New Mexico Light and Scenes

L

ittle pictures. Details. Something to show the texture of a place. You’d think they would be the easiest to find and see.

They aren’t.

Usually, you see them on the way back from whatever caught your eye in the first place. In a design piece they are often called point pictures which is the opposite of a hero picture. Alone, these pictures can’t carry the page. But, together they have some power.

Sounds like human beings doesn’t it. It takes a village. There is no I in team. Stuff like that. That’s why The U.S Army’s old advertising campaign of a team of one, never worked. There are no teams of one. And, before I forget, Happy 246th Birthday U.S. Army.

I’ve given some thought to another approach to using little pictures. What if I compiled a collection of these and printed them huge and turned them into a kind of art statement?

I’m starting to do the ground work to some new projects. Maybe this could be a component in one of them.

T

here really is no secret technique to making these photographs.

The key is to not edit yourself in the field. See it, shoot it. Don’t think about it.

Try your best to keep pictures like these clean.

This is no time for fancy post production and modifications.

You might want to work on these at their biggest magnification. There is no telling what’s hiding in the background.

El Sancturio de Chimayo, the Lourdes of The United States. The church is called that because of its healing properties.


Valentine's Day display.
Valentine’s Day display.

Colors. Contrast. Collections.

Red. Red. Red.

It used to be one of my favorite colors. I liked it so much that I even made a little Blurb book from red colored pictures. I produced a small marketing campaign using red. Like everything, taste changes.

Now, it’s purple.

Seems that I’m at it again.

My project is taking a long, long time. Not only am I working through just about every picture in my files, but I’m organizing them as completely as possible. This will eventually allow me to build a very, very comprehensive website which will be the platform for a whole host of uses. Which uses? You’ll see. Soon enough. But, not all that soon.

After all, I can’t spend all my working time on this complex project. There is traveling to do. Pictures to make. Clients to keep happy. Family things. Other stuff.

Anyway.

Just like yesterday, I’ll add a little subject information to each picture.

This image is what comes of walking, and not always driving, somewhere. I made this picture on Magazine Street as I was strolling down the street. Rule number something or other — always have a camera. Uptown, New Orleans.

Temple Candles.
Temple Candles.

Temple candles being lighted in Man Mo Temple. The temple building is the oldest building in Hong Kong, located on the border of Sheung Wan and Central.

Flute player's hands.
Flute player’s hands.

Again, walk. Walk as much as you can. Not only will your doctor be happier with you, but you’ll stumble onto pictures like this one. I made this in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Schwinn.
Schwinn.

The Bywater. This bike has been parked in this place for years. It’s not just sitting there, rotting. It appears to get a workout.

The band played on.
The band played on.

Once, in the middle of my “picture a day” project, I saw a lot of cars headed in one direction. I followed them. They lead me to this picture. A band playing at a quinceanera. Everybody seemed happy to see me. So I worked from backstage. That’s Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Rider's colors.
Rider’s colors.

Film. Like a real photograph. An older picture, made in Porto, Portugal. A picture made in an older style.

All tricked out.
All tricked out.

Old Town. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Seems to be the heart and soul of restored old American iron. Now that I’m back in New Orleans, I look for cars and trucks like this. We have music, food, culture. But, we don’t have cars like this.

Silver quash blossoms on red velvet.
Silver quash blossoms on red velvet.

Such pretty hand tooled silver, shown on a deep red velvet blouse. Taos, New Mexico.

Chines embroidery.
Chinese embroidery.

It looks Chinese. And, it is. But, I photographed the top half of a cheongsam in San Francisco, California.


Banksy with a little help from locals taggers.
Maybe Banksy with a little help from locals taggers.

There are rumors and rumors of rumors.

Especially in New Orleans.

I thought that I stumbled upon one of the so-called missing Banksy bits of wall graffiti and political commentary. Apparently, he came through New Orleans in 2008 and did his thing. Love his work or think it’s just graffiti defacing a wall, he did spend some time here. Most of his work was covered up by a self-described anti-graffiti activist known as the Gray Ghost. The Gray Ghost sprays over any graffiti he finds with gray paint. He finally got caught when he sprayed over a commissioned mural. Oops. Banksy’s last known work, located in The Bywater, was almost stolen by a couple of guys who thought it would be a good idea just to cut out a chunk of a brick wall and take it.

Along comes me. I was looking for some junk in Mid City near the new hospital corridor when I stumbled upon this building and its graffiti. At first, I thought I’d found another bit of Banksy wall art. But, it isn’t on any map and the more I looked at his past and current work, I don’t think this image is anything more than a copy. His work is a lot more complete with highlights of bright color. And, it is very well documented. There is even a website that has maps of his work divided by location. The street artist gets around. Whew.

For a while I was excited. I like to learn. I learned quite a bit about the elusive Banksy.


A New Orleans Building.
A New Orleans Building.

Finally. More color. This is a strange little place. It’s been a bar, a restaurant and now a florist shop. The front is okay. But the back is so New Orleans that I photograph it almost every time I pass by. Since it’s located in my neighborhood — sort of — I can walk to it. Then I can stop for flowers, or if I keep walking, a meal or ten and… wait for it… coffee.

The picture was made near dusk. I helped the colors a little bit because the camera’s sensor just couldn’t match the real thing.

A little housekeeping. I’m going to take about a week break from posting. Nothing big really. I’m transporting a four-month old Yorkie puppy to my friends in Michigan. It’s really only about a two-day drive, but I want to get him to his new home as quickly as possible. Riding in a car all day is no place for a puppy. But, on the way back I’ll take my time and make some road pictures, some winter pictures and some pictures of different junk. Normally, I do this sort of thing very seamlessly and I never say a word. When we were touring so hard, I’d come home on our breaks and work hard in New Orleans so that I could position myself as a New Orleans photographer. Whatever I photographed on the road was used for different projects or posted here later.

Not this time. I want to care good care of the puppy and just work on making pictures without rushing back to my motel to process and post something. I might make a few iPhone pictures and maybe I’ll post those, but that’s about it.

I’ll see you in about a week. Have fun.


Witches on the move.
Witches on the move.

I would never have thought it. Witches don’t need their brooms to be fast and stealthy. I thought that they did. They passed me by so quickly that this picture is the best that I could do. They were on their way to some place else. Just like me. The only difference being, they were on their way to haunt somebody. I wasn’t. Well, maybe I was. That’s probably what some of the people think when I stop to take their picture. Heh, heh, heh…

Truth be told. I was just trying to stand in front of better stuff when they appeared on the scene. Most of the look is due to a slow shutter speed in a low light situation. The rest was done later. In post production. But… for me, base content drives the manipulations that come later.


A trip to Rosalie Alley reveal a lot of signs and symbols about voodoo.
A trip to Rosalie Alley reveal a lot of signs and symbols about voodoo.

A very old gate post.
A very old gate post.

Hearts and snakes. What could be more exciting?
Hearts and snakes. What could be more exciting?

More images from Rosalie Alley. I guess that I could stop right there. But, you know me.

Two things to know. One. I promised myself I wouldn’t post very many multiple image blogs. It seems that they are just a little too much to look at in one go. But, after looking at the many detail images I made here, there seems to be no way around it. You can’t get a feeling for the place looking at one image at a time. Two. Just dropping into a place doesn’t really work. I’ve known this for a long time. But, this shoot and take reminded me of it.  Strongly. There are signs and symbols all over the place. But, there were no people. Despite the rumors and stories, nobody was around practicing voodoo, or its evil cousin, hoodoo. Quite frankly, I have no idea if what I read and heard is true. But, in order to really know, I’d have to hang out there a lot. And, at all times of day and year. I guess that I could. I probably will for a while. This places intrigues me. There is a real sense of history there. Well, there is history throughout most of New Orleans. How could there not be? But, this place has a very odd vibe. Even in daylight.

We’ll just have to see.

The pictures. Well, two of them are about voodoo. Or, hoodoo. I’m not well enough versed about those practices to be able to tell the difference. All I know is that voodoo is good. Hoodoo, bad.  The third picture is a detail of an old wrought iron gate post. I have gate posts where I live now. I had gate posts where I lived on Esplanade Ridge before the storm.  Those were the older of the two. That house was built in 1837. The gate posts were added in 1888. This detail pre-dates that. I don’t know by how much. A lot, I’m guessing. You can see what it represents. It is an upside down horseshoe. It keeps the luck from flowing out and away. I bet you think that I don’t know that. Ha! I’m full of useless information.


9Ward-4 copy
The new levee designed to protect the Lower Ninth Ward

This picture may just seem like a bunch of lines and sky. But, it’s far more important than that. For those of you who watched Hurricane Katrina destroy The Lower Ninth Ward as well as about 80% of New Orleans, you know that it was not the hurricane itself that did the job. It was the failure of the levees. There were over 50 breaches, including two major breaches along the Industrial Canal which turned The Lower Ninth Ward into a wasteland of water, mud, broken homes, twisted trees and overturned cars and trucks. Yes. There were also many people who died there, making most of The Lower Ninth Ward sacred ground. It is also important to know that the levees did not overtop. They were breached mostly due to poor design and shoddy maintenance. In fact, the levee protecting The Lower Ninth Ward had a hole blown through it that was a quarter of a mile wide. Even a barge managed to float through that giant hole. Many local people call this The Federal Flood because of those failures.

The levee you are looking at is the new Industrial Canal levee. It is armored. It is sunk deeper into the ground. And, it held fast for the last hurricane, which was last summer’s Isaac. With luck, we won’t see a storm with Katrina’s strength and potential for significant damage for many years to come. With even more luck, this levee and all the new levees around the city will hold.

The picture. It’s sort of hard to made such a simple picture, so I worked the picture a little more than normal in post production. Hopefully, it worked. Sorta. Funny about that simplicity thing. The older I get, the more I try to work towards simplicity. But, it isn’t easy.


SE-1
Sammy sitting and listening.

SE-2
Hip Drummer

I’ve been doing a number of projects at one time. That includes traveling, photographing, managing someone else and working on a huge amount of post production of files that I’ve produced over the past month. When it comes to post production, mostly I’ve been working on the Memphis blues project. I work on it as I can. It’s become sort of a hobby. When you make as many pictures as I did in Memphis, it does take some serious time to edit. Okay. To use the contemporary term. Curate. Of course, there are multiple culls, rough post production and final polishing. I’ve managed to cull the images that are directly related to my buddy, Sammy’s band, down to just 760 pictures. Just.  There’s other stuff too. A lot of other stuff. Too much stuff. Maybe.

Anyway. With all that’s going on, I need some fun in my work too. So, I pulled a couple of pictures out of the Memphis mix that I just like. Nothing more. I’m not sure they the fill any particular need. But, I like them. The top image is a portrait of my old friend Sammy. We were at a club called Purple Haze, mostly just listening to other musicians. The bottom image is of drummer Michael Hays. You met him earlier. he was lighting a cigarette and standing on Beale Street. In this picture, he’s waiting to play.

 


Polly's
Lisa, the very best waitress.

Being away from home and on the road is not always fun. But, this Memphis trip was great fun. Especially eating. Eating can be entertainment when you are out. We went to a couple of places on Beale Street. Most of them are real touristy, but we found Polly’s. Great Southern food. And, the very best waitress. Lisa. She kept a bunch of ridiculous people in check, smiled a lot, cracked jokes and recommended great food. Oh. yeah. She kept the coffee cups full. And, the sweet tea glasses full too. The picture? Ain’t much. It’s a quick portrait. Of course, I spun it a bit with a lot of post production. I added a lot of movie filters. I guess I see some of these funky restaurants as sort of a location prop. Maybe I want to make movies. Or not.