Floating the sky comes a train.

Yesterday was some day. I almost didn’t get my second jab. My place could have been given to another, but apparently my healthcare system really cares. I was called about a half hour after my appointment was scheduled to make sure that I was still coming.

I said yes and I did.

Then, I voted. Huh? What? Were?

Small regional election with national implications. That’s what.

I realized that I hadn’t eaten breakfast and it was almost 2pm. No wonder I thought my jab had some fast acting agent in it. I still don’t know that by tonight I won’t have a reaction, but Pfizer isn’t known for that.

I guess that I’ll find out.

No matter what happens I’m glad that I’m vaccinated.

If you haven’t done it yet, it’s your turn.

If you think you are making some kind of misguided political statement, you are wrong. All you are really doing is keeping the world from reaching a point of herd immunity. You are keeping us shut down. Get over yourself and get jabbed.

As your mom would say, “Don’t make me come over there.”

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Get jabbed. Look after each other. Chase every train, you’ll be better for it.

Trains. I really love trains. If I’m out and about running errands, I’ll go out of my way if I think I can see a train.

I don’t even think about photographing a train, although that’s so much better.

This is a long bridge that makes trains look like they are floating in the air is called The Huey P. Long Bridge. Locals call it the HueyP.

It crosses the Mississippi River in an east-west fashion even though it looks like the bridge is headed north. That’s just a quirk in the river.

I saw the long freight train as I was getting ready to leave. I stopped, made the picture and was on my way.

For some unknown reason, I thought the picture would look better soft and cotton-like in post production.

There are days when I wonder what I was thinking.

That orange box is a billboard.


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.


Look into the sky.

So it was.

It seems that my attitude has gotten worse towards opening schools too soon just because there’s a dangling carrot. They say follow the money and I did. Don’t fully open the schools and the state loses federal funding.

I have a couple of words about it. Two words. I won’t write them here. This is a family blog.

This really hit home this morning. I read a long piece written by a school administrator in southern Arizona. It was horrifying. He lost his most senior teacher to the virus. Three more got sick. Students have gotten sick. In every case, the school followed every possible protocol. When they didn’t receive plastic shields they cut and hung shower curtains.

Still, human beings died.

The headline says, “I’m sorry but it’s a fantasy.”

And, so it is. I can hardly wait until my teacher friends start getting sick. I can hardly wait until one of them passes. I don’t know what depths of hell their families and I will sink to.

Some say that’s negative. Nonsense. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Make plans even though they will change. There are no plans. Only hope.

All the Blue

Let’s do something more positive. Let’s talk about this picture. After all, artists gotta art harder if we want to be heard.

Normally, I don’t carry my phone when it’s the last trip outside. We don’t go far. For some reason I took with us. Good thing that I did. The moon was just shining away in a deep blue sky. Photographing the moon with a phone is a little sporty, especially since I wanted to frame it with something. Although my phone has a sort of internal zoom lens when you reach the outer edges of it, focusing takes a hope and a prayer.

I leaned up against the wall, took a deep breath and released it as I pressed the button. I did it three times in rapid succession. Wonder of wonders. All three frames were sharp. I made a few more different compositions. The dog was done and so was I.

Post production was mostly a matter of correcting the noise I see that I didn’t quite get, and to make sure the blues were the ones that I saw. I got that.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every night sky.


Into the night.

This is what I saw.

A deep blue sky at just around dusk. I was lucky to make the picture. This is one of those times when a tripod might come in handy. In my own defense, I wasn’t expecting to see such a sight. So, I did what I could.

Dan Rather tweets and posts on Facebook. Yesterday, he said that the points of light in this dark time, are the arts. He talked about any of us who keep going. To keep making work. To continue to grow. I guess that I’m one of those artists to whom he was referring.

I never really think of myself that way. I suppose that you never do when you are in the midst of your work.

Speaking of photographer’s work, I’m in mourning today. Photographer and videographer Robert Frank passed yesterday at 94. Without him there would be no me. Without him, there would be none of the guys and ladies I came up with. Without him there would be no photojournalism as we know it today.

He turned the photography world on its head when he released his seminal work, “The Americans.” The self-congratulatory photographers, and a lot of photography critics at the time, thought his work was terrible. It was grainy, sometimes the horizons tilted, he made statements about America that weren’t so pretty. He told the story of the underclass.

Basically, his work was honest but it wasn’t pretty.

That’s what opened the door for a lot of us.

You know what Neil Young would say about that. He once famously said that, “when he was in the middle of the road he headed towards the gutter where things were a lot more interesting.”

Robert Frank embodied that.

May you rest in peace, Robert Frank.


Clouds in another place.

Another time. Another place.

Did you ever wonder how you got here? I don’t mean here as in location. I mean the twists and turns that your life took to get you to your place right now. Right this minute.

Lately, that’s what I’ve been doing.

It started with the koan, “learning.” That is my word for the year. I wasn’t sure exactly how that word would work since I’m a lifetime learner. I try to learn just a bit from everything and everyone. It might be just one teeny tiny thing. That adds to my body of knowledge.

Then it came to me.

Learning meant from the inside out.

That’s fine as far as it goes. And, it goes on forever.

Then, something started to change. I started wondering how my life got to the place where it is today. Everything seemed to be a cue. Music. A bit of an old television show. A movie clip. An old photograph. A smell. A road less traveled.

So far, not so good.

Oh sure. I’ve had a great career. But, not the best. My personal life has been okay, but it could have been better. And, so on and so on. I’ve let too many opportunities pass by. Even those that were a sure thing. We all do it. I did it.

It’s easy to get worried or even depressed using this line of thinking. I’m not that guy. I know that the past is the past. I can’t do very much about it. Nobody can. I can really only live in the present. But, I can be my best self in the future. The question isn’t why. It’s how. It’s where. And, it’s when.

After all, no one person can do everything.

I think you make life choices based on priorities. I can work those as far as they go because there aren’t many. Likely, they mostly flow from one or two very important cares or concerns. Working with those takes time, effort, focus and maybe even a little money. It may take a plan. How do you get from point “A” to point “B?”

That’s where I am right now.

My thinking may be easier than other people’s.

Because.

I reckon, even in this age of high end medicine, medications and procedures, I’ve got about 15 years or so. That’s not discouraging to me. We all pass off this mortal coil.

The question is how well do we live out our time.

I do not want to do what my dad did. After he retired, he and my mom moved from Long Beach, California to Reno, Nevada. There is so much to see and explore in, and around, Reno. My dad mostly stayed at home. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. For what?

You know for what.

I’m not doing that. Not now. Not ever.

That’s another way of learning. Sometimes you learn what you don’t want. What you don’t want to do.

Anyway.

The picture. You can learn a lot about light if you look closely. You see that big power pole? You see what’s next to it in the sky? Do you see what happens to the white clouds directly next to that? It’s all about sunlight bouncing off of the whiter clouds, hitting that the clouds around it and reflecting and refracting its own light.

That is a great example of one thing I usually say. When you are looking at the great sunset that you want to photograph, you should turn around and see what that wonderful light does to the scenery behind you. For sure, photograph the sunset if that’s your thing. But, look around as well. You may be surprised. Pleasantly surprised.

 


About understanding.

Deep Blue.

When I made the picture I had the title in mind. I forgot what I already knew. Deep Blue is the title of a song by George Harrison. He wrote it upon the death of his mother and while he was trying to keep his father and brothers together.

Unless you are like me, you might have never heard it because it was the B-side of Bangladesh of which the proceeds were given away for charity. You know, to help the people of Bangladesh.

Of course, if you have an A and a B side of a record that means you are listening to a 45. I’m old enough to still have a small collection of them, although many of my records were washed away in the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. That’s why, for me, Spotify is the greatest invention since records. I get to listen to just about everything I want just by hitting search. You can do that on YouTube as well, but the sound quality just isn’t the same.

During this bit of seasonal existential search I’ve been having dreams. Oh my! What dreams. Given how I see the world, my dreams don’t surprise me. They are bright, energetic and very colorful. But, the best thing. All sorts of people are popping up from my past. I awoke thinking how good it was to see all of them. These are people who I lost mostly because I was moving around a lot in the early days of my career. People who, intelligently, did not join Facebook so they don’t pop up as “people you might know.”

About that.

A publicist with whom I work says that everybody has to be on Facebook, because it has become the telephone book of the digital age. I don’t know if I agree with her or not. If you want to find me, Google me. I show up about a bazillion times. Just like my pictures do. People find my work on Google even more than they do at my agencies. And, they try to steal it more from Google. I’m fixing that. I have a better way than seeking direct copyright damages.

Anyway.

The picture. You know me. I’m a fairly simple photographer these days. See it. Photograph it. Hope for the best in this kind of light. Of course, the best version of this picture would be made with a tripod. But, I wasn’t planning to actually make this picture. It was just sitting there, waiting for me to find it.


Moonrise over The Mississippi River.
Moonrise over The Mississippi River.

Moonrise over The Mississippi River. An accidental picture. The “needs gas” light came on about a mile from home. I made a turn to get to a gas station and saw this scene. Sometimes when I work on just “finding stuff,” I use one lens and one camera body. Yep. That’s what I had. The lens was a 16mm. Very wide. Usually, too wide for a full moon shot. I had to try. This is the result.

New Orleans. Late Winter 2015.


Watching The River.
Watching The River.

I wasn’t sure what to publish next, but there were a couple of comments on Facebook and here that sort of guided my way. My friend Greg Gross, who publishes a great travel blog called, I’m Black and I Travel at http://www.imblackanditravel.com made a few comments about the history of Cairo. I had no idea of its history. Whew. It also explains a lot of what I saw in my brief time there. Then, another friend — Penny Speaker — asked if I was going to publish more pictures from Cairo. I replied that I wasn’t sure since I spent all of about an hour working there. And, while I was working I was strapped to a puppy. But, he is cool. He let me work a little.

But, as I curated my work (such a pretentious word for editing a bunch of pictures) I realized that I actually made a nice little collection of pictures in about an hour. I was lucky. Very lucky. Photographer lucky. I had nice clean winter light. And, I managed to arrive around dusk so that I could make “my pictures.” So, a few more images of my time in Cairo, Illinois. Ha! Most of my time was spent looking after a puppy and sleeping.

This picture. I was standing on what they call a levee, looking north towards the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The sun is setting toward the left. The right place. My left is west. That’s right. Isn’t it? You know that I get confused easily. The color was pretty wonderful. Better yet, I did very little to the color in post production. I really like it when nature does the work. Seems better to me that way. I did add a bit of softness to the picture because there was a bit of ground fog that the camera’s sensor didn’t quite pick up.


The light began like this in New Orleans' CBD.
The light began like this in New Orleans’ CBD.

And, ended up like this.
And, ended up like this.

Light. I talked a lot about a few days ago. It’s the main ingredient in photographs. There’s light and then there’s light. This was the latter. Big light. Magenta and gold light. It’s come to New Orleans a couple of times this year. Usually after big storms. Once the clouds blow out and the sun shows its face this starts around dusk and ends with an amazing sky. Some folks who follow Storyteller are convinced that I’m adding a lot of color to these pictures. I’m not. In fact, if I’m doing anything in post production, it’s bringing the color down somewhat because it is so garish. It’s almost unbelievable. But, it’s also nature’s colors. And, what or who could make better color than nature?

The place. The pictures. I photographed a piece of The Blues & BBQ festival in New Orleans. Most of the work is about the festival and the musicians. But, when the light turns great, I have to move. Luckily when I walked down the alley to make the top picture, there was a band change on the stage where I was working. So, I just trotted off down the alley and up a couple of streets chasing light. The bottom picture was made while I was in the center of the festival. That guy portrayed on the statue is Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.  Or, as he is simply known, Lafayette.  Some name, eh? And, people complain about my family name. Yeah. Right. He was a direct link between the two revolutions. French and American. He was a major-general under George Washington.  Many cities and towns in the US are named after him, including the Cajun stronghold of Lafayette, Louisiana. He is known as “the hero of two worlds.”

That’s it. No post production tips because nature did that work for me. I’d rather it always be that way. But, well. You know.