My version of winter.

I’m listening to an interesting YouTube video as I write.

It’s about “work that matters.”  The visual podcast is called The Art of Photography.

As the speaker talks, he reminds me of me. He says that a picture should strive for something, that it ought to push the boundaries, that it shows artist growth, and it goes beyond gear.

You know me.

I rarely if ever talk about gear. I always talk about subject matter, content and why the picture matters to me. I suppose if I did talk about gear I could monetize Storyteller with corporate sponsorships. But, that isn’t me. Of course I would like some help paying for this blog. But, I want it on my terms.

That’s important.

It’s also why I don’t take numbers very seriously. Sure, the more people who see my work, the more people who could possible know me and become some kind of client. But, as I’ve said to some of you by sharing a Neil Young quote, “Numbers add up to nothing.” Getting a lot of likes on Instagram or Facebook really just means that your picture happens to fit into the flavor of the hour. That is transitory at best.

I want my work to be long lasting and possible have some influence on a few people’s work. I do that now. Sometimes people talk to me about it. Often they don’t. I look at their work and I see my own work in their pictures.

Case in point. Since I’ve been making pictures of winters bare trees around sunset, I’m seeing all sorts of similar — but not the same — pictures that show up on Facebook friend’s feeds.

That’s all good.

It’s good because it means that I matter to somebody. I don’t need the validation because I believe in my own path. I like to know that somebody is watching… and reading.

The picture. I made a really heavily blurred image of some wild flowers a few days ago. By itself it was unrecognizable no matter what I did to it. It was mostly a yellow, green and black blob. I saved it and added some recognizable yellow flowers to it. That’s what you are looking at now.

Happy day.

 


Evidence.

Winter.

I have a friend in Milwaukee who was complaining because his four year old snow blower broke down yesterday. I have friends further east who were just waiting until the big snowstorm reached them. Even in Seattle, where the weather is fairly mild, the streets were tangled by snowfall.

Not down here. Oh no. Not down here in the swamp.

Instead, the temperature yesterday was in the mid to high 70s. The Japonicas are blooming. So are all sorts of new little buds. The squirrels are complaining. I’ve heard bird sounds that I’ve never heard in the past,

Not to worry. Today turned chilly. The rest of the week will be downright cold. Lows in the low 30s. At least cold for us.

Then, around the first week of May, things will heat up. NOLAHeat will come after us until October. If I could think of a place where we could spend our summer, we’d go there. But, every place is hot. Some air is dryer. Some air is moister. But, it’s still hot.

My neighbor suggested that we go to the beach. Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to stay for at least eight weeks? If I were going to the beach — which sounds very nice — I’d like to go to the ocean, not the gulf. I’d rather go to the Pacific, not the Atlantic. If course, beggars can’t be choosers.

Where would you go for a couple of months if you could?


The birth of yellow.

New blooms. In winter.

I’ve never seen this plant in the time that I’ve moved here. I’ll have to wait until these blooms open. I think I know what they might be, but I won’t know until I see them.

Sorta like life.

Make all the plans that you want. The minute you put them into action everything changes. Wise generals know you can plan and plan a battle, but the minute you step on the field everything changes. Former boxer Mike Tyson once said that you can make all the plans you want for a match, but the minute you get punched in the face those plans go out the window. That’s why I say to empty your mind and not to take the picture. Let the picture take you.

But, what do I know?

I’m still feeling my way as I go. Just like all the rest of us. I may know a lot about photography and some visual stuff, but what I don’t know about most of life could fill up the worlds largest land mass.

That said, this years single word koan is “learn.” I did learn. I learned mostly about me. That’s always good.  I learned a tiny bit about the world around me. Not enough. What should next years word be, do you think?

I’m all ears.


A flower’s grace.

Another is a series.

The series of wouldn’t you like to be like us… in the cool months of the year. I found this little beauty in our street side garden. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. Then, I thought, wait a minute . October wasn’t normal. The weather was hot and dry. That’s our second growing season. Not this year. So, maybe our second growing season is now.

Anyway, there are flowers blooming everywhere. Even the Japonica tree, which normally blooms in very early spring, has new buds on it. The last that I heard is that we haven’t even reached winter yet.

The picture. I was surprised, the phone has a macro function. I used it. This is the result. I worked on the picture a little bit. I wanted it to be very graphic. I cropped it. I made sure that the shadow is dark and that the flower is very gently soft.

I think I got it. You tell me.


Layering helps.

They say that fall is colorful.

I agree. So, here they all are. Every color.

It must have been my feverish brain that made this thing. This mess. This monstrosity. None of this means that I don’t like what I’m showing you. I do. A lot.

Which brings me to showing our work.

I read a blog recently. The author said that it wasn’t his/her best work, adding that he/she wasn’t sure that they liked it. WHT? If you don’t like it, what makes you think that I’ll like it? That anyone will like it?

The only thing that I can think of that would allow anyone to share something they didn’t like would be a self-promise to publish on certain days. Or, a firm deadline such as you used to find in the old days of newspapering. And, that was usually about hard news. We don’t publish hard news on our blogs.

So, here’s my thing.

Always try to put your best foot forward. Make no excuses. Don’t apologize for your work, especially by saying it’s not good. Let your readers decide if your work isn’t good. This time.

For sure, there are times when I look back and say to myself, “What the hell was I thinking?” That’ll happen. It’s happening now.

Now? No. Not with this post.

It’s happening with a post that I’m thinking about publishing towards the end of the year. I got the idea from a lot of sports sites that I read. It’s an end of a decade thing. My ten best pictures of the decade. Aside from seeing pictures that I like, especially with my current thinking, there are pictures that I think, “why did I make that picture and what was wrong with me?”

Anyway.

Do you know how hard it is picking a decades ten best pictures?

Sheesh.


Like a painting.

A little experiment.

I was building my new and improved website and I was uploading a lot of pictures. That took some time. To help pass it, I started playing with older pictures. You might not recognize it, but you’ve seen this picture in the past, when it was bright magenta.

I started in one direction and realized I hadn’t used a couple of photo editing tools in some time, (time is a reoccurring theme today) so I started tinkering with them. Eventually, after many, many attempts, I arrived here. I added the frame and that’s how you see it.

Uploading and downloading large batches of RAW or Tiff imagery, does take a little time (There I go again) no matter how new and powerful your machine may happen to be. I like to fill it, (time) by doing something else. In this case, I was more-or-less practicing and experimenting with image modification software.

But, once upon a time…

I used to play a lot of computer games. I wouldn’t call myself a gamer, but I wasted a lot of time. One day the lightbulb went off. “Why not do something more meaningful,” I thought.

So, I did.

I started teaching myself Photoshop. It has a really steep learning curve. Some say it takes about five years to learn completely. Once I started I realized it wouldn’t take five years because there are some things that I’ll never do. It did take a while.

Doing that gave me the basics and a little more to understand what I was doing. Eventually, I started using a new software package called OnOne. It couldn’t develop RAW images back then, but that was one the company’s big goals.

Once OnOne became a potential RAW developer I left Photoshop and Lightroom behind. Who wants to pay $9.95 per month for the rest of your life?

Today, my workflow is simple. I download and cull in Photo Mechanic and finish in OnOne. You can use both of them forever unless you want to upgrade. Actually, Photo Mechanic upgrades are free.

Oh, Photo Mechanic is software that a lot of photojournalists use. It’s fast, easy to use and you can edit a big take in probably less than 30 minutes. I lot of my friends suggested that I try it. I kept putting it off, until one day…

I should listen to my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.

 

 

 

 


Some people call this a Swamp Lilly.

Some folks call this a Swamp Lilly.

That’s good enough for me. Especially since I rarely know the names of flowers beyond, red flower, yellow flower, pink flower. I have the same problem with birds. A real nature photographer knows the common and Latin names for everything that he or she photographs.

That’s why I’m not really a nature photographer. Because of my early photojournalism training, I am kind of a generalist. I photograph what I see. Sometimes, because of time constraints, I tend to make pictures of a little bit of nothing. I’m in that cycle right now. That should come to an end by Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest.

Then, we’ll learn just how motivated I really am to produce something more meaningful than a picture of a flower. Let’s put it this way. I darn well better be. Ha!

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Process it to death to get all the little details in the flower to show up. That’s it.