nderneath the heavens above.” That’s a line from a Bob Dylan song. I heard it just as I started writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”
Y’all know that I listen to music while I write, yes? I’m playing a Spotify play list called Summer Rewind. I’m trying to think about what summer this particular list comes from. It is certainly eclectic mix of songs.
I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Philadelphia, who rents a small apartment in The French Quarter. She and her husband are coming down in a few weeks. It’s hard to beat the weather then. But, I was surprised because we’ve been talking about the crime and how it’s become very hard to take pictures.
I’ll see them while they are here. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay in the Quarter. During the day it may be one of the safest places in the city. As night rolls into early morning all bets are off, especially near upper Bourbon Street where it meets Canal Street.
My city. It’s really something these days. I keep trying to talk myself into staying. That’s getting harder every day.
Like everything, it depends.
his picture was easy to make. Just look up and try to put the moon and a subject on the ground to line up in some way.
Then, push the button.
The exposure was pretty close except for the center of the picture where the high mid-tones were too light, and they always will be. It seems to be a quirk of all smart phone cameras.
ostly, I say that a picture needs a little post production work to turn into something presentable.
Not this time. What I saw is what you get.
Better yet, I decided to take a little walk because I’m mostly trapped inside. I looked up and there it was. The moon poking through a wisp of white clouds and a bright blue sky backing it.
I made five pictures. That was it. I mostly just moved the moon around in the frame.
When things are right, that’s how my best work comes. Things haven’t been right for many weeks. I listened to a TED Talk by Dewitt Jones. He’s a former NGS photographer who now mostly gives talks. He’s polished and funny.
He discussed his way of working photographically which is to look for the good rather than document or find the bad. I kind of chuckled at that, but thought maybe I should do that. Maybe it would help me get out of this funk.
It did. Making this photograph made me feel pretty good. I don’t know how long this will last, but there’s always tomorrow to make another picture.
here is nothing technical to tell you. Just go outside and let a picture find you.
There’s magic in music and there’s magic in photographs. Let the magic come. Let it embrace you.
That’s all need to know.
From a technical point of you, I’ve been trying not to work so hard. I read that there is a new trend afoot.
For years, we’ve been told to capture RAW files. They are like a negative that you can work with in many ways.
Now some photographers are questioning that. They suggest that if you get your exposure down properly you should be able to make .JPEG files that are as good or better than RAW ones.
There is a way to test that easily. Set the capture to both RAW and .Jpeg and see what happens.
Moonrise over New Orleans. I wasn’t going to publish this picture yet, but a friend of mine posted a moonrise over the Long Island Sound, so I thought I’d better do this today.
Moons seem to have a lot to do with 2021. If you believe in such things, we are entering the Age of Aquarius. You remember the last time we did that. Flower children. Hippies. Peace. Great music. Love-ins. Be-ins. Woodstock.
Oh yeah. And, the war in Vietnam. Let’s be careful out there. We’ve been fighting unending wars in too many places.
I think good things will happen this time around. There were too many creative approaches to just about everything when our hands were tied by lockdowns and quarantines.
Let me loose now and there’s no telling what I’ll make better. Or, worse if you are on the other side.
Hope and faith in 2021.
I usually pick a word to use as sort of a koan for the year. This year and since I’m trying to be farther along and further in, I selected the word “truth.” Not as in me telling the truth. But, digging into myself and some outside influences to find the truth.
The photograph. I made the picture on a dog walk. My hurting little cocker spaniel started feeling better so she lead me on a fairly long walk.
The moon popped up on the way back.
I was kind of blown away by the brightness of the moon and the sky. It’s not often the clouds appear so clearly at night.
I made the picture. I thought that I had it. Oh no. I had it alright, among tons of noise. It took some serious post production to clean it up.
But, here it is. Just as I’d hoped for.
You know what I said about hope and faith in the left hand column? Sometimes, it takes a lot of work to achieve them.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy all the pizza pie since sometimes it looks like the moon in the sky.
It was early. The all seeing dog wanted to go out. She kept nagging me until I took her for a short walk. I did what she demanded. It was a good thing.
Look what I found. What a night. What a sky. What a moon. And, two long haul train engines. Sophie Rose knows what I don’t know. It would have never made this picture without her. Because we went out so early, we went out again close to midnight to just make sure. I hate waking up because she needs a quick pee at 4 am.
The moon was high. The engines were gone. The picture was gone.
Let this be lesson to us all. Listen to the animal who thinks she owns you, and always carry something with which to make pictures. Don’t hesitate.
That’s all I have. Today.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every bowl of Yakamein.
Even though we haven’t physically gone anywhere, it feels like we have traveled forever. We are burned out from exhaustion. We are tired of the trail. We miss our friends. Our family. We miss our colleagues. We miss our lives.
I’m not sure that we are ever going to get these things back.
A friend of mine attended a big wedding this weekend. There was hugging and kissing, singing and dancing. Not one mask in sight. Obviously, there was no social distancing. These people hadn’t seen each other in at least six months. What are they thinking? Better yet, were they thinking?
Meanwhile, the folks in Southwestern Louisiana are suffering. They likely won’t have power for a month, water for two weeks. Some are staying in hotels in New Orleans. That’s the least we could do. They took us in after Hurricane Katrina.
Meanwhile, there’s fighting in the streets. People are beating each other. People are getting shot. People are dying. Protests are turning into riots. Nobody is sure which side started the riots, the shooting, the burning.
Meanwhile, we have a president who lies as easy as he breathes. A president, who at best is incompetent. People are dying. Who at worst is a criminal. People are dying.
They tell you to vote. I don’t know if we can hang on that long. They say that if the president is re-elected democracy could come to an end. We are in the worst possible place that I’ve ever known us to be. I thought that I could continue working hard at what I do. I thought I could eventually leave this mortal coil peacefully. I doubt that is to be.
I’ve been lucky with moon shots lately. I made this picture in the rain, under an awning and a bunch of tree branches. It’s a true Louisiana picture. The moon is shining. The rain is falling. That’s how it happens around here. That, or the rain follows you and only you.
It’s a little tricky making a picture like this. The moon is spinning. The earth is spinning. The rain is falling. What do focus on? I more or less picked the rain. It’s almost impossible to make a round moon in those conditions. That also made the clouds look weird. Like splatters of paint.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t be like those folks at the wedding. Enjoy every sandwich.
It seems that my attitude has gotten worse towards opening schools too soon just because there’s a dangling carrot. They say follow the money and I did. Don’t fully open the schools and the state loses federal funding.
I have a couple of words about it. Two words. I won’t write them here. This is a family blog.
This really hit home this morning. I read a long piece written by a school administrator in southern Arizona. It was horrifying. He lost his most senior teacher to the virus. Three more got sick. Students have gotten sick. In every case, the school followed every possible protocol. When they didn’t receive plastic shields they cut and hung shower curtains.
Still, human beings died.
The headline says, “I’m sorry but it’s a fantasy.”
And, so it is. I can hardly wait until my teacher friends start getting sick. I can hardly wait until one of them passes. I don’t know what depths of hell their families and I will sink to.
Some say that’s negative. Nonsense. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Make plans even though they will change. There are no plans. Only hope.
All the Blue
Let’s do something more positive. Let’s talk about this picture. After all, artists gotta art harder if we want to be heard.
Normally, I don’t carry my phone when it’s the last trip outside. We don’t go far. For some reason I took with us. Good thing that I did. The moon was just shining away in a deep blue sky. Photographing the moon with a phone is a little sporty, especially since I wanted to frame it with something. Although my phone has a sort of internal zoom lens when you reach the outer edges of it, focusing takes a hope and a prayer.
I leaned up against the wall, took a deep breath and released it as I pressed the button. I did it three times in rapid succession. Wonder of wonders. All three frames were sharp. I made a few more different compositions. The dog was done and so was I.
Post production was mostly a matter of correcting the noise I see that I didn’t quite get, and to make sure the blues were the ones that I saw. I got that.
If a couple of the dogs didn’t want me to go outside with them for their last needs until morning I wouldn’t have seen the moon.
Oh sure, I knew it was coming. Social media types love talking about natural events. This is the biggest moon of the summer. This is a wolf moon. This is a sight not to be missed because… the next one won’t be for seven years, eight years, no – make that a decade.
All of that went in one ear and out the other. This is the start of our rainy season. We’ve mostly had cloudy days for the last week or so. We had rain and overcast all day, yesterday.
When the dogs requested my presence I didn’t think anything of it. I took my phone because I always take my phone. We got to “their” place. I looked up and my oh my.
What a moon.
The sky was mostly clear except for a little local wisp of clouds. I braced myself and made about five images. I tried to include Mars, but that made the moon too small. I couldn’t crop because the exposure is right at the edge of the phone’s capabilities.
The sky is brown because I live in a city. The ambient light looks brownish to a camera sensor. I tried to correct it to something more bluish but that just displayed the camera’s limitations even more. Way too much pixelization.
By the way, all post production was done in the phone. I use, as I always use, Snapseed to make all corrections and improvements.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy every glass of homemade beer… but, not too many. I wouldn’t want you forgetting to do what you know you should do.