The Picture Begins With The Past


Mystery

The day’s conclusion.

I wrote about “Ray’s Blue” yesterday. Of course, I twisted the color around so much that you barely got to see it.

Not this time.

The sun was low in the sky. Darkness was almost upon me. I made a few quick pictures, unsure if I had an image. I didn’t have time to brace myself. I certainly didn’t have time to grab a tripod, which was called for by the light.

So.

Photographer’s luck came to my rescue.

Again.

Music

We’ve been listening to a lot of music this past week. More than we usually do. That’s saying something. Photography saves me. Not this time. I feel trapped since just about everything is closed again.

That’s the fault of people of New Orleans. Far too many pictures of a packed Bourbon Street circulated this week.

A very angry governor gave us a verbal spanking. The mayor closed outdoor sales of alcohol, which combined with the governor’s closing of all the bars, effectively closed the bars of the city.

Still some people protested. The were quickly answered by bar employees who said the closing of their places of work was necessary because the partiers couldn’t do the right thing. The language was much stronger than that. Once again, everybody is angry at everybody else.

Anyway.

If I’m limited in photography, I turn to music. I listened to new music. New to me anyway. It’s been around for awhile. Then, I listened to a brand new song from a yet to be released album. The melody and the lyrics almost brought me to tears.

I felt like we haven’t even begun to feel pain yet. Our world has already been turned upside down. More is coming. It’s like the joke I tell when something in my body breaks down. My body says, “You think that was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The musician? Mary Chapin Carpenter.

I’ve been accused of having a crush on her. I readily admit that I do. Not on her. Her music. Where have I been all these years? At least I found her through her “songs from the kitchen” that she’s been playing during the era of lockdown. I suppose the pandemic has been good for something.

Playing on an acoustic guitar and with no mic to support her singing, she brings the same sense of peace that James Taylor does for me.

Her new, yet to be released album is called, “Between the Dirt and the Stars.” It’s the opening track of the same name that brought an impending sense of doom to me. Her record label has released three songs from the album. Even though she’s very awarded for country music, this album isn’t country. It’s pretty much straight ahead rock and roll.

Anyway.

The Picture

I think I pretty much told you how I reacted and how I made the photograph. I haven’t said much technically. I did have to do some post work on it. Not to change things as I showed you yesterday, but to fix more deficiencies.

When you make exposures like these you introduce heat noise. The chip and processor generate too much heat and it shows on the file. As noise. My normal repair for an image that will never leave the screen is to darken and smooth it. That’s what I did. That’s what you see.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every mystery.

Day Breaks


Summer light in the residential side of The French Quarter.

Quiet times.

Normally The French Quarter is noisy. People are walking around in all states of decay. Some are tired. Some are lost. Many are drunk.

Every now and then, you can find a beautiful stillness on the old cobbled streets. Both times of day have golden light and long shadows.

The most predictable time is early morning. The partiers are finally home. The tourists aren’t out and about. Only service people are working. And, me.

Or, during golden hour around dusk.

Pick your location. If you are in the residential end of the Quarter, you might see this scene. If you are on Bourbon Street you might as well join in with the revelers. Or, photograph them.

Since light is key, so are times of day. Time of day may change forever in Louisiana since we are one of 19 states that are asking Congress to let us drop Standard Time. Arrrggg.

Stay safe. Enjoy every fried egg.

Change of Guard


Golden light and bokeh.

Only a fool would say that.

I thought that it would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be this bad, Covid-19 still growing in some places and calming down in others. Cities burning because of racial strife. Hurricane season starting today for those of us who live in hurricane country. Murder hornets. And, a leaderless country.

Are you tired of winning yet?

When the president was first elected, I had a dream about burning buildings, people hiding and fighting in the streets. It was a nightmare. I woke up. Aside from wondering how the hell he was elected, all was fine. Then it started. Slowly at first. Three-and-a-half years later and my nightmare became reality.

Usually, I have some positive thoughts. This time, nothing. I have no idea what to do. Yeah. I know. Vote. I’m not sure we can hold on that long. Besides even if he is voted out of office, will he go? Will he go quietly? Will he incite his base into fighting? I can see it now. A bunch of wannabe soldier good old boys fighting still very angry Black people.

My money is on the angry African Americans. Urban gangs are organized and have no problem pulling the trigger. Add to that, O.G.s (Original Gangsters) strategizing and the fight gets nasty and ends quickly. Remember, those O.G.s learned their trade in the jungles of Vietnam. They may be old, but they can think.

Meanwhile, the chief instigator will be cowering in some bunker somewhere. He’ll be tweeting up a storm but he’ll have no real punch. That’s the thing about him. Like all bullies, he screams and hollers. When it comes to the fight, he runs away.

Do I want my prediction to come to true?

Oh God, no.

I’m a peaceful guy. I want the burning to stop. It serves nobody unless you are a looter. I want unity, not just in the streets but in the research labs who scientists are racing against time. I want real discussion and social change.

I want to improve well beyond what we called normal in February. At a minimum, I want streets that don’t break my car’s suspension when I swerve to hit a pothole and hit another much worse one. I want my city not to flood during a storm and being told that’s the way it is, live with it.

I want people to be fully engaged, purposeful and happy.

So.

How are you this first day of June?

What do you want? What will you do to achieve it? Can you stay focused long enough to even come close? How will you stay organized?

The picture.

I’d better discuss that, even a little bit, yes? I was struggling to find a picture. I found some already dead flowers. It was better than nothing so, click, click, click. It wasn’t much so I mistreated it. Oops. I meant treated it with a lot of post production tricks until I made something marginally worthy of showing you.

Stay safe. Stay focused. Enjoy every sandwich.

Learning


New Orleans

This is a test. I’m trying to learn how to do combined multiple picture designs.

Combined, because I’ve crashed two templates. I’ve also used some older pictures that those of you who are new to Storyteller may never have seen. They highlight a couple of tourist areas. Places that some of you might go if you came to my fair town.

While I was writing, I learned something very new. It appears that the block in which I am working expands to contain the new text. That’s great, but I have to watch the depth if I want some air between the text and the images.

The Pictures

I suppose that you’d like to know a little bit about them because this is, after all, a photography blog.

The top image is Canal Street at dusk.

The bridge is the Crescent City Connection, which crosses The Mississippi River to the Westbank.

Next to it is Bayou St. John.

Below that is a French Quarter scene,

Far left is Magazine Street.

Canal Street. Streetcar.

I hope you’ve me followed this deep. I’d love some feedback. Positive — of course. Negative — because it’s needed.

All About learning

Learn from me if you’d like. You are going to be right behind me. I like challenges, but many of you won’t. There is an old school template that I believe predates me. That means it’s at least ten years ten years old. That’s the option if you hate the block system.

One design note. I’ve thrown just about every design tool that I’ve used to date into this page. Drop caps. Headings. Multiple pictures. Offset text. I could do other things that I’m not so sure about when it comes to contemporary design. I could change the color of the pages. I could do that in one go, or block by block. I could change the color of the type, again in one go or block by clock. I’m more minimal than all of that.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

Goin’ Back


Like summer, but not quite.

Unlike yesterday, everything could not have gone better.

Everything started out well and only got better. The air was warm, but cool in the shadows. There was a gentle breeze in the air. Not much humidity. Like New Mexico.

The all seeing dog woke up early and wanted to walk. That makes me happy. She’s been very sick. She didn’t like to get up before noon or walk. After our walk, we sat in the shade. I just sat there watching, listening, with no thought in my head. She laid down with her head up and just enjoyed herself.

I made a few pictures. I was trying to find the mood of the day. Warm sun. Clouds drifting by. Trees fully recovered from winter. Almost like summer… in some other place. That made me laugh because another blogger was writing from some much more northern place and she said she was enjoying early spring. I guess it’s all relative.

The news of the day. I dunno. Somebody turned left. Somebody turned right. They got where they were going. Something like that.

The picture. When I first made the picture the trees were green, the sky was blue with white puffy clouds racing the sun. For the most part, the picture didn’t work. The light was bouncing around so much that the sky looked mottled in the files.

So, I thought… how about something from The Hudson School (of thought)?

I study artists more than photographers. Photographers are like me. Either I like their work or I get jealous. That doesn’t help. I don’t get inspired.

But, painters? That’s another story. I am usually inspired.

The Hudson School were a group of artists who had a particular style and thought process. They worked from about 1825 to 1880. They were interested in American scenery. They were the first to paint scenery rather than portraits. In America.

I set out not to duplicate their work, but to honor it.

That’s what you are looking at. I even added a canvas finish to it.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

And, In The End


After the storm. If you’re lucky you get a rainbow.

Sometimes,

You get lucky. You get to see the rainbow after the storm.You get to see nature being friendly rather than allowing us to get sick and die. That’s what this picture is about. Hope. You know me. You can’t eat hope. If you have hope right now, you’d better go to work.

Hope, unfortunately, is withering on the vine. I read a story in The New York Times about our new future. It’s grim. The virus is forever. There will be ebbs and flows depending on what we open and what we don’t. I fear sort the sports and entertainment industries. Fans going to a venue wil be in a petri dish. Maybe some get sick. Maybe some won’t.

We are in the digital age, so maybe some of these events can be done online. While some people might recoup some funds, that’s not what live events are about. It doesn’t account for what they really about. Excitment. Energy. Fan interaction. Instead there will 300 or 400 people in a stadium designed for 50,000 people.

Okay. That stuff isn’t important.

Non-essential businesses are important. How are they going to be staffed? How are they going to be regulated from a health standpoint? How do staffers interact with the public? These questions, and more, are yet to be answered.

You can’t rush this stuff. You can’t set a deadline. You can’t rush nature. Nature moves in her own good time. This new normal is forever. Oh sure, it will be modified as we learn. I’m sure that there will be V. 1.0, V1.5, V. 2.0, and so on. Maybe in 70 years things will settle down. After all, that’s how long it to the Spanish Flu to eventually morph in H1N1, the seasonal flu that rolls around in the fall.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

Look Closely


It’s the balloons.

They flew once.

Now they have been caught in a tree’s branches where they will likely deflate and die. Was this an accident? Or, were they launched? Probably those of us who didn’t see where the balloons rose from will never know.

I do know this.

I went to my doctor yesterday. You know my ailments so I won’t backtrack and waste your time. There are two additional issues. One is fairly simple. Bursitis. I had a corticosteroid injection and I should be feeling better sometime his weekend.

The other.

Not so simple. As we age internal body parts change. Sometimes they calcify, like my vertebrae which actually doesn’t cause me any direct pain. Sometimes they narrow, like arteries which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Sometimes narrowing occurs in the spine. That’s called stenosis.

That’s what I have. It’s brought on, in part, by age. Arthritis doesn’t help. And, there may be some genetics involved.

Essentially, inside of the spine there is what amounts to a tube. It’s wider at the top and narrows as it gets to my tailbone. Inside of the tube there are nerves. Stenosis occurs when the tube narrows so much that the walls are pressing on the nerves.

My symptoms confirm it. There are times when my hamstrings feel so tight that I can’t stretch them. Sometimes, I have this weird feeling that my feet aren’t touching the ground. Eventually, it passes. Until the next time.

There is a repair. Surgery. Before you say oh no, not back surgery, this isn’t that. The work isn’t done by an orthopedic surgeon. It is done by a neurologist. It’s minimally invasive. It’s done in the office as an outpatient procedure. I can even drive myself home. I would be back in business within a week. Business means walking and hunting for pictures.

Sounds pretty good, yes?

There is a condition. There’s always a condition.

I have to wait until it gets worse, which could be next week, next month or next year. There is a timing issue issue which means we have to catch the pain at the right time.

Between the bursitis issue and stenosis treatment most of my pain should be taken care of within a reasonable time.

The good news is that I rarely have back pain. My Mardi Gras pain was transient in nature. I was feeling a little better before I saw my doctor. The lack of back pain makes me a prime candidate for a successful outcome of the stenosis procedure.

As my doctor said, you often hear people talk about major surgery as a procedure. It’s not. It’s surgery. What I will eventually have done is a procedure.

Thank you all for your concern and good wishes. I promised you that I would keep you in the loop. I try to always keep my promises.

Too much information? Probably. But, you asked.

Today is Such a Day


In the morning.

Sunday morning coming down.

I thought that this would be a good Sunday morning picture. It took some doing to get it here. For some unknown reason the file was too small. It filled about half of the normal space. So, I resized it. It fits fine now.

I have no idea why or why not. It’s just one of those things. Sort of like making a picture on the run. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

I guess that it’s about time to discuss CoVid-19. That’s the illness caused by the coronavirus, which is really almost every respiratory virus that we catch. A common cold is a coronavirus. Seasonal flu is also a coronavirus.

Even though there has been no Covid-19 detected anywhere near Louisiana, there are people already starting to wear masks. I saw them as I was running errands. A friend of mine reported that after arriving at LAX, the international airport in Los Angeles, California, almost everybody was wearing a mask and the airport was much less busy than usual.

Settle down folks.

Masks don’t protect a person who is not ill. They slow down illnesses from spreading via airborne droplets.

The best thing you can do is wash your hands fairly frequently. If you are going to use some kind of hand sanitizer, it must be be rated at least 60% alcohol. I suppose you could clean your hand with a good whisky.

Down here in swampville, we are all coughing and hacking. Are we sick? No. Just allergic to high counts of pollen and grass seed. Supposedly, this is at an all time high, lasting from now through November.

You can clear out line of shoppers by letting your allergic nose and sinuses do the talking and muttering, “I shouldn’t have gone to China.” Or, Italy. Or, Iran. An Italian friend of mine who I met here on WordPress is from Milan, Italy, which is shut down. She’s lived in London for about the last twenty years. Her mom called and told her to stay away from crowds of people. My friend asked, “Do you mean Chinese?” Her mom replied, “Italians.”

All black humor. That’s how I deal with things like this.

Don’t panic. Don’t worry. Plan a little. Relax.

The Thing Itself


Chasing light.

Light. The thing itself.

We chase it.

That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. Maybe everybody does it. We chase light. Photographers need it to make pictures. Artists use the interplay between light and dark to work. All of us needs light to live.

Artificial light is fine, but sunlight is the real deal.

Of course, humans can alter that. We can create different environments. Some are good. Some aren’t. And, some are terrible. Just think about the environment we are creating for ourselves called climate change. Australians sure are thinking about that right now.

The light that I’m talking about is pretty. It’s created by late afternoon winter sun when the blue sky. That’s what this picture is about. The scene is common. Cars parked in a parking lot. But, the light. Oh my God, the light. I wish I were in a better place to work this light. But if I was, I might have lost it. Or, it might not have the reflective strength. So, I took what I had. I worked the technique to make it as good as I could.

After all, that’s all we can do with anything. We can do the best that we can. Do that and be a happy person.

Happy New Year.