After a while, winter’s bare trees start to get boring.
I set out to make something that is a little different. Something that adds 1+1 and makes the answer come out to three. I think that I did it. What I made is a huge image. One that takes up the entire top of Storyteller.
That’s cool. I like big pictures. Very big pictures. This image could easily fit from floor to ceiling in most houses. This one might actually get printed for the studio.
Generally, I have an idea of where I want to go when I’m doing this amount of post production. I didn’t this time.
I started with a fairly straight forward edit. I knew I could make more of the picture. I cropped out branches that were in the way on the left. I removed all of the saturation. I made the background as clean as possible. It looked great like that. It was just pure black and white. I lightened the black to a sort of brown. I added and layered another picture. I fine tuned that and added a frame to control edge bleed.
I’m laying off of politics for now. The guy in The White House ordered something horrible. In short, he fired the first shot of a war. Then, he doubled down and said he would attack 52 sites, many of them cultural and historical artifacts. That’s terrorism. The last time anybody did that it was the Taliban. I guess that’s how far we’ve fallen.
The rain poured out of the sky. The cold weather arrived. The leaves turned yellow. They began to fall. We finally had golden leaves in the swamp.
I made this picture yesterday afternoon at about 4pm.
There were a lot of leaves already on the ground. Looking up however, was a little marvel. The leaves of fall.
And, I didn’t have to travel to Vermont to find them. I didn’t have to go to New Mexico, either. Nor, did I travel to Virginia. Or, to the Upee — the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s not that I don’t want to travel. But, I travel enough.
There are a few more little trips coming and then it’s 2020. The whole thing starts again. Another trip around the globe.
This is a great Sunday picture. I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I tinkered and made it more like an etching than a photograph. That’s not to say that the very purest picture, almost right out of the camera wasn’t pretty good. After all, how hard can it be to make a picture when nature does all the work?
I don’t usually post a picture from the same take two days in a row unless it’s from an event like a second line.
I sort of feel like I’m either cheating or not doing my work very well. But, an old friend of mine who is rarely on Facebook commented about yesterday’s work. She liked it.
She suffered a terrible loss about a decade ago. Even though the shock and the trauma have been dulled, she still isn’t over it. Nor, should she be.
She was awfully kind to me when we first met on a plane, We talked for a while and then when she saw my walking to a taxi stand, she gave me a ride to my hotel. We had a quick meal and a better dinner the next night. Mostly, we talked about what happened. Today, we keep in touch.
I think about that time now and again. I was there on business. My friend lives there. When I wonder about myself sometimes, I think maybe that’s why I’m here. Like the old James Taylor song says.
There’s a whole bunch of lyrics to the song, but I like this set the best.
“Fortune and fame’s
Such a curious game
Can call you by name
Pay good money
To hear Fire and Rain
Again and again
Some are like summer
Coming back every year
Got your baby
Got your blanket
Got your bucket of beer
I break into a grin
From ear to ear
It’s perfectly clear
That’s why I’m here (that’s why I’m here)
Sing it tonight, tomorrow and everyday
That’s why I’m standing (that’s why I’m here)
Oh that’s why I’m here”
Did you ever hear a song that liked, but weren’t in a place where you could learn the name or who the musician was who recorded it?
We were “making groceries.” There was a nice play list bouncing around the store. A song came on that we both liked. It made us smile. It made us want to dance. In a grocery store? Why not? This is New Orleans. We had no idea who or what it was. That’s saying something since between us we know a lot of music.
I started trying to find the song when we returned home. The only lyric that I could remember would seemingly be of no help. It was, “I love you, I love you, I love you. ” In the song it’s a really cool break, but how many tunes have lyrics like that? A thousand? One hundred thousand? A million?
It took me about fifteen minutes. It’s a song called “Say Hey (I love you),” by Michael Franti and Spearhead. Ahh, technology. And, music nerds.
There’s a good reason that we didn’t know it. Between us I think we’ve heard about one song of his. It wasn’t this one. One great song leads to another. Lots of new music to explore.
That’s a good thing.
I am photographing the Krewe of Boo parade tonight. It rolls from the Bywater into the French Quarter. As always, I want to work from the the start of the parade. Because of the evacuation zone for the big blast, I’m not quite sure how to get there. I suspect that I’ll just drive past it on the interstate and approach it from behind on the down river side of where I want to be.
The picture. Finally. I’m getting around to it. It’s an expressway that I photographed at the end of the day. At dusk. The low autumn light caught my eye. I helped it some for this rendition of the picture. Simple. See it. Photograph it.
I’ve been photographing New Orleans events on and off for the past few weeks. I have’t been publishing them on Storyteller. Even though I’m not a big data guy, I’ve been looking at it when it comes to the kinds of pictures that move you. I’m not comparing picture to picture. I’m looking at the genres that you seem to like.
So, the question.
Do you want to see the Krewe of Boo, second lines, Mardi Gras Indians (Black Masking Indians — their preferred title), Mardi Gras and so on? You know, events.
Or, would you rather see my artistic explorations?
And, in another test, I’ve been cross posting. I’ve been sharing the same picture here and again on Instagram. My likes there aren’t high, but I really wanted to see what happens on other social media. On Twitter, bupkis. I really have to post the picture directly, not using a link.
Facebook is truly revealing. I might get a few likes from the image that was distributed from here. But, when it is distributed via Instagram, I get a lot of likes.
Let me be clear. I don’t care about likes in the strictest sense. That doesn’t impress me. But, I care about the data. I care about sales. If 25-50 people like a picture, it stands a better chance of being licensed or sold than one with three likes. Not to the people who hit the like button, but in the general marketplace.
That’s what caught my eye. A little too much. I couldn’t really open my eyes with such direct sunlight. So, I made this picture with my eyes closed. A true point and shoot. Then my fingers got in the picture. I thought I was trying to shield my eyes. I shielded the lens instead. That’s why I used a square crop. I wasn’t being creative. I was being pragmatic.
Aside from my practicality with this picture, I am also a creature of habit. I returned to the scene of a past crime, er, picture. Add practicality with being habitual and it could equal boring. Luckily, the backlighted train engine, plus just about every other thing in the picture wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Oh yeah. The tilt. I couldn’t see the subject so I didn’t exactly know where the lens was pointing. See? This picture is all mistakes.
The curious thing about the picture is all those power lines. As I worked in post production, I built an unintended consequence by creating light lines around them. I’ve done it in the past. The only way to avoid them is to not shoot into the sun. I know this. I don’t follow the rule. Or, I could have not done so much post work. What fun is that?
We all know about our natural seasons. Arrange them in any order that you like. Winter. Spring. Summer. Autumn.
The transition from summer to fall is, to me, the most dramatic change. Leaves go from a bright, rich green, to a sort of faded green and finally they turn golden and fall. In most of the south, you almost don’t see that coming. When the leaves finally turn golden they linger on the trees and all seem to fall at once.
That, as they say, is the nature of things.
Today. I’m still wanting to photograph the second line that I mentioned yesterday. The high temperature is down. From 97 to 96 degrees. At 5pm, which is the start time, we usually lose a few degrees from the high. Although last night at around midnight, if you include the heat index measurement, the weather outside was frightful. 104 degrees.
I hate to make Storyteller about the weather, but down here is the swamp, that’s what is at the top of mind. For most of us.
It’s hard to do anything in this kind of heat. After a dog walk, they come inside and have a drink of water. Then, they adjourn to their places and sleep the sleep of the dead. I usually take a break from whatever I’m doing and relax a little before I get started. It is truly draining. After a little recovery, I think about my chores for the day and promptly forget them.
The picture. I was struck by the already golden leaves of this tree. They helped to make the branches of the tree almost look like something out of The Cat in the Hat.
But, this is Southeastern Louisiana. Even though today marks the end of summer according to the calendar, it’s still very hot. This week promises highs in the low 90s.
I call this the weird time of year. It looks like Autumn but it isn’t. Our actual fall will come in another two months. Some leaves will turn colors. Some leaves will fall. Others won’t.
We were doing a Labor Day BBQ thing over in another parish. I looked up and saw some cool light, so I followed it a little bit. I needed a subject so the dusk light could be shown off. I found some nice graphic shapes. I made a few frames. I fine tuned the picture in post production using a combination of Snapseed and OnOne. And, that was it.
I saw this little scene. Bathed in golden light. Morning light. There was little I could do. I photographed it for you. For me. I worked on it some. Not that much. Here it is.
Louisiana. In late spring.
You’ve heard this from me in the past. Things seem to be spinning out of control Around here it got worse.
There were two newspapers in town. The Advocate. The Times-Picayune. The Advocate, which started life in Baton Rouge, bought its competition. In thirty days the papers will be blended. In sixty days, the staff of the T-P will be terminated. A lot of my friends will lose their jobs.
I haven’t worked for a newspaper in years. Thirty years to be exact. But, I meet a lot of reporters and photographers on the street. The things that I normally photograph draw a lot of media coverage. I’m sad for these folks. Some are young. They’ll recover. Maybe not in print journalism. But, some other kind of online reporting. Or, they’ll join the wonderful world of freelance.
This picture is a kind of peaceful image. One that gives anybody who sees it a little respite from the overall craziness and polarization of 2019.
Not this picture. This is near home in New Orleans.
I was watching the last season of Anthony Bourdain. The show made me nostalgic. It made me a little sad. Not for Tony. We know his end.
It made me miss some of the things that I had. That I did. I thought about living there. I liked it. A lot. Maybe more than I like living in New Orleans.
I think, even after my paid expat time was up, I should have stayed. Yes. It’s expensive. Yes. It’s crowded. For certain I was in the minority. But, there’s a lot to be said for that. It changes your thinking. Your viewpoint changes. You learn a lot. About people who are different from you. About yourself.
If my word for the year is learning, the Lunar New Year brings us to the Year of the Pig. I’m not exactly sure who those two intersect, but it’s worth a thought. Or, two.
Bourdain met up with a cinematographer who worked a lot with Wong Kar-wei. He made those dreamy introspective scenes. He led Bourdain on a merry chase throughout the city. To places I loved and frequented. Some of it changed. Hong Kong never stands still. Others have not. They didn’t hit all of my spots. But, they hit enough.
I haven’t been to Hong Kong in 11 years. I’ve grown older. Slower. A little broken. I’m not even sure if I could walk many of the city’s streets. I could try. I could take breaks. I would probably see more. You know. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
I should go. This year. Before it slips my mind.
When is a very obvious question. Between my two lives, I’m booked until at least September. That could work. The weather there is about like it is here. The temperatures would start dropping. It would be cool, but not cold. We’ll see.
See what’s happening here? It’s like a journey through the past. Only it’s headed toward the future. There are a lot of places I’d like to visit. Before I can’t.
Oh yeah. The picture. The dog who sees stuff was groomed. She got a haircut. The groomer shaved her down to her body. She needed it. Between rain, and falling leaves and the wetness on the ground, she was matted. Sure, I brushed her. I combed her. But, when her fur is long, she picks up everything. Funny thing about her fur is that it weighs a lot. She started out her day weighing 24.5 pounds. Just under the maximum cocker weight of 25 pounds. Off came her fur. We weighed her again. Twenty three pounds. That’s a helluva diet. She lost 1.5 pounds in three hours.
This is the long way of saying that she was in a great mood. She was ripping around on our walk until she lead me to this. She stopped. I photographed. I made two good pictures. Off we went. There’s really not much to this picture. Winter silhouetted trees and a sunset. What could be easier?
They say that anything worth doing is worth working hard to achieve. Sometimes. Other times, the best thing is the easiest thing. It just sort of flows. As I wrote yesterday, I am just the conduit.