Caring for His Truck in Central City
Caring for His Truck in Central City

The plan for yesterday was to photograph a second line parade. I wasn’t sure how big it was going to be, but after plotting the route on Google Maps I realized this parade was going to be a long, long walk. That’s okay. Second Line Parades in Central City are usually a lot of fun to shoot. People sell water,beer and home cooked food along the route. The people are always in great moods. And, since this one was going to take place during Carnival, I could claim that it was a Mardi Gras event. That’s probably stretching things a bit, but… It didn’t matter. It didn’t happen. We drove to the corner from which it was leaving and… nothing. I made a couple of quick calls and found out that it was postponed because we had a 60% chance of rain. Oh well. The rain didn’t fall for the couple of hours that we were there. However, the rain did come pouring down later… much later. The temperature dropped by about 20 degrees.

Anyway. What to do? I realized that I really hadn’t done much work on my Central City project lately, so we just started poking around and I made pictures where I found them. I also realized that there is a section of Central City that I had never really worked, so this was a good opportunity to get to know that part of the neighborhood. For those of you who don’t know much about Central City  — New Orleans, just let me tell you that during Hurricane Katrina the area got almost as much water as the Lower 9th Ward. You don’t know that because CNN didn’t cover it. However, part of Central City did not flood because it is the only low-priced higher than sea level land left in New Orleans. When I say above sea level, I mean only higher than the rest of the city which makes it about 5 or 6 feet above sea level. That’s it. One big issue that Central City has to contend with is very high crime. So high, in fact, that when I asked the man in the picture if I could photograph him and we got to talking, he warned me to be very careful. I already knew that, but I thought his words were very kind. He didn’t know that I know Mike Keller, the owner of Keller’s Food Store. Mike has been shot three or four times. He’s also returned fire and shot three or four bad guys. Yes. It’s that bad. Sometimes. On the other hand, the people who I’ve met and photographed there have been just wonderful.

This picture. The actual picture is pretty simple. It’s a documentary picture of a man working on his truck in front of an old abandoned gas station. It’s the kind of building I wish that I owned. Most of the real work is in the post production. For the first few months that I worked in Central City I made the pictures in my usual way… by not being afraid of color. The colors are bright, energetic, richly saturated with a lot of pop. But, that doesn’t describe the place. The place is in transition. Only one out seven houses are habitable. You could probably buy an entire block of houses for under $100,000. However, when you get to “main street” which is Oretha Castle Halley Boulevard, things start to change. There are big restoration and public programs. If you continue towards the river, there are even new condos and apartment buildings. So, what is the right color palette? The work I did on this picture is an experiment, just as the burger joint images that I published last week were experiments. I’m thinking that the second version of the restaurant is about right. While today’s picture is interesting in its tone, I think it is a little too much.

Comments are more than welcome. Stay tuned.


Well. I promised you more skeletons. Here they are. I still don’t know any more about the people who own the house and do this. But, eventually I’ll find out. This picture relies on a little more post production than yesterday’s picture. Since, it’s suppose to be scary I grunged it up a little bit. I may not have gone far enough. That’s rare for me. usually, I go too far. Anyway… 

Well. The subject is the same as the last few days posts. Another picture of a county fair. Yes. Again. But, the post production is very different. I can’t even remember what I did to this picture. But, you have to admit that it’s not my usual style or color palette.

When I work in Central City, a lot of what I find is in the details. It means that I can’t just drive to an appointment. Or, drive around looking for things. I have walk around looking for little details that either function as a sort of point picture, or as something large as an icon that speaks to a much larger concept. I’m just thinking out loud, here. But one way signs pointing in two directions, with one pointing to a kind of stop sign, seems to be about life itself. I don’t remember if I thought that when I made the picture. The beads? Just Mardi Gras beads that have faded in a harsh Southeast Louisiana, summer sun. Fortunately, they faded into colors that blend with the signs on which they are draped. Ah. The wonders of nature.

First. A quick announcement. I’ve reached 10,000 page views. I don’t think that’s much cause for celebration when I stop to think about some of my fellow bloggers who have 10,000 views per week, or per day or even per hour. I have no idea how they do it. But, they do.

That said, on the same evening that I photographed the skyline and the broken glass brick, I also made this burnt out picture. I made it by shooting through a broken glass window, of which there are many in the Central City. I’m not exactly sure what it says. But, since I’ve learned a while back that the content is informed by the viewer. Yeah, yeah. That’s very academic. A better way of saying that might be, “you say tomato, I say tomahtoe.” Or better yet, as John Lennon once said when was asked what his songs mean, “whatever you want them to mean.”

Anyway. Here’s the picture. Plenty of post production on this one, Again on my i-Pad, using Snapseed.

When I work in Central City, I shoot I lot of close up images. Even my portraits seem to get right to the heart of the matter. But, on the evening that I made yesterday’s picture, I took a step back. I wanted to see what the view from Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard looked like to somebody who was just walking down the street. This picture pretty much captures it. Of course, I gilded the lily somewhat. I took the picture during the so-called golden time which pretty much guaranteed that there would be a reddish-yellow glow. Then, off to post production I went. I used a setting in Snapseed that gives the image an old film look. I never stop with the software-driven setting. I always tinker. I added contrast, a little sharpening and I changed the color. I wanted the picture to look more like an evening in the other LA. Los Angeles. I guess that it worked. You tell me. 

First. In the interest of transparency, that title is an old song title, written by Hazel Dickens and popularized by the late Jerry Garcia. That’s a digression. I’m trying to think…

I’ve been working on a project in the Central City of New Orleans. It’s taking a lot of my free time. At one point I traveled many miles to get back for an event that is somewhat important to the collection of pictures. Every now and then I find a picture that sort of fits in the group of pictures, but can stand alone as a sort of kind of art. This is one of those pictures. The funny thing about this one is that I did a lot of post production using Snapseed. But, it came out looking about the same as it did when I started. I guess my first instinct was the best one. I should know that by now. That’s usually what happens.

So the title? And how does it tie to the picture? Central City is old and, sort of, in the way. It’s crime ridden. Only one in seven structures is habitable. Parts of it flooded during Hurricane Katrina and those areas still haven’t been rebuilt.  But, after that storm many people learned two things. It is the only affordable land left in the city that is not below sea level. How affordable? You can probably buy a run down house for around US$20,000-40,000. By contrast, that same house in the Uptown area near the park would cost you about US$250,000. It would still cost about the same amount of money to restore it, but buying in is so much less expensive.

On the other hand, you can walk to The Superdome in about ten minutes. That puts you within minutes of the business district. So. The movers and shakers and the powers that be — you know, “them” — are making a big push to redevelop Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. They think that if they put money into what was a business and one time shopping district in the area, the money will trickle down to the people who actually have lived there for most of their lives. But, we all know how that works, eh?

This is the last of my post-Hurricane Isaac pictures. It was made downriver in Holy Cross, which as a may have mentioned, is a sub-district of the 9th ward. Seen from this angle, the post-storm clouds don’t look quite so menacing. Again, all post production was done on my i-Pad using Snapseed. I think that phase is getting too easy. It confuses people. 

While I was  doing my post-storm drive by, I happened upon this cemetery in Uptown, New Orleans. I want to show the scene, but the clouds were the most important thing in my mind. So, this is what I did. I more-or-less placed the subject — the cemetery and the house behind it in the bottom third of the pictures, with the clouds being in the dominating two-thirds of the image. Ah. That wacky rule of thirds. Sometimes simple arithmetic is best. Oh yeah, post production was done on my i-Pad using Snapseed.