Like a fence.

Seems a bit like summer. At least in this picture. Of course, it’s spring. Sometimes one fills in for the other.

Often in picture making or film making one thing approximates another. There are filters that the movie business uses called “Day for Night.”

I’ve used it on some photographs. It may work when the image is moving, but for still images the effect is just too blue. Every time that I forget and use it I spend a lot of time working on the image to bring it back to something that looks like night time.

But, this picture. It fell right in to the right color palette. Unfortunately, I used my smart phone. Look at the picture carefully. What is the only thing that is sharp?

The fence in the far background.

That’s where the phone focused. I have no idea why. It’s back focused as it could be. If I’m basically working in auto everything I have no idea how to tell the phone what’s important to me. There is a patch that you can place over a section of the scene as you see it in the LCD. I put the patch where I wanted it.

No joy. If anything, that patch made it harder to focus on anything.

Did I mention that I really hate the whole idea of digital capture? Not only does it make actually photographing a little harder, but it’s bringing up a second generation of young photographers who think “spray and pray” is the thing to do when they are photographing anything including a rock.

That’s not where I intended to go with this. I wanted to talk about figuring out how to use a phone in auto everything mode and get the results that I want.

Yes, I know that there are ways of using a smartphone’s camera manually. Have you ever tried that? You better be photographing a rock. In the time that it takes to do the manual settings, the subject could have moved ten times.

Anyway.

Grumble, grumble, grumble. Toil and trouble.

I just about said everything I could say about the failings of this picture in the left hand column.

On the other hand, it is an interesting scene. Maybe when I return I can re-photograph it with a real camera.

We’ll see.

I dislike visiting the same scene twice. I’d like to believe that, but as I’ve mentioned in the past I’ve photographed some of these places at least 20 time, four times during each season and over the past five years that we’ve lived here.

You’d thing with that repetition the pictures would get better.

Oh nooooo.

They are technically worse. Much worse. I’ve changed cameras three times during that time. I’ve used one DLSR and two phones that followed.

What am I doing? A this late stage in my photographic career technological issues should be a thing of the past. The way past.

This means only one thing. War. Back to the mirrorless bodies that don’t even have shutter slap.

I’ll see you then.


With explosive power.

Man oh man, Forty years already. Where did the time go? Better yet, why did my time go? Today is December 8. A horrible anniversary. I didn’t know until the next day so for me December 9 is just as bad.

I hope by now you know what I’m talking about. If not, this is the day that John Lennon was murdered in cold blood outside of his home in New York City forty years ago.

There are days that will live in infammy. December 7 was one of them. The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. That affects me too. My dad served during WWII. I might not be here if things had gone sideways.

But, December 8 lives on in my heart and soul.

Here’s my story.

My then wife and I lived in two different states, North Carolina and Virginia. She worked as a reporter for the Roanoke newspapers and I was a photographer for the Winston-Salem newspapers. It’s not as bad as it sounds. In Virginia — our base — we lived in Christiansburg about two miles from the interstate. In North Carolina we lived in Kernersville, the home of the North Carolina Klu Klux Klan. They have nothing to do with this story.

It’s still not as bad as it sounds.

By a quirk of shift scheduling, we managed to spend six nights together. We would pack and leave straight from our respective newspapers. It was a little less than two hours door to door. We took a small road across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There was no radio reception up there so I played tapes. No CDs. No streaming. This was 1980.

I got home to Virginia, unpacked my stuff and went to bed. I didn’t watch or hear the news.

The next morning the phone ring. It was my wife telling me the horrible news.

Eventually, I got myself together and went to meet a friend at my old newspaper chain. To be quite honest, we were going to drink our lunch. As I walked in the back door where the pre-press work was done, out came the new publisher.

The driving force behind my leaving was that my old newspaper was bought by a terrible newspaper chain. One by one we were all leaving. The new publisher was a guy who drove the biggest car that he could. He was also very heavy. I never comment on people’s looks, but between his weight and his face which was round with a sort of a snout for a nose, he looked like a pig.

He started screaming at me for some reason that I still don’t know. I just stood there. I didn’t reply. The one thing I remember was that he yelled, “You are making a fool of yourself.” I did reply to that. I said, “No, that would be you.” The gathered crowd of my former coworkers started laughing. He stormed off.

That’s how my mourning for John Lennon began.

It continued on and on.

When I returned to work in Winston-Salem, my boss, Chief Photographer Bill Ray — a wise older man from North Carolina — made sure not to schedule any assignments for photographers during the commemoration which, for us meant climbing on the roof and looking into space at the stars.

Somewhere during those early days my wife joined us. We went to my friends house — another photographer — to remember Lennon. They had a piano. He played “Imagine.” My wife, his wife and I sang the best that we could. You didn’t want to hear that.

A week or so later my parents, who still lived in Long Beach, sent a giant special section from the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram. It was about Lennon.

A young writer named Tim Grobaty wrote an editorial. It was probably the best thing I read during that time. He concluded with something like this wasn’t just another entertainer death, it was like a death in the family.

And, so it was.

Time fades away, so says Neil Young. Luckily, he’s still alive. He’s 75 and as productive as ever. He’s right. It does.

I have no picture to commemorate John Lennon, so I made something a little bright and a little pretty.

It’s a layered combination of two images. Sword Ferns and the blooming of one of those flowers that I showed you yesterday.

It takes time to make these kinds of pictures. I tinker and I tinker until I get it right. Then, I look at it on the big monitor and think, “Oh, man. It’s too dark.” So back into the tinker toys I go.

See what I did there?

Anyway.

There is no trick to this. It just takes time. Maybe 40 years. And, patience. Maybe a lifetime.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Imagine. Just imagine.


Deep Green.

Another trip into the green.

This time it’s ferns. The really deep green feathery kind. The ones that if you didn’t know better you’d jump into because they look so soft. They aren’t. Don’t do it.

This is going to be a little short because Queen Kim’s second line jazz funeral is being held today. I’m wearing a mask. I’ll be very careful, but I can’t keep myself on the sidelines for much longer, This is important to me.

This is supposed tp be a small second line. Uh huh. The city is mourning Kim. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mayor didn’t try to sneak in wearing a mask.

Meanwhile

The weather. Sheesh. Was I ever wrong.

Both storms will arrive as Category 1 hurricanes. All of Louisiana is under one or the other cone of variance, with them overlapping right over New Orleans. If NOAA is correct we’ll have wind and rain from the outer bands of one or both storms by late Sunday night. If the storms connect, we are in trouble.

Or, not.

Things could change. I tell this story. I was student teaching a university class. It was Tuesday night. As I was wrapping up the class I said that there is a big hurricane in the gulf headed towards Atlanta. And, I’ll see you next Tuesday.

I never saw that class again.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Look after each other. Enjoy every MRI (meals ready to eat).


Give me the greens of summer.

Changes. Many changes.

I really messed up some folks today. Here’s what happened. I decided to make some major changes to Storyteller. You can’t see them. The changes are made in the architecture of the site. The WordPress technician and I worked very well together. We knew that he had to fix a bug and that it would take a little time for my archives to port to what amounts to another website.

In the middle of all of that my scheduled post, posted. Some friends on Facebook saw it and tried to open it up. One received a 404 error. The other could read the text but saw no picture. They let me know. I explained the problem. I also told them when the site was really working.

No harm. no foul.

It seems that I can’t get away from the technology of Storyteller. That’s okay. For now.

George Floyd.

Say his name. Remember it.

Around here, after watching the most disgusting video in the world, we are up in arms. I don’t understand how a human being can do that to another human being. How do you plant a knee on another man’s neck and kill him?

You can’t even claim self defense. George Floyd wasn’t armed. He was begging for his life and that policemen murdered him. We know the cop’s name. I won’t give him the dignity of naming him. None. Zero. Ziltch.

I’m sad. I’m sad that my country is in tatters. I’m sad that killing Black people for no reason continues to this day. I’m sad that I even have to comment.

You know, I speak about opportunity. I talk about not returning to normal. Who the hell wants to return to this? Instead, I want to make things better. But, I don’t think we can. We can’t until we fix this level of stupidity.

People’s lives matter. Right now, it’s Black people who are in the hot seat. For now, Black lives matter. Maybe they’ve always been there. We have to atone for my country’s original sin. You know, 1619. I don’t know how to do that. Some say reparations. Some have other ideas. I don’t know. Just do something. Take a first step. We’ll adapt as we go.

I have a friend from high school who posts a lot on Facebook. He thinks that it might by time for another Black Panther group to arise. He doesn’t really want the violence, but he thinks that they could protect their brothers and sisters.

In case you are wondering, he’s a white guy.

Meanwhile musical miss is up in arms. Her sister, who is usually calm, raised hell on Instagram. I’ve never heard her curse. She did today. F-bomb deluxe. Even the dogs are angry. Cocker spaniels really reflect their people’s feelings.

I really don’t know what to do. I do know that we have to do it now. I do know that the man in the hightower has created this environment. How? There is a picture of the killer cop floating around on social media. In it he’s wearing a red MAGA hat.

When did this happen? When I was a young photojournalist we couldn’t even place a campaign poster on our lawns. Same thing about cops. Believe what you want. But, be professional.

How is killing a man by forcing a knee on his neck professional?

The picture.

I made this picture yesterday. I am sharing it today because green is supposed to make you feel peaceful. It’s not working. At least, on me, it isn’t. I hope that it works for you. It’s really an easy picture to make. I just needed the right light. When I got it, I did it. There is pretty much no processing of any kind.

Say his name. George Floyd. Remember it.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Eventually, nature seeks and gets stasis.

It’s nature’s way.

One of you commented something along the lines of nature has a way of overcoming whatever humans do. Nature seeks stasis. Nature is patient. Nature always wins in the end. Nature doesn’t care.

I wasn’t sure where  I was going with this, then it came to me. Human beings are a speck in nature’s eye. As we move to further harm the planet, the temperature will increase, the waters will rise, and people will go hungry. I’m sure as people go hungry and get desperate we’ll start killing each other. Finally, nature will have had enough. She’ll say, “basta!” and fling us off the planet like a dog shakes water off of her back. (Basta is Italian for enough.)

We’ll all be gone. Nature will go about her business. The earth will heal. And, it will once again be the healthy blue marble you can see from space.

This picture is an illustration of the start of the process. I made it in an odd corner of the 9th Ward. The neighborhood was flooded during the levee breaks following the storm. Some people were able to move back and repair their homes. Others could not. Apparently, the folks who own this place are either waiting for help or just gave up.

Have you ever seen what happened to an abandoned building?

The roots of plants begin to seek purchase. They find cracks and crevasses. At first, it’s nothing. Rip them down and the building is fine. Don’t, and that’s the first step. Eventually the entire plant will find its way inside. It’ll be both inside and out. Wood will start to split. Plaster will begin to fall. The floorboards will begin to collapse. Eventually, the house will cave in upon itself. There will be nothing left but a pile of rotting wood. And, leftover pipes and other bits of metal, assuming scavengers don’t get to them first. What’s left will disappear under heavy growth.

This house will be gone.

That doesn’t happen quickly. It usually takes from 10 to 20 years. Nature is patient. Nature picked her place carefully this time. It’s hot. It’s humid. There is heavy rainfall. There is constant moisture.

Oh, did I mention creatures? Unless we take countermeasures, Formosa Termites are happy to eat their fill of houses like this one.

Think about it. Think about this happening on a grand scale all around the globe. Mankind will be gone. Maybe other animals will make their return. The planet will be quiet and undisturbed by humans.

Mother Earth is probably better off without us.


A little pink flower hidden on a bed of green.

A tiny little thing.

It was hidden in plain sight. So small that I had to look twice and break my cardinal rule of photography. I had to move some of the greenery around to photograph the flower. I try never to move or change anything when I make these kinds of semi-nature pictures. I had no choice. If I wanted to make the flower’s picture, I had to be able to see all of it.

There.

Honesty. Full disclosure.

It’s a very peaceful picture. After another week of political craziness, more lies and memorial sadness, I think we could all use a picture that’s a little quiet. Besides, it’s Sunday in the U.S. It’s a Sunday kind of picture.

Because it’s Sunday, I’m going to be quiet.

Have a great day.

 

 

 

 


Ferns.

Chasing Light.

That’s what I do. Except when it comes to me.  Yesterday evening, it came to me.  It was so strong and calling to me so loudly that I could not help myself. I had to make the picture. It was almost too strong. I had to work in post production to tune down the contrast and the color.

If you know my work, you know that doing that is very rare. I’m usually more color. More contrast. More shape. More. More. More.

Not this time.

After all, things change.

It’s a lovely spring day. I’m going outside.

I have a new toy to play with, er test. A new camera. A baby Leica. It’s small. It has one lens. 24-75mm, which is about my perfect range. Its aperture is fairly fast at f1.7 to f2.8. My working theory is that often when I travel I don’t have enough time to really work, but when I do I’d like to travel lightly. Very lightly. This camera should do it. The reviews are outstanding. Sheesh. No matter what size, it’s a Leica.

Wish me fun and luck. And, that my editing software actually can process the Leica’s files.


Even now in the “fall.”

Green. Very green.

A color of calmness. Of restfulness. Of renewal and luck. Of rebirth and healing.

And, I found it. Super green. Moss. Ferns. And, the host tree. We could probably all use this picture after the week that was.

I’ll leave this Sunday post with that.

If you want to make a picture like this I suggest that you go outside, take a walk and have a look around. Your picture may be warmer with reds, oranges and yellows. But, I live in a swamp. My swamp.


Really rebirth.

Spring. Rebirth. Renewal.

We aren’t used to very much cold weather. This year we had some very cold weather, with temperatures in the low teens. That cold spell killed everything especially our semi tropical plants which are not used to freezing weather. Dead and brown ferns are pretty ugly, so we cut them down to the ground. Nobody dug them up. It was either because we were too lazy or knew that they might likely rebound. I choose the former. We are very lazy.

Sure enough.

Nature did her thing. While this little patch of ferns isn’t as full as it was, it’s coming back, Rebirth is here, with bright fresh colors that I like.

And, that’s nature. And spring. A time to repeat a circle of rebirth from a cold, often dead winter. I never fails to amaze me, although I know it well. I just need to be reminded.

The picture. I saw it. I photographed it. I tinkered with it in post production. But, not in the way you think. The new ferns were looking way too neon, so I tuned them back. A little. One thing to take away. If you see the light that you like from one angle, that’s the angle from which to make the picture.