The rainy season.

W

et. That’s what late June and July are in Southeast Louisiana, wet. If we aren’t getting a lot of rain, the skies are gray and the air is very humid.

So far, we’ve been lucky. The temperatures haven’t risen above 90 degrees except on two days and that was the high. If we didn’t have the humidity, we’d have some pretty pleasant days.

I was coming out of The French Quarter, waiting for a stop light and saw the scene in front of me. I turned off my wipers to let the water build up, raised my camera to my eye and what should happen? A businessman walked in front of me holding an umbrella.

That’s photographer’s luck.

If I hadn’t been out and about this wouldn’t have happened in front of me. There would have been no luck involved. There would have been no picture.

As one photographer says, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.”

You can’t stand in front of better stuff while you are watching your 72 inch television.

I wasn’t exactly standing, but I put myself in a position to make a fairly good rainy day picture.

Stand in front of better stuff.

O

n the left side I told you my theory of making pictures. Go outside and put yourself in front of better stuff.

That’s my photo making theory.

What I really did was make a loop from the Garden District through a bit of Treme and into The French Quarter.

As I left the Quarter, I drove through the CBD and part of Central City, where I turned, crossed the streetcar tracks and went home.

That took me a couple of hours. I could have driven faster, but what’s the point? I wouldn’t see anything. You know, that better stuff.

I think I made a total of six pictures that I liked well enough. And, this picture that I like a lot.

Development and post production was easy, taking care to sharpen the raindrops.


In the winter.

We had snow. It melted. We had rain. The water stuck around long enough to freeze. We had snow on top of that.

I ran some errands a few miles from home. I came to this street and thought, “Oh oh.” I had no idea if it was just wet or icy. It was wet turning to ice as the day got colder.

Even though I like to say that I enjoy bad weather, mostly because you can make pictures like this one, driving in it doesn’t make me happy.

Even though it’s been a while, I’m fairly comfortable driving on snow. Ice is another story. You have no control. The car slides whichever way it wants to go unless you have studded tires or chains.

And, then there’s getting trapped in icy and snow conditions. With my car if you turn on the anti skid settings, you cannot drive out of a snow drift or ice. If you turn it off, out you go. I’m sure my friends in northern climes have something to say about this.

I’ll tell you an ice story.

My newspaper career started in Virginia. I was married to a woman who is not my wife now. She was a great reporter. As I understand it, she’s retired now. I have nothing bad to say about her. Not ever.

Anyway.

We spent the weekend in Washington D.C. We were headed home on Sunday racing a big snow storm coming from the East behind us. We got to a really steep drop on I-81. At the bottom were two state trooper cars. One trooper had a flashlight and was slowing everybody down.

No problem.

My wife was driving. She applied the brakes slowly. Nothing. Finally a little grab. She managed to slow down to about 1 mph or so. She really had no control. We were right upon the trooper when he stepped slightly to the side and she hit him. At less than 1 mph.

He wasn’t hurt but he was angry. He got to our and started yelling, when he saw my arm holding her back and a terrified look on our faces. When he saw that his anger faded. He understood what happened. He saw us sliding down the highway.

We talked for a few minutes and he told us to be safe.

As I recall that happened somewhere between Roanoke and Christiansburg, where we lived. My then wife drove home. We brought the luggage in. We were exhausted. We went to bed.

When we awoke there was eight feet of snow on the ground. No way to get out until the snow plows arrived sometime in the afternoon.

We should have just stayed in the District

A friend of mine complimented me on a picture that I made in Southeastern Louisiana that looked something like this one.

No, not the scene. The light.

I told her that it is a very hard picture to make because of the light. I also said that the last time I made a picture like it was in about 1978.

It turns out I was wrong.

I made this picture about 12 for 13 years ago.

It has the same quality of cold, silvery backlighting that makes the road sort of shine and drops the edges into a bit of shadow.

Oh okay. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve been at this since about 1972. Next year makes 50 years.

You can’t expect me to remember everything.

If you ever come to light that looks like this, stop your car, get out of it and make a few pictures. That’s all there is to it.

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


The streets were wet.

One of my road trips during the PAD days was to Reno, Nevada. There is a story behind this adventure which I’ll tell in a bit.

I drove from Albuquerque through Las Vegas and north on state route 95. I stopped along the way. I turned a two day trip into three.

I made a huge amount of signature pictures. Most of that was just due to timing. Arrive at a place that you want to photograph in good light and guess what happens.

When I arrived, I was tired, grumpy and wet. The grumpiness was at myself. Nobody else. I checked into the hotel at time when nobody was traveling. The hotel was a pretty good one, but my room cost ten dollars.

The front desk manager took one look at me and upgraded my room without asking.

What a room.

It was one of those high roller suites. It was located on a very high floor so I could see the city. It had a huge bigger than kingsize bed, a 60 inch television right in front of the bed. If you didn’t want to watch anything you could lower it and see the rest of the room.┬áThere were sitting areas with couches and deep, plush chairs.

There was a heart shaped couples bathtub in the room. There was a shower for two. There was a wet and dry sauna. And, get this, the minibar was free.

I stayed three for three days. Thirty dollars for all of that.

Anyway.

My parents retired to Reno. They also passed in Reno. They are buried at the veteran’s cemetery in Fernley about 15 miles away. That’s really why I came. When my dad passed I promised myself I’d come every two years.

I’m sorry to say that I was last there in 2007. Fourteen years. That’s too long. Maybe when I feel like it’s safe to travel I’ll go there. It’s gonna be a long road trip.

I like road trips.

If the weather is my kind of weather, it’ll take me a week to get there even though from New Orleans I’ve only added an extra days driving time.

Maybe the fall.

Picturing things, I walked out on the street into the pouring rain.

I din’t care. I was wearing rain gear, my cameras were protected and I felt like making pictures. After all, that was the secondary reason for this trip.

I had dinner in a Thai restaurant that I knew from past trips. I finished that and started walking.

I walked up behind this couple and started making pictures. I never look at my work even when I return to my hotel room. I had no idea what I had until I returned to New Mexico.

It may be superstitious of me, but I never look. Or, it just may be the realization that I can’t do anything about a blown set of pictures.

The take away is that this picture was made in the camera. The only change I made in post production was to sharpen the image a bit.

When the picture is right, it’s right.

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


Into the mystic.

There were days when I drove from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to run errands. Even thought ABQ had to old school camera stores within short walking distance from each other, neither had a great selection of printing paper.

Two stores in Santa Fe did. I’d start my day early, having breakfast out on the road, go paper shopping, go to a nationally known bookstore and poke around looking for pictures. Sometimes, I’d eat dinner on the plaza.

That was always a nice day.

Sometimes I’d head back home to Albuquerque under fairly clear skies like this one, but with rain falling in the far distance. That’s one of the benefits of living in the desert. Long distance views.

If you’ve ever driven cross country, you’ll see this a lot as you get into southwestern states. Sometimes, if the storm lingers and you are driving fast enough you’ll actually catch the storm and you’ll get wet.

Since I enjoy so-called bad weather that was never a big deal. Sometimes, I’d intentionally do it in order to photograph the falling rain.

I’m looking forward to long road trips again. However the virus may still get in the way.

Off in the distance. That’s one of the easiest ways to work if you are a drive by photographer like I am from time to time.

There is nobody near me and nobody in front of me that makes a difference. I could actually make a picture like this without fear of hurting anybody.

I still practice a kind of safety by letting the camera be auto everything and doing its thing. One thumb pushes the button, every other part of my hands are on the steering wheel.

That’s it the technical part of photographing. Processing and editing are easy because, as I wrote yesterday, this is a kind of photojournalism and I don’t mess with the picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs.


Let it rain.

More about the reckoning. I’m starting to poke around a little deeper. It started last night or early this morning when I awoke from a delicious dream.

It was about my newspaper days. For some reason the newspaper photo staff was made up of about everybody with whom I ever worked.

We were sidelined. The new, young staff was sent on assignment. They couldn’t complete it.

Some editor came back to the photo area to ask us to finish the assignment. Off we went, the pros from dover. The heavyweight veterans. Heh, heh.

Mostly, our hair was silver and our beards were white. Veterans, indeed.

It was some huge event, but I don’t remember what. I do remember that there was color exploding everywhere. It wasn’t violent. It was pretty and awe inspiring.

We divided up the coverage and came back with every possible picture. The young guys didn’t know what to think. We, the old guys, knew what to think.

All I can say is that it was very good seeing those guys again. Sheesh. Some of them had to come back from the grave. That was even better.

A few words about the picture since I completely ignored it in the left column.

I’m back to the project. I realized that I just couldn’t force it.

I always say to let the picture find you. I wasn’t doing that.

This time it did. It was so stealthy that I didn’t even realize that it did find me.

It took a review of work to actually see it.

When the picture really does find you, there is no need to overwork it.

It just is.

Even the little raindrops are nicely shaped.

Okay. Picture number three.


All the water in the sky.

Here I go again. Driving and making pictures. You know how I do it so I won’t go there. I will head over to intensity.

I talk about not taking the picture, instead letting the picture take you. I discuss the zen of photography. I talk about practicing until you don’t think about what you are doing.

That’s all true.

Yet, there is another quality that is every bit as important.

Intensity.

When I work I’m intense. When I work it’s about the picture. Nothing else. I’m laser focused. I see everywhere and nowhere. At the same time.

This picture is an example. I knew that there were no cars around me. I knew what was happening in front of me. I knew that water was starting to accumulate on the windshield. I knew how fast I was traveling. And, in what lane I was in.

All that data was rolling around the best computer of all time. The human brain.

This picture is simple to make. The intensity doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. But, let me work for more than a few hours and I’m toast. I’m exhausted. Generally, when I get home I need a nap.

This all sounds terrible doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s refreshing. It’s knowing that I left it all on the field.

That’s satisfying.

This place is strange. The main road dips under a railroad bridge and a cloverleaf.

It is so strange that it has a water measurement gauge. Yes. This place floods.

If the weather changes quickly and a big storm blows through it’s best not to drive on this road.

The picture was made in the usual way. A drive by shooting.

The overall weather made the picture. The light was right. The clouds were bluish – gray. The rust on the railroad bridge popped right out. The cement sort of glowed.

There was very little post production. Mostly, I darkened and added contrast to the image.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You all know the rest. Enjoy every flood.


Cold, wet and slippery.

The cold weather came. It won’t leave. As I write this the temperature outside is 24 degrees. We should warm up sometime tomorrow.

Luckily, the rain stopped falling. The sun is shining through broken clouds. Clouds hold warmth in, so you know what this means. Colder still.

Yesterday was the saddest, coldest, wettest Mardi Gras ever. Sure, some people came out. They masked both ways. They wore their protective masks. They wore their Mardi Gras costumes. We call that masking too.

Of course, today is Ash Wednesday. The day when Catholics go to church and have an ash cross drawn on their foreheads. It’s the beginning of 40 days of sacrifice called Lent. I wonder how this is going to work out in the era of distancing and masking. If I were a better Catholic than I am, I’d just go and find out.

That’s a whole other story.

So.

This is a current picture. The first in ten days. I was excited to make it, even if it almost killed me. Oh well. Sometimes you have to decide if the pleasure is worth all the pain.

Making photographs is my one great pleasure. Note the word “great.” I do plenty of other things that bring me pleasure. But, photograph is the main thing.

Let’s see what you think. What is your biggest source of pleasure? What are the minor ones?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the weather.

Rain. You’d think that in Southeast Louisiana we’d know how to drive in wet conditions.

Oh no.

Most drivers are bad enough during the best of times. When the roads get wet, they forget what little they know about driving.

This is not a rant about local drivers. It’s the long way of saying that when I make a picture on a larger sized street I’m taking my life in my hands. Working on an interstate highway is much easier.

It’s also a way of saying that, both of my hands are on the steering wheel. I’ve talked about this previously.

I make sure the camera, or in this case, the phone is set on auto everything. I brace the camera, on the steering wheel. The only part of my hand that leaves the steering wheel is one finger or thumb. I just hope that the lens sees as I want it to.

The lens was close, but not quite there. If you look hard enough at the bottom of the picture you can see a bit of the dashboard. It’s part of the picture so I left it in.

I’ve been softening backgrounds in post production. I like it because it helps to enhance the subject by not being sharp.

I also like gauzy clouds.

That’s it.

Oh, this is not in New Orleans. I made this picture in Kenner after coming home from a CoVid-19 test.

No worries. My doctor wants his patients to take the test three days before the procedure.

If you recall, I took another test last week. But, the procedure was postponed because of… a CoVid-19 scare.

In many ways, that’s photographer’s luck. If I didn’t have the test I wouldn’t have been in a position to make this picture.


Deep, dark at dusk.

They said that we were going to have snow. Yep. That’s what they said. We may still see some, but the national weather maps have snow as a possibility in northern Louisiana. Not down here in the swamp.

The temperature is cold for us. We had a high of 40 degrees. We had cold rain. We had miserable dogs. They don’t like going out in rain. They really hated cold rain.

For me, a guy who dislikes summer’s heat and likes cold weather, this is a dream.

However spring flowers are already blooming. The Japonica tree has quarter-size buds on it. Sheesh. It’s mid-January. And, barely that.

Maybe that’s a sign. A sign of things to come. On the other hand, I’m about ready to toast 2022.

2021 already seems to be saying to 2020, “Hold my beer.” Maybe things will get better. I do worry about the next nine days.

Maybe I’m worrying for nothing.

I hope so.

This is what I saw before the cold rain came pouring down.

I normally don’t make a cloud picture without some kind of anchor — a tree, a building, the ubiquitous telephone poles — but theses were just to powerful to ignore.

You know the next step. And, the step after that.

This image took almost no work in post because I exposed for that highlight — the bit of sky that is bright white and blown out.

I usually do that by accident.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy the cold weather.


Someone had fun.

Not my normal location. Wandering from my normal scenes lead me to find these shoes. I have no idea why they were left behind. But, they are neatly aligned as if someone was returning to get them. I don’t know what the soles look like, but it could be that she was slipping and sliding. It could be her feet and shoes got soaked, so she left them to dry in the rainy weather.

It could be the she is a he.

This is a good example of photographer’s luck. If I hadn’t started running errands, I wouldn’t have seen these shoes. Many people don’t believe in luck, but I do. At least in small doses like this.

The second interesting subject in the picture is the moss. After three days of intermittent rain, it is flourishing everywhere. I’ve never seen it in a parking lot, but during 2020 anything can happen. Most of it bad.

However, as we come to the end of what was a very brutal year, maybe it’s time to look forward, to look at the little things that may actually be just a bit good.

I’ll tell you what a really good thing is for me. The background noise has been tamped way down. The current President of The United States is not in my head as he has been for the last five years. Yes, five years. He got into our heads from the moment he rolled down the golden escalator.

His steady drumbeat was brutal. Now I have to seek him out. Don’t get me wrong, he will make plenty of noise between now and January 20, but it’s irrelevant.

Not only is that a small thing, but it feels really good.

Shoes. To me, in my doddering old age, they look like nighttime shoes. Shoes that you’d wear to a night of dancing. But, what do I know? Today they could be worns on the street with jeans or shorts

Anyway.

I found them without the help of the all seeing dog. I was running errands. She was home sleeping or annoying the other dogs.

I did it again. I saw it. I framed it. I pushed the button. The day was overcast so I didn’t have to deal with harsh light, shadowss and contrast.

Development and post production was minimal.

That was it.

Shoes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.