My journey through the past. A couple of you said that you’d like to look at my work prior to your arrival at Storyteller. Very cool.
I thought that I would work from June and as far back as I could go.
I made this photograph in downtown Los Angeles. California. 20 miles from where I grew up.
In those days I worked for a lot of travel publications. Since I owned my work, the unselects were marketed through various agencies. Most of that has been blown to bits. Pictures aren’t worth what they once were. Or, anything if you listen to WordPress.
Ain’t no thang.
My archives are rich. I still like the photographs. That matters. This one is a favorite. The contrast between the metal and the spring flowers is wonderful.
Road Trips. America. Coast to coast. City to city.
That’s what these pictures are about. I was having a hard time thinking about what more to show you from my assignments collections.
Then it hit me.
I mentioned working for a lot of travel publications. Guide books. Trade books. Corporate travel companies. Brochures. Magazines. And, so on.
I thought that I might show you some of that work. Every picture you see today was published somewhere. At some time. Sometimes for more than one use. The images are a mix of film and digital files.
The pictures. You may have seen some of them here, on Storyteller. After all, this blog has been around for a long time. If I am lucky, you may have seen them published somewhere else.
The top picture. I made that in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Was walking down the street. This guy was playing his flute. I asked if I could take his picture. He said that would be okay if I bought one of his CDs. I agreed as long as he signed a release. He said that he would if I bought two CDs. Fine with me. I shared one with a friend and kept the other one.
The Mission District. I was working in San Francisco. I was looking for a kind of signature picture in the Mission District, which is probably one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. I found this one. It’s what I call a compression shot. 300 mm lens which brought everything into one plane of focus.
Earl. Everybody knows Earl. You may have seen a picture that I call Eggs. That’s the number one picture from this take. This is number two and makes a statement about the friendliness of New Orleanians. I think.
Los Angeles Boots. I made this picture on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles back in the day when cowboy boots were fashionable just about everywhere. You know. Black cowboy boots. Jeans. A black t-shirt. And, black blazer. That look. I saw this old 1930’s style gas station. One day it was closed. The next day it was open and the parking lot was covered in second-hand boots. What could I do? I just had to take some pictures.
The Chrysler Building. I was walking around in New York City at might when we decided to take a ride up to the top of the Empire State Building. Even though I was carrying a camera, I wasn’t really prepared for working at night from a distance. No tripod. Just two lenses. No off body flashes. Good thing too. I probably would have made a very sharp picture of the city with the Chrysler Building in the scene. Like just about every other picture.
Flying Over Las Vegas. If you’ve ever ridden to the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, you know this scene. Since this was one of the main reasons that I was working in Las Vegas, I actually stayed there. The accommodations are on the lower-middle end. But, I could ride up and down the elevator to the top as much as I wanted. Besides, I was working a lot. I didn’t stay in my room all that much.
Fisherman. Most tourists know the front of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. They rarely wander around to the back where the wharf is a real working place. I’m not like most people. You already know that.
Cemetery Boots. An Albuquerque picture. One of my favorite grave markers of all time. The cemetery, and the church across the street, is so small that a traveling priest comes once a week to say Mass.
Wynn. It’s great fun shooting casino floors in Las Vegas. Mostly, it’s not permitted. But, in this day and age of cell phone cameras, almost everybody does it. Secretly. Sometimes, not so secretly. But, when I made this picture I actually contacted the marketing department. They limited my freedom some. But, they also ran authorized interference for me when security personal questioned me. I think it took me more time to arrange access than it did to actually take the picture.
Rush Hour on Wall Street. The picture is all about early morning late fall light and motion. In New York City. I can’t think of a prettier city to photograph at that time of year.
So. What do you think? A little more before I slip into the craziness that is actually Carnival Season and Mardi Gras?
We watch Netflix. Netflix tells you when a television series you’ve been watching has new episodes.
Like Walking Dead. Season 4.
For those of you who don’t watch the show, it’s basically a video produced from a comic book about life after some huge armageddon when zombies rule the planet. Or at least, the country. You know. Walkers. Biters. Night of the Living Dead kind of stuff. But worse. Far worse. It never ends. It’s pretty well done.
I don’t get very political here — or anywhere, for that matter — but it occurs to me that zombies already do rule the country. Or was that drones?
That bit of nonsense written, the show is very violent. Bleak. Dystopian. And, it spurred a huge amount of zombie anything. Zombie flying monkeys who turn into lawyers. That may be the best thing I read. Or, was that the other way around?
This picture really isn’t about the show as much as it is about its propping, location selection and color hue. I think that I have the color hue about right. Props? Well, I’m not a production crew. Locations? It appears they are all over the south. There is a website — well really it’s WordPress-based — that lists every location by episode. I’ll eventually get into that. I’m not that big of a fan to study these things. But, maybe I can go there and take pictures. And, my timing? Oh. Good as usual. Season Five starts in 11 days. We won’t be watching it then. We binge watch via Netflix.
This location. You’ve visited this place with me in the past. Many times. Just not this view. I’ve been saving it. It’s that timing thing again. It is the powerhouse. Down by the riverside.
Quick edit. How cool. WordPress’ very own spell check thinks that “wordpress” is spelled in correctly. Makes you wonder.
Finally. More color. This is a strange little place. It’s been a bar, a restaurant and now a florist shop. The front is okay. But the back is so New Orleans that I photograph it almost every time I pass by. Since it’s located in my neighborhood — sort of — I can walk to it. Then I can stop for flowers, or if I keep walking, a meal or ten and… wait for it… coffee.
The picture was made near dusk. I helped the colors a little bit because the camera’s sensor just couldn’t match the real thing.
A little housekeeping. I’m going to take about a week break from posting. Nothing big really. I’m transporting a four-month old Yorkie puppy to my friends in Michigan. It’s really only about a two-day drive, but I want to get him to his new home as quickly as possible. Riding in a car all day is no place for a puppy. But, on the way back I’ll take my time and make some road pictures, some winter pictures and some pictures of different junk. Normally, I do this sort of thing very seamlessly and I never say a word. When we were touring so hard, I’d come home on our breaks and work hard in New Orleans so that I could position myself as a New Orleans photographer. Whatever I photographed on the road was used for different projects or posted here later.
Not this time. I want to care good care of the puppy and just work on making pictures without rushing back to my motel to process and post something. I might make a few iPhone pictures and maybe I’ll post those, but that’s about it.
I did it. I kept my promise to you. A Christmas promise.
Here’s the story. Every Christmas Eve, for as long as anybody can remember, bonfires have been lighted along the Mississippi River to guide Papa Noel downriver to New Orleans. This has been going on since the early 1800s. Yes. We are a very old place. The very first time I saw this event, bonfires were still pretty simple and pretty small. But, they’ve grown over the years. Now the bonfires are huge. And, fireworks have been added. I suppose that’s necessary since the river is sort of one the major flight paths for airplanes landing at MSY. The Louis Armstrong Airport. Without fireworks, it’s likely Papa Noel couldn’t find his way down the river with all the airport landing lights. Why can’t he use the landing lights to guide him? He comes from a different age. He doesn’t like them.
The picture. Well. Finally. A story worth telling. Normally, we are late and barely arrive in time to scout. Or to find parking. This time we were early. Really early. I found a couple of locations. I must confess that after photographing this event for many years, it finally taught me how to photograph it. The picture isn’t made from the top of the levee where I normally think that I should work. Nope, it’s from down below near the roadway. I finally figured it out. You need the upward angle to make the fires and fireworks look dramatic.
Now the fireworks. They are a whole other story. The best way to photograph fireworks is to, put the camera on a tripod, use a smaller f-stop, set the camera on B for bulb, make a long time exposure and hold your hand over the lens when there are no fireworks in the air in order to make multiple exposures of the fireworks. This fills the frame with deeper, richer fireworks.
In this location, I didn’t have that option. I could only hand hold the camera. So, I just pressed the button in anticipation of the fireworks and hoped and wished and got lucky. Very lucky. Photographer’s kind of lucky.
One thing that is obvious. The original intent of the bonfire is sure dwarfed by the new fangled fireworks. What can I say?
I’ve been photographing this little building on and off for over a decade. I guess that I just like the shape and its isolation from the rest of the street. The pizza joint on the ground floor holds special memories for me. Well, for a lot of us. It was one of the first places to open after Hurricane Katrina. When I finally returned to the city after the floodwaters receded to begin the clean up of my house, there was almost no restaurants open on my side of town. Unless you brought food in with you, or waited for The Salvation Army’s rolling lunch trucks, there was very little that you could do for food. But, you could go to The French Quarter which was left relatively unscathed by the storm. A couple of places opened up as quickly as they could. This was one of those places. The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. For the days when I was working hard on my house and I need a break I would head there. They were very, very good neighbors. If you had a New Orleans ID, they gave you a very deep discount. So, a lot of us ate there. I take one memory in particular away from that time. The streets were mostly only being patrolled by The National Guard. That was a good thing. But, there weren’t that many of them. And, their role was reduced. If they caught a bad guy, all the could was hold him until the police arrived. There were even less of them. So, we armed ourselves. I worked on my house with a gun on my hip. Just about everybody else did too. So, when I walked into the pizza place one day, I noticed one thing. We were all armed to the teeth. Pity the bad guy who thought that he’d rob the place.
Anyway. In the ten years or so since I’ve been photographing this place, one thing has been happening. It’s being demoed by neglect. Although you can’t see it from the front, the roof has entirely collapsed. And, that’s too bad. I don’t know the history of this building. But, I know the shaped and style of the building. I’d be making a pretty good and informed guess if I said it was built in the very early 1800s. In a city that is very, very old that may mean very little. But still…
The picture. I made a bunch of keepers a couple of nights ago. I photographed the closed for the day French Market and turned around to see how this building was doing. The light was cool, so I made some pictures. Post production helped even more.
A little housekeeping. This month – July — has been my worst since I started producing this blog. Very little readership. I have no idea why. Things come and go. People don’t sit at their computers as much during summer. My work sucks. My work has become boring. You gotten bored with me. Whatever. I walk a very fine line. As somebody who runs a business — a couple of them, actually — I tell myself that it doesn’t matter. Things like this are seasonal. But, as an artist who likes to show my work, it matters a lot. So…. I might take a hiatus. I may take some time to figure out my direction. Of course, that creates problems of its own. It removes something from a daily routine. You know how that goes.
I suppose that The French Quarter and Frenchman Street have become two of “my places.” I seem to be able to recharge when I wander around there. And, with good reason. Even during our so-called off-season, there are plenty of people wandering around. There is always good music. And, there is plenty of good food to eat. Oh yeah. There are coffee houses just about everywhere. If I time it right, wait for good light or even just normal just lighting, the pictures just sort of come to me. I don’t have to force them. They are just there.
This picture. I was just walking across the street and watching people share the cross walk. I shot at a low shutter speed and a pretty much wide open f-stop. The night took care of the rest. That’s it. Very little post production…. mostly just to clean up the edges.
Hmmmm. I think I stumbled upon a secret the other night when we were wandering around The French Quarter. I’ve always wondered where king cake babies were made and stored when they weren’t in use. Now I know. But first… a king cake baby. King cakes are pastries that are made specifically for Mardi Gras. Although, like any money-making business, the production of them seems to have been spread out over the year. But… traditionally, they are just for Mardi Gras. There are a lot of favorite recipes for making the actual cake and filling. But, the one thing that they all share is a very sugary frosting that has some combination of gold, green and purple coloring baked into it. Mardi Gras colors. Some is powdery. Some has sparkles. Some is creamy. There is one other addition. A plastic baby is baked into the cake. There are all sorts of traditions that go along with actually receiving the baby with or in your piece of cake. Some folks say that the recipient of the baby buys the next cake. Some people collect them. Others, like my dog, spit them out on the floor. Yes. My dogs get king cake. I know it’s not all that good for them, or me, but it’s tradition.
Anyway. We were walking down Decatur Street when I spied these big evil plastic dolls. I did what any normal, right-thinking person would do. I made a bunch of pictures. Then, I proceeded to make the dolls look even weirder in post production. The first thing that struck me when I saw these things was how much they resemble big king cake babies. Of course, these babies don’t look very happy. In fact, there might be some question of who is going to eat who first.
Relax! Let you eyes wonder and quiet your mind with some visual therapy. A picture is always more than you can see. You will also find my own illustrations about things I find funny and interesting. Have some fun, life is short!