Sitting and playing.

T

he next day. We needed coffee. Good coffee. It turned out that a coffee house was less than two short blocks from our hotel.

Even better were the people who worked there. The were friendly and energetic. One of them took us to this place, an empty club.

Apparently, it was fully functioning until a movie production company used it to make a James Brown biopic. When they tore the set down, they gutted the building.

Those are the kinds of stories that you won’t hear if you just pass through a town, keeping to yourself. I suppose you could look around and never say a word to anybody, but what would be the fun in that?

Anyway.

This little bar or club or cafe is now being rebuilt back, good as it ever was.

One of these days we’ll pass through Natchez again and see it for ourselves. But, not this year.

T

here is some post production technique to discuss.

As you know, I’m about feeling more than seeing.

The picture was easy to make, especially if I didn’t want to show you the guitar player beyond what I did.

The club felt smokey, with a little bit of mist drifting in and out. I could see people standing around listening to the band, drinking beer and hanging out.

But, the club was empty. There wasn’t a finished wall in sight.

So, I softened everything. I made the scene glow a little bit.

The rest is in my imagination. Or, yours.


What's a little snow between friends?
What’s a little snow between friends?

It’s the season.

A little Christmas. A little southern. A little over done. A little winter. A little snow.

Obviously, I didn’t make this picture this year. It’s been too warm in the south.

Instead.

I did what many visual people do. I photographed it when I could. I saved it. I published when it was appropriate. It’s that old timing thing again. The hardest part of taking pictures like this, aside from just getting there, is to remember to publish it later. Because I know that, I keep pretty good notes with long-term come up files. When I get to a certain date, I reminded to do certain things. Like publish this picture.

It also reminds me of other things. One’s that I’d rather forget. Today is the anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. He was killed later in tonight. December 8, 1980. Often I think it’s the 9th. I confuse myself because I learned of it the next day. A phone call came. I heard the words and couldn’t believe it. I never knew him. I knew his music. As a music writer buddy  of mine wrote in his column, “It felt like a death in the family.” It’s been 36 years since that horrible day. It feels like yesterday.

Funny how that happens.


Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi River.
Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi River.

I think this will be the last picture about light in this series and for this week. The picture is a combination of luck and a little bit of knowledge. I could see the light changing so I headed to the river. That’s the knowledge. I didn’t count on the light changing so much and so nicely. That’s luck.

The rest is really just being there and exposing properly for the light. I wish I could give you more precise tips. Just be aware. Of the light. Your situation. And, everything else.

There is one more thing. It’s about lens selection and cropping. Or, really framing. I like to work with wide lenses and usually pretty close. Even when I am not so close, I still like to work wide. I want you to see what I saw. And, how the subject lies within the context of the overall scene. Consider this, the picture was made with a 16mm lens. I’m a lot closer to the dock and boat than you think.


Another best of collection.

This time it’s locations. Places. Cities. Nature. Details.

As I was reviewing this work, a thought struck me. So much of it is either weather driven or made at the edges of the day. I just don’t take many pictures at high noon. I’ve preached about that enough in the past. Even the picture of the pick up truck in The Bywater was made before ten o’clock in the morning. Is this the only way to work? Not necessarily. But for me it is. For me, it’s a sort of rule. Yeah. Sure. When I photograph events, like a second line parade, I have no choice. But so much of my work is not driven by schedules. Even when the work is commissioned, I try to build a little extra time into my shoot list to work when I’m pretty sure the light will be at its best.

So. To recap what I wrote yesterday, Today is about locations. Many of these pictures were made on the way to some place else. Tomorrow is about the local Mardi Gras culture. New Year’s Day is a free day. I have no idea what the picture will be. That’s the joy of this blog.There are many days when I have no idea what I’m going to post until I do it. On other days, it is part of a bigger plan. Or, something like that.


The best. Or not.

That is so subjective. But, it’s my subject. Hmmmm.

Just about every kind of media shows their best of something or other. This is the best of the ruined, abandoned and falling apart buildings that I founder the course of 2016.

There are a few more, but I created my own internal set of conventions. Rules to live by. For me.

I wanted the pictures to TRY to represent every month of 2015. That didn’t happen. I tried not to use pictures that were heavily manipulated in post production. With the exception of the Bohn Motors building, I pretty much succeeded. I tried to show you pictures that you might remember, but with a little spice of newness mixed in. There is one picture that you’ve never seen. See if you can figure out which one.

I didn’t limit the pictures to one location. I mostly show you pictures made in New Orleans. I travel. A lot. More than you know. But, that’s for other stuff. My other work. However, in trying to collect a picture from each month I had to stretch a little. For instance, the pictured called “Port Hudson” was made near… wait for it, Port Hudson, Louisiana. The picture called, “Once Upon a Club,” was made in Natchez, Mississippi. The rest are New Orleans pictures.

To update you little bit. Despite the city’s best efforts to tear it down, Club Desire is still standing. It’s really salvageable. It’ll come down some time in 2016. The picture called, “Not Der No Mo,” was made at the remaining old school housing projects in Central City. They are no longer standing. Some foundations remain. But, the buildings are gone.

For me, the best way to keep moving on this short three-day project is to tell you the rest of my scheduling plans. That way, I’ll really do what I say that I’m going to do.

So.

Wednesday. The best of the little things I’ve seen. Pictures made on the way from one place to another. Pictures made on the fly. Glimpses. Moments.

Thursday. The best of the Mardi Gras culture. Mardi Gras Indians. Second lines. Social clubs. I’m saving that for last because you’ve seen a lot of it lately. Between my gallery show and the events of the past few weeks, you’ve seen a lot.

Friday. New Year’s Day. I have nothing planned. But, we have a little household tradition. It started years ago. I like to work a little on New Year’s Eve. That — hopefully — sets the tone for the new year. So, likely you’ll see something brand new. Hours new. Like a new-born baby.

Don’t forget to click on the picture to open it.

 


Making music in an old building.
Making music in an old building.

Once a food store and cafe. And, one of the sets for the James Brown bio-pic. Soon to be a bar and musical hall.

Yes. That’s a 1939 Gibson guitar.

Natchez, Mississippi


The Natchez steamboat at the foot of The Mississippi River in the fog.
The Natchez steamboat at the foot of The Mississippi River in the fog.

Fog bound and making a phone call.
Fog bound and making a phone call.

Rarities. I usually don’t make pictures like these. New Orleans was fog bound over the past weekend. After photographing another second line parade, we headed to The French Quarter to see what it looked like in the fog. Some had lifted, but a lot of it was lingering, at least in the middle and long distance. It really didn’t do much to enhance the streets and make them mysterious, but it created an amazing white background on the shores of the mighty Mississippi River. So, I went to work and tried to do something a little different and more graphic for me. Even though you can’t often tell it from the pictures I publish here, I really do like clean and simple lines. If you saw my business cards, you know.

Not much post-production. Mostly I worked to keep the fog very white and to keep all the lines in both pictures very clean. Where I could, I worked to give the color — especially the reds in both pictures — a little pop.