Drifting in the darkness.

A single cloud.

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.

That’s our story.

Have a good thought for us.

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In space.

A little bit out there.

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.

Like life.

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.


Reflections.

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

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.

That’s it.

As Sam Abell said, “Take YOUR picture.”


Drifting.

Drifting. Floating.

It’s pretty much the same thing.

Air. Water.

Does it matter?

It’s gentle.

A good way to start the week.

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.

But.

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.

It fell out of vogue.

Now you can do it with editing software.

That’s what I did.


Trapped in a world created by a life-preserver.

I lost it. I found it.

Remember the life-preserver picture that I posted a few weeks ago? This is the much tighter version of it. I didn’t select it then because there is no context. You have no idea what you are looking at. Since you’ve seen that one, it doesn’t really matter about the context for this one. That is, assuming you saw the first one. Heh, heh, heh.

This time I went full monty. I did about everything I could do in post production. I wanted to remove about all the subject’s context. You can barely tell that the main subject is leaves. I also made it look like it is glowing from below. I wish I could say that was my intent. Instead, it’s by-product of all my tinkering. The twisting of knobs. The sliding of sliders. To my credit, once I saw it, I made every effort to enhance it.

I went for art, rather than a document. There are a lot of versions of this image. Remember, I save as I go. Ask me in an hour which one I like best and I’ll give you a different answer. Look at the image below. That is the version I made after cleaning up and enhancing what amounts to the raw capture. Yes. There is some post production. But, not nearly as much as the image I offer to you as the finished version. It’s not quite as mysterious. And, it may make more sense to you.

Original leaves.

Anyway.

That’s the picture. And, a little bit about my working methods. I wouldn’t call it workflow because for this picture, it was all over the place. If you take anything from this, it could be something like… Study. Practice. Study. Practice. Study. Experiment. Practice.


A little bit of safety.

I was walking by a pool.

Things were floating around. Sort of peacefully. Circles protecting floating leaves. It felt good. So I pictured it. Then I developed it. I post produced it. I cropped it. And, this final picture appeared.

It suits me for today. Only two more days. Back to it.

About yesterday’s post. A good friend realized that I was pretty upset so he reached out directly. He doesn’t think it’s time to pull out of New Orleans. He likes the city. He likes it for what it is. And, for what it isn’t. He’s probably right. I’ve sort of retreated into my own compound. Sort of like being safe at home. I’d better do something about that if I’m making a website about “All Things New Orleans. ” He doesn’t want me to leave. That is very cool.

About the shooting. Apparently, it was gang and drug related. The guys doing the shooting chased their target into the shopping area and he ran into the crowd thinking that he would be safe. He wasn’t. He was just a coward. The guys doing the shooting didn’t care. They just shot into the crowd. When they finally got to him, they just shot him some more. They were idiots.

Of course, there have been calls for ending the violence. For getting the guns, the drugs, the gangs, off of the streets. This happens every time somebody loses a brother, a son, a husband, a grand child, a boy friend.

Just like mass shootings around the country, there is a big hue and cry and then… nothing. At least the kids in Florida are trying to keep their stories alive. They are urging everybody to register and vote.

I don’t have an answer. It’s a multi-generational thing. It’s about living conditions. It’s about poverty. It’s about a lack of care for human life. The mayor is upset. The police chief is urging people not to take justice into their own hands.  One of the victim’s mothers is begging people to stop killing each other.  The beat goes on.

The shooters are still at large.


A little frothy.

“The Storyteller makes no choice, soon you will not hear his voice, his job is to shed light and not to master.” — John Mayer on the day of the start of The Dead and Company summer tour. That day would be today.

This is the most humbling quote that I’ve read in a long, long time. Especially in this day and age of terrible lies and false claims.

You know what I’m saying.

If  you are a Deadhead, you still miss Jerry Garcia, even though he passed almost 24 years ago. You tend to compare every replacement guitarist to him. Most do just fine. But, they ain’t Garcia. Nor, is John Mayer. But, he is a helluva a guitar player who fills his role quite admirably. He knows his role. He isn’t there to make you forget Garcia. He’s there just to keep the music from being forgotten. Or, as Garcia once hoped and said, that “The music never stops.”

So, here I am off on another tangent.

What does this have to do with the storyteller that you are reading? Pretty much everything. Especially now. In this era. Of lies. Of deceit. Of greed. The art can’t stop. As my buddy in Memphis says, “Art harder.” It may be the only thing the comes near to the truth. For all of you on the cusp. On the cusp of growing, or killing, your blog… keep going. We need your voice. We don’t need to agree. We just need to listen.

So.

Maybe it’s just this.

Listen harder.

 


The world in water.

Water.

I was looking through my archives. Again. Because I’m trying very hard not to repeat myself. And, because I realized that some artistic experiments have been going on for eight or nine years. In a couple of cities. Two states. And, on about four continents.

However.

I’m fascinated by nature. By the yearly spring rebirth of seemingly dead stuff. Especially this year when we the temperature nose-dived for three or four days. When the highs were in the low twenties. Our semi-tropical ecosystem is not used to that. Plants died. Fruit trees took a beating throughout the region.

As I look at the brown sticks that were all that was left over after the freeze and see brand new ferns showing their leaves, I’ve come to understand the cycles of nature a little better. I’ve long known that nature always seeks stasis. I didn’t realize that she could bring some things back from the dead.

Of course, the more we beat her up. The more we pollute our home — the planet — the harder it is for nature to recover. I was just reading about this winter near and around the North Pole. Normally, the water there is frozen solid. Long sheets of ice. Not this winter. There is plenty of clear water to sail through.

Think about it.

There was enough flowing water to make this picture. But, photographing it using my normal approach would be confusing. You wouldn’t know if I made the picture in 2016, 2017 or a few hours ago.

I made it a few hours ago.

I decided to use a lot of editing tools to make it look like a painting. An abstract painting. If that wasn’t enough, I turned it on its side because it looked better to my eye. That long red line on the right was trapped in the horizontal version of this.

If there is anything to be learned from this, we in the digital age have amazing freedom. We can leave things alone and make pictures that completely approximate reality. Or, we can take them someplace else.

It’s up to us.

One more thing. Don’t steal. I’ve banged this drum for forever. Just because you see a picture on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free to use. It’s somebody else’s work. Ask permission. Even though the artist really should be paid, at least give them a credit. Acknowledge their hard work as you would like your own work acknowledged.