You Never Know


Seasons come and they go.

It’s a funny thing. A couple people told me to stay safe during Hurricane Delta even though I said it was nowhere near us. I suppose most people don’t really understand Louisiana’s geography. New Orleans is about 300 miles east of Lake Charles, where a hurricane will hit for the third time in about two months.

People there are digging in. They aren’t evacuating this time. They say that they are tired of running.

I understand.

During the summer of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was hit by three hurricanes. The first one, called Cindy, was first thought to be a tropical storm. She was later upgraded to a hurricane. Katrina, you know about. Along came Rita which more-or-less just raked the coast.

By the time Rita arrived, I wasn’t scared. I was angry. I was so tired of packing essentials and driving to somewhere, destination unknown.

Another funny thing happened this morning. The New York Times published a little quiz. They gave you 20 words to pronounce in certain ways. From that they would predict where you were from. I’m such a mutt that I talk about different things in different ways.

Sometimes, I call a four line highway with very few exits an interstate. Sometimes, my Southern Californian kicks in and I call it a freeway. And sometimes, I call it a highway.

It’s the same with a lot of other words. In New Orleans, the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street is called a banquette. I just call it, that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street.

So.

After twenty questions, The New York Times determined I was from one of three places. Winston-Salem, Richmond or Mobile.

Mobile? I’ve passed through there probably about ten times on my way to someplace else. I’ve never even stopped there for gas.

Winston-Salem and Richmond sort of make sense. I worked in both cities for about an hour or so. Kidding, about a year in each place.

Still, I have a Brooklyn accent that sounds like a New Orleans 7th Ward accent. I have that because of a quirk in shipping history. The two biggest pre-Civil War shipping ports were Brooklyn and New Orleans. Sailors passed through both cities.

Since a good portion of my professional life was lived somewhere in the South, my phrasing has softened some. For instance, I say y’all instead of youse guys. Actually, I don’t think I ever said youse guys. I said you guys.

What about you guys? What are some of your regional tells?

One more thing.

This damn block system is going to kill me yet. Try copy editing. Pick something to rework. A pink box pops up. Hit any word, anywhere in the box and all your work disappears. Poof. Gone.

If any of you bastards at WordPress read Storyteller, stop screwing around with all of us. I can’t think of one person in my community who likes the black system. If I find another place to go, community or not, I’m gone.

Having said that, after a few minutes of panic I realized that I could go to all posts in the far left column, click on draft and a version of the story would be there.

Of course, WordPress pop ups tell me not to do that or I would lose everything. Oh gee. The stuff that I already lost.

And, once you do it, they want you to go back to the version that you just lost. One more thing, you have to reschedule the post and reset tags.

The picture. Before I get to that, here’s one more complaint for the drones at WordPress. Why, when you insert a drop cap does the first letter of the word go to the end of the sentence? Leave it alone.

That wasn’t about the picture.

This is.

I saw it, I photographed it. There is very little post production beyond basic development needed in this picture.

See how easy that was?

The content is sort of right because the leaves are in transition. In a week there will be more orange than green. Then there will be holes where the orange leaves have died and stopped off.

A cycle of life.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Look after each other. Don’t believe the propaganda on Facebook. Wear your mask.

Sometimes Just The Sky


Changing of the year.

Colorful season. Today is the equinox. It is our signal that the seasons are changing despite the fluidity of time. Nature doesn’t need a calendar. She just rolls on. That’s probably a good thing.

Calendars are a man made contrivance, If it were up to us summer would last forever. Winter would be a day long.

Soon, the gulf coast will emerge from hurricane season. This has been a very busy storm year. As I write we will likely be hit by the outer bands of a tropical storm that is mostly headed to Texas.

It will also dump about six inches of rain on those poor people in the Lake Charles area. They aren’t even close to draining the flood waters from the hurricane that hit them earlier. They are still without power and drinking water.

In the Greater New Orleans area, it’s possible that autumn arrived a day or two early. We’ve had cool air with wind and a little rain.

The light is getting lower. It’s one of my favorite times of year to work. I’ll just have to wait until the cloud layer disappears, which might not be for a few days.

That’s the report from your man in swampville.

The picture. I hate to say this, but the image is one of last years. You haven’t seen it.

I’m doing something a little old school. In the days of yore, when magazines were printed only on paper seasonal work was photographed the year before it was due to be published.

That’s what I did.

I saw the scene and instinctively made the picture. I made a lot of tests files before I settled on this one. There’s a little post production hiding in there.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy all the beer.

Time Fades Away


The sound time makes as it passes by.

I slept really late for me. After a pretty bad Saturday, I awoke at a little after 10 am. The house was already very busy. Dog food was making. Laundry was washing. Breakfast had been eaten.

After Friday nights horrible news I was convinced that I would be really out of sorts for a couple of days. I wasn’t. The sleep did me good.

I’m actually sort of peaceful.

Yes. I’m worried about how RGB’s seat will be filled. If the Republicans rush to fill this seat after blocking Obama’s choice they will be as fake as I’ve always thought them to be.

If Biden should happen to win, I would fully support the idea of packing the court. After all, fair is fair.

All I know right now, is that we have to work as hard as we can to prevent 45 from winning a general election that is about six weeks away.

I’m not talking about just the presidency. I’m talking about down ticket candidates, like the senator from Kentucky. He needs to go.

I’m also talking about state leaders right down to some city councils.

Enough is enough.

Nature’s way.

The picture. That’s what you came for. Right? This is a case of being outside at the right time. It’s also a case for running as fast as I can with my metal hip and impacted spine.

It’s also a case of photographer’s luck. Five minutes either way and I would have missed this.

I’ve seen post storm skies in the past. Often they are dramatic. Because of the way that I work at home, I often miss them. Sometimes, I just don’t have the right angle to see what the sky is doing. Sometimes, I just forget to look.

This time I had the angle and I remembered to look.

I didn’t have to do much in post production. I did darken the picture to bring out the colors. I did not have to bring the them up artificially. Nature really did her thing.

A small victory in a year of massive defeats.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your damn mask. Enjoy every boiled crawfish.

Once Upon A Time


Rebirth even now.

I was thinking.

Yeah, I know. That’s very dangerous. But, after the constant flood of bad news about CoVid-19, I think that we all need our moods lifted, even if it’s only for the length of time that you need to read Storyteller.

There’s magic in photography. I should use it. You should embrace it.

For me, making a photograph always lifts my mood, even if I’m in a good mood. Things just get better. If I’m in a bad mood, it changes. That’s the power of art. So, I advise you to keep making art. Keep doing what you do. At the very least things won’t get worse.

Here’s one thing.

We did a massive grocery shopping. I think we bought enough food for about a month. Even the dogs have that much unprepared food. What I saw was encouraging. Instead of moving on certain products such as toilet paper like sharks on a feeding frenzy, people actually helped each other. What a wonderful thing. We can’t self isolate. We must work within our communities to look after each other, to care for each other.

The picture.

What a weird exposure. The light meter sought out the brightest part of the scene, so much so that I can’t brighten the shadows beyond what you see. If I do that I lost contrast and depth. I made this on another dog walk. I forget exactly where. And, that’s another thing. That steroid injection I got about a week ago is seemingly doing its thing. Now THAT’S something to be grateful for.

Stay safe.

Changes


It’s all green to me.

It’s a funny thing.

We think of monochrome as being black and white, or something sepia or in some shades of gray. Nature taught me something different. Monochrome can be any color as long as there aren’t contrasting colors. This picture is green and faded shades of green which became yellow. It’s also a monochromatic image.

This picture is also about fall. Autumn. The changing of natural seasons. It’s true that the weather is still hot. According to the predictive charts that I read, we should start cooling off tomorrow. A little. That trend should continue through at least next week, when temperatures stay in the mid to high eighties. Then summer’s heat should slowly fade away. And, we can open our windows for the first time since late April.

We live in air conditioned world.

When I look at old pictures of New Orleans I have two thoughts.

There was no air conditioning back then. Not until sometime in the 1950s. How did people do it? For sure, many people built houses to account for the heat. Raised Caribbean styled houses let air pass underneath which does provide some relief. High roofs also helped.

People dressed well. Men wore suits. Wool suits, until lighter weight fabrics came to be. Sheesh, if I have to be dressed nicely, I wear a seersucker suit. Even that’s too hot for me in summer. And, women. Oh gosh. It must have been very uncomfortable for them at anytime of year in New Orleans.

Two more thoughts for this fine Friday morning.

Air conditioning. Most newer models don’t send weird chemicals into the atmosphere, but they do generate heat. This can’t be good for the planet.

In case you are wondering, my seersucker suit is purple and white, which makes it look lavender from a distance. It is a three piece suit. Trousers, jacket and — get this — shorts.

Don’t laugh.

Gentlemen need to stay cool in the summer.

 

Golden Tree


As the world turns

To everything there is a season.

We all know about our natural seasons. Arrange them in any order that you like. Winter. Spring. Summer. Autumn.

The transition from summer to fall is, to me, the most dramatic change. Leaves go from a bright, rich green, to a sort of faded green and finally they turn golden and fall. In most of the south, you almost don’t see that coming. When the leaves finally turn golden they linger on the trees and all seem to fall at once.

That, as they say, is the nature of things.

Today. I’m still wanting to photograph the second line that I mentioned yesterday. The high temperature is down. From 97 to 96 degrees. At 5pm, which is the start time, we usually lose a few degrees from the high. Although last night at around midnight, if you include the heat index measurement, the weather outside was frightful. 104 degrees.

I hate to make Storyteller about the weather, but down here is the swamp, that’s what is at the top of mind. For most of us.

It’s hard to do anything in this kind of heat. After a dog walk, they come inside and have a drink of water. Then, they adjourn to their places and sleep the sleep of the dead. I usually take a break from whatever I’m doing and relax a little before I get started. It is truly draining. After a little recovery, I think about my chores for the day and promptly forget them.

That’s life.

The picture. I was struck by the already golden leaves of this tree. They helped to make the branches of the tree almost look like something out of The Cat in the Hat.

And, that’s it for a hot Sunday morning.

Decay


Until the end of time.

Until the end of time.

That’s what this picture feels like. I made the post production match my dreams. I really need a city to do this properly. I have some old cityscapes that might fit the bill.

Some dreams I have, eh?

They say that dreams are about some unsettled issue, or an answer to a question that you didn’t know you were asking. In my experience, unsettled issues are always part of life ,so I think it’s the unanswered question. I still don’t know the question.

Mostly, I till don’t know why the interpretation of my dream seems so bleak. I have some ideas, but I’m not ready to share them.

Anyway.

The picture. It started out as one of my power line pictures. I added another, flopped them and started in the sky. The original sky is perfectly pleasant. Along I came to destroy it. I worked back and forth a little until my vision became a reality. I made one version that took the changes beyond this. That’s a picture for another day. That’s truly until the end of time.

 

Stormy Days


It came.

A little rough.

The weather. And, other things.

In Southeastern Louisiana, we went from warm sunny days to cold wet days. In a matter of hours. It’s cold enough that we had to heat the house. The weather predictions are calling for rain tomorrow.

If that continues to hold up, Super Sunday will be postponed. It’s one thing to walk in the rain during a second line. It’s very different with Mardi Gras Indian suits. Thousands of dollars have been invested in the creation of one of them. With feathers, beads, sequins and what not, they are fairly fragile. We’ll see. Because of the fees they pay to the city for police protection and street clean up, they’ll call it sometime today. Or, not.

And, then.

A few months back I asked you to comment on hate. And, what seems to be an all-pervasive anger. I wanted to know why. I wanted your opinions. We all sort of danced around it. We didn’t come to any conclusions.

It’s a hard topic.

Then it happened again. A mass shooting. In New Zealand. To Muslim people praying in their mosques during Friday Prayers. 49 people died. A total of 89 were shot. This time, we know a white supremacist allegedly did it. Maybe with help from others. The shootings were spread live via Facebook. When Facebook took down the site, it had already been spread via sharing to all social media platforms.

A global event. That hurts every one of us. Anybody that I know is in mourning.

So.

Hate. We couldn’t come to a conclusion the last time I posed the question. Maybe we can this time.

For me, it’s getting clearer. The roots of hate come from fear. I’d like to say from stupidity, but this (or these guys) guy was fairly smart. His manifesto was long and detailed in a fairly intelligent way. It wasn’t one of those rambling things. He knew how to leverage social media for maximum effect.

Fear.

Fear of everything that is different. Fear of people unlike himself. The belief that people different from himself wanted his life and stuff. That they are on a world-wide quest for domination. It doesn’t help that national leaders are stoking the fear. It doesn’t help that the so-called leader of the United States spreads this fear, champions dictators and threaten us with his “tough guy” backers, bikers and military who he claims love him.

That has just stoked the fires of all the other fearful people. What did former fixer Michael Cohen say? That he fears for a peaceful transition if the president is voted out of office. Or, even in 2,024 when term limits apply.

Does this mean the United States is a banana republic? Nah. Not yet. That’ll take some doing. But, POTUS is trying to do just that.

That’s my thinking.

What about yours?

One more thing. Have a good thought, pray, or do whatever you do. For our brothers and sisters in New Zealand. They are us. We are them.

 

 

Mind the Gap


Fall colors.

The gap. The gap between all of the trees in which the sky shows in what is normally a dead space.

If you’ve spent any time at all in British Commonwealth countries you’ve heard that phrase. “Mind the gap.” It refers to the gap between a station platform and the train or subway. It’s a way of telling passengers to be careful. I first heard it in Hong Kong. It became so common that I tuned it out. I’m pretty sure most people do that.

Tuned out. Just like so many people do to their surroundings. Even I do that. If I’m in a hurry, or thinking about something, I often fail to see. That’s terrible if you are somebody like me. A guy who makes his living with his eyes. I shouldn’t discount my brain, heart and soul. But, the very first input is through my eyes.

This picture is one that I likely wouldn’t see. But, that sky. That’s what I saw. I started looking around for something to frame it. I saw all those trees and that was it. A very fall-like image. In my head. In my heart. In my soul. All that was left to do was push the button.

I did that.

It wasn’t enough. There was a disconnect between what I saw and what the camera’s sensor could handle.

Post production was a bit tricky. Most sensors cannot see what the eye sees. That means there always has to be some enhancements in post production. The question is always how much is too much? Or, what is the least amount that I can do to get the scene back to what I saw?

This picture is the result of about five tries. Most of them went too far. The reds were electric. The sky looked like a nuclear bomb exploded nearby.  Those weren’t right. I wasn’t aware of any explosions that day.

I backtracked.

I stripped the original file of a lot of its color. I built from there. That got me to the picture you see today.  Sometimes you have to do that. Take a step back to get to where you want to go today.

There’s a lesson in that. But, I forget what it is.

Maybe you know.