Reaching to the sky.

We went grocery shopping this morning.

Old folks time is from 8am until 9am. Most people followed the six foot rule. Some didn’t. Some looked like they didn’t care. There was enough of what we wanted, but many shelves were bare. Given that I was about the 30th person in the store, that meant the store didn’t get the deliveries they needed. Luckily, we have plenty of toilet paper.

We have never shopped so quickly. Between the lack of some products and the lack of people, shopping took 20 minutes from door to check out.

Back to toilet paper. None to be had. I still don’t get it. As a friend of mine said, this is a respiratory illness, not a field trip to Taco Bell.

We are finally under a mandatory order to stay inside. But, the lists of what you can do is longer than the list of what you can’t do. The biggest don’t do is congregating. But, we can walk, walk our dogs, go to the grocery store and so on.

That’s the CoVid19 story from the swamp. For today.

The picture. I’ll be damned if I can remember the name of this flower. I’m sure one of you will know. Somebody told me that it only grows in a sun tropical climate. No. No. No. When I was growing up in Long Beach, California my family grew them in what amounts to a side yard. In fact, they looked more healthy than these do.

All the rest. See it. Frame it. Push the button. Almost no post production. Mostly, I was trying to retrieve the detail in the flowers which was lost because the light meter read the shadows.


The last red tree. I promise.

I know what I said.

I was wrong. I found this tree a day or two after I said that all the leaves were down. However, I walked by it this morning thinking I’d add to the red collection. Now, I can safely say that all the leaves are down. The street was covered in the red leaves you see in this picture. I took a picture to prove it. I might post it next week. Or, tomorrow.

I guess this picture proves what I’ve long believed. Don’t mess with mother nature. Or, her trees.

Today is Black Friday in The United States. It’s a silly day created to drum up business. Prices are supposedly deep discounted. People used to line up at malls and big box stores at something like two o’clock. In the morning.  Some stores are open on Thanksgiving Day.

According to some news reports that I read, it’s becoming a thing of the past. And, hopefully buyers are realizing that the deepest discounts are made on old stock, specially wholesaled stock, and stuff nobody needs. The good stuff may or may not be discounted. And, there may not be much of it. A lot of people have also discovered the joys of shopping online.

We don’t go to stores to celebrate overbuying. And overspending, which stretches out your Christmas giving for the rest of the new year.

Even when we do look at Black Friday prices, we actually don’t buy any goods. We might buy services. For instance, last year we subscribed to Hulu for 99 cents a month. This year, I’ll likely buy some photo software at a discount with a bunch of other goodies included. I may also subscribe to The Athletic, a very well reported and written sports website. It’s worth the normal price, but today it’s half price for a year.

What do you, in The United States, do on the busiest shopping day of the year?

Hopefully, like us, you mostly ignore it. Even the two items that I might download and subscribe to for the next year, came to me because I already use those services. I wouldn’t know about them if I didn’t. And, I wouldn’t care.


Glowing red leaves.

Seeing red.

Usually that means being very angry. Not this time. I just happened to see a lot of red on a morning walk. The light was lower in the sky so it illuminated things that might not be so easily seen. It was a kind of photographer’s luck. I made other pictures on the walk. You’ll see them later. But, these three just sort of came together naturally. I try not to fight that.

Backlighted red leaves in the morning.

Meanwhile, the dog who sees things wanted to go out three times. We walked close to five miles. Of course, yesterday was a bad day for pain. I took the limits of my pain medication and that barely took the edge off. But, she doesn’t understand that so we walked.

This morning, I felt just fine. There is no explanation for this. But, I don’t question great days. This time, we walked about 150-200 yards and she headed for home.

Both of us have to get our timing down.

Fallen leaves in dust bin.

That’s the story for today. I usually try to publish by noon my time. I’ve been late the last few days. Really, there is no reason except a lack of motivation. I sit down to work on Storyteller and just sit there. It’s taking me two or three tries to actually want to work. Maybe it’s the season. Maybe I need a new toy. Who knows?

 


The pool umbrella returns.

Changes.

First, the pool umbrella. Back from its watery grave. No worse for wear. These kinds of pictures are easy to make. Easy to take. We’ll get back to that in a minute.

But, first.

My new watermark. I don’t think watermarks have to be flashy or over designed. It’s the content that matters. I was reading a new book — new to me — about more contemporary photographers. One of them used a copyright/credit line that had his last name and his location. I thought that was pretty cool, so I just stole it lock, stock and barrel.

From that same book, I was reading about Todd Hido. I’ve liked his work from the first time I saw it. This guy produces single themed books and exhibitions. He takes his time finding and photographing  his subjects. One of the questions he was asked is concerned with knowing when a project is done. When do you stop making pictures and started culling and organizing?

Hido said that he knows that he’s done when it is not worth the trouble to stop, get out of his car and set up. He also cautions that you shouldn’t pull the trigger too early especially in today’s sped up culture. A project could last for many years. He weaves projects around each other, pretty much like I do.

“Not worth the trouble…”

That phrase says a lot. It explains why I am having such a hard time photographing second lines and Mardi Gras Indian events. I’ve been doing that for seven years. It’s not just that I’m in pain, or that I’m afraid of falling down in the street. It’s that I’ve finished my project and it’s time to move on. I know this to be true because if I really want to do something I’ll deal with the pain. That won’t stop me.

So. I’m free. Time to move on. Time to finish other projects.

It’s also time to look at the work of photographers who are younger than me. Hido is 12 years younger. His work is great. His thinking got me going enough to gain some clarity. As much as I always return to the work of Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas and Robert Frank, two of them are gone and one is 88 years old.

The world turns. It changes. Change or die… they keep telling me.


Leaf as a still life.

I saw a leaf.

My normal instinct would be to photograph it in situ. Instead, I brought it home. I worked on it in the studio. I simplified the picture by photographing the leaf by itself, on a light table. The result was pretty good.

That was just a start.

I knew it would be post production time. Usually, I have a clear vision. Not this time. I tinkered and tinkered. There must be twenty versions of the image at which you are viewing. Once I saw them all together I picked this one. I wasn’t done yet. I gave the image a little more energy by sharpening everything. I added the frame.

Now, I was done.

That’s my working method unless I’m making some kind of documentary picture, like second line participants or Mardi Gras, itself. I don’t treat those like art except when I experiment a little. That’s just me. But, I came from a pure photojournalism background. That means change nothing except to fix the flaws and maybe adjust the contrast and color.

Housekeeping.

In the next week, starting on October 15th, I’ll do my Halloween thing. Last year I didn’t photograph enough. This year I will. Stay tuned for new Halloween material.

My new and improved website is in its last stages of completion. I want to add some more pictures. I need to add a lot of captions and fine tune the SEO.

But, it’s truly ready for prime time.

My biggest problem is that I have not found a way to let you know when a new Storyteller story is online. For right now, the best I can do is email you all individually. That’s hard, and one of the biggest pluses of a WordPress blog. Create a new post, hit the button and away it goes. I’ll do some research and figure it out. Soon.

Enjoy the season.


More art.

Learning. Always learning.

That’s probably what this image is about. It’s really just my old layering technique from a couple of years ago. But, better. Better because I’ve had years to play with it. Just like all of us, using certain tools, I hope to improve. Experience matters.

Who knows?

My learning isn’t limited to photographs and art.

Today, I learned that one of my other venues for sharing pictures is moving to Instagram. I realize that once upon a time, Instagram was  fairly powerful as a portfolio platform. Picture  and assignment bookers could see a lot of work quickly. But, with changing software Instagram is harder to use for searches. I’ve noticed that my likes have been cut in a half lately. I never had that many, but still.

A few months ago, I started posting to NGS Your Shot. I’ve been fairly successful there. Not any more.

As you may or may not know, National Geographic sold themselves to Fox a couple of years ago. They, like so many others, were having financial problems. Fox brought a measure of stability to them, without messing around with the product too much.

A couple of months ago Disney bought Fox. We knew the other shoe might drop.

It did.

They terminated 70 staffers. They are closing the US version of NG Traveler. And, they are shifting NG Your shot to Instagram on October 31.  Oh, and the yellow bordered magazine that you know as National Geographic Magazine is safe, “for now.”

My reaction? I lost a client in NG Traveller. And, when I saw the letter on my feed of NG Your Shot announcing the move to Instagram, I terminated my postings today. Why wait until tomorrow to do things that you can do today? In the near term, they will instruct us how to download our shared files. Even though I already have those files in my archives, I’ll download them from the soon to be defunct site. You know why.

That leaves me with only a few online platforms, and is partially the reason Storyteller continues to exist. Well, you too. But, I do have some small measure of control on WordPress. As far as other platforms go, if I want to broaden my picture sharing, I might just give up and post directly to Facebook and Twitter. knowing full well that the images might get poached. In many ways, it doesn’t matter anymore. Privacy is now a myth. And, as Bob Dylan once said about music, pictures ain’t worth nothin’.

The picture. It started with a red poolside umbrella and progressed from there. There are two additional layers tucked into the frame of the overall image. I did my usual playing around and there you have it. I do have to figure out what to do with this stuff. These pictures ARE worth something.

What a world.

 

 


An opportunity.

The photo caption says it all.

An opportunity.

To blow off the rest of the day.

So far.

The day started off bad. It continued to get worse.  There is only one solution. Reschedule everything. Even things that supposedly can’t be rescheduled. And, just give up. Go back to the place where I made this picture. Lay there. Fall asleep. Luckily, this place isn’t very far from our kitchen door. That’s important. It’s easier for people to bring me stuff. Something cold. Something to fill my belly. More cold stuff.

How bad is it? I almost can’t get through this post. The mouse and keyboard keep freezing every few keystrokes. That’s after rebooting the computer because it froze. I have no idea why. I put the thing to sleep last night. It woke up in a bad mood.

Anyway.

I’d better post this before I can’t.

The picture. Look all around if you are making pictures. I made this one laying on my back.

Think about that. Heh!


Red is the Color.

Never say never.

That’s what they say. They is correct. Just when I was talking about the lack of color in what amounts to our late spring, guess what? Red roses start blooming.

The thing about nature, besides always seeking stasis, is that while seasonal stages are somewhat predictable, there are always plenty of curve balls. This is one of them. These roses bloomed, flowered and died about two months ago. I didn’t expect to see them again.

That’ll teach me.

Those are the kinds of lessons that I need to learn, during my year of learning. They are also the kind of lessons that most of us forget. I have no idea what spring 2020 will be like, but I’m sure that I won’t remember what I saw and learned this year. That’s my way of keeping me in stasis. If I retained everything that I learned my head would explode. Or, something like that.

So.

Back to learning. In the last couple of weeks I learned some truths about people that I wish weren’t truths. I’m still sorting through them, so I’ll leave it at that. But, I feel like a line in an old Jefferson Airplane song, “When the truth is found to be lies…” At the very least it’s disappointing. I think that’s its limit because I don’t have very high expectations anymore. That may not be a good thing, at least, on its face. On the other hand, The lows aren’t very low.

The picture. Since nature made me a liar, I decided I’d better record what she did. So, that’s what I did. I made a picture of roses. I framed it kind of old style with one main subject in the foreground, and the rest hiding in the so-called bokeh. I did a little post production work, mostly to make the image a little warmer since I found it towards the end of the day. But, the day was a little cloudy. That’s it. A simple picture, framed in my old school way.


It’s the light.

It’s the light.

Light is one of the most important component of every photograph. As well it should be, since the root word comes from the Greek for “writing with light.” Without light, found or created, you would make no picture.

This picture is really all about the light, but it needed something to help us to understand it. That’s where the power pole and tree come into play.

You remember a picture I made last Sunday, while our football team was on the field in the dome? This was one of the first pictures I made. It is sort of a backup. I hoped to find something a little fuller and richer. In case I didn’t, I knew I had this one. That’s a thing that most working photographers do. At least the ones who work by discovery.

That should give you some insight into my thought process. Such as it is. Or, something like that.

All the rest. Well, it’s all the rest.

One of the things I don’t do on Storyteller is discuss gear. I’m thinking about that, as I try to grow this blog and website. I might change it.

I’m a big believer of gear doesn’t matter. Buy what you can afford, use it until you’ve outgrown it and either add to it with a purchase of a lens or some such. When your camera is no longer compatible with your work, replace it with something newer that helps you to grow.

But.

The photo blogs that really support themselves with advertising and sponsorships are gear-centric. That’s one reason to talk about gear. The other, more important reason, is to help you grow as photographers. I do field a lot of questions away from here about gear. I usually respond by asking a lot of questions. Questions like what do you like to photograph? If you travel, where do you go? Those questions raise other questions. They help me to narrow down your selections.

For the record, for digital work I use Sony mirrorless cameras. For film work — yes, I still shoot film — I use Leicas. I have a whole host of lenses to support each.

I have more camera bags than I could ever use. Most of my photographer friends and me are always searching for the “perfect” bag. There is no perfect bag. At best, there are situational bags. And, backpacks to carry your gear from one place to another. When, you arrive at your destination, you switch to a working bag.

Wanna buy a barely used camera bag, I ask in my best used car sellers voice.

Anyway. That’s it.

Would you like a couple of posts a week be devoted to gear and its practical applications to you, even if you aren’t a working photographer but enjoy take pictures?