Out of the blue and into the black.

W

e do it for the stories we could tell, so says Jimmy Buffett, even when we know do that something could end badly. It’s especially true if you are a young teenager. I was 13 or 14 when I did that story telling thing.

I went to a day camp during summer. One day we were taken to a pretty big and wild park. We could borrow or rent bicycles. So, I borrowed one.

All good so far.

We road to a sort of big peak. The ride was gradual, but if we wanted to continue in the same direction we had to ride down a pretty steep path. The chose would have been walk down or turn back. We should have chosen either of those two options.

Oh no.

We just had to ride. Being the biggest idiot among us, I rode first. About 30 feet into the ride I realized there was no braking and certainly no stopping. I made it about 75% of the way down. I hit a surface tree root. I went airborne, then I went side wise, and finally upside down.

I landed on my face.

I was battered and bruised. After a little clean up by one of the camp counselors I looked better, but not much. I was lucky. I could have broken all sorts of parts. I didn’t.

When I got home my mom was horrified. My dad just laughed. He asked if I would do it again.

Yes.

Of course, for the rest of the summer I was called skid face.

Kids can be so cruel.

I was their hero. I did something they were afraid to do.

So there.

A

pologies. If something doesn’t make sense on the other side.

That WordPress programming trick of capturing everything in a block and not allowing editing happened not once, but twice.

If you try to edit, the software deletes whole sentences. The only way to recapture any of it is to revert to a saved version.

But, that only brings your work so far.

So you rewrite whatever you lost.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember sentences exactly. I reconstruct them as best I can.

Do that three times and you have no idea what you originally wrote.

Add to that the newest annoyance, placing the cursor at the start of a sentence even though I intentionally placed it in the middle, and I almost gave up today.

WordPress has to stop this. Even though I said I’d stay here because of the community, I’ll leave if this nonsense doesn’t stop.

I’ll ghost. That’s where I’ll go to a blogging platform called Ghost.


Into the sun.

I

was rooting around in my archives when I stumbled upon this picture. I made it very early when we returned to New Orleans.

We used to live in Jefferson Parish, near to where The Saints football team practices. I used to walk on a track. Depending on direction you could walk about 1.5 miles or 3 miles.

Getting there was easy. Parking was ample. People were friendly. I wish that we had something closer to home now. I could go to one of the big parks, but that takes effort.

So, I wander around the streets. Sometimes that’s more interesting. But, I’d like not to have to think about traffic.

Anyway.

No dreams, or at least that I remember. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I think when I see things like I did yesterday, it helps my creative juices to flow. After all, I made a pink picture. 🙂

And, now a word from our sponsor. Or, something like that.

David Crosby — yes, that David Crosby, founder of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash and sometimes Young — released a new album called “For Free” after a Joni Mitchell song.

At 79 years old he is dealing with his own mortality. He understands it and is ready, even though he doesn’t want to go.

Unlike most of us, he has a transplanted kidney. He was a serious drug abuser who has been clean for years. And, he’s had at least three heart attacks. So, at 79 he’s been living on borrowed time.

Y’all need to listen to it. The entire record album (I’m old, so sue me) is great from end to end. Amazingly, he’s managed to keep his voice. That sweet caramel and chocolate voice.

For me, the song is called, “I think I.” The next line is “found my way.”

It only took him 79 years.

Maybe it’s time for the boys in the band to forgive him and hit the road one more time, before they can’t.

A

well known photographer once said that if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

He’s right.

I always say that if you’ve got a block of some kind, just go outside and take a walk.

Creative blocks are really just a twisty or a yip. That’s what got Simone Biles at the Olympics. The minute she explained it and said the word twisty, I thought a yip.

They are worse than you know. When you practice long enough certain things become instinctual.

I could go on about what happened to her, but enough has been written about that.

What she forced me to understand is something that has been going on for a long time for me.

I have the yips.

For some reason my energy, my routine, my focus has been broken.

And, that’s frustrating.

Photography has always been my way of grounding myself. And, now it doesn’t work.

I’m not sure of the steps needed to work my way back. Ms. Biles is going to work the balance beam for her last Olympic event. I think I know why she’s doing it.

I’ll watch her very closely. Maybe there’s a clue for me. Or, maybe I already know it.


Engine in blue.

Sometimes I can’t make up my mind.

I was poking about looking for abandoned railroads for one of my book projects. The book title is in hand. “Abandoned Railroads of New Orleans.” That would be great, except that most of our rail yards and tracks are fully working. Certainly, you can find abandoned railroad stuff here and there. But, not enough to make a book.

I did find one thing of serious interest. A working railroad turntable. It’s tucked in behind the offices of  the New Orleans Belt Line switching yard. I didn’t think there were any in existence. Working or not.

Notice the word. “Working.” That doesn’t help my project.

I talked to my editor. I suggested that we broaden it to all of the state. He had a positive reaction. He wanted to discuss it with his colleagues because this book is one in a series. If we change the parameters, we change the parameters of all the books. Luckily, it’s the first book. The publisher can set the template anyway that he wants. Other photographers can work to my lead. I’m pretty sure they’ll be relieved. It’s hard to do this in one city unless the city happens to be New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Big railroad terminus cities.

Anyway.

The pictures. I was looking for trains. I know where they are. I don’t know where very many abandoned ones are. Same scene, developed and processed two different ways. I worked on the bottom one first. You know me. I can’t let something rest until I push the limits a little. Which do you like? Why? Do you hate one of them?

 

A more modern look.


Higher and higher.

My fascination with trees. In all seasons.

Especially in winter. I counted. In the last two weeks, I’ve mostly published pictures of trees. I like them. I like their shapes. Their form. I like them when their branches are bare in the winter cold. I can see all sorts of thing going on. I like them in spring bloom. Everything seems possible. I like the shade they provide in the heat of summer. I love the color of their leaves as fall arrives and the air turns cold.

They give me hope. They are about rebirth.

Unless they get sick, they live for years. More years than I will. That’s okay with me.

The cycle repeats itself year after year.

In the Gulf South, nature takes care of them. The former swampy earth is moist and healthy. Rain falls every month. Humidity keeps them young and tamps down the threat of fire.

Unless a hurricane blows through, it’s a perfect world for trees. Down here in my swamp.

That’s why I make so many pictures of them. Besides, Helen Keller had something to say about them. She had a lot to say about a lot of things.

The picture. I looked up in the cold winter light and saw this little cluster of trees and branches.  I exposed mostly for the highlight in the branches and let the light do the rest. I did a little work in post production and that was it.

Today. Friday. A quiet, but busy day for me.


A studio in monochrome. Silver beads on dark gray.
A study in monochrome. Silver beads on dark gray.

A monochromatic study. I made this image on one of my evening walks through The French Quarter. I know, I know. You don’t usually think of The Quarter this way. We usually tend to think of The Quarter as being very colorful. For the most part, it is. I think that’s why this picture reached out and grabbed me. It isn’t colorful. I wasn’t overwhelmed with color. No sensory overload. Just various shades of gray. No, not fifty. And it’s silver. Although I’m willing to bet that those beads did not start out life as being silver. They probably once were colorful. But, constant sunlight has done its work and caused the color to fade and the beads to change to their basic color. Silver.

This picture. Not much. See it. Shoot it. But, it is in a window. So, I used an old trick. I took the sun shade off of the lens and pressed the lens right up against the window pane. No reflections. No distortion. Post production was minimal. Just a little fine tuning, sharpening and I added a little touch of blue. Why? Because pictures made in deep shadow have a blue cast to them. But, often digital sensors tend to clean that out. So, I made the image more like how I first saw it.


Storm Clouds over The Mississippi River.
Storm Clouds over The Mississippi River.

As I’ve written 659,897 times, summertime is storm time in Southeast Louisiana. In fact, we had a big storm just yesterday. How big? Big enough that all of our smartphones started buzzing with flash flood alerts. I’d never heard that before. Either did the dogs. You should have seen them jump. That’s okay. I was right behind them. Jumping. Anyway. This picture is not from yesterday. I’m still working on those. I have to do some serious post production on them to hide the fact that conditions weren’t quite so stormy as the new alert system seemed to indicate. I went out looking for flooded streets. I never really found any that were worth photographing.

Instead, this picture is one that I made while I was chasing other, smaller storms a couple of days ago. It’s dramatic enough to make my point. Yes. It’s the same old Crescent City Connection bridge over The Mississippi River. But, I’m using it as a counterpoint to the big cloudy sky. Those little square shapes on the far right of the picture? A tiny piece of the New Orleans skyline, put in their proper perspective to the largeness of nature.


I was looking at this picture that I made in Admiralty, Hong Kong and realized just how power the island had become. Most of the buildings that form the backdrop of this image are banks. major banks with their Asian home offices located in Hong Kong. The pinkish buildings in the foreground are housing estates, or apartment buildings for you in the west. yes, the image has been worked on in post production. The original image lacked something. Well,make that a lot of somethings. I’m not sure the image gained all that much, but at least it looks like a picture of a powerful and dynamic city. That’s Hong Kong.


In Southeast Louisiana, as it is in all semi-tropical places, the spring and summer months are traditionally the rainy season. Even though a bit of April seemed dry, the region already has surpassed its normal rainfall for this time of year. Rain fell yesterday and even though the sun is shining — weakly — this morning, rain is supposed to fall through tonight. And then… come June first, we enter hurricane season. This will be my first in the state since that fateful year of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hurt New Orleans so badly. I really don’t worry much about these things. We do what we have to. But, it is a bit worrisome since we didn’t really have much of a winter and the gulf waters are already hot. But, predicting doom and gloom isn’t really my style.

So.

This is one of the pictures that will probably cause me trouble some day. Another drive by shooting. It’s just a good thing for me that if you want them to be, cameras can do just about auto-everything.