Looking like fall.

Simplicity.

A fall picture. It could be too simple, except that the leaves and the clouds form a nice bow-like shape in the upper middle of the image. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I saw it when I looked into the sky and thought, “yes, that’ll work just fine.”

It’s a kind of photographer’s luck, which is starting to mean if you put the work in, look for pictures, and practice a lot, you’ll make pictures.

I tell my traveling friends this all the time. I say that they should stop waiting for a trip to take a snap. I suggest that they should just walk around their neighborhood and photograph their world. That is, unless their world is made up of fast jets, massive cruise ships and cheap hotel rooms.

I doubt that’s right.

But, I really dislike taking pictures on a trip or assignment and starting out cold. Or, a little rusty. I do best when I’ve been practicing, which is kin to music practice. Would you enjoy listening to a concert when the musicians weren’t well rehearsed? Or, rooting for a sports team that didn’t practice before they took to the field?

It’s the same thing with pictures. You must practice to get to the good stuff. That takes time. As it should. It’s also why I’ve been critiquing myself. I haven’t been wandering around looking for pictures. I write some of that off to the heat. It’s no fun dripping into the lens. I also write some more of that off to physical issues. I don’t always trust myself not to fall down. On a good day I’m great, but sometimes a good day turns marginal.

I find ways to work around both of those. It’s just not as frequently as I’d like.

And, so that goes.

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Into the light.

Finally. Fall.

A look at morning image made as the sun peeks through the golden leaves of Autumn. As a wise man once said, “If you want better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” That is so true. I would add to that, have some patience. Wait for the light you want, no matter how long it takes.

I once worked with a former National Geographic Society photographer who was known for his desert work. His trick was to get to the place where he wanted to work. And wait. And wait. And wait. For days. Sometimes weeks. For the light he wanted. He reckoned that since you can’t control nature, you might as well control yourself.

There is another approach. Know the place in which you are working. Make yourself available for the light and whatever else you want in the picture. The first time I thought about that was during my days in Hong Kong. At the time, as a western expat, I made one of the best collections of pictures in a foreign place. It wasn’t due to extraordinary skill. It was due to just being there. When I think back to that time, I realize that I wasted a lot of precious moments.

I try not to be so wasteful now. Even when I’m not working for a client I try to be photographically productive. Hopefully it shows in the work that you see.

The picture. You know what I did. F8 and be there. I didn’t do so much in post production because I made most of the picture in camera. I darken, sharpened, and brought the color out a little. Nature did the rest.

One more thing. I posted the black and white version of this picture on Instagram. If you want to see that version, please follow me there.


The end of time.

Until the end of time.

That’s art. Once you make it, the art lasts. It will out live you and me. I suppose that’s one reason to make pictures. To make paintings. To make music. Or, to make just about anything else that you can think of.

It’s a legacy.

I suppose that’s one reason to keep pushing. To keep plugging away. To experiment. To grow.

At least it is for me.

Oh sure, I can make pictures for clients and friends. I can do the expected because that’s what I’m expected to do. That pays the bills. Feeds everyone. Puts better kibbles in the dogs’ bowls. Note: They don’t eat kibbles. They eat homemade dog food. Food that is better than some humans eat. That’s sort of weird, but they are all healthy. That matters.

Anyway.

The picture. The original picture was pretty cool on its own. I just had to experiment. I had to tinker. And, play. I tell you, I want to be a painter. But…


Leaf as a still life.

I saw a leaf.

My normal instinct would be to photograph it in situ. Instead, I brought it home. I worked on it in the studio. I simplified the picture by photographing the leaf by itself, on a light table. The result was pretty good.

That was just a start.

I knew it would be post production time. Usually, I have a clear vision. Not this time. I tinkered and tinkered. There must be twenty versions of the image at which you are viewing. Once I saw them all together I picked this one. I wasn’t done yet. I gave the image a little more energy by sharpening everything. I added the frame.

Now, I was done.

That’s my working method unless I’m making some kind of documentary picture, like second line participants or Mardi Gras, itself. I don’t treat those like art except when I experiment a little. That’s just me. But, I came from a pure photojournalism background. That means change nothing except to fix the flaws and maybe adjust the contrast and color.

Housekeeping.

In the next week, starting on October 15th, I’ll do my Halloween thing. Last year I didn’t photograph enough. This year I will. Stay tuned for new Halloween material.

My new and improved website is in its last stages of completion. I want to add some more pictures. I need to add a lot of captions and fine tune the SEO.

But, it’s truly ready for prime time.

My biggest problem is that I have not found a way to let you know when a new Storyteller story is online. For right now, the best I can do is email you all individually. That’s hard, and one of the biggest pluses of a WordPress blog. Create a new post, hit the button and away it goes. I’ll do some research and figure it out. Soon.

Enjoy the season.


Bookend.

Bookends.

I made this picture during the last dog walk of the day. Yesterday. I don’t usually chase sunsets. How could I not photograph this one? Admittedly, I used a small bag of tricks to enhance the clouds. It’s small because you have to be careful. While you are messing with the clouds the trees go wonky.

Here’s the real news of the day.

Pants. I wore pants for the first time since late April in New Orleans. The long promised, and longer awaited, cool front arrive last night. The sky is a little gray and leaden, but I’ll take it. The dogs loved it. I already went for two very long walks with them this morning. I haven’t seen them walk so fast since, well, April. When it’s hot for us, it’s hot for them.

How long, you ask?

The temperature will rise to the mid-eighties by Friday and then dip again, well below today’s weather for the weekend. This means I can finally work in comfort rather than dripping and cursing.

That’s the story from this land of swampy nod.

It’s a really big deal.


Autumn sky.

In the morning.

The air was lighter. The sun was clearer. The shadows were longer. That’s what I felt and saw. That’s the picture that I made just a few hours ago. Today.

I made it at the end of a walk. The light wasn’t great until the moment I saw this scene. I tried a couple of different compositions, but this one did it for me. I saw it as a painting the from minute I pushed the button. So, that’s how I treated it in development and post production. It’s a little magical, but it hasn’t crossed the line.

Now, as I often do.

The rest of the post isn’t about the picture.

When I was a young guy I started my musical journey by listening to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other bands of those early times. Along came Cream. Wow. I never heard anything like them. Apparently, I was hip for a 14 year old. I bought their first album and kept building from there.

Cream was Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton. Three super stars in their own right. Jack Bruce passed a few years ago. Eric Clapton will turn 75 next March. He’s planning some extensive touring next year after a couple of years of relative inactivity because of physical issues. Ginger Baker was 80. Earlier last week, his family said that he was in critical condition in the hospital. They asked for our prayers.

I knew right then that the outcome wouldn’t be good. When you are 80, have a number of physical ailments, being in critical condition isn’t a good thing.

Ginger Baker passed yesterday morning.

His drumming was inspiring to a couple of generations of rock drummers. Yet, at his essence he was a jazz drummer. He explored African poly rhythms. He could play with anyone, yet he made his name with Cream and the very short lived super group, Blind Faith.

Ginger Baker was also outspoken. He was cantankerous. He could get angry at the drop of a hat. Clapton once said that when Cream was playing their best live music, it seemed like a musical fist fight between Baker and Bruce. It often scared him because of its violence. And, he was life long heroin user. That may have contributed to his death. But, I don’t know. He was 80 and sick. But, never frail.

Once there was three. Now there is one.

Yesterday was hard. These guys are aging before our eyes. Most of my musical heroes are in their late 60s or 70s. They made the music of my life’s soundtrack. You know the rest.

Ginger Baker 1939 -2019 RIP

 


Into the light.

They say.

Never photograph directly into the light. I say backlight is good. I say direct light into the lens never ever hurt a digital sensor unless you leave the shutter open for a very long time.

They say.

A cool front is moving in on Sunday. And, another one will follow on Monday. This will lower the high temperatures down to the low 80s and the low temperatures down into the high 60s. I say prove it. It’s 96 degrees out there.

There’s nothing I can do about the weather other than to whine about it. There is plenty I can do about not shooting into direct light, like show you this picture.

The sky is white. There’s a reason for it. I was trying to expose for the shadows as the light was streaming into the front of the camera. I even had to use a light pinstripe border to keep the image from bleeding into the page.

But, yes it can be easily done. Out there on Highway 61. Wait a minute. Another song lyric is bleeding into a blog about pictures. I’ll give you a dime if you can tell me which song and who wrote it.

Anyway.

I claim that this is a fall picture. See all those little red leaves? That means it’s a fall picture. Trust me. It is.


In through the out door.

The calendar flipped.

It’s October. Still hot. Still humid. Still staying inside too much because of it.

When I do go out I find strange stuff. I found something that I wanted to use a component background. The round shapes in this picture are made of sunlight passing through a frame and illuminating the darkness.

The minute that I processed it, I knew I had a picture to layer into it. So I used it. The image came together so quickly that I knew I was on the right track. That’s how it works. At least it does for me. I suspect it does for most people. Artists are all really just vessels. Our work isn’t really ours. It belongs to something bigger than us. To the cosmos? To a power higher than us? To nature?

I don’t really know.

Before you think that I’ve lost my mind, I’m not the only one to say this. Musicians like Dylan, Jones, and Young say it too. There are days when they write two, three or four songs without even trying. They don’t know how they did it. And, the songs are great.

On more thing about this way of working. It doesn’t happen often. Many days are a struggle. There are dry days. There are days when I swear that I’m blind. There are days when I can’t see a picture to save my soul. And, there are days when I can’t write on Storyteller.

But, not today.

The picture just came. The words just came. Thanks, whoever you are that gave them to me.

Do you really want to know more about the picture? Make pictures. Every day. Everywhere. You’ll build enough of an archive that you can layer images when you want to. Maybe inspiration will come to you. Or, not.

Who knows?


Falling water and fallen leaves.

Falling Water. Fallen Leaves.

Let’s just emphasize that in case you didn’t read the caption. I like that little turn of a phrase. I could write it again just to make sure that you understand. Nah. Y’all are smart readers.

I stumbled on this picture a few days ago. I thought I would save it until I could put together a few pictures about Autumn water. However, I couldn’t wait. I like this picture. Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to make a picture like this. Either the water wasn’t right. Or the leaves weren’t right. Or, or, or…

I realized that I had to make an angular picture, so that’s what I did. I only made two or three images because once I had it, I knew I had it. The rest was easy. Aside from the radical vertical crop, I did very little to the picture. The picture pretty much took itself. That’s what you want. That’s when you know that you did okay.

Two things.

I just discovered there is no second line for Sunday. In fact, aside from the normal Sundays off, during Mardi Gras and Jazzfest, there are a number of holes in the calendar. I have a pretty good idea of what that means and it isn’t good if you like our culture.

Many of the folks who actually create the second lines, and who are really first liners, have been forced to move out of the city because of intense gentrification. The very reason people come her is being gentrified out of existence. That means…

That some clubs and krewes, whose members haven’t left yet, cannot afford to pay the new city parade fees which have been raise by over 50% and, in some cases, close to 100%. If the clubs still exist, they can’t afford to roll.

New Orleans is mostly a service industry. People come here for the culture. If the culture ceases to exist what happens next?

Restaurant owners and managers are already screaming for help because line cooks, back of house and front staff can’t afford to live in the city. Many restaurants are short staffed.

The culture bearers are leaving because they can’t afford to live here either.

It gets worse. Remember my discussion about police retention? They leave after gaining a couple years of experience, going to the next neighboring parishes where the pay is much better and the crime is much lower.

All this from a simple flowing water picture. Isn’t that something?

Think about it.