Leaves, Water, Night
Leaves, Water, Night

… she said. “Why?” I asked in my best Homer Simpson voice. “It’ll only get dirty again.”

Besides, I thought it looked pretty good and needed to be photographed first. So that’s what I did. Then, I cleaned the pool. That was after the dogs barked at me and told me that I’d better listen. They didn’t want any trouble in these parts. It is their pool too. Lord knows, they don’t want any leaves floating around in their water. Dogs who think nothing about jumping into a muddy smelly swamp. Those dogs.


It is probably better to clean the pool at night. The temperature dropped from about 200 degrees to a balmy 98 degrees. That’s the air temperature. I don’t even want to know what the heat index was for the past couple of days. And, one more thing. This is exactly how the summer was ten years ago. Way too hot. The gulf heated up to about 92 degrees. That’s water temperature, not air temperature. Imagine that. You drive to a nice beach somewhere on the gulf coast thinking that you can go for a swim and cool off. You jump in the water and it feels like bath water. In your tub. At home. This allows any kind of tropical storm that happens to find its way into the gulf to fuel up and turn into something nasty. Like Hurricane Katrina. Ten years ago.

Drifting on Bayou St. John.
Drifting on Bayou St. John.

This is a little different.

A friend of mine suggest that my view of New Orleans is a little twisted. She’s probably right. But, in my defense I really don’t shoot post card pictures. I photograph junk. Second line parades. Mardi Gras Indians. Jazz funerals. The French Quarter, Uptown.


I made this picture on my way to some place else. Actually, we were already at the place. I just turned around and saw this scene.

This is Bayou St. John. And, its surrounding neighborhood known as — wait for it — Bayou St. John. Once upon a time the bayou stretched from Lake Ponchartrain throughout the city into Broadmoor, over into Treme and the Carrollton neighborhood. At one point, there was a portage directly from the bayou to the Mississippi River which is a big reason why New Orleans was founded where it was in 1718. Today, that portage is Esplanade Avenue.

Once this was a very heavily used industrial kind of passage way. But, barges and boats fell out of favor as a method of transporting goods through the heart of the city after the Industrial Canal was dug and dredged further downriver near the Lower 9th ward.

Today, it’s a very pretty mostly residential neighborhood. Even though City Park is just around the bend in this picture, and the fairground where Jazzfest is held annually is within walking distance, this is not a very heavily touristic area.

With the exception of Bayou Boogaloo — the reason I made this picture — very few people crowd this neighborhood. Mostly, residents boat and kayak in the waterway. They don’t swim here because there is all sorts of junk in the water and from time-to-time alligators can make their way up the bayou.

I think the take way for many of you reading this, is pretty simple. Not all of New Orleans is what you think it is. There are quiet residential neighborhoods scattered throughout the city. But, even our quiet neighborhoods are a little different from the rest of the country.

Balloon glow in Gonzales.
Balloon glow in Gonzales.

I’m sort of falling into the thing I did last year. Make a bunch of pictures and save them for distribution as I needed them. I had a good reason last year. I wasn’t in New Orleans all that much. I was busy elsewhere. But, this year is a lot quieter so I don’t have a good reason to stockpile images. Yet, I do. I have enough images in the can that if I don’t shoot another experimental picture for the rest of the year, I could still publish something new every day. I’m not quite sure how this happened since that implies I’m energetic and always working. The truth is… I’m not. I can be as lazy as the next guy. Whoever the next guy might be.

Anyway, it’s time to unleash some of these pictures on you.

This picture comes from the balloon festival that I photographed a few weeks ago in Gonzales, Louisiana.  Gonzales? Huh? Okay a little history. Then, I’ll talk about the picture. It was a Spanish and French settlement in the midst of the Huoma Indian tribe. It grew to the whopping total of ten people by 1851. It was actually called Edenborn. But, by 1886, the settlement had grown big enough to elect a sheriff — “Big” Jose Gonzales. His son opened a general store and post office in 1887. The post office was called the Gonzales Post Office. A few years later the Railroad Commission changed the name of the town to match the post office.  They had the power to do this since railroads helped build the settlement into a village, a town and finally into a city. The town was laid  out and sub divided in 1906 and Joseph Gonzales was elected the town’s first mayor in 1922. Sense a trend with the family name here?

So, in 1968 the town created first Jambalaya Festival.  A few years later, the governor declared Gonzales to be the “Jambalaya Capital of the World.” I didn’t know that. Gonzales first came onto my radar when the Louisiana Air National Guard made the fair grounds a drop off point, marshalling point and care center for pets that were rescued from the flood waters in New Orleans and other places in the days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The fairgrounds. The very place where I made this picture.

See? Hurricane Katrina is one of those milestones that changed everything.

Back to the picture.  Balloon festivals, or fiestas as they are called in New Mexico, are usually divided into a few phases. There is usually a morning mass ascension, some contests for accuracy, a long break during mid-day when nothing flies, then a few tethered tourist flights, another contest and then finally a balloon glow. The balloon glow is the most visually interesting to me. How can you beat a large group brightly colored balloons,  a dusk lighting and… fire? The picture is hand-held at a fairly slow shutter speed.

Soaring at the Ascension Parish Balloon Festival.
Soaring at the Ascension Parish Balloon Festival.

Friday. Very, very long and hard week. So, I did what I could do. I made pictures. We went to The Ascension Parish Balloon Festival. It’s located in Gonzales, Louisiana. About 50 miles for New Orleans. It’s nowhere near as big as The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. But, few ballooning events are. When we relocated to New Mexico following the storm, I had the pleasure of photographing four big balloon happenings. They are great fun. And, they are a great challenge. After photographing one or two of these events, the pictures start looking the same. So, I have to start seeing a little differently. For me, that means seeing graphics rather than seeing the event itself. In Southeast Louisiana, the scenery is very different so that helped a lot. Even so, I still worked on shapes rather than capture the event. This is one of those pictures. It’s sort of a classic. Balloon. Sunset. A little bit of scenery as a base. I normally don’t suggest this, but open this one up. It’s worth it for the details.

I don’t normally ask for things like this. But, please vote for this picture. Here. http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/portfolio-view/travel-photo-contest-19/ I’ve entered it in a fellow blogger’s travel photo contest.

The picture?

It was made a few years ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico on the opening day of The International Balloon Fiesta. It was mostly a combination of luck and, well, luck. I was heading towards the balloon field for the first morning’s mass ascension when I ran into a massive traffic jam on the interstate. Yes. I left for the even in plenty of time. By the time I worked my way through all the traffic many of the balloons were already in the air. So I  drove around to the backside of the balloon field and happened to find the this picture. 

Well, I’m looking back. But, not so far back given that March just ended yesterday. Please take a look at my small collection of pictures from what appears to be my never-ending project called, PAD, or picture a day. I started this thing four years ago. Every time that I reach the end of one year, I stop the project thinking, “that’s enough.” A strange thing happens. After a few days, or a week or a month, I started to miss it and so back to the project I go. Usually I try to set some kind of semi-important date. My birthday. My other birthday. The New Year. The Lunar New Year. Something like that.


Here are my images for March. Some of you have seen some of them as I tend to post some of the better images as I produce them.