Dusk in the fall.

Gently.

The night comes.

If you are lucky, you’ll be outside to see it as it drops down over the earth like a dark curtain. For me, it just depends. If I’m done with inside work and a dog wants to go out, I get to see nature’s magic. Magic and renewal. A 24 hour cycle. A kind of rebirth.

Sometimes, I’m trapped inside. I see dusk and nightfall through my studio windows. Sure, I can see the light. I can see day turn to night. But, it’s just not the same.

We — the dog and I — were walking along a little fence. When we turned the corner this is what I saw. I almost got too excited. I calmed down within a few seconds. I steadied myself. I made five frames. I knew I made a picture of what I saw.

That’s how it’s been for the last few  days. A lot of photographer’s luck, combined with timing and a little bit of knowledge. When the weather finally cools down, I’ll go looking for pictures in earnest. This is the time when we all got impatient because it seems like summer will never come to a close.

I saw a little meme of Facebook. Southerners say, “We made it through 20 weeks of summer. Only 32 weeks to go.” That feels about right. Right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Into the mystic.

Clouds.

I don’t usually photograph them, but I happened to look up and saw the most wonderful shapes. So, I did what I usually do and made a few pictures. I liked how fast they were moving across the sky. That’s hard to show using a still camera, so I just mostly concentrated  on what I originally attracted me to them and to their layers.

The way that I’m working these days is almost a picture a day. I make the picture one day and publish it the next. That was never my intent. It just seems to be working out that way.

That brings me to this.

Housekeeping.

I’m about to turn Storyteller into a full blown website with my blog incorporated into that. I’m going to use an outside template designed to replace WordPress template, which should give me more ability to do what I’d like. I found one company that I like a lot. I have a number of questions for them. If they are answered to my satisfaction, I’ll start on the project. There are two big questions.  One is about coding. The other is about building the site and how I lay it over Storyteller. It’s possible I could be out of service for a couple of days. I’ll let you know.

And, speaking of being out of service, I’m thinking of working on a picture per week schedule. In reviewing my work, I am repeating myself. And, I’m not making very substantial work. That isn’t to say I’ll only post once a week because I can share my out takes as well as the very best picture. I have to think that through. I’ll let you know about that too.

If all goes as planned, there will be a direct purchasing tab, leading the buyer to a place where images can be bought or licensed by size, with options for paper type, canvases and framing.

All of this will take some work, but I am free for awhile.

 

 


A summer’s day.

A summer’s afternoon. In the south.

It’s hot. It’s humid. It rains almost very afternoon.

It takes a while to get used to it. If you’ve moved from some other place, you’ll think that you died and went to hell. But, slowly if you stop staying indoors and spend some time in the heat, you’ll come to like it. Sure, you’ll gripe about it. You’ll pass the time talking to neighbors about it. You’ll try not to work in the noonday sun, because after all, only mad dogs and Englishman do that. But, you’ll get used to it.

And, those afternoon storms. They only last a while. The suck up the humidity. They cool things down for just a bit.

The picture. Honestly, I saw it. I made it. I positioned the lens so that the clouds are as important as the trees. I took some time getting the colors right. Some sensors have a little trouble being too red. Those trees could have looked like they were on fire if I let the image have its way.

 


Cool blue pool.

Summertime.

Sometimes, the living is easy. This was one of those times. I was sitting by a pool when the clouds started dancing around as a seasonal storm was getting ready to pass through.

I couldn’t even see to focus because the light was so strong. I just pointed my smart phone, hoped for the best and pressed the button. Most of my pictures where about what I wanted. Some are just funny.

I cleaned up the picture in post production because there was a lot of debris floating on the surface of the water. I left the yellow leaf to show a sense of scale.

Today’s rant.

It’s not a rant. It’s funny. Well, not so much if you are a working photographer or serious about the art and craft of making pictures. Yet, it may amuse you.

A young woman decided that she is a photographer and was going to open a business. She asked for monetary donations as well as a camera, a photo editing computer and other associated gear. Oh, and she’s never taken a picture.

Apparently, she was turned down by the usual crowd funding sources, and Facebook removed her advertising. So, she went directly to the crowd.

The internet was as mean as only people hiding behind a monitor can be. Petapixel — a super blog — published a long snarky story about it. That was mostly a waste of time.

Most working photographers, like me, didn’t say too much. I must confess that I was laughing so hard at her request and the responses that I almost came to tears. I did not reply. I have better things to do.

I’ve seen people ask for funding so that they can travel. So that they can take a vacation. I’ve even seen people as for help with a down payment for a car or a home. To my way of thinking, if you don’t have the money you shouldn’t be doing these things and asking me to pay for it.

On the other hand, I’ve donated to people who are very sick, have insurance, but the co-pay is huge. Or, to a family whose bread winner was killed in an accident. I’ve even helped to bury somebody.

But, start a career? No. I don’t think so. You can do what I did. Study, practice, work and buy gear as needed. That’s what most of us did. Sometimes we incurred debt, but we paid it off. Sometimes if we had a big assignment which left us with unplanned money, we reinvested it our business. In ourselves.

Granted, I would not want to be starting a photo career now. There is way too much competition, especially at the entry level. New photographers are cutting their rates to get a job to the point where they actually lose money.

They are underselling everybody.

Not only does it kill their nascent  businesses, but it hurts old pros like me. My stock sales are lower even though my volume is higher than it’s ever been.

I won’t lower my creative fees because I sell myself as you get what you pay for — you know, my clients get what they want and beyond. Sometimes, I get called in towards the end of the creative cycle to fix what a low priced photographer broke.

As much as dislike cleaning up a mess, my pay is very good because the creative team is now getting desperate. No worries. I never overcharge. I do make a point to tell them that if they’d worked with me in the first place, the job would be done and for less money.

Guess what happens next time? Either I get the job or I lose it to another veteran professional who I know will do a good job. That’s okay with me. We established a beach head and took back the bidding process.

To wrap this up. Could you imagine hiring the photographer who is asking for gear? What could she bring to the table? Sheesh, she thinks that there are photo editing computers. I don’t know about you, but I use my main machine for everything.

That’s the story of the day. I hope it got you thinking. No. No. No. Don’t even think a bout donations so you can buy gear.

Wait a minute…


Sometimes, I make pictures from the inside of the subject.

From the inside.

Sometimes, the subject sort of envelopes me. It happened the other day. Dog or no dog, I take walks. That’s going to get stepped up a bit as I prepare for second line season, assuming we stay in New Orleans. Our property taxes shot through the roof. I don’t mind that, if I get something in return. Like streets without potholes. Or, a city that doesn’t flood with each rain storm.

Anyway.

I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking. When I looked up I realized that I was standing inside of a tree’s branches.

I was inside the tree.

What to do? What to do?

Oh, I know. I’ll make a few pictures. So, that’s what I did.

And, this picture is what I got.

Yeah, I did a little post production. I made the picture glow. That wasn’t quite how I saw it. But, it’s what I liked. So, I went with it.

Anyway.

As you know, I’ve been thinking about social media. The good and the bad of it. I was thinking about giving it all up. But, in 2019, it’s how we sell ourselves. Instead of just leaving it behind, I’ve been removing folks who don’t teach me something, or make me smile. That, in itself, has been making me smile.

If you are starting to feel the way that I was, maybe you should try that too. Just don’t get rid of Storyteller. That would make me frown.


Clouds in another place.

Another time. Another place.

Did you ever wonder how you got here? I don’t mean here as in location. I mean the twists and turns that your life took to get you to your place right now. Right this minute.

Lately, that’s what I’ve been doing.

It started with the koan, “learning.” That is my word for the year. I wasn’t sure exactly how that word would work since I’m a lifetime learner. I try to learn just a bit from everything and everyone. It might be just one teeny tiny thing. That adds to my body of knowledge.

Then it came to me.

Learning meant from the inside out.

That’s fine as far as it goes. And, it goes on forever.

Then, something started to change. I started wondering how my life got to the place where it is today. Everything seemed to be a cue. Music. A bit of an old television show. A movie clip. An old photograph. A smell. A road less traveled.

So far, not so good.

Oh sure. I’ve had a great career. But, not the best. My personal life has been okay, but it could have been better. And, so on and so on. I’ve let too many opportunities pass by. Even those that were a sure thing. We all do it. I did it.

It’s easy to get worried or even depressed using this line of thinking. I’m not that guy. I know that the past is the past. I can’t do very much about it. Nobody can. I can really only live in the present. But, I can be my best self in the future. The question isn’t why. It’s how. It’s where. And, it’s when.

After all, no one person can do everything.

I think you make life choices based on priorities. I can work those as far as they go because there aren’t many. Likely, they mostly flow from one or two very important cares or concerns. Working with those takes time, effort, focus and maybe even a little money. It may take a plan. How do you get from point “A” to point “B?”

That’s where I am right now.

My thinking may be easier than other people’s.

Because.

I reckon, even in this age of high end medicine, medications and procedures, I’ve got about 15 years or so. That’s not discouraging to me. We all pass off this mortal coil.

The question is how well do we live out our time.

I do not want to do what my dad did. After he retired, he and my mom moved from Long Beach, California to Reno, Nevada. There is so much to see and explore in, and around, Reno. My dad mostly stayed at home. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. For what?

You know for what.

I’m not doing that. Not now. Not ever.

That’s another way of learning. Sometimes you learn what you don’t want. What you don’t want to do.

Anyway.

The picture. You can learn a lot about light if you look closely. You see that big power pole? You see what’s next to it in the sky? Do you see what happens to the white clouds directly next to that? It’s all about sunlight bouncing off of the whiter clouds, hitting that the clouds around it and reflecting and refracting its own light.

That is a great example of one thing I usually say. When you are looking at the great sunset that you want to photograph, you should turn around and see what that wonderful light does to the scenery behind you. For sure, photograph the sunset if that’s your thing. But, look around as well. You may be surprised. Pleasantly surprised.

 


Strange light.

There came a storm. Until it didn’t.

By around 10:30 pm, the night before the big event, everything changed. No storm surge. The river would only rise to 17 feet. Well below flood level. And, the rain will average around 6 inches over 24 hours in New Orleans.

Yes. It’s windy. We may still lose power. So, I’m writing this around midnight just in case.

A grateful city is happy. I’m happy.

But.

I’m so disappointed in national news coverage. The Washington Post flat out printed fake news. NOLA Twitter responded as only we could. The same thing happened with national television stations. Worse, the gold standard, The BBC went beyond fake news.

As many of you know, I started my career as a photojournalist. I made pictures. I edited. I managed photo staffs. I built a chain of weekly newspapers within a daily newspaper. I would have never published the nonsense I read today.

Like what?

The Post said something about how fearful we were. And, that we were fleeing. Nobody that I know was fearful. Some people with children left. Family first. But, they weren’t panicked. We’ve been through this before.

The city, state, even the federal government got involved. We had emails, tweets and texts. There were the obligatory press conferences and so on. That was all good.

But.

I remember that prior to the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, a lot of my neighbors said they weren’t leaving because the city always reacted to potential hurricanes extremely and nothing ever came of it.

The rest is history.

When do people start disregarding hurricane lead ups again? What happens when the real deal occurs again and people don’t take it seriously?

Beyond my pay grade. I guess the Mercedes Dome will be a place of last refuge again.

One more thing.

I’m speaking only about New Orleans. I’m sure it will be rough when Barry makes landfall, wherever it makes landfall.

Have a good thought for all of us.


Little or nothing.

“Baby, baby, take the long way home.”

Written about someone who wants to stay on the road and not go home. That’s us right about now.

The situation.

First, the good news.  It is very likely that the levees will not overtop. We are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain in the next two days. If it’s steady it won’t overwhelm the pumps. It will add more water to the already high Mississippi River.

There is even better news. The Rolling Stones will not be denied. They are already in town. And, their stage crew is building their stage, lighting and video screens as we speak. They are playing on Sunday. Come hell (not likely) or high water (likely).

The predictable news. The storm’s outer bands are reaching us. There are winds of about 20 mph with light rainfall. It is not steady, it is more like spitting. It’s on and off as the cyclone spins.

There is no bad news. We are as prepared as I’ve ever seen. That’s the city. The parishes. And, us. The only possible bad news are power failures, which are unpredictable. Yesterday, I saw Entergy crews checking the likely weak links. But, storms are storms and you can’t know what will fail.

Have a good thought for us.

The picture. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight. We’ll see about that. It looks like I’m a million miles away. Nah, Earhart Expressway. The back way to the airport.

Just remember, you thought you knew what the Tibetan word Nameste means. Around here, that’s Cajun for the answer to this question.

“Are you evacuating?”

“Nameste.” (Nah Imma Stay)


Way Out West.

Morning fingers.

Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.

I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.

Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…

The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.

This picture is not one of them.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.

I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.

This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.