Art seems to be mostly about the viewer. I can put out all of myself into a picture. Unless it strikes you in a way that touches your own experience my work could be meaningless. To you. That doesn’t mean that I should stop or change how I see, to please somebody else. That’s creative death. A better approach is to just keep going, to change as I evolve. That’s what this picture is about. It’s my art. It was made while I was out walking. It was somewhat accidental. But, when I was looking at it, it appeared to be anything but accidental. I spoke to my vision. My intent.
They say that you “can’t see the forest for the trees.” I say that you can. And, that they move if you want them to move.
The image was accidental because I was in a hurry and didn’t let the shutter finish while I was moving.
To me this is a painted photograph except that I barely did anything in post production. All the heavy work of making a photograph look as it does was done in camera. Or, in this case, in smartphone.
I haven’t been to the French Quarter at night in a long while. Truth be told, I’m a little fearful. Carrying cameras and sort of hobbling around on a repaired hip makes me an easy target at a time in the city where it seems crime is everywhere.
Yeah, New Orleans has always been a little rough. What do you expect? It’s a port city. Port cities are traditionally tough. But, crime was fairly predictable. Even when I arrived on the scene. I was told stay out of here, here and there at certain times of day and I’d be good. Not so much anymore. More randomness has set in. Oddly, those places I was advised to stay away from have become fairly safe in my eyes. Yeah, stuff happens. But, I know what to look for and I know the good guys, which is most of them.
That’s not really what this post is about. It’s just what came to mind. The thing that I’m trying to talk myself out of doing, or not doing. You know how that goes.
The post is about a great night in The French Quarter. A night when everything sparkles, shimmers and shines. When the Quarter is magical. The place that, when tourists go home, they can’t stop talking about, resolving to come back again. One day. Soon. I’ve met a bunch of you on Storyteller. I try really hard to see my city — my home — through your eyes.
That’s what this image is about.
The picture. Night time on Royal Street. When I pushed the shutter release button it was at the end of a lot of walking. I thought the image was a throw away. Then I looked at it on a large monitor. My first impression was the wrong impression. It’s a pretty nice picture. For my current project I added the usual. Bits and pieces that I found along my walks. I wanted the final picture to glow. To feel explosive, but in a fireworks sort of way.
I thought if I can manipulate a photograph into a kind of painting-like and grim piece of art, than I could go the other way and make it prettier.
This is the result of that experiment. Often, necessity is the mother of invention. I made this picture with a camera that used a fairly small sensor and that really didn’t have a lot of resolution. The enlarged version of this picture didn’t look so great. It was noisy and a little soft. I did a little work around. Through the magic of digital post production I managed to turn a photograph into a sort of water-color looking image. Without using the funky painting software that makes the finished image look weird.
The picture. Moon over the Sandias. I made it in New Mexico. In a high school parking lot in Albuquerque. It’s an example of always keeping some kind of camera with you. Yes. The moon really did look that big against the rim of the mountain range. That’s why I stopped in the first place. In a parking lot. They say that photographs never lie. Yeah. Right. Even before the age of Photoshop, you could twist a picture around to make it look like something else.
Think about it. It’s all about intent and honesty. If didn’t want to tell you the truth, I could have said I just scanned a water-color painting that I in made in New Mexico
Yes. Dreams. In my dreams. I’ve been dreaming about this set of pictures for many years. And, many, many more years. I’ve never had the opportunity to make them. Last night I did.
I got lucky. Well. No. That’s not it. I used my head a little. That’s something new and different. Instead of chasing Indians throughout the streets, I just went to the place where I knew they’d eventually meet. And, they did. And, I did.
Dreams. I see color in swirling masses of light, energy and motion. Especially in subjects like these. Generally, when I photograph second lines, Mardi Gras Indians and the brass bands, I try to keep everything in sharp focus. Or, at least in layers of sharp and soft focus. But, really I have a very impressionistic bent in me. Think Van Gogh. Like some of his work. I haven’t really had the opportunity, or taken it, to make these swirling, bright pictures lately. Last night I did. So I did it.
Oh, not to worry. I made plenty of the usual sharply focused kinds of images too. In fact, between last night’s total amount of work and today’s Super Sunday work, I’m pretty sure that you’ll be sick and tired of looking at Mardi Gras Indians. But, never mind. You’ll get about a week’s break and then I’ll be into Downtown Super Sunday. Oh, and then the Westbank version. Indians. Indians. Indians.
And, second lines. Just to fill in the gaps.
These pictures. Not as easy as F8 and be there. You kind of have to understand the motion and the energy behind the event which is really pounding drums and all manner of percussion. If you can find that beat, you’re good. You’ll move with it. Sort of like dancing to you favorite song. The pictures won’t just look like blobs of color. Instead, you’ll have some shape and identity. It will look like you intended for the pictures to look the way that they do. That’s my story. I’m sticking to it.
It’s a long story. But, I made some new friends who came to New Orleans for a visit. They wanted to see my view of things. The view I sometimes call “Ray’s hellish view of New Orleans.” I met them at a second line, but eventually my tour lead us back to where they were staying. We needed a little break so we hung out for a bit. They didn’t mind me constantly taking pictures so I did. This is one of them Yep. I’m lurking in the background. Note, she is downloading pictures from her camera. Camera. She took a lot of pictures. The ones that she showed me were pretty good.
What interested me about their temporary home was their neighborhood. And, that fact that they rented it via Air B n B. I’m pretty sure most of you know what that is. But, for the uninitiated, it’s an online connection service that links people with rooms, apartments or houses to rent for short periods of stays to those people who need them. It’s a little controversial in some neighborhoods because there are local ordinances that do not permit it. Some people who live in those neighbors dislike the idea for a whole host of reasons. One is security. I get that. I might not know everyone in my own neighborhood by name, but I recognize them by sight. I have an idea of who lives there. With a more transient population I would not.
And, of course, there are those who take advantage of the system from both the renter and tenant’s point of view. But, for the most part, it seems like a good idea. Would I stay in a rental from Air B n B? Certainly. But… probably not in this neighborhood. It seems to be coming up and my friends had no problems there. If anything, they got a sense of a real New Orleans neighborhood. It was certainly more real than staying in an Omni, or Marriott or some place like that. Or, never leaving The French Quarter. They wanted that experience. The real one. But, I know that neighborhood to be pretty rough. Still.
The picture. This house is nice and bright and sunny. You may think it weird that there is a bed in what might normally be a dining room, but this place is a double with the a shotgun styled layout. Originally, this room was probably a bedroom that you passed through to get to the kitchen.
Anyway. I started tinkering with the original image late at night and this picture is where I came out. A little spooky. A little nostalgic. A little New Orleans. Let me be clear about one thing. My post production work is not making any sort of statement about the content. I was just playing around and having fun.