Sandias in autumn.

The changes started with the album, “Dirt and the Stars.” The entire thing hung me up, but the closing song of the same title got me digging around in my past, coming to a kind of reckoning.

That’s not done yet.

Then, we watched “Solos” on Amazon Prime. As I wrote to a friend of mine, “If you do nothing else, watch this.” I say that to you as well.

It’s a short series of solo actors, although there may be a little helper to guide them through their thoughts. The actors are some of the best working today.

The first episode is a little weird, but catchy.

The second episode took me apart piece by piece. Finally, now comes Morgan Freeman. Not only was I taken apart, but the parts were left in puddles.

That’s all I’m saying. I hope you watch it. If you do, I don’t want to spoil any part of it for you.

I know I said I was done with posting older pictures, but this one surfaced at about the same time as all this reckoning is going on.

This is the very first picture that I ever took with a cellphone. It was an Apple iPhone 5. It must have been because the pixel count is so low.

Even though I claim to always carry a camera, there are times when I’m charging batteries and I just need to run a couple of errands.

Then this happens. The Sandias blew up in color as dusk fell on the high desert.

The rest is on the other side.

There is really no technical achievement here even though it is my first smart phone photograph.

I did beef everything up because the little file is pretty wimpy.

I know what you are thinking. You are incorrect. This intense color was what inspired me to think, “Oh yeah, I have a smart phone in my pocket.”

Truth be told about the location… I’m in a Whole Foods parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There are pictures everywhere, we just have to open our eyes and not make them so precious.


All the color you can see.

My kind of photograph. Lots of big, bold, bright color. I didn’t actually see quite as much color when I stopped to press the button, but I did see the tree reflection. That’s what caught my attention.

You know me. I’m of the opinion that anything can be a picture. Not in all light. Or, at all times of day. You have to be patient. Or, have an all seeing dog. She knows all. Even though she see monochromatically, she can see how the light and shadows fall.

In fact, she stood right in front of this car. Well, SUV. She moved when she saw what I was doing.

I should be somewhere in the picture, but I can’t find myself. Maybe you can.

The big news of the day is that I get my CoVid-19 vaccination today. The hospital scheduled me for my second injection as well.

I don’t think much is going to change for me in how I address the virus. I’ll still social distance. I’ll still mask. I’ll still growl at the person who stands too close to me in the grocery. Or, has his mask way down over his nose.

If I don’t speak for me, who will?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoying all the seeing.

Seeing and looking are two different items in sort of a continuum. You can look and see nothing. I know a lot of people like that, including me sometimes.

Or, you can look and see. That’s a very different thing. It’s what enables me to see this car and the tree reflections. It enables me to feel the picture.

I think making a photograph is mostly by feel, rather than intellectual or mechanical.

For sure, you have to understand your gear and you have to understand who and what you are as a photographer. But, that’s not directly involved when you actually make the picture. It hovers in the background.

Of course, you have to have another kind of vision when you are developing and editing the picture.

If you do, you might make something with which you are happy.


Seeing above.

Seeing. Sometimes you just have to be patient until the subject evolves and matches your intent. That could take a lot of time or just a few minutes.

Patience matters. I have a friend who says that her superpower is patience. She also said that it took her a long time to get there.

For me, a good picture is either the result of photographers luck, an all seeing dog or sitting and waiting.

This picture was born out of sitting and waiting. I sat by the pool looking at the tree thinking if only I had a better background. I could see clouds moving at a fairly brisk pace so I waited.

It wasn’t long before the clouds appeared in the frame, so I made a few pictures.

Then I continued to sit there free from the daily noise. I was hiding in plain site. I hid for a good long while. There are days when that kind of self care is important.

Unfortunately, like many other words and phrases, self care has become a buzzword. It’s become almost meaningless, because there really are no defined words.

Other words go through the same sort of dilution. Many of them are supposed to be business terms.

Did you ever notice that?

Stay safe. You know what to do. Sit under all the trees.

Looking up. First, no the photograph is not upside down. I was sitting under the tree. I was looking up.

Second, aside from a little sharpening and adding a border, the original image is as you see it.

Some people make a big deal out of not using filters. I don’t know why. Use whatever it takes to make the picture as you saw it.

Even Saint Ansel Adams did that in the darkroom. He created an entire system to make prints the way he saw them. He called it the Zone System.

There are plenty of books on this subject. While it looks complicated at first, it is really very simple.

Expose the negative. Develop the negative to enhance the exposure. Print the negative, manipulating it as needed.

The takeaway is that the picture rarely comes out of the camera the way you want it to look.

That’s the story.


A wintery dusk.

Golden light. I love it. For sure, I enhanced it. How could I not? I want you to see what I felt, or to feel what I saw.

Works either way, doesn’t it?

I’m going to try to stay on track and discuss art stuff. That’s ambiguous enough. Art stuff.

First, the music. I felt like going back to Los Lobos first album, “How will the Wolf Survive?” Something has to wake me up.

I was up way too late last night and this morning. I’m having a new symptom of my back issues. My right leg becomes very tight, almost stiff. There is no stopping it until it wants to stop. It hurts like…

For the past few nights I haven’t been able to sleep until after 4am. I keep adding meds until it isn’t safe. Finally, sleep. Of course, I wake up in some kind of drug hangover. Usually, it’s about three hours later. My leg stops hurting by then. So, I take the courageous way out and go back to sleep.

What the hell does this have to do with art, you may be wondering .

Easy.

Lack of sleep drives me. Sometimes creatively. Mostly not. There are some artists who try to stay awake in that netherland between sleep and no sleep. They think that when they are in that state that they are at their most creative.

That’s just silly. They are punch drunk. Nothing flows.

Me? I think that I’m mostly just a conduit. The good stuff comes when I’m in a sort of zone. That usually means that I’m relaxed and fully present.

So. I’m a wimp. I need my sleep. Seven continuous hours is fine. I can function with less if need be. Just don’t ask my pipes to open up into creativity.

Dusk light. My favorite. I suppose it could also be dawn light, especially at the rate I’m going.

Actually dawn and dusk light are different. The light at dawn hasn’t gathered air born particulates. So, it’s purer light. Yellow light stays yellow as opposed to dusk light which turns orange.

The trick is to be outside in a place where you want to work. I usually can get myself outside. But, I’m never in a cool place.

I suppose that if I thought about it even an hour earlier I could be someplace where I could make better pictures.

Maybe I should try that.

This photograph was enhanced because the golden tones weren’t golden enough. Once I got there I started messing around with currently hip colors.

Note the use of the word currently. Maybe one day I’ll rework this one into next year’s hip color palette. Or not.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Try to get up at dawn. Or, dusk.


A kindred spirit with a stranger’s face. That’s how it starts. A friendship. An album. A project. A life. This photograph.

I keep stealing words from a friend. She’s gonna want a word with me. Eventually. But, not right now. For me, the words are just a good place to begin. That means something to me too. But…

I found these flowers planted near a little pocket park. They don’t belong here. They aren’t native to the area. They are like me.

I got into one of those conversations.

The ones that make me crazy. The ones where somebody who was born and bred in New Orleans says that I’m not from here so I don’t know about things.

Normally I would explain that I’ve lived here for twenty years. Not this time. Since I’ve emerged from whatever funk I was in I’ve been feeling my oats.

This time I looked that person straight in the eye and said, “Thank God for that.”

Try as he might he couldn’t get me to move off of my position. He gave up when I said, “Why would I want to have your inbred southern ways?

The end.

No, not the end. I don’t really feel that way. But, don’t push me. I’m glad that I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve been lucky to absorb bits from many cultures, from many races. I feel at home in many places. I’m from many places. I’ve gotten to know many different kinds of people.

You know. The words that I began with. A kindred spirit with a stranger’s face.

Lucky me.

I mean that.

Yellow flowers in New Orleans. Maybe. But not this shade. Not this bright.

These flowers are especially bright because they are backlighted. That’s what caught me eye.

That’s also what caused such extreme contrast. Little phone sensors just can’t deal with it.

There is an HDR setting. I used it. This is the result.

Oh well. You know what I always say. Perfection is for angels.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Notice all the light.


Deep and dark.

Night. Moody, deep and dark. Sometimes scary. Always interesting. That’s one of my favorite times of day to work aside from the ends of the day.

Working at night means that you can hide some imperfections. You can build in the shadows. Pools of light become subjects in themselves. Trees often become silvery in the winter.

On the other hand, daytime photography assures you of a good exposure, especially if the light falls on the front of the subject. But, to my way of thinking, high noon daylight images are boring.

There I said it. Boring.

I started thinking about this when a friend said, in the comments, that my pictures are different. My writing above sort of explains why.

For many photographers my ways of working are just suggestions. For me, they are rules. I try to live by them religiously. That’s why some of you like what you see.

Sometimes this is an issue. I miss dinners, at least at traditional times. I get up too early, which means that I need a nap. Sometimes, I stay up too late chasing the night.

That’s all in a day’s work. I suppose. Everyone here is used to it, so it’s not a big deal. I’ll hear about it in no uncertain terms if it is.

I’ll explain how I made this image in the other column, where that stuff belongs.

Heh!

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your vaccine. Look after each other. Look up from the dirt to the stars.

Mystical trees. Or, something like that. The bigger this picture gets, the worse the trees look.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels.

This is a layered picture. But all three scenes were made at the same time of day.

Trust me. I tried to cheat. It wouldn’t work.

So.

There is a base picture that doesn’t show up to your eye. It gives the sky depth. There is the sky and there are the trees. I think I reduced the mid-tones a little too much. If you are wondering, the mid-tones are in the trees.

Once the layers were assembled, I set to work tinkering. In this case tinkering means to balance out the layers so they don’t look like layers.

I added a touch of color, but that was it. Too much color and the picture turned atomic. Not enough and the picture became monochromatic.

Anyway.

That’s what I did.


Art is where you find it. Sometimes what you find may not look like art until you open your mind and let your imagination out.

Seeing and using your talents and mind isn’t always that easy. Sometimes you have to throw a little science in there too. And, luck. Luck always plays a big part if you work like I do.

That brings me to, er, luck. They say that you make your own luck. I believe that to be true. Chance favors a prepared mine, or something like that.

Here’s how luck works.

You learn. You study. You always read. You practice. You make pictures, both good and bad. After about 10,000 pictures you are almost ready.

In order to be ready you must walk outside whether you want to or not and look around.

You’ll make photographs. Probably some pretty good ones. All that you did to prepare will bring you to this place. You’ll see. Really see. You’ll see pictures in the most banal of scenes. You’ll understand how to make them into something else. Your imagination will grow into your vision.

You’ll see.

Parking lots. You wouldn’t think there would be pictures on concrete or asphalt.

There are.

You just have to let your imagination loose and be prepared.

Being prepared brings you luck. That’s how I found the scene.

I framed it snd pressed the button.

I worked on it in development and editing. Once again, this is more about what I took out than what I added. If you remove some of the haze, the colors pop.

That’s what I did.

Stay safe. Be strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Use your imagination.


The color of the season.

Fall. This is supposed to what it looks like. Bright orange, yellow and red. Leaves on the ground. That’s autumn. That’s fall. A change of seasons between summer and winter. The air cools. It dries out. I’m not dripping wet from humidity. I feel like being out a lot more.

That’s what this picture is about. The wonder of fall.

The wonder of change. The hope of the new year with the changing of the guard. With the first administration of drugs that may keep us from getting sick. Maybe the slowing down the the pandemic which seems to be racing faster.

Maybe the end of a man’s reign of terror that he is trying every way to subvert. I humbly suggest that what he really needs is a granny with a broom. Not only will he get swept out of office, but he’ll get his butt kicked. Thoroughly. That loser.

Not to end on a bad note, so let’s talk about the wonderful colors of this picture. What I mentioned at the top of this little missive. Bold color. Bright color. Happy color.

The picture. I saw it on the ground. So down I went to get close enough to the leaf and far enough away to show some of the background. Click, click, click…

Post production was a little fun. Especially when I applied a border. For some reason, the border function added another slightly askew layer. The picture became even more interesting with that so I didn’t fight it.

On the other hand, the column function is a mess. I like it well enough, but this not what the page is supposed to look like.

One day in the far distant future maybe WordPress will stop screwing around with stuff and leave us the hell alone. No problem for me. I disconnected the payment function. Now they are asking me for money.

Good luck with that.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


All the light that matters.

Saturday. The week ends quietly with a simple study of light and color. It’s something that somebody who claims to be a photographer should understand.

Lately, on the socials, I’ve seen a lot of pictures that make me wonder. For every good photograph there seem to be three or four pictures that tell me that we’ve reached the saturation point.

Too many pictures.

I have to think that maybe everything doesn’t need to be photographed. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how glued to our phones we are. I think that for some people their eyes are glued to the phone’s LCD rather than just enjoying themselves.

I don’t know. I’m mostly just sayin’.

One more thought about too many, too many.

Probably 95% of the people taking all these pictures are storing them on their phones. It’s a good thing they are taking so many pictures because their phones are going to fail at some point, or technology will change, or something else will intervene and all those pictures will go poof in the air.

It’s true that some people will connect their phones to a cloud, but what happens when that technology ages? Sheesh, I’ve still got Kodak’s Gold CDs. If I want to open them I have to download a piece of software.The software is free. No one needs it anymore.

I suppose what I take away from this is to make pictures of things that matter, in light that helps the picture, using color that’s beautiful.

That works for me, anyway.

This picture was easy. All I had to do was get up early and take the all seeing cocker spaniel for her morning walk.

We stepped outside and there it was. Wonderful early morning light.

It took me about five minutes to make the picture and a little more in post production, mostly to clean up little things and add the border.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.