Another fall afternoon.

W

hat a nice warm fall day we had. I’m ready for the heat of summer to go away, but I’m not ready for the cold of winter to arrive.

The light has been especially pretty. I did miss the sunset of sunsets on Saturday evening, but this is the time of year when one sunset leads to another. It’s the time of year that photographers in the deep south cherish.

Maybe I’ll be lucky and make some memorable pictures. As you know, I think it’s less a function of luck than it is being there.

You know. Go outside, walk around at a certain time of day and you’ll get “lucky.” It’s harder now because the other dogs like to walk during the day. The all seeing dog liked to walk around dusk. I miss that dog.

That’s where I have to stop.

T

his won’t take long. Not, that I don’t want to talk with you about pictures. But, there is a reason I ended as abruptly as I did on the left side.

This picture is a result of looking at the wonderful light and thinking, “Oh my gosh.”

You push the button a few times and that’s it. The picture is done.

There is absolutely no post production except for a bit of sharpening.


In the air tonight.

W

ell, maybe. I’m referring to the title. After I made yesterday’s picture I got excited and went back out to see what I could see.

I saw the picture you are seeing. Unfortunately, I mostly made vertical images. When I finally saw the totality of the photograph I realized a radical crop was in order.

That’s the version you are seeing.

I just like it’s depth and it feels like I am looking up towards infinity. And, if this pandemic keeps surging it could be a place that a lot of us see for ourselves. Hopefully not.

Which brings me to this. Turn off the news,, all of it. Well, except for sports where I want watch baseball and Formula One racing.

If we continue watching the news at this time in history we will go off the deepest end. There is too much going on, most of it really bad.

This may mean that you ditch social media because everybody and their brother just has to comment on some news item and 2,870,145 other people pile on.

You can’t even get into a discussion about nature without some bonehead jumping in. It goes like this. Comment: “The sky is blue.” Reply: “Well, Biden sucks.”

Enough.

Go hide out for the weekend. Everything will feel better next week.

P

retty soon you are going to give up on me. I keep making pictures that do not require tricky postproduction unless you are feeling particularly crafty.

Once again, all I really did was see it, shoot it.

Expose for the lightest part of the scene and the darkest part will get even darker.

Make it darker in post if you need to. But, it would be better to learn how to make a proper exposure and not need to.

In order to do that, you might want to turn off every automatic function on your camera. Learn how to set the controls after taking just a light reading.

Because.

I have a t-shirt that says, “Everybody is a photographer until…” and an arrow points to the control setting for aperture and shutter speed.

Don’t be one of those everybodies.


Summer skies.

W

alking around yesterday for the first time in a long time revealed a very pretty sky framed by a few nice Live Oaks.

I chose a time somewhat close to dusk because, well you know, the light s usually pretty olden, If not that, then the light very golden. In the picture the light is kind of a mixture of both.

I think that was just timing. Or, photographer’s luck. Actually, at this time of day it’s usually both.

T

hat’s it for me.

I have a little infection in my gums. I’m taking and antibiotic for that, but it is very painful. The doc gave me an antibiotic and a pain killer. It’s the same medicine that the late Sophie Rose when she had a gum infection. It’s just a little different dosage.

It’s a thick liquid that comes in a bottle and is applied with aa syringe.

My gums are no longer painful. But, I’m lucky that I can sit up and write this.

Hopefully, I won’t need it tomorrow,

I

looked up and saw the sky framed by the tree.

It was actually framed on both sides, but I cropped it enough to allow the picture to become a very deep vertical photograph.

I also made the yellow clouds a little darker and richer.

I opened up the tree that was questionable when the black was plugged up and looked like a black mass.

The i added a frame to ut and I was done.

But, am I?


Sugar Magnolia.

The things that make us who we are. All of those things. How we were raised. What we did when we were young. The things we did later. All of our actions and deeds.

That’s who we are.

Although I did many things, music was my greatest influencer.

Deja Vu was re-released yesterday. That’s right, the 51 year old album by Crosby, Still, Nash and Young hit the streets again. This time it is one of those box sets that is usually just a ploy to put a few more dollars into the musicians bank accounts.

Not this time.

The main album is remastered to match modern sonics. The rest… whew.

The out takes, the songs that were left out, the demos remind me of what could have been.

But, that never happened. The band fractured and broke apart and came back together until it cracked for the last time just a few years ago when Neil Young started dating Darryl Hannah, who he eventually married. Crosby said what he shouldn’t have and that was it.

That’s all history. You can read about it.

What’s important, as I keep saying about pictures, is how it made us feel.

It was pure joy listening to the sings. A few tears fell thinking about the years in between. And, we were wondering just how the hell they hit those notes as we tried to sing along.

A few friends — the ones who don’t know what they are talking about — say that I should write a book. They are wrong. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t see how my life is any different from so many people who grew up during the era that I did.

But, that doesn’t mean no books.

My long postponed two book set of broken buildings and places in the New Orleans area is back on the front burner.

My publisher asked me if I also wanted to take part in a photographer’s series of books that are street photography based.

It’s a good thing that he’s based in Great Britain because I was about to say that I didn’t see how that was feasible. It takes a long time to produce a book’s of worth of street images.

It was his Friday night when I received his email. I didn’t reply because there was nobody to reply to.

That’s a good thing.

While I was writing this, it hit me. I’ve done this for over 40 years. This is my golden opportunity to publish in real book — not a custom book — most of my life’s work.

It’s going to take a long while to get this together. By the time I’m done, I really will be ready to retire and play with the vegetables in the garden.

Finally.

Technical? Ha! Just stick the lens in a tree and fire away.

That’s all there is to making this picture of a Magnolia in early morning light.

I told you, that dog gets me up too early.

Without her I wouldn’t have a golden Magnolia, I’d have a white one, the real color.

I think golden light is so much more interesting, don’t you?

Magnolias are mostly a southern thing. It occurred to me while I was ruminating on the other side, that I’ve spent the majority of my career somewhere in the south. I never intended it that way. But, time flies when you are having fun.

At least, I think I was having fun. Sometimes, I can’t remember.

But, I do remember how to make pictures. For me, that’s what matters.

Which brings me back to the other side.

This third book is gonna be hellish. While I review and produce all those years worth of pictures, everything is going to come back to me.

Pictures and smells, you know.

That reckoning that I was talking about a few months ago? That was nothing. That was a drill.

This is the real thing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. I don’t care what the CDC says. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Be patient. Look after each other.


Too early for me.

The thing about going to bed early means that I awake too early. I mostly sleep around six hours a night. You can do the math. If I go to bed around 11 pm, well, you know.

It’s a little maddening. It means that I haven’t gotten quite enough sleep. It also means that I usually need a nap. In the morning.

Of course, the dogs hear me moving around even if everybody else doesn’t. They want to go out. That would be fine if all they wanted to do was empty themselves, but oh no, they want to go for a walk.

Today it was just the all seeing dog. Big dreamer. We walked about a third of our usual walk and she turned around and headed for home. She drank some water and went back to bed.

Uh huh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Large venues are starting to open to full capacity. Don’t go to them. I predict another surge. Many of the newly sick will be Texas Ranger or Atlanta Braves fans.

I’m not a big sunset or sunrise photographer. I know that each one is a little different, but they all look the same to me.

I’d rather photograph what they illuminate, or at least stick something in the foreground. That’s what I did here.

Of course, looking into the sun I couldn’t quite see what I was photographing.

There was a bunch of junk in the bottom area. I cropped that out.

I also added some bokeh mostly because I could and to hide a couple of imperfections that came from looking into the sun.

It might not sound like it, but there are a lot of tricks to the trade buried in those few paragraphs.


Light that lasts through July

Golden light. I think every photographer dreams about it. If not, then the blue hour. I recently learned that I had two chances a day for both. There’s another one that starts about 4:30 in the morning. I didn’t even know there was a 4:30 in the morning.

Alright. I stole a Bart Simpson line. His sister, Lisa was talking about five o’clock in the morning. He looked at her and said, “There is? When did they start that?”

Actually, the blue and golden light that is found in the early morning is far cleaner and brighter because there is no particulates in the air. There is no dust, no smoke, no smog.

On the other hand, those particulates add another kind of color to the air. It’s choice.

If I was smart, I’d use both ends of the day…. and sleep all day. I used to do that when I traveled. Remember travel?

I work at the ends of the day. Not for just about three hours, but for about eight hours. After all, the light starts changing earlier than golden hour. And, there is light remaining in the sky just after blue hour. Besides, then there’s night. You know how I like that.

I’ll tell you how the picture was made in the right column.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy all the golden light.

How I made this picture.

We started chasing light after I got jabbed.

My driver knows what to do. She’s done it for a long time.

On this little go around, sometimes I photographed through the windshield. A true drive by.

That doesn’t always work. For one, you get the dashboard or hood in the picture. If the windshield is tinted, guess what?

So.

Sometimes we stopped. I got out and made the picture.

Sometimes, I’d walk down the middle of the street trying to find the angle I saw from a moving car. It was quiet because it was late afternoon on Saturday.

Do not try that at rush hour during the week. Someone will be taking pictures of you as you are wheeled into the EMT truck.

That’s how to make the picture in the field. I have my way of developing and editing the picture. Yours may be different.

The funny thing is that because I first saw the scene through the windshield – the green tinted windshield – I put that back into the picture in post production even when I made the picture from outside the car.

Sometimes, I’m silly that way.


One glorious morning.

Once upon a time. I lived in New Mexico. We lived there after Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans. We needed a little peace. Solitude. Quitetude.

I don’t know how long we planned to stay. I thought maybe a year or two. It turned out to be almost five years.

We heard the pounding of the Mardi Gras Indian drums. The noise of second lines. The brass music on the streets.

In the distance.

We returned to the place from which we came.

Now, almost ten years later I have a feeling. It’s not a good one. It’s one that’s been creeping up on me a little at a time.

I made a mistake. A big, huge mistake.

Looking back, we should have just stayed there. Maybe we should have moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe or even Taos.

And, now?

It seems like it would fun to return but we’ve got too much invested in the other “new.” Not New Mexico.

New Orleans. I don’t know if I have the energy to move a quarter of the country away.

Ten years in one place means ten years older. Ten years means 67 years old. If I move it would be my last move. Yeah. That sounds ominous. It’s not. But, who wants to keep moving?

As I worked to make my career I moved many times. That got old, but I had a direction. Upward. Ever upward. Now? Not so much.

I have friends with whom I went to high school in Long Beach. A good number of them married their high school sweethearts. Others married a little later. But, they stayed. They stayed for 50 years. In Long Beach. Or, Southern California.

Some days that sounds really good. For some of them, their big trip is to Las Vegas. That sounds good.

Now.

For a long time that sounded boring. For me, it may have been. I think you learn a lot by being in a place. I know a lot of cities pretty well. Of course, some of those memories have drifted. But, a little strolling around and I’m right back where I left off.

That sounds fun. But, who’s traveling now?

Not me.

One more thing. I’m mostly thinking out loud. I’m not going anywhere.

Are you?

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That’s where I made this photograph. We lived about five miles from the balloon field.

That meant I photographed it almost every year. I used to scrounge up a letter of assignment from a friend of mine. That got me press credentials which don’t matter on the balloon field, but they give you parking. That matters.

Of course, the great equalizer is the traffic.

There were some mornings when I got tied up in traffic. Those fives miles took 45 minutes to work through. I arrived late so I had to find other ways to make pictures.

New Mexico has wonderful light. Some photographers think that means all day. For sure the light is crystalline even at noon. But, the usual rules apply. Work at the ends of days where the golden light is the best.

Morning balloon lifts are great for working in some amazing light. If I arrived late I just chased balloons which allowed me to make pictures like this one.

A picture that speaks to solitude. To peace. To nature.

Man (the balloon) becomes a tiny speck in the universe.

Isn’t that what we are? A blip. That is reinforced time and again. It’s what brought us to New Mexico. It’s what happened to the people of Texas last week.

So, really. That’s what this picture is about. Man. Nature. Our relationship.

Which isn’t so great right now.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy your universe.


A wintery dusk.

Golden light. I love it. For sure, I enhanced it. How could I not? I want you to see what I felt, or to feel what I saw.

Works either way, doesn’t it?

I’m going to try to stay on track and discuss art stuff. That’s ambiguous enough. Art stuff.

First, the music. I felt like going back to Los Lobos first album, “How will the Wolf Survive?” Something has to wake me up.

I was up way too late last night and this morning. I’m having a new symptom of my back issues. My right leg becomes very tight, almost stiff. There is no stopping it until it wants to stop. It hurts like…

For the past few nights I haven’t been able to sleep until after 4am. I keep adding meds until it isn’t safe. Finally, sleep. Of course, I wake up in some kind of drug hangover. Usually, it’s about three hours later. My leg stops hurting by then. So, I take the courageous way out and go back to sleep.

What the hell does this have to do with art, you may be wondering .

Easy.

Lack of sleep drives me. Sometimes creatively. Mostly not. There are some artists who try to stay awake in that netherland between sleep and no sleep. They think that when they are in that state that they are at their most creative.

That’s just silly. They are punch drunk. Nothing flows.

Me? I think that I’m mostly just a conduit. The good stuff comes when I’m in a sort of zone. That usually means that I’m relaxed and fully present.

So. I’m a wimp. I need my sleep. Seven continuous hours is fine. I can function with less if need be. Just don’t ask my pipes to open up into creativity.

Dusk light. My favorite. I suppose it could also be dawn light, especially at the rate I’m going.

Actually dawn and dusk light are different. The light at dawn hasn’t gathered air born particulates. So, it’s purer light. Yellow light stays yellow as opposed to dusk light which turns orange.

The trick is to be outside in a place where you want to work. I usually can get myself outside. But, I’m never in a cool place.

I suppose that if I thought about it even an hour earlier I could be someplace where I could make better pictures.

Maybe I should try that.

This photograph was enhanced because the golden tones weren’t golden enough. Once I got there I started messing around with currently hip colors.

Note the use of the word currently. Maybe one day I’ll rework this one into next year’s hip color palette. Or not.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Try to get up at dawn. Or, dusk.


Golden light.

We walk around. We see things. We see transformation. We see change. We saw what nature tells us. That clocks can’t tell us. In the pandemic era time meanders. We act normal. As hard as we try we can’t be normal.

Not no. Maybe not ever. That is a good thing. To be normal in this day and age is truly silly. Some people keep trying. They crowd the streets of The French Quarter. Maybe two percent of them are wearing masks. There certainly is no social distancing.

The virus rages on. We are seeing record infection rates almost everyday. Hospitals are crammed. Some are full. Most medical personnel do have the proper gear. They are using masks meant to be worn once per patient for the whole day. We are dying at the rate of over 1,000 per day. In some places freezer trucks are being used to store the dead.

The dead passed alone. Their families can’t bury them. Before we head directly into the chaos of March and April we need national leadership.

We won’t get it.

The president is sniveling and whining about his electoral loss. He hasn’t done a single thing except Tweet and play golf since he lost. He spent a whole seven minutes laying a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Oh yeah. According to the president, those guys who gave their full measure to our country are losers and fools.

Some Republicans are saying it’s over. Some means a few. The American Stooge trio of McConnell, Graham and Cruz are spouting nonsense. Let’s call them what they are. Traitors. They are duty bound to honor the Constitution. They aren’t.

It’s time to move on.

Trees. And, the picture. I photograph the things that I see and like. I return to the scene of the crime because I know where pictures could be.

That isn’t to say that I am making a lot of pictures. Everything gets in the way. I spent almost an entire day chasing down parts of one single issue. It wasn’t me. I think the people who are actually working have turned Covid stupid.

Normally, good hard working and competent people can’t seem to agree with each other on simple procedure. They are getting too cute in their attempt to solve problems.

That word. Simple. That’s how I try to keep things. That’s I try to photograph. It really is the only way to work. Especially now, when I am sure that I too have a little Covid head.

How about you?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

I’m supposed to attribute some things. So. The title “The Memory of Trees” came from Enya. “American Stooge” and “Stay Mighty” came from Mary Chapin Carpenter.

See? Sometimes — not often — I do what I’m told.