This is what I saw.

In the morning.

When you rise. Do you think of me?

From an old Crosby, Stills and Nash song. Without Young. The band that will never play together. That’s a long story. Maybe I’ll tell it some day. At least, as I know it. Let’s just say that there are too many old resentments and jealousies. At this point in their checkered past, the only thing that will bring them together again is a huge payday. And, that means Young has to play in the band… which he won’t.

Such good music. At an end. At least we can listen to their old songs. And, some new music. Later this month Young releases an album called “Colorado.” Crosby has released three new albums in four years, matching Young’s production. Nash? Nada. Stills? He would if he could. But, he’s stone deaf. He can play live music as long as he follows other band members and can feel the bass rumbling through his feet. Still, his guitar solos come in odd places and timings.

Oh well.

As Neil Young once said, “The thing that makes you who you are will kill you in the end.”

And, so it does.

I made this picture working in extreme pain. There are days when my poor old back sends signals to my legs that say, “Your muscles are so tight that they cause agonizing pain.”  Of course, the dogs don’t understand this and so I walk with them when I should really be sitting in one particular chair that seems to straighten my back which tells my legs they aren’t hurting.

Yes. I do. I take a light weight muscle relaxer. I’m not sure it does anything, because my muscles aren’t really tight. It’s just that the nerves think they are.

Oh well.

I work as much as I can when I can. I have a real heavy shooting month with all sorts of events coming up that I’ve agreed to photograph. We’ll just see if I can live up to my plans and contract. if I plan it right, I’ll be able to do just that.

The picture. It’s what I saw enhanced just a bit. It was luck that we even walked in that direction. Photographers luck. The more I think about those two words, I think that for veteran photographers it really just means get outside, stand in front of better stuff in the best light that you can find. Press the button. Work the scene. Walk away once you know that you have it. That’s where the magic is. That’s where whatever it is — a spirit, nature, a higher power — lives.

Because.

As the old biblical saying goes, “Faith without work is dead.”

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They say it’s still winter.

A Sunday picture.

A bright spring like picture to help your day. Something colorful. Something almost playful. Something to make you smile. Or, groan. Spring on a winter’s day.

I have a blogging buddy. She doesn’t  post much anymore. She mostly posts on Facebook and on Instagram. She moved from Northwest Louisiana to Iowa. She has her reasons. Most of them are family driven.

No matter what the reasons, I think why would anybody do that?

She spent last night complaining about the snow. There has already been a lot of snow and cold. Another storm blew through. At around 11pm my time, six more inches of snow were dumped on them. Add to that, she has the flu and has to take her dog out.

I’m not being snarky. I’m not making fun. Come summer I’ll be complaining.

Maybe this picture will send some cheer to those of you who are reading in frozen places.

It is true. I like snow. I also like to leave when I’ve had enough. The last time I was in frozen place was five years ago.

Time flies.

Don’t waste it.

In case you are wondering, I did not go to the parades last night. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t make myself go. After seeing a few pictures pop up on various social media, I kind of wish that I was there. Then, I look at the crowd size and think, “nah.”

It’s a question. It’ll be a question for the rest of Mardi Gras. For sure, the hounds around here are going to the Krewe of Barkus. That’s always fun. They get to meet and greet other dogs. New dogs. I’m sure that a lot of barking and growling will ensue. But, not in anger.

The picture. Operator failure. I meant to get the Japonica buds in focus. When I reviewed the pictures, I sort of set them aside. When I looked at them again, I thought “very interesting, with a little bit of work…” Work I did. This is the result.

Have a good seasonal day, wherever you are.


Pretty. Not pretty.

This isn’t what you think.

This about New Orleans.  This is about the New Orleans that makes national news. This is about the city in the throes of summer. This is about murder. Mayhem. Mass shootings. Rolling shootings. This is about at least 11 people shot, leaving three dead. This is about the first shooting that looks like some kind of hit. Ten shot, three dead. About a woman who was shot somewhere near the entrance to I-10, but was part of a rolling gun battle that ended up in Metairie, some five miles away.

That’s what this post is about.

This is about the New Orleans that tourists ignore, forgetting that there was a double shooting on Bourbon Street on Friday night.

I’m not sure which is worse. A city that is so violent that the local police seem to be powerless. A city that is so broken that the water system doesn’t work. A city that can’t pump water out of its streets fast enough that even a hard rain causes heavy flooding. Or, a city that can’t fix its streets within any sort of reasonable time frame.

I don’t know. You pick.

We have a new mayor. The jury is still out on her. Way, way out on her. We are trying to rebuild a broken police force. Yet, two new officers were just fired because they beat an unarmed man while they were off duty. They beat him because he was wearing camo clothing and he didn’t look right to them. He looked Hispanic to them.

I know the country is angry. Polarized. It ain’t getting any better at the national level. It’s getting worse.

That said, New Orleans survives on tourism. It is really the city’s only form of major income. Yeah, yeah. There are some technical companies moving in. But, that money isn’t for the people who live in the city.

I just have to wonder what happens when the tourists get scared enough not to come to New Orleans. When a mass shooting directly involves some people from California. Or, Philadelphia. Or, Seattle. When it really become national news. On CNN. In the New York Times.

Oh yeah.

The picture. Hot summer nights. Kind of mysterious. Kind of funky. A little bit scary. I pretty much left this picture alone in post production. Mostly, I darkened it. And, added a little haze.

Haze. Like our hazy city.

 


Almost like fire.

On a late afternoon walk.

I saw the backlight on this group of leaves and I couldn’t resist. Could you?

Yes. It took some work in post production to help it be the picture that I saw in my mind’s eye. But, it was straight, normal work. I darkened the over all image, added contrast and leaf detail. That was it. Nothing that couldn’t be done in an old school wet darkroom.

I suppose this brings me to seeing a scene and understanding it for what it could be. I suppose that it’s a kind of expanded thinking.

There are a couple of blogs that I read whenever they are posted. These bloggers travel to some great locations. I want to write in the comments section, why don’t you just stop and hang out for a bit and wait until the light is low and magical?

It seems that they have deadlines to keep. On their vacation.

I understand the sometimes need to get from point A to point B, but if you claim photography as your passion don’t you think you could let the light in a special place drive you?

Sometimes. Once in a while.

The people with whom I travel like my way of traveling a lot. They get to see more. They get to stop more. They get to explore. They get to eat and drink while they are standing on solid ground. And, because we’ve already built that time into the very loose general plan, the trip becomes a journey. Sometimes an adventurous one.

As my mom used to say about different kinds of food, “Try it, you might like it.”


And then the sun…

Low winter light. It’s powerful, clean and almost explosive at the ends of the day. Especially if the cloud cover is broken or there are almost clear skies. I got lucky last week. After a day of rain, the sun broke through at just about dusk.

Man, did it break through. It was powerful. It was golden. It was contrasty. Deep, rich shadows were everywhere. My kind of light. The kind of light we rarely see in Southeast Louisiana.

When we were exiled to New Mexico after the storm, I saw this kind of light almost every day. Many New Mexico-based photographers never bothered with it. It was too common. But, when there was rain or snow in the forecast you’d see us scrambling around photographing everything in sight.

Sometimes, we didn’t.

It was too cold. Or, wet. Or, hot. Or, something.

So many missed opportunities.

That’s probably the moral of this story. Time is short. Even if you are young and think you have years and years and years to go. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ll get sick. Or, your parts will start to age early. Or, something violent may happen. Or, or, or…

This all started with a couple of comments and replies with another blogger. She was talking about not going out in the rain and wet, mostly to protect her gear. Gear is protectable and replaceable. Pictures only happen when they appear in front of you. Yes. You might soak a camera. Usually, you can dry them out with the old “gear in a bowl of rice” trick. If that fails, you can probably declare it scrap and buy something newer and better. If you are going dry it out, just do it quickly before moisture can seep into the circuitry. Then the camera is done.

You? You’ll just get wet. My hair is really soft after it’s been rain soaked. Ha, ha, ha.

The picture. See it and react. You’re going to get tired of me saying a version of that. Like F8 and be there. Or, see it and press the button. As I said to another blogger, I love baseball. A batter practices and practices until swinging at the ball is a reaction without a thought process. Same thing with making pictures on the street. When you see it, photograph it. No second guessing. No trying (You know what Yoda said about that). No self editing in your head.

Just take the picture.

Oh, about camera settings prior to “just taking the picture.” If you must, go to auto everything. Remember that the camera will take a little time to think as it tries to focus. You are faster than the camera. If you learn  a little about light you can pre-set your shutter speed and aperture depending what you are trying to do. I can discuss this further if you’d like.

Have a great week.


Winter silhouette.

Winter Trees.

They seem dead. They look like skeletons. They add to the coldness of winter. They also suited yesterday’s mood.

I think most of us have recovered from the news of why Tom Petty died. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’m feeling kind of empty. I suppose it’s the realization that all things must pass. Or, so said George Harrison, one of Petty’s band mates. And, a Beatle.

Of course they do. Still, I’ve never understood the way in which many things pass. Believe what you want. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist. Or, anything else. That doesn’t answer the questions. Big ones. Like, why are we here? What are we meant to do?

Or, littler ones. Like, why do some of us suffer so much from some kind of physical pain or illness. After all, the physical side affects the mental and spiritual. The hopeful side of me says, “Well, I’ve paid every possible debt and I’ve done the best I can so I should just breeze through those pearly gates.” Now,  you know what I believe. Sort of. However, the cynical, and more realistic side of me says, “Yeah, right. It’s all pain. No payoff.”

I suppose the trick is to balance those two lines of thought, keep doing what you are doing, make as many amends as you can and do the best work possible.”

It’s that work thing that matters to me. You know, “The work is the prayer.” The thing I say when somebody needs a prayer. That’s how this picture got made. Rather than wallow in sadness, I went for a walk — albeit a short one — and made pictures. That was my prayer. For Petty. For his family. For me. For you. For people that I don’t know.

That’s the best I can do.

The picture. The sun was so bright in the viewfinder that I couldn’t actually see what I was photographing. So, I put the camera in the place that I thought would frame the subject pretty well and pushed the button. I think that I did alright. The tree could be positioned at little more to the right. But, it’s not terrible. A lot of work was done in post production, not because I wanted to improve the image, but because it did need some help.


Dawn's fire in the sky.
Dawn’s fire in the sky.

This getting up early in the morning thing does have its benefits. This is one them. Golden light so powerful that it illuminates one side of a tree that would normally be silhouetted in a composition like this one.

I’m not even sure what more to write. This is something you just enjoy.

I could say that I am building a very nice collection of early morning pictures. Accidentally. Maybe I am building enough imagery for two books. “What the Dog Saw.” And, “The Dog’s Morning.” Both potential books would be thin, inexpensive and very brightly colored. By the time I got them completed, it would be just in time for Christmas/Holiday sales. Can you say stocking stuffer? Hmmmm…

Now. Don’t get excited. Some plans just evaporate like water on the ground in a humid climate.  They tend to do that with me lately. What can I tell you? I live in a recovered swamp.


Algiers Point Flyer.
Algiers Point Flyer.

I found this little ditty. It’s a Randy Newman song about his mom. Written about a time during WWII, when he and his mom were living in Los Angeles while his dad was fighting in the war. The chorus goes something like this:

“Got on the Dixie Flyer bound for New Orleans
Across the state of Texas to the land of dreams
On the Dixie Flyer bound for New Orleans
Back to her friends and her family in the land of dreams”

The picture. As you can probably tell if you saw yesterday’s post, I sort of chased this train around. Wasn’t all that hard to do. The train was racing along at about 2 mph. In fact, I took this picture, drove to the levee, walked along the levee, took more pictures and then took the one you saw yesterday. I love it when a big, powerful machine is slower than me.

I think you already know this place. That is, if you’ve seen my other Algiers Point pictures. The train is running on the  street that parallels the levee. The levee is behind it. The Mississippi River is behind it. And, above is the Crescent City Connection. Or, The Greater New Orleans Bridge. Whichever you like.

Oh. Little Red Caboose up next.


Lafayette looking north, or to the "lake side"as we say around here.
Lafayette looking north, or to the “lake side”as we say around here.

I showed you one view of Lafayette Square yesterday. I made that picture looking away from the sunset with the light falling on the subjects. The color was pretty amazing. Today, I’m showing you what the light looked like if you looked directly at the sunset. Still, pretty amazing. Well, that’s an understatement. Astonishing. might be a better word. Keep in mind, I’m not really a person who chases sunsets. But, when the light looks like this I’m really left with no choice. The decision is simple and it’s pretty much made for me. All I do is point the camera, push the button and say “oh, ah, wow.”

One more thing. In many of my posts I might leave you with the idea that all of New Orleans lives up to one of its nicknames. “The city that care forgot.” Not always so. Look at the buildings that form the frame around the statue. Pretty modern. Very well cared for. I don’t often photograph them because to me they just aren’t all that interesting. But, yes. New Orleans does have a pretty  vibrant and upbeat Central Business District.

Once again.  I added no extra color. In fact, I mostly reduced the color some.  Those clouds were turning too neon for even my taste.