Adding something colorful.


Bare trees of winter with a little help. I’ve been photographing bare trees for a long while now. At a certain point they all start looking the same. I suppose if you work in an area long enough you come to point where everything looks about the same.

That’s one reason that I have sort of retired from making pictures at cultural events in New Orleans. There are only so many second lines and Mardi Gras Indian events you can work. Even they start to repeat themselves.


I asked myself how I could make this silhouetted picture look like something else. I experimented with this technique a little last year. I didn’t go far enough. This time I did. I added the reds, yellows and oranges of autumn. If you think about it, that makes sense. We are still cruising around the autumn season, but we are three days away from the winter equinox and the shortest day of the year. I combined two seasons into one picture.

I’d like to thank a friend of mine for pushing me even though she didn’t know it. I saw some of her work on Instagram that looked like something I would do. If I’ve influenced her in any way, I’m flattered and humbled. That kind of thing used to bother me until I realized that’s why I’m here. She was also the one who pushed me into my one word koan — learning — for the year. The year is almost over. The koan worked.

I suppose I need one for next year.

The picture. I’ll tell you the basics. Keep in mind that I have a huge archive of pictures that I can use to blend into other pictures. I use Snapseed for most of this work.

  1. Photograph a subject that you can made into a silhouette. This one happened to have bare trees with a light blue sky with white puffy clouds as a background. On its own the picture looked fine.
  2. Edit the picture in your normal way. Then lighten the background until there isn’t one. The trees should be black. Use either the brightness slider or the ambience slider, shifting them until the black fades to sort of a golden brown.
  3. Look for a picture that you can mask over the trees. In my case I picked something from last month when we finally had weather that was fall-like. Use the double exposure tool to select the foreground image. Layer it and then use the pull down to decide which version looks best. Use the slider to distribute the overlay the way that you like it.
  4. Finish it as you normally would. I adjust color, ambience and brightness.

That’s it. You’re done. And, so am I.

St. Francis de Asis Mission Church
St. Francis de Asis Mission Church

I decided to take a step back. Lots of stuff going on around here. All good.


I took a walk through my image files. I ended up in New Mexico.

I’ve always liked New Mexico. After the storm, we took refuge there for a few years. It was a great place to heal. But, after a few years the call of the swamp was too strong.

So. We went home.

But, I made a lot of pictures there. After all, New Mexico is the home of all kinds of artists and photographers.

I made this picture in Ranch de Taos. You’ve seen many pictures of this place, I’m sure. It is the St. Francisco de Asis Mission Church. Everybody paints it. Photographs it. Sketches it. Famous artists like Ansel Adams. Georgia O’Keeffe. Paul Strand. Ned Scott. Your neighbor. The guy down the street. Some guy from Queens, New York. Me.

I happened to be coming into town from the north when the sky lighted up like only it can in New Mexico. I tried to make the picture as minimalist as I could so that I could focus on the setting sunlight. What you see is what you get. F8 and be there. That sort of thing. Post production is also minimalist.