More than you know.

These things are delicate, very delicate. They usually last less than a day. Wind, water and animals destroy them just by touching them.

They can be very hard to photograph. Get too close and they sway in the light breeze you created. Get even closer, touch them and they fall apart. Stand over them to make a picture like this one and your shadow makes them too dark, which is why you should wait for an overcast day.

It’s a timing thing. It always comes down to timing. I suppose that’s what I call photographer’s luck. Look one way and you see the picture. Look the other and… nothing.

When I post to Instagram, it’s all New Orleans culture and locations. Yesterday, I posted a picture of a Black Masking Indian that I made during Big Chief Bo Dollis’ funeral.

A woman who is a friend of a friend really liked it. She said so. I thanked her and replied, “Photographer’s luck.” She replied with “LOL,” and some laughing emojis.

She mostly photographs birds and flowers.

She has no idea how hard it is to work in the street during any of the cultural events that I photograph. I always liken it to working in a rugby scrum. There’s pushing and shoving. There’s twisting and turning. There’s looking and seeing nothing.

Making a picture in that environment is damn near impossible. And yet, we do it. Almost every Sunday. Or, at least, we did. Maybe, soon, we will once again.

I still say that after not being able to properly mourn our New Orleans dead for over a year that we need one giant second line and jazz funeral. God’s own second line. Twenty divisions. All the social aid and benevolent societies. All the Indians. All the brass bands. Let it stretch from one end of the city to the other. Thousands of people watching and dancing.

Wouldn’t that be something?

And, that’s how I got from a dandelion to New Orleans culture.

As I wrote on the other side it’s hard to photograph these delicate little wildflowers.

They are easy to find during springtime, but you have to work carefully in order to get even as close as this picture is to photographic perfection. And, that’s not very close.

Even as good as the base exposure was, the picture needed help. It looked too thin to my eye.

So, I layered it. I layered one finished layer over another. The picture looks richer and fuller. And, it doesn’t really look that over done.

I fine tuned it a little and I was done.

It didn’t take all that long to do the work, but I had some idea of where I wanted to go which wasn’t far.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all your days because you never know.


Pretty in the springtime.

All the yellows of the day. There’s a song with that line in it, but I can’t remember it. Not Kodachrome. That was “greens of summer.”

There’s a little place by the sidewalk that I can be sure to find dandelions. Every year. Right about now. I don’t know about you, but they make me smile. Once they start blooming I know spring is here.

Along with wildflowers, we set the clocks aside early this morning. I don’t know who got the idea that it had to be done at 2am. Nobody I know does that. It’s either before bedtime, or when they stumble in the door after a Saturday night out.

Since very few people go out right now I suppose it’ll be the former. Or, maybe I should just speak for myself. Maybe that’s all I should do. Heh.

This is another of those scenes that I photograph every year. At least this time I found a different way of looking at it, and a different way of editing it.

That’s something, at least.

And, it’s a nice Sunday picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Have a good thought for the person who taught me this. She’s very sad. A death in the family.

Johnny’s Garden. That’s what it reminds me of. The name is a title to a Stephen Stills song.

The story as I know it goes something like this. After his big success with Crosby, Stills and Nash, he moved to London and leased Peter Sellers old house. Or, Ringo Starr’s house. It came with a gardener. You can figure out the rest. Either that, or he watched a movie with about the same plot.

With Stills, you never know.

I saw the scene. I found a way to photograph it a little differently than I had in the past.

It was in development and editing, where it really took off. That’s the entire story of my own Johnny’s Garden.


Morning sun, part two.

Just Dandy. See what I did there?

Spring arrived. The time of allergies. The time of sneezing. Not from this little guy, but from Live Oaks. So much pollen. More pollen in years. At least, that’s what the weather person said who comes on at six.

Everybody is sneezing around here. Even the dogs. None of us are amused. Especially in this season of the witch. If we are walking somewhere and sneeze, people glare at us. No. We don’t have “THE VIRUS.” We have allergies. That what our docs told us. We have some kind of steroidal stuff that we spray up our noses.

It’s really not a big deal. It’s just a season in the swamp. I’d say that we get used to it. But, we never do. Just like we don’t get used to Carnival Season. When you think about it, even with a change of costumes, so much of Mardi Gras looks about the same. That’s a little comforting.

The picture. I think smartphones are amazing. The sharpness of the dandelion is something. I didn’t have to do anything magical, or technical. I just pointed the lens and waited until it found its focus point. And, check out the background bokeh. All those little circles pinwheeling around make the picture a little more interesting.

Just like everything seems a bit surreal right now, it’s even more so in my photographic world. Nobody is working. Most events have been cancelled. Travel photographers can’t travel. Music photographers have no music to shoot. Commercial photographers assignments have been cancelled.

When they can, I know a bunch of professional travel photographers who use the newest, most high end smartphone to do their jobs. Some of them don’t even bother to bring their DSLR or Mirrorless cameras. I don’t have that many guts. But, one of my agencies asked me to work using my smartphone in order to produce a different kind of photograph.

Different photographs. For sure. Because phones are so ubiquitous nobody pays attention if you make pictures in their presence. Sometimes I don’t even focus. The camera does. I just stick my hand into the middle of something and push the button. That creates another kind of energy and sensibility.

I didn’t take smartphone photography very seriously. But, lately I’ve seen some stunning work in print and on walls. This has been going on for awhile. I just never noticed it. Now that I have, I’m eager to test it. Not just with my version of nature pictures, but with real people, maybe at a second line or Indian event… if they ever happen again.

When we come out of the season of the virus, most everything will have changed. That’ll be the time to fix things. To make things better.

Even though I was pretty bleak yesterday, I still have a kind of hope. But, you can’t eat hope.

Instead of laying back and waiting, I think we ought to prepare, sharpen ourselves, train, get stronger and spring into action as soon as we can. I certainly don’t want to go back to the way things were with everybody screaming at each other, with intense polarization, with true greed showing at every turn.

I want things to be better. Much better. We can do this. I know we can.

Stay safe. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


In the early morning sun. 

“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no mudd club, or C.B.G.B.
I ain’t got time for that now” — The Talking Heads

I awoke with the song “Life During Wartime” in my head. I had to hear it. The best version in our library is from their live shows in 1984. I saw that tour. My then wife, Cherie, and I were taking a break from Los Angeles Olympics coverage. The Talking Heads came to a venue in Orange County, California. We were exhausted from working 18 hour days. It was just the energizing break that we needed.

It’s hard to believe that 36 years years have passed since then. There have been changes. So many changes. The world can live in isolation because we aren’t really isolated. We can’t reach out and touch somebody, but we can see and hear them via the digital tools that were unthought of in 1984.

Of course, there is the book 1984. And, the amazing commercial that Apple dropped during the Superbowl. But, we had no idea where any of that was going.

Today.

Things weren’t great, but they were sort of cruising along.

Until. Until. Until.

CoVid19 escaped from China. Now, the whole world is shut down. People are sick and are getting sicker. The most compromised and aged are dying. Most business are closed, or working in a very reduced manner.

Things only seemed to get worse yesterday. Even though I knew it well beforehand, Jazzfest was postponed until October. Most music tours were cancelled. Most of the producers of those things seem to think that they could resume in October.

But, wait.

The CDC and the rest of the federal government are planning for an 18 month siege.  There goes October. There goes any of the things that I enjoy. There goes any of the ways we earn our livings.

When we finally emerge from our homes, what will be left? Will we emerge to find out that there is very little left?

God. I hope not.

Life During Wartime, it is.

The funny thing about listening to the Talking Heads live album is that even though I haven’t listened to it in a very long time I know every word. 36 years indeed.

Stay safe, take care of each other, and enjoy every sandwich.

 


Getting to the heart of the matter.

You belong among the wildflowers.

The first line of Tom Petty’s second album. Wildflowers.

I found this on — what else — a dog walk. These wildflowers are little teeny-tiny things. That “big” bloom is less than the size of a dime. Ten cents. About an 1/8 of a Euro.

That’s what attracted me to the scene. Once I started looking at it, I saw something else. The heart of it. A place that looks like it is giving birth to six more wildflowers. That’s what I focused on. That’s what mattered to me. Yes. I sharpened the center of the picture in post production. I also cropped the entire picture into a square. I also softened the background a little bit.

All of that was done to move your eye to the important part.

Question time.

I’ve read this term on a couple of “trendy” food blogs. Jelly Egg. What the hell is a jelly egg? I have a sneaking suspicion that I know. But, I’ll wait.  I’ll be patient. Then, and only then, will I go on a rant.

HA!


Dandelion.

What is it?

A weed? A flower?

We started this discussion yesterday. Since I like nature’s offerings, I think this is a wildflower. It’s fragile. You can blow a dandelion away in a couple of seconds. Its seeds will be scattered. You’ll be sneezing. You’ll deserve it.

Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

Don’t mess with anything. Leave it alone if you find it on a walk. It’s not yours. Make a picture like I do. Walk away. I have what I needed. I didn’t handle it.

Look at it. It’s the first time that I’ve thought to photograph a dandelion straight down. And, I left it right where I found it.

So.

So many pictures. I promised this discussion yesterday. It’s prompted by two blogs that I read. One, by a friend, and one on Photoblographer, an online magazine.

My buddy was talking about getting back into posting after a layoff because he retired, moved, and in general, he ripped up his old life. He was talking about creativity to which I replied that most photographers aren’t creative. They follow each other around taking the pictures that their peers did before them. I said that they should stay away from tripod holes. And, find their own picture.

Photoblographer broke yet another story of a photographer cheating and winning a lot of money in a contest. He presented a picture of a Vietnamese woman and her two young children as something he just sort of stumbled upon. To him it was either photojournalism or documentary photography.

It wasn’t either.

Another picture revealed the truth. There must have been a dozen photographers taking the same picture. They were either a group being lead in a photo walkabout. Or, they were taking a workshop and the woman and her children were hired models.

No way in hell is that photojournalism.

I expected the comments to just destroy this cheating photographer. That’s what usually happens. Oh no. Most of the writers tried to justify what the cheating photographer had done. They split hairs saying that the scene was real even though a group of photographers was taken there to take the picture.

What?

The entire scene was staged and by extension, every picture that was there was also staged.

A couple of commentors not only split hairs, but said that so many pictures were being produced on a daily basis that the people who saw the picture would either forget it, or just wouldn’t care.

Huh?

When did we become so jaded that honesty stopped mattering?

They all said that the leading picture social media site — Instagram — had something like a billion pictures being posted every hour. That’s a lot of pictures. To be more precise, that’s a lot of bad pictures. A lot of derivative pictures. A lot of scenes that were designed to be Instagramable. A helluva a lot of free marketing and publicity. And, a lot of selfies.

When did photographing — or, rather taking snapshots — matter so much that people trample all over everything in order to stick their face in front of some scene? That trampling all over the massive spring blooms in California looking for perfect selfie matters more than the flowers themselves. When did losing your life in order to take a selfie at the Grand Canyon become more important than just enjoying the place?

Sure, over the length of my career I’ve been in some sporty places, photographing some scary things. But, documenting those subjects mattered. I wasn’t trying to take a picture of my face in front of something. And, I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing and how to mitigate the risks.

So.

So many pictures.

I just hope it slows down soon. I can say this after almost 50 years of making pictures, sometimes it just isn’t worth it. These days when I find myself standing in front of some kind of beauty, I make a conscious decision not to make the picture. To stand there and just enjoy the moment. To let it soak in. After all, it’s way better for my soul, my heart and my brain.

And, you?


Spring flower number one.
Spring flower number one.

Spring. It arrived in Louisiana a little early.

I’m sorry for those of you who are in the freezing cold. And, hate it. Not to worry, I’m looking at an early and very hot, humid summer. I don’t like that any more than you like the cold.

That’s it. For today. Maybe for the foreseeable future. No more writing. Not until WordPress can get their act together. My time is short and not for wasting with programming nerds who think that’s what “content providers” live to do. I don’t write code. I don’t want to learn. And, no matter how much somebody tries to shove it down my throat I won’t do it. Nor well I switch desktops just because yet another corporation wants me to do something that makes my life harder.

Sorry. I’ll write more some day when I know that I won’t have to repost two, three or four times to get the job done. Once.


Dandelion
Dandelion

Dandelion.

This is what I found.

Blowball, Cankerwort, Cochet, Common Dandelion, Couronne de Moine, Dandelion Extract, Dandelion Herb, Délice Printanier, Dent-de-Lion, Diente de Leon, Dudal, Endive Sauvage, Fausse Chicorée, Florin d’Or, Florion d’Or, Herba Taraxaci, Laitue de Chien, Leontodon taraxacum, Lion’s Teeth, Lion’s Tooth, Pisse au Lit, Pissenlit, Pissenlit Vulgaire, Priest’s Crown, Pu Gong Ying, Salade de Taupe, Swine Snout, Taraxaci Herba, Taraxacum, Taraxacum dens-leonis, Taraxacum officinale, Taraxacum vulgare, Tête de Moine, Wild Endive.

Guess you can call it whatever you want. In almost any language.


Springs, coming to an end.
Spring, coming to an end.

Spring.

For many of you, Spring is just getting started. For us, in Southeast Louisiana it’s coming to an end. Doesn’t matter what the calendar says, with temperatures in the high 80s all of next week, summer is here. The only difference is the humidity. Right now, it’s in the mid 40 and 50 percent range. In July, August and September we have an outdoor sauna. Humidity ranges between the high 80s and high 90s. That’s a lot of moisture in the air. That’s why anything grows. That’s why our skin glows. With any luck we won’t get any big wind blows.

That was hard. Grows, Glows. Blows.

One more thing. Right now, it’s pretty dry. Summer is our rainy season. Hurricane season, too.

This is about the last of our River Road Ride pictures. There. I made it a proper name. It was one of the first pictures that I made, but the Dandelion is falling apart, making it a fitting closer for this series of pictures. For me, the thing with macro subjects is to leave enough of the background in place so that you can understand the context of the picture. I suppose this is a form of bokeh. That over used word.