New Mexico in a nutshell.

T

hey say that Mercury passed through its retrograde phase. Things should get and feel better. I’m don’t know what I think about astrology. There may be something to it. There might not.

But, I’ll tell you this. I feel better today than I have in a long time. I seem to have passed through a couple of stages of grief.

I’ll miss that dog for a long time, maybe forever, but it doesn’t feel like something is hammering in my head and making my eyes leak.

So.

This photograph. It was lost. I found it in the archives. It is New Mexico. It’s not what we think of when we think of the state.

F

irst, I want to talk about WordPress. I receive emails about their updates.

I begged them not to keep changing things. They didn’t listen.

This blog was just hell to assemble.

Columns duplicated themselves and were buried, making it impossible to create a paragraph.

Don’t get me started on predictive writing. Just don’t.

W

e tend to thing of New Mexico as being The Land of Enchantment because of the food, the festivals, the American Indians (Yes, that’s what they want to be called. At least in New Mexico.), the light, the high desert, the art, the artists, the indigenous jewelry and the list goes on.

We don’t think of the car culture which is mostly made up of lowriders, restored classic cars, and hot rods. I think they are wonderful, all of them.

It’s fun to photograph them because the owners are very proud of them. They’ll talk about their car for hours. They’ll pose and take direction.

A

nd, the balloons. You already know about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta if you’ve been reading Storyteller for any length of time.

Some 900 balloons and crews come from all over the world to show and compete with their balloons. I attended almost every year that I lived in the state.

Oh yeah. Balloons make me smile.

T

here is a lot of work going on in both photographs. Both have different levels of a glow filter added to them.

The top picture is intentionally very contrasty. I did that to emphasize the graphic shapes around the truck.

The balloon picture has a couple of things going on. First, I reduced the structure filter by 100% which makes the sky soft and allows the balloon to pop out of it.

I made the balloon a graphic shape using a combination of softening and glow filters.

Then I published them on Storyteller after fighting with the %&$*& block system.


New Mexican Roads

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owzer! WordPress fixed the things that they broke. I have captions and I don’t have to do a work around just to use columns and paragraphs.

I have other stuff to say, but I’m excited. It’s the little things, you know?

If it seems like I’m publishing a lot of road pictures, you’re right. But, that’s what I did in New Mexico. I traveled around, learning about the state and making pictures. I also learned about the people and enjoyed a lot of wonderful food.

It’s odd. I really like Northern New Mexican food, which is kin to Mexican or Tex-Mex food, but nowhere near the same. I cannot say the same for New Orleans food. The only time that we eat it is when out of town guests come for a visit and they want to sample New Orleans food.

That’s not quite true. I like a restaurant called Mandina’s which is Northern Italian – Creole. It’s not fancy and yet you can see the city’s moves and shakers.

I really like taking guests there because we can tour. We walk up our street to the green streetcars, ride along St. Charles and transfer at Canal Street to the red streetcars. Get off in front of the restaurant.

Our guests love it. They get to ride our famous streetcars, they get to see parts of the city the they might not normally see. They get real locals food. And, if they want, instead of transferring at Canal Street, we can get off and walk around the Quarter.

They wonder, what’s not to like?

My guests learned what’s not to like, one night when we returned home. The lawn was flooded up to our porch. WTF?

Turns out a water main broke in the middle of the street. By the time the city came to repair it, there was a lake that stretched for about two blocks. This happens a lot in the city.

Yeah.

What’s not to like?

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here’s not very much to talk about from a technical standpoint.

The most important take away, is to think about reworking your pictures every now and then.

As much as I liked the perspective and compression, the picture never really never did it for me.

After tinkering with a few day ago, I finally figured out the problem.

The picture was too light.

I made it on a cold winter day. It didn’t feel that way.

I darkened it, added colors of winter and I like the picture way more than I did.

One more thing about this picture. It doesn’t look like what you think of when you think of New Mexico does it?

When you drive east of the Sandia or Sangre de Christo Mountains, the land starts to flatten out as it makes its way into western Colorado.

It looks like what it is. High plains and farm land as you leave the high desert.

Can you guess which way the mountains are?


Artists of all dsiciplines have been coiming to New Mexico for years. Most will say that it for the amazing New Mexico light. Some of the best light comes during the late winter when storms roll in and out with great frequency.

T

here are days and there are days. On the day that I made this picture I needed a little solitude.

A group of photographers gathered in a coffee shop. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the most wonderful pre-sunset in a long time.

That’s saying something because New Mexico is the land of great sunsets.

I said that I was going to chase light and asked if anyone wanted to come. The other photographers looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them followed me out and said that he’d have to go home to get his camera. I asked why he didn’t always carry one because we live in a land of incredible light. He didn’t quite know what to say except that he only used his camera on planned excursions.

I hit the road and made five pretty good pictures. I made small work prints and brought them with me to the next meeting in a coffee shop. The other photographers were amazed.

That cause them to change. They probably still aren’t prepared. And, they still make tropes.

I guess it must be the photojournalist in me. I make those kinds of pictures too, but as a way of warming up. But, then again, my landscape work doesn’t look like anybody else’s work.

I’d probably make more money if I took the easy way, but what would be the fun in that?

I’d lose myself in the rush to cash.

T

here are a few technical challenges that I’d like to discuss.

They aren’t really in post production except for a little clean up.

Instead, they are in the making of the original file.

First, comes patience. I found the location. Then, I waited for something to happen.

Without that little touch of red from the car’s tail lights there would be no counterpoint to the isolation.

The actual exposure was easy. By this time of day the light is relatively flat and lacking extreme contrast.

My post production mostly consisted of using a subtle glow filter which gave the clouds a mild 3D effect and separation from the main scene.

Of course, I didn’t do that when I first developed the RAW file. As I recover these pictures I’m reworking them to my current look and feel.

It’s just like playing a song a different way live than a musician does in the studio.

A wise musician once said that after playing the song 500 times on stage, it finally taught him how to play it.


Sandias in autumn.

The changes started with the album, “Dirt and the Stars.” The entire thing hung me up, but the closing song of the same title got me digging around in my past, coming to a kind of reckoning.

That’s not done yet.

Then, we watched “Solos” on Amazon Prime. As I wrote to a friend of mine, “If you do nothing else, watch this.” I say that to you as well.

It’s a short series of solo actors, although there may be a little helper to guide them through their thoughts. The actors are some of the best working today.

The first episode is a little weird, but catchy.

The second episode took me apart piece by piece. Finally, now comes Morgan Freeman. Not only was I taken apart, but the parts were left in puddles.

That’s all I’m saying. I hope you watch it. If you do, I don’t want to spoil any part of it for you.

I know I said I was done with posting older pictures, but this one surfaced at about the same time as all this reckoning is going on.

This is the very first picture that I ever took with a cellphone. It was an Apple iPhone 5. It must have been because the pixel count is so low.

Even though I claim to always carry a camera, there are times when I’m charging batteries and I just need to run a couple of errands.

Then this happens. The Sandias blew up in color as dusk fell on the high desert.

The rest is on the other side.

There is really no technical achievement here even though it is my first smart phone photograph.

I did beef everything up because the little file is pretty wimpy.

I know what you are thinking. You are incorrect. This intense color was what inspired me to think, “Oh yeah, I have a smart phone in my pocket.”

Truth be told about the location… I’m in a Whole Foods parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There are pictures everywhere, we just have to open our eyes and not make them so precious.


Leaving town.

There are many ways out of Albuquerque, but this is my favorite. If you are going on a road trip you can kind of say goodbye to the city as you leave. Even if you are not, you can pretend.

This is what is left of Route 66 west of Albuquerque. Just a little over the rise in the far center of the photograph is where it meets I-40 and all points west.

There are little bits and pieces and parts of Route 66 that run along I-40, but not enough to really get anywhere. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t photographable. They are.

There have been a lot of reflective articles lately about photography. There have been a few concerning how it relates to social media. I’ve said on Storyteller that each has their specific place in the branding world, but do they?

I have never gotten even a nibble from anything that I post on Instagram, which is distributed to Facebook. Oh sure, I get a lot of likes. But, you can’t eat likes. I read Twitter mostly for NOLA Twitter and news. I really don’t know most of the local folks who post on Twitter. And, I read news at the source.

So, why do it?

A photographer/writer who I read and like, reckons that we waste 2.5 hours per day on social media. Think about it. That’s 17.5 hours per week, or 70 hours per month, or 840 hours per year.

That’s 35 days.

What could you do with 35 days?

I have to think about it for another ten minutes, but I think I may do that. There are plenty of ways to reach, find, and talk to me.

Or, I can stay around, not post and just read here and there.

We’ll see.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere here, on Storyteller.

Wowie Zowie. Look at the big ball of light. Wouldja? Oh wait, that’s the sun as it blasts its way through the windshield.

Yes, if you leave Albuquerque at around sunset, this is your view.

There are some big businesses outside of the city limit so you have an inbound rush hour of sorts.

The finished picture takes some explanation.

I tried to keep some details in the sun. Yeah, right. But, doing that made the surrounding everything very dark. It also added a lot of contrast which is no problem for me.

Of course, all of that created a lot of shadows and silhouettes. A lot of people don’t like that which is why HDR was invented.

I like shadows and silhouettes. If anything, I want to make them stronger and more defined.

It’s all a matter of personal taste.

For me, this is how it looks and feels if you are leaving Albuquerque around sunset.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Parking in blue.

The picture a day project lead to a lot of day trips. It lead me to a place near Cerrilos, New Mexico. That’s where I found this Bel Air parked in a Trade Post lot.

Normally, I’d go inside, talk to the folks who were there and buy something, usually water. Nobody was around, so I made a bunch of pictures of the car from all angles. As usual, the best view was the simplest.

The car looks pretty original. Northern New Mexico is prime lowrider country. The cars they build are pretty amazing. It’s a wonder that this car hasn’t been scooped up. I’m guessing the owner knows what he has and it won’t come cheaply.

I’d like to stop here, but I’d be wrong not to discuss yet another American symbol. Mass shootings. This time it happened at the FEDEX distribution center in Indianapolis. Eight dead. The shooter killed himself. A few more wounded, one critically. WTFF?

And, in the swamp four people were shot throughout the city, one was killed. I guess the weekend came early. We’ve been averaging seven or eight shot people per weekend for a long time. I suppose that means the pandemic is over in New Orleans.

I’d rather eat a taco or a burger.

Technical stuff. What technical stuff?

I saw it. I photographed it. I processed it. I did very little editing beyond that.

There is a philosophy behind it. I started viewing PAD as a kind of photojournalism. Don’t mess around with pictures.

It’s simple.

Most of the images I post here are a kind of art and I really do tinker with them in post production.

That’s different.

Art is art is art. Do whatever you want to express your vision.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other.


Long ago.

Long ago and far away. Ten years. 1,000 miles.

New Mexico is in my head. I was able to put it away for a while. OnOne archived all the work it could find on my computer’s hard drive and on one of my portables.

It found images that were “lost.”

They were not necessarily lost in my archives so much as being lost in my brain. Once I started seeing them again I looked at many of them in amazement.

It was like looking at them in a dream. I can’t remember the circumstance of making them although I do remember the pictures. Clearly.

And, speaking of dreams, this morning’s dream was very cool.

I was walking in a long tunnel like the kind that are made for mines. Everything was dark. I arrived at an open place. Everything was glowing. I got in line with the rest of the workers. We were handed five gallon buckets and sent to a dark fountain.

We dipped our buckets in the fountain until they were filled with multi-color fluid. It was stunningly beautiful. The colors were bright, they jumped in and out of the bucket, they sparkled.

What a show.

Then I woke up.

Pictures at an exhibition. April is going to be all over the place.

Some photographs will be old. Some will be my kind of art. Some will be from the project. Some will be from a survey of other ideas.

This picture from the mountains of New Mexico kicks off the month.

I decided to tone it down and make it look like a dream.

All of the work was done in Snapseed. I could have done a little more in OnOne, but I was satisfied with my work as it stood.

So, this is spring.


Across the high desert.

Memories.

The Sandias near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This was one of the last pictures I made in the state before we returned to New Orleans. Originally, the picture was bright and bold. I thought that I would rework it into something a little different. I wanted to feel like I was gazing at a dream. These days, that’s what our time in the state feels like. A dream. All a dream.

As I’ve been working through my best of the decade work, I’ve been bringing up all sorts of memories. About people. About places. About events. It all feels a little hazy to me. Sometimes remembering something sends me to an entirely different mental image. You probably know how that goes.

Anyway.

I’ve edited a big archive down to the decade’s ten best pictures. I wish I had another reviewer to check my selections, but I don’t. I’ll publish them during the week between Christmas and New Year. That’s what a couple of you suggested. That sounds right to me.


Reworked ornamental cabbage.

It’s one of those things. It was inspired by the local newspaper, which I rarely read. And, by their website, which I read daily. There was a piece about “seeing food differently” in their food section. It was about a photographer who takes close up pictures of fresh food. He is, apparently, making a splash in New Orleans. It’s big time art.

Oh boy. Wow.

I did the same thing about a decade ago when I lived in New Mexico. I stuck some lights on the end of a macro lens and made close up pictures of fresh food for a stock photography request. They weren’t licensed for much money per picture, but they did sell in volume. You can find pictures similar to them in every stock photography library around the world. Just Google them. You’ll find thousands of them.

Either those of us who took them were well ahead of our time. Or, the young millennial reporters don’t know very much. And, these kinds of pictures are art to them. I’ll go with the later since I’m pretty sure they haven’t studied enough about the history of anything to realize that there is very little new under the sun.

One would think that this would give artists of my era a head start. You’d think that. But, no. Many millennials are also ageist as hell. It’s like the work we did years ago never even existed.

Oh well.

Speaking of age. I’ve just gotten older. Today. On November 21st. Yep. My birthday. For a while, birthdays didn’t matter. This is not one of those big years. But, for some reason this one seems to matter. I have an idea why…

The pictures. The bottom one is very close to the original take. It didn’t need much help because I lit it properly in my studio/kitchen. The top picture is one of my current experimental approaches to making photographs worse. It’s more-or-less how I see things now.

Oh yeah. In case you are wondering. You can’t eat this cabbage. It’s called an ornamental cabbage. No matter what you do, it is as bitter as can be. But, it is very pretty. After I photographed it, I planted it in the ground. It looked great. It probably still does.

As it really was.