Magenta dreams.

D

reams came to me last night or early this morning. They were about this place. Sorta. In my dream everything was dusty, sort of a tannish brown. It was hard to breath without a mask. People were getting sick in the dusty atmosphere.

It doesn’t a weatherman to know which way this wind blows. We are all worrying about Delta-X. In Louisiana a lot of the hospitals are already full. So too, in many other states. There is some concern about my working in September. I’d like to.

I’m pretty sure that many other people are thinking this way as well. We are getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Eventually, something bad will happen, be it a huge surge or a lot of violence. We do not need either.

We need vaccinations. We need masks. We need people still keeping their distance.

I’m not sure we will defeat Covid 19 anytime soon, but we certainly can manage it if people wouldn’t stay stuck on stupid.

A

short technical lesson. This picture was made from an original that had earth tones as its core. I decided to make it magenta – pink – purple because I wanted to make it a happier picture than the one in my head.

I think it succeeds on that level.

It’s mysterious without being moody. It evokes emotions without being frightening. And, it is fairly pleasant to look at.

The basic working technique was to remove most of the tan color and replace it with something purplish and let the rest fall where it may. Doing that even created a little blue. Add some fine-tuning and the job was done.


What came before.

The city that care forgot. That’s us. New Orleans. Even as some areas are gentrified and priced out of the locals ability to buy or rent, others still languish almost 16 years after they were flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

It’s likely that many of these neighborhoods were failing long before the storm did its thing and put the final nails in their coffins.

And, that’s too bad. In this day and age of low housing stock and extreme rising costs of home ownership or rental, these flooded houses might have been able to reduce the pain.

However, these old buildings have been sitting for a long time. The city deems them unrepairable and demolishes them. I suppose that might be the way to go. But, it seems wrong to me even though I know it costs less to build something new rather than to restore and rebuild.

And, you wonder where my weird dreams come from?

Mix real life New Orleans with other real life experiences with whatever is buried in my brain and you get strange dreams.

I’ll write more about part of my dream in the next coming days. I haven’t forgotten. I can’t forget.

When I first photographed this abandoned house, the bushes and trees were green but manageable.

The next time I went back everything was overgrown. And then, the last time I returned everything was dying in place.

I haven’t been back in a while. I suspect that by now the little remaining wood of the house has started to rot. The bushes aren’t dying because they have truly been embedded themselves in the ruined building.

Photographing them is easy. It’s really just documentary work, and presenting the pictures to you.

As always.

One more thing. I’m starting to lose direction. I replied to a friend, that for me, social media has become a waste of time. It started from a question of privacy. She posted something on her blog and I started receiving ads for it here, on Storyteller.

Enough.

I’ll let you know, but I’m giving serious thought to ending Storyteller after 11 years of almost daily posting.

When I started this blog I thought it would be a way to generate work in one form or another. That hasn’t happened. I thought it would be a good way to build a community. I’ve grown a good number of readers but I never hear from you.

I read a lot of other blogs. I started looking at some of their comments. They get 80 or 90 on each post. At best, I get two or three on every other post, or something like that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s me. I don’t know what it is about me but it is me.

They say with age comes wisdom. Understanding “It’s me” is very wise. I think.


Something like art.

This little cloud drifted by. It was front lit by the sun. No matter what I did, I couldn’t quite help the image to be what I saw, so I did what you are seeing.

I tried a lot of attempts. Nothing looked right. I’ll, show you a couple in a few more lines. Sometimes, photograph goes this way. Sometimes, it’s even worse.

Anyway.

So, what did I do to these pictures? In a word, everything.

I tried all the tricks in my bag. Nothing looked very good to me.

Then, I tried pulling everything back.

See what I mean? The middle top picture of this group is about how the cloud and sky looked to my eye when I saw it. It felt weak to me.

Try as I might without going into a lot of layering, I could not bring out the colors in any way that I really liked.

So I just made it different.

To tell you the truth, the picture I like best is the really dark one on top. The big picture. It is so different that it became its own form of art.

I’m also interested inn the bottom left image. It almost looks 3-D.

What do you all think?

I made the very dark picture and thought that it had nothing to do with reality but it did look like a nice piece of art. So, I stopped before I turned the orange dark and the image would have been just a dark blob.

As I’ve written in the past sometimes I just go back and forth with certain sliders until I’ve gotten to the picture.

Obviously, I did that six times. More than six times, but these are the images that I’m showing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Don’t be stupid. Be patient. Look after each other. Look at all the clouds in the sky.


Sunlight serenade.

I try to write Storyteller sometime the night before they are actually published. As they often do, things got in the way. So, I wrote two posts in one day.

That’s hard to do.

I barely have enough to say for one post. Now, two? I’ll give it a go.

Let’s talk about New Mexico.

Let’s talk about the light. The light that every artist, who travels there, loves.

I could get all scientific on you and talk about particulates in the air, or how the rain clears every thing out and makes the light a different kind of beautiful. Or, I could talk about the high altitude.

But, but, but…

That’s all fine, but how does it feel? How did it make me feel?

It was magical to me. Early morning and late afternoon was alway spectacular. There were no useless days. Even the rare overcast day was special.

There were days that were headed towards dusk. I’d be running errands and I’d stop and find a subject for the wonderful light to illuminate.

No. I wasn’t depending on my phone. In those days I always carried a real camera. In fact, it wasn’t until my last few months there that I realized I could take pictures with my phone. Oh, I knew it. It just never occurred to me to do it.

Do I sound like I miss it?

I do. But, I doubt I’m going back to live, at least anytime soon.

That’s kind of too bad.

Ahh, the glowing Airstream trailer. I found it because it called to me. I say that sometimes about other subjects, but this time it did.

That polished aluminum was reflecting light all over the place.

I wrote a couple of times that I am playing it straight because these pictures are a kind of photojournalism.

Then it came to me. Nonsense. These are my pictures. I can do whatever I want with them. Especially since I’m pretending to be an artist.

So that’s what I did.

I made a file that is as a close to perfection as I’ll ever come. Then, I added glow, followed by the sunburst and more glow.

That did it.

Even there is no license plate to see, you can tell this is a New Mexico trailer.

Look at the propane tanks. Look to the left. You’ll see different shades of reflection. In the green area look again.

Two bullet holes.

Yep. New Mexico.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Look to the west.

We listened to a podcast this morning that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a conversation between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s not about that. Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, this is worth listening to. You’ll learn something about the two men. More importantly, you might learn something about yourself.

They discussed their fathers and how they helped them grow, or didn’t. Mostly, they didn’t. Obama’s heritage is well known. Springsteen’s not so much.

I relate to Springsteen’s story much more than Obama’s. I’ll stop there because I’m not quite really explore those depths and write about them. Let’s just say I am what I am despite my upbringing.

Springsteen did say something funny that can be taken one of two ways. He said that he dresses like a blue collar worker, but he never worked a day in his life. You can take that at face value.

Or.

You can take it the way that I did. Even though every musician that I know says they are working or that music is their job. It’s the kind of job that they love doing. In that way they have never had a job. They enjoy what they do.

Do you?

Into the sky. That’s what caught my attention. The crazy, almost exploding sky.

Look at it. Please.

It’s almost like an upside down beach with the waves leaving trails in the newly exposed sand.

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one like this.

I did what I could to make the proper exposure so that it would be easy work in post production.

I helped it a bit. The result is what you see here. For me, the real trick was to keep the buildings in silhouette while retaining just enough light on them to let them glow.

Let’s see what happen today.


Lost in nature.

Friday follies. That’s what they said years ago during a war that shall not be named. It meant that the generals held press conferences in which they lied to, and gaslight, America.

The made statements like, “In order to save the village we had to destroy it.” Does that make any sense at all?

My follies are a little different.

I do ridiculous things to what were once photographs in search of art. Sometimes I find it. Mostly, I don’t. I’m not sure about this one.

I’d like your opinions.

I’ll say that this is a plant. A Sword something or other. I started working on this one late at night. I just kept going. More about that in the other column.

There are times when I like to experiment and wander around. There are other times when I head straight to the image. No turns. No experiments. My best experiments usually come late at night when I’m tired, and my brain is off. I just react to whatever I see on the screen.

That’s a lot like I work in the street. Pure Zen. Turn off my brain and just react. Try it sometime. You might be amazed at your work. I usually am. I often wonder who took the picture. It might be so good that I’m sure it wasn’t me.

That’s what I’m after.

This image was a photograph.

Once.

I started tinkering with it. Soon it didn’t look like a photograph but it didn’t look like this.

Somewhere along the line my brain clicked off. Then, it clicked back on.

The picture was at the point that you are seeing now.

You know what I thought about?

Art that we did when we were children. Remember?

We’d color a sheet of paper with every color in the Crayon box. Then, we’d cover that in black. Finally, we’d etch out the black and make art that had colorful markings next to the black.

That’s what this looks like to me.

I made it back to my childhood.

Finally.


The sun, it exploded.

A light explosion. That’s how I was seeing things as we drove into the direct sun. This picture may not exactly be physically accurate, but it’s how we felt when sunglasses didn’t help.

I have no idea if this picture stays in the final project collection, but for now it’s in. After all, I only have three pictures. I always say that I try to make pictures that show you how the scene felt. Maybe, it’s the first two images that eventually are removed.

Who knows?

It’s way too early to start culling. And, I don’t have a project blue print. Some people say working this way doesn’t get you anywhere.

That’s one theory.

My theory is to learn everything I can about the project and let the pictures build upon themselves. With any luck, they get better and better. If that works out, this will be a helluva project considering the first picture is a show stopper.

It’s likely that the work will move backwards before I reach another peak. That’s okay. I’ll learn more that way.

There was a point in my thought process that I was going to move chronologically from New Orleans to the end of the road. I realized that I’ll learn things that may have me backtracking and side stepping.

On the other hand, the first picture that I showed you started at the very start so you never know.

That’s the best thing.

You never know.

The beginning of the end. Or, the end of the beginning.

Do you know?

I don’t.

This picture was made while we were cruising down the street. The file was completely blown out, mostly because it’s almost impossible to know the exposure while you are photographing the sun from a moving car.

I went to work in the studio. First, I brought back the details that were missing.

Next, I started adding to bring the picture closer to what I felt trying to make it.

Finally, I went a little crazy. I wanted the sun to explode because that’s what it did to me the minute I removed my sunglasses.

There you have it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest better than I do. Enjoy all the driving into the sun.


The weirds.

The scene. Bare trees lined up in an interesting shape with blue sky directly about and storm clods moving into thelocation.

You’d think that would be an easy picture to make. You’d be wrong. This picture took an act of God in post production which I’ll get to in the right hand column.

I want to talk about something a friend of mine wrote in a newsletter that he only shares with his closest friends. 2,000,000 of his closest friends.

It’s called The Lefstetz Letter. Bob, because that’s his name, used to actually work in the music industry. Now he is set of a super gadfly, reporter, op-ed page writer. He’s very well connected.

For the most part his letters are on target. But, when he is wrong, man is he wrong. As anybody does with that kind of readership, he gets attacked. But, he is praised more than vilified.

Anyway.

In his last letter he was talking about Biden and the Democrats. Let’s be clear, Bob is a hardcore lefty. He did not want Biden in the drivers seat. Many of us replied that even though Biden wouldn’t do what you (Bob) wanted him to do, he was the right guy because he knows how to move the levers of power. He knows how to repair all the damage done by the previous administration.

Yesterday he finally agreed. Biden moved so fast in his first week in office that it was hard for him not to agree. And, then he wrote this. The Democrats are finally acting like they won the election.

Yes. They are.

They pushed through the Biden relief bill while giving a nod to the Republicans by having a long and productive meeting. They tossed Twittled Dee from Georgia off of the Congressional Committees after the minority leader wanted to have a chat with her and hide behind the word unity.

This made me smile.

Being a bully isn’t needed right now. We just finished with four years of that nonsense. Being strong is needed now especially after four years of obstruction. Watch the chief instructor — McConnell — dance to another tune.

Right now his instincts are right. But, he’s still fearful of the pumpkin man. He’ll learn. There is a breath of fresh air in the halls of power. He’ll get used to it.

A funny thing happened on the way to this picture.

I couldn’t figure out the exposure. I suppose that I made it for the bluish-green light sky in the center of the picture.

That was a mistake.

It was also a driving force.

Once I developed the original file it looked terrible. The storm clouds weren’t dark enough. There was noise the size of golf balls. Try as I might I couldn’t fix this picture.

A lightbulb went off.

Why fix it when you can enhance it. Or, in this case, make it weird.

That’s what I did.

Once I got the basic file about the best that I could make it, then I went to work.

I removed the noise with a filter. I added odd tornado-looking like color to the sky. I added a glow filter twice to the overall picture. I let the trees fall into silhouette.

I was done.

A side note. This was not done in Snapseed. It’s a great app, but I needed industrial strength editing so I did everything in OnOne. It worked after four different tries and deletions.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Use all the editing tools available to you.


Big Chief another way.
Big Chief another way.

An experiment. A test. A little tinkering.

I usually leave this kind of post production for pictures of places or things that are “appropriate” for heavy manipulation. Some people do this all the time. They modify their original picture into something different. There was their intent from the minute they found the subject and pushed the button. They make their kind of art. Some work is pretty amazing. Some, not so much. But, all is fine. It’s their work. I generally see my pictures as photographs. So, I may work on them some but I leave the framework intact.

After I did the post production on the two pictures that you saw yesterday, a thought struck me. I don’t know why it didn’t in the past, except to say that cement sets very hard. I wanted to see what would happen if I used similar techniques on people. On flowers. On subjects that would normally be very pretty in color.

Like everything else, there is a little outside drive to tinker with this stuff. I was asked to participate in a showcase called “The Louisiana Photography Biennial.” I have a pretty good idea of how the curator sees my New Orleans work. But, since I have a little time before deadline, I thought I would play around a little.

This image is the result of my midnight work. It’s not quite as grungy or messed up as the battlefield pictures, but it is quite a change from the original. I’m of two minds. Mardi Gras Indians are bright and colorful by nature. Their suits are bright orange, red, green or yellow. Maybe that’s what the pictures should reflect? Or, maybe they should be slightly more personal like the picture above. I’m not sure.

What do y’all think?