A particular kind of summer sky. If you aren’t looking up, it’s likely that you’ll miss it. If you don’t see light, and color, it’s like that you won’t get it.
I was talking to a somebody that I know a little. I was describing what I saw. She looked at me with a quizzical look on her face. It came down to, “Oh yeah. you’re a photographer.” But, she didn’t see it. No dramatic light. No golden color.
That’s what separates us for so many others. Us? Visual artists. We see a little differently. We feel a little differently. We see and feel with more than our eyes. We see with our brains. We feel with our hearts. With our souls.
With any luck this picture is good enough to capture what I saw. What I felt.
I feel good about this picture. It’s simple. It might be good enough to be part of my summer series. Then again…
Written about someone who wants to stay on the road and not go home. That’s us right about now.
First, the good news. It is very likely that the levees will not overtop. We are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain in the next two days. If it’s steady it won’t overwhelm the pumps. It will add more water to the already high Mississippi River.
There is even better news. The Rolling Stones will not be denied. They are already in town. And, their stage crew is building their stage, lighting and video screens as we speak. They are playing on Sunday. Come hell (not likely) or high water (likely).
The predictable news. The storm’s outer bands are reaching us. There are winds of about 20 mph with light rainfall. It is not steady, it is more like spitting. It’s on and off as the cyclone spins.
There is no bad news. We are as prepared as I’ve ever seen. That’s the city. The parishes. And, us. The only possible bad news are power failures, which are unpredictable. Yesterday, I saw Entergy crews checking the likely weak links. But, storms are storms and you can’t know what will fail.
Have a good thought for us.
The picture. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight. We’ll see about that. It looks like I’m a million miles away. Nah, Earhart Expressway. The back way to the airport.
Just remember, you thought you knew what the Tibetan word Nameste means. Around here, that’s Cajun for the answer to this question.
So damn hot. There is a twitter tag called #neworleansheat. New Orleans heat doesn’t like us. And, we don’t like it.
I made this picture at about 7:00pm. The all seeing dog wanted a walk. I convinced her to wait until she couldn’t. Off we went. I made this picture at about our apex.
By the time we made it home, I was walking in a haze. Everything was shimmering. I felt like I was walking through water. I looked at little dogaroo. Her tongue was hanging out to the pavement. We made it home. We drank a couple of hundred gallons of cold water.
I was feeling a little weird. On one hand, I felt peaceful. On the other, I felt a little disoriented. I wasn’t hungry. I took a break. I laid down. Eventually, things cleared up.
Be careful, you will suggest. I thought that I was. That’s why we walked so late. That is, until I checked the temperature.
At 7:15 pm.
Oh, and that bad feeling?
It might be closer than I thought. We have a tropical depression in the gulf that is going to turn into a hurricane or one of those lingering heavy subtropical storms that flooded upriver Louisiana a year or so ago. Depending on which weather model you watch, we are in the middle of it. Or, not.
To make matters worse, the gulf water is hot. In the mid-to-high eighties. That fuels storms. And, in Mississippi gulf waters there is such a bad poisonous algae bloom that you can’t go in the water, you can’t eat anything caught in the water. Hell, you probably shouldn’t even look at the water.
This was caused by diverting Mississippi River waters from the north into Lake Ponchartrain. If that wasn’t done, we, in New Orleans, would have been flooded. The water from the lake flows down river until it arrivers near the Mississippi State border.
Meanwhile, the clown in the high tower was blabbering about how good the environment is doing. All the while, he is gutting environmental restrictions. Oh, he finally admits that there might be something going on. But, get this, Americans aren’t causing it. It’s a global thing, idiot in chief. Last I looked, America is part of the globe.
No. There isn’t climate change.
If you believe that, I gotta a lotta junk that I’ll sell you. You’ll probably think it’s gold bullion.
And, about the cold water that dogaroo and I drank? I fill all the dogs’ bowls with cold water from the refrigerator because cold water directly from the tap is 84 degrees. How refreshing is that? It’s wet. That’s about it.
We all think of New Orleans as being a giant city. It’s not. It’s a city of about 375,000 people. We are losing about 1,000 people a year due to all sorts of reasons. Broken infrastructure. Institutional racism. Crime. Horrible schools. High Taxes. Very high rental prices. The list goes on.
That’s not what this post is about.
Instead, it’s about the region in which we live. Fifteen minutes outside of the city lies Southeast Louisiana. If it matters, leaving the city means traveling from a blue city to a red state. It doesn’t matter to me. Even though we might not agree politically, I find the people to be sweet, kind and caring.
So, we don’t talk politics. Or, religion.
Aren’t those topics what you are supposed to avoid during holiday dinners? With people who really look like you because they are you. Sort of.
I like crossing the big muddy and tooling along the roads on the Westbank. You never know what you’ll find. I find pictures like this one. I find good almost home cooked meals in gas stations. I find people who ask why you are taking a picture. When you tell them, they ask to be in a couple frames. They either tell, or guide you, towards locations that they think might make a good picture.
They are country folk.
To them, New Orleans is the “big city.” A place in which they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe. And, yet, the are only 10 or 15 miles away.
The picture. Wandering along River Road around sunset. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out the rest.
The French Market. Years ago, this is where people came to buy food. Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit. Fish. Shellfish. Different meats. It was one of about nine city markets that were scattered around the neighborhoods.
There is a small section that does sell food. Mostly it’s cooked. Mostly it’s packaged. But, down at this end all sorts of souvenirs, low-end stuff from China and mass-produced African clothes and masks are sold. Oh, and as we get close to Mardi Gras, all kinds of real cheap masks and beads can be found here. I almost forgot t-shirts. Lot’s of very cheap t-shirts.
It’s tourist central. I
I don’t know why.
You can go to almost any city on the planet and find markets like this one. They pretty much offer the same merchandise. Trust me on this. I’ve been to a lot of places. When we get bored — really bored — we go shopping. With the exception of some small adjustments due to local preferences, or laws or the lack of them, most of these markets are all the same.
Of course, I go to the one in New Orleans. It’s good for cheap props for a shoot. If I’m asked to photograph something about travel, I hire a couple of models who are more like actors and have them go shopping. When I do that, the French Market is a giant stage. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are release issues. There are people getting in the way. There are people who don’t want to be photographed, and who tell you that just as you press the button. And, so it goes.
The point in all of this is that everything changes. The French Market went from a real live city marketplace, that became deserted and broken down, to a small tourist zone within a tourist zone. What it’ll morph into next is anyone’s guess. If climate predictions for the future are accurate, it could become paved river bottom.
I started thinking about this because there is going to be a talk next week on “The New Green Deal.” You know. The legislation championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Before I write further, let me say that in general I like her. She brings much-needed energy into the House of Representatives. She has a couple of big flaws — she doesn’t understand finance and she tends to shoot from the hip like you know who — but on balance I think she’s smart, fairly well spoken and has something I admire a lot. Street smarts.
The talk is being given be regional people. I don’t believe that AOC is coming. This will disappointed people who want to heckle her for flying down here and using oil. Even if I disagreed with the legislation entirely, I’d still go to the talk. After all, we live in a place that could be under water in 25 – 50 years. Given the speed at which the climate is changing, I’d bet on the former. You’d think others would be interested too. We are all in this together. Oh no. Not from the comments on Facebook. Before I get in an argument with somebody I don’t know I do a little trolling. There were the usual suspects. Folks with big trucks, RVs that they use one a year, big boats that they use a couple of times in the summer.
There was one young woman who broke my heart. She is a recent graduate of LSU’s engineering department. She works for Entergy, the folks who provide all of our power. They are Fortune 500 company and fairly well thought of. She said that she was giving this event a “hard pass.”
I asked her why in the comments. She replied that all of this was nonsense and she was from Louisiana and storms and floods are normal. True. But, they are getting more frequent and more violent. After a little back and forth, I realized that the saying is true. “You can’t change people’s minds on social media.” Everybody is hunkered down in their silo. So, I closed with, “I’m sure that your boss’s boss’s boss will be there because guys at the top are opportunistic and want to capitalize on big changes.”
What I said is the truth. The big owners might not care about you and me, but they care about our cash. Cash. Either we spend it. Or, we hold it back. And, that’s what it’s going to take to save our planet. Our lives. Our children’s lives. And, their children’s lives.
The picture. Roaming around the Quarter does yield some pretty good pictures. This was at the end of one of my walks. I was dodging rain, but I was watching the wonderful light. I chased about as far as I could. I got to the French Market and everything was closed down. You know. Rain and a slow day. Then, this guy comes by on a bike. Five or six shots later and I had it. That, was luck. Photographer’s luck.
For years I made a career out of pictures like this one. Motion. Movement. Energy. It wasn’t hard to do. About 1/4 second at f/5.6 and I’d make a picture likes this one. But, that was the film days.
When digital photography came into being sharpness was everything. That’s why mega pixels became a big marking tool. That’s why faster and bigger lenses became a thing. That trend continues today. I switched to mirrorless cameras because I liked their small size. The first lenses were small too.
Today? Not so much.
Lenses are huge. They are fast. They are sharp. But, they defeat my purpose for switching to mirrorless bodies. I want small. I want unobtrusiveness. I want to blend in with the people around me. For me, bigger is not better.
Sometimes they are simply a technique. Sometimes you see them. Sometimes you use them. Like I did here.
I like the picture in the mirror just fine. But, that’s not why I was looking at it. There’s a car coming. In front of that, there is a mule drawn carriage. I didn’t want to hit either of them. I also want to know if anybody is walking on that side. Good guy or bad guy, I want to know how to react.
Good guy because people walk all over the streets of the French Quarter. Bad guy because there are all sorts of car thefts, high jackings and robbery, done in the streets. Forewarned is forearmed.
All was clear except for the car and the carriage, so I waited by photographing what I saw. Since I mostly use wide angle lenses I kept the background and foreground scenes in the picture. A little context for you and me.
I was going to talk about New Orleans culture, but a fire got in the way. You know where. In Paris. France. Notre Dame burned. Early on, it looked like it might be a total loss. Now, we know it’s not. Already 400,000,000 Euros have been pledged to its rebuilding.
Just as important, after reading a long comment from a researcher who studies Notre Dame as well as other Gothic structures throughout Europe, I know that there is a cycle of boom and bust for the cathedral. For instance, the steeple that fell was built in the 19th Century. At one point, it was derelict and restored. Of course, the medieval wood is mostly gone, and the roof is cinders, but most of the art is safe. The walls are safe. And, the bell towers are intact.
It likely will be rebuilt again. In 100 years, people will be talking about the fire of 2019 while they are looking at it.
However, yesterday’s sadness was about more than the burning of what amounts to a Catholic Church. 856 year years of history was being stripped away. The heart of a city was burning. Art that should never die, was thought to be dying.
The core of the matter was something was burning. In many ways, the fire was a symbol for the past few years of upheaval and violence. For, the nasty turn to the right-wing. For the hatred of people not like ourselves. And, something even more than that. I cannot put my finger on it. But, it hurt. And, it scared me.
It may be because I live in a French city. After all, New Orleans was founded by the French. True. The French Quarter actually looks Spanish. That’s because when the city burned for the last time, it was the property of the Spanish who rebuilt it in their architectural style. But they city was split, for a time between The French and The Americans. That’s what Canal Street is about. The middle of the neutral ground was the boundary between the two countries.
Never-the-less, I feel better today knowing what’s left and what’s to come. What’s to come is elastic and flexible. Something we all need to be if we are going to make our way through the challenges of the future.
The picture. That’s what you really came for, yes? It’s a parade through the French Quarter. I chose to leave it even after the terrible news of yesterday. After all, that’s what we in New Orleans are about. This is one of those F8 and be there pictures. Except it was more like f 2.8 and I almost got run over. More than once or twice. Oh well. Whatever it takes, right?
We’ve had cool and dry weather. The best kind. Now, we have moist and warm weather. The worst kind, this early in the season. The weather blabbers on the local television stations are already talking about hurricane season. Settle down. That’s just under two months away.
I get to make different kinds of pictures without traveling far and wide to do it.
Lately, I’ve had two problems. You know that I don’t feel like photographing much. I also don’t feel like traveling much. Too bad for me. I have to do both in a little bit. Money beckons.
It’s not that I don’t like photography or traveling. I love both. I just don’t like what it takes to do them.
Since everybody is a photographer, I have to figure out a way to make a picture that is different, but not necessarily better.
Since everybody wants to travel, the actual act of doing it has become crowded and hellish with so many inexperienced travelers not knowing what they are doing. I like to be comfortable when I’m flying somewhere. But, I don’t wear my pajamas and flip-flops onboard a plane.
I’m not whining or ranting. It’s life in the real world. If you were able to plop me down in my destination I’d have a great time. Despite all this new technology, that hasn’t happened yet.
I have no doubt that it will. At least that’s what they say on all the science fiction that I watch.
One more thing about traveling to photograph. Since everybody is a photographer, the classic locations are crowded with people trying to make the very same picture the first 2,745,981 photographers did. I jokingly say that there are tripod holes at prime locations.
That leaves me with a lot of choices. Let’s say I’ve gone to New Mexico. Let’s say I’m staying in Santa Fe. I could get very lazy and photograph the city. Or, I could move on and work outside of the city, coming back at night. That’s what I would likely do. That works for me because I do like to explore.
That’s how I think. These days. Going to a place isn’t enough. Not any more.
The picture. Just about everything has bloomed and has settled into summer’s green. Except for here and there. This tree is an example of here. Or, there. As the storm clouds started to blow in, I started making a few pictures. This is one of them. Since the light was low at around dusk, there is some nice highlight on one side of the tree. That’s also what’s causing the clouds to be yellowish.