A summer storm came blowing in.

The sky turned really dark.

Even the dog who shows me stuff didn’t want to be out. She did her “business” and headed for home. She’s no fool. She doesn’t like water falling on her from above.

For most of us, this is nothing unusual. Summer rain. It blows in from the Gulf of Mexico. Rain falls for an hour or so and normally it’s all good. But, we are spooked. Our streets seemingly flood with almost any hard rain.

The people in charge have taken care of the pumps. They are working as well as can be expected. Maybe we need new pipes. The mayor said that we just live in a place that floods. Accept that.

Until.

A car was found in a covered drainage ditch. Actually, there might be three or more. But, one was pulled out yesterday. It was pancaked. It’s brake tag was dated 2007. It was the remains of a Mazda 626. Mardi Gras beads fell out of the trunk.

Only in New Orleans.

There was a lot of discussion about it on social media. Given that we can buy our brake tags every two years, it was likely licensed in 2005. This could be a Katrina car. There could be human remains in that tunnel. Or, it could be something entirely different.

This is a mystery. Everybody loves a mystery. We all wanna know.

But, get this.

The water bosses admitted that the underground canal hadn’t been inspected for at least 14 years. Huh? Do you people ever do your jobs?

The same thing happened with the levees pre-storm. The Army Corps of Engineers and the local levee people met on the top of the levee, looked around and said let’s go to lunch.  They didn’t do their jobs and look what happened.

This explains a lot.

The picture. Saw it. Made it. You know the rest.


Japonica blooms.

New Blooms.

Wait. What?

It’s winter down here. Just like it is throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Our winter is fairly mild. We get a few sub freezing days. Not that many. We’ve had a long streak of cold fronts and gradual warming for the last month or so. Normal for us. In a few weeks, the weather will turn mild and stay that way. Until mid-May when summer arrives.

That’s the weather report.

My neighbor thought that these blooms were early. She thought they meant a hot summer. They could.

But.

I divide seasons by events. Normally, Mardi Gras falls in February. Sometimes, it’s very early. This year, it’s late. The first week in March. Even when Mardi Gras is early, when I walk to the streets where I like to work during parade season, the Japonica trees are in full bloom. Some flowers may even be starting to die.

These blooms mean nothing when we talk about summer weather. On the other hand, I was surprised when I shouldn’t have been, when I read the baseball’s spring training begins in three weeks when the pitchers and catchers report to camp.

Thank God.

Pro basketball means nothing to me. Football, just a little more. But, baseball? That’s a whole different story. Baseball is about life. The season is long. It stretches from very early spring to late fall. It has its ups and downs. You learn how to deal with adversity over the long-term. Events play out over many months rather the short 17 week season of football. It’s slow. You can think about it. You can study each game. You can learn from your mistakes. If you are watching it at home, on your television or on your computer, there is enough time during the natural inning breaks that you can go into the kitchen and get one of those things you like to eat or drink. It also means that for many of you, the cold and snow is coming to an end. Although the early games played in late March and early April can get a bit cold. So too, towards the end of the season and certainly during the playoffs and World Series.

You came here for pictures. Most of my pictures are about life. You can figure out the connection. Yes?

This Japonica tree is one of the few things that I haven’t documented around here. I see it changing every spring. I think I’ll get to it in a couple of days. It’s one of those scenes that I know I can come back to. It’s a picture in my pocket. That goes on for a few weeks. The flowers are gone. Oh well. Next year.

Not this season.

I photographed it when I first saw the little pods that contain the flowers. That picture went to my Instagram feed. This is the second picture from the Japonica series. I’ll keep doing it until the flowers fall to pieces.

They say that you should live in the moment. That moment is today. This hour. Those few minutes. Live those when the present themselves. You won’t go wrong.

Learning.


Very wet, pretty hot.

Sometimes it’s hard living in the Gulf Coast.

Hot weather, humidity, extreme storms and hurricanes plague us. When the cool air of autumn finally arrives tomorrow, we will feel like we have made it through the desert into the promised land.

A huge hurricane should be making landfall as you read this. We, in New Orleans, are clear but our friends in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle are going to get hit very hard. As the storm makes its way inland it will soak the Carolinas. That’s about the last thing those folks need right about now while they are still barely recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Please. Have a good thought for all of them.

This storm is really frightening because of the way it formed. As late as last Saturday it was an unformed tropical storm. By Monday it was a tropical storm and in the past two days it developed into a major hurricane. It will make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. It is called Michael which happens to be my middle name after my grandfather who was Mikhail.

Here’s why this hurricane is so scary.

It formed quickly in The Gulf of Mexico. Normally, that’s where storms pick up heft and slow down after crossing the Atlantic Ocean forming somewhere off the coast of Africa. Normally, the pace speeds up over maybe a week or ten days. This one formed and grew locally in two days.

I think you know why. The next time your hear somebody say they don’t believe in climate change, just laugh.  They won’t be convinced until their property is underwater.

I made the picture during our last strong storm which occurred on Saturday or Sunday or Monday or yesterday. It doesn’t matter which day. Everyday is time for a big, hard-hitting storm. I changed the color palette because I want the sky to look mean and foreboding. The rest, well.


What it feels like.

Hurricane Florence.

I’m not sure what I can add to everything you’ve likely read or watched. Unless you are actually there, or  hunkered down waiting to help as first responders, there’s not much more you can do. You can have a good thought. You can pray, You can donate to one fund or another which might help the storm survivors repair billions of dollar worth of damage.

It doesn’t matter. Do whatever you can.

As a Hurricane Katrina survivor, I know how long it took for me, my friends and my region to get back on its feet. In some areas, normal life still isn’t back. And, it’s be thirteen years. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right houses are already starting to fall apart. I just read that each house was constructed for around $20,000. What can you build these days for that kind of money that will stand the test of time?

Anyway.

One thing to know is that stacked up behind Florence in the Atlantic Ocean are three more named hurricanes. Two of them look like they could get into the Caribbean Sea, which means there’s a good chance that can get into the Gulf. It could be that around this time next week, I’ll be asking you to have a good thought for me.

The picture. I made this picture during one of our heavy downpours this week. I tinkered with it a little bit and gave it that weird colored sky that you often get with hurricanes. I made it through the windshield. If you look toward the top you can see a leaf stuck to the glass. It’s sort of hiding there in the silhouette of the tree.

Good thoughts, prayers and actions, folks. My water brothers slightly to the north are going to need them.


New birth in nature.

It’s the season.

We talk about summer, summer, more summer and another summer. That’s how it is down here. But, there are phases. We are entering the wet season. The rainy season. Hurricane season. The time when we watch each storm as it forms off the coast of Africa.  Many of those storms don’t amount to much. Sometimes they do. Last year, we were spared. But the folks in Puerto Rico, Houston and Florida were not.

You never know.

Be prepared. Or, at least prepared as you can be.

Most of the time, we just live in a hothouse. Plants grow. Skin stays soft and moist. Walking outdoors anywhere drains you. And, electric bills pile up.

But, the hothouse.

You see scenes like this one. Healthy plants giving birth to more healthy plants. I hate to say this, but some of this is an early warning sign. I’m seeing moss and mushrooms in places that I never did. Summer is starting earlier and earlier. Winter, such as it is down here, is getting really cold. Only for a short time. But, still…

I don’t tell people what to do or think. But, that word. Think. Do it.

 


A threatening storm.

A few clouds as dusk comes. It’s sort of a gulf coast thing. But, no rain. Just a little wind. And, some theatrical color making for some good photographs.

I’d call this photographer’s luck. But, the clouds were dancing around all day. I just had to pick my moment. That’s a little lesson for today. Make pictures whenever you want, whenever you can, but be patient. The color will come if you just let it. So will the pictures.

There is something very cool about this post. WordPress, in their wisdom, now allows us to open and post on a page that looks like the one on a big machine while using something more portable like my iPad Pro. This changes things. A lot of things. Everything. The timing is especially good since my magic keyboard for my iMac is starting to fail. I have another, but it’s lost in the digital closet from hell.

The pictures. Lots of post to bring out what inspired me to make them. All of the work was done using Snapseed on this very iPad. I’ve also downloaded Affinity, which replaces all Adobe software including Photoshop and Lightroom. The businessman in me likes that. Pay for it once and updates are free, unlike Adobe who forces you to pay monthly… forever.

Darker clouds.


A springtime wonder.

Rocks. Broken Wood. Sticks.

New growth in the middle of all of that. The dog found it with her inquisitive nose. All I did was make the picture. And, frame it on the scene. And, further reframe it in post production, where I also made the image sparkling and glowing.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that humans and canines are also a part of nature. Dogs are a  good force in nature. They are little zen masters. They act in the moment. They forgive easily. They are always friendly if a human lets them be.

Meanwhile, humans. Not so much. The more I see, travel and I read, the more I’m convinced that we are the most destructive force on earth. Yeah, yeah. Big hurricanes and earthquake do a lot of damage. But, that just nature’s way. It isn’t intentional. It isn’t mean-spirited. It isn’t for some profit motive. Nature seeks stasis. That’s all.

You can draw your own conclusions. Me? I think it’s time to act way more than we have. And, I think it’s time to think. How’s that for a bit of very weird writing? It’s clean up time. No matter what the current political climate is in Washington. No matter what big corporations think. Some of this starts with the very tools we use every day, like this computer. Digital trash is as bad a pollutant as there is. It needs to be recycled responsibly. And, the chain must be followed and monitored.

Here’s why.

I was talking to an online friend about this. Here in New Orleans — and in Albuquerque, New Mexico — where I lived after Hurricane Katrina, there are recycling programs of a sort. Here’s how it works. Me, feeling good about what I was doing sorted everything. Glass. Paper. Plastic. You know. How you do.

In NOLA we take it to a recycling center. In New Mexico it was picked up like curbside garbage. Here’s where both results are the same. My nicely sorted recyclables were dumped into one pile and were taken to a normal landfill where they were dumped along with the rest of the garbage, never to be sorted again.

WTH?

We, as human beings who only have one planet to live on, must manage this process. We can do better. We can force the people who claim to handle our recycling to actually do it. After all…

One more thing. This isn’t for me. Or, my generation. This is for the future. Our children. Our grandchildren. And, their children. It’s a long game. Even if we can’t see the results.


It’s a most peculiar gray.

Squalls out on the gulf stream. Big storm coming soon.

Sure enough. I returned just in time for a big storm. A storm big enough to cancel today’s French Quarter Fest. That never happens. I can’t say I was excited about going. It’s grown so big that even my old trick of catching the street car doesn’t work anymore. That is, unless I want to park somewhere near the car barn and take it all the way to Canal Street. Still, I’d go. Just to say I went. And, maybe get lucky and make a few pictures.

All of that said, we are looking for five or six inches of rain in less than 12 hours. We expect heavy winds. And, tornadoes. According the weather folks there is a new stronger designation. Of course, we are in that. The fine, thieving folks at the sewage and water place say that only one pump is down. That should protect us from flooding. Unless the power fails. Or, the pumping stations catch fire. Both of those things have happened.

Of course, I’ve been jonesing  to make some real photographs. With a camera. Not a smart phone. That means that I may still go out and make weather pictures. No worries. I may be old, but I’m cagey. My many years of experience protect me from myself. The one thing to always remember is not to drive down a flooded street unless cars have passed through ahead of you. Because potholes. Big, car swallowing potholes.

The picture. You know how I like to be in the middle of things? Well… that’s how you make a vertical cloud picture. And, it helps if you always sit in the window seat. This picture was made yesterday, towards dusk.


At about dusk.
At about dusk.

I suppose that I should be used to it by now.

Big blue skies. Big colorful thunderheads. And, late afternoon storms springing up from nowhere.

But, I’m not.

Even though I have the heart of a photojournalist, as I get older I’m more and more fascinated by nature. No, not the kind of nature you have to hike miles into the back country to see and photograph. I’m getting a little long in the tooth to start doing that now. But, the kind that you see every day. The kind that is so ubiquitous that on most days you walk right by it and don’t see it. Luckily, down here in swampland, some of that more easily accessible nature can be quite dramatic.

The picture. I tend to see nature pictures as wide angle as I can make them. Or, as tight and close up as I can make them. If they are on the wide side, I try to put some kind of small subject in the picture to give it a sense of scale. That unbalance is sort of a Zennish thing. Call it wabi sabi.

Oh. One more thing, a blogging friend of mine posted about math, nature and design. I didn’t say it in her comments, but if you have to think about it so much, you’ll never understand it. The best way to take pictures is to not think. And, mathematical concepts like the  Golden Mean, Fractals and the like are solely a western view.

Think globally. Think holistically. You’ll be happier with your work.