Evening glow.

T

his post was inspired by a band called Ranky Tanky. They are a Gullah band from the Lowcountry area of South Carolina.

They play a kind of country jazz. I’m always amazed at how many of their songs I know. Songs that were covered by The Rolling Stones and Little Feat. The good news is that both bands always acknowledged their musical roots.

Roots. I think that knowing who’s shoulders you are standing on. That’s another little piece of Storyteller. I haven’t talked about my inspirations in a good long while. (Let’s see if I can write that anymore Southern.)

Maybe I should start doing that again. Whaddya think? I can write about particular artists, or photographers or musicians to authors.

Let me just say that there are only a few photographers who inspire me. Most of them are old now. But, artists and musicians? You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting them. (Southernism number two.)

I wonder why that is.

S

ometimes things that look easy to do are a lot harder than we think.

This picture is an example of that.

It’s a time exposure made on my smart phone. Easy enough, right?

Sure. If you don’t care about the highlights or the deep shadows.

I did everything I could to keep those areas intact. I failed. Either one or the other had to go.

So, I kept the highlights and let the shadows go dark. I tried to hold the shadows, but they lost way too much contrast.

I did the best that I could, which wasn’t enough.

That’ll happen sometimes.


O

ne of the benefits of having software finding old files is that they are almost new to me, and certainly to you.

I made this picture on Memorial Day 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

No worries. To me this is just about the picture, nothing more.But I do want to tell you about what I think is a very cool tradition.

Yes. Memorial Day still means what it should mean to the rest of the country. We honor our war dead. The troops that gave their all. The ones who never came home.

But, New Mexicans do something different.

They bring a blanket and a picnic and they sit near the grave of their loved on and enjoy a meal with them. There are toasts and offerings and prayers.

There is one thing which makes New Mexicans like New Orleanians. As I walked around photographing — and you know me, I want people in my pictures — they would ask me to eat with them.

I think refusing a small bite would dishonor both the living and the dead. So, I ate with whoever I photographed. Besides, we got to know each other. And, they were able to enjoy a few pictures that I sent to them.

T

his photograph was made with a Canon G 11. It was my picture a day camera. It was a great little camera. I wore it out. It did everything that I wanted it to do.

Many pixel peepers (folks that go too far in their technical evaluations) say that cameras like this one are not good for much more than just snapshots.

Does this picture look like a snapshot?

Besides, these days most clients want images for online projects. The few who want images for paper uses aren’t using them much bigger than a magazine cover. A camera with a good sensor and processor, no matter it’s classification, is just fine.

That’s the real world.


W

hen we were getting ready to leave New Mexico we did a thing that some New Mexican like to do best. We went cruising. We weren’t showing off our cars. We were looking for our last pictures.

And, we ate dinner at all of our favorite places. We went to places like Garcias, The Frontier and Sadies. If you know Albuquerque, you know these places. If you watched Breaking Bad, you know some of them.

This picture was made on Central Avenue as it heads out of town toward the West. You might know it as Route 66. We, however, were headed east so I could catch the blue hour with some traffic on the street. This is about the location from which the late, great, photographer Ernst Haas made one of his very famous photographs.

You know what this driving around really was, don’t you? We were fixing things in our minds knowing we wouldn’t be back for a long time. We were making nostalgia.

I’m glad we did it. After a year like the last one when we didn’t move around at all, those memories helped our travel jones.

I’m sure you do things like that too.

What are they? When do you do them?

N

o joy yet. These templates are as twitchy as ever.

But, that’s not what I want to talk about, so goodbye bad code.

Instead, let’s discuss the picture.

It’s a drive by, or drive through. It helps to have a co-pilot who knows my moves. I just talk about the objective and the lane and the only thing I worry about from that point is making pictures.

I typically like to meter from a middle highlight like the back of that silver Jaguar. Get that close and everything falls into place.

Of course, there is work to do in post production because fine tuning is needed in a lot of little points of the picture.

That kind of good work is worth it in the end.


Blue. My picture. Joni Mitchell’s song. My eyes. The sky on a sunny day. A clear lake. The ocean away from land.

I made this picture in New Mexico. Older pictures keep resurfacing on Amazon Pictures. They are pictures that I’ve forgotten about. Pictures that have never been seen by anybody. Pictures that were “lost.”

So.

Lucky you. You get to see them before anybody else.

I’m not sure what these desert flowers are called. They come out in late spring and stay for the summer.

Once, when I could actually crawl around on the ground and get back up without aid, I used to make pictures like this with a DSLR camera. Those days are gone.

There is a song in which one line says that we don’t know how much we would lose. Even though I think this picture is happy, the day is sad.

Yesterday, I read a quick two inch story about somebody getting killed in New Orleans. I didn’t think much about it because rarely does a day go by that somebody doesn’t die by violent means.

We were watching the 10 PM News. The murder was across the street from my old house. Uh oh. A woman was killed. My oldest friend in New Orleans. She was stabbed to death as she was walking to her car to go to work, by a guy who was stealing it.

Rest in Peace, Portia.

June is starting out like a hellhound on my trail. A dog, and a person died. Makes me wonder what’s next.

This column is going to be more of a rant.

Sorry.

WordPress is running terribly. Yesterday, I blamed it on the huge internet outage.

Today, it’s on WordPress.

There is still no caption line. Worse, making this two column alignment took an act of God.

I’m not sure what it was doing, but the software was stacking column on top of column. The paragraph template didn’t know where to go.

It turned out that pressing the column template once dropped six templates on top of each other.

Leave well enough alone. The block system is bad enough without WordPress making it “better” every time the programers think about it.


Seeing is believing.

Luck. Photographer’s luck. I got lucky. I saw some new arrivals in the world of nature yesterday. I was able to take my time and really work the scene.

As you know, while walking a dog or two that rarely happens. But, the all seeing dog walked herself into a tired puddle. Whenever I stopped to explore a potential picture she just sat down and waited. When we returned home she laid down and slept for about three hours.

Then, she wanted to go for another walk. For a dog approaching thirteen years old she still has a lot of energy. I doubt that I’ll have that much energy as I approach 91 years old, which is about her equivalent age.

No worries. The day was coolish and dry so I let her go, but normally I wouldn’t let her get that far out because it is hard on her to return home. Trust me. I look after her very well.

These are blooms that you are looking at. They will eventually turn into purple flowers. If you’ve been here for a few years, you’ve seen them. I’ll try to do something different as I did with this picture.

It really comes down to light. And, with that it’s time to jump to the right hand column.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all the nature.

Any photograph is about light. For that matter, so are paintings.

If I always had my way, I wouldn’t work until the light was right. That’s not always possible.

But, yesterday morning I awoke fairly early. So did the all seeing dog. She barely let me suck down a cup of coffee before we were off.

I made this picture at about 8 am. The light wasn’t just breaking through the sky, but it was low and very illuminating.

The dog of the hour waited and I made this picture. We were inbound so she was tired. It’s mostly backlighted with a little shadow in the foreground.

I did pump it up a bit because I wanted the glow to pull you into the center of the image.

I think it works as intended.


Leaving town.

There are many ways out of Albuquerque, but this is my favorite. If you are going on a road trip you can kind of say goodbye to the city as you leave. Even if you are not, you can pretend.

This is what is left of Route 66 west of Albuquerque. Just a little over the rise in the far center of the photograph is where it meets I-40 and all points west.

There are little bits and pieces and parts of Route 66 that run along I-40, but not enough to really get anywhere. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t photographable. They are.

There have been a lot of reflective articles lately about photography. There have been a few concerning how it relates to social media. I’ve said on Storyteller that each has their specific place in the branding world, but do they?

I have never gotten even a nibble from anything that I post on Instagram, which is distributed to Facebook. Oh sure, I get a lot of likes. But, you can’t eat likes. I read Twitter mostly for NOLA Twitter and news. I really don’t know most of the local folks who post on Twitter. And, I read news at the source.

So, why do it?

A photographer/writer who I read and like, reckons that we waste 2.5 hours per day on social media. Think about it. That’s 17.5 hours per week, or 70 hours per month, or 840 hours per year.

That’s 35 days.

What could you do with 35 days?

I have to think about it for another ten minutes, but I think I may do that. There are plenty of ways to reach, find, and talk to me.

Or, I can stay around, not post and just read here and there.

We’ll see.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere here, on Storyteller.

Wowie Zowie. Look at the big ball of light. Wouldja? Oh wait, that’s the sun as it blasts its way through the windshield.

Yes, if you leave Albuquerque at around sunset, this is your view.

There are some big businesses outside of the city limit so you have an inbound rush hour of sorts.

The finished picture takes some explanation.

I tried to keep some details in the sun. Yeah, right. But, doing that made the surrounding everything very dark. It also added a lot of contrast which is no problem for me.

Of course, all of that created a lot of shadows and silhouettes. A lot of people don’t like that which is why HDR was invented.

I like shadows and silhouettes. If anything, I want to make them stronger and more defined.

It’s all a matter of personal taste.

For me, this is how it looks and feels if you are leaving Albuquerque around sunset.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


All the spring colors.

What a storm. First the phones went off. Tornado warnings. Get under the sink or something like that. First, came the lightning. Big bolts. They lit up the entire sky. For that milli-second, you could see everything. Then the thunder started. The loudest, longest rolls of thunder I think I’ve ever heard.

Then, the rain fell.

Fall doesn’t begin to describe it. Water fell in sheets. The wind caught up and blew the sheets sideways. The yard and streets flooded in minutes. It didn’t matter wether the sewer pumps were working or not. Nothing could keep up with this.

I would have made pictures. Lord knows I like violent weather. But, I was a little busy securing things.

All of this started at about 3:50am. It lasted until well after 4:30am. When the rain started to fall lightly, we all fell back asleep.

At about 8:30 it was dog walking time.

Wow! The air was clean and clear. It was warmish, but there is no humidity to speak of. With all of that magic how could I not make pictures?

So. I did.

This is the one. The promise of a great of a great day. The magic of a huge, violent storm. The wonder of the new day.

That’s how it was.

The best pictures are about feeling, not just subject matter.

My post production was intended to do just that. Bring out what I felt.

This picture isn’t reality. It’s what I saw and felt. It’s how I’d like you to feel. Smiling. Happy. Hopeful.

My feelings are about the wonderful day ahead. The pure light. The clean air. A kind of glow in the light.

With my studio post work, I hope that you came to the same place that I did.

If you did then I succeeded.

Two more things and then I’ll move on to figuring out my printer issues.

It’s been a long time since I felt this way. At least 13 months. I have to tell you, it feels very, very good.

I found a Springtime play list on Spotify. It’s a lot of fun until…

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash started to play. I couldn’t move fast enough to scroll down.

I love Johnny Cash’s music. But, “Hurt” is performed in a way that will make you cry.

It’s about a man at the end of his life who has lost everything, even his cherished wife who died earlier that year. It’s hard to listen to even when you are in the mood for something like that.

How is that a springtime song?


I saw this in a dream.

Does this ever happen to you? You see something in a dream and then, there it is in real life. That’s how I came to make this photograph.

My dream was weird and wild — as they often are — but toward the end as I was waking up I was enveloped in this purple cloud.

That’s all the I remember of the dream.

The final scene got stuck in my head. While we were out walking I started looking for a purple flower, something that I could photograph closely.

Two days later I found it.

I actually worked it as if I were photographing something for an assignment. I made a lot of pictures which reminded me of something a friend of mine said. She was on assignment for a regional magazine. They wanted one picture. She said, “So, of course I took 300.” I replied, “That’s all?”

You know me. No machine-gunning. No spray and pray. Work deliberately until you know that you can’t do anything more. Work until your explorations can go no farther.

I didn’t make 300 pictures to get to here.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Be patient. Don’t get stupid. Listen to scientists. Enjoy all the purple.

This photograph. This very one. I really like it. I could see this on our walls.

I told you how I found and why I was looking for it.

Here’s a how I processed it.

The picture is soft and delicate right out of the camera, er, phone.

It was also pretty purply as a RAW file.

So, all I had to do was make sure that it stayed soft and sort of gauzy.

To do that, pull the structure slider back rather than push it forward. That action is the same on Snapseed as it is using OnOne.

That’s the same way that I soften skies to make subjects in the foreground.

If you recall, I just sort of figured it out. You also know that I discover “new’ things about ten years after everybody else did.

I look at the work of a lot of painters. They’ve been doing it for decades, maybe centuries. I just didn’t know it.

Maybe if I would have taken those art appreciation classes seriously.


Day’s end.

We know what we know. It’s inside us. Ghosts live inside of us too. They start to come out as we age. Hopefully, our ghosts are good. Sometimes they aren’t. Eventually, we come to understand who we are and where we came from.

Where we come from. Wow. That’s hard. What made us who we are? Who made us who we are? You must go inside for that knowledge. Even then, it may not be clear.

That’s what my koan — the truth — is about. It’s not about telling the truth. I do that. It’s about understanding my own past so that I can understand my own truth. It’s like Buddhism on steroids times ten.

That may be why I’m photographing so many trees in so many ways. In some cultures trees are about rebirth. I don’t know that I want rebirth. I just want a crack where the light and the darkness gets in. That’s how I know I’m all right and on the right track.

Admittedly, this is selfish. It’s like any twelve step program. It’s about myself. Fix — or in this case — understand myself so that I can move on.

Since I think most of my ghosts are friendly, I’m excited to work through this process. I think it is the only way to move forward so that I can fix the external things that need fixing. Like the 753 potholes in my street.

I think many people are going through something similar. It’s either the new year or the “pandemic time of lockdowns” that are causing people to ask themselves what they really want.

I’m lucky in a way. Some of my friends have been writing in the socials about their process. They seem to be slogging through the mud and it’s getting deeper.

And, you? Who are you guys doing? Can I help?

Trees. I agree with the cultures who believe that trees are about rebirth.

At the very least, they are about the cycle of life. Understand that in a tree and you may open yourself up to a bigger truth.

So.

I photograph trees. A lot of them. I look at them for each unique composition. Sometimes I force them a little bit into my odd way of seeing. Still, the picture finds me. Or, the all seeing dogs points them out to me.

Photographing them is simple. You know me.

Post production is a little complex depending on what reveals itself.

I have a little worry. I keep seeing and photographing trees and nature. That’s all good. But, it seems to be keeping me away from my projects.

I’ll figure it out.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the trees.