I made this picture on the edge of dusk. The dark edge.
There was almost no luck involved. But, there was a little skill. I know how and where to brace myself when I try to make a picture like this one. I probably should use a tripod more because that’s the way to take a picture in available darkness. But, I wasn’t ready. So, I did what I could.
Sometimes, that’s all you can do. And, that just has to be enough.
For me, the problem with making a picture like this, is that I’m successful holding the camera steady more than I’m not. That’s really not helpful in the long term because I’ve developed the habit of not doing what I should.
Looking at the moon on a night like this one is sublime. For me, it’s calming. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. It’s certainly early enough in the night sky that even the witches aren’t around since witching hour is nearer to midnight.
Technically speaking, this is an interesting picture. I made it with my smart phone. The phone’s sensor over exposed the scene, so the only real work that I did in post production was to darken it. That bought out the color and gave shape to the moon. One point to note, the moon wasn’t full. It’s moving just enough to make it look that way.
The more that I look at it, the more I think we have come to a point were “computational photography” is catching up to the DSLR, Mirrorless and Rangefinder cameras. For sure, it isn’t as technically perfect as it could be, but the technology is moving in leaps and bounds. My phone is last year’s model. I wonder what improvements have been made to the latest version. Of course, I won’t know that unless I borrow a phone. We try to keep our phones for at least three years.
In case you’re wondering, my semi-rant of yesterday did bring about some interesting reactions, both here and on various social media. Some were worried that we are further fracturing. I agree. Most were favorable to my point of view. One person wrote that she’d read that millennials lack of serious work ethic comes from knowing that they have a big pay day when we pass. I’ve never read that, but it’s worth investigating.
Me? I’m taking my cash with me. I’ll need it to pay the Devil to turn on the air conditioning. Heh!
For my part, I probably shouldn’t have verbally slapped those kids around so much. On the other hand, as long as a Boomer said it, they didn’t want to listen to reason. Hopefully, they’ll learn. We need each other.
A hard way to make a living. These days, in the music industry, distribution is king. Without that, you struggle with tours and merchandise sales. If you are working the street, you have none of that.
You have the music. You have a tip jar. And, maybe a few cheaply recorded CDs for sale.
Cheaply is an understatement. Just like digital photography, and auto photographers, everybody with a computer thinks that they can record and master music. Sure, there’s a few folks with passion and drive. For the most part, music recorded, mixed and mastered on a computer sounds like it. You really have to like the songs to listen to that poorly recorded sound.
Take a look at her. She’s got her violin. Her tip jar — well — wagon, and she’s waving a CD around. I admire her. That’s hard work. It was cold that night. She’s wearing a glove on one hand. Yet, she’s smiling and chatting up anybody who’ll listen.
That’s what it takes.
Let’s bounce. Back to photography. You can have all the best gear. You can have all the learned technical skills. You can even make a good picture or two. Without that energy, passion and desire, you ain’t gonna make it.
Like a good musician, a photographer must woodshed. That means taking pictures when you aren’t traveling. When you aren’t getting paid. When you don’t feel like it. That’s how you get good. You work in all kinds of weather. You walk. You look. You make pictures. You work on them at home. You even keep the real losers so that you can learn from your mistakes.
Then, when you are traveling on your own. Or, when you have a paid assignment. The pictures come easily. They find you. You are ready. You’ve practiced. That’s one of the things “ten tips that will make you a great photographer,” never tell you. Work. Work. Work.
The picture. One of those French Quarter nights. Wandering around. Practicing. Looking for pictures. Not caring about showing them to anybody. Or, about money. Just working for the joy of it. Knowing me, I used a 16mm lens, set at f 4.0 and the shutter speed was maybe 1/30th of a second. Most is sharp, except for the CD she is waving around. That’s okay. Her face is sharp. That’s another thing. A picture like this one needs sharpness somewhere. It’s not like those whirly-burly things I photograph sometimes when everything is moving. That’s a whole other skill.
New Orleans is a musical place. It’s often likely that you can hear music as you are passing by a street corner, as I was when I made this picture, that is equal to the sounds you hear in many clubs.
Sometimes, the guys on the street are warming up for their club appearance. Sometimes, they don’t have a gig, but they just feel like playing. They want a little audience and whatever you toss in their tip cup might pay for a meal or a couple of beers. Doesn’t matter to them. They are going to work eventually.
On the other hand, some of the street musicians really are paying their bills by playing on the street. Many of them are quite good. They could play on paying gigs, but they make a lot of money on the streets. One makes enough money to buy a house and car. You know, the markers of a successful life. Or, not.
As you know, I haven’t been in the mood to work much. Part of it is caused by my health issues. Part of it is just kind of being bored with what and where I work. But, I’ve got a couple of ideas now. Let’s see what I make of them.
One more thing. I owe a couple of you some well thought out replies. I’m a little upside down in time, but I promise I’ll get to them.
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.
Sometimes they are simply a technique. Sometimes you see them. Sometimes you use them. Like I did here.
I like the picture in the mirror just fine. But, that’s not why I was looking at it. There’s a car coming. In front of that, there is a mule drawn carriage. I didn’t want to hit either of them. I also want to know if anybody is walking on that side. Good guy or bad guy, I want to know how to react.
Good guy because people walk all over the streets of the French Quarter. Bad guy because there are all sorts of car thefts, high jackings and robbery, done in the streets. Forewarned is forearmed.
All was clear except for the car and the carriage, so I waited by photographing what I saw. Since I mostly use wide angle lenses I kept the background and foreground scenes in the picture. A little context for you and me.
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?
I explained to you that Mardi Gras is layered. Most people who come to town for the parades and Mardi Gras Day don’t really know how much is going on beyond what they see in the streets.
I tried telling a friend of mine that very thing on Facebook and he couldn’t understand. He’s a smart guy. A good journalist. He lives in Indiana, so maybe I should have known better.
Then comes today.
A friend of mine — a local who is very in tune with the city — sent me a text. Could he call me if we were awake? Sure. He wanted to know how he and his wife should dress for a ball tonight. They were invited at the last-minute. Aside from the big dances that are held after many parades, I didn’t even know that there were any balls this late in the season.
I asked him a few questions and I found that I really wasn’t sure how to advise him. Some krewes throw very formal balls. As I wrote earlier, I dress in evening wear. Sometimes. That means tuxedos are appropriate. Other balls require that you fully mask, but in something much better than you’d wear on the streets.
It just depends.
Since I didn’t know the group hosting the ball I was fairly useless. But, I told him that my feeling for most balls is that you can’t be overdressed. On the other hand, if he needs a tux this morning for tonight, good luck.
Around here, once we get into a holiday bubble this close to the big day, you may or may not even have a phone call returned. At this point, if I’m working with an out of town client, I tell them to consider me on holiday until Wednesday. They remind me that in other parts of the country and world Mardi Gras Tuesday is just another business day called Tuesday. And, I reply, “lucky me.”
The picture. Marching bands and me. I really like them. They make a parade wonderful. The drum major is warming up the tuba section prior to rolling. They were about ten minutes from start time so he had to keep them warmed up and in focus without harming their energy. It’s amazing how well a young teenage man knows how to do it. It’s instinctual and yet, it’s well-practiced. These young men and women work as hard as any athlete. Many are in better shape than their sporting brothers and sisters. Often they are working towards college scholarships, just like a sporting competitor.
I thought these things only happened every so many years. We seem to be having them every few months these days. I’m sure it has to do with the angle of the earth’s rotation, but still.
Not everything has to be super. To me, this is just a big clear moon. I’ve been tracking its rise for a week or so. I’m lucky that I did. Full clouds tonight, from any number of locations. That, and big winds and storms. Another storm blanketing more snow on most of the northern states.
We seem to live in the age of big descriptive adjectives. Everything is bigger and better. I read something about a band. Apparently, their P.R. folks wrote it. By the time I was done reading I was convinced they were bigger and better than The Beatles.
I never heard of them until I read that copy.
Granted, I’m old school, but tell me about them in simple terms, post a link to some of their music and let me decide. Maybe they are the best thing since The Beatles.
Speaking of music, I suppose letting me hear new music (to me) is one reason that I like Spotify. They release something called Discover Weekly. No comments. Just about twenty or so songs. Save what you like. Explore the band’s music. Forget the rest.
And speaking of technology, why oh why does this happen? It’s only Google. One day, I’m humming along. Everything opens and closes fine. Everything is fast. Everything works. At night I put my machine to sleep. All good.
The next day.
Nothing wants to open. Google freezes. Rebooting Google won’t help. By then, it’s starting to affect the computer because it’s slowing everything down. That requires a computer reboot. Apple computers take forever to do that. That lengthens my work day. Oh, and it drops my homepage layover.
It’s always something.
The picture. As I mentioned, I’ve been following this moon for at least a week. It’s fairly simple. See it. Frame it with something that gives it context. Make as many pictures as you need to find the right balance of sharpness. A shutter speed of about 500th/sec and about an f-stop of about f8 does it for me. Somewhere in there. Because. You want to freeze the moon’s motion. And, you want some depth of field. That’s hand-held (in a pinch) or on a tripod (ideal). I’m always working in a pinch.
There is some post production going on. Mostly to bring you to what I saw at the time, with the sun just below the horizon line.
If you’re in a place to chase the moon tonight, have fun.