Scary face, without development.

This mask was scary before I worked on it in post production. It got scarier after I was done. To me, this looks like some underground subway creature who lives in the lost subway tunnels and tracks of New York City.

I have a big imagination.

Imagination will get you places, either to the top or in deep trouble. Mine is usually the latter.

Seriously, ideas and imagination are what art is about. That’s one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of Instagram, although I do play there.

Instagram is the worst of all possible photographic worlds. If some photographer posts an interesting picture, his followers copy him. Their followers copy them. And, so on.

That’s what make so much popular work so derivative.

It got so bad a week or so ago that I couldn’t stand it. So, I said something. It seems whenever a dusk or night picture needs a little something extra, some shooters drop in a person holding an umbrella. I don’t literally mean drop in. They usually have a friend hold an umbrella.

That’s fine, if the streets are wet or if there is falling rain or snow. But, the picture that broke my camel’s back was a picture of some guy holding an umbrella at night. The streets were dry. There was nothing in the air. The people in the background were’t even wearing coats.

Oh, Moses smell the roses.

I replied. The photographer replied to me in a snarky way to which I said, “Well, you must not be a very good photographer if all you do is copy others work.”

Silence.

Crickets.

Solitude.

I must have made a point to someone. Since that day, there have been far fewer umbrella pictures. Those that are still being shared make sense in their context. Or, they become art in themselves.

Imagination.

We all have it. Use it, or lose it.

Masking. In New Orleans it shouldn’t be a big deal. We mask for every damn thing that comes along. What’s the big deal about masking to protect ourselves or others?

That’s not what the right column is about, but I had to say it.

This is a daytime picture of all things. I was waiting to meet a friend when this guy happened to hop on a horse and rode towards me. What could I do?

You know what I could do. I did it. I made tight portraits. I made loser frames. My friend stumbled along and she made pictures too. It looked like a press conference.

I published one picture and left this one behind. This is the week to share it.

This is all post production. Nothing looks even remotely the same as the original file. I went darker rather than lighter because of the context. This dude looks evil.

He isn’t.

We talked while I, and then we, were making pictures. he’s a nice guy. He let us take our time while he was getting ready to lead his krewe.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Eat all the king cake.


Art in the French Quarter.

Reflection in the glass.

A moody image. Lost in the mists of The French Quarter. One early morning.

I saw the mannequin. Eyes peering out at me. If I didn’t know where I was. On Royal Street. I might have thought the face was real.

I stepped back. Wanting to add a little mystery to the picture. I snapped once. Twice. Three times.

I was finished. With this little scene.

I kept walking.

 


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?


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?

 


Wildman John and masking.

I forgot what I was doing.

With all the sadness during the early part of the week I just lost my head. Well, you know… I started working on a photograph that I made of Wildman John at Super Sunday in Central City. Somewhere in the middle of that I realized I wasn’t working on a Halloween picture.

Doh!

Make no mistake. This is not a Halloween picture. It’s about culture. Perhaps one of the most important and deepest cultures in the city. This isn’t some guy putting on a costume and makeup for Halloween. This is part of this man’s life. Of our life.

No political commentary today. Although that fun never stops. Now Congress might see their way to banning bump stocks on semi-automatic weapons that mimic fully automatic weapons.  Gee. Ya think? I guess they got permission from the NRA to even talk about it.

The picture. It started it out in bright color. But, I’m seeing things differently these days. I tinkered sort of backwards into more monochrome. Works for me.


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.


Maybe a little bleak.

Choices.

I’m going to leave it to you. Please tell me what you think. And, hopefully, why.

I’m just going to tell you about the picture. The base picture — the portrait — is black and white, converted from a digital color image. An older personal experiment.  The layered images are the usual kinds of bits and pieces. In fact, the grass growing through what appears to be concrete is just that. Apparently, that happens everywhere. Not just in New Orleans. I’m sort of kidding about that. Of course it happens everywhere. Nature always wins. Just give her enough time.

That’s it. Enjoy your day. Or night.

A little more colorful.


A witch or a clown. It's all the same to me.
A witch or a clown. It’s all the same to me.

That’s right. Clown or witch. It’s all the same to me.

But.

I’d rather it be a witch. I’m one of those people who thinks clowns are scary. I don’t know why. Maybe I had a bad clown experience. At a circus. Maybe, it’s when I watch our political leaders discuss just about anything in a press conference. Wait. I meant presser. All these cool new words that are pretty much made up.

I suppose the language is organic, but sometimes…. For instance, I received an email requesting some photography help. You know, a guy who wants the “photo tricks that will make him a great photographer” in just 13 minutes. He started by writing that he was “gifted a camera.” I trashed the email right there. Why can’t you just say, “given?” I really dislike “verbing a noun.” Sheesh, spell check doesn’t even like “verbing.” Good.

Back on the photo track. I have no idea what it takes to turn an average guy with a new camera into a great photographer in a short time. It takes time. Time to learn. Time to make mistakes. Time to practice. Time to gain experience. To everyone who wants “the secret,” settle down. Make pictures. As often as you can. Stop holding your finger on the shutter button. Shoot less. Think more. Feel more. If you are really serious, assign yourself a project… something like a “picture a day.” Document your life. Document your street. Document your town. Talk to the people around you. Especially, your subjects. Don’t work from across the street, taking pictures of their backs. Engage them. Take a picture of them and their environment. At first, that might be hard for you. Trust me. It’s good for you.

This picture. Sure. I’ll share my secret. Walk. See what you can see. Take your camera off auto. Set the shutter speed. Set the aperture. Press the button.


Evil Mardi Gras
Evil Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is a celebration. Right? It’s a happy time.  Nothing weird or odd about it. But, between the nighttime outdoor lighting and the slightly long exposure, I managed to make this Mardi Gras mask look evil. I didn’t mean to. That certainly wasn’t my intent. But here it is…

I’m sure that part of it is the black eye sockets. That’s almost a guaranteed way to evil things up. But, it’s also the colors. They are weird. I know what they should look like. My visual memory knows too. These colors ain’t them.

Oh well… just as long as the New Orleans tourism groups don’t see this, I should be good. Heh!