New Orleans

This is a test. I’m trying to learn how to do combined multiple picture designs.

Combined, because I’ve crashed two templates. I’ve also used some older pictures that those of you who are new to Storyteller may never have seen. They highlight a couple of tourist areas. Places that some of you might go if you came to my fair town.

While I was writing, I learned something very new. It appears that the block in which I am working expands to contain the new text. That’s great, but I have to watch the depth if I want some air between the text and the images.

The Pictures

I suppose that you’d like to know a little bit about them because this is, after all, a photography blog.

The top image is Canal Street at dusk.

The bridge is the Crescent City Connection, which crosses The Mississippi River to the Westbank.

Next to it is Bayou St. John.

Below that is a French Quarter scene,

Far left is Magazine Street.

Canal Street. Streetcar.

I hope you’ve me followed this deep. I’d love some feedback. Positive — of course. Negative — because it’s needed.

All About learning

Learn from me if you’d like. You are going to be right behind me. I like challenges, but many of you won’t. There is an old school template that I believe predates me. That means it’s at least ten years ten years old. That’s the option if you hate the block system.

One design note. I’ve thrown just about every design tool that I’ve used to date into this page. Drop caps. Headings. Multiple pictures. Offset text. I could do other things that I’m not so sure about when it comes to contemporary design. I could change the color of the pages. I could do that in one go, or block by block. I could change the color of the type, again in one go or block by clock. I’m more minimal than all of that.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


The marching band arrived late.

This Mardi Gras parade season seems doomed.

Last night we had tropical storm level winds, the gusts were around 40 mph. So the parades were postponed. Two will roll tonight minus all the walking groups. The third will roll on Sunday. That means 164 floats will be on the streets tonight. At least one of the most powerful krewes in the city — The Muses — will roll during daylight, when their floats are meant for night time. At least they get to roll.

The last twenty or so floats of Nyx may never get to roll. Even if they did, they may not have many “throws” because they could mostly only take what they could carry after the tragic end to their parade The Nyx captain is is exploring joining the Krewe of Pandora, which rolls in Metairie on Sunday. The captain of the Krewe of Nix – Julie Lea — is also the captain of Pandora. They’ll know sometime today. There are two issues. Very few throws. And, they rent their floats. There may not be enough floats for them.

Meanwhile, we’ve learned a lot about the unfortunate woman who died on Wednesday night. She was 58-year-old Geraldine Carmouche. She did not trip or fall. She was trying to pick up some beads.

She gave her life for maybe ten cents worth of Chinese manufactured beads.

She was born and raised here. Toddlers are taught from the moment they come to parades not to run out into the street for beads. Do no cross in front of moving floats or marching bands. When I arrived 20 years ago that’s the first thing I was told when I attended my first parade.

Reading comments on Facebook was sickening. Many attacked the victim. They accused her of being drunk, of having no responsibility. Apparently, they never heard the old saying, “Never speak ill of the dead.” I guess this the the world in which we live.

I’m not buying that. I think she had a kind of tunnel vision. I’ve seen it a lot on parade routes. Parade goers see nothing but throws. They are aggressive and they want them all. Even though she was well old enough to know better, and a local, I think that’s what happened to Ms. Carmouche.

Four more issues to discuss. I promise that I’ll keep it short.

The picture is a leftover. With no parades last night, I ran out of culled and processed images. I also decided that the images I made while the Krewe of Nix was rolling will forever be unprocessed and will not see the light of day.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve changed my policy of not publishing names. While Storyteller remains art driven, I can’t tell stories without names. Of course I’ll follow my own ethical rules which are informed by years of journalism at a time when we were respected.

I’ve long said that the work is the prayer. If I believe that, I must work tonight. There are enough people who could use a few prayers right about now. And, that’s just in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras parades are an interesting thing. Just about ever local who participates in them does it for the experience, for the fun.

Really?

I talked to enough people on Twitter to realize that they were overjoyed at not having to be anywhere near the parades last night. One woman on NOLATwitter said that she felt free.

If that’s the case, just what the hell are we doing?

Do we feel so obligated to “celebrate” that it’s become work?

Even me. I was preparing to go to the parade route when I checked social media one more time. Even though I’m not riding on floats, or marching in bands, or throwing beads, I can’t tell you how relieved I was that I didn’t have to go.

What am I thinking?

 


Dancing.

Mardi Gras Parades.

All about motion. Movement. Energy.

Often, it’s hard to show that. Motion is thought of being better portrayed on video. I don’t make videos. I do it using still cameras. I’ve done that since the days of film. For a time, I made my career on that.

The trick is to find something that’s recognizable and keep that somewhat sharp. Like a face. With a big smile. With laughing eyes.

I don’t do it as much because in the digital age, everybody thinks the picture should be sharp from front to back. That’s too bad. I find intentional motion blur to be one of the most interesting parts of a photograph. There’s many ways to do that. One, easy way, is to focus on something that doesn’t move, use a slow shutter speed and let things in motion pass through the picture.

That’s not what I did.

I allowed the subject’s natural motion meet my natural motion and create another kind of painterly motion to take place. Because the picture was made at night, all I did was stop down and let the shutter speed take care of itself.

As far as presenting pictures from Mardi Gras goes, I’m not going to try to show them in chronological order. Instead, I’m grouping them by photographic subject matter. I’ve been lucky to have made really good shoots. There is too much material to present the pictures by parade. Yesterday’s post of ten pictures was way too much. It was hard on me to do the prep work. It was hard on you to work your way through so many images. There is one blogger who posts a lot of pictures. He or she is proud of themselves when they write something like there are 42 pictures in this post. I usually just trash the blog. I don’t know about you, but 42 pictures is way too many to view. Especially, when it looks like the photographer stepped two steps to the left or right. Sheesh. Cull your work.

That’s not a rant. It’s a pro tip.

New Mardi Gras parades resume on Wednesday. You’ll probably see the work in a week. Heh!


The wide angle version of Magazine Street at dusk.

Yes. Arrrggggghhhh.

Google, apparently lacking enough to do, redesigned their desktop. The very desktop that I use 20 times a day. The one with my eight favorite sites like Storyteller. I would see the thumbnail, click on it and a way I went.

Oh no. Not anymore.

The new desktop only has six buttons. Sales buttons to websites like Amazon, Ebay and on and on. Yes. Twitter and Facebook are there too. If I want anything else I have to do a “smart search.” WTF? Storyteller is gone. My news sites are gone. MLB is gone. (Baseball) I’m gonna have to figure out a work around. It may just be that I can replace those buttons with my buttons. I’ll find out.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of being manipulated, controlled and shepherded at every turn. Try to read almost anything and you have to negotiate about 28 pop ups — that’s an exaggeration — but you get it. Sheesh.

That’s my rant for today. Sorry.

The picture. It’s a wide angle version of the one a posted last week. I was stumbling around in my out takes and thought it would be go to explore a different direction. I like the deep blue sky about as much as I like the setting sun. I think it’s important to look at things from different perspectives. Not only photographically, but in life. I’m pretty sure that might close the gap in all of this polarization we see right now. But, what do I know?


Dusk comes to Magazine Street.

Back to the past. Just a little.

Generally, whenever I photograph something I don’t self edit in the field. I photograph whatever I see. As I work through my take, I curate pictures that don’t fit into — Oh, let’s say Mardi Gras — but were made at the same time into another collection.

This is one of those pictures. I made it as I was leaving the staging area of a parade. The school buses in the mid ground have just dropped off a high school marching band. Eventually, once some streets have cleared, they will make their way to the end of the parade to pick up their exhausted band members. Well… the buses won’t do anything unless the drivers get into the act.

I have a nice little portfolio of these kinds of semi-Mardi Gras pictures that I’m going to start sharing with you over the course of the next few days. I think that I’ll mix them with some new spring work.

The picture. Newer gear means easier tricks. This picture is hand-held. I was walking back to my car when I saw the scene. I made a few frames without anybody walking in the street as sort of insurance. I waited until somebody crossed the street. This was one of those rare occasions when you can wander in the middle of the street because it’s closed to traffic. The cars you see in the background are police or sheriff’s cars. Once I made the picture that I thought I wanted, I left and headed to my car.

There is one trick that I can tell you about. If you are in low or changing light set your ISO to automatic, even if everything else is manual. Not only does this compensate for changing light, but because cameras these days are really small computers, they also make much better exposures. For instance, at this time of day you might set your ISO to 2,000. But you might not need an ISO of 2,000. By setting the ISO there you might introduce a lot of noise into your image. If you let the camera pick the ISO, even if it says 2,000 it might really be seeing at an ISO of — just guessing — 1875. Better exposure and less noise. Also less work in post production. And, if you are shooting JPEGS you are probably dead on.

Of course, the best way to meter light is with a hand-held meter and all manual settings. But, sometimes when the action is fast paced you just don’t have time to do that.


 

A wave and a smile.
A wave and a smile.

It’s the people.

Whether they are in a marching band, a krewe member riding a float, somebody riding a horse or even the people waving for beads or throws, Mardi Gras parades are about the people. It’s really just that simple.

People.

The pictures. F something and be there. That’s also simple. Oh yeah, if you interact with the folks on the floats, they’ll wave at you. Some of them will even give you beads or some other throw. I never really ask. But, if they hand them to me I always say thank you.

More parades tonight. We’ll see how I do.


St Augustine Marching 100 flag bearer.
St Augustine Marching 100 flag bearer.

Mardi Gras Parades.

I work mostly in the dark. I overshoot. Mostly, to back myself up. I’m never really sure if I made the picture while I’m standing out there. I don’t chimp. That’s to say that I never look at the LCD. It just breaks my work and thought flow. If I need to reset something, I do it through the eyepiece. The LCD is turned off.

Here are a few pictures that you haven’t seen yet, but should. At least, I think you should. They are fairly straight forward, except that I react a lot to color as well as broken patterns. Like the picture of “The Vibrant Color and the Drummer.” The color caught my attention first. Then I saw the pattern that really isn’t a pattern. Or, the pattern on the back of the drum major’s back, which is more important to me than the band itself.

Something like that.


Krewe of Amelia Earhawt.
Krewe of Amelia Earhawt.

So. It begins. The Uptown parades began to roll on Friday night.

As you already know, I like to work the margins. The edges. Along the gutters. There’s a good reason for that. I cannot compete on a timely basis with about 10,000 people armed with smart phones, and news media outlets who all immediately post via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. In many ways, I don’t want to. I looked at my feeds. Just about every picture of this parade looked alike. A couple of floats, with the crowd surging around raising their hands begging for beads. The pictures I saw last night looked about the same as they did last year. The year before that. And, ten years ago before the storm.

So. I have to do my thing. I work the edges. I look for a moment in time. I actively engage the people I photograph. I try not to make many “scene setters.” The work you are seeing today, are the scenes I saw last night. Not everybody saw this. I’m fairly certain these pictures are very different from anybody else’s pictures. My vision. My intent. That’s kind of the only way I can do it. Otherwise, I’d get bored. So would you.

The only picture that needs explanation is “Cotton Candy Sky.” The rest are fairly self-explanatory. We had a wonderful first night. Temperatures were in the low 60s or upper 50s. When the sun started to set and dusk rolled in, a cotton candy sky is what we got. What I saw. What I had to show you.

Cotten candy sky.
Cotton candy sky.


Rainy night on Magazine Street.
Rainy night on Magazine Street.

It must be the colors in the sky. That’s why I’m drawn to pictures like this.

I sort of made a left turn. Then another left turn. I retreated from New Mexico pictures and moved back to where I live. At least, for now. There was a practical reason for it. I had a  bunch of client requests. I’m like anybody else. Money motivates me. Once I started looking through my NOLA files, I realized that there is a lot of work that you haven’t seen. So, here we go…

This exercise actually made me smile. Everybody was getting a little grumpy around here. Extremely high temperatures will do that to you. Also, the television weather guys reminded us that we have had 46 days in a row of 90 degree highs. Whew. We traveled some during that time. But, everywhere that we went was hot. I also realized that even when the temperature didn’t reach 90 degrees, 89 degrees isn’t much different. I haven’t been in cool weather — anywhere — since the first week of May. It wears on you. Yeah, sure. We have air conditioning. But, living inside isn’t all that much fun. I like being outside. Sheesh. How do you think I make all of these pictures? Even the dogs who live here are getting a little grumpy. These are dogs who think they are being abused when they have to share a couch with their humans. But, dogs are dogs. They’d rather be outside. Eating fresh ripe strawberries right from the bush before we can get to them. Little jerks.

Enough. Ranting about the weather won’t do much. Probably just make me hotter.

This picture. This is truly just f8 and be there. I made the picture while I crossing the street. We were probably going to dinner. Those weird things in the sky that look like blobs are rain drops on the lens. You can even some rain falling in mid-picture. I did tinker with the picture a bit. Basically, I just adjusted the contrast to bring the highlights and shadow a little more in balance.

The good news. The New Orleans Saints (American football team for those of you in other parts of the world) are playing their first training game in a few minutes. Obviously, it’s autumn and the weather is cool. Or not. One more thing for my non-US friends. American football is mostly played during autumn and early winter. It’s cooler, or even cold then. So… it must be cooler. Right this minute.