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.

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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?


Merry Christmas.

I made an executive decision.

At least I’m not throwing the world into turmoil with my choice. I’m just taking a break. I realized that I’m a little bit burnt out on daily pictures and musings.

Even though the actual process of posting doesn’t take a long time, I find pictures and process them. I work on the metadata. That’s the stuff you never see.  The stuff I do so you can find my work. Keywords (tags). Resizing the image so it loads quickly. Building categories.

There’s the constant reading. That’s easy because I am sort of a news junkie. That’s coming to an end. You know why. After yesterday, POTUS threw the world into chaos in every possible direction. You know the rest.

In short, I’m tired. If not physically, than mentally. Maybe a little bit emotionally. No worries though. A little break and a recharge is good for us all. Besides, it’s Christmas time. Family time. Friends time. Neighbors time. The guy in the street who I pass by, time.

I also realized that I haven’t taken time off from Storyteller since July 2017, when I took about ten days off. I will respond to your comments, but I’ll likely not read many blogs.

I’ll see you all on January 2, 2019.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Peace, Ray


Into the light.

I made a few new pictures. New work. Seasonal work. Spooky work.

You’ll see.

They say that all art is autobiographical. I agree. To a point. Even though I’m going through a burnt out phase, I’m not feeling dark. I’m not sure that you can really find that in my work because of the way I work. I photograph what I see. I suppose that I could be looking for things that are dark. However, this picture is the result of the dog “who sees things” wanting to go for a walk around dusk.

It could also be the way many people are seeing the world. Me included. We are passing through a very dangerous time. A time when lies are passed off as truth. When up is down. When we have been told to only trust one person. That’s rich. That person lies as easily as he breathes.

You know.

I’m not really feeling that way. I’m just looking for a way of moving forward. That’s hard. It’s always hard. I think it’s best to just be open and let it come to you. Just like good pictures. They are out there. They’ll find you. Just be open to them. So will the way forward.

Anyway.

This picture. It really is the result of a dog walk at around dusk. The blue hour. We were passing by a little alley and I looked up. There it was. Hanging on a tree. A picture. So, I made it. The extra bit, a balcony, was bathed in light. Red light. What a nice counterpoint. Done and done.

One more thing.

I think that we should all be a little sad right now. A president died. A man died. His last words were, “I love you too.” He said that to another president. His son. Make no mistake, I feel about him the way that I felt about the late Senator John McCain. I didn’t agree with him a lot of the time. But, I respected him. He harkened back to a time when we could disagree, and debate, politely. That may be really why I’m a little sad. I fear those days are over.

Our National Day of Mourning is on Wednesday. I’ll mourn. For about ten minutes. I strongly believe in the Chinese saying that translates loosely to, “when somebody who is 80 dies, you laugh.” It’s not as harsh as it sounds. It really means when somebody has lived a long, full life, you should celebrate that.

By all accounts, that’s what George H.W. Bush did.

Besides, wouldn’t you like your last words to be, “I love you too?”

Rest in Peace Mr. President. Be with Barbara. You’ve earned it.

 


Fall trees as I saw them.

While many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are already having wintry days with snow and very cold temperatures, we in the Gulf Coast are finally in the middle of something that looks like fall.

Make no mistake.

I’m not crowing over it. I know there are those of you who are cold. And, are dreading a long cold, dark winter. I like cold. I like snow. I get it. When you have to live in it, it’s not fun. But, it’s been a long time since I had to do that. It’s likely that my old hip and back would hate it. But…

The picture. It was almost a throw away. It came at the end of a dog walk. I never could frame it properly. I had to crop it in post production. But, I didn’t self edit in the field. I didn’t delete in camera — or phone, as was the case. I looked at it on a big screen and thought that it had possibilities. So away I went. I worked on it.

I had a funny title for it. But, I thought that nature would disapprove. I was going to call it “American Fall.” See what I did there? It’s a double entendre. The picture is red, white and blue. And, my country sure has been slipping these last two years because of the man who thinks his brain is in his gut, which sort of makes sense if you think about it.

Anyway.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t bring politics onto this page. But, well, you know…

The one thing I know is that I call these kinds of pictures, “little pictures.” I’ve been making them for so long that I don’t know if I can make a “big picture.”

Hmmm.


Reds, everywhere.

Yeah. Oops.

Today is a little fractured. As it happened, I awoke at 3:34 am and could not fall asleep. It seemed that there was a bill due today that I’d neglected to pay with all the holiday and birthday stuff going on. My brain sort of exploded and woke me up.

So. I paid it. Luckily it is bank to bank so even though I paid it on the day it was due, it’s on time. The wonders of banking technology.

Then I was wired. And, I didn’t want to disturb the house. So I decided to work a little until I got tired. That happened about 4:45 am. I awoke again around 7:30 am. I started to doing morning stuff including coffee and breakfast. I was a little woozy so I laid down to read. I awoke at 11:45 am.

The dogs needed walking so I did that. We all ate lunch. I sat down at the big machine. I read some news. I was just getting up from my desk when it hit. Where is today’s Storyteller post?

So. Here I am. Late and confused. I think I need another nap. Or, a lot of coffee.

Anyway.

Here it is. A most unusual picture for me. I generally like to work very closely when I photograph flowers. The scene caught me eye. It is a very backlighted and contrasty scene. I thought that I could make it work even though I was photographing into the sun. It’s just one of those chances you take.

I had to work hard in post production to darken the picture and bring the light on the image to about what I saw in the field. The camera’s lens and sensor couldn’t quite do it. See those purple bands and the multi-colored band on the bottom right? The strong light was too much for the sensor.

All in all, the final picture captures what I originally saw. Sparkly red flowers against a field of green.

The only thing I  can tell you about this picture is that if you want to grow as a photographer, take chances. This picture borders on the line of failure, but it was worth it.