Catch The Wind


It was a dark and cloudy day.

Everything changes. I had some lessons in that today. I wasn’t going to renew my premium membership with WordPress. It’s digital dump day, or whatever today is called. You know the equivalent of Black Friday. For electronic stuff.

I ended my premium plan yesterday. I received an email from WordPress today. 40% off for the next two days. I’m nothing if if not opportunistic. So, I renewed.

Don’t judge me.

While I have some complaints, especially with the Block System, I like it here. I have a community here.

I’ll still rebuild and redesign my website. That’s still the plan and the project. But, now I have a little more time. Like a year. That’s good because along with being opportunistic I’m lazy.

There is another important change too. You remember how I said that the all seeing dog was showing her age?

Wrong.

I noticed that when she stretched her jaw after waking up she would yelp in pain. I couldn’t find the problem until I put her leash on her. I happened to touch the back of her jaw. A little yelp.

Uh oh.

Another jaw infection. I called her vet and he prescribe the same antibiotics that he did when she lost a few teeth.

A week later and I let her out about 7am. The weather has turned cold here in the swamp. Luckily I had the presence of mind to dress properly even though I thought we’d be back inside in a few minutes.

Wrong again.

We went on the longest walk we’ve been on in the past few weeks.

Yippeeeeeeee.

Clouds. Both sides now. Joni is 77 and Judy is almost 80. My musical heroes may not be with us much longer. We’d better enjoy them while we can.

These are the first clouds of what turned out to be a three day storm and a cold front.

I made the file in color. I started messing with it and thought it looked better in black and white.

For sure, it brought out some things I didn’t see when I made the picture.

You can see the storm front as it moves. And, if I’m not mistaken, I can see a water spout. I didn’t hear any reports of a tornado, so maybe it broke apart.

No telling what a little post production will do.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every snow flake.

I Feel Lucky


Autumn air.

I started tinkering last night. I made this artwork. It was accidental, like so many things in life.

Even the title of today’s Storyteller is an accident. I asked Alexa to make a playlist of Mary Chapin Carpenter songs. I think she liked doing that. When I asked, her response was “Hmmm.”

“I Feel Lucky” was playing when I wrote the title. Accidental.

That’s a thing that I know about. Accidents. Happy or other wise. They happen the minute you put your well thought out plan into action.

As retired boxer Mike Tyson says, “Your plan changes the minute that you get punched in the face.”

The same thing happens in photography especially if you work with people. The minute that you show up with a camera everything changes. You don’t even have to point it at anyone. They just know that you are there.

That leads to another question. Can any picture really be spontaneous?

Sure.

That’s why NGS photographers have 16 week assignments. It’s why I suggest photographing your world when you start out. The people in your life will ignore you, mostly because they always do.

No. I’m not being snarky,

They are used to you. That’s why I try to stay around for a long time. I hope people will get used to me.

But, they never do.

It’s the camera.

Sometimes working with a phone is a better idea. First, they produce pretty technically good pictures. Second, everybody is taking pictures of everything. Nobody notices.

That’s the goal.

About this MCC thing. Somehow I managed to miss 30 years of her music. When I first saw her play her songs from home. I was enchanted by the peaceful feeling that she brought to me, just like listening to James Taylor does.

I watched some more and thought where have I been all your life?

I know now what happened. I relocated to Hong Kong in 1993. Until Virgin records came along, we were lucky to find western music, especially country.

So, now I’m a little obsessed. I just wish that Alexa would have made a playlist that had some of her new music on it.

It’s always something.

Trees. I like trees. They are symbolic of a lot of things. One of my favorites, rebirth, is among them.

As I said, I was tinkering last night. Even though you can barely see it, this image is made from two layered pictures.

I worked to create the color palette that I though suit the picture.

That took some doing. Balancing the lights and darks was a project in itself.

For those of you who are wondering, I started Snapseed and finished in OnOne. I have other editing software, but why confuse myself?

Stay safe. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.

The Blues


The start of something.

The idea started yesterday. But, between then and now I fell asleep three times. I don’t know why. I’m not tired. I’m not sick. I don’t feel stressed. At least not any more so than any other day this year.

The idea was flowers for friend. A friend who was there at the start of my career and who passed yesterday. He was a few years older than me. I have no idea what took him. I believe he lived in Tucson. In Arizona. In normal times, I’d go to his funeral.

While there are a lot of deaths this year, there aren’t many funerals that anyone other than close family can attend. Sometimes the rules get broken slightly, like when there was a second line for a former Zulu king. In that case, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

You know, the old risk v reward thing.

All I know, in New Orleans at least, is that if we ever make it through the pandemic and when the vaccine works at a very high rate, there will be God’s own second line/jazz funeral. Too many people have passed without any kind of commemoration. We need to do it. It’ll be good for them. Good for their family and close friends. And, good for us.

What I did. To the picture. I saw these little blooms. The all seeing dog paused during her walk and I framed what I saw and pushed the button. I let the file sit and marinate. When I learned that my colleague passed, I knew what to do.

Blue.

The picture needed to be blue with some colorful highlights. I did the work, first using Snapseed and finishing it using OnOne. You are looking at the result. What do you think?

Is it good enough? Is it tribute enough?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Enjoy every sandwich.

Must Be The Season Of The Witch


The scary Quarter.

Spooky. Scary. That’s the season. The season of the witch. It’s really scary around swampville today. Sometime early in the morning my phone went crazy with a 36 hour hurricane warning. You have no idea how it feels when you get any kind of notification like that. Your heart pounds. You are wide awake. Your brain is moving too fast. And, then they say that we may have to evacuate.

Hahahaha.

Evacuate to where? In the season of the other witch — CoVid-19 — where do we go? Anyway, this storm has moved slightly to the east, but we will get hit pretty hard. We have no idea about is strength. Yet. It has to pass over the gulf, which is still very hot with summer’s heat. That charges it.

I already know the answer to my next question. And, I don’t like it.

I have a 505 area code. New Orleans has a 504 area code. My code is from our sojourn to the high desert in New Mexico after Hurricane Katrina did its thing. How did I receive an alert that is relevant to the 504 area code?

That’s easy. The least invasive is Google. I use Google Maps and their direction service. Google knows where I am. So does Apple and Samsung. I don’t like it, but that’s on me. Telling them where I’m located makes life easier.

The alert didn’t come from any of them. It came from the feds, through NOAA. They track my movements too. I read a piece in the New York Times, by Kara Swisher, who has been doing heavy digital studies for twenty years. She said that the government knows where we are every moment of every day. Mostly, they just collect the data. Sometimes they use what they’ve collected. This was one of those times. At least it’s for good.

But, what if it’s not? People were fighting against leaving their contact information at restaurants in case someone got sick and they needed to do some contact tracing. Who cares, we already are known to the people that matter.

Ms. Swisher said the only way to beat what amounts to a huge invasion of privacy is to buy a “burner” phone and only use it to make calls. You should also use an alias. After a few calls, dump it and start again. If you buy a smartphone and use it to check your email, or go to social sites you are immediately known.

Some life, eh?

Halloween and the picture. I haven’t been photographing a lot of holiday stuff lately so this is a retread. But, I’ve always really liked this picture. I made it the Quarter. Originally, it was in glorious color. But, when I experimented with it, I found that I liked this version a whole lot better.

Normally, I would photograph the Krewe of Boo. That’s cancelled this year for obvious reasons. Assuming we don’t take to big of a hit from the storm, I may wander around the Quarter looking for new and even more scary pictures on Halloween. We’ll see.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

Jericho


Louisiana Sky

Time. I’ve been saying that it’s lost its meaning. That it just seems to flow. That its numbers are meaningless. That the only way to mark time is by listening to nature. I still believe that.

In my heart, I know time is getting short. We are a little over four weeks to an election that may very well determine our democracy. That will change the course of the entire world.

It’s time. To dig in. To work.

For me it is also time to call the ghosts, the long gone gurus and the long passed masters. We need the cavalry. The ancestors need to come riding into the fray and change the balance.

For me, it started yesterday.

Here’s what happened. We were walking the dogs. Not just the all seeing dog, but all of her brothers and sisters. We arrived at a little pocket park. They like going there mid-walk because they can sit on the grass, roll around and play. They can do this at home, but this is a new place.

There are two benches there. We sat on one. On the other bench were three youngish women, maybe in their late twenties or early thirties. On white, one brown, one black. The future. The future that is now.

We said hello, and I realized it was time for “Songs From Home,” Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Sunday morning mini-mini-concert. We played it on my phone.

I think that MCC is feeling the way I am. She called on a living master, calling his song one of the best songs that had ever been written. She played Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing.”

Covers are covers. She played this one straight. Her voice was clear and powerful.

Listening on it on my phone meant that it was loudish. The three young women stopped talking and started listening. I held my phone so they could see too.

Afterward, they asked who the singer was, and what was the name of the song. I told them the backstory. About a time of change that began in the early 60s and lasted for almost a decade. I also added that we blew it. We had a chance and we dropped the ball.

We all introduced ourselves. As the old one, they asked me what I thought.

I said, “I’m old now. I may have one more fight in me. But, it’s your world now. Make it a good one.”

Art. I’m not really sure there is a real definition of it. The closest I can come is what John Lennon said about his songs. When he was asked what his songs meant, he said, “whatever you want them to mean.”

I think that applies to whatever we classify as art. Art is whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to be what we commonly call an artist.

You could be a mechanic who feels the car. Or, a baker who feels the flour.

You can’t say that these people aren’t artists. Convince me otherwise.

Many people call me artist. It’s a mantle that I’ve long resisted. I take pictures of whatever I see. I do that when I have a job. That’s what I get paid to do.

In order to test the theory of my artistry, every once in a while I experiment with a photograph.

I made this picture while we were on a test road trip. I pointed my camera out of the passenger side window. Passenger side window. Note that. I wasn’t driving. We were just rolling along River Road on the Westbank.

I liked what I saw. So I pressed the button. When we returned home I let the take marinate. When I started culling my work, this picture popped out at me, not for what it was but for what it could be.

I started tinkering. I tinkered some more. I kept going on two software programs. Out came this picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Stay healthy. Enjoy your time, it’s shorter than you know.

Good Tradition


Spring elegance.

A flower.

I saw this bloom shimmering in low sunlight. I had no choice. I had to make its picture. I knew it the very second that I hit the button.I had something. I made a couple of back up images just in case. Back home, the picture was easy to process. Nature did most of the work for me. That’s why the picture looks good. All I did was see it.

That’s how it goes sometimes.

The day started off pretty badly. You know that the dog who sees things has not been feeling well. We’ve been treating her with antibiotics and an occasional Tramadol for pain. I knew we hadn’t beaten it, but we were on the road to doing so.

She awoke this morning screaming in pain. I calmed her, she stopped for a minute and started screaming again. I was fully awake. No gentle morning awakening. I called her vet and they fit her into his already packed schedule. It’s that life during wartime thing.

The good news is that her bladder stone has broken up and will pass quietly. The bad news is that she has a couple of teeth that need to be pulled and a bad gum line infection that hasn’t responded to the broad spectrum antibiotic that we were giving here for the bladder stone. We have no idea why not.

She is scheduled for dental work in about a week. There is no way to force an appointment earlier because dental work is time consuming.

She’s a rescue dog. A cuter cocker spaniel rescue you will never see. She came with fears built up by other human beings. There are certain things that I can’t do. With the other dogs I can do the push-the-pill-down-their-throats thing. Not this dog. That would scare her.

So. Cheese.

We bought a small block of cheddar cheese for a planned meal. Soft cheese. She likes it. I buried the pain med in the cheese and she ate the whole thing. She hasn’t been eating much. She’s lost a lot of weight. I gave her more cheese. Eventually, she ate about half of the block in little tiny pieces. I reckon that in the short term, protein and fat will help her gain a little weight.

Her vet uses a concierge approach when pets are brought in these days. It’s a safe response to the pandemic. Pet parents stay in the car. Their pets are picked up and taken inside for care. Because Sophie Rose was a force fit into her vet’s day, I went home.

Needless to say, I was standing on the ceiling. Around here, we know to let me have some space. I’ll work through it. I do in my own way. Everything imaginable ran through my brain. When her vet called I felt better.

I hate to see anything in pain. With this little dog screaming, I felt terrible. She’s such a sweetheart, so gentle and so loving that I couldn’t stand it. Luckily, it’s an easier fix than I imagined.

Have a good thought, say a prayer, making an offering for Sophie Rose, the all seeing dog.

No CoVid 19 discussion today. I’ve got other things on my mind.

Oh yeah. After the cheese and Tramadol got into her system, she fell asleep. Peacefully.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

Of The Day Gone By


Flower study in gray.

My past was flashing before my very eyes.

No. I was not having a near death experience. What started as a pleasant dream stayed with me as I started to wake up. It is still in my head as I write to you. It helps that I’m listening to a Spotify playlist that I called “My Summer Rewind.”

Dreams. There are many theories concerning their meaning. I like one of Jung’s theories. Dreams are the answer to questions that you haven’t yet formulated. I suppose that I’m not looking for answers. I’m looking for questions.

Questions, for me, come in the form of looking for and finding a photograph.

Which brings me to this picture. I finally got outside away from home. I made a bunch of pictures. Bunch is a technical term like boatload. I saw this flower which is in the same family of the purple flowers that I’ve been posting. From the second that I saw it I knew what I wanted to do.

I want to to do this. The image that you are looking at.

I saw the flower in its purest form.

I had some clarity restored to me. It’s been missing for a while. For as long as we’ve been in lockdown I couldn’t find it. We are now in semi-lockdown. I kept thinking that it wasn’t affecting me. Little did I know that it was. The invisible cage that I put around myself really did it’s job. It left me feeling trapped. Caged. Limited.

You know that my work requires being out on the scene. I suppose that I could have made pictures of life at home. But, I’ve done that a couple of times. It seemed boring to me this time.

All of this brings me to something I read. While you are keeping your distance, wearing masks and really just practicing situational awareness, keep watch on yourself and your loved ones.

There’s a pretty good chance that a kind of PTSD can overcome even the best of us. If you are related to, or know, any front line responders take good care of them, even if that means letting them have their space. Their work is almost like being on a battlefield. They’ve seen and done things that no one should see or do.

As I’ve said repeatedly, this isn’t going away anytime soon. For the short term we must learn how to live with it and manage it. It may never entirely go away. The Spanish Flu which killed so many people, eventually morphed into the seasonal flu we call H1N1. I read a piece by a longtime coroner who basically said live your life and don’t listen to anybody. He still likens CoVid 19 to flu, which it isn’t. A lot of my friends were agreeing with him. What a load of BS.

Sure. Live your life. Just take the recommended precautions. We’ve made every military person a hero. Follow what they do. The ones on the battlefield wear protective gear, they carry long weapons and handguns. They live with heat, humidity, cold, rain and sometimes getting shot at. In combat zones they are never without a weapon.

Our leaders are just asking of us is to wear a mask and keep our distance. Our weapons are pretty simple, don’tcha think. Nike once used as a tagline, “Just Do It.”

It’s a slight inconvenience. It isn’t battle gear. It doesn’t weight 50 pounds. It weighs a few ounces. At least you won’t get shot at. Oh, wait. I live in New Orleans. We could get shot. Maybe I should pick a better city.

One more thing. Don’t let your guard down. That’s when you get sloppy. When you get sloppy bad things happen.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

Within You


New blooms.

Art.

I read a lot about fine art photography. I read a lot about art. I look at a lot of both. The term fine art photography seems very misplaced to me. How is another picture of a sunset fine art? Or, the waves breaking on a beach when the water has been slowed down so much that it turns to mist? How is another painting of an animal, fine art?

I really don’t know.

For me, art — forget fine — is something that expresses an unknown truth or brings you closer to something that is unseen in the physical sense. It also simplifies a subject down to its purest sense.

I always liked Robert Mapplethorpe. No, not his later explorations that gained him a measure of infamy. I have no problem with that work, but most of Middle America did. I’m talking about his studio work. The work that looked at something from its barest essence. That brought the viewer inside.

Especially flowers.

I suppose that this is my homage to his work. I try very hard to produce simplicity. It’s not easy. You can’t just turn this way of seeing on and off. Even with my routine, even with my zen-like approach to getting into a zone, getting to this place is almost impossible to achieve.

That’s probably how it should be.

As an old friend of mine use to say when I would complain about some difficulty, “If it was easy any poodle could do it.”

Stripped Away


A little weird.

Weirdness.

I made it that way. Unlike the speeding picture which happened in camera, this image was made after the fact in post production. By me. The original photograph showed a bright and sunny winters day.

I had a vision. I knew my final intent. I wanted to make what I kiddingly call a “Halloween Picture.” So I went to work. I removed most of the color, When I added black, I removed just enough of it to make the silhouette of the tree brown. You can see it mostly in the branches.

I knew when I was finished. That’s the thing about using vision to guide you. You know when you know.

That’s it for today.

If you are in the United States have a good Martin Luther King Day. If you are anywhere else in the world have a good Monday. Or, Tuesday.