Drifting in the darkness.

A single cloud.

With the face of a dog. Drifting in the early evening.

As a prelude.

To the storm to come. There are two. The big one, that I mentioned yesterday.

And, the little one, which arrived in the early morning. Within three hours it managed to dump nine inches of rain in our neighborhood. The entire city, and outlying regions, is flooded with about two or three feet of water. Even our street, which never floods, is overwhelmed. Water is up to our porch and well into our driveway. The pool is overflowing.

We had a tornado warning, a flash flood warning, a high wind advisory and a lakefront overflow warning all at once. We are a very special place.

If this keeps up, and with the big storm arriving Friday, it is very likely that the levees holding back The Mississippi River will overtop. That’ll be something. Low lying streets along the river will be flooded with I don’t know how many feet of water.

The big storm is going to make landfall as Hurricane Barry, a Category 1 storm somewhere near Lake Charles Saturday morning in the daylight hours. It will dump anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain inland. I have a very soft spot for Lake Charles. That’s where we finally made our temporary shelter after we evacuated following Hurricane Katrina. The folks there took good care of us. I wish them well. And, prayers.

That’s our story.

Have a good thought for us.


Looking into the sky.

Southern Nights.

That’s a song written by the late, great Allen Toussaint. In the live version of the song, he talks through a very long opening about what nights like the one in this picture meant to him. After a week like we just had, looking up and seeing this meant the world. To me.

No. All is not right in the world. Climate change is here and real. Our government is a mess. My country is as divided as it has ever been. We are becoming isolated and at the same time involved in international wars.

I looked up. I saw this sky. This tree. Everything felt better. I know that this really doesn’t change anything. Change takes work. Nature plays no favorites. But, seeing this took the weight off. For just a few minutes. But, that’s enough. For now.

The picture. Oh, I really have to laugh. A friend of mine stumbled onto some of my nature pictures. Make no mistake. I am not a nature photographer. At least not in the sense the great ones are. But, he was impressed enough to ask how I make these pictures. He almost fell on the ground, rolling around laughing when I told him. I said, “First, I walk into the my yard…”

My “nature” work is very easy to make. I don’t travel a million miles into the hinterlands. I don’t climb the highest mountain. I don’t swim the deepest sea.

I just go outside and look around.

A little southern fall weather.
A little southern fall weather.

Yes. I’m still doing the Halloween thing. I’ll work a good part of the evening tonight and again tomorrow night on all things seasonal. But, I was sort of boring myself with spooky stuff. I can just imagine how you feel. So, I thought how about a seasonal picture of a different sort? I saw this scene glowing in low sunset light and decided this would do it. It’s our kind of fall. Fall without much of a chill in the air. Fall that is still humid. Fall the can be downright hot. But, it’s our fall.

Did I mention that for the last two days, we’ve set high temperature records? That’s saying something. Even here.

This picture. I saw the scene pretty much they way I’m showing it to you. This is phrased carefully. Very carefully. Did I actually see the physical scene this way? Or did I see this version in my head? You decide.

In fact, I’m being very conservative in post production these days. Seems like everybody upgraded almost all the software that I use. There are videos to watch and little arrows to click on. These things are supposed to teach me, and keep me from sending a million emails. There is one question that nobody can answer. Why, oh why, do all the names for the various tools have to be changed when they were just fine in earlier versions of the software? And, why does everything have to be reorganized when most of us have finally just memorized the locations of the tools that we us? Wait. That’s two questions. Sorry about that.

I have the answer to those two questions. The software companies won’t admit it, but their engineers need something to do. How else can they justify the high prices that they charge us?

Driver's eye view on the Crescent City Connection.
Driver’s eye view on the Crescent City Connection.

After working for a couple of hours on Algiers Point it was time to go home. I felt photographically fulfilled. That’s pretty much the whole point, isn’t it?

Since the golden light seemed to just crash into the ground, we left the Westbank before darkness actually arrived. As usual, I propped the camera on the dashboard and pushed the button. No, no, no. I don’t raise the camera to my eye. I just set everything on auto-something and let the camera do its thing.

In order to help orient you, the Central Business District and the French Quarter is on the right. We are heading to the left side of the picture toward Uptown once we get off the bridge. In case you are wondering, this is the Crescent City Connection on Sunday evening. Normally, it’s a parking lot around the time we passed over it. That probably would have been better… if you are trying to make pictures. Most people are just trying to go somewhere.


A change is gonna come.

Before we hit the road again, I did a lot of work in The Lower 9th Ward and in a bit of the 7th Ward. One of my favorite abandoned houses in the 7th Ward is starting to be demolished from neglect. The second story fell off. Into the street. The entire second story was laying in the street when I passed by. Of course I stopped and took a few pictures. Well, more than a few pictures. I guess part of a building laying in the street will get the fine folks in city government to actually do something. Or not. What am I thinking? The is New Orleans. Not.

Bonfires along the Mississippi River... in Lutcher, Louisiana.
Bonfires along the Mississippi River… in Lutcher, Louisiana.
Lots and lots of firecrackers are added to the wood.
Lots and lots of firecrackers are added to the wood.
Crowds watch as the bonfire burns in an effort to guide Papa Noel down rive to New Orleans.
Crowds watch as the bonfire burns in an effort to guide Papa Noel down river to New Orleans.

I did the very thing I hoped not to do. But between last night’s trip upriver and today’s Christmas events, I have a suffered a relapse. A bad one. But, since I’m a generous guy, I shared. Now pretty much everybody has it in varying degrees. Luckily, one of our newest visitors is a retired nurse. That’s the good news. The bad news is her former speciality. She’s a surgical and scrub nurse. I’m counting on one thing.That she knows which end the thermometer goes in into me.

I’m showing you these pictures because I’m proud of last night’s work. The environment was a little hard to work around. Aside from the overall coldness, we had a lot of rain this week. That meant that the levee edges were soft, spongy and slippery.

The picture. I think my brain was functioning much better than it is tonight, but between being ill and working in pretty bad conditions, I’m amazed that I and such a good yield. I’ll tell you more about how I did it. But, right now I’m just hoping that I don’t plant my face on the keyboard.

Breaking news. I just pushed the spell check button. Either it isn’t working or I should work more often when I’m not sure where I am. No errors were found.

The St. Louis Cathedral has become a magical place for me, especially when I am chasing light and weather.
The St. Louis Cathedral has become a magical place for me, especially when I am chasing light and weather.

I’ve always considered The St. Louis Cathedral to be dead center in New Orleans. I don’t mean that geographically. Nor, do I mean it historically. There are probably places that are really the center of both of those attributes. It is just the heart of things. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in The French Quarter. And, the French Quarter is the biggest tourist attraction in New Orleans. While it is true that I send visitors to just about every place but The French Quarter because I don’t like to see people limit themselves to just this one place, I have to admit visiting The Quarter is really why they came. For me, when I am out and about in The Quarter, I generally take the time to see how the light is playing off of the cathedral.

And, a little later today I’ll be there again. This time, to pay my respects to Lindy Boggs, who passed last weekend at 97. For those of you who don’t know her or her name, just go to Wiki and take a look. You will be very impressed. Although, I’m very sorry at her passing, I’m not deeply saddened because I only met her once. But, I have friends who deeply mourn her passing. Being there for them is the least I can do. I’m still trying to decide if I will attend the mass, but you can be sure that I will photograph the second line parade because… you know why. 🙂 The work is the prayer. 

This picture? Ah gee. I turned it inside out in post production to make it say what I wanted it to say. The light was right. The clouds were right. I just wanted to make the place look to you as I saw it. Magical. 

Mardi Gras or not, people are still asking for beads on Bourbon Street.
Mardi Gras or not, people are still asking for beads on Bourbon Street.

After I started thinking about it, I realized a pretty steady diet of photographing broken stuff was getting a little depressing. Not being one to wallow in that, I made a change. I realized that we hadn’t been to The French Quarter in quite a while. So, even though it was Saturday night, that’s where we went. There is nothing like dinner and a walk in The Quarter during mid-summer. After all, where can you eat and then take a free sauna… while you are walking. No spa has that. You can’t buy that experience. I also wanted to photograph people, so we headed to Bourbon Street where every night is Mardi Gras. I wasn’t disappointed. There was one big crowd. They were screaming for beads. I had a funny exchange with some woman who was asking for beads. It went like this. Woman: “Why are you taking my picture?” Me: “You are in my picture.” Woman: “Oh.” And, then we both started laughing.

While we were walking around, I thought that The Quarter was pretty busy, especially for mid-summer when we are “out of season” because of the heat and humidity. But, after a while, I thought about it. I never park in a lot. I sort of have a route that I follow through the streets when I look for parking. Normally, that takes about 10 or 15 minutes. No big deal. Last night it took like three minutes. That’s not a good sign. It could have been luck. But, not on a saturday night. Sure. Tourists either take public transportation or have their cars stored by their hotel, but you can see those lots when you walk around. None were full.  Or, even close to it. And, the taxis were relentless… meaning they weren’t getting enough fares.

Anyway. This is supposed to be what I do. Make pictures of people. But, you wouldn’t know it from the last 3,549,715 posts on Storyteller. Yeah. I made this picture with a 16mm lens. So. How close was I?

The levee along The Mississippi River.
The levee along The Mississippi River.

I written a lot about making pictures from the levee that protects us from an overflowing Mississippi River. Or, from a serious storm surge. But, I’ve never actually shown you a picture. So. Here it is. I’m sure it’s not quite what you thought. It’s a very broad, slightly angled wall that runs along both sides of the river for at least 60 miles. You can walk on the top of it in most places. There are some places where you cannot. The Avondale Shipyards comes to mind as an example of that. But, that’s on The Westbank. On the Eastbank, where most of Orleans Parish is located, you can walk, or ride your bike for about 50 miles. In some places the path is gravel. In others, its paved. This particular place happens to be in Algiers Point. I made this picture on the night of the amazing sky.

Oh. One more thing. Before you start thinking these levees failed during the storm known as Hurricane Katrina, the river levees never breached or overtopped. What did fail were the canal walls within the city, which were never properly constructed.

One of the reasons that tourists come to New Orleans is to visit The French Quarter. And one of the reasons they go to The French Quarter is Bourbon Street.
One of the reasons that tourists come to New Orleans is to visit The French Quarter. And one of the reasons they go to The French Quarter is Bourbon Street, and the craziness that goes on there.

Craziness? Did I just write that in the caption? The scene depicted in this picture is mild. This is Bourbon Street, where tourists come to play. You know how they say, “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.’ Yeah, well… Las Vegas has nothing on Bourbon Street. The funny thing is that many of the people who come here to do what they would never even think about doing at home, don’t even know that there is another New Orleans. The real one. Well, a couple of real ones actually. Before I go on a rant, I’ll stop. It’s a bright, sunny day. We are in between summer storms. That’s enough to make anybody smile. It’s also about 90 degrees with a humidity factor of about 80%. That’s not a dry heat.

The picture? It’s just a moment. A Bourbon Street moment. I gave the lady on trike, a buck. She gave me a hug and let me take a bunch of pictures. It made both of our days. Oh yeah. This was made early in the evening. There are two ways to tell. The first is the quality of the light. The second, the crowd. They are still sober enough to clear a path of the trike lady. What can I say? It’s Bourbon Street. What happens here stays… or something like that.