Upside down world.

The rain stopped earlier then predicted.

It didn’t matter. Water was flowing from America’s eyes. It started with a brief tweet referencing TMZ that said Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. At first, there were disbelievers. Not me. I’m not a fan of TMZ-style journalism, but when this kind of horrible news breaks they are first and they are right. It only got worse. We know that five people died, including his 13 year old daughter, Gianna. We think there are four more dead and the pilot.

The entire world reacted. Athletes from every sport tweeted both their condolences and their admiration for the man. At the NFL All Star game, which is sort of a meaningless joke, many football players were upset. When the stadium announcer asked for a moment of silence the fans did that and then started chanting Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.

I could go on and tell you about his basketball career, but you can read or listen to that anywhere. I could tell you about his failings, but you can read that just about anywhere. To me that means he was a man. A normal man who succeeded and sometimes failed.

He was also just a basketball dad taking his daughter, her friend and her friend’s mom to a game. Like any of us. I know. Most of us don’t do it in a helicopter.

I followed his career pretty closely. I’m not a basketball fan, but I grew up near Los Angeles. I followed the Lakers in good times and in bad. I watched Kobe grow from your typical punkish teenager into a man. A good man. And, I am sad, Very, very sad.

My thoughts are with his wife and three remaining children. His youngest is six months old. I have no idea what it’s like to grieve, recover and work your way through that horrible emptiness.  My prayers — our prayers — are with them.

My thoughts are also with the musicians who are attending the Grammy Awards tonight. The Grammys are held in Staples Center, the house that Kobe built. This should be a night of joy and happiness. Instead, it is muted with most musicians saying something about him. The sadness won’t stop.

There’s nothing more for me to say.

Well, one more thing. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Witnesses say it landed upside down on its rotors. They said it seemed like the pilot was looking for a place to land. That’s not human error. That’s catastrophic failure. We’ll see.

The picture. I had already learned about the sad news, but I need to run an errand. I took the dog who sees things. She jumped out of the car and lead me straight to the scene. It seems appropriate for the day so I made the picture. In case you caught that, “Tonight,” I normally write in the morning but I had to get this out of my head. So I wrote at about 8:30p Sunday might.

Peace.

RIP Mamba 1978-2020


Chasing light.

Light. The thing itself.

We chase it.

That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. Maybe everybody does it. We chase light. Photographers need it to make pictures. Artists use the interplay between light and dark to work. All of us needs light to live.

Artificial light is fine, but sunlight is the real deal.

Of course, humans can alter that. We can create different environments. Some are good. Some aren’t. And, some are terrible. Just think about the environment we are creating for ourselves called climate change. Australians sure are thinking about that right now.

The light that I’m talking about is pretty. It’s created by late afternoon winter sun when the blue sky. That’s what this picture is about. The scene is common. Cars parked in a parking lot. But, the light. Oh my God, the light. I wish I were in a better place to work this light. But if I was, I might have lost it. Or, it might not have the reflective strength. So, I took what I had. I worked the technique to make it as good as I could.

After all, that’s all we can do with anything. We can do the best that we can. Do that and be a happy person.

Happy New Year.


Car reflections.

After not making pictures for a couple of weeks, they all came tumbling out.

I had an Ernst Haas moment. I had a Jay Maisel moment. I had a David Allen Harvey moment. I had my own moment.

Best of all I photographed what I saw. I saw a lot.

This picture is not what you think it is. I’m willing to bet that you think this is one of my layered pictures. It isn’t. Or, it is water. It’s not that, either.

It’s a reflection of trees on a car trunk, or boot as they say in England. There are a few leaves sort of pasted to the car’s surface. Those were left after the rain storm.  Needless to say, it’s all real.

Sure.

There is some post production going on. It’s mostly to darken highlights, open up shadows and sharpen little bits of the picture. There is no heavy post or editing going on. The picture is pretty much how I saw it.

The image was made on my phone. A little work was done in Snapseed. Most of it was done after a saved it as a Tiff, sent it to my main machine and finished it using OnOne.

Now, you know some of my new tricks. Most of them revolve around letting the picture tell me what to do.

The notion of letting something tell me how to work with it could be my sub-topic for today. I truly believe that, especially in creative fields. As I cruise through various social media, I see way too many people trying to control the process. I think it’s because they are still insecure with their genre. Pictures, Painting, Making music, Writing.

One guy, on Facebook, made a lot of pictures at Jazzfest. Most of what he was posting were pictures of Mardi Gras Indians and various second lines. To me, those are bright, vibrant and colorful scenes. He was torn between posting them in black and white or color. In the spirit of letting the picture tell you what to do, I suggested that they should be made in color for the very reason I just mentioned. There were a lot of folks who got excited by black and white because that gave the picture some kind of gravitas. He went in their direction. Oh well. You can lead a horse to water…

It’s not a question of being wrong or right. It can never be. It’s a question of subject matter. It’s also a question of making the very best picture that you can in the field. If you do that, you don’t have to worry about technique. The picture “just is.”  I think I know what he is trying to do by making black and white files. As I’ve said in the past just about everybody photographs New Orleans events. Making black and white pictures is a way of separating yourself from the pack. If you are trying that and have any guts at all, turn the camera sensor to JPEG and turn off the color capture. Make the pictures in black and white right from the start. No going back.

What do you think?


The French Market.

Post storm. Post working day.

The French Market. Years ago, this is where people came to buy food. Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit. Fish. Shellfish. Different meats. It was one of about nine city markets that were scattered around the neighborhoods.

Not today.

There is a small section that does sell food. Mostly it’s cooked. Mostly it’s packaged. But, down at this end all sorts of souvenirs, low-end stuff from China and mass-produced African clothes and masks are sold. Oh, and as we get close to Mardi Gras, all kinds of real cheap masks and beads can be found here. I almost forgot t-shirts. Lot’s of very cheap t-shirts.

It’s tourist central. I

I don’t know why.

You can go to almost any city on the planet and find markets like this one. They pretty much offer the same merchandise. Trust me on this. I’ve been to a lot of places. When we get bored — really bored — we go shopping. With the exception of some small adjustments due to local preferences, or laws or the lack of them, most of these markets are all the same.

Of course, I go to the one in New Orleans. It’s good for cheap props for a shoot. If I’m asked to photograph something about travel, I hire a couple of models who are more like actors and have them go shopping. When I do that, the French Market is a giant stage. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are release issues. There are people getting in the way. There are people who don’t want to be photographed, and who tell you that just as you press the button. And, so it goes.

The point in all of this is that everything changes. The French Market went from a real live city marketplace, that became deserted and broken down, to a small tourist zone within a tourist zone. What it’ll morph into next is anyone’s guess. If climate predictions for the future are accurate, it could become paved river bottom.

I started thinking about this because there is going to be a talk next week on “The New Green Deal.” You know. The legislation championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Before I write further, let me say that in general I like her. She brings much-needed energy into the House of Representatives. She has a couple of big flaws  — she doesn’t understand finance and she tends to shoot from the hip like you know who — but on balance I think she’s smart, fairly well spoken and has something I admire a lot. Street smarts.

Anyway.

The talk is being given be regional people. I don’t believe that AOC is coming. This will disappointed people who want to heckle her for flying down here and using oil. Even if I disagreed with the legislation entirely, I’d still go to the talk. After all, we live in a place that could be under water in 25 – 50 years. Given the speed at which the climate is changing, I’d bet on the former. You’d think others would be interested too. We are all in this together. Oh no. Not from the comments on Facebook. Before I get in an argument with somebody I don’t know I do a little trolling. There were the usual suspects. Folks with big trucks, RVs that they use one a year, big boats that they use a couple of times in the summer. 

But.

There was one young woman who broke my heart. She is a recent graduate of LSU’s engineering department.  She works for Entergy, the folks who provide all of our power. They are Fortune 500 company and fairly well thought of. She said that she was giving this event a “hard pass.”

Huh?

I asked her why in the comments. She replied that all of this was nonsense and she was from Louisiana and storms and floods are normal. True. But, they are getting more frequent and more violent. After a little back and forth, I realized that the saying is true. “You can’t change people’s minds on social media.” Everybody is hunkered down in their silo. So, I closed with, “I’m sure that your boss’s boss’s boss will be there because guys at the top are opportunistic and want to capitalize on big changes.”

Crickets.

What I said is the truth. The big owners might not care about you and me, but they care about our cash. Cash. Either we spend it. Or, we hold it back. And, that’s what it’s going to take to save our planet. Our lives. Our children’s lives. And, their children’s lives.

The picture. Roaming around the Quarter does yield some pretty good pictures. This was at the end of one of my walks. I was dodging rain, but I was watching the wonderful light. I chased about as far as I could. I got to the French Market and everything was closed down. You know. Rain and a slow day. Then, this guy comes by on a bike. Five or six shots later and I had it. That, was luck. Photographer’s luck.

 


Seeing everything.

Reflections.

Sometimes they are simply a technique. Sometimes you see them. Sometimes you use them. Like I did here.

I like the picture in the mirror just fine. But, that’s not why I was looking at it. There’s a car coming. In front of that, there is a mule drawn carriage. I didn’t want to hit either of them. I also want to know if anybody is walking on that side. Good guy or bad guy, I want to know how to react.

Good guy because people walk all over the streets of the French Quarter. Bad guy because there are all sorts of car thefts, high jackings and robbery, done in the streets. Forewarned is forearmed.

Anyway.

All was clear except for the car and the carriage, so I waited by photographing what I saw. Since I mostly use wide angle lenses I kept the background and foreground scenes in the picture. A little context for you and me.

And, that’s the story.


Reflections.

“Thank you, my love.”

That’s what the female FEDEX driver said after I signed for the Leica. Don’t get excited. It’s a southern thing. It’s a nice thing. A good way to treat each other when we interact.

Anyway.

I had the days wrong. Today is Leica test day. A good day too. The light is stunning, once again. It bounces around from lightly overcast with white puffy clouds hiding the sun, to changing the light to bright and contrasty. Wowie-zowie.

I have an idea that I’m going to wander around the Quarter. It’s a good place to work during the day. It’s very different from the usual night views. For one thing, there are very few tourists. All locals. Doing their jobs. Getting ready for the night. And, tourist dollars.

The picture. I’ve been eyeing this window for a while. It takes bright, contrasty, low light to make it work. Even with that, you have to be careful of the window frame since you can’t get an angle that prevents keystoning. Rather than fight it, I just photographed it knowing I would crop it in editing.

I thought that I wanted it bright and colorful. But, after testing different approaches, I liked this version best. Almost no color. All monochrome.

Enjoy.

I’m off to Disneyland. Er, the French Quarter.

But, first I have to figure out this camera.


Reflections in Time

The time changed. So did the subject matter.

Even while I was working on Mardi Gras, I had to walk the dogs. Especially the dog who sees stuff. That meant I kept making pictures around our walks. Winter changed to spring. The flowers began to really bloom. The trees began to grow new leaves and drop pollen.

My nose began to itch. Now, I’m fully stuffy. Two Clariton a day aren’t really doing the trick. The best thing we can do at this time a year is stay inside with the air conditioner running. It’s not really warm enough for cold air. But, the second word in air conditioner means the air gets conditioned and unpollinated.

I can’t do that.

There are things to photograph. Worlds to be explored.

I have my books to produce. Some still need to be photographed. Meaning I have to look for the pictures. Then, wait for the right time of day and work quickly. There are Mardi Gras Indian events to photograph. Three in about three weeks. There is other travel.

So.

I anticipate being sneezy until pollen season comes to an end.

No matter.

The picture. I made this image from two other pictures. I layered them and recomposed them as a symbol of my return from the wilds of Mardi Gras. This picture exists on this page and in my mind.

It’s a bright Sunday kind of picture.

Enjoy.

Don’t sneeze.


Reflections.

Too much.

Either I’m working much slower, or I’m working much more. Or, both. Either way, I can’t seem to keep up on my posts. While I’ve edited and processed my raw files, I’ve got a long way to go until they are ready to be seen.

So.

This is an image that I made on my phone, with the intent of posting it to Instagram. I like the picture just fine. In fact, I like it a lot. It just wasn’t my thinking to post something on Storyteller that I captured quickly via phone.

No worries.

One parade today. The Krewe of Barkus. The dog parade. Yes. The hounds in this house like to go even though we are no longer krewe members. I like to photograph dogs and their people so it works out just fine. I’m not sure how far we’ll walk with the parade as it winds through the French Quarter. Wall to wall people, except the center of the street where the dogs and their people walk.

You know what I wrote about crowds. And, me.

No matter. There is plenty to see and photograph without getting squashed in the Quarter.

My plan — yes, I have one — is to finish the edit of about 900 pictures and get them ready for you and my agencies, who need a specific kind of picture. I’ll do this tomorrow after the dogs on parade.

Anyway.

This picture was easy. See it. Check its reflection. Try to stay out of the picture. (I didn’t succeed.) Push the button. It’s almost like two pictures for the price of one. It helps to have multiple tuba players with well polished instruments.

Happy Mardi Gras.

 


Drifting

Brand new. This picture.

I’m late today because I wanted to make a new picture on one of our walks. I’m not really out of new work. It’s just that nothing in my new files moves me. Another day. A new look. A change in thinking.

Which brings me to this.

We began Mardi Gras parade season last night. It was day early because the planners had to fit a new downtown walking parade into the schedule. I didn’t go.

Tonight, Krewe duVieux and Krewe of Delusion hit the streets. They walk about the same route as last night’s parade. As I write, I have no motivation. Actually, I’m not motivated  to photograph any of Mardi Gras this year.

I don’t know why.

Those in the medical and psychological world say that if you don’t want to do the things you like, it is the first sign of depression. I doubt it. Besides, one of the meds my doctor prescribed for my back was actually produced to help with depression.

I have my own theories.

First, I’ve done this for a long time. There is a time in a photographer’s life when you just sort of move on. That’s happened to me with second lines. Sure, I come out now and then. But, I used to photograph every one. It was point of pride. It’s not anymore.

Second, even though I’m in the middle of crowds when I do this kind of work, I truly hate crowds. It’s gotten worse over the years when everybody with a smart phone thinks they are a photographer.

Then, there’s the parking thing. Tonight’s parades are downtown, which means The Marigny, a bit of The Bywater and The French Quarter. Unless I get there at about 5pm for a 7pm start time, I have to walk about a million miles. My poor back, medicated or not, hurts after that.

For the Uptown parades, it’s a little different. I know when to go. I know where to park. If I get there a couple of hours early. There, I have a routine. I go to my local coffee shop, have a coffee and maybe a snack. I hang out with the local cops who are working there and the I photograph before the parades roll and follow them a bit. That’s not boring to me because every year it’s different. And, that’s where the big marching bands rehearse and sometimes have sound offs where the play against each other. That’s the best thing. See? I like that. Depressed, my behind.

Of course, getting home is another question. You’d think that I could work my way through the back streets and around the parade route. But, no. Some streets are closed because street work is being done. For the last five years. I’m trapped. Until the parade and followers pass by the location. My goal is always to get home before the parade reaches our neighborhood. I can park in our drive way and walk two blocks and catch it again. I rarely make it.

So. That is my story and I’m sticking to it. Until I change my mind.

The picture. It’s a pool of water with a sandy bottom. Leaves have settled to bottom. And, droplets of a coming rain are hitting it causing circles. The rest is easy. Point the lens at it and push the button. I cropped it square because the shape suited the picture. As I’ve said before. Let the picture tell you what to do. On the other hand, I gave it a border because I felt like it. It seemed to complete the picture.

Until I change my mind.