Everything you need to know is in this picture.

Thoughts that cross my mind. Not everyday, but more often than not during our pandemic times. There’s another random thought that crossed my mind. “Pandemic Times.” A good name for a newspaper in these non-newspaper days.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Lately, my thoughts have been roaming and random. Like the one above, but it doesn’t count.

I think about how to fix the streets after the mayor made a big deal out of starting a big project in the area of the city in which I probably venture to twice a year. Meanwhile, my street has potholes in potholes. Some people grow crops in them. Some people decorate them.

I fix some of them the same way that my neighbors do. Fill the base up to about two inches from street level with unneeded Mardi Gras beads. Then, a layer of quick set concrete and finally a layer of a compound that looks like asphalt that you buy at Home Depot.

This is all illegal, but when the NOPD beat cops come by in their cars, they pull over blocking us from the street and turn on their red and blue lights. They are protecting us, so in return they get coffee, tea, water and some kind of snack.

This is one of the reasons we like our street level cops. They use their heads. They don’t over react. Besides, if they hit potholes near my house, their teeth rattle in their heads.

If you are wondering why they just can’t avoid the pothole, well, when you do that you just hit another pothole, probably worse than the one you’re avoiding.

The subject in the picture reminded me of all that. I’ll tell you about that in the right column.

The right hand column. It’s mostly used for technical issues. Because I’m not a huge technician there isn’t much of that.

I saw a car that was reflecting the foreground scene almost perfectly so I stood back and made a few frames.

I stood back because I didn’t want to be in the picture. That succeeded but I managed to capture a few letters. I have no idea where they came from.

I also had to use a border to hold in the bottom which looks like a mistake. It’s not. It’s just a part of the car’s hood.

The rest looks pretty cool, I think. It really needs those bright leaves to make the picture pop.

All of this was done in camera with just a bit of tuning up in editing.

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


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.


Chasing light.

Light. The thing itself.

We chase it.

That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. Maybe everybody does it. We chase light. Photographers need it to make pictures. Artists use the interplay between light and dark to work. All of us needs light to live.

Artificial light is fine, but sunlight is the real deal.

Of course, humans can alter that. We can create different environments. Some are good. Some aren’t. And, some are terrible. Just think about the environment we are creating for ourselves called climate change. Australians sure are thinking about that right now.

The light that I’m talking about is pretty. It’s created by late afternoon winter sun when the blue sky. That’s what this picture is about. The scene is common. Cars parked in a parking lot. But, the light. Oh my God, the light. I wish I were in a better place to work this light. But if I was, I might have lost it. Or, it might not have the reflective strength. So, I took what I had. I worked the technique to make it as good as I could.

After all, that’s all we can do with anything. We can do the best that we can. Do that and be a happy person.

Happy New Year.


Take a look around.

I want to make a point.

A friend of mine published his blog last week. It was a recap of a recap because he hadn’t finished working on pictures that he took while he was traveling via a cruise. That’s what he usually posts.

He listened to me when I suggested that he work a little more freely by using smaller more hand holdable cameras. He may have gone too far because all he uses is one of the smallest Sony fixed lens cameras. That’s another story.

The real story is this. He very rarely works around home. To me, that’s death for a number of reasons.

First, and most importantly, photographers always think about pictures and work everywhere. I make some of my best work a few minutes out of my door.

Two, I can’t ever work cold. I must practice. I must rehearse. When I walk onto the stage of an assignment my chops are elevated. I’m ready to work. I don’t need to shoot until I feel comfortable because I am already comfortable.

Three, the world is a big place. Going to photographable locations generally means that you’ll make derivative pictures. You’ll be copying someone else’s work. Or, as we used to say you’ll be looking for tripod holes. As the very well known photographer, Sam Abell once said, “take YOUR picture.”

So.

I made this picture. I don’t know how good the picture is, but it’s about as good as the umbrella in the pool picture that I published yesterday. You know exactly what it is. You walk by, over and around, yellow parking lot stripes maybe every day. I did find two cars to frame it. And, I did a little magic in post production.

My point is fairly simple. Take, make or think pictures all the time. Don’t wait to travel. Don’t go out specifically go out to look for “photo ops,” a term that I dislike. For me there are no photo ops. There is only the world. The big world. A smaller world. And, my world.

Think about that.

 


Lights in action.

Driving.

Motion. Movement. The combination of others moving and my own motion helped to create some kind of impressionistic art.

And, a lot of Ws.

I reckon that the Ws were created by NOLA’s potholed streets. Hit a hole and down the car goes. So too, with the other cars around me.  Up. Down. Up. Down.

Anyway.

I was out looking for pictures one evening when I decided to go from the Garden District to the French Quarter. To do that I had to pass through the CBD. Central Business District. That’s where I ran into this pack of cars. And, a bus. I wasn’t really following them. But, they were in front of me.

I took advantage of the situation. That’s what my version of street photography really is about. Opportunism. And, luck.

If I had chosen some other profession, I’d probably be rich by now. I’d have a very easy life. What would be the fun in that?

Oh. NSU. A song from the legendary band, Cream. “Driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy is when I play my guitar.”


Red Cars for Jesus
Red Cars for Jesus

Seriously. Before you read any further, open the picture. Then, you’ll understand the caption. I never knew that Jesus had a car club. Or, that Jesus even had a car. Hmmm… I’ll have to go read up on this new development. I have to admit. He’d have looked pretty good cruising around in that beast of a car. Or, the red Caddy convertible behind it. Sheesh. Even I’d look pretty cool in that car.

These are the kinds of scenes — and pictures — that are near and dear to my heart. They are quirky. They take a very twisted sense of humor to even want to stop and take the picture. To tell you the truth, I passed it by. Twice. I saw something else that caught my attention. But, I just had to stop the second time around. I also felt like I had to leave the scene pretty loose so you could get any idea of the neighborhood. Actually, it’s not a great representation of it. Because. Right across the street is the horse racing track where Jazzfest is held. The Fair Ground Race Track which is a couple of blocks away from The Fair Grinds coffee shop. This is my old neighborhood. I used to spend a lot of time in the coffee shop. Not so much at the race track.

The picture. Nothing technical about it. Just mind your surroundings. Tell me who said that. And, in what movie?

See. I’m easily influenced.


Black and White
Black and White

You’ve heard of Cadillac Ranch, yes?

If not, it’s a group of Cadillacs half buried along Interstate 40 located in West Texas. Just west of Amarillo. You can also say located on Route 66, if you prefer. They are placed in a straight line that some say are pointed in the same angle as the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt. The cars range in age from 1949 to 1963. The burying was done in 1974. They are spray painted, coated in graffiti by passersby, and are probably one of the most photographed road side attractions in the country.

Okay.

That’s it for Cadillac Ranch.

Because.

I found Cadillac Farm. At least, that’s what I’m calling it. It’s in the neighborhood back behind what used to be the St. Bernard Housing Projects. The projects were torn down after the levee failure that occurred during Hurricane Katrina. They were flooded. The surrounding neighborhoods were as well. Like a phoenix the projects rose from the ashes, er, mud and were rebuilt as Columbia Parc in what is now called the St. Bernard Bayou District.

The surrounding neighborhoods are coming back, at least along the street that gave the original projects their name. St. Bernard Avenue. But, once you start poking around the back streets, recovery is hit and miss, like many areas of New Orleans. That’s where all these Cadillacs were parked.

So. How did I find this place?

The story jumps below this picture. Because, it’s long.

A Touch of Red
A Touch of Red

I was going to a church that is located between the interstate and the new Columbia Parc complex. To photograph a jazz funeral.

However, I didn’t do that because it was very formal. No big brass bands. No outdoor crowds. None of the usual jazz funeral stuff. Many mourners dressed in black instead of white or bright colors. Even though the community was invited, it seemed very private. So. I paid my respects, didn’t make pictures, left and looked around the neighborhood.

This confused me a little, because…

Broke Down
Broke Down

The man who passed was Smokey Johnson. A musician. Even though he was local, he wasn’t. He was bigger than that. He was Fats Domino’s drummer for something like forty years. And, he wrote one song called “It Ain’t My Fault” that became sort of the anthem for brass bands walking in second lines. The song is an icon. So is Fats Domino. And, the musicians who played with him. After all, Fats did nothing less than invent rock n’ roll. In 1947. In Cosmo Matissa’s studio in the French Quarter. During an unnamed hurricane. No disrespect to Elvis Presley, but even he said that without Fats, he wouldn’t have played and sang the way that he did.

So…

Back to Back. Chicken Shack.
Back to Back. Chicken Shack.

These cars. All Cadillacs. All black and white. Varying ages. I have no idea who owns them. Or, why they are there. A couple of them are hearses. Most are not. There’s even a convertible. Unlike just about everything else in New Orleans that looks remotely abandoned, they are untagged. No graffiti.

I photographed them in the morning, which is why they have a nice golden glow. Nobody was around. But, I had a feeling that somebody was watching. I’m willing to bet that if I had done anything else other than wander around with a camera in my hand, somebody would have appeared with a shotgun is his hand.

All in the Missing Details
All in the Missing Details

The pictures. The cars are as you see them. The light was right. The subjects were right. The scene was right. I cleaned and sharpened them up a touch because you have to do that in the digital era. The pictures. Not the cars. They look like they have to be restored just to get to the point where you can really start restoring them. The cars. Not the pictures.


Here's looking at you.
Here’s looking at you.

Junk. New Mexican Junk. Sunday’s junk.

Unlike the junk in New Orleans, this junk isn’t so rusty. It is mostly sand and wind-blown. Sure, there’s some rust. But nothing like you get in the high humidity swamp that I call home. For now.

This place. It’s in Moriarty. New Mexico. You can see it from I-40 just east of Albuquerque. It’s owned by a very New Mexican sort of fellow called Archie. He owns a lot of land out this way. He’s also pretty much well-known throughout the area. Generally when he talks about the history of the region, he tells the truth. After all, he’s lived a lot of it. He knows some stories about nuclear development that are downright scary. You can see him in the third picture. I should also add that the last time I saw him was before my return to the swamp. A while back. I’m not saying anything more about that. Bad juju. You know?

Anyway. He’s friendly. Call ahead. Let him know you are coming. He’ll let you have the run of the junkyard. He’ll ask for a donation, but that’s to be expected. It’s mostly to support the wonderfully restored or pristine cars in the car barn. After all, how much of this old junk can he sell? Some of the oldest cars and trucks — Model-Ts and before are almost melting into the dirt.

A word about this page design. I had grand plans of making a newspaper page-like design. Like the kind I used to do. Very clean. Large leading picture. A very nicely organized group of sub pictures. Yeah. Good luck with that. Maybe if I could write code, I might be able to do something. But, no way within the confines of this page template. I could make smaller pictures. But, I couldn’t align them. If I did, one picture dropped below the group. And, of course, I couldn’t wrap the type. I probably shouldn’t worry much about it. Storyteller is really about pictures. Not page design.

Oh well.

If any of you have a better idea, please let me know.  I could use some better ideas.

Some kind of truck.
Some kind of truck.

Archie
Archie

Piles of cars.
Piles of cars.


From the frozen North.
From the frozen North.

From the Frozen North.
From the Frozen North.

The people who own this house, their cars, the bird house and the chain link fence are my kinda people. A little bit obsessed. A little bit crazy. But, they look like they are having fun.

We stumbled on this place while my friends were trying to find some of the kind of junk I like to photograph in New Orleans. Alas, they could not really find anything. It seems that the good folks up there are just too organized and clean. Even the one factory we found that was in the middle of being torn down was just gleaming in the winter sun. Compare that to the same kind of thing in New Orleans and… well, there is no comparison. Ours look like they need tearing down.

These pictures. Well. They’re pink. I didn’t do very much to them. I didn’t need to. When I made them I was just enjoying the place. These people obviously love the color pink. Even the chain link fence is pink. I wish I knew what their obsession is with pink but, we didn’t take the time to ask. That’s pretty bad. Even those these days we fall under the heading of artists, we met many, many years ago when we were working as journalists. We, of all people, know better.

Oh yeah. Muskegon, Michigan. I think. Some journalist. I don’t even know where I was.