Trains in the fog with help.

Foggy days. Foggy nights.

I took a little walk to a nearby train yard. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. We’ve had a lot of fog so I wanted to photograph the fog at night. I found two engines with their motors warming up. I was astounded to see a caboose sitting between them. Of course, there is a fence between me and them. I heard them before I could see them.

I did the best that I could.

I made this picture and added some roundish highlights to the image. I really didn’t have to, but you know me. I also had help from some business behind this little group. They had their big lights turned on, which helped me to make perfect silhouettes up against a glowing foggy sky.

The caboose is another story all together. My amazement arose because no railroads use cabooses today. Congress changed a law that required them to be attached to freight trains. Once the law changed most cabooses were headed to the scrapyard or to your favorite park. This is a working caboose. It is not used for its intended purpose, but rather as a place for the train crew to rest on long haul rides.

One more thing about the picture. Notice the quality? It’s much better than many images that I post here. I used my baby Leica. It’s a great camera for pictures like this and for many of the subjects that I photograph. It’s not so good for second lines or Mardi Gras Indians. When I say baby I mean it. It has a fixed zoom lens. It’s range is from 24mm to 75mm. It’s also fast. very fast, since it has a large f stop at f1.7.

About walking. I didn’t take a dog. This was a little photo walk.I learned that if I walk at my normal pace, rather than stopping, and letting the dogs explore, my legs don’t hurt anywhere near as much as they normally do.

And, so it goes.


Silhouette in the winter sky.

Number two.

I said that I made a lot of pictures of one of the most amazing sunsets that I’ve seen in many moons. This is the second one. I hate to say this, but I was only about ten steps from yesterday’s picture. I just saw it, walked a bit, and pressed the button again.

I’m a fairly economical and efficient photographer. So, when I say I made a lot of pictures I don’t mean that I held the button and machine gunned the exposures. That’s kiddie stuff. Two or three exposures at each scene is enough for me. Sheesh. The trees aren’t moving.

Anyway.

I had one of those mornings.

Mostly, I can laugh at it. I had ton of client email to attend to. These folks don’t want to wait a few days. They want answers, plans and schemes today. Right now.

Then, the dog who sees stuff has developed an aversion to fog. I know she won’t go out in the rain, but this is something new. She goes outside, does her business (she was trading food to a cat), and heads back home. I have no idea what’s gotten into her Cocker Spaniel head.

When you send a business email you get replies. Back to the computer I went.

Finally, the weirdest thing happened to my main machine. Once upon a time I used Google Chrome. It’s too bloated and because I use a Mac, Safari works much better. It also has its own protection software.

I opened it. At the same time Chrome opened. I used “force quit” and shut it down. It opened again. I shut it down again. Up popped some kind of app I’ve never seen. It wanted me to share everything with it including your WordPress addresses. I said no. It tried three more times. It also said its app was installed. Huh?

Apparently, it rode in with Chrome. I went into my apps file and trashed Chrome. I could not find any kind of rogue app anywhere. I looked in the usual hiding places. And, some more unusual places. There was nothing that I didn’t recognize. Hopefully, it attached itself to Chrome and now it’s been shredded.

Be careful out there.

I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was open my computer.


After the storm.

Get Lucky.

That’s what happened to me. I got lucky. After the nothing burger storm blew through I decided to walk with the dog who’d been inside all day. From the minute I stepped outside I saw orange cotton candy skies. I went a little crazy. I made a lot of pictures from a lot of different locations. I rarely do that, but how could I not and call myself a photographer?

So, I did.

This picture is about the fifth or sixth that I saw.

Sometimes, that’s how things go. I think this picture is the result of photographers luck. Sure we can discuss all the things that make a photographer a photographer. But, it mostly comes down to luck. And, listening. And, watching. And, timing.

Timing is everything. At least it is for photographers who work like me. Studio guys don’t think about luck so much because they create the scene.

That’s just about it.

I seem to have awoken from my black mood. It all comes down to pain. I accidentally fixed my knee. My mood accidentally lifted. Today, it’s king cake shopping time. Nothing better during carnival days. This is the time of year when most of New Orleans is walking around in a sugar induced fog. I’d better join them.

Happy Sunday.


Magic sky.

Still waiting.

Seems like that’s what we do. Even though we said that 2020 would be good. That the year would be positive. The first ten days have been anything but that. I’m sensing a very palpable uneasiness. It’s not just me. A lot of people feel it too.

It’s not politics. It’s not just the impeachment, or the failure of government to do their constitutional duties. It’s something else. It’s bigger than that. Something’s coming. And, as I used to say many years ago, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I said that was after looking at the hurricane maps for Katrina.

I have a nightmare feeling about Mardi Gras. I’m not going to tell you. But, I don’t think the Iranians are done yet.

Just sayin.’

That feeling is reflected in my work. The pictures are getting darker. If I photograph something bright and shining I leave it in my archives. I look for scenes that reflect my thinking. After all, they say that artists make images that are autobiographical. The rest of you make your own meaning. Success means that you see and feel things the way that I see them.

Some 2020, eh? Still I’ll hold onto my word for the year.

Anyway.

This picture was bleak. Too bleak. So I added a little color and some strange shapes to it in post production. The picture has a little smile to it now. I think.

The only thing I know to do these days is just to keep going. Art harder as a friend who lives in Memphis says. Play harder. Work harder. Whatever you do, keep doing it. Harder.

There. Is that positive enough?


An amazing turn of events.

After a while, winter’s bare trees start to get boring.

I set out to make something that is a little different. Something that adds 1+1 and makes the answer come out to three. I think that I did it. What I made is a huge image. One that takes up the entire top of Storyteller.

That’s cool. I like big pictures. Very big pictures. This image could easily fit from floor to ceiling in most houses. This one might actually get printed for the studio.

Generally, I have an idea of where I want to go when I’m doing this amount of post production. I didn’t this time.

I started with a fairly straight forward edit. I knew I could make more of the picture. I cropped out branches that were in the way on the left. I removed all of the saturation. I made the background as clean as possible. It looked great like that. It was just pure black and white. I lightened the black to a sort of brown. I added and layered another picture. I fine tuned that and added a frame to control edge bleed.

That’s it.

I’m laying off of politics for now. The guy in The White House ordered something horrible. In short, he fired the first shot of a war. Then, he doubled down and said he would attack 52 sites, many of them cultural and historical artifacts. That’s terrorism. The last time anybody did that it was the Taliban. I guess that’s how far we’ve fallen.

Sorry about that. I couldn’t help myself.


Those little bulbish things turned into this.

Looks like a southern winter.

Bright yellow and deep greens along with some unknown flower.

Debra, a blogging buddy, asked if i could post a picture when the little yellow pods turned into something. They only took a few days, but here they are. Pretty little wildflowers.

Wildflowers?

I thought that they were growing out of some Elephant Ears. They aren’t. They are growing very near to them. I learned that by finding some of them growing in the grass by themselves. They weren’t all that colorful and healthy. I think that is because the ones in the picture grew recently turned soil that was mixed with fertilizer.

Partial mystery solved. It’s partial because I still have no idea what they are called. I’ve also stopped called wildflowers by their negative name. Weeds. These are not weeds. They are wildflowers.

Happy weekend.

 


Machines pale in comparison.

Flying.

“If man were meant to fly he’d have wings.” That’s what they said at the dawn of air travel. I wonder what they’d say about this helicopter that doesn’t have wings.

Once upon a time when I actually worked for a living at a photo agency, I helped to create an archive called, “Big-Little,” for lack of a much better name.  Generally, the pictures in that file contained a little, tiny man-made subjects contrasted against the bigness of nature.  Just like this picture.

Once upon a time this picture would have sold well. It speaks to the grandness of nature, the freedom of flight and man’s place in nature. Now, the picture industry is about dead.

There are actually online portals — not to be confused with a  real photo agency — that photographers upload their work to in hopes of getting “found.” The owners of the portal give the work away for free. The picture user doesn’t have to credit the photographer and — get this — if the user modifies the picture in any way, that modified picture is the user’s picture. The user is free to use it, license it, for sell it outright.

How does that work? The photographer earns nothing. If the user decides not to credit him or her, the photographer stands no chance of getting “found.” Oh sure, the user knows who the photographer is, but the world doesn’t. By the way, WordPress is encouraging bloggers to use one of these portals.

While image libraries have been racing to the bottom for more than a decade, these portals just about kill whatever is left. I’m not ranting or complaining. It’s just the facts, ma’am,

Luckily, I have other revenue streams and I think that I can create a couple more. How positive is that? That’s my word. Positive.

The picture. I heard the beating blades of the helicopter. I located it in the sky and waited for it to come into my view. There was no luck involved. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Anybody can do this. Set yourself up and wait. When whatever you want to photograph passes through the scene that you want to capture, press the button. You don’t have to machine gun it. I made just three frames.

That was enough.


Winter purity.

On the first day.

I saw this.

I thought the contrast was wonderful. I almost din’t push the button because in its perfection it seemed a little common. I thought that anybody could make this picture. But, will they? I think the photographers travel way too far to photograph something similar. I’m lazy. In my doddering old age I suppose that I don’t like traveling as much as I used to. At least not for this stuff.

Besides, there are thousands of photographers who crowd all the choice photo sites. Have you every seen the picture of Yosemite where an amazing yearly natural occurrence happens at the falls? It’s called firefall. The low sun lights up the falls so that it looks like streaming fire.

That scene done well is marvelous. However, take a few steps back and look at what’s going on. There are hundreds of photographers climbing over each other try to take a picture. Even without something grand occurring once a year, most National Parks are just slammed with people, especially in the summer.

Ugh.

Double ugh.

I’d rather break new ground and find something that few people have seen so that I can show you something new and a little different. Sometimes it’s mundane, like the subject of the picture. Sometimes it’s a little more. Hopefully I can help you to see and feel what I saw at the time. This is what I call a little picture. I’ve been a fan of little pictures for a very long time.

Oh, yet again I can’t figure out the space-time continuum. I thought yesterday was Sunday. Lo and behold I found out it was Wednesday.


The birth of yellow.

New blooms. In winter.

I’ve never seen this plant in the time that I’ve moved here. I’ll have to wait until these blooms open. I think I know what they might be, but I won’t know until I see them.

Sorta like life.

Make all the plans that you want. The minute you put them into action everything changes. Wise generals know you can plan and plan a battle, but the minute you step on the field everything changes. Former boxer Mike Tyson once said that you can make all the plans you want for a match, but the minute you get punched in the face those plans go out the window. That’s why I say to empty your mind and not to take the picture. Let the picture take you.

But, what do I know?

I’m still feeling my way as I go. Just like all the rest of us. I may know a lot about photography and some visual stuff, but what I don’t know about most of life could fill up the worlds largest land mass.

That said, this years single word koan is “learn.” I did learn. I learned mostly about me. That’s always good.  I learned a tiny bit about the world around me. Not enough. What should next years word be, do you think?

I’m all ears.