Nature’s art.

J

uly is the month that you really know where you are; Southeast Louisiana. This is when your windows always have condensation producing water droplets in the morning.

That’s what you see as I look into the garden. Later in the day this dries out and you can see reality again. Not that reality is such a big deal. These days, like so many of you, I think that reality bites.

I just don’t want to deal with anything hard these days. I avoid them as much as possible. Sleep, once came with difficult, now seems easy to come by. That’s not me. I’m usually a six hour a day sleeper. Now, I am a ten hour a day sleeper.

I’m not feeling fatigued. I start reading anything and pretty soon I start to drive and think, “This feels good” and I’m gone.

I did it yesterday. I started working around 8am. I took a break at 11:30am. I thought I’d read the news. I awoke at 3:30pm. Huh? Where am I?

And you?

T

his is the anti-technology column today.

My new iPhone has a 90 day no questions asked return policy.

I might use that.

I’m not sure if it’s me, or the sensor or the lens, but it makes photo files that are almost unusable.

My first attempt at in phone processing of this image was terrible. Even after turning down the contrast to the bare minimum all the darks where clumped into an unreadable mass.

So, I download a completely unprocessed file and worked on it in OnOne, barely doing anything.

That worked.


Dancing in Central City.
Dancing in Central City.

There is something to the saying, “The show must go on.” Unless the weather is predicted to be just terrible, with sideways rain and high winds, the second lines go on. And on. They are something like the United States Post Office, except they actually do deliver on time. Kind of. New Orleans time is a little different from the rest of the world. My side rant for the day is, that’s the cool thing about the post office. Since they really have no scheduled times for regular mail, you have no idea what “on time” really means.

Anyway.

These are just a few scenes from “The Season.” In the rain. Seems to be my usual way of working around New Orleans. In the rain. Wet. All steamy from the humidity. Oh why, oh why do I live here? I think. Sometimes.

That said, photographing this stuff is beginning to become a bit of a grind. Yes. I could take a break. But, the parade season just started. The little girl in the bottom picture sums it up nicely.

A little rain isn't stopping this parade.
A little rain isn’t stopping this parade.

Going to work...
Going to work…

My feelings, exactly.
My feelings, exactly.


St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery.
St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery.

Not really just another cemetery. One that I’ve visited.

But, I did go poke around in that part of the 9th Ward where I “discovered” the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery. I came right back to it. The cemetery. Not the neighborhood. I have no idea what draws me to them, but they are kind of fun to photograph.

As summer fights to remain, the clouds are amazing. That’s a great reason not to wait until dusk to make a couple of pictures. The weather people say we are in the middle of a cold front. Okay. That’s what they say. I don’t know how different 95 degrees feels from yesterday’s high temperature. Especially with the high humidity making the temperature feel like 113 degrees. Think about that. September 11. 113 degrees. We are heading into fall. What’s wrong with that picture?

Anyway.

There’s not much to say about this picture or the cemetery. It’s very well-kept. The cemetery. Not the picture. The picture is a mess. Ha! The alleys are swept and clean. The offerings and reminders are in place. The tombs are above ground. Let’s talk about that for a moment. The prevailing belief for above ground tombs is because we have such a high water table there really is no other way to bury the dead. That might be true. But, not likely since these tombs’ style was imported from low water table regions in Europe. And, really they weren’t implemented until the very early 1800s, while residents of the new city were being buried in ground since 1721.

There is a more reasonable explanation.

Cost. Cost to the family. Cost to the church. Cost of the land. Cost of digging new graves. If you look at the markers on these tombs, there are usually five or six people entombed in each structure. How could so many bodies and caskets fit into such a small building?

Simple.

The caskets placed in these tombs are inexpensive pine. With the heat and humidity of our summers which stretch from early May until late October, the temperatures reach about 300 degrees within the tomb. After about year all that is left is rotting wood bones and ashes. By tradition, a body can be moved after a year and a day. They aren’t really moved. They are swept into a little trough in the back of the tomb. The trough lead to a small pit dug in the ground. The body returned to the place from which it came. The tomb is ready for its next resident. There is a ceremony for all of this.

Good thing the weather is so hot today.


Mid-summer flowers and weeds.
Mid-summer flowers and weeds.

Yeah. Woof. Woof.

Even my dogs don’t know why the days of August are called the dog days of summer. If they know, they aren’t talking.

So, I looked. The phrase refers to the sultry days of summer and is tied to the Romans who related it to Sirius — “The Dog Star”  — which shines the brightest in the constellation Canis Major. Or, large dog. These days were considered to be a time when “the sea boiled, the wine turned sour and dogs grew mad and all other creatures grew languid.”

That’s all I know. And, I got most of that from Wikipedia… which may or may not be accurate.

Yeah. Woof. Woof.


Springs, coming to an end.
Spring, coming to an end.

Spring.

For many of you, Spring is just getting started. For us, in Southeast Louisiana it’s coming to an end. Doesn’t matter what the calendar says, with temperatures in the high 80s all of next week, summer is here. The only difference is the humidity. Right now, it’s in the mid 40 and 50 percent range. In July, August and September we have an outdoor sauna. Humidity ranges between the high 80s and high 90s. That’s a lot of moisture in the air. That’s why anything grows. That’s why our skin glows. With any luck we won’t get any big wind blows.

That was hard. Grows, Glows. Blows.

One more thing. Right now, it’s pretty dry. Summer is our rainy season. Hurricane season, too.

This is about the last of our River Road Ride pictures. There. I made it a proper name. It was one of the first pictures that I made, but the Dandelion is falling apart, making it a fitting closer for this series of pictures. For me, the thing with macro subjects is to leave enough of the background in place so that you can understand the context of the picture. I suppose this is a form of bokeh. That over used word.


Another image from my foggy, humid, condensation series. Again, the picture was made in The French Quarter. Post production was minimal and done mostly to bring out the details and highlight the doll’s face. 


One thing about summer in New Orleans, or anywhere else that is a semi tropical place, is the humidity. It really shows itself in the form of condensation in the early morning on glass objects of all kinds. Windows are great fun to photograph as well as anything that is located on the shadow side of a street. What isn’t fun is the transition time between leaving an air-conditioned place and acclimation in the wilds of nature. Eye glasses fog up, camera lenses and lcds fog up. I fog up. If you are smart, or have just learned from experience, you never change lenses until the camera and lens has been acclimated. And, you might consider keeping your gear in the trunk of your car, rather than keep it in the car as you drive from place to place.

So. This picture. It was made in The French Quarter on the downriver side of Bourbon Street in front of The Clover Grill. I don’t care what any of these new gourmet hamburger places say, they don’t hold a candle to a Clover Grill burger. Nothing special about the post production. Just a little fine tuning and amplifying. 


So. A few nights ago I attended White Linen Night in New Orleans. The Crescent City. The Big Easy. The City That Care Forgot. Yeah. That place. The weather really was a little too hot and too humid for my taste. But, we were all dressed in white so we were cooler. We thought. We weren’t. And, we certainly weren’t cool in the hip sense of the word. Way too much white. We were mostly just soggy and hot. But, that didn’t stop some people from dancing the night away. Here some are some of the dancers now. Dancing in CAC or the Contemporary Arts Center. Wonderful art space. Really too hard to give the art its due with sooooo many people milling around. But, worth visiting. I think I go there once every five or so years, whether I need to or not. That’s not fair. A hurricane kept me away for many of those years. Anyway. For those who want to know the technical stuff. ISO 100, f 5.6 and little the shutter speed fall where it may. 


I’ve written a lot about second line parades. I’ve shared pictures that were mostly little snatches, snapshots and scenes of Uncle Lionel’s various second line parades. But, what does it look like when you stand back? Well. It looks like this…