Once upon a French Quarter parade.

This isn’t that.

I was going to talk about New Orleans culture, but a fire got in the way. You know where. In Paris. France. Notre Dame burned. Early on, it looked like it might be a total loss. Now, we know it’s not. Already 400,000,000 Euros have been pledged to its rebuilding.

Just as important, after reading a long comment from a researcher who studies Notre Dame as well as other Gothic structures throughout Europe, I know that there is a cycle of boom and bust for the cathedral. For instance, the steeple that fell was built in the 19th Century. At one point, it was derelict and restored. Of course, the medieval wood is mostly gone, and the roof is cinders, but most of the art is safe. The walls are safe. And, the bell towers are intact.

It likely will be rebuilt again. In 100 years, people will be talking about the fire of 2019 while they are looking at it.

However, yesterday’s sadness was about more than the burning of what amounts to a Catholic Church. 856 year years of history was being stripped away. The heart of a city was burning. Art that should never die, was thought to be dying.

The core of the matter was something was burning. In many ways, the fire was a symbol for the past few years of upheaval and violence. For, the nasty turn to the right-wing. For the hatred of people not like ourselves. And, something even more than that. I cannot put my finger on it. But, it hurt. And, it scared me.

It may be because I live in a French city. After all, New Orleans was founded by the French. True. The French Quarter actually looks Spanish. That’s because when the city burned for the last time, it was the property of the Spanish who rebuilt it in their architectural style. But they city was split, for a time between The French and The Americans. That’s what Canal Street is about. The middle of the neutral ground was the boundary between the two countries.

Never-the-less, I feel better today knowing what’s left and what’s to come. What’s to come is elastic and flexible. Something we all need to be if we are going to make our way through the challenges of the future.

The picture. That’s what you really came for, yes? It’s a parade through the French Quarter. I chose to leave it even after the terrible news of yesterday. After all, that’s what we in New Orleans are about. This is one of those F8 and be there pictures. Except it was more like f 2.8 and I almost got run over. More than once or twice. Oh well. Whatever it takes, right?

 

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Golden light, golden leaves.

Time passes. Seasons change. The world keeps turning. What seems important today is meaningless tomorrow.

I never claimed to be a nature photographer. In truth, I’m not. I photograph what I see. For the last few years a lot of what I see has many elements of nature.  I suppose it could be attributed to my dog walks. Whether it is the pack or just the dog who sees stuff, we tend to walk in places that they like. That means nature rather than urban. True, we live in an urban environment, but they head straight to the places that they know.

I tried an experiment a few weeks back. I took the all-seeing dog to Treme, where I has a little business. When that was concluded, I took her for a walk. She walked around a very long block. But, she didn’t like it. I thought that the new smells, sounds and sights would interest her. They didn’t.

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a long piece in the New York Times about city folk moving to the country, primarily in the Hudson Valley just Upstate from New York City. I found the piece interesting, but the people who were buying property were all creative hipsters.

That’s fine.

But, I’m a lot older than the oldest person interview. One thing I that I know about this particular class in New Orleans is that they are incredibly ageist. They don’t like me. I’m happy to return the favor if that’s what they want because I’ve long said that I am a mirror. I don’t believe I can convert you to anything. And, you can’t convert me. I’d prefer to be good to everyone, but if you attack me… well, you know. Don’t open a window that I can jump through.

Anyway.

The seasons are changing. What a metaphor. The picture is about the last one I can take of fall in the swamp. We are four days away from winter. The scenery around me finally looks like it. Most of the leaves are on the ground. The weather has finally turned cold. Well, cold for us. I doubt that we’ll have the kind of winter that many of you will have. Snow. Low double digits. Maybe even single digits. That could happen down here. But, not for very long.

As you know the season is changing for me too. I turned 65 in November. That’s one of those “big” birthdays. Based on statistics, I know that I have about fifteen years left on this planet, give or take. I have a friend who is about 72. He lost his main source of income, which was stock photography. To be sure that he and his wife aren’t destitute, but they are thinking very hard about moving to Mexico. They want to go out on their terms and with some sort of class. My musicians friends, who are about 70, are producing heavily at the end of their careers, know that time is short.

I’m a little younger than most of them are. Imagine that concept, “younger than.” Sheesh. I can’t say that about many people anymore. That said, I know my time is short. Fifteen years might seem light a long time, but the first 65 years went by like a snap of my fingers.

So, when I talk about changing websites, or taking you with me if I do, I’m not in any pain or mental agony. I just want what are some of my last moves to be productive. Artists of all stripes never really retire. There are just somethings we don’t want to do any more. Since you know that music is important to me, I look at all the musicians with whom I grew up. Many are playing farewell tours. Some are saying that their next tour could be their last. Some won’t do more than a few shows a year in places that they know and like.

It’s not the music from which they are retiring. They love playing music. It’s the nonsense of touring that they can’t stand. The process of marketing their new work is even less appealing. That’s the same with photographers. A friend of mine often quotes this saying, “sometimes the hardest part of taking a picture is getting there.” That’s mostly what I’ve left behind. The marketing, the sales and the constant contact that eat up about half of my day. Days that are getting short.

For sure, I have some traveling left in me. But, to places that I want to go.

Like where?

Belorussia. I may say that I’m Russian. That’s just short hand. I’m really Belorussian on my father’s side. I’m haunted by not knowing much about my family. I doubt going there will help me locate anything, but I’ll feel like I really tried.

A long road trip through The United States. It’s been years since I’ve toured the country and looked into our nooks and crannies. Sure, I travel for business. Both businesses, in fact. But, I never have the time to go out and really explore.

Hong Kong. Yes. I used to know it well. You can’t help spending six years in a place and not knowing it. I want to see what’s changed and what’s the same. There are photographic places that I didn’t know about while I was there that make great statements about our planet. Actually, I knew about them. I just didn’t see them as I would today.

All of these places would be great picture producers. That’s part of my journey. That will always be part of my journey.

It’s Sunday. I wrote way too long. Sorry about that.

It’s getting longer.

I was walking the dog who sees stuff when it occurred to me that you might be worried about me. With all this talking of passing. No worries. PLEASE. I’m just planning for the future. I’m not worried about it. I’m not even scared of dying. Make no mistake. I don’t want to die. But, as they say, nobody gets out of here alive. The way I figure it, I’m already playing with house money. Besides, every time I photograph somebody who lives into their nineties, I think to myself that I don’t really want to live like this.

I’m happy to be just like I am.

The end.

For now.

 

 


Autumn morning.

Finally.

Fall looks and feels like fall. Golden light filtering through pine trees on a chilly morning makes it so.

Ahhhhhhhh.

It seemed like summer just wouldn’t let go. We’d have kind of cool day then a warm day. Then a violent storm blew through. Its winds were strong enough to break a lot of tree limbs. In some places there were tornados. But, not near us.

The storm brought cool, dry air. The dogs were excited. I am excited. I really needed a break from the warm soup that we call air.

Anyway.

The picture. I’m trying very hard not to repeat myself. I think this picture does it

If not, well, I made a Sunday picture for you

 

 


Towards the end of the day.

The last of a series. I think.

Even though I have a lot more pictures of trees,  I think it’s time to bring this series to an end and post something different… like a fallen leaf. Kidding. You know what I mean.

This picture had some help. Certainly, the light was about right. But, it wasn’t quite so golden. Slipping the slider around gave me the color of the light that I wanted. A little more work in post production and this picture emerged. A nice early spring, late in the day, photograph.

I don’t have much more to say today, so I’ll give you all a break. After all, you never know when I’ll started chattering around.

 


This is what I saw.

What a strange transition. It’s still winter. In the Southeast winter transitions into spring very early. That’s normal. But, the high temperatures are normally still around 65 degrees. For the last couple of days the temperatures have hovered around 82 degrees. Setting new records.

That’s pretty hot for this time of year.

It’s confusing too. The light looks winterish. Still low. Still fairly golden. Most of the trees are still bare, making great silhouettes. But, the temperatures. Ouch.

I guess I can hardly wait for summer. 500 degrees. On a cool day. Time to find someplace way, way north. For the summer months.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Enhance everything a little bit in post to bring out the colors. Done. Post it. Done.


Golden light experiment.

I did a little experiment.

I’ve done this in the past. But, now I have the subject matter that matters. Winter trees. Bare branches. A couple of leaves. A kind of simplicity. An elegance of sorts. Nature’s spare beauty.

And, that’s the picture. Today’s picture.

Oh. You want to know how I did it. Heh. It’s a mystery to me. Even.


Sandias at dusk.

The iPhone will be ten years old next year. I was an early adopter. Not for the camera, which wasn’t much. But, for the potential. And, the ability to carry a pretty much fully functioning computer around in my pocket. Apparently, Apple thought so too. It got to the point that most of us who use Apple products to actually make something, believed they were forgetting us. The latest version of the MacBook Pro was evidence of that. It’s underpowered and not designed for people like me in mind. Who needs an SD card reader. Who needs USB ports? I do. I do.

But.

Yesterday, they held sort of private press conference. They are upgrading the models that I care about, including the i-Mac, to a more professional standard. That made everybody smile. And, even more amazingly in this era of no apologies, they said that they were sorry. And, that they backed themselves into a corner. Mostly from a heat perspective. I appreciate that. We all make mistakes. We ought to own them. It’s easier to move on. From my point of view as a designer, they sort of put the cart before the horse. I believe that form follows function. They make very pretty computers, but the ones that I use are almost impossible to upgrade. Apple computers are very pricy. Your investment needs to last. That means upgrades.

What does that have to do with this picture?

I made it while I was still living in New Mexico. In 2008. At that point. I only made pictures with a dslr or sometimes a film range finder. I was running an errand at a local glorified strip mall when this scene appeared. If you look closely, you can even see the moon barely poking up above the mountain range, called the Sandias. But, I was cameraless. Even though I believe that you should always carry a camera, now and then it is freeing to not do that.

Then I thought, “Wait a minute. I can take a picture with my phone.” So, I did. Those original files were terrible. They were small and very noisy. They looked fine on the phone, but anywhere else, not so much. It took a whole lot of work to get the image to this quality, so that I can show it to you. I used a lot of little tricks to hide the noise and to make the picture just sharp enough to be viewed here.

Here’s a trick. If you see me add a lot of glow to an image so much that it sort of shimmers, it’s one of two things. It really does look cool to my eye. Or, I’m hiding something. About 75% of the time, it’s the latter.

So.

This was the very first picture that I took with a smart phone. Technology has obviously changed the image quality a lot since those first days. Still, despite all the electronic magic going on in smart phones; they still use tiny sensors, fairly limiting lenses and a lot of processing to get them anywhere near close to real world quality.

Just so you know. I’m not going to stop banging that drum. Heh!

I have a question for anyone who thinks they have an answer. As you know I’ve been using Google Images for searching out old pictures and for storage. You’d think I could open it from somewhere on Chrome. But, no. It opens them on Safari. Huh? Why?


Spring steps.
Spring steps.

They were glowing. The trees. The bushes. Even the steps. Were glowing

So what could I do? I made the picture. They were just steps. But, the golden light. The pre-dusk feeling. The glowing greens. I had no choice. I had to photograph this simple little scene. On any other day I might have passed it by. I might have driven past it. But, I was walking. I was a little early. So, I actually saw the wonderful light as it illuminated the house.

The picture. I didn’t have to do much. When the moment and the light is right what else is there to do? Just push the button and make the picture.


Golden light.
Golden light.

“Well, they say that Santa Fe is less than ninety miles away, and I got time to roll a number and rent a car.

Oh, Albuquerque.

I’ve been flyin’ down the road, and I’ve been starving to be alone, and independent from the scene that I’ve known.

Albuquerque.

So I’ll stop when I can, find some fried eggs and country ham. I’ll find somewhere where they don’t care who I am.

Oh, Albuquerque, Albuquerque.” — Words and Music, © 1976 Neil Young

After his early super success, Neil Young needed a break. As he famously said, “when things get a little too middle of the road, I head straight for the ditch where things are much more interesting.” And, so the “Ditch Trilogy” was born. Three albums. That the general public didn’t understand. Or, really like. He didn’t care. He just wanted to make music.

During my time in New Mexico, I poked around just about everywhere. I found this little abandoned church on a side street. The parish, itself, had moved just down the street. An artist lived in what was originally the church. I passed by again and again. Finally, the winter light was amazing. I took this picture.

That’s the thing. Maybe a little lesson. We all like to travel. At least we say that we do. Right now, I’m a little burnt on traveling. That’s another story. I’ll get over it.

Usually, when most of us travel we don’t stay in one place long enough to get to know it. We are there for a couple of days. Maybe a week. We have a mini bucket list of things to see. To do. That’s great and all of that.

But.

We really don’t get the feel for a place. We don’t learn the ebb and flow. For a photographer, almost every good picture we make is really just a matter of luck. Of timing. Sure. We can game the trip a little. We can work at the ends of the day. Dawn. Dusk. The light is surely better then. We still don’t know the place. That just takes time to settle in. To be there. Just to be.

That’s when the pictures get good. Really good.

Here’s my suggestion. For photographers and non photographers. The next time that you get the urge to roam, go some place that isn’t so far from home. Or, fly to one place. Hang out there. Make pictures if that’s what you do. Relax if you aren’t a picture maker. I’m pretty sure your pictures will be better. More meaningful.

For those whose prime mission is not to take pictures, you know that feeling of needing a vacation from your vacation? You won’t have that feeling. You’ll return home relaxed and smiling.

Try it some time.