Waiting to start.

I’m sort of at a loss what to call this mini portfolio.

It’s mostly about how people — both krewes and spectators — prepare to roll or catch beads. I call this collection, “Standing Aside,” but that’s not exactly right. I suppose it doesn’t matter. The pictures are of things that I saw during the first couple of days of the Uptown parades.

This is about it for now.

Luckily, there are two big parades tonight night.  The Krewes of Druids and Nix. Both ar great fun. Both roll from the same place, making my life easy. I should be able to make some memorable pictures. Hopefully, that will make all of you smile.

That’s about it. I need to start getting my head on straight. You know. First, I plan. Then, I try to forget everything. The last part seems to be getting easier. Heh!

A little touch up.


Reflection.

Mardi Gras parade season.

We come for all sorts of reason. Some like the excitement. Some like the floats. Some come for the throws. I come for the music. I come for the marching bands. Of course, I photograph anything that moves. But, it is the bands that move me the most.

In the past, I use to publish images day by day. Parade by parade. That’s one way to organize pictures. These days, I publish by category. Today, the pictures are all about music. Heh! As if you couldn’t tell. Today is also a day off from the parades because nobody rolls on Monday. I may make my way down to the French Quarter and photograph the silliness there. We’ll see.

We also have to go grocery shopping, or make groceries as they use to say around here. I say “use to” because I haven’t heard that phrase in many years. Anyway, after yesterday’s brunch we are all out of food. We have some king cake, which is fine for breakfast this time of year. But, all cake and sugar does not make Jack a happy boy.

Happy Mardi Gras.

All smiles.


The lone wintery tree.

Decadence.

I’m reading a rather long op-ed piece by The New York Times’ Ross Douthat. It is a take out of his upcoming book called, “The Decadent Society.”

The name is not what you are thinking.

He quotes Jacques Barzun, who says, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable . When people accept the futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.”

I don’t know about you, but I keep saying that all systems are broken. They are broken to the point where I am thinking seriously about leaving the country in November if the worst possible thing happens.

That said, let’s limit this to what we do. Most of us either write, or make pictures.

There is no new or newly broken ground. There hasn’t been for a long time. In the book world, I have to ask how many new vampire books do we need? Seems like Anne Rice broke the mold on that one. Or, how many historical fictional novels do we need that feature a good looking bare chested guy squeezing the hell out of a beautiful woman?

It doesn’t get any better in the photo world. Sunsets, sunset and more sunsets. There are so many that they are loaded to Upsplash, the site that doesn’t pay photographers. Or, night photography featuring star fields? Or, slow motion water so that the water looks smooth?

I’m guilty of it too.

All these faux nature picture that I produce. are not new. I made the same thing eight years ago. And seven years ago. And, six and five and four and so on.

This work is easy to make. This work breaks no new ground. It doesn’t move my art forward. I’m not certain that I can move it forward, but I’d like to try. Realizing this is hard. Even though I love photographing Mardi Gras, I’ve been fighting to get myself to go.

Yes. The floats and themes change. So do the people. But, I’ve done it for how many years? A lot. This year I’m getting paid by one of my clients to set them up for next year. I’m incentivised. I’ll go. Once I get there I’ll have fun. It’ll turn magical. But, they are paying me for work that is yesterday’s. That’s the funny thing about showing portfolios. If the client likes your work, they want more of the same.

Ouch.

Think about this. How does it apply, or, not?

For sure, don’t confuse yourself with all the things you did to get to the picture. Often times the hardest thing about taking a picture is getting there. But, that ain’t the picture. The picture is the picture.

 


 

Looking like a Japanese print.

I was walking the all seeing dog, when I saw this reflection is a water feature that can be found along one of her routes. For some reason it was clear and blue. It was also highly reflective. The bare trees of winter were looking back at me. I made a lot of pictures. I made some with the bank and made some that are much more colorful than this one.

But.

This one reminds of a Van Gogh painting. Of course, his has little cherry flower blossoms in it that really bring it to life. As much as Van Gogh has always been one of my muses, I only recently learned of his fascination with all things Japanese. I have a show catalog that is based on it.

One more thing.

To me, this picture is a bit confusing. It looks upside down. It isn’t. That’s how the trees in the background were reflected. My instinct is to flip it over.

What do you think?

 


A wintery blending of a wonderful sky and pink Japonicas.

I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that when I photographed the Japonica trees a day or two ago that it would be my last chance. Normally the flowers would last another two or three weeks. But, we had a pretty bad storm this afternoon. Not only did we get a lot of rain, but we also had a lot of hail.

The hail knocked off about 95% of the Japonica’s flowery petals. I’m glad that I photographed the fully blooming trees when I did. Now THAT’S photographers luck.

The best thing about the storm is it that sits on the leading edge of a cold front. That’s good because the weather was starting to get a little too warm for this time of year. I like winter to feel like winter for more than a day.

The winds did something else.

They blew down the scaffolding at the yet to be completed Intercontinental Hotel near the river. Luckily, nobody got hurt, although a couple of cars were badly damaged. One was a taxi with passengers in the back. Once the riders got over the shock of having metal rain down upon them, they walked away without injuries.

As a friend of mine tweeted, “we are not so good at constructing tall buildings around here.”

Indeed.


A simple view of the moon and what is called Ray’s blue.

Oh, so blue.

That’s what I saw on an early evening walk. I was mostly looking at the bare trees when the moon came into view. “Oh, man,” I thought. I stopped, braced myself, and made four exposures. This, obviously, is one of them.

This color, or one just slightly lighter, used to be called “Ray’s Blue” by some my former editors. Certainly, other photographers made pictures with this shade of blue in the sky, but I worked very hard to get it. That was in the days of film. It’s easier now. Get close enough and fix it in post production. That’s not what I did here. I made the color in camera.

News.

The election season is now truly upon us. A friend of mine who lives in Memphis is sort of upset with me because I’m pretty sure that the current president will win a second term. I think this because he always slides and slimes his way through everything. Almost four years ago I said that if he won we’d leave the country. We didn’t. Instead we watched him and his minions in congress destroy most everything that makes America good. Now, he’s unfettered.

I held a little hope out in front of me like a beacon. Last night Iowa dashed my little bit of hope. The fine folks who are running the caucus tabulation can’t seem to tabulate anything. They blame it on an app. It was apparently designed in secret by some off the wall company.

Of course, it was downloaded last night. It wasn’t tested prior to the the big event.

Who does that?

We all know that technology is tricky. Early versions of software typically house bugs. For example, the new Mac operating system has two updates, or, patches as we used to call them. There is a third one waiting for me. That’s fairly normal these days.

I’m a photographer. When I’m working I have redundant systems. If I’m working with the client and something fails, I kind of joke around and pick up the next tool as if nothing happened. And, that’s after I tested everything a couple of times at home.

All I know is that this is going to be a long campaign season. It’ll be like the Baatan Death March of World War II fame. Worrisome at best.

Sheesh.


The Cedars are growing brand new leaves.

Yes. Some winter.

When I made this picture, the air was cool. The sun was bright. And, new leaves were already showing on the Cedars around this place. Sheesh.

We had about five days of sub-40 degree weather. It’s possible that we could get more. I remember working on Mardi Gras Day in 30 degree weather when sleet and freezing rain was blowing around in the wind.

I think that’s highly unlikely.

I fear is that this mild winter is a prelude to a very hot summer. I’m hoping that things stay mild throughout the year. For instance, last year, we had a lightly cooler winter, but the summer temperatures never reached triple digits. That matters. Even if it’s only psychological, there is a big difference between 100 degrees and 99 degrees.

I’m taking no chances.

That’s why we are looking for a coolish place in which to hide out for a month or so of the summer. Or, we change our minds and go to work in other places. We’ll see.

Sorry that this post is mostly about the weather. I was surprised to see trees showing new leaves so early.

The picture. At first I left it alone. Almost no correction in post production. There was no way to help it without hurting it. Then, I decided to test some frames. Most were just okay. I came upon this one. I loved it. So, here it is.


It feels cold.

Can we all agree?

For all of our good intentions at the start of a new decade, January pretty much sucked. The month seemed to last forever. Bad things never stopped.

Last Sunday, Kobe Bryant died sending most of the world into mourning. Yesterday, Brexit began with no real deal in place. And, yesterday evening the U.S. Senate voted not to allow new witnesses and documents into the removal trial of the president, thereby laying waste to democracy and The Constitution. For sure, he’ll be acquitted on Wednesday, the day after The State of The Union address.

I’m sure that other bad stuff happened earlier in the month, but I’m trying to forget.

So.

A little magic.

Magic that we all need. Magic that even though we don’t know it, we want. Something good has to come along and give us all a break. At least, in the swamp, we have Mardi Gras. We can share that with all of you.

I was thinking about not photographing it this year. I was thinking about leaving town. But, maybe its color and light will help everyone to smile. To feel better. To sing. And, dance.

So, tonight the Krewe of Chewbacchus rolls starting in the Bywater. It’s a little hard to photograph because it starts in available darkness, but I’ll be there limping around making pictures.

It rolls through the French Quarter but it gets way too crowded. People yell at you if you stand in front of them for longer than one second. They want their beads. I don’t want their beads. If I catch some I give them to the nearest child. That’s my traditional magic.

Let’s just hope that my traditional Mardi Gras parade routine brings me a little magic.

Tonight.


Looking out in the morning fog.

Morning view.

Another scene that I was lucky enough to photograph. It’s sort of like yesterday’s picture, but this one feels a little mysterious, moody or even scary. At least, it does to me.  I keep expecting to see an evil little troll appear somewhere.

So.

A little local news.

Most of you know about the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. Last week a red tarp blew off the remains revealing the body of one of the men who died in the rubble but couldn’t be removed. People photographed it and posted pictures on social media which prompted local news media to do about the same thing. It was replace by a yellow tarp.

The mayor scolded us for that.

The City Council responded by wanting to start an investigation.

That mayor said no.

The council is doing it anyway.

A few days later, it was revealed that the Hard Rock Hotel developers donated $70,000 to the mayors re-election war chest.

The mayor tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the IRS slapped a tax lien on her and her husband’s house for unpaid taxes totaling $95,000. A little research revealed that they owed back taxes for at least five years.

The mayor responded, trying to spread the blame, by saying they are just other struggling families in New Orleans.

Wut?

She makes $140,000 a year as mayor. Her husband is an attorney who earns about the same money. She doesn’t pay for her own transportation and a whole host of other perks that she is given as mayor of this swamp.

My view is that she should resign for the good of the city. She won’t. Why should she?

The city’s streets aren’t being repaired properly, while murders are down the crime rate is up, the Sewerage and Water Board fails every time that we have a powerful storm and water lines and canals seem only to be inspected once every 15 years or so.

Just once, I’d like to elect a mayor who knows what he or she is doing. I tried this last election. I voted for Desiree Charbonnet, a judge who was known for her honesty and fair mindedness. But, nooo…  she was a little too connected for the folks in the city. They reply that even now is that we should stand by the mayor because she is the first elected black woman. What the hell do they think Ms. Charbonnet is, and would have been?

At least Charbonnete is from New Orleans. Latoya Cantrell came here from Los Angeles. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not from here. But, maybe we need somebody who understands the system and can fight against it, instead of wandering around babbling, “The City of Yes.”

Just sayin’.