Blue. My picture. Joni Mitchell’s song. My eyes. The sky on a sunny day. A clear lake. The ocean away from land.

I made this picture in New Mexico. Older pictures keep resurfacing on Amazon Pictures. They are pictures that I’ve forgotten about. Pictures that have never been seen by anybody. Pictures that were “lost.”

So.

Lucky you. You get to see them before anybody else.

I’m not sure what these desert flowers are called. They come out in late spring and stay for the summer.

Once, when I could actually crawl around on the ground and get back up without aid, I used to make pictures like this with a DSLR camera. Those days are gone.

There is a song in which one line says that we don’t know how much we would lose. Even though I think this picture is happy, the day is sad.

Yesterday, I read a quick two inch story about somebody getting killed in New Orleans. I didn’t think much about it because rarely does a day go by that somebody doesn’t die by violent means.

We were watching the 10 PM News. The murder was across the street from my old house. Uh oh. A woman was killed. My oldest friend in New Orleans. She was stabbed to death as she was walking to her car to go to work, by a guy who was stealing it.

Rest in Peace, Portia.

June is starting out like a hellhound on my trail. A dog, and a person died. Makes me wonder what’s next.

This column is going to be more of a rant.

Sorry.

WordPress is running terribly. Yesterday, I blamed it on the huge internet outage.

Today, it’s on WordPress.

There is still no caption line. Worse, making this two column alignment took an act of God.

I’m not sure what it was doing, but the software was stacking column on top of column. The paragraph template didn’t know where to go.

It turned out that pressing the column template once dropped six templates on top of each other.

Leave well enough alone. The block system is bad enough without WordPress making it “better” every time the programers think about it.


A break from ropin’ and ridin’.

You just never know.

You’re driving along and you see something that interests you. You stop. You starting making pictures. You start talking. Your newly found subjects know that they are somewhat interesting in this day and age, so they agree to let you keep working. It’s a kind of luck. Photographer’s luck.

When people get stuck, I usually tell them to go outside and take a look around. That usually will open your eyes. Don’t worry about it. Just go do something. The more that you worry, the harder it becomes to break free. That’s what I know.

The picture. More experiments. In terror. Actually, I wanted this picture to have an old-fashioned feel even though it was taken in modern times. So, I tinkered with it. This is the result.


Desert rest stop.

Way out there. Somewhere.

I don’t even remember exactly where this place is located. It’s in the desert. In Arizona. I’m betting it is somewhere near I-40. The original picture was made a long time ago. On black and white film. Apparently, I didn’t think much of it because the scan needed a lot of spotting and touch up before I could mess it up in the tinkering phase.

Even though I don’t remember the exact location, I do remember the circumstances. It was one of those classic driving all day and all night tales. At the end of the second day, we were making a run toward the border. The California border. Back to Long Beach and home. We needed a break so we just pulled off thinking there would be the usual stuff. Restrooms. Bad coffee. Worse snacks.

Instead, we found this. I think we stayed there just long enough to stretch our legs, change drivers and take this picture. Then, we headed off in search of our goal. Restrooms. Bad Coffee. And, worse snacks.

I don’t remember if we made it home that night. Back in those days, if you were driving west during the summer, you made a run to Needles — that’s in California — and hunkered down for the night. You got up early in the morning around 3 am and made a run to Barstow before the desert heat could melt your car. These days cars are better suited for all kinds of weather. Still, I remember one trip through that region, when we arrived in Barstow headed east at about three or four in the afternoon. Ground temperatures were unbearable. Somewhere in the 120 degree range. But, it was a dry heat. That’s better. At least, that’s what they say.


A sheperd cleaning the campsite.
A shepherd cleaning the campsite.

A long time ago. In the Arizona desert.

Here’s how it goes. After we left the South — the first time — we moved back to California. Eventually, I went back to school. I changed my career path. I went from taking pictures to editing. I managed other photographers. I worked with them to produce the best images that they could. I represented photography in the newsroom. I designed some news pages. I did the things you do at a newspaper.

Then I stopped doing them. I left the newspaper world and moved on to the kind of work I do today. I worked at a couple of photo agencies. A little one and big one. The big one was one of four large agencies that were rolled up and became what you might know today as Getty Images. The one that I worked for — The Image Bank — was owned, at the time, by Eastman Kodak. I worked in the corporate office which was located in Dallas, Texas. The South part two. And, I spent most of my time in Hong Kong.

Anyway. It was during my time working for West Coast newspapers and the little agency — called Westlight — that I started mostly working in color. Still working in film. But, color film. Digital capture was only a gleam in some people’s eyes.

However, I still liked working in black and white. I shot it when I could. These pictures were made in 1990. I was well into shooting color film. I went to visit a friend who lived in Payson, Arizona. We worked together in Virginia. He was the sole editor-reporter-photographer of the little newspaper in Payson. Normally, I’m of a mind that doing all those jobs at once never really works. Something suffers. But, my buddy could really shoot. And, write. And edit. A very rare combination. While I was there, he asked how I’d feel about taking a few pictures. We’d do what we used to do… sounded good to me. So, off we went. We did our old roaming around looking for pictures… and stories. We had some fun.

We stumbled into these pictures. Shepherds and their flock of sheep.

The pictures. By then I was working with Nikon N90s and 8008s. Smaller, lighter cameras than the big “pro” cameras. I suppose I was already thinking, lighter and more easily portable. These two pictures were made with a 20mm f.28 lens. The film. What else? Kodak Tri-X rated at ISO 320. By then I realized that under rating the film was the way to go. Better shadow detail.

Sheep on the range.
Sheep on the range.

And, a final thought.

Muhammad Ali passed last night just as we were falling asleep. Well, after that, tried to sleep. I knew what was to come. All very well deserved, but endless tributes, on every possible social media. Sharing from every possible news, photo and sports site. As when other “famous” people pass, I made the conscious decision to say very little. I really don’t need to add to the billions of words that have already been written. What more could I say? That hasn’t been said? He was transcendent. He was beloved. For those of us with certain beliefs, he spoke for a generation. How many people can claim that?

Just know this. Our hearts are very heavy today. We retreat into who and what we are. We work. Harder.

Because.

The work is the prayer.

Always.

 

 


53-414
Like A Painting

53-051
Winter Light

53-413
Golden Light

Still not feeling well, so it’s back to the files. Even though I’m very happy to be home in the green, luscious Southeast Louisiana, I sometimes miss the desert. There is something clean about it. Pure. The light is powerful. The colors pop. It’s just as hot. But, oh yeah. It’s a dry heat. As opposed to our wet and soggy heat. I friend of mine sent me a short comment for yesterday’s desert post. I said something like we or dry heat, it didn’t matter. He said, “It matters.” Yeah. The difference is like getting out of an oven and stepping in a steam room. I guess it matters. At least being here, my skin has a nice healthy glow as opposed to the days when I lived in the high desert of New Mexico, and my skin was taking on a nice lizard like feel.

Anyway. And, so on…

These pictures were made at various times and in various places.

Like a Painting was made in Joshua Tree, California. It is truly one of my favorite desert places. Usually, if Southern California has had a somewhat wet winter, the desert near Joshua Tree just explodes with colorful desert bloom.

Winter Light was made in Northern New Mexico, as I was wandering around north and west of Taos. Another favorite place.

Golden Light was made at Vasquez Rocks which is in the California desert between Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley in a mountain range called Sierra Pelona. You know the area from many movies and television shows. The rocks themselves have been called “Kirk’s Rocks” since they were in so many episodes of Star Trek.

 

 

 

 


Death Valley
Death Valley

I know. I know. I said I was taking a break over the long weekend. Big plans and all that. But, two people around here caught colds. It’s kind of funny. The older I get, the less I like being around crowds. Now, I’ve figured out one of the reasons for this new phobia. The last two times that I had to deal with crowds I caught something. The last time it lingered for a long while because I was traveling. Not this time. I’m sitting it out. But, that bores me. To tears. So I started poking around in really old files. I found this picture that I made on a book assignment. The place is Death Valley. California. The time of day is my favorite. Late afternoon heading toward dusk. As I recall the picture was made in mid-spring. That’s good. This part of the world is known to reach a high of 130 degrees in the summer. It was hot when I was there. But, it was manageable. It certainly wasn’t 130 degrees. Oh yeah. It’s a dry heat. Like that matters.


Fall Color and Light
Desert Blooms

NMS009
Desert Blooms

NMS010
Desert Blooms

I know. I know. I promised you my last New Mexican picture. But, then I found these images. And, one of my blogging colleagues was talking about Georgia O’Keeffe, so I thought why not?  Many people think the desert is bleak and colorless. Sometimes. But, if you take a moment and look for it, there is plenty of color. All kinds of color. Bright color. Wonderful color. Even in winter some of the color pops out. Or, at least, strong graphic shapes show up. Not a whole lot more to write. Enjor the desert flowers.


P365195
Los Volcanoes Road

Well. If the truth be told, this image is ALMOST the last picture I made in New Mexico. As I recall, the move to New Orleans began on a Tuesday. By the previous Saturday night, I was feeling a little blue about leaving. Even though I had gotten a little bored living there, the state had been good to me. It provided a calm and healing atmosphere to recover from the chaos of Hurricane Katrina. But, it was time to go. I needed to make one more picture before I left. So I turned on the music real loud and drove out to Los Volcanoes Road. It had become my go to place when I wanted to make a “country” picture. And, it is only about 12 miles west of Albuquerque on I-40. Short drive to a far place.

Anyway. I had one of those nights. I made a number of good pictures. This is actually the first of the last. This is how dusk looked when I arrived at my place. I’ll show you that last picture tomorrow.

I think what I like most about this picture is the sky. In New Mexico you can see rain falling from far away. Often, the air is so dry that the rain drops you see in the sky never hit the ground. What else? The picture looks like a water color and I didn’t “help it” in post production.


NMDesert
Out on the road in New Mexico.

Sometimes when I’m in transit, I start rooting around in files that I rarely see. Scratch that. Files that I forgot existed. This picture is among the last that I made when I lived in New Mexico. The very quick backstory is this. I lived in New Orleans. A big storm called Hurricane Katrina came. It sunk the city. I left. I’d always though I’d like to live in New Mexico. So, why not now? Off I went. New Mexico proved to be a very healing place especially after trauma brought on by the storm. But, after a while, I got bored. So back to New Orleans I went. Before I left the state, I made a lot of pictures. This was one of them. I think the big sky thing that you’ve seen me produce in New Orleans first started to emerge in New Mexico where there really are big skies. Very big skies. If you look very carefully in the right corner of the picture you’ll see that I’ve come to the end of the road. Pretty symbolic, yes? I feel that coming on again. Uh oh.