Sun splash.

I

was thinking about the rest of my photographic career when I stumbled upon a photographer called David Carol. What caught my eye was something in his biography.

He said that he was the first Image Bank assignment photographer. The division of Kodak for whom I worked was The Image Bank. The only TIB photographer and staffer was me.

Eventually, I’ll try to get to the bottom of this because it’s akin to stolen valor.

However, after looking at his work and reading about him I don’t much care about his bio because he shoots like I do, or I did. And, his philosophy is like mine. He said, “I don’t photograph homeless people or people who can’t defend or protect themselves. I genuinely it’s exploitative and it doesn’t interest me to do or see. Pick on people your own size.”

The difference between us is he’s published a large number of books and hangs in all sort of galleries and museums.

I ought to be jealous, but I’m not. He spent his time cultivating street photography as art. I spent my time doing just about everything else.

They keep saying that age is just a number. I’m going to test that.

I have a huge black and white archive. You’ve seen the best of my photojournalism in past Storytellers. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I must have ten thick binders. I started to try to archive them when I realized they were organized by date.

Good enough.

But, those images were made the same quirky way that I photograph sometimes. There are probably gems in there that I haven’t seen in years. It’s time to revisit every one of those binders. Or, it’s all a bunch of rubbish.

I’ll find out.

T

his is all technique so you get a right hand column.

I made this picture while I was sitting by the pool, looking up.

The picture is on point. The point being that you’ve seen this kind of image in the past.

I decided to do something about that.

I left well enough alone in Snapseed. But, then I came to OnOne for finishing.

That’s when I went crazy with experimentation.

I aded and subtracted stuff. I looked at a finished image and tossed it in the bin.

I started again.

After more of this experimentation I started to find a thread.

I followed it. I eventually came to the end. That’s the image you are seeing.

I darkened the image. I added fake bokeh. I added that sunburst. I added some glow.

The picture was done.

Finally.


In the distance.

S

o. I turned in another direction and saw this sky which was very different from the one that I showed you yesterday. The brightness of the light as I looked across the scene changed everything including the color intensity.

In case you are wondering, the weather is still cool and dry. In fact, it’s even cooler today than it was yesterday. The weather should stay that way for a few days. Warmth will return for a day or two as summer struggles to hold onto its grip only to fail as the sun moves lower in the sky until it begins to rise after the shortest day of the year.

We’ll pass through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, The Twelfth Night and, with luck, Mardi Gras. That’s a funny way of looking at things, isn’t it?

Mardi Gras matters down here.

Not only are there a huge number of tourists who pump millions dollars into our economy that we dearly need, but there is a feeling of celebration in the air. We could use a little celebration after these two long, dark years. I could use being on the streets to photograph something that I love. For me, that’s enough.

In other words, I’ve come to a place where I have to weigh risk and reward. It’s not lost on me that if I get sick with the virus I could die. But, living the way I’m living now may keep my body alive, but my spirit and soul are dying. If they die, what I have preserved?

Tell me, what’s left?


It begins with the first step.

F

all really came today. Cool winds. Cool temperature. No air conditioning. Windows wide open. No apparent humidity. People celebrating.

I’m not sure about the last statement. People celebrating. That may be taking it a little too far. Let’s just say people are happy. I’m happy.

That’s why I’m late. I went and stayed outside. Inside work be damned. Not quite. I have a lot of inside work. I’ll get to it eventually.

But, first… more out side.

I made this picture on one of our amazing sun shows at the end of the day. This is also the season for those. I followed my own advice and turned around to see what was going on. This was going on.

The factory building was a little too low to pick up the sunset’s color. But, the sky. Oh man, the sky. It went crazy. That’s really the point of this picture. Everything else just sort of anchors the sky.

So.

No thinking out loud today. Just doing.


In the air.

A

brand new picture. Imagine that. I went for a walk when the light was right and I started having fun. I just kept making pictures until I was finished, which took a while. I think that I wanted to take the long way home as they say.

The funny thing was that the more I saw, the more I saw.

I think my problem isn’t not being able to see. It’s feeling trapped in place by the current circumstances. I don’t like to be stuck anywhere unless I want to be. It’s one thing being stuck in New Orleans. It’s another to be stuck on St. Barts.

It’s also one thing to know that almost everybody thinks that the pandemic is over when it has years to go and that too many of them aren’t taking any kind of precautions thinking that they are protected by the vaccinations. To a certain extent they are, but there are enough breakthrough infections to make me wonder a little bit

In my case, that doesn’t matter. I isolate myself or I run the risk of dying. So, as I write I’m talking to the Shipt buyer. Because of me, everybody in the house likes not having to go grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, they like buying specialty items at a farmers market or a fruit stand. They like going to Hong Kong, the Asian grocery store, not the city.

One of the things that I’ve come to understand is that the pandemic made a lot of us think about how we do things. We don’t always have to be some place to work. We don’t have to travel across the country to have an hour meeting. We’ve managed to find and cut out a lot of BS factors.

On the other hand, shopping from home for bigger products has put a huge stress on the logistics chains, to which most people never gave a second thought. There are ships and containers stacked up at every major port city. In China, or other ports in Asia, there aren’t enough containers or ships to move new product.

This is a pandemic which keeps on giving in ways that never occurred to us. I’m sure that there will be more.

A quick change. When it comes to photo technique I keep writing the same things. Unless I do something out of the ordinary, I’m not going to divide the columns.


Transition time.

T

ransitions between dark and light, the end of the day and daylight is what I look for. Sometimes I’ll wait for that time rather than burn myself out shooting daylight pictures which I’ll never even look at after the fact.

It’s the light. It always the light. For me transitional light is the best light. Dawn or dusk. It doesn’t matter, but I have trouble getting up for dawn light.

As Bart Simpson said, “There’s a five o’clock in the morning? When did they start that?”

This is a dusk picture. It what was made during the blue hour while what was left of the day’s sunlight was reflecting off of the cloud.

In nature’s way, the orange and blue contrast very nicely. It’s no wonder that designers have been using that combination for years. Being a sometimes New Yorker, I think of The New York Mets.

Let’s not go too far down that track because I was born to be a Yankee fan, but blue and white is boring to me.

So.

It’s really about light and color. That is photography, no matter what or who the subject happens to be. Find a subject can be fairly easy. Finding the patience waiting for the light to be right is hard. Very hard.

I used to know a photographer who worked for National Geographic Magazine. He find the place where he wanted to work. He’d set up camp and he would sit. And sit. And sit.

When the light was right he’d wake himself and expose maybe twenty rolls of film and then, finally, he was done with that scene.

Do you have that kind of patience? Well, do you?

I don’t.

M

aking this picture was harder than you’d think. I exposed for the clouds which plugged up the tree.

It’s still pluggy because in order to bring up the clouds I had to darken the entire image.

When I lightened the image a little and now you can see the overly light area in the center. I could have done a couple of other approaches.

But, as you know, I’m lazy. So, what remains is what remains.

I darkened the edges of the picture a little to make it look old school burning and dodging. The kind that you did in a wet darkroom.

And, that’s it.

I’d tell you about working in a darkroom. I’d tell you about the peace it brought sometimes. I’d tell you about the smells. I’d tell you what it was like to watch a photograph come up in the developer. And, how we fine tuned little bits of the unfinished print.

I’d tell you that whenever I get a chance to just walk into one that it feels like I’m visiting a dear old friend.


Evening glow.

T

his post was inspired by a band called Ranky Tanky. They are a Gullah band from the Lowcountry area of South Carolina.

They play a kind of country jazz. I’m always amazed at how many of their songs I know. Songs that were covered by The Rolling Stones and Little Feat. The good news is that both bands always acknowledged their musical roots.

Roots. I think that knowing who’s shoulders you are standing on. That’s another little piece of Storyteller. I haven’t talked about my inspirations in a good long while. (Let’s see if I can write that anymore Southern.)

Maybe I should start doing that again. Whaddya think? I can write about particular artists, or photographers or musicians to authors.

Let me just say that there are only a few photographers who inspire me. Most of them are old now. But, artists and musicians? You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting them. (Southernism number two.)

I wonder why that is.

S

ometimes things that look easy to do are a lot harder than we think.

This picture is an example of that.

It’s a time exposure made on my smart phone. Easy enough, right?

Sure. If you don’t care about the highlights or the deep shadows.

I did everything I could to keep those areas intact. I failed. Either one or the other had to go.

So, I kept the highlights and let the shadows go dark. I tried to hold the shadows, but they lost way too much contrast.

I did the best that I could, which wasn’t enough.

That’ll happen sometimes.


What do you see?

T

his has been a very quiet time for me. I’m not doing much more than I need to do. That’s not me. Nor, is it good for me.

I’ve always been a believer of finishing your daily work and then do one more thing. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. You are making progress.

Where I come from we say, progress not perfection.

That’s good because I’m never perfect. I make mistakes. I’m the typo king. Some of my best pictures are either motion shaky art out of focus.

That’s not a terrible thing. I learn from all of those things. I edit my words tighter. I compensate for cameras shake either with a tripod or I make sure my shutter speed is high.

But, right now none of that is happening. I reckon that the pandemic and the last 18 months have worn me out. It’s worn a lot of people out. Add to that the pressure of really not working much and I’m probably blown out.

My way of dealing with this is not working. Or, working very well. I probably need a long, long vacation. But, I’d worry about what was going on where I wasn’t.

I suspect a lot of us are in this place.

What about you?

A

ll reflections, that’s what this picture is really about. I’d finished a very short walk when I looked up and saw the window.

I had to move around a bit in order to make this picture as well framed as it is, which is to say, not very well.

If I could have moved back about 15 feet, I could have aligned the final image a lot better.

There goes that perfection thing again.

Nonsense. I did the best I could with what I had.

Once again, I didn’t do much but darken and sharpen the picture. After all, simpler is usually better.

This time it was.


All of the mysteries.

T

iming. It’s everything. Look in one direction and you see nothing. Turn around and there’s the picture. Make some great music and nobody hears it unless the timing is right. Play sports, maybe baseball. The difference between striking out and hitting a home run is timing.

You get the point.

This picture is a great example of timing. I was trying every which way to get under the wires to get some of the orange cloud into the picture. I couldn’t do it.

I turned to the side and thought, “There is a picture here after all.” This one. The one you are looking at.

Here’s an extreme example of timing. As you know, I can’t be in crowds. That means I can’t photograph second lines. Normally. I start at the beginning, walk a good bit with the parade. Then, I get back to my car and jump to the end.

If I had been out on Sunday, I could have been way too near a shooting that left one dead and one critically injured. I’m pretty sure it was gang related. For sure, it was Black on Black.

That, alone, makes me sad.

But, a misfired bullet in the air doesn’t see color. It just zooms through the air hitting whatever it comes in contact with. It would be one thing if these boneheads could actually shoot. But, they can’t. They spray bullets everywhere trying to hit the one poor guy they are after.

Think about it.

I was on the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and St. Claude on one Mother’s Day a few years back when two fools started shooting into the crowd in order to hit their target. They didn’t hit him, but they did hit a lot of innocent people.

They hit my friend, and just about everybody’s friend, “Big Red” Deb Cotton in the stomach. That may be the worst survivable wound. She survived, but after years of painful surgeries, she died.

Murders are up by 24% in New Orleans. Gun deaths are the highest they’ve ever been in the city.

A

fter I saw the picture I did everything I could to avoid those power lines, but I couldn’t.

It’s ironic. If I photographed this scene about a month earlier those lines wouldn’t have been in the way. They’d have been in the street.

My biggest trick was to darken the entire picture to bring the color out. I did add some soft glow because I like it.

If I left the picture horizontal there would have been way too much black. The color would have receded into the scene. So, I cropped it.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of square pictures. Obviously, I use them when the situation calls for it.

Nothing is set in cement. Photographic rules should be learned and understood so that you can break them when your work calls for it.

I suppose that’s the same with most rules. Live by them until something goes way south. Then, do what you have to do.

Hopefully, it will be subtle and peaceful.

Unlike this photograph.


Another way.

T

he caption says it all. Another way. I keep reading what a great camera the iPhone 12 is supposed to be. I had better be because it’s a terrible phone.

I decided to test it.

I made this photograph towards the end of dusk. That means I made a time exposure. I wasn’t sure about the first couple of exposures. A little yellow wheel caught my attention. It turns out that it shows just where in the exposure time the camera is working.

I tested that theory.

If you want a sharp exposure let the wheel finish turning. If you want motion, move the camera slightly during the exposure, say about in the middle of the wheel’s turning.

Oh man.

Maybe this phone will be more than I thought it was, which is to say no fun at all.

I’m not a video maker, but I did test the phone during Hurricane Ida. For the fist 30 seconds or so I didn’t know how to turn on the microphone. For the next 30 seconds you can hear what it sounds like. It’s very scary.

Try it sometime.

T

he real experiment was in the camera rather than in post production.

The camera over exposed the scene. It’ll do that when it’s trying to capture detail in the deep shadows.

That’s any easy fix.

It happens with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Digital cameras of all types want to open up the shadows.

That’s great if you are making a RAW file. You have control of everything. Not so much using a smart phone.

In all cases you should darken the file in development. Once I did that all those reds and oranges popped out.

There wasn’t much to do after that.

You are looking at the results of what turns out to be a really important experiment.