Time Passages


Like another world.

Finally. It hit me this morning. I am in mourning. Not for the life we all once had. Although, that’s part of it. I’m in mourning for the passing of time. Not, the time that I’ve been discussing. That time has no meaning, no concept these days.

Another kind of time passing. The kind that catches us all in the end. The time of aging. Not so much for me, although that matters. But, for my loved ones. Even the dogs. Especially one dog.

Sophie Rose, the all seeing cocker spaniel is aging right before my eyes. She came to us when she was eight, so she was already a senior dog. She fit right in. She became my walking companion since the other dogs were very happy with one walk a day, in a pack.

She wanted two or three walks a day, just me and her.

That was fine, if not painful. At least until a senior doctor diagnosed the real issue as bursitis.

Lately, instead of going for a morning walk, she goes outside and does what she needs to do and goes back to bed. Mostly, we go for a short walk once a day.

It crept up on me. I looked but I did not see. I got nervous today so I called her vet. For basic things that seems to be what all medical professionals prefer in the pandemic age.

We talked for a good while. He asked me the usual things. She eats her normal amount of food. She drinks her normal amount of water. She seems happy. She doesn’t express any pain. Her droppings are normal.

Everything is good.

He said very simply that she is getting old. If you use the correct way of measuring dog’s age. Twelve years for the first year. Nine for the second. And, seven for the rest. She is about 93.

I don’t imagine that I’ll even be on the planet at 93. So, at that age she is doing fine.

Never the less, I don’t like it. Cockers live from 11 to about 16 years. At 16 they don’t do much but sleep, eat, pee and poop. If she lasts that long of course I’ll love and take care of her. The other dogs will stay near her as a way to protect her.

Now, I’ve made myself sad. I don’t like getting older for me. I don’t like it for those I care for.

There is nothing to be done. It’s nature.

The picture. This should be short and sweet. That dog, the one I discussed in theft hand column, and I started on her walk. We got to my go to place and I looked up.

What a nice peaceful sky. A popsicle sky.

I did what I always do and we walked on.

I did a little post production and posted it here.

Happy popsicle sky to you all.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Don’t travel this week. Enjoy every sandwich.

Farther Along & Further In


The cracks are beginning to spread.

There are a few flowers still blooming and growing. I came across the remainders of a little Camellia. Wow, I thought. A possible picture.

So I clicked the button a couple of times. I continued on. I felt lucky. You know, I’m not seeing pictures all that well.

In fact, I might not be seeing anything very well. I’m still out of time. A lot of people feel the same way. I’m procrastinating.

I read something about that. Most people think it’s a time management problem. It’s not. It’s depression. A different kind of depression than most, but still it’s depression.

That made sense to me. After all, most of us are in mourning. We miss the life that we had. I know I say that our “new” normal can and should be better. But, just cutting off one life and starting another isn’t exactly easy.

I realized last night that I haven’t seen most of my friends since March. Eight months. That’s a long time. Oh sure. We text, talk on the phone, hold Zoom talks. But, it ain’t the same.

It can never be the same.

We talk about businesses struggling. The food and music industries are hit especially hard. So is the travel industry. Combined, that just about kills New Orleans.

That’s not what concerns me.

I have a little pod. We stay together. We touch. We laugh. We talk.

That’s not it.

I’m writing this close to publication time. Normally, I would be at a second line. We either shake hands or hug. I haven’t had that since just after Mardi Gras.

We call second lines our church. Church is where you find it. So is God, or whatever you call your higher power.

No church for us. No noise. No music. No dancing. No BBQ smells.

Damn. I almost brought myself to tears.

I miss that stuff. I didn’t think that I would, but guess what?

I do.

Peace.

Pictures. They are really something. I’ve made my living from pictures since 1974.

During these pandemic times, I’m almost not working. I’m not working in my other business.

Luckily, we have a little money and and income, sorta.

I’m starting to think that I should find something to do just to keep me busy.

Anyway.

The all seeing dog and I were walking. I saw this little flower hiding among the Elephant Ears. I made the picture.

When I started developing and post production I found my settings for the last picture I worked on.

I thought, why not? So I just used that. Mostly, that doesn’t work. Two different pictures require different approaches.

It really didn’t work this time, either.

But, I liked what it did. In fact, I enhanced it. I made it more atomic. I stretched it out beyond my imagination.

There you have it. My own imagination was stretched.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. I don’t care what anybody says, enjoy every sandwich.

Jericho


Louisiana Sky

Time. I’ve been saying that it’s lost its meaning. That it just seems to flow. That its numbers are meaningless. That the only way to mark time is by listening to nature. I still believe that.

In my heart, I know time is getting short. We are a little over four weeks to an election that may very well determine our democracy. That will change the course of the entire world.

It’s time. To dig in. To work.

For me it is also time to call the ghosts, the long gone gurus and the long passed masters. We need the cavalry. The ancestors need to come riding into the fray and change the balance.

For me, it started yesterday.

Here’s what happened. We were walking the dogs. Not just the all seeing dog, but all of her brothers and sisters. We arrived at a little pocket park. They like going there mid-walk because they can sit on the grass, roll around and play. They can do this at home, but this is a new place.

There are two benches there. We sat on one. On the other bench were three youngish women, maybe in their late twenties or early thirties. On white, one brown, one black. The future. The future that is now.

We said hello, and I realized it was time for “Songs From Home,” Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Sunday morning mini-mini-concert. We played it on my phone.

I think that MCC is feeling the way I am. She called on a living master, calling his song one of the best songs that had ever been written. She played Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing.”

Covers are covers. She played this one straight. Her voice was clear and powerful.

Listening on it on my phone meant that it was loudish. The three young women stopped talking and started listening. I held my phone so they could see too.

Afterward, they asked who the singer was, and what was the name of the song. I told them the backstory. About a time of change that began in the early 60s and lasted for almost a decade. I also added that we blew it. We had a chance and we dropped the ball.

We all introduced ourselves. As the old one, they asked me what I thought.

I said, “I’m old now. I may have one more fight in me. But, it’s your world now. Make it a good one.”

Art. I’m not really sure there is a real definition of it. The closest I can come is what John Lennon said about his songs. When he was asked what his songs meant, he said, “whatever you want them to mean.”

I think that applies to whatever we classify as art. Art is whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to be what we commonly call an artist.

You could be a mechanic who feels the car. Or, a baker who feels the flour.

You can’t say that these people aren’t artists. Convince me otherwise.

Many people call me artist. It’s a mantle that I’ve long resisted. I take pictures of whatever I see. I do that when I have a job. That’s what I get paid to do.

In order to test the theory of my artistry, every once in a while I experiment with a photograph.

I made this picture while we were on a test road trip. I pointed my camera out of the passenger side window. Passenger side window. Note that. I wasn’t driving. We were just rolling along River Road on the Westbank.

I liked what I saw. So I pressed the button. When we returned home I let the take marinate. When I started culling my work, this picture popped out at me, not for what it was but for what it could be.

I started tinkering. I tinkered some more. I kept going on two software programs. Out came this picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Stay healthy. Enjoy your time, it’s shorter than you know.

Goin’ Back


A little experiment. I’ll come back to this below the slideshow.

Grand plans and all of that.

I should know better. I should have learned using WordPress. I should have listened to them when they asked me, “Do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” Or, to Mike Tyson who said, “You can make all the plans that you want, but the first time you get punched in the face you forget them all.”

Let me set the scene.

I’ve been searching for a more contemporary color palette. I think what you are looking at might be it. But, I’m not sure. I’m used to working in bright color. This ain’t that.

I reworked a bunch of pictures and selected five for you to review.

They are muted. A little ethereal. Abstract in some way.

That’s my thinking anyway.

Along comes WordPress.

WordPress comes with the block system. Remember how I used to make those nice little groupings of multiple pictures back when there wasn’t a block system?

No more.

If you use the block system’s very own templates you can build some of the ugliest groupings of pictures ever. I thought that I could just use the single image template and stack one picture after another. Oh no. There is such a big gap between pictures that the design looked — in a word — stupid.

So.

I tried this little interactive slideshow. It’s not what I wanted, but it works well enough. Well enough. That seems to be one of the marching words in the digital age.

Once when I made pictures on assignment the client got what they wanted. Now, the client uses something like Google Images to find a picture that is “good enough.”

WTH?

Is this our lives now?

I have the money and I wanted a Porsche, but I bought a Fiat. It’s good enough. I needed a brain surgeon, but I used a orthopedist. It’s good enough. I wanted a taco, but I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s good enough. I wanted to be buried next to my family, but I was cremated and the ashes were tossed in a dumpster. It’s good enough.

All I want to know is why can’t I design my own page on WordPress?

Forget all of that.

What do you think about the most important section of this post? The pictures? Do you like their style? Do you like the color palette? Should I go soak my head? I’ve gone on enough about the pictures.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your damn masks. Enjoy every taco.

Time Fades Away


Don’t wait till the break of day.

The better of me.

I went through a battle yesterday. Of course, battles these days don’t mean what they once meant. It was almost eight hours on the phone. By the time that I was done I wasn’t sure if I won or lost. I think that I won. I’ll know in a couple of weeks.

I’ll let you know.

It’s nothing to really worry about. I’ve been in worse battles. Ones ,that when they were over, you were happy to be in one piece.

So.

Let’s talk photo discussions

There are two fairly acrimonious fights going on in two very different photography groups. In the photojournalism group, old guys like me who believe we are reporting news and should not stop making pictures to ask for consent. Our pictures are our truth. The other group believes that we have a moral imperative to ask for permission.

It seems that they photographers who believe in consent are all younger men and women. It seems to me that ageism has raised it ugly head, especially in light of their comments.

In the other group, which is one of the Andy Flak groups there is a discussion which might be worse. Andy is a the worlds greatest photographic cheerleader. It’s the same sort of allies, young against old, men against women. Unfortunately for the group and me, it’s gotten to the point that one group is made up of progressive reformers. You know the ones. You’d like to support their theories and actions, but they are so damn unhumorous that every inch is a slog.

I have a friend like that in New Orleans. When I’m not hurting I have a blast when I’m photographing New Orleans cultural events. You know, the Mardi Gras Indians, second lines, and Mardi Gras, itself. Every time that I see her out on the street, she is frowning or looking very unhappy to be there. Luckily, I know her off the battlefield (that’s what the Indians call it) and she is funny as she could be.

I haven’t been jumping into these discussions even though I have about 40 years of experience not only making photographs, but managing photo staffs, working with in the industry to affect change, and speaking out for artists rights.

Then it happened. A woman called out another poster as being sexist for saying that she didn’t have a sense of humor. Since when did humor become equated with gender? Musical Miss has a brutal sense of humor. So does my sister. When they are together you don’t dare walk through the room in which they are sitting. If I have to walk through that room, I just say that “I’m sorry,” even though I didn’t do anything. I keep going.

All I can say about that is don’t get two little women together. Settle down. It’s not what you think. They are both 5’1″. They admit to being little.

Anyway.

I responded to this woman fairly aggressively. I rarely do that on social media. It follows you. I wanted to know how humor became sexist. She replied with a long kind of academic post. I replied very simply, “Those who know, don’t talk. Those who talk, don’t know.”

At the end of the day, both groups want a seat at the table. Just don’t call me an old white colonialist to get it.

That is very disheartening to me. I always thought that at my age, I wouldn’t make so many pictures. Instead, I would teach and help new, younger photographers to grow and be the best that they could be. I get to do some of that here. I suppose I get to compete with them. You know what the say. Young fox, old fox. Old fox always wins.

The picture

This is the last flower image processed with my own recipe. As I said to one of you who commented on another picture, I just stick my camera (or phone) into the center of things. I didn’t say that I let auto-everything doe its thing. I guess that I should have.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every lox and bagel.

Day Breaks


New morning, new day.

A new day. A new year. A new decade.

A new time to move forward on our plans. Whatever they may be. To right some wrongs. To fill in the potholes. And, to build something. To work in a positive manner. To grow,

That’s 2020 for me.

Happy New Year.

Soon After Midnight


Storm clouds over Louisiana.

It’s about the weather this time of year.

Come to think about it, in Louisiana it’s always about the weather. After all, we live with six months of hurricane season. In about a week, that season will finally be over for 2019. I’m pretty sure that I can say we were lucky this year. The only storm that disrupted anything was the non-storm that became a storm. It was nowhere near hurricane force. It was a light tropical storm.

The strangest thing about Autumn in the south is extreme weather changes. Yesterday, the thermometer topped 80 degrees. Today, we’ll be lucky to reach a high of 65 degrees. This will go on until after Christmas. We’ve had Christmas days when we wore shorts and t-shirts. We’ve had other Christmases when we had snow that actually stuck. I went racing around photographing places with snow covering them.

I suppose I like changing seasons and weather because it is a very measurable way to look at life. Seasons come and go. Life moves on. But, as I get older and older, I am able to more clearly see the relationship between the two. Add to that, my birthday and I sort of want to plan the next year. What to leave in? What to take out?

I know one thing for sure. For a long while, maybe a year or two, I was cutting back. I was thinking that I was old now, and I shouldn’t start this or that. Nonsense. It’s true. Some avenues have closed. But, not because of my age. Instead they are closed by natural occurring changes in technology, in distribution, in usage. Not just in my world, but across the board.

What’s the saying?

“Change or die.”

I’m far from death. Think about that. I’m willing to bet most of you near aren’t death either.

What are you going to do in 2020?

So It Comes


Cold weather days.

Finally.

Autumn looks like it is suppose to look. Leaves falling. Bushes turning. Flowers dying.

After months of complaining about the heat, cool and cold weather finally arrived. How cool? How cold? The last cold front brought us into the 40s and highs in the 50s. We will warm up a little into the high 60s over the weekend. Cold front number two blows in. This time the lows are predicted tp be in the 30s and the highs in the mid-40s.

For some of you that’s nothing. But, I can’t remember weather this cold in November since I’ve lived in this state. I don’t know what that means for the real winter months, but there’s an old southern saying that is along the lines of “when it’s cold in November, winter remembers in December.” I heard that for the first time today.

That’s a chilling thought.

Changing Slowly


A little yellow mixed in with the greens of summer.

Today.

There is finally a little different feeling in the air. The air itself doesn’t feel like a hot, wet, wool blanket draped over everything in sight. And, when you are standing or sitting in shade, you actually feel cooler than when you are in direct sunlight.

That’s a big deal.

During the height of summer, it doesn’t matter where you try to hide, the air temperature always feels the same. Hot. Wet. Goopy.

I just wish the fine folks at the local news stations could understand this. All they talk about is numbers. Record highs and so on. Yes. They are right. Our normal highs for this time of the year are around 80 degrees. Our current highs are around 90 degrees or a little higher.

They don’t discuss how the air actually feels. They don’t discuss the dropping humidity. They don’t discuss the need not to take four showers a day. They don’t discuss how pleasant it is to walk in the morning. Sheesh, even the dogs understand that. They want to stay out longer and walk further. That’s good. For them. For me.

That seems to be one of the biggest problems today. You are either all in or all out. There are blacks. There are whites. No shades of gray. No fine shadings of context. I contend that we need to get back to looking at something more holistically. I don’t care what the subject may be. Look at it from all sides.

That’s how I work photographically. I may not push the shutter button a lot these days. But, I study the subject so that I don’t have to do that. I’d rather not have to do a lot of development and postproduction.

That’s how this picture was made. I’d seen the leaves starting to change, but they weren’t quite right for my purposes. So I held back. I was patient when patience isn’t my strong suit. Finally, I was able to make yellow surrounded by green. I’ll return again, and again as the yellows and reds take over. And, when the leaves are finally ready for raking.