Two days ago, the sky was muddy gray. There was rain in the air. It was, in a word, yucky. Then came yesterday. Wowzer! Beautiful cold air. The sky turned blue. The light was spectacular. It turned even better around dusk.
Cold. Like winter is supposed to be. But, not so cold that you didn’t want to be outside. What a show nature put on for us.
In case you are wondering, I’m ignoring the news. I suggest that you do it too. Besides, it’s Sunday. The New Orleans Saints are playing in the wild card game of the playoffs. What could be better?
Oh yeah. I’m not the biggest football fan. I am a big baseball fan. Only six weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Then it starts. Soon after we’ll all be complaining about New Orleans Heat.
That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. Maybe everybody does it. We chase light. Photographers need it to make pictures. Artists use the interplay between light and dark to work. All of us needs light to live.
Artificial light is fine, but sunlight is the real deal.
Of course, humans can alter that. We can create different environments. Some are good. Some aren’t. And, some are terrible. Just think about the environment we are creating for ourselves called climate change. Australians sure are thinking about that right now.
The light that I’m talking about is pretty. It’s created by late afternoon winter sun when the blue sky. That’s what this picture is about. The scene is common. Cars parked in a parking lot. But, the light. Oh my God, the light. I wish I were in a better place to work this light. But if I was, I might have lost it. Or, it might not have the reflective strength. So, I took what I had. I worked the technique to make it as good as I could.
After all, that’s all we can do with anything. We can do the best that we can. Do that and be a happy person.
I had a sort of half awake dream a couple of nights ago. I had a little trouble falling asleep. When I finally did, I had a kind of dream almost immediately. Or, I thought that I did.
There was someone standing next to the bed. He was dressed in old fashioned house painters clothes. White pants. White t-shirt. He may not have been a painter. That was just my impression of him.
He was just there, next to the nightstand. All I could see was his body. His head was behind the lamp. His feet were out of my line of sight. It was so real that I reached out to touch him. I couldn’t. Either my hand went through him or he backed up, out of my way. I decided to look down at his legs. There was just a sort of mist. When I looked up again, he was gone.
I have no idea if I was dreaming in deep REM state, or if I was half awake and seeing things. Eventually, I fell back asleep. Or, dreamed that I did. That was it for the dreams.
I have no idea what it means. There are different definitions of what dreams mean. I believe in the one that says a dream is an answer to a question that hasn’t been formed yet.
If the guy was really a house painter, what is the question?
Was he something else? Just because he was dressed in white pants and a t-shirt doesn’t mean that he was a painter. Maybe he was a milkman. Or, a donut delivery guy. You had to grow up in Southern California to understand that. Once there was a company called Helms Bakery. They sent their trucks far and wide to bring donuts to your door.
The picture. It’s layered. It started with a building structure. I added all sorts of layers to it. It feels a little bit like Halloween because the lamp in the window turned into a spooky red ghost.
This picture was made on the day of the “big” temperature drop. The changing weather was pushing the clouds from white puffy to whatever these are called. It looks like they were broken apart, stirred by some giant with a big spoon.
That’s how I see them.
I needed some kind of point of reference, so I added a parking lot light. Its leading lines re-enforce the direction in which your eyes move. Or, at least, in the direction I want your eyes to move. Up.
This is going to turn into a little political commentary. It won’t be a rant. But, you can stop now and enjoy the picture.
Our wise and stabile genius decided, on a whim and after a telephone call, to abandon our long time allies. The Kurds. They fought along side of U.S. troops for a long time. Almost a decade. By doing that, he put our troops in harms way. He allowed Turkish troops to brazenly kill Kurdish fighters and civilians. The Kurds, in order not to be slaughtered, made a deal with Syrian national forces. By the way, the Syrian government is supported by Russia.
From day to night in a weekend.
That’s the abridged version of the past week.
U.S. troops are cut off on every side. It’s likely they’ll have to be extracted by air. This, after being shelled by Turkish forces and being ordered to retreat.
Where I come from, you never leave anybody behind, including your allies. You return fire if you are being attacked for no reason. And, you make damn sure that you have the support to retreat in an orderly manner.
How did all this happen?
The U.S President who shall not be named made a gut decision. You know, the chosen one. He consulted no expert counsel. He relied on just his gut, which he says knows more than expert’s brains.
And, what a gut it is.
Fueled by a steady diet of fast food, it’s ballooned up to at least ten normal guts. It’s flabby, fat and flaccid. It doesn’t think. It just reacts.
Between this, and all the issues being investigated in congress, the steady rolling back of laws that protect us, and the denial of climate change, we — in the U.S. — live in hell right now.
In the old days, just three years ago, I didn’t think about the president on a daily basis. But, today there is the steady sound of boots on our ground. I hear trump, trump, trump.
A look at morning image made as the sun peeks through the golden leaves of Autumn. As a wise man once said, “If you want better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” That is so true. I would add to that, have some patience. Wait for the light you want, no matter how long it takes.
I once worked with a former National Geographic Society photographer who was known for his desert work. His trick was to get to the place where he wanted to work. And wait. And wait. And wait. For days. Sometimes weeks. For the light he wanted. He reckoned that since you can’t control nature, you might as well control yourself.
There is another approach. Know the place in which you are working. Make yourself available for the light and whatever else you want in the picture. The first time I thought about that was during my days in Hong Kong. At the time, as a western expat, I made one of the best collections of pictures in a foreign place. It wasn’t due to extraordinary skill. It was due to just being there. When I think back to that time, I realize that I wasted a lot of precious moments.
I try not to be so wasteful now. Even when I’m not working for a client I try to be photographically productive. Hopefully it shows in the work that you see.
The picture. You know what I did. F8 and be there. I didn’t do so much in post production because I made most of the picture in camera. I darken, sharpened, and brought the color out a little. Nature did the rest.
One more thing. I posted the black and white version of this picture on Instagram. If you want to see that version, please follow me there.
That’s what caught my eye. A little too much. I couldn’t really open my eyes with such direct sunlight. So, I made this picture with my eyes closed. A true point and shoot. Then my fingers got in the picture. I thought I was trying to shield my eyes. I shielded the lens instead. That’s why I used a square crop. I wasn’t being creative. I was being pragmatic.
Aside from my practicality with this picture, I am also a creature of habit. I returned to the scene of a past crime, er, picture. Add practicality with being habitual and it could equal boring. Luckily, the backlighted train engine, plus just about every other thing in the picture wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Oh yeah. The tilt. I couldn’t see the subject so I didn’t exactly know where the lens was pointing. See? This picture is all mistakes.
The curious thing about the picture is all those power lines. As I worked in post production, I built an unintended consequence by creating light lines around them. I’ve done it in the past. The only way to avoid them is to not shoot into the sun. I know this. I don’t follow the rule. Or, I could have not done so much post work. What fun is that?
So bright. So pretty. I don’t photograph enough of it. Lately, in an attempt to beat the heat I drag myself out of bed early. Early enough to see low light. Golden light.
In Southeastern Louisiana, and most of the south, the heat just won’t break. We are ten to fifteen degrees higher than normal. But, if I’m reading the weather reports correctly, most of the country is too hot.
Is climate change a thing?
Certainly. And, most of the people who could make a difference are ignoring, or are attacking the scientists who are telling us that time is at hand. Most of the climate deniers are grumpy old men. They don’t care. They’ll be dead before the most extreme changes occur. Don’t they care about their children? Their families? Their friends’ families?
We all gotta go sometime. That doesn’t mean that we don’t want to leave something good behind. I’m not even going to get started on our current presidential administration except to ask, how the hell can they roll back clean water standards? The biggest wars of the rest of this century will be fought, not over oil, but over clean drinking water. And, they want to poison ours.
And, this was gonna be a happy Friday post.
The picture. You know when I made it. You know why I made it. But, you don’t know what I did. I actually used the same post production settings that I used on yesterday’s picture. And, then I brought the color down in order to make my statement.
But, this is Southeastern Louisiana. Even though today marks the end of summer according to the calendar, it’s still very hot. This week promises highs in the low 90s.
I call this the weird time of year. It looks like Autumn but it isn’t. Our actual fall will come in another two months. Some leaves will turn colors. Some leaves will fall. Others won’t.
We were doing a Labor Day BBQ thing over in another parish. I looked up and saw some cool light, so I followed it a little bit. I needed a subject so the dusk light could be shown off. I found some nice graphic shapes. I made a few frames. I fine tuned the picture in post production using a combination of Snapseed and OnOne. And, that was it.