Stormy.

Away in the weather.

I wasn’t driving in that place during the storms. But, before and after are good targets. The main idea is to give you a sense of our wonderful weather down here in Southeastern Louisiana. During this time of year we often get a short but violent storm about every other day.

This down time has got me thinking. That’s usually a dangerous proposition. A lot of folks are doing some kind of a review of their lives, right now. For many people it’s more along the lines of, “How the hell did this happen?”

I’m not sure what you can do about the past but learn from it. And, enjoy some of the memories. That’s probably enough. If you can take something away from whatever happened to you, you’ve done it.

The past is all different. Places are all different. We are all different. Our pasts are all different. We mix and match. Trying to understand. “How the hell did this happen?”

Until.

We are brought to this place in time. One moment in history. Our time. Right this minute. This minute. Right now. This one.

What are you going to do with this minute? What are going to do if you believe that there are no useless days?

Tell me. Tell the rest of us. Please.

The Picture

I didn’t even know what I had. If I hadn’t messed with this file, you’d have seen the usual things. Blue sky. A few clouds. A long road reaching out in a sort of brown-grayish color. Another detail or two.

But.

I went the other way. I made the picture look like you were out on some deserted highway, late at night. A storm is brewing. You hope to get there in time. The time before the clouds erupt into hard rain. You hope.

Just so you know, I didn’t use an app that is supposed to be a cinematic filter called, “Night for Day.” I made this one myself.

So. Yes. A lot of post production.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

I didn’t forget. Fifteen years. Today. Fifteen years between Katrina and Lucy. This picture links the two. It leaves me wondering. “How the hell did I get here?”

You’d better have another sandwich.


In a crowd.

The deep freeze is really 42 degrees.

One day the talking weather people heads will get it right. One day. Last night they were predicting starting the day with temperatures in the low twenties. That may be true somewhere. They said we might have snow. Somewhere else too. Wind was going to coming ripping through. Not here. Not in New Orleans.

I want their jobs. Say whatever you want and get paid for it.

I made this picture yesterday, while I was running errands and pretending to be productive. At first, all I really saw was the traffic and the trucks. Since you can  barely see the LCD in bright light, I didn’t see that I was in the picture.

No matter.

Upon closer inspection, this picture wraps up the day very nicely. Leaving nice blue skies and heading into the storm. With me in the middle. With my phone hanging out the open window. Yes. The case is purple. I thought that I was being different. I thought I could pick it out in the crowd. No. It seems purple is a very popular color for phone cases. Who knew?

So.

More about the picture. No. I’m not doing a drive by. I’m waiting in the left turn lane at a full stop. The trucks are moving while I was sitting there making pictures. I originally wanted to make pictures of the amazing sky that you can barely see. Then, this happened. I took advantage of it. Eventually, I also made the picture I wanted to make.  A window opened and I jumped through it. The door didn’t close. I drove through that a few minutes later.

Sometimes one thing doesn’t have to close in order for another to open. You can have both. You have to be ready for that. You have to accept winning. You have to accept success even when you aren’t sure that you deserve it. For instance, I thought I was sort of a fraud because what I did came easy to me. That happened in photography. That happened in academia. In three post bachelors degrees, I earned almost perfect grades. It seemingly just flowed out of me. It took awhile for me to realize that I started my degree programs later in life. I had real life experience in the subject I studied. All I really did was codify my knowledge with academic work. It was a lot of work. It was easy work. Like working at a hobby job.

That happens in a lot of subjects with which we are involved. For instance, we think that a new musician on the scene broke out easily with one popular record or song. We forget that they may have been singing and learning to play an instrument since they were four or five. They practiced every day. They woodshedded. They played in small public gatherings. The practiced some more. Somewhere along the line, they discovered they could write songs. They made a demo. They got lucky. Somebody liked it. Their career was born.

Same with other careers. Same with me. Those of us who broke through early tend to wonder. Was I lucky? Am I really good enough? Am I a fraud? The answers to those questions are yes, yes, no.

I’ve simplified the process. The path. There is a lot more to say on this subject. Not today. Eventually.

Just know this. Easy or hard, anybody who is productive in whatever they choose to do is not a fraud. We worked hard to get wherever we are today. Even me. Even me in the freezing (kinda) swamp.

Peaches. Oops. I meant peace.


Heading into New Orleans.

I used to do this a lot.

I’d brace my camera on the dashboard of the car, set everything to auto and let the camera do its thing. The only part of my that ever touched the camera was one finger. The one I used to push the shutter release button. I didn’t even look where the camera was pointed. I was focused on driving and the traffic around me.

It came to a natural end. I guess I got bored with it. No. I didn’t get in an accident. I didn’t hurt someone. Boredom just set in.

But, this picture.

Whew.

Talk about luck. Photographers luck. Now If I can just find the original file. It’s attached to some event that I photographed. I’m thinking it was a commercial second line in The French Quarter.  Neighborhood second lines and Indian events don’t usually happen after dark.

We’ll see. As I plow through my journey through the past.


Shake, rattle and roll.
Shake, rattle and roll.

No, not me. I’m not crying. I was having a good time. The sky is crying. Oooooh. Two song titles before the first paragraph.

This is more-or-less what it’s like to be me when I go out looking for pictures. Or, better yet when I go out looking for pictures with intent. In these two I was returning home from the Westbank and Algiers Point. There are a couple of exits on I-10 that I can use once I cross the river. This the second one. I like it because I can cruise through Central City just to see what I can see. By the way, this is the same I-10 the reaches its western terminus at the Santa Monica pier. In LA. The other LA. Los Angeles. California. Where I was raised. No. Not on the pier. Sheesh. I wish.

In case you were thinking that I broke my own rules about taking drive-bys, I did. Or, not. I was really stopped for a red light. I really did compose, focus and meter the light. Of course I did. I wanted to. I know this to be a pretty long red light. It’s timed for rush hour. Obviously, it wasn’t rush hour when I was there. So, I waited. I was productive. I took some pictures. See that green light? It really is a green light. But, that’s for a lane that sort of angles in to my lane. See the street to the immediate left. See? See? See? That’s it. The street with an angle.

The picture. More than F8 and be there. The pictures are manual. I focused them. I exposed them, intentionally using as slow a shutter speed as I thought that I could get away with because… because I like motion and movement.

Red light.
Red light.


The I-10 onramp on Claiborne Avenue.
The I-10 onramp on Claiborne Avenue.

Drive by.

No. Not that kind.

This is about pictures. Not guns. Not bullets. But, we did have 17 or 18 shootings over the long Memorial Day weekend. “Only” four people died. “Only.” It wasn’t as horrible as the shootings were in Santa Barbara, California. But, still…

Anyway, we’ve had some really bad light. Not bad in a good way. Just plain old bad.

The strength of Southeast Louisiana light is found in the wildness of the weather. Heavy rain. Big, bold clouds. Lots of wind. Flooded streets. Broken stuff. Light bounces around all of those things and makes my pictures interesting. Even high humidity helps, by adding red droplets of water to the sky. At high noon the sky might photograph gray. But, those micro droplets make for dramatic sunsets.

Not in the last week or so. The temperatures have been high. High 80s and low 90s. But, not much humidity. That’s good if you are walking around. No rain at all. But, very dry for this time of year. Not so good if you live here. “Mushy” light. No shape in the clouds. No great sunsets or sunrises.

We were supposed to get thunderstorms today. Nothing. We are supposed to have rain for the rest of the week. We’ll see. So far… nothing.

Stormy day.
Stormy day.

So. I went looking through my collection of images from earlier this year. I managed to assemble a little essay. About driving and photographing. Drive by shootings. But, not the bad kind. The good kind.

In the past, whenever I’d publish these kinds of pictures I used to make a big deal about telling you not to do it. It isn’t safe. I’ve done it a lot and I have a sort of routine where I let the camera do everything automatically. All I do is sort of point the camera by placing it on the dashboard. I actually never really know what I’m shooting until afterwards. That’s okay. I don’t chimp while I’m working with both feet on the ground. But, I don’t want to fall into the trap of concentrating on the picture instead of driving.

Speeding on Earhart Expressway.
Speeding on Earhart Expressway.

The pictures. My technique. I told you how I take these pictures. Making them is not really complicated. I usually just clean them up a bit, darken them and that’s it. No need to help them. Nature mostly did that. Nature is much better at that than I am.

Oil tanks on River Road.
Oil tanks on River Road.


And so it’s time to move on from The Christmas Series. This may only be a short bridge series until the New Year. We’ll see. This year has been one of a lot of miles. A lot of different places. A lot of new things. So, I thought I’d do a little travel thing. Not so much about the place. Instead, about the act of traveling. Getting there. So. I thought I’d start with any easy one. When I’d come home for a few weeks, I’d rip around Southeast Louisiana making pictures for this blog. My real road pictures were already spoken for. Sorry. You’ll see some of them eventually. So, I’d shoot “Picture A Day” pictures, for that project. Christmas pictures for that just ended project. Or, I’d get into Central City and work a bit on that. But, I had to get there somehow. That’s what these next few pictures are about. Driving. Walking. Flying. Training. Whatever it takes.

This picture. Every time that I publish something like this I get scolded. Don’t drive and shoot. Well, if the bad guys do it, so can I. At least I’m not spewing bullets at somebody. My drive-bys are somewhat safe. And, actually my hands don’t leave the steering wheel. Usually. Even this picture looks more dangerous than it really is. I’m justing point the camera at the rear view mirror. I’m not even looking at the subject. I’m look down road. That’s why there is so much camera in the picture. I’d love to say this picture was F something and be there. But, it’s not even that. I set the camera to auto and pointed it at something. Not the best way to make a picture. But sometimes it works. Like this one. It’s actually kind of a favorite of mine. It speaks to me. And for me. Driving in My Car


When I lived in New Mexico, I realized that Albuquerque is really a giant truck stop. That’s not a negative statement. It’s just the  understanding that while the city has spread out in every direction, the crossroads of I-40 and I-25 are located there. Old Route 66 ran through the city not only east and west, but depending on the year, north and south. How did that happen?  Prior to 1937, Route 66 took a longer, less direct Route through santa fe to the north and Los Lunas in the south. I-25 stretches from I-10 at Los Cruces, New Mexico to I-90 at Buffalo, Wyoming. That makes it major north-south corridor. And, I-40? Well… it is the third longest east-west highway in the country. It stretches from 1-15 in Barstow, California to Route 117 in North Carolina.

That’s the long way of saying that Albuquerque, New Mexico is not only a major truck stop, but a major crossroads.

So. This picture. It was made on I-40 east in Albuquerque a mile or so before the intersection pf I-25. For me, this is the trickiest of my drive by shooting style. If I drift a little into the right lane, I’m squarely in the back of that big rig, The best I could do is steady the camera on the dashboard, point it and press the shutter release button and let the camera do the rest.


In Southeast Louisiana, as it is in all semi-tropical places, the spring and summer months are traditionally the rainy season. Even though a bit of April seemed dry, the region already has surpassed its normal rainfall for this time of year. Rain fell yesterday and even though the sun is shining — weakly — this morning, rain is supposed to fall through tonight. And then… come June first, we enter hurricane season. This will be my first in the state since that fateful year of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hurt New Orleans so badly. I really don’t worry much about these things. We do what we have to. But, it is a bit worrisome since we didn’t really have much of a winter and the gulf waters are already hot. But, predicting doom and gloom isn’t really my style.

So.

This is one of the pictures that will probably cause me trouble some day. Another drive by shooting. It’s just a good thing for me that if you want them to be, cameras can do just about auto-everything.