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.
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.
There is a movement afoot in the Millennial world to attack us old folk. They have a new hashtag and general comment. If they don’t like what you say, they say, “OK Boomer.”
Last night I was scrolling around Twitter when when of the Parkland kids (the survivors of the mass high school shooting in Florida) popped up and said it to a bunch of people. I chimed in and asked about her ageism. This started a spirited discussion between me and about 9 others. Not fair odds… for them.
One of them is forty years old. A quick Google review showed me that she is a freelance writer who has been published in some impressive editorial places. You’d think she wouldn’t want offend anybody because she wants the work. She attacked me every way that she could. When I tried to explain something to her in a reasonable manner, she said I was crying. Arguing with a stranger on social media will never make me cry. She gave up when I laughed at her last three comments and asked her not to be angry.
Then comes a young photojournalist who found some of the work I show here and attacked that. More Googling. He actually covered some big news stories reasonably well. I said that. He kept attacking my current work. I finally said that when I was young I did what he did, but as I got older I actually want to earn a living with the ability to support my family. He didn’t get that. He also didn’t like that I started my own hashtag. OK Kid. I said, alright I won’t use that for you… son.
Old folks boogie and boogie we will.
I blocked them all. I removed all of my tweets. And, washed my hands of them.
I tell you this because I fear we have a battle brewing. Millennials are having a hard time making it. Between high college loan debt, the high costs of housing in the cities in which they wish to live, and the cost of transportation, they can’t get enough money to do what we did. And, based on other comments, they really think working isn’t the way to go. They want to experience stuff. So did I. I found a way to make clients pay for it.
So how is this the Boomers fault? I know their thinking. I’m not buying it.
Work together if you want something. Don’t attack me. Respect me. I just might have something to teach you.
Don’t claim that all the disrupters are great. Air BnB destroys local neighborhoods. Uber treats their drivers horribly. Lyft too. Spotify is fine if you pay for it. It’s a good way to test new songs. It’s a horrible way to listen and it takes money out of musicians pocket.
I have friends who have thought about this stuff far more than me. They say it is all here to stay. They are probably right. It’s easy. Easy doesn’t mean better.
That’s my story.
The picture. Yeah, I know. It’s well buried. Returning to Standard Time is good for me. Not so much for the dog who sees stuff. She ate two dinners last night because she was hungry at the wrong time. When we went out for our late afternoon walk she looked around and seemed a little confused by the coming darkness.
But, I had a blast.
I photographed everything and anything in the low autumn light. I made this picture. I was going to hold it for a few days, but after being attacked by a young photojournalist for posting work like this, I thought why the hell not? OK Kid.
Oh, about those Parkland kids. I followed a lot of them on Twitter. They were going to change the world. I was rooting for them. It pains me to say that most of them have reverted back to who they were — who they should have been — teenagers.
Motion. Movement. The combination of others moving and my own motion helped to create some kind of impressionistic art.
And, a lot of Ws.
I reckon that the Ws were created by NOLA’s potholed streets. Hit a hole and down the car goes. So too, with the other cars around me. Up. Down. Up. Down.
I was out looking for pictures one evening when I decided to go from the Garden District to the French Quarter. To do that I had to pass through the CBD. Central Business District. That’s where I ran into this pack of cars. And, a bus. I wasn’t really following them. But, they were in front of me.
I took advantage of the situation. That’s what my version of street photography really is about. Opportunism. And, luck.
If I had chosen some other profession, I’d probably be rich by now. I’d have a very easy life. What would be the fun in that?
Oh. NSU. A song from the legendary band, Cream. “Driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy is when I play my guitar.”
For years I made a career out of pictures like this one. Motion. Movement. Energy. It wasn’t hard to do. About 1/4 second at f/5.6 and I’d make a picture likes this one. But, that was the film days.
When digital photography came into being sharpness was everything. That’s why mega pixels became a big marking tool. That’s why faster and bigger lenses became a thing. That trend continues today. I switched to mirrorless cameras because I liked their small size. The first lenses were small too.
Today? Not so much.
Lenses are huge. They are fast. They are sharp. But, they defeat my purpose for switching to mirrorless bodies. I want small. I want unobtrusiveness. I want to blend in with the people around me. For me, bigger is not better.
I was going to talk about New Orleans culture, but a fire got in the way. You know where. In Paris. France. Notre Dame burned. Early on, it looked like it might be a total loss. Now, we know it’s not. Already 400,000,000 Euros have been pledged to its rebuilding.
Just as important, after reading a long comment from a researcher who studies Notre Dame as well as other Gothic structures throughout Europe, I know that there is a cycle of boom and bust for the cathedral. For instance, the steeple that fell was built in the 19th Century. At one point, it was derelict and restored. Of course, the medieval wood is mostly gone, and the roof is cinders, but most of the art is safe. The walls are safe. And, the bell towers are intact.
It likely will be rebuilt again. In 100 years, people will be talking about the fire of 2019 while they are looking at it.
However, yesterday’s sadness was about more than the burning of what amounts to a Catholic Church. 856 year years of history was being stripped away. The heart of a city was burning. Art that should never die, was thought to be dying.
The core of the matter was something was burning. In many ways, the fire was a symbol for the past few years of upheaval and violence. For, the nasty turn to the right-wing. For the hatred of people not like ourselves. And, something even more than that. I cannot put my finger on it. But, it hurt. And, it scared me.
It may be because I live in a French city. After all, New Orleans was founded by the French. True. The French Quarter actually looks Spanish. That’s because when the city burned for the last time, it was the property of the Spanish who rebuilt it in their architectural style. But they city was split, for a time between The French and The Americans. That’s what Canal Street is about. The middle of the neutral ground was the boundary between the two countries.
Never-the-less, I feel better today knowing what’s left and what’s to come. What’s to come is elastic and flexible. Something we all need to be if we are going to make our way through the challenges of the future.
The picture. That’s what you really came for, yes? It’s a parade through the French Quarter. I chose to leave it even after the terrible news of yesterday. After all, that’s what we in New Orleans are about. This is one of those F8 and be there pictures. Except it was more like f 2.8 and I almost got run over. More than once or twice. Oh well. Whatever it takes, right?
This wasn’t today’s picture. At least it’s not what I planned.
I thought that it was a little too bleak for a Sunday picture. I read a lot. Especially on Sunday morning when I have a little more time. I probably shouldn’t do that.
There was a story that appeared on Twitter with a link back to it. I know. I know. Twitter. It may be one of the meanest places on earth.
I followed the link.
What I found made me horribly sad. The story was about a ten-year old boy. A cute little guy. He had a butterfly bandage over his eye. His lips were swollen and cut up. He had been bullied in school.
That’s bad enough. What happened next was truly horrifying.
He killed himself by hanging.
Where does a ten-year old boy get the knowledge of how to hang himself? Sure. You might see it on the tube. But, you don’t see the technique.
A whole host of questions came to mind.
Where were his teachers? Where were his school caregivers? Where were his parents? How does this stuff happen?
I stopped reading Twitter. I stopped reading news stories for today.
We’ve got some errands to run. I’ll watch some baseball. Yankees baseball. Eventually, I’ll recover. For today. There’s always tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t get stopped in my tracks again.
That’s why you came here. Even though we’ve had some glorious spring days, there are others that are cloudy and a little bleak. Today is one of those days. There is rain in the clouds. It’s about noon as I write, and the temperature is at its high of 49 degrees. No wonder the dogs are lazy. They don’t want to go outside. But, because I publish every day, I have to make a picture. In this case, I made the original picture. Then I removed the color and made it black and white. I layered it over the original color image. And shifted it slightly. You are looking at the result. A bleak picture. One that suits my mood. Today.
Often, it’s hard to show that. Motion is thought of being better portrayed on video. I don’t make videos. I do it using still cameras. I’ve done that since the days of film. For a time, I made my career on that.
The trick is to find something that’s recognizable and keep that somewhat sharp. Like a face. With a big smile. With laughing eyes.
I don’t do it as much because in the digital age, everybody thinks the picture should be sharp from front to back. That’s too bad. I find intentional motion blur to be one of the most interesting parts of a photograph. There’s many ways to do that. One, easy way, is to focus on something that doesn’t move, use a slow shutter speed and let things in motion pass through the picture.
That’s not what I did.
I allowed the subject’s natural motion meet my natural motion and create another kind of painterly motion to take place. Because the picture was made at night, all I did was stop down and let the shutter speed take care of itself.
As far as presenting pictures from Mardi Gras goes, I’m not going to try to show them in chronological order. Instead, I’m grouping them by photographic subject matter. I’ve been lucky to have made really good shoots. There is too much material to present the pictures by parade. Yesterday’s post of ten pictures was way too much. It was hard on me to do the prep work. It was hard on you to work your way through so many images. There is one blogger who posts a lot of pictures. He or she is proud of themselves when they write something like there are 42 pictures in this post. I usually just trash the blog. I don’t know about you, but 42 pictures is way too many to view. Especially, when it looks like the photographer stepped two steps to the left or right. Sheesh. Cull your work.
That’s not a rant. It’s a pro tip.
New Mardi Gras parades resume on Wednesday. You’ll probably see the work in a week. Heh!
I’m late today because I wanted to make a new picture on one of our walks. I’m not really out of new work. It’s just that nothing in my new files moves me. Another day. A new look. A change in thinking.
Which brings me to this.
We began Mardi Gras parade season last night. It was day early because the planners had to fit a new downtown walking parade into the schedule. I didn’t go.
Tonight, Krewe duVieux and Krewe of Delusion hit the streets. They walk about the same route as last night’s parade. As I write, I have no motivation. Actually, I’m not motivated to photograph any of Mardi Gras this year.
I don’t know why.
Those in the medical and psychological world say that if you don’t want to do the things you like, it is the first sign of depression. I doubt it. Besides, one of the meds my doctor prescribed for my back was actually produced to help with depression.
I have my own theories.
First, I’ve done this for a long time. There is a time in a photographer’s life when you just sort of move on. That’s happened to me with second lines. Sure, I come out now and then. But, I used to photograph every one. It was point of pride. It’s not anymore.
Second, even though I’m in the middle of crowds when I do this kind of work, I truly hate crowds. It’s gotten worse over the years when everybody with a smart phone thinks they are a photographer.
Then, there’s the parking thing. Tonight’s parades are downtown, which means The Marigny, a bit of The Bywater and The French Quarter. Unless I get there at about 5pm for a 7pm start time, I have to walk about a million miles. My poor back, medicated or not, hurts after that.
For the Uptown parades, it’s a little different. I know when to go. I know where to park. If I get there a couple of hours early. There, I have a routine. I go to my local coffee shop, have a coffee and maybe a snack. I hang out with the local cops who are working there and the I photograph before the parades roll and follow them a bit. That’s not boring to me because every year it’s different. And, that’s where the big marching bands rehearse and sometimes have sound offs where the play against each other. That’s the best thing. See? I like that. Depressed, my behind.
Of course, getting home is another question. You’d think that I could work my way through the back streets and around the parade route. But, no. Some streets are closed because street work is being done. For the last five years. I’m trapped. Until the parade and followers pass by the location. My goal is always to get home before the parade reaches our neighborhood. I can park in our drive way and walk two blocks and catch it again. I rarely make it.
So. That is my story and I’m sticking to it. Until I change my mind.
The picture. It’s a pool of water with a sandy bottom. Leaves have settled to bottom. And, droplets of a coming rain are hitting it causing circles. The rest is easy. Point the lens at it and push the button. I cropped it square because the shape suited the picture. As I’ve said before. Let the picture tell you what to do. On the other hand, I gave it a border because I felt like it. It seemed to complete the picture.
I look back at my career. In the middle past. It was a time when I used film to do this kind of work. It was a time when sometimes I had no other choice. Film had a slow ISO. You had to adjust or light for it. I loved it then. I love what I do now, except that it often takes me time and thought to get back to what was once easy.
Forgive me for constantly dipping into the past. I firmly believe that if you don’t understand where you came from, you’ll never have a path to get to where you are going.
This picture certainly wasn’t made 20 years ago. It was made last night when I was waddling around full of too much turkey and the fixin’s. It’s an example of what you can do if you take your mind out of it. Or, if you can barely stand up because you ate really well. Too well.
I’ve often found that when I am at my worst physically, I make some of my best pictures.
I discovered that in about 1990, when Kodak gave a number of us a new film emulsion to test. As I recall it was some kind of beefed up Kodachrome.
I caught the flu.
We had deadlines.
I worked with a heavy and spinning head. My brain was turned off.
I worked in all sorts of light. I exposed four rolls of film. I thought, well this is gonna suck. I didn’t see the results until well after the technicians at Kodak did. I wondered, whatever they are the going to think of me. When I saw the film, I was amazed. It was as good a shoot as I was doing back in those days.
Today I say, turn your brain off when you are out making pictures. Don’t think. React.
There is a huge qualifier to that. It is about the same as the Boy Scouts motto. Be prepared. For the most part, if you work like I do you are always prepared to make a picture. If you are working in a new place, read about it. Study it. Listen to the music found in the region. There is so much information to be found online. Find it. Use it.
That’s the same with a portrait or some kind of people shoot. Learn about the person before you make their picture. That works especially well with famous people. Do a little research about them. If you have something to talk to them about, they’ll relax. You’ll make a much better picture.
Don’t look at other photographs pictures of it or them. You’ll only make the same ones. Or, frustrate yourself trying. Make your own pictures.
This picture was made with a simple upward movement when I pressed the button. You can do it. Practice doing it. Don’t do it when you are out there working unless the picture calls for it. No need to duplicate what’s already been done.
That brings me to social media, especially Instagram.