What does it mean?

What does it mean?

It means whatever you want it to mean. Me? Current situation. It could mean some high techie thing, but my interpretation Is about the world as we currently find it.

Confused. Too much information. Not enough information. Too much noise. No signal. It seems that the world has become an unforgiving place.

Social media hasn’t helped.

Facebook has become a hellhole. You can’t post anything without being attacked or belittled. You could say that the sky is blue and you’ll be called a Democrat, liberal, terrorist, a Republican, right wing, fascist, atheist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist. And, those are the good words.

It’s the same on other platforms.

Sometimes people are followed from one platform to another. They are trolled to tears.

Why?

There are too many people who never had a voice, never had group of friends, and are now sidelined because of the virus. They are taking out their frustrations online, hiding behind their screen. They don’t even use a real name. No platform can tell if your screen name is your name.

So.

Although Storyteller is distributed to Facebook and Twitter, I mostly play on Instagram. For the most part, people are civil. I also hangout on Quora, where there are experts in just about every topic who are civil and generous. Even disagreements are “gentlemanly” and last for about two posts.

Just don’t go to any photo group. Most are kids who want to know what the sexist picture is of some unknown model. I’ve yet to find a group that wants to talk about actual photography.

For the rest Quora is great. Just go when you have some time.

The picture

Experimentation was the rule last night. I started with one version of what you are looking at and just kept going. The finished image looks nothing like the original or many of its subsequent versions. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many layers there are in this picture. I did it because I felt like doing it. That’s enough for me.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. Enjoy every minute.


 

Street portrait of a captain.

Back on track, I’d say.

I’m not that back on track. I thought that I’d written and posted this. Unfortunately, I fell back asleep before I completed this. I walked a lot last night. You know. Five parades. 164 floats. A billion beads. Not as many people as I thought would come out.

All that walking took its toll. First, my hip started killing me. Then, the pain moved to my knee. Luckily, I was able to depend on the kindness of strangers. They let me sit on their stoops, their porches and even on the bumpers of their trucks.

But.

That’s not all. Walking in pain is very tiring. More so than just walking. So, I decided to mostly rest today. The parades that I were interested in photographing have long departed, but are still an hour or two from Canal Street, another good place to work if you can stand the throngs of people competing for beads. Because of the pictures I’d like to make, that’s not a big concern for me.

However.

Now that we are in the heart of the season, parking will be dear or non-existent. Normally, I’d just park in Treme and walk over. And, walk over. I’m not so sure about that. Walking over.

Unfortunately, this parade season is my last. Unless there is a real fix to my issues other than masking them with pain meds, I can’t do this again. That’s sad because I’ve pretty much given up second lines. I’ll likely photograph this years two Eastbank Super Sundays, but that too, will be it.

There’s plenty of stuff to photograph, even without travel. I could document everything in New Orleans and never, ever be finished. That won’t require the long walks that the culture events do. I’ll still walk some. The dog who see things requires it. Those are slow and gentle walks, with places to sit if I need to do that.

The picture. I guess because I carry myself like I look like I know what I’m doing, people take me seriously. I stopped this krewe leader and asked him to just look at me. This took maybe 30 seconds, and I thanked him. See you later. Happy Mardi Gras.

I was exchanging comments with another photographer/poet. She would like to do some street photography but working in a people-driven genre sort of scares her.

I suppose that it’s something learned. I’m sure that because I’ve done it for so long, I don’t think twice about making pictures of people. I usually kiddingly say that with a camera in my hand I’m Superman.

 


Mother Nature in the tree.

Keep your eyes open. That’s what I always say.

I do.

If I didn’t, I would have missed the wood nymph hiding in the tree trunk. Do you see her? Do you see her eyes? Her nose? Her lips?

Or, is that a very young Mother Nature? She could be, since we’ve never seen Ma Nature. There are plenty of illustrations. A couple are quite famous. But, in a photograph?

The cocker spaniel who sees stuff went crazy. Bark, bark, bark.

Nah.

That didn’t happen.

With the rain and the warmth around this place, we’ve had some wonderful moss blooms. I found one that is as green as this picture. I photographed it. I prepared a picture for Storyteller. I liked it well enough, but it just seemed empty. When the background is the subject, sometimes it’s a  little boring.

Make no mistake. Backgrounds are important in the design process. An art director might use the mossy, green picture as a background for something else. He or she could tone it down, lay type over it, add maybe a picture or two. And, viola. You be surprised at how many movie posters are a combination of images that have very little to do with the film.

Anyway.

My working method these days is to prep the picture at night and post it the next morning. Or, schedule it to be posted for the next day or two. I do try to keep current.

I did that.

I went to sleep. I awoke with the picture on my mind. I remembered photographing a little girl of four maybe last summer. I found the file. I did the magic of stacking and blending. Here we are.

The wood nymph, or, Mother Nature.

Just a little Saturday experiment. Because? Because why not?


It’s all in the eyes.

The street.

A place that I enjoy working. I like to make pictures that are a slice of time. Photographs that are a glance. On the street.

Pictures that are an image of an idea.

Pictures that take you there.

Pictures that let you feel.

Pictures from the inside.

Pictures that are from my insides. From my eyes. From my brain. From my soul. From my heart.

That’s the deal. My deal.

Sometimes it works. Often, it doesn’t. It worked a lot this past Sunday. You’ll see over the next few days.

The picture. I got stuck in the middle of the band. That happens when you work closely. Those out of focus areas in front of the tuba player are other band members. I was working on the inside. Just that close. The tuba player’s reflective sunglasses are what caught my eye. Even though we were in constant motion, I managed to make three good frames of him. Photographer’s luck. And, my ability to walk sideways and forward at the same time. The development and post production was easy after that.

That’s it for a Monday morning.


The eyes that made other pictures.

 

Eyes.

They say that eyes are the window the soul. I believe that to be true. I think most portraits should be simple. See into the person. See what they are about. See who they are.

I’ve been using this little girl’s eyes as a design element.

After discussing the eyes with a number of you, I thought it would be a good idea to show the portrait. I cropped they original image to get this tight image. The background information just cluttered the important part of the picture — her eyes.

Then, me being me, I had to tinker with the image until I arrived at this point. My vision was fairly simple. I wanted the final image to look ancient. I wanted it to look beaten up, like it had been buried somewhere. You have to understand that I’m easily influenced. I have been watching a couple of archeology-based shows on various streaming services. The information sort of went into my brain through my eyes. I had to dump it somewhere. So…

That’s the story. What influences your work?

 


 

Eyes of the world 

“Right outside this lazy summer home

You ain’t got time to call your soul a critic no

Right outside the lazy gate of winter’s summer home

Wondering where the nut-thatch winters

Wings a mile long just carried the bird away

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world

The heart has it’s beaches, it’s homeland and thoughts of it’s own

Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings

But the heart has it’s seasons, it’s evenings and songs of it’s own

There comes a redeemer, and he slowly too fades away

And there follows his wagon behind him that’s loaded with clay

And the seeds that were silent all burst into bloom, and decay

And night comes so quiet, it’s close on the heels of the day

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world

The heart has it’s beaches, it’s homeland and thoughts of it’s own

Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings

But the heart has it’s seasons, it’s evenings and songs of it’s own

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home

Sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone

Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world

The heart has it’s beaches, it’s homeland and thoughts of it’s own

Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings

But the heart has it’s seasons, it’s evenings and songs of it’s own”

Lyrics by Robert Hunter, Melody by Jerry Garcia, Song by the Grateful Dead


Look closer. Much closer.

This picture surprised me.

You’ve seen it in the past. It’s an image from a Central City second line. You saw it in color here. In black and white on Instagram. But, never like this.

Because.

I opened this picture by accident. On a huge monitor. I started looking at it. Really looking at it. The image isn’t how I saw it in the past. For one thing, there is a lot of extra information in the frame. It isn’t needed. For another, I always saw the young man in the foreground with his sunglasses falling down his nose as the main subject. In this version, he’s just part of the darkened outer frame of the picture. It’s all about the eye. Almost in the middle of the picture.

As I said, “at least in this version.” Pictures —  like music — teach you how to make them the longer that you work with them. A friend of mine once answered a writer’s question about a particular song changing from the album to what it became played live, on stage, by saying “play a song 500 or 600 times and it will teach you how to play it,”

So.

Here’s what I did. Let this be a lesson to y’all. Let this be a lesson to me. Or, at least, a reminder.

One reason to work in RAW and with a fairly larger sensor size is because the picture is easy to crop and still have a fairly large image when you are done. There is a certain amount of flexibility and freedom working this way. You do the work after the fact. That’s just one reason.

So. (Once again)

I cropped the picture. I took out extraneous background information. I drew your eye into the center of the frame, in order to see the eye in the center.

I tinkered with the color. I made the picture into some kind of old fashioned monochrome rather than just pure black and white. Or, my usual vibrant color.

I burned and dodged the image. Again, to pull your eye into the center of the frame.

Then I softened the edges of the picture. I bet you know why.

Finally, I added a little vignette. To — imagine this — further draw your eye to the subject’s eye.

That’s it.

A lot of steps. Steps that were mostly learned in a real live wet darkroom, making prints. It was a lot harder and more time-consuming back in those old school days. It was worth it. If nothing else, working that way taught me what to do in the digital world. It taught me about production economy. And, picture culling skills.

After all, why make 20 marginal pictures of something when you can make one really great, storytelling image of the same thing? Don’t self edit in camera. On the scene. Or, the street. Or, even in your car.  You can’t see much on those itty bitty camera lcds. Wait until you are culling them on your computer monitor. Look at them at once in one place. On a big lcd. Pick the best one or two. You’ll be able to concentrate your post production to just those few images. You won’t rush. You won’t try to get everything done in a few minutes. You’ll take the time to make reasonable corrections and enhancements.

Trust me.

Your pictures and readers will thank you for it.

 


An experiment in black and white.

This is a test. In many ways.

Of course, there are my continued experiments in new ways of making the image true to my vision. Even though in the music world, the vinyl craze has started to peak and CDs are slowly being phased out in favor of streaming, I wanted to test something because I have an upcoming project. No matter how streaming affects their sales, many musicians still see CDs as an artistic construct. It’s how they organize their thoughts. It is true that feeding the streaming machine is better done by releasing a song when it is ready and keeping your audience engaged. But, many musicians don’t care.

That said.

I also wanted to test WordPress’ new smart phone app. Of course, it was released half-baked. It hung up on my last comment. It didn’t crash. It just didn’t do anything. I had to delete the app and reinstall it. When I finally got it working, I found that it makes no sense for a photography driven blog. That’s typical. In their rush to have people post just about anything, they forgot that most of the best blogs are not something you can produce on your phone while you are commuting, or having a coffee. Good blogs take time, planning and a monitor large enough to see what you are doing. This isn’t Twitter. But, it’s trying to be.

Or.

Maybe I’m just an old guy who can’t, or doesn’t want to, adjust to the new world.

Anyway.

The picture. I thought this would be a good change from discussing the week from hell. There will be plenty of time to discuss what happened to Texas, and their recovery in the coming weeks, months and years. There will be my work, others work and so on.

This is a picture I made a while back. The original is a color digital capture.  I slowly converted it to black and white. Then I destroyed it. The new app, called “Stackable,” allows me to do things I could only think about in the past. The result is as you see it. I’d like to say the thinking is all original. It’s not. I am influenced by a photographer/artist/illustrator/film maker called Matt Mahurin. For a look at his work go here http://www.mattmahurin.com   .

This is more than just adding a bunch of Instagram filters. Or, editing layers. I may have started out experimenting, but that was mostly just to learn the software capabilities. Once I did,  I set out to fulfill the vision that I had in my head.

That’s really what the digital world has opened up. A better way to get to your own truth. Or, you can use it to argue with people you don’t know and never will. You choose.


Among the Notes.

I need to get out more.

I made the portrait before I returned to New Orleans. I was back for a visit when I ran into this guy on the street in The French Quarter. He’s an old friend. We had a coffee and went our own ways. I thought, at the time, that it was very cool and I could have my old friends back if I just returned. So, I did.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Many old friends were leaving. Even the man in the picture. He moved to Breaux Bridge. A place that’s become home to all sorts of musicians. Famous ones. regional players. Local players. This guy has a pretty good statewide reputation as a fiddle and accordion player. He is also a pretty good Cajun singer.

That’s his story. And, the base portrait is his picture. He’s used to being photographed so taking a picture of him in a coffee shop is no big deal. Actually, if you’re around me for any length of time, you get used to being photographed.

The picture. You know about the portrait. The rest is my usual odd bits and pieces of information. I did do a lot of work in OnOne. The picture as it emerged from Snapseed was just too raw and kind of glaring. So, I needed to finish it and help the color to settle down some.