Yesterday, I wrote about seeing a delicate white and yellow flower. The one that I used as a layer behind a pink flower.
This is the original flower with a little post production work done to it. I made it more colorful. I made the file a little more meaty. And, I gave the white areas more shape and definition.
That’s really what caught my eye.
I reckoned that you should see it. The way that I saw it. The way that it inspired me to go further.
A little bit about the gear. My smart phone is a Samsung Note 9. It is not a great phone. That includes both talk and text. It is a great little handheld computer. It also has a wonderful camera that allows me to do a lot, from just using the onboard lens as a zoom, to turning it into a fully manual handheld camera. And, lots in between. Video. Pano. Other size formats.
I’ve mostly been photographing with it even though I’d really rather use some kind of mirrorless body and interchangeable lenses. I don’t always carry that kind of gear. I do carry my phone. Everywhere.
I have this little baby Leica. It’s a great little camera. And, with Leica glass it probably out performs just about most cameras out there. It would be very easy to carry everywhere. But, It’s 965 degrees outside, with a humidity factor of about 10,000, making the
“feels like” temperature about 900 billion degrees. Anything I don’t have to wear on a strap over my shoulder is better.
I used to photograph a year-long project called picture a day. Or, PAD for short. The idea is to make a picture every day. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to shoot just only one picture while taking your time to find the right angle, framing and light. The other is to work the scene, taking as many picture as it takes to find the picture. I chose the later, because that’s my normal working style.
I started for one year. In 2006. I used my birthday as the start date. I did it for four more years. It was sort of a personal test. When other photographers would ask me about it, I would recommend it as a way of learning about yourself, and as a way of learning photography. I used to say that it’s fairly easy to work if you have an assignment, or if you travel, or if one day you feel like taking pictures. It’s much harder to pick up a camera and do it every day.
I haven’t thought much about those five years. Most of the work is unseen by — well, really — anybody. Although blogging was in full swing, I didn’t step into it until about 2010. Even when I did, my blogging was sporadic at best. And, it was on eBlogger which is fairly limiting, but easy to use.
I could show that work here, on Storyteller. But, I’m really trying to move forward, not back.
Besides, it seems like I’ve unintentionally started doing it again. If a picture finds me during the day. I take it. I do my usual post production trickery. And, I publish it the next day. I think this started about two weeks ago. This current work is quiet and not personal as the five year body of work, but it’s a little more artistically sound. I’m not promising anything because I can be pretty random and spontaneous. But, let’s see what happens.
This picture was obviously made at the end of a day. I hadn’t made a picture during the day. The contrails and magenta sky was staring me in the face so how could I not push the button? The rest, including the crop, happened in the digital darkroom.
I made this picture in the usual way. My original post production work was very bright. Very poppy. It was pretty good. But, these days I want a little more. So, I kept working and tinkering until I got beyond where I thought the picture should be. This is the result.
It also begs the question, why paint? A couple of you here and on other social media suggested that I try again, especially after I discussed the three-hour salon. One of you said something that struck a funny chord with me. “If you don’t go, how can you leave?” It’s true. And, it’s way deeper than just those few words.
Aside from learning to paint. Or, more accurately, trying to learn to paint, there is a socializing aspect to it. Photography can be a semi-lonely pursuit. For most of us, it is best to work alone. In the field. In the studio. In the digital darkroom. Or, wet darkroom it we are still lucky enough to have one. I do know a lot of photographers. I rarely see them. I know even fewer artists in New Orleans.
See where I’m headed? I would have the chance to talk about art with other artists. It doesn’t matter at which level. We all learn from each other. Besides as a painter, I’m barely a beginner. Below barely.
The picture. I alluded to the original image up above. I removed a lot of color. I made sure that everything left was a sharp as it could be. I added something that looks like canvas and played a little.
I saw the line. Then I saw the rest of the picture.
It took the right light to illuminate the scene. I’ve probably walked past this place 100 times and I never saw it this way. The light fell on all of the highlights and that’s what caught my eye. The rest is pretty normal. Finally see it. Photograph it. Process it.
A quick little discussion.
I made this picture with my iPhone. Really, just about the only pictures I make with it are the dog walking pictures or something that just sort of happened. No matter what the sales and marketing pitch happens to be, that little, bitty, teeny, tiny sensor just cannot hold up to the sensors in DSLRS or mirrorless cameras.
Oh sure. If you make a smart phone picture in just the right light you can enlarge it. Some. I have a 16 x 16 inch print hanging on the wall. But, it’s made in my more painterly post production. It looks fine. Maybe, even good. That’s about its limit. Of course, if all you are doing is posting pictures on something like Instagram, it’s just fine because the pictures are small.
There was a big discussion this week about a Time Magazine cover that was taken by a photographer who works exclusively with a smart phone. The Time editor hired her because she has 40,000 followers on instagram. And, her work is consistent.
I wanted to see the cover for myself. The real thing. Not the online version. The paper magazine. I went to the last news stand in the area. To be honest, the cover looks like hell. First, the picture just ain’t that good. I can pretty much assure you that a few years ago it would have never seen the light of day. It’s an out take at best.
As image quality decreases, so does the talent. Younger creatives have no frame of reference. I was stunned when I was watching a video in which one of the better newspaper photographers working today said that he never shot on slide film and didn’t even know the correct way to view a Kodachrome slide. What?
This isn’t a rant, but it seems to me that all this disruption doesn’t make things better. It makes them cheaper (different from inexpensive) and the practitioners don’t seem to know anything about the history of art with which they are working. History matters. Craft matters.
This discussion came out of my smart phone comments. So let’s return.
While I’m not big on using mine as a main camera, I just about live the rest of my life on it. It’s a very useful tool to me. Apple just released iPhoneX (Roman numeral 10) and two slightly lesser models. The starting cost for the “X” is $1,000.00. That’s a lot of money for a phone. By the time, I add more storage, my phone would cost around $1,300.00.
Whew. For that money, I could buy an iPad Pro or a bottom line Macbook Air. For a little more money, I could buy a lens that I’ve been coveting.
I’m not sure what to do. I normally upgrade every two years, so I’m due for a new phone. Apple will buy my old phone for about $250.00. Of course, you pay for your new phone as part of a monthly payment plan. It’s not that painful.
But, still… $1,300 for a phone.
Pretty soon, I’ll be charged $6.00 for a coffee. Oh, wait…
This is Netflix’ fault. Or, Amazon Prime’s. I forget which one.
I started out with a nice simple graphic image of an abandoned pay phone. It was cleaned up nicely by whoever owns the boarded up building. There is no actual phone and all the wires are removed. It looked sort of cool as a graphic image so I took it. I did my usual post production and let it sit. You know, marinate.
Then I was watching some weird movie. On Netflix. Or Amazon Prime. I liked the cinematics, so I thought “why not?” Why not, indeed. That’s why it’s one of those streaming services fault. They got me thinking. That’s always dangerous.
I started tinkering around. This is where I came to. Because of the way the colors were laid down, there is sort of a heart shape surrounding the phone. This could be some kind of weird Goth Valentine’s Day card. Or not.
Or, is the picture better in its most minimalistic form? Blue and Gold? Contrasting colors?
By the way, in either case, the biggest eye-catcher for me is all those lines. Horizontal and vertical. And, you know me. There really is no better or best. There is only just different.
I mentioned yesterday that I was putting together little “curated” collections of my travel work for a new agency. Rather than put up galleries, I thought I’d show you a few pictures each day. As an overview, I made these pictures on two trips to Las Vegas for a book project. As you know, I like to work at the ends of the day. That’s a great thing if you are working during the summer months in Las Vegas, where the temperature rise to 110 degrees at 10am. Ouch. I worked over a period of a month divided over two trips. On the first trip I stayed at The Mandalay Bay. It was everything that I though it would be. On the second trip I stayed at the Stratosphere. It was a little down at the heels. But, I stayed there for one reason. You can see why in the picture immediately below. When you stay there, you have to pay a “resort fee.” That’s just sort of another way to reach into your pocket for very little of anything worthwhile. But, it does give you one thing. All access passes to the elevators that take you to the top of the Stratosphere. I worked up there whenever it was available to me. The elevator operators started calling me by name.
The top picture? One of the subjects I was asked to photograph was the desert to the west of the city. I thought that either needed to be a dawn or dusk picture. So that’s what I made. I sort of looks like a nice cover picture. Yes?
The bottom picture was made at the Wynn. It was made at the time when the basic inexpensive room rate was about $400 a night. That rate has dropped quite a bit I’ve read. Working inside of a casino takes permission from God. Or, at least the head of the marketing department. They still asked that I didn’t photograph the actual casino floor, but they let me roam around at will. In fact, because the casino and hotel was so new and so amazing I worked there a lot. How much is a lot? Well, my escort got bored and left me to my own devices. Escorts are very important. When some floor manager seems you working with a long lens or working very intensely, you really need an intermediary. However, when I do these sorts of assignments, I try to be very professional. My escort sensed that. He made sure that the people on the floor who need to know who I was, did. I honored that by living up the few restrictions they placed on me which was basically no photography in the casino, itself. I did eventually show them my take. The marketing group was pretty amazed by the bottom picture. They probably pass by the door to the swimming pool twenty times a day. They just never saw it the way that I did. It did help that even though I was working inside, the late afternoon sun was dipping to the right level that I needed. You know. Photographer’s luck. And, a bit of patience.
This is another of my lines images. It’s sort of a levee. But, it faces Lake Ponchartrain at UNO. The grass is part of the levee, but the small cement wall is intended to prevent overtopping. I’m not sure how it worked during Hurricane Katrina. I know UNO (The University of New Orleans) was flooded, but water broke through from every direction. This little cement wall probably meant nothing. The water probably rose well over the top of it.
As far the picture goes, I think that I wrote a few days ago that as we were wandering around, I started seeing everything in lines. So, I tried to make the cleanest picture that I could. For me, it helps when there is something to breaks the lines up, just slightly. Those two palm trees did the trick. No. I haven’t been influenced by the picture that sold for the largest amount of money. Ever.
I wrote that rather than go to Jazzfest on Sunday, we took a break. We did go see the close of the festival, but for most of the day we passed by parts of New Orleans in which I rarely travel. We started by going to Lake Ponchartrain and then drove east along the lake, turned inland a bit and then drove downriver, or east, as the rest of the world would call it. It was enlightening and saddening all in one. The east was hit very hard by Katrina. A lot of neighborhoods have come back, or have started to come back. But, then you’d see an abandoned house here, another there and then a whole neighborhood that may never come back. We stopped and made pictures, but we kept going and going. We finally started coming back through industrial neighborhoods. We found the factory that “Puts Folgiers in your cup.” Coffee. The first time I heard that slogan I thought it said, “Folgiers in your pup.” I had a young Cocker Spaniel puppy at that time. I thought, “She’s wild enough, the last thing she needs is coffee.” Fortunately…
Anyway, I started making a lot of pictures of lines and lines and lines. This is one of them. We were driving on a pretty much abandoned road that had started to revert from asphalt to gravel when we found the train yards. Well. One of the train yards. New Orleans and the region surrounding New Orleans has massive east-west, north-south train yards everywhere. On both sides of the river. Everywhere. Being a major port city, goods come down river and catch the train. Good come from South America and catch the train. Goods arrive on the train and are shipped from the port.
The picture. Well. It’s bright sunlight with white puffy clouds. Not many tricks needed to make this picture. I did play with it a bit in post production. I added an action called “Summertime.” It gave the image the feel that I wanted.
I really like this bridge. It was one of the few bridges in the world were it trains look like they are flying. And, from the right angle, you really think that they do. This is The Huey P. Long Bridge. Locals call it “The Huey P.” It was completed in 1935 to replace The Walnut Street Ferry. It was named after the late governor who was assassinated eight months before the bridge was completed. It’s history is very interesting. Southern Pacific Railroad proposed the bridge in 1892. With the development of The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, a state constitutional amendment was passed giving the City of New Orleans the right to build and operate the bridge even though the bridge is really located in Jefferson Parish. Design began in 1925 and a few pilings were driven into the river to allow the congressional authority to continue. Financial problems during the depression cause further delay. The construction finally started in 1932. It continued for three years with few problems. In 2006, major reconstruction began which created wider lanes and other structural changes. It is just now nearing completion. The picture was actually made in a place where seven years ago I couldn’t have driven.
This is how things kinda go around here. It only took 43 years from the original proposal to completion of the bridge. Prior to reconstruction, plenty of people drove across it. But the lanes were very narrow having been designed for 1930s car and trucks. Think about it. Some of those double duallies and Hummers take up both of those 1935 era lanes just to drive in a straight line.
Anyway. Before I go on an anti-big pickup truck rant…
The picture was made on one of the new sections of the roadway leading from the bridge to The Eastbank of the Mississippi River. I couldn’t have done this a couple of years ago. Once you get used to this new route it really is quiet smooth. But, the freight train above me is running on rails that haven’t changed since the 1930s. Yes. Of course, they been well maintained and some rails have probably been removed and replaced. But, the basic configuration is still the same. Me? It’s another of my “through the windshield pictures.” Hold the camera steady on the dashboard and push the button. Let the auto-everything functions do their thing.