Too early for me.

The thing about going to bed early means that I awake too early. I mostly sleep around six hours a night. You can do the math. If I go to bed around 11 pm, well, you know.

It’s a little maddening. It means that I haven’t gotten quite enough sleep. It also means that I usually need a nap. In the morning.

Of course, the dogs hear me moving around even if everybody else doesn’t. They want to go out. That would be fine if all they wanted to do was empty themselves, but oh no, they want to go for a walk.

Today it was just the all seeing dog. Big dreamer. We walked about a third of our usual walk and she turned around and headed for home. She drank some water and went back to bed.

Uh huh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Large venues are starting to open to full capacity. Don’t go to them. I predict another surge. Many of the newly sick will be Texas Ranger or Atlanta Braves fans.

I’m not a big sunset or sunrise photographer. I know that each one is a little different, but they all look the same to me.

I’d rather photograph what they illuminate, or at least stick something in the foreground. That’s what I did here.

Of course, looking into the sun I couldn’t quite see what I was photographing.

There was a bunch of junk in the bottom area. I cropped that out.

I also added some bokeh mostly because I could and to hide a couple of imperfections that came from looking into the sun.

It might not sound like it, but there are a lot of tricks to the trade buried in those few paragraphs.


In the morning when we rise.

Sometimes it’s all light and color with just a hint of subject matter. Sometimes it’s more. This picture straddles both, leaning to the previous. It’s sort of musical.

That’s just as well. It’s been a musical sort of day. The musicians in my life have been playing sort of tag with me and I with them. We’ve been liking each others’ work on the socials.

We are supposed to be secret keepers. That’s a title of a song, but it isn’t quite so positive. Google it, listen to it and maybe you’ll figure to out.

See what I mean? We are all playing with fire.

Anyway.

All music, all day.

We started with something on the quiet side. A morning mix made by a friend of mine. It only got louder and more energetic from there. Remember Cream’s live version of “Crossroads?” Like that.

I don’t know what we were thinking. The neighbors wondered if we were thinking.

I don’t believe we were. After so many months in lockdown, it was time to feel, not think.

That was Sunday. Today is Monday. Either we get back to thinking or just keep going. I vote for the latter.

You?

Bokeh. The Japanese word that means the quality of the background in a photograph. Somebody started using the word and it became a thing. It’s not really a thing. Japanese people don’t even use it.

The bokeh in this picture is fake. It was created by software on OnOne. Real bokeh is creamy and is created by the quality of the lens used to make the picture.

I used it to hide a billion imperfections, which is just about the only time that I use it.

The rest of the photograph is real. So there.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.


Morning sun, part two.

Just Dandy. See what I did there?

Spring arrived. The time of allergies. The time of sneezing. Not from this little guy, but from Live Oaks. So much pollen. More pollen in years. At least, that’s what the weather person said who comes on at six.

Everybody is sneezing around here. Even the dogs. None of us are amused. Especially in this season of the witch. If we are walking somewhere and sneeze, people glare at us. No. We don’t have “THE VIRUS.” We have allergies. That what our docs told us. We have some kind of steroidal stuff that we spray up our noses.

It’s really not a big deal. It’s just a season in the swamp. I’d say that we get used to it. But, we never do. Just like we don’t get used to Carnival Season. When you think about it, even with a change of costumes, so much of Mardi Gras looks about the same. That’s a little comforting.

The picture. I think smartphones are amazing. The sharpness of the dandelion is something. I didn’t have to do anything magical, or technical. I just pointed the lens and waited until it found its focus point. And, check out the background bokeh. All those little circles pinwheeling around make the picture a little more interesting.

Just like everything seems a bit surreal right now, it’s even more so in my photographic world. Nobody is working. Most events have been cancelled. Travel photographers can’t travel. Music photographers have no music to shoot. Commercial photographers assignments have been cancelled.

When they can, I know a bunch of professional travel photographers who use the newest, most high end smartphone to do their jobs. Some of them don’t even bother to bring their DSLR or Mirrorless cameras. I don’t have that many guts. But, one of my agencies asked me to work using my smartphone in order to produce a different kind of photograph.

Different photographs. For sure. Because phones are so ubiquitous nobody pays attention if you make pictures in their presence. Sometimes I don’t even focus. The camera does. I just stick my hand into the middle of something and push the button. That creates another kind of energy and sensibility.

I didn’t take smartphone photography very seriously. But, lately I’ve seen some stunning work in print and on walls. This has been going on for awhile. I just never noticed it. Now that I have, I’m eager to test it. Not just with my version of nature pictures, but with real people, maybe at a second line or Indian event… if they ever happen again.

When we come out of the season of the virus, most everything will have changed. That’ll be the time to fix things. To make things better.

Even though I was pretty bleak yesterday, I still have a kind of hope. But, you can’t eat hope.

Instead of laying back and waiting, I think we ought to prepare, sharpen ourselves, train, get stronger and spring into action as soon as we can. I certainly don’t want to go back to the way things were with everybody screaming at each other, with intense polarization, with true greed showing at every turn.

I want things to be better. Much better. We can do this. I know we can.

Stay safe. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


No longer Gray.

Surreal?

That’s probably the least of things around here. It really comes down to people, who as Jerry Seinfeld once said, are the worst.

Even though all St. Patrick’s Day parades were cancelled. And, even though the governor put a limitation on crowd sizes, some people just had to gather on Magazine and Bourbon Streets to get drunk and celebrate the holiday. Mostly, they got drunk.

The police broke up the gathering on Magazine Street, while some of them were shouting about their right to assemble peacefully, forgetting that the rule concerns protests. The police did not disperse the crowds on Bourbon Street. I suspect locally owned club and bar owners’ money came into play.

Of course, there are all the airport disruption issues that were created by the Federal Government when they imposed virus tests for incoming passengers without thinking the process through.

I saw pictures some of the 13 approved airports. Crowds and crowds and crowds. In most cases, it took 6 hours to retrieve luggage and at least four hours to make it to customs and immigration. The travelers were packed about six inches apart. Forget about the six feet of separation.

Sheesh.

When did my country become a banana republic? Never mind, I know. When did people become so selfish and show such disregard for other people’s welfare? When did people panic at every little comment? In most of New Orleans not only did toilet paper and hand sanitizer become rare, so did chicken. WTF? Chicken? Who started the rumor that drove people to buy all the chicken in Greater New Orleans?

Nothing good is going to come from any of this.

The picture. That’s really what you want to know about, isn’t it? This is the gray picture. I liked the picture well enough that I set out to make it prettier in post production. Oh yeah. I posted it to notches unknown. There’s a little gray, but mostly it’s orange. Much brighter. Much prettier.

Stay safe. Take care of each other. Enjoy every sandwich. And, for God’s sake, stay out of Wal-Mart.


Looking out in the morning fog.

Morning view.

Another scene that I was lucky enough to photograph. It’s sort of like yesterday’s picture, but this one feels a little mysterious, moody or even scary. At least, it does to me.  I keep expecting to see an evil little troll appear somewhere.

So.

A little local news.

Most of you know about the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. Last week a red tarp blew off the remains revealing the body of one of the men who died in the rubble but couldn’t be removed. People photographed it and posted pictures on social media which prompted local news media to do about the same thing. It was replace by a yellow tarp.

The mayor scolded us for that.

The City Council responded by wanting to start an investigation.

That mayor said no.

The council is doing it anyway.

A few days later, it was revealed that the Hard Rock Hotel developers donated $70,000 to the mayors re-election war chest.

The mayor tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the IRS slapped a tax lien on her and her husband’s house for unpaid taxes totaling $95,000. A little research revealed that they owed back taxes for at least five years.

The mayor responded, trying to spread the blame, by saying they are just other struggling families in New Orleans.

Wut?

She makes $140,000 a year as mayor. Her husband is an attorney who earns about the same money. She doesn’t pay for her own transportation and a whole host of other perks that she is given as mayor of this swamp.

My view is that she should resign for the good of the city. She won’t. Why should she?

The city’s streets aren’t being repaired properly, while murders are down the crime rate is up, the Sewerage and Water Board fails every time that we have a powerful storm and water lines and canals seem only to be inspected once every 15 years or so.

Just once, I’d like to elect a mayor who knows what he or she is doing. I tried this last election. I voted for Desiree Charbonnet, a judge who was known for her honesty and fair mindedness. But, nooo…  she was a little too connected for the folks in the city. They reply that even now is that we should stand by the mayor because she is the first elected black woman. What the hell do they think Ms. Charbonnet is, and would have been?

At least Charbonnete is from New Orleans. Latoya Cantrell came here from Los Angeles. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not from here. But, maybe we need somebody who understands the system and can fight against it, instead of wandering around babbling, “The City of Yes.”

Just sayin’.


Evidence.

Winter.

I have a friend in Milwaukee who was complaining because his four year old snow blower broke down yesterday. I have friends further east who were just waiting until the big snowstorm reached them. Even in Seattle, where the weather is fairly mild, the streets were tangled by snowfall.

Not down here. Oh no. Not down here in the swamp.

Instead, the temperature yesterday was in the mid to high 70s. The Japonicas are blooming. So are all sorts of new little buds. The squirrels are complaining. I’ve heard bird sounds that I’ve never heard in the past,

Not to worry. Today turned chilly. The rest of the week will be downright cold. Lows in the low 30s. At least cold for us.

Then, around the first week of May, things will heat up. NOLAHeat will come after us until October. If I could think of a place where we could spend our summer, we’d go there. But, every place is hot. Some air is dryer. Some air is moister. But, it’s still hot.

My neighbor suggested that we go to the beach. Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to stay for at least eight weeks? If I were going to the beach — which sounds very nice — I’d like to go to the ocean, not the gulf. I’d rather go to the Pacific, not the Atlantic. If course, beggars can’t be choosers.

Where would you go for a couple of months if you could?


Another look at wonderful fall light.

I don’t usually post a picture from the same take two days in a row unless it’s from an event like a second line.

I sort of feel like I’m either cheating or not doing my work very well. But, an old friend of mine who is rarely on Facebook commented about yesterday’s work. She liked it.

She suffered a terrible loss about a decade ago. Even though the shock and the trauma have been dulled, she still isn’t over it. Nor, should she be.

She was awfully kind to me when we first met on a plane, We talked for a while and then when she saw my walking to a taxi stand, she gave me a ride to my hotel. We had a quick meal and a better dinner the next night. Mostly, we talked about what happened. Today, we keep in touch.

I think about that time now and again. I was there on business. My friend lives there. When I wonder about myself sometimes, I think maybe that’s why I’m here. Like the old James Taylor song says.

There’s a whole bunch of lyrics to the song, but I like this set the best.

“Fortune and fame’s
Such a curious game
Perfect strangers
Can call you by name

Pay good money
To hear Fire and Rain
Again and again
And again

Some are like summer
Coming back every year
Got your baby
Got your blanket
Got your bucket of beer

I break into a grin
From ear to ear
And suddenly
It’s perfectly clear

That’s why I’m here (that’s why I’m here)
Sing it tonight, tomorrow and everyday
That’s why I’m standing (that’s why I’m here)
Oh that’s why I’m here”

We talk about this very subject at home. Often.


I told you. A swamp.

See?

A swamp. Where we live. Well, kinda. Sorta.

A real swamp would likely be very deep and wet this time of year. Most of the real swamps have been developed. Into concrete. But, here and there, you can find some little groves of what came before us. This one takes about ten minutes to walk through.

If I was really feeling my oats, I’d drive down to Barataria Preserve and walk along the wooden plank sidewalk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park where alligators lurk underneath you, and snakes watch you from above. Jean Lafitte was a pirate. Not only did he serve with U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans, but he wasn’t afraid of alligators and snakes. Like I am.

You’d think getting to such a primitive place would take hours. Nah. Forty-five minutes to an hour and you are there. A lot of tourists visiting New Orleans take a tour of the swamp by boat, then drive upriver to plantation country. Between the two, it’s a nice day trip and not all that far from the “big” city. And, it’s really hard to get lost.

The picture. I didn’t have to do much to it. I made it in the early morning sun which gave it a nice yellow glow. But, not that early. In order for the light to penetrate the foliage, the sun had to get high enough to find the right angle to do its work for me. That’s it.

One more thing. If you take a swamp tour by boat, the guide usually has a couple of chickens that he or she bought at the local Wal-Mart. Cold. Not alive. The chickens are tossed into the water where gators are known to lurk. That creates a commotion so that pictures can be taken.


During a walk, I saw a little hope.

Morning light.

The day looks good. My country doesn’t look so good. Normally, we’d have a leader who would guide us through mass murders. In my lifetime, every president has spoken to calm the country. To bring us together. To let us know that he has our backs.

Typically, they travel to the scene and talk to us from there.

Not this president. He tweeted a couple of general thoughts. He didn’t stop playing golf. He went dark. His supporters are trying to spread the blame. They said just about everything but the truth.

Here’s the truth.

Guns are too easy to obtain. That’s legally. They are even easier to obtain on the streets. Illegally. There are more guns than people in The United States.

The President of The United States is a racist. He’s hateful. He’s bitter. He seeks to polarize my country. His speeches and tweets are designed to denigrate “others.” People who aren’t White. People who are immigrated from someplace else. With brown skin. With black skin.

He’s given unspoken permission for every white power extremest to come out of the sewers where they’ve been hiding. The two mass killings on Saturday and Sunday are examples of that.

Our Congress isn’t helping. They are too fearful. Bought and paid for. Too compromised. The Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will not let bipartisan legislation come to the floor to be voted on if it affects positive change. His new nickname is Moscow Mitch. He blocked legislation to prevent the Russians from interfering with our elections.

With Karma being the bitch it is, he fell at home yesterday. He broke his shoulder. Knowing what I know about joint breaks, he’ll live the rest of his life in pain. Damn.

The only option is to vote all of these people out of power. Vote POTUS out of power and then send him to prison.

If I sound angry. You’re damn right I am.

It’s bad enough that this president is trying to bring down democracy. But, too many people are dying because of his words. Because of his racism. Because of his corruption. This must change.

We must change.

Now.