Inside out.

W

hen I awoke, I was feeling confused. Something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.The feeling passed. I let it go.

It came back when I started working. I still couldn’t place it.

I played some music. Music is magic. I takes me to other places. It inspires me. It centers me. And, if I’m lucky, it clarifies my thoughts.

That’s what it did.

I don’t know why I selected an album called “Age of Miracles,” by Mary-Chapin Carpenter. The backstory is complicated. It was her first album after leaving Columbia. It was her first album after she recovered from two pulmonary embolisms. It was the first album after her divorce.

I don’t listen to it often because she seems confused. She’s trying to break free of her country reputation, yet she falls back on it. She does sing one of the saddest songs in the word called, “I have a need for solitude.”

But, it caught me. I realized what I was missing.

And, it made me very sad.

I’ll work small to larger. You’ll understand. And, you’ll understand this picture.

I miss Sophie Rose terribly. We have other dogs, but Sophie chose me. I was her person. I feel like I let her down. I know that I didn’t. After a lot of reading, it’s very possible that she had been coming to her end for couple of months. It was just her time. But, that may give me a pass, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Then, there is my CLL, a blood cancer. It likely will never do anything terrible to me. But, it limits me. My CoVid-19 vaccinations do nothing for me. That means, no festivals, no second lines, no Indian events, no Mardi Gras.

If that isn’t depressing enough, we are back to wearing masks because our infection rate, like most of the country has grown by about 150%

Being in my condition of combined illness, sadness and depression makes it very hard to work. I can’t seem to let a picture find me and I can’t work. I have all sorts of projects that could take the rest of the year or more. You’d think I’d be excited to get started.

What do I do? I sleep.

When I finally start my day, I find everything to do but work.

In a word, it sucks.

I wish I knew the path. Maybe I’ll get lucky and stumble onto it. I doubt that. It’s bigger than letting a picture find me. It’s all of me.

Writers give advice about being authentic. Is this authentic enough?

F

or us, down in the swamp, late summer is already approaching. It’s gotten hot. It’s turned dry.

Stuff is dying.

I took a walk with a couple of the other dogs. They need walks too. I was looking for a picture. Or, was open to letting one find me.

No pictures because there is no color. The flowers die in the heat.

It’s also hard to stay motivated because after five minutes you are too hot. After ten minutes your shirt blooms with sweat.

The dogs felt it too. They were ready to turn around after they did what they needed to do.

So, that’s the technique. Walk until you can’t. Make a picture of whatever you see and return home.

The picture suits my mood.

In that way, I suppose I was successful. Or, not.


N

ormally, you would see Our Lady of Guadalupe paintings in some Southwestern State, usually in New Mexico.

I was surprised to see this one in the Seventh Ward. This location was heavily flooded during the storm. When I made the picture there was mud, and gravel and leftover bits and pieces covering the streets.

A few people returned to their homes and were working on them to make them whole. It’s likely that one of them sprayed out that tag on the building. That tells the tagger that somebody cares. It doesn’t stop them from doing it again, but it may make them think.

The guys who tag buildings are smart, said no one ever. They could come back and get caught in he act. No telling what would happen then if they were caught.

So, there is some CoVid-19 news in New Orleans. Apparently, the virus has increased by 53% over the previous week. It’s mostly the Delta variant. The city is talking about requiring masks in certain situations and they are thinking forward to fall when it’s likely to surge.

This fall is very busy. Voodoo Festival bowed out until next year. But, French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest are scheduled to take place over three weekends. The city said that there may have to be some modifications to crowd numbers, or — ouch, ouch, ouch — the festivals may have to be cancelled. That’ll make four tries over two years for Jazzfest.

Since none of this is firm, Jazzfest is moving head and today The Jazz and Heritage Foundation announced the daily schedules.

The biggest fear may be that if there is fall viral surge that any of these festivals could become a super spreader event.

It’s all guess work ay this point, so stay tuned.

O

bviously, this picture didn’t take much post production.

It didn’t take much photo technique either.

All I did was see it, be surprised at what I saw, and make the picture. I got back in my car and drove away.

I should have investigated further. There are two sheets of paper posted to the left hand side of the picture, where the diagonal door is located. Those will tell you the disposition of the building.

I like to know those things in case I want to come back before it is demolished. In this case, I’d likely have had some time because demolitions didn’t start for another few years.

This building is a good candidate for destruction because the boarded up window looks like it was closed well before the storm.

One of these days I should return and find out what really happened.

One of these days.


Tiny flower.

I had a lot written. I wrote a lot about the soon to be vaccine. I talked about picture theory. I thought I was going along pretty good. As I attempted to switch columns I accidentally hit something — I don’t know what — and the entire written piece was deleted. I know that there is an earlier version saved under all posts. I’m sure some of the writing is saved there. But I just don’t have the time to mess with it today.

The reason I was switching to the right column was the usual thing. Two different subjects. But, copy editing the right hand column was a nightmare. I couldn’t place my coursor where I wanted it. When I tried to re-write a sentence by changing a few words, the entire sentence was either garbled or deleted.

WordPress tried to blame Safari. Good try, but they are lying. Their spell check takes over. Safari has no ability to override it. WordPress’ AI and spell check suck. And, blow.

I may have resubscribed because the price was so low, but I don’t need this nonsense. I spent all of yesterday doing things three times because of others’ incompetence. I completed my tasks on the third try because you know,”If you want anything done right, do it yourself.”

I am not doing that again today.

I have a lot of work to do that didn’t get done yesterday, and I have errands to run.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Don’t make me come over there. I’m in no mood. Enjoy every blog because you never know when the author may disappear.


Louisiana Sky

Time. I’ve been saying that it’s lost its meaning. That it just seems to flow. That its numbers are meaningless. That the only way to mark time is by listening to nature. I still believe that.

In my heart, I know time is getting short. We are a little over four weeks to an election that may very well determine our democracy. That will change the course of the entire world.

It’s time. To dig in. To work.

For me it is also time to call the ghosts, the long gone gurus and the long passed masters. We need the cavalry. The ancestors need to come riding into the fray and change the balance.

For me, it started yesterday.

Here’s what happened. We were walking the dogs. Not just the all seeing dog, but all of her brothers and sisters. We arrived at a little pocket park. They like going there mid-walk because they can sit on the grass, roll around and play. They can do this at home, but this is a new place.

There are two benches there. We sat on one. On the other bench were three youngish women, maybe in their late twenties or early thirties. On white, one brown, one black. The future. The future that is now.

We said hello, and I realized it was time for “Songs From Home,” Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Sunday morning mini-mini-concert. We played it on my phone.

I think that MCC is feeling the way I am. She called on a living master, calling his song one of the best songs that had ever been written. She played Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing.”

Covers are covers. She played this one straight. Her voice was clear and powerful.

Listening on it on my phone meant that it was loudish. The three young women stopped talking and started listening. I held my phone so they could see too.

Afterward, they asked who the singer was, and what was the name of the song. I told them the backstory. About a time of change that began in the early 60s and lasted for almost a decade. I also added that we blew it. We had a chance and we dropped the ball.

We all introduced ourselves. As the old one, they asked me what I thought.

I said, “I’m old now. I may have one more fight in me. But, it’s your world now. Make it a good one.”

Art. I’m not really sure there is a real definition of it. The closest I can come is what John Lennon said about his songs. When he was asked what his songs meant, he said, “whatever you want them to mean.”

I think that applies to whatever we classify as art. Art is whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to be what we commonly call an artist.

You could be a mechanic who feels the car. Or, a baker who feels the flour.

You can’t say that these people aren’t artists. Convince me otherwise.

Many people call me artist. It’s a mantle that I’ve long resisted. I take pictures of whatever I see. I do that when I have a job. That’s what I get paid to do.

In order to test the theory of my artistry, every once in a while I experiment with a photograph.

I made this picture while we were on a test road trip. I pointed my camera out of the passenger side window. Passenger side window. Note that. I wasn’t driving. We were just rolling along River Road on the Westbank.

I liked what I saw. So I pressed the button. When we returned home I let the take marinate. When I started culling my work, this picture popped out at me, not for what it was but for what it could be.

I started tinkering. I tinkered some more. I kept going on two software programs. Out came this picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Stay healthy. Enjoy your time, it’s shorter than you know.


Storm clouds over Louisiana.

It’s about the weather this time of year.

Come to think about it, in Louisiana it’s always about the weather. After all, we live with six months of hurricane season. In about a week, that season will finally be over for 2019. I’m pretty sure that I can say we were lucky this year. The only storm that disrupted anything was the non-storm that became a storm. It was nowhere near hurricane force. It was a light tropical storm.

The strangest thing about Autumn in the south is extreme weather changes. Yesterday, the thermometer topped 80 degrees. Today, we’ll be lucky to reach a high of 65 degrees. This will go on until after Christmas. We’ve had Christmas days when we wore shorts and t-shirts. We’ve had other Christmases when we had snow that actually stuck. I went racing around photographing places with snow covering them.

I suppose I like changing seasons and weather because it is a very measurable way to look at life. Seasons come and go. Life moves on. But, as I get older and older, I am able to more clearly see the relationship between the two. Add to that, my birthday and I sort of want to plan the next year. What to leave in? What to take out?

I know one thing for sure. For a long while, maybe a year or two, I was cutting back. I was thinking that I was old now, and I shouldn’t start this or that. Nonsense. It’s true. Some avenues have closed. But, not because of my age. Instead they are closed by natural occurring changes in technology, in distribution, in usage. Not just in my world, but across the board.

What’s the saying?

“Change or die.”

I’m far from death. Think about that. I’m willing to bet most of you near aren’t death either.

What are you going to do in 2020?


A summer storm came blowing in.

The sky turned really dark.

Even the dog who shows me stuff didn’t want to be out. She did her “business” and headed for home. She’s no fool. She doesn’t like water falling on her from above.

For most of us, this is nothing unusual. Summer rain. It blows in from the Gulf of Mexico. Rain falls for an hour or so and normally it’s all good. But, we are spooked. Our streets seemingly flood with almost any hard rain.

The people in charge have taken care of the pumps. They are working as well as can be expected. Maybe we need new pipes. The mayor said that we just live in a place that floods. Accept that.

Until.

A car was found in a covered drainage ditch. Actually, there might be three or more. But, one was pulled out yesterday. It was pancaked. It’s brake tag was dated 2007. It was the remains of a Mazda 626. Mardi Gras beads fell out of the trunk.

Only in New Orleans.

There was a lot of discussion about it on social media. Given that we can buy our brake tags every two years, it was likely licensed in 2005. This could be a Katrina car. There could be human remains in that tunnel. Or, it could be something entirely different.

This is a mystery. Everybody loves a mystery. We all wanna know.

But, get this.

The water bosses admitted that the underground canal hadn’t been inspected for at least 14 years. Huh? Do you people ever do your jobs?

The same thing happened with the levees pre-storm. The Army Corps of Engineers and the local levee people met on the top of the levee, looked around and said let’s go to lunch.  They didn’t do their jobs and look what happened.

This explains a lot.

The picture. Saw it. Made it. You know the rest.


Lush.

I took a walk.

I saw this little scene. Bathed in golden light. Morning light. There was little I could do. I photographed it for you. For me. I worked on it some. Not that much. Here it is.

Louisiana. In late spring.

You’ve heard this from me in the past. Things seem to be spinning out of control Around here it got worse.

There were two newspapers in town. The Advocate. The Times-Picayune. The Advocate, which started life in Baton Rouge, bought its competition. In thirty days the papers will be blended. In sixty days, the staff of the T-P will be terminated. A lot of my friends will lose their jobs.

True.

I haven’t worked for a newspaper in years. Thirty years to be exact. But, I meet a lot of reporters and photographers on the street. The things that I normally photograph draw a lot of media coverage. I’m sad for these folks. Some are young. They’ll recover. Maybe not in print journalism. But, some other kind of online reporting. Or, they’ll join the wonderful world of freelance.

So.

This picture is a kind of peaceful image. One that gives anybody who sees it a little respite from the overall craziness and polarization of 2019.


Always beads.

Time for a change.

I reckon that yesterday’s post about spring was a fairly good one. That’s a good way to go out.

No.

I’m not leaving. I’m just a little tired of photographing nature when I’m not even a nature photographer. I suppose it shows. Real nature photographers go places. Even if they stayed around here, they’d head out to the swamps, to the gulf, to the bayous that aren’t in the city.

Me?

I don’t even know the difference between most flowers. You know me. I describe flowers as a pink one, a yellow one, a blue flower. I make pictures on dog walks.

But, I am a fairly good street shooter being born and bred as a photojournalist. And, I don’t mean the kind of pictures that pass for street photography these days. You know the ones. Pictures taken from far across the street. Pictures taken of people from behind. Pictures taken of the street. All are fine if they are done for a reason.

But, most of the pictures I see on Facebook or Instagram are not done for a reason. They are made by people who are scared of other people. People who just “got” a camera and out the door they go. They declare their work to be street photography because they don’t know what else to call it. Or, themselves.

Why can’t they just say, “I’m a photographer and these are my pictures.”

I’ve just called myself a street photographer. Sort of. I wander the streets and photograph what I see. In my town. My city. If that makes me a street photographer, so be it. I don’t really care. I take pictures. For myself. For my clients. For my agencies. For you.

The pictures I make for myself are usually the ones I like best. That’s what you are going to see here. At least until the end of April. Maybe longer. Some will be “little” pictures like this one. Others will have a depth to them that makes them a “bigger” picture. We’ll see.

This picture. I started this little portfolio with beads on a fence because it says New Orleans. Even though most beads are thrown for Mardi Gras and a couple of other seasonal events like St. Patrick’s Day and so on, the beads don’t just disappear. They can’t. They are everywhere. These beads are fairly new. They haven’t faded yet, to the dull silvery-gray color that is the base of all plastic beads. With our extreme weather they will. I’m not sure how much experimenting I’ll do with this collection. As I said, these are more about photojournalism than not. The rules — well, my rules — say that you can’t do what I did with yesterday’s flower and call it street photography.

Anyway.

Enjoy the new collection of pictures.


Shaking in the day.

After Mardi Gras.

Around here everybody puts stuff off until “after Mardi Gras.” We try very hard to get it all done because the last thing we want to do is to postpone the same stuff until “after Jazzfest.” After all, the IRS takes a dim view of “I didn’t pay my taxes on time because of Mardi Gras and Jazzfest.”

One of the things that I promised myself was to experiment a little more with post production techniques. During the Mardi Gras season it’s hard enough just to get pictures developed and edited.

This is the backwards from a technique called image stacking. Instead of stacking an image to help with highlight, shadow and contrast control, I pulled it apart. That creates a kind of artificial movement. I should know this from my past when I printed large products on huge commercial presses. Until you adjust the printing plates properly, the printed work looks about like this.

You don’t want that in a large book.

But, in something artistic, you may.

Certainly not every time. Like a spice, you use this technique sparingly. It won’t work way more than it will. When it does, it’s worth the time and effort. One important trick is to understand that you are offsetting the same image so you need a little room to crop on every side. I further hid the offsetting by using an artist rule.

Picture selection is as important as technique. Pick an image that you know might work. Especially with people. Your subject might not like having four eyes, two noses and two mouths.

Anyway.

That’s what I did.

The picture is just one of my backlighted bare branched trees in the sky. In general, you can do a lot with that subject. I added some grunge effects to sort of finish the picture.