Sugar magnolia blossoms blooming.

Magnolias. I love them. They are big, bold, white and fragile. I suppose a lot of spring flowers are fragile. All of the pinks, magentas and purples are done for now.

Aside from their obvious beauty, I suppose I like flowers because like life itself, flowers are passing, somewhat fragile and shine for a while.

You think I’m going to write about life don’t you?

I’m not. I have nothing to say about life. In fact, I’ve come to one of those times when I’ll have to let my photographs do the talking because I have nothing to say.

I guess yesterday’s battles wore me out. Musical Miss and I went around and around about the inner workings of the music business as it relates to touring and playing live. A project may have been compromised. And, after thinking about it, I’m not sure that I can complete three books on deadline. On any deadline.

Those books, there’s at least a year’s worth of work on each of them.

Between both careers, I could be booked for the next five or six years. A few year ago that would have been great, but that will just about account for the rest of my working life. I’m not Joe Biden. I don’t want to work in one of the world’s hardest jobs until I’m in my mid-eighties.

I guess I had something to say.

Sometimes I wish that I was a more complicated photographer. I’d have something to write about on this side of the page.

But, alas, I’m a simple photographer. Even when I did something like I did yesterday, it’s nothing compare to what really good Photoshop drivers can do.

I do what I do because I don’t have the patience to do the little fiddly things that you must do in a studio, either in the real world or on the computer.

I liken myself to a Zen photographer. I like to clear my head of distracting noise and just react to whatever is around me.

That’s how this photograph was made. I saw it. I pointed. I pressed the button. I was done. Even post production was a matter of doing a couple small things.

That’s me. That’s how I am.


Sugar Magnolia.

The things that make us who we are. All of those things. How we were raised. What we did when we were young. The things we did later. All of our actions and deeds.

That’s who we are.

Although I did many things, music was my greatest influencer.

Deja Vu was re-released yesterday. That’s right, the 51 year old album by Crosby, Still, Nash and Young hit the streets again. This time it is one of those box sets that is usually just a ploy to put a few more dollars into the musicians bank accounts.

Not this time.

The main album is remastered to match modern sonics. The rest… whew.

The out takes, the songs that were left out, the demos remind me of what could have been.

But, that never happened. The band fractured and broke apart and came back together until it cracked for the last time just a few years ago when Neil Young started dating Darryl Hannah, who he eventually married. Crosby said what he shouldn’t have and that was it.

That’s all history. You can read about it.

What’s important, as I keep saying about pictures, is how it made us feel.

It was pure joy listening to the sings. A few tears fell thinking about the years in between. And, we were wondering just how the hell they hit those notes as we tried to sing along.

A few friends — the ones who don’t know what they are talking about — say that I should write a book. They are wrong. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t see how my life is any different from so many people who grew up during the era that I did.

But, that doesn’t mean no books.

My long postponed two book set of broken buildings and places in the New Orleans area is back on the front burner.

My publisher asked me if I also wanted to take part in a photographer’s series of books that are street photography based.

It’s a good thing that he’s based in Great Britain because I was about to say that I didn’t see how that was feasible. It takes a long time to produce a book’s of worth of street images.

It was his Friday night when I received his email. I didn’t reply because there was nobody to reply to.

That’s a good thing.

While I was writing this, it hit me. I’ve done this for over 40 years. This is my golden opportunity to publish in real book — not a custom book — most of my life’s work.

It’s going to take a long while to get this together. By the time I’m done, I really will be ready to retire and play with the vegetables in the garden.

Finally.

Technical? Ha! Just stick the lens in a tree and fire away.

That’s all there is to making this picture of a Magnolia in early morning light.

I told you, that dog gets me up too early.

Without her I wouldn’t have a golden Magnolia, I’d have a white one, the real color.

I think golden light is so much more interesting, don’t you?

Magnolias are mostly a southern thing. It occurred to me while I was ruminating on the other side, that I’ve spent the majority of my career somewhere in the south. I never intended it that way. But, time flies when you are having fun.

At least, I think I was having fun. Sometimes, I can’t remember.

But, I do remember how to make pictures. For me, that’s what matters.

Which brings me back to the other side.

This third book is gonna be hellish. While I review and produce all those years worth of pictures, everything is going to come back to me.

Pictures and smells, you know.

That reckoning that I was talking about a few months ago? That was nothing. That was a drill.

This is the real thing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. I don’t care what the CDC says. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Be patient. Look after each other.


Magnolia in space.

” Sugar Magnolia, blossoms blooming

Heads all empty and I don’t care

Saw my baby down by the riverside

Knew she’s have to come up soon for air

We can have high times if you’ll abide

We can discover the wonders of nature

Rolling in the rushes down by the riverside

She’s got everything delightful

She’s got everything I need

Takes the wheel when I’m seeing double

Pays my ticket when I speed

She comes skimming through rays of violet

She can wade in a drop of dew

She don’t come and I don’t follow

Waits backstage while I sing to you

She can dance a Cajun rhythm

Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive

She’s a summer love in the spring, fall and winter

She can make happy any man alive

Sugar Magnolia

Ringing that bluebell

Caught up in sunlight

Come on out singing and I’ll walk you in the sunshine

Come on honey, come along with me

She’s got everything delight

She’s got everything I need

A breeze in the pines and the sun and bright moonlight

Lazing in the sunlight, yes indeed

Sometimes when the cuckoo’s crying

When the moon is half way down

Sometimes when the night is dying

I take me out and I wander around

I wander round” — Lyrics & Melody by Robert Hunter & Bob Weir / The Grateful Dead

No. I didn’t write this song, but it felt appropriate for the picture. It is, in fact, a magnolia blossom that I worked on very heavily. I used my normal post production tools, plus some new apps that do stuff. One adds strange old school colors to the picture. The other adds what the makers call bokeh.

It’s not true bokeh, which is used to describe the background sharpness of a photograph. Instead, it’s just stuff. Nice shapes that you can brighten and lower in intensity. In short, another filter. A fun filter.

That’s it. No Cvid update. Just Fun Friday.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Happy days.

Two approaches.

One before. One after.

The news these days hasn’t been so good. In fact, yesterday’s news was downright bleak. Like anyone who is loosely called an artist, that affects me. As it does, us all. After yesterday’s picture, I thought I would publish something lighter. Something brighter. Something happy.

The top picture is of a magnolia. A southern thing.

Yeah. Right.

Yesterday’s news turned worse and worse and worse.

So.

I made another version of the top picture. In addition to cropping it, I made it very dark by stacking images. The bottom picture is the result. I like it less than the bright magnolia, but it represents how I’m feeling these days.

One friend, from Albuquerque, saw yesterday’s picture of the jet as what it is. Foreboding. Another friend, from Dallas said, after seeing all the news yesterday, that “this too shall pass.” Normally, I’d agree. But, appointing a supreme court justice is a generational thing. It will pass in about 40 years. Assuming I’m even alive, I will be around 105 years old. Likely, “I too will pass first.”

I’m starting to think the saying, “keep a full tank of gas and live close to the border,” is becoming real. What country wants American refugees?

Darker. Like life these days.


Magnolia Projects
Magnolia Projects

So. I started. I wrote that I was going to begin about the recovery in post-Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. We are approaching our ten-year anniversary. Seems like the right time. I am photographing what still needs work and what has been done. There are a lot of contrasts. There are a lot of similarities. In many ways, I’ve been doing that since I returned to New Orleans. But, the work is much more focused for this series of pictures.

I thought that I would start in the heart of things.

Central City.

Rain was spitting or pouring down in turns. As they say, “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.” I don’t know about that, but the weather set the scene.

This picture is a bit of what is left of the Magnolia Projects, officially known as C.J. Peete Housing project. It is abandoned, condemned by HANO (The Housing Authority of New Orleans) and is slowly being torn down and replaced by Harmony Oaks Housing. Rebranded, as they say.

A quick little bit of history.

The original buildings were built in 1941 with the entire location expanding in 1955. The entire area was known for extremely high violent crime rates and for spawning a huge amount of hip-hop artists. At its height, there were 1403 units that housed some 2,100 people. Oddly and accidentally, I photographed Unit 1403 both from in the outside and inside. I’ll show those pictures to you in the next couple of days.

In the 1980s and 90s conditions deteriorated greatly with demolition beginning in 1998. By 2005, only the section built in 1955 had been torn down. Hurricane Katrina did the rest. Well… not exactly. These are strong brick buildings. They were flooded but not destroyed. Some people came back and were asked to vacate in 2008 with the further demolition still continuing. My little bit of poking around found evidence that there may still be a few people using the buildings for shelter. There is no water. No power. No appliances. But, the buildings are strong and somewhat secure. There are plenty of discarded food and drink containers in a few of the buildings as well as some beat up clothing and rolled up blankets and sleeping bags.

New construction has begun in what is now called Harmony Oaks. The first of it was completed in 2011. There are 460 units, a new YMCA and a new school located within it’s boundaries. It includes public housing, mix-income and market rate units. There is a lot more to come, especially as Central City continues on its steady march toward gentrification and new urbanism.

More housekeeping.

WordPress sent me an email yesterday. I’ve never had one of those. It seems that Storyteller is now one of 99 photography blogs that it on their recommended list. I guess that’s something. WordPress claims about 120,000,000 blog sites. Of course, that’s very mixed content. It also includes I- don’t-know-how-many sleeping or dead sites from which there haven’t been posts in months. Or, even in years. Even so… congratulations to me. It does mean a lot.

In the last — well, less than 24 hours — I’ve had a large number of new subscribers. Welcome, all of you. I hope you enjoy my work which does veer around a lot. At its core, Storyteller is always about pictures. Sometimes I write a lot. Sometimes I don’t. Since I’m embracing on this new project, I’ll be writing more.

One more thing. My usual style and color palette is pretty bright and energetic. I’m not all that sure that is appropriate for the subject matter. What do you think?


Painted Flower
The easiest one.

A nice Friday picture. It came pretty easily. I though that I could make a nice artistic statement. It was very simple. And, I had been looking at it for days without really seeing it. Sometimes that’s just how it is. This came after being lucky enough to hear The Dalai Lama talk today. It was a pretty amazing day. One of the coolest things to learn about him is his sense of humor. He told us that if we didn’t want to do anything about climate change then we didn’t have to… but it might be a good idea to move to higher ground so we could at least enjoy our new ocean view. A young girl asked him what his favorite New Orleans food is, to which he replied his favorite food was the food that was offered to him wherever he was at the time. Perhaps the most important thing that was not meant to be funny was also pretty simple… talk to each other.