I was told just the other day that our light is special because of the humidity. Supposedly, it is more creamy. I’m not sure about that. Humidity is caused by airborne water droplets. They reflect red light, making blue skies muddy. Sort of gray.
That’s just science. Optics.
I suppose if you aren’t looking at the sky and are focused on ground bound subjects that the light could seem creamy. Or, at least, heavy. That’s not a bad quality.
The picture. I made it yesterday. I was running errands. The kind of stuff that you do on your first day home. I parked the car, looked up and thought, “oh wow.” I made the picture. I made a couple of them. Once again, not much post production. Nature’s handiwork again.
This is a summer project picture. This is a southern summer sky. A classic.
I made it only a block or two away from the “boy riding his bike next to the train” picture. Another summer picture. Maybe I should hang out there. Maybe not. That could be strangling the golden goose.
Despite the heat of summer, I actually like the season. I like the rich greens. I like the cooling shade. I even like the torrential rains that cool the air and knock down the humidity temporarily. Of course, in the heat of summer, what falls down must rise up… in the form of ground humidity.
At a glance that sounds terrible.
In Southeast Louisiana, folks live in a natural greenhouse. Everything grows. And, it grows well. In little home gardens, you need only care for the plants. No watering necessary. There was one year, before the storm, that I grew something like 500 large tomatoes. I kept the plants neat and pruned. I removed tomato worms and that was about it. I rarely watered them. I never misted them. The yield was a little problem. Normally, I give away what I can’t use. Usually to neighbors. Not that year. Everybody had too many tomatoes.
It’s about the same thing with every vegetable or fruit. I planted a little basil bush that I bought at a grocery store. It stood about three inches tall. It was a skinny little thing. Today, it’s at least four feet tall. And, four feet around.
The picture. A tree that I saw on a walk. I liked the backlighted look. I turned it into a painting in post production. I also used a stretched paper look for the shape. Fairly easy to do. If you like experimenting.
In a way, spring in Southeast is weird. You can see that in this picture. Green leaves of rebirth. A spring thing. Orange leaves of passing. Usually, in most places, an autumn thing.
Obviously, the leaves are confused. Is it spring? is it autumn?
Yes. Those orange leaves will turn brown and fall to the ground. But, not today. It is true that certain trees lose their leaves in March or April, like Texas Live Oaks. Most do not.
I’d just say that it’s a quirk of nature.
That little quirk makes a good Sunday picture. Something interesting, but peaceful. A picture that could be hung on your wall. With a little careful editing, I could make this file big enough to print on wallpaper size paper. For your wall. Your wall. Think about that. You come home from a hard day in the coal mine, you walk in your door. There staring at you is a gorgeous nature picture. All that coal dust falls right off.
In fact, I could do that with most of my semi-nature pictures. I could also print them fairly large and frame them. Remember for me, a small picture is around 16×20 inches.
I like big pictures. I’m old school that way. As more of everything moves online, I still think there is a place for paper. I can download a photo book from Amazon to my i-Pad. Unless it’s a teaching book of some kind, who wants that? I want to hold the book and look at the work. nd, really, really take my time.
I also like my pictures in books.
This year may be the first time that I think about the Christmas season during summer, and actually create a couple of stocking stuffer sized books. As long as I can recover cost, I’d price them very reasonably. I might even try to market and sell them through Amazon, rather than a one-off printer like Blurb.
What do you think about that?
At the very least, that would help me fill a gap. My contracted books really aren’t slated to hit the streets until mid-2020. But, I could get things rolling with a self published project or two. At best, you could hold my work in your hands. And, smile.
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.
In New Orleans, we have streetcars. Streetcars. Not trolleys. Not trains. Streetcars.
I wouldn’t have my back up, but a women with whom I attended high school is in town with four of her “girlfriends.” They finally left the French Quarter and rode up St. Charles Avenue. On a green streetcar. A good thing to do. They took a walk into the Garden District on First Street. Another good thing to do.
But, one of her friends said they rode on trolleys. Arrrrrgh.
We don’t have trolleys. We have streetcars. It’s a big deal to those of us who live here. It’s a bigger deal to me because we travel so much and have learned the correct terms for more things than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime. Say the wrong thing in Paris and they glare at you.
They took a walk through the Garden District. Apparently, they liked our house. They photographed it. And, published it. No matter. We aren’t home and they didn’t know.
Then there’s that girlfriend thing. These women are all over 65 years old. How can they possibly be girls? Yeah, saying girl is a southern thing. They live in Southern California. I guess that’s south. Sorta. Maybe.
Is this a rant? Sounds like a rant. I assure you, it’s not. It’s just me commenting on stuff I think is funny. But, I will say I’m a little jealous. Not of them taking a trip to my adopted hometown. But, like so many of my high school classmates, the woman in question decided to live in Southern California. She grew up there. She went to school there. She worked there. She lives there still. She has really old friends. Friends that she sees on a regular basis. That’s what I’m jealous of. All of that.
Even though I claim my birth city to be Brooklyn, I really grew up in Long Beach, California. If you ask me where my home is located, that’s what I’ll tell you. Long Beach. Sometimes, I think I’d love to move back. All of us. Back. We could probably afford it. But, who will I be when I go back home? Will it just be another place? Will I find old friends? Do I want to find old friends? And crowds. I hate crowds. As I age that gets worse.
A friend of mine said — you can see her comments — that I seem to be doing some existential questioning. I suppose in this year of one word — learning — I am. I’m learning about me. In a way, I’d like to be that person that calls a New Orleans streetcar, a trolley. I know a lot of things about a lot of places. In the end, the question is, what for?
Before I finish let me make one thing clear. I’ve had a great life. So far. With the exception of the past few years when back and thigh pain became a thing, I’ve been fairly healthy. I’ve seen and done a lot of things. I’ve been to most of the continents. I’ve been to 49 states. I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve been the minority in many places. I’ve made a lot of wonderful pictures. I’ve been so productive, without really trying, that I’ve forgotten some of my pictures. And, yet.
Maybe I can win a lot of money playing Jeopardy.
The picture. A STREETCAR. It’s really not moving all that fast. But, at dusk and photographed with a low shutter speed and a little bitty F Stop, you can make a picture like this. Everything gets squiggly. It’s not the sharpest picture in the world. But, it sure is fun. Better yet, guess where I made it from. You guessed it. Through my car’s windshield. There was nobody behind me, and you can see what’s in front of me, so I was driving at about 5 mph. I’m supposed to be a professional. Kids, don’t try this at home. In a few years, my timing will be so shot that I’d better not try this at home either. Ouch.
That’s what I do. Except when it comes to me. Yesterday evening, it came to me. It was so strong and calling to me so loudly that I could not help myself. I had to make the picture. It was almost too strong. I had to work in post production to tune down the contrast and the color.
If you know my work, you know that doing that is very rare. I’m usually more color. More contrast. More shape. More. More. More.
Not this time.
After all, things change.
It’s a lovely spring day. I’m going outside.
I have a new toy to play with, er test. A new camera. A baby Leica. It’s small. It has one lens. 24-75mm, which is about my perfect range. Its aperture is fairly fast at f1.7 to f2.8. My working theory is that often when I travel I don’t have enough time to really work, but when I do I’d like to travel lightly. Very lightly. This camera should do it. The reviews are outstanding. Sheesh. No matter what size, it’s a Leica.
Wish me fun and luck. And, that my editing software actually can process the Leica’s files.
“I told you about the fool on the hill. I tell you he’s living there still.”
Well, that’s not what the picture is about. That’s a lyric from “Glass Onion.” From The Beatles “White Album.” The newly released 50 year anniversary version. Remixed. With a lot of other versions of songs with I which I grew up. I working my way through it right now. I haven’t gotten to the demo versions which are stripped down and, I’m told, are very good.
I’m listening to the remixed songs that I know by heart. It’s strange. The remix changes a lot of things. Guitars pop out in front on some songs. Vocals are brighter. The drums are moved around. Bass notes are up front in some cases. Buried in others.
It’s kind of off-putting. After listening to songs played one way for fifty years, and hearing them this way is often confusing. I would have been very happy with a remix that just emphasized the differences in technology. Oh well.
That brings me to pictures.
I’m forever remixing older work. I take the master image, which I may have made ten years ago, and rework it using newer, better technology, and what I’ve learned over that time. I hope that I’ve made the picture a little better. Maybe a little cleaner. Sometimes, I go too far. I make a mess. An example of that is this picture.
As you see it now, it is elegant and very clean. For me, it’s artistic. But, last night I started playing around with it. I went too far. I went further still. And, beyond that. It turned ugly. It turned dystopian. I’m sure you are wonder how this picture could end up looking like something from a terrible future. Suffice it to say, I did it. And, you aren’t going to see it anytime soon.
Sometimes you have to know when to just hide a thing away. Not every picture deserves an audience.
Normally, unless I must pre-schedule a post, I write in the morning.
Today’s post was written on Saturday night after I learned of some terrible news. An old friend of mine may leave the planet by morning, certainly within the next day or two.
She is an artist, a painter. She is one of the few who actually made a fairly good living from her work.
It seems that her liver failed midway between her old home in Santa Fe, New Mexico and her new home on Bainbridge Island, Washington. She became ill in Salt Lake City, Utah, while she was in transit. There are other details, but they don’t really matter. Nothing earth-shaking.
This whole thing terrifies me. Between work, pleasure and moving, I’ve managed to travel a lot. As I’ve aged the thought occurred to me, “what if, what if, what if?” I’ve gotten sick on the road. I’ve even taken a trip to the hospital in Thailand. But, it wasn’t serious. My hospital trip cost all of $12.63 and that included two additional visits for bandage changes. It was a blister on my foot that went south. I always tell people to test their equipment before they travel. That includes new shoes.
I guess you can’t worry about that. Or, you can. As you get older, you should think of it. Maybe not dying, but getting sick while you are traveling. And, what you will do about it. That’s just good planning.
Green. The color of peacefulness and rebirth. It’s my little offering along with a picture that I’ve yet to make. Tomorrow at a second line. Because as you know, the work is the prayer. Actually, I have to make two. That’s another story.
Have a good thought for my friend. The outcome won’t change, but the passing might be a bit better.