Something in a dream.

A dream? Or, a nightmare?

Is it real? Or, something created out of nothing?

I had a sort of half awake dream a couple of nights ago. I had a little trouble falling asleep. When I finally did, I had a kind of dream almost immediately.  Or, I thought that I did.

There was someone standing next to the bed. He was dressed in old fashioned house painters clothes. White pants. White t-shirt. He may not have been a painter. That was just my impression of him.

He was just there, next to the nightstand. All I could see was his body. His head was behind the lamp. His feet were out of my line of sight. It was so real that I reached out to touch him. I couldn’t. Either my hand went through him or he backed up, out of my way. I decided to look down at his legs. There was just a sort of mist. When I looked up again, he was gone.

I have no idea if I was dreaming in deep REM state, or if I was half awake and seeing things. Eventually, I fell back asleep. Or, dreamed that I did. That was it for the dreams.

I have no idea what it means. There are different definitions of what dreams mean. I believe in the one that says a dream is an answer to a question that hasn’t been formed yet.

If the guy was really a house painter, what is the question?

Or.

Was he something else? Just because he was dressed in white pants and a t-shirt doesn’t mean that he was a painter. Maybe he was a milkman. Or, a donut delivery guy. You had to grow up in Southern California to understand that. Once there was a company called Helms Bakery. They sent their trucks far and wide to bring donuts to your door.

Anyway.

The picture. It’s layered. It started with a building structure. I added all sorts of layers to it. It feels a little bit like Halloween because the lamp in the window turned into a spooky red ghost.

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Like a painting.

A little experiment.

I was building my new and improved website and I was uploading a lot of pictures. That took some time. To help pass it, I started playing with older pictures. You might not recognize it, but you’ve seen this picture in the past, when it was bright magenta.

I started in one direction and realized I hadn’t used a couple of photo editing tools in some time, (time is a reoccurring theme today) so I started tinkering with them. Eventually, after many, many attempts, I arrived here. I added the frame and that’s how you see it.

Uploading and downloading large batches of RAW or Tiff imagery, does take a little time (There I go again) no matter how new and powerful your machine may happen to be. I like to fill it, (time) by doing something else. In this case, I was more-or-less practicing and experimenting with image modification software.

But, once upon a time…

I used to play a lot of computer games. I wouldn’t call myself a gamer, but I wasted a lot of time. One day the lightbulb went off. “Why not do something more meaningful,” I thought.

So, I did.

I started teaching myself Photoshop. It has a really steep learning curve. Some say it takes about five years to learn completely. Once I started I realized it wouldn’t take five years because there are some things that I’ll never do. It did take a while.

Doing that gave me the basics and a little more to understand what I was doing. Eventually, I started using a new software package called OnOne. It couldn’t develop RAW images back then, but that was one the company’s big goals.

Once OnOne became a potential RAW developer I left Photoshop and Lightroom behind. Who wants to pay $9.95 per month for the rest of your life?

Today, my workflow is simple. I download and cull in Photo Mechanic and finish in OnOne. You can use both of them forever unless you want to upgrade. Actually, Photo Mechanic upgrades are free.

Oh, Photo Mechanic is software that a lot of photojournalists use. It’s fast, easy to use and you can edit a big take in probably less than 30 minutes. I lot of my friends suggested that I try it. I kept putting it off, until one day…

I should listen to my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It feels like music.

I made a picture.

I made a musical picture. At least, that’s how I see it.

I don’t know why, but it does. It’s very likely that it will look like something else to you. That doesn’t matter. We all bring our life, our experience and our influences to all art. That’s why you like a piece of art or a bit of music, and somebody else doesn’t like it. It has nothing to do with being good or bad. It has everything to do with you.

To do with you. That little phrase is really a mouthful. That’s the key to making changes. Rather than blame outside influences, change yourself first.

We’ve all being complaining about social media, news media and what have you. It never stops. It’s ugly. People are nasty. The change is simpler then we realize.  Adjust your thinking. For instance, I had a lot of political commentary on my Twitter feed. That just was wearing me down. So, I changed things around. Now, I mostly have people discussing music, art and photographs. Much better. I even removed the White House. 24 hours of propaganda gone. Better yet.

I did the same thing on Facebook. I’m only there to share my work and to talk to old friends. I’ve silenced any political discussions for 30 days. I expect those discussions to be even more shrill as the 2020 general election approaches. I’ll just keep putting those threads on a 30 day silence.

I feel so much better today. Mondays are usually hard for me. I start out in a bad mood. Then, the usual stuff starts. Not today. I have a smile on my face.

You can do it too. Should you? That’s up to you.

Consider this, the general din, the hollering and the continual nonsense from our leaders isn’t going to change anytime soon. Who needs to keep hearing it?

Now, about this picture. It’s really three pictures layered over each other. The base was a Fourth of July wreath. I followed that with a dirt pathway. And, finally I added the pink flowers. You’ve seen the flowers. The other two images are new to you. But, not to me. For instance, the Fourth of July picture was made before the big celebration… in 2018. I just never had a use for it.

The rest of the process is mostly adjustment. The layers have to make some kind of sense to me, and, hopefully, you. There are color, brightness and contrast adjustments too. That little extra tinkering takes some time. There are a lot of false starts. There are some close, but no cigar, starts. Eventually, it all works out.

Sounds a little like life.

There you have it.

Art as life.


Art as an experiment.

Chaos.

I was reading an op-ed piece by The New York Times’ Frank Bruni. He said that he was completely worn out. He started by saying that he logged on to his computer and there it was. The never ending chaos and drama coming from one man.

It’s daily. It never ends.

Frank Bruni needed a break. We need a break.No human mind can process the daily stream of lies, disinformation, demands and threats. As my online pal Debra said on her blog, Breathelighter, we need time to do the little things that bring us so much pleasure. Bruni is right. Debra is right.

Me? I have to create before I can disengage.

So, I made this work of art. I call it, Chaos.

It’s how the world looks to me on this day. It’s how the daily barrage of beyond weird news looks to me.

The image was created from two layered photographs. I did some fiddling. I did some tinkering. Then I found a little clarity and headed straight to the gutter as Neil Young would say. I didn’t really head to the gutter, although things are much more interesting there. Instead, I found my direction. I knew I was creating my version of the world around us.

Chaos.


Painted flowers and stuff.

This morning.

I started by reading the last column from a young writer at NOLA.com/Times-Picyune who was terminated — a euphemism for fired — when the competition, The Advocate bought the newspaper and website. Because it was a purchase and take over the new owners had to give them sixty days notice. Today is the 30 day mark.

It is her last column because she and her husband, also a T-P reporter who covers the Saints, want to stay in New Orleans. They bought their first home in February. She is looking for work outside of journalism since there is really no place to look in the city. There is the potential of conflict of interest. She’ll still edit and report. Just no more columns which have her opinion sprinkled into them. For the record, her column caused a lot of eye leakage. But, it wasn’t sappy.

That got me thinking about my own life, my career and my changes. It’s long and winding. It would probably take a couple of months worth of posts to tell you all the stories.

Sometimes, I wonder how I got here.

In terms of places, I lived all over. I even lived in Asia. A lot of my adult life has been lived in the south. Aside from Louisiana, I’ve lived in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. All was career related. Sometimes, I wish that I didn’t let my work drive my life.

Make no mistake, along the way I’ve lived in some wonderful places, had some great adventures and met some amazing people. The trick for me today is to keep going. In theory, even at my age, I’m not that old. But, getting older is simply the body’s way of saying if you think that was bad, just wait. So, on I go.

That’s the story. So far.

The picture. When I changed my phone system I thought that I lost photo editing software called Stackable. That’s like Lunchables, only you can’t eat it. I realized, only last week, that it still exists on my iPad. So back to work I went. I made this picture, using flowers and vines and all the stuff the dog usually sees.

By the way, she was groomed two days ago. Man, is she a pretty girl. She’s always cute, but this cut. Oh wow!

I have only one question about the finish of this picture, which I do in OnOne. What the hell happened to my watermark? I went back to the TIFF. It’s there. I went back to the working JPEG. It’s there. Yet when I export it, part of it falls off. I don’t even know how to fix it since it’s correct everywhere. Oh well.


A range of motion.

This wasn’t today’s picture. At least it’s not what I planned.

I thought that it was a little too bleak for a Sunday picture. I read a lot. Especially on Sunday morning when I have a little more time. I probably shouldn’t do that.

There was a story that appeared on Twitter with a link back to it. I know. I know. Twitter. It may be one of the meanest places on earth.

I followed the link.

What I found made me horribly sad. The story was about a ten-year old boy. A cute little guy. He had a butterfly bandage over his eye. His lips were swollen and cut up. He had been bullied in school.

That’s bad enough. What happened next was truly horrifying.

He killed himself by hanging.

Where does a ten-year old boy get the knowledge of how to hang himself? Sure. You might see it on the tube. But, you don’t see the technique.

A whole host of questions came to mind.

Where were his teachers? Where were his school caregivers? Where were his parents? How does this stuff happen?

I stopped reading Twitter. I stopped reading news stories for today.

We’ve got some errands to run. I’ll watch some baseball. Yankees baseball. Eventually, I’ll recover. For today. There’s always tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t get stopped in my tracks again.

The picture.

That’s why you came here. Even though we’ve had some glorious spring days, there are others that are cloudy and a little bleak. Today is one of those days. There is rain in the clouds. It’s about noon as I write, and the temperature is at its high of 49 degrees.  No wonder the dogs are lazy. They don’t want to go outside. But, because I publish every day, I have to make a picture. In this case, I made the original picture. Then I removed the color and made it black and white. I layered it over the original color image. And shifted it slightly. You are looking at the result. A bleak picture. One that suits my mood. Today.


Natural experiment.

A natural mood.

An attempt by me to do two things. Or, three.

It’s cold in the swamp today. It was cold and extremely windy last night. That’s what this art is about. You’ve got the bare tree. The kind you see in winter. You’ve got a monochromatic picture because yesterday everything was gray and muddy. Finally, the post production brings you to ice. It covers everything.

No.

We don’t have ice. It is a symbol for winter. The winter that many of you are digging through right now.

I’m trying to stay away from weather pictures. Unless you are very lucky and in the right place, at the right time, weather pictures start looking the same. I wasn’t even going to make pictures yesterday, but I felt the calling. Still, without a lot of help, they looked the same as pictures I made last year. They year before that and…

That’s where all the heavy post production came in.

When I do this sort of stuff, I work until I’ve gone too far, saving versions along the way. When my brain clicks in and I realize that I’ve gone over the top, I save the picture. I go back one version and there it is. The picture of my senses.

That’s the story.

I have a comment about yesterday’s news and those “good” Catholic school boys doing their best to intimidate a Native American Vietnam Vet. I don’t know if it’s because our so-called president has made it okay to be as nasty as you want to be to people who aren’t like you, or if it’s something else. When did it become okay to do something like that? I assume because they attend a Catholic school that they have learned a simple question. “What would Jesus do?” They should think about that and do it.

My take is simple. First transparency. I’m Catholic. I’m not much of one these days. I attended Catholic school from the first grade until I graduated from high school. We were taught by nuns, brothers and priests. I’m pretty sure that if I was in those pictures and videos, the nuns would have cracked my knuckles with a yardstick until they bled. I’m not much for corporal punishment. Even the dogs don’t get yelled at around here. In this case, let me hit them with a yardstick.

That said, I stand with my Native American brother. Yes. I know his name. But, it’s policy of Storyteller not to publish names unless I have permission. I believe that everybody in the pictures and videos should be expelled. That’ll about kill their chances of ever getting into a good university or college. Good. Their lives should be spent saying, “would you like fries with that?” Once that is done, the entire staff of the school should resign. Obviously, they haven’t done their jobs. They can join the boys at the hamburger factory.

Yes. I believe in second chances. I believe in redemption.  After a suitable time, they all should be welcomed back. Maybe fifteen or twenty years.

I never get this angry. This kind of anger isn’t good for anyone. Me. The person with whom I’m angry. The world. But, this was just too much.

Sorry if I offended anybody. At least I didn’t curse a blue streak.

 

 


Strange sky.

There. I did it.

I broke the sky.

Not really. I was just experimenting a little last night and I made this picture. The base picture was a silhouetted building and tree and the late blue hour sky. I started tinkering. I tinkered some more. And, just kept going.

I’m not sure what I think. I kind of like it. That’s the minimum for sharing my work with anybody. And, it is different. Very different.

What do y’all think?

In theory, I’m retired. As of last month. I told you that. I have never been busier. I guess I don’t know how to retire. Just as well. I’d only get bored sitting around and watching Game of Thrones. Or, some show like that. Maybe, House of Cards. They really are about the same topic. Politics as sports.

Let’s talk quickly about contests. I looked at the one in which I didn’t stand a chance. Some of the winners were pure photojournalism. Some was art. The person who picked one of the pictures is a big time gallery director. She selected a picture that looked like a black jagged line on a white background. I thought, “What the hell is that supposed to be?” She didn’t know either. She said she didn’t know what it was, but she liked it.

Silly me.

I always thought that a photograph should communicate something to someone. I’d humbly suggest that if the judge didn’t know what the picture was, than it failed in its most basic test. And yet, she selected it. And, it won.

That may very well encapsulate the state of photography in 2018.

Now that I entered that contest, I’m getting all sorts of contest offers. They all want money to apply and enter. I never do that. Most of them charge fees to make money in order to exist and support the owners of the contests.

By that very nature they aren’t really legit.

They can’t be. After all, the more images the photographer enters, the more money they collect. When you reach a certain point, you have a better chance to win because you — and they — sort of stack the deck.

At least, that’s what I think.

Maybe some of you have entered contests. What do you think?


Espresso capsule.

New work.

Imagine that. Just when I said. Oh, never mind what I said. I never really know what I’m talking about.

Coffee comes from Amazon. In pods. For a Nespresso machine. However, none of our coffee comes from Nespresso. It is very expensive and I don’t like the parent company’s — Nestle — stand on water and plastic. After a lot of experimenting, finally comes a coffee that tastes better than the “real thing.” And, it’s about half the price. That matters a lot because a lot of espresso is consumed in this house. It’s also packed in aluminum pods. Recyclable and not more plastic.

I was working on the archives. The never-ending project. I dumped a handful of the pods into a small bowl for easy access. I looked down. There it was. A picture. So I pressed the button a couple of times. Off to post production it went. By the time i was done, the pods turned into planets and I made a sci-fi book cover. Or, something like that