Rusted railroads.

Rust never sleeps.

That’s what Neil Young said. He’s right.

Even though I use the word “abandoned” in my tags, these old trains really aren’t. The are owned by the Louisiana railroad historical society, or whatever they are called. They are a small group. The don’t return phone calls or emails. They work on their collection on Saturday.

That’s too bad.

They will never restore most of their old property. There is just too much of it. It mostly sits rusting and moldering away. I’m glad the own this stuff. If they didn’t, it would likely be scrapped. I like to see examples of the way we used to live which is part of my obsession with abandoned old buildings, trains and cars.  I like to photograph all of that, which is what lead me to so many book contracts.


This picture wasn’t made in a bubble. Even though I was mostly just returning from an appointment, I was accidently working on a book. That’s cool, right?

No long tales of the past today. That doesn’t mean my journey through the past is over. It just means I’m showing you what I’m up to right now. Quite the contrary, I think my trip is just starting for real.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. That simple. Very little post production. If anything, I tuned down the color. That Leica glass is just a little too good. That’s saying something, yes?

Sign of the times.
Sign of the times.

This is not a sign of the times.

It is a ghost sign. Hiding in plain site. A billboard for all to see. There was a plastic sign hung over it. It rotted through the ages. It fell away reveal the original work behind it. Knowing the neighborhood, it’ll likely remain this way for a long while. Or, at least until taggers complete their appointed rounds.

The picture. F8 and be there. And, hope for some reasonably good light.

Art in the morning.

This is on me. Not the dog. 

I was walking. I saw this beat up, rusted car. I walked by it. Wait a minute. I went back. I saw. Not the whole car. Details. Bits. Pieces.


This happens when I’m in a zone. When I see. Really see. Likely as not I’m not in a zone. I don’t see. I miss things. Because I’m human. Like everybody else.

Circles in a wall.
Circles in a wall.

Rust never sleeps. So, they say.

I suppose this picture makes that point pretty well. I’m not exactly sure what this thing is really. I looks like a kind of vault lock. Or, it may be just a simple base to a door knob. I found it on the wall of a building that houses an art gallery. I was waiting for a friend to meet me at the gallery when I started wandering around in search of pictures. I saw this. I knew. I just had to press the shutter button. A couple of times. I should have asked my friend about this thing. Since it is his gallery. And, he collects stuff like this. But, nooooooooo… I forgot.

Yes. There’s some pretty heavy post production going on. I wanted the green, the corrosion, to pop out of the picture since it seems so organic. I also find that with pictures like this one, deeper, richer tones tend to enhance the picture. And, make it better. I think.

Isn't this how it is supposed to feel?
Isn’t this how it is supposed to feel?

Fins. Clouds. Freedom. A dream.

Isn’t that what  the 1950s and 60s was supposed to be about? A dream. This picture is about symbols. Icons. And, the one that I cobbled together.

Remember a few weeks back? When I discovered the Cadillac Farm? When I was supposed to be photographing a jazz funeral?

I didn’t show you all of the pictures I made. I never do. I reckon only a small percentage of a scene that I shoot is worth publishing in any form. That’s electronically or on paper. After all, didn’t the great Ansel Adams say if you made ten good pictures in a year that you had a great year?

Besides, I’m lazy. It’s a lot of work to post — oh, let’s say — twenty pictures on different social media. A least it is if you do a first cull, a second cull, first level post production and a finished picture.

I think it’s better to start with your entire take, cull it down to about ten percent. While you are doing first level post, cut that first edit down by about 50%. At most, that’s what you show. Not only can you spend the proper time working the pictures, but you only show your best work. And, you have pictures with which to tinker and play.

That’s how this picture came to be. It was a second level leftover. The RAW files showed the fins and some distracting background information. By the time I was finished playing around, I created a picture that makes a couple of statements.

First, it’s about the 1950s. That big fin does it every time. Then, it’s about freedom. That’s what white puffy clouds classically symbolize. And, finally. The chrome Cadillac logo is missing. In its place is a rusted and chipped background where the logo used to be. You can say a lot about that. One thing that comes to mind quickly is the death of big, huge iron cars. With that comes the relocation of big American businesses to foreign shores. I’m just getting started.

At the very least, the picture is about change.

Walls and Graffiti
Walls and Graffiti

This is what comes of walking.

Little pictures. Hidden pictures. A weird kind of art.

What I saw is very different from the finished picture. That happens sometimes. It usually happens in post production. This time, all I did was darken the picture and the whole thing came together into some strange photographic statement. For which, I have no real explanation. Except for the tagging. As I always say, in New Orleans if it doesn’t move it gets a coat of spray paint. This one looks like a taggers’ signature, not a gang sign. I’m sure the gang sign is around some place.


Yep. That’s what I’m coming up with. Zeros. I need to photograph something — anything — in a fairly short time frame. My head is stuck. So, I need your help. If I were to go out and try to photograph a collection of things, what would it be? In other words, make an assignment for me. I’ll do it. I’ll post it here.


New Orleans Fall Colors
New Orleans Fall Colors

Yes. New Orleans fall colors. Look at that rust. Look at all that green growth. Obviously, the colors are changing. I write this very tongue in cheek.

This is another of the pictures I saw on the way to the second line that I didn’t photograph. It has everything. Rust. Trees. Ivy. Green Colors. Chicken Wire. Diamonds.


Not everything.

No golden light. No blue light. No sunset. No people. Nothing falling down. No trumpets. No tubas. There is probably a lot more that’s missing, but how long do you really want this list to be? How long do I really want this list to be?

Seriously. We do eventually get some fall colors down here. Give us a minute. Or, a month. If you’ve been around Storyteller for a while you’ve seen our fall colors. They look like every place else’s fall colors. Except, we see them around late November. And, sometimes there is some green mixed in with the red, oranges, golds and yellows.

There are a few questions that I can’t answer about this picture. Like, why is there chicken wire covering the outside of some kind of corrugated metal? Or, why are there diamond shapes attached to the chicken wire? There are probably more questions. I just haven’t thought of them.

The picture. See it. Shoot it. Brighten it up some in post production. That’s it. Oh yeah. If you are crossing the street to make the picture, try not to get hit by a car. Especially, when the driver is texting and is paying no attention to anything on the street.

Summers end, maybe.
Summer’s end, maybe.

The rain fell. A cold front moved into the region.

The low temperature fell into the 60s on our side of the lake. Or, the mid 50s on the Northshore, on the other side of Lake Ponchartrain. Do you have any idea of how long it’s been since I’ve been in cool weather? With lower humidity?

I’ll tell you.

Sometime in late April or early May.

I’m sure the temperature will rise some and a little humidity will return. It’s not October yet. But, the high temperature on Sunday, when I will photograph the season’s second parade of the year, may not reach 80 degrees while I’m out.  Or, a bit more. Two weeks ago, when I photographed the first second line of the year, the temperature was about 96 degrees. Hot. Very hot. Especially when you are walking on pavement in direct sunlight.

Sheesh. I’ll feel like a new man. Around 80 degrees, no rain and very little humidity. Whew. What could be better?

The picture. I completely forgot about it. It’s one of the out takes from the Katrina project. For some reason I didn’t copy it to my Storyteller file. I was curating (I really dislike that word for what I do when I review pictures — I’m not a museum curator. I’m a picture editor.) for another project, and I stumbled upon it. It was right where I left it.

The place is interesting for “oldish” New Orleans. Most apartments located in what was once called “backatown” are converted houses, or were built as doubles — normally called a duplex in many places. Sure. In Uptown and, especially The French Quarter, there are plenty of buildings that were designed to be apartments. In fact, the oldest continually rented apartment complex in the country — The Upper and Lower Pontabla Apartment Buildings — is located on both sides of Jackson Square. One of the views from inside is of the St. Louis Cathedral. They are expensive and there is a huge waiting list.

But, out in the “swamps,” not so much.

This place is a real live apartment building. Looks like about 12 – 15 units. Looks like it was built in the 1920s or 1930s. From the outside, it looks a little run down. From the common areas, too. It’s neat and clean. It could use a little work. Some paint. But, by looking at the various porches, it seems like the tenants have lived there for a while. It’s not transient looking. It’s home. The porches are screened. We have a lot of flying critters all year around. We are, after all, mostly built on a swamp. There is some off street parking. That’s a big deal in New Orleans. And, it’s right across the street from City Park.

The technical work. I saw it. I photographed it. I actually did more post production than I needed to, but I was tinkering around, and around, and around. Don’t be like me. Simpler would have been better.


Details. It's all in looking at stuff.
Details. It’s all in looking at stuff.

I took a stroll in the French Quarter. I just photographed what I saw. This old wrought iron fence is one of the things that I stumbled upon. Fleur de lis as symbols are everywhere in this city. Some guy even stenciled them in gold on all the city trash cans. At least the ones in the Quarter.

I would have worked a little more on this particular scene. But, the poodle wouldn’t let me. For those of you who have been around a little while, you know that he thinks that he is the boss. I know that he is right. Understanding that is best for both of us.