A wintery blending of a wonderful sky and pink Japonicas.

I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that when I photographed the Japonica trees a day or two ago that it would be my last chance. Normally the flowers would last another two or three weeks. But, we had a pretty bad storm this afternoon. Not only did we get a lot of rain, but we also had a lot of hail.

The hail knocked off about 95% of the Japonica’s flowery petals. I’m glad that I photographed the fully blooming trees when I did. Now THAT’S photographers luck.

The best thing about the storm is it that sits on the leading edge of a cold front. That’s good because the weather was starting to get a little too warm for this time of year. I like winter to feel like winter for more than a day.

The winds did something else.

They blew down the scaffolding at the yet to be completed Intercontinental Hotel near the river. Luckily, nobody got hurt, although a couple of cars were badly damaged. One was a taxi with passengers in the back. Once the riders got over the shock of having metal rain down upon them, they walked away without injuries.

As a friend of mine tweeted, “we are not so good at constructing tall buildings around here.”

Indeed.


Something to enjoy.

So pretty. So pink.

Yesterday’s sunset was stellar. The sun was hidden by drifting clouds. And, then it wasn’t.

Just then.

Right then, the Japonica (Japanese Magnolia) trees were lighted by wonderful late afternoon golden light. I was lucky. Ten minutes either way and I wouldn’t have seen this little bit of prettiness. I wouldn’t have been able to make this picture.

I know.

You make your own luck. That’s really what photographer’s luck is about. I see that as getting out of your chair and going outside. Not this time. I was outside. I saw the Japonica trees. They were in total shade. I turned around to keep walking and the light broke through. I wasn’t ready and it didn’t last. Then, the light broke through again. I was ready.

Writing this reminded me of something one of my mentors used to say about travel photography. Rather than chasing around trying to find stuff to shoot, and going to tourist sites, he’d find an interesting coffee house or a  bar with a view outside. He’d sit there and wait until something interesting passed by. Then, he’d make pictures.

Sounds strange, yes?

I think he’d have some idea of what he was doing, being both a Magnum and a National Geographic photographer.

Try it. You might make the pictures of your dreams.

 


Evidence.

Winter.

I have a friend in Milwaukee who was complaining because his four year old snow blower broke down yesterday. I have friends further east who were just waiting until the big snowstorm reached them. Even in Seattle, where the weather is fairly mild, the streets were tangled by snowfall.

Not down here. Oh no. Not down here in the swamp.

Instead, the temperature yesterday was in the mid to high 70s. The Japonicas are blooming. So are all sorts of new little buds. The squirrels are complaining. I’ve heard bird sounds that I’ve never heard in the past,

Not to worry. Today turned chilly. The rest of the week will be downright cold. Lows in the low 30s. At least cold for us.

Then, around the first week of May, things will heat up. NOLAHeat will come after us until October. If I could think of a place where we could spend our summer, we’d go there. But, every place is hot. Some air is dryer. Some air is moister. But, it’s still hot.

My neighbor suggested that we go to the beach. Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to stay for at least eight weeks? If I were going to the beach — which sounds very nice — I’d like to go to the ocean, not the gulf. I’d rather go to the Pacific, not the Atlantic. If course, beggars can’t be choosers.

Where would you go for a couple of months if you could?


Into the sky.

Spring’s rebirth.

A seasonal cycle. Now you see it. Now you don’t. We are at a seasonal point that you can’t help but see it.

If you look at Facebook, the keeper of all infinity, your pages will start filling up with spring flower pictures. It starts around now and lasts for a while as our friends in the snowy north start to awaken from their winter slumbers.

Makes me smile.

Since I only look at my threads on various social media twice a day, I wasn’t aware of the melt down of Facebook and their related sites. Apparently, it got so bad that Facebook had to go to their competitor’s site and tweet about the problems.

So many people were frustrated by the whole thing.

As I said to a friend of mine, it was the best day in a long time. No alerts. No emails saying that somebody commented on one of my pictures. No pop ups from Instagram telling me somebody likes something. Just a pleasant day. A lot of work got done. Not just by me, but by a lot of people.

I suppose the young lady who has a big following, and is an influencer on Instagram, and whose mom was arrested for bribing a USC official in that huge scam was upset. While she lying around on the president of USC’s yacht.  She couldn’t make money while it was down.

Damn.

Funny thing about her. She doesn’t care about college. She makes really big bucks using Instagram. That’s her job.

I’m willing to bet that she hasn’t taken the time to look around and see a place like the one in this picture. Sure. She gets outside. For big deal stuff. But, little stuff?

I’m pretty sure that I’m having more fun seeing stuff like this, than any of the people who were busted. Before they were busted. They seem like a miserable lot. They are too busy cheating.

Many people are blaming the parents, coaches and some colleges themselves. They claim that the kids probably didn’t know anything about it. Yeah. Right. That’s why little miss was cruising around on the college president’s yacht.  Of course the kids are culpable.

One more thing.

I don’t know about you. But, I paid for my schooling. Every time. At every university. I didn’t cheat to pass tests. I didn’t claim to be anything that I wasn’t. I just worked hard.

It’s amazing.

How a pretty spring picture could bring all of that up. It shouldn’t. I’ve known for a long time that the game was rigged. Every game. With every kind of rigging.

Anyway.

Look up. Look down. Look all around. In front. Behind. To the side. See what you see. Make a picture. Make another one. Keep making pictures. Until you are done. If you are really good, it could take you one picture. Or, two. If you are like me, maybe 15 or 20. But, I like to explore the scene. I don’t machine gun. No point in that.

You might make a picture like this one. Or, not. Or, a better one.

But.

There is no competition. Unless it’s with yourself. As they say, help a brother out.

 


Another way.

Learning.

That’s my word of the year. My koan. My focusing point.

Sometimes it’s about the inside. Other times, it’s about the outside. Today’s picture is about the outside.

Here’s the background. The all-seeing dog and I were out walking. Yesterday was a bad day in the pain department. I had to sit twice. Not because I was out of breath. Because my hip really hurt. This is a new one. This is where my NASA grade plastic cup and my titanium femur insert come together. That’s not supposed to happen. Ever.

I made the best of it. We slogged through about a mile-and-a-half walk. Sophie, the all-seeing dog, is very aware and she slowed down. That’s probably worse. In my case, faster is better. Not that it’s all the fast. A toddler is faster than me.

Anyway.

While we were sitting, I started messing with my phone. It doesn’t matter whether you use the latest Samsung or Apple phone, they both have about the same camera functions. I set mine to “pro,” which is really manual. I started messing with the settings. I changed the ISO, reset the shutter speed, changed the f stops and set the compensating wheel as well as changed how the phone’s camera focuses.

Once I was ready to walk again, it was time to test what I had done. Yesterday’s picture. remember that? It was a mistake. I made it. I turned it into some spring-like and pretty. It worked.

But, what about my intent?

This picture was my intent. By using “pro” and changing just about everything to how I like to make a RAW file, I made this picture effortlessly. How effortlessly? The only thing I did in post production was crop the picture.

That’s the real goal in digital photography. To make a file so well exposed and so clean that you don’t have to do anything. Unless you want to.

I love the quality of this image. You can see the texture of the Japonica blooms. You can see the soft, fuzzy fur along the leaves. And, the background. The bokeh, if you will. It’s creamy and gentle. It’s as it should be.

For sure, I won’t stop working with mirrorless cameras. Real cameras. But, this tells me that in a pinch I can make a high quality picture that can be enlarged to at least 16×20. I know this because I tested it. I think it will go bigger.

Learning.

Sometimes, it’s from the inside. Sometimes, the outside.

That’s the beauty of it.


Another view of Japonica blooms. 

I posted another version of this tree last month.

Last month was yesterday. I didn’t post it yesterday. I posted it a week or so ago. Last month.

That’s my topic. That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Calendar pages flipping.

What does that mean? What doesn’t it mean? For me, aside from business and credit cycles, they don’t mean much. Of course, they mean seasonal changes. But, they don’t change me.

We make a very big deal about the new year. We make resolutions. We try to drive our businesses harder. We try to change ourselves.

Why wait for a new year to do those things? Or, a new month? I would humbly suggest that you change those kinds of things when you notice they need changing. If you are in poor physical shape, take action when you notice that. If your business had a bad month make the required course corrections. Whatever needs doing, you should do it.

This post was created in response to a number of posts, comments and tweets. People where talking about how bad January was for them. They expected good things after New Year 2019. Good things didn’t happen. In some cases, bad things happened.

People got sick. People lost their jobs — especially if they are journalists. People had dreams that didn’t come true.

I didn’t reply to any of that.

I realized that it would make a good post here, on Storyteller.

Here’s what I think. You can’t control illness anymore than you can control nature. Dreams take hard work to come true. Most of the people whose comments I read were just waiting for them to come true.

Journalism. It is true that digital companies like HuffPost laid off a lot of people. Same thing with Buzzfeed. That makes me nervous. Those are the kinds of companies that should succeed today. Obviously, their owners wanted a better financial return. Good journalism costs money.

A number of my friends got laid off from traditional newspapers. You know, the ones made out of real paper. I like these folks. But, what did they think was going to happen?

That side of the of the news business has been dying for years. You can’t hang on forever. Talented or not.

What really amazed me where the comments made in reply to their posts. Friends were offended for the loss of good journalists. Or, good photographers. Whatever. They said things like your newspaper doesn’t know what they are missing. Or, Let’s boycott XYZ  newspaper.

Like that’ll help.

The world is changing. Technology is running rampant. Some for the better. Some for the worse. Realize that. Accept that. Use it. Drive your career with that knowledge. For that matter, run your life with that knowledge.

Think about it.

WordPress claims about 90,000,000 blogs or websites. We do all of this self publishing online. We couldn’t do that 25 years ago. Sheesh. Doing it 20 years ago took real online publishing skills. Now? Not so much.

What do U.S. Marines say? ” Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.”

Do that.

Forget the calendar. Change as you need to. When you need to. What you need to.

Happy weekend.


First blooms of the winter.

This picture. The real first blooms of winter.

I almost forgot to show you this one because I posted it on Instagram. I know that not all of you follow me there, so I decided you should see it here. On Storyteller. Where it belongs. My first social media home. That one that really matters to me. To you.

I’ve got a few more pictures like that. I’ll share them with you here.

When I made the picture I was just was really just trying to make a good exposure. The blooms were really out of reach for me with a phone. Once I saw how nicely the blooms were back lighted, I thought that the picture needed some special treatment.

Off to the digital darkroom I went. I worked. I played. I tinkered. I finally got to this place. I liked it. It has almost no bearing on reality.

That’s a problem.

I vacillate between something semidocumentary and something that is a kind of art. I reckon that I should sort of settle on some direction. I could do both. That would require separate marketing. Separate websites.

Sheesh. I can barely keep track of one.

We’ll see.

I realized that these days I’m not wanting to spend a lot of time building websites. That came about from my Smugmug experiment. I’m still doing it, but to do that well it takes more time than working on Storyteller. The point is less work. Not more. I want to be making pictures, not fiddling around with a new website.

Another problem has arisen for Smugmug. I watched two pricing videos. I read a lot of their material. They are great at helping you solve technical issues. They are horrible at photo philosophy, which bleeds into sales. Nobody has been able to teach me about price points.

As I see it, just about every photographer links their prices to a photo lab. They sell their prints for what it costs to make a print. Nothing else is added. I eat what I kill. Doing that might get one of my pictures in somebody’s hands, but I can’t make any money from it.

The way to do it, it seems to me, is to add the print cost to the total fee. So, let’s say you want to buy a 16 x 20 print. That costs about $12.00 to make the print. Likely, I’d want to add at least another $250.00 for the subject matter. So, your cost would be $262.00 plus the cost of shipping. I can’t find a photographer who actually does that so I could learn from him or her. When I asked around, it was crickets. Apparently, most photographers who use Smugmug are rich and don’t even want to try to pay for the cost of cameras, lenses and other photographic gear.

And, we wonder why the photo industry is so broken.

I am regional president of a trade group called ASMP. American Society of Media Photographers. We work very hard at teaching professional standards. That includes what it actually costs to produce an image. Wholesale costs and net costs. If photographers actually listened to us, and many other working professionals, we might actually make a living.

But, noooo.

So many photographers are so excited that somebody actually wants to use one of their pictures, that they give them away.  You see it at professional levels all the time. Image users want to use a picture for a credit. I can’t eat credits. I’m at the point in my career — as many of us are — I don’t need the exposure. In many ways I don’t care what the other guy does. It’s not my business. They say.

They are wrong. When another photographer gives away a picture, or undersells a picture, it erodes the market. Ultimately, it hurts me. Luckily for me, the people that I call clients know the difference between a hobbyist with a camera and a professional who has paid his dues.

Aren’t you glad you saw my email and opened it?