Inside out.

W

hen I awoke, I was feeling confused. Something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.The feeling passed. I let it go.

It came back when I started working. I still couldn’t place it.

I played some music. Music is magic. I takes me to other places. It inspires me. It centers me. And, if I’m lucky, it clarifies my thoughts.

That’s what it did.

I don’t know why I selected an album called “Age of Miracles,” by Mary-Chapin Carpenter. The backstory is complicated. It was her first album after leaving Columbia. It was her first album after she recovered from two pulmonary embolisms. It was the first album after her divorce.

I don’t listen to it often because she seems confused. She’s trying to break free of her country reputation, yet she falls back on it. She does sing one of the saddest songs in the word called, “I have a need for solitude.”

But, it caught me. I realized what I was missing.

And, it made me very sad.

I’ll work small to larger. You’ll understand. And, you’ll understand this picture.

I miss Sophie Rose terribly. We have other dogs, but Sophie chose me. I was her person. I feel like I let her down. I know that I didn’t. After a lot of reading, it’s very possible that she had been coming to her end for couple of months. It was just her time. But, that may give me a pass, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Then, there is my CLL, a blood cancer. It likely will never do anything terrible to me. But, it limits me. My CoVid-19 vaccinations do nothing for me. That means, no festivals, no second lines, no Indian events, no Mardi Gras.

If that isn’t depressing enough, we are back to wearing masks because our infection rate, like most of the country has grown by about 150%

Being in my condition of combined illness, sadness and depression makes it very hard to work. I can’t seem to let a picture find me and I can’t work. I have all sorts of projects that could take the rest of the year or more. You’d think I’d be excited to get started.

What do I do? I sleep.

When I finally start my day, I find everything to do but work.

In a word, it sucks.

I wish I knew the path. Maybe I’ll get lucky and stumble onto it. I doubt that. It’s bigger than letting a picture find me. It’s all of me.

Writers give advice about being authentic. Is this authentic enough?

F

or us, down in the swamp, late summer is already approaching. It’s gotten hot. It’s turned dry.

Stuff is dying.

I took a walk with a couple of the other dogs. They need walks too. I was looking for a picture. Or, was open to letting one find me.

No pictures because there is no color. The flowers die in the heat.

It’s also hard to stay motivated because after five minutes you are too hot. After ten minutes your shirt blooms with sweat.

The dogs felt it too. They were ready to turn around after they did what they needed to do.

So, that’s the technique. Walk until you can’t. Make a picture of whatever you see and return home.

The picture suits my mood.

In that way, I suppose I was successful. Or, not.


Crossisngs.

All you need to know is in the headline. I had an interesting day. It occurred to me just how common the threads that bind us together really are.

We all seem to forget that.

There has been an ongoing and emotional discussion in one of the photographers groups to which I belong. In many ways it was annoying. The group’s founder was trying to understand why a certain genre mattered. I’ll leave out exactly what for obvious reasons.

Once it got going it really got going. There were some 400 comments before they were shut down because one of the moderators had to leave so she could prepare for four classes that she was reaching.

I’d like to say that the usual suspects squared off, but that wouldn’t be accurate. The usual extremists did battle, but the rest of us just talked.

It eventually evolved into old white men being blamed for holding back the marginal photographers. That’s where I left the discussion before I said something that would come back to bite me in the butt.

I’m an old white guy. I worked very hard to get where I am. In two years I will hit the 50 year mark as a working photographer. It wasn’t easy. When it should have gotten easier it got harder through no fault of anybody unless a virus is a person.

The loudest person is a woman who is beyond a feminist. I’m a feminist. I don’t really know what she is, but when I get ready to engage somebody like her I have a look at who she is in real life.

She’s young. She takes pictures. By now you know the difference between taking and making pictures. If you are unclear still, she isn’t very good in any genre. She wants to be championed because she is on the margins.

Screw that. Work hard. Get good. And, everyone will champion you. A while back photographers like her declared themselves to be the founding women of photography.

This didn’t sit well with one of the best photojournalists working today. A woman. She started asking all of us, her colleagues, to name women with whom we’ve worked that were older than the current crop.

I’ve managed a couple of photo departments. I’ve managed regional photographers of the year. I’ve managed two Pulitzer Prize winners. All of them women.

Sheesh. One of the Pulitzer winners covered the downfall of the Soviet Union for The Associated Press. She’s Russian and speaks the language. I’m pretty sure that she managed me while working for me. That was a good thing.

I tossed their names in the ring. Pretty soon there were over 600 women photojournalists who came well before the current crop.

If you disagree with the way pictures are made within a certain genre of photography, that’s fine. Speak loud and clear. But, for God’s sake don’t complain about being on the outside as part of that discussion.

That’s a different discussion.

That’s a discussion that people like me can offer you some tough love. If you don’t fight it, maybe you’ll get good. Or, at least, you’ll understand the hard work and effort that it takes to get good.

Sometimes contrasts are a good thing. Sometimes they aren’t.

Apparently, I’m having real problems with yellows. Or, rather, my phone’s sensor is having problems.

This time I set it to make an HDR picture. That should have settled down the contrast issues.

I didn’t.

I did the best that I could to tone things down. This is where I managed to finish.

This group of flowers are interesting. They bloom at the wrong time of year. They die at the wrong time of year.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I’m seeing things at the wrong time of year.

Who knows?

I should just leave this behind, but I want to talk about the right hand column.

Ansel Adams once said that your first 10,000 pictures are your worst ones. He also said that if he made ten good pictures in a year he had a great year.

To me, it seems that the loudest complainers are the ones that don’t want to put the work in. Making 10,000 pictures takes a long time if what you really want to photograph 10,000 subjects.

Time?

That takes too much time. Often, they want it now.

Ten great pictures in a year? Huh? Maybe ten great pictures in an hour is what they want.

I dunno. Remember, I’m an old white guy. I’m the one who is supposed to be privledged.

Of course I am. That’s historically, not photographically.

Think about that.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every day because there are no useless days.


As the leaves come tumbling down.

Things change.

Life changes. Seasons change, but they are cyclical. For sure, there are four seasons. Our winter usually isn’t very cold. Our summers are unbearably hot. The transition seasons, spring and fall, do what they are supposed to do. They just come earlier and later than most places.

Once you understand that, things get easier. I suppose that’s about like other of life’s changes. Trying to act and do things you did them when you were young often doesn’t work out so well. You adjust. You carry on. Supposedly, as you get older wisdom overtakes knowledge. I haven’t seen that yet. With me.

Of course, we live in dangerous times. What was wise once doesn’t hold now. Maybe things will revert closer to normal, but we all know that even if a sense of calm returns, it will be different than it was in the past. That’s okay. We made a lot of mistakes getting here. If we learn from those mistakes we’ll come out a little ahead.

The picture. The coolest thing about the digital world of photography are the LCDs. You can rotate them. You can turn them. You can use them to see what you couldn’t see in the past when you just pushed the shutter release button hoping for a good outcome.

That’s how I made this picture. The camera was almost on the ground. But, I could see what I was doing.

The post production was interesting. I worked the picture for longer than normal. It got brighter and the color was turning electric. That wasn’t what I wanted. I used another approach and almost flipped the color over making the picture look like a negative.  I brought back some of the color and made sure that everything was in sharp focus.

Viola!

No, no, no. Not walla.

 


Cold weather days.

Finally.

Autumn looks like it is suppose to look. Leaves falling. Bushes turning. Flowers dying.

After months of complaining about the heat, cool and cold weather finally arrived. How cool? How cold? The last cold front brought us into the 40s and highs in the 50s. We will warm up a little into the high 60s over the weekend. Cold front number two blows in. This time the lows are predicted tp be in the 30s and the highs in the mid-40s.

For some of you that’s nothing. But, I can’t remember weather this cold in November since I’ve lived in this state. I don’t know what that means for the real winter months, but there’s an old southern saying that is along the lines of “when it’s cold in November, winter remembers in December.” I heard that for the first time today.

That’s a chilling thought.


Winter color.

More cold.

The few blooming flowers are no more. They don’t like the cold temperatures. They pass into another world. The world of compost. The world of endings. This happens before their seeds are passed from flower to flower. There are no flying insects to do that job.

They do another job. They catch my eye. I’m not that important. They catch everybody’s eye. That’s more important. They give us all a break from the winter drabness. I can’t imagine living where some of you live. Where you have a five month winter of cold and snow.

I complain about our hot, humid summers. At least they are bright and colorful. Until the end, when even the greenest of leaves look washed out and faded.

They say that cold winters are better than hot summers. That you can pile on the clothes. I’m not sure about that. Even with our mild cold, it takes me ten minutes to prepare. I suppose that I’m used to it, but I’d rather change my clothes and take more showers than prepare to take a walk.

Anyway.

The picture. At this time a year my eyes are drawn to bright spots, whether they are blooming or dying. I try to make a picture that reflects a flower’s life. In this case, it’s almost a macro picture so that you can see the state of the flower.

It took a little work in post, mostly to hyper-sharpen the details without making the picture go crazy with a sharpening rim. The best method is to darken the picture, increase the contrast to way more than normal and work backwards from there in small steps. It may not look it, but this image is the result of about 15 tiny steps. One of the markers that I look for is in the shadows. They are light enough to give you a hint of what is lurking there.

At the end of the day, I am balancing deep shadows with bright highlights after making the picture too dark and too contrasty in the first place. There is probably a more efficient way of getting there, but what would be the fun in that?


Leaves Passing
Leaves Passing

To everything there is a season. A Biblical passage. A song that Bob Dylan wrote. A song that The Byrds made famous.

Right now, I just call the season fall. Autumn. It’s my favorite time of year to work away from an urban environment, which in this case, just means working in a park. I decided to take a long walk this morning. I’ve been hanging out inside for the past couple of days nursing something like stomach flu. No. Not Ebola. Stomach flu. I was depressing myself. I knew that the cure for my mood, if my head cleared, was to take a walk. I did that. An almost  three hour walk. I know what you’re thinking. Too much. Too soon. Nah. I sort of sauntered along, stopping to take pictures when the picture struck me. Or, the mood struck me.

These are the resulting pictures.

Not much to say about them except that I’m testing some new processing software call Capture One, which is made by Phase One. The company is very, very high-end. Usually, their software is used for tethering a camera to a computer while a photographer is taking pictures for some company like Tiffany. Most people know the name, Photoshop. They don’t know Phase One. It’s not ubiquitous. When people ask about photo manipulation they say something like, “Is it Photoshopped?” They don’t ask, “Is it Phase Oned?” The basic software makes images that are processed about as well as they can be. The highlights are creamy. The shadows are charcoal-like. The mid-tones are nice and full.

Ooooooh.

At The End
At The End

Coming Apart
Coming Apart