Garden of Prayer.

N

ew Orleanians understand death. We mourn and we celebrate. We actually like our cemeteries. Personally, I like the older funky ones.

I like cemeteries like this one that is located in the middle of a working class neighborhood. It’s a Jewish cemetery called, Garden of Prayer. It’s fairly old.

I’ve roamed around the city enough to know most of the cemeteries. I like all of them for different reasons. One of my favorites is Holt, near Delgado Community College. It’s sort of a potters field.

Another aspect of our culture is how people are remembered. We mourn and then celebrate with our jazz funerals. Usually, the more well known in the community the deceased is the bigger the second line, which is really what a jazz funeral is.

I had to chuckle at one tourist’s online request. She wanted to know how she could plan to attend a jazz funerals since she was coming from out of town for a visit. The snarky answer was “die.”

Some people were more helpful than others, but unless you are plugged into the city culture bearers the only other way is to read the death notices in the newspaper.

If you’re lucky enough to attend one and you are on a trip for somewhere else, just follow the locals and what we do. These events can be chaotic so be prepared for that.

T

he top photograph had kind of a quirky approach to post production.

When I worked on it earlier, I made it very golden as if I made it during golden hour.

That fell under the heading of, “What was I thinking?” A lot of things that I do fall under that.

So, this time around I brought it back to its original coloring. That took more work that you would think.

The bottom picture ws simple. I just left alone, possibly enhancing the color a bit. I made it in 2019 so you can’t expect me to recall exactly what I did.

I believe that photographs like that are more long the line of photojournalism so I don’t like to tinker very much.

Second lining to honor Chef. Leah Chase.


On Holocaust Memorial Day.

I made these photographs last Monday.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought of photographing a cemetery on Holocaust Memorial Day. I was buying king cakes at the King Cake Hub that happens to be located in a building that houses the Haunted Mansion on Halloween.  Behind the mansion building, which looks like it once belonged to the cemetery, is The Gates of Prayer – Canal Street.

That name is important. When I tried researching the history of the cemetery, I found The Gates of Heaven. Every link took me a Reformed Jewish congregation and cemetery that is located Uptown. There is plenty of information about them. They have a pretty good website and they have a Facebook page, as does this Canal Street location.

Unfortunately, there is no information about this place.

Enough of my confusion.

My king cake expedition happened to take place on Holocaust Memorial Day, or Yom HaShoah. After “finding’ the cemetery I thought that I’d better make a few pictures. These are some of them.

This is a smallish cemetery tucked in between other cemeteries and buildings. The images reflect that.

I was really struck by the little grave markings that simply said, “Mama” or “Papa.” These were added to the foot of a plot in addition to the memorial markers. They were every place.

Follow the words to the bottom of the page. Please.

Papa.

Mama

Behind dormant trees.

The day was cloudy, weighty, and sort of a reminder of the sadness of the place. I let the pictures reflect that. I could have brightened them in camera, but I toned down my usual settings. I could have reworked them in post production, but I didn’t. If anything, I toned them back. These are somber pictures. They are meant to reflect the Holocaust in which 6,000,000 people were killed for no reason.

One more thing.

My interest in this subject is great. When I made catalogs and edited at The Image Bank/Kodak, one of the photographers that I edited had the numbers of a camp tattooed on his fore arm. We talking about it for a few minutes.

Once.

Along came Schindler’s List. At the end of the movie, former concentration camp prisoners walk down to a cemetery and place a remembrance on individual gravestones. Most of them were only pebbles which means, “Someone was here.” There on film was my photographer. He wasn’t just a camp survivor, he was one of Schindler’s Jews.

Mine blown.

It just goes to show that if you know, you know.


Potter’s field in New Orleans.

I’m going back.

Carole King wrote it. Just about everybody recorded it. “Going Back.” A song for the ages. A song for me.

I was alright. I’d gotten over the shock. Of the feeling of loss. I knew it wouldn’t last. I didn’t expect it to arrive yesterday.

Here’s what happened.

My old friend and I have mutual friends. One of them was a good friend to me. We haven’t seen each other since the storm. Hurricane Katrina. She moved to North Carolina after the storm and a failed marriage. We do keep in touch. It’s hard not to in these days of every kind of messaging available to us. She texted me. Was I going to the memorial? Yes. Could I pick her up at the airport? Yes. Could she stay with us if have we the room? Oh, we got room.

On August 29th, we observe the 14th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

It’s been fourteen years. Since we were driven from out home. Fourteen years since I saw my friend. Other friends. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Did I waste it? Did I just pass it?

Or, did I fill it with work? With fun? With light and love? God, I hope so.

All I know right this minute is something Neil Young wrote.

It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.


Sunset in a special place.

I don’t often photograph sunsets.

When I do. I either turn around and make a picture of where that glorious golden fell and illuminated something, or I make the foreground dominant. To me, a sunset picture without that is just a postcard. That’s why I photograph power poles. They aren’t pretty but they give the scene some kind of subject. That happens when I’m out-of-place.

On St. Joseph’s Night I was very lucky. I parked my car near the cemetery as I usually do when I work on that side of Central City. I got out of my car and this scene was staring at me. All those crosses. Even the telephone pole seems to fit right in. This is a prime example of photographer’s luck.

I learned something that night. I’ve been calling the side-by-side cemeteries Lafayette No. 2.

Nope.

I saw a brass sign. It is located in a place where you might not look. Those two cemeteries are St. Joseph No. 1 and 2. I’ve been calling them by their wrong names for years. So does the city. So does Google maps. So do the people who live there. It just goes to show you what nobody knows anything. Much.

The picture. I actually made it through a chain link fence. It stuck the lens through one of the links and took the picture. The rest was easy. It almost needed no post production work.

 


A different view.
A different view.

St. Roch.

I’ve written about this place in the past. Mostly, I’ve posted pictures of the offerings of prosthetics and crutches to St. Roch for help with health issues. That’s generally what most people photograph when they come here. Just like most people, I’ve probably photographed the inside of the chapel five or six times. Or, seven. I don’t remember. Too many times.

The story of the cemetery, chapel and grounds is rooted in New Orleans history. It was dedicated as a shrine and cemetery by Rev. Peter Thevis as a way of keeping his promise to St. Roch, the patron saint of good health, for keeping anyone in his parish from dying of two yellow fever epidemics in 1867 and 1878. Although the neighborhood surrounding it was flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and there is a general uptick in local crime, the shrine and the cemetery remain a landmark. The neighborhood is not particularly safe. But, walking around inside the grounds is fairly safe. No. I’m not armed when I visit places like this. It doesn’t seem right. Somehow.

Almost in Europe.
Almost in Europe.

The pictures. I had plans of photographing something else. I decided that I didn’t really want to do that… after I arrived in the general neighborhood. That’ll happen sometimes. Since the weather was stunning with almost winter looking light, mild temperatures and no humidity, I started wandering around. I made a lot of pictures that day. I guess I’ve been feeling cooped up for a while and stuff just started flowing.

That’s good for me. That’s good for you.

When I stumbled into this neighborhood — St. Roch. — I decided to photograph the grounds. All of them. This time, a little differently. Usually, I head straight to the chapel and photograph the offerings. That’s the usual picture. Even though it doesn’t look like it, that’s become the “postcard picture.”

Instead, I just walked around the entire area. Inside and out. Like many New Orleans cemeteries, it is divided into a couple of enclosures. They were built as they filled up. I walked around one and then the other. These pictures are the result of not doing the same thing. Not doing the expected. These pictures are the result of following my muse.

Follow your muse. Do something different from your usual work. From everyone’s usual work.


In the neighborhood.
In the neighborhood.

Wandering around. Again.

I made this picture on a day when a storm broke. When the heavy clouds were lifting and the scene was getting a little bright, sparkly and shiny. It’s a cemetery in Uptown. For those who are keeping score, it’s a Jewish cemetery.

But.

This post isn’t about the subject. I like working in cemeteries. Just about everywhere. You already know this.

No. This post is about the next step in mobile image processing. This is about processing RAW files on whatever your portable happens to be. Apple made a big deal of saying that their iPhone 7 or 7s — I forget which — would be able to shoot and process RAW files. But, you had to download software (an app). And, the software isn’t ready yet.

Oh.

I don’t care what Apple does. Eventually, they may change photography again. Just as the smart phone pretty much killed the mid-market point and shoot camera, this might kill the consumer market for dslr cameras. At least for most consumers and some prosumers. But, not for those of us who make our living from our work. I could not imagine showing up for a job and saying to the client, “this is what I shoot with,” and holding up a phone. I guess some younger guys do it. But, I’m not a younger guy.

Anyway.

That doesn’t mean I won’t use the portable tools that are found on an iPhone or iPad. For instance, Snapchat. With their latest upgrade, they added RAW processing. Now we’re talking. For now it’s complicated. For instance, I took this picture with a dslr. I uploaded it to Apple Photos, which for me is another form of cloud storage. It appears on all my computers. From there I processed it on Snapchat, using their RAW processing engine. They also added text in that upgrade. So, I added my copyright symbol and I was done. Since I really do like working on a big computer, I just picked up the finished picture from the Apple Cloud. And, here it is.

I suppose that once the software is available for the latest iPhone the process will get easier. Shoot the picture on the phone. Ignore Apple’s RAW processor and just work in Snapchat. Who knows? A technology win.


Holy storm...
Holy storm…

Big storm comin’. Soon.

Not in New Orleans. Not right now. In this picture. A picture that I made a while back. In New Mexico. Yes. I miss the quality of the light there. It is clean. It is contrasty. It is dry. Without the extreme humidity that we have in the southeast, the sky is bluer since light is not reflecting off of all those microscopic water droplets that really makes up the humidity we feel. Water droplets reflect red light. The light combined with the blue sky makes it look grayish to our eyes. And, so on.

I tinkered with this picture some. But, without its base I could never have played with it enough to make the sky look like it does in the picture.


Graveyard statue.
Graveyard statue.

Back to the desktop. A little more layer experimentation. And, a little less color.

I forget when and where I made the two base images. My guess is that I combined one image from New Mexico and one from Louisiana. I did that a day or two ago.

But.

Even though I store my EXIF data with the image, I do not save location data to the digital file unless I actually make I a finished image for some kind of distribution. Unless, its pure travel or cultural imagery, I reckon the location doesn’t really matter. It’s usually stuck in my head if I need to make an identification.

Anyway.

Lately, I’ve been more about experimenting than making pictures. A least locally. In New Orleans. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. I know I’m motivated to make pictures, but…

Until a few days ago.

I was doing some deep excavation in my archives. For no real reason. I was just sort of poking around. I started looking at pictures that I took four, five, six years ago. I was kind of amazed at the out takes.

Here’s why.

You know my series, “what the dog saw?’ All that stuff on the ground? At her line of sight? Well, guess what? I shot the same kinds of pictures with a different dog. During a different year. At a different location in the city. Some of the images are even framed just like the newer ones.

Huh?

Bottom line. I keep repeating myself on subject matter. I suppose that’s why I’m kind of done with New Orleans culture imagery. That collection is huge. Both in depth and breadth. But, the pictures have very little value outside of New Orleans and the folks who care about it. Even then, nobody really wants to pay for it. That’s not just my issue. That’s an issue across all arts. For me, part of that is okay. My art is what I do for me. Much my craft is done by assignment or commission. Besides, I’m not really trying very hard to sell the pictures you see on Storyteller. What you see here is an example of an old quote. “I have to do one photographic thing every day or I get crazy.”

That’s all I need to know.

 


Dancing on the tombstone.
Dancing on the tombstone.

So. One of you said yesterday’s picture was scary enough.

Ha!

This feels a little more scary to me. And, it’s within about five minutes walking distance from the house. The sign on the gate says plainly, “no dogs.” The dogs go there. No. They don’t do what you are thinking. I make sure of that. They just like to play hide and seek among the tombs. Sometimes, it seems as if they know who is buried in certain tombs. They also seem to have their favorites. Before you think we are the only rule breakers, they also have their favorite dog friends who they meet there. This is New Orleans. Dogs go to coffee shops. And, sit outside with their people.

The picture. More experiments. I’m getting quicker at doing them. I think, the speed mostly because my ability to predict what an image will look and my muscle memory is improving.

Working in the coal mine.
Working in the coal mine.

In case you are wondering why I’m going on about dogs, it’s National Dog Day.  There’s one now. She’s learning about old-fashioned UPI drum scanners. I’m pretty sure that she’s thinking, “Nine minutes to scan and transmit? Huh? I could do that now in a couple of seconds and still eat three biscuits.”