And, then it happened.

A little rain to clear the skies.

A lot of sunlight to make the color explode off the page.

That’s what I saw as the day turned to dusk and beyond. The original picture didn’t quite do it, so I experimented. Then, I experimented some more. Then, I tinkered. I took it up a few notches. Then, I took it to notches unknown.

I added this. I added that. I did the reverse and subtracted some stuff. I got to a place where I actually liked the strangeness of the picture. So I went further. Beyond notches unknown. I was about to put a frame around it. Then, I thought, “nah.”

So, her it ’tis. A kind of art. Or, the work of a sick mind.

Speaking of sick minds. Remember, our falling down Hard Rock Hotel construction? It’s getting worse. The two giant cranes are shifting each day. In a true New Orleans moment, a fairly large tropical storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. It won’t hit us head on, but we’ll get wind and rain. Water makes the cranes heavier and the parts more lubricated. Wind, well… you know what wind does.

So.

The rocket surgeons who came from all over the country have come to a conclusion. The cranes must come down before the storm arrives so that they fall down in a controlled manner.

So.

The cranes are going to be blown up. Yes, You read that right. Blown up. Small charges will be placed at crucial places along the two cranes infrastructure and…

BLAMMO.

In theory, they should fall straight down. Even so, there will be some horrific damage to the street. The street that has the main source of electrical power to the French Quarter and two major gas lines that run very near to the building itself.

What could go wrong?

Why do I have a really bad feeling about this?

The City of Yes.

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More fun with layers.

It must have been the heat.

That’s why I got crazy. And, made this picture. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It starts with a deck umbrella and goes on from there. I know. Find the umbrella. I added a couple of layers to this one. Layering, refining, rinsing and repeating. Don’t ask me to tell you exactly what I did. I don’t remember. I was working in a heat crazed frenzy.

Seriously.

New Orleans is not alone in its heat induced craziness. This “warm” spell stretches west to Arizona, north to the plains states and east to the Atlantic Ocean. Even Washington D.C. is not immune. Apparently, yesterday they had temperatures in the high 90s, with a heat index making it feel like it was over 100 degrees. Of course, that may just becoming from the White House.

Black humor is a New Orleans thing. You need it in order to survive in the swamp. Somebody wrote “isn’t this brisk 90 degree fall weather much better than the 95 degree heat of summer?”

Heh.

I am so tired of it. The dogs and I go out by around 7:30 am. Sure. It’s a little cooler. But, it’s very humid. We all come home with our tongues hanging out of our mouths. We all run into the kitchen for drinks of water.  They drink from their bowls. I use a glass. Maybe, it’s the other way around.

One of these days I’ll actually be able to wear long pants. I feel like one of those old retired guys in Florida. Shorts. T-shirts. Grumbling about those kids these days.

Sheesh.


Wildman in an artistic mode.

It happened again.

I got a little bored last night so I started playing with another human being in post production. This time, it was a Mardi Gras Indian Wildman who I photographed on the Westbank for their Super Sunday.

As I recall, it was a busy Sunday. There were two second lines on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. One was Uptown, the other downtown. There was also the big Westbank Super Sunday.

The picture is a couple of years old. At least, the base picture of the Wildman is that old. In those days I had more energy. I photographed both second lines and drove across the Crescent City Connection and found the parade route at just about the right moment.

Finding anything on the Westbank is a big deal for me. I get lost the moment I cross the river. And yet, there is a wonderful New Orleans neighborhood called Algiers Point that I just love visiting. It looks like Uptown New Orleans, but it isn’t. There is also a great Asian grocery store called Hong Kong. I’ve been there many times. I count my blessings if it doesn’t take me more than fifteen minutes to find after I’ve gotten lost and driven around in circles.

Anyway.

The picture.  The base image is the Wildman — the guy with the giant bones and skull in his hair.– who protects the Big Chief. The rest of the pictures that make up the background are images that I’ve made along the way.

Pro tip number one. Never delete anything. You just never know. There are backgrounds hiding in your archives. Besides you can study the out takes to learn something about your mistakes.

Pro tip number two. Make sure whatever background image you choose stays in the background. With most editing software, you can move the second image forward and back.

Once you positioned the two or more images, then go back into the editing software to smooth out the look and finish the image.

I have no idea how long it will take you. But, you shouldn’t rush it, While downloading, backing up, adding meta data and developing images can be a chore, this process should be fun.

As I once wrote, I gave up video games to learn how to do this. This had better be fun.


Zulu Tramp experiment.

I wanted to play.

So. I did.

I wanted to see just how some of my new approaches to layering would work on a human being. The only place I’ve used them is on nature pictures.

After poking around on my admittedly limited smart phone archive I found a portrait of a Zulu Tramp. I thought that would be a good picture on which to experiment. Zulus are normally very colorful without my help.

A word about Zulus, and Tramps.

To me, and many others, Zulus are the heart and soul of New Orleans culture. The actual krewe is much like their brothers who walk for the Young Men Olympians. They are focused on community service. The often offer scholarships to deserving young people who couldn’t attend college otherwise. They are made up of people from all walks of life. Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, very successful businessmen. And, so on. And, so on.

The Tramps. They are the men who lead the first parade of the day on Mardi Gras day. They start around 8am. If you want to hangout and photograph them, you’d better get there around 6am. You could get there later. But, the later you arrive the further away from the start you’ll have to park.

How important is their parade?

Very.

Two examples.

The mayor, no matter who he or she happens to be, leads the parade on horseback.  Not to worry. The Zulus meet and greet the Krewe of Rex as the day rolls on. Ultimately, the mayor leads both parades.

When Hurricane Katrina blew the city apart, most of the Zulus were scattered far and wide. They couldn’t come home for the first Mardi Gras after the storm because many of them had no homes to come back to. After all, Katrina arrived on the last day of August 2005. Mardi Gras was scheduled for February 2006. Five months. Not much time to rebuild anything.

So.

In their place came the real Zulus. Shaka Zulus. From South Africa. They rolled in a very limited parade. But, they would not be denied. There are moments about that first Mardi Gras after the storm, the will live in me forever. Seeing the African Zulus on the streets of New Orleans was one of them.

Then, there was the next year.

I was photographing from Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue, By this time, there was some recovery. Nothing was complete in any way. There were a couple of Canadian women standing next to us. They came down to support the city. I was telling them that if they got to see the St. Augustine Marching 100 that they were in for a treat. Just then, they came thundering through the cement canyon formed by the buildings along the route. I stood there, not making pictures. There was too much water in my eyes. I never thought I’d see them again.

That’s what I remember.

The picture. Seems a little bit of a let down. But, here goes. There are multiple layers embedded in the final image. I started out trying to enhance a nature picture when I got the idea to add a human being to my pile of layers. That’s when the work got good. If I did it again, I’d have a better game plan. I’d start with the face. I’d add two flower pictures and one sand picture to it and be done with it. But, no. I had to take the long and winding narrow way.

If you really want to know the steps, I’ll create a formula. It’ll be complicated. It will assume that you have the proper components in your archives.


Colors of summer.

Summer.

Feelings. Emotions. Senses.

As we all work through summer, I’ve tried to think about what makes a summer picture. Since almost every tree is green, there are few new blooms and we start heading into a visually boring season, how do I find summer?

Especially for my summer project?

In this case, I didn’t. I made summer. I layered two pictures. The obvious tree image was combined with a macro image of condensation on my window. That’s what gave this particular photograph the extra glow.

The picture looks and feels like something summery. It’s not real enough like the rest of the summer portfolio. I won’t include it.

But, it is a nice warm feeling picture. Since I pretty much created it, it’s my summer picture. Just not the right summer picture. I need to find some people doing something. Summer something.

Until then, enjoy this one.


In space.

A little bit out there.

I keep trying to reach some kind of experimental art. Work that has nothing to do with my photographic roots.

It doesn’t come easy.

I can’t just say something like, “I think I’ll go make art today.” It doesn’t work that way. I have to find it. Or, it has to find me. It can’t be planned. It can’t be orchestrated. It just happens.

Like life.

I have friends that try to plan every detail of what they are doing. Like traveling. Every detail from air travel to car rentals, to hotels and then a daily itinerary. That’s great. The plane arrives late. They miss their connecting flight. That blows their other reservations. When they arrive at their destination they are scrambling to keep up their daily schedule. They think their trip is terrible.

Not for this boy.

Sure. Plan the travel arrangements. Without reservations you could be sleeping on a park bench. Plan an outline of what you’d like to do. Let the day intervene. If you really like something why leave it to keep a schedule? If you dislike something, why stay? Besides, a lot of what I do is determined by light. Sometimes, by nature. My trips just sort of flow. They are never terrible.

That’s for me and mine. Your mileage may vary.

Business trips are entirely different animal. But, usually everybody understands travel delays.

The picture. I walked by it a couple of times. I was carrying stuff. Suitcases. Anvil cases. Gear bags. Finally, I stopped. I saw the picture for what it could be. It took the picture as it was. I went to work in the studio. It took some time. I knew what I wanted. I understood my intent. And, my vision. I just had a hard time getting there. It wasn’t until I tried something radical that I finally came close. This is what I came up with.


Lights in action.

Driving.

Motion. Movement. The combination of others moving and my own motion helped to create some kind of impressionistic art.

And, a lot of Ws.

I reckon that the Ws were created by NOLA’s potholed streets. Hit a hole and down the car goes. So too, with the other cars around me.  Up. Down. Up. Down.

Anyway.

I was out looking for pictures one evening when I decided to go from the Garden District to the French Quarter. To do that I had to pass through the CBD. Central Business District. That’s where I ran into this pack of cars. And, a bus. I wasn’t really following them. But, they were in front of me.

I took advantage of the situation. That’s what my version of street photography really is about. Opportunism. And, luck.

If I had chosen some other profession, I’d probably be rich by now. I’d have a very easy life. What would be the fun in that?

Oh. NSU. A song from the legendary band, Cream. “Driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy is when I play my guitar.”


Experimental trees.

A Sunday picture.

An experimental picture. A short tale. The Indians await.

I made a picture of trees as I often do. At this time of year they are about rebirth. And, nature’s cycles.

I did some gentle post-production. The picture was fine. I decided to play. To tinker. I turned a vertical picture on its side. I added the original vertical picture to the horizontal version. I adjusted everything. And, turned it back into its original vertical version. All of that resulted in sort of a sweeping motion by the tree. A sort of weird energy. That came out of my head.

That’s how I did it.

I used Snapseed because I made the picture on my phone. I suppose you could do it using editing software. It would be a lot more complicated. Because I am basically lazy I chose the easiest path. I’d rather spend my time making pictures.

Speaking of that, it’s almost time to photograph Mardi Gras Indians. Or, as they say Black Masking Indians wearing pretty, pretty suits.

Happy Sunday.


Experimental Flower.

Sunday used to be the day that I experimented. I got away from that for a while. I resumed it yesterday. But, I played with pictures later in the day. Well after I posted for the day.

So.

You get to see it today.

I did so much work that you might not be able to tell what it is. What it was.

It’s a flower. It started off as a color capture. Somewhere along the line I converted it to black and white. I made it creamy and soft. Like something out of the early Twentieth Century. Then, I converted it back to an approximation of color. I made it as abstract as possible without losing too much shape. If you look carefully, you know it’s a flower.

It’s a quiet day. For a Monday. For any day. Even my Spotify curated playlist is quiet. Like the calm before the storm. Tuesday’s storm. The storm of voting. The storm of certain politicians yelling at each other… and us.

You’d think that we’d get a little break.

But, oh no.

After the votes are counted. And, the losers congratulate the winners,  the presidential race 2020 starts.

It never stops. It won’t stop. We’ve come to the never-ending news cycle. The never-ending political discussion. I read The New York Times online. For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been running “The State of The Midterms,” every day. Almost like a sports scorekeeping card. Today, if you looked the top of their report, it’s as if there is no other news.

Yes.

I agree. It’s news. But, this ought to do it. Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote.

That’s it. Go vote. If you haven’t done it by mail or via an early ballet, go vote.

For those of you in other countries — many of you are — have a good thought for us. The American drive towards Fascism must be stopped. Here. Now.

One more thing.

VOTE!