I can’t remember seeing clouds shaped like these. They looked as if they were following each other after being pulled apart in the sky. There wasn’t much wind, at least down below where I was standing. It could have been quite gusty up above. That would have done it.
I don’t photograph many clouds unless something dramatic is going on. This isn’t dramatic. It’s interesting to me. I liked the repeating shapes. I liked the pristine blue of the sky, something that only happens around here after rainfall. When the rain stops and the storm clouds blow out, I try to take advantage of my time outside to make pictures like this.
Funny thing about going outside.
There was another discussion of how to break a photographic block. A writer’s block but with pictures. The discussion got complicated. Photography is fun. Folks should stop making it hard. Finally, I jumped into the question. Here’s what I said. “Get your camera, attach your favorite lens to it and go outside. Walk around. You’ll see pictures. Lots of pictures.”
The discussion ended right there.
Presumably, everybody was outside taking pictures. Or, not.
We are Katrina evacuees and survivors. We know what it is like to be horribly hurt by a big storm. We lost cars. A house. Out buildings. A lot of furniture. And, keepsakes. Somehow I became the keeper of my maternal grandmother’s bible. It survived being brought to this country from Europe. It was 117 years old. Even though the water in the house didn’t reach it, the humidity did. It became what people in the paper industry call slurry. That’s broken down paper that is turned into liquid prior to recycling.
So, when I look at this picture I feel like I’m looking at one of those memes. The ones that have turned over plastic chair and in bold type, and says “we will rebuild.”
Never-the-less, retrieving this umbrella is proving more problematic than you might guess. You can’t pull it out of the pool directly, because it’s upside down and holds too much water. I tried to turn it over in the pool. Still too heavy. My next approach is going to be turning it on its side so the edge of the umbrella is facing up. Hopefully it will sort of glide through the water.
If that fails?
I’ll hire two boys from the neighborhood. The problem with that is finding them. Most of this neighborhood is very special. These kids hire people to start their cars when nothing is wrong with them. I may have to cross the tracks — the streetcar tracks — and head into Central City. Those guys will do it. They’ll work for free, but will expect a healthy tip. Besides, after all the second lines, I know and trust most of them.
One more thing.
I wouldn’t have published this picture at all, but I promised two people on Facebook that I would. One is a high school classmate. An old friend. I can’t let her down.
The picture. What else could it be? F8 and be there.
In my effort to publish second line pictures, I almost forget that yesterday was the real start to autumn. To the fall season. Luckily, I’ve been finding and making pictures for the past couple of days. So, no worries.
I have two favorite seasons. Spring and Fall. Both are about changes. I guess that’s why I like them. There is implied energy to both. Even in my quietest pictures, there is a sort of energy. Mostly through the use of bold color.
What is there to say about Autumn? Leaves change color and eventually shrivel, die and fall to the ground. The days get shorter. The light gets lower. We set the clocks back by an hour in most states. The air gets colder. And, the season progresses until winter arrives. Eventually, the days start to get warmer, daylight increases and the cycle turns. As it has for many millennium.
In this picture, even nature is taking a break. Or, so it seems. It’s likely that either a storm or a big wind blew through, knocking leaves to the ground. If there is a pool nearby, into the water the leaves go.
Somebody better than me has to come along a skim the water. I just take pictures. If this was my pool, it would be another story. In New Orleans, even if the work is zen-like, it’s hot work. A lot of rehydration is necessary. Maybe some sun screen at about a PF rating of 90. And, a hat. Maybe even long sleeves, which makes it feel even hotter.
This picture was made just passing by, like so much of my work. I was exploring a little. You know me. I never self-edit in the field. I see it. If it’s remotely interesting, I photograph it. I can delete the files later.
Which brings me to Sony’s latest and greatest camera. It’s a A 7 IV. It makes a 61mp file. That’s about a 183 mb working file. Add a few layers to that and you are well over a 200 mb file, even with compression. That sounds interesting, yes?
That file is way too big and bulky for most of us. With that camera, not only would I need to upgrade every lens I own because the lenses must have proper resolving power. I’d need increased storage. Given that I save final files in three places, that’s a lot of storage. Then, there’s computing power. A new computer with about 64 mb of RAM is needed, along with a very fast video card and a lot of onboard hard drive space.
See where I’m headed with this? For most of us it’s overkill. Way overkill. For sure, there are working photographers who could use the equivalent of medium format film. Small product photographers need files of this size. Fine art and landscape photographers could use these huge images. Exposed properly, files of this size could make great 16×20 prints. That’s in feet, not inches.
For the rest of us?
This means we can pick up the last year’s latest and greatest camera for pennies on the dollar. I’m already starting to see the “gear head” photographers on social media selling their year old cameras. These are great deals. This group of photographers use their camera to take pictures of their gear. Maybe they take a few pictures to prove how good the camera performs. They rarely use their cameras as I would. As a tool to make pictures. For them, collecting gear is deal.
I was walking and I saw a balloon drop out of the sky from nowhere. It was sort of stunning. It was so unexpected. I made a couple of pictures. It floated away.
Just like that.
Sometimes, that’s how things happen. It’s up to us to accept them, exploit the moment, or do nothing. For me, the last option is unacceptable.
I’ve had two occasions in the last few days to offer my “wisdom of age” to guys younger than myself. Normally,I don’t think it’s my business, but they asked.
The first guy is very overweight. He had an electrical heart issue. That was fixed. Now, his blood pressure spikes for no apparent reason. His doctor gave him a couple of options. He asked what I thought. I told him it was really simple. He only had two choices. Live or die.
Yes. It’s that serious.
The other guy wants to move really badly. He doesn’t know where. He likes the beach. He is getting older. His life is slipping by. I suggested that he travel some. To see if what he thinks that he wants, he really wants. And, then do it.
This has been going on for years. We’ll see what happens.
Now that I’m old, I see my options fairly clearly. I’m starting to get clarity on a couple of issues. I’ll make up my mind in the next day or so. Then, I’ll do it.
Time is always short. No matter how old you are. Use it. Don’t waste it.
With the face of a dog. Drifting in the early evening.
As a prelude.
To the storm to come. There are two. The big one, that I mentioned yesterday.
And, the little one, which arrived in the early morning. Within three hours it managed to dump nine inches of rain in our neighborhood. The entire city, and outlying regions, is flooded with about two or three feet of water. Even our street, which never floods, is overwhelmed. Water is up to our porch and well into our driveway. The pool is overflowing.
We had a tornado warning, a flash flood warning, a high wind advisory and a lakefront overflow warning all at once. We are a very special place.
If this keeps up, and with the big storm arriving Friday, it is very likely that the levees holding back The Mississippi River will overtop. That’ll be something. Low lying streets along the river will be flooded with I don’t know how many feet of water.
The big storm is going to make landfall as Hurricane Barry, a Category 1 storm somewhere near Lake Charles Saturday morning in the daylight hours. It will dump anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain inland. I have a very soft spot for Lake Charles. That’s where we finally made our temporary shelter after we evacuated following Hurricane Katrina. The folks there took good care of us. I wish them well. And, prayers.
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.
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.
See those little white dots? They are little flowers blown off of a bush. That’s what I set out to photograph. Rather than work tightly, I used what amounts to about a 28mm lens. It wasn’t until I started framing the picture in the LCD that I realized what I had.
I captured a late spring or early summer picture in blue. In my swimming pool. Nature was just floating around. I only made a couple of pictures. This one, another slightly tighter horizontal picture. And, a couple of vertical pictures which didn’t work at all.
The image took almost no post production. Mostly, I just tuned it up a bit.
How you see the picture is up to you. We all make meaning of art in different ways, based on our own personal experiences.
I wonder about the future. The future of photography.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at the pictures other photographers posted. Before I get into this, please know that I don’t take the so-called wisdom of the crowd all that seriously.
What I found was interesting. The truly unique and challenging pictures had almost no likes. The derivative, technically current popular ways of working had many, many likes. This is partly due to the Instagram effect and young photographers trying to gain popularity so that the become influencers. That may have mattered once to image users and buyers, but that ship has sailed. They know that the waters were very shallow.
If anything, Instagram and Facebook have hurt photography. If you follow the crowd and play for likes and reposts, you’ll never break out. You’ll never really find your own style. You’ll just be copying some other photographer, who copied some other photographer and… you get it. Out of that comes a new photo philosophy. “Fake it until you make it.”
Copy other photographers work until you learn enough technique to start trying to make your own pictures. I don’t know when or how that came to be. It’s the worst possible thing to do. I was taught about 150 years ago to photograph my world as I saw it. Sure. Some of my early work wasn’t all that great, but it taught me to think for myself.
Certainly, some photographers influenced me. They still do, today. But, I didn’t copy them. I learned a lot from how they thought. I learned a lot from how they worked. But, I never set out to make a particular picture like one of them did.
I made the picture on Sunday. You’ll see it on Monday. Either way. It’s the beginning of the week. For some of you.
I’d tell you more. But, what’s to tell?
Enjoy it for what it is.
For technically inclined.
I’ll tell you a bit about the post production. If you’re old, like me, you’ll know. Back in the good old film days, we used Polaroid film much like we use an LCD today. We took a picture with a Polaroid camera to check the framing and lighting. It was hard to check the exposure. Then, we used a film camera to make the real photograph based on what we saw.
We usually threw the Polaroids in the trash.
Some smart art photographer realized that by pressing the wet Polaroid film onto a piece of art paper you could transfer the image to the paper and make — you guessed it — art. It was tricky. The pressure had to be correct. Timing was essential. Usually you managed to make one out five transfers close to the way that you’d hoped.