Spring skies.

I looked up.

I liked the sky. It needed a subject. I framed that lone tree into the picture. I never saw the sun. I knew it was there because of the bright highlight in picture. But, the sun didn’t show up in the LCD.

When I developed the image, there it was. A little, tiny circle in the highlight. I helped it a little by toning down the highlight. That’s it.

I was lucky. The sensor saw what I couldn’t. It’s very hard to use a LCD in very bright sunlight. That’s why I mostly use the eyepiece.

I could tell you that I’m a cynical guy. That I always try to look beyond false truths.

Not today.

I’ll save that kind of post for the weekdays.

Instead, I’ll look at a book that just arrived. Not a photo book. A children’s book. Written by Julian Lennon. The oldest son of the late John Lennon. I bought it through his sales agent. Jules signed it.

How cool is that?

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The French Market.

Post storm. Post working day.

The French Market. Years ago, this is where people came to buy food. Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit. Fish. Shellfish. Different meats. It was one of about nine city markets that were scattered around the neighborhoods.

Not today.

There is a small section that does sell food. Mostly it’s cooked. Mostly it’s packaged. But, down at this end all sorts of souvenirs, low-end stuff from China and mass-produced African clothes and masks are sold. Oh, and as we get close to Mardi Gras, all kinds of real cheap masks and beads can be found here. I almost forgot t-shirts. Lot’s of very cheap t-shirts.

It’s tourist central. I

I don’t know why.

You can go to almost any city on the planet and find markets like this one. They pretty much offer the same merchandise. Trust me on this. I’ve been to a lot of places. When we get bored — really bored — we go shopping. With the exception of some small adjustments due to local preferences, or laws or the lack of them, most of these markets are all the same.

Of course, I go to the one in New Orleans. It’s good for cheap props for a shoot. If I’m asked to photograph something about travel, I hire a couple of models who are more like actors and have them go shopping. When I do that, the French Market is a giant stage. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are release issues. There are people getting in the way. There are people who don’t want to be photographed, and who tell you that just as you press the button. And, so it goes.

The point in all of this is that everything changes. The French Market went from a real live city marketplace, that became deserted and broken down, to a small tourist zone within a tourist zone. What it’ll morph into next is anyone’s guess. If climate predictions for the future are accurate, it could become paved river bottom.

I started thinking about this because there is going to be a talk next week on “The New Green Deal.” You know. The legislation championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Before I write further, let me say that in general I like her. She brings much-needed energy into the House of Representatives. She has a couple of big flaws  — she doesn’t understand finance and she tends to shoot from the hip like you know who — but on balance I think she’s smart, fairly well spoken and has something I admire a lot. Street smarts.

Anyway.

The talk is being given be regional people. I don’t believe that AOC is coming. This will disappointed people who want to heckle her for flying down here and using oil. Even if I disagreed with the legislation entirely, I’d still go to the talk. After all, we live in a place that could be under water in 25 – 50 years. Given the speed at which the climate is changing, I’d bet on the former. You’d think others would be interested too. We are all in this together. Oh no. Not from the comments on Facebook. Before I get in an argument with somebody I don’t know I do a little trolling. There were the usual suspects. Folks with big trucks, RVs that they use one a year, big boats that they use a couple of times in the summer. 

But.

There was one young woman who broke my heart. She is a recent graduate of LSU’s engineering department.  She works for Entergy, the folks who provide all of our power. They are Fortune 500 company and fairly well thought of. She said that she was giving this event a “hard pass.”

Huh?

I asked her why in the comments. She replied that all of this was nonsense and she was from Louisiana and storms and floods are normal. True. But, they are getting more frequent and more violent. After a little back and forth, I realized that the saying is true. “You can’t change people’s minds on social media.” Everybody is hunkered down in their silo. So, I closed with, “I’m sure that your boss’s boss’s boss will be there because guys at the top are opportunistic and want to capitalize on big changes.”

Crickets.

What I said is the truth. The big owners might not care about you and me, but they care about our cash. Cash. Either we spend it. Or, we hold it back. And, that’s what it’s going to take to save our planet. Our lives. Our children’s lives. And, their children’s lives.

The picture. Roaming around the Quarter does yield some pretty good pictures. This was at the end of one of my walks. I was dodging rain, but I was watching the wonderful light. I chased about as far as I could. I got to the French Market and everything was closed down. You know. Rain and a slow day. Then, this guy comes by on a bike. Five or six shots later and I had it. That, was luck. Photographer’s luck.

 


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.

 

 


A winter sky.

Drifting.

A winter sky. A little branch of something not dormant. A little bit of peacefulness. That’s what I saw. That’s why I made the picture.

It seems that it’s time for a little shift. At least here. On Storyteller. I’m in an odd place.

Tonight, I’m going to photograph one of the first parades of the Mardi Gras parade season. Chewbacchus. With that name you can imagine what it will be like. It’s a walking parade. A downtown parade. A hipster parade.

Let’s hope that I’m motivated enough to actually go. I could tell you about the difficulties of working in The Bywater. Parking. Broken streets. That stuff.  As a wise friend once said, “sometimes, the hardest part of taking a picture is getting there.”

That should cover my whining excuses.

Anyway.

You don’t need a lesson in making this picture. It’s a simple picture. A graphic picture. See it. Frame it. Push the button. It’s a test. I’ll tell you more about that later.

From the fine world of housekeeping.

I finally found a way to sell pictures without creating what amounts to another website. And, with the ability to price my work at the right rates. It’s called The Darkroom. After reading and testing, I think it’s going to be very cool. I’ll add the link somewhere on this page. After that, it’s just a matter of clicks for you. You can look at the work and have it delivered to you anywhere in the world. Even Texas. That’s a joke.

Your photographic art will arrive in a matter of days. Hopefully, you’ll like it. Hopefully you’ll like the pictures with which I start building my collection.


Everything in one picture.

Hong Kong.

Not this picture. This is near home in New Orleans.

I was watching the last season of Anthony Bourdain. The show made me nostalgic. It made me a little sad. Not for Tony. We know his end.

It made me miss some of the things that I had. That I did. I thought about living there. I liked it. A lot. Maybe more than I like living in New Orleans.

I think, even after my paid expat time was up, I should have stayed. Yes. It’s expensive. Yes. It’s crowded. For certain I was in the minority. But, there’s a lot to be said for that. It changes your thinking. Your viewpoint changes. You learn a lot. About people who are different from you. About yourself.

If my word for the year is learning, the Lunar New Year brings us to the Year of the Pig. I’m not exactly sure who those two intersect, but it’s worth a thought. Or, two.

Bourdain met up with a cinematographer who worked a lot with Wong Kar-wei. He made those dreamy introspective scenes. He led Bourdain on a merry chase throughout the city. To places I loved and frequented. Some of it changed. Hong Kong never stands still. Others have not. They didn’t hit all of my spots. But, they hit enough.

I haven’t been to Hong Kong in 11 years. I’ve grown older. Slower. A little broken. I’m not even sure if I could walk many of the city’s streets. I could try. I could take breaks. I would probably see more.  You know. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

I should go. This year. Before it slips my mind.

When is a very obvious question. Between my two lives, I’m booked until at least September. That could work. The weather there is about like it is here. The temperatures would start dropping. It would be cool, but not cold. We’ll see.

See what’s happening here? It’s like a journey through the past. Only it’s headed toward the future. There are a lot of places I’d like to visit. Before I can’t.

Oh yeah. The picture. The dog who sees stuff was groomed. She got a haircut. The groomer shaved her down to her body. She needed it. Between rain, and falling leaves and the wetness on the ground, she was matted. Sure, I brushed her. I combed her. But, when her fur is long, she picks up everything. Funny thing about her fur is that it weighs a lot. She started out her day weighing 24.5 pounds. Just under the maximum cocker weight of 25 pounds. Off came her fur. We weighed her again. Twenty three pounds. That’s a helluva diet. She lost 1.5 pounds in three hours.

This is the long way of saying that she was in a great mood. She was ripping around on our walk until she lead me to this. She stopped. I photographed. I made two good pictures. Off we went. There’s really not much to this picture. Winter silhouetted trees and a sunset. What could be easier?

They say that anything worth doing is worth working hard to achieve. Sometimes. Other times, the best thing is the easiest thing. It just sort of flows. As I wrote yesterday, I am just the conduit.

Be the conduit.

 


Creativity.

Creativity.

I was reading something about that this morning. In The New York Times. It was a piece about “The Artist’s Way.” A book which is 25 years old. A book that all of us who claim to be creative, want to be creative or, who are creative, should read.

I’ve only read a chapter or two. I borrowed it from a friend who needed it back well before I was done. It’s full of philosophy and exercises and thoughts that will help. You not be doing anything creative yet, but want to. You may be a working creative and are stuck. You may want to change genres. There is something for all of us.

Oddly, since I didn’t read much of the book but have a very good idea of what the author says, I found that say about the same things.

Things like.

Photography block? Go outside and photograph the first things that you see. In a new city? Photograph “what is it like to be…” Need inspiration? Talk to your friends and colleagues. They don’t have to be photographers. Need to fill your head with creativity? Head to your nearest museum or art gallery.  Practice, practice, practice.

And, so on.

One thing caught my attention 25 years ago. Neil Young says it. Bob Dylan says it. Van Gogh said it. “Let the higher power speak through your work.” Whoever and whatever that is. That’s a version of my, “the work is the prayer.”

It took me many years to learn this. From all sorts of sources.

There is one more thing. You can’t hurry it. You can’t hurry the process. You can’t hurry the technology. You can’t hurry your own learning.

As a friend if mine once said early in my learning, “the river flows in its own time.”


Big clouds.

This morning’s readings were pretty bleak.

I learned about the word deep. And how it might be the word of the year as it is currently used. Everybody seems to be diving deep into all sorts of data. Our personal data is no longer safe no matter what we do.

I learned about post truth. That this years Superbowl is perfect for the current President of The United States. Illegitimate. I don’t say that as a Saints fan. I say that as a fan of the truth.

I learned that just about everybody who knows about such things as war, safety, immigration and most world views disagrees with that same president.

I learned that the door is open to beating and hurting people who don’t look like you. Who don’t act like you.

That makes me sad.

No country for old men. Sheesh. No country for anybody.

On the other hand.

This picture makes me smile. It’s the one I saw when I made the picture of trucks and me, that I posted yesterday. Look at it. Look at the beauty of nature. Even in changing and often hard times. Look at it as the clouds blow into the region dropping the temperature by about 30 degrees.

This is the real stuff. All the rest — post truth, lack of privacy, and violence — is just temporary. It’ll come to an end. It has to. Nature won’t allow it to go on. For me, there is no debate about climate change even if the president doesn’t understand what extreme weather really means. He keeps going on about how cold it is in the midwest, forgetting that on the other side of the world temperatures are way up in triple digits. That there are some children who have never seen or felt rain because droughts have lasted for longer than their short lives.

Nature seeks stasis. She’ll do whatever it takes to balance the planet. That could mean getting rid of us. Getting rid of all the noise. Getting rid of the polluters. Getting rid of those of us who do not respect her ways.

We are already seeing it.

Brand new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was criticized for saying the world would end in twelve years. That’s not what she said. She cited studies that said we have about twelve years to do something before it is too late to do anything. She gets attacked for anything she does. Sure, sometimes her numbers are off. But, she has our welfare at heart. The point is simple. We don’t have that much time to act. Twelve years is a short time.

That’s what these clouds got me thinking about. That’s what the words I read this morning got me pondering. That’s what this post is doing. At least, it is for me.

The picture. It’s a drive by. We talked about that yesterday. It’s a fairly simple thing. See it. Make it. Yet, so much is contained within its frame. For me, a picture brings up all sort of thoughts. I hope, if it isn’t this picture, that some picture does the same for you.


In a crowd.

The deep freeze is really 42 degrees.

One day the talking weather people heads will get it right. One day. Last night they were predicting starting the day with temperatures in the low twenties. That may be true somewhere. They said we might have snow. Somewhere else too. Wind was going to coming ripping through. Not here. Not in New Orleans.

I want their jobs. Say whatever you want and get paid for it.

I made this picture yesterday, while I was running errands and pretending to be productive. At first, all I really saw was the traffic and the trucks. Since you can  barely see the LCD in bright light, I didn’t see that I was in the picture.

No matter.

Upon closer inspection, this picture wraps up the day very nicely. Leaving nice blue skies and heading into the storm. With me in the middle. With my phone hanging out the open window. Yes. The case is purple. I thought that I was being different. I thought I could pick it out in the crowd. No. It seems purple is a very popular color for phone cases. Who knew?

So.

More about the picture. No. I’m not doing a drive by. I’m waiting in the left turn lane at a full stop. The trucks are moving while I was sitting there making pictures. I originally wanted to make pictures of the amazing sky that you can barely see. Then, this happened. I took advantage of it. Eventually, I also made the picture I wanted to make.  A window opened and I jumped through it. The door didn’t close. I drove through that a few minutes later.

Sometimes one thing doesn’t have to close in order for another to open. You can have both. You have to be ready for that. You have to accept winning. You have to accept success even when you aren’t sure that you deserve it. For instance, I thought I was sort of a fraud because what I did came easy to me. That happened in photography. That happened in academia. In three post bachelors degrees, I earned almost perfect grades. It seemingly just flowed out of me. It took awhile for me to realize that I started my degree programs later in life. I had real life experience in the subject I studied. All I really did was codify my knowledge with academic work. It was a lot of work. It was easy work. Like working at a hobby job.

That happens in a lot of subjects with which we are involved. For instance, we think that a new musician on the scene broke out easily with one popular record or song. We forget that they may have been singing and learning to play an instrument since they were four or five. They practiced every day. They woodshedded. They played in small public gatherings. The practiced some more. Somewhere along the line, they discovered they could write songs. They made a demo. They got lucky. Somebody liked it. Their career was born.

Same with other careers. Same with me. Those of us who broke through early tend to wonder. Was I lucky? Am I really good enough? Am I a fraud? The answers to those questions are yes, yes, no.

I’ve simplified the process. The path. There is a lot more to say on this subject. Not today. Eventually.

Just know this. Easy or hard, anybody who is productive in whatever they choose to do is not a fraud. We worked hard to get wherever we are today. Even me. Even me in the freezing (kinda) swamp.

Peaches. Oops. I meant peace.


Dusk, like fire.

It looks like fire. Our winter sky.

It’s just clouds and what remains of the sunset. We’ve had some really beautiful days. A little cold, not like many of yours. Brilliant colors. At dawn. During the day. At dusk. I’ve taken advantage of these few days as much as I can. It does take some time. The dog who sees stuff and her brothers and sisters — the dog family — want to go for longer walks. One dog takes a little time. More dogs means more time. They walk in a pack. They don’t always want to go the same way. It’s like herding cats. Oop. Dogs.

There’s my learning moment. No matter how much people seem to be pulling in the same direction, they aren’t. Personal agendas take over. Some are needs. Some are wants.

If we are going to work together as a community, we harness all of that. It takes strong and enlightened leadership. An old saying proclaims, “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Folks in leadership roles will hopefully know how to shift between those three states. Sometimes a goal is set. A team is assembled according to their interest. The leader steps out in order for the team to do its work. Sometimes, the leader steps back in when the group seems to be losing traction. Often a word or two resets the course.

I’ve learned all of this years ago through various management classes, workshops and seminars.

Being human, I forget a lot of what I just wrote. Being human, I don’t do what I just wrote. Luckily, something or someone will remind me.

It’s the same with making pictures. That’s really what Storyteller is about. I forget what I already knew. Someone or something reminds me. Experience takes over. Even though I make an old composition, I make it in a new way. One plus one equals three. Most of the time. If it continues to equal two, then I’ve made a mistake.

I make a lot of mistakes.

I’m trying to learn from them, I’m often quote musician Neil Young’s words, “numbers add up to nothing.” The very thin data that WordPress gives us really doesn’t help us make considered decisions at all. That was proven yesterday. I published a second line parade. I said that data indicates that many of you don’t understand second lines. A huge number of you came by Storyteller.

Take that, Ray.

Last year I lamented that my numbers were way down.  Some of you said the same thing. We discussed it. We tried to understand why. Some said their friends on Facebook were way down. They weren’t posting. Same thing on most social media. A good friend suggested that I stop posting political things on Storyteller because people come here to get away.

All of that is valid.

This year. Two weeks into 2019, my numbers are through the roof. I have no idea why. Maybe some of you are getting back into blogging and reading blogs as a new year resolution. That may be true, to a point. I’ve seen names I haven’t seen in months. That will be tested as the year rolls on.

Maybe you like the new design of Storyteller. Or, not. I could be confusing since you have to click on a picture to get to the text. On the other hand, it could drive some of you to look at work you may have missed.

I don’t know.

That’s the point of learning. The more you learn, the more you don’t know.

That I do know.