Krewe of Cleopatra.

Waiting. The hardest part.

That’s what Tom Petty sang. That’s what true. We waited and waited and waited. Sometimes that happens, a tractor broke down on one of the earlier parades. The Krewe of Cleopatra could do nothing but wait.

Besides, it’s peak New Orleans.

This picture is sort of a placeholder. I’m jammed up. Night time parades followed by daytime parades will do that. I thought this was a great picture with which to start. I’d have used it in a grouping as well as this way even if I wasn’t too busy.

I don’t think that I have to explain anything to you, do I?

I’m off. I’ll be back.

Happy Mardi Gras, ya’ll.

 


In the dark night.

I saw it. I photographed it. I added to it.

That’s the story of this picture. But, what’s the story behind it? Taking chances.

I could say that a lot of my career was based on taking chances. I could say that I photographed on the edge.

The edge of what?

The edge of technical limitations. The edge of the city. Or, is it really the edge of madness?

I’m not mad. Or, crazy. Or, lacking in certain cautions. But, I do take chances. I didn’t always. I  was photojournalist. Pure and simple. My pictures were clean, sharp and well made. They had to be. That served those years of my career well.

After I moved on I found other mentors. Other photographic friends. They talked. I listened. With any luck at all, I grew.

One night, while walking in New York City, a friend and mentor, showed me how to expose for the night light and subjects. I made a picture that was just dripping with motion and energy. His exposure became my base exposure. Two Seconds at F5.6. Over the years, I modified that according to the scene and what I hoped to achieve.

That got easier in the digital age because F stops turned weird. Traditional numbers meant nothing. Gone were the days of, F2, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11, F16 and F22. Instead using the camera’s light meter and histogram, often you saw numbers like F9, F7.2 and so on. Precise light measurements. Checking the histogram told you if the exposure was correct from a light to dark balance.

That made pushing the edge easier. It also made it more time consuming. Photographers, still unused to digital capture, started checking the LCD on the back of their cameras. Not only did they check the exposure, but they check the subject for sharpness, contrast, and composition.

Experienced photographers who trusted their instincts didn’t look at the LCD, instead they created a term for it. Chimping. You can figure out why.

A curious thing happened with many of these chimping photographers. You’d think that the volume of their shoots would drop. Instead it rose. These guys still had no confidence in their work. They would shoot a non-moving subject that they could control, holding down the shutter release button, while making 500 pictures of the same thing.

That’s a big mistake.

There are a few ways to learn not to make that mistake.

Photograph a lot comes to mind. No. That doesn’t mean holding down the button. It means look for many subjects. If you want to play this game, limit yourself to only five images per scene. I know a photographer who limited himself to one image.

Create a way of working. One way is to make a picture per day. Do that for a year. I did that for a while. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn a lot about light. You learn a lot about subject matter. I liked it so much that my one year turned into two, then three. I stopped after my fifth year.

Find a mentor. I did that in my early newspaper years. I found a guy who was brutal. His first critiques could make a grown man cry. Little by little as I learned and grew, his critiques turned positive. When it was time move to a bigger newspaper, he recommended me for a job at a newspaper that was the sister paper to his paper.

There are other things you can do as well. Ask your mentor. That’s what I did.

Still, at 45 years on I still ask for advice.

Try it.

 


Silhouette in the winter sky.

Number two.

I said that I made a lot of pictures of one of the most amazing sunsets that I’ve seen in many moons. This is the second one. I hate to say this, but I was only about ten steps from yesterday’s picture. I just saw it, walked a bit, and pressed the button again.

I’m a fairly economical and efficient photographer. So, when I say I made a lot of pictures I don’t mean that I held the button and machine gunned the exposures. That’s kiddie stuff. Two or three exposures at each scene is enough for me. Sheesh. The trees aren’t moving.

Anyway.

I had one of those mornings.

Mostly, I can laugh at it. I had ton of client email to attend to. These folks don’t want to wait a few days. They want answers, plans and schemes today. Right now.

Then, the dog who sees stuff has developed an aversion to fog. I know she won’t go out in the rain, but this is something new. She goes outside, does her business (she was trading food to a cat), and heads back home. I have no idea what’s gotten into her Cocker Spaniel head.

When you send a business email you get replies. Back to the computer I went.

Finally, the weirdest thing happened to my main machine. Once upon a time I used Google Chrome. It’s too bloated and because I use a Mac, Safari works much better. It also has its own protection software.

I opened it. At the same time Chrome opened. I used “force quit” and shut it down. It opened again. I shut it down again. Up popped some kind of app I’ve never seen. It wanted me to share everything with it including your WordPress addresses. I said no. It tried three more times. It also said its app was installed. Huh?

Apparently, it rode in with Chrome. I went into my apps file and trashed Chrome. I could not find any kind of rogue app anywhere. I looked in the usual hiding places. And, some more unusual places. There was nothing that I didn’t recognize. Hopefully, it attached itself to Chrome and now it’s been shredded.

Be careful out there.

I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was open my computer.


After the storm.

Get Lucky.

That’s what happened to me. I got lucky. After the nothing burger storm blew through I decided to walk with the dog who’d been inside all day. From the minute I stepped outside I saw orange cotton candy skies. I went a little crazy. I made a lot of pictures from a lot of different locations. I rarely do that, but how could I not and call myself a photographer?

So, I did.

This picture is about the fifth or sixth that I saw.

Sometimes, that’s how things go. I think this picture is the result of photographers luck. Sure we can discuss all the things that make a photographer a photographer. But, it mostly comes down to luck. And, listening. And, watching. And, timing.

Timing is everything. At least it is for photographers who work like me. Studio guys don’t think about luck so much because they create the scene.

That’s just about it.

I seem to have awoken from my black mood. It all comes down to pain. I accidentally fixed my knee. My mood accidentally lifted. Today, it’s king cake shopping time. Nothing better during carnival days. This is the time of year when most of New Orleans is walking around in a sugar induced fog. I’d better join them.

Happy Sunday.


Wonderful winter light.

What a day can change.

Two days ago, the sky was muddy gray. There was rain in the air. It was, in a word, yucky. Then came yesterday. Wowzer! Beautiful cold air. The sky turned blue. The light was spectacular. It turned even better around dusk.

Cotton candy.

Cold. Like winter is supposed to be. But, not so cold that you didn’t want to be outside. What a show nature put on for us.

In case you are wondering, I’m ignoring the news. I suggest that you do it too. Besides, it’s Sunday. The New Orleans Saints are playing in the wild card game of the playoffs. What could be better?

Oh yeah. I’m not the biggest football fan. I am a big baseball fan. Only six weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Then it starts. Soon after we’ll all be complaining about New Orleans Heat.

Heh!


Toward the end of the year. Toward the end the day.

A little obsession goes a long way.

I’m not talking about the perfume. I’m  talking about a mental and emotional obsession. I’m talking about the one that I have when it comes the closing of 2019. Normally, I don’t really care. It’s just the pages of the calendar turning. Not this time. I can hardly wait. Even though a lot of people have said the same things about other years in this decade, 2019 seems worse.

Many people who I know feel the same way. They are worn out. They are tired. They are depressed. They feel beaten down. A writer who I read religiously said, that in this year of truth being turned upside down, she’s gotten to the point where she’s not sure she can trust herself.

I fear that in 2020, in a general election year, it might only get worse. I really fear that the worse possible thing can happen. I am scared that a re-elected president who is unhinged and free to do whatever he wants will finally blow up the country. Not physically, but at least existentially.

Enough of that because there are ways to combat the fear and loathing that so many people are feeling right about now.

Go outside. Leave your house. Life will immediately become unpredictable. It will become, well, life. To be lived in. You can work. You can play. You can meet new people. It’ll will also take the daily pressures off of your soul.

If you are an artist or creator, art harder.

A friend of mine said that at the beginning of this year. It helped her. It helped me. Sink your teeth in to a couple of long term projects. You’ll think more about that and less about the state the world.

See the good in everything and everybody who you meet on your journeys outside. Smile at people. Greet them with a friendly face. Ask for help when you need it. Eat well. Sleep well. Play well. Take care of yourself. Whatever you do spiritually, do it more.

Pick a one word koan to keep in your heart and soul. Trust me, it helps. It becomes the guiding principle for your year. Because of all the bad things that might happen in 2020, I’ve chosen my word for the year. “Positive.”

Stay positive.

That drives everything else.

 


Orange Glow.

Drifting.

I made this picture on the edge of dusk. The dark edge.

There was almost no luck involved.  But, there was a little skill. I know how and where to brace myself when I try to make a picture like this one. I probably should use a tripod more because that’s the way to take a picture in available darkness. But, I wasn’t ready. So, I did what I could.

Sometimes, that’s all you can do. And, that just has to be enough.

For me, the problem with making a picture like this, is that I’m successful holding the camera steady more than I’m not. That’s really not helpful in the long term because I’ve developed the habit of not doing what I should.

One day I’ll learn.

 


Looking at the sky.

Look up.

Sometimes, that’s where the picture lies. I did that the other night at around dusk. I was housebound and I need to get outside for a few minutes. I made the picture about ten steps from the door.

Is there a lesson in there someplace? Nah. I’ve preached enough about going outside when you are in a photographer’s block. You don’t need to read it again. Oh wait. You already did just read it. No matter. If  you’re like me, a little brain pounding is needed. If not, sorry.

I’m going to post another reworked picture tomorrow. It’s about something that is seen yearly in the French Quarter. I was going to write something about not having to work the scene again because it’s always the same. While I was thinking that, an idea came to me. It’s an early evening shot, so I’ll go very soon to see if it works. At least, my brain is starting to work.

It hasn’t been working for most of the week. But, that’s another story, for another time. I’ll eventually discuss it, but not now.

The picture. It’s a kind of F8 and be there thing. But first, you have to find the framing.The picture is cropped into a square because I didn’t exactly find the right frame. I cropped it into the right frame. And, that little dot way up there? That’s the moon.

Enjoy.


Into the mystic.

Deep. Dark. Mysterious.

That’s what I saw. That’s what I felt.  Luckily, I was able to make a picture that has feeling rather than just the usual documentation of a thing or place. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen very often.

It was kind of a fluke. Kind of photographer’s luck. Kind of what I tell me people who are suffering from a photography disorder.

It was a fluke because the dog and I normally don’t walk in this direction. It was photographer’s luck because we picked the time of day. It was the solution to the question I had been asking myself earlier in the day.

Together, all of this worked in my favor. Or, really, your favor.

The picture. From a technical standpoint, it was be there, see it, push the button. In post production it was more of the same. Most of the work was about darkening and enhancing the color to the point that I saw it while we were walking.