That’s what I saw when I was developing this picture. I didn’t quite know what I had when I pressed the button. But, after… wow!
In many ways, This image reverts back to a style I used in the late 1990’s. Tilted. Skewed. A little motion. And, very bold colors. I kept my sense of color and moved on from the other stuff as times changed.
But, every now and then…
The corticosteroid injection that I had on Wednesday seems to be working. While I was walking the dog who sees stuff, I experienced something strange. Something I hadn’t felt in a while.
Instead, there was an emptiness (if that’s the right word) where there was always something buzzing in the background. We walked, and stood and walked a little more. No pain. For the first time in months.
If my doctors are right, and if what I read about this is correct, I might actually be pain free from this particular issue for the next six months, when it might be time for another injection. I am not sure how this relates to my stenosis issues. It could be that relieving the inflammation in one area of the leg reduces the it down the line. I guess that I’ll find out.
This was one of the last pictures I made in the state before we returned to New Orleans. Originally, the picture was bright and bold. I thought that I would rework it into something a little different. I wanted to feel like I was gazing at a dream. These days, that’s what our time in the state feels like. A dream. All a dream.
As I’ve been working through my best of the decade work, I’ve been bringing up all sorts of memories. About people. About places. About events. It all feels a little hazy to me. Sometimes remembering something sends me to an entirely different mental image. You probably know how that goes.
I’ve edited a big archive down to the decade’s ten best pictures. I wish I had another reviewer to check my selections, but I don’t. I’ll publish them during the week between Christmas and New Year. That’s what a couple of you suggested. That sounds right to me.
Two more to go. Then home. Happy to be here. Happy to be there. Time to take a break. Time to rest. Time to work. Harder.
No. I’m not trying to be any kind of poet. Most of you know that I’m lucky to be able to write in the English language. Or, any language. I confuse people. Sometimes. Sorry. Then, typos. Typo king. That’s me. My mind goes in one direction. My fingers in another.
Perfection is for angels. They say. Do you know any? I ask.
I listen to music when I write these posts. Spotify has a playlist called, “Sunny Day.” It’s light and energetic. But. Too much musical miss. For me.
Hmmm. Mostly point and shoot. Make sure there is a window. In the background. To reflect light directly into the lens. Refraction. Reflection. Strange circles of light everywhere. That’s it. Simple. You can’t do it. Because. I can’t duplicate it. Again.
Very cool song. By Sufjan Stevens. Called Chicago. He’s got a trumpet going on. Reminds me of Mexican trumpets. I’ve always like that.
One of the biggest days in New Orleans. Halloween. This light bringing skull leads the way. Or something like that. It moves. It shimmers. It’s just plain old weird.
I made most of it during post production. I was up to my old tricks. Tinkering. Playing. This image started to emerge. It beckoned to me. Called out to me. It told me to keep going. Until I couldn’t go anymore. And, then to go further,
This image is the result. It surprised me. Hopefully, it will surprise you.
Oh. The skulls thing. I looked back at my Halloween imagery. Most of it is about skulls. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s just what I saw. What caught my attention.
You never know what’s rattling around in your brain. Especially if you believe as I do. That all art is autobiographical. Think about skulls and THAT for a minute.
Happy Halloween for those who participate. And for the rest, happy day.
Hurricane Nate turned slightly to the east. In New Orleans, we had about 35 mph gusts of wind and spitting rain. The storm did hit the Gulf Coast down around Biloxi, but even the damage there was slight. At least, relatively so.
Dodged a bullet? Got lucky? God’s will? A blessing? A quirk of nature?
Call it what you want. We are all very grateful.
By the time that I went to sleep, around 1:30am, I knew that we were safe. Amazingly, we still had power. The only thing left is to undo what we did in preparation. Open the storm shutters. Drain the bath tubs. Eat the Spam.
Seriously. No Spam here. That’s sort of a New Orleans inside joke. We only bought a couple of things in preparation for Hurricane Nate. Water. Soup. Crackers for the soup. Toilet paper.
The picture. While I was waiting and watching Treme on Amazon Prime, I decided to do my kind of prayer. The work. The original image is of an Irish baby, made in an Irish pub, in Ireland. It was made in black and white. On film. Not that long ago. I still shoot some film with a couple of bodies. Then I went to work. Tinkering. Playing. Adjusting. Fidgeting.
The process is better than playing with a fidget spinner. It’s productive. You have something to show for fidgeting. Best of all, I did it on a portable, meaning even if the power failed I wouldn’t lose my work.
The components came from all over the place. Believe it or not, there is even a sunset in there. Somewhere. Way in the background. The image grew from there. I added flowers — those tall things. I added two layers of flower petals. I used an enhancement setting the creates a kind of fracturing in the picture. It’s called “Grunge,” but it’s really not.
To me, the picture really doesn’t have any iconic symbolism. But, it looks like a Netflix video cover. You know the ones. The ones that mislead you since they really don’t seem to have anything to do with the movie you are watching. I could see some kind of explorer running through the light part of the picture being chased by some kind of zombie-dinosaur-ghost-vampire… oh never mind.
I’m thinking about bring this series to a close. I really do need to make some real photographs. I like this art and I’ll continue to do it. But, I’m sure many of you might be wondering what in the world does this have to do with New Orleans.
This is all mamamickterry’s fault. She was the only person who wanted to see the “other” version of the church reflections. She’s always been kind to me and her blog is an exercise in wonderful light-hearted writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”
Go to Lipstick and Laundry at http://www.mamamickterry.com and see for yourself. You probably want to start reading with “Misadventures in Tennessee,” which is a hoot. Especially to all of us who travel for a living. Or, part of a living.
One more thing before I get to the picture. She was one of a small group of people who tweeted about my 5,000th blog trying to get WordPress to notice and maybe give this blog a little love with Freshly Pressed. It didn’t work. But, the thought was there. I’m pretty convinced that WordPress is really for writers… and foodies. After all, everybody is a photographer. So, they say. And, everybody has to eat. That’s why an old friend of mine opened a restaurant. Who knows?
This picture. I generally explore whatever it is that I’m photographing. I don’t have any set routine while I’m actually taking the picture. I generally sort of finish when I’m done. I could make the picture in one frame. Or, ten. Or, twenty. From a lot of different angles. Or, from one if I see the picture clearly. That doesn’t really matter. How do I know when I’m done? I don’t really. I just sort of know. Like how your dog knows when you are on your way home way before you turn down your street. How does your dog know? I have no idea. But, she just knows. Or, he does. Or, they do.
By the way, this really doesn’t have a lot to do with my sort of three-hour limit before I run out of energy. A scene like this one just fits into that time. It certainly didn’t take me three hours to explore this church.
How do I pick the “right” picture? First, I’m not in a great rush to curate or work on my pictures unless I have a client deadline. I like to let them marinate. For at least a day or two. Sometimes longer. That takes whatever emotion I felt while I was taking the picture out of the selection process. I learned that about a billion years ago. Then I work on post production. I let the picture guide me. Sometimes, I pretty much leave the picture as I took it. With just some slight improvements. Like a little sharpening. Or, brightening. Sometimes, I push things in post production. Like I did with this picture. I made this picture all mysterious and moody. Lot’s of work on the computer.
Why is it the second selection?
Sometimes, the answer is very complicated. Not this time. I saw all that wonderful light and clouds reflecting in the window. For me, that’s the picture. This picture doesn’t have that. It’s not a bad picture. It’s just not what drew me to the scene.
Christmas. It’s very special in New Orleans. It’s especially pretty in The French Quarter. So, after flying back to the city this afternoon, I thought I’d better get to it. After a few days away, I could feel a little newness. Often, things get too familiar and I fail to see some of the specialness. Admittedly, I’ve been a little artistically or emotionally flat. Being away helped. I think. So, I started working in The Quarter. I arrived little too early. The light was very flat, dark and ugly. But, that was fine. Better to arrive at a place too early and wait, than it is to be rushing around trying to catch up. The worst thing that happened was I that had a coffee and people watched. Oh. How terrible. There was no golden hour. But, there was a pretty nice blue hour. So, I had some of the light that I wanted. I decided to start with this sort of classic scene. St. Louis Cathedral in the background, Jackson Square in the middle and the mule drawn carriages forming the bottom of the frame. Then I worked throughout the Quarter. I saw some people doing some kind of wedding thing on Royal Street. But, I was focused on Christmas. Besides, lately it seems that everybody does weddings in The Quarter. Seems over to me. They should really think about places Uptown. Or not. I live there. Just what I need. Mule droppings in front of my house.
This picture. F8 and be there once again. I really should use a tripod on a picture like this. But, these new cameras seem to be able to compensate accordingly. So, I took a deep breath, let it out slowly and pushed the button in one motion. Then, because I think this scene is sort of magical and jewel-like, I added a little glow and brightened things up a bit. Seems to work. For me.
It’s the light. For me, it’s always the light. After all, what is the literal meaning of photography? It’s Greek. It means “drawing with light.” But, that is about making any picture. You need some kind of light. For me, it means something else. It means using the light to achieve my vision. Yeah. My vision. There are a number of ways to do that. But, let’s limit it to my kind of work. After all, I rarely work in a studio. I work on location, whether it’s photographing the things you see here, on Storyteller, or photographing something or someone on assignment. For those kinds of pictures, I might have to work at times of day that are not optimal for sunlight, so certainly, I use light enhancers and modifiers. You know. Strobes. reflectors of all sorts. And, little scrims that shape the light that comes from a strobe. Those kinds of tools.
But, for the work that pleases me most, I usually just wait. I wait for the light to be right. For me, that means working at the ends of the day. I work in the “golden hour” and in “the blue hour” which occurs after the sun sets. There are two other times when this kind of light occurs during the day. But, usually I’m sleeping. I work later at night and don’t like to get up for dawn, That’s just me. Am I missing something? Yeah. The dawn light is purer because there are fewer particulates in the air. That also means, that likely, it isn’t as dramatic. But, you never know. Nature isn’t all that predictable. Just think about your television weather people. They are wrong 90% of the time. Yet, nobody complains.
Waiting for light. What does it get you? It can move the picture from the mundane to something pretty and eye-catching. This picture is nothing more than a French Quarter row of houses. If you passed by it at noon, you might not even look twice. But, with the sun settling low on the horizon magical light appears and the scene takes on a shimmering quality. All I have to do is be there. Nature takes care of the rest. There is one telling detail about the time of year. The window is open. A couple of weeks ago and it would be closed because the weather was too hot and too humid. We all live in air-conditioned houses. The weather has gotten cooler and a little dryer and so we all rush to our windows and throw them open. This will go on until late November or early December when the heaters come on. And, make the house smell. We are lucky. We also have fireplaces. They make the house smell too. But, in a good way.