walking by a car when I saw a leaf perched on the metal of the window frame. I worked the image until I was mostly not in the photograph. I’m still there. Find the photographer.

The picture is a great example of seeing. My seeing. This picture is not obvious. I think most people would walk by and not see it. Others might see it and not react.

No post production was needed other than to crop and make it a little darker. It was easy work.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your damn masks — don’t make me come in there. Enjoy every leaf.


Night work on the street.

Night time, not in the switching yard.

Things change at night. Things look a little mysterious. Things look a little spooky. And, night photography can hide a multitude of sins.

I wasn’t hiding anything this time. It was mostly just timing because guess who wanted to go for a walk at night time. We normally don’t do that because with my hurting parts I don’t want to make them worse by tripping over some unseen pot hole.

Anyway.

We were walking along a street when a thought came to me. I had no idea how a smart phone would respond to a situation like this one. My first two test shots were sharp as a tack. My phone can approximate a DSLR by changing the settings to manual. I did that and this is the result.

Normally you could deal with this setting by panning. That would keep the car fairly sharp. I wanted to make amore artistic attempt at the picture. I think I succeeded. The strange thing is the color. This is the color as it came out of the phone. All I did was clean up the picture a little bit. I’m not sure why it is almost monochrome. Every other night picture is full color. I’m going to do a little research. It could just be that I was at the end of the phone’s capability.


Car reflections.

After not making pictures for a couple of weeks, they all came tumbling out.

I had an Ernst Haas moment. I had a Jay Maisel moment. I had a David Allen Harvey moment. I had my own moment.

Best of all I photographed what I saw. I saw a lot.

This picture is not what you think it is. I’m willing to bet that you think this is one of my layered pictures. It isn’t. Or, it is water. It’s not that, either.

It’s a reflection of trees on a car trunk, or boot as they say in England. There are a few leaves sort of pasted to the car’s surface. Those were left after the rain storm.  Needless to say, it’s all real.

Sure.

There is some post production going on. It’s mostly to darken highlights, open up shadows and sharpen little bits of the picture. There is no heavy post or editing going on. The picture is pretty much how I saw it.

The image was made on my phone. A little work was done in Snapseed. Most of it was done after a saved it as a Tiff, sent it to my main machine and finished it using OnOne.

Now, you know some of my new tricks. Most of them revolve around letting the picture tell me what to do.

The notion of letting something tell me how to work with it could be my sub-topic for today. I truly believe that, especially in creative fields. As I cruise through various social media, I see way too many people trying to control the process. I think it’s because they are still insecure with their genre. Pictures, Painting, Making music, Writing.

One guy, on Facebook, made a lot of pictures at Jazzfest. Most of what he was posting were pictures of Mardi Gras Indians and various second lines. To me, those are bright, vibrant and colorful scenes. He was torn between posting them in black and white or color. In the spirit of letting the picture tell you what to do, I suggested that they should be made in color for the very reason I just mentioned. There were a lot of folks who got excited by black and white because that gave the picture some kind of gravitas. He went in their direction. Oh well. You can lead a horse to water…

It’s not a question of being wrong or right. It can never be. It’s a question of subject matter. It’s also a question of making the very best picture that you can in the field. If you do that, you don’t have to worry about technique. The picture “just is.”  I think I know what he is trying to do by making black and white files. As I’ve said in the past just about everybody photographs New Orleans events. Making black and white pictures is a way of separating yourself from the pack. If you are trying that and have any guts at all, turn the camera sensor to JPEG and turn off the color capture. Make the pictures in black and white right from the start. No going back.

What do you think?