No matter where you are.

There’s going to be a lot testing going on.

I’m not exactly sure what I did to myself, but this new format is fairly time-consuming to use. Hopefully, that I’ll change as I get used to working with it. Most of my fears were for nothing. A big one surfaced. It is very hard to stack multiple pictures. There’s a way around it. It took me a while to find it.

My restroom life refers to nothing except that I often make pictures in restrooms of hip cafes. Usually, in coffee houses.

Anyway.

So, that learning thing. I said it was mostly about myself and it is. Learning to use a more photo-centric template is going to teach me a lot. The big take away is learning about my limits of patience. My former “look” was easy to produce. I rarely even thought about it. This one? Wow.

And, speaking about patience, I watched a friend of mine melt down and self destruct in real time on Twitter. I feel terrible for him.

Here’s a short version of the story. He’s a chef. He cooked for a well-known uptown restaurant. He was fired on Sunday night for reasons that are fairly unclear. He proceed to tweet, and tweet, and tweet. 90 tweets in all. At one point, after talking about nobody caring if he was gone and thinking about leaving the planet, somebody called the NOPD out of deep concern for him. They visited him and left, but the tweets continued. He called out his former place of employment, the owner, the restaurant industry in New Orleans. He called out the friend who called the police out of concern for his welfare. It only got worse from there.

Apparently, at one point, his former employer may have threatened him with the classic, “you’ll never work in the town again,” line as he was leaving the restaurant.

This whole thing caught the attention of both local newspapers. Since the restaurant owner does no social media, she had no idea of what was being said. She is concerned for her reputation, which as I know it, is spotty at best. That’s another story for a time when it can be substantiated. After all, this isn’t a fake news site. It’s not really a news site at all. Storyteller is about art. Cooking at his level is an art.

My biggest fear is that with all his tweeting, he made her alleged threat true. He might not be able to work in New Orleans again.

One point that was unintentionally made in The Advocate’s story is that he’s been in town for six years. He’s had six jobs. If I’m hiring for any kind of business that’s a huge red flag. As a high-end human resources person once told me, it takes a year to get into a job and a year to get out. We want to have a lot of good years in between. Certainly, when you are very young and just trying to make your career there is a lot of job jumping as you rise, but my buddy is a veteran chef.

The pictures. I had to use the restroom in a coffee-house. You know. You stay there for a long while, sipping coffee. Some more coffee. Maybe some water.  I walked into the restroom and thought “wow, there is a picture in here. I made a few. I added something to the post production and there you have it.

Details, details, details.

 

 

 

 

 

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A late dinner.

Dining. In The French Quarter.

We don’t usually eat in the Quarter. Often many of the restaurants are geared to the tourist trade. But, some aren’t.

The cool thing about eating in a touristy place is that often a waiter will engage you. He or she will ask you where you are from. If you answer from here. They’ll ask you a couple of follow-up questions. Like where did you go to high school. Or, they’ll ask other more local flavored questions, just as part of a conversation. You might not know what they are doing. If they are satisfied, you’ll get the locals price. Usually 25% off your bill. You might even have your food cooked with a little more care.

I know, I know.

It doesn’t seem fair.  But, that’s New Orleans. We look after each other. The waiters know the food prices are a little higher in the Quarter, so they take care of folks who live here. In appreciation many locals add a tip that is based on the full price. I do. As I said, we take care of each other.

The picture. It is influenced by “Nighthawks at the Diner.” I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it. As I recall, I might have been looking for something like the picture. I found it. I made the picture quickly because the subjects won’t wait. One of the magical things about digital photography is that the sensor loves darks and shadows. I probably couldn’t have made the picture on film without a lot of work in the field.


Light everywhere.

Inside, out.

Light everywhere. Since a photograph is actually a Greek phrase that means drawing with light, I suppose a picture like this is about as pure as it gets. All light. Almost no subject. Content producers will probably hate this picture. It doesn’t sell anything or even try.

I made it on a day when I was strolling around. I saw a scooter. Later, I saw a big motorcycle. I saw this. Light bouncing around through a car’s windows. I did what I usually do. I made a picture even though the light was essentially backwards and I was photographing into it. It did take a little post production, mostly to darken it and give it some shape.

There you have it.


A kind of zen seeing.

I’ve passed this way. At least a thousand times. I’d made a mental note of it. Those blue and yellow parking lot stripes were just begging to be photographed. But, they needed something. True, the painter was a little sloppy and dropped some blue paint into the yellow. That wasn’t enough.

Then.

Yesterday. Nature dropped a leaf right where it needed to go. I photographed the lines, the leaf and the paint drop. Finally.

No. I didn’t put the leaf there. I have a sort of integrity about that. I never move anything to make the picture better. That probably harkens back to my photojournalism years. Instead I wait. I exhibit some patience. When the picture finally comes to me, I push the button. Of course, I know how to manufacture photographs. I do that for clients. There is no real joy in that. Photography by discovery makes me smile.

Again, for those keeping score. iPhone. Snapseed. That’s it. All post production was done using the phone. Now that I’ve got the workflow down, it seems like it’s too easy. I suppose that I’ll have to do something to confuse things.


Nature never gives up.

Today is the first day of Autumn.

A change is in the air. Literally. But, not here. It’s a billion degrees again. With a million percent humidity. Oh well. We are used to it. It does get tiring about this time a year. Everybody would like a little cool air.

The picture. This is what you get when I listen to the new Stephen Stills and Judy Collins album called “Everybody Knows.” Their tale is a long one, and better left to music histories. For now, it is enough to say that they have a 50-year-old friendship. It started with a romantic relationship that ended after about two years. The breakup drove Stephen Still to write a couple of classic songs, among them “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” and “Helpless Hoping.” Both of them have had long and fairly distinguished careers.

Anyway.

The picture was made on one of my famous dog walks. No, the cocker spaniel didn’t see this. She was busy elsewhere doing something else. You can figure that out for yourselves. I looked down and just pressed the button. The original photograph is pretty good. But, I wanted something a little different so I pushed it and pushed it some more, until this appeared. It looks like a watercolor painting to my old eyes.

What do you think?

In case you are wondering why this picture is vertical rather than horizontal, it’s simple. I looked straight down on it. I framed it vertically. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about WordPress templates is that pictures do much better when they are vertical because you can see them much better.

And, the album? I’ve played it three times in a row. I never do that. It brings me back 50 years. To 1969. It brings me a large measure of peace. It makes me smile. Yet, it’s real. Still is 72 years old. He’s pretty much deaf which is not a good thing for a musician. He has severe carpal tunnel syndrome. Not a great thing for a guitar player. Yet, he rises to the occasion. Collins is 78 years old. Yes. Who knows where the time goes. He voice is still solid, if a little full. She is still the wonderful songbird that I remember.

Yes.

Photography and music is well intertwined.


After the rain stops.

Seeing.

Pictures are everywhere. Just look around. These are dog walking pictures. They are fine. Seeing is seeing. And, I don’t seem to do much else these days. So, I might as well do the best with what I have. The dogs are pretty good about it. When they see me stop to take a picture they wait patiently. They know these walks are their walks. They know it won’t take long once I see something.

I’m happy with both of the pictures. They come from the influence of Ernst Haas, one of the fathers of modern color photography. He passed away too early, at 58 from a stroke. I had the honor of being a lab tech at one of his workshops. I learned more from him in four days than all the time in the rest of my career.

That’s not really what I want to talk about.

Today’s real topic is fake news. Or worse, trying to be the first person to pop the fake news bubble, now that it’s thing.

Here’s what happened.

I awoke this morning to news of Walter Becker’s passing. For those of you too young to remember, he was a founding member of a 1970s band called Steely Dan. They were more jazz, than rock or pop, oriented. They were different and they were very, very good. Their first two albums were the soundtrack of my little sister, Annie, and my life. They are still working today.

I went to Facebook to look for more information. I knew that, according his musical partner, Daniel Fagen, he had a surgical procedure that prevented him from playing in the big East-West Classic tour. I have no idea what was being repaired, removed or replaced.

Going to Facebook was, as usual, a big mistake. A young woman was already trying to debunk his passing, using something she found on Mediamass — a huge site dedicated to creating fake news by attacking real news.

When I commented that Becker’s website announced his passing, she replied that it could have been hacked and it was some kind of conspiracy. Eventually, his death started showing up pretty much everywhere.

My last comment was something along the lines of, “I’m not sure which is worse, fake news or the attempt to debunk it without really knowing.” She liked that, even though it was really addressed to her. It was about her.

Huh?

My point is fairly simple. Fake news has become a thing. There are good and bad ways to counter it. Not the least is simply going to trusted news sources. They might make mistakes, but I can assure you that it’s not intentional or click bait. Sometimes, it’s just a mistake.

I come from old school journalism. Confirm news with at least two sources. Two independent sources. If you are Googling, look at the websites that you find. Check their reputations. It’s not hard to do. If they typically show up as “sponsored” news, they are distributing fake news in search of clicks and ad dollars.

Most importantly, slow down. Way down. Most of us aren’t reporters so why do we have to be first on the scene? As any good journalist knows, give the newly broken story a little time to develop so that you can find the truth. Why spread rumours when you don’t know fact from fiction?

That’s it. And, I thought August sucked.

Thank you, Walter Becker. RIP, Ray & Annie.

About rebirth.


Tar bucket and glowing flowers.

The process.

I’ve had a couple of requests asking about the original picture. The one before I started tinkering around. The one that I made on the scene.

I thought answering it visually was a good idea since this work normally doesn’t lend itself to multiple pictures on a page. Once the art is made, it’s done. Multiple pictures on a page usually needs some kind of storyline to make them work. In many ways this is a true picture story because it is a process. On the other hand, it’s the same picture.

So.

I thought that I would show you the steps. I did not include the little bits and pieces. If you want to talk and learn about them, that’ll make another pretty good post.

You are looking at the pictures in reverse order. Finished to start. I did that mostly because the top image is displayed on other social media like Facebook. I want those readers to see the finished one. In old school layout, it would be the hero picture.

Anyway.

The top picture is finished. Actually, there was another version of it that I made later. Remember when I said that sometimes I go too far? I went too far. It’s nasty. Almost glowing in flourescent colors.

This is the base image, plus two different layers of blossoms that were photographed loosely and tightly. I wasn’t planning for this use when I made the pictures. That’s just how I work. I explore the subject by working tighter, looser and from different angles.

See the text below each picture. Please.

Getting there.

At this point, I’ve added one layer of pink flower blossoms to the original image.  I dropped the blossoms over it, refined them and added a little glow. I’ve lowered the contrast a lot, to cut back on too much glow. Layering is a little tricky over black because you can either lose the blossom layer or bury the base layer so that it’s all blossoms. Balance is the key. So is intent.

First edit.

This is the finished original picture. I’ve done, what for me, are normal fine tunings. Sharpness, structure, brightness, contrast, ambience, and I’ve controlled the highlights and shadows. A quick note about highlight control. When the whites turn to a medium shade of gray, you’ve gone too far. At this point, I’m real close. I bet you’re wondering what the subject is. I’ll tell you in the next text block.

How I saw it.

The original picture. The file as I saw it. In exposing for the blacks, I marginalized the highlights and made the leaf pop up. That was unintentional. Because I made the picture in the morning there is still a little bit of yellow light in it. To me, in this context, that looks weird.

Do you know what the subject is yet?

No?

My neighbors were having their roof repaired. You know, with new roofing material, and tar and all that stuff.  The neighborhood smelled just great with that sulfer-like smell. I’m sure you know what that is. It usually falls into the category of, “what the hell is that?”

Then you see the smoke and the tar bubbling up from what could be the gates of hell. Or, a tar pot.

That’s one of those smelly, normally hot, tar pots. Apparently, most of the work was finished but the crew left it in place for touching up anything they might have missed. For them, it’s at least a two-day process.

It wasn’t hot when I saw it. And, it didn’t smell. Much.

My dogs hated it. They were cautious approaching it. And, barked like crazy when they got close. They know. Dogs always know.


Nature’s way.

I made this image last night. I showed my neighbor today, before I was ready to show you. The first thing that she was drawn to is that little ghost-like shape near the middle left on the bridge’s trestle. She saw it as a spirit. She called this picture, “Voodoo Bridge.” That’s the title of this post. I don’t have a better idea.

Truth.

I saw this image as an illustration of something that I always say about nature. She never loses. She seeks stasis. Eventually everything goes back to her.

I was further influenced by something I was watching on Amazon Prime about Alexander the Great and his explorations. Apparently, he travelled into the current Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. It’s mostly desert today. But, once upon a time it was green, filled with water. Cities, towns and villages flourished. About 1,000 of them. Today, they are relics. Piles of stone.

My neighbor saw the picture differently. She saw it as something mystical. A little spiritual. And, haunting. In many ways, I like that better.

Which brings me to one of my muses. The late Beatle, John Lennon. Whenever he was asked what his songs meant, he replied, “Whatever you want them to mean.”

There you have it. The artist brings everything to the work. The viewer makes his or her own meaning from it. That is the beauty of it. Many artists don’t like that, especially after they’ve taken the time to make a statement through their art. Too bad. That’s the way it is.

One more thing. A kind of housekeeping note. For as long as I pursue this path I’m not going to talk so much about technique. For me, and many of you, the pictures have become transcendent. Art is art. Besides, if these new works were paintings, I doubt you’d ask me what kind of brush I used. Or, what brand of paint.

Would you?

 


After the rain.

We had a huge rain storm yesterday. Power was knocked out. Streets were flooded. And, Jazzfest was postponed for about four hours. I suppose a lot of fans were disappointed when some of their favorite musicians didn’t play.

But.

That’s life in Southeast Louisiana in late spring and throughout the summer. After all, that’s our rainy season. Lots of storms. Lots of hard rain. For the folks attending our premiere music festival, you hope there are only one or two postponements and no cancellations. It happens.

On the other hand.

There are some wonderful scenes that just sort of pop up because everything is wet. Everything glistens. Everything has its own high contrast. You just have to walk around. The dogs were getting cabin fever because those precious things will not go out in the rain. So, we drove a bit and went for a walk.

On another day I would have walked right past these leaves. Not yesterday. They were glowing. Glistening. Calling me to them. So I made a few pictures.

No. I’m not changing courses and switching back to my own form of nature pictures. But, I am opportunistic. If I see something. I take its picture. Often I don’t show it to you. I just add it to my ever-expanding archives. I made a lot of pictures yesterday. All in this same sort of genre. I may show you some more. I may just save them for Instagram. We’ll see.