A little mysterious. A little funky. Sometimes deep and dark.
It’s a great time to make pictures, especially as late blue hour turns into night. If you like working on that edge take care. Street level details will fade into the shadows. That’s what you are seeing in this photograph. I opened the deep shadows in post production. I like this version better.
I like deeper, richer photographs as opposed to the lighter, less contrasty pictures that are currently in vogue. I think that they have more power and possibility. They hold the eye a little longer, as the brain tries to see what is in the shadows. Be sure to hold a little detail in those dark areas. The brain needs a reward.
The subject of the photograph is an old Creole shop house that is falling apart except for the ground floor which houses a Louisiana Pizza Kitchen.
In the weeks following Hurricane Katrina it was the only restaurant open in the city. Citizens cleaning out their flood damaged houses, police men and women, the National Guard and elements of the 82nd Airborne ate lunch there. We all were armed to the teeth because you never know when a bad guy might pop up in an empty neighborhood.
We all joked; pity the poor fool who thought that he’d rob the place.
The French Market. Years ago, this is where people came to buy food. Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit. Fish. Shellfish. Different meats. It was one of about nine city markets that were scattered around the neighborhoods.
There is a small section that does sell food. Mostly it’s cooked. Mostly it’s packaged. But, down at this end all sorts of souvenirs, low-end stuff from China and mass-produced African clothes and masks are sold. Oh, and as we get close to Mardi Gras, all kinds of real cheap masks and beads can be found here. I almost forgot t-shirts. Lot’s of very cheap t-shirts.
It’s tourist central. I
I don’t know why.
You can go to almost any city on the planet and find markets like this one. They pretty much offer the same merchandise. Trust me on this. I’ve been to a lot of places. When we get bored — really bored — we go shopping. With the exception of some small adjustments due to local preferences, or laws or the lack of them, most of these markets are all the same.
Of course, I go to the one in New Orleans. It’s good for cheap props for a shoot. If I’m asked to photograph something about travel, I hire a couple of models who are more like actors and have them go shopping. When I do that, the French Market is a giant stage. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are release issues. There are people getting in the way. There are people who don’t want to be photographed, and who tell you that just as you press the button. And, so it goes.
The point in all of this is that everything changes. The French Market went from a real live city marketplace, that became deserted and broken down, to a small tourist zone within a tourist zone. What it’ll morph into next is anyone’s guess. If climate predictions for the future are accurate, it could become paved river bottom.
I started thinking about this because there is going to be a talk next week on “The New Green Deal.” You know. The legislation championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Before I write further, let me say that in general I like her. She brings much-needed energy into the House of Representatives. She has a couple of big flaws — she doesn’t understand finance and she tends to shoot from the hip like you know who — but on balance I think she’s smart, fairly well spoken and has something I admire a lot. Street smarts.
The talk is being given be regional people. I don’t believe that AOC is coming. This will disappointed people who want to heckle her for flying down here and using oil. Even if I disagreed with the legislation entirely, I’d still go to the talk. After all, we live in a place that could be under water in 25 – 50 years. Given the speed at which the climate is changing, I’d bet on the former. You’d think others would be interested too. We are all in this together. Oh no. Not from the comments on Facebook. Before I get in an argument with somebody I don’t know I do a little trolling. There were the usual suspects. Folks with big trucks, RVs that they use one a year, big boats that they use a couple of times in the summer.
There was one young woman who broke my heart. She is a recent graduate of LSU’s engineering department. She works for Entergy, the folks who provide all of our power. They are Fortune 500 company and fairly well thought of. She said that she was giving this event a “hard pass.”
I asked her why in the comments. She replied that all of this was nonsense and she was from Louisiana and storms and floods are normal. True. But, they are getting more frequent and more violent. After a little back and forth, I realized that the saying is true. “You can’t change people’s minds on social media.” Everybody is hunkered down in their silo. So, I closed with, “I’m sure that your boss’s boss’s boss will be there because guys at the top are opportunistic and want to capitalize on big changes.”
What I said is the truth. The big owners might not care about you and me, but they care about our cash. Cash. Either we spend it. Or, we hold it back. And, that’s what it’s going to take to save our planet. Our lives. Our children’s lives. And, their children’s lives.
The picture. Roaming around the Quarter does yield some pretty good pictures. This was at the end of one of my walks. I was dodging rain, but I was watching the wonderful light. I chased about as far as I could. I got to the French Market and everything was closed down. You know. Rain and a slow day. Then, this guy comes by on a bike. Five or six shots later and I had it. That, was luck. Photographer’s luck.
Contrasts. The French Quarter is a study in contrasts. On one end, the upriver end, the French Quarter is bright, colorful and very bright. You know. Bourbon Street. Royal Street. Like that. As you head down river there are more residential streets. With that comes less of what I call the typical French Quarter light. It’s darker downriver. But, not foreboding.
If you read yesterday’s Storyteller, you kind of know where you are. See that little red spot? Way down the block? That’s one of the umbrellas at The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. The French Market is just beyond that. Those big white clouds are lingering over the Gulf of Mexico. Way out there. A block away to the left is Esplanade Avenue and just beyond that is Frenchman Street, the once hip place to listen to music. Like many things, it got popular. It’s become an extension of the Quarter. Tourists found it. It’s not so hip anymore.
The picture. I made it sort of on the move. I braced myself up against a building support and pushed the button a couple of times. The street is glowing because it’s wet. From a storm. Of course, that little reflection helped a lot. It added quite a bit to what remained of the ambient light. I helped everything in post production, by slightly scrubbing the highlights that were hidden away in the shadows. That’s it.