After a long day driving upriver towards Baton Rouge on the Westbank’s River Road, I came to this little spot in the road. Blue hour coming. Dusk coming. Trains on one side. Power lines on both sides making great leading lines. What could be better?
Actually, there are two River Roads. One on the east bank of The Mississippi River, where I live. And, one on the Westbank, which some people call “the best bank.” Maybe if you live there. I always get lost on there.
Anyway, it feels like you are way out there when you drive along the river, even if you are fifteen minutes from home. You are in the countryside. The southern countryside. There are still little tiny communities of former sharecroppers homes, that were slave quarters even earlier in history. Yes, descendants of both of those eras still live there.
Even though I always get lost, I like going there. I’ll be back once hell’s weather begins to cool down a bit. Air conditioning or no air conditioning, it’s no fun to get out of the car to make a picture and walk into a blast furnace.
The picture. After a long day of looking for pictures, I was vibrating. So was the camera. What you see here is the result of that.
You drive. You listen to specially curated playlists of road music. You eat gas station food. You drink bad coffee. You stay in motels of questionable quality. Even the ones with big names.
You’re having fun.
You decide to make tracks to a certain destination. You drive on. And on. You stop for gas. You eat in the car. You speed on. And on.
You become one with your car. Places whizz by. Signs become a blur. You’re not even going that fast.
Tired. So tired.
You see. But, not see.
That’s it. You stop. For the night.
Everything that you see looks like this picture. And, that ain’t a good thing.
The picture. It was planned for yesterday. So was the prose. But, you know what they say. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Chef Leah passed. That stopped me in my tracks. Funny thing, I had a song in my head the whole time that I searched for her picture and started writing. I couldn’t quite place it. I had part of the melody. And, no lyrics. Last night it came to me. “Mandolin Wind.” An ancient Rod Stewart song. A beautiful and appropriate song. So, while I write to you today, I’m listening to his work from that era. When he was young. When I was young. When the world was younger than today.
Oh yeah. What did I do? I did all the post production that I wanted to make the basic picture, which was good enough. By then, that road trippy feeling was in my head. I stacked the same picture on top of itself. I skewed them slightly. I clipped their edges by cropping. I added some edge darkness. Voila!
By the way, I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. Wallah. Huh? It’s voila, pronounced wallah. Sheesh.
I haven’t been out this way in a long time. Usually, it’s for a vet trip. Or, to buy technology.
The weather has been incredible, so I thought that I would take a drive along River Road. I needed a little break from what has been mostly inside work, so off I went. It was peaceful enough. As you can see, there was no cars in either direction. There were no cars behind me, allowing me to make som drive by pictures.
This is one of them. Yep, there is serious post production going on here, but that helps you to feel what I felt with the sunroof open, the wind blowing through my hair and music playing on Spotify.
Yes. I still have hair. A lot of it.
I told you about my chef buddy’s situation. It’s a big enough deal that there are follow-up stories in both local newspapers. I wish he hadn’t said as much as he did. I hope he recovers.
That said, I hope we all recover from the issues ailing my country. There is a lot of hope riding on the year 2019. I truly think that things will get worse before they get better. That doesn’t mean we should pull apart. If anything, we should pull together closer. We need each other whether it’s just for advice, or to cry one each other’s shoulder, or for a helping hand. That’s one of the lessons of last year. It’s something we have to learn and remember.
Make America Great Again has a lot of meanings. I don’t like what the red hat means. I do like the thought of the potential of communities springing up that can help one another. In Hong Kong and, I think, in Great Britain, there are transportation octopus cards. It means you can use the subway, the bus, the tram and trolley systems with one card. You pay to fill the card up and off you go. I like the thought of octopus communities. We aren’t all allied closely, but certain strands link us from one community to the next, allowing a free flow of aid, defense and communication. Hopefully, that could be free of internal politics.
Of course, I’m dreaming.
When more than two people are gathered together politics raises its ugly head. But, you know what they say. “Go big or go home.” Besides, we need this now. The current administration seems hellbent on leaving us on our own at almost every level for stupid reasons. Think about it. Stupid financial management cost many of us at least 12% of our retirement funds. Now, there is a move to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits to make up for the debt caused by lowering taxes on the rich. In one way or another, this current government thinks it’s a good idea to steal my money. Okay. Fine. Let’s take care of ourselves. It’s either that or buy a lot of bullets and start a revolution. Except, I don’t believe in violent governmental overthrow. I’m like John Lennon. Give peace a chance. Or, at least give a peach a chance. And, eat it.
Oh never mind. I’m just having fun with words.
Oh. Redesign part two. I make things to hard sometimes. I tried to build a page using the newer WordPress software. I’ve never liked that. I use the old version. Sure enough, all I have to do is enter from the administration panel and I can work in the same way I did pre-redesign. Press the preview button, or the schedule button and the software does the rest. Learning. See? I’m learning.
I made this picture on New Mexico Route 43. I stopped because the abandoned buildings caught my eye. There was barbed wire fence and a lot of no trespassing signs. Normally, I don’t pay much attention. If somebody stops me I just speak in another language even if I don’t speak much of it. I look confused and that’s the end of it. This is one of those tips that I suggest you never try. Me? I’m fearless with a camera.
For some reason I decided to heed the warning sign. I can’t remember why. Probably, I caught a little motion out of the corner of my eye. And, my warning bells went off.
This is a newer, more gentle way of processing. I’m told it’s more contemporary. When was the last time I ever did something because it was new and contemporary? I don’t care about those things. I’m just experimenting.
Yesterday’s post was completely misunderstood. By me. Seems like any of you who commented here or on Facebook liked the picture for something that I never saw. That figures. Apparently, my own vision doesn’t make much sense. Which does make sense. In the long view.
I’ll tell you where I took this picture. You tell me what it means. Please.
Even though there is an air of loneliness in this picture, it really isn’t all that far out there. It is about as far west as you can go in the City of Albuquerque, and still be within city limits. See those nice neat curbs? I suspect that one day there will be houses out in the high desert. Rows and rows of houses.
I could tell you the story of this picture. How it came to be. But, I’ll probably just aggravate a few people. So, I’ll go with my new flow. I’ll keep my fingers calm. Rested. Waiting.
I couldn’t help myself. As pretty as yesterday’s version of this picture was, I had to take it to the limit. One more time.
This image is the result.
I replied to one of you yesterday that I made a new version of the picture. I also said this location is not far from the old nuclear bomb testing sites. Maybe that thought inspired me. I don’t know.
I’m going to change things up a bit for May. I really haven’t been producing enough new work. So, I’m off to do that. Not actually making new pictures eventually drives me crazy. I’m not sure how I’ll present them. I’m not sure if there will be heavy post production or not. I’ll let the picture tell me that. Maybe, you’ll see a couple of versions of the same image. Process. From start to finish. Who knows?
This picture. Most of you saw yesterday’s picture. It was kind of pretty. I worked on it again and made it kind of evil. Foreboding. Scary. I dunno.
Right about now, I’m wishing that I was somewhere other than here. Ugly light. Ugly milky clouds. Not all that hot. Very humid. I actually gave up a shoot yesterday. The light just wasn’t getting it. And, despite what Jay Maisel says about a photographer having to make a picture under any sort of condition, I’m not doing that. Yes. He’s one of my photo gurus. Yes, I like his work very much.
But… you knew this was coming.
There is no point in making a picture in horrible light and then trying to fix it up in post production. That violates the old computer rule. GIGO. Garbage in. Garbage out. Improvements in post production are just that. They aren’t repairs. Repairs mean that you blew something. Light. Exposure. ISO. You name it.
Besides, I live here. I’m working for myself. It would be one thing if I were out on this road and somebody was paying me. But, not today. Even when I’m out there, I build “weather days” into my schedule. Normally, “weather days” mean really bad weather when you can’t work. But, you know how I feel about that. That adds to the picture. It doesn’t take away from it. When I’m working for somebody I’m willing to eat a little of my expense money if I can make a better picture by being a little patient. The client remembers that. That’s a good thing.
For those of you who follow Storyteller to learn a little bit about photography. Here’s your take away. Patience. Just because you want to take a picture doesn’t mean you have to take a picture.
Spring. Storms. Sideways Rain. That’s what we have in Southeast Louisiana, You see them coming. You do whatever it is you are doing. When they turn really bad you seek shelter. Or, you just keep going.
I knew this storm was coming. My smart phone told me. Yap. Yap. Yap. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. I could see the dark clouds gathering. And, here are the first splatters of raindrops on my car’s windshield. In the background you see an oil refinery. Yep. We have a lot of them on River Road as you drive on either side of the Mississippi River. Visitors and tourists often forget that once you get outside of New Orleans, we are an industrial blue-collar kind of place. We are the South. New Orleans is sort of a Caribbean third world country. It’s very different when you get less than ten miles away from the city in any direction.
It’s morning as I write. It’s very dark. The weather folks are calling for at least three inches of rain today. Of course, they’ve been known to be wrong. A better question is, how often are they right?