In the winter.

We had snow. It melted. We had rain. The water stuck around long enough to freeze. We had snow on top of that.

I ran some errands a few miles from home. I came to this street and thought, “Oh oh.” I had no idea if it was just wet or icy. It was wet turning to ice as the day got colder.

Even though I like to say that I enjoy bad weather, mostly because you can make pictures like this one, driving in it doesn’t make me happy.

Even though it’s been a while, I’m fairly comfortable driving on snow. Ice is another story. You have no control. The car slides whichever way it wants to go unless you have studded tires or chains.

And, then there’s getting trapped in icy and snow conditions. With my car if you turn on the anti skid settings, you cannot drive out of a snow drift or ice. If you turn it off, out you go. I’m sure my friends in northern climes have something to say about this.

I’ll tell you an ice story.

My newspaper career started in Virginia. I was married to a woman who is not my wife now. She was a great reporter. As I understand it, she’s retired now. I have nothing bad to say about her. Not ever.

Anyway.

We spent the weekend in Washington D.C. We were headed home on Sunday racing a big snow storm coming from the East behind us. We got to a really steep drop on I-81. At the bottom were two state trooper cars. One trooper had a flashlight and was slowing everybody down.

No problem.

My wife was driving. She applied the brakes slowly. Nothing. Finally a little grab. She managed to slow down to about 1 mph or so. She really had no control. We were right upon the trooper when he stepped slightly to the side and she hit him. At less than 1 mph.

He wasn’t hurt but he was angry. He got to our and started yelling, when he saw my arm holding her back and a terrified look on our faces. When he saw that his anger faded. He understood what happened. He saw us sliding down the highway.

We talked for a few minutes and he told us to be safe.

As I recall that happened somewhere between Roanoke and Christiansburg, where we lived. My then wife drove home. We brought the luggage in. We were exhausted. We went to bed.

When we awoke there was eight feet of snow on the ground. No way to get out until the snow plows arrived sometime in the afternoon.

We should have just stayed in the District

A friend of mine complimented me on a picture that I made in Southeastern Louisiana that looked something like this one.

No, not the scene. The light.

I told her that it is a very hard picture to make because of the light. I also said that the last time I made a picture like it was in about 1978.

It turns out I was wrong.

I made this picture about 12 for 13 years ago.

It has the same quality of cold, silvery backlighting that makes the road sort of shine and drops the edges into a bit of shadow.

Oh okay. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve been at this since about 1972. Next year makes 50 years.

You can’t expect me to remember everything.

If you ever come to light that looks like this, stop your car, get out of it and make a few pictures. That’s all there is to it.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Painted sky.

Pastel Sky, looking like a water color. That wasn’t my intention, but that’s what happened.

In this day of all things digital photographers are trying to make their work look like anything but photography. I understand the need to take things to the next level. I do it myself more times than not.

Just don’t force it.

It’s more of a Zen-like approach for me. I try to let the scene teach me how to take the picture and the picture try to show me how it should look.

It works most of the time.

That’s why my work looks all over the place sometimes. In fact, I think as I build new portfolio pages for Storyteller I’m going to group images by color and hue rather than by subject matter.

I saw a friend’s bookshelves organized that way and I thought it was just the coolest thing. I don’t imagine that you could organize a public library that way because you’d never find anything. But, for home or office… why not?

Yeah.

Why not?

The cold is the cold. Managing to make a picture look that way is something else.

This picture was mostly the result of seeing rather than developing.

The picture looks cold because it was cold when I made it.

I didn’t have to do that much to it to make it feel that way.

I used only one technique. I minimized the structure and just barely sharpened anything. That brings a water color look to the finished image. It also plugs up the shadows which makes them look a little moody.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy all the color.


It is gonna be bad.

You could see it coming from miles away. The storm. The cold. The wind. Luckily, we didn’t have heavy rainfall. Maybe a couple of inches. But, we are having a cold spell that is as cold and long as anything in recent memory.

I’ll tell you more about this picture in the right hand column.

For now it’s enough to say that it was made in the parking lot of a grocery store that we went to after running errands in Jefferson Parish.

We didn’t want to load and unload groceries in the cold rain.

It’s called Postcard Blues for two reasons. It’s mostly blue and because of that McDonald’s sign in the background. It struck me how many people photograph something in the foreground and forget to look in the background.

No. That didn’t happened to me. I saw it as a little point scene to all the rest of the picture.

A way station, if you will, in that dense dark air. A place that you can call home if you like that sort of thing. I’m not big on their food, but for an emergency cup of coffee it’s pretty good.

As they say, anyplace in a storm.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wear two masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every McDonald’s coffee.

Anyplace in a storm, but not standing in the middle of a parking lot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pictures are everywhere. Just look and see. They’ll reach out and grab you.

When I made this picture the sky was dark and gray. I decided to just enhance how the picture looked.

I made it moody and, maybe even scary.

I could have moved my location or removed that McDonald’s sign in the middle of the picture. I didn’t want to. It makes a good focal point for the entire picture. I did brighten it up a bit, but not so much that would be a glaring beacon.

The more that I look at the picture, it looks like something from the dinosaur era. With a McDonald’s sign.


Cold, wet and slippery.

The cold weather came. It won’t leave. As I write this the temperature outside is 24 degrees. We should warm up sometime tomorrow.

Luckily, the rain stopped falling. The sun is shining through broken clouds. Clouds hold warmth in, so you know what this means. Colder still.

Yesterday was the saddest, coldest, wettest Mardi Gras ever. Sure, some people came out. They masked both ways. They wore their protective masks. They wore their Mardi Gras costumes. We call that masking too.

Of course, today is Ash Wednesday. The day when Catholics go to church and have an ash cross drawn on their foreheads. It’s the beginning of 40 days of sacrifice called Lent. I wonder how this is going to work out in the era of distancing and masking. If I were a better Catholic than I am, I’d just go and find out.

That’s a whole other story.

So.

This is a current picture. The first in ten days. I was excited to make it, even if it almost killed me. Oh well. Sometimes you have to decide if the pleasure is worth all the pain.

Making photographs is my one great pleasure. Note the word “great.” I do plenty of other things that bring me pleasure. But, photograph is the main thing.

Let’s see what you think. What is your biggest source of pleasure? What are the minor ones?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the weather.

Rain. You’d think that in Southeast Louisiana we’d know how to drive in wet conditions.

Oh no.

Most drivers are bad enough during the best of times. When the roads get wet, they forget what little they know about driving.

This is not a rant about local drivers. It’s the long way of saying that when I make a picture on a larger sized street I’m taking my life in my hands. Working on an interstate highway is much easier.

It’s also a way of saying that, both of my hands are on the steering wheel. I’ve talked about this previously.

I make sure the camera, or in this case, the phone is set on auto everything. I brace the camera, on the steering wheel. The only part of my hand that leaves the steering wheel is one finger or thumb. I just hope that the lens sees as I want it to.

The lens was close, but not quite there. If you look hard enough at the bottom of the picture you can see a bit of the dashboard. It’s part of the picture so I left it in.

I’ve been softening backgrounds in post production. I like it because it helps to enhance the subject by not being sharp.

I also like gauzy clouds.

That’s it.

Oh, this is not in New Orleans. I made this picture in Kenner after coming home from a CoVid-19 test.

No worries. My doctor wants his patients to take the test three days before the procedure.

If you recall, I took another test last week. But, the procedure was postponed because of… a CoVid-19 scare.

In many ways, that’s photographer’s luck. If I didn’t have the test I wouldn’t have been in a position to make this picture.


Left overs.

We ate it. If truth be told since carnival season began on January 6, we ate three. Three king cakes.

During a normal Mardi Gras year we’d eat way more than that, but they’d be consumed at the brunch that we would have had yesterday.

The subject of this picture is what’s left after eating the cake. And, the baby. Tradition says that if you eat a slice of the cake with the baby hidden inside you are king for a day. But, you must buy the next king cake.

Those green and yellow things are granulated sugar. They fell off the cake. Did I mention that New Orleans is not the healthiest place during Mardi Gras, or ever?

Anyway.

Nature made her statement today. Texas is snowed and iced under. It’s very cold. Like 4 degrees. Many people have lost power. They are cold and miserable.

In New Orleans the weather isn’t quite so bad. When I left to run a few errands, my car’s thermometer registered at 29 degrees. It’s always 4 degrees high so the air temperature was really 25 degrees.

We’ve have spitting rain and ice on and off all day. But, we have power.

The dogs were not amused. They went out, did their “business,” and came right back into the house. They rolled around on the floor. I guess they were generating heat. Or, just having fun.

Nature. She made sure that if the pandemic didn’t keep people inside, the weather would. There were a lot of tourists who ignored our warnings. They came anyway. I’d feel sorry for them if I didn’t think they were so stupid. It’s one thing to not know and be ignorant. It’s another thing to be told and be arrogantly stupid.

Anyway.

This is still a holiday for us.

So, Happy Mardi Gras to all y’all.

Green, gold and purple. Mardi Gras colors. That’s how most king cakes look.

But, there are plenty of other versions including the true French brioch version which doesn’t have color at all and certainly no granulated sugar.

There is really no trick to this. I made the picture with my phone in the kitchen a few minutes ago.

I cleaned up the file. I made sure the white background was white. By doing that I toned down the baby who was too red. And, I added glow to the image to pull your eyes to the baby.

And, that’s it.

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Stay dry. Stay warm.

And, always have a Happy Mardi Gras.


Pretty in red.

There is something about a red rose especially when it is growing in the middle of winter. It struck me as one of those little miracles that make me smile.

Lately, there have been a lot of things that make me smile. It started right around January 20. The change of presidential administrations helped a lot. It felt like we went from darkness to light in an afternoon.

Of course there will be battles and compromises even in the light but they won’t feel like we are falling off a cliff.

The biggest thing will be to include everybody, to make friends of our enemies, and to be kind to each other. The last point will take some doing.

Even if people aren’t openly antagonistic to each other, we don’t always pay attention. Think about the folks that stop in the middle of an aisle to answer their phone, or those who cut in front of you to pick up whatever it is they needed.

They mean no harm, but they aren’t paying attention. They generally apologize when they realize what they’ve done. It forces you to speak because you are wearing a mask and they can’t see your smile.

These are little things. They don’t mean anything. But, what happens with larger issues that do mean something? That stretches into all walks of life and through all levels of importance. Can we remember to “look after each other,” the phrase I use as I close Storyteller everyday?

I don’t know. But, I hope so.

We need each other now more than ever.

What do you think?

Red, red roses. I said they are a winter miracle. They are more than that to me.

I see them as a symbol of good things even in the cold of the day.

I try to photograph them as that, which is why I work close. I don’t want anything dead to pop up in the picture.

Luckily, the sky was overcast when I made it. Normally I like contrast. But, you saw yesterday what happened to the yellow flowers when there was too much.

A picture like this one needs even, muted light. That’s what I had. The rest was easy.

There were no struggles in development or in post production. The picture was made in camera before I had to mess with it.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow. There are new challenges every day.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the flowers in winter.


Cold, cold heart.

Cold. Cold. Cold sky. It looks like a winter sky. It is a winter sky. I suppose that’s because it’s winter. I like winter. The air feels good to me. My energy rises as opposed to summer when I slink about in the shadows.

It looks we have another week of interesting events. Never in history has a president been impeached twice. Never has one been convicted in the Senate. It could happen if the House waits until we have a new president, and senate majority.

I think that enough Republicans have had enough that they will cross the aisle. Somewhere I read that they would not delay the House’s one day proceeding. We’ll see.

I know. I promised no more politics. But, a friend asked how are artists supposed to tune this stuff out and “stay in their lanes?” I dislike that phrase. Trust me. If you tell me to stay in my lane the first person I’m coming for is you. I’d rather not, but that’s up to you.

Besides, this is history. Once upon a time I documented its first draft. I may again.

The domestic terrorists are headed to each state capital. They’ve put the fear of God into New Orleans City Council. They are making plans if they come here even though we aren’t the state capital. Baton Rouge is.

All I have to say is don’t come to a blue city in the middle of a red state. Don’t do it. As Bob Dylan wrote, “I’m armed to the teeth and you won’t get out of here unscathed.”

Don’t try to start a civil war. As they say, “War is hell.”

Me? I prefer peace in all cases. Swear in a new president and let him do what he can to unify this country.

Doesn’t that sound like a better idea?

Well, doesn’t it?

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy the night.

Night time is the right time. Once upon a time I made my career working at night.

Now, not so much.

There is something about working at night that just makes pictures so much more interesting.

Night hides things. Night makes the scene so much more mysterious. Colors shift. Things turn spooky. If you like motion, subjects can streak, shimmer and shine.

And, so much more.

Ask if you want to know more. Ask if you want to learn some techniques of night photography.

They say you need a tripod if you work at night. They are probably right. But, because I work in some funky places, I have to shoot and scoot.

Or.

I could have ended up in the hospital or dead while my gear ended up in a pawn brokers shop.

You can hand hold your camera at night if you learn some bracing and steadying techniques. Once again, please ask if you want to know more.

This picture is hand held. The exposure is a little weird, but that’s because I was also holding the leash of a straining cocker spaniel.

Yes. The moon was very yellow that night.

Oh, I made this picture on the first or second night of my holiday hiatus. For what that’s worth.


Deep, dark at dusk.

They said that we were going to have snow. Yep. That’s what they said. We may still see some, but the national weather maps have snow as a possibility in northern Louisiana. Not down here in the swamp.

The temperature is cold for us. We had a high of 40 degrees. We had cold rain. We had miserable dogs. They don’t like going out in rain. They really hated cold rain.

For me, a guy who dislikes summer’s heat and likes cold weather, this is a dream.

However spring flowers are already blooming. The Japonica tree has quarter-size buds on it. Sheesh. It’s mid-January. And, barely that.

Maybe that’s a sign. A sign of things to come. On the other hand, I’m about ready to toast 2022.

2021 already seems to be saying to 2020, “Hold my beer.” Maybe things will get better. I do worry about the next nine days.

Maybe I’m worrying for nothing.

I hope so.

This is what I saw before the cold rain came pouring down.

I normally don’t make a cloud picture without some kind of anchor — a tree, a building, the ubiquitous telephone poles — but theses were just to powerful to ignore.

You know the next step. And, the step after that.

This image took almost no work in post because I exposed for that highlight — the bit of sky that is bright white and blown out.

I usually do that by accident.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy the cold weather.


It was a dark and cloudy day.

Everything changes. I had some lessons in that today. I wasn’t going to renew my premium membership with WordPress. It’s digital dump day, or whatever today is called. You know the equivalent of Black Friday. For electronic stuff.

I ended my premium plan yesterday. I received an email from WordPress today. 40% off for the next two days. I’m nothing if if not opportunistic. So, I renewed.

Don’t judge me.

While I have some complaints, especially with the Block System, I like it here. I have a community here.

I’ll still rebuild and redesign my website. That’s still the plan and the project. But, now I have a little more time. Like a year. That’s good because along with being opportunistic I’m lazy.

There is another important change too. You remember how I said that the all seeing dog was showing her age?

Wrong.

I noticed that when she stretched her jaw after waking up she would yelp in pain. I couldn’t find the problem until I put her leash on her. I happened to touch the back of her jaw. A little yelp.

Uh oh.

Another jaw infection. I called her vet and he prescribe the same antibiotics that he did when she lost a few teeth.

A week later and I let her out about 7am. The weather has turned cold here in the swamp. Luckily I had the presence of mind to dress properly even though I thought we’d be back inside in a few minutes.

Wrong again.

We went on the longest walk we’ve been on in the past few weeks.

Yippeeeeeeee.

Clouds. Both sides now. Joni is 77 and Judy is almost 80. My musical heroes may not be with us much longer. We’d better enjoy them while we can.

These are the first clouds of what turned out to be a three day storm and a cold front.

I made the file in color. I started messing with it and thought it looked better in black and white.

For sure, it brought out some things I didn’t see when I made the picture.

You can see the storm front as it moves. And, if I’m not mistaken, I can see a water spout. I didn’t hear any reports of a tornado, so maybe it broke apart.

No telling what a little post production will do.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every snow flake.