Scary face, without development.

This mask was scary before I worked on it in post production. It got scarier after I was done. To me, this looks like some underground subway creature who lives in the lost subway tunnels and tracks of New York City.

I have a big imagination.

Imagination will get you places, either to the top or in deep trouble. Mine is usually the latter.

Seriously, ideas and imagination are what art is about. That’s one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of Instagram, although I do play there.

Instagram is the worst of all possible photographic worlds. If some photographer posts an interesting picture, his followers copy him. Their followers copy them. And, so on.

That’s what make so much popular work so derivative.

It got so bad a week or so ago that I couldn’t stand it. So, I said something. It seems whenever a dusk or night picture needs a little something extra, some shooters drop in a person holding an umbrella. I don’t literally mean drop in. They usually have a friend hold an umbrella.

That’s fine, if the streets are wet or if there is falling rain or snow. But, the picture that broke my camel’s back was a picture of some guy holding an umbrella at night. The streets were dry. There was nothing in the air. The people in the background were’t even wearing coats.

Oh, Moses smell the roses.

I replied. The photographer replied to me in a snarky way to which I said, “Well, you must not be a very good photographer if all you do is copy others work.”

Silence.

Crickets.

Solitude.

I must have made a point to someone. Since that day, there have been far fewer umbrella pictures. Those that are still being shared make sense in their context. Or, they become art in themselves.

Imagination.

We all have it. Use it, or lose it.

Masking. In New Orleans it shouldn’t be a big deal. We mask for every damn thing that comes along. What’s the big deal about masking to protect ourselves or others?

That’s not what the right column is about, but I had to say it.

This is a daytime picture of all things. I was waiting to meet a friend when this guy happened to hop on a horse and rode towards me. What could I do?

You know what I could do. I did it. I made tight portraits. I made loser frames. My friend stumbled along and she made pictures too. It looked like a press conference.

I published one picture and left this one behind. This is the week to share it.

This is all post production. Nothing looks even remotely the same as the original file. I went darker rather than lighter because of the context. This dude looks evil.

He isn’t.

We talked while I, and then we, were making pictures. he’s a nice guy. He let us take our time while he was getting ready to lead his krewe.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Eat all the king cake.


Getting ready.

I had big plans.

Heh!

If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

My hip started hurting really badly yesterday evening. I took as much oral pain medication as I could. I added a Lidocaine patch and a topical NSAID. Nothing worked. I went to sleep thinking that usually helps. I awoke and I was no better. I called my doctor. They are closed for Mardi Gras.

So.

I did what I never do. Never say never, they say.

I gave up. I can’t walk enough to make any reasonable pictures. This doesn’t bode well for the future.

We’ll just have to see.

Happy Fat Tuesday. And, stuff.


 

Street portrait of a captain.

Back on track, I’d say.

I’m not that back on track. I thought that I’d written and posted this. Unfortunately, I fell back asleep before I completed this. I walked a lot last night. You know. Five parades. 164 floats. A billion beads. Not as many people as I thought would come out.

All that walking took its toll. First, my hip started killing me. Then, the pain moved to my knee. Luckily, I was able to depend on the kindness of strangers. They let me sit on their stoops, their porches and even on the bumpers of their trucks.

But.

That’s not all. Walking in pain is very tiring. More so than just walking. So, I decided to mostly rest today. The parades that I were interested in photographing have long departed, but are still an hour or two from Canal Street, another good place to work if you can stand the throngs of people competing for beads. Because of the pictures I’d like to make, that’s not a big concern for me.

However.

Now that we are in the heart of the season, parking will be dear or non-existent. Normally, I’d just park in Treme and walk over. And, walk over. I’m not so sure about that. Walking over.

Unfortunately, this parade season is my last. Unless there is a real fix to my issues other than masking them with pain meds, I can’t do this again. That’s sad because I’ve pretty much given up second lines. I’ll likely photograph this years two Eastbank Super Sundays, but that too, will be it.

There’s plenty of stuff to photograph, even without travel. I could document everything in New Orleans and never, ever be finished. That won’t require the long walks that the culture events do. I’ll still walk some. The dog who see things requires it. Those are slow and gentle walks, with places to sit if I need to do that.

The picture. I guess because I carry myself like I look like I know what I’m doing, people take me seriously. I stopped this krewe leader and asked him to just look at me. This took maybe 30 seconds, and I thanked him. See you later. Happy Mardi Gras.

I was exchanging comments with another photographer/poet. She would like to do some street photography but working in a people-driven genre sort of scares her.

I suppose that it’s something learned. I’m sure that because I’ve done it for so long, I don’t think twice about making pictures of people. I usually kiddingly say that with a camera in my hand I’m Superman.

 


Masked in red beans.

Looking backward to move forward.

As you know, I’ve struggling with ways forward. It’s not that I’ve lost my motivation. It’s more along the lines of how do I progress? I’ve been poking around in my archives for about a month. I’ve pretty much photographed everything that interests me in New Orleans about four or five times.

It’s why I didn’t work very hard last Mardi Gras. It’s why I barely went second lining during the 2018 – 2019 season. It’s why I haven’t been roaming around photographing the Quarter. It’s why I haven’t been chasing the things that a great sunset lights up. Then, there’s the traveling for my other side.

Oh sure.

I can also say that it’s the middle of a Southeastern Louisiana summer, which lasts from early May until mid-October. It’s hot. I don’t like being in the heat. I can also say that I don’t trust my hip and back.

Truth be told, I’ve acclimated to the heat. Walking dogs will do that. My physical issues have somewhat settled down. I still have no idea why on one day I feel pretty good. And, the next day I feel like I’m 125 years old. But, I know how to manage it. I’m not  fast anymore, but I’m a long time veteran of photography. You know what they say. “Young fox, old fox. Old fox always wins.”

Before you tell me that photography isn’t a competition, it is. With myself. I don’t care what the other guy does, but I have to make a picture that progresses beyond the last one, even if it’s only by a teeny tiny bit.

That’s what I ruminating about.

That, and what do I really photograph as the 2019 – 2020 second line starts in a couple of weeks? What do I photograph as Carnival Season starts? Do I just say that I’m done with that stuff. Or, do I figure out some other approach? What would that be?

I’m all ears.


Another kind of hair.

Masking.

One thing New Orleans people do very well is to mask. Sometimes, the masks are best seen from behind. Like this one. Although this young woman looked fine from the front, it was the back view that was really special.

I photographed her both ways. This is the picture.

I talk about looking in every direction when I talk about sunsets. Many sunsets are very beautiful. Some are spectacular. That light. The light you are staring at, with a big round ball in the middle of it. You know what? It’s lighting something behind you. It’s painting the scene with golden, orange and maybe, even red light.

Make that picture. Find a setting in which there is something behind you to photograph.

After all, even the greatest sunsets are a dime a dozen. Everybody photographs them because that’s the first thing they see. Try Googling sunsets. I’m will to bet that there are 100 million pictures of them. Maybe more. Certainly not less. It’s the one picture that photo and stock agencies never want. Their files are full of them. But look behind you, photograph what you see and they may want that.

So too, with pictures like this.

Normally, I say that the face matters. But, not always. The mask mattered more. This time.

I do have a question about this picture. Something that I noticed while I was working on it. Look at the bottom of her head. There is a small plastic piece with two plastic ribbons streaming from it. What is it? And what is it attached to? I thought, for a minute, that it was attached to her mask. It may be, but if there’s a little plastic bit that does the job, it is sure hidden.


Golden woman.

Mardi Gras.

What it is. What it isn’t.

This post is driven by a couple of comments I read on Facebook. It seems that a small city in Indiana might not be able to have Mardi Gras because a bar closed.

Really?

Is that what you think of Mardi Gras? Sure, we have big parades. The krewes toss beads and other stuff. You know, “Trow me sumptin’ mistah.” There is plenty of boozing and a little debauchery, usually on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. But, that’s not all.

At the heart of it, Mardi Gras season — Carnival — starts on the Twelfth Night after Christmas when the wise men journey to Bethlehem to bring the baby Jesus gifts. It lasts until midnight Mardi Gras Day when the police clear out the remaining revelers.  Night turns into day. And, it’s Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent.

In other words, it’s a religious holiday. Imagine that.

It’s also a time when we locals celebrate quietly. It’s more-or-less like Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one. We visit with friends and family. We gather around meals. We bring little gifts. The more blue blood among us go to fancy balls and events that are by invitation only. The big krewes, like Muses, have balls, lunches and other events for their members and guests. It’s an honor to be invited.

For our part, we host a brunch on the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day. Our friends and family mingle, eat, have a drink or two. If they want, they can walk up a couple blocks and see the parades on St. Charles Avenue. We are also lucky enough to be invited to two balls. We aren’t blue bloods. Imagine me in evening wear with a little mask. That’s what I do. That’s what they do.

There is a lot of symbolism. Mardi Gras Day is the day when the Indians reveal their new suits for the first time. For some, a year’s worth of work comes down to this one day. For others, they’ll show their new suits throughout the year. It’s a day when Zulu leads the parades. They mask in blackface. It harkens back to a time when they couldn’t afford masking materials. The  so-called Take It Down movement wants them to stop. The Zulus just laughed and started dancing. As far as I’m concerned, the Zulus can do whatever they want. They are the soul of Mardi Gras. Maybe of the entire city.

The million or so tourists who flood our streets, drink way too much, and fight for beads and other “throws” don’t know any of this. It’s all a giant party to them. One day of being stupid. Some try to arrive on the day, itself. With blocked streets, heavy traffic and the parades they are lucky to get anywhere near in time for… what?

I’m not attacking the partiers. Sheesh. We need the money. I’m explaining what those Mardi Gras partiers in other cities don’t understand.

When I was exiled to the desert after Hurricane Katrina, I went to Mardi Gras in Old Town Albuquerque. Make no mistake, Christmas there is breathtaking. The onset of fall is wonderful. But, Mardi Gras? Not so much. It made my very sad. I think we went during our first year there. It was on a Saturday. Sheesh. Whatever happened to Fat Tuesday? I was so homesick that we flew back to New Orleans for a cobbled together Mardi Gras, because 80% of the city was still broken. It’s when I saw Zulu warriors — the real ones from Africa — walking in place of our Zulus because most of them couldn’t get home. If they could, they had no home to come back to.

That’s what Mardi Gras means.

The picture. This is the one I planned for yesterday. I intentionally made it contrasty. WordPress “helped me” by tuning it down. She walked by me while I was sitting on a wall getting ready for the next parade. I couldn’t catch up with her. That is, until we both walked into the local grocery store for lunch. I asked if I could photograph her. Even though anybody masking is fair game, it was our lunch break. Heh! I made some smiling portraits and I made this one. I like it best. My agencies will like the smiling pictures. They are trying to make money for us. Besides, you can see me working in the reflection in her sunglasses. Nice shorts, huh?


 

Waiting.

It is was cold, wet, windy.

It was wonderful.

It was one of those times when you are lucky just to be there. Lucky to observe. Lucky to visit with people. And, be able to make their pictures.

It wasn’t supposed to rain quite as hard as it did. But, it did. It wasn’t supposed to get as cold as it did. But, it did.

Krewe of Nyx started rolling and was delayed by a blown down power line. For an hour. They were still rolling at 11pm. The rain didn’t stop them. But, it did stop the NBA when the arena started leaking. And, this wasn’t a big storm. Could you imagine… oh wait, it did survive the BIG STORM.

The pictures. Marching bands were stuck on their buses until the last-minute. Instruments and uniforms don’t like to be very wet. I gave a nod to USMC Marching Band because… well, just because.  Besides, I really like the Marines playing trumpet, dodging the rain in a store doorway.

And, of course I couldn’t leave out a couple of Druids as they make their way to their floats. I really like this picture. I happened because I needed to crouch low as somebody handed some gear over my head.

I think you know the rest. F8 and be there. Don’t get too wet, And hope…

Druids to the rescue.

By the way. I had a good shoot. I made about 325 pictures. About 40 made it through my first cull. You’ll see more when I wrap up parade season after Mardi Gras.


Freedom or something like that.

Krewe du Vieux number three.

Although there are still more pictures from a surprisingly good shoot, I think it’s time to move on. After all, I did manage to sneak in a second line parade in on Sunday. And, there are all sorts of Mardi Gras things hanging around the city. They need photographing too.

I may post one more image from Krewe du Vieux. It’s very experimental. I turned the whole thing into pure bokeh. It’s this gauzy, drifty thing. First, I have to find it.

Huh?

How could I lose a picture in three days? In my self-defense, these pictures are very large files. It seems that Affinity, the software that I use for watermarking, can’t seem to open large file thumbnails if there are a lot of them. So, I have to sort of guess at the picture based on memory. My memory. Like that’s gonna happen.

So. Once I find it. It’ll be yours to view.

These pictures are simply walk, see, photograph. The Marigny, especially downriver, is fairly dark. The trick is to find some little pool of light to illuminate the subject just a bit. Doesn’t matter how much you can turn up your ISO, it’s still better to have some light than to try to see in the dark.

Out the fog.


All the fun.
All the fun.

Open and closed… at one time.

Mardi Gras 2017 has been in the history books since Wednesday morning at 12:01 am. With that,  my Mardi Gras pictures are closing for this year too. Of course, I’m two days late. But, that’s usual for me.

Mardi Gras was good. The parades were good. Looking back to the start way back in January, Carnival Season was very productive and a lot of fun for me. I made some pictures that I like. I made some that I didn’t like. And, I didn’t capture anything. That’s a story for another day. An Ansel Adams story.

These pictures. Odd moments along the parade routes. There is no trick to this. Just walk a lot. See a picture. Point the camera. Make the picture. Thank your subject. If you can.

Marching 100.
Marching 100.

Orpheus float.
Orpheus float.