Something in the air.

It’s in the air. Tonight. Today.

I’m not the only one.

Yesterday, I wrote about murky dreams. Dreams of the past. Dreams of people long forgotten. Of a time in the dim recesses of my mind.

Between online conversations and some in real life, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one. People of a certain age are going through this strange little time too. Before, we get all spooky and weird, it probably means nothing.

On the other hand.

What if?

What if we are marshalling our past resources for something to come? I’m not one who believes in all seeing third eyes, or understands why the hell WordPress doesn’t like marshalling in this usage, but something is brewing.

Since the usage of marshalling in this case, means ordering things in preparation for battle, what battle am I, are we, getting ready for?  As much as I dislike the current United States President — and, all that he stands for — and want him imprisoned, it’s not something as mundane as that. I think it’s bigger. I don’t know what it is. But, it’s coming.

As I used to say in the bad old helicopter days, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I thought and felt that, a storm called Hurricane Katrina just about wiped New Orleans off the face of the earth. It’s a powerful feeling.

We’ll see.

The picture. My apologies. I went a little too far in post production. I should have reworked this picture. But, today is very, very busy. So, I moved it from my phone to OnOne and tried to make a few little repairs there. The mistakes were too imbedded for that.

Anyway.

I saw these blossoms and did the only thing that I could do. I photographed them. Then, I messed with them. I made the picture a little spooky. Then, as I wrote, I went too far. I tend to do that. I should have taken things a step or two backward. I’ll get back to it. I’ll fix it. I promise. I might even show you the revised picture.

One more thing about this bad feeling. (See how haunted I am by it?) There’s an old infantry saying, “If you can see the enemy, the enemy can see you.” The reverse is also true. I can’t see the enemy. But, I know…

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My idea.

A study in blue.

I’ve said in the past that I wished that I could paint. Before you tell me that I should try, I have. I have paints. Brushes. Paper. I’ve taken classes. Workshops. One on one learning. I have good hand — eye — coordination. For whatever reason, I can’t paint.

My failure is simple. Like newbie photographers who want to learn to take pictures with “the ten tips that will make you a great photographer,” I want it now.

I want to reach the level of my photographic work.

Now.

I forget how many years and how much time I’ve spent being a photographer. They talk about the 10,000 meaningful hours that you put into a thing to get really good at it. For me, that’s just getting started. So too, with most of my brother and sister photographers.

Find your voice. You can get good at a thing from a technical standpoint. You can make pictures that can compete with anybody else’s from a technical and compositional standpoint.

That’s not enough.

There is the emotional and spiritual something that makes your pictures stand out from all the rest.

That’s not limited to photography, although that’s what I talk about.

Think about music. Think about guitarists. Think Eric Clapton and Joe Bonamassa. With all due respect to Bonamassa fans, he can’t hold a candle to Clapton. I’ve watched them play on the same stage. On “Further on up the Road.” Bonamassa is fine. He plays good lead guitar. He plays good fills. He is a technically excellent guitar player. Eric Clapton puts his heart and soul into his work. It shows. He plays lead. He plays fills. He inspires me in a way that Bonamassa can’t. Maybe it’s me. I’ve been a Clapton fan for 50 years. I barely know Bonamassa work. There’s a reason for that.

Back to my work. This work.

This is my attempt at making a painting, when I don’t have the technical skills. It’s my watercolor. The work is done on the computer. There are probably ten versions of it in my archive. This is the one I like best. It’s simple. It strikes my minimalistic chord. I tried other colors. Blue works best. It feels natural. There are trees added to the original image. They wrap themselves around the main tree. I could hang this picture on my walls. I like it just that much.

What do you think?


Blooming.

Yes, indeed.

April showers bring May flowers.

This is what I saw yesterday when I got home. I really mean home. Walk outside and this picture found me. I didn’t have to do anything. Just marvel at it and push the button.

Then, I worked my so-called magic. I post-produced the hell out of it. I made nature’s energy come back two or three fold. I reckon that’s okay because I too am part of nature.

Which brings me to another part of nature.

I swore I wouldn’t get political on Storyteller. But, the women around here are steaming. Big women. Little women. The female dogs. Okay. Not them. Also, those of us who love and care about them.

Ohio. Georgia. Alabama. Missouri. And, in a few weeks, Louisiana. The last begs a lot of questions. We have a Democratic governor. I thought that we might be safe. Oh no. He supports the bill.

Damn.

I don’t care what you think about the rightness or wrongness of the issue. Or, when you think a human being begins, this isn’t about that. And, that’s your business. Not mine. Or, anybody else’s business. This is about controlling another human being. This about about the ultimate patriarchy. It could be called a war on women.

In theory, I’m sort of liberal. Nah. I’m more libertarian. I think most personal things are between you and your maker. Not the guy next door. Not the state. If you aren’t hurting anybody, what you do is your business. To me.

That’s my soapbox.

About that comment. “Begs a lot of questions.” We live in a very blue city surrounded by a red state. You know what I’m thinking. I won’t go to any of the states who have done this stupidity already. But, what do we do? Here in the swamp?

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After the rain.

Well. It looks like a painting.

I didn’t do much to it. I didn’t have to. Nature did it.

I’ve been thinking. About the next six months. The rest of the year. What do I want to do? What don’t I want to do?

I think I’m going to be a little busy. I’ll tell you about it in a bit. But, one thing that I did do was apply for a media credential as Storyteller. We’ll see if they bite. I realized that I have far more of you than the circulation of my first group of newspapers. That amazes me.

 


A leaf among grasses.

Painting.

That’s what I wanted to do. Of my three greatest influences, two are painters. Only one is a photographer. Ernst Haas. The painters are pretty well-known. Van Gogh and Georgia O’Keeffe are known even among folks who don’t have much interest in art. Haas is well-known to the older photography community. The younger photographers don’t seem to know or care about the history that brought us to this time.

I started thinking about this as I was reading the catalogue for the exhibition, “Van Gogh & Japan,” being shown now in Amsterdam.

To my eye, what looks complex is very simple. The complexity is built in layers. That’s painting.

I’m a photographer.

Try as I might, I have no talent for actually putting the brush to paper, or canvas. So, I studied Ernst Haas as much as my painting muses. He was a photographer who was represented by Magnum. He worked for Life Magazine. He had advertising clients. He was a “special photographer” on movie sets. That meant that he made a lot of pictures that are not what he would call portfolio work. We all do that in order to pay the bills. Even the great ones.

Haas also published books. Not the self-published, self edited, self designed silliness that seems to be clogging up reader lists. No. Books that were edited and published by professionals. The book that first caught my eye was, “The Creation.” It caught a lot of people’s’ eyes. It showed me what photography could be. It taught me that photography could stand next to the painted works of Van Gogh and O’Keeffe. Those of us who work with cameras, lens and all sorts of mechanical devices didn’t have to be second or third class citizens. I’d just wish that we’d learn to raise our prices like painters do.

More importantly, all of this work taught me that we didn’t have to be documentarians. That we could make images that stood on their own, without an event to back them up. For as long as I’ve known this, I’m finally just starting to understand it.

That is one reason that my “New Orleans culture” productivity has been down. Pictures that more-or-less look the same from year-to-year aren’t fulfilling to me anymore. I come out for those events because I like being with the people. I like talking to my brother and sister photographers. I like talking to the Indians and social clubs. Most of all the rhythm of the music and the street seems to make my hip and back feel much better. If I could figure out a way to make a picture that was more art than documentary I’d stay on the streets for as long as they’ll have me.

Anyway.

This picture. For a distance, this picture looks fairly simple. Just like my three muses work does. Move in closer. The photograph starts looking more complex. More complicated. Very detailed. That’s the positive side of it. There are many negatives. Not the least being the basic subject matter. I made this picture this morning. Because I had to. I’m running out of new work. I don’t seem to be inspired to make new, meaningful work.

I don’t know why.

It’s not a block.A block usually means that you try and can’t. I haven’t really been trying. I can’t find a subject or project that excites me.

Oh well. I know this one truth. Don’t force it. It will come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The world in water.

Water.

I was looking through my archives. Again. Because I’m trying very hard not to repeat myself. And, because I realized that some artistic experiments have been going on for eight or nine years. In a couple of cities. Two states. And, on about four continents.

However.

I’m fascinated by nature. By the yearly spring rebirth of seemingly dead stuff. Especially this year when we the temperature nose-dived for three or four days. When the highs were in the low twenties. Our semi-tropical ecosystem is not used to that. Plants died. Fruit trees took a beating throughout the region.

As I look at the brown sticks that were all that was left over after the freeze and see brand new ferns showing their leaves, I’ve come to understand the cycles of nature a little better. I’ve long known that nature always seeks stasis. I didn’t realize that she could bring some things back from the dead.

Of course, the more we beat her up. The more we pollute our home — the planet — the harder it is for nature to recover. I was just reading about this winter near and around the North Pole. Normally, the water there is frozen solid. Long sheets of ice. Not this winter. There is plenty of clear water to sail through.

Think about it.

There was enough flowing water to make this picture. But, photographing it using my normal approach would be confusing. You wouldn’t know if I made the picture in 2016, 2017 or a few hours ago.

I made it a few hours ago.

I decided to use a lot of editing tools to make it look like a painting. An abstract painting. If that wasn’t enough, I turned it on its side because it looked better to my eye. That long red line on the right was trapped in the horizontal version of this.

If there is anything to be learned from this, we in the digital age have amazing freedom. We can leave things alone and make pictures that completely approximate reality. Or, we can take them someplace else.

It’s up to us.

One more thing. Don’t steal. I’ve banged this drum for forever. Just because you see a picture on the internet doesn’t mean it’s free to use. It’s somebody else’s work. Ask permission. Even though the artist really should be paid, at least give them a credit. Acknowledge their hard work as you would like your own work acknowledged.


Painted morning light.

March 1. 2018.

February, despite being a short month, was packed with stuff. Mardi Gras. Second Lines. A jazz funeral. And, of course, the horrible tragedy at Stoneman-Davis in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were murdered, most of them children.

This will stick with us for a long, long time.

After watching the survivors take control, I have a little hope. Young people helped change the world in the 1960s and 1970s. If you trace our history back far enough, you’ll find that many of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, were somewhere between 18 and 22 years old.

Think about it.

For the first day of a new month, I chose to do a little painting. Well, digital painting. It’s a funny thing. Even though I keep telling you that this is a new style of work, a quick scroll of my Google Archives reveals that I’ve been doing this for about eight years in one form or another. In many way, I should be a lot further along in this journey. Documenting things like New Orleans culture seems to creep back in to my days.

I was talking to a colleague of mine, who said that as we move into our sixties and — hopefully beyond — that it might be time to give up the street. Time to move into other phases of our art. Of our craft. Of our business.  I suspect that he’s right. For the most part I’ve given up photographing second lines and staying out for hours on Mardi Gras Day. I attributed that to some health issues. But, I’ve worked through most of those. I actually feel pretty good. Today.

That said, I still can’t seem to return to the street. I dip my toes in it. I make a few pretty good pictures. And, think to myself, “so what?” Yes. I know that the costumes and suits change yearly. But, to my photographic eye, the pictures look the same. They repeat themselves. They look dated even when they are brand new.

I’m in the middle of two experiments to help clarify that.

I’m going to photograph Sunday’s second line. Yeah. I know. I know. But, it’s a children and ladies parade. It’s Uptown. I want to see if I can work it in some different way.

Check out Friday’s Instagram post. Mostly I post in black and white. Friday’s image is monochrome and it’s of an Indian. It’s a very different way of doing that kind of post production process. Maybe the trick is to make pictures knowing that the image file is just the very beginning of a much longer process. That even if it looks good in color, there is a different final image.

In either case, you may not see the results. Or, maybe you will. It all depends.

Depends. Hmmmm….


Christmas tree, my way.

The decoration was hanging on my tree. I saw it. I photographed it. I had my way with it. I turned a digital photograph into something that looks like a painting.

I think it works. Does it?

The more I look at it, the more it looks like one of those old-fashioned Christmas cards that my parents used to send during the holiday season. I think that they came in packs of ten for something like $4.99. Maybe less.

I told a friend of mine who I rediscovered through the wonders of Facebook, that between editing my archives and this being “the season” and all, I was on some kind of strange journey through my past. By the way, I grew up with that guy. His family lived across the street and about 6 houses down from mine. Now, THAT’s something.

Anyway.

This picture just feels old.

 


Looks like that place again…

It’s not that place. It’s a different one.

It appears to be lost in time. As do I. Because, I’m not making very many new pictures these days. Except for this one. I saw it. I pushed the button. On my iPhone. The sky was sort of milky just before it turned colorful. I took the colorful pictures also. But, from the minute I saw the quieter version, I knew what I was going to in post production.

I did this. A painting. Without using painting software. I’ll get back to that in a bit.

That’s the first time for that sort of continuous thought. Usually, I make the picture and tinker around. There was no tinkering this time. I knew exactly where to go. I suppose there was a little experimentation on my way to creating my vision. But, the steps were intentional.

About painting software. I don’t use it. I’ve tested it. I think it is trying too hard. You know. Push a button for watercolor. Or, push a button for Van Gogh. I don’t think creativity is enhanced. Or, works that way. It’s sort of like using a paint by numbers kit to make something to hang on the wall. It might like okay. But, it’s not from the inside. Where art is created.

And, that’s it.