French horns and helmets.

Once upon a time I posted a brass bands’ instruments at rest. The were lying on the street, on a curb or something like that. A number of you commented. You wondered how anybody could just lay their instruments on the ground.

Here’s your answer. They learned how to do it in high school. These pictures are from a couple of different bands. Mostly they came from the St. Augustine Marching 100. This is a big time band. They’ve played The Rose Bowl. They’ve played during half times at NFL football. The travel all over the country.

And, they leave their gear on the street. Especially when they have a long break between arrival to a parade and actually marching. After all, this gear is heavy. They march 12 miles for the length of the parade. Then, they turn around and do it the next day. Every minute that you can stay lighter matters. Just like me. Less gear means more pictures.

It matters to me in other ways. I can make some nice artistic pictures with their gear. They don’t care. They just don’t want me messing with it. That’s fine. I’m more of a photojournalist than a studio guy. But, if I did want to turn a piece of gear I’d ask a band member for help. They are happy to do it.

The pictures. The usual. F8 and be there. Or, in the case of the low light and rain, f 4.0 and be there. The rest is simple. Leave the picture as you found it. No tinkering unless it is to adjust lightness, contrast and general color.

Cymbal as art.
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Reflections of Mardi Gras.
Reflections of Mardi Gras.

Marching bands.

Some say they are one of the best parts of a Mardi Gras parade. I’m not sure about that. But, you know how much I like them. I spend a lot of time making pictures of the bands. Their instruments. A lot of little details. In another life I might have been a musician. As it is, I can’t play a note.

Or, perhaps it’s just the bright and shiny objects. Like everybody else, I’m attracted to bling. As you know, I like reflections of stuff.

The pictures. This is why I go to the start of the parades. I can walk around and just make pictures. I can show you things that many people don’t ever get the chance to see. That’s one of my biggest jobs. To be a witness. Maybe I should go back to doing that a little more seriously. Seems like we are heading into interesting times. The worst Chinese curse.

A little housekeeping. Something weird happened yesterday. I managed to make a “butt” post. I have no idea why or how, but I managed to turn my phone on, press the WordPress app, type a few things in, and post it. All, without knowing it.

This is what I wrote in the title bar. “BBB…” No pictures, no text.

Here’s the telling and discouraging part. Twelve of you liked it. I had no idea that I accidentally posted until I saw the “like” notifications that said so-and-so liked “BBB…”

Wait, what?

I can’t speak for anybody but me. I read your posts before I like them. Even if I have to use Google Translator to do so. Just saying’.

Flag bearer, Krewe of Muses, Mardi Gras 2017, Uptown, New Orleans
Flag bearer, Krewe of Muses, Mardi Gras 2017, Uptown, New Orleans


Trumpets.
Trumpets.

I seem to be consumed with brass instruments. With Horns. And, trumpets. If this picture had been made in a studio or just in my own location it wouldn’t mean so quite much to me. But, I made this in the middle of a parade. I was being jostled around. Bounced around. Knocked around. I am truly amazed at the sharpness and general quality of this picture. I’m still trying to figure out the weird round circles in the bokeh. I guess that lens that I used just doesn’t like those kinds of reflections.

Anyway.


Real Good
I slept last night in a good hotel… maybe, not her.

There is an old Joni Mitchell song called “Real Good For Free.”  The middle verse goes like this. “Now me I play for fortune, And those velvet curtain calls, I’ve got a black limousine, And two gentlemen, Escorting me to the halls, And I play if you have the money, Or if you’re a friend to me, But the one man band, By the quick lunch stand, He was playing real good, for free.”

We were walking through The French Quarter on our way to a good dinner. Probably an expensive one. We crossed Royal Street and saw this band playing for tips. They were beautiful musicians. They were playing for tips and with hope that somebody would buy one of their homemade CDS. In between songs they held out their merchandise — or merch as the bigger bands — say. We looked at each other and felt guilty. In some other post I’ll tell you more about it. But, Joni’s song about nails it. I don’t know her. But, I get her and that makes me feel like I do.

So. We did the only thing we really could do. We put a bunch of money in her tip basket. Thanked her and the band. And left. We don’t even know their names.

The picture. I did what I always do. Framed the scene, let whatever was going to happen, happen. And, I pushed the button.

 


Well. It may be a tuba. But, that’s not the point. The point for me, at least , is the reflection in the brass of the tuba. I saw this at a second line parade in Central City. I’d like to say that I was lucky to see this, but I was very much in the moment on that day. I try for that on many occasions. But, it rarely happens. In fact, I’ve long come to realize that you cannot try. You  can only be. What is it that Yoda said? “You cannot try, or not try.” ” You can only do.” So, Yoda was a Zen believer. I guess. Anyway, I saw everything on that day. Time did not standstill. But, it did slow down. A lot. The pictures were very simple to make at that point.

Post Production. I guess you can figure out that I didn’t have to do very much. I did tone down the background because I wanted to emphasize the reflection. But, I didn’t want it to disappear because that set the place.


I don’t have a picture that is really appropriate for today — 911. I do want to reflect on the day and what it means, But, I do have this. I photographed a second line parade in Central City, New Orleans. When the parade passed by Lafayette Cemetery No. 2, they broke into an old spiritual called “I’ll Fly Away.” Hearing it played by a marching band is something very special.

This is it. Peace y’all.

“Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away;

To a home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory

I’ll fly away; (in the morning)

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,

I’ll fly away;

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

Just a few more weary days and then,

I’ll fly away;

To a land where joy shall never end,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)”

 


After I posted my “Musician’s Hands” photograph, there were a couple of comments made a by my friend — Andy Richards — about what horn I really photographed. He has some experience with horns of various types and I really don’t , so I guess I’d have to defer to his judgement. Besides, although I’ve listened to music for forever and am involved in photographing some more well-known musicians, I can’t play a note on any kind of musical instrument. That is my loss. But, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and I accept that too. Anyway… here are a few more horns for you.