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.
Close enough to see the details. The shape. The various shades of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Another one. Another picture that makes you smile. A version of yesterday’s post made from a different perspective.
That weird light refraction followed me.
I have no idea what it was. I think it was some strange bit of light bouncing around the water droplets in the air. Usually, that reflects something in the red spectrum, making the raw frame a little gray and muddy. Not this time.
Perspective. That’s a good word. Let’s talk about that.
A friend shared a post on Facebook. It was about #metoo. It was well written from the point of an expert in what I’ll call systems of belief. She was waiting for a plane with another expert. A man. A guy sitting across from them asked why they were there. They told him. He proceeded to go off on a tangent mansplaining his point of view rather than asking her for viewpoint. Her colleague proceeded to take this guy down. He did it gently and mentioned that he lost a great opportunity to learn from an expert.
I made the mistake of reading the comments. I never do that for obvious reasons. Most of the comments were fairly tame until. Until it devolved into a shouting match where women were attacking other women on little tiny points, calling each other sexist. WTH?
People, people, people.
This ain’t gonna help. Better to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes than to be so sensitive that you attack them for some little, insignificant point. Always to remember what they taught me in drunk school. When you point one finger at someone, the other three are pointing back at you.
If you want to change something – and a lot needs changing — work at it. Stop attacking each other on social media. Build. Don’t destroy. After all, faith without work is dead.
The picture. It’s one that I made when the sky was doing weird stuff. I even walked to a different location. The strange light followed me. Maybe it was meant for me. It did some post production. The first take looked very evil. Nasty.
I thought, a dangerous thing to do, that I would make it gentle. Cotton ball-like.
A time in nature, when greens are still green and summer hasn’t officially arrived.
The time in between.
I am fascinated with Asian art forms. Something Chinese. Or, something Japanese. This picture sort of crosses the border. Between.
Make no mistake. It was a photograph first. I started tinkering with it. I tinkered with it some more. Eventually I went backwards. I made it lighter. Gentler. Almost wispy. I came to this place. I took it a step further. It was gone. So, I back tracked. Here I am. I added a frame because it was drifting all over the screen. I changed my watermark from white because… well, you know.
I found a flower. A tiny translucent thing. I’ve seen them before. When they are a little older. They are pale yellow. This one is young. You can see through its petals. It is such a gentle thing that I was afraid to get too near.
Enjoy it as it is. I’m certain that if someone doesn’t pick it, it won’t look quite like it did when I made the picture. And, that’s one of the best things about photography. We stop time. As it was. For a millisecond.
I’ve been thinking about two other things.
I think that I’ve been going too far in post production. Unless I am truly making a piece of art that is beyond the real world as I saw it, I’m stretching things out too much. I’m a photographer. Not a painter.
Tom Wolfe. Where are the words from all the writers who read Storyteller? I’m guessing that many of you are youngish, you’ve never read him. You should. Most of you fancy yourselves to be rule breakers. He broke them all. His writing style was hmm, sort of flamboyant, But, his words brought you there. He immersed himself in his subject, not by doing some googling research, but by being there. Oh wait. That’s a title by Jerzy Kosinski. Have you read that?
I was taught that in order to write, you have to read. And, read widely. Not just from your favorite genre. I was also taught that in order for your work to be read it had to be original. It had to break new ground in both plot and writing.
I know these things to be true. And, I’m a lowly photographer. The guy who works in an art that anybody can do. Writing is different. It’s hard. You must live it. Really live it.
In nature. I could try to make the same ones. I wouldn’t come close. It’s best that I just make photographs of what I see. And, show them to you.
This is a walking picture. With the dog who sees things. The light was wonderful. Strong and low, with deep shadows. I stopped and made the picture. What else could I do?
There isn’t much more to say. The picture says it all.
You knew I had a little more in me.
I haven’t made a picture like this in a long, long time. I haven’t really seen this way in many moons. Once upon a time, a young designer called me “The Dean of Clean.” That’s how I saw. How I made pictures. Even how I design. I see to have gotten away from it a little bit. Since I’m reworking my website yet again, it’s time to remember who I am. Clean design. Not too many pictures. Certainly not enough to overwhelm the viewer.