Out on the road.

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ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

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hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


Superdome weather.

Well. I guess you would rather see art, than documentation.

Fine with me. I’d rather make art. I’ll save the documentation for my agents.

Let’s see what I can do with some of the work I produced on Monday. I’ll start with this picture. I was on my way to The French Quarter, when the light changed for the better. The Superdome was lighted from sun rays bouncing off the clouds.  Of course, I was driving on the interstate at the time.

So.

I did what I haven’t done in a long, long time. A drive by shooting. With a camera. Not a weapon. As some of you know, who have been with me for a while, I just prop the camera on the dashboard of the car, set everything on auto and more-or-less point and shoot.

Sometimes I get really lucky. Mostly, I don’t. I think I was fairly lucky with this picture. I like the framing. I like the light on the dome. I like the silhouetted sign. I wasn’t happy with the sky.  So, I added a lot to it in post production including the rain. No. It isn’t accurate from a documentation point of view. But, it does represent New Orleans. Especially this time of year.

In order to really see the picture properly, I suggest that you open it up. Way up.

No. I didn’t use Snapseed for post production. Unless I load pictures made with a camera into iPhotos or Google Photos and work via my smart phone, I can’t use Snapseed. That’s just as well. It’s a fine app. But, I like working with other software, on a monitor that I can actually see. And, there are more options. And, better quality processing with software like OnOne, or PhaseOne.

I suggest that you work on a bigger monitor too. As you know, I think there are a lot of junk pictures online. 95% of them, in fact. I suspect a good number of those marginal images live because the person who took them can’t see them very well.

Think about that.


The I-10 onramp on Claiborne Avenue.
The I-10 onramp on Claiborne Avenue.

Drive by.

No. Not that kind.

This is about pictures. Not guns. Not bullets. But, we did have 17 or 18 shootings over the long Memorial Day weekend. “Only” four people died. “Only.” It wasn’t as horrible as the shootings were in Santa Barbara, California. But, still…

Anyway, we’ve had some really bad light. Not bad in a good way. Just plain old bad.

The strength of Southeast Louisiana light is found in the wildness of the weather. Heavy rain. Big, bold clouds. Lots of wind. Flooded streets. Broken stuff. Light bounces around all of those things and makes my pictures interesting. Even high humidity helps, by adding red droplets of water to the sky. At high noon the sky might photograph gray. But, those micro droplets make for dramatic sunsets.

Not in the last week or so. The temperatures have been high. High 80s and low 90s. But, not much humidity. That’s good if you are walking around. No rain at all. But, very dry for this time of year. Not so good if you live here. “Mushy” light. No shape in the clouds. No great sunsets or sunrises.

We were supposed to get thunderstorms today. Nothing. We are supposed to have rain for the rest of the week. We’ll see. So far… nothing.

Stormy day.
Stormy day.

So. I went looking through my collection of images from earlier this year. I managed to assemble a little essay. About driving and photographing. Drive by shootings. But, not the bad kind. The good kind.

In the past, whenever I’d publish these kinds of pictures I used to make a big deal about telling you not to do it. It isn’t safe. I’ve done it a lot and I have a sort of routine where I let the camera do everything automatically. All I do is sort of point the camera by placing it on the dashboard. I actually never really know what I’m shooting until afterwards. That’s okay. I don’t chimp while I’m working with both feet on the ground. But, I don’t want to fall into the trap of concentrating on the picture instead of driving.

Speeding on Earhart Expressway.
Speeding on Earhart Expressway.

The pictures. My technique. I told you how I take these pictures. Making them is not really complicated. I usually just clean them up a bit, darken them and that’s it. No need to help them. Nature mostly did that. Nature is much better at that than I am.

Oil tanks on River Road.
Oil tanks on River Road.


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Driving into New Orleans on I-10.

I think it was last Monday. I had to run some errands and then I knew I needed to make some pictures, so I took the easiest way in to the French Quarter from where I was, which involved me getting on the interstate and doing sort of a flyover thing. It also allowed me to do my drive by-shooting-thing. Or, rather, drive-into-shooting-thing. Traffic was great. The light was golden and behind me. From this point on I-10 you can see the Central Business District, The Mercedes Superdome and some of the new medical development in part of Mid-City.

I suppose that I should explain this “needed to” make pictures comment. I’m made to take pictures. When I don’t, I feel the need. The act of finding and making pictures makes me happy. Makes me whole. Enriches me. Takes me out of the mood of the hour. Or day. I could have stopped with this picture. I knew I had it without chimping. But, I kept going. I made more and better pictures on that night. I’ve posted some of them already. I guess when I do this, I’m following a classic musician’s trick. If a musician is recording and hits the song on the first try, he or she plays it again… always trying to top the first take. I guess that’s what I do. Sometimes I do it. Mostly I don’t. On this particular night I did. Luck. Photographer’s luck.

 


I-10 heading into New Orleans, Louisiana.
I-10 heading into New Orleans, Louisiana.

I’m doing a little experimenting. I’d really like for my picture to be on the top of my post rather than on the bottom. I’d also like the picture to have a caption. It doesn’t have to be too long. But, I’d like to identify what’s in the picture. I’d also like to post a picture, some text, and another picture. Let’s see what happens today.

Anyway.

This is just another of my drive and shoot pictures. Actually, if things go well there will be two of them in this post. I don’t remember where I was going on these two nights, but the light was right and there wasn’t too much traffic so I just put the camera on the dashboard and let it do its thing while I drove. This particular picture was made on the I-10 after the Slidell split. For folks who have never driven into New Orleans, things are a little confusing just about here. You can go west, which means you pass by the Mercedes Superdome on your left and cross the Mississippi River. You can go to the Dome, which really means that you are getting off the interstate and driving on Poydras Street. Or you can head towards Slidell which will get you to The French Quarter. If you chose that route, you pass by the Dome on your right. That all sounds pretty straightforward. Doesn’t it? The problem is that everything is sort of opposite to the direction in which you really want to go. Oh yeah. If you go west, but not too far west, you can get off on Magazine Street. That’s probably were you really want to go.

Entering I-10 from Carrollton  Avenue.
Entering I-10 from Carrollton Avenue.

Hey. Guess what? Everything worked. Imagine that. Maybe this stuff isn’t so hard… for you.

So. This is how you enter the interstate if you are coming from Uptown and you are close to the corner of Carrollton and St. Charles Avenues. That’s a corner where the streetcar makes it’s turn. It is covered in restaurants and cool little shops. There are other ways to go to the Superbowl or Central Business District that are well-known to locals. But, this likely is one of the fastest ways. But, it probably is somewhat further in terms of miles.

The picture was made just about the same way as the “heading to New Orleans” picture was made. Camera on the dashboard. Lens facing the windshield. And, fire away. In both cases, you can set the ISO up higher and hopefully the picture will be really sharp. But, where’s the fun in that? It’s just a cityscape. Shooting with a low ISO allows you to shoot with a slow shutter speed and guess what? Painterly blur. Try it some time. You’ll enjoy your own work.


It’s the red tail lights. It’s those tiny little spots of red that make this picture work. Without them this picture is pretty monochromatic. Maybe the yellow reflectors help as well. This is another of my traveling images. Looking at its shape and contemporary look, you’d think it was somewhere in Asia. In fact, there is a bridge with a similar look and feel to this in The New Territories of Hong Kong. It’s one way to get to the airport on Lantau Island. But, this isn’t that bridge. This bridge spans The Mississippi River at Destrehan. It is part of Interstate 310 that connects I-10 on the Eastbank with US 90 on the Westbank. I was driving east toward  the little town of Destrehan, but I didn’t go there. Instead I followed the road made of spaghetti and found my way headed downriver on River Road towards New Orleans.

This picture. Yes, yes, yes. It’s one of those drive and shoot pictures. It’s one of three I made crossing the bridge. Three? That’s all? Yeah. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for my eyes to communicate with my brain and say, “Wow! This is a picture. Shoot it.” If I’d have been better prepared, I made have my a few more frames from which to choose. Luckily… it’s always luckily, isn’t it? PAD022


This picture is a rare look at I-10 with no traffic as you enter the city. Normally, I’d write this off as dumb luck, but it’ was really about 8am on a Sunday morning when people are either getting ready for church or getting ready for NFL football. Me? I was taking advantage of a beautiful, but very hot day, to work a little in the French Quarter. Hoping on and off the interstate is one way to move around quickly… when there isn’t much traffic. Oh yeah. The picture is just another former of my “drive by” working style.