Softly in the morning.

And yet, another tree study.

Spring is about rebirth. Trees are about rebirth. Is there any wonder why I’m fascinated by them? Especially as I get older.

I like to work in collections of things. I don’t believe that you can make a portfolio of anything in one or two quick shoots. You have to return again and again. I photograph other subjects as well during that time.

As I scrolled through my archives, I realized that I’ve been photographing trees and clouds for almost two years. That’s eight seasonal changes. In all kinds of weather. In heat. Humidity. Cold. Rain storms. I’ve worked in atmospheric pictures like this one. I’ve made tiny detail images.

What to do with them all?

Right off, some go to my various agencies. They’ll get lumped in with everybody else’s tree pictures. They won’t sell because of that. That’s not why I made them. I could pursue a little gallery show. The pictures won’t sell there either. That’s also not why I made them. Or, I could make a small book. Maybe 20 to 40 pages including front and back matter. It’s hard to say if the books will sell. If nothing else, I’ll have a small collection of this focused work in a book. I’ll enjoy it. That’s why I made the pictures.

We’ll see.

I’m not willing to print boxes of books that sit until one might sell. I’m also not willing to put them on Amazon where they sell of $1.99. The work is worth more than that. I guess it’s important for many people to have other people read their work. They want to be heard. I get that. But, there is something I’ve learned over the years. The cheaper you price a product, the less it’s worth.

Guess what? There is a second corollary. Once you price your work very low, it’s almost impossible to raise the price. You’ve already set your worth.

Since this likely won’t have a publisher, I’ll print them on demand using some company like Blurb. I’ll price them appropriately at right under $20 a book.

Would you buy them? I have no idea.

Will I actually do this project? I have no idea about that either.

So many words that came out of a pretty little picture. Hmmmm.

The picture. It’s the usual simple thing. See it, photograph it. Do some work in post production to make it what I saw. And, share it with you.

Advertisements


A very quiet picture.

… me.

Shadows. Soft light. A kind of quiet. And me.

I was going to crop my shadow out of the picture. Or, at the very least, retouch it out. I saw it while I was making the picture. There was no way to take the picture without my shadow being part of it. That’s the key phrase, “Being a part of it.”

We are all part of every picture that we make, whether we actually show up in it or not. We always influence the scene in some small way. Just by being there. So, I thought why not? I’ll leave my shadow in the picture.

It should tell you a couple of things.

I used my phone. I worked close enough to make the picture almost become three dimensional. It was also part of a dog walk since that’s the time I use my phone.

The picture. Well… I’ve already said it’s an iPhone picture. My original intent in post production was to make the background as white as I could, make the leaves light green and the shadows really strong. That data wasn’t there. The light was too soft to support that. So, I let the post production lead me. I like this better than my original vision. There is mood here. There is a kind of mystery here.

You know what I think about all of this. Let the picture take you.


Softly in the spring.

Spring is about change. Rebirth. Change.

Maybe.

All I know is that I’m going to make some changes. Some to me. Some to my shooting style. At least for what I am loosely calling the spring series. As you know, my general style is bright, high color, contrasty and fairly graphic. When I photograph something like flowers, I usually frame them very tightly. Then I work them in post production. That’s what I started out doing with this first spring series. Something happened. The wind blew and I moved to keep up with the picture and I found this kind of strange crop. I don’t normally chimp, but I wanted to see if the picture I thought I made was really the picture I made. It was.

It is more about the space in between than the flower, itself.

Aha.

Something a little different for me.

I set out to TRY to make more of them. I failed way more than I succeeded, but so it goes.

I’m staying off the streets for physical reasons. But, if the truth be told, I really am tired of photographing events like second lines, Mardi Gras Indians and even Mardi Gras itself. I think I’ve done what I can with those subjects.

If I was really, really deep into the culture I would see the little changes and different years suits would be a big deal to me. If I could find different angles for Mardi Gras that might help. But, I don’t know enough people to say, “hey, let me up on your balcony or on your roof.” The other day I realized I don’t very many people in the city. At least very well. Just call me an iconoclast. That’s why I live in a “compound,” behind a fence.

I’ve been sort of casting about for a quiet project. This might be it. The light has to be right. The scene has to be right. And, I have to be right.

Make no mistake. I’m not staying with this forever. I’m not a nature guy. I’m really not a flower guy. I just like what I like. Remember, I’m the guy who, when you ask what kind of flower is in the picture, I reply “a yellow one.” I’m really just clearing my mind for the next personal project. Whatever that might be.

I’m going to dispense with the photo technique for a while, except to say that for this series, it’s all in how I saw the image. There is minimal post production. If anything, I tune pictures down a bit. I want them to be soft and gauzy. If I wasn’t such a wimp, I’d actually do that in the camera.

You know how that goes.


Peaceful in the South.
Peaceful in the South.

I saw this picture and just had to take it.

Winter. Solitude. Quiet. Calming.

A perfect Sunday picture.

I’ll leave you with that. And, that I’ll be back on the street today for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Making New Orleans pictures. Second line pictures. Mardi Gras pictures.

Enjoy the day.


Pretty in pink. Two.
Pretty in pink. Two.

It’s spring. Down here. In the swamp.

Yesterday the high temperature was just above 80 degrees. The humidity is way down. The air seems crystal clear. Except in the morning when a lot of fog was floating around. All of that is great.

But, it makes me lazy.

I was supposed to take more pictures than I did today. Mostly, I just wandered around the yard taking pictures and playing with the camera. Little experiments. Little tests.

These pictures came out of the camera about looking as you see them. No big modifications in post production. Mostly, just a little clean up. You know that I’m not one of those guys who proclaims, “I DIDN’T USE PHOTOSHOP” like it’s a badge of honor. I use all the tools available to me. I just wanted to see if I could do this stuff in the camera simply by manipulating the settings. Remember I make RAW files. I don’t use the camera’s JPEG settings which deliver a pretty well processed picture.

So.

I did that. Everything in camera. Using the onboard camera tools. And, my brain. My biggest fear is concerns software that compresses pictures for social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. It’s like using a three-pound mallet to hammer in a tiny finishing tack. Generally, it flattens and darkens the picture. That’s why I make pictures as bright and energetic as I do. By the time those sites compress the color and contrast it looks about right when you finally see the pictures on your computer screen.


Lake Ponchartrain
Lake Ponchartrain

This is the second of my “happy” pictures. Made on a nice warming winter day, the picture sort of celebrates that. The funny thing about pictures of Lake Ponchartrain is that many folks are fooled into thinking that this The Gulf of Mexico. I don’t go to the gulf often, but I can tell you this. Rarely are there days when the water and skies look so pristine and pretty as this. Of course, when you head east and into Mississippi, Alabama and Florida the waters are as pretty as any place in the world. Just not along Louisiana shores.

The picture. What do I like about it? Its simplicity. Pure and simple. Nice, clean horizon line. Gentle white puffy clouds. Almost Zen-like in feeling. Peaceful. Calm. Gentle.


The sun sets on a cold New Mexican winter day.
The sun sets on a cold New Mexican winter day.

Sometimes, when things haven’t gone so well I go back. I look at pictures that bring me a little peace. I do the same with music. For those of you who know me, you know that I usually try to push the envelop in both arts. Not today. I’ve been reading a lot about the Zimmerman trial. The level of outrage is amazing. Let me tell you this. It’s a version of “faith without work is dead.” Rage without positive action is meaningless. It’ll get people killed. More people. As usual, if you read Storyteller for any length of time, I take no stand on the issues of the day unless something truly terrible and horrible happens. Even then, I usually just post a picture and write only a few words.

So, for today. I just ask y’all to slow dow.  Enjoy whatever it is that you do. And, settle down. If there’s action to be taken, do it tomorrow. Let whatever you are feeling marinate. Then do the right thing. Not the emotional thing.

Oh. The picture? You want to know about it? I made it a few years ago on a very cold winter’s day in New Mexico. In any case, it’s a good Sunday picture. The music? Songs from 1971 recorded during the closing years of the Vietnam War. The entire first Manassas album. Stephen Stills’ highly regarded band.