Loss and sadness.

” We just go to school and hope we don’t die that day.”

Seventeen. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Parkland, Florida. United States of America.

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Night at the watchtower.

“There must be some way out of this said the joker to the king.” Bob Dylan wrote that. Jimi Hendrix made it famous.

Seems like we are back there. In time.

With a president who want to be a dictator. One who is mean-spirited. One who dislikes the democratic structure of my country. One who wants to punish people. People who aren’t like him. People who make a mistake. Luckily, for the rest of us, he is the weakest president of all time. He can’t get anything done. His staff ignores him. Or, hides from him. “His” generals, nod their heads, and go about their merry ways. He has no power in the Senate. Or, in the House. He has weakened our international position.

Of course, we are being nickeled and dimed. With executive orders that may never be enforced. With different department heads rolling things back. Good things that were moving us forward. Instead, they are pushing forward old technology. Like coal. Like oil for power. And forwarding bad things. Like rolling back health insurance notifications and subsidies. Cutting environmental protection. And, on and on and on.

Now he’s in Asia. He’ll get nothing done. He has no carrots. No sticks. He can’t even persuade China to shut down supplying North Korea with goods and money. The Japanese don’t trust him. The rest of the Asian nations laugh because he walked away from a trade agreement that would have given the U.S. some say in what happens with goods produced in Asia.

Meanwhile…

Back in the USA, the president and his people are trying to derail the inevitable march of Mueller and his team who are searching for the truth. The truth about whether the president and his minions tried to work with the Russians to tilt the election. As Mueller comes closer, they scream louder. They throw up the silliest of ideas. They throw up a defeated Democratic presidential candidate. You know. “But, the emails.” The president says he has “one of the great memories,” but can’t remember the guy sitting next to him in pictures.

Right.

That’s what I meant by the title. “This May Be.” This may be one of those times when the picture stands on its own and has nothing to do with the writing. Once again, the events of this week and the constant whine of the president on Twitter drove me to it. One of you wrote that having the president’s twitter account shut down for 11 minutes and being discussed by traditional media is an example of needing to fill constant news cycles. That, it is an example of fake news.

Hahahahahaha.

When you have a guy who tweets policy before anybody know about it, when you have a guy who regularly attacks everybody and anybody via Twitter, when you have a guy who says twitter is the only sure way to his base… well, 11 minutes of enforced silence is news. Big news. Quite frankly, with all his bullying and threatening on Twitter I don’t know how he isn’t shut down for a TOS violation. Oh yeah. President. I remember. If I said some of the things he says on Twitter, I’d be removed so quickly that… oh yeah. President.

I do tweet back to him sometimes. Always with these words, “Donnie John, what are you so afraid of?” He won’t reply. I’m nobody.

Anyway.

I’m about to prepare yet another gallery show.  It’s about my layered work of a few months ago. A lot of my friends like that work. I always thought it was experimental at best. Even though my stock in trade is bright, energetic pictures, I thought those were too bright. Almost glaring.  So, I thought I do some more layering with a little different color palette. Let’s see what happens.

See? I eventually got back to the picture at hand.


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.


Baby, baby, baby.

Storm. No storm.

By 8 pm last night, the city curfew was ended.

Because?

Hurricane Nate turned slightly to the east. In New Orleans, we had about 35 mph gusts of wind and spitting rain. The storm did hit the Gulf Coast down around Biloxi, but even the damage there was slight. At least, relatively so.

Dodged a bullet? Got lucky? God’s will? A blessing? A quirk of nature?

Call it what you want. We are all very grateful.

By the time that I went to sleep, around 1:30am, I knew that we were safe. Amazingly, we still had power. The only thing left is to undo what we did in preparation. Open the storm shutters. Drain the bath tubs. Eat the Spam.

Seriously. No Spam here. That’s sort of a New Orleans inside joke. We only bought a couple of things in preparation for Hurricane Nate. Water. Soup. Crackers for the soup. Toilet paper.

The picture. While I was waiting and watching Treme on Amazon Prime, I decided to do my kind of prayer. The work. The original image is of an Irish baby, made in an Irish pub, in Ireland. It was made in black and white. On film. Not that long ago. I still shoot some film with a couple of bodies. Then I went to work. Tinkering. Playing. Adjusting. Fidgeting.

The process is better than playing with a fidget spinner. It’s productive. You have something to show for fidgeting. Best of all, I did it on a portable, meaning even if the power failed I wouldn’t lose my work.

Very happy Sunday to y’all.

 

 


It takes a long time.

Hurricane recovery.

It takes a long time. I have friends in Florida. In a number of cities. One, who is located near Fort Lauderdale started posting in Facebook, about an hour after Hurricane Irma cleared out. No Power. An hour later. No power. A couple of hours later. Still no power. This morning. The lights are on a “XZY” center, no power here.

He keeps charging his phone somewhere. Maybe in his car.

There are two news stories today. One in The New York Times. One in The Washington Post. Both of them are about electric power restoration after a severe hurricane, and how it is “triaged.” It is likely that my friend won’t have power restored for five or six weeks. Could happen sooner. But, almost the entire state of Florida is having power issues. Electric companies are coming from all over the country to help out. Even ours sent a convoy of trucks. Still, it takes time. And, patience.

That said, a Katrina story.

My neighborhood was flooded and lost all electrical power on August 29. Power was finally restored on the day that I moved to New Mexico. November 20. I used one of those big moving companies. Something like Allied. They put together a package that wasn’t expensive because they picked up five resident’s furnishings in New Orleans and everything went to New Mexico where they broke it down by city. They made a lot more money, even though it was less expensive for us. That’s sort of normal procedure if you can’t fill a truck, but this time they narrowed the local areas.

Anyway.

November 20, 2005. Down the street comes a huge truck and trailer. Electrical power had just been restored to my neighborhood. But, it was hanging by a thread. One power line which crossed the street. Of course that big truck and trailer snagged it, ripping it down. Power gone again after finally being restored after almost three months.

Three months.

Luckily, for me — the neighbors probably wanted to kill me — Entergy, our electric company — was still working on the street. The workers laughed at the look on my face. And, the crowd carrying hand tools, axes and machetes advancing on me. That’s not quite true, but the neighbors were all working so they did have tools in their hands. Entergy reattached the power cable in about 15 minutes. They probably saved my life and the lives of the driver and loader. I’m kidding. But, just barely.

The picture.

Sometimes things are never the same. This picture was made on a block in Hollygrove. All these years after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city. Whoever lived here left. They never came back. Electricity was restored to the neighborhood, just not on this one block.

Yes, there a lot of post production and color management going on. To my eye, these remaining leftovers of the storm are always bleak. I want them to look that way. I made this picture near dusk, during the transition from golden to blue hour. The original image was just too pretty for the scene.

I couldn’t have that.


A little tree art.

Every day.

A new idea. A new picture. A new approach. An experiment.

This image was originally a picture of a bunch of trees. There really wasn’t a subject. I left it in the file of images that I took on whatever day it was. I forgot about it.

Along came the new software. Stackables.

I was mostly just looking for an image that I could mess with, learn from, and toss in the bin. And, forget about it again.

The more that I tinkered, the more the picture became a little interesting. I just kept going. Until it wasn’t a photograph.

It became something else.


Drifting through the sky.

I’ve been having a lot of very colorful dreams lately. Things are whirling around, spinning and popping. So, I decided to try to make a picture that looked something like I saw in my slumbers.

This image is not exactly like what my mind saw. To be sure, it isn’t even close. It’s getting there. Sorta. Kinda.

It’s not from lack of trying. No machine can equal a human brain. Artificial intelligence, indeed.

The picture is a combination of a number of images. Five to be exact. The main picture is black and white. You saw it a few days ago. The secondary picture in which you see power poles is older and the flowers and floating bits are detail images that have sort have become my own kind of stock collection.

There. I said it. Stock.

I’ll post about that sometime later. THAT’S a really long story. I’ll just say this about that. Most stock libraries and companies are denigrated because of the, well, vanilla imagery that they produce and license for a dollar. Or a penny. They are a large part of why the professional photo industry is in tatters. Not all of us are in tatters. I’m not. Many of my friends are.

There you have it.

By the way, this is the second attempt at this picture. My first go was very dark and gloomy. It didn’t suit the energy of the colors.


Among the Notes.

I need to get out more.

I made the portrait before I returned to New Orleans. I was back for a visit when I ran into this guy on the street in The French Quarter. He’s an old friend. We had a coffee and went our own ways. I thought, at the time, that it was very cool and I could have my old friends back if I just returned. So, I did.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Many old friends were leaving. Even the man in the picture. He moved to Breaux Bridge. A place that’s become home to all sorts of musicians. Famous ones. regional players. Local players. This guy has a pretty good statewide reputation as a fiddle and accordion player. He is also a pretty good Cajun singer.

That’s his story. And, the base portrait is his picture. He’s used to being photographed so taking a picture of him in a coffee shop is no big deal. Actually, if you’re around me for any length of time, you get used to being photographed.

The picture. You know about the portrait. The rest is my usual odd bits and pieces of information. I did do a lot of work in OnOne. The picture as it emerged from Snapseed was just too raw and kind of glaring. So, I needed to finish it and help the color to settle down some.


Out of the blue.

Emerging.

I used that in my tags. The word, in this case, has two meanings. The face is emerging out of the darkness from something that looks like a forest. The other meaning is more autobiographical. You know what I say about making art. The word might be about me and my work. I’m emerging. My work is emerging.

Even though a street approach to photography is what defines me. I wonder if I can really do it again. If I want to keep doing it. Making a good street picture feels very good. But, so does making this work.

Layering is not that hard to do. Commercial wedding and portrait photographers do it all the time. They make the original base picture in a studio, or even in their backyards. They add all sorts of fantastical images to the final piece. A portrait of a young child starts in the studio and ends up in some kind of wonderland.

Their work is inspiring. But, it’s different from mine. Theirs is from the outside, in. Mine is from the inside, out. Mine is the stuff of dreams. Or, nightmares. Often the base picture — or portrait, in this case — is decades old. The past. Mostly, the top layers are new. Made in the last few weeks. The present. Sometimes, the image crosses into the future. That’s hard to do with a photograph.

Anyway.

The picture. The base picture — the portrait — is 40 years old. It’s made on black and white film. The layers are fairly new. The rest is as always. Find the right mix, position the bits and pieces, fine tune, crop as needed and post.