The Swing Dolphins working out a jazz standard.
The Swing Dolphins working out a jazz standard.

Before I really get into this, I just want to make a suggestion. This picture is pretty subtle. You  might want to open it up to its largest size to what’s really going on. The heart of the picture is captured in the reflection.

So, the story goes like this. I like music. I like jazz. But, I don’t like either enough to stand in big crowds and very hot summer days long enough to really listen. But, I read and heard about a band from Japan. A Japanese youth group was invited to play at Satchmo Fest earlier this month. You saw the second line parade that walked to honor Louis Armstrong. That was just little event during a three-day event. It was the most important to me for a lot of reasons. But, I thought the Japanese band sounded interesting. Luckily, they played an after-fest gig right on the levee of The Mississippi River. So, I went to listen to them. And, of course, to photograph them. They were pretty good fun. They played jazz standards. They were well rehearsed and they were focused on what they were doing. Unfortunately, the audience was tiny. Maybe 25 or 30 people heard them play. That’s too bad. They also had to compete with a freight train that passed about 50 feet away. They just smiled and kept playing.

I really didn’t do much to this picture in post production. There was no need to.

Crossing Esplanade after the rain.
Crossing Esplanade after the rain.

I suppose that The French Quarter and Frenchman Street have become two of “my places.” I seem to be able to recharge when I wander around there. And, with good reason. Even during our so-called off-season, there are plenty of people wandering around. There is always good music. And, there is plenty of good food to eat. Oh yeah. There are coffee houses just about everywhere.  If I time it right, wait for good light or even just normal just lighting, the pictures just sort of come to me. I don’t have to force them. They are just there.

This picture. I was just walking across the street and watching people share the cross walk. I shot at a low shutter speed and a pretty much wide open f-stop. The night took care of the rest. That’s it. Very little post production…. mostly just to clean up the edges.

Cars, mule drawn carriages and taxis make their way up Royal Street.

Speeding through The French Quarter at night… or, so it seems. Royal Street is like most of the other streets in The Quarter. Old. Narrow. Badly paved. When the paving really falls apart, it’s patched. Not very well. Because of that, nobody is going to speed through any street in The Quarter at any time. Night or day. But, the lines of mixed traffic — old and new ways of commuting — do make for some very nice pictures. Especially at night. It’s even better when the pavement is wet or slightly wet. Then, there are reflections. Lots of them.  For me, even the much of the Quarter is given over to tourists, it’s fun to shoot there. Night or day. I’ve been going there for years. Especially after I’ve been traveling. The Quarter welcomes me. I feel at home. And, it never fails to surprise me when I see something new, on a street were I walk often. And, since the city is a dog and bike town, I can take the dogs. Aside from the pet shop that allows dogs to pick their own treats, there are many bars, cafes and restaurants that put out bowl of water whether the weather is hot or not. All I can say to that is… woof.

This picture. It came at the end of a stroll. Or, photo walkabout, as some people call them. I was headed back to the car when a line of traffic sort of stopped dead. I looked ahead and saw that it was stopped for a pedestrian. So, I made a few pictures. This is one of them. I wanted the carriage to be slightly blurred so I focused and followed the taxi. The one that looks like a van. That tactic seems to have worked out. And, the slowed shutter speed captured the moodiness of the misty night. Post production was fairly simple. I did add a little more softness and glow to the picture. I think it helps the mood of the scene.

And so it’s time to move on from The Christmas Series. This may only be a short bridge series until the New Year. We’ll see. This year has been one of a lot of miles. A lot of different places. A lot of new things. So, I thought I’d do a little travel thing. Not so much about the place. Instead, about the act of traveling. Getting there. So. I thought I’d start with any easy one. When I’d come home for a few weeks, I’d rip around Southeast Louisiana making pictures for this blog. My real road pictures were already spoken for. Sorry. You’ll see some of them eventually. So, I’d shoot “Picture A Day” pictures, for that project. Christmas pictures for that just ended project. Or, I’d get into Central City and work a bit on that. But, I had to get there somehow. That’s what these next few pictures are about. Driving. Walking. Flying. Training. Whatever it takes.

This picture. Every time that I publish something like this I get scolded. Don’t drive and shoot. Well, if the bad guys do it, so can I. At least I’m not spewing bullets at somebody. My drive-bys are somewhat safe. And, actually my hands don’t leave the steering wheel. Usually. Even this picture looks more dangerous than it really is. I’m justing point the camera at the rear view mirror. I’m not even looking at the subject. I’m look down road. That’s why there is so much camera in the picture. I’d love to say this picture was F something and be there. But, it’s not even that. I set the camera to auto and pointed it at something. Not the best way to make a picture. But sometimes it works. Like this one. It’s actually kind of a favorite of mine. It speaks to me. And for me. Driving in My Car

I was telling a friend of mine that sometimes the most story-telling picture is a detail shot. You sorta get to the heart of things by staying away from the overall scene and focusing on a small area. This picture is maybe a little wider than I’d normally shoot for a detail shot, but color, the light, the sign and the storm shutters came together for me. To me the picture has a warm, feeling that Christmas evokes. It also feels a little Harry Potterish to me. Hmmmmm.

Where? When? What? How?

I made it as I was walking back to the car after dinner, and after Caroling on Jackson Square. So that means I was in the French Quarter. The building is a combination shop and house. If you go in this door, you walk into the owner’s living room. If you walk into the door next to it,  you walk into the shop.  Right now the shop is filled with Christmas trinkets. In two months, the doorway will be purple, green and gold and they will sell Mardi Gras trinkets. Then Easter and so on. To make this picture even more interesting there is a sort of hand drawn sign that says, “you are being watched.” The sign was created by a local folk artist called Doctor Bob. He’s pretty well know throughout the lower south. How? Well. You already know how. Same thing that I always do. Except, the light was low enough that I had to brace myself and slow my breathing some. Well. A lot. There you have it. Creepy Friends

So. It is another week. I’ve made an executive decision. At least as much of one as I’m allowed to make around here. No bad news this week. No endless experts talking about the same stuff over and over and over. None of that. I saw a bunch of so-called reaction pictures that were taken over the weekend in Connecticut. They added nothing to the story. They added nothing to anything. There was no purpose to them. Except to say, “Hey, I’m a photographer and I made pictures of somebody’s misery.” Well, good. Keep doing that.

We all — you, me and people who we don’t know — have enough going on in our lives. We don’t need to be flooded by this constant negativity that serves little or no purpose. We — all of my blogging colleagues — can do something about that. We can publish stuff that amuses us and make us happy. Maybe they will amuse our readers as well.

That’s not to say that I care any less about the children who died in Connecticut. It’s not that I care any less about the guys getting hurt  in Afghanistan. It’s not that I care any less about the murders in my own city. I do. I do. And, I do. But, it’s time for a break. It’s time to think about the good that happened this year. It’s time to focus on the things I care about most. Family. Art. Music. Pictures. That stuff. The stuff I assume you all like if you read this blog. There are about two weeks left in 2012, assuming the planet doesn’t go BLAMMO on the 21st of the month. HA! They say that it doesn’t matter how you start. That it only matters how you finish. Well. Let’s finish this year on a high note.

The picture. I made it last night on the way to caroling. It was a bit of a walk and you know I just can’t walk directly to my destination. I have to sort of meander along. I make a picture here. I make one there. I stop for an espresso and I make another picture. I saw this giant pinkness and just had to press the button. If you look really close in about the center of the ball you can see me at work. Reflections. I like them. Shiny2

Many of you already know that I make some pictures by shooting out of the windshield. That’s pretty easy with all these new fangled auto-everything cameras. Just point and shoot. But, sometimes, I hold the camera with my left hand and focus on my left rear view mirror. You never know what might show up there. Like that big semi following closer behind me than you might think. When I work this way I usually some kind of wide lens. If you are filling the frame, or at least the mirror with the image, you have start getting pretty close. And, that’s another thing. I’m old enough to come from the fill the film frame with the intended subject school of thought. That way, I get the subject in the picture without having to crop for impact. There’s a lot of ways to do this. You can use telephoto lenses. They are great. But often the picture looks a little flat and compressed. Me? You already know this, but I like to work from the inside out with shorter and wider lenses. In that way, the image takes on a stacked look to the point of almost feeling sort of 3D. It also allows me to engage the subject which means better emotional interaction. But, with the speeding heavy truck, I mostly just want to let the truck get close enough to make a picture like this one. I don’t really want to interact with it.  I have this thing about living and not becoming one with the truck. Silly me.

So. This picture is all about timing and the decisive moment. And, breaking off in time to avoid any possible disaster. 

I’ll stick with my trend with beautiful skies. Somehow that seems reasonable for tonight. I made this a few weeks ago. It’s a reflection. If you look very closely, you’ll see that the signs are all backwards. And, if you look in the lower shadows you might even see me. It’s really hard to point a camera into a mirrored window and not take your own picture. Oh. About that election thing. It’s been a long, long time since I made political pictures. Just as well. You had to wear a tie in those days to be around politicians. 

Well. This road picture is a little different. Usually, I make pictures through the windshield, while I’m driving. Not this time. At least I parked and photographed what I saw in my mirror. I like this frame. It’s about leaving. It’s about winter. It’s about being on the road. The color is nice too. It’s rich without being too rich. Oh yeah. New Mexico.