I was told just the other day that our light is special because of the humidity. Supposedly, it is more creamy. I’m not sure about that. Humidity is caused by airborne water droplets. They reflect red light, making blue skies muddy. Sort of gray.
That’s just science. Optics.
I suppose if you aren’t looking at the sky and are focused on ground bound subjects that the light could seem creamy. Or, at least, heavy. That’s not a bad quality.
The picture. I made it yesterday. I was running errands. The kind of stuff that you do on your first day home. I parked the car, looked up and thought, “oh wow.” I made the picture. I made a couple of them. Once again, not much post production. Nature’s handiwork again.
This is a summer project picture. This is a southern summer sky. A classic.
I made it only a block or two away from the “boy riding his bike next to the train” picture. Another summer picture. Maybe I should hang out there. Maybe not. That could be strangling the golden goose.
I didn’t forget about it. I bet you thought that I did.
The water project.
I work in bits and pieces. I keep ideas filed away in my brain. When I see something that I think might work I photograph it. That takes time. I find if I look for these elements of a little collection, I could probably complete a project in a week or two. It’ll look like that’s what I did.
That said, I found another picture for my dumpster series. Somebody threw away a lot of old wooden furniture. This was quality stuff. Fairly old. At least made in the 1930s. I looked closely. Dovetail joints. Very good details. Wonderful drawer pulls.
Sure. All of the pieces would need refinishing. Some would take more work. Most wouldn’t take very much at all. There were no holes that needed careful repair.
I have no idea why anybody would just toss it. If I had the ambition to work on it, I would have taken it. Even if we couldn’t use it, we could sell it. I’m sure by now a couple of the regular junk collectors have picked it up. They’ll sell it as is.
This picture might become one of my water collection. After looking at it enlarged, it’s going to take a lot of work to make it the kind of reproduction quality that it must be.
I made the original image in a very contrasty and backlighted situation. I really had no tools to control the original exposure. As you see it, there are deep pools of black that should be opened. It is too contrasty. The highlights are plugged up as a way to control some contrast.
If I’m going to do this project properly, I’m going to have to take a pass on my phone. These situations are just too hard for it to handle even with auto-HDR settings. I’m going to have to carry a real camera everywhere. Like I used to do.
Most people think of the French Quarter as being loud. They think of people always partying. They think of the typical New Orleans craziness.
Let me tell you, we ain’t all that crazy.
We don’t spend much time in the Quarter. When we do, we rarely walk around on Bourbon Street. It’s usually too crowded. With partiers. And, bad guys. And, it stinks. Literally.
We do like walking in other parts of the Quarter. Like this place that I photographed. It’s way down river on Royal Street. People actually live here. People make their homes here. There are no bars. No clubs. Tourists rarely come down the street this far. It may actually be safer than the more heavily populated areas of the Quarter. There’s nobody to mug. Nobody to rob. Well, there are. But, they are very street smart.
If I ever lived in the Quarter, this is about where I’d do it. But, that’s not going to happen. But, it sure is nice to walk around this part of the Quarter. It’s also much harder to photograph. No matter. Making a successful picture when there isn’t a lot of action going on defines a “street” photographer. Or, it should.
One more thing.
I made this picture without a tripod. I rarely carry one when I work on the street. It’s too cumbersome. It takes too much time to set up. It attracts too much attention. That’s the last thing I want. You just have to learn your craft. The trick is to expose for some mid-tone. I used the street signs. It gave me enough detail in both the highlights and the shadows. I also knew that I was going to correct the exposure issues in post production. They say GIGO. But, not if you plan for it. I thought about what I was doing before I did it.
Housekeeping. I’m going to refocus Storyteller back to where it sort of began. About the photographs. A little bit about New Orleans stories.
I think some of the NOLA stories I tell you are confusing, especially to people who come here as tourists and mostly stay in The French Quarter. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, they usually stay in hotels and eat in restaurants. The chores of daily living are done for them. For the most part, they are protected from our random and violent crime. When it rains, they don’t have to deal with flooded streets.
They don’t know what it is to live in a city that is very hard on the people who live here. I suppose that can be true of any place. But, most places aren’t described in the loving terms that people use to describe New Orleans. Or, really the Quarter.
I don’t know why that old joke came back to me. Back in the old folkie days, when songs were heard in a haze, a friend with whom I grew up heard the wrong words to a song and said, “Oh wow. Purple Furple.”
This may be due to “learning.” As I wrote in any earlier post, the koan has opened me up to a lot of things. Including bits of memories of things still to come.
This is all very interesting. We’ll see what becomes of it.
The picture. I made this picture a few weeks ago. I let it sit because it was too similar to others I had just posted. While it sat, I played. I made some extreme experiments. More extreme than this image. When I got all the way out there. I reversed course and headed back. This image is the result.
If you were to ask me what steps I took, you’d have me a disadvantage because I let the picture lead me. I don’t write down what the picture and I did. I save each step. I suppose I could post a whole lot of little pictures if someone insisted. I’d rather not. After all, had you lived back in the 1880s you wouldn’t ask Van Gogh each step to his paintings.
Wait. I’m not comparing myself to Van Gogh. That would be a big stretch on my part. Besides, I have two ears. Still.
Parade season — the real one — not all those downtown walking parades, starts tonight. This continues, with a few breaks, for the next ten or so days when we all end up on the streets for Mardi Gras Day. Wish me luck. Right now, I feel pretty good. My back and hip seem fine, or as fine as they can be.
The dog food is almost cooked for most of those ten days. The dogs are nagging me for a walk. So…
It’s the little things. That you find. In the dark.
Usually fallen leaves stick to a wet car. That usually means rain has fallen. Not this time. We’ve had no rain for weeks. This is rough. On the animals. On the plants and veggies. On me.
It’s not that I live for rain. I’m like anyone else. Too much is too much. But, the sky is muddy. It is not the normal blue. The light is overly filtered. The color tends to fade to brownish. And, it gets hard to breath. Not for me. But for some. The heat and dryness are very odd for The Gulf Coast region.
What I fear most will probably come to pass. An extra month of heat added to a very hot summer. A few years ago, in July, I was photographing a second line. It did not start on time. Even though I sat in the shade, stayed very hydrated and didn’t move about too much, by the time it started I was starting to wobble. I knew what it was. I headed for the shade, rested and walked to my car. I turned the air conditioning up and quickly drank 32 ounces of water. When my head sort of cleared I drove home.
On that day the ground temperature was 114 degrees. That included the calculation for humidity.
My plan for this weekend is to pair a second line with Westbank Super Sunday. I’ll be working from about Noon until 3 or 4 pm.
If it is too hot by the time that I leave, I won’t leave.
The picture. Leaves on a car’s trunk lid. Unlike wet days, the leaves weren’t stuck. They were just laying there. Dead. I found a good angle that didn’t include my silhouette and made the picture. The blackness on the right is reflected trees. The rest is what you think it is.
A few clouds as dusk comes. It’s sort of a gulf coast thing. But, no rain. Just a little wind. And, some theatrical color making for some good photographs.
I’d call this photographer’s luck. But, the clouds were dancing around all day. I just had to pick my moment. That’s a little lesson for today. Make pictures whenever you want, whenever you can, but be patient. The color will come if you just let it. So will the pictures.
There is something very cool about this post. WordPress, in their wisdom, now allows us to open and post on a page that looks like the one on a big machine while using something more portable like my iPad Pro. This changes things. A lot of things. Everything. The timing is especially good since my magic keyboard for my iMac is starting to fail. I have another, but it’s lost in the digital closet from hell.
The pictures. Lots of post to bring out what inspired me to make them. All of the work was done using Snapseed on this very iPad. I’ve also downloaded Affinity, which replaces all Adobe software including Photoshop and Lightroom. The businessman in me likes that. Pay for it once and updates are free, unlike Adobe who forces you to pay monthly… forever.
I made this picture. It’s another image created almost from whole cloth. I made a kind of Mardi Gras picture as well. I thought that might be more appropriate since Mardi Gras parade season starts tonight. Then, I thought, I like this picture. I’ll probably drown you in Mardi Gras pictures for the next couple of weeks.
Moody, scary and maybe evil is what you get. Today.
Assuming that I actually make some good pictures tonight, in the rain, at the adult parade called Krewe du Vieux, you’ll see Mardi Gras pictures tomorrow. Yes. In the rain. For all I know, this could be one of those Mardi Gras. Wet. Cold. Kind of miserable.
For the stories you can tell. It’s like a badge of honor. It’s like this. I can say later that I worked in wet conditions, I got soaked, my cameras got wet but I didn’t drown and they didn’t explode. And, all that wet pavement should add a lot of sparkle and color to the images.
This picture. I don’t usually title my work. But… this could be called something like, “When Buildings Fly.” I’ll leave you to work that out. It’s like a scene from a bad tornado chasing movie.
I made the base picture because sunlight was reflecting off of the “flying” building. I did all the rest in post production. This work is a lot of fun to do. I just wish that I knew how to market it. I’ve produced four series over the past nine months or so. Those layered scenes. What the dog saw. And, my version of nature. As well as this new collection which is just beginning.
Everybody seems to like them. All of them. That’s how I ended up with a new gallery showing in the next month. Everybody, and all, are very big words. When a travel writer says this is the “best” restaurant, store, shop or whatever in a city, my response is “so you’ve been to every one of them?”
In this case, it really is everybody and all. Whenever I show this work people take their time looking at it and “oh and ah. ” They don’t just electronically thumb through each picture. They study them as if to ask, “just what the hell kind of photography is that?”
I hate to be crass, but I’d sort of like to make some money from these collections. That’s how anybody moving from commercial work to art keeps going. No. We aren’t broke or anything like that. I still do corporate and advertising work along with working the other side of me. But, I’d like this new work to pay for itself. Unless I find a gallery who takes the lion’s share of the sales profits, I pay for everything. Printing, matting, glazing and framing. That ain’t cheap. Since most work doesn’t sell right off the wall, it’s usually a sunk cost.
I am excited about new work. And, my final decision about photographing Mardi Gras. I’m doing it. After all, if I don’t do it this year, I’ll be another year older when I start again.
That’s photography. That’s what word means in Greek. That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. We chase the light in order to make a meaningful picture. If we’ve managed to do that, our next step is to make the picture look like our vision. The one we have in our heads. A few people can do that in camera. But, that takes a lot of gear in the field. Lights. Tripods. Filters. Maybe a tethered computer.
Other people do that in the studio. Not the photography studio. The digital studio. That’s what I do. I have a pretty good idea of what I want my finished picture to look like. It’s never complete when I push the button. It is complete once I work on it using various photo editing softwares.
Well, may not entirely.
I believe the picture teaches you what to do. A picture that I finished one way a year or two ago, may get finished yet another way a week or two ago. My vision changes. My thinking changes. Even my technique changes as I learn more.
I’m always learning more.
This picture. I made it on a dog walk. The morning light caught my eye. The fall leaves floating in the water were almost secondary. Normally, the light enhances the subject. This time, the light is the subject. All of the post production was done to enhance the light and soften the picture in order to make it a little dreamy.