It is gonna be bad.

You could see it coming from miles away. The storm. The cold. The wind. Luckily, we didn’t have heavy rainfall. Maybe a couple of inches. But, we are having a cold spell that is as cold and long as anything in recent memory.

I’ll tell you more about this picture in the right hand column.

For now it’s enough to say that it was made in the parking lot of a grocery store that we went to after running errands in Jefferson Parish.

We didn’t want to load and unload groceries in the cold rain.

It’s called Postcard Blues for two reasons. It’s mostly blue and because of that McDonald’s sign in the background. It struck me how many people photograph something in the foreground and forget to look in the background.

No. That didn’t happened to me. I saw it as a little point scene to all the rest of the picture.

A way station, if you will, in that dense dark air. A place that you can call home if you like that sort of thing. I’m not big on their food, but for an emergency cup of coffee it’s pretty good.

As they say, anyplace in a storm.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wear two masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every McDonald’s coffee.

Anyplace in a storm, but not standing in the middle of a parking lot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pictures are everywhere. Just look and see. They’ll reach out and grab you.

When I made this picture the sky was dark and gray. I decided to just enhance how the picture looked.

I made it moody and, maybe even scary.

I could have moved my location or removed that McDonald’s sign in the middle of the picture. I didn’t want to. It makes a good focal point for the entire picture. I did brighten it up a bit, but not so much that would be a glaring beacon.

The more that I look at the picture, it looks like something from the dinosaur era. With a McDonald’s sign.


A mystery wrapped inside a riddle/

All patience is gone. I’ve had nothing but technical problems here. I spoke to the minions — oh wait, I meant automattitions — at WordPress. They say that I don’t understand the block system. Really? Nobody understands the block system. The only people who really do are the coders who work for their VIP clients. Brands like The New York Times, Federal Express, UPS and so on. Clients with entire technical staffs, a few of which are dedicated to their websites.

Well, I’m just me.

I don’t have a staff. I have about a thousand things a day to do. None of those are about photography. Photography? Sheesh. No wonder I think that I have a shooting block. I don’t have a block. I just have no time. If I had a client of course I would have time. These days clients are far and few between. That’s in both industries.

So, I work to improve things within my own realm and that goes bonkers. We decided to change checking accounts because our bank has no branches in Louisiana. It’s a quirk of state law. We open a new checking account, while leaving the old account open.

I should have known better.

The first thing to know is that we keep a solid balance in our working accounts. We also have credit cards with that new bank. Had them for years. I paid one of those credit cards from the new checking account.

A few days after I tried to pay the credit card bill, I received an email saying the money was returned because of some refusal to pay.

WTF?

I contacted the bank. Three agents later the problem is declared repaired even though they can’t say what the problem was.Of course, during that time, the entire bank’s computer system went down. Thisn’t some small commercial bank. This is a major institutional bank.

Guess what?

Yesterday I received the same notice about the same payment. And, today I received the same notice about another payment.

I give up. I should have known better.

So, on Monday, I get to start all over again. For the third time.

Art. Before I get started, I’m still unhappy here. I tried to tell those minions about the drop cap problem. If you flip the little switch to start a paragraph with a drop cap, the software moves the drop capped letter to the end of the word. No. It should be at the beginning of the word.

I guess what it really comes to, after reading both main subjects, is that technology is not my friend. It never has been. It’s just that I’ve learned enough out of pure self defense that I’ve fooled myself into thinking I know something.

Anyway.

The picture is layered. Two pictures create a third new one. It’s about a little vision and a lot of tinkering. It’s time consuming. Even though few people aren’t working, and time doesn’t really matter, based on the number of emails and PMs I receive, it seems like many people still want a shortcut to doing what it’s taken me close to 50 years to learn. Either I’m stupid or they are lazy. I pick the second one.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other.


Morning art.

The business week begins. The most important week. We vote for the president. Many frame it as a vote for Democracy. Many see it as a choice between good and evil. No matter how you see it this election is as an important an election as I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.

We also vote for down ballet candidates. This, too, is very important because that can change the complexion of the country.

I have never done what I’m about to say, because I’ve always voted person, not party. Not this time. Straight ticket. All blue.

The current president keeps saying that he wants to make America great. He seems to forget that he is the president. That he can make America great. He hasn’t. He won’t. He can’t.

He made America worse. Way worst.

At best, he’s incompetent. At worst, he is the most evil creature ever to walk on this planet.

I have a couple of friends who will jump right in here and tell me that I’m drinking the kool aid. Since this is a family storyteller, I’m gonna say screw ’em. If I said to their face, I’d use another word.

There. That’s where I stand.

I’m too old to put up with this nonsense. It’s time to start rebuilding my country and rebuild trust throughout the world.

It’s time to get back to the good work of rebuilding and repairing.

And, you thought after looking at the picture that this was going to be a nice little candy cotton wrapped post.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. VOTE.

Picture, picture on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Might as well be you, because I’m sure it isn’t me.

But, first a little housekeeping.

We got power back about 10am yesterday. That was something worthy of hoots and hollers.

But, no internet. I talked to Linksys. I talked to Arris, the folks who make my router and modem. We did everything we could. At one point, they asked if we could have a three way conversation. We did.

No joy.

They believed that I wasn’t receiving signal from my internet service provider. So, I called them. Cox. They were their usual helpful selves. They wanted to run through their checklist to find the issue.

I said, “Whoa, slow down little buddy.” I’ve already done two versions of that.” He asked what then, did I want him to do.

I asked him if there was a work group or news bulletin board that he could talk to. I wanted him to see what kind of damage their towers and system received in New Orleans during Hurricane Zeta.

A few minutes later… joy. Sorta. They were down and rapidly rebuilding and restoring. I asked him when we might expect a return of signal. He replied sometime tomorrow (Sunday).

Fair enough.

I checked my phone at about 9am, and, sure enough. Internet signal.

I wrote in an email to a friend of mine that 25 years ago having the internet wouldn’t have seemed vital. I used it, but it was accessed through telephone lines. It was slow and there wasn’t much that interested me. And, I got tired of receiving CDs from AOL.

Today?

Well, that’s another story.

Why is it important to this picture?

The picture lives on my phone. In order to get it here I need the webinet (If G.W. Bush can say the interwebs and it becomes a thing, I can make up webinet.

It needed work on the big machine. Can’t do that without the webinet.

The picture is art, much in the same vein as that speeding truck. It takes some time and a lot of adjustments, but I got it to what I wanted. It might not be what you want, but enjoy it anyway.


Creativity. That’s what we all want. We want to be able to make a good picture, whether we use a camera, paint, charcoal, pencils or crayons. And, that’s just a few visual media.

If you are a musician, you seek other techniques and outlets because your finished product is not captured on paper.

And, so it goes.

Creativity isn’t something that comes on demand. It just sort of shows up from someplace else. Musicians like Bob Dylan and Neil Young say that they are just conduits.

My best pictures tend to come when I’ve emptied my head of everything and just make pictures. A friend of mine used to call me a Zen photographer. I don’t know about that, but when I am back in the studio the best thing that I can think while I’m looking at, and culling, my pictures is “who the hell shot that?”

Hopefully, I say that a lot if it’s a good picture, and very little if it’s a bad picture.

How do I, and they, get to this place? That’s a topic for another time. Maybe tomorrow. Let’s just say that a pre-work routine is a good idea.

Inside a flower.

The picture. I saw it and I stuck my lens as close as I could get to the center. I intentionally metered the scene so that only the highlights were exposed properly. I’m not sure that you can do this on a smartphone unless you have a professional function that allows you to use manual settings. I think most new phones do.

With the highlight exposed properly, the rest of the flower went dark. But, not so dark that you can’t see a little red in the background.

That’s it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy every po’boy.


Another fine mess.

Testing technique.

Another dog and I headed to the airport. On the way we stopped to visit friends. As we were leaving I saw this scene. It really didn’t look much in camera and after basic development. So, I tinkered. And, tinkered. I arrived at the picture that you see before you. I’m still not entirely sure about this one. But, as I always say this is an experimental blog.

I’d like to think the a high percentage of pictures that I publish on Storyteller are pretty good. But, we all know the truth. I know the truth. Sometimes, after living with a picture on the digital page, I wonder what I was thinking. Likely, I wasn’t. Thinking.

I was reading a general purpose blog. The owner fancies himself to be a sort of deep thinking anti-mainstream kind of guy. In short, he is populaist conspiracist. Sorry — not sorry — if I offend anybody with that. He also attacks the so-called lamestream media. He follows to YouTube based commenters who discuss CoVid-19.

I decided to listen to one of his speakers, a supposed doctor. A doctor who wants me to believe he is well informed. That he knows the truth.  He went through his list of things that the “lamestream” media wasn’t telling us. I knew everything that he discussed. Care to guess where I learned it from? If you said the “lamestream media,” you win a taco.

Sheesh.

When does this basic kind of BS stop?

I read two-and-a-half online newspapers everyday. The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Orleans Times Picayune/Advocate. I pay for two. I refuse to pay for the local half of a paper until they actually report the news, write it, and edit, properly. That’s where I learned everything this wannabe doctor was rattling on about.

I say all of this to warn you. Don’t be fooled. Between bots, Russians and people who think they are smarter than we are, there is more fake news than real news. If you read something that doesn’t ring quite true with you, check other publications. Check sources if you can. Check the person or group writing about the topic. Check Snopes.

You’ll find the truth. It’s out there.


The long night.

A little more magic.

That’s what I saw when I was developing this picture. I didn’t quite know what I had when I pressed the button. But, after… wow!

In many ways, This image reverts back to a style I used in the late 1990’s. Tilted. Skewed. A little motion. And, very bold colors. I kept my sense of color and moved on from the other stuff as times changed.

But, every now and then…

So.

The corticosteroid injection that I had on Wednesday seems to be working. While I was walking the dog who sees stuff, I experienced something strange. Something I hadn’t felt in a while.

No pain.

Instead, there was an emptiness (if that’s the right word) where there was always something buzzing in the background. We walked, and stood and walked a little more. No pain. For the first time in months.

If my doctors are right, and if what I read about this is correct, I might actually be pain free from this particular issue for the next six months, when it might be time for another injection. I am not sure how this relates to my stenosis issues. It could be that relieving the inflammation in one area of the leg reduces the it down the line. I guess that I’ll find out.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am.


Made at night.

Night walk.

I like working at night. I made a career of it. This picture wasn’t made very late at night, because the dog who sees stuff wanted to go out at just around dusk. I don’t mind that, but with our broken streets and sidewalks I prefer not to walk in the dead of night. Even though our street Iights are fairly bright, they cast weird shadows and I could end up on my face.

That’s something I have to think about these days.

Another thing to think about is the coming CoVid-19. There are no patients at all in the state. That didn’t stop people from wearing masks and surgical gloves while they were grocery shopping. I suppose that might be a good idea since you can be asymptomatic and still be contagious.

Like everywhere else there was a run on toilet paper, sanitizer and soap. Ironic, because a week ago there was a million people in the streets celebrating Mardi Gras without any thought of a virus.

I really don’t understand the panic. The virus isn’t nearby and people are acting silly. However, if and when it does reach us, we’ll be in trouble. Our main industry is tourism.

According to what I’ve read, planes are mostly empty as are airports. Since we travel a good bit, I get emails from various airlines. American Airlines will not charge change or cancelation fees for tickets booked now through the end of March, with flights from now until January 2021.

Back to the city. Already two major conventions have cancelled. We are headed into festival season. If French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest should be forced to cancel that will just about kill the hotel and restaurant business. I can’t speak for hotels, but most restaurants run on paper thin margins. We could see the loss of quite a few smaller ones.

The say the waiting is the hardest part.

Yes, it is.

 

 


Something about the winter solstice.

The long night.

The longest night of the year when autumn formerly turned into winter. When the day was short and rainy. Many local artists couldn’t do their work because they need light and there was only gray skies.

Later that night the rain slowed and finally stopped. The moon poked its head out and away we went.

And, I found a tripod.

The picture that I made is spooky. It’s mysterious. It’s even a little scary. For me, it caught the feeling of the solstice. Summer solstice is people dancing around. Winter solstice is people hunkering down. That’s what I think.

The picture. A tripod is required to make this picture. Yes, I actually own a couple of them. Once that is in place the rest is easy. I exposed for the moon because I wanted everything else a little dark and moody. That blew the moon out beyond repair. It’s way over exposed. The moon is a week removed from being full. The picture isn’t entirely about the moon. It’s about the mood that the rest of the picture shows. It’s deep, dark and a little evil.

That’s about the best I could do on short notice. A years notice.

Sheesh. There’s no accounting for me.


Into the night.

This is what I saw.

A deep blue sky at just around dusk. I was lucky to make the picture. This is one of those times when a tripod might come in handy. In my own defense, I wasn’t expecting to see such a sight. So, I did what I could.

Dan Rather tweets and posts on Facebook. Yesterday, he said that the points of light in this dark time, are the arts. He talked about any of us who keep going. To keep making work. To continue to grow. I guess that I’m one of those artists to whom he was referring.

I never really think of myself that way. I suppose that you never do when you are in the midst of your work.

Speaking of photographer’s work, I’m in mourning today. Photographer and videographer Robert Frank passed yesterday at 94. Without him there would be no me. Without him, there would be none of the guys and ladies I came up with. Without him there would be no photojournalism as we know it today.

He turned the photography world on its head when he released his seminal work, “The Americans.” The self-congratulatory photographers, and a lot of photography critics at the time, thought his work was terrible. It was grainy, sometimes the horizons tilted, he made statements about America that weren’t so pretty. He told the story of the underclass.

Basically, his work was honest but it wasn’t pretty.

That’s what opened the door for a lot of us.

You know what Neil Young would say about that. He once famously said that, “when he was in the middle of the road he headed towards the gutter where things were a lot more interesting.”

Robert Frank embodied that.

May you rest in peace, Robert Frank.