Stars and bars.

Sometimes just leaving Orleans Parish is like going on a road trip, not that I drove very far, maybe 12 miles. But, it’s another world.

I had to buy some electronics and a paint bucket. Best Buy is the best place for digital gear. I was grumbling while I drove. I had to buy a charger for my new iPhone 12. Who sells a phone without a charger?

Apple, that’s who.

Even the folks at Best Buy laugh about it. Of course the store makes money, but the people who work there think that Apple is just greedy. And, their charger costs twice what other legit makers charge.

Oh, they do give you the charging cable.

I actually like going to that big shopping center except for it’s organization. It was built in stages by different developers. To go from Best Buy to Home Depot required me to drive through two parking lots and work my through two stoplights.

Uuugh.

But, I was able to stop by a cool little restaurant that we used to eat at when we first returned from New Mexico. Entering it is like stepping back in time.

I took a look around and asked the guy behind the counter if I could take a few pictures. He shrugged his shoulders, so I did.

This picture makes me think of trips through tiny little midwestern towns. It sort of excited me when I looked the finished product.

Stopping and eating here was a big deal for me. It was my first time actually eating inside a restaurant since the start of the pandemic. It’s true that we have eaten at two restaurants previously, but we were outside and about 6 miles from the next table.

Let me tell you, it felt really good. Better yet, the food tasted really good.

Now that’s something to feel a large measure of gratitude for being able to do.

Now you know why I’m late with this post. I ate lunch. Sorry about that.

No. I’m not.

Heh.

There is nothing to this photograph other than that I like the subject matter.

There is little to no work done in post production. Mostly, I brightened and sharpened it a bit.

That’s it.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy a restaurant or two. They need us.


Leaving town.

There are many ways out of Albuquerque, but this is my favorite. If you are going on a road trip you can kind of say goodbye to the city as you leave. Even if you are not, you can pretend.

This is what is left of Route 66 west of Albuquerque. Just a little over the rise in the far center of the photograph is where it meets I-40 and all points west.

There are little bits and pieces and parts of Route 66 that run along I-40, but not enough to really get anywhere. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t photographable. They are.

There have been a lot of reflective articles lately about photography. There have been a few concerning how it relates to social media. I’ve said on Storyteller that each has their specific place in the branding world, but do they?

I have never gotten even a nibble from anything that I post on Instagram, which is distributed to Facebook. Oh sure, I get a lot of likes. But, you can’t eat likes. I read Twitter mostly for NOLA Twitter and news. I really don’t know most of the local folks who post on Twitter. And, I read news at the source.

So, why do it?

A photographer/writer who I read and like, reckons that we waste 2.5 hours per day on social media. Think about it. That’s 17.5 hours per week, or 70 hours per month, or 840 hours per year.

That’s 35 days.

What could you do with 35 days?

I have to think about it for another ten minutes, but I think I may do that. There are plenty of ways to reach, find, and talk to me.

Or, I can stay around, not post and just read here and there.

We’ll see.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere here, on Storyteller.

Wowie Zowie. Look at the big ball of light. Wouldja? Oh wait, that’s the sun as it blasts its way through the windshield.

Yes, if you leave Albuquerque at around sunset, this is your view.

There are some big businesses outside of the city limit so you have an inbound rush hour of sorts.

The finished picture takes some explanation.

I tried to keep some details in the sun. Yeah, right. But, doing that made the surrounding everything very dark. It also added a lot of contrast which is no problem for me.

Of course, all of that created a lot of shadows and silhouettes. A lot of people don’t like that which is why HDR was invented.

I like shadows and silhouettes. If anything, I want to make them stronger and more defined.

It’s all a matter of personal taste.

For me, this is how it looks and feels if you are leaving Albuquerque around sunset.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Reflections of a far land.
Road Trips.

Driving in New Mexico can be tedious if you are on an interstate. Driving on many roads can be lonely. But, not if you are looking for pictures.

As I recall I made a lot of pictures on this long day trip. None of them summed up being out on the road as well as these two do.

Once upon a time, rest stops were far and few between. Stops like Whitings and Cracker Barrel dominated the old days.

Today, most of those are long gone, left behind as ruins in the dirt. They’ve been replaced by modern gas stations, fast food and stores, all in one well lighted building. And, they are boring. Convenient, but boring.

These pictures were made a one of the boring stops. Obviously, I like the reflection more than I do the scene setter, but you need both to understand what you are looking at.

Technically, there’s not much to these pictures. They were made at dusk at a low shutter speed.

They are, after all, picture a day work.

I did very little to them in post production except sharpen them a bit because it was cold and I was shaking without gloves on my hands.

I did what I could. I was going to walk around the store and make more pictures, but I was making people inside a little nervous.

This restop is a good bit from Albuquerque. It sits at a cross roads. Continue west and you eventually come to “The Q.” Take the intersecting highway, drive northwest and you arrive in Santa Fe.

Stay safe. Safe mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Get your jabs.


Out on the Westbank.

The long way home.

After a long day driving upriver towards Baton Rouge on the Westbank’s River Road, I came to this little spot in the road. Blue hour coming. Dusk coming. Trains on one side. Power lines on both sides making great leading lines. What could be better?

Actually, there are two River Roads. One on the east bank of The Mississippi River, where I live. And, one on the Westbank, which some people call “the best bank.” Maybe if you live there. I always get lost on there.

Anyway, it feels like you are way out there when you drive along the river, even if you are fifteen minutes from home. You are in the countryside. The southern countryside. There are still little tiny communities of former sharecroppers homes, that were slave quarters even earlier in history. Yes, descendants of both of those eras still live there.

Even though I always get lost, I like going there. I’ll be back once hell’s weather begins to cool down a bit. Air conditioning or no air conditioning, it’s no fun to get out of the car to make a picture and walk into a blast furnace.

The picture. After a long day of looking for pictures, I was vibrating. So was the camera. What you see here is the result of that.

 


A new storm.

Road trips.

You know them. You like them. Probably.

You drive. You listen to specially curated playlists of road music. You eat gas station food. You drink bad coffee. You stay in motels of questionable quality. Even the ones with big names.

You’re having fun.

Until.

You decide to make tracks to a certain destination. You drive on. And on. You stop for gas. You eat in the car. You speed on. And on.

Until.

You become one with your car. Places whizz by. Signs become a blur. You’re not even going that fast.

Your eyes.

Tired. So tired.

You see. But, not see.

That’s it. You stop. For the night.

Because.

Everything that you see looks like this picture. And, that ain’t a good thing.

The picture. It was planned for yesterday. So was the prose. But, you know what they say. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Chef Leah passed. That stopped me in my tracks. Funny thing, I had a song in my head the whole time that I searched for her picture and started writing. I couldn’t quite place it. I had part of the melody. And, no lyrics. Last night it came to me. “Mandolin Wind.” An ancient Rod Stewart song. A beautiful and appropriate song. So, while I write to you today, I’m listening to his work from that era. When he was young. When I was young. When the world was younger than today.

Oh yeah. What did I do? I did all the post production that I wanted to make the basic picture, which was good enough. By then, that road trippy feeling was in my head. I stacked the same picture on top of itself. I skewed them slightly. I clipped their edges by cropping. I added some edge darkness. Voila!

By the way, I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. Wallah. Huh? It’s voila, pronounced wallah. Sheesh.


Into the sunset.

Moving. Changes. Life.

If you read Storyteller yesterday you know that changes are on my mind. Most for the better. Some not so much. Today, bright and early, I got a reminder of changes. My new phone shows me anything it thinks is important the minute that turn it on. Note that phrase, “anything it thinks is important.” AI has invaded my little home.

Anyway.

My neighbor and friend sent me a private message via FB in which she attached a long statement about my drugstore. They are closing. Today. My files and prescriptions are being sent to Walgreen, which I suppose is better than CVS, who I escaped from to go my little pharmacy. Apparently, the parent company — Fred’s — decided to close it.

That’s bad enough.

But, in talking with one of the women who was so helpful to me over the past couple of years, I learned how the staff found out.  When they arrived for work last Tuesday — not yesterday — there was a hand written note on the door from Fred’s management.  They had no other notice. No notice of how their salaries would be handled. No two weeks notice. No nothing.

Huh?

Is this what we’ve come to? No consideration for the employees. No consideration for the customers. No consideration for people. If that’s what corporations are doing these days, it’s time to take a big step back. I would suggest that we buy local. But, that’s what I thought I was doing.

Basta! (that’s Italian for enough.)

Ironically, yesterday, I received an email from Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California. You might know her from her very lawyerly-like grilling of Kavanaugh during his hearing. It was kind of a general email to those of us who interacted with her in some way over the past year. She wants me to run for something. It doesn’t matter what office as long we populate it with like-minded people.

Maybe I should.

Certainly it is time to take back my country from high dollar corporate interests. From the one percenters. From the people who are too big to fail, as they flail around looking for any penny that they can find. Your pennies. My pennies.

I keep hearing from my friends who say that 65 isn’t old. That I’m not over the hill because the minute I climb over it there is another hill in front of me. And, when you consider who runs the country, and their ages, I’m still young. That’s saying something. Maybe I am.

See what happens?

Take away my local pharmacy and I get angry. I’ve been angry since about 7:15 this morning. I’m calm. Anybody who really knows me knows that’s not a good thing. Never mistake my calmness for giving up. Instead, I get resolute and lethal.

Oh.

The picture. You want to know about the picture. How could I forget that? It is one of the many I made when I was driving and shooting. I made it before the one that I posted a few days ago. You can just see the clouds starting to come together. Again, I didn’t really do very much to it. Nature took care of my work. As usual.


Out on the road.

It’s pretty rare that I make two pretty nice pictures within minutes of each other. But, that’s what happened. You saw yesterday’s post. Here’s today’s.

Five minutes apart.

I forget which came first. Doesn’t really matter. I suspect this one was second because there is no setting sunlight in the sky. Just blue light. Blue hour. The time immediately after sunset.

Today is Friday. Or, Saturday. Depending on where you are.

So.

I’m going to take a break from serious comments. Except to ask, did you read about the two ex-Google staffers who are trying to disrupt bodegas and corner stores with their digital vending machine?

More disruption. I told you.

Except this time, it ain’t happening. They invented a vending machine. Congratulations. And, most people like their little neighborhood stores.


Cold winter rain.

Once upon a time.

I used to travel between Northern California and the Reno area pretty frequently. It began even years before that when I lived in Southern California. It was about a nine-hour trip for Long Beach. Or, about a five-hour trip from the Bay Area. I had family there. Old family friends that I looked at as an Uncle and an Aunt. Eventually, my parents moved there. To retire.

In those days I liked to explore wherever I went.  So I got to know the region fairly well. Because I’m also a creature of habit, I used to visit the same places. Mostly to see what’s changed. I watched Virginia City grow from an almost ghost town to a place where people lived and worked. I still like to explore wherever I go. That hasn’t changed. Much.

I haven’t been there for many years. It’s coming up to a decade. I broke a promise by not returning sooner. A promise to myself. I told myself I’d come back at least every five years. But, sometimes life gets in the way. Or, something like that. Or, maybe it’s just an excuse. I keep telling myself, that driving from New Orleans to Reno would be a great road trip. A long one, but I could be really photographically productive. And, then…

Besides, my real destination is Fernley,  Nevada. About 15 miles east of Reno on Interstate 80. That place has really changed. It’s sort of a boom town now. Amazon stuck one of their western distribution centers out there. They created all sorts of employment at many levels.

That’s not why I would go. The National Cemetery for the region is there. For veterans of all wars. It’s high desert. It’s somewhat bleak. It suits me. My parents are buried there. They were part of the Greatest Generation. My dad served in the Pacific Theater. He was part of the occupation forces based in Tokyo.

The picture. I’m getting a little repetitive. You know. Film. Print. Scan. Tinker. Post. Check out the details. Look at the gas price. 67 9/10 cents per gallon. That was expensive for the time. But, it had to be trucked into Virginia City from either Carson City or Reno. I’d guess Carson City because that is a much easier drive.


Drifting.

“Well, they say that Santa Fe is less than ninety miles away, And I got time to roll a number and rent a car. Oh, Albuquerque. I’ve been flyin’ down the road, and I’ve been starvin’ to be alone, And independent from the scene that I’ve known. Albuquerque. So I’ll stop when I can, find some fried eggs and country ham. I’ll find somewhere where they don’t care who I am. Oh, Albuquerque, Albuquerque.” — Neil Young

That about says it all. Out on the road somewhere. Flying along. Taking pictures through the windshield of my car. This one was made a few miles south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. On Interstate 25, where the speed limit is 75 miles per hour, which meant most traffic was blowing along at around 90 miles per hour.

I did have a sort of interesting revelation while I’ve been editing, er, culling, my work for the project that I described to you. I’ve been taking pictures to their extremes for at least a decade. Maybe longer. I just never did much with them. I wasn’t sure that they had a place. So they languished in my archives as experiments. Not anymore…