Souls Dirge


The power of purple.

How it began. I talked to a friend of mine who suggested that I make some changes in how I look at my world. His thinking is solid. I fear that I’ve already worked through the process, at least as far as Storyteller goes.

He did offer me another idea. In order to do that I guess that I’m going to have to leave my compound and start looking around. A lot of people seem to be moving about in order to make pictures. Or, do anything. Like travel.

I’m not sure what my fear of doing that is about because I really don’t need to be close to very many people. That should keep me safe. After all, we run errands, go grocery shopping and the like.

We mask up. We use sanitizer and wash our hands when we return to our home.

And, yet.

I suppose it comes from one underlying condition. CLL. It’s a kind of Leukemia that doesn’t do much. It won’t kill me. It might not even make me ill. But, I produce too many white blood cells and not enough red platelets.

It’s the later that could kill me if I caught the virus. Bottom line, my body can’t defend itself from something like CoVid-19. Or, if it could it would be a big fight.

So. I sit. I want to go out and make pictures away from my neighborhood but I have some fears.

Even though there is some logic too them, they also seem to be a little irrational, especially if I’m 50 feet away from the next person.

What do y’all think?

Magenta. As I’ve said about 100 times, we don’t have a very cold autumn or winter. We do have a few days when the temperature might dip into the teens, but for the most part the weather is pleasant this time of year.

Right now, the temperature is in the low 60s. The windows are open. Cool fresh air is cooling the house.

That’s the long way of saying that flowers are still blooming.

And, that’s what I saw. New blooms. New Camellia blooms.

I haven’t made a detailed, macro picture in a long while so that’s what I did. I set out with intent.

Working in that way allowed me to not have to work much in post production. I developed and fine tuned the file and away I went. It is how you see it right this very minute.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after others. Be kind. Don’t follow leaders. Pay your parking meters. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.

Deep Down Heart


Creativity. That’s what we all want. We want to be able to make a good picture, whether we use a camera, paint, charcoal, pencils or crayons. And, that’s just a few visual media.

If you are a musician, you seek other techniques and outlets because your finished product is not captured on paper.

And, so it goes.

Creativity isn’t something that comes on demand. It just sort of shows up from someplace else. Musicians like Bob Dylan and Neil Young say that they are just conduits.

My best pictures tend to come when I’ve emptied my head of everything and just make pictures. A friend of mine used to call me a Zen photographer. I don’t know about that, but when I am back in the studio the best thing that I can think while I’m looking at, and culling, my pictures is “who the hell shot that?”

Hopefully, I say that a lot if it’s a good picture, and very little if it’s a bad picture.

How do I, and they, get to this place? That’s a topic for another time. Maybe tomorrow. Let’s just say that a pre-work routine is a good idea.

Inside a flower.

The picture. I saw it and I stuck my lens as close as I could get to the center. I intentionally metered the scene so that only the highlights were exposed properly. I’m not sure that you can do this on a smartphone unless you have a professional function that allows you to use manual settings. I think most new phones do.

With the highlight exposed properly, the rest of the flower went dark. But, not so dark that you can’t see a little red in the background.

That’s it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy every po’boy.

Starting Small


Bicycle bell.

Something simple.

I’ve been reading a lot about the future by studying the past up to now. I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t want things to return to normal. I want them to be better.

I like the idea of NCY closing a lot of streets to traffic so people can walk about freely, but still social distancing.

I like the idea of the city of Berkeley closing their streets to traffic in order to create a giant outdoor food mall.

I like the idea of driving less.

I like the idea of permanently working from home as the Twitter staff are doing.

I like the idea of fewer, but better restaurants.

There are costs associated with all of this. Some may be smaller than we think.

For instance, if New York keeps many streets closed, how will people get to work? Working from home is the answer. Of course, that impacts the land and property owners who won’t be able to lease property at the current high prices. Maybe that will drive property prices down to something more affordable for those who want to open a business.

That may be a plus. It also affects many small business. Coffee shops. Smaller cafes. Small stores. These are places were workers of all stripes stop to get their morning coffee, lunch and maybe to pick up dinner. There is an obvious work around for this. I’ll let you tell me what it is, keeping in mind that many modern day New Yorkers can’t cook. Heh!

That’s just one example.

Let me just say that in New Orleans, we could probably do with a lot fewer restaurants. Pre-pandemic there was one for every 300 people. That’s unsustainable in a good year. Yes. I know that means fewer jobs. That’s an adressible issue.

The list goes on.

Some of my reflections came from a long piece in Eater. If you don’t know it, you should. It’s http://www.eater.com Pick your favorite city and have a look. It’s a foodie group of websites but many topics are addressed on its pages.

Eater published a long story about the state of the meat packing industry. In a word, it’s frightening. My takeaway is simple. We don’t need to eat so much commercial meat. If we pay a little more and shop locally, we can keep ourselves healthy and taste the meat again.

At the end of the day, in almost every category, smaller is better.

That is something we can all do starting now.

Don’t misunderstand. Even this little action is complex. Buy local meat and create unemployment at the big corporate slaughterhouses. Once again, the owners will skate while the rank and file suffer. The issue needs careful study. Keep in mind, the federal government can’t help. The president issued a defense decree and the workers said, “yeah, we won’t be doing that.” You can’t order people to die.

That’s enough for a Sunday afternoon. We should all be relaxing.

The picture. I saw that bike bell. It looked cool to me so I made three pictures. This is one of them. I brought out the color a little, But that’s about it. It is that time of year when bike rides are better.

Another test. This one should link to a YouTube video.

Survive


Red, red, red.

Red.

They say in design school that if you want to make your readers or viewers happy use warm colors rather than cold. So, that’s what I did. And, a red rose. For love.

The picture is simple. It is a macro photograph. A real one. I saw it. I stopped. I made a few pictures. In fact, you’ve seen another version of this in some of my layered images. This one took very little post production. Nature did the rest.

Some virus notes. No statistics. No bad news. Just a few observations.

I saw a couple of folks shopping in their PJs. At least PJ bottoms and a house t-shirt. You know the ones. They are really ready for the rag bag, but they are so comfortable that you never put them there.

A lot of people stopped combing their hair. For the first week or so everything was unique. As we entered in the third week, people gave up or just don’t care. I’ve a had a number of online meetings. At first, people looked like they were dressed for work. Now? Not so much. Some people look like they haven’t shaved since stay at home rules were put in place. Some of them, like me, may have started with some kind of chin hair. Now, I’m really close to having a full beard.

At least I get dressed. And, wear pants.

Then there are groceries. I have no idea what motivates people. One day there are no paper products at all. I’m not sure why people are buying everything. How many fancy dinner napkins do you need? The next day, those shelves are restocked. But, other shelves are empty. Why, oh why do people need every potato chip in New Orleans?

And so it goes. And, goes. And, goes.

Stay Safe. Look after others. Wash your damn hands. Keep your distance. Wear a mask in public. Enjoy every piece of sushi.

 

 

Shape of Things


More like magenta.

Getting close.

Close enough to see the details. The shape. The various shades of color.

Color.

Call this what you want. Is it pink? Is it magenta? Is it something else? If you are trying to match color, as I used to do on a big commercial printing press, it matters. If you aren’t, enjoy it for what it is. Whatever you think it is.

Now. A quick message from our sponsor.

I was reading a Facebook conversation between a couple of people and an author friend of mine. They were discussing how to market a book. One thinks websites are dead. Another thinks blogs are dead. A third one thinks Facebook is old fashioned. None of them discussed tweeting or Instagramming.

They admitted that they had no idea what was right or wrong. They were guessing.

The correct answer, according to the head of SEO for CAA, is all of them as long as the same people don’t follow you around. They may think that they are helping, but they are not. Each of those social media platforms reach different kinds of audiences. Having a Facebook page is like being in the telephone book. Remember those? You have to be there or for sure nobody will find you.

The other big trick is not to share, post or tweet the same material. That makes sense. If people follow you around, you want them to see different stuff. If somebody stumbles on your work in a couple of places, you don’t want to bore them.

Get it?

The picture. A new summer bloom at home. I saw it. I photographed it. That was pretty much it. Ma Nature made that flower. She doesn’t need help from me.

All in the Details


Mardi Gras Indian suit detail.

On Super Sunday.

I told a friend of mine that I was toast from chasing Indians around Central City. That’s not true. It’s worse. I’m toast because I’m really sick. So, I’m later than usual. Much later.

I did manage to download, back up and edit everything. But, I am not ready to finish many pictures.

I selected an image that likely most of you won’t see, even with my work. An extremely close detail of the labor intensive work that goes into making a suit. Everything you see in the picture is done by hand. Each bead is strung and sewed by hand. The velvet is hand sewn. As were the feathers.

That’s why each new suit takes about a year to make. For sure an indian takes a break from time to time. Life gets in the way. But, this is an almost daily labor. A labor of love.

Because.

For the most part, after all this work is done and the suit is debuted on Mardi Gras Day or Super Sunday, last years suit is destroyed. A few are preserved through various museums, a few indians have large enough spaces to save them. But, most suits are either burned or cut to shreds and tossed in a dumpster.

It’s hard to imagine that art like this is worthless. But, it is. Even if a suit can be sold, it’s likely the return will be much less than the investment.

What can I say?

Unless you are at the top of the art ladder, it’s hard to make money doing whatever your art may happen to be. The photography world has been decimated by “everybody is a photographer.” I get that. I don’t agree with it. But, I get that.

But, not everybody can sew like this.

On This Day


A peaceful thing.

On Thanksgiving Day.

I wish you peace. I wish you thankfulness. I wish you joy. I wish you happiness.

Most of all, I wish you art. Photographic art. Painted art. Sculpted art. Written art. Musical art. All art.

— Ray

Very Green, Very Simple


Rain drops on green leaves.

Life, and life itself.

Fresh growth. Water droplets. Leaf veins. Symbols for life.

I made this picture a few days ago, when we knew Hurricane Florence was about to hammer the Carolinas. And, that Super Typhoon Mangkhut was about to tear through the Philippines and parts of Southern China.

I started thinking about the simplicity of nature and how we — most of mankind — were doing our best to destroy it. We use every tool we have at our disposal to create severe weather change. To pollute. To destroy.

As Bob Dylan once wrote, “It doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.” He was talking about political winds, but isn’t weather change a kind of politics?

Already every place in the world is hotter, wetter and more humid. Where it isn’t wet and humid, it’s dryer and more extreme. Storms are more powerful and the season is longer. Where it’s dry, wildfire season is longer and more dangerous. The changing weather, in part, helps drive refugee migration. The window for stopping irrevocable¬†change is already beginning to close.

Some world governments are trying to work against this. All but two. Whether it is too little or too late remains to be seen. One of the two used to be a world leader.

Now?

Not so much. In fact, The United States is regressing in the name of corporate power and earnings because the current presidential administration doesn’t believe in science, thinks that weather change is a hoax, and thinks that what might have been good before we knew better — say 75 or 100 years ago — is good now. For instance, the president seems bent on reviving the coal industry, claiming that there is clean coal. There is no clean coal. Besides, why would you want to burn coal when there are plenty of renewable energy sources around such as sun and wind?

Oh wait. I know. I know.

Anyway.

Pictures like this one make statements more elegantly than all the words I just wrote. Keep it simple. Keep it on point. Make it powerful. A little tiny detail of something can make a grand statement of its own.