I don’t know what got me thinking about this. Maybe it’s because I often watch documentaries on various streaming services. I’ve internalized the broken, the abandoned and the left behind. If truth be told, I’ve poking around abandoned stuff long before the dawn of Netflix. It’s always interested me. It could be because when I was very young we travelled by train. As a train approaches the train station, it passes through the backside of cities and towns. Those neighborhoods are run down at best. Abandoned at worst.
They made an impression.
After all, art is autobiographical. I make pictures of me. Not portraits. Pictures of what’s inside me. The subject matter may be less important than the feel of the photograph. I like working close to the subject because I’m trying to get inside. Of the subject. Of me.
I follow a woman on Instagram who offers online workshops. The one I checked out was about the process of making pictures. It included a little Zen meditation. And, a little bit about breaking mental blocks. It’s an interesting workshop. I won’t take it because all it would do for me is support what I already know and do.
I’m a big believer in always carrying a camera. Any kind of camera. You never know when a picture might break out. In my newspaper days, we always carried our gear with us. We used to joke that we saved a lot of lives. If we carried our gear nothing would happen. But, sure enough, if we didn’t there would be massive breaking news.
I’m also a believer of letting the picture take you, rather than you taking the picture. When you are really drawn to something you’ll make a hard u-turn in heavy traffic just to get back to the scene. You’ll miss dinner. You’ll get up way too early. You’ll travel to places you never thought would interest you.
And, speaking of obession.
A little news of the day
There was a woman walking her dog in the Ramble of Central Park in New York City. A man, who happened to be black, was doing a little birding. She confronted him and started yelling. He started videoing her. While she was screaming at the police she was dragging her dog in a way that could have killed her. A little scared cocker spaniel.
Eventually, the internet did its job. She was identified via LinkedIn. Her dog was taken away to keep her safe. I don’t know what will happen to the woman. I was disgusted. When she called 911 the very first thing she said was that there was a violent Black man threatening her. She’s white. She knew exactly what she was doing. Exactly.
The comments on Twitter were almost just as disgusting. People defended the woman by saying they couldn’t see the cause. The man started his videotaping well before the start of the incident because he was birding. They said he should have just walked away despite her coming to him. They worried about the dog over a human being. WTH?
You know how I feel about dogs. They are better than people. You know how I feel about cockers. They are better than most other dogs. But, I would never choose a dog over another human being.
I could speculate about the causes, but I won’t. All I know is that we live in interesting times. “May you live in interesting times,” is the worst possible Chinese curse.
I went to a new doctor. An orthopedic doctor. No worries. I’m finishing old business. His office is in a sort of weird place. A large group of doctors own a place that could have been a school or old military quarters. There is a lot of stuff left behind. You know. The American way.
The subject turns out to be an old, abandoned air conditioning system. I knew this because right next to it was a more modern one, the kind we are used to seeing. Also, there is a descriptive metal plate with instructions about how to diagnose air conditioning problems.
I had two cameras with me. i chose the lesser one. I have no idea why. I framed the subject and pressed the button. I walked around looking for different or better views. Eventually, I chose the first version. Sometimes, it’s your instinct over technique.
It’s not really what it seems. It looks like I am out on some distant road. Not really. I was running errands. I drove out to Jefferson Parish. I was getting ready to drive home. I realized that I was driving up and over a railroad bridge, which made a good picture. So, I sort of did a drive through.
I learned something.
A smart phone is much harder to brace and trigger than a more normal DSLR or Mirrorless DSLR. In an effort not to drive off the road or run into another car, most of the pictures are cockeyed, pointed to the wrong place, or have my fingers in them. Even this picture required a heavy crop because too much of my car was in it. If I knew how to do a one time bit of coding, I would have made this a panorama stretching across the top of the page.
Alas, along with my inability to paint, I also barely know the basics of coding. I know just enough to do more harm than good. I did make another version of the scene, with the car hood in the picture. But, it’s too psychedelic for even me.
The good news is that in the past few days of low autumn light and cooler weather, I’ve made a lot of interesting pictures. That’s how it goes. On some days you can’t see. On other days, you see everything.
The weather is even cooler today. But, I’m not around to make pictures.
The picture almost looks like it could have been made in France. It wasn’t. It was made at a park and baseball stadium now called, The Shrine on Airline.
To me and many others, we think that’s a stupid name. It is home for the next two weeks to a AAA baseball team, called The Baby Cakes. That has to be the stupidest name ever for a sports team. The name and the team branding was created by two 22 year old designers from San Diego. They spent a whole three days in New Orleans. They thought they knew us. Anywhere is more complex than that.
The name is sort of a shortened version of the baby that comes in a king cake. It doesn’t make sense in the way that they used it. There was a big commotion about it, but team management kept the name. The sold a lot of merchandise, which is what mattered to them. After all, who doesn’t love an evil little baby holding a baseball bat in traditional Mardi Gras colors?
In two weeks, the Baby Cakes last ever game will be played in Greater New Orleans. They are moving to Wichita, Kansas, where a $90 million dollar stadium is being built for them. The team owns the name so that may travel with them. Thankfully.
At this point there is no replacement for them. There are a lot of AA teams located in the Gulf Coast. Hopefully, one will come here. I hope so. The baseball quality will be better since that’s where the stars of tomorrow play, as opposed to AAA where the stars of yesterday are rehabbing or hoping to catch another shot at the “big show.”
See what comes out of a simple little picture. Hopefully, you just learned something. Or, not.
One more thing.
I’m a New York Yankee fan. I was born to be one. Their AA team is based in New Jersey. Maybe the parish can lure them down here,
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”
So wrote Bob Dylan.
Where is that shelter? Again, a year to the day of the Pittsburgh shooting, and not more than two weeks from the last mass shooting, a Jewish synagogue was attacked. Four wounded. One dead. A woman died attempting to protect her rabbi.
Christians say it’s a war against them. Jews say it’s an anti-semitic war against them. Muslims say it’s a war against them. None of them see the big picture, or, they are ignoring it. It’s a war against everybody who is different from some other guy. It’s a war against people who think differently from some other guy. For sure, the Catholic churches that were attacked in Sri Lanka were claimed by ISIS, but the shootings in The United States were allegedly done by deranged white guys.
It’s a war fueled by pure hatred. And carried out at the point of a gun. An AR-15. an A-R, that are the model letters for Assault Rifle. Think about that for a minute. The minute when you try to defend gun ownership in all cases.
When does this stuff stop? How does it stop?
We don’t have the leaders to stop it. You may have heard the speeches at the NRA convention. The convention that does not allow guns inside. That one.
The only way to stop it is to get angry. To get very angry. An anger that is sustained and will flow through the next general election in 2020. It’s not enough to vote out the punk president. Anybody who gets in the way of positive change must go. We must do this. We must organize. We must fight back. Legally.
There is so much to do. These guys are getting in the way. They have to go. It can be done. We saw a little of it during the mid-term elections. The House of Representatives was flipped. And, not just be a few representatives. We can do it in the Senate. We can do it in The White House. It’ll take hard work. But, as they say, anything good takes hard work.
I promised you that I would keep Storyteller politics free. And, I will. This is a place for art, for photographs, for New Orleans. But, yesterday kind of broke me. I’m getting afraid to open any social media. I dislike reading newspapers — the job I liked best. In the early days. That’s all ridiculous. But, I just hate reading what I find. I should be reading about baseball, and Jazzfest, and general news, and news about New Orleans. Oh no.
The picture. One stormy day on River Road. Camera on the dashboard and me stopping a little long, so that I can make the picture. It says a lot. About Southeast Louisiana rain storms. I don’t remember exactly, but I’ll bet that I either drove out of it, or it stopped not far away. That’s how it is. The storm doesn’t last for long. Unlike the state of my country. That storm shows no signs of breaking. Unless we break it.
I haven’t been out this way in a long time. Usually, it’s for a vet trip. Or, to buy technology.
The weather has been incredible, so I thought that I would take a drive along River Road. I needed a little break from what has been mostly inside work, so off I went. It was peaceful enough. As you can see, there was no cars in either direction. There were no cars behind me, allowing me to make som drive by pictures.
This is one of them. Yep, there is serious post production going on here, but that helps you to feel what I felt with the sunroof open, the wind blowing through my hair and music playing on Spotify.
Yes. I still have hair. A lot of it.
I told you about my chef buddy’s situation. It’s a big enough deal that there are follow-up stories in both local newspapers. I wish he hadn’t said as much as he did. I hope he recovers.
That said, I hope we all recover from the issues ailing my country. There is a lot of hope riding on the year 2019. I truly think that things will get worse before they get better. That doesn’t mean we should pull apart. If anything, we should pull together closer. We need each other whether it’s just for advice, or to cry one each other’s shoulder, or for a helping hand. That’s one of the lessons of last year. It’s something we have to learn and remember.
Make America Great Again has a lot of meanings. I don’t like what the red hat means. I do like the thought of the potential of communities springing up that can help one another. In Hong Kong and, I think, in Great Britain, there are transportation octopus cards. It means you can use the subway, the bus, the tram and trolley systems with one card. You pay to fill the card up and off you go. I like the thought of octopus communities. We aren’t all allied closely, but certain strands link us from one community to the next, allowing a free flow of aid, defense and communication. Hopefully, that could be free of internal politics.
Of course, I’m dreaming.
When more than two people are gathered together politics raises its ugly head. But, you know what they say. “Go big or go home.” Besides, we need this now. The current administration seems hellbent on leaving us on our own at almost every level for stupid reasons. Think about it. Stupid financial management cost many of us at least 12% of our retirement funds. Now, there is a move to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits to make up for the debt caused by lowering taxes on the rich. In one way or another, this current government thinks it’s a good idea to steal my money. Okay. Fine. Let’s take care of ourselves. It’s either that or buy a lot of bullets and start a revolution. Except, I don’t believe in violent governmental overthrow. I’m like John Lennon. Give peace a chance. Or, at least give a peach a chance. And, eat it.
Oh never mind. I’m just having fun with words.
Oh. Redesign part two. I make things to hard sometimes. I tried to build a page using the newer WordPress software. I’ve never liked that. I use the old version. Sure enough, all I have to do is enter from the administration panel and I can work in the same way I did pre-redesign. Press the preview button, or the schedule button and the software does the rest. Learning. See? I’m learning.
It does help to return to the scene of the crime, er, picture. Eventually, I’ll get it right. This may be the best of the skytrain pictures, mostly because of the clouds, the light and the golden color. Also, because I finally found the right angle to capture what a train and the bridge looks like.
If you see a little bow in the middle of the bridge, that’s real. It’s not a lens flaw. The bridge, both the ones for trains and cars has dips and rises in it. It feels a little sporty when you cross the bridge for cars. It was built in the 1930s when cars weren’t so big. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. There’s only so much you can do with a fairly fixed space without messing with the integrity of the original structure.
The only better view would be from the left, but much further down the tracks where the trains make a turn towards New Orleans. Even then, line of sight is limited. The only way to really show the view would be from the air, which means using a drone. However, most railroad property falls under Federal jurisdiction which means you’d need permission from the rail company who owns the track. That either means Canadian National or New Orleans Beltline. I’d prefer that latter. I own a tiny piece of it, as we all do. And, their offices are local. I could actually talk to somebody there.
There’s some history and a little bit about railroad companies. I didn’t intend to go that far and yet, here we are.
The picture was easy to make, as most of mine are. See it. Photograph it. Clean up a bit in post production and viola, done. It’s a good example of why you always keep some kind of camera with you. You just never know what you are going to see.
Another storm picture. Rain never stops us. I think a lot of us were fooled because we weren’t ready for the intensity of the rainfall. Never trust the weather people on your local news. They mean well, but if I got about 90% of what I said wrong, I’d fire myself.
I’ll talk about this picture. That’s it for today.
I made it with my new magic smart phone. This is the one that makes a 12 megapixel file. Usually, I process in the phone with Snapseed. I started thinking that I didn’t really like the final product, so I started experimenting by downloading the file to my main machine and using onOne to develop it and do the finishing post production.
What a difference.
The newest version, OnOne Photo RAW 2019, even has a template for making words. At this point, I cull in Photo Mechanic and Edit in OnOne and that’s it.
Goodbye Adobe. Again.
Finally. I don’t have to pay $9.99 a month forever.
Keeping today photographic, more about this picture. The first thing to know is that I made it through the windshield in between wiper swipes. This was another time that my phone thought I had a dirty sensor.
I made a lot of pictures this way.
All I knew was that my umbrella changed hands and I wasn’t going out in the pouring rain. I sat on the car and made pictures. Either I’m smart or just lazy. A betting person would take the latter.
That explains the softness in my subject’s face. We know that she likes bottled Coca-Cola, which is sort of ironic because the bottling plant for Louisiana is less than a half mile away.
One of the benefits of staying in one place is that you get to see some of the same subjects in a different light. Yes. That means the physical and the metaphysical. The old Robert Capa saying, “if the picture isn’t good enough then you weren’t close enough,” really has two meanings. The first is obvious and I clung to that for years. Work closer. Make a better picture. The second isn’t so obvious. A good friend of mine mentioned it to me. You have to be close to your subject in order to understand your subject. From that springs a better picture.
Think of it this way. Maybe you are one of my writer friends who reads Storyteller. You ask me to photograph your family because you think all you take is snapshots. While my pictures of your family might be better technically than anything you shot, I can pretty much assure you that your pictures will be better than mine from a content point of view. You know your family far better than I do.
The same thing happens with travel pictures. If you go on some sort of tour, whether it’s a cruise that stops in certain places, or a guided tour through some country, your pictures will be fairly common and will reflect the fact that you don’t know the location well.
I never take those kinds of tours. I learn as much as I can about a place and schedule enough time so that I can just hangout and learn the flow of it. I also don’t try to cover too much. I really and truly dislike packing and unpacking and packing… you get the idea. That’s for my photographic work. My other life is different. But, I’m not trying to learn about a place.
The same thing happens when you live in a place. You can return repeatedly to places you find interesting. In theory, your pictures should improve. I’m lucky (or not). I live in a very popular place that tourists and travelers just love. The best travel destination in the country. So the travel magazine and guidebooks say.
After all, how many of you can walk out the door around golden and blue hours and say, “I’ll be back. I’m going to the French Quarter to take pictures.” I may grumble about the city, but most of the time it’s giant set waiting to be photographed… and eaten. Yeah. Lots of world-class restaurants. Even on the greasy spoon end.
One more thing. No. Not every place is New Orleans. But every place has great pictures lurking in the corners. You just have to leave your Barcalounger and your 92 inch television and go outside and look for them. Do this for a couple of days in a row and the pictures will find you. I promise.
The picture. I photographed this bridge a few weeks ago in bright sunlight. I happened to be nearby yesterday so I had another look. The dark clouds were the remainders of a big northerly storm. No more 80 degree days. I awoke to 36 degrees today. The same people who were complaining about the heat are now complaining about the cold. I am not one of them. I like the cold. The dog who sees things loves the cold. For the past couple of days she’s come hauling ass out of the house and dancing around in the cold air.
I must feel like writing.
Back to the picture. Not only was there clouds in the sky, but there were diesel engines on the bridge. That bright orange is the BNSF paint scheme. It just jumped out of the overall darkness. I made some closer pictures too. You can see the graffiti covered billboard. I like it well enough, but this picture speaks to the long distance nature of rail travel. In music this might be called the high lonely. The train is eastbound. I don’t know where it originated. Many trains crossing here have traveled from the West Coast, usually Los Angeles. But, the hopper cars aren’t covered in graffiti. They didn’t start in LA. The other LA. Movie stars, palm trees, swimming pools.
Enjoy my tales. I’m finally enjoying writing them.
Relax! Let you eyes wonder and quiet your mind with some visual therapy. A picture is always more than you can see. You will also find my own illustrations about things I find funny and interesting. Have some fun, life is short!