Remnants. Left overs of the summer just past. Leaves, grass, pine droppings. A lot of nature on a forest floor. Or, what passes for a forest in the city. Of course, this isn’t all one picture. More layering came into play. But, it speaks to the detritus that everything leaves behind.
Nature’s leavings are fine. They build for the future. Many of mankind’s leavings are not fine. Think plastic. We make a big deal out of recycling. So, we put glass in one bin, metal in another, plastic in a third. What do you think happens to the plastic?
It like gets sold to some far away country where some of the plastic is saved. Some is buried. And, some is burnt. Very little plastic is turned into anything useful even though many people make that claim.
A lot of plastic finds its way into the oceans. There it collects and collects until beaches are covered in leftover plastic. Fish die. Birds get trapped in it. Bigger water mammals ingest it until they die. It is only when an autopsy is performed by a suspicious wild animal management type, that the animal’s belly is found to be filled with indigestible plastic.
Where am I going with this?
We are in terrible shape. Politics, pandemic and social reckoning aside, our home is flooding, burning and being buried in plastic.
Once this next general election is over we’d better get to it. If the worst possible thing happens and I have to flee the country, I’ll start working from wherever I am.
What about you?
The picture. It’s really just three pictures layered on top of each other and adjusted to get the effect that I was looking for. I wanted the picture to feel like a forest floor. That’s hard to do when you live in a city so I faked it.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.
Color. Pure color. Colors of Autumn. Changing leaves. Faded greens. Falling leaves. Eventually, bare trees. That’s the season. Fall. That’s where we are today. This photograph might be a Sunday picture. But, I like it a lot and wanted you to see it. Today.
I’ll get into it’s construction in the right hand column. It’s enough to say that this picture has crossed the line from photograph into something else. May art? Maybe not?
I made this picture late Wednesday night after the debate between Kamala, Mike and the fly. The fly seemed to be as important as the two humans if you watched the socials and read news.
Who won? I could answer it with the last line that I wrote above. In this case it matters. With two almost ready to walk off their mortal coils because they are old. Old, not by a presidential standard, but old as human beings, Vice Presidents matter. A lot.
What I saw was a man who took too much time, tried to talk over a woman and mostly spouted talking points with little or no flexibility. I saw a woman who was agile minded, strong and was able to overcome the twists and turns of the debate.
She used her face to convey her emotions. If you live in a place like New Orleans, like I do, you know those looks. If you are smart, you say “Yes Ma’am, no ma’am” and walk quickly away.
Those looks are Black women’s looks. The age of the woman doesn’t matter. I think grandmas are the toughest. They can shut down the toughest wannabe gang banger in about ten seconds. That’s just her grandson. Then, she’ll turn to his friends. They’ll run away.
That’s what Ms. Harris did during the debate. She toned it down some towards the end, but she made her point.
Of course, there was this.
Funny. Nothing that I write works with the picture until we get over here to the right hand column.
I’d like to say, “That’s because…,” But, there is no reason. It’s just what I do.
The image is made of two different photographs. The main image is a picture that I made of a swimming pool with a few leaves in it. I turned the colors a little atomic and stopped.
The second image is a rose that I showed many moons ago. I layered that onto the main picture and fine tuned to the point where I was happy with it.
That’s what you are seeing.
I think it’s a fall picture. A happy fall picture.
What do you think?
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Look after others.
After working to get ready for Hurricane Sally last night, I went to bed. I slept. I awoke at my usual time. That was nowhere near enough sleep. I did some morning work, walked Sophie and came home. I finished reading the news of that day. Sophie was sleeping on the bed. That looked good so I laid down thinking that I’d rest my eyes.
Three hours later.
Here I am.
Hurricane Sally. Late last night she turned a little more east. That means although we are still in the cone and will get wind and rain, the bulk of the water and wind will mostly hit Mississippi. I wish them no harm. But, I’m grateful. Things could change. Nature does what she wants to do. Right now, I’m convinced she’d like her planet back.
That’s the weather report for yer man in New Orleans.
I’d discuss something from the news, but luckily I forgot what I read.
I found a parking lot with freshly painted yellow lines. This being the greenhouse south some grass had already grown up on one edge. I photographed that. After a little work in post, I created something that could have stood on its own.
You know me. I can never leave well enough alone.
I found a picture in my archives that I thought might work as a layer. It did. I adjusted it, put a border around it and you are looking at it right now.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay dry. Enjoy the fish that washed up on your lawn.
The world around us. Between all of the issues created by the pandemic and a president determined to hold onto power no matter how many laws he breaks, I see us as being lost between the real, unreal and surreal worlds.
I made this piece of art to illustrate what is in my mind. Before you reach for your phone to have me committed just think about how you feel on most days and nights. This all of us. This thing came to me in a dream. Sort of. I’ve been having the weirdest dreams for the last few weeks. This creature is tame compared to most of them. I has to be. I could never create what I’ve been seeing in my slumbers. Nobody can. Thankfully.
Many people can’t sleep. Others, like me, sleep too much. Some people are nervous when they usually aren’t. Tension reigns supreme. I read somewhere that mild sedatives are up 33% over their prescribed numbers last year. I couldn’t begin to guess how high the sales are of the street dealers who don’t usually file any paperwork.
Unfortunately, I think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Schools, entertainment and sports are getting ready to open in full. In some cases, ball yards will be closed to fans, but think about American football. Those guys hug each other on almost every play. Most schools are woefully under equipped to take the kind of care necessary today. Too many people still think it’s some kind of scam. Yeah. The whole world got together to cheat you out of your bottle of beer.
Once it does get better, then what?
Restricted business openings at all levels and places? How long will that go on until another surge rolls through your city. Already countries in Europe are seeing their infections rise. New Zealand, a clean country for 100 days, now has something like 17 cases of the virus.
And, you wonder why I’m having dreams that are worse than this picture?
Speaking of pictures.
This started out as one picture. Some fake nature or something. I started layering and building. Wash, rinse and repeat about eight times. This is what appeared. I did all of the work on my phone only to realize that I need OnOne for a couple of things. No problem.
This image is what remains.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t make me come over there to make you wear your mask. Enjoy every PB&J sandwich.
That’s what I’d hoped for when I returned from the desert, like a prophet, back to the swamp. Well, I’m no prophet. And, this isn’t that place. I don’t know about the rest of you, but during this period of down time I’ve had a lot of time to think. After all, there is only so much time that I can work. So much time that I can read. So much time that I can watch Netflix.
Try as I might to stay out of my head during this time, sometimes like a bad neighborhood, I can’t avoid it. You just have to pass through it.
That can be illuminating.
I’ve done some good things. I’ve lived through some wondrous times. I’ve been to a some amazing places.
I cringe at the thought of some of the things that I’ve done. The choices that I’ve made. The moves that I’ve made. They are in the past. I can’t do anything about them. That doesn’t stop me from doing a face palm and thinking, “Oh my God, what was I thinking?”
And, the time. All that time.
I’ve made lot a career moves. Career often drove my destinations. Some of this thinking came from thinking about the start of my newspaper career. I lived in Radford, Virginia. I still have friends there. They are good storytellers and share on Facebook a lot. I have this ongoing fantasy of taking the world’s longest road trip and visiting my spaces, places and people.
I started using Google Maps and Globe. I could not find the street where the newspaper used to be located. I thought I just look up the history of the paper. Still no address. I thought I’d just open the maps as big as I could and just find it. I’m good at dead reckoning. No joy. In fact, I couldn’t find anything.
That little town has grown. It’s very different now. It may not seem it to the people who have lived there all this time, but it is much bigger than when I left. I have no clue where to look for anything on the streets on which I drove daily, looking for pictures.
Then it hit me. Like a thunderclap. I left there in 1980. I came back on and off for a couple of years, then I moved west. Home. To California. It’s been forty years. What I think? That the town was set in cement?
Where did that time go?
It left me feeling a new sense of urgency. If I never left the house, I have enough work to keep me busy for years. And, there is so much that I want to accomplish in the world. Still.
A lot of it involves traveling. I could be frustrated by CoVid19. I’m not. The river flows in its own time.
The picture. I suppose you are wondering about it. It’s a multi-layered piece of art. Within it is a bit of every season. My seasons. If all my time was passing by, my life was just a season. So said the Byrds. And, Bob Dylan.
How’d I do it? Oh, the usual way. I stacked layer upon layer until I reached a starting point. I worked on it from there. It took some time even though I had a pretty clear vision. You have no idea how those pictures wanted to be free, out on their own. But, I tamed them. For now.
I am coming to my first crossroads. And, I need your help. Or, at least, your thoughts. I have another website. Supposedly, it’s my more commercial site. It isn’t. A lot of the work you’ve seen here is there.
It’s a fairly clean site. It needs reconstruction. I probably could make it all art. No New Orleans culture. No really old career spanning work. Simple. Clean. To the point. Oh, and it has a blog component. I think that I’ve said this in the past. I cannot import you from here. WordPress with let me take my work, but not you.
Many of my followers are ghosts. I have no idea why, but during some times of the year I get a lot of new followers. I suspect many of them are students fulfilling a class assignment. I never hear from them. But, I have you. A lot of you.
There is a modern business theory that says in order to succeed you don’t need the whole world to follow you. To buy your product. To help you keep paying for kibbles. Instead, you should build a community. As long as you have that, you have the freedom to do whatever you’d like within bounds. I have that here. No. I’m not going to do a hard sell to get you to buy my work. But, I do need an audience. People to whom I write. People to whom I post photographs.
My question. Given my choices. What would you do? Move on? Or, keep building here? I have my thoughts. They change every day.
One more thing. This is long enough.
I’m experimenting with Storyteller, mostly from a design standpoint. Today, it’s a drop cap. These are a little to leggy for me, but it’s a start. The trick in editorial design is to create conventions and use them.
That’s how I felt when I awoke. As a friend said, we are paused for thirty days. For some people a deep kind of sadness has settled in. They, like the rest of us, know that the virus will forever change us. All of us. I was reading a thread on Twitter. It was so bleak that I could only read about five tweets.
If you haven’t seen the videos coming out of Italy, you should They are about as uplifting as anything that I’ve ever seen. All of the folks who are confined to their houses started playing and singing music.
The sound floated through the city streets.
Then, they got organized. They played certain tunes at certain times. A true wonder. Before they did that, they started clapping. Clapping for all of the medical personnel. For the doctors. For the nurses. For the technicians. For the orderlies. For the EMTs in the street. For the guys who cleaned everything so carefully.
It hit me. Like a ton of bricks.
I have been given something to do. Something I can focus on. A way to use my best talent. Make pictures. Doh! Make bright, colorful, happy pictures. I can’t really do much to give comfort to those who I don’t know. But, I do have a pretty vibrant community right here, on Storyteller. I can brighten your day. For a minute. For five minutes. Maybe even for longer.
Pictures. I made this picture a few weeks ago. I did my layering thing shortly there after. I set it aside. I don’t know why. Yesterday, I made a picture of a couple of train cars in the fog. It is gray and sort of bleak. It’s a fairly good picture. I was going to publish it today. I thought, nah. You’ve got enough gray things floating around right now.
I’m listening to an interesting YouTube video as I write.
It’s about “work that matters.” The visual podcast is called The Art of Photography.
As the speaker talks, he reminds me of me. He says that a picture should strive for something, that it ought to push the boundaries, that it shows artist growth, and it goes beyond gear.
You know me.
I rarely if ever talk about gear. I always talk about subject matter, content and why the picture matters to me. I suppose if I did talk about gear I could monetize Storyteller with corporate sponsorships. But, that isn’t me. Of course I would like some help paying for this blog. But, I want it on my terms.
It’s also why I don’t take numbers very seriously. Sure, the more people who see my work, the more people who could possible know me and become some kind of client. But, as I’ve said to some of you by sharing a Neil Young quote, “Numbers add up to nothing.” Getting a lot of likes on Instagram or Facebook really just means that your picture happens to fit into the flavor of the hour. That is transitory at best.
I want my work to be long lasting and possible have some influence on a few people’s work. I do that now. Sometimes people talk to me about it. Often they don’t. I look at their work and I see my own work in their pictures.
Case in point. Since I’ve been making pictures of winters bare trees around sunset, I’m seeing all sorts of similar — but not the same — pictures that show up on Facebook friend’s feeds.
That’s all good.
It’s good because it means that I matter to somebody. I don’t need the validation because I believe in my own path. I like to know that somebody is watching… and reading.
The picture. I made a really heavily blurred image of some wild flowers a few days ago. By itself it was unrecognizable no matter what I did to it. It was mostly a yellow, green and black blob. I saved it and added some recognizable yellow flowers to it. That’s what you are looking at now.
As we all work through summer, I’ve tried to think about what makes a summer picture. Since almost every tree is green, there are few new blooms and we start heading into a visually boring season, how do I find summer?
Especially for my summer project?
In this case, I didn’t. I made summer. I layered two pictures. The obvious tree image was combined with a macro image of condensation on my window. That’s what gave this particular photograph the extra glow.
The picture looks and feels like something summery. It’s not real enough like the rest of the summer portfolio. I won’t include it.
But, it is a nice warm feeling picture. Since I pretty much created it, it’s my summer picture. Just not the right summer picture. I need to find some people doing something. Summer something.
Nature forgot to push the fall button. It looks like the big Halloween parade, Krewe of Boo, will walk in warm weather on Saturday night. It may come to pass that trick or treaters will be collecting their spoils in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. Oh, how fun.
I’m working through my archives and finding some long lost pictures. Katrina coverage, my first Mardi Gras Indian event and stuff like that. I’ll show you some of it. Just keep in mind you’ll be looking at older images.
The picture. The all seeing spaniel wanted to sit and enjoy the weather. I found a bench. I sat on that. She rolled around on the ground. Some days, no amount of brushing fixes that.