Something wild, something yellow.

T

here is a period in my life when I liked to make very closely focused pictures that are akin to macro photography.

That period started about twenty years ago and continues to this day. Some period, eh?

For me, this work is something like a palette cleanser between other, more gritty subjects.

Of course, I’ve been trapped lately.

Eventually that will change, but nobody knows when or how. When it does I’ll be chasing all over wherever I am, making pictures of anything, of everything.

Because, that’s my magic. My way of contributing. The thing that I know best. These days I feel old, but i’m young. The age thing will go away once I make magic, with light and color.

Then there’s musical magic.

As I write, I’m listening to an album called, “One Night Lonely.” Mary Chapin Carpenter did a live streaming show from Wolf Trap. There was no audience except remotely. It’s her and her guitars. She doesn’t talk, but she plays for two hours.

She’s doing the same thing that she did when I rediscovered her when she was playing songs from home.

Like James Taylor, she’s doing what she did back then, bringing me peace. We could all use a little bit of peace just about now, right?

T

his picture is about seeing. For sure, the yellow caught my attention. But, the details took some seeing. Or, luck. Photographers luck.

You make that kind of luck by being there. By being present. By focusing. And, by emptying your mind for just a little while.

I have a routine to do that. I’d tell you about it, but you may want do it differently. There is no one way. There is no right way. There is no wrong way.

That’s good.

We’d get bored if we did things the same way as other people.

So don’t.

I see so many derivative pictures on all social media. There is a saying among new photographers, “Fake it until you make it.”

That’s a saying from AA for newly sober people who are struggling to do what sober people do until they understand it.

It applies there. It shouldn’t apply to someone making pictures.

Stop copying. Stop faking. Start experimenting. Start being you.

You’ll go farther, faster.


The sky.

T

hey say to tell another human being. I suppose that’s what I did yesterday. I told all of you. It worked a little and it didn’t. I slept a little better, my head is a little clearer but, that giant hole is still there.

So, I called my primary care doctor and asked for a teleconference. They are big on that lately because they are trying to keep people out of their offices unless we absolutely have to be there.

Their first question when I told them why I wanted to talk to him was are you a danger to yourself or others?

Nah.

Taking my own life is not within me. Ever. There are two ways to look at that. Either I’m pretty strong emotionally even though I’m down now. Or, I’m a coward because it takes courage to end your own life.

Hurting others?

Nah.

For me, violence is only for self defense. Besides, I’m sad not mad. And, I am mostly just quiet.

Anyway, my doc and I talked for about 12 minutes, which is the normal span of an office visit. I take a medicine for pain that was originally developed as an antidepressant. He raised the dose. I’ll check in with him or his office in 72 hours.

For y’all, no worries.

A

fter looking and not seeing I pretty much gave up trying to make a few new pictures.

Then, I took the trash out. This wonderful sky is what I saw. I took a bunch of pictures.

I suppose that photographer’s luck comes into play when you aren’t trying so hard.

I wasn’t trying at all.

Editing and post production was minimal, just enough to define the clouds a little better than the original file.

This is not my usual style or work. I’m usually bolder and use more contrast than this.

This picture just sort of floats. It’s what I needed at the time.

Something light, lacy, floating and almost ephemeral.

Maybe you could use that too.


The beginnings.

This was a terribly hard picture to make. I couldn’t find the angle. I couldn’t find a clean way to make it. I was working too close. I stood back, worked wide and finally made an image that I liked.

Generally, I think a good picture is fairly easy to make, at least in the short term As I’ve said repeatedly, let the picture come to you.

Some folks are confused by that notion. They think I mean going out looking for pictures completely unprepared.

That’s not true.

I’m always learning, studying, testing and experimenting.

Everything that I read, listen to, and see comes into play. Then, there’s just living my life. And, my personal history.

When I actually start making pictures all of that comes into play. I try to make photographs that are more than just a document of what I saw. I try to make you feel what I felt when I made the picture. I try to go further but that’s really hard.

I don’t talk much about gear on Storyteller. I try to teach you how to think about pictures. It’s philosophy not technology that you find here.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You are experts in the rest. Enjoy all your jabs.

I titled the image, “Springish.” It’s about early blooms and the change of season.

As I said in the left column, this picture was hard to make. For me, finding a clean composition is important.

This picture is fairly minimal. I like photographs that are minimal as long as that doesn’t hurt the subject. Let the picture tell you what to do.

Once I made the picture I headed into the digital studio.

There was a lot of work done in post production. I made sure the background was as clean as I could make it. I added a little glow.

Because the picture is so light I put a heavy border on it.

That’s what I did.


Like another world.

Finally. It hit me this morning. I am in mourning. Not for the life we all once had. Although, that’s part of it. I’m in mourning for the passing of time. Not, the time that I’ve been discussing. That time has no meaning, no concept these days.

Another kind of time passing. The kind that catches us all in the end. The time of aging. Not so much for me, although that matters. But, for my loved ones. Even the dogs. Especially one dog.

Sophie Rose, the all seeing cocker spaniel is aging right before my eyes. She came to us when she was eight, so she was already a senior dog. She fit right in. She became my walking companion since the other dogs were very happy with one walk a day, in a pack.

She wanted two or three walks a day, just me and her.

That was fine, if not painful. At least until a senior doctor diagnosed the real issue as bursitis.

Lately, instead of going for a morning walk, she goes outside and does what she needs to do and goes back to bed. Mostly, we go for a short walk once a day.

It crept up on me. I looked but I did not see. I got nervous today so I called her vet. For basic things that seems to be what all medical professionals prefer in the pandemic age.

We talked for a good while. He asked me the usual things. She eats her normal amount of food. She drinks her normal amount of water. She seems happy. She doesn’t express any pain. Her droppings are normal.

Everything is good.

He said very simply that she is getting old. If you use the correct way of measuring dog’s age. Twelve years for the first year. Nine for the second. And, seven for the rest. She is about 93.

I don’t imagine that I’ll even be on the planet at 93. So, at that age she is doing fine.

Never the less, I don’t like it. Cockers live from 11 to about 16 years. At 16 they don’t do much but sleep, eat, pee and poop. If she lasts that long of course I’ll love and take care of her. The other dogs will stay near her as a way to protect her.

Now, I’ve made myself sad. I don’t like getting older for me. I don’t like it for those I care for.

There is nothing to be done. It’s nature.

The picture. This should be short and sweet. That dog, the one I discussed in theft hand column, and I started on her walk. We got to my go to place and I looked up.

What a nice peaceful sky. A popsicle sky.

I did what I always do and we walked on.

I did a little post production and posted it here.

Happy popsicle sky to you all.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Don’t travel this week. Enjoy every sandwich.


All the light that matters.

Saturday. The week ends quietly with a simple study of light and color. It’s something that somebody who claims to be a photographer should understand.

Lately, on the socials, I’ve seen a lot of pictures that make me wonder. For every good photograph there seem to be three or four pictures that tell me that we’ve reached the saturation point.

Too many pictures.

I have to think that maybe everything doesn’t need to be photographed. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how glued to our phones we are. I think that for some people their eyes are glued to the phone’s LCD rather than just enjoying themselves.

I don’t know. I’m mostly just sayin’.

One more thought about too many, too many.

Probably 95% of the people taking all these pictures are storing them on their phones. It’s a good thing they are taking so many pictures because their phones are going to fail at some point, or technology will change, or something else will intervene and all those pictures will go poof in the air.

It’s true that some people will connect their phones to a cloud, but what happens when that technology ages? Sheesh, I’ve still got Kodak’s Gold CDs. If I want to open them I have to download a piece of software.The software is free. No one needs it anymore.

I suppose what I take away from this is to make pictures of things that matter, in light that helps the picture, using color that’s beautiful.

That works for me, anyway.

This picture was easy. All I had to do was get up early and take the all seeing cocker spaniel for her morning walk.

We stepped outside and there it was. Wonderful early morning light.

It took me about five minutes to make the picture and a little more in post production, mostly to clean up little things and add the border.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.


Gentle.

Like Asian art.

Gentle. Calming. Relaxing.

When I saw it, I knew. This was not about the original file. It was about what could be done with it. It was about my vision. My intent after I brought the image home.

To be clear, it wasn’t about heavy post production. It was about doing just enough studio work to bring forth what I saw in the scene. I saw it as something Asian. Maybe Japanese. Maybe Chinese. Makes sense. They borrowed from each other.

It was also about the color green. It’s said to be calming. We all could use a little calming.

These days have gotten completely out of hand. I try not to read much news. That’s one approach. But, that’s like turning down a fast flowing water spigot. It just keeps trickling out. My only alternative seems to be to shut it all down. But, I like baseball. In order to get to it, I have to wade through various news publications and websites.

Also, we are in the middle of hurricane season. I do need the storm alerts. The best storm information comes via Twitter. As much as I try to follow artists, musicians and local people, the news that I want to avoid seeps out.

I’ll figure it out. Eventually.

The picture. I pretty much discussed it at the start of this post. I saw it. My brain broke free of its rust and realized that there was something to this grassy shape.

 


More like magenta.

Getting close.

Close enough to see the details. The shape. The various shades of color.

Color.

Call this what you want. Is it pink? Is it magenta? Is it something else? If you are trying to match color, as I used to do on a big commercial printing press, it matters. If you aren’t, enjoy it for what it is. Whatever you think it is.

Now. A quick message from our sponsor.

I was reading a Facebook conversation between a couple of people and an author friend of mine. They were discussing how to market a book. One thinks websites are dead. Another thinks blogs are dead. A third one thinks Facebook is old fashioned. None of them discussed tweeting or Instagramming.

They admitted that they had no idea what was right or wrong. They were guessing.

The correct answer, according to the head of SEO for CAA, is all of them as long as the same people don’t follow you around. They may think that they are helping, but they are not. Each of those social media platforms reach different kinds of audiences. Having a Facebook page is like being in the telephone book. Remember those? You have to be there or for sure nobody will find you.

The other big trick is not to share, post or tweet the same material. That makes sense. If people follow you around, you want them to see different stuff. If somebody stumbles on your work in a couple of places, you don’t want to bore them.

Get it?

The picture. A new summer bloom at home. I saw it. I photographed it. That was pretty much it. Ma Nature made that flower. She doesn’t need help from me.


Blooms of Spring.

And so.

It goes.

In the last 24 hours, one person passed. Another is having a birthday. A big one. And, the all-seeing dog found these flowers on a route we rarely take.

Obviously, the birthday was expected.

The dog did her usual thing. She turned a fifteen minute walk in a 60 minute walk because, well you know, all things must be explored.

The passing was not expected. He was a member of my krewe.

The Krewe of Backsteppers, which is not to be confused with backsliders. Backsteppers are the third line, but we walk before the first and second lines. We are the photographers who document second lines, Indian events and all sorts of Mardi Gras cultural events.

As I wrote to a friend of mine, it’s never good when there is a second line during the week. It almost always means some has died. And, so it did. Randolph “Mookie” Square was so well-known in the Treme community that the mayor issued a proclamation upon notification of his death. May he rest in peace. Or, as we say around here. RIH. Rest in Heaven.

So.

Even though I didn’t know it when I made this picture. The flowers are for Mookie. And, the birthday girl.

I’m pretty sure that there will be a jazz funeral. Usually, for well-known community members it’s a really big deal. When Uncle Lionel Batiste passed (You know his nephew if you watch Late Night with Stephen Colbert), it took a while because there were a lot of very violent rainstorms, but when his second line finally got going it was huge.

So huge that the Louisiana State Troopers closed two exits on the interstate where it passes over Claiborne because people were on the off ramp dancing and photographing. Yes. I was one of them.

I expect about the same thing this time.

I’m not sure I have the energy I had back then. That was a long time gone. But, I’ll do my best. You know why.

Sometimes, in New Orleans, it’s about learning. It’s about learning how to deal with death. Of course we mourn. The first steps in a jazz funeral are a dirge. But, we know that all things must pass. That dying is part of living. So, when the dirge is over the music soars. People dance. In the streets. We send the one who just passed, out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, we’ll miss them. But, we’ll always remember them. And, the good times we passed with them.

For me that means on the parade routes. Mookie had a habit of finding the picture at the last-minute and jumping right in front of you. After a couple of times of “WTH?”, you realized that he was no better or worse than you are. I can’t begin to tell you how many how many times I did that to other photographers. I won’t even apologize for it. It is what it is.

Life on the streets.

Peace, y’all.


On a Sunday.

A mood.

A quiet mood. A peaceful mood. A jazz mood.

Because it’s Sunday. Because it’s Sunday I was going to photograph a second line. Way out in the Lower 9th Ward. I’ve chased this second line in the past. It’s yielded some good pictures. I even traveled some to get here. Today.

But.

I awoke being into little things. Details. Enjoying the process of tinkering. So, I walked a couple of the four-legged kids. Came back in. I said something like forget it. At least the word started with an “F.” Heh. I’m not a choirboy.

I messed around with this picture. In more ways than just post production. I changed so internal settings that should make it easier on you. It should pop up on your screen, rather than load slowly.  I didn’t know I could do it using this software. So, now there’s more to explore. To learn.

Remember?

Learn is my word for the year. I’m glad it chose me. It has settled nicely into the front of my brain. I think that I’ve been learning about different things at a nice steady clip.

While I worked on this picture, I realized that I needed music. I poked around on Spotify via Sonos. I found a not as well-known Joni Mitchell album that I hadn’t listened to in a long while. “Night in The City.”

Because. It’s a Joni Mitchell kind of day.