Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


Looking for something.

N

ew work. It’s been a little while. I took myself for a walk. I went to a little park that has benches, sat down and took some time for myself.

The bench that I sat was our favorite bench. It belonged to the all seeing dog, Sophie Rose. I don’t know what it did for my recovery process, but I started seeing the little things.

So, I made these pictures and a few more. Then, I went to the doctor. No worries, it was just a wellness check. I passed with semi-flying colors.

When I returned, I made more pictures. Just because. Because I believe in a little routine and doing something photographic every single day. That’s how you get better. That’s how you get good.

I haven’t been doing that lately. It shows.

I’ve been reading about photography as a healing an recovery tool. If for no other reason those of you who are photographers should make pictures, or do something photographic every day.

Do you?

T

here is really nothing to these pictures. They are simple. They are about trees. They are about nature. They are about rebirth.

Rebirth is important to me right now.

There is a little post production going on in both pictures that are very different processes.

The top image is light, sunny and playful. The bottom image is darker, more moody.

Of course nature helped a lot. Light comes and goes and comes back again especially in the summer.

Nature helped my creative process.

One day.


Nearing some end.

With the all seeing dog on the mend I hit a wall. I wasn’t making new pictures. I did the next best thing. I worked on older pictures, experimenting every step of the way.

The good news is that the dog in question is feeling better. She took me for a walk this morning. I put the brakes on about half way through a normal routine because I didn’t want to tire her out.

So.

I did make some new pictures. You’ll see one tomorrow since I was already was working on this one.

Of course, even getting this picture here took an act of God. It started when a client forced me to use some alternate way of uploading PDFs.

It took me the better part of two days to fix all the issues including working in the safe mode to clean out the bad data.

This guy still wants to be a client. That’s fine. My basic billing rate is triple what I normally charge. Shut me down for two days and his accounting department is going to have questions.

Anyway…

Finally, a picture that can take some technical talk.

I built this one sort of backwards. Normally, my pictures are full of color.

This time after layering the images and getting them approximately where I wanted them, I worked backwards.

I removed color. I removed contrast. I almost came close to just leaving the dots in the file. Them I built the image up a little and that’s what you are looking at.

It’s a picture for late spring as we near summer. The brightest colors are fading. Others are starting to appear.

The mystery of life.


New camera, new fun.

New smart phone, new camera… a lot easier to work with. I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes gear can make a difference.

When I switched to Samsung I was trying to get away from the Apple ecosystem. I think that most Apple gear is overpriced and that the folks who lead the company are arrogant.

How arrogant? They’ve managed to let Windows catch their products at a time when Apple was almost crash free. Now, they are about the same depending on what your main use is for the gear.

How overpriced? My new iPhone is reasonably priced because I managed to wrangle a deal out of my carrier, but think about this. New EarPods are about $500. Huh? For that amount of money I could be some really good over the ear headphones that would blow away anything a pod could do.

One reason to return to Apple is the camera. I’m not sure that either Apple or Samsung is that much better depending on who released phones last. I find the iPhone to be sharper and more contrasty than the Samsung camera.

More importantly, when I push what amounts to a shutter release button it does what I tell it to. I can put the camera down on the ground without me having to crawl around in order to make my picture.

These giant plant leaves are nothing more than blades of grass. I did it to test the phones ability to make a picture like this.

It worked just as I’d hoped for.

Big, huge blades of grass. That was my dream, to make a picture of grass.

Not really. I just wanted to see if the phone could do it.

It did.

My technique was simple. I set that lens at about 2.5 times the normal field of view. I bent over, putting the bottom of the phone on the ground. I pushed the button a couple of times.

That’s it. Done.

I tinkered with it a lot in post production because that’s who I am. And, I wanted to make the finished picture a little mysterious. After all, these are just blades of grass.


Not lazy. Not hazy.

A friend of mine said that she changed a lot of guitar chords to ones that she created because she got bored playing the normal progression. I tried to tell her that if she played every possible progression she wouldn’t get bored.

She told me to shut up and stick to doing what I do. Make pictures. She knows not to say, “Stay in your lane” because I’ll call her Karen.

No worries. It’s all in good fun. We think that all of that stuff, including the so-called cancel cultures is nonsense. If anyone is going to do any cancelling it will be me. I’ll cancel myself and be done with it.

Anyway.

The point of the first paragraph is that sometimes I bore myself. So I turned perfectly good trees into nightmares.

I suppose I could claim that this is a tribute to those folks who were hit by tornadoes in the past couple of weeks. The picture does sort of look like trees are flying around in space.

I guess that takes some imagination, which I have in spades.

Flying trees, eh?

First, let me tell you that this is a horizontal pictured turned every which way.

I also stretched the external dimensions .

Then I layered the same picture three times.

I made the color close to what some people call contemporary color. Some people.

That’s all I did. Ha!


The swamp and the tree.

There is one corner where the land looks like this. It looks and feels what it must have been like 25,000 years ago.

I don’t really know. I’m not that old. I swear.

All I know is that it’s green and can get kind of noisy when squirrels talk and birds chirp.

Sometimes wilder animals than those make their way through the foliage. I’ve seen raccoon and possums pass by. I rarely see snakes, but they are there too. Nothing poisonous, just the usual black snake or two.

Scrape away 160 years and this neighborhood is wild and swampy. Well, not that wet. This is ridge land. Kind of. It’s six feet above sea level when so much of the city land is below sea level.

But, that’s enough.

It survived the big hurricane in my memory — Katrina — without getting flooded. That’s one of the reasons we live where we live.

It’s not the oldest neighborhood in the city, with much of being built in the 1850s. It was annexed to be part of New Orleans a little before that. People built here for three reasons. The land was fairly inexpensive. The area was a little cooler which kept the viral outbreaks down. And, it isn’t near the French Quarter and “those people.”

That doesn’t mean what you think. It really means a wilder, rowdier bunch.

Even now, it’s removed enough that if I want to go to the Quarter, I can hop on the streetcar and be there is 10-15 minutes. And, that’s a two block walk from the house. I can watch the craziness and come home to quiet.

Sometimes living here is easy.

Jungle land. The hardest part of making this photograph is the light.

Most of it is dark. That’s easy to expose for. But, look at the highlights. They are way blown out.

The way to account for that is to expose for the shadows and add a little flash. Not much, just something we used to call a kick light.

I could have done that but didn’t. Remember, I make these pictures on dog walks or going from one place to another.

The result is slightly gray highlights caused by the processing that takes a RAW file to a JPEG. It crunches some of the highlights to make them fit within the JPEG gamut.

Never the less, I think this is a fairly striking representation of my neighborhood.


Almost like summer.

The long way home, that’s what we took. Really, really, the long way home. I’m not sure we found what we were looking for, but we found other things. We found the peace that comes with sitting under big trees. We found quiet. We found comforting greens.

After the long year that we all had, I’m happier finding these things than I am for finding a favorite restaurant is open or knowing that live music is coming back.

Those things matter, but in order to enjoy them you’d better be fairly whole emotionally and physically. Luckily, throughout the lockdown we did walk the dogs. Granted, they were exactly speed walking but we were walking.

We also ate fairly well. There wasn’t much eating of junk, nor did we eat easily accessible fast food. We actually cooked at home. We do normally, but we made a point of it.

That point was driven home today, when I saw a photographer whom I don’t know all that well walking ahead of us. From behind, it looked like there were two and a half of him. I’m not being mean. It’s just what I saw.

So, now that hope is back and some people think we are turning the corner we probably should take care of what we didn’t do while we were sitting around.

More importantly, we shouldn’t be stupid. Now that the CDC finally said that six feet really wasn’t enough and that the virus lingers in the air inside or out, we probably should take a few precautions.

Yes. I know that most of us who have been vaccinated probably stand a very good chance of not catching the virus. And, if we do it will likely be a mild case. But, what about those who for some reason or another — about 70% of the population currently — come in contact with us? Was if we pass it to them and make them deathly ill?

How would you feel knowing you accidentally did that?

Give me the greens of summer sang Paul Simon. It’s still spring, but close enough.

I like the way greens look in spring or in early summer. Down in Southeastern Louisiana, by mid-August the greens look washed out. By September they are limp. That lasts until fall which starts late.

So, pictures like this delight me. They are magic, not taking away from someone in this house who thinks music is magic.

Making this picture was easy but…

You really need back lighting to make it work. See all those light green leaves in the background? Without them this picture would be dark and foreboding.

I’ll leave that for Halloween.

After making the picture, a little work was needed in post production and viola, I was done.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Use your brain. Look after each other. Enjoy all the peaceful greens.


What do you see?

Yes. What do you see? Pictures like this one take some seeing or you’ll just pass them by. But, you must be careful. You may see the things that you want to see, not bothering with reality.

We all do it.

We do it in relationships. I’m not talking about romantic ones. I’m talking about how we relate to everything.

There are times when you see clearly, but there are other times when you walk away, or look back, and wonder what the hell you were thinking.

I’m in that period of reckoning. I seem to be forgetting the good things. I’m remember the questionable things. I feel like I owe apologies to a lot of people.

There are also things that I can’t seem to see clearly. I remember them but I don’t remember the circumstances or context.

How does that happen?

I must be blocking something out. Usually that indicates some degree of pain. But, I can’t remember the pain. That’s probably a good thing.

I’m pretty sure that this is what comes from having too much time on my hands, driven by lockdown city.

And, that’s another thing. I’ve had my jabs. Today is my 14th day so they are fully effective. There is a big Mardi Gras Indian funeral later today. Between the vaccinations and masking I should be just fine.

Yet, I’m a little afraid to go, to photograph, to honor the big chief who passed at the age of 37.

Self preservation is one thing. But, this just seems ridiculous. I’m a little young, but we all gotta go.

I pretty much told you how I made the pictures. It’s how I make every picture.

See it. Shoot it. Process it. Publish it. Forget it.

See? I told you I was dealing with my past mistakes.

My biggest mistake with my later work is not marketing it in a way that works well with our modern digital age.

I think that I understand the technical processes. But, I don’t understand the emotional process.

I usually laugh at the so-called influencers that are usually found on Instagram. But, some of them earn a serious amount of cash. They travel well. They have fun.

Photographers usually can’t get into that position. For sure there are a few. But, they are usually gear head blogs who find sponsorships from gear makers. Nothing wrong with that, but you know me.

Others sell things to other photographers. Online classes, in person workshops, or some other kind of one on one tutoring. That market is saturated. It seems like half the posts on my Instagram feed are trying to sell me the ten secrets that will make me a better photographer.

If I haven’t learned them by now there is no hope for me.

That’s the state of the digital world right about now.


Little things.

So, people are saying spring is finally upon us. Down here in The Gulf Coast we’ve had spring for about a month. But, in the last day spring exploded. The greens are greener. The flowers are vibrant. Leaves have just exploded out of their slumber.

Luckily, it’s still cool bordering on cold. In a month or so summer’s heat and humidity will be upon us. Until October. Five months of three showers a day. Five months of dog walks as early and late as possible. And, six months of hurricane season.

The world turns.

Nature always seeks stasis. She doesn’t want to move anything too much except for us. That’s why the climate is changing. We will either deal with it or we’ll be gone. And, sooner than we think if we don’t act today.

I read that 40% of all Republicans will not be vaccinated.

This isn’t a political issue. This is a health issue. Both climate change and the virus will kill us if we aren’t careful.

I did get involved a little today. For the first time in 19 months we took a walk through the French Quarter. The air is cool and bright. We’ve had our jabs. We wore our masks. We arrived at the front of St. Louis Cathedral where parishioners were coming out after the Good Friday Stations of the Cross.

No social distancing. Not a mask among them. They were touching each others hands. The Archbishop of Orleans Parish was right there with them.

We weren’t about to get too close. But, worked my way around so that he could see me. I gave him the ultimate teacher’s stink eye. I didn’t say a word, but he thought I might be having a problem.

He came over and asked if I was okay. I said that I was, but he wasn’t and a wondered how many of these people he would be officiating funerals for. He didn’t know what to say. He’s supposed to be a community leader and this is how he leads the people closest to him?

If the thunder don’t get you than the lightening will.

The green, green grass of home. That’s what I saw. There were about a billion of little snowball like wildflowers just about everywhere.

I put the phone down on the ground and pointed it toward the subject. I’d like to say it was easy, but you have no idea how hard the phone fights you in that position.

Tools are supposed to do what you need them to do. Not anymore. Programmers think that they have to save us from ourselves. I’m not that stupid. If I point the lens at something, I want to take a picture of it.

It took me four or five times to make this picture. I’m not talking about extra pictures made as I explored the scene. I mean I’d press the button and nothing would happen.

Working at it in post production was fairly simple. I made it brighter and warmer because that’s how it looked to me when I saw it.

And, that’s it.

A pre-Easter picture because I found it and I could.