Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.

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Cool shade.

Despite the heat of summer, I actually like the season. I like the rich greens. I like the cooling shade. I even like the torrential rains that cool the air and knock down the humidity temporarily. Of course, in the heat of summer, what falls down must rise up… in the form of ground humidity.

At a glance that sounds terrible.

It isn’t.

In Southeast Louisiana, folks live in a natural greenhouse. Everything grows. And, it grows well. In little home gardens, you need only care for the plants. No watering necessary. There was one year, before the storm, that I grew something like 500 large tomatoes. I kept the plants neat and pruned. I removed tomato worms and that was about it. I rarely watered them. I never misted them. The yield was a little problem. Normally, I give away what I can’t use. Usually to neighbors. Not that year. Everybody had too many tomatoes.

It’s about the same thing with every vegetable or fruit. I planted a little basil bush that I bought at a grocery store. It stood about three inches tall. It was a skinny little thing. Today, it’s at least four feet tall. And, four feet around.

The picture. A tree that I saw on a walk. I liked the backlighted look. I turned it into a painting in post production. I also used a stretched paper look for the shape. Fairly easy to do. If you like experimenting.


The longest day.

The goopy season.

It starts around now and lasts well into August, when even hotter temperatures dry out the air a little bit. A loss of humidity would seem to be a good thing.

It is.

Unfortunately, the temperature starts creeping into the triple digits. Like about 219 degrees.

You pick your poison.

Or, you leave.

With climate change — it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not — there are very few cooler places in the United States in the summer months. At least, you might go to a place that has a dry heat heat. Still, it’s hot. I rarely live in anything approaching cool weather from May until October.

Oh well.

So, this is the goopy season in the south. Heat. Humidity. Daily rain.

Move your camera from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the street and you’ve got condensation. On the camera body. On the lens. Do not remove the lens. If you do that you will have condensation inside the camera. Inside the lens. That’s deadly.

Instead, wipe the camera down with some kind of soft, lint free, cotton. Clean the front of the lens with something designed for that job. Lens cleaning tissue, or a micro fiber cloth. Let the camera acclimate and you’ll be good.

Some photographers wear t-shirts to use as a cleaning cloth. Fine, as long as it is cotton, not a blend, and it is clean. Don’t wipe your camera down with your lunch. Or, the egg that you ate for breakfast.

The picture. Running errands. In and out of rain. You can see a fairly good example of that in the picture. To the left, mighty storm clouds. To the center, blue skies.

This picture is a classic  example of the modified drive by. It is a drive through. I could have let my errand running partner drive. But, oh no. I can drive. In traffic. And, make pictures at the same time. Sheesh.

I think that may even be more deadly than texting and driving. On second thought, it isn’t. I put the phone or camera on the dashboard, let it focus, and I just push the button while looking at the road. If I have to react quickly, I just drop the camera or phone. Obviously, I’ve thought about it.

Also, in one way or another, I’ve done it for years. Practice, practice, practice. But, this falls into the category of “kids, don’t try this at home.”

Anyway.

This is a weather picture. I made it because I saw it. I’m not sure it falls into the group of ten great summer pictures. Yesterday’s picture did for sure. Many of you confirmed that on various social media and, here on Storyteller. Thank you.

One down. Nine to go. Or, maybe not.

Doing this is a combination of talent, experience and the luck of being there are the right time. The luck thing is a really big deal in this particular series. For yesterday’s picture, a couple minutes on the either side and scene is blown.

 


About summer.
Looking toward the east.

For at least the last five years, I’ve been trying to make at least ten very good pictures that are about summer.

I haven’t succeeded yet.

I probably won’t again this summer.

I know, I know. With that attitude I have assured myself of failure.

Not really.

It’s just a realistic statement that takes into account how difficult it is to make ten good pictures about anything over the course of a year. Sheesh. I’ve been at this for just under fifty years. I’ve made a lot of good pictures. I don’t make bad pictures.

But.

If you were to ask me about my great pictures, only three come to mind. Fifty years. Three great pictures. That ain’t a great ratio. I’m sure there are a lot of better shooters than I am, who have made far more memorable pictures that I have, but, if you ask them, they’ll say about the same thing.

As I’ve been putting older work, mostly from Asia on NGS’ “Your Shot.” I’ve been thinking, “Me?” “I took that picture?” “It must have been a better photographer” I’m not being overly humble. I’m just surprising myself by looking at old, almost forgotten work.” Still, those images don’t crack into my “excellent category.”

That’s one of the great things about getting older — among damn few good things — you have the wisdom of perspective. You understand that most pictures shared on Instagram are nonsense, especially when they are posted as professional work.

The picture. Make no mistake. This isn’t one of the ten great summer images. This is just a tree that I photographed in early morning light. It was backlighted so it caught my attention. It reminded me to start looking right now. Right this minute. For summertime pictures.

Man. I’ve got a lot to do in the next twelve weeks or so.


More like a summer dream.

Like a dream.

Summer arrives like a dream.

Even though we are five days from Summer Solstice, and the longest day of the year, those of us who live in the south have had summer-like weather since some time in May. We had a few cooler days, but for the most part we feel the heat of 90 degree days. And, we are moist from the humidity.

Even though I seemingly jumped the gun, I didn’t. You understand.

The foreground of the picture is composed of summer weeds and leaves. It is photographed against a background of almost pure bokeh. The out of focus part of the picture. Everything is backlit.

That’s it.

I made a picture of a dream.

I think.


There it was.

There it was.

The sun was peaking through a slight gap in the branches of a tree. There were little pink blossoms everywhere. What a morning scene.

I did what I do.

I started to make pictures. Auto focus was having a very tough time with such strong backlighting and direct sunlight into the lens. I held my finger on the button. Sometimes  it works. Sometimes the autofocus function says “oh, no you don’t.” This time I did. And, it did.

A mistake.

That’s what I made.

A completely out of focus picture. It just happened to be the best of my quick little take out of about ten pictures.

I worked on it a bit in post production. Mostly, I brought what wasn’t understandable back to my eye. That was it.

Today is a really fine day. The weather is wonderful. The pictures are coming. And, in a spring of a lot of brand new music, Bruce Springsteen released a new album. “Western Stars.” I’m often a little cautious when it comes to any big musician’s new work. Often, it isn’t all that.

Not this time.

This one is so good. It reaches into my soul. I know words that I’ve never heard as he sings them. I know the melody. A lot of his songs are what some folks call “high lonely.” It’s hard to write one song that carries that feeling.  The whole album carries is that.

Whew.

The record will arrive in this house soon. I want to get as close to the original master as I can.

A good day.


Painted flowers and stuff.

This morning.

I started by reading the last column from a young writer at NOLA.com/Times-Picyune who was terminated — a euphemism for fired — when the competition, The Advocate bought the newspaper and website. Because it was a purchase and take over the new owners had to give them sixty days notice. Today is the 30 day mark.

It is her last column because she and her husband, also a T-P reporter who covers the Saints, want to stay in New Orleans. They bought their first home in February. She is looking for work outside of journalism since there is really no place to look in the city. There is the potential of conflict of interest. She’ll still edit and report. Just no more columns which have her opinion sprinkled into them. For the record, her column caused a lot of eye leakage. But, it wasn’t sappy.

That got me thinking about my own life, my career and my changes. It’s long and winding. It would probably take a couple of months worth of posts to tell you all the stories.

Sometimes, I wonder how I got here.

In terms of places, I lived all over. I even lived in Asia. A lot of my adult life has been lived in the south. Aside from Louisiana, I’ve lived in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. All was career related. Sometimes, I wish that I didn’t let my work drive my life.

Make no mistake, along the way I’ve lived in some wonderful places, had some great adventures and met some amazing people. The trick for me today is to keep going. In theory, even at my age, I’m not that old. But, getting older is simply the body’s way of saying if you think that was bad, just wait. So, on I go.

That’s the story. So far.

The picture. When I changed my phone system I thought that I lost photo editing software called Stackable. That’s like Lunchables, only you can’t eat it. I realized, only last week, that it still exists on my iPad. So back to work I went. I made this picture, using flowers and vines and all the stuff the dog usually sees.

By the way, she was groomed two days ago. Man, is she a pretty girl. She’s always cute, but this cut. Oh wow!

I have only one question about the finish of this picture, which I do in OnOne. What the hell happened to my watermark? I went back to the TIFF. It’s there. I went back to the working JPEG. It’s there. Yet when I export it, part of it falls off. I don’t even know how to fix it since it’s correct everywhere. Oh well.


It doesn’t look like it.

It’s been a while.

I’ve been walking around this kind of scene. Passing it by. For some reason, I stopped. I made a picture. This picture. I guess something caught my eye.

I know what you are thinking. This is an autumn picture.

I promise. It’s not.

I made it yesterday. On a very short dog walk,

Short? Yes. It seems that the dog who sees stuff isn’t liking the heat. So, she cuts her walks short. After all, she’s an old girl. She’ll be eleven years old in July. On the Fourth of July to be exact. I see the signs. Her muzzle is turning white. She’s buff in color. That’s fading a little bit. When the weather turns wet, I see her arthritis kicking in a little.

No matter.

She takes care of us. We take care of her. She’s the boss of the other dogs. That’s funny to watch. She herds them by walking in circles around them until they move to the place that she thinks that they should be.

So.

The heat? She’s getting groomed as I write. She’s has a long relationship with her groomer. She’s getting a short summer cut. That should help a lot. When she’s done, she’ll have a short skirt, her legs will be fairly full, but her back and head will be very short. If you are doing this at home, remember that you can’t cut the dog’s hair too short. He or she will get sunburned.

Anyway.

The picture. Yes. It really is a spring picture. Around this place, leaves are always falling. Often, in fall-like colors. That’s due to the various species of trees that grow in what was a swamp.

If you ever saw the movie, “JFK,” there is a meeting in which one prosecutor says that the trees in front of the famed Texas Book Depository didn’t lose their leaves in November because they were Texas Live Oaks. They lose their leaves in April and May. That’s true.

As an aside, if you ever find yourself in Dallas, do yourself a favor. Go to the grassy knoll. Take the book depository tour. I did that years ago with a group of international staff. Nobody left the sixth floor with dry eyes. I don’t know what kind of president John Kennedy could have been if he hadn’t been killed because he was just getting started.  But, he stands for something bigger than that. Optimism. Hope. Dreams. All was lost on that November day.

We could use a little bit of that today.

Or, at least, leaders capable of leading.

 


A spring flower bundle.

Sunday.

Memorial Sunday. In New Orleans, today is the day we memorialize our war dead. The guys who gave their fullest. The guys who never made it home. This is their day.

We have a ceremony. Their graves are covered with little American flags. There are speeches. We ring the bell. We pay them the highest honors that we can.

These spring flowers are for them.

I may go. I may not.

It’s a little hard.

If I go, and I go to the Money Waster’s second line, I’ll be hopping and bopping. It’s hot out there. I’ll need lots of water to stay hydrated. I’ll need to eat something somewhere along the line. Some kind of New Orleans food.

But.

It’ll all be great fun.

Or, I could lounge by the pool. Take a dip. Work on my tan. Burn some meat on the grill. The American way.

Or.

I could photograph what needs photographing. And, do the lounging thing later in the day. That would work.

That’s what I’ll do.

I need some pictures. New ones.