With the face of a dog. Drifting in the early evening.
As a prelude.
To the storm to come. There are two. The big one, that I mentioned yesterday.
And, the little one, which arrived in the early morning. Within three hours it managed to dump nine inches of rain in our neighborhood. The entire city, and outlying regions, is flooded with about two or three feet of water. Even our street, which never floods, is overwhelmed. Water is up to our porch and well into our driveway. The pool is overflowing.
We had a tornado warning, a flash flood warning, a high wind advisory and a lakefront overflow warning all at once. We are a very special place.
If this keeps up, and with the big storm arriving Friday, it is very likely that the levees holding back The Mississippi River will overtop. That’ll be something. Low lying streets along the river will be flooded with I don’t know how many feet of water.
The big storm is going to make landfall as Hurricane Barry, a Category 1 storm somewhere near Lake Charles Saturday morning in the daylight hours. It will dump anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain inland. I have a very soft spot for Lake Charles. That’s where we finally made our temporary shelter after we evacuated following Hurricane Katrina. The folks there took good care of us. I wish them well. And, prayers.
I realized earlier this week that I haven’t been spending enough time in Central City. If you recall, documenting Central City is my long form project. So, instead of actually chasing sunlight and clouds, I decided to head back to the scene of many crimes. For a couple of hours I looked around a section of Central City known as Hoffman Triangle. You’d think that this would be easy to do. You would be wrong. Type the name in Google Maps and viola, there it is. But, oh no. There is the formal definition of Hoffman Triangle which really looks like a triangle on a map. There is the regional definition. And, there is the people’s definition. The triangle gets bigger as you move from formal, through regional and to the people’s definition. So, where is it? Better yet, why do I care?
That’s where the story turns distinctly New Orleanian. Here’s the backstory. After the storm known as Katrina, the “power’s that be” decided to build a medical corridor in an area of New Orleans known as Mid-City. This area is huge. It stretches from Tulane Avenue to Canal Street and from I-10 to almost Broad Street. Much of Mid-City’s housing stock was torn out, being deemed as just run down junk. But, some of it was called historical. A company was hired to move the buildings while construction began on the new hospitals and medical campus. This company moved each house to Hoffman Triangle. Unfortunately expediency trumped logic. They put as much of each building as they could into a truck and transported it across town. As much as they could, you ask. Yeah. Sure. If the building didn’t fit, the ends or sides were chopped off. If the building was too tall, as in the case of what we call a camelback, the second story was chopped off. And, so on…
Anyway. I finally found the most closely defined area of Hoffman Triangle. That’s where these torn up houses have been stashed until later. How much later? Nobody knows. Most of them are painted with murals and some form of folk art. Students did this to spruce up the area. That’s really what I set out to document. I’ll show you those in later posts. How much later? Nobody knows. That’s not true. I know. This house is not part of the group defiled and moved houses. This is an original. Why it is painted almost Pepto Bismol pink is beyond me. Why the owner painted it and then left it to rot is also beyond me.
The picture? I followed my own rules for making pictures pretty closely. I photographed the scene in the low light of sunset. I made sure the house was cross lit to make it glow and I was very careful to keep a lot of background information so that you, the reader, could see what the area looks like in mid-summer. Not a mid-summer night’s dream. Instead, a mid-summer night’s nightmare. Oh yeah. I like the contrast of the pink against the dark blue sky… which was created by slightly underexposed the overall scene.
Summertime means traveling. It means tourist season. And, road trips. While I’m perfectly at home in some five star hotel where my every wish is their command, I really like dumps.You know. Old motor courts. Motels. No tell motels. The places where they haven’t seen a credit card in five years. The ones that are designed in the shape of a cowboy hat, or a tee-pee. It’s sort of that “get your kicks on Route 66” sort of thing. The places where your wish is nobody’s command. And, they’ll tell you that. It’s a kind of special living Americana.
This place isn’t a place any more. It’s part of the group of old neon signs that you find near Fremont Street in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most it is sort of on loan from the Neon Museum, which is closed for renovation every time I’m in Las Vegas. If went there frequently, I’d be suspicious. But, since I don’t, I guess that maybe the timing is just off. Or not. Maybe I should be suspicious. Even though this sign is a kind of tourist attraction, check out the light bulbs. Some haven’t been changed in a long while. Perfect.
One of the last images that I made in New Mexico. With the dry air and the very long views, you can see storms without actually being in one and getting wet. Of course, the skies and clouds are among the most amazing that you will ever see — anywhere.
I’ve posted about this topic in the past. I make a lot of photographs through the windshield of my car when I am driving. As odd is this may sound, it’s probably safer when I’m driving 70-75-80-85 mph than when I am driving slower and in traffic. Even though I brace the camera on the dashboard and let all the auto functions do their things, I’m still not fully and totally concentrating on the thing that I should be doing which is driving. In traffic, that can mean tapping some other car’s rear. On the road, I can see down field and take appropriate measures. One day this may come back to haunt me, especially as I get older. But, for right now it seems to be okay. Having written all of that, as far as picture-taking goes, I never really see what my camera sees until I am stopped somewhere and take the time to review the images. Often times, I don’t even do that. I just wait until I’ve downloaded them on to a computer so I can see them bigger then 1″ x 3.” That also should give you an inkling into how I work. I rarely chimp. When I do, it’s mostly to check the exposure not to see what I photographed. Who can tell anything on that little itty bitty LCD?
These are all New Mexican pictures. The brownish image is made at the end of Route 66/Central Avenue to the west. The darker blue image is made on I-40 northbound in Albuquerque, and the lighter blue image is made on I-25 southbound, just south of Santa Fe. I like the light. I like the feeling. And, most of all, I like that I didn’t get killed making them.
I was reading something in Burn magazine about “A Sea of Light.” When I looked at the images, I realized that often I shoot a lot like the featured photographer, Elena Perlino. No. Our work isn’t always similar, but I do a lot of the loose kind of shooting that she does. And, I often do a kind of image painting in the same way that she does. However, her vision and approach is much more defined then mine is. Oh well. Maybe when I grow up. I thought that I would look through my archives to see what kinds of images were similar to hers because of it reminded me of a lot of pictures I made in the past. I want to share them with all of you. Before I got very far, I discovered this image. I made it a few years ago in New Mexico during the first year of my Picture A day project. After I downloaded it and made a proper picture I started playing with it using various plug-ins and Photoshop tools. This is the result. As far as making the picture in the field goes, it was pretty simple. I was returning from one shoot when dusk fell on this big moon so I pulled into a parking lot and quickly made a few exposures. It was simply being in the wrong place at the right time.