For Friday.

I

started working on this picture so long ago that I forgot what picture I was going to use when it came to publishing this page.

I suppose it’s a leftover of lockdown fuzziness. Or maybe I’m just losing my ability to think and remember stuff.

I’d like to remember important things. Maybe photographs and Storyteller aren’t all the important. Or, maybe they are and should be.

Storyteller wasn’t always that important. I realized through the lockdown until the present that it kept me aware of the date (sometimes) but rarely the time.

I think that’s why many musicians played some version of songs from home. On one day they would check requests, figure out a small set list or song, rehearse and play the song on whatever day they picked.

Some did it live. Some didn’t.

That didn’t seem to matter. They needed to play for people. People were craving anything the approximated any live music.

That worked for a time.

Somehow we all came to the same place. We needed freedom. Eventually, some people gained some. Of course, I’m not one of them. That’s gonna change.

I made my career taking risks. Now I don’t. It’s time to weigh risk and reward and do the best that I can. No. I won’t take stupid risks, but I’ve got to get out and about.

I can’t take pictures if I don’t.

P

eaceful for Friday. I started working on this picture. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I realized that this image would look best in black and white. Better yet, it needed a very light monochromatic color.

I’m not sure how I started working in light yellow tones, but that seemed to be a good option. Besides, I liked what it did to the bare trees.

So, that’s the direction that I started to work. I added some stuff in OnOne, but not much. It was ready when it was done. That’s how it happens sometimes.


Into the sun.

I

was rooting around in my archives when I stumbled upon this picture. I made it very early when we returned to New Orleans.

We used to live in Jefferson Parish, near to where The Saints football team practices. I used to walk on a track. Depending on direction you could walk about 1.5 miles or 3 miles.

Getting there was easy. Parking was ample. People were friendly. I wish that we had something closer to home now. I could go to one of the big parks, but that takes effort.

So, I wander around the streets. Sometimes that’s more interesting. But, I’d like not to have to think about traffic.

Anyway.

No dreams, or at least that I remember. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I think when I see things like I did yesterday, it helps my creative juices to flow. After all, I made a pink picture. ūüôā

And, now a word from our sponsor. Or, something like that.

David Crosby — yes, that David Crosby, founder of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash and sometimes Young — released a new album called “For Free” after a Joni Mitchell song.

At 79 years old he is dealing with his own mortality. He understands it and is ready, even though he doesn’t want to go.

Unlike most of us, he has a transplanted kidney. He was a serious drug abuser who has been clean for years. And, he’s had at least three heart attacks. So, at 79 he’s been living on borrowed time.

Y’all need to listen to it. The entire record album (I’m old, so sue me) is great from end to end. Amazingly, he’s managed to keep his voice. That sweet caramel and chocolate voice.

For me, the song is called, “I think I.” The next line is “found my way.”

It only took him 79 years.

Maybe it’s time for the boys in the band to forgive him and hit the road one more time, before they can’t.

A

well known photographer once said that if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

He’s right.

I always say that if you’ve got a block of some kind, just go outside and take a walk.

Creative blocks are really just a twisty or a yip. That’s what got Simone Biles at the Olympics. The minute she explained it and said the word twisty, I thought a yip.

They are worse than you know. When you practice long enough certain things become instinctual.

I could go on about what happened to her, but enough has been written about that.

What she forced me to understand is something that has been going on for a long time for me.

I have the yips.

For some reason my energy, my routine, my focus has been broken.

And, that’s frustrating.

Photography has always been my way of grounding myself. And, now it doesn’t work.

I’m not sure of the steps needed to work my way back. Ms. Biles is going to work the balance beam for her last Olympic event. I think I know why she’s doing it.

I’ll watch her very closely. Maybe there’s a clue for me. Or, maybe I already know it.


Square tree in the mist.

Starting the week in peace is the way it should go. Busy is fine. Chaos, not so much.

Unfortunately, Mondays are generally chaos. All of the people who didn’t need or want something last week, want it now. Immediately. At once. On their deadlines.

That’s been happening. A lot as the world starts to wake up again.

I’ve gotten a little smarter as I’ve gotten older — some would dispute that — and I schedule projects in realistic time.

When blowback hits as it always does, I ask the complainer if they want the picture good. They say, ” I want it great.” My reply is simple. “Another day.”

Sometimes that what anything takes. Another day. To test. To rework. Te experiment. To sleep on it. When it’s ready, it’s ready.

After all, I’m not a photojournalist on some skin tight deadline. I create stuff. Sorta. Well, most of the time. Oh, okay. Some of the time.

I think that’s how it goes with a lot of our tasks. We try to do two or three of them at one time. You know, multi task. How does that go?

I don’t think we are built that way. Our minds don’t work that way. I can think on a number of levels at once, but when it’s time to actually do the work I need to focus. On one thing. At a time.

How about you?

Trees in the sky. I want them to pop. It’s not necessary for everything to be sharp.

So, the softening technique seems to be the right tool for this approach.

That means that some of the work is done in Snapseed and imported into a big machine so I can also use OnOne. I do that even if I made the original frame with a big camera.

Often times, the only thing I need the heavy duty software is to implant the metadata. I can do everything else in Snapseed if need be.

This is about the last time that I’ll be able to photograph bare branches until next winter. I made this picture a few days ago. Walking by it a few days later revealed some little leaf buds on it. Spring.

That’s good. Time may be flexible but nature isn’t.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You all know the rest. Enjoy all of your time.


Looking out in the morning fog.

Morning view.

Another scene that I was lucky enough to photograph. It’s sort of like yesterday’s picture, but this one feels a little mysterious, moody or even scary. At least, it does to me. ¬†I keep expecting to see an evil little troll appear somewhere.

So.

A little local news.

Most of you know about the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. Last week a red tarp blew off the remains revealing the body of one of the men who died in the rubble but couldn’t be removed. People photographed it and posted pictures on social media which prompted local news media to do about the same thing. It was replace by a yellow tarp.

The mayor scolded us for that.

The City Council responded by wanting to start an investigation.

That mayor said no.

The council is doing it anyway.

A few days later, it was revealed that the Hard Rock Hotel developers donated $70,000 to the mayors re-election war chest.

The mayor tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the IRS slapped a tax lien on her and her husband’s house for unpaid taxes totaling $95,000. A little research revealed that they owed back taxes for at least five years.

The mayor responded, trying to spread the blame, by saying they are just other struggling families in New Orleans.

Wut?

She makes $140,000 a year as mayor. Her husband is an attorney who earns about the same money. She doesn’t pay for her own transportation and a whole host of other perks that she is given as mayor of this swamp.

My view is that she should resign for the good of the city. She won’t. Why should she?

The city’s streets aren’t being repaired properly, while murders are down the crime rate is up, the Sewerage and Water Board fails every time that we have a powerful storm and water lines and canals seem only to be inspected once every 15 years or so.

Just once, I’d like to elect a mayor who knows what he or she is doing. I tried this last election. I voted for Desiree Charbonnet, a judge who was known for her honesty and fair mindedness. But, nooo… ¬†she was a little too connected for the folks in the city. They reply that even now is that we should stand by the mayor because she is the first elected black woman. What the hell do they think Ms. Charbonnet is, and would have been?

At least Charbonnete is from New Orleans. Latoya Cantrell came here from Los Angeles. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not from here. But, maybe we need somebody who understands the system and can fight against it, instead of wandering around babbling, “The City of Yes.”

Just sayin’.


Trains in the fog with help.

Foggy days. Foggy nights.

I took a little walk to a nearby train yard. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. We’ve had a lot of fog so I wanted to photograph the fog at night. I found two engines with their motors warming up. I was astounded to see a caboose sitting between them. Of course, there is a fence between me and them. I heard them before I could see them.

I did the best that I could.

I made this picture and added some roundish highlights to the image. I really didn’t have to, but you know me. I also had help from some business behind this little group. They had their big lights turned on, which helped me to make perfect silhouettes up against a glowing foggy sky.

The caboose is another story all together. My amazement arose because no railroads use cabooses today. Congress changed a law that required them to be attached to freight trains. Once the law changed most cabooses were headed to the scrapyard or to your favorite park. This is a working caboose. It is not used for its intended purpose, but rather as a place for the train crew to rest on long haul rides.

One more thing about the picture. Notice the quality? It’s much better than many images that I post here. I used my baby Leica. It’s a great camera for pictures like this and for many of the subjects that I photograph. It’s not so good for second lines or Mardi Gras Indians. When I say baby I mean it. It has a fixed zoom lens. It’s range is from 24mm to 75mm. It’s also fast. very fast, since it has a large f stop at f1.7.

About walking. I didn’t take a dog. This was a little photo walk.I learned that if I walk at my normal pace, rather than stopping, and letting the dogs explore, my legs don’t hurt anywhere near as much as they normally do.

And, so it goes.


A foggy morning in Jackson Square.

This is it. The very first picture I made in New Orleans.

Unlike some of the others in this series, it wasn’t exactly lost. I just hadn’t seen the original scan in a long time. Yes. Scan. This image was made on film. In 1999. In June, if my mind isn’t playing tricks on me. It’s very likely, the image was made on Fuji Velvia, which is a bright, high color, high contrast film. It’s mostly what I used almost 20 years ago. It still exists today.

This working style isn’t what I was known for, but my editors loved it. They wanted me to do more. Hmmmm. That reminded of what I always knew. If any editor is not a photographer, they have no idea of reality on the street. This picture was made by happenstance and luck. I can’t will nature to drop some fog wherever I want it. I could if I was making a movie with a big budget, a huge crew and a bunch of tools. I’m usually one guy with a couple of cameras. I work by discovery and a little bit of foreknowledge.

That said, this is a very nice Sunday picture. It’s quiet. Peaceful and subdued.

Enjoy.


Morning peacefulness.

Sunday morning.

The house is quiet. The dogs are asleep. The only one awake is me. I like working in the quietude of morning. On a normal business day, I usually complete the tasks that must be done for the day by noon. Today, aside from a few household chores, I’ll be done when I finish this post.

This is a Sunday picture.

Quiet. Peaceful. Gentle.

A good start to a fairly calm day. One of few.

The day could have been really, really busy. Today is Uptown Super Sunday. The day when the Mardi Gras Indians gather to show off their finery. When people descend on Central City who would not normally come anywhere near it. True. It is a rough neighborhood. But, I always feel safe there. Most of the residents are blue-collar. Like me.

There is also a second line that winds its way through another area of Central City. Trying to photograph both takes some great energy. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at that kind of planning. That would be funny. Even if I planned and timed everything down to a minute, these things are organic. The Indians will follow a planned route, but the start time is always flexible. The second liners will follow a planned route, but that could change if they cross the Indians, even within a block or two. Then there’s their start time. Heh! It’s a New Orleans thing.

You know the joke about God and your plans? The one that goes something like this. “If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.” That one.

Yes, indeedy.

The skies are heavily overcast. The weather experts are calling for 90% rain later this morning and through the afternoon. Normally, I don’t trust the experts. But, 90% changes that equation a lot.

So.

Super Sunday has been postponed until next weekend. The Indians make these kinds of calls early because they don’t want their suits destroyed in the rain. They suits may be big, and bulky. They are 125 pounds of wonder. But, they are very fragile. I don’t know about the second line yet.

I suppose that we could get a lot of little stuff done around here. Nah. A free quiet day is a free quiet day.

The picture. I saw it. I pushed the button. This time, I made a slight change. I knew what I wanted to do in post production so I made the original file to compensate for that. I wanted to make this work look like a Japanese woodcut. It’s not quite there yet. But, you can see how the leaves sort of make a stamp of themselves. It’s called offsetting.

It’s a gentle picture.


A little light and magic.

Fog.

That’s what this is. Not an explosion.

Sometimes if you make a picture with the lens fairly stopped down — smaller aperture¬† — you can get star-like effects. That also happens in foggy weather when you shoot into a light. That’s what I did. Obviously, this picture has been through some heavy post production. But, at its original base is a bright light photographed through heavy misty fog. That’s what created the star burst and the rings of light that are shining past it.

The Irish band, U2, released their newest album on Friday. By all accounts 2017 has been a pretty miserable year. Pretty much everybody has been in a cynical funk. The band decided to counter that with an upbeat and positive album. Typical of them to talk about love. To talk about “the best of me being you.” And, being grateful for that.

To that end, a few personal course corrections are in order. More music. Played at a pretty good volume so that I can hear the middle. Even more art. Two friends of mine have determined that I sit behind the computer all day and grind. I don’t really, but I’m not making enough original large file art.

Here’s the big one. Less time reading the news. The world is a mess right now. You know it. I know it. We don’t have to be beaten over the head with it. With less news comes less of the current President of the United States. He’s like the worse ear worm in the world. He’s constant. Every day. Screaming via Twitter. Who needs that? I just have to plan for my future based on his, and his political party’s, nonsense.¬† With less online reading comes another benefit. More reading. Books, long form pieces about music, about art, about cooking, about travel. Before I forget, and get barked at, more books about dogs. Mostly about how they age.

These aren’t your typical New Year resolutions. They start today. And, they won’t end when I blow it and miss a day. I’m not counting anything. I’m not making a bucket list. Instead, they¬† become just another part of my daily routine. Like posting on Storyteller.

So.

The picture. Oh wait. I already told you about it. I suppose that I could tell you that I made it with my iPhone. That I processed it in Snapseed. And, finished it in Stackables. That’s it. Simple. As it should be.


In the shadows.
In the shadows.

A Christmas night visit turned into a picture. A kind of spooky little picture. Full of shadows and mystery. Hiding places. And, fog.

This is what happens when you take a camera everywhere. I anticipated taking a few Christmas pictures with old friends. But, on the way I saw light peeking through shadows and couldn’t resist. This is the kind of picture that they tell you absolutely has to be taken with a tripod. Maybe. Maybe not. I made this one hand-held. On the spur of the moment.

I have one more seasonal picture to show you. Then, I’m moving on. I gotta get away from 2016. It seems the year won’t let go. So, I will. Let go. That is.