Strange light.

There came a storm. Until it didn’t.

By around 10:30 pm, the night before the big event, everything changed. No storm surge. The river would only rise to 17 feet. Well below flood level. And, the rain will average around 6 inches over 24 hours in New Orleans.

Yes. It’s windy. We may still lose power. So, I’m writing this around midnight just in case.

A grateful city is happy. I’m happy.

But.

I’m so disappointed in national news coverage. The Washington Post flat out printed fake news. NOLA Twitter responded as only we could. The same thing happened with national television stations. Worse, the gold standard, The BBC went beyond fake news.

As many of you know, I started my career as a photojournalist. I made pictures. I edited. I managed photo staffs. I built a chain of weekly newspapers within a daily newspaper. I would have never published the nonsense I read today.

Like what?

The Post said something about how fearful we were. And, that we were fleeing. Nobody that I know was fearful. Some people with children left. Family first. But, they weren’t panicked. We’ve been through this before.

The city, state, even the federal government got involved. We had emails, tweets and texts. There were the obligatory press conferences and so on. That was all good.

But.

I remember that prior to the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, a lot of my neighbors said they weren’t leaving because the city always reacted to potential hurricanes extremely and nothing ever came of it.

The rest is history.

When do people start disregarding hurricane lead ups again? What happens when the real deal occurs again and people don’t take it seriously?

Beyond my pay grade. I guess the Mercedes Dome will be a place of last refuge again.

One more thing.

I’m speaking only about New Orleans. I’m sure it will be rough when Barry makes landfall, wherever it makes landfall.

Have a good thought for all of us.

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Like magic.

The light.

Like magic. In nature. On this day.

Two more to go. Then home. Happy to be here. Happy to be there. Time to take a break. Time to rest. Time to work. Harder.

No. I’m not trying to be any kind of poet. Most of you know that I’m lucky to be able to write in the English language. Or, any language. I confuse people. Sometimes. Sorry. Then, typos. Typo king. That’s me. My mind goes in one direction. My fingers in another.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels. They say. Do you know any? I ask.

I listen to music when I write these posts. Spotify has a playlist called, “Sunny Day.” It’s light and energetic. But. Too much musical miss. For me.

The picture.

Hmmm. Mostly point and shoot. Make sure there is a window. In the background. To reflect light directly into the lens. Refraction. Reflection. Strange circles of light everywhere. That’s it. Simple. You can’t do it. Because. I can’t duplicate it. Again.

Very cool song. By Sufjan Stevens. Called Chicago. He’s got a trumpet going on. Reminds me of Mexican trumpets. I’ve always like that.

 

 


The good stuff.

The junk project.

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.

Abandoned.

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?

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.


Ferns.

Chasing Light.

That’s what I do. Except when it comes to me.  Yesterday evening, it came to me.  It was so strong and calling to me so loudly that I could not help myself. I had to make the picture. It was almost too strong. I had to work in post production to tune down the contrast and the color.

If you know my work, you know that doing that is very rare. I’m usually more color. More contrast. More shape. More. More. More.

Not this time.

After all, things change.

It’s a lovely spring day. I’m going outside.

I have a new toy to play with, er test. A new camera. A baby Leica. It’s small. It has one lens. 24-75mm, which is about my perfect range. Its aperture is fairly fast at f1.7 to f2.8. My working theory is that often when I travel I don’t have enough time to really work, but when I do I’d like to travel lightly. Very lightly. This camera should do it. The reviews are outstanding. Sheesh. No matter what size, it’s a Leica.

Wish me fun and luck. And, that my editing software actually can process the Leica’s files.


In between light and dark.

In between.

At the edges. Where the good stuff lurks. Where our imaginations create stuff. Where our dreams arise. Where nightmares come into being.

That’s why I like making pictures like this one. At night. Or, dusk. Things are lurking in the darkness. In the shadows. You can see some of it, but not all. You have to guess. Use your senses. Interpret. What you see is not what someone else sees. What they see may not be there at all.

Pictures like this one are scary. Or, not. They are moody. Or, not. They might even be artistic. Or, not.

Most of the time, their beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

All of this is why I look at paintings rather than photographs for inspiration. It’s why I read rather than look at pictures if I am traveling to a place. I’d like my imagination to kick in, rather than look at what’s already been done. I think that I can get closer to the edge that way. As musician Neil Young once said, “whenever I find myself in the middle of the road, I head straight to the gutter where things are more interesting .”

Me too. Not all of the time. But a lot of it.

The picture. The usual thing. See it. Photograph it. Make it what I saw while I was working in the field. I do that in post production if the camera’s technology can’t keep up with my mind. The computer’s can.

Happy Sunday.


It’s the light.

It’s the light.

Light is one of the most important component of every photograph. As well it should be, since the root word comes from the Greek for “writing with light.” Without light, found or created, you would make no picture.

This picture is really all about the light, but it needed something to help us to understand it. That’s where the power pole and tree come into play.

You remember a picture I made last Sunday, while our football team was on the field in the dome? This was one of the first pictures I made. It is sort of a backup. I hoped to find something a little fuller and richer. In case I didn’t, I knew I had this one. That’s a thing that most working photographers do. At least the ones who work by discovery.

That should give you some insight into my thought process. Such as it is. Or, something like that.

All the rest. Well, it’s all the rest.

One of the things I don’t do on Storyteller is discuss gear. I’m thinking about that, as I try to grow this blog and website. I might change it.

I’m a big believer of gear doesn’t matter. Buy what you can afford, use it until you’ve outgrown it and either add to it with a purchase of a lens or some such. When your camera is no longer compatible with your work, replace it with something newer that helps you to grow.

But.

The photo blogs that really support themselves with advertising and sponsorships are gear-centric. That’s one reason to talk about gear. The other, more important reason, is to help you grow as photographers. I do field a lot of questions away from here about gear. I usually respond by asking a lot of questions. Questions like what do you like to photograph? If you travel, where do you go? Those questions raise other questions. They help me to narrow down your selections.

For the record, for digital work I use Sony mirrorless cameras. For film work — yes, I still shoot film — I use Leicas. I have a whole host of lenses to support each.

I have more camera bags than I could ever use. Most of my photographer friends and me are always searching for the “perfect” bag. There is no perfect bag. At best, there are situational bags. And, backpacks to carry your gear from one place to another. When, you arrive at your destination, you switch to a working bag.

Wanna buy a barely used camera bag, I ask in my best used car sellers voice.

Anyway. That’s it.

Would you like a couple of posts a week be devoted to gear and its practical applications to you, even if you aren’t a working photographer but enjoy take pictures?


Light, time and space.

This is what I saw. Just before dusk.

The football team — The Saints — were in the middle of a playoff game. The dog who sees things doesn’t care about football. She only knows what she knows. Like, “I need to go outside and you’d better take me.”

Not being the greatest football fan, I agreed with her and out we went.

Good thing too.

The light was glowing. Glistening  off wet trees. It was turning. Orange. Red. The colors were bright. Almost too bright. They weren’t believable on computer screen. I tuned them down. Very rare for me.

The making of the picture was simple. See it. Photograph it. It just had to pick and choose a little. This picture was an accident. I couldn’t figure out how to frame this scene.

So, I didn’t.

Normally, the subject might be in the center of the picture where those white puffy clouds are located. You might position it according to the rule of thirds, which young new photographers hate. “There are no rules, man.” Uh, tweetberries, it’s a mathematical expression used to describe what occurs in nature.

Naturally.

This brings me to my learned lesson. Or, at least a reminder of one.

There is an old Italian saying. “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” Same thing with most things in the arts.

There are all sorts of “rules.” Most of them are just guidance. One that comes to mind in “rules for photography” when you expose film (it also applies to digital capture) is, “if you must err, err on the side of warmth.” This especially applies to photographing people. Unless it is a picture intended to be very cold, most viewers respond favorably to a warmer picture than a colder one. I was taught that as a rule. I didn’t discount it out of hand. I listened, I tested and found that it was correct.

Stop rejecting things that your elders say about rules, just because you don’t like them. That’s the rules. And, the elders. I got into that this weekend with a newly elected Congresswoman from the Bronx. You know who I mean. She’s gotten as bad as the guy who lives in the “empty” White House. I like her. But, her tweets have become unbearable. All noise. No signal. I told her that. She didn’t like it. Now I’m part of the great white old class. Right. I’ll forget more than she’ll ever know if she keeps this up. She earned a good education. She’s smart. She’s says that she was a bartender so she’s heard everything. Wow. Who does that sound like?

Just sayin’.

It’s not the political thing that I’m talking about. It’s the unwillingness to listen. To learn.

To that end, I ordered a new t-shirt. It says, “Everybody is a photographer until they get to this.” There is a red line pointing to the “M” setting. The manual setting. I’ll wear it to the next second line. That’ll make a statement.

Good luck this week. We are gonna need it.


Cold winter light.

This was going to be a Christmas post. And, post about how pictures are everywhere.

The picture is about just that. We went to visit some friends. A Christmas visit. I walked out through a gate and saw this picture. I made it without thinking twice. I did some work in post production and here we are.

The end.

Of that.

The real post is about sticking to your truths. By now I’m sure that you are all aware of how Facebook sold or shared our personal data with all sorts of companies. A couple of them even had the ability to read our private messages and delete them. The main three said that they never used that function. If you believe that, I got a bridge for you. This has become a major issue. A reason for government regulation. You know how hard it is for me to say that.

I read a New York Times columnist called Charles Blow. He’s a fellow Louisianan. He is usually very good. He says what a lot of other journalists won’t. He wrote a column about Facebook just excoriating it. All good so far.

Then, he said that he still posts his column there. He never reads the comments and he doesn’t care one iota about it. He tweeted about this.

Huh?

What’s the point? He already has a fine career. Not only does he work for the New York Times, but he’s the author of at least one best-selling book and is a pretty in-demand speaker. He’s not furthering his career on Facebook.

The replies on Twitter were damning. Most people said that he was self-serving. I suggested he should take up a new career in politics. To my way of thinking he is slicing and dicing too finely. In short, one of my favorite columnists has become a hypocrite.

I’m really wondering if this has become a thing. I use Facebook to further my career too. I also use it to keep in touch with long-lost friends. I’m also considering leaving Facebook for the same reasons I just wrote about. I haven’t come to that decision yet. If I leave I’m not coming back. And, I’m not making qualifying statements about lukewarm participation. I have to do what’s right and follow it through. At least, for me.

Make no mistake. I’m not suggesting that any of you do anything. That’s your call. I am suggesting that whatever you decide to do, stick with it. At least until things change. Really change.

Merry Christmas.


Me, the sky and a reflection.

Going, down, down, down.

Working in a coal mine. I don’t work in a coal mine. It’s just that on some days it feels that way. I shouldn’t complain. Making pictures and arguing with technology isn’t dirty work.

Anyway,

Here I am doing my job. Sorta. I couldn’t figure a way to keep myself out of the picture and still make the picture I saw, so I just left myself in. It’s kind of like power lines on a city street. If you can’t find a clean angle than just leave them alone. Make them a part of the scene.

There’s been a lot of big news this week. I like the news about finding a tribe in Brazil that have never seen modern man. Apparently, the government is actually doing the right thing by leaving them alone to just live their ancient lives.

You thought I was going to talk about something else didn’t you? Ha! I have one thing to say about that. MAGA. My Attorney Got Arrested.