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.


Nature’s colorful light.

Have I ever told you how I make this kind of picture? It’s not quite as directed as you think. I usually do this kind of post production at night, usually while we are watching something like the local news.

Since I don’t need to see the video, which is usually boring, I work on a picture using my phone and Snapseed. So, I have about a half hour to finish my work.

Early on this was a push. Now that I’ve learned the software, I move a lot quicker. A half hour is usually enough time.

I’ll talk about how I created this picture over there on the right hand side.

The why of it is a discussion for right here.

I suppose that I see spring as a cacophony of color. I see nature working her magic with a color wheel. I realize this picture might look a little Christmasy to some of you, but I don’t plan the colors when I see them.

They just are.

I think it’s important to look closer at the image so that you can really see all the colors and how they drive the final work.

Promise me that you’ll do that. Won’t you?

Stay safe. That’s it. I read a lot this morning about the virus. The pandemic will morph into an endemic. That’s a viral condition of permanence. It’ll be like a common cold or seasonal flu… someday.

It’s likely that we will never reach herd immunity. Ever. In The United States that’s on us because some people are too concerned with their own freedom rather than doing something for the good of many.

In many parts of the world, like India, that’s also on us because although we have a glut of vaccine we won’t share with other countries. That matters. A safe world is a safe country.

Making a picture like this is always an experiment. Even though I usually create the work in about thirty minutes, I back in and out of looks and feelings.

Working quickly has its benefits. I don’t think too much about what I’m doing. I just do it.

There are three layers that make up the image. There are two layers of greens and blues and a third layer of reds.

The order in which they are layered matters. Red comes last because the second layer of cool toned colors will bury the red.

That completed, I work to fine tune it. I’m careful with the sliders called structure and sharpness. Too much of either in both directions and pieces of the image disappear.

I wish I could tell you when to stop, but this is one of those things that are, “You’ll know it when you see it.”

You’ll see it. I promise you.


Over and over.

Art or not, I like this photograph. It was the last of the New Mexico pictures that I was showing you earlier. I decided to make it into something more after claiming that my PAD pictures were akin to photojournalism.

So, I held it back.

It’s been living on my desktop staring at me, reminding me, nagging me. The image won. They always do.

I’ll discuss how I made it on the other side, the right hand column.

Under the heading of all the news that fits, there are some things going in the city that are scary.

There has been a rise in violent crime of 50% year to year. Shootings are up by 23%. There have been 12 shootings on upper Bourbon Street near or on Canal Street in the last two weeks.

One shooting was big enough that I read about it in the London newspapers. It was national news. You probably didn’t read about it because it’s likely there was another mass shooting the next day.

Somewhere.

Talk about a short news cycle.

Granted, the French Quarter is a touristy place, but the 100 and 200 blocks of Bourbon Street are gangland. There are armed wannabe thugs hanging out there, especially at night and the early morning.

If you are visiting stay away from there. Besides, there isn’t much to see.

The city’s response is to add another 150 cops there. That’s understandable because tourism is the city’s lifeblood. But what about other neighborhoods, of which the Quarter is just one?

In my hood we pay for armed private police. Most of them are former military and some are former M.P.s. No, they weren’t working in English parliament, they were military police.

They are armed, but they can’t apprehend anyone. They can put the cuffs on someone, but they have to call the NOPD in order to make an arrest.

I feel relatively safe right now. Most strangers are transients. They are either tourists taking pictures or people just passing by.

Right now nobody is passing by. Our street is finally being repaired. The construction crew thought the best way to fix it was to tear it all up. The street is all dirt with holes everywhere as the city pipes are being repaired to replaced.

As messy as it is, that’s a good thing. And, they are ahead of schedule, The original plan was to begin work in 2032. There are a lot of political and business heavyweights who use and live on the street. The former mayor’s aunt lived there.

What do you think happened?

His aunt was 82. She passed before any of the work began.

I was afraid that with the original schedule, the same thing would happen to me. I suppose that it still could.

And, so it goes.

Balloons floating through the air in the quiet of early morning.

That wasn’t enough so I added a foreground.

That still wasn’t enough so I added what picture editing apps call bokeh. I think they are just round circles that have been softened so that the fit into the picture.

Besides, bokeh is something else entirely. It’s the quality of the out of focus area of the picture.

For a while it was a really big deal. Brand new photographers were trying to take bokeh pictures. Others were discussing how to add it when it didn’t exist in the picture.

The conversation turned silly, even though the very best out of focus areas are creamy, but in which you can still recognize the shapes.

I have friends in Japan. The word bokeh is Japanese, but they said nobody uses it there.

Oh well.

Another western appropriation shot to hell.

Anyway.

After I added all of that, I fine tuned and tinkered a bit. Finally, I was done. So was the picture.

The picture has a sort of explosive quality to it, don’t you think?

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Float around in all the air.


Jones.

I did a lot in the past 24 hours.

I redesigned Storyteller to make it cleaner and a lot more website-like. I decided to start publishing more art and less pictures from the past.

I have to think about photographing second lines whenever they resume.

I did that for a long time. Sometimes a project ends after you realize you’ve done about all you could.

And.

I did what I said I would do.

I dropped out of social media. I didn’t eliminate my accounts because I do need to monitor somethings about once every two weeks and Storyteller is distributed to Facebook and Twitter. I just won’t be there to see if anybody likes my work. I kind of don’t care.

This is a one day at a time project. With luck, one day will turn into two, two will turn into a week, weeks will turn into months and I’ll have accomplished a lot more than I’ve done in a long, long time.

That started today. I completed two projects that I’ve been nibbling at. I have one more to go and I am free to do whatever I’d like today. Maybe I’ll finish up this website.

We’ll just see how this goes.

Art is a funny thing. It means something different to everybody who looks at it.

After all, we know that no matter what I do as an artist it’s up to the viewer to make meaning of it, bringing his or her entire history into the image.

That’s why I don’t really care what people think of this work on Facebook, or Instagram.

That said, here’s what I did to the picture.

After I made the picture, I darkened it in post production. Then, I layered it with those big leaves at the top. Finally, I ran it through the grunge setting on Snapseed.

the caption is called Jones, not because I’m jonesing for something, or because of the singer. The manhole cover was made by a company called Jones.

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


Of the past.

I like the caption better than I like the headline. Okay, the title. The base image is of the past.

It’s a long story, but many, many years ago, my Dad thought that he wanted to work as a watch maker. Like me, he lacked the patience to do that kind of meticulous work. That’s why I’m not a studio photographer.

I don’t fuss over every detail. I let the picture find me. I let the picture tell me how to make it. I’ve made some fine pictures. And, sometimes I wonder what I was thinking. Or, not thinking.

I’ll tell you more about the picture over there in the right hand column.

Finding those tool images felt just about right. I’ve been going through a journey through my past lately. That may account for some of my dreams. It certainly is a coming to terms with things I did or didn’t do long ago.

You know, my own reckoning.

Weird scenes inside the goldmine. That could be this picture.

As I was writing this I turned on a Spotify play list called 1969’s Top 200 Albums.

It’s a strange mix. It goes from some very eclectic jazz to songs by the Doors and Beatles.

“This is the End” by The Doors started playing. That’s where “weird scenes” line came from.

Makes good sense. This picture is a pretty weird scene.

There’s all sorts stuff going on in it. All made by the magic of layering four pictures.

There’s the tools. There are leaves. There is a tree. And finally some flowers all tucked into the picture somewhere.

This is one of those pictures that comes under the heading of I don’t know what was thinking. This time that’s a positive because I kind of like it.


Sometimes just the sky.

It’s a great day for experiments. Rainy. Kind of cold. We’ve had a lot of rain since yesterday. Supposedly, there are three or four more inches on the way.

So, I used a new app. I’ve used it once in the past. I’ll get into the technical aspects of that on the right hand column.

With all the rain, I needed something to counteract that on Storyteller. This picture just about does that. It’s bright. It’s gauzy. And, there’s a lot of yellow. The photograph, if that’s what this is, moves from darkness to light, at least for peoples who read from left to right.

Even thought there’s been a lot of stupidity as the pandemic seems to be getting managed, that’s what this picture might mean. We are headed into the light.

Or, if you are if you are cynical like me, moving into the light could mean the end. You know what people say when they have died and came back because it wasn’t their time yet.

I think I’ll choose the first option, mostly because I’m not ready to go just yet. There’s a lot of work to be done. And, I want to help.

I know that you want to help too.

Amiright?

So. The app. It turns the image into all sorts of colors. The original photograph was monochromatic, even with the golden arches in the background.

If that wasn’t enough, I added a setting from OnOne that made those globes, which are supposed to be bokeh.

It’s really not bokeh. Bokeh, an often misused Japanese word that Japanese people don’t use, refers to the quality of the out of focus parts of an image.

Usually, that’s found in the background. You want something that’s soft and creamy with some shape.

Once I completed that, added a border. I had something mid-way between a photograph and something else.


Oooooh no, Mr. Bill.

I broke a picture. It slipped out of my hands and dropped on the floor. It was just a flimsy digital file of about 36 mp.

That’ll happen.

Seriously, there is no way to do that. Digital files are made of ones and zeros. They don’t exist physically. I suppose you could destroy one in a computer or erase one from a hard drive. But drop one?

Nooooooo.

Since I’m searching for the way forward I thought it would be a good idea to test some new software. If it’s for a phone it is usually free up to a point. Then, you have to pay for anything further. Sometimes I do, mostly I don’t.

This software is called Lumli. It’s okay, but I wouldn’t use it that often so I didn’t buy the rest of it.

The picture says more than you see. To me it’s about the globe and just how fractured we all are. There’s also hope because it draws together in the center. The trees may be barren for now. But there will be new growth.

I hope.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t think that your jabs are going to totally protect you. Enjoy every experiment.

Testing. That’s a big part of Storyteller. I want to know what works, what doesn’t, and what’s close enough for work arounds.

This blog is how I learn. There are other ways, but this is a big part of it.

One other way is to post on Instagram and let the picture be shared to Facebook.

However.

Never follow the crowd. I suppose that I could have a huge amount of hearts and likes if I did what everybody else does.

Instead, test pictures. In my case, I want to have an idea of what viewers and readers like.

It’s not that I need the validation. I want to know because I’d like to have a salable archive. In a way, it’s disappointing.

Every scene is predictable.

I’ve made the pictures in better and different light, at an odd time of day or from a different view point.

I’ve known this for a while. There are eight to ten locations that buyers want. They are fairly well known.

If I photographed them seasonally I might never have to photograph them again since the scenes don’t change.

What would be the fun in that?


All the color in one place.

Color. That always makes me smile especially as we cruise into the weekend. I need a little color. I’m guessing that you might too.

Besides color, I need music. Not the usual stuff we listen to around here. I need a playlist that Spotify assembled. It’s called, “Echoes of the Canyon.” It’s about that time.

That time in California when all things seemed possible. The time when I was young, fresh and maybe a bit naive.

It sure seemed fun back then.

The Canyon refers to Laurel Canyon. During the 1960s and early 1970s music flowed from there. I could name names, but there are so many. Bands were formed there. Music was written there. Music was made there. The stories are lost in the haze.

I’ll tell you this. As the set list plays I have tears in my eyes. Tears of joy. The ones that are good and welcome because my memory of the music and the time are sweet.

I find myself wondering just how the hell we got to this place in history. What happened to our hopes and dreams? Who stole them?

Two more things.

I’m about to start trouble. Or, I’ll be ignored. There is a professor called Dr. Nina Asary. She’s Iranian. She’s American. She a women’s rights activist. She is very highly thought of. For some reason she pops up on my Instagram feed. We don’t follow each other. She’s had a set of portraits made that she uses often. She never smiles. I realize her work is weighty. But still. I’m going to message her and ask if it wasn’t time to let somebody else carry her armor. We say that a lot around here when the serious grumpies come.

In the pandemic age. I put my name on a number of lists for vaccinations. The first one to come through is my hospital. They scheduled me for Saturday. Then, another provider called, and another called. I could have three injections between Saturday on Monday.

That’s how it works sometimes.

Down here in the swamp, spring is upon us. Yes, I know there are a few more days of winter. In the north winter will last a little longer. Well, a lot longer.

We did have a setback when the deep cold arrived. The Japonica blooms were killed. They are back.

All of the ferns were killed as well. They are brown and dead. They must be cut back to the earth. They’ll grow back in a while.

This picture is about the coming spring. The spring that is upon us today.

It’s a couple of layered pictures. The color is enhanced. For sure, there is a lot of work done in post production.

This picture makes me smile just as the music is…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy all the color and all of the music. Everyday.

Just as I close, Joni Mitchell is playing — what else — “Ladies of the Canyon.”


Another yellow photograph.

More yellow. I don’t know why. I guess during the winter months I like color. Yellow is warm. It’s inviting. In the world of big commercial presses it is used to give “lift” to a photograph. Most importantly, it makes me smile.

I’d like to revisit yesterday’s discussion for just a few minutes. Okay ten minutes.

The person who asked the questions that turned the discussion into chaos is well regarded in the photo community. He’s not a great photographer, but he is a person who raises up photography and photographers. He discusses our work, our projects, our books and what he believes a picture could be.

He can be a little sheltered since he mostly looks at the photo art world, which is often an enigma to me. I had to laugh once when he looked at an old friend of mine’s work and proclaimed how good it is. It is good, but in my world that photographer is a legend.

All of that said, he really never came back to the discussion, which angered a lot of people on both sides of the issue.

I expected a wrap up the next day. All he said was that he didn’t expect such a reaction. He moved on to his next question which was something along the lines of the previous question. Huh?

I thought to myself, “Are you just going to drop a discussion that prompted such emotional responses?”

There are topics that deserve serious discussion despite what I may think of the work of one or two particular photographers. This is one of them.

His next topic, by the way, is about one of my former mentors who has been accused of being a sexual predator by a number of young women. “Young” is important because he is 75 years old. The women in question are in their early twenties. He is in a position of power with the ability to make or break somebody’s career.

Notice the use of the word “former.”

I can’t abide by him.

On to something else. This is easier. I have made it a point to not name names even in a complimentary way. Do y’all think that I should continue that? Even though I learn some things quietly, it eventually gets published anyway.

Experiments. I like doing them. It’s how I learn. Success or failure doesn’t matter to me, as long as I learn.

This photograph is a grand experiment.

It’s layered with the same image just slightly skewed. If nothing else I’ve found a way to control the yellow. I suppose I could perform another test where I layer the same picture without skewing it.

In the commercial printing world that’s called a double hit. An example of that is Coca Cola Red. It cannot be done in one pass. So… a double hit.

I don’t know what you think, but I kind of like this picture. To me it’s about the cycles of nature. And, while nature is patient she is always moving.

That’s it from the right side.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy nature.