A giant mural.

They say it comes in threes.

Ronnie Virgets. Chef Leah Chase. And, now Mac Rabennack.

You might know him as Dr. John. The Night Tripper.

The good doctor passed today. His family said that he had a heart attack around day break. He’d been sick for a long time. I’m not sure with what. Doesn’t matter now. I know that he lost a lot of weight. That’s a hard thing to do in New Orleans. About 18 months ago he cancelled two shows at Tipitinas. That was the last of his scheduled performances. He spent that time at home, but on the Northshore.

Needless to say, New Orleans is reeling. We are sad. So sad. We haven’t even buried Ms. Leah yet. Her viewing is planned for Saturday, with the funeral on Monday. We are all invited to attend. We will.

Ronnie Virgets was a beloved author. His writing is the stuff of legends. I arrived on the scene a little too late to know it well. And, he wasn’t that well known out of the city. That’s too bad, because what little of his work that I did read caught the heart, soul and spirit of the place I call home.

But, Mac.

Oh man, oh man. He’s beloved everywhere. He started making his own albums in the late 60s. He was a session player until then. He had a rough start in New Orleans, doing things that would make tough guy rappers run home crying to their mamas. He’s been sober for longer than I have. Things change. We change.

How well known?

When you have a Beatle tweeting about his passing, you know how much he mattered to the music world. He played with just about all of music royalty, without ever adopting those trappings himself. Not only did he produce his own work, but he was an enthusiastic collaborator on other musicians projects.

Yes. I knew him. You’d see him in grocery stores or running errands. He was old school and gracious when he met a fan in the usual places. I photographed him once, formerly, at his home. I was paid for a half day. The shoot ran well over that. There weren’t any problems. We were telling stories and laughing so hard that tears were rolling from our eyes. Like they are as I write. I wish I was laughing now.

I wish that I could show you a picture from that take. Sometimes, a client will ask for an embargo until they have gotten their best use of an assigned set of pictures. I’ll call them tomorrow and ask if I can post one here. There shouldn’t be a problem.

For now, here’s his mural, painted in Central City. I almost like this better than the environmental portraits that I made at his home.  I made this picture on the way to some place else. A second line.

What can I say?

Desitively Bonaroo. The best of the breed. That he was.

Rest in Heaven, Mac. You meant a lot to us.

 

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Mother Nature in the tree.

Keep your eyes open. That’s what I always say.

I do.

If I didn’t, I would have missed the wood nymph hiding in the tree trunk. Do you see her? Do you see her eyes? Her nose? Her lips?

Or, is that a very young Mother Nature? She could be, since we’ve never seen Ma Nature. There are plenty of illustrations. A couple are quite famous. But, in a photograph?

The cocker spaniel who sees stuff went crazy. Bark, bark, bark.

Nah.

That didn’t happen.

With the rain and the warmth around this place, we’ve had some wonderful moss blooms. I found one that is as green as this picture. I photographed it. I prepared a picture for Storyteller. I liked it well enough, but it just seemed empty. When the background is the subject, sometimes it’s a  little boring.

Make no mistake. Backgrounds are important in the design process. An art director might use the mossy, green picture as a background for something else. He or she could tone it down, lay type over it, add maybe a picture or two. And, viola. You be surprised at how many movie posters are a combination of images that have very little to do with the film.

Anyway.

My working method these days is to prep the picture at night and post it the next morning. Or, schedule it to be posted for the next day or two. I do try to keep current.

I did that.

I went to sleep. I awoke with the picture on my mind. I remembered photographing a little girl of four maybe last summer. I found the file. I did the magic of stacking and blending. Here we are.

The wood nymph, or, Mother Nature.

Just a little Saturday experiment. Because? Because why not?


Starting Again.

About nature.

In some regions of the country and world, winter lasts for just a few days. Even when the weather turns cold, it is mild compared to places located further north. With mild weather we get — drumroll please — a second growing season. When I first moved here I was amazed. I’d never heard of such a thing. Anybody who grew up here, or was from here, knew. They taught me. I learned.

These days I can recognize the signs. New leaves appear on plants that were once done with the summer heat. It helps that there is a lot of rain this time of year. The lingering heat combined with rain and humidity make outdoors a natural greenhouse.

Anyway, the spring and summer crops — such as they are — have been planted.

The picture. I saw it. I worked sort of hard to frame it with the sun backlighting the leaves. When I got into the studio I decided to take it to the limit. I backtracked. The limit was too far, even by my standards.

This image is the result.

Oh.

I forgot to mention that this deep vertical picture started out is a horizontal image. Even though I post produced the hell out of this picture, I left one flaw alone.

Can you see it?

See the horizontal line between the sky and the black area? That’s called purple fringing. It’s caused when the sensor and the lens cannot handle extreme backlighting. It’s a bad thing. Normally. If I were offering this image to a client, I would use editing software to remove it.

For a semi-artistic picture, I chose to leave it in the image.

It’s art. They say.

I left another flaw alone.

It’s art. They say.


Overall…

Once. When I actually chased the light.

I used to make a lot of pictures like this. I don’t do it anymore. Maybe I should. But, for some reason the enjoyment left me. Maybe it’s just the thing that is the hardest about making reasonably good pictures.

Do you wonder what that thing is? It’s not gear. It’s not skill. It’s not talent. It’s not practice. It’s something else.

A wise man once told me that often the hardest part about making pictures is getting there.

The French Quarter is tourist central. That’s where everybody from someplace else wants to go. That means the streets are jammed. That means it’s hard for a local to park. It’s hard to get from once place to another within the Quarter. And, these days I have to watch me step. Literally — with hip and back problems — and well, literally — because there is so much crime. I reckon an old guy with a camera is a great target. I suppose I could just strap a gun on my thigh because we can down here, but that just doesn’t seem to be the way I want to live my life. Sheesh, I’ll shoot you one way or another.

Kidding.

This is yet another picture from my archives.

 


A little light and magic.

Fog.

That’s what this is. Not an explosion.

Sometimes if you make a picture with the lens fairly stopped down — smaller aperture  — you can get star-like effects. That also happens in foggy weather when you shoot into a light. That’s what I did. Obviously, this picture has been through some heavy post production. But, at its original base is a bright light photographed through heavy misty fog. That’s what created the star burst and the rings of light that are shining past it.

The Irish band, U2, released their newest album on Friday. By all accounts 2017 has been a pretty miserable year. Pretty much everybody has been in a cynical funk. The band decided to counter that with an upbeat and positive album. Typical of them to talk about love. To talk about “the best of me being you.” And, being grateful for that.

To that end, a few personal course corrections are in order. More music. Played at a pretty good volume so that I can hear the middle. Even more art. Two friends of mine have determined that I sit behind the computer all day and grind. I don’t really, but I’m not making enough original large file art.

Here’s the big one. Less time reading the news. The world is a mess right now. You know it. I know it. We don’t have to be beaten over the head with it. With less news comes less of the current President of the United States. He’s like the worse ear worm in the world. He’s constant. Every day. Screaming via Twitter. Who needs that? I just have to plan for my future based on his, and his political party’s, nonsense.  With less online reading comes another benefit. More reading. Books, long form pieces about music, about art, about cooking, about travel. Before I forget, and get barked at, more books about dogs. Mostly about how they age.

These aren’t your typical New Year resolutions. They start today. And, they won’t end when I blow it and miss a day. I’m not counting anything. I’m not making a bucket list. Instead, they  become just another part of my daily routine. Like posting on Storyteller.

So.

The picture. Oh wait. I already told you about it. I suppose that I could tell you that I made it with my iPhone. That I processed it in Snapseed. And, finished it in Stackables. That’s it. Simple. As it should be.


Wet market vegetables.

A most interesting thing.

I made this picture a few years ago in Hong Kong. On black and white film. Likely Kodak Tri-X, but I was also experimenting with Fuji Neopan.

Look at the picture. Look at the color. It’s pretty much in the right place. Celery is green. Peppers are red. Ginger is light yellow. And, so on.

I made this color from whole cloth. Simply by pulling all of the curves in all sorts of ways and positions. At first, I thought it was some weird digital miracle. Then I realized that black and white film “sees” color too. That’s how various shades of gray are made. Red shows up as a dark gray. Green as something much lighter. Like that. My twisting and turning simply pulled whatever the film saw to the forefront. Suddenly, it wasn’t so amazing.

Anyway.

I posted this picture on Instagram. Some of you may have seen it there. Sorry about that. But, for most of you, this is a new thing.

The picture. I told you how I made it. But, not where. When. Back in the day I spent a lot of time in Hong Kong. Six years to be exact. I managed big book projects on huge commercial presses. There is a lot of down time. Beyond a lot of down time. Rather than sit in some bar with all the rest of the expatriates, I wandered the city. Photographing. Always photographing.

I found stuff. I found places. At that time, there were like two coffee houses in the city. I found a third, tucked in a back alley. My then companion, after years of drinking tea, had her first cup of coffee there. She became an espresso addict. Sorry about that. It could be worse. I found places where stuff is really made. The old-fashioned way. By hand. With tools. Real tools. I found wet markets that weren’t quite as famous as the big one in Central. That’s how I made this picture.

Sometimes, those days seem all a dream.


Spring steps.
Spring steps.

They were glowing. The trees. The bushes. Even the steps. Were glowing

So what could I do? I made the picture. They were just steps. But, the golden light. The pre-dusk feeling. The glowing greens. I had no choice. I had to photograph this simple little scene. On any other day I might have passed it by. I might have driven past it. But, I was walking. I was a little early. So, I actually saw the wonderful light as it illuminated the house.

The picture. I didn’t have to do much. When the moment and the light is right what else is there to do? Just push the button and make the picture.


Reflections
Reflections.

This is a little magic. And, some good seeing. In very bright sun.

You’ve seen this passenger car in the past. I like visiting this place. In all kinds of light. I like photographing old train cars. Especially passenger cars. You already know that. This little train yard is easy to reach on foot. Like a one minute walk. That’s good right now.

So? What’s different in these pictures?

Look closely.

Look at the windows. Some wonderful reflections, huh? The pictures become more than documents. They become symbolic. They become something about the power and freedom of travel. Of dreams. And, of days gone by.

At least that’s what I think.

Magic.
Magic.


New Orleans skies.
New Orleans skies.

” Come a little bit closer. Hear what I have to say. Just like children sleepin’. We could dream this night away.

But there’s a full moon risin’. Let’s go dancin’ in the light. We know where the music’s playin’. Let’s go out and feel the night.

Because I’m still in love with you. I want to see you dance again. Because I’m still in love with you. On this harvest moon.

When we were strangers. I watched you from afar. When we were lovers. I loved you with all my heart.

But now it’s gettin’ late. And the moon is climbin’ high. I want to celebrate. See it shinin’ in your eye.

Because I’m still in love with you. I want to see you dance again. Because I’m still in love with you. On this harvest moon.

Because I’m still in love with you. I want to see you dance again.  Because I’m still in love with you. On this harvest moon. “

— Harvest Moon. Neil Young.

I’m amazed that I remembered it. All it took was a long Facebook conversation with an old friend of mine who lives in Hong Kong. His night time. Our morning. Because his full moon happened during our morning in the United States. So last night…

Oh. Nevermind. Just enjoy it.