Stars and bars.

Sometimes just leaving Orleans Parish is like going on a road trip, not that I drove very far, maybe 12 miles. But, it’s another world.

I had to buy some electronics and a paint bucket. Best Buy is the best place for digital gear. I was grumbling while I drove. I had to buy a charger for my new iPhone 12. Who sells a phone without a charger?

Apple, that’s who.

Even the folks at Best Buy laugh about it. Of course the store makes money, but the people who work there think that Apple is just greedy. And, their charger costs twice what other legit makers charge.

Oh, they do give you the charging cable.

I actually like going to that big shopping center except for it’s organization. It was built in stages by different developers. To go from Best Buy to Home Depot required me to drive through two parking lots and work my through two stoplights.

Uuugh.

But, I was able to stop by a cool little restaurant that we used to eat at when we first returned from New Mexico. Entering it is like stepping back in time.

I took a look around and asked the guy behind the counter if I could take a few pictures. He shrugged his shoulders, so I did.

This picture makes me think of trips through tiny little midwestern towns. It sort of excited me when I looked the finished product.

Stopping and eating here was a big deal for me. It was my first time actually eating inside a restaurant since the start of the pandemic. It’s true that we have eaten at two restaurants previously, but we were outside and about 6 miles from the next table.

Let me tell you, it felt really good. Better yet, the food tasted really good.

Now that’s something to feel a large measure of gratitude for being able to do.

Now you know why I’m late with this post. I ate lunch. Sorry about that.

No. I’m not.

Heh.

There is nothing to this photograph other than that I like the subject matter.

There is little to no work done in post production. Mostly, I brightened and sharpened it a bit.

That’s it.

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 a restaurant or two. They need us.


Into the mystic.

There were days when I drove from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to run errands. Even thought ABQ had to old school camera stores within short walking distance from each other, neither had a great selection of printing paper.

Two stores in Santa Fe did. I’d start my day early, having breakfast out on the road, go paper shopping, go to a nationally known bookstore and poke around looking for pictures. Sometimes, I’d eat dinner on the plaza.

That was always a nice day.

Sometimes I’d head back home to Albuquerque under fairly clear skies like this one, but with rain falling in the far distance. That’s one of the benefits of living in the desert. Long distance views.

If you’ve ever driven cross country, you’ll see this a lot as you get into southwestern states. Sometimes, if the storm lingers and you are driving fast enough you’ll actually catch the storm and you’ll get wet.

Since I enjoy so-called bad weather that was never a big deal. Sometimes, I’d intentionally do it in order to photograph the falling rain.

I’m looking forward to long road trips again. However the virus may still get in the way.

Off in the distance. That’s one of the easiest ways to work if you are a drive by photographer like I am from time to time.

There is nobody near me and nobody in front of me that makes a difference. I could actually make a picture like this without fear of hurting anybody.

I still practice a kind of safety by letting the camera be auto everything and doing its thing. One thumb pushes the button, every other part of my hands are on the steering wheel.

That’s it the technical part of photographing. Processing and editing are easy because, as I wrote yesterday, this is a kind of photojournalism and I don’t mess with the picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs.


Out on the road.

This is one of those days when the picture has nothing to do with the topics. In fact, I have two subjects that I’d like to discuss.

But first, this is a road on the back side of the Sandia Mountain Range, making it slightly northeast of Albuquerque. Often, search for a PAD meant taking day trips. I enjoyed it. I met some interesting people and ate some real New Mexican food.

Here we go.

Police shootings. While one trial was going on another police shooting occurred in Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The same city. The police department says it was a mistake. The officer meant to tase him rather than shoot and kill him.

There is the case of the active duty U.S. Army lieutenant who was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. He was gassed and handcuffed for no real reason. Later the nastier of the two cops let him go after threatening him if he spoke about it. That is becoming a civil case.

There’s more, but I haven’t read about them except for this. While responding to a complaint of excessive noise two police entered a side yard, rather than ring the doorbell, of the house where the noise was coming from. A twelve week old puppy emerged from the shadows. One cop shot and killed him.

That’s the news as I know it. I’m not going to rant and rave. I’m going to say two things.

If you are so scared while you are performing your job, you need a new safe job. How do you accidentally pull a gun when you are reaching for a taser? Fear. How do you shoot a puppy when he was just defending his turf? Fear.

I can’t really speak to what the cop was thinking when he gassed and handcuffed a soldier except to say the video should what I thought was racist cruelty. The cop didn’t look fearful. He just looked mean. Find another job.

This stuff has gotta stop. Speak out.

Social media. This too, is not a rant. Instead, it’s a discussion of things that have become painfully obvious.

Social media is, for anyone who does business, a necessary evil.

Facebook is like a telephone book. You have to be there. Twitter is useful for local groups like NOLA Twitter or for fast breaking news.

Instagram is important for visual creatives although many posters turn their posts into words.

I don’t see LinkedN or WordPress as social media, at least not in the way I do about the previous three.

What I see in the previous three social media is they lost their helpfulness.

There are way too many fights, mostly of a political nature. Everything becomes political or worthy of being cancelled. Everybody has lost their sense of humor.

Instagram has become derivative and filled with wannabe influencers looking to be seen.

What to do?

I can’t really leave them, but I don’t have to post much.

Facebook and Twitter readers see my pictures because they are distributed from Storyteller.

Whatever I post on Instagram is automatically distributed to Facebook.

I do have to “like” others work on all social media, but I don’t have to comment. After all, “liking” builds your base, not that any of my bases are very large.

In many ways, I’m just going to fade away.


All the water in the sky.

Here I go again. Driving and making pictures. You know how I do it so I won’t go there. I will head over to intensity.

I talk about not taking the picture, instead letting the picture take you. I discuss the zen of photography. I talk about practicing until you don’t think about what you are doing.

That’s all true.

Yet, there is another quality that is every bit as important.

Intensity.

When I work I’m intense. When I work it’s about the picture. Nothing else. I’m laser focused. I see everywhere and nowhere. At the same time.

This picture is an example. I knew that there were no cars around me. I knew what was happening in front of me. I knew that water was starting to accumulate on the windshield. I knew how fast I was traveling. And, in what lane I was in.

All that data was rolling around the best computer of all time. The human brain.

This picture is simple to make. The intensity doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. But, let me work for more than a few hours and I’m toast. I’m exhausted. Generally, when I get home I need a nap.

This all sounds terrible doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s refreshing. It’s knowing that I left it all on the field.

That’s satisfying.

This place is strange. The main road dips under a railroad bridge and a cloverleaf.

It is so strange that it has a water measurement gauge. Yes. This place floods.

If the weather changes quickly and a big storm blows through it’s best not to drive on this road.

The picture was made in the usual way. A drive by shooting.

The overall weather made the picture. The light was right. The clouds were bluish – gray. The rust on the railroad bridge popped right out. The cement sort of glowed.

There was very little post production. Mostly, I darkened and added contrast to the image.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You all know the rest. Enjoy every flood.


The region of storms. And, kings.

The rain came down. Then the temperature dropped. Finally, we are turning a corner into pleasantness. At least, for now. The passing of winter to spring is always interesting in the swamp.

May you have an interesting life is one of the most harshest of Chinese curses. I think most people are like dogs. We like routine. That’s what’s been so hard living in the pandemic era. Routines are blown. Lifestyles are blown.

We’ve lost a lot. Everything is changing. Nothing is normal, or at least what we used to call normal. I’ve discussed that a couple of times. The new normal is a chance for us to do better. At least I hope that it is.

I have a better sense of hope, even though you can’t eat it, as Neil Young says.

But, with the change of presidents and governing administrations issues are being dealt with in an efficient manner. I just wish the other side would stop lying. The New Green Deal, which is only an idea, did not shut down power in Texas. Nor, did it blow out all kinds of water pipes.

I don’t see the gain in saying such nonsense. Eventually, the truth comes out. Especially these days when you don’t have the last president creating chaos everyday just to see his name out there. That noise is just about gone.

Yeah. He’s gonna run again. After four years of healthy change even his base is not going to be interested. Yeah. He’s going to start a new social media. Just like his steaks, wine, and university.

He’ll be so buried in legal issues that he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to suck money out of the last true believers to pay his legal fees that he’ll never raise his head again.

Now, that’s hope.

See where the picture of the rainy street lead me.

Now, that’s imagination.

drive by shootings. No. Not those kind. The kind where I make photographs from a moving car.

I’ve discussed this enough in the past that you know I don’t take silly chances. I’m not going to get hurt, nor am I going to hurt you.

Look at the picture. Not a car close enough to see me.

The real trick to this picture and the other picture from a couple of days ago is to find a color palette that makes sense for the subject.

The next trick is to be able to duplicate it in such a way that you can make subtle changes to suit the picture.

Once you’ve figured that out the rest is easy.

To be sure, the subject really should dictate the color palette. I don’t think bright, sunny scene would look great using this one.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every color palette.


The original title was going to be “The Boys of Summer,” after reading about a number of great baseball players of my youth passing. But, Eddie Van Halen died. He was 65, a year younger than I am now.

He died after a very long battle with cancer. He family was with him. He was a smoker, but he thought holding metal guitar picture in his mouth may have had a lot to contribute to his throat cancer.

I wasn’t the biggest Van Halen fan, but I admired his guitar playing. He befriended Eric Clapton because that’s who he patterned his playing after. Of course, Clapton followed the originals, especially Robert Johnson.

Rest in Peace Eddie Van Halen.

It’s time to talk about baseball players so let’s just “Jump,” to the next topic.

Apparently, I was born and bred to be a New York Yankee fan. Some of that fell away because I grew up in Long Beach which made me a Dodger fan too. If they both happen to make it through the playoffs and play each other in the World Series, I revert to type and root for The Yankees.

I probably started following baseball seriously through baseball cards when I was about 7 or 8. I remember listening to Dodger games on my transistor radio, sometimes late at night under the covers.

I’m still a baseball fan today. When I think back to all the great players I got to see I feel very lucky to be on the planet at the same time they were.

2020 has been rough for a lot of reasons. Obviously. I’ve discussed a lot of them here. But, the boys of my summer are dropping once or twice a week. Many were in their 80s, which should tell you how long I’ve been a fan.

Bob Gibson. Tom Seaver. Lou Brock. Horace Clarke. Lou Johnson. Jay Johnstone. Al Kaline. Don Larson. Ron Perrinoski. Claudell Washington. Jimmy Wynn. Bob Watson.

To be sure, this isn’t all of them. These are the guys I remember seeing play, either in the stadium or on television. On an old black and white television that received six channels via an old fashioned rabbit ears.

We got six channels instead of the usual three because we lived in Long Beach and received three local Los Angeles channels. Two of the three local channels broadcast baseball.

It really hit me today when I read that Ron Perrinoski had passed. He played for a couple of teams but chiefly for the LA Dodgers. He was a lights out reliever who came in for big name starters like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

I thought to myself that a lot of these guys had died recently. So, you get to read a large part of Storyteller dedicated to them.

Under the heading of all the news that fits, there is one more item to discuss.

Hurricane Delta. It’s a very late season storm that could hit us almost dead on as a category 3 or 4 hurricane sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning and hang around until late Saturday night.

This one doesn’t seem to have much cone variance so it doesn’t look great out there. Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the water. I’ll let you know more as the week rolls on.

As usual, the picture has nothing to do with most of Storyteller. What I wrote might be more important than the picture, although I like it a lot.

I made this picture a few years ago when I was on the road to someplace north. It was during the time when I photographed everything that moved.

The truck was moving and so was I, so I thought it was a good idea to make a few pre-dawn pictures.

I think the picture feels like being out on the road. It gives you that sense of travel.

The crop is radical for two reasons. The picture just had too much dead area in the sky. And, I wanted to test this shape in the universally hated block system. It seems to have worked out just fine.

I made the picture on a full frame mirrorless DSLR. Surprisingly, it generated some noise so I corrected for that in post production. But, I did little else.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Look after each other.


Get out of the French Quarter, I tell visitors.

I don’t mean quite as far out as the locations in these pictures. Going to some of these places would mean really long days for some of them. But, I live here. I can pick them off one by one when the light and the heat suits me.

It’s an interesting thing about heat. It’s hot and very humid now. That will last until mid-October. Normally, I complain about it, but since I want you to be able to feel the picture I have to work in the heat. I reckon if I’m hot or cold, you’ll feel that way too.

Sometimes, my “method acting works,” many times it doesn’t. Same thing with writing. A friend of mine wrote about the passing of her dog. It broke our hearts. It took a couple of attempts to get through it. That worked. Man, did it work.

As I review this mini-portfolio I realize that I need to return to some of these places. I’m going to make a collection of Our Lady of Guadalupe photographs. I know where some are — obviously — but, I’ll have to just look around for others. I also want to return to the broken trees. I have some plans to use the pictures as components of other pictures.

Stay safe. Enjoy every fritter.


Interstate 10 heading into New Orleans.

Driving.

You are looking at the CBD — Central Business District — of New Orleans. The timing was perfect. I made a lot of frames of the scene from the interstate. Even though I’ve been known to drive and make pictures, I had a driver this time.

We were going to The French Quarter.

That’s the oddest thing about living in New Orleans. We can go to the Quarter whenever we want, while people journey here from all points on the compass. We forget how unique that makes us. Of course, many locals disavow the Quarter, claiming to never go there. I used to be one of them.

Not any more.

I talk about photographers luck often. There is more than luck completing the equation. To stumble onto this scene means that we had to be on the interstate. I had to have my cameras ready. And, that I could react quickly enough to make the picture.

One more thing.

I had to put my pants on and go outside.

I have no idea how long it took me to reach this point. Years and years, I think. Reacting without thinking is a Zen exercise. Alone, that takes years of practice.

That’s one of the purposes of Storyteller.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every slice of pizza.


The road.
Dazzling lights.
This is why I can’t see.

It’s that time again in Southeastern Louisiana.

It would have been Jazzfest time if CoVid-19 didn’t come roaring in like a hellound from the grave. It’s also a time when there is a very clear dividing point between the coolish, dry air of spring and the heat of summer. The first week of Jazzfest is spring. The second week is summer.

From now until almost November a lot of rain hits the ground. In June, hurricane season starts. It ends on the last day of November. We are supposed to have an active storm season.

That’s just what we need.

The virus may last through storm season, or make it’s return toward the end. Normally, we evacuate if it’s a big head on strike. Like Hurricane Katrina. If the virus is still slithering around there’s no place to go. We’d have to shelter in place, which is more-or-less what we are doing now.

I have no idea what kind of damage, pain and death a head on hurricane could bring. I know what the summer of Katrina did. And, most of us had some place to go. I don’t ever want to see that again.

On the other hand.

There’s money to be made even if — God willing — that scenario does not present itself. If I could write, how about a limited series for somebody like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu? Four 90 minute segments. Pick your favorite actors. If it were me, I’d cast actors who normally wouldn’t play in a thriller. I’d want to make a litle more down played.

Nice fantasy.

Myths.

Aside from drinking bleach which will kill rather than cure there is another persistant myth. Heat and humid kills the virus. I asked a friend of mine who lives in Singapore. She replied in an email, “We are getting hammered here, and as you know it’s always hot and humid here.”

I know two things about Singapore after working there twice a year for nine years, their weather makes ours feel cool by comparison. And, even in early January the temperature was around 90, but the humidity dropped by maybe 10% so conditions weren’t as bad.

Oh yeah.

The pictures. You know me. I make a bunch of drive by pictures when I can, changing the meaning of a drive by shooting. That’s what I did here. I also used a real camera. A Leica. The resolution is so good that when subjects are sharp, they can cut through your eyeballs.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.