T

he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

P

ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


Way inside.

Memorial Day. If you’ve been around for a while you know what I think. There is no “Happy” to Memorial Day. There are only thoughts of those who never made it home. Those who paid the ultimate price. For freedom. For your hot dog. For your hamburg.

Generally, I feel guilty.

Instead of a flag or cemetery picture I thought that I would post a picture of pure light, pure color. A picture once made in New Mexico.

It’s the food stands at one of the International Balloon Fiestas. In Albuquerque. New Mexico.

That’s not what this post is about. It’s about going deep inside. Finally. Ironically, on a day the we mourn our war dead. My war dead. Your’s too.

It started as a dream. A dream that won’t let go. A dream that’s come back to me four times on two different nights and mornings.

The dream that began in New York. I was returning from a trip with a bunch of other people. The vehicle was so filled up with stuff that I had to stand outside and hang on to he back end.

That was just as well. When we got into the city traffic was so backed up that I just jumped off and walked faster than the cars were going. I needed a way out. I came to a hole and I jumped into it.

No comes the wired part.

I started walking down, down, down. I walked past piles of junk. I walked past abandoned vehicles. I walked until I came to the bottom where everything was just a brownish-gray mud.

I made my way to the surface slowly. Very slowly. There were broken down and used up military vehicles. Some people were working on them. They ignored me. I watched them. The tanks and cannons weren’t blown up. They were used up. They no longer ran because they couldn’t be repaired.

I eventually came to the surface. I was covered in mud. I was gray. I was brown. I went to a locker and changed into newly washed clothes. They were old fashioned dungarees. I had to pass through a sort of check out where I was sent onto the street… in Los Angeles.

I started walking. I knew where I wanted to go. Home. Home was in Long Beach. I started walking in that direction. I passed through all sorts of neighborhoods, all of them run down and broken. The people looked mean but ignored me as I walked.

Eventually, I came to a river…

I awoke.

Making this picture was easy. Maybe, too easy.

Slow the shutter speed down. Set the aperture for F 5.6. Stand tall so that everything doesn’t move. Hit the button.

Done.

Keep things clean in post production and everything is golden.

What I can’t figure out is how my dream lead me to this picture. Or, was it the other way around?

I think the grays and browns lead me here. No matter. There is more of the dream to come. Maybe you’ll find out. I’m still not sure that I did.

Maybe it’s just my reaction to so much drab color. After all, this picture is the antithesis of that. It’s all color.

And, it’s simple. As simple as gray and brown, but the other way around.

There is one thing I sort of understand about my dream. The worn out tanks and cannons come from reality.

The Nazi Germans built a couple of huge tanks. The Tiger and the King Tiger. Allied armament couldn’t penetrate them yet they were defeated.

There were three reasons.

The US armed forces sent five smaller M4 Shermans to attack them. Four were blown up. The fifth got through and was close enough to destroy them.

The Tigers were gas guzzlers. Something like eight gallons to the mile is what it took to move them.

Worse. After about 10 miles they needed an overhaul. They broke down in the field of combat and needed to be repaired.

They were used up.


The streets were wet.

One of my road trips during the PAD days was to Reno, Nevada. There is a story behind this adventure which I’ll tell in a bit.

I drove from Albuquerque through Las Vegas and north on state route 95. I stopped along the way. I turned a two day trip into three.

I made a huge amount of signature pictures. Most of that was just due to timing. Arrive at a place that you want to photograph in good light and guess what happens.

When I arrived, I was tired, grumpy and wet. The grumpiness was at myself. Nobody else. I checked into the hotel at time when nobody was traveling. The hotel was a pretty good one, but my room cost ten dollars.

The front desk manager took one look at me and upgraded my room without asking.

What a room.

It was one of those high roller suites. It was located on a very high floor so I could see the city. It had a huge bigger than kingsize bed, a 60 inch television right in front of the bed. If you didn’t want to watch anything you could lower it and see the rest of the room. There were sitting areas with couches and deep, plush chairs.

There was a heart shaped couples bathtub in the room. There was a shower for two. There was a wet and dry sauna. And, get this, the minibar was free.

I stayed three for three days. Thirty dollars for all of that.

Anyway.

My parents retired to Reno. They also passed in Reno. They are buried at the veteran’s cemetery in Fernley about 15 miles away. That’s really why I came. When my dad passed I promised myself I’d come every two years.

I’m sorry to say that I was last there in 2007. Fourteen years. That’s too long. Maybe when I feel like it’s safe to travel I’ll go there. It’s gonna be a long road trip.

I like road trips.

If the weather is my kind of weather, it’ll take me a week to get there even though from New Orleans I’ve only added an extra days driving time.

Maybe the fall.

Picturing things, I walked out on the street into the pouring rain.

I din’t care. I was wearing rain gear, my cameras were protected and I felt like making pictures. After all, that was the secondary reason for this trip.

I had dinner in a Thai restaurant that I knew from past trips. I finished that and started walking.

I walked up behind this couple and started making pictures. I never look at my work even when I return to my hotel room. I had no idea what I had until I returned to New Mexico.

It may be superstitious of me, but I never look. Or, it just may be the realization that I can’t do anything about a blown set of pictures.

The take away is that this picture was made in the camera. The only change I made in post production was to sharpen the image a bit.

When the picture is right, it’s right.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


A study in colorful motion blur.
Life in a blur.

Walking.

It seems that the only pictures I make these days is on a walk, mostly with the all seeing dog. That isn’t working. I’ve been hinting — or, maybe I’ve been clearer than I thought — at not being all I could be right now.

I read a longish article in The New York Times. Basically, the writer reported statistics, not what to do about it. Fully 33% of all Americans are depressed in the age of the pandemic. That’s a lot of people.

The causes? They stretch across a broad spectrum. Things like the loss of a job, the loss of income, fear of getting sick, getting sick, seeing things change so quickly, empty streets of your favorite city, being cooped up for months. The list continues.

I forgot the most important cause. The death of someone close to you when you never had a chance to say goodbye.

For most people, it is situational depression and it’s mostly mental. For another select group time has hardened feelings of depression into something more clinical, more physical. If you think you are on the cusp of this talk to someone. Anyone. Where I come from they say talk to another human being.

Me? I’ve got to make real pictures, with a real camera. That helps a lot. Speaking of pictures…

The Picture.

This is what tells me that I need real pictures. I’ve seen some pretty good motion studies made with smartphones but making them that way isn’t easy for me. I can do them fairly well with a DSLR.

I know where the controls are on a DSLR. The controls on my phone are mostly on a touch screen. My big hands don’t often like that. You’d be amazed at how much video I’ve made of my feet.

There is no post production to speak of. In fact, the more I tried to help it, the worse it got. So, I left it alone.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every scoop of ice cream.


The ripple effect.

An eerie silence has taken over,

I can’t speak for every city, but I can for my home city. New Orleans. It’s quiet out there. For sure, people are walking, walking our dogs, making groceries, and running short to the point errands. That’s it. Take me, for example, I like to roam around in my car looking for pictures to find me. I haven’t done that since all of the various forms of social distancing were out in place. I enjoy that and quite frankly doing that shouldn’t matter. But, there is the guilt factor.

On the other hand, my gas mileage is wonderful. Three weeks to the gallon.

Most of the  pictures that you are seeing were made on dog walks around my home. In that way, I can do two things at once. That also means that I use my smartphone more than I’d like. As I’ve written in the past, the files that it makes are 36.6 mp. Through the magic of computational photography, the files enlarge just fine. I’ve made very large test prints and they look good.

The picture. I’ve found a way to make the genre of pictures that made me. Pictures that make good use of motion. Pictures in which motion gives a picture a little more life. That’s a little hard to do with a smartphone.

Unless you are working manually, the phone tries to make the sharpest possible picture. That’s a big selling point… to the masses. I’m not the masses. In order to do this while the dog who sees things is on the prowl, I have to work fast. No problem, because that’s my working style. It also means that I can’t fiddle around. So the phone’s cameras stay on auto. I have to fool it in order to make pictures like this one.

You should try it when you are out and about.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Wear a mask. Wear surgical gloves. Enjoy every chimichanga.


Night work on the street.

Night time, not in the switching yard.

Things change at night. Things look a little mysterious. Things look a little spooky. And, night photography can hide a multitude of sins.

I wasn’t hiding anything this time. It was mostly just timing because guess who wanted to go for a walk at night time. We normally don’t do that because with my hurting parts I don’t want to make them worse by tripping over some unseen pot hole.

Anyway.

We were walking along a street when a thought came to me. I had no idea how a smart phone would respond to a situation like this one. My first two test shots were sharp as a tack. My phone can approximate a DSLR by changing the settings to manual. I did that and this is the result.

Normally you could deal with this setting by panning. That would keep the car fairly sharp. I wanted to make amore artistic attempt at the picture. I think I succeeded. The strange thing is the color. This is the color as it came out of the phone. All I did was clean up the picture a little bit. I’m not sure why it is almost monochrome. Every other night picture is full color. I’m going to do a little research. It could just be that I was at the end of the phone’s capability.


In New Orleans it’s a streetcar.

Streetcar.

In New Orleans, we have streetcars. Streetcars. Not trolleys. Not trains. Streetcars.

I wouldn’t have my back up, but a women with whom I attended high school is in town with four of her “girlfriends.” They finally left the French Quarter and rode up St. Charles Avenue. On a green streetcar. A good thing to do. They took a walk into the Garden District on First Street. Another good thing to do.

But, one of her friends said they rode on trolleys. Arrrrrgh.

We don’t have trolleys. We have streetcars. It’s a big deal to those of us who live here. It’s a bigger deal to me because we travel so much and have learned the correct terms for more things than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime. Say the wrong thing in Paris and they glare at you.

They took a walk through the Garden District. Apparently, they liked our house. They photographed it. And, published it. No matter. We aren’t home and they didn’t know.

Then there’s that girlfriend thing. These women are all over 65 years old. How can they possibly be girls? Yeah, saying girl is a southern thing. They live in Southern California. I guess that’s south. Sorta. Maybe.

Is this a rant? Sounds like a rant. I assure you, it’s not. It’s just me commenting on stuff I think is funny. But, I will say I’m a little jealous. Not of them taking a trip to my adopted hometown. But, like so many of my high school classmates, the woman in question decided to live in Southern California. She grew up there. She went to school there. She worked there. She lives there still. She has really old friends. Friends that she sees on a regular basis. That’s what I’m jealous of. All of that.

Even though I claim my birth city to be Brooklyn, I really grew up in Long Beach, California. If you ask me where my home is located, that’s what I’ll tell you. Long Beach. Sometimes, I think I’d love to move back. All of us. Back. We could probably afford it. But, who will I be when I go back home? Will it just be another place? Will I find old friends? Do I want to find old friends? And crowds. I hate crowds. As I age that gets worse.

A friend of mine said — you can see her comments — that I seem to be doing some existential questioning. I suppose in this year of one word — learning — I am. I’m learning about me. In a way, I’d like to be that person that calls a New Orleans streetcar, a trolley. I know a lot of things about a lot of places. In the end, the question is, what for?

Before I finish let me make one thing clear. I’ve had a great life. So far. With the exception of the past few years when back and thigh pain became a thing, I’ve been fairly healthy. I’ve seen and done a lot of things. I’ve been to most of the continents. I’ve been to 49 states. I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve been the minority in many places. I’ve made a lot of wonderful pictures. I’ve been so productive, without really trying, that I’ve forgotten some of my pictures. And, yet.

Home.

Maybe I can win a lot of money playing Jeopardy.

The picture. A STREETCAR. It’s really not moving all that fast. But, at dusk and photographed with a low shutter speed and a little bitty F Stop, you can make a picture like this. Everything gets squiggly. It’s not the sharpest picture in the world. But, it sure is fun. Better yet, guess where I made it from. You guessed it. Through my car’s windshield. There was nobody behind me, and you can see what’s in front of me, so I was driving at about 5 mph. I’m supposed to be a professional. Kids, don’t try this at home. In a few years, my timing will be so shot that I’d better not try this at home either. Ouch.

 


Night, rain and light. What could be better?
Night, rain and light. What could be better?

Ahhhhhhhh.

Rain. Light. Night.

An out on the road picture. In the city.

Oh. You want some help? 1/4 second at f5.6. Focus on infinity and walk at the same pace as the people. Very simple. Have fun with it.


Sticky snow.
Sticky snow.

Weather. Snow. Cold. Night.

Winter in New York. Nothing like it. For pictures. Especially if you like to work in  low light like I do.  I made this picture in 1996. In those days, I used to work in Hong Kong for a couple of months. Fly home to Dallas, Texas. And, two days later I’d be in New York. I’d go from a very mild sub-tropical winter to a cold winter in a matter of two or three days. No wonder my body was always so confused.

In 1996, I was working with Nikon N90s or F90s. Same camera. I either bought them in New York or in Hong Kong, which explains the different camera lettering system. The picture was taken with a Nikon 20 mm F 2.8 lens. The shutter speed was probably 1/4 of a second. This picture isn’t quite as dramatic as the one that I posted yesterday. Not every picture can be.

One more thing. A lot of people have the idea that buying stuff in Hong Kong is less expensive. That’s a myth for anything that is sold globally. Those items, especially technology, have sort of a set price. MAPed, it’s called. The only time I really saved money in Hong Kong on camera gear was when the Southeast Asian market crashed and actually deflated. The photo store in which I bought a lot of gear in Hong Kong imported a lot of Nikon F5s from Thailand. I bought two for the price of one. But, they were being dumped for pennies on the dollar.