Smell the roses.

You’ve heard it before. Stop and smell the roses. I did that. I also made this photograph. It’s my version of art.

I made it soft, dark and velvety. This image makes me want to touch it. No worries. I didn’t. I like to make pictures, not touch things.

Which brings me to this. Somehow.

The CDC issued a new directive. No masks with few exceptions as long as you have been vaccinated. This confused me and just about everybody else including some very highly thought of doctors.

For some reason I’ve lost my faith in the CDC. This directive just doesn’t sound right. Until Orleans Parish relaxes the mask requirement, I won’t be walking around barefaced.

Ask The New York Yankees about this. They have seven staffers and on player isolated because of positive tests after being jabbed. They call it breakthrough contagion. Call it whatever you want. It means that there is no certainty of anything pandemic related.

It seems that everybody is rushing to open up far too quickly. I have a bad feeling about this.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, everybody is cheering.

The damn block system won’t let me edit to fix typos. Damn is not really the word I’m thinking of but this is a family blog.

If this keeps up, community or not, WordPress is going to drive me away.

Get close I always say. Fill the frame I always say.

I took my own advice and did that. I worked so closely that the purple background is really a bit of another rose.

After that I made sure to keep a little separation in processing.

There you have it. A rose.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty, Wear your mask, Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Ignore the CDC. They’ve become politics over science.


All the reds and oranges.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Normally, I’d post something on the day of the event. This time, I thought I’d give you a little time to plan.

What are you going to do to make the planet a little healthier?

Me? I’m going to pick up trash.

It’s locals and tourists.

Once, I heard a tourist in The Marigny say that all this trash on the ground was just terrible as she proceeded to throw her trash on the ground.

Huh?

Once, after watching a guy throw trash on the street in front of our house, I asked him to pick it up. When he refused I said, “Pick that up. This isn’t your mama’s living room.”

He did.

It doesn’t matter what you do, but do something.

On another note, justice was served yesterday. Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges: second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.

At the time that George Floyd was killed, the Minneapolis police department claimed that he died in transit. Their lie was exposed by a courageous 17 year old teenager named Darnella Frazier. I think I read that the city honored with a medal.

I agree with Stephen Colbert. I find it hard to celebrate when a man is still dead. I think, like many people do, that this is just a start.

Of course, just as the verdict was being announced, another teenage girl was killed by a cop in Columbus, Ohio. The police department immediately released the body camera footage and it looks like the shooting was clean.

I have some thoughts about that.

When I was a young man — a teenager — cops were not so heavily armed. They didn’t carry tasers and their weapons were a revolver and baton.

Back in the day, they would have tried to talk her down. If they couldn’t do that and she threatened them, they’d hit the arm holding the knife with their baton. Likely, they would have broken her arm.

A broken arm isn’t dead.

Maybe that’s how you reform police departments. Go back to the basics. Most departments are way too up armored. They often look like soldiers going into combat. They are on the street to protect and serve, not kill people.

Now is the time for technical comments.

But first, a rant.

This damn block system has got to go. Once again, it put a box around my writing. Click anywhere near the box and everything is gone.

I’ve been having what the Brits call a spirited conversation with a “happiness engineer.”

The picture. It’s really two layered horizontal pictures. I twisted them up in a program that is designed to help you correct compositional problems like a tilted horizon line.

Then, I turned the horizontal picture to the vertical. I corrected whatever I thought was a problem and pushed the contrast and sharpening until it looked like an illustration.

That’s it.

If you want to learn about actual settings I’ll tell you, but first make sure that your phone is equipped with Snapseed, which is a free product.

Then, ask me questions. I’ll guide you through the process.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. (Don’t turn red state on me) Look after each other. Be patient.


Once upon a time.

Once upon a time.

I made an executive decision last night while I was searching for a particular picture. I didn’t find it, but I did find something called the PAD project.

PAD is the acronym for picture a day. I forced myself to make one picture everyday whether I had paying work or not.

I started this in 2006 while we were exiled to the high desert of New Mexico after Hurricane Katrina.

If you’ve never done it, you should. Not only do your photographs get better, but you learn a lot about yourself.

I liked it so much that I did it for another year, and another year and… until I did for five years when I decided to change it to picture a week. That really didn’t work so I stopped completely.

My decision to start publishing these pictures, many of which have never been seen by anyone, is two fold.

I was emailing with a friend and he said that his wife wanted to join a cloud. I suggested that if they subscribed to Amazon Prime that they use their cloud. It’s free. It’s solid. It offers unlimited storage for any size file.

One of the things that it does is scrape every similar file type into the collection. I decided to see what was in there. Woah! Almost every picture that I’ve made in the last 15 years was hiding in plain sight.

That got me thinking.

Since I’ve been poking around in my own history, hoping that my ghosts are friendly, I thought this would be a great time to revisit and publish those unseen pictures of that time. New Mexican pictures, all.

I enjoyed looking at them. I hope you do too.

Picture a day. That was the project.

I made a lot of decisions after I thought about showing these pictures to you.

The first was not to try to replicate the order in which they were photographed. It’s almost impossible because paying work was dropped in between the project images.

The second was to show you multiple pictures if that’s what the day’s results were. You’ll see a lot of that especially during the Albuquerque International Ballon Fiesta.

The third was not to touch these pictures in post except to sharpen them.

In case you are wondering, they were all made with a Canon G-9, a very good pocket camera.

This is a riastrad, a door or wall hanging made of red chili. It’s an icon of the southwest. They only last in very dry climate.

That’s the story. I’ll see you tomorrow.


Red.

This is a Chinese Rose. I’d never heard of such a thing until a little debate broke out on Instagram. Someone posted a picture of a flower that he called a Chinese Rose.

It wasn’t.

Even with my lack of knowledge about flowers I knew that. So off to Google we went. It turns out that this picture is of a Chinese Rose. It looks nothing like the picture on Instagram. It also turns out that the flower isn’t named because of its color. There are many colors.

My neighbor has a bunch of them growing as bushes. I just thought that they were roses. You learn something everyday.

At least you better.

Life long learning is a partial key to my life. It makes a big difference. I’m not talking about reading the news or staying online too long. Both just barely scrape the surface. Just like Googling. It worked fine for the flower, but it ain’t research.

I think that you have to get as close to the original source as you can possible get. It’s one reason that I don’t use Web MD.

Aside from the notion that you either have a sprained wrist or cancer using a Web MD diagnoses, The Mayo Clinic or John Hopkins have real live researchers who add to the data base well after their work has been peer reviewed.

One more thing about this medical stuff. If you don’t know what you have don’t self diagnose. You’ll be wrong 98% of the time. I use it to learn more about my doctor’s diagnosis or what meds he’s given me to combat it.

That works.

I put a lot of work into this picture. My smartphone still isn’t right.

Nothing was tack sharp. I reasoned that since everything was a little soft that I could make corrections in post production.

Most of those modifications did barely okay.

But, I have a trick. There is a setting in Snapseed called Drama. If I use one of two dark settings, add color and work from there I can sharpen images to the point of hyper sharpening them.

I don’t like doing it a lot because it can make things weird.

I used it this time. Everything that should be sharp is sharp. Still the picture looks a little strange.

I suspect that’s the limitation of a phone. I don’t know, but it’s time to use at as a phone, which is its worst characteristic.

Back to a Nokia flip phone for me. The new ones are trying to compete in the phone market after being left for dead by Apple and Samsung. They make new flip phones for nowhere near the cost of the current smartphones and they do what I really need them to do.


Under a winter sky.

It’s not the same. It looks the same. But, it’s not. I know because I made the picture after I published all the train pictures on Sunday.

Let me tell you. I didn’t make the picture because of the engine, although the bright red helped… a lot. I made the picture because of the wonderful sky. I need something to stick in the foreground, so there was a waiting engine that I used again.

So.

We have a new month. That’s good. January felt like the longest month ever. It ended on a weirdly high note. Former president orange man lost all of his impeachment lawyers because he insisted on them arguing his fantasy mass election fraud theory. They wanted to argue the constitutionality of impeaching a former president, he said no. They said bye, bye.

We are still sitting at home and that doesn’t make me happy. Maybe some month this year I’ll be allowed to be vaccinated. You’d think with co-morbidity issues that at my age I could head to the back of the line. Oh no. I’m too young.

Nevertheless, I’m going to start my Jefferson Highway project this week. This, despite getting a CoVid-19 test tomorrow. No worries. I must have one in order to get my back numbed, er, fixed a couple days later. The whole thing makes me nervous. There are all sorts of things that could go wrong with the procedure. And, being in a hospital twice in a week seems to make me susceptible to the virus.

They say not, but I trust very few people in authority these days. That’s any kind of authority. Any kind at all.

After the first week of the new month, my schedule looks like a lot of yours. Get up. Commute to the kitchen. Make coffee. Commute to the studio. Work. Commute back to the kitchen. Eat breakfast. Commute to the back door. Take dogs for their morning walk .

And, so on and so on and so on…

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves. Wash your hands.Look after each other. You know what to do. Just do it.

The sky was wonderful so I made pictures of it. Luckily, there was an errant train engine waiting for me to fill some of the foreground.

The engine was in shadow so I opened it up. The sky stayed about the same. Then I softened everything by adding some glow to it.

Then I published it. That’s just about how long it took to get the work done.

A friend of mine has grown into a wonderful photographer. His second line work is great as his Indian work. But, he insists in trashing up the images with all kinds of weird Snapseed filters.

A couple of us mentioned it to him. He said that enhancements illustrated how he felt. We tried to explain that this kind of street work is photojournalism and should be left alone with the exception of brightening and sharpening. He won’t listen.

So.

This is a thing best said in person. The next time I see him I’m going to say this. “Work subject matter is wonderful. Your processing sucks.”

Le the chips fall where they may. On top of my head.


Pretty in red.

There is something about a red rose especially when it is growing in the middle of winter. It struck me as one of those little miracles that make me smile.

Lately, there have been a lot of things that make me smile. It started right around January 20. The change of presidential administrations helped a lot. It felt like we went from darkness to light in an afternoon.

Of course there will be battles and compromises even in the light but they won’t feel like we are falling off a cliff.

The biggest thing will be to include everybody, to make friends of our enemies, and to be kind to each other. The last point will take some doing.

Even if people aren’t openly antagonistic to each other, we don’t always pay attention. Think about the folks that stop in the middle of an aisle to answer their phone, or those who cut in front of you to pick up whatever it is they needed.

They mean no harm, but they aren’t paying attention. They generally apologize when they realize what they’ve done. It forces you to speak because you are wearing a mask and they can’t see your smile.

These are little things. They don’t mean anything. But, what happens with larger issues that do mean something? That stretches into all walks of life and through all levels of importance. Can we remember to “look after each other,” the phrase I use as I close Storyteller everyday?

I don’t know. But, I hope so.

We need each other now more than ever.

What do you think?

Red, red roses. I said they are a winter miracle. They are more than that to me.

I see them as a symbol of good things even in the cold of the day.

I try to photograph them as that, which is why I work close. I don’t want anything dead to pop up in the picture.

Luckily, the sky was overcast when I made it. Normally I like contrast. But, you saw yesterday what happened to the yellow flowers when there was too much.

A picture like this one needs even, muted light. That’s what I had. The rest was easy.

There were no struggles in development or in post production. The picture was made in camera before I had to mess with it.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow. There are new challenges every day.

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


Into the farthest place.

Life in a cartoon. Any choice that I made that turned out good was a lucky guess. Well. That sounds terrible. I have to be honest, I almost feel like retiring from the photo business. And, from the art of it.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I came to a local NPR post. Gwen Tompkins is going interview local photographer who won the Michael Smith Award. That’s a big deal around here. He’s had more shows than many people who seek them out. I say this without jealously, he’s a terrible photographer. His work is marginal at best.

I’ve applied to that contest. Nothing. Crickets. If not me, I can tell you about ten photographers are more worthy than this guy.

I don’t get it.

I really don’t understand why my time in New Orleans has been so unacknowledged while I thought that I was being very productive. Maybe my work isn’t what I thought it is.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.

I suppose that I can accept that, especially since my early career was so good. I spit out good pictures without thinking about it. The awards came too. They don’t really matter, but everyone needs a pat on the head once in a while.

It’s time to come to a reckoning. I make pictures pretty easily. It’s all the other stuff that is time consuming and hard work.

Maybe I don’t want to work that hard anymore.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every photograph because you never know when they will come to an end.

This picture is supposed to be my art. For sure, this is something that I enjoy.

Sometimes.

My heart isn’t t this stuff. I photograph and tinker with it because right now there is nothing better to do.

I could blame it on the virus. I could blame it on the dogs who demanded walks. I could blame it on my broken physical state.

Or, I could accept that this is about the only kind work I can produce these days.

I dunno. This is just see it, photograph it. I am a photojournalist at heart. That’s what I was trained to do. That’s what I did.

I’m not really whining. I’m just thinking out loud. I had a great career once. I had fun. Time passes by.

Oh yeah. Three layered pictures to make one. The spooky tree is the base. The orange blood-like splotch is the second image. The red grass like area on the left is the last and it is really red grass. Don’t ask.

The rest is all tinkering. Eventually the layered pictures come to a place where I like it.


The artful dodger.

And, so it shall be. No more political talk, except to say Twitter banned Trump – HA, HA. I’ve been looking for ways to express myself artistically until I start my project. You remember? The Jefferson Highway Project.

First, I have to motivate myself to actually drive around. It doesn’t help that our CoVid-19 numbers have shot through the roof because people need to travel, party and drink. They are not wearing masks, and not keeping to the 6 inch minimum distance rule. That’s right. Not Six feet. Six inches.

I can keep photographing this kind of material as long as the all seeing dog wants to go for walks. I just have to assemble a couple of pictures, which is much harder than it looks. I played with the base picture, the green picture, for hours. I added stuff. I sub-stracted stuff. Nothing was right.

Along came a magenta flower petal. I wasn’t sure at first, but when I saw them together, they popped and I knew. From there it was a short trip to the refining software and the result is in front of you.

Pictures like this one are far and few between. Often, there are weeks between the one you see and the next one. You can’t force them. They have to find you on their own. If you force them, they look forced, just like so many things in life.

Two of my favorite words are marinate and fishing. They are both about patience.

Marinate refers to the time between making the picture and editing the picture. Be patient. Unless you have a hard deadline, let them sit. Let them show you what they are.

Fishing refers to the way you work a scene. The picture won’t revel itself immediately. Be patient. Take your time. Explore the scene.

There is a third version combining both of the words. Sometimes, you might see me drive up to a location and bang, I make the picture. I leave and edit the picture almost immediately. I’m not violating either suggestion.

It’s likely that I’ve driven or walked by the scene in the wrong light, the wrong time of day or the wrong weather. I’ve had a long time to think about the scene and my expectations. I know the picture in my brain. When things come together I’m done in a matter of minutes.

There you have it. Back on the artistic track.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. And, always look after each other. Enjoy all the art.


Souther winter tree.

Down in the swamp. No restaurants. No bars. No Mardi Gras parades. No fools. No fun. No matter. We have nature. We have a mild climate during the winter months.

So.

We have scenes like this in January. Even if the trees look like they do in your neighborhood durning autumn, I assure you that I made this photograph a few days ago.

A big bright, colorful, happy picture. One that you can hang on your wall. One that makes you smile. Something to hold onto when life gets a little tough.

Here’s the thing. This week has already turned weird. The president thinks he’s the godfather of a crime family. He’s deranged. The vote in Georgia could change the complexion of the government. Accept or celebrate. The official congressional counting of the electoral votes follows that. I think those congressional people who are trying to delay the count are fools. No matter. Look at this photograph during the week and have some fun.

Remember. No fools. No fun.

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

Red, orange, yellow. That’s what caught my eye. The scene was slightly backlighted. Not enough to change the light dramatically, but enough to make the photography bright and energetic.

The rest, as you know, is always easy. As a wise man once said, “The hardest part about making a picture is getting there.

Remember that.

It has existential properties. It could mean distance, or it could mean the time it took you to learn to make pictures.

You know.

The first 10,000 marginal pictures that you took before you learned to make a picture. One picture.

I wish you peace.