Light through the window.

M

ore changes. I knew that I wanted to design some kind of gallery. I’ve done it in the past. Good luck with that. Now the gallery template is divided by columns so the images are divided into long thin columns. A casual viewer wouldn’t know what they were seeing unless they they opened each picture.

I suppose that’s one way to get you to spend more time on the page, but it seems kind of funky to me. And, not in a good way.

Anyway.

You can’t keep a good man down, they say. I suppose who they is talking about. Good man, indeed.

Being stuck inside the house has pushed me to look at things a little differently.

T

his is about light. The key component of any photograph.

This just may be a little more focused on light than normal since it is light that makes thee three pictures.

I saw the pictures. Or, they saw me. I pressed the button and that was it.

Editing was simple. Darken the images and make them a little contrasty.

Window blinds at night.

The first thing I noticed was how the blinds carried the outdoor color. I decided that I’d better photograph it. So, I did.

The next thing you know, I was playing with the files and this image is what came of it. I think it’s sort of pretty. It inspired me to make pictures of other things that I might not normally think about photographing. The two pictures, one above and one below came from looking out the window, as the sun was dropping on the horizon line.

I like them. I hope you do too. Who knows what I’ll see next.

No widows, no waiting.

In case you missed a few…

The Journey


F all really came today. Cool winds. Cool temperature. No air conditioning. Windows wide open. No apparent humidity. People celebrating. I’m not sure about the last statement. People celebrating. That may be taking it a little too far. Let’s just say people are happy. I’m happy. That’s why I’m late. I went and stayed outside. […]

Why Would You Wait?


A brand new picture. Imagine that. I went for a walk when the light was right and I started having fun. I just kept making pictures until I was finished, which took a while. I think that I wanted to take the long way home as they say. The funny thing was that the more […]

Anyway The Wind Blows


T ransitions between dark and light, the end of the day and daylight is what I look for. Sometimes I’ll wait for that time rather than burn myself out shooting daylight pictures which I’ll never even look at after the fact. It’s the light. It always the light. For me transitional light is the best […]


Returning.

I

talk a lot about nature just wanting stasis. This is a great example of that. The house was damaged during Katrina. The doors and windows are boarded up.

That didn’t stop nature from retaking that little piece of land.

Maybe one day the owner will return or there will be a new owner. They’ll start removing the new growth only to find out that by doing that the house was weakened, often beyond repair.

Yep. That’s nature.

And speaking of nature, her virulent cousin Covid-19 came into play yesterday. Jazzfest was cancelled for the third time in two years.

That leaves musicians, support crew and staffs as well as artists and cooks without work. Some of those people make most of their years bank during the two weeks of Jazzfest.

This hurts hotels, restaurants and clubs. This hurts the city’s tax base. As these things pile up it means that we are further and further away from recovery.

If that didn’t make Sunday bad enough, a friend to us all passed. Action Jackson worked for WWOZ, probably the best jazz radio station in the world. He anchored the culture. I remember meeting him years ago. He was making video. I said, but you work for a radio station. He said, “Aw man, you never know.

He battled cancer for almost four years, almost never missing a beat on the street. He was 59.

He was right. You never know.

H

ere are two mantras to live by. They came to me when I was trying to talk to the universe. I heard them a long time ago but I forgot them.

“Important things are simple. Simple things are hard.”

And.

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”

That’s about all you need to know about anything.

Don’t even bother thinking about it. Just put them in play.

How demanding of me.

Oh well.


Old time, good time.

This is a dramatic change.

Mostly, I’ve been posting faux nature pictures as they relate to the season. But, I downloaded an upgrade to my OnOne editing and processing software. I just had to test it. I had to take it for a spin. You know, kick the tires.

I remade an image that I photographed about five years ago. While I won’t be tinkering in this way with the pictures I select, I was able to start an end of decade project.

Remember, 2020 is not only a new year, but a new decade.

That started me thinking about the dawn of this millennium. That’s a story in itself. At least, I started that out properly, by standing on The Great Wall of China as the clock struck midnight. I’d like to say it was a sort of lonely experience which would have been perfect. But, there were more people — Westerners and Chinese — standing up there than at any Mardi Gras parade.

Anyway.

Back to this picture. I tinkered with my upgraded software for a couple of hours. It was two things. A learning experience without a sharp learning curve. And, a lot of fun.

If you ask me exactly what I did, I couldn’t tell you. There was a lot of back and forth. I actually think I went a little too far. I may reprocess it in a slightly more restrained way once I learn more about the software.

I remember submitting the original image to an agency. They were looking for something “spooky” for an ad campaign. They really liked this picture. They asked if I had a property release. I replied that I didn’t need one. The Art Director started to say something, but I cut him off. I said, ” I don’t need a property release because I own the house.”

Yes. I did. We did.

We bought it for pennies on the dollar because the entire back of the house fell off. Three stories just peeled off the house in one big sheet, which broke up when it hit the ground.

We applied for, and received, state and city grants. They came with two requirements. We can’t sell the house for ten years. And, we needed to place a historical plaque on the front of the house.

Flash forward four years. The house is restored to its former glory.

There are a lot of period pieces that have either been restored or internally modernized.

It’s painted using New Orleans colors of the time period, which are not as bright as you’d think. Around here you can go to any Sherwin-Williams paint store and ask for their color chip chart for a certain period of time. Pick the colors and they mix them to 1887 specifications. The year the house was born.

It is leased to a nice young family who treat it as their own.

This house is the anchor to a completely rehabbed, but not gentrified, neighborhood. What was once a run down and Katrina-flooded street is now restored. The people who live there are truly neighbors.

So.

The city got a restored neighborhood. Young families along the street got new homes. Some rent. Some own. We got to test our general contracting and work skills. And, we own a lovely second property in an up and coming section of town.

Everybody wins.


Falling apart in Central City.

I saw this place on the way to the second line. I’ve seen it before. It just never quite looked so dramatic. And, I never stooped to make a picture. Even for a few minutes.

This time I did.

I photographed it at about 4pm in what was pretty bright sun. Not a great time. I decided right then and there that it would be the template for something else.

This is what I did.

Basically, I made a mess. I tinkered. I played. I went forward. I back tracked. I think that I turned a broken place into something spooky. I’m also thinking that without those fleur de lis on the fence this picture might not stand on its own.

I probably should go back at around dusk. Or, at least when there are heavy storm clouds blowing around. The problem with the dusk idea is that the neighborhood scares me a little bit. It’s one thing to be there when there are hundreds of people having a good time at a second line. It’s another to be out there on your own. With camera gear. You never know.

The more I look at this picture I think it would make a good album cover. I would have to square up the way I made it, and crop it some, but I could see one of our brass bands hanging out there.

Hmmm.

And, one more thing. It occurred to me what drew me to this place. Bad juju. This is a left over Katrina house. Today is August 29th. The 13th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

We try to forget this as we go about our daily business, but, as a friend tweeted, it’s in our DNA. I doubt that we’ll ever really forget.


A little bit of everything.
A little bit of everything.

The neighborhood.

Just a street in Mid City. Not far from the old laundry building. The buildings are sort of typical of some older houses that have been handed down from generation to generation. And, survived the storm. Survived bad weather. Hot weather. Humid weather.

So is each generation’s stuff. Typical. It survived. What were grandpa’s things was once papa’s. When he passed, it became his children’s. And, so on. It gets displayed. Proudly. On the street. In no particular order. It looks chaotic. But, it’s not. If you look closely, you’ll see that everything is in its place. Even if that place doesn’t make sense to you.

The pictures. They found me. I was leaving the laundry building and was just sort of looking around. This isn’t particularly hard. You just have to keep your opens open. You just have to see. Most importantly, you have to clear your mind. Turn your brain off. And, just photograph.

Easy? Right?

Classic neighborhood stoop, Mid City, New Orleans
Classic neighborhood stoop, Mid City, New Orleans


Ruins in Hollygrove.
Ruins in Hollygrove.

Before I write anything more, a quick word of caution. If you are a Mac user, DO NOT download the latest their operating system called El Captain. It was bad from the original download. Now, two versions later, it’s worse. It’s slow. It doesn’t recognize other manufacturer’s software that I need to do my job, and it only took 27 hours to download. Yes. We have a very fast internet connection.

Now that, I’ve written that and gotten it off my chest…

I return to the scene of the crime — a past photographed location — every couple of months. I like to see the progress made in a particular neighborhood. This is a still unrepairedd house left over from Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters. It is located in a neighborhood called Hollygrove. You’ve been there with me in past stories. When I was there taking pictures, everything was fine. Three hours later it was a crime scene. A man was shot and killed there. I don’t know when the odds start turning against you, but it’s starting to feel that way. I’m very situationally aware –that’s the proper term for “I have good alarm bells in my head” — but life turns on a dime.

The picture. The actual image is pretty clean, but I added a ton of work to it in post production. The funny thing about this house is that it doesn’t look like a New Orleans house. It must have been a fine home pre-storm.


Sign of the Times.
Sign of the Times.

I was on my way to the Saturday second line and looking for place to park, when I stumbled upon this little scene. So, I parked across the street.

I saw that sign.

Cease Fire. That campaign is at least four years old. It seems as appropriate to today as it was back then. Nothing has changed. Not on this street. Not in this neighborhood. Not in the city. Or, the country. If anything, things have gotten worse.

But, that’s not the point of this post. We live in Gun World. It appears we have to just deal with it. Get a little numb. Or, get a little stupid. Take matters into our own hands. Shoot a few shoplifters. Or, shoot the victim. By mistake. Yeah. Good guys with guns. Can’t shoot straight. Don’t train to react appropriately. Just carry a gun. Point it when you feel like it. Squeeze the trigger whenever.

Uh huh.

At least the sign in the picture refers to bad guys. Gangs. Drug dealers. Sheesh. Now, I’m not sure who worries me more. The bad guys. Or, the good guys trying to help me. And, you wonder why I don’t like being on the streets so much. Anymore.

That still really wasn’t the point. So how about this? The picture was made in Central City. In New Orleans. I added a lot to it in post production. To make a point.

Which point?

I dunno. You pick.


Things that are left.
Things that are left.

You’ve been here.

This is the house that once had the American flag hanging on one wall. If you’ve been around Storyteller for any length of time you remember it. The flag is long gone. Not much else has changed.

The neighborhood has changed. It’s starting to come back. But, this place? Nope. Even the piles of wood are still in the same place. There is a new water bottle in the foreground. Somebody has been there.

With that wide open door, I’m amazed the building hasn’t been torn up or covered in graffiti. Remember what I said yesterday? In New Orleans if it doesn’t move, it gets tagged. Not here. Not in the three years I’ve been passing by. There aren’t even any nosey and protective neighbors around to ask what I’m doing inside. That’s not to say there aren’t neighbors around. We wave to each other. But, there is not even a question about my intent.

The picture. The basic picture is just F8 and be there. The post production is maybe mid-level. I made the place glow. I shot it on a bright sunny day. I felt good. The day felt good. I made the picture look like I felt when I took it.


Left in the weeds.
Left in the weeds.

Yes. 124 degrees. F. That’s what the heat index was in New Orleans yesterday. Today, it will be a much more brisk and refreshing 115 degrees. Yes. You read that right. Both times.

Oh goody.

It’s too hot to work. I’m running out of fresh pictures. This one is a deep select from a couple of days ago. I try to make pictures for Storyteller every two days. That ain’t happening. Sometimes I run into a little block when even my usual tricks won’t help me. Sometimes, I get busy with actual paying work. Or travel. But, not this time. I’m chomping at the bit. I’ll tell you something. I’m not even sure how these new high-powered digital cameras work in this kind of heat. Digital processing within the camera itself generates heat. I suppose that they will be okay if I don’t hold my finger down on the button. Since I don’t do that, they should be fine.

But…

Life around here is miserable. The dogs like to swim in the pool. The humans like to swim in the pool. Not right now. I took the pool’s temperature. 95 degrees. Who wants to swim in that? I don’t even know how to cool it down. Most pools come with heaters. For the days when it gets cold. Even down here. But some kind of air conditioner? I’ve never heard of such a thing. A friend of mine suggested 50 pound blocks of ice. Maybe later, when this heat spell ends. Now? They’ll just melt.

I went to the grocery store. I parked in the shade, under a tree. That was good for the car. Not for me. My three-minute walk across the store’s parking lot was unbearable. All that heat on pavement. It felt like 178 degrees.

This picture. One of my tricks. Camera on the ground, pointed up slightly. Tilted slightly. Cameras with articulated LCDs are great for this. I don’t have to be on the ground with the camera. I tinkered with the picture in post production. I made it sort of grungy, beat up and ruined.

Wish me luck. Cooling luck. One of these days these record-setting intense heat will break. Then, we’ll have a big storm. Sideways rain.

Even that sounds good to me right about now.