Nature’s art.

J

uly is the month that you really know where you are; Southeast Louisiana. This is when your windows always have condensation producing water droplets in the morning.

That’s what you see as I look into the garden. Later in the day this dries out and you can see reality again. Not that reality is such a big deal. These days, like so many of you, I think that reality bites.

I just don’t want to deal with anything hard these days. I avoid them as much as possible. Sleep, once came with difficult, now seems easy to come by. That’s not me. I’m usually a six hour a day sleeper. Now, I am a ten hour a day sleeper.

I’m not feeling fatigued. I start reading anything and pretty soon I start to drive and think, “This feels good” and I’m gone.

I did it yesterday. I started working around 8am. I took a break at 11:30am. I thought I’d read the news. I awoke at 3:30pm. Huh? Where am I?

And you?

T

his is the anti-technology column today.

My new iPhone has a 90 day no questions asked return policy.

I might use that.

I’m not sure if it’s me, or the sensor or the lens, but it makes photo files that are almost unusable.

My first attempt at in phone processing of this image was terrible. Even after turning down the contrast to the bare minimum all the darks where clumped into an unreadable mass.

So, I download a completely unprocessed file and worked on it in OnOne, barely doing anything.

That worked.


Colors of summer.

Summer.

Feelings. Emotions. Senses.

As we all work through summer, I’ve tried to think about what makes a summer picture. Since almost every tree is green, there are few new blooms and we start heading into a visually boring season, how do I find summer?

Especially for my summer project?

In this case, I didn’t. I made summer. I layered two pictures. The obvious tree image was combined with a macro image of condensation on my window. That’s what gave this particular photograph the extra glow.

The picture looks and feels like something summery. It’s not real enough like the rest of the summer portfolio. I won’t include it.

But, it is a nice warm feeling picture. Since I pretty much created it, it’s my summer picture. Just not the right summer picture. I need to find some people doing something. Summer something.

Until then, enjoy this one.


Frozen.

After yesterday’s day of reflection, I needed something different. I’m pretty sure you did too.

What to photograph? What to photograph?

The best pictures come to you. Right? This one came to me in the grocery store. Every freezer door was clear except for this one. For some reason the ice cream behind this door was hidden by a film of condensation.

Ah ha! The lightbulb in my head went off.

I made two pictures. This is one of them. Sure, there’s a lot of post production. I had to help you see what I saw. I like the pastel shade of the image. It’s not my normal approach.

That’s it for today. I’m a little tired. Still, I’m going to test something like WordPress called Gutenberg. It is supposed to turn the normal WordPress templates into a free-flowing, free form website. It’s the future. I’m testing it as a plug-in. I know it’s going to be a bit buggy. Even WordPress says that. Knowing that going in makes it no big deal.

Wish me luck.


Breakfast at the Clover Grill.

Sunday morning. In the French Quarter.

The tourists haven’t awakened yet. The only folks out are locals. Either they are getting ready for church. Or, they are getting ready to work. Or, they are just coming come from a long overnight shift somewhere in the Quarter.

Before they go where ever they are going, they stop for breakfast. At the Clover Grill. They can eat heartily. They can eat 24 hours a day. And, they can eat in a place that has been around for a long, long time. It’s one of those places where everybody knows your name. And, you’ll never know what will happen. I’ll leave it at that. If you ever go there I want you to be surprised.

Oh. You want to know where it is? Lower Bourbon Street. At Dumaine. On the corner. You can’t miss it.

The picture. One from the archives. When I first returned to New Orleans I used to go walking in the French Quarter on Sunday morning. The light was wonderful. There weren’t many people on the street. It wasn’t too hot, but I did have to deal with the early morning goopiness. Eventually, I stopped doing that in favor of photographing second lines. Because of the decline of the number of second lines, I may resume walking the Quarter on Sunday morning. We’ll see.

 


Breakfast at the Clover Grill.

I used to walk around The French Quarter sort of early in the morning on Sunday. I’ve pretty much stopped that, mostly because I rarely go to the Quarter. No real reason. It’s just one of those things.

On this morning I was walking on Bourbon Street, toward the downriver end. Where things are quieter. I saw this man sitting in the Clover Grill behind all that window condensation. What else could I do? I took his picture.

Even when I do walk around the Quarter, I typically am not looking for the ten best tourist photographs. I’m looking for little moments. Slices of life. I think that this picture qualifies. It’s a tiny moment. For those of you who have been around Storyteller for some time — let’s say six years — you may recognize it from an earlier version. But, since about 80% of all bloggers do not make it past two years… well, you know. It’s new to you.

The picture. I wanted to tinker with it. Beyond cleaning up  and making the man a little crisper, there is not much that I could do. So, the original image is pretty much how you see it. It’s not that the picture is perfect. It’s that adding my twists to this image wouldn’t do much. It would be trying too hard.

About those ten best locations. I probably should go reshoot and refresh them. Things do change, no matter how stuck in the past we are in New Orleans. Even if it’s just in tiny increments. Besides, New Orleans is the number on tourist destination in the country.


Condensation on the window.
Condensation on the window.

Experiment day.

For those of you who have been around here for a little bit, you know that Sunday is often the day I post experiments. Could be in shooting style. Or, in post production. Or, in content.

In this case it is everything.

A few days ago, one of the post production apps — On1 — that I use a lot, released their newest software. It is not an update. It is built new, entirely from the ground up. It does a lot of new things, but its biggest selling point is that is a RAW image processor. We won’t need anything but their software to develop, process and finish a picture.  Every photographer who uses On1 is excited about it.

Except.

The folks who develop the software have a history of releasing new versions well before their time. Half baked. Buggy. Needing a couple of upgrades before it is stable. They released what their marketing department calls “preview” software to all of us who pre-ordered it. That sounds fine.

Except.

It wasn’t. It’s not preview anything. It’s barely developmental software.  At best it is beta test in sheep’s clothing. I never do beta testing. After all, one really bad bug can cause problems within the architecture of your computer.

If I had known this, I would have never downloaded it. So far, it’s been super slow as a processor and it’s crashed my computer to the point that only a hard reset — unplugging the computer from the power source — could get my machine going again. This has been the general consensus on many user boards. To be fair, some people had no problems using it. But, they seem to be in the minority.

That said, I did manage to do one simple test.

This picture.

The one you are looking at. We are drifting back and forth between very cold air and slightly warmer air as we move closer to winter. Well, our version of winter. That creates a lot of condensation on just about everything. I made this picture through my studio window. I processed it entirely on the new On1 software. It took forever. Even when the bugs didn’t get in the way, it really slowed down my personal workflow.  I have to believe it will get faster once the final release is made in mid-December.

Anyway.

Most of this image, especially the background, is wholly created using the software. In fact, after reviewing it, I’m certain the only the water drops are original to the picture.  Of course, that opens a great debate. What is photographic art?

I’m not going there now. I will, if you’d like to talk about it.

 


Frosty Sunset
Frosty Sunset

Boom. Like that.

Not quite so violent. It’s really condensation and frost on a car window at sunset.

While we were tearing around Orleans and Jefferson Parishes the other night we had the air conditioning in the car turned way up. We had to. Even though the storm finally came to an end, the heat and humidity didn’t. It was close to 90 degrees at 7:30pm. The combination of the blowing cold interior air and the wet, clinging, humid outdoor air met and clashed on the window and froze into little ice crystals. The sun did its thing. And I did mine. This is the result. Fine art. Or, something like that.

 

 


Ganesha in New Orleans.
Ganesha in New Orleans.

Windows. That’s another good reason for taking Sunday morning walk in the French Quarter. The nice warmish light falls in places that I normally don’t see when I wander around there at dusk. Of course, I also get to see things that I wouldn’t get to see in one small neighborhood. Ganesha, BBQ and dog masks all within quick walking distance. Where else would I see that?

And, I received a little unexpected surprise with yesterday’s post. Type in French Quarter into Google and… I’m number two. Even over more official French Quarter websites. I suppose if your do this long enough, and honestly enough, Google’s robotic systems find you pretty quickly and give you a reasonably good ranking. That’s also why I turn down all  those SEO firms who promise that they’ll get you ranked if you just pay them a bunch of money. Google knows when “professional” consultants do it, and more or less ignores them. But, enough of about SEO and small victories.

It’s the pictures that matter. Right?

I’d start with the history, because that’s kind of at the heart of what I do. But, it’s long and convoluted.

I’ll do this instead.

The Quarter was founded in 1718. Many buildings date from 1803. It was burned in the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 and again in 1794, leaving the then Spanish overlords to rebuild it according to “modern” tastes, which is what we see today. Spanish architecture. Not French. By the early 20th Century, it was already falling into disrepair. The first of the more “Bohemian” population was moving in and setting the stage for what we see today. The entire district was designated a historic district in 1965. By the early 1980s, rental prices increased dramatically as owners anticipated an increase in revenue from the 1984 World’s Fair leading to the conditions that we have today. Very expensive property. The end.

Not the end. But, I’d be writing for days in order to tell you a comprehensive history.

I will tell you a post-Katrina story. The quarter received no flooding. There was some wind damage, but by late October of that year, it was pretty much up and running. Considering that the storm arrived on 29 August, that’s saying something. The rest of the city was still pretty much down. Couldn’t get gas anywhere. No food either. My neighborhood didn’t have electricity until late November. That meant that as I was emptying out our house and trying to salvage what I could, I’d drive to the Quarter for lunch. I’m like most locals. I deny liking the Quarter. What I really mean is that I don’t like Bourbon Street.

But, that’s a whole other story.

The Quarter has a very fond spot in my heart. Whenever I walk by the few restaurants that I’d eat in during those early days after the storm, I want to go in even though I’m not hungry. I guess I just want to support them. A little.

It’s a New Orleans thing.

BBQ
BBQ

Horses and dogs.
Horses and dogs.


Another image from my foggy, humid, condensation series. Again, the picture was made in The French Quarter. Post production was minimal and done mostly to bring out the details and highlight the doll’s face.