Farther Along & Further In


The cracks are beginning to spread.

There are a few flowers still blooming and growing. I came across the remainders of a little Camellia. Wow, I thought. A possible picture.

So I clicked the button a couple of times. I continued on. I felt lucky. You know, I’m not seeing pictures all that well.

In fact, I might not be seeing anything very well. I’m still out of time. A lot of people feel the same way. I’m procrastinating.

I read something about that. Most people think it’s a time management problem. It’s not. It’s depression. A different kind of depression than most, but still it’s depression.

That made sense to me. After all, most of us are in mourning. We miss the life that we had. I know I say that our “new” normal can and should be better. But, just cutting off one life and starting another isn’t exactly easy.

I realized last night that I haven’t seen most of my friends since March. Eight months. That’s a long time. Oh sure. We text, talk on the phone, hold Zoom talks. But, it ain’t the same.

It can never be the same.

We talk about businesses struggling. The food and music industries are hit especially hard. So is the travel industry. Combined, that just about kills New Orleans.

That’s not what concerns me.

I have a little pod. We stay together. We touch. We laugh. We talk.

That’s not it.

I’m writing this close to publication time. Normally, I would be at a second line. We either shake hands or hug. I haven’t had that since just after Mardi Gras.

We call second lines our church. Church is where you find it. So is God, or whatever you call your higher power.

No church for us. No noise. No music. No dancing. No BBQ smells.

Damn. I almost brought myself to tears.

I miss that stuff. I didn’t think that I would, but guess what?

I do.

Peace.

Pictures. They are really something. I’ve made my living from pictures since 1974.

During these pandemic times, I’m almost not working. I’m not working in my other business.

Luckily, we have a little money and and income, sorta.

I’m starting to think that I should find something to do just to keep me busy.

Anyway.

The all seeing dog and I were walking. I saw this little flower hiding among the Elephant Ears. I made the picture.

When I started developing and post production I found my settings for the last picture I worked on.

I thought, why not? So I just used that. Mostly, that doesn’t work. Two different pictures require different approaches.

It really didn’t work this time, either.

But, I liked what it did. In fact, I enhanced it. I made it more atomic. I stretched it out beyond my imagination.

There you have it. My own imagination was stretched.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. I don’t care what anybody says, enjoy every sandwich.

You Got Gold


Late afternoon glow.

Light.

There would be no photography without it. After all, we know that photography means painting or writing with light. In many ways, this picture is the essence of it. The bushes are wet, the sunlight found the water droplets and this is what we have. I’m sorry to say that even though I compressed the image my own way, WordPress did a number on it.

That’s just part and parcel of the way WordPress treats photographers and our work. If you are a writer WordPress suggests free sources of pictures. They have also created their own library. It’s free too. Why can’t they suggest as a way of community building that writers develop friendships with photographers and do special projects together?

Oh. I know that’ll take time. It’s easy to go to some free stock collection and find a picture that is good enough. It also inhibits learning the necessary skills to collaborate on high end projects. Sure, it’ll work in today’s bottom end print and digital projects. But, who wants pictures or words that are just good enough?

I may be an old dinosaur, but just good enough isn’t good enough. These days everything seems transient. Art, writing, muic, video projects. One day that will change. Mark my words. Covid 19 is the driver.

Eventually, even though new ways of working at everything will open up more time, many people will think, “I just don’t have the time to waste on this junk.” If I’m going to invest two hours or so on a film it had better be worth that. Same with music.

Same with photo books. Very few publishers are printing photo books these days. So, photographers are publishing books that are the visual equivalent of naval gazing. There is a guy online who’s got a little power. I followed him among about 30,000 other photographers.

I finally gave up.

The work he champions are out takes for guys like me. I finally washed my hands of it all when he saw pictures from an old friend of mine. He said somewhat incredulously that “this guy can really shoot.” Gee. Ya think? He’s only been doing it for 50 years. He’s been National Geographic’s golden boy for 25 years.

Even one of my mentors has gotten in the act. He did a short video on Instagram. He discussed another photographer’s book. He asked us to buy it. He suggests we should all buy each others’ books. Huh? Talk about navel gazing.

When I went to the other photographer’s website, the books were for sale. $400. Right. Let’s see. Say there were ten of us. I’m going to invest $3,600 to make $3,600? Now, you understand why so many photographers are broke.

Anyway.

This is not a rant. This is my way of heading back to photo discussions.

I want us all to think about quality and what it means to us. I want us all to understand that unless we have some other source of income, photography was a business.

Was?

Yes, was. I’m not sure how most photographers can sustain themselves during the pandemic era. OTH, you might as well keep going. 40,000,000 people are without jobs. Many of those jose aren’t coming back. Quite a problem, eh?

I can’t stay angry at everything, so…

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

A Very Long Curve… Trying Something New


I promised myself that during the lockdown I would learn something new.

WordPress made that easy. Or, hard depending on your view. Like all major digital, internet based companies, they tell you what to do. Whatever happened to “the customer is always right?”

I believe on June 1, they ‘re taking away all of the older page templates except for one that is older then Storyteller.

This going to be a long, hard learning curve. WordPress says it’s easier. Ha!

Please feel free to make comments, especially those of you who hate this page. You won’t hurt my feelings. I’m not sure how I feel about.it anyway. It is different. But difference for its own sake is a big mistake.

Anyway.

No Rona news again. I reckon that you most of you are deluged with it.

Well. This is different. I suppose I could figure out how to drop the text, but it’s getting late.

So.

Sophie Rose is feeling much better. The Tramadol seems to be doing its job. She even asked me to go out. I haven’t seen that in a log while. We went for a short work. Progress.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

  1. Sophie Rose is a rescue. Maybe I wrote that. We brought her home as a foster when she was 8.…

  2. I liked at it today. If you go to the pulldown from which you can determine the blocks. There is…

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The Age of Decadence


The lone wintery tree.

Decadence.

I’m reading a rather long op-ed piece by The New York Times’ Ross Douthat. It is a take out of his upcoming book called, “The Decadent Society.”

The name is not what you are thinking.

He quotes Jacques Barzun, who says, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable . When people accept the futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.”

I don’t know about you, but I keep saying that all systems are broken. They are broken to the point where I am thinking seriously about leaving the country in November if the worst possible thing happens.

That said, let’s limit this to what we do. Most of us either write, or make pictures.

There is no new or newly broken ground. There hasn’t been for a long time. In the book world, I have to ask how many new vampire books do we need? Seems like Anne Rice broke the mold on that one. Or, how many historical fictional novels do we need that feature a good looking bare chested guy squeezing the hell out of a beautiful woman?

It doesn’t get any better in the photo world. Sunsets, sunset and more sunsets. There are so many that they are loaded to Upsplash, the site that doesn’t pay photographers. Or, night photography featuring star fields? Or, slow motion water so that the water looks smooth?

I’m guilty of it too.

All these faux nature picture that I produce. are not new. I made the same thing eight years ago. And seven years ago. And, six and five and four and so on.

This work is easy to make. This work breaks no new ground. It doesn’t move my art forward. I’m not certain that I can move it forward, but I’d like to try. Realizing this is hard. Even though I love photographing Mardi Gras, I’ve been fighting to get myself to go.

Yes. The floats and themes change. So do the people. But, I’ve done it for how many years? A lot. This year I’m getting paid by one of my clients to set them up for next year. I’m incentivised. I’ll go. Once I get there I’ll have fun. It’ll turn magical. But, they are paying me for work that is yesterday’s. That’s the funny thing about showing portfolios. If the client likes your work, they want more of the same.

Ouch.

Think about this. How does it apply, or, not?

For sure, don’t confuse yourself with all the things you did to get to the picture. Often times the hardest thing about taking a picture is getting there. But, that ain’t the picture. The picture is the picture.

 

Thinking About The Future


Mardi Gras time.

The future.

Not so far in the future. Maybe just up to Mardi Gras parade time. Anything more would be wasted because as a not-so-wise boxer once said, “You can make all the plans that you want, but once you get punched in the face all the plans go out the window.” That’ll happen with Mardi Gras plans as well. The minute the season starts, everything will change. I have to be on the scene to understand the plans.

My biggest question is do I shoot what I’ve done for the last seven years and work the start of the parade? Or, should I do something different? What that is, I’m not sure yet. Hopefully, it’ll come to me in a dream, or in the shower.

There is also the yearly question of scheduling a number of events. They need to fit somewhat neatly together. Once I’ve got that clear in my mind and on paper I can fit the rest “stuff” into the year.

That’s another thing.

Although I do my scheduling on a digital calendar, I’m going back to paper for the details. It’s a better way to remember and it just feels better, which is like the debate between digital capture and film photography. They both have their place, but to me digital capture is like working on an assembly line in a factory. Film photography feels crafted and a little more artistic.

The picture. A very early Mardi Gras parade image. It was made on film and scanned much later. I forgot about it because somehow it was filed in the wrong archive. It was lost until I started digging. In those days I mostly worked with Fuji Velvia. Its ISO was 50. It really did better when you rated it at ISO 40. That’s slow. Very slow. That made working at night a challenge if you weren’t using strobes. I don’t use strobe at events like that because unless you hit the light dead on the picture looks way over lighted.

Instead, I would work for motion and ambient light. That allowed me to make pictures like this. The only sharp part of the image is part of a motorcycle wind screen is in the middle of the frame.

A picture like this one is impressionistic. That makes sense because of all the photographers who inspire me, painters inspire me more.

That’s the story.

In The Morning


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.”

Looks Like


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.

Heat


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.

 

Mostly Red


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.”