On a day like this one. Back in 1953. At 10pm. I made my appearance. Here I am in 2020, one of the worst years in at least a century, still going.
I’ve pretty much lost any sense of time. The calendar means very little. Clocks keep turning. The only sense of time that I seem to have is what occurs in nature.
Nature never slips up. She knows what she is doing. Even during the worst catastrophes, she knows. Fires, floods, hurricanes, and now a pandemic. She knows. She’s telling us. Mend your ways. Don’t make me come up there and destroy your home.
She will. Just to get rid of whatever annoys her. She doesn’t care. She seeks stasis.
Into the beginning of this current world I was born. In 1953. On today’s date. I guess that I have some sense of time. Or, Facebook told me. I could have sworn that I removed my birthday from my personal information. But, Facebook knows. So does Google. Ans, Amazon.
We could have a discussion of privacy. But, I don’t feel like it.
You know why.
Broken stuff city. I could be talking about New Orleans in general. But, I’m not. I’m not working that broadly.
I’m just talking about a truck that I saw loaded with broken bikes and parts.
It’s in my nature. I’m drawn to these things.
I let my inner self make this picture. Then, I tinkered with it.
WordPress helped by compressing it to the point where it has no highlights. I really wish all these digital companies would turn off the AI. You’d be amazed at some of the words I don’t type. That I fix when I edit the stories.
Enjoy the junk
Stay safe. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy all the cake.
I wrote about the very strong discussions in two groups that I follow. I fixed both of them. I dropped out of the groups. Too much noise, no signal.
There is today’s comment. Unless you can peek behind the curtain, and really see the action, you don’t know the truth. The commenter was nice. My reply was nice. But, screw it. I’m too old for this nonsense.
Stop putting me in the box of an old white colonial man. Never put Ray in a box.
As much as I tell you, most of you don’t know me. It’s likely you never will unless we meet in real life.
Going forward, I’ll post a picture, write a feel words about it, and say good day because…
“Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know.
I’ll likely get pilloried for calling the man who picks up abandoned stuff, a junkman. This is New Orleans. That’s what he calls himself. He was picking up some other junk when I saw his trailer. I love junk. I love abandoned buildings. I had no choice but to make a photograph. We know each other. He laughed when he saw me making a picture.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.
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.
Ask AT&T. I was out walking. I’ve been seeing this cluster for a while. I decided to take a few snaps. Since I’m feeling a little salty today, I thought that I’d share one with you. This is a cluster of wires to a still working copper wire system. Unless you have upgraded to their fiber optic system, this is part of how AT&T provides your cellphone and internet service.
When we used AT&T, our inbound services dropped about five times a week whether they needed to or not. They installed fiber optics. Their agents didn’t know about it. I gave up. We switched to Cox. Many people hate Cox. We love them. Cox has dropped once in almost two years. They’d dropped a couple of other times, but that was due to power failure. You know. The New Orleans thing. Two squirrels on the wire.
When you look at Cox telephony boxes, they are enclosed and weather proofed. When, you look at At&T gear, well…
Of course it works well. Not.
The picture. aside from my previous comments, I do sort of like it. I started post production in Snapseed and finished it in OnOne. I’m glad that I did. It’s much richer in this form.
I was wondering just how many pictures of old couches, chairs and furniture would hold a readers interest.
I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I saw this scene.
It hit me.
A picture like this holds the reader’s interest in many ways. Not the least of them being the human need to understand the photograph. To study it. To spend some time with it. To let your brain grasp the details within the details.
The first couple of pictures that I made for the “Junk Project,” were mostly overall scenes. You look at them once, quickly, and you are done. You see everything that needs to seen in less than a second. They rely on color, shape and hue.
This picture relies on content. Subject matter.
This picture would work in black and white, as well as in color.
This picture is also harder to find. Even harder for it to find you.
If somebody wanted it for their wall, I work hard to convince them to use the horizontal version and turn it into wall paper. Something that is about twelve feet wide and eight feet high. Something that when you came home at night, you could stare at and forget the day. You’d mumble to yourself, “Oh wow. I didn’t see that before.”
Just like I’m doing now. That light bulb. They are expensive. It isn’t broken. What was I thinking?
I had a good week. Not only did I find a couple of pictures for the summer project, but I found a couple of pictures for my junk and water projects. I’m not saying that everything I photographed will make it into the final cut, but having many pictures from which to select is better than too few. Right?
I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.
Durability. Sustainability. Repairability.
The furniture that was set out by this dumpster was old. The pieces were probably manufactured in the 1930s. Every piece was well made of good solid wood. Nothing was broken. They needed a little refinishing work, but that was about it.
All they needed was a little loving touch. They would have made a fine collection of furniture for somebody. Anybody.
We live in a time when everything is made so cheaply that it costs more to repair an item than it costs to replace it. That’s too bad. More broken stuff for the overflowing landfills. More broken stuff to add to our pollution. More broken people not working.
A few weeks ago, we went through the great plastic purge. We are still working on it, but it’s damn near impossible. Sheesh. We tried to buy butcher paper locally. Good try. Yes. It can be found in our local and regional grocery stores. But, it’s improved. It has a — wait for it — plastic backing.
Sure. You can buy paper butcher paper on Amazon. And, you add to the carbon footprint by having it shipped. Get this, most of it comes in huge rolls for commercial use.
So, you have to buy a rack and a paper cutter.
I believe that we are at a point beyond which we can’t turn back. Everybody and everything is too invested in the stuff that could kill the planet. Besides, follow the money. How does Mitch McConnell grow his wealth by some $24 million in a couple of years?
The picture. First, I would have taken that furniture if I had a truck. But, I had a dog on a leash. She refuses to carry heavy stuff. Seriously, I photograph my projects as I see potential subject matter. For me, it works better to let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing them. As I wrote earlier, I think I have my color palette figured out going forward. For the junk project.
One more item of semi-interest.
Doctor John was buried yesterday. His family and friends organized a true jazz funeral with a second line and a mule drawn hearse. I didn’t photograph it. The temperature was 96 degrees at 3pm when the parade began. The heat index was 104 degrees. Way too hot for me.
Just like the water project, it takes some time to find the pictures. Mostly, they find me. When I’m not looking.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not focused. It means that I’m disciplined, always keeping these projects in the back of my mind.
I’ve been a little unsure of my color palette, and most post production style. I think, that with this picture, I’ve found it. It’s pleasing to my eye with just enough shadows to make the picture a little mysterious. And, enough glow to make it a little ethereal.
I do like letting the pictures lead me, rather than the other way around. I’m pretty sure in terms of the flow of this project, one of two things has to happen. Either every picture stands together. As a group. Or, every picture stands alone. As a single picture.
Even though I like this particular post production process, it could change.
On another subject.
Have a good thought for some friends of mine. They are moving to Mexico from Seattle. Take that ICE. Take that POTUS. They will be living with a lot of other expats. They have a lot of reasons for doing this. Two are cost of living and quality of life.
As they get ready to approach Laredo, where they are crossing into Mexico, the weather has turned un-Godly hot. Around 115 degrees F. They have about a two day window when the temperatures drop. They’ll need that badly because they must transfer their stuff from a U-Haul trailer to a van that will deliver their goods to their destination. That’s very hot work. They are in their 70s, although you wouldn’t know that to look at them. The heat alone will tax them. Broken down heat exhausted cars in the desert could kill them. They also sent a big moving van with their furniture and big stuff.
Currently, they are holed up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The temperature is around 75 – 80 degrees F. I wish I was holed up with them. Besides, Santa Fe and all the wonderful things to do, see and eat there, we have a lot of photographer friends in common that we can hang with. We all have worked with each other in the past.
Long careers seem to equal old friends. Artist friends.
Or, I could just call this who is supposed to clean this pool? Actually, what caught my eye was that mushy white dot located in between the handrail, which is something new. The dot is the sun reflecting off the blue water. It was poking through some light cloud cover.
That’s the story of the picture. I saw it. I made it. I developed it. I manipulated it. And, I posted it.
I was wandering around looking for more junk. I found some. But what I really found sort of made me sick. Trash. Strewn everywhere. And, given that I just read a National Geographic Online piece about deep divers finding plastic bottles in the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on earth, I think I found my crusade.
Let’s face it. All politics aside. Every ism aside, if we keep trashing this planet, pretty soon we will not have a place to live. Our piles of trash will get flooded by rising seas and we’ll all steam in higher temperatures. Won’t that smell great? Steamed soggy trash. With all that steam, our wrinkles will go away. So will we.
That’s not unusual. The older I get, the less I know. So, somewhere along the line I’ve got to be learning. What I learned sort of stunned and saddened me all in one.
I am in a lot of LinkedIn groups. Some are artistic. Some are business oriented. Others are about SEO and growing your online audience.
That’s where I learned something.
Someone asked about auto-posting and scheduling. Someone else suggested a site called HootSuite. Depending on your subscription, you can auto schedule everything. Then, there was one level that allows you to auto schedule “content.’
The word content as it is used today has always made me queasy. It seems that I’m not a photographer. I’m a content creator. Same with a writer or musician. They don’t create what it is they do. They create content.
It doesn’t stop there.
HootSuite suggests that you clip and past content that you might find interesting all over the web as a method of growing your fans or followers. It doesn’t matter if you are a photographer — as I am — if you post something about, oh let’s say weapons of mass destruction. Or, something favoring Neo-Nazis, when, in fact, you are liberal. Just as long as it draws eyes and you can convert them to followers and maybe buyers of whatever your products might happen to be.
This explains a lot.
I get a couple of emails every month asking me if I need content for Storyteller. If I reply with something even mildly affirmative, the “content producer” sends me a sample of the work that “fits” in Storyteller. Usually, it is so far off the mark that I don’t even bothering to reply.
If I read HootSuite’s theories right, and then confirmed them by visiting similar sites, I now understand why most of social media is so boring. I understand why “fake news” is a thing. People are making money sitting in little rooms, in front of little monitors, churning out nonsense. Obviously, there are some people with suspect agendas pouring out content that is pure lies. Can you say Russian trolls?
That said. I promise you that Storyteller will never become one of those sites. I will never post nonsensical provided content of the sake of blog growth. Sure. Storyteller might grow. But, at what cost? I’d like to think that I’m an ethical and sincere person. Besides, even though it’s taken a little while, I’ve grown fairly holistically with original material I post. Every day.
The Picture. It’s one of those found objects. To tell you the truth, I made it look more like junk than it is. It is a functioning electric meter. Of course, the weathering is real. We live in Southeast Louisiana. The home of extreme weather. Stuff gets rusty. Stuff gets moldy.
That’s the news from the swamp.
Oh yeah. We have a new mayor as of 11 minutes ago… 11am. She’s probably going to be the worst mayor ever. I could tell you all the reasons, starting with a general incompetence and graft, but I’ll leave you with this. After she started assembling her transition team she made them sign and NDA. That’s Non Disclosure Agreement. Huh? City government must be transparent by law. For example, if the city council needs to go into executive session they have to follow very strict rules. Her explanation? It allowed people to say what they really felt. Excuse me?