Into the mountains.

Sometimes, while I lived in New Mexico I would take long, long drives just to explore and see things.

It was on one of those day trips that I found this little country church. I stopped, walked around it and made a lot of pictures. Even though this picture isn’t the most detailed, I like it because it is what I first saw as I happened upon it.

It is a good illustration of why artists like coming to New Mexico. It’s the light. Even in this light, there is a special quality to it. You know it when you see it. I haven’t seen it in a long time.

I sometimes wonder what I did by moving away. Oh sure, I was pulled back to New Orleans by the culture, by the folks you’ve seen in my pictures. Black Masking Indians, Social and Benevolent Societies, brass bands and Mardi Gras, itself.

But, in my mind after ten years, that project is over. There isn’t much more for me in New Orleans. I certainly get out into the “country” a lot, but still it’s not my country.

So, I return to my picture a day project and remember…

Still, nothing technical to talk about. Once again I’m not helping the photographers among you.

Working in a semi-photojournalistic way means no trickiness.

No trickiness means no technical discussion, except to say that you should be patient when you are making these kinds of pictures.

I wasn’t patient with the church. If I had waited another hour, I would have had New Mexican golden glow.

I guess that’s the lesson. Patience.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient (that word again).


Prayers for you.

The weather turned a little cold and very bright. So, I started chasing my project. I found an old house with a statue in front. The Virgin Mary protects the house. The house protects the occupants.

I don’t know much about this place. There were no cars in the street or in the short driveway so I couldn’t stop and ask. So, I just stopped and photographed. Maybe, I’ll go back.

The way I work on projects is to photograph everything that interests me. I don’t pre-edit. I really don’t edit any of my takes except to cherry pick for Storyteller.

I have no idea if the pictures I make will hang together as a story or if they are more of an art statement. Only marination and time will tell.

And, sometimes I’m not even sure if I made a good picture. When I’m really right in the field I don’t even remember what I did until I look at it on the monitor.

There are other ways of working. Studio photographers don’t waste as much gas as I do. Wedding photographers make more pictures of people than I do. Nature photographers, well I can’t imagine walking around in mud boots way too early in the morning.

What about you?

For those of you who are photographers, how do you like to work?

Working on this project is a cross between photojournalism and documentary photography.

That means I don’t experiment much. I make pictures of what I see. I may lighten, brighten or slightly enhance the color. That’s about it.

You sort of have to pick your place. A friend of mine does all this weird stuff to second liners and Indians. Another friend and I keep telling him to stop doing it. He doesn’t listen. Yet, when a picture of his shows up on a second line or Indian page it’s cleared up.

What do I know?

I have my beliefs. They’ve sharpened over forty plus years. They may not suit you.


The sun, it exploded.

A light explosion. That’s how I was seeing things as we drove into the direct sun. This picture may not exactly be physically accurate, but it’s how we felt when sunglasses didn’t help.

I have no idea if this picture stays in the final project collection, but for now it’s in. After all, I only have three pictures. I always say that I try to make pictures that show you how the scene felt. Maybe, it’s the first two images that eventually are removed.

Who knows?

It’s way too early to start culling. And, I don’t have a project blue print. Some people say working this way doesn’t get you anywhere.

That’s one theory.

My theory is to learn everything I can about the project and let the pictures build upon themselves. With any luck, they get better and better. If that works out, this will be a helluva project considering the first picture is a show stopper.

It’s likely that the work will move backwards before I reach another peak. That’s okay. I’ll learn more that way.

There was a point in my thought process that I was going to move chronologically from New Orleans to the end of the road. I realized that I’ll learn things that may have me backtracking and side stepping.

On the other hand, the first picture that I showed you started at the very start so you never know.

That’s the best thing.

You never know.

The beginning of the end. Or, the end of the beginning.

Do you know?

I don’t.

This picture was made while we were cruising down the street. The file was completely blown out, mostly because it’s almost impossible to know the exposure while you are photographing the sun from a moving car.

I went to work in the studio. First, I brought back the details that were missing.

Next, I started adding to bring the picture closer to what I felt trying to make it.

Finally, I went a little crazy. I wanted the sun to explode because that’s what it did to me the minute I removed my sunglasses.

There you have it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest better than I do. Enjoy all the driving into the sun.


Light that lasts through July

Golden light. I think every photographer dreams about it. If not, then the blue hour. I recently learned that I had two chances a day for both. There’s another one that starts about 4:30 in the morning. I didn’t even know there was a 4:30 in the morning.

Alright. I stole a Bart Simpson line. His sister, Lisa was talking about five o’clock in the morning. He looked at her and said, “There is? When did they start that?”

Actually, the blue and golden light that is found in the early morning is far cleaner and brighter because there is no particulates in the air. There is no dust, no smoke, no smog.

On the other hand, those particulates add another kind of color to the air. It’s choice.

If I was smart, I’d use both ends of the day…. and sleep all day. I used to do that when I traveled. Remember travel?

I work at the ends of the day. Not for just about three hours, but for about eight hours. After all, the light starts changing earlier than golden hour. And, there is light remaining in the sky just after blue hour. Besides, then there’s night. You know how I like that.

I’ll tell you how the picture was made in the right column.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy all the golden light.

How I made this picture.

We started chasing light after I got jabbed.

My driver knows what to do. She’s done it for a long time.

On this little go around, sometimes I photographed through the windshield. A true drive by.

That doesn’t always work. For one, you get the dashboard or hood in the picture. If the windshield is tinted, guess what?

So.

Sometimes we stopped. I got out and made the picture.

Sometimes, I’d walk down the middle of the street trying to find the angle I saw from a moving car. It was quiet because it was late afternoon on Saturday.

Do not try that at rush hour during the week. Someone will be taking pictures of you as you are wheeled into the EMT truck.

That’s how to make the picture in the field. I have my way of developing and editing the picture. Yours may be different.

The funny thing is that because I first saw the scene through the windshield – the green tinted windshield – I put that back into the picture in post production even when I made the picture from outside the car.

Sometimes, I’m silly that way.


Out on a Sunday.

“Life doesn’t wave as it’s speeding by. Better grab on fast and hold on tight. And don’t ever forget to fight this good fight. Here I am.”

It’s a calling.

I make pictures for myself first, and then for everybody else. I’m there for myself but being there for everybody else comes in a close second.

I read something about a woman who was scheduled to get her first vaccination when she learned of a man scheduled for open heart surgery, but he needed to be vaccinated. Try as he might he could not find an appointment. So, she gave her appointment to him. A stranger.

After three miserable years and one horrific year, stories like this are starting to pop up. Don’t pass them by. Just know that’s it’s worth helping each other out.

Besides, what did the late Leon Russell say? Don’t pass by a stranger needing help. It just might be the prince of peace returning.

It’s the first meteorological day of spring. I’d say yippee, but we’ve spring-like weather for a few weeks with a hard freeze in between. The weather yesterday was in the upper 70s or lower 80s.

People were out and about.

Making this picture then and publishing it today seems like a good way to kick off my Jefferson Highway/Levee project.

This is the levee. At dusk during a very nice day. I’m lucky to have been there, sorta.

Opening text by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

This picture is the result of photographer’s luck and good driving. But, not by me.

My driver who says she must not be named, saw what I saw, turned the corner in second gear, double clutched into first gear, turned another corner and came to a stop right in front of the picture.

After that it was easy. Point the camera and press the button. Yes, a real camera. A Leica camera.

This is my yearlong project that started two months late. I can’t be messing around with smartphones and computational images. I want and need a big beefy file.

I have one more picture for tomorrow and then I’m out making pictures again. It feels sort of good after year on the sidelines.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know all the rest. Enjoy all the spring light and air.


It’s all in the details.

Details. Details. Details.

I was wondering just how many pictures of old couches, chairs and furniture would hold a readers interest.

My answer?

Not many.

I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I saw this scene.

It hit me.

Details.

A picture like this holds the reader’s interest in many ways. Not the least of them being the human need to understand the photograph. To study it. To spend some time with it. To let your brain grasp the details within the details.

The first couple of pictures that I made for the “Junk Project,” were mostly overall scenes.  You look at them once, quickly, and you are done. You see everything that needs to seen in less than a second. They rely on color, shape and hue.

This picture relies on content. Subject matter.

This picture would work in black and white, as well as in color.

This picture is also harder to find. Even harder for it to find you.

If somebody wanted it for their wall, I work hard to convince them to use the horizontal version and turn it into wall paper. Something that is about twelve feet wide and eight feet high. Something that when you came home at night, you could stare at and forget the day. You’d mumble to yourself, “Oh wow. I didn’t see that before.”

Just like I’m doing now. That light bulb. They are expensive. It isn’t broken. What was I thinking?

Oh yeah.

Pictures.

 


The good stuff.

The junk project.

I had a good week. Not only did I find a couple of pictures for the summer project, but I found a couple of pictures for my junk and water projects. I’m not saying that everything I photographed will make it into the final cut, but having many pictures from which to select is better than too few. Right?

I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.

Durability. Sustainability. Repairability.

The furniture that was set out by this dumpster was old. The pieces were probably manufactured in the 1930s. Every piece was well made of good solid wood. Nothing was broken. They needed a little refinishing work, but that was about it.

Abandoned.

All they needed was a little loving touch. They would have made a fine collection of furniture for somebody. Anybody.

We live in a time when everything is made so cheaply that it costs more to repair an item than it costs to replace it. That’s too bad. More broken stuff for the overflowing landfills. More broken stuff to add to our pollution. More broken people not working.

A few weeks ago, we went through the great plastic purge. We are still working on it, but it’s damn near impossible. Sheesh. We tried to buy butcher paper locally. Good try. Yes. It can be found in our local and regional grocery stores. But, it’s improved. It has a — wait for it — plastic backing.

Sure. You can buy paper butcher paper on Amazon. And, you add to the carbon footprint by having it shipped. Get this, most of it comes in huge rolls for commercial use.

So?

So, you have to buy a rack and a paper cutter.

I believe that we are at a point beyond which we can’t turn back. Everybody and everything is too invested in the stuff that could kill the planet. Besides, follow the money. How does Mitch McConnell grow his wealth by some $24 million in a couple of years?

The picture. First, I would have taken that furniture if I had a truck. But, I had a dog on a leash. She refuses to carry heavy stuff. Seriously, I photograph my projects as I see potential subject matter. For me, it works better to let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing them. As I wrote earlier, I think I have my color palette figured out going forward.  For the junk project.

One more item of semi-interest.

Doctor John was buried yesterday. His family and friends organized a true jazz funeral with a second line and a mule drawn hearse. I didn’t photograph it. The temperature was 96 degrees at 3pm when the parade began. The heat index was 104 degrees. Way too hot for me.


 

Frozen food.

Summer.

Now, I’m seeing pictures everywhere.

The ten best pictures of summer project is coming along nicely. Much to my surprise, so is the dumpster project. My book projects are in the phase of, “are we there yet?”

We were doing a little grocery shopping when I turned down the aisle in the frozen food section. I was able to retake a picture that I made a few years ago. That one was all ice cream. This one is all pizza. Boxes. Heat and eat.

When I made the original one I sort of hid was I was doing. Not this round. I took my time.  If somebody saw me and gave me a strange look, I didn’t care. Eventually, the man who was stocking the frozen cases asked what I was doing. I didn’t tell him. I showed him. He liked what he saw and told me that if anybody complained, he had my back.

How cool is that? Or is it, how frozen is that?”

I’m not sure if this is one of my summer series. It could be. If not, it’s colorful fun.

The picture. Arrrrrgh. WordPress has been messing with the color software again. The original version of this picture is far more colorful. More contrasty. It grabs you. I says, “look at me.” But, WordPress compressed my .jpeg into something muddy. I tried some of my usual editing tricks. Three times. To no avail.

You’d think that they would want contrasty imagery since so many pictures published on WordPress are that of writers, cooks and other folks who just want a picture to go with their story. Typically, those images are not properly exposed and are flat and muddy.  I’m not attacking those folks. It’s just not what they do or care about.

On the other hand, some of them make wonderful pictures.

Anyway.

The picture works well enough — a phrase I’ve come to hate. If it became part of my ten summer pictures project I would print it on paper. The color and contrast would be what I intended.

 


About summer.
Looking toward the east.

For at least the last five years, I’ve been trying to make at least ten very good pictures that are about summer.

I haven’t succeeded yet.

I probably won’t again this summer.

I know, I know. With that attitude I have assured myself of failure.

Not really.

It’s just a realistic statement that takes into account how difficult it is to make ten good pictures about anything over the course of a year. Sheesh. I’ve been at this for just under fifty years. I’ve made a lot of good pictures. I don’t make bad pictures.

But.

If you were to ask me about my great pictures, only three come to mind. Fifty years. Three great pictures. That ain’t a great ratio. I’m sure there are a lot of better shooters than I am, who have made far more memorable pictures that I have, but, if you ask them, they’ll say about the same thing.

As I’ve been putting older work, mostly from Asia on NGS’ “Your Shot.” I’ve been thinking, “Me?” “I took that picture?” “It must have been a better photographer” I’m not being overly humble. I’m just surprising myself by looking at old, almost forgotten work.” Still, those images don’t crack into my “excellent category.”

That’s one of the great things about getting older — among damn few good things — you have the wisdom of perspective. You understand that most pictures shared on Instagram are nonsense, especially when they are posted as professional work.

The picture. Make no mistake. This isn’t one of the ten great summer images. This is just a tree that I photographed in early morning light. It was backlighted so it caught my attention. It reminded me to start looking right now. Right this minute. For summertime pictures.

Man. I’ve got a lot to do in the next twelve weeks or so.