The long night.

A little more magic.

That’s what I saw when I was developing this picture. I didn’t quite know what I had when I pressed the button. But, after… wow!

In many ways, This image reverts back to a style I used in the late 1990’s. Tilted. Skewed. A little motion. And, very bold colors. I kept my sense of color and moved on from the other stuff as times changed.

But, every now and then…

So.

The corticosteroid injection that I had on Wednesday seems to be working. While I was walking the dog who sees stuff, I experienced something strange. Something I hadn’t felt in a while.

No pain.

Instead, there was an emptiness (if that’s the right word) where there was always something buzzing in the background. We walked, and stood and walked a little more. No pain. For the first time in months.

If my doctors are right, and if what I read about this is correct, I might actually be pain free from this particular issue for the next six months, when it might be time for another injection. I am not sure how this relates to my stenosis issues. It could be that relieving the inflammation in one area of the leg reduces the it down the line. I guess that I’ll find out.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am.


It’s the balloons.

They flew once.

Now they have been caught in a tree’s branches where they will likely deflate and die. Was this an accident? Or, were they launched? Probably those of us who didn’t see where the balloons rose from will never know.

I do know this.

I went to my doctor yesterday. You know my ailments so I won’t backtrack and waste your time. There are two additional issues. One is fairly simple. Bursitis. I had a corticosteroid injection and I should be feeling better sometime his weekend.

The other.

Not so simple. As we age internal body parts change. Sometimes they calcify, like my vertebrae which actually doesn’t cause me any direct pain. Sometimes they narrow, like arteries which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Sometimes narrowing occurs in the spine. That’s called stenosis.

That’s what I have. It’s brought on, in part, by age. Arthritis doesn’t help. And, there may be some genetics involved.

Essentially, inside of the spine there is what amounts to a tube. It’s wider at the top and narrows as it gets to my tailbone. Inside of the tube there are nerves. Stenosis occurs when the tube narrows so much that the walls are pressing on the nerves.

My symptoms confirm it. There are times when my hamstrings feel so tight that I can’t stretch them. Sometimes, I have this weird feeling that my feet aren’t touching the ground. Eventually, it passes. Until the next time.

There is a repair. Surgery. Before you say oh no, not back surgery, this isn’t that. The work isn’t done by an orthopedic surgeon. It is done by a neurologist. It’s minimally invasive. It’s done in the office as an outpatient procedure. I can even drive myself home. I would be back in business within a week. Business means walking and hunting for pictures.

Sounds pretty good, yes?

There is a condition. There’s always a condition.

I have to wait until it gets worse, which could be next week, next month or next year. There is a timing issue issue which means we have to catch the pain at the right time.

Between the bursitis issue and stenosis treatment most of my pain should be taken care of within a reasonable time.

The good news is that I rarely have back pain. My Mardi Gras pain was transient in nature. I was feeling a little better before I saw my doctor. The lack of back pain makes me a prime candidate for a successful outcome of the stenosis procedure.

As my doctor said, you often hear people talk about major surgery as a procedure. It’s not. It’s surgery. What I will eventually have done is a procedure.

Thank you all for your concern and good wishes. I promised you that I would keep you in the loop. I try to always keep my promises.

Too much information? Probably. But, you asked.


As dusk arrives.

“As pieces of cloud dissolve in the sunlight.” — Rumi

When I saw this and made the picture I didn’t know what I had. What a wonderful scene as nature created it. I just had to let it find me. That was the hard part. The easy part was pushing the button.

Call it what you want, but this is the best way to make pictures. The pictures are usually pretty good because I had nothing to do with them.

This is also why I try to teach my travelling photographers friends not to run around from one place to another trying to see what they can see. Instead, I suggest that they should camp out for a while in place like a coffee house or bar or cafe and just watch the world go by. A picture will stumble past.

I also suggest that if they are going to be in one location for a week or so that they return to the place they settled into earlier. Other daily patrons will see you, chat for a few minutes and get to know you. When you tell them what you are doing they might have some locations that they see with a local’s eyes.

If you do something like this, think of the pictures you might bring home. They won’t be like every tourist pictures. They won’t be postcard-like. They will be uniquely yours. Let me be clear, sometimes you have to work through the touristy and postcardy pictures to come out on the other side. At least, those won’t be your best selects.

When I decided to publish this picture, I had no idea where my words would take me. Funny how being in the moment allows for a lot of spontaneous thought and creativity.


As the setting sky lights up the sky.

Wonderful light.

We don’t also have it, but when we do, you can see it coming before it arrives. During the winter months if you have a rain that stops falling before dusk this is almost always happens. Not so much in the summer, when the humidity lingers and turns the blue skies into a sort of dull gray. And, that’s without clouds.

For me, this a perfect end to any kind of day. It’s like hanging out with a cocker spaniel. It makes everything better. They paid me to say that. Since they don’t have any money, they paid me in biscuits. Lucky me.

Let’s start out gently for the work week. I’m sure by the end of it we’ll be grumbling about one thing or the other.


Getting ready.

I had big plans.

Heh!

If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

My hip started hurting really badly yesterday evening. I took as much oral pain medication as I could. I added a Lidocaine patch and a topical NSAID. Nothing worked. I went to sleep thinking that usually helps. I awoke and I was no better. I called my doctor. They are closed for Mardi Gras.

So.

I did what I never do. Never say never, they say.

I gave up. I can’t walk enough to make any reasonable pictures. This doesn’t bode well for the future.

We’ll just have to see.

Happy Fat Tuesday. And, stuff.


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.