Where The Beauty Is


The original title was going to be “The Boys of Summer,” after reading about a number of great baseball players of my youth passing. But, Eddie Van Halen died. He was 65, a year younger than I am now.

He died after a very long battle with cancer. He family was with him. He was a smoker, but he thought holding metal guitar picture in his mouth may have had a lot to contribute to his throat cancer.

I wasn’t the biggest Van Halen fan, but I admired his guitar playing. He befriended Eric Clapton because that’s who he patterned his playing after. Of course, Clapton followed the originals, especially Robert Johnson.

Rest in Peace Eddie Van Halen.

It’s time to talk about baseball players so let’s just “Jump,” to the next topic.

Apparently, I was born and bred to be a New York Yankee fan. Some of that fell away because I grew up in Long Beach which made me a Dodger fan too. If they both happen to make it through the playoffs and play each other in the World Series, I revert to type and root for The Yankees.

I probably started following baseball seriously through baseball cards when I was about 7 or 8. I remember listening to Dodger games on my transistor radio, sometimes late at night under the covers.

I’m still a baseball fan today. When I think back to all the great players I got to see I feel very lucky to be on the planet at the same time they were.

2020 has been rough for a lot of reasons. Obviously. I’ve discussed a lot of them here. But, the boys of my summer are dropping once or twice a week. Many were in their 80s, which should tell you how long I’ve been a fan.

Bob Gibson. Tom Seaver. Lou Brock. Horace Clarke. Lou Johnson. Jay Johnstone. Al Kaline. Don Larson. Ron Perrinoski. Claudell Washington. Jimmy Wynn. Bob Watson.

To be sure, this isn’t all of them. These are the guys I remember seeing play, either in the stadium or on television. On an old black and white television that received six channels via an old fashioned rabbit ears.

We got six channels instead of the usual three because we lived in Long Beach and received three local Los Angeles channels. Two of the three local channels broadcast baseball.

It really hit me today when I read that Ron Perrinoski had passed. He played for a couple of teams but chiefly for the LA Dodgers. He was a lights out reliever who came in for big name starters like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

I thought to myself that a lot of these guys had died recently. So, you get to read a large part of Storyteller dedicated to them.

Under the heading of all the news that fits, there is one more item to discuss.

Hurricane Delta. It’s a very late season storm that could hit us almost dead on as a category 3 or 4 hurricane sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning and hang around until late Saturday night.

This one doesn’t seem to have much cone variance so it doesn’t look great out there. Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the water. I’ll let you know more as the week rolls on.

As usual, the picture has nothing to do with most of Storyteller. What I wrote might be more important than the picture, although I like it a lot.

I made this picture a few years ago when I was on the road to someplace north. It was during the time when I photographed everything that moved.

The truck was moving and so was I, so I thought it was a good idea to make a few pre-dawn pictures.

I think the picture feels like being out on the road. It gives you that sense of travel.

The crop is radical for two reasons. The picture just had too much dead area in the sky. And, I wanted to test this shape in the universally hated block system. It seems to have worked out just fine.

I made the picture on a full frame mirrorless DSLR. Surprisingly, it generated some noise so I corrected for that in post production. But, I did little else.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Look after each other.

The Long Way Home


Out on the Westbank.

The long way home.

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.

 

Tired Eyes


A new storm.

Road trips.

You know them. You like them. Probably.

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.

Until.

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.

Until.

You become one with your car. Places whizz by. Signs become a blur. You’re not even going that fast.

Your eyes.

Tired. So tired.

You see. But, not see.

That’s it. You stop. For the night.

Because.

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.

Another Way


Way out on the road.

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.

Anyway.

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.

 

Drifting


New Mexican plains.

I’m not there yet. But, I will be.

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.

Anyway.

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.

Miles from Nowhere


A long way from home.

Well.

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.

That said.

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.

Take Two. Too.


Another version of the same place.

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.

Which do you like?

Road Trips


Out on the Road
Out on the Road

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.