Never more.

R

escued from my archives.

I found this picture while I was looking for something else. That’s sort of the way I make pictures, on the way to some place else.

The funny thing about the picture is that the subject doesn’t exist. Not anymore. It was a designer’s idea as part of the landscaping of a new venue.

The venue is all angles and made of metal. I suppose bamboo made a nice counterpoint, but the it was planted on the hottest side of the building in really dry soil.

I photographed it the day it was planted. Two weeks later the bamboo was dry and starting to die. Two weeks later there were broken stalks and little more.

Eventually the landscapers got around to clearing it and planting something else. Some of it succeeded. Most did not because they planted it too close to the artist driveway. Big touring trucks rolled over it again, again.

Oh well.

S

o, while I was working on this post I was listening to a new record by Los Lobos called, “Native Sons.”

It’s all covers.

That doesn’t sound great does it?

But, in their hands the songs are better than the originals. Better yet, I can sing along to most of it.

I can’t sing the two Spanish songs which is my fault for listening to my teachers in high school. They said take Latin. It’ll be fun and prepare you for college.

I never once used Latin in college, but I could have spoken Spanish in a lot of places.

Oh well.


Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


Nature’s best.

Lately, I’ve been waking up way too early. That would be fine, but the all seeing dog is ready to go. I haven’t even had a coffee and she’s waiting by the door. Since she’s usually right, out we go.

Sometimes, but not always, pictures like this result from our early morning walks. This picture was made on our return route so the sun is a little higher in the sky than something like a dawn picture.

I would have preferred not to have the power pole in the picture. I’ve pretty much given up on that idea because in New Orleans power lines are above ground. Most of the city is built on elastic soil of the swamps below. That’s why we lost power seemingly forever after Hurricane Katrina. Above ground power lines.

Now do you see my problem?

My ground is elastic. Time is elastic. My clothes aren’t.

No matter, only the ground’s flexibility matters to this picture.

Morning light. Normally, I mostly work with late afternoon light. That’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to get up early.

For some reason, that’s changed. Of course, because I haven’t gotten enough sleep I take a nap… at 9am.

Who does that?

There really is no secret technique to making a picture like this. See it, click the shutter, do it a couple more times to be sure and you’re done.

Studio time is minimal too. Finish your picture and live your life.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Don’t be stupid. Enjoy all the early morning light.


Little things.

So, people are saying spring is finally upon us. Down here in The Gulf Coast we’ve had spring for about a month. But, in the last day spring exploded. The greens are greener. The flowers are vibrant. Leaves have just exploded out of their slumber.

Luckily, it’s still cool bordering on cold. In a month or so summer’s heat and humidity will be upon us. Until October. Five months of three showers a day. Five months of dog walks as early and late as possible. And, six months of hurricane season.

The world turns.

Nature always seeks stasis. She doesn’t want to move anything too much except for us. That’s why the climate is changing. We will either deal with it or we’ll be gone. And, sooner than we think if we don’t act today.

I read that 40% of all Republicans will not be vaccinated.

This isn’t a political issue. This is a health issue. Both climate change and the virus will kill us if we aren’t careful.

I did get involved a little today. For the first time in 19 months we took a walk through the French Quarter. The air is cool and bright. We’ve had our jabs. We wore our masks. We arrived at the front of St. Louis Cathedral where parishioners were coming out after the Good Friday Stations of the Cross.

No social distancing. Not a mask among them. They were touching each others hands. The Archbishop of Orleans Parish was right there with them.

We weren’t about to get too close. But, worked my way around so that he could see me. I gave him the ultimate teacher’s stink eye. I didn’t say a word, but he thought I might be having a problem.

He came over and asked if I was okay. I said that I was, but he wasn’t and a wondered how many of these people he would be officiating funerals for. He didn’t know what to say. He’s supposed to be a community leader and this is how he leads the people closest to him?

If the thunder don’t get you than the lightening will.

The green, green grass of home. That’s what I saw. There were about a billion of little snowball like wildflowers just about everywhere.

I put the phone down on the ground and pointed it toward the subject. I’d like to say it was easy, but you have no idea how hard the phone fights you in that position.

Tools are supposed to do what you need them to do. Not anymore. Programmers think that they have to save us from ourselves. I’m not that stupid. If I point the lens at something, I want to take a picture of it.

It took me four or five times to make this picture. I’m not talking about extra pictures made as I explored the scene. I mean I’d press the button and nothing would happen.

Working at it in post production was fairly simple. I made it brighter and warmer because that’s how it looked to me when I saw it.

And, that’s it.

A pre-Easter picture because I found it and I could.


Out on the edge.

Luckily for all of us, WordPress made a lot of changes in the block system. They announced it today. I use the word luckily in a snarky tongue in cheek way.

I am convinced they “improve” their apps because they want to keep their staff employed. I guess during these pandemic times that’s a good thing.

I imagine a lot of coders working from home, wearing their daytime pajamas and sitting in front of a screen mindlessly typing, typing, always typing. Around them are piles of empty burrito wrappers, energy drink cans, taco chip bags and ice cream containers.

Then, they send their work to us. They send it in bits and pieces. Eventually, an email from the home office (somebody’s three car garage) is sent telling us about these changes.

Woah!

That’s not what I intended to write about. I thought I was going to tell you about a wonderful morning when I made this picture.

The air is beginning to warm a bit. The all seeing dog enjoys being out even if she isn’t walking as far these days.

So, we walk to a place where I can sit. She sits too. Eventually, she lays down in her pose. Front paws forward, back paws extended backwards. She’s enjoying herself and that’s what matters.

Right?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t be foolish, it’s not over yet. Enjoy all the spring.

The edge. That’s what this picture is about. It’s about the real fine edge when winter turns into spring.

There you see it. Now you don’t. Follow the magic ball.

Then, spring is here. Fully present.

We were sitting outside after walking a bit, I was watching to clouds dance around the sun.

I did what I always do. I made a few pictures. I returned home wondering if I made anything good because the sun so bright I couldn’t even see to frame or focus. Truly point and shoot.

I got lucky.

I did a little work in post production and there you have it.

A photograph.

This brings me to something I was reading about. Maybe you did too.

An anonymous collector paid $69 million dollars in cryptocurrency for a work of art that only lives in the digital world.

Sheesh.


Drifting higher and higher.

The wheel is turning and it won’t slow down. Can’t back up and you can’t stand still

I learned a lot today. I learned it before breakfast. I watched The President’s discussion about the horrific number of pandemic dead in our country.

500,000.

That’s 120,000 more than the city of New Orleans.

I listened to a much hyped podcast on Spotify. It’s a discussion between former president Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen. Today was podcast one. I think that there are eight in total.

Of course I learned different points from each of them, but when I spun it around in my head I came up with two things.

I realized that like most of the country I’m in mourning. I mourn for the 500,000 dead. I knew a few of them.

I also mourn for a way of life that will never return. When you think of what’s changed in your life you realized that the world shifted.

Make no mistake. I still believe that whatever the new normal is, wecan be much better than where we were pre-pandemic.

To get there, first you have to mourn. You must pass through the five stages of grief. And, then you can go on.

I can’t speak for others, but I am not particularly happy right now. It’s nothing in particular. It’s just the remains of the past year. And, this year. It is sort of a clod or fog that me feelings are in.

This year has also become a year of reckoning. It started with music. The music got into my head and I started thinking about it. It’s time to think about and work through my past life. It’s time to confront all of my ghosts, good or bad.

In case you are wondering, I’m not the only person going through this. Pandemic times opened a lot of people. We have time to think. Time to reflect. Time to make ourselves crazy.

About that last one, you know what I mean. You think about something you did in the past and you say to yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?”

Remember one more thing.

My koan or word for the year is truth. Not telling the truth. Inside truth. The one only I know. And, God.

More balloons. This is what people from all over the world come for. Mass ascensions.

The sun is low in the sky. Balloons are up.

Albuquerque has a wind pattern called The Albuquerque Box. Wind hits the Sandia mountain range, bounces along its face and pushes back out in the direction from which it came.

In theory, that should make photography easy.

You know about theories. They break down. Sometimes the balloons drift away. The end up all over the city.

One morning when I wasn’t going out, I walked into the kitchen to see a balloon almost in my backyard.

That’ll happen.

Instead of making pictures, I helped the pilot since his chase car couldn’t get anywhere near him.

I’m not that good of a guy. I didn’t want my windows broken. We were renting then. I could just imagine walking into the management office and asking for my kitchen windows to replaced. “What happened?” “They were hit by a balloon.”

Right.

The picture itself. F8 and be there. Point your camera into the sun even though they say not to do that and fire away.

“They” is often wrong.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You are experts in the rest by now. You know what to do. Enjoy every Albuquerque Box.


One glorious morning.

Once upon a time. I lived in New Mexico. We lived there after Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans. We needed a little peace. Solitude. Quitetude.

I don’t know how long we planned to stay. I thought maybe a year or two. It turned out to be almost five years.

We heard the pounding of the Mardi Gras Indian drums. The noise of second lines. The brass music on the streets.

In the distance.

We returned to the place from which we came.

Now, almost ten years later I have a feeling. It’s not a good one. It’s one that’s been creeping up on me a little at a time.

I made a mistake. A big, huge mistake.

Looking back, we should have just stayed there. Maybe we should have moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe or even Taos.

And, now?

It seems like it would fun to return but we’ve got too much invested in the other “new.” Not New Mexico.

New Orleans. I don’t know if I have the energy to move a quarter of the country away.

Ten years in one place means ten years older. Ten years means 67 years old. If I move it would be my last move. Yeah. That sounds ominous. It’s not. But, who wants to keep moving?

As I worked to make my career I moved many times. That got old, but I had a direction. Upward. Ever upward. Now? Not so much.

I have friends with whom I went to high school in Long Beach. A good number of them married their high school sweethearts. Others married a little later. But, they stayed. They stayed for 50 years. In Long Beach. Or, Southern California.

Some days that sounds really good. For some of them, their big trip is to Las Vegas. That sounds good.

Now.

For a long time that sounded boring. For me, it may have been. I think you learn a lot by being in a place. I know a lot of cities pretty well. Of course, some of those memories have drifted. But, a little strolling around and I’m right back where I left off.

That sounds fun. But, who’s traveling now?

Not me.

One more thing. I’m mostly thinking out loud. I’m not going anywhere.

Are you?

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That’s where I made this photograph. We lived about five miles from the balloon field.

That meant I photographed it almost every year. I used to scrounge up a letter of assignment from a friend of mine. That got me press credentials which don’t matter on the balloon field, but they give you parking. That matters.

Of course, the great equalizer is the traffic.

There were some mornings when I got tied up in traffic. Those fives miles took 45 minutes to work through. I arrived late so I had to find other ways to make pictures.

New Mexico has wonderful light. Some photographers think that means all day. For sure the light is crystalline even at noon. But, the usual rules apply. Work at the ends of days where the golden light is the best.

Morning balloon lifts are great for working in some amazing light. If I arrived late I just chased balloons which allowed me to make pictures like this one.

A picture that speaks to solitude. To peace. To nature.

Man (the balloon) becomes a tiny speck in the universe.

Isn’t that what we are? A blip. That is reinforced time and again. It’s what brought us to New Mexico. It’s what happened to the people of Texas last week.

So, really. That’s what this picture is about. Man. Nature. Our relationship.

Which isn’t so great right now.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy your universe.


Painted sky.

Pastel Sky, looking like a water color. That wasn’t my intention, but that’s what happened.

In this day of all things digital photographers are trying to make their work look like anything but photography. I understand the need to take things to the next level. I do it myself more times than not.

Just don’t force it.

It’s more of a Zen-like approach for me. I try to let the scene teach me how to take the picture and the picture try to show me how it should look.

It works most of the time.

That’s why my work looks all over the place sometimes. In fact, I think as I build new portfolio pages for Storyteller I’m going to group images by color and hue rather than by subject matter.

I saw a friend’s bookshelves organized that way and I thought it was just the coolest thing. I don’t imagine that you could organize a public library that way because you’d never find anything. But, for home or office… why not?

Yeah.

Why not?

The cold is the cold. Managing to make a picture look that way is something else.

This picture was mostly the result of seeing rather than developing.

The picture looks cold because it was cold when I made it.

I didn’t have to do that much to it to make it feel that way.

I used only one technique. I minimized the structure and just barely sharpened anything. That brings a water color look to the finished image. It also plugs up the shadows which makes them look a little moody.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy all the color.


In the morning, when you rise.

Walking and seeing. That’s what’s been happening lately. For some reason unknown to me, I seem to have recovered my ability to see.

It may have been my own doing. I started trying to make art that wasn’t me. I was trying to tailor my work to a certain gallery, rather than find a gallery that was tailored to my work.

Once I realized the difference it took me a couple of weeks to work through that, but eventually I came out on the other side where my process was my process, and my pictures were my pictures.

Muted art be damned.

So, now I’m back at it. I can see, feel and think again. I’m not sure if my work is good, but I’m sure that’s mine.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy your vision.

Processes are different for all of us. Lately, mine has changed. Since I’m not a photojournalist I can do whatever I like.

Lately, I look at a scene and see it for what it can be. That’s what happened when I saw the scene that eventually became this picture.

We were out about about 10am. Winter light is better than many other kinds of light. That was in my favor.

But, blue sky and a tree wasn’t much. It came to me that I could do something with this scene and make it a little special.

I framed the tree in the sky and went to work back home in the studio.

There was a lot of experimenting going on. After that came tinkering and finally some kind of success. I finished it in OnOne and it is as you see it.

I’d ask if you had questions. I can teach you the technique. But, your vision is your vision.