Upside down.

Don’t ask me. I have no idea why the doors and windows are upside down. I just chalk it up to living in the Land of Enchantment. Somebody really got enchanted when they were working on this building.

I found this place one day after having lunch in the barrio, which is located well past the old Santa Fe engine yard. I ate and keep going south. I think. Eventually, I came to this place.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You know me, I search out weird and ruined places. But, this one… whew. I worked fairly quickly because I realized I was on somebody’s turf. No need to cause trouble for myself.

I could tell you stories about this neighborhood but let’s just say it’s just about like being in the Lower 9th Ward of my home city. The players change, but the results can be the same.

Tourists rarely come this way. But, I’m not a tourist. I travel. I used to travel for work, but that’s been postponed until 2022.

The WHO says the pandemic is raging on because so many countries don’t have any kind of vaccine. It’s ironic that they also said the Chinese vaccine is not effective. Meanwhile, the CDC while fearing a surge now, predicts one for the fall and winter months.

This is not going away quickly.

I’m starting to get angry. I have friends that live in other places. They claim New Orleans as their spiritual home. They finally arrived after 16 months of waiting.

A group of them got together to listen to some porch music and to take group photos. None of them were masking. When questioned about it, one of them said they took their masks off for the picture.

WTF?

A few minutes standing next to somebody who is infected could make you ill. I’m sure most of them were vaccinated, but how does anybody really know?

I hate to do this.

But…

Stay safe. Stay might. Stay strong. Wear your damn masks. Keep your distance. Look after each other. And, be patient.

This column is really supposed to be about technical tools and technique.

Lately, it’s been used for whatever I want to say. Sorry about that.

Of course, on the day I decide to stay true to this side’s mission, there is no technique to speak of.

Keeping the scene tack sharp is the most important thing to know.

All those details in the door and windows as well as all the cracks in the building are what make this picture a photograph.

I’m willing to bet that those cracks aren’t as bad as we think. Given that the building is in an urban area, I think that it is built with cinder blocks with a thick plaster wash on the coating them.

And, that’s it.


All the color you can see.

My kind of photograph. Lots of big, bold, bright color. I didn’t actually see quite as much color when I stopped to press the button, but I did see the tree reflection. That’s what caught my attention.

You know me. I’m of the opinion that anything can be a picture. Not in all light. Or, at all times of day. You have to be patient. Or, have an all seeing dog. She knows all. Even though she see monochromatically, she can see how the light and shadows fall.

In fact, she stood right in front of this car. Well, SUV. She moved when she saw what I was doing.

I should be somewhere in the picture, but I can’t find myself. Maybe you can.

The big news of the day is that I get my CoVid-19 vaccination today. The hospital scheduled me for my second injection as well.

I don’t think much is going to change for me in how I address the virus. I’ll still social distance. I’ll still mask. I’ll still growl at the person who stands too close to me in the grocery. Or, has his mask way down over his nose.

If I don’t speak for me, who will?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoying all the seeing.

Seeing and looking are two different items in sort of a continuum. You can look and see nothing. I know a lot of people like that, including me sometimes.

Or, you can look and see. That’s a very different thing. It’s what enables me to see this car and the tree reflections. It enables me to feel the picture.

I think making a photograph is mostly by feel, rather than intellectual or mechanical.

For sure, you have to understand your gear and you have to understand who and what you are as a photographer. But, that’s not directly involved when you actually make the picture. It hovers in the background.

Of course, you have to have another kind of vision when you are developing and editing the picture.

If you do, you might make something with which you are happy.


All the junk that fits.

On a day like this one. Back in 1953. At 10pm. I made my appearance. Here I am in 2020, one of the worst years in at least a century, still going.

I’ve pretty much lost any sense of time. The calendar means very little. Clocks keep turning. The only sense of time that I seem to have is what occurs in nature.

Nature never slips up. She knows what she is doing. Even during the worst catastrophes, she knows. Fires, floods, hurricanes, and now a pandemic. She knows. She’s telling us. Mend your ways. Don’t make me come up there and destroy your home.

She will. Just to get rid of whatever annoys her. She doesn’t care. She seeks stasis.

Into the beginning of this current world I was born. In 1953. On today’s date. I guess that I have some sense of time. Or, Facebook told me. I could have sworn that I removed my birthday from my personal information. But, Facebook knows. So does Google. Ans, Amazon.

Anyway.

We could have a discussion of privacy. But, I don’t feel like it.

You know why.

Broken stuff city. I could be talking about New Orleans in general. But, I’m not. I’m not working that broadly.

I’m just talking about a truck that I saw loaded with broken bikes and parts.

It’s in my nature. I’m drawn to these things.

I let my inner self make this picture. Then, I tinkered with it.

WordPress helped by compressing it to the point where it has no highlights. I really wish all these digital companies would turn off the AI. You’d be amazed at some of the words I don’t type. That I fix when I edit the stories.

Anyway.

Enjoy the junk

Stay safe. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy all the cake.


Way beyond me.

2020.

That’s all I know.

If it can happen, it will happen. Apparently this guy was sitting in a car in the Louisiana heat and he died. I was so hot that his skin seared off and we are left with bones.

Dem bones.

That’s the best I can come up with on short notice.

What really happened was this. We went to visit some friends at a place where we could socially distance ourselves. We were walking between two parked cars and I happened to glance to my right.

Wait. What?

A skeleton.

I thought I’d better take some pictures of this. So I did.

Before you ask, I haven’t a clue. Probably, just as well.

If you look closely you can see me. Or, is it me? I wasn’t wearing sunglasses. My hair isn’t that short. My fingers aren’t that long. Spooky.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy all the fried soft shell crabs.


What is left.

On a very humid walk.

We found these branches that were what remained of our storms.

Wasn’t sure about them until I photographed them and started processing them. Once I started stripping them back and allowed their natural color to emerge I knew the picture might work.

That’s one of my secret sauces.

I don’t add color. I remove color. Often times, adding color makes the image look too rich, too bloody as a friend of mined used to say. So, I’d rather subtract color and see where that takes me.

You can also tell that it’s late summer around here. Look at the background. It’s greenish. That’s the sidewalk and it’s mossy. Nothing in the shade ever truly dries out around here until sometime in late autumn when the humidity morphs into cold fog.

Even though the numbers seem to have blurred, the weather remembers. The weather tells us that we are still in motion. That there are still shadows and light. Good and bad. Let’s hope the tide changes and the goodness wins. And, the light shines.

Vote.

The picture

I pretty much explained the picture to you. At least my theory of unhancement. Spell check is going crazy with the word I just made up.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.


What we leave behind.

Junkyards.

I don’t know what got me thinking about this. Maybe it’s because I often watch documentaries on various streaming services. I’ve internalized the broken, the abandoned and the left behind. If truth be told, I’ve poking around abandoned stuff long before the dawn of Netflix. It’s always interested me. It could be because when I was very young we travelled by train. As a train approaches the train station, it passes through the backside of cities and towns. Those neighborhoods are run down at best. Abandoned at worst.

They made an impression.

Photography philosophy

After all, art is autobiographical. I make pictures of me. Not portraits. Pictures of what’s inside me. The subject matter may be less important than the feel of the photograph. I like working close to the subject because I’m trying to get inside. Of the subject. Of me.

I follow a woman on Instagram who offers online workshops. The one I checked out was about the process of making pictures. It included a little Zen meditation. And, a little bit about breaking mental blocks. It’s an interesting workshop. I won’t take it because all it would do for me is support what I already know and do.

I’m a big believer in always carrying a camera. Any kind of camera. You never know when a picture might break out. In my newspaper days, we always carried our gear with us. We used to joke that we saved a lot of lives. If we carried our gear nothing would happen. But, sure enough, if we didn’t there would be massive breaking news.

I’m also a believer of letting the picture take you, rather than you taking the picture. When you are really drawn to something you’ll make a hard u-turn in heavy traffic just to get back to the scene. You’ll miss dinner. You’ll get up way too early. You’ll travel to places you never thought would interest you.

That’s obession.

And, speaking of obession.

A little news of the day

There was a woman walking her dog in the Ramble of Central Park in New York City. A man, who happened to be black, was doing a little birding. She confronted him and started yelling. He started videoing her. While she was screaming at the police she was dragging her dog in a way that could have killed her. A little scared cocker spaniel.

Eventually, the internet did its job. She was identified via LinkedIn. Her dog was taken away to keep her safe. I don’t know what will happen to the woman. I was disgusted. When she called 911 the very first thing she said was that there was a violent Black man threatening her. She’s white. She knew exactly what she was doing. Exactly.

The comments on Twitter were almost just as disgusting. People defended the woman by saying they couldn’t see the cause. The man started his videotaping well before the start of the incident because he was birding. They said he should have just walked away despite her coming to him. They worried about the dog over a human being. WTH?

You know how I feel about dogs. They are better than people. You know how I feel about cockers. They are better than most other dogs. But, I would never choose a dog over another human being.

Stay tuned.

I could speculate about the causes, but I won’t. All I know is that we live in interesting times. “May you live in interesting times,” is the worst possible Chinese curse.

The picture

I went to a new doctor. An orthopedic doctor. No worries. I’m finishing old business. His office is in a sort of weird place. A large group of doctors own a place that could have been a school or old military quarters. There is a lot of stuff left behind. You know. The American way.

The subject turns out to be an old, abandoned air conditioning system. I knew this because right next to it was a more modern one, the kind we are used to seeing. Also, there is a descriptive metal plate with instructions about how to diagnose air conditioning problems.

I had two cameras with me. i chose the lesser one. I have no idea why. I framed the subject and pressed the button. I walked around looking for different or better views. Eventually, I chose the first version. Sometimes, it’s your instinct over technique.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Something that I found.

I found it. Can I keep it?

I know this guy. He is an old school junk man. He drives around looking for stuff that is mostly made of metal. He sells some for scrap. He sells some stuff to repair men who restore old things that can be sold inexpensively.

His business is fairly active. He piles up his finds until he has a full truck and trailer. Then, off he goes to sell it. He has a wife and child. He supports all three of them doing this work. When the weather is cool, his work isn’t bad. But, those summer months. Whew.

He also counts on people like me, who go for walks, or walk their dogs. We tell him what we saw. I can’t speak for others, but I don’t want anything for that. If I see something I tell him.

That’s his story.

I may follow him around one day and tell his story in pictures. But, for now, I just photograph some of the stuff he collects. This picture was created from what looked and felt like aluminum sheets that may have been left over from a big project. Remnants.

The picture on its own is just fine. It’s sort of bluish-silver because I made it in shadows, You know me. I can never leave well enough alone. I tinkered with the color. I tinkered with sharpness. I layered another picture over it. I wasn’t sure that would work. But, it did.

This is a wall sized picture. I see it as an 8×10. That’s 8×10 feet. Could you imagine this on a wall in a large-sized room? The only art in it? Hmmm… we need some new art around this place.


The good stuff.

The junk project.

I had a good week. Not only did I find a couple of pictures for the summer project, but I found a couple of pictures for my junk and water projects. I’m not saying that everything I photographed will make it into the final cut, but having many pictures from which to select is better than too few. Right?

I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.

Durability. Sustainability. Repairability.

The furniture that was set out by this dumpster was old. The pieces were probably manufactured in the 1930s. Every piece was well made of good solid wood. Nothing was broken. They needed a little refinishing work, but that was about it.

Abandoned.

All they needed was a little loving touch. They would have made a fine collection of furniture for somebody. Anybody.

We live in a time when everything is made so cheaply that it costs more to repair an item than it costs to replace it. That’s too bad. More broken stuff for the overflowing landfills. More broken stuff to add to our pollution. More broken people not working.

A few weeks ago, we went through the great plastic purge. We are still working on it, but it’s damn near impossible. Sheesh. We tried to buy butcher paper locally. Good try. Yes. It can be found in our local and regional grocery stores. But, it’s improved. It has a — wait for it — plastic backing.

Sure. You can buy paper butcher paper on Amazon. And, you add to the carbon footprint by having it shipped. Get this, most of it comes in huge rolls for commercial use.

So?

So, you have to buy a rack and a paper cutter.

I believe that we are at a point beyond which we can’t turn back. Everybody and everything is too invested in the stuff that could kill the planet. Besides, follow the money. How does Mitch McConnell grow his wealth by some $24 million in a couple of years?

The picture. First, I would have taken that furniture if I had a truck. But, I had a dog on a leash. She refuses to carry heavy stuff. Seriously, I photograph my projects as I see potential subject matter. For me, it works better to let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing them. As I wrote earlier, I think I have my color palette figured out going forward.  For the junk project.

One more item of semi-interest.

Doctor John was buried yesterday. His family and friends organized a true jazz funeral with a second line and a mule drawn hearse. I didn’t photograph it. The temperature was 96 degrees at 3pm when the parade began. The heat index was 104 degrees. Way too hot for me.


Open to the expressway.

Looking around.

Looking for subjects for my various projects — abandoned railroads, abandoned furniture, and unique examples of water — leads me to other places and things.

Like this one.

This is a gated fence, probably for road workers, that has been broken wide open. By itself, it’s meaningless. In the context of what you are looking at, it’s very dangerous. Beyond that guardrail in the mid-ground and in front of that bright grassy area, lies a two lane expressway. It’s an entry point where drivers are starting to put their foot on the gas pedal.

I’m was shooting from a residential area. Imagine if a child found this place. Or, a dog being chased by a child found this place. It could be a true tragedy.

I attempted to address it, even though his would be a great place to work during the blue hour. Deep blue, silhouetted trees, speeding cars. Wowie zowie. A picture in my back pocket.

The folks who maintain the road say it’s the property owner’s responsibility. The property owner says that it’s not on their property.

Typical.

Crossed pointing fingers. Nothing gets done.

As a country, we are doing pretty well with that now. Aren’t we?