These things are delicate, very delicate. They usually last less than a day. Wind, water and animals destroy them just by touching them.
They can be very hard to photograph. Get too close and they sway in the light breeze you created. Get even closer, touch them and they fall apart. Stand over them to make a picture like this one and your shadow makes them too dark, which is why you should wait for an overcast day.
It’s a timing thing. It always comes down to timing. I suppose that’s what I call photographer’s luck. Look one way and you see the picture. Look the other and… nothing.
When I post to Instagram, it’s all New Orleans culture and locations. Yesterday, I posted a picture of a Black Masking Indian that I made during Big Chief Bo Dollis’ funeral.
A woman who is a friend of a friend really liked it. She said so. I thanked her and replied, “Photographer’s luck.” She replied with “LOL,” and some laughing emojis.
She mostly photographs birds and flowers.
She has no idea how hard it is to work in the street during any of the cultural events that I photograph. I always liken it to working in a rugby scrum. There’s pushing and shoving. There’s twisting and turning. There’s looking and seeing nothing.
Making a picture in that environment is damn near impossible. And yet, we do it. Almost every Sunday. Or, at least, we did. Maybe, soon, we will once again.
I still say that after not being able to properly mourn our New Orleans dead for over a year that we need one giant second line and jazz funeral. God’s own second line. Twenty divisions. All the social aid and benevolent societies. All the Indians. All the brass bands. Let it stretch from one end of the city to the other. Thousands of people watching and dancing.
Wouldn’t that be something?
And, that’s how I got from a dandelion to New Orleans culture.
As I wrote on the other side it’s hard to photograph these delicate little wildflowers.
They are easy to find during springtime, but you have to work carefully in order to get even as close as this picture is to photographic perfection. And, that’s not very close.
Even as good as the base exposure was, the picture needed help. It looked too thin to my eye.
So, I layered it. I layered one finished layer over another. The picture looks richer and fuller. And, it doesn’t really look that over done.
I fine tuned it a little and I was done.
It didn’t take all that long to do the work, but I had some idea of where I wanted to go which wasn’t far.
Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all your days because you never know.
In its purest form. Water droplets on a green leaf. A symbol. An icon. A touchstone. Water and wonderful deep green.
Technically, it’s spring for another five days. It feels like summer in Southeastern Louisiana. The green of this leaf tells us that. It is not light, nor is it shading towards lime green. It’s rich and dark. A summer leaf.
Five days brings us to the summer solstice. The longest day of the year. People celebrate. Summer begins in nature, not on the calendar. The planet turns. Days grow shorter. Fall arrives. Winter next. Spring again.
A leaf. Photographed on a simple white background. Brought to life in post production. Into something that couldn’t possibly exist in nature. A painting. Sort of. Kind of. In strange blues. And greens. Very experimental. Certainly singular.
Seriously. Before you read any further, open the picture. Then, you’ll understand the caption. I never knew that Jesus had a car club. Or, that Jesus even had a car. Hmmm… I’ll have to go read up on this new development. I have to admit. He’d have looked pretty good cruising around in that beast of a car. Or, the red Caddy convertible behind it. Sheesh. Even I’d look pretty cool in that car.
These are the kinds of scenes — and pictures — that are near and dear to my heart. They are quirky. They take a very twisted sense of humor to even want to stop and take the picture. To tell you the truth, I passed it by. Twice. I saw something else that caught my attention. But, I just had to stop the second time around. I also felt like I had to leave the scene pretty loose so you could get any idea of the neighborhood. Actually, it’s not a great representation of it. Because. Right across the street is the horse racing track where Jazzfest is held. The Fair Ground Race Track which is a couple of blocks away from The Fair Grinds coffee shop. This is my old neighborhood. I used to spend a lot of time in the coffee shop. Not so much at the race track.
The picture. Nothing technical about it. Just mind your surroundings. Tell me who said that. And, in what movie?
Apparently, a lot of readers like the idea of my long form story about New Orleans’ Central City. So, for the next week I’ll post a fewer pictures that reflect my work there. It will help me organize my work and my thinking. Organizing my work is not so hard to do. But, my thinking? Whew. It will also give New Orleans time to dress for Mardi Gras. To complicate my shooting schedule, the weather is refusing to cooperate. The temperature has dropped and is staying low. The rain is falling off and on for the next few days. When water isn’t falling from the sky, fog and mist is rolling in. Great for nature photography. But, it it really isn’t helping my work all that much. While I do believe that when the weather turns bad, the pictures get good. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. However… the dark, flat light is great for the mood of this project.
These two pictures. I think I’ve found the right color palette. Not quite so bright. Very detailed. And, a little gritty. That seems to be the texture of Central City.
First. In the interest of transparency, that title is an old song title, written by Hazel Dickens and popularized by the late Jerry Garcia. That’s a digression. I’m trying to think…
I’ve been working on a project in the Central City of New Orleans. It’s taking a lot of my free time. At one point I traveled many miles to get back for an event that is somewhat important to the collection of pictures. Every now and then I find a picture that sort of fits in the group of pictures, but can stand alone as a sort of kind of art. This is one of those pictures. The funny thing about this one is that I did a lot of post production using Snapseed. But, it came out looking about the same as it did when I started. I guess my first instinct was the best one. I should know that by now. That’s usually what happens.
So the title? And how does it tie to the picture? Central City is old and, sort of, in the way. It’s crime ridden. Only one in seven structures is habitable. Parts of it flooded during Hurricane Katrina and those areas still haven’t been rebuilt. But, after that storm many people learned two things. It is the only affordable land left in the city that is not below sea level. How affordable? You can probably buy a run down house for around US$20,000-40,000. By contrast, that same house in the Uptown area near the park would cost you about US$250,000. It would still cost about the same amount of money to restore it, but buying in is so much less expensive.
On the other hand, you can walk to The Superdome in about ten minutes. That puts you within minutes of the business district. So. The movers and shakers and the powers that be — you know, “them” — are making a big push to redevelop Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. They think that if they put money into what was a business and one time shopping district in the area, the money will trickle down to the people who actually have lived there for most of their lives. But, we all know how that works, eh?