Interstate 10 heading into New Orleans.


You are looking at the CBD — Central Business District — of New Orleans. The timing was perfect. I made a lot of frames of the scene from the interstate. Even though I’ve been known to drive and make pictures, I had a driver this time.

We were going to The French Quarter.

That’s the oddest thing about living in New Orleans. We can go to the Quarter whenever we want, while people journey here from all points on the compass. We forget how unique that makes us. Of course, many locals disavow the Quarter, claiming to never go there. I used to be one of them.

Not any more.

I talk about photographers luck often. There is more than luck completing the equation. To stumble onto this scene means that we had to be on the interstate. I had to have my cameras ready. And, that I could react quickly enough to make the picture.

One more thing.

I had to put my pants on and go outside.

I have no idea how long it took me to reach this point. Years and years, I think. Reacting without thinking is a Zen exercise. Alone, that takes years of practice.

That’s one of the purposes of Storyteller.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every slice of pizza.

Heading into New Orleans.

I used to do this a lot.

I’d brace my camera on the dashboard of the car, set everything to auto and let the camera do its thing. The only part of my that ever touched the camera was one finger. The one I used to push the shutter release button. I didn’t even look where the camera was pointed. I was focused on driving and the traffic around me.

It came to a natural end. I guess I got bored with it. No. I didn’t get in an accident. I didn’t hurt someone. Boredom just set in.

But, this picture.


Talk about luck. Photographers luck. Now If I can just find the original file. It’s attached to some event that I photographed. I’m thinking it was a commercial second line in The French Quarter.  Neighborhood second lines and Indian events don’t usually happen after dark.

We’ll see. As I plow through my journey through the past.

Over the mountain.

“I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night

Till the morning came around, I set out running but I’ll take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight, I ran into the Devil, babe. He loaned me twenty bills

I spent that night in Utah, In a cave up in the hills, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran down to the levee, But the Devil caught me there, He took my twenty dollar bill

And he vanished in the air, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine,  If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight. ” — Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead)

From a  song I like called, “The Friend of the Devil,” because it speaks to this place. I-80, just east of Reno, Nevada on one winter morning as I was headed toward Utah after stopping by the military cemetery at Fernley, NV.

The picture. I made it through the windshield as I was going about 80 mph. I dressed it some in post production. I even added a running frame to it.

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.


Night NOLA-3
Night Time At The Interstate

Night NOLA-5
Lots of Rain. Really.

So. It’s Spring in New Orleans. That means lots of hard rain. Lots of clouds. And, in between a little bit of sunshine. I decided to photograph some of that as I was driving from one place to another. As I have written in the past, DON’T YOU DO IT. It’s not a very safe thing to do even if you do it the way that I do, which means I never look through the camera and I do not take my eyes off the road. That’s why I make some oddly cocked angles when I do make pictures this way. For me, those angles add to the picture because it really happened that way I photographed it. The secondary point is to make these kinds of pictures without killing myself or others. Maybe, that’s the entire point.

Philosophically, if you believe the journey matters than you have no other choice. Driving in rain or at night is part of the journey. The shooting technique is simple. Set the camera to make it do what you want it to do. Point it and press the button. Yes. The ultimate point and shoot. Or, the ultimate drive by shooting because nobody gets hurt. Oddly, I license a lot of these kinds of pictures. They usually are used for motion or something about the act of traveling or even a kind of urban study. I’d keep making them even if I didn’t get paid.

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.


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.

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. 

When I lived in New Mexico, I realized that Albuquerque is really a giant truck stop. That’s not a negative statement. It’s just the  understanding that while the city has spread out in every direction, the crossroads of I-40 and I-25 are located there. Old Route 66 ran through the city not only east and west, but depending on the year, north and south. How did that happen?  Prior to 1937, Route 66 took a longer, less direct Route through santa fe to the north and Los Lunas in the south. I-25 stretches from I-10 at Los Cruces, New Mexico to I-90 at Buffalo, Wyoming. That makes it major north-south corridor. And, I-40? Well… it is the third longest east-west highway in the country. It stretches from 1-15 in Barstow, California to Route 117 in North Carolina.

That’s the long way of saying that Albuquerque, New Mexico is not only a major truck stop, but a major crossroads.

So. This picture. It was made on I-40 east in Albuquerque a mile or so before the intersection pf I-25. For me, this is the trickiest of my drive by shooting style. If I drift a little into the right lane, I’m squarely in the back of that big rig, The best I could do is steady the camera on the dashboard, point it and press the shutter release button and let the camera do the rest.