The swamp and the tree.

There is one corner where the land looks like this. It looks and feels what it must have been like 25,000 years ago.

I don’t really know. I’m not that old. I swear.

All I know is that it’s green and can get kind of noisy when squirrels talk and birds chirp.

Sometimes wilder animals than those make their way through the foliage. I’ve seen raccoon and possums pass by. I rarely see snakes, but they are there too. Nothing poisonous, just the usual black snake or two.

Scrape away 160 years and this neighborhood is wild and swampy. Well, not that wet. This is ridge land. Kind of. It’s six feet above sea level when so much of the city land is below sea level.

But, that’s enough.

It survived the big hurricane in my memory — Katrina — without getting flooded. That’s one of the reasons we live where we live.

It’s not the oldest neighborhood in the city, with much of being built in the 1850s. It was annexed to be part of New Orleans a little before that. People built here for three reasons. The land was fairly inexpensive. The area was a little cooler which kept the viral outbreaks down. And, it isn’t near the French Quarter and “those people.”

That doesn’t mean what you think. It really means a wilder, rowdier bunch.

Even now, it’s removed enough that if I want to go to the Quarter, I can hop on the streetcar and be there is 10-15 minutes. And, that’s a two block walk from the house. I can watch the craziness and come home to quiet.

Sometimes living here is easy.

Jungle land. The hardest part of making this photograph is the light.

Most of it is dark. That’s easy to expose for. But, look at the highlights. They are way blown out.

The way to account for that is to expose for the shadows and add a little flash. Not much, just something we used to call a kick light.

I could have done that but didn’t. Remember, I make these pictures on dog walks or going from one place to another.

The result is slightly gray highlights caused by the processing that takes a RAW file to a JPEG. It crunches some of the highlights to make them fit within the JPEG gamut.

Never the less, I think this is a fairly striking representation of my neighborhood.


All the color you can see.

My kind of photograph. Lots of big, bold, bright color. I didn’t actually see quite as much color when I stopped to press the button, but I did see the tree reflection. That’s what caught my attention.

You know me. I’m of the opinion that anything can be a picture. Not in all light. Or, at all times of day. You have to be patient. Or, have an all seeing dog. She knows all. Even though she see monochromatically, she can see how the light and shadows fall.

In fact, she stood right in front of this car. Well, SUV. She moved when she saw what I was doing.

I should be somewhere in the picture, but I can’t find myself. Maybe you can.

The big news of the day is that I get my CoVid-19 vaccination today. The hospital scheduled me for my second injection as well.

I don’t think much is going to change for me in how I address the virus. I’ll still social distance. I’ll still mask. I’ll still growl at the person who stands too close to me in the grocery. Or, has his mask way down over his nose.

If I don’t speak for me, who will?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoying all the seeing.

Seeing and looking are two different items in sort of a continuum. You can look and see nothing. I know a lot of people like that, including me sometimes.

Or, you can look and see. That’s a very different thing. It’s what enables me to see this car and the tree reflections. It enables me to feel the picture.

I think making a photograph is mostly by feel, rather than intellectual or mechanical.

For sure, you have to understand your gear and you have to understand who and what you are as a photographer. But, that’s not directly involved when you actually make the picture. It hovers in the background.

Of course, you have to have another kind of vision when you are developing and editing the picture.

If you do, you might make something with which you are happy.


Deep and dark.

Night. Moody, deep and dark. Sometimes scary. Always interesting. That’s one of my favorite times of day to work aside from the ends of the day.

Working at night means that you can hide some imperfections. You can build in the shadows. Pools of light become subjects in themselves. Trees often become silvery in the winter.

On the other hand, daytime photography assures you of a good exposure, especially if the light falls on the front of the subject. But, to my way of thinking, high noon daylight images are boring.

There I said it. Boring.

I started thinking about this when a friend said, in the comments, that my pictures are different. My writing above sort of explains why.

For many photographers my ways of working are just suggestions. For me, they are rules. I try to live by them religiously. That’s why some of you like what you see.

Sometimes this is an issue. I miss dinners, at least at traditional times. I get up too early, which means that I need a nap. Sometimes, I stay up too late chasing the night.

That’s all in a day’s work. I suppose. Everyone here is used to it, so it’s not a big deal. I’ll hear about it in no uncertain terms if it is.

I’ll explain how I made this image in the other column, where that stuff belongs.

Heh!

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your vaccine. Look after each other. Look up from the dirt to the stars.

Mystical trees. Or, something like that. The bigger this picture gets, the worse the trees look.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels.

This is a layered picture. But all three scenes were made at the same time of day.

Trust me. I tried to cheat. It wouldn’t work.

So.

There is a base picture that doesn’t show up to your eye. It gives the sky depth. There is the sky and there are the trees. I think I reduced the mid-tones a little too much. If you are wondering, the mid-tones are in the trees.

Once the layers were assembled, I set to work tinkering. In this case tinkering means to balance out the layers so they don’t look like layers.

I added a touch of color, but that was it. Too much color and the picture turned atomic. Not enough and the picture became monochromatic.

Anyway.

That’s what I did.


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.


Life.

Green. I like green. It’s a symbol of life. For plants it’s a symbol of health. We talk about the greens of summer. For folks in the north where the first snow has already fallen, they envy us down here right about now.

Of course our summers are like the second coming of hell. A hot, humid, wet, sweaty hell.

Right now the weather is great. Highs in the low 70s. Lows around 60. I’m told at the start of next week, we’ll be looking at lows in the 30s. Only for a few days.

Because we had next to nothing to do yesterday but eat, watch movies and eat, we are feeling pretty refreshed.

At least for a day or two.

I am headed into a period of green pictures. For a guy who couldn’t see in order to make pictures, I sure did okay on one very long dog walk.

Unfortunately, rain clouds were hovering so the light was a little flat.

I did what I could.

A quick little pop in post production brought me to here.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Don’t travel needlessly. Enjoy all the turkey, cranberry, mash potatoes and gravy sandwiches.


No choice.

There was no choice. If I was going to continue to photograph trees I had to do something different. So I went out at night. More about technique in the right hand column.

Let’s talk about the Coronavirus. We who live in Louisiana are in a hot spot. Luckily, New Orleans is will under the minimal acceptable percentage of Infected people v total population.

That number is 0.05%. We are at 0.015% That’s the good news. The bad news is that infections per capita are rising in NOLA.

The governor closed a lot of service businesses, or at least returned to the old phase two numbers. If we are forced to do this in New Orleans it may just about kill the city.

We are a city of small businesses. When I first arrived here, there were mom and pop grocery stores seemingly on every other corner. That’s changed. I’m not sure how many are left. Very few, I think.

New Orleans always recovers. For the most part we came back from the damage caused by Hurricane. I say for the most part because the poorest areas of town, like the Lower 9th Ward are still in shambles.

We’ve come back from other hurricanes, fires that burned most of The French Quarter when it was the city.

We’ve come back from other pandemics.

But, this one could hurt us. I wonder how the new gentrifiers are going to react. They don’t have the stubbornness and creativity of people who are from here, or have been here for a long while.

When the pandemic is finally managed to a point where we can live with it will they say the hell with it and just leave?

I have no idea.

I wouldn’t leave. Where are you going to go? While it’s true that we are seriously talking about leaving it has nothing to do with fleeing.

It may just be time.

Night time is the right time, so the song goes. I’ve made a big part of my career by working at night.

I’m in a photographic draught. My normal routines and techniques for breaking that don’t work.

A friend of mine said in an email that we are in a general malaise because of the virus, the politics of the country and maybe even fear of climate change.

I’m fairly sure that normally he is a Republican and is certainly more conservative than I. Even he is happy with the presidential change.

That may help free me.

But, I have to do something. So I took a short walk in the early evening.

I made this picture of a tree at night. It is illuminated by a streetlight.

It wasn’t hard to do. I sat on a park bench and hand held the phone. I’ve been getting away with that for years.

So. Nighttime in New Orleans.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every bit of turkey.


Twice in October.

I’m still posting from my phone because there is no power yet. Bigger streets have power, but not us. Not yet. So this will be short.

I’m sitting in one of the cars down by the river, charging multiple phones. The picture you are looking at is straight ahead.

The Blue Harvest Moon.

Two full moons in one month. Something to see. See it if you can. It’ll be a long time until we see another.

It’s special. I’m hanging Tuesday on it. Which brings me to this. VOTE.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. And, VOTE.


Into the deep blue.

The deep blue.

So.

I talked to the fine folks at WordPress. I asked them how I could do some of the simple things that I used to do in the days before blocks. They told me that I couldn’t. I asked them why they keep claiming that blocks are more flexible. They told me they aren’t. Instead, they are faster. That they are easier to use when you are posting from your phone or mobile device. I asked them about quality. That doesn’t matter as long as you can just throw something up.

I have an all purpose two word reply to that. But, this is a family Storyteller.

And, there you have it.

We live in the age of junk. I know that most everything is disposable. Your television monitor breaks. Buy a new one. Send your old one to India where the poor will make a living breaking it down for scraps. Same thing with your two year old smartphone. Or, just about anything digital. I have a seven year old main computer. It’s starting to show a little age. I could clean out the extra data and beef it up a little. Or, I could just scrap it and buy a new one. Off to India it will go.

But, my work. Come on. Give me a break. That’s worth something, at least to me.

On the other hand, it’s ethereal. It’s digital. I’m not even sure it’s in the air. Maybe that makes it worthless. Maybe that makes all digital art worthless. Maybe that’s why the musicians who are playing music from home don’t really like it. At least when they put it into the air at a live concert they know that their music makes people smile.

In my case, I’ve long said that a picture wasn’t a photograph until it is printed on paper. I still believe that.

That makes me smile. That brings me hope. It means that most of the crap found on Instagram is just that. Crap. It’ll never be printed on paper. It’ll never be a photograph. It’s meaningless. Just like most of the pictures on all of our smartphones. Think about that.

The picture

I let the phone sensor do its thing. I let it expose for the highlights. That’s how I made this picture without doing much more. No tricks here. Just an old photographer at work.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t make me tell you to put your mask on. Enjoy every donut.


Deep Green.

Another trip into the green.

This time it’s ferns. The really deep green feathery kind. The ones that if you didn’t know better you’d jump into because they look so soft. They aren’t. Don’t do it.

This is going to be a little short because Queen Kim’s second line jazz funeral is being held today. I’m wearing a mask. I’ll be very careful, but I can’t keep myself on the sidelines for much longer, This is important to me.

This is supposed tp be a small second line. Uh huh. The city is mourning Kim. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mayor didn’t try to sneak in wearing a mask.

Meanwhile

The weather. Sheesh. Was I ever wrong.

Both storms will arrive as Category 1 hurricanes. All of Louisiana is under one or the other cone of variance, with them overlapping right over New Orleans. If NOAA is correct we’ll have wind and rain from the outer bands of one or both storms by late Sunday night. If the storms connect, we are in trouble.

Or, not.

Things could change. I tell this story. I was student teaching a university class. It was Tuesday night. As I was wrapping up the class I said that there is a big hurricane in the gulf headed towards Atlanta. And, I’ll see you next Tuesday.

I never saw that class again.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Look after each other. Enjoy every MRI (meals ready to eat).