The summer wind blew through the grasses of the season.

A

nother weird week. It seems like death is following us around no matter what we do.

I suppose that’s the way it is going to be until we manage the virus and people are able to think again.

I have no idea what killed Charlie Watts. But, it may illustrate something that I’ve long said. Touring is not good for man or animal.

I don’t care how you do it, your body pays for it. I don’t care whether you drive from show to show in a van and sleep on somebody’s couch or fly private and stay in a private home.

Funny, how a musician proceeds up the ladder. You start by sleeping on someone’s floor or couch. You proceed to cheap motels, eventually moving up to five star hotels and finally back into a house.

This time, it’s a 12 bedroom house in an exclusive neighborhood that a sponsor donated to you for a couple of nights.

Still, jumping through time zones, working an upside down day, eating food — good or bad — at the wrong times, coming down from the adrenalin rush and never knowing where you are, is not good for the body, mind and soul.

Did Charlie’s job play a part in his death? Or, was it simply a matter of aging? Or, was it a combination of both.

Does it matter? After all, dead is dead.

It matters to me. In 13 years I’ll be 80. That sounds like a long time, but where the hell did the last 67 years go?

It happened like a blink of the eye.

It always does.

T

his is my third time around on this post. Once again, the paragraphs locked and no edits or additions could be made.

I did learn something. Up at the top of the page there is a blue “Save Draft” line. Press it and it save the page exactly as it is minus the block edits.

No matter what WordPress claims, the block system is not flexible.

See that white space next to this column?

It came about because I wanted to make the picture larger. It’s a picture that I’d hang on my wall so I wanted you to see a larger version.

That went fine until I tried to build a block there. You can’t. You can’t add another column, or a calendar, or a list of previous posts.

All I know is that programmers are programmers. They have no sense of design or art. It’s all math to them.

That’s why there are so many freelance WordPress coders. The code is so complicated that it takes specialty programmers to create anything different.

Hire one of those folks and guess what? The block system is flexible.

Sheesh.


Still late winter light.

The dogs don’t understand. Holiday or not, they want their walks. Even the aging dog who sees things still wants to go for long walks, just not as fast.

That’s okay with me.

I get the chance to look around and see stuff. I saw this scene about ten minutes into our walk. Then… nothing. That’s fine. It happens when it happens.

Yesterday was fine day. Coolish and bright. I opened the office/studio windows, proceeded to turn up the music and let the neighbors know that we were awake. You have no idea what live Bob Dylan does to the neighborhood. I supposed it’s better than lining up three or four buses on the street and letting them run so that the electricity keeps flowing.

No. I’m not that inconsiderate. Sometimes you just have to do your job and it gets a little loud. Yeah, even the loud Dylan is part of my job if you want me to write, right?

I wished this paid something. Photography barely pays these days. My other career has been shut down for over a year. We are talking about going back to work soon. That would be nice.

I’ll have to park some of those busses outside so they can be prepped. Their motors will take at least 45 minutes of warming up, belching diesel smoke all the while. And, that’s just to get to the point where needed work can be done.

One more thing. I don’t have a class whatever license. Hopefully the beat cops who patrol our neighborhood will just shake their heads and smile.

Or, not.

Maybe the pandemic will keep us shut down yet again. If all those people who won’t wear masks or social distance keep doing that, this will never end.

You know what Jerry Seinfeld said?

“People! They’re the worst.”

I don’t really believe that, but sometimes…

Doggo walked right to the place in front the trees. She wasn’t seeing any subject. She was just sniffing around.

The weather has been pretty dry for the last three days. We had two days of rain earlier. Everything smells different to her.

While she sniffed, I made a few pictures. Then, we walked. And, I made no more pictures.

I probably made a few exposures, the camera fighting me all the way. Or, rather the phone did.

Technology is defeating me these days. I didn’t care this time because nothing was moving, but if this was something like a second line I’d be pretty unhappy.

Admittedly, this picture took some work in editing. Remember, it’s fairly difficult to control the exposure. The phone exposed for the trees which blew everything out, especially the sun and surrounding areas.

The picture looks a little over cooked to me, but I give up. I think it’s time to use the phone for everything but making pictures.

No worries. My abandoning the phone as a camera won’t matter to the billions of people who continue to do it.


Little things.

So, people are saying spring is finally upon us. Down here in The Gulf Coast we’ve had spring for about a month. But, in the last day spring exploded. The greens are greener. The flowers are vibrant. Leaves have just exploded out of their slumber.

Luckily, it’s still cool bordering on cold. In a month or so summer’s heat and humidity will be upon us. Until October. Five months of three showers a day. Five months of dog walks as early and late as possible. And, six months of hurricane season.

The world turns.

Nature always seeks stasis. She doesn’t want to move anything too much except for us. That’s why the climate is changing. We will either deal with it or we’ll be gone. And, sooner than we think if we don’t act today.

I read that 40% of all Republicans will not be vaccinated.

This isn’t a political issue. This is a health issue. Both climate change and the virus will kill us if we aren’t careful.

I did get involved a little today. For the first time in 19 months we took a walk through the French Quarter. The air is cool and bright. We’ve had our jabs. We wore our masks. We arrived at the front of St. Louis Cathedral where parishioners were coming out after the Good Friday Stations of the Cross.

No social distancing. Not a mask among them. They were touching each others hands. The Archbishop of Orleans Parish was right there with them.

We weren’t about to get too close. But, worked my way around so that he could see me. I gave him the ultimate teacher’s stink eye. I didn’t say a word, but he thought I might be having a problem.

He came over and asked if I was okay. I said that I was, but he wasn’t and a wondered how many of these people he would be officiating funerals for. He didn’t know what to say. He’s supposed to be a community leader and this is how he leads the people closest to him?

If the thunder don’t get you than the lightening will.

The green, green grass of home. That’s what I saw. There were about a billion of little snowball like wildflowers just about everywhere.

I put the phone down on the ground and pointed it toward the subject. I’d like to say it was easy, but you have no idea how hard the phone fights you in that position.

Tools are supposed to do what you need them to do. Not anymore. Programmers think that they have to save us from ourselves. I’m not that stupid. If I point the lens at something, I want to take a picture of it.

It took me four or five times to make this picture. I’m not talking about extra pictures made as I explored the scene. I mean I’d press the button and nothing would happen.

Working at it in post production was fairly simple. I made it brighter and warmer because that’s how it looked to me when I saw it.

And, that’s it.

A pre-Easter picture because I found it and I could.


Drifting higher and higher.

The wheel is turning and it won’t slow down. Can’t back up and you can’t stand still

I learned a lot today. I learned it before breakfast. I watched The President’s discussion about the horrific number of pandemic dead in our country.

500,000.

That’s 120,000 more than the city of New Orleans.

I listened to a much hyped podcast on Spotify. It’s a discussion between former president Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen. Today was podcast one. I think that there are eight in total.

Of course I learned different points from each of them, but when I spun it around in my head I came up with two things.

I realized that like most of the country I’m in mourning. I mourn for the 500,000 dead. I knew a few of them.

I also mourn for a way of life that will never return. When you think of what’s changed in your life you realized that the world shifted.

Make no mistake. I still believe that whatever the new normal is, wecan be much better than where we were pre-pandemic.

To get there, first you have to mourn. You must pass through the five stages of grief. And, then you can go on.

I can’t speak for others, but I am not particularly happy right now. It’s nothing in particular. It’s just the remains of the past year. And, this year. It is sort of a clod or fog that me feelings are in.

This year has also become a year of reckoning. It started with music. The music got into my head and I started thinking about it. It’s time to think about and work through my past life. It’s time to confront all of my ghosts, good or bad.

In case you are wondering, I’m not the only person going through this. Pandemic times opened a lot of people. We have time to think. Time to reflect. Time to make ourselves crazy.

About that last one, you know what I mean. You think about something you did in the past and you say to yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?”

Remember one more thing.

My koan or word for the year is truth. Not telling the truth. Inside truth. The one only I know. And, God.

More balloons. This is what people from all over the world come for. Mass ascensions.

The sun is low in the sky. Balloons are up.

Albuquerque has a wind pattern called The Albuquerque Box. Wind hits the Sandia mountain range, bounces along its face and pushes back out in the direction from which it came.

In theory, that should make photography easy.

You know about theories. They break down. Sometimes the balloons drift away. The end up all over the city.

One morning when I wasn’t going out, I walked into the kitchen to see a balloon almost in my backyard.

That’ll happen.

Instead of making pictures, I helped the pilot since his chase car couldn’t get anywhere near him.

I’m not that good of a guy. I didn’t want my windows broken. We were renting then. I could just imagine walking into the management office and asking for my kitchen windows to replaced. “What happened?” “They were hit by a balloon.”

Right.

The picture itself. F8 and be there. Point your camera into the sun even though they say not to do that and fire away.

“They” is often wrong.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You are experts in the rest by now. You know what to do. Enjoy every Albuquerque Box.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.