Way Out West.

Morning fingers.

Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.

I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.

Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…

The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.

This picture is not one of them.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.

I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.

This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.

Advertisements


Way out on the road.

I haven’t been out this way in a long time. Usually, it’s for a vet trip. Or, to buy technology.

The weather has been incredible, so I thought that I would take a drive along River Road. I needed a little break from what has been mostly inside work, so off I went. It was peaceful enough. As you can see, there was no cars in either direction. There were no cars behind me, allowing me to make som drive by pictures.

This is one of them. Yep, there is serious post production going on here, but that helps you to feel what I felt with the sunroof open, the wind blowing through my hair and music playing on Spotify.

Yes. I still have hair. A lot of it.

Anyway.

I told you about my chef buddy’s situation. It’s a big enough deal that there are follow-up stories in both local newspapers. I wish he hadn’t said as much as he did. I hope he recovers.

That said, I hope we all recover from the issues ailing my country. There is a lot of hope riding on the year 2019. I truly think that things will get worse before they get better. That doesn’t mean we should pull apart. If anything, we should pull together closer. We need each other whether it’s just for advice, or to cry one each other’s shoulder, or for a helping hand. That’s one of the lessons of last year. It’s something we have to learn and remember.

Make America Great Again has a lot of meanings. I don’t like what the red hat means. I do like the thought of the potential of communities springing up that can help one another. In Hong Kong and, I think, in Great Britain, there are transportation octopus cards. It means you can use the subway, the bus, the tram and trolley systems with one card. You pay to fill the card up and off you go. I like the thought of octopus communities. We aren’t all allied closely, but certain strands link us from one community to the next, allowing a free flow of aid, defense and communication. Hopefully, that could be free of internal politics.

Of course, I’m dreaming.

When more than two people are gathered together politics raises its ugly head. But, you know what they say. “Go big or go home.” Besides, we need this now. The current administration seems hellbent on leaving us on our own at almost every level for stupid reasons. Think about it. Stupid financial management cost many of us at least 12% of our retirement funds. Now, there is a move to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits to make up for the debt caused by lowering taxes on the rich. In one way or another, this current government thinks it’s a good idea to steal my money. Okay. Fine. Let’s take care of ourselves. It’s either that or buy a lot of bullets and start a revolution. Except, I don’t believe in violent governmental overthrow. I’m like John Lennon. Give peace a chance. Or, at least give a peach a chance. And, eat it.

Oh never mind. I’m just having fun with words.

Oh. Redesign part two. I make things to hard sometimes. I tried to build a page using the newer WordPress software. I’ve never liked that. I use the old version. Sure enough, all I have to do is enter from the administration panel and I can work in the same way I did pre-redesign. Press the preview button, or the schedule button and the software does the rest. Learning. See? I’m learning.

 


Over the mountain.

“I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night

Till the morning came around, I set out running but I’ll take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight, I ran into the Devil, babe. He loaned me twenty bills

I spent that night in Utah, In a cave up in the hills, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran down to the levee, But the Devil caught me there, He took my twenty dollar bill

And he vanished in the air, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine,  If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight. ” — Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead)

From a  song I like called, “The Friend of the Devil,” because it speaks to this place. I-80, just east of Reno, Nevada on one winter morning as I was headed toward Utah after stopping by the military cemetery at Fernley, NV.

The picture. I made it through the windshield as I was going about 80 mph. I dressed it some in post production. I even added a running frame to it.


Another version of the same place.

I couldn’t help myself. As pretty as yesterday’s version of this picture was, I had to take it to the limit. One more time.

This image is the result.

I replied to one of you yesterday that I made a new version of the picture. I also said this location is not far from the old nuclear bomb testing sites. Maybe that thought inspired me. I don’t know.

I’m going to change things up a bit for May. I really haven’t been producing enough new work. So, I’m off to do that. Not actually making new pictures eventually drives me crazy. I’m not sure how I’ll present them. I’m not sure if there will be heavy post production or not. I’ll let the picture tell me that. Maybe, you’ll see a couple of versions of the same image. Process. From start to finish. Who knows?

This picture. Most of you saw yesterday’s picture. It was kind of pretty. I worked on it again and made it kind of evil. Foreboding. Scary. I dunno.

Which do you like?


Way out there in Nevada.

A little different color palate. But, the same vision. Under my theory of letting the picture take me, I decided not to turn this into some kind of apocalyptic nightmare. Instead, I thought about how this time and place felt. I built on that. A lot.

The road is Highway 95 somewhere near Tonopah, Nevada. If you recall, even though I might stay in Reno while I’m in the northern part of the state, my real goal is Fernley. You turn left at Fallon and head directly to Fernley.  Then, west to Reno on I-80. This drive is mostly boring. Except when weather plays a part. Depending on your attitude, it is either treacherous or magical.

Me? I like weird weather. That’s where the best pictures live. Unless conditions turn really icy, when you have no steering control, I usually keep going. Same thing with rain. I like working in it. Especially in a New Orleans summer. Your clothes are already moist from the blanket of humidity, so what’s a little rain wetness? Besides, if you have some soap, you can leather up your clothes and wash them while you walk. Heh!

Anyway.

The picture. It’s a digital image. Yes, I did a terrible thing. Something that I’ve done for years. I made a drive by shooting. Yes. There is a lot of post production work going on. Mostly to bring out my what my mind’s eye saw.


Out in New Mexico.

I seem to be stuck in a western mode. That could be telling me something. Maybe a long road trip is due. But, it would be really long. I’m not going to take this trip many more times. So, I probably should make the best of it. And, just go.

Of course, there are complications. I have to fit it into an already busy schedule. And, then there is Storyteller. I don’t have the need to take a break like I did last summer. I fixed that overworked problem. Now, I look forward to working here. Like many things, it was mostly an attitude adjustment. I suppose  that I could do what I really never do, and post from the road. The easiest way to do that is to photograph some scenes twice. Once with cameras and once with my smart phone.

I’m also trying to decide about the timing. If I traveled during summer, which is fast approaching, the weather would be hot and the pictures would have sort of a nostalgic feeling. It would harken back to the days of family road trips. If I waited until fall…well, you know. The light and color would be outstanding. But, it would look and feel much different from summer pictures.

We’ll see. I do have to move soon.

The picture. This was made with a digital camera, as opposed to being made on film. A friend of mine asked via an email what the difference is. This picture feels completely different to me. It’s probably technically superior to the film-based pictures. But, it feels too sharp and mechanical. Even with my tinkering. That’s still not to say one is better than the other. They are just different.

Where did I make this image? New Mexico. Those of you who live and work there will know  this place. Those of you who don’t, but like to photograph this kind of stuff, won’t. Oh well. Reciprocation is fine. But, many people want locations and such, but refuse to share theirs. There is no mystery to this place. Still…


Spaceships and other things.

Texas.

Even the name conjures up all sorts of meaning. Cowboys. The West. Freedom. Big food. Big hair. Big hats. I’m pretty sure that most people think don’t about space aliens when they think about Texas.

I found this interestingly shaped house when I was traveling around Texas back country. I didn’t stop. I didn’t ask. In retrospect, I should have. Knowing my ability to work with all sorts of people, I might have even been invited inside for a quick look around. But, really? This scene was enough for me. How often do you see something like this?

I once showed this picture to a friend of mine. A Texan. I said something like, “this explains everything.” She replied, “what the hell do you mean by that?” Texans take their state and their mythology seriously.

Sort of like New Orleanians do.

Many of them are in a serious uproar about the removal of the first of the Confederate statues. Me? I think all things must pass. Especially things memorializing a very dark chapter in my country’s history. I say grind them up and turn them into gravel to repair the potholes on my street.

But, that’s just me.

I’m not a native New Orleanian and that’s been made clear to me. I can fix that. I own property in Brooklyn. New York. I was born in Brooklyn. Maybe it’s time to reclaim the neighborhood of my birth. I’m not sure I want to live in a place where three statues memorialize traitors and slavery. And, the so-called natives support that. Oh wait. One of them said he was indigenous. I didn’t know that he came from Native American ancestory.  You learn something every day. Around here.

Rant over. He said. With a smile.

The picture. Oh, the usual these days. Film. Photo paper. Scan. Tinker with it until the result is unrecognizable. Then show it to you. I think I like all the stuff that I added to the sky. The picture appears, at first glance, as if it was made on another planet.


Somewhere in Arizona.
Somewhere in Arizona.

Way out there. West of Seligman, Arizona.

This is an image from a road trip that we took in 1981. From North Carolina to California.  You can see some of my current style just starting to emerge. Unfortunately, I haven’t traveled like this in a long, long time.

These days, we always have to get somewhere on time. Make a deadline. Keep a commitment. Think about what to keep in. What to leave out. Wait a minute! That’s a whole other song. The title is from a Neil Young song. These past few words are from a Bob Seger song called “Against the Wind.” Maybe I need to settle down when I write this stuff. Heh!

It’s getting about time to get on the road and wander around a little.  I’ve talked about this in the past. In the recent past. After thinking about it, I think I want to head west. I miss those open spaces. Those long vistas. Those big, huge skies. Maybe I’ll made some “desert in the hot summer” pictures. I’m a sucker for self-abuse.

The picture. I took this with a Nikon FM. A mechanical camera. I used a 20mm f2.8 lens. And, as always back then, Tri-X black and white film. Unfortunately, there is something that I’m seeing after I scanned this image that I don’t like. Technically, it is just horrible.

There is always one thing to remember about scanning old film images. Every imperfection shows up. In a big way. In this case, the entire left bottom side of the image is soft. There is really no reason for that, except lens quality. Lenses have improved dramatically over the last 30 years. Even the most inexpensive of third-party lenses are sharper and better than most of the highest quality lenses of the past. Sometimes that can work in your favor. The quality of the glass affects the final image. It can give you a look and feel of earlier eras. Sometimes. Usually not.


Out on the Road
Out on the Road

Right about now, I’m wishing that I was somewhere other than here. Ugly light. Ugly milky clouds. Not all that hot. Very humid. I actually gave up a shoot yesterday. The light just wasn’t getting it. And, despite what Jay Maisel says about a photographer having to make a picture under any sort of condition, I’m not doing that. Yes. He’s one of my photo gurus. Yes, I like his work very much.

But… you knew this was coming.

There is no point in making a picture in horrible light and then trying to fix it up in post production. That violates the old computer rule. GIGO. Garbage in. Garbage out. Improvements in post production are just that. They aren’t repairs. Repairs mean that you blew something. Light. Exposure. ISO. You name it.

Besides, I live here. I’m working for myself. It would be one thing if I were out on this road and somebody was paying me. But, not today. Even when I’m out there, I build “weather days” into my schedule. Normally, “weather days” mean really bad weather when you can’t work. But, you know how I feel about that. That adds to the picture. It doesn’t take away from it.  When I’m working for somebody I’m willing to eat a little of my expense money if I can make a better picture by being a little patient. The client remembers that. That’s a good thing.

For those of you who follow Storyteller to learn a little bit about photography. Here’s your take away. Patience. Just because you want to take a picture doesn’t mean you have to take a picture.