Interstate 80 east of Reno, Nevada.

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oad Trips.

Road Trips are essential if you want to stay sane, at least for me and a lot of my friends. Kindred spirits you know. I have been to Virginia a couple of times for business. But, we avoided every possible person which wasn’t a lot of fun. I’ll show you why eventually.

This is Interstate 80, eastbound. This is one way home. I like to make circular trips. I started in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Interstate 80 where I eventually turned right on State Route 93. I made my way through Las Vegas until I came to State Highway 95 and kept going until I arrived in Reno via State Route 95 and backtracking on Highway 50.

When I left Reno I took Interstate 80, stopping at Fernley and eventually connecting to Route 50, The Loneliest Highway in the World — they haven’t been to Mongolia — where I travelled to somewhere in Utah and eventually returned to I-40 and home.

All of that to tell you I usually take the long way when I’m on a road trip that doesn’t involve business. Pictures can’t find you is your are speeding through at 90 mph. It’s great to get so far out there that the only communication devices that work are a couple of AM radio stations, or Spotify if you’ve downloaded music to your phone, a phone that won’t get internet or telephone signal. Before you get worried about having an emergency and needing a phone, just think about road trips you’ve taken with your parents. in an earlier era.

The picture was made on I-80. My co-pilot fell asleep so I made this picture on my own. No, the car ahead is not heading toward us. That’s water being kicked up behind it and lighted by the sun.

There was nobody but the two of us on the road so I took advantage of that and drove up the dividing line to get the angle that I wanted. We do something like that in New Orleans to avoid potholes.

Oh yeah.

The rain started falling again. It turned into snow, but not ice. Snow is fine. Ice isn’t.

Remember that. Just in case.


Out on the road.

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ut on the road, heading to Reno and Fernley, Nevada, for Thanksgiving. We were going to Reno for Thanksgiving with my extended family who live there. Traveling to Fernley was to visit the National Cemetery and my parents grave sites.

The National Cemetery is a dedicated site that sits on high desert land. The area is covered with tumble weeds and other desert plants. I’ve only been there in cold weather months so I know it to be cold and wind swept. It suits me.

The VA buries veterans at the cemetery closest to them. In New Orleans it used to be at Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought during the War of 1812. But, it is full. So, my next resting place is in Slidell. But, by buying the farm and living there, I’ve upgraded myself to the pinnacle of national cemeteries. Arlington.

Not that I’ll care.

Fernley was just a little desert town when I buried my parents about 18 months apart. I almost didn’t recognize it this time. FEDEX built a huge distribution center there. You know what happens when a big company moves into a little back water town. The town explodes. The people are flush with cash. New people move in. All the funky little businesses are gentrified out of business.

When I buried my parents, and returned to visit their graves I drank coffee at a little cafe where the waitress greeted everybody with, “Hon, sit anywhere that you want.” It’s gone, replaced by a Starbucks with counter help that misspell your name. Every single time.

Anyway.

This is Area 51, or a gateway to it. True believers think there are captured space aliens here. They think the government uses them for experiments. Try going on the fenced off land. You won’t get 500 yards before soldiers armed to the teeth riding in Humvees turn you back to the public roads. They are authorized to shoot to kill. That’s just how serious they are.

The soldiers are intense because Area 51 is a skunkworks. Experimental planes and rockets are developed there. Most never see service and are left in the far reaches of the barbed wire desert. There are also conventional planes, B-29s and the upgraded version called the B-50. There are probably others. They were used to test experimental things. They are left to molder and rot in the desert. They don’t rust. The desert is too dry for that.

The little rest stop in the picture with the pink building is fairly well known. You can buy gas there. You can buy food to go there. You can eat in the cafe there. Or, you can visit the cathouse in the back. You know, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.”

Everything is expensive so I usually refuel closer to Las Vegas. I do stop to make pictures. And, some times I buy road food, No. I don’t go to the backroom. I pass no judgement on those who do, but I’m not that guy. Besides, my co-driver would kill me. But. I am a guy who enjoys road trips. I haven’t taken one in over two years.

You know why.


Driving, photographing, waiting.

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nother drive by shooting. Well, sorta. I was waiting for the light to change looking at the traffic in front me. I had an ah ha moment. I turned off the windshield wipers to let the rain water accumulate. When there was enough water I made a few pictures. The light turned green and down the road I went.

As some of you know, sometimes I put the camera on the dashboard while the car is moving and let it do its thing while I have both hands on the steering wheel. But, never in the rain. Too many bad things can happen. I need total concentration.

I started reading the news today. All of it was bad. Really bad. Sure, news organizations report bad news. But, this is extreme. My biggest fear is the new variant. I can see how this is going to go. I really don’t want to live in my self imposed lock down forever.

I see something else too. Remember how some people attacked Asians because they thought CoVid19 is a Chinese infection? Well, this variant apparently started in South Africa. Think about the ramifications of that.

Racism to numbers unknown.

This is a chance to show each other and the world what we are made of. Likely, we’ll show everyone that we are made of gutter trash. At least Trump isn’t president with the ability to stir things up.

I think we need to stay cool, think before we act, and to always stay mighty.


One stop shopping.

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his is the kind of place that we saw on our drive to Natchez. That’s Mississippi, in case you were unclear on it.

Stopping at little places like this were one of the reasons the drive too so long. This place was closed. The drive would have taken longer if it had been open because the owner would talk to me and I would start a longer conversation.

If you want to take pictures in unfamiliar places that’s how you do it. Talk. Talk. Talk. Let them know that you aren’t a threat in any way.

Make your picture, thank them and move on.

Do that 15 or 20 times on a trip and it adds up to real time. On the other hand, it’s worth it. Meeting new people is always worth it. And, you may learn something about the place you are photographing.

It may not be historically accurate, but who cares? We do it for the stories we can tell. And, for this blog. Well, I do anyway.

And, then there was lunch.

We read about a legendary cafe tucked away between Highway 61 and the river. We knew the crossroad, but that’s all. It took some poking around and looking because the cafe was located in the middle of a trailer park.

That’s also the joy of this kind of travel. Even though the hangries were approaching, we had fun finding the place and eating. The food was really good. Sort of southern home style cooking.

Imagine that. Southern home cooking in the South. What’ll they think of next?

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ince there is no technique to making a photograph like this one, other than what I wrote about talking to people, I thought that I would talk about yesterday.

I went to an appointment with a new oncologist. There was nothing wrong with the old one. I liked him a lot. But, he retired.

I kind of grilled him about the efficacy of my vaccinations as oppose to what my CLL did to them.

He looked very carefully at my blood work and saw something encouraging. My hemoglobin numbers look almost normal.

So, in the next week we are going to run a detailed panel just looking at that. If it is as we hope, there is a chance that I don’t have to stay locked down, or at least I don’t have to be quite so strict because if the hemoglobin is near normal then the vaccine will work to a point.

Have a good thought for me.


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hen we were getting ready to leave New Mexico we did a thing that some New Mexican like to do best. We went cruising. We weren’t showing off our cars. We were looking for our last pictures.

And, we ate dinner at all of our favorite places. We went to places like Garcias, The Frontier and Sadies. If you know Albuquerque, you know these places. If you watched Breaking Bad, you know some of them.

This picture was made on Central Avenue as it heads out of town toward the West. You might know it as Route 66. We, however, were headed east so I could catch the blue hour with some traffic on the street. This is about the location from which the late, great, photographer Ernst Haas made one of his very famous photographs.

You know what this driving around really was, don’t you? We were fixing things in our minds knowing we wouldn’t be back for a long time. We were making nostalgia.

I’m glad we did it. After a year like the last one when we didn’t move around at all, those memories helped our travel jones.

I’m sure you do things like that too.

What are they? When do you do them?

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o joy yet. These templates are as twitchy as ever.

But, that’s not what I want to talk about, so goodbye bad code.

Instead, let’s discuss the picture.

It’s a drive by, or drive through. It helps to have a co-pilot who knows my moves. I just talk about the objective and the lane and the only thing I worry about from that point is making pictures.

I typically like to meter from a middle highlight like the back of that silver Jaguar. Get that close and everything falls into place.

Of course, there is work to do in post production because fine tuning is needed in a lot of little points of the picture.

That kind of good work is worth it in the end.


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.