Artists of all dsiciplines have been coiming to New Mexico for years. Most will say that it for the amazing New Mexico light. Some of the best light comes during the late winter when storms roll in and out with great frequency.

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here are days and there are days. On the day that I made this picture I needed a little solitude.

A group of photographers gathered in a coffee shop. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the most wonderful pre-sunset in a long time.

That’s saying something because New Mexico is the land of great sunsets.

I said that I was going to chase light and asked if anyone wanted to come. The other photographers looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them followed me out and said that he’d have to go home to get his camera. I asked why he didn’t always carry one because we live in a land of incredible light. He didn’t quite know what to say except that he only used his camera on planned excursions.

I hit the road and made five pretty good pictures. I made small work prints and brought them with me to the next meeting in a coffee shop. The other photographers were amazed.

That cause them to change. They probably still aren’t prepared. And, they still make tropes.

I guess it must be the photojournalist in me. I make those kinds of pictures too, but as a way of warming up. But, then again, my landscape work doesn’t look like anybody else’s work.

I’d probably make more money if I took the easy way, but what would be the fun in that?

I’d lose myself in the rush to cash.

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here are a few technical challenges that I’d like to discuss.

They aren’t really in post production except for a little clean up.

Instead, they are in the making of the original file.

First, comes patience. I found the location. Then, I waited for something to happen.

Without that little touch of red from the car’s tail lights there would be no counterpoint to the isolation.

The actual exposure was easy. By this time of day the light is relatively flat and lacking extreme contrast.

My post production mostly consisted of using a subtle glow filter which gave the clouds a mild 3D effect and separation from the main scene.

Of course, I didn’t do that when I first developed the RAW file. As I recover these pictures I’m reworking them to my current look and feel.

It’s just like playing a song a different way live than a musician does in the studio.

A wise musician once said that after playing the song 500 times on stage, it finally taught him how to play it.


It’s late and you’re tired.

You know how you feel. You are out on the road, traveling somewhere. You’ve been driving for a long time. Your body has finally achieved one with your car and the road.

Your brain is on remote. It’s a good thing that there isn’t any traffic because your reaction time is slow.

The scenes in front of you blur into one. Time becomes elastic. If you eat or drink it all tastes the same. No need for a good cafe. You won’t taste the food.

That’s what this picture is about.

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 all of the road.

What does it mean to travel?

I suppose it depends on why and how.

This picture assumes you mean by car.

To be successful I simply laid one picture over another, sucked some color out of it, added some grain and there you have it.

I think it works.


Out on the road.

This is one of those days when the picture has nothing to do with the topics. In fact, I have two subjects that I’d like to discuss.

But first, this is a road on the back side of the Sandia Mountain Range, making it slightly northeast of Albuquerque. Often, search for a PAD meant taking day trips. I enjoyed it. I met some interesting people and ate some real New Mexican food.

Here we go.

Police shootings. While one trial was going on another police shooting occurred in Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The same city. The police department says it was a mistake. The officer meant to tase him rather than shoot and kill him.

There is the case of the active duty U.S. Army lieutenant who was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. He was gassed and handcuffed for no real reason. Later the nastier of the two cops let him go after threatening him if he spoke about it. That is becoming a civil case.

There’s more, but I haven’t read about them except for this. While responding to a complaint of excessive noise two police entered a side yard, rather than ring the doorbell, of the house where the noise was coming from. A twelve week old puppy emerged from the shadows. One cop shot and killed him.

That’s the news as I know it. I’m not going to rant and rave. I’m going to say two things.

If you are so scared while you are performing your job, you need a new safe job. How do you accidentally pull a gun when you are reaching for a taser? Fear. How do you shoot a puppy when he was just defending his turf? Fear.

I can’t really speak to what the cop was thinking when he gassed and handcuffed a soldier except to say the video should what I thought was racist cruelty. The cop didn’t look fearful. He just looked mean. Find another job.

This stuff has gotta stop. Speak out.

Social media. This too, is not a rant. Instead, it’s a discussion of things that have become painfully obvious.

Social media is, for anyone who does business, a necessary evil.

Facebook is like a telephone book. You have to be there. Twitter is useful for local groups like NOLA Twitter or for fast breaking news.

Instagram is important for visual creatives although many posters turn their posts into words.

I don’t see LinkedN or WordPress as social media, at least not in the way I do about the previous three.

What I see in the previous three social media is they lost their helpfulness.

There are way too many fights, mostly of a political nature. Everything becomes political or worthy of being cancelled. Everybody has lost their sense of humor.

Instagram has become derivative and filled with wannabe influencers looking to be seen.

What to do?

I can’t really leave them, but I don’t have to post much.

Facebook and Twitter readers see my pictures because they are distributed from Storyteller.

Whatever I post on Instagram is automatically distributed to Facebook.

I do have to “like” others work on all social media, but I don’t have to comment. After all, “liking” builds your base, not that any of my bases are very large.

In many ways, I’m just going to fade away.


All the water in the sky.

Here I go again. Driving and making pictures. You know how I do it so I won’t go there. I will head over to intensity.

I talk about not taking the picture, instead letting the picture take you. I discuss the zen of photography. I talk about practicing until you don’t think about what you are doing.

That’s all true.

Yet, there is another quality that is every bit as important.

Intensity.

When I work I’m intense. When I work it’s about the picture. Nothing else. I’m laser focused. I see everywhere and nowhere. At the same time.

This picture is an example. I knew that there were no cars around me. I knew what was happening in front of me. I knew that water was starting to accumulate on the windshield. I knew how fast I was traveling. And, in what lane I was in.

All that data was rolling around the best computer of all time. The human brain.

This picture is simple to make. The intensity doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. But, let me work for more than a few hours and I’m toast. I’m exhausted. Generally, when I get home I need a nap.

This all sounds terrible doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s refreshing. It’s knowing that I left it all on the field.

That’s satisfying.

This place is strange. The main road dips under a railroad bridge and a cloverleaf.

It is so strange that it has a water measurement gauge. Yes. This place floods.

If the weather changes quickly and a big storm blows through it’s best not to drive on this road.

The picture was made in the usual way. A drive by shooting.

The overall weather made the picture. The light was right. The clouds were bluish – gray. The rust on the railroad bridge popped right out. The cement sort of glowed.

There was very little post production. Mostly, I darkened and added contrast to the image.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You all know the rest. Enjoy every flood.


Crossing a railroad overpass.

Once again. A road and sky picture.

It’s not really what it seems. It looks like I am out on some distant road. Not really. I was running errands. I drove out to Jefferson Parish. I was getting ready to drive home. I realized that I was driving up and over a railroad bridge, which made a good picture. So, I sort of did a drive through.

I learned something.

A smart phone is much harder to brace and trigger than a more normal DSLR or Mirrorless DSLR. In an effort not to drive off the road or run into another car, most of the pictures are cockeyed, pointed to the wrong place, or have my fingers in them. Even this picture required a heavy crop because too much of my car was in it. If I knew how to do a one time bit of coding, I would have made this a panorama stretching across the top of the page.

Alas, along with my inability to paint, I also barely know the basics of coding. I know just enough to do more harm than good. I did make another version of the scene, with the car hood in the picture. But, it’s too psychedelic for even me.

The good news is that in the past few days of low autumn light and cooler weather, I’ve made a lot of interesting pictures. That’s how it goes. On some days you can’t see. On other days, you see everything.

The weather is even cooler today. But, I’m not around to make pictures.

That’s also how it goes.


A long way.

There are days and there are days.

I tried to photograph balloons. There were three. Not enough. There was wind. You’d think that balloons like wind. They do. But, not much more than 10 miles per hour. The wind was stronger than that. So no balloons in the air. No dusk balloon glow.

I gave up.

I started heading back. Then, this picture happened. At 60 miles per hour. Luckily, the magic smart phone came to the rescue. All I did was hold it on the dashboard with a finger. It did the rest and I slowed down.

I have one more day to make a balloon glow picture. We have cold and windy air. With only Continue reading


Working my way through.

I act like I don’t know anything about snow or ice. I wondered if ice isn’t made in the freezer. At least that’s what I commented on a colleague’s blog. I’m guessing by her first reply, she kind of took my comment sort of seriously. She said she freezes fruit and flowers. Flowers? Well, okay…

Seriously.

I have a pretty good idea what snow and ice is about. It’s frozen. It’s cold. It’s wet. Sometimes snow is sort of dry and puffy. Sometimes it’s wet and sticky like cement. And, I’ve driven in it more times than I can count. I’ve lived in it. I could tell you the great Radford, Virginia snow and ice story. But, I’ll leave that for another day.

Given the choice between that and wearing shorts 11 months of the year, what would you do? Yes. Of course we get hot and humid in summer. It’s unbearable. Almost. But, that’s why showers, t-shirts and air conditioners were invented. Besides, if you are out working in it, your body gets nice and loose. Even my repaired hip and back is happy. I get sort of a sheen on my skin. That feels good too. And, one more thing. The humidity keeps your skin hydrated and supple. 80 is the new 40.

The picture. Yeah, yeah. I know. I shouldn’t have done it. But, I was young. Stupid. Especially back then, when there was no auto-everything. But, as Neil Young says, “The things that make you who you are will kill you in the end.” How do you think my hip got in such a sorry state?Thirty years of carrying 30 pounds of gear on one side. Most of my photography buddies of my vintage have all sorts of aches and pains. Back, neck, shoulders, legs. More than the usual ancient human being.

The picture was made on Tri-x, printed and scanned. I let it take me wherever it wanted to go. If you want to know the steps getting there, I probably could tell the basic ones. But, even I couldn’t duplicate this picture. I would it make different. Maybe better. Then again, maybe not.

 


 

When the weather...
When the weather…

When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good. An old quote by NGS’ Sam Abell. It’s good to know and good to follow. I’ve written it here in the past.

Also, its good to understand the long road. The long road to learning.

These comments are driven by somebody who commented here and followed up with an email in sort of a demanding tone. She offered me another blogger’s site to show me just how I should teach what I do.

Yeah. That’s a good start.

I won’t comment on the other blogger except to say that pictures of flowers and nature will earn you exactly nothing in the stock photography world. Mostly that industry is broken. But, those who do earn any serious money in the stock industry make pictures of people doing stuff. They do fairly high-end productions and make large collections of images. Not, the occasional nature picture or two. If you want to see their work, ask me. I’ll post some links. They make good money. But, they invest good money. Oh, and did I mention? They are seriously talented.

If you look around in the comments section of the past week, you’ll see my response. I teach enough on Storyteller. I teach you about how I think, and how it might be applicable to what you do. I do think that I quietly encourage some of you, just based on what I see of your own blogs.

That’s my intent.

If you have a specific question, by all means ask it. I’ll answer it if I can. But, don’t expect to me outline everything that I do in a step by step manner so you can copy it.

For one thing, you can’t copy it. No two people think alike. No two people see alike. And, no two people have the same intent and vision. When I say tinker, I mean it. I don’t write down each step. I move around in an organic manner. To do my work any differently would alter the outcome. Maybe it would be better. Likely not. It would be worse.

If you read my reply and you really want me to do that, make me an offer. I reckon that since I started with the proto-Photoshop, that was then owned by Aldus, and bought by Adobe, my knowledge really should be worth something. I’ve been managing color since 1983 in one way or another. I’ve been tinkering with color since 1991.

Let me be clear. My intent was never to create a revenue stream from other photographers or people who want to be photographers. Many of my professional brothers do that. They teach online. They offer one on one training. They offer workshops. They offer photo tours. These days there must be 50 guys I know going to Cuba to teach other photographers to take pictures in Cuba. Many of the teachers have never been to Cuba. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a way to make ends meet when assignments are dry. Or, when you start to age and don’t feel like beating yourself up. In fact, maybe I should do it.

Sheesh.

I could teach you how to photograph well beyond the touristy stuff in New Orleans and not get shot, robbed or stabbed. Or, something like that. And, I know where the really local and good places to eat are located.

By the way, unlike my rant at WordPress, this is not a rant. That commenter really got me thinking that I should maybe do something like teach here or there or somewhere for a fee. I’m just afraid somebody will offer me a chicken in payment…

Anyway, the picture.

It’s very cold in New Orleans today. It will be for the next few days. The weather people are calling for a wintry mix. Certainly rain. Maybe some sleet. The possibility of snow. The first Carnival parade of the year was postponed from tonight until tomorrow night when it will be cold but nothing will be falling from the sky. Except for some confetti and Mardi Gras throws. I don’t know about the other event yet. But, they ride around in a streetcar, so they may keep going. However, they are very community-oriented and the community will be inside roasting logs and burning marsh mellows.

So. I published a cold weather picture from my New Mexico days. Just so you know, most of my post production on this picture is darkening everything and making the picture so contrasty that the streets shined. Well, the ice helped too. Then I added a frame.


Where the hard work is done.
Where the hard work is done.

A change is gonna come.

I made a bunch of pictures a couple of nights ago when I was scouting for a particular kind of location. Despite my lack of motivation to work much for myself, you know me. I had to take pictures once I started poking around.

Even though New Orleans is mostly thought of sort as a magical place where food, music and festivals take precedence, the area was built on industry, manufacturing and shipping. After all, the Mississippi River is a gateway to the rest of the country. Like everybody else, sometime I forget that.

My poking around the another night reminded me.

This place makes cement. I imagine with all the construction going on around New Orleans, this company is fairly busy. I wasn’t really going there. I was driving down to those overpasses. Believe it or not, there is a small down-at-the-heals motel under them. It’s kind of an interesting place. It looks like their guests stay there for a while. And, it look like the all do some kind of blue collar work. There were clothes lines, cooking grills and lounge chairs outside. Not the kind you find that are provided by the motel.

I’ll show you a couple of pictures later, but this is really the kind of place that takes time to photograph properly. It takes time to earn the trust of the people who live there. And, I’d really need an end point to do it. These days, there really is no place for picture stories that are sort of old school. Yes. There are all sorts of websites doing some pretty good photojournalism, but there is no money for the work. As I always say, my dogs like high quality kibbles.

That said, this picture is not a drive by. I actually got out of the car and worked this scene a little.  For the most part, it’s just F8 and be there.