Lost explorer

Things fall apart. Things get lost. Especially little kids toys. We had a week of rain. When it stopped falling this little happy man drifted to this pile of leafs and twigs.

When everything dried out enough so the dogs wouldn’t get their precious paws wet out we went. We found this little stranded guy. They sniffed at him and kept going. I called out “stop,” and they listened for once.

I made a couple of pictures and away we went.

I said very early on in the pandemic that the so-called new normal could be a lot better than it was in the past.

Apparently, our transitional president prefers to be a transformative one. I’m sure many of you might disagree, but I fully support his plans. Totaled together we are talking about trillions of dollars. The money will come from raising taxes on the rich and on corporations. In many ways it’s a redistribution of wealth.

Sounds socialist, yes?

If you said yes, you don’t know much about socialism. I lived in China. I’ve seen socialism up close. Even though the country has turned more capitalistic, the laws and rules are draconian.

These plans ain’t that. Instead they go a ways to fix the huge inequities that The United States faces today. Besides who doesn’t want the country’s infrastructure repaired and made better? Who doesn’t want to give young children their best start at life? Who doesn’t want to make sure all people are healthy?

Well, one Republican woman congressperson doesn’t. Most Republican lawmakers sat on their hands which is to be expected. If they made comments it was after the president’s speech and they didn’t attack the entire thing. She did. And, she did it while he was speaking.

The setting spoke volumes about the state of the country today. The chamber was quiet. Only 20% population of a normal joint session was allowed. Food was restricted. There were no guests. There were no aisle hogs.

Outside, there were fences. There were at least a thousand National Guardsmen and women. There were police. Movement was restricted.

Is this also part of the new normal?

I hope not.

I’d like to say that there was a lot of technology involved in making this picture.

There wasn’t.

This picture involved seeing. My seeing and the dogs seeing and sniffing.

Then, it was just a matter of making the proper exposure and doing very little in editing and post production.

I know this little toy guy is a character in a movie, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one. At least he is dressed properly for a flood.

A day or two later we passed by the place where we found the toy. It was gone. Hopefully, the child who lost it found it.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask (I don’t care about the lifting of restrictions). Wash your hands. Keep your distance (Opening sports and venues for full crowds seems short sighted). Get your jabs (Especially those of you who are getting your second injection). Look after each other. Be patient (See above.)


All the color you can see.

My kind of photograph. Lots of big, bold, bright color. I didn’t actually see quite as much color when I stopped to press the button, but I did see the tree reflection. That’s what caught my attention.

You know me. I’m of the opinion that anything can be a picture. Not in all light. Or, at all times of day. You have to be patient. Or, have an all seeing dog. She knows all. Even though she see monochromatically, she can see how the light and shadows fall.

In fact, she stood right in front of this car. Well, SUV. She moved when she saw what I was doing.

I should be somewhere in the picture, but I can’t find myself. Maybe you can.

The big news of the day is that I get my CoVid-19 vaccination today. The hospital scheduled me for my second injection as well.

I don’t think much is going to change for me in how I address the virus. I’ll still social distance. I’ll still mask. I’ll still growl at the person who stands too close to me in the grocery. Or, has his mask way down over his nose.

If I don’t speak for me, who will?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoying all the seeing.

Seeing and looking are two different items in sort of a continuum. You can look and see nothing. I know a lot of people like that, including me sometimes.

Or, you can look and see. That’s a very different thing. It’s what enables me to see this car and the tree reflections. It enables me to feel the picture.

I think making a photograph is mostly by feel, rather than intellectual or mechanical.

For sure, you have to understand your gear and you have to understand who and what you are as a photographer. But, that’s not directly involved when you actually make the picture. It hovers in the background.

Of course, you have to have another kind of vision when you are developing and editing the picture.

If you do, you might make something with which you are happy.


It is gonna be bad.

You could see it coming from miles away. The storm. The cold. The wind. Luckily, we didn’t have heavy rainfall. Maybe a couple of inches. But, we are having a cold spell that is as cold and long as anything in recent memory.

I’ll tell you more about this picture in the right hand column.

For now it’s enough to say that it was made in the parking lot of a grocery store that we went to after running errands in Jefferson Parish.

We didn’t want to load and unload groceries in the cold rain.

It’s called Postcard Blues for two reasons. It’s mostly blue and because of that McDonald’s sign in the background. It struck me how many people photograph something in the foreground and forget to look in the background.

No. That didn’t happened to me. I saw it as a little point scene to all the rest of the picture.

A way station, if you will, in that dense dark air. A place that you can call home if you like that sort of thing. I’m not big on their food, but for an emergency cup of coffee it’s pretty good.

As they say, anyplace in a storm.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wear two masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every McDonald’s coffee.

Anyplace in a storm, but not standing in the middle of a parking lot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pictures are everywhere. Just look and see. They’ll reach out and grab you.

When I made this picture the sky was dark and gray. I decided to just enhance how the picture looked.

I made it moody and, maybe even scary.

I could have moved my location or removed that McDonald’s sign in the middle of the picture. I didn’t want to. It makes a good focal point for the entire picture. I did brighten it up a bit, but not so much that would be a glaring beacon.

The more that I look at the picture, it looks like something from the dinosaur era. With a McDonald’s sign.


Art is where you find it. Sometimes what you find may not look like art until you open your mind and let your imagination out.

Seeing and using your talents and mind isn’t always that easy. Sometimes you have to throw a little science in there too. And, luck. Luck always plays a big part if you work like I do.

That brings me to, er, luck. They say that you make your own luck. I believe that to be true. Chance favors a prepared mine, or something like that.

Here’s how luck works.

You learn. You study. You always read. You practice. You make pictures, both good and bad. After about 10,000 pictures you are almost ready.

In order to be ready you must walk outside whether you want to or not and look around.

You’ll make photographs. Probably some pretty good ones. All that you did to prepare will bring you to this place. You’ll see. Really see. You’ll see pictures in the most banal of scenes. You’ll understand how to make them into something else. Your imagination will grow into your vision.

You’ll see.

Parking lots. You wouldn’t think there would be pictures on concrete or asphalt.

There are.

You just have to let your imagination loose and be prepared.

Being prepared brings you luck. That’s how I found the scene.

I framed it snd pressed the button.

I worked on it in development and editing. Once again, this is more about what I took out than what I added. If you remove some of the haze, the colors pop.

That’s what I did.

Stay safe. Be strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Use your imagination.


It’s all light.

Light. It’s all light. That’s what makes or breaks a photograph. After all, the word photography is Greek for writing with light. No. It’s not all Greek to me. I actually know this word.

Hurricane Delta passed us by for the most part. We did have some strong gusts of wind and a little rain. Those outer bands can reach way out.

I had to run an early morning errand. You know, a honey do. Pancakes were in the offing, but we were out of eggs, milk and chocolate chips. Mmmm…

So, out I went sometime around 7:45. The light was stunning. The wind blew out the ugliness and humidity of the past few days. The air was clear. The light was sparkling as well as being stunning. I said that already, but I cannot emphasize that enough. Stunning. Stunning. Stunning.

On the way to the grocery store I made some obligatory pictures. You know. The ones you expect in this kind of light.

I parked and looked across the lot. I saw what you see above. Now this is a light picture, a picture about light. The subject isn’t particularly attractive, but the light makes it so.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Shadows and silhouettes is what we learned in college. Look for them. They can save a bad assignment. In order to have them you must have light. I also think you have to have bold, bright light.

So, I saw the scene. What then?

I kept reminding myself, expose for the highlight, expose for the highlight.

Apparently, I got that right. There is just a hint of color in those giant highlights. And, the darks go really dark.

Of course, there is a little post production to help shape the details, but that’s about it.

Questions? I’ll be happy to talk.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Look after each other. Chase the light.


Upside down world.

The rain stopped earlier then predicted.

It didn’t matter. Water was flowing from America’s eyes. It started with a brief tweet referencing TMZ that said Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. At first, there were disbelievers. Not me. I’m not a fan of TMZ-style journalism, but when this kind of horrible news breaks they are first and they are right. It only got worse. We know that five people died, including his 13 year old daughter, Gianna. We think there are four more dead and the pilot.

The entire world reacted. Athletes from every sport tweeted both their condolences and their admiration for the man. At the NFL All Star game, which is sort of a meaningless joke, many football players were upset. When the stadium announcer asked for a moment of silence the fans did that and then started chanting Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.

I could go on and tell you about his basketball career, but you can read or listen to that anywhere. I could tell you about his failings, but you can read that just about anywhere. To me that means he was a man. A normal man who succeeded and sometimes failed.

He was also just a basketball dad taking his daughter, her friend and her friend’s mom to a game. Like any of us. I know. Most of us don’t do it in a helicopter.

I followed his career pretty closely. I’m not a basketball fan, but I grew up near Los Angeles. I followed the Lakers in good times and in bad. I watched Kobe grow from your typical punkish teenager into a man. A good man. And, I am sad, Very, very sad.

My thoughts are with his wife and three remaining children. His youngest is six months old. I have no idea what it’s like to grieve, recover and work your way through that horrible emptiness.  My prayers — our prayers — are with them.

My thoughts are also with the musicians who are attending the Grammy Awards tonight. The Grammys are held in Staples Center, the house that Kobe built. This should be a night of joy and happiness. Instead, it is muted with most musicians saying something about him. The sadness won’t stop.

There’s nothing more for me to say.

Well, one more thing. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Witnesses say it landed upside down on its rotors. They said it seemed like the pilot was looking for a place to land. That’s not human error. That’s catastrophic failure. We’ll see.

The picture. I had already learned about the sad news, but I need to run an errand. I took the dog who sees things. She jumped out of the car and lead me straight to the scene. It seems appropriate for the day so I made the picture. In case you caught that, “Tonight,” I normally write in the morning but I had to get this out of my head. So I wrote at about 8:30p Sunday might.

Peace.

RIP Mamba 1978-2020


Take a look around.

I want to make a point.

A friend of mine published his blog last week. It was a recap of a recap because he hadn’t finished working on pictures that he took while he was traveling via a cruise. That’s what he usually posts.

He listened to me when I suggested that he work a little more freely by using smaller more hand holdable cameras. He may have gone too far because all he uses is one of the smallest Sony fixed lens cameras. That’s another story.

The real story is this. He very rarely works around home. To me, that’s death for a number of reasons.

First, and most importantly, photographers always think about pictures and work everywhere. I make some of my best work a few minutes out of my door.

Two, I can’t ever work cold. I must practice. I must rehearse. When I walk onto the stage of an assignment my chops are elevated. I’m ready to work. I don’t need to shoot until I feel comfortable because I am already comfortable.

Three, the world is a big place. Going to photographable locations generally means that you’ll make derivative pictures. You’ll be copying someone else’s work. Or, as we used to say you’ll be looking for tripod holes. As the very well known photographer, Sam Abell once said, “take YOUR picture.”

So.

I made this picture. I don’t know how good the picture is, but it’s about as good as the umbrella in the pool picture that I published yesterday. You know exactly what it is. You walk by, over and around, yellow parking lot stripes maybe every day. I did find two cars to frame it. And, I did a little magic in post production.

My point is fairly simple. Take, make or think pictures all the time. Don’t wait to travel. Don’t go out specifically go out to look for “photo ops,” a term that I dislike. For me there are no photo ops. There is only the world. The big world. A smaller world. And, my world.

Think about that.

 


Not often.

It’s been a while.

I can’t remember the last time I photographed yellow stripes in a parking lot. I’ve actually been watching this one for a while. I started with the striping effort that city contractors did a few months back.

I knew it wouldn’t last long.

Nature always seeks stasis. Mankind wins. Only for a short while. Then, nature’s campaign begins. Rain. Wind. A Slight Flood. Rebirth. Heat. Cold. Drivers parking their cars on the line.

Eventually, the painter’s work begins to wear away.

You can see that in this place, mankind has lost the battle numerous times. It looks like at one time, this place was even a handicapped parking area. That’s the blue and bit of white at the bottom of the picture.

What can we do about this? Nothing. Accept that nature will always win. She doesn’t care. She just wants stasis. See that green growth? Stasis. It’s nature’s way of starting the process of cracking the pavement.

Same thing with climate change. Nature seeks stasis. She’s fighting back. I’ve said this in the past, but we, humankind is just a flea on her back. Be nice and we continue to exist. Keep on our greedy ways, and well you get it. My city, New Orleans, could cease to exist in less than fifty years. So will most of the Gulf Coast. So will most of Florida. Work your way up to most of the big coastal cities and you know the rest. On both coasts.

Me? I’ve retired from street photography. At least from photographing Mardi Gras culture. I’ll still come out now and then for something big.

I’ve got other things to worry about and photograph. You know about the book projects. You know about agency projects. Those are all very important to me.

But, water. In Louisiana we have too much of it. In other states there is too little of it. That’s my next big self assigned project. Gulf Coast water. For me, the trick is how to do it in a way that makes good sense. There are plenty of great photographers starting to do just what I’ve proposed to myself. But, we really aren’t competing. We are building something together. I just have to figure out how I fit in.

What do y’all think?

Wow! “The painter’s work begins to wear away.” I was copy editing this piece. I came to something I just wrote quickly, without thinking about it. “The painter’s work begins to wear away.”

Who’s the painter? What work? “Where?”


Cherries in the lot.

I have no idea.

It appears somebody finished their overly sweet drink and dumped the remains. I saw it and thought that it might make a picture.

I cannot tell you how much this bothers me. No matter what you may think of us, good or bad, New Orleans and outlying regions are trashy. There is garbage dumped everywhere. No other American city has stuff strewn around as much as my city. I can say that because I travel a lot. Sure. There are neighborhoods here and there that have garbage strewn about, but it is not over the entire city as it is here.

Sheesh.

People get out of their cars and empty their collected auto trash into the street. People driving by just dump whatever they don’t need into the street. A lot of that is food remains. Do you have an idea of how that smells? Especially during the heat of summer?

It get worse. There is a guy called  Sidney Torres IV. He wants to run the city without actually running for anything. He runs ads against whichever candidate he doesn’t like. He attacks various city officials. But, he won’t run for office. It’s just disruption for disruption’s sake.

He’s the kind of guy who complains about a tiny club playing music that is near his house, while opening a huge club and making even more late night noise near other French Quarter dwellers. He claims to have a permit because his club was a church and they were allowed to play music back in the day. There’s a big difference between church hymns and some kind of urban music played very loudly.

But, he’s rich.

Even though he claims to be a developer, he makes most of his money from garbage collection. You’d think he’d care about our streets.

Oh no.

Not only do his drivers almost crush every dumpster they come in contact with, but they fling garbage all over the street as they drive away. When you wave down the driver, he yells at you, “to pick it up yourself.”

And, you wonder why New Orleans is a trash magnet. Nobody cares.

That’s my rant for today. Sunday. It’s another reason that I’m getting over this place. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to not being in town for the heart of Mardi Gras parade season. But, a thought occurred to me. Maybe I should photograph the aftermath of all the events. All the trash.

That might make a point.

It might not be fair since the city does a remarkable job of cleaning the streets after a parade. In fact, when Mardi Gras comes to an end at midnight and Mardi Gras Tuesday becomes Ash Wednesday, Bourbon Street is so well cleaned by morning that you would never know anything happened.

Anyway.

The picture. I saw it and jumped right on it. I did a lot of work in post production because the original picture is just too bright and happy feeling. Does this post seem happy? Nooooooo… it does not.