o you remember what I said yesterday about November 21 being the start of my year? Well, I started that. After some thought I decided that I wanted to take a look back at my traveling life.
This does two things.
You get to see photographs that you might never have seen. You know. Exclusive to the readers of Storyteller. I have further plans for that.
This also forces me to work through my archive and do something about the 50 year old mess.
I also am playing with, tinkering with, and experimenting with different art forms.
his is The Church of Saint Francis Assisi located in Taos, New Mexico. It’s actually in Rancho de Taos. The plaza that is built around the church is dusty and has seen better days.
Just about everybody and their brother has photographed it. And, their brother’s brother too. It’s a challenge to do something different. I think I did, but only because of luck and timing. Saying that is a gamble. Obviously, I haven’t seen every picture that was taken there.
The world is upside down. Time has no meaning. People are living in fear. Stupidity is the order of the day.
There is hope. Even though the current state of change is very negative, there are those of us who think that if we make it to the other side there is reason something positive can come of this. I happen to be one of those people who might not make it. I’m in a very vulnerable age group. I have one underlying condition.
If I follow the directions I can make it. I think I can. But, the government advice keeps changing. Last week we were told to buy enough food for seven days. Now were are being told that “this is not the time to go shopping. This is not the time to go to the pharmacy.” Great. Just great. We have enough food to make it through a week. Luckily. I do have to go to the pharmacy. Eventually.
We are told to wear masks in public. The president says that’s just advice and he won’t be wearing one. What kind of leadership is that? I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. What’s the point?
The picture. It’s layered to make a point about spring. Now that the unseasonable heat has passed and we are living in typical spring weather, beauty abounds. I enhanced it. Two Irises in one. Since Catholics cannot hold services in the real world, this is for them.
Stay safe. Care for each other. Keep your distance. Mask up. Enjoy every plate of pasta.
A day about redemption. A day for reflection. For us, a quiet day.
Right now the world is in terrible shape.
Leaders want to be dictators. Leaders who lie. Small wars in many countries. Church burnings in my own home state. Church bombings today, Easter Sunday, that killed at least 220 people and hurt around 500 others in Sri Lanka. A mosque fire in the Middle East. Notre Dame burning in Paris. Scared people trying to escape death in their countries being turned away at our border. A general shift in immigrants from the Middle East to Europe. Bad water in Flint, Michigan. People in Puerto Rico still struggling from their last hurricane And, more. Much more.
Sheesh. I haven’t even included the mother of all issues. Climate change. How it already affects us. How it will affect us in the future.
There doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate on this Easter Sunday.
Yes. I know.
If you are Christian, you celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. After three days.Those must have been three, long tortuous days for his followers, believers and friends.
What does that mean for us, 2019 years later?
For me, it lies in my headline. In a small way. For sure, most of us can’t help directly with some of the bad things I mentioned above. I’m not going to Sri Lanka to help the people recover from a most despicable act. I can give some money to help them recover, but that seems to be sort of any easy way out.
In my country, at least, I can support the political candidate of my choice and vote the wannabe dictator and his ilk out of office. That’s the right thing to do. And, it’s peaceful. It’s how my country was founded and is supposed to work.
Maybe more direct action is necessary. Help our neighbors when they need it. Help strangers when they need it. It can be anything. The smallest of things.
Today, I held a door open for a young woman who was carrying a couple of boxes. She controlled the boxes okay, but she couldn’t open the gate. She was so thankful when I opened and held for her to pass through. I’m not special. It was the very least that I could do. When did doing such a simple thing become so extraordinary? It shouldn’t be.
So that’s it.
My challenge. To me. You can do whatever you like. I’d like you to try it.
Do three things for someone else. Tasks that are so simple you normally wouldn’t even think about it. Do this daily. Do it one day at a time. Seems that I heard that somewhere. Don’t go chasing around looking for stuff, but when it occurs you should do it. Why three? I’ll tell you later.
If my belief that 1 + 1 = 3 is right, pretty sure we can change some things on a local level. Maybe, eventually, we can all climb out of our silos and talk to each other. Talk to people with whom we disagree, but are trying to understand. Maybe that leads to collaboration. That’s how things used to work. There is an old saying that if a negotiation was successful, everybody left the room pissed off. Fair enough.
Maybe, that leads to some kind of energy and bigger issues are solved.
I honestly don’t know. But, it’s worth a try on this day of redemption. On any day.
If you read yesterday’s Storyteller you might have an idea of what I mean. Those first pictures of Mardi Gras Indians were made right here, at this place. In a very different time.
I made this picture yesterday. I had some business in Treme and other errands around downtown. The dog who sees stuff hopped into the car wanting to go for a ride. I got her leash and off we went. I did what I needed to and took her for a walk around a very long block. She had a great time. All those brand new smells, and sights. When we made the turn on the corner at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church — and jazz church — I saw this. An original Katrina cross. And, some new growth coming right out of the church wall.
I made the picture. I had to. It is the perfect bookend to yesterday’s post. I didn’t even know that the church had been searched in the days following the storm.
The “X” is called the cross. The number on top means it was searched on September 10th (2005). COM means it was completely searched and there were no bodies — not human, or animal. CA8 really tugs at my heart. It means California Highway Patrol. CHiPs, as they are sometimes called. I grew up with those guys. They were there for me growing up. They came for me in New Orleans.
The picture is also a good Sunday picture. It’s peaceful. It’s about trauma. It’s about rebirth. And, it is brand new. A good way to start the week.
Not only did I make this picture during normal daylight hours, but I used completely different production software.
Two reasons. I do like to experiment and tinker. But, my usual software, On1, has some new downloaded upgrades. The company seems to be struggling when it comes to new products. Especially with new upgrades. In this case, not only did the updated software crash their own system, but it crashed my computer. Three times. I kept thinking that if I reboot everything, the new upgrades would settle down.
I’ll contact them tomorrow. I know what they are going to say. It must be your computer. Funny, that. It’s powerful enough for their software, the hard drive is fairly clean and the other software works just fine. The fix will be to remove their software and reinstall it. I don’t think so. Not this week. Downloading their base software is very time-consuming. I have a few thousand other things to do.
A while back, Google gave away the Nik products. That’s right. Gave away. As in free. I knew there would be a catch. For a long time, there wasn’t. Eventually, Google said that they would no longer support it, which meant no new upgrades. But, the software works flawlessly. And, they say it will continue to work as is.
I haven’t messed with it much. But, this morning I decided I would give it a try. A long try. I’d like to say there is a learning curve. But, there isn’t one. It’s as intuitive as it could be. It’s faster than On1 or even any Adobe products. There is also some flexibility that nobody else provides. The really cool thing is that it’s not all one giant app. It’s organized into separate apps so that one is all the special effects, one is sharpening, one is black and white conversion. And, so on. This keeps them all working fairly quickly. My computer is not trying to run everything at the same time.
It’s still free to download.
The picture. Another one that I made while I was waiting for the Eclipse. A perfect little stock photographic image. A nicely exposed St. Louis Cathedral. Blue Sky. White puffy clouds. A nice old New Orleans wrought iron fence. My agency friends should be happy with this one.
It’s also a really nice, gentle, glowing, Sunday picture.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans decided to close 33 churches in the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina. They merged the parishes of this church — Saint Francis De Sales — with a neighboring church — The Church of The Holy Ghost. The parishioners were not happy about it. But, the years following the storm were bleak. Many churches of all religious denominations lost big portions of their congregations. Even though the Catholic Church as a whole is wealthy, many local regions are struggling. For all sorts of reasons. I’m not getting into that here. The purpose of these pictures is to tell you a little story. About this particular place.
This church is called a pioneering church. It was built around 1870. It is a city landmark. It is among one of the first churches in the nation to integrate Black-styled gospel music with Catholic ceremonies.
Unfortunately, in 2008 it was closed and eventually put up for sale. I first saw it in about late 2011. It was still for sale. The archdiocese asked too much money for it. However, it came with the main church building, a residence, a former school building and a pretty good-sized piece of land.
Now, four years later, it is abandoned. I suppose that the Catholic Church still owns it. But, they aren’t actively maintaining it. The buildings are locked up tightly. But, this is New Orleans. It hasn’t been tagged. But, it has been broken into. The top picture is evidence of that. There used to be a really nice wrought iron fence around it. Most of that is gone. The neighborhood? Some of it is back. Many of the houses near the church are not. Like the church, many sit abandoned. Some are boarded up. Some are not.
I’d like to photograph the interior of all the buildings. I’ll call the archdiocese for permission. I’m not sneaking in like I do when some buildings are sitting wide open. I want a key. To the locks. All of them.
That said, I’m shifting the focus of Storyteller. I’m going to back away a little from the Mardi Gras culture. Not because I’m worried about what happened on Sunday. Shootings and mass shootings seem to be part and parcel of the times in which we live. I can deal with that. In my way.
Instead, I came to it this way. I was watching a short film called “Everybody Street.” It’s about street photographers. A lot of famous shooters. And, some not so well-known. One of them said that the main reason to document the things that he does is because his subjects won’t always be there. That really struck home.
Even here, in New Orleans, so much is changing rapidly. Gentrification is driving the old residents out. They can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods that they called home for years and years. Even when gentrification is a good thing, it isn’t. During the Katrina Ten Year Anniversary series I wrote about the St. Roch Market. What the neighborhood needed was a real live modern grocery store. What they got was a hipster food court. There’s nothing wrong with a food court, but from that neighborhood almost all the way to the St. Bernard Parish border is a food desert. No modern grocery stores. Just a few old-fashioned food stores.
That’s sort of an aside. But, it’s an example.
There is so much to document. To show coming generations. Yes. Second lines, Mardi Gras Indians and brass bands are a big part of that. But, there are plenty of people who want to document that. You’ve seen my pictures of people taking pictures on the scene. There are more and more photographers coming to the big events every year.
There aren’t so many people who want to poke around on side streets and broken neighborhoods. There aren’t many photographers who want to research the locations and tell their stories in words and in images.
I’ll do it. I’m happy to do it. It’s an honor. And, a pleasure.
The pictures. I looked and around and photographed what I saw. Then I tinkered with the pictures to help you to see what I felt. You should have a point when you are messing around in Photoshop, or OnOne or whatever. My point is to get you there.
Just about everybody has photographed it. Or, painted it.
A few of those artists who did are: Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Ned Scott. And, that’s just getting started. Georgia O’Keeffe said that it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the United States left by the early Spaniards. There you have it. I almost can’t say anything more.
But. You know me. I can.
I’ve been stopping by this place — the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, in Rancho de Taos — for years. I’ve photographed it on black and white film. Color film. Digital sensor. If I could paint, I probably would have painted it. I haven’t really hadn’t added very much to the original artists who worked here. I doubt that many of the millions of photographers who passed this way have added much to the general collection either. We all end up repeating ourselves. We become derivative. We can’t help it. This place is beautiful in its wonderful simplicity.
Then, on one trip to Taos I saw the light. I was heading back to my hotel at about dusk I got very, very, very lucky. The sky went crazy. It exploded with color. I worked as hard as a could for about 15 or 20 minutes. That’s all the time I really had. The top picture is one of the results. It’s special. To me. I’m sure somebody may have made a picture something like it. After all, New Mexico is all about light. At least for artists of all genres. Just stand there. The light will make you look good.
This is one of those pictures that I can’t really claim. It’s nature’s work. I really just saw it and pushed the button. Really.
Since today is Good Friday and tonight is the beginning of Passover, Mahavira Jayanti, Theravadin New Year and Hanumana Jayani, I thought that I should post something appropriate. I found this little place in the 4th Ward in Mid-City while I was looking for an old music club called The Black Diamond. I found the club. It is now a broken down motel. No music. No more. But, as I was stumbling around the neighborhood which I don’t know at all, I found this place. The church is that cream-colored building on the left. The crosses are built on the foundation of what was probably a house or two. It seems almost perfect for today.
Oh, in case you are wondering. In this order. Christian. Jewish. Jain. Buddhist. Hindu.
So when I finished the last line
I put the book by itself on the shelf
With my heart in it
Never wasting time takin’ the right way home
I know I’m never wastin’ time
Findin’ the right way home
— Jimmy Buffett from Incommunicado (Coconut Telegraph) Copyright 1981
Second line to photograph in a little bit. That’s a good thing. I need to work today. You know why.
A guy from the board of this church — St. Alphonsus — like yesterday’s post enough to link it and to ask me to come back. For a visit. For to maybe take more pictures. That I should become a “Friend of St. Alphonsus.” Maybe I should. We’ll see. At any rate, I thought that he’d see a few more pictures from his church. That’s about the least I can do. Besides, I had fun taking them. The volunteers who tell people about the church were very nice to me. They let me go wherever I want. I had even more fun in post production, making them be what I wanted them to be. I think that you’ll like them too. Some of you may recall earlier versions of a couple of these pictures. I think reworking them changes them. Makes them new. And, you know what they say. It’s all in the details.
Relax! Let you eyes wonder and quiet your mind with some visual therapy. A picture is always more than you can see. You will also find my own illustrations about things I find funny and interesting. Have some fun, life is short!