Flowing water.

No. I didn’t.

I didn’t forget about it. I bet you thought that I did.

The water project.

I work in bits and pieces. I keep ideas filed away in my brain. When I see something that I think might work I photograph it. That takes time. I find if I look for these elements of a little collection, I could probably complete a project in a week or two. It’ll look like that’s what I did.

That said, I found another picture for my dumpster series. Somebody threw away a lot of old wooden furniture. This was quality stuff. Fairly old. At least made in the 1930s. I looked closely. Dovetail joints. Very good details. Wonderful drawer pulls.

Sure. All of the pieces would need refinishing. Some would take more work. Most wouldn’t take very much at all. There were no holes that needed careful repair.

I have no idea why anybody would just toss it. If I had the ambition to work on it, I would have taken it. Even if we couldn’t use it, we could sell it. I’m sure by now a couple of the regular junk collectors have picked it up. They’ll sell it as is.

Anyway.

This picture might become one of my water collection. After looking at it enlarged, it’s going to take a lot of work to make it the kind of reproduction quality that it must be.

I made the original image in a very contrasty and backlighted situation. I really had no tools to control the original exposure. As you see it, there are deep pools of black that should be opened. It is too contrasty. The highlights are plugged up as a way to control some contrast.

If I’m going to do this project properly, I’m going to have to take a pass on my phone. These situations are just too hard for it to handle even with auto-HDR settings. I’m going to have to carry a real camera everywhere. Like I used to do.

That’s not a bad thing.

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Sometimes, I see things that can be changed.

Lessons learned. Learned well.

They come to mind without really coming to mind. They are just there. They are a kind of koan. You see something. You react. You stop thinking about your approach. To paraphrase and old Nike tagline, “You just do it.”

Back in 1974 when I was in photojournalism school at SJSU, we had a main photography professor. His name was Joe B. Swan. He was from West Texas. He moved slowly. He talked slowly. We called him “Slow Joe.” It was not out of snarkiness. It was out of affection.

In one of our beginning classes we learned about shadows and silhouettes. Except, Joe said it with his West Texas accent. He called them “shaders and silerettes.” I think that’s how you spell those words. Just say them out loud and you’ll understand.

He made a point to tell us that these tools are like spice on food. Don’t use them all the time, but when you do, they’ll make the rest of your take sparkle.

That was 45 years ago. I still hear those words today.

I could write a lot about Joe B. Swan, but it’s enough to say that he was one of the kindest human beings that I’ve ever met. You didn’t think that he was a great teacher until you thought about it. Here I am quoting him 45 years later.

Before I tell you about this picture, I have to tell you that I’m in a strange place. Remember that my word of the year is learning. The best time for me to learn is when I’m not trying to learn. Just like making a picture. If I don’t look, the picture will find me soon enough. Same with learning.

So here we are at the start of four months into 2019. The first three months have just blown by. Mostly good things have happened. But, there have been some bad. The best of those things is that I’m learning. I found out that my dad had a sister, making her my aunt. An aunt that we never knew about. I don’t know why that is, and we may never find out, but that’s something. Through that we found out we have some second and third cousins that we didn’t know about. I hope to learn more about them because they might be able to tell me about our aunt — their grandmother.

How’s that for learning?

Things like that have begun to take me on a journey through my past. I’ve said that before. But, this time it’s on steroids. I expect that’ll change the way I see photographs and the way that I make them. We’ll see.

Anyway.

This picture. I saw it while I was crossing the street. first I saw the bike and the wheel. I looked down. A “shader.” A “silerette.” I made the picture. I went to work in the darkroom in my computer. If I were to show you all the pictures, you’d see the progression. Both in the field and in the studio. This is the final version. And, the one that I like best. Which brings me to a topic for tomorrow. Let’s just call it, “So many pictures.”


Ferns.

Chasing Light.

That’s what I do. Except when it comes to me.  Yesterday evening, it came to me.  It was so strong and calling to me so loudly that I could not help myself. I had to make the picture. It was almost too strong. I had to work in post production to tune down the contrast and the color.

If you know my work, you know that doing that is very rare. I’m usually more color. More contrast. More shape. More. More. More.

Not this time.

After all, things change.

It’s a lovely spring day. I’m going outside.

I have a new toy to play with, er test. A new camera. A baby Leica. It’s small. It has one lens. 24-75mm, which is about my perfect range. Its aperture is fairly fast at f1.7 to f2.8. My working theory is that often when I travel I don’t have enough time to really work, but when I do I’d like to travel lightly. Very lightly. This camera should do it. The reviews are outstanding. Sheesh. No matter what size, it’s a Leica.

Wish me fun and luck. And, that my editing software actually can process the Leica’s files.


In between light and dark.

In between.

At the edges. Where the good stuff lurks. Where our imaginations create stuff. Where our dreams arise. Where nightmares come into being.

That’s why I like making pictures like this one. At night. Or, dusk. Things are lurking in the darkness. In the shadows. You can see some of it, but not all. You have to guess. Use your senses. Interpret. What you see is not what someone else sees. What they see may not be there at all.

Pictures like this one are scary. Or, not. They are moody. Or, not. They might even be artistic. Or, not.

Most of the time, their beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

All of this is why I look at paintings rather than photographs for inspiration. It’s why I read rather than look at pictures if I am traveling to a place. I’d like my imagination to kick in, rather than look at what’s already been done. I think that I can get closer to the edge that way. As musician Neil Young once said, “whenever I find myself in the middle of the road, I head straight to the gutter where things are more interesting .”

Me too. Not all of the time. But a lot of it.

The picture. The usual thing. See it. Photograph it. Make it what I saw while I was working in the field. I do that in post production if the camera’s technology can’t keep up with my mind. The computer’s can.

Happy Sunday.


Looking Like fall light.

It’s still pretty hot and humid.

However, the light is changing. The sun is lower in the sky. Shadows and surfaces are being illuminated in really pretty ways.  This was the first scene I saw that told me even with our heat and humidity, autumn is here.

I should have known. Night is arriving earlier. If you hang out in tree shadows, there are small breezes wafting through and it is a little cooler. In the heat of summer it doesn’t matter where you sit. It’s hot. And, steamy.

Besides, June 20th is the summer equinox. The longest day of the year. The days get shorter immediately. It’s been almost three months.

What was I thinking?

That’s a great segue into this morning’s reading.

I started by not reading the news. Today, the only thing I care about comes from the sports world and the events surrounding Serena Williams. She’s one of my heroes. If you know tennis, you know what happened yesterday. It stretches well beyond sports. I support her fully. I support Naomi too.

Instead, I read blogs. I read two of my favorites and they both made me stop and think. Not, like “oh, that’s interesting,” but, really dig down and think. Both are produced by women. Both have made some really great breakthroughs in a fairly short time. I started thinking about my way forward. I realized that for some reason, I’ve left behind a working way that I love and made me the photographer that I am today.

It’s partially a digital thing. It’s a more industrial way of working when things likes sharpness and perfect focus matter more than art. Art matters more than technical things to me. That’s the long and the short of it.

Their blogs and my thoughts came just in time. I am photographing a second line today that starts at 3pm. It’s a short parade. The light should just be turning. And, I’m going to experiment with some techniques in what will likely be a failed attempt at making something old school.  We’ll see.

Besides, it’s about moving forward. Not staying stuck or living in the past. In order to do that you make mistakes, you fail. But you learn.

Remember, I’m a big baseball fan. The best hitters in baseball hit around. 300. That means they made an out two out of the three times they batted. That ratio is good enough for me.

 


The wide angle version of Magazine Street at dusk.

Yes. Arrrggggghhhh.

Google, apparently lacking enough to do, redesigned their desktop. The very desktop that I use 20 times a day. The one with my eight favorite sites like Storyteller. I would see the thumbnail, click on it and a way I went.

Oh no. Not anymore.

The new desktop only has six buttons. Sales buttons to websites like Amazon, Ebay and on and on. Yes. Twitter and Facebook are there too. If I want anything else I have to do a “smart search.” WTF? Storyteller is gone. My news sites are gone. MLB is gone. (Baseball) I’m gonna have to figure out a work around. It may just be that I can replace those buttons with my buttons. I’ll find out.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of being manipulated, controlled and shepherded at every turn. Try to read almost anything and you have to negotiate about 28 pop ups — that’s an exaggeration — but you get it. Sheesh.

That’s my rant for today. Sorry.

The picture. It’s a wide angle version of the one a posted last week. I was stumbling around in my out takes and thought it would be go to explore a different direction. I like the deep blue sky about as much as I like the setting sun. I think it’s important to look at things from different perspectives. Not only photographically, but in life. I’m pretty sure that might close the gap in all of this polarization we see right now. But, what do I know?


Shadows make the picture.

Sticky days and very hot nights.

I’ve noticed that I don’t see a lot of my neighbors. There’s a good reason for this. Everybody is tired of our super sticky days. With the last storm, the humidity has increased to almost unbearable levels. I call it a four t-shirt, three shower, day. They stay inside where the air conditioners are working overtime.

Whew.

So. I make pictures where I can and get excited thinking about fall-like weather. A time when I can roam about without feeling like I’ve been through the rinse cycle.

In a way, that’s what this picture is about. I saw it. It didn’t look like much the first time that I passed by. But… the next time, late afternoon shadows were encroaching on the scene. The picture turned interesting. Now it was ready. So was I. Yes. I helped it in post production. Everything needed to be deeper, richer and glowing.

That’s the photography lesson for the day. Be patient. I suppose that’s the unspoken lesson every day. You know. Study, practice, study, practice, study… that’s another way of saying work hard at what you do and be patient.


In an eerie light.

A semi-tropical place.

Yep. That’s us. We look that way. The heat feels that way. The humidity feels that way. Essentially, we live in an outdoor hothouse. Even when the cooler air and lower sun of winter rolls around, we are still a hothouse. We just don’t feel it.

I was out wandering around with dogarito. Don’t ask. The name just came to me. I saw this little stand of leaves. They were nicely backlighted. I took my time photographing them. When I looked at them on a big monitor I was happily surprised. I worked on a bunch of them. How many pictures are in a bunch? Oh. I don’t know. It’s sort of like the weather guy on television the other night. Instead of saying something like 97 degrees, he just said it was going to be “dang hot.” Do you have any idea how much I appreciated that?

I did not appreciate that “dang hot” really meant 96 or 97 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of around 114 degrees.  Yep. That’s summer in the swamp. It’s “dang hot.”

Keep scrolling.

Hidden in the shadows.

You didn’t think that I’d leave out a little news commentary, did you?

This is not about the state of caged kids. Although that situation is still precarious.

This is about national discourse.

Of course the “Tweasel in Chief” is the prime driver of the rudeness and nastiness in public discourse today. I need not run down the list of his accomplishments, but it’s starting to affect everybody else.

Elizabeth Warren and the Tweasel got into an eight-hour Twitter fight yesterday. Eight hours? Really? Don’t either of them have something better to do with their time?

Then, his press secretary was asked to leave a restaurant because she works for the Tweasel.  She said it was more about the restaurant owner than her, forgetting that the newly appointed members of the Supreme Court made that behavior okay when they agreed that a baker could deny service to a gay couple.

Then the press secretary’s father got involved by tweeting a picture of tattooed Hispanics who might possibly look like gang members, comparing Nancy Pelosi’s campaign staff to MI-13 gang members. He’s a Southern Baptist minister. Praise God.

This list goes on and on and on.

Get a grip. Everybody.

Just because Tweasel is nuts, mean and stupid, doesn’t mean that we have to be.

Keep scrolling.

A still life.

The name Tweasel was created by a toddler after she heard me call the orange haired dufus in the White House a weasel and after she heard somebody else say that he is treasonous. She looked at me, smiled and said, “Oh, a Tweasel.”

Out of the mouth of babes.


As flowers drift by.

A little bit of peacefulness. Flowers drifting in water. An interplay of light and shadows. Slightly wind-blown grasses.

All this and more.

In my imagination. A dream sequence that helps me relax in a time of tension and international stupidity.

I work in the real world.

Discovering a picture that looks like something in a dream is a combination of luck and paying attention… to the dog who sees things. She led me to this picture. She almost climbed up, over, and into the water. Apparently, she liked what she saw.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. It was as simple as that. The real work came in post production. Since the scene is in shadow, the camera’s light meter wanted to overexpose a little. I wanted to underexpose and make the picture be deep, dark and moody. That was what I did in post production. The shadows helped to keep the light even. Most of my corrections were simple.