Only in New Orleans.

Christmas in New Orleans.

A magical time of year. Living in the semi tropics makes so.

Hold on. 

It’s Christmas Eve. It’s time for children to go to bed early. A night when the kids leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. It’s a night of hope and wonder.

Around here we do a couple of things before bedtime. We travel about 40 miles upriver to Lutcher, where huge bonfires are lit to guide Papa Noel to New Orleans. Then, it’s off to a holiday diner, after first eating a not so light but traditional Russian meal earlier in the day.

Unless we are someplace else these are our traditions. They are fairly new. We need traditions, just like we need magic, music and light.

This is what we do on Christmas Eve. What do y’all do on the night before the big day?

Merry Christmas.


The start of the holiday season.

This one.

This is the picture I mentioned in yesterday’s Storyteller.

The Christmas wish of “peace y’all” has been around for as long as I can remember. Except for some slight rewiring, the lights never change. This picture is probably four or five years old. But, I could wander down to Royal Street today and make the same one.

I dressed this version up in some new bobbles from OnOne. It’s warmer. It has little globe-like things around, which are OnOne’s version of in-computer created bokeh. I’ve opened the shadows some. But, that’s about it.

As I wrote yesterday, I was thinking that I might not even try to photograph this decoration again. Then the light bulb went off. I found an idea. I’lll either show it to you if it works. Or, tell you about it if it doesn’t.

I’d like one thing from all of you who are photographers. I’d love to see where you live dressed up in its Christmas or holiday best. Whaddya think?

 


Over and over.

You know how Christmas ends, right?

You start the celebrating on Christmas Eve. Maybe you attend some kind of religious celebration. Maybe you eat a Christmas Eve meal. Maybe you wait until midnight to open your presents.

Or, you wait until morning.

By about noon, all the presents have been opened. Some have already been broken. You’ve eaten your Christmas Day meal. You’ve released your belt. And, you crash on the couch. Maybe you watch football. With one eye open. Maybe you doze in your Barcalounger.

Maybe, sometime later in the day, you start looking for another meal. If you don’t eat leftovers, you want nothing more to do with holiday food even though you know that you’ll be eating it for the rest of the week.

And, Christmas — the holiday you’ve looked forward to for months — comes to a crashing end.

It’s done. It’s over.

You’re finished.

The last thing you have to do is take down the Christmas ornaments. But, you’re going to wait until after the New Year. Because you’re lazy.

That’s what this picture is about. The end of Christmas. The minute I saw a couple of reindeer down, a couple standing and a Christmas tree buried in deep shadow, I knew I had the perfect day after Christmas picture. It was luck. Photographer’s luck. As always.

Maybe it’s not luck. If you put yourself out there every day. And, keep moving. You are bound to run into something.

The picture. Well. It’s the usual. See it. Photograph it. I did a lot of tinkering. I came back to the original developed image. It’s not bright. It’s not shiny. It’s not glowing. It’s just sort of flat. Like the end of Christmas 2018.


St. Nick on the stick.

A simple Christmas decoration. Hung on my tree with some kind of care. Then I got to it. I photographed it. I tinkered with it. I messed around with it. And, away it went.

Somebody reminded me that all art is autobiographical. That’s right. So what do the two Christmas pictures say about me? No much. I’m just experimenting. My own color palette comes and goes. It is usually driven by my pictures. In fact, most of my post production is driven by the subject.

I do seem to be getting lazier. Many pictures were made on dog walks. These last two pictures were made inside the house. Not more than a few feet from where I write Storyteller.

I have an excuse. Southeast Louisiana December weather. It warm. And, cool. Humid. And, rainy. All at once. Who wants to go out in that kind of weirdness?

Yuck.


Christmas tree, my way.

The decoration was hanging on my tree. I saw it. I photographed it. I had my way with it. I turned a digital photograph into something that looks like a painting.

I think it works. Does it?

The more I look at it, the more it looks like one of those old-fashioned Christmas cards that my parents used to send during the holiday season. I think that they came in packs of ten for something like $4.99. Maybe less.

I told a friend of mine who I rediscovered through the wonders of Facebook, that between editing my archives and this being “the season” and all, I was on some kind of strange journey through my past. By the way, I grew up with that guy. His family lived across the street and about 6 houses down from mine. Now, THAT’s something.

Anyway.

This picture just feels old.

 


Christmas balls everywhere.

Now it’s Christmastime.

I found this picture.  Actually, the dog who sees things found it. My head was wrapped in thought. Or, fog.

I walked right by it. The dog saw the shiny object and had to investigate. Good thing too. I had a back up picture for today, but it is plan B and all that it implies. How last-minute is this picture? I’m writing this at 11:40 am Central Standard Time. I according to my phone, I took it at 10:48 CST.

The dog saved me yet again.

So. What was I thinking about?

Going forward, I suppose it could be called. If this messed up Republican budget plan gets passed, it strips away a lot of deductions that are normally there for artists. Artists of all stripes. Photographers. Painters. Musicians. Designers. The list is endless. Somehow, I just know that it’s going to stretch into entire industries. This is going to hurt all of us. Then, there is the next step. Tax revenues are bound to fall. The current crop of Republicans will use that as a trigger to cut Social Security benefits and Medicare. I’ve paid all my life into those accounts. Now they are going to try to claim that I can’t have that. Hmmm…

I wrote, yesterday, that my real home is Long Beach, California. I may visit there, but if this budget and thinking goes forward, I’m pretty sure I’ll never live there again. I’ll probably pass through the Pearly Gates (I hope)  from some place like Costa Rica, or Peru. Or Hong Kong, or Thailand. That sounds exciting. But, those places aren’t home. And, as you know, I have really mixed thoughts about New Orleans. And, Brooklyn.

The picture. Oh that. 🙂 See it. Press the button. Do a little post production to make it pretty. And, stuff.


Seasons Greetings.
Seasons Greetings.

Holiday season.

These are my last two pictures of the 2016 holiday season. I didn’t make a lot of “big” Christmas pictures this year. I didn’t feel like it. As we all know, the passing year was a rough one.  2016 was hard on everybody. I guess it shows. Especially, since I believe all art is autobiographical.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a fine Christmas. It’s not about the holiday. It’s about all that preceded it. And, what many fear will come. Storyteller isn’t a political blog, but the world is changing and not in a good way. Two political events happened this year that nobody believed could happen. And, a never-ending war in the Middle East blossomed into one of the largest humanitarian crises the world has ever seen. Innocent people were killed. Ancient cities destroyed.

Of course, there were the passings. People left the planet. Ancestors is what we call them in New Orleans. We mourn. Then we celebrate their lives. So many artists — in the form of musicians — died in 2016.

Everybody matters.

But, some of those who left inspired all of us to do better, to create on a higher level, no matter our art. The cycle of mourning and celebration never seemed to end this year. We all need a break.

Santa and me.
Santa and Me.

So.

2017.

I have no idea. I don’t know what’s coming. As they say, it’s above my pay grade. Well above my pay grade. But, I do know that I have to shake this off and move beyond it. To be better. To create at another level. I can’t speak for any of you. You all know what you have to do. Or, not do.

The pictures. I took them walking around. There is a sense of isolation in both of them. You know. That, “all art is autobiographical” thing. Rearing its ugly head. If you look closely at “Santa and Me,” you can see a dog leash on the bottom right of the picture. Guess who was with me? Yep. The dog. The one who sees things. Who helps me take pictures.


Christmas in The Quarter.
Christmas in The Quarter.

It’s almost here. Christmas.

Today is the day before the day before. Excitement is in the air. Everybody is being good. Even the dogs. Packages are arriving… to our neighbor’s houses. Because we don’t want anybody to know where they are coming from. Very, very sneaky in this house. For us, Christmas Eve is the thing. I cook traditional Russian food. We head upriver to see the bonfires that guide Papa Noel to New Orleans. If we are all lucky, you’ll see some of those pictures on Christmas Day.

Luck is involved because it feels best when the temperatures are cold and the air is crisp. Our cold snap is gone. Likely it’ll be around 70+ degrees and kind of foggy. One year, we just gave up on the river festivities because the location is about 50 miles away and who wants to drive in fog?

The picture. Another Christmas tree. Exposed for the lights rather than the tree itself which is a shadow. In this case. Sometimes, I do that for the dramatic effect. Sometimes I don’t.


A walk along Royal Street.
A walk along Royal Street.

Christmas.

A couple of days away. Time to show you New Orleans during the season. We don’t have snow. But, we have something else. Something special that I can’t really name. The Christmas season is my favorite time of year in the city.

I’ll return to photo tutorials in the new year. And, “what the dog saw.” Besides publishing New Orleans Christmas pictures, there is a lot to do on Storyteller in the next few days. The close of the year means showing you what I consider to be my best pictures of the year. Many of you will have seen these somewhere along the line in 2016. Some of you have not. It’s a good way for me to review my own work.

The picture. The usual thing. See it. Frame it. Photograph it. I didn’t shoot with a very high ISO because I wanted a little blurred motion in the picture. I made it on Royal Street. In the French Quarter. Towards the end of the blue hour.