I made this picture during the last dog walk of the day. Yesterday. I don’t usually chase sunsets. How could I not photograph this one? Admittedly, I used a small bag of tricks to enhance the clouds. It’s small because you have to be careful. While you are messing with the clouds the trees go wonky.
Here’s the real news of the day.
Pants. I wore pants for the first time since late April in New Orleans. The long promised, and longer awaited, cool front arrive last night. The sky is a little gray and leaden, but I’ll take it. The dogs loved it. I already went for two very long walks with them this morning. I haven’t seen them walk so fast since, well, April. When it’s hot for us, it’s hot for them.
How long, you ask?
The temperature will rise to the mid-eighties by Friday and then dip again, well below today’s weather for the weekend. This means I can finally work in comfort rather than dripping and cursing.
That’s what it was. That’s how the sky lit up. It fooled me. Usually to have the sky catch fire, there must rain followed by light clouds. The sunlight hangs among the remaining clouds, its rays bouncing off of them and exploding in the sky.
Not this time.
There hasn’t been rain in over a month. Some of the northeastern parishes are already declaring a drought. I’ve been talking about the heat almost daily on Storyteller. No rain combined with heat means pretty boring sunsets.
Not last night.
Admittedly, I’ve enhanced the color among other things, but the light and color has to start from somewhere. There were even god rays which usually only come in a cloudy sky. They were so low and weak on the horizon line that I couldn’t get to a place to photograph them.
Something’s happening here.
And, it’s still hot.
I took whoever wanted to go for a walk out at around 8am. They’re smart dogs. They don’t like the heat anymore than their humans do. I passed one of my neighbors who said that it was much cooler today. I looked at him like he was crazy. 8am. 86 degrees. Of course it was cooler than 95 degrees. It was 8am. Sheesh.
A cold front should move in on Sunday night. On Monday we should have more normal weather for this time of year. This will be followed by a colder front which according to the weather people will drop the high temperatures down in the 70s and the lows in the middle 50s. You know what one of the Eagles sang… “that bubbled headed bleached blond who comes on at six.”
That’s how I feel. I don’t trust them. I wish I had a job like theirs. Get their brand of news wrong 90% of the time and be called a regional legend.
The picture isn’t it. Unless you look at the curve at the top, which is really the bottom.
Yeah. Sure. This is one of those scenes that I return to when I can’t find a subject to suit a great sky. But, it’s different. It’s a reflection made by pointing the lens into a car’s hood. A black car. A black, dirty car.
I’ll tell you why dirty matters in a minute.
I made the picture on another walk. I was trying to figure out how I could do something a little differently because the clouds were so intense. They needed to be photographed. I happened to look towards my right. There it was. An almost perfect reflection of the scene above. I didn’t even bother with the real sky. I found what I liked.
Ten exposures later and I was done. I did not over shoot. I worked the angles and the length of the lens a little.
Dirty? Oh, that matters because the little star field you think you see in the bottom of the picture is really just little bitty bits of dirt.
I suppose if I flipped this picture around so the up is down, you might think I made the picture at night and somehow managed to get the stars in the picture even though we live in a place where there is nothing but light pollution. You could never really photograph star in New Orleans.
If you are lucky, you’ll be outside to see it as it drops down over the earth like a dark curtain. For me, it just depends. If I’m done with inside work and a dog wants to go out, I get to see nature’s magic. Magic and renewal. A 24 hour cycle. A kind of rebirth.
Sometimes, I’m trapped inside. I see dusk and nightfall through my studio windows. Sure, I can see the light. I can see day turn to night. But, it’s just not the same.
We — the dog and I — were walking along a little fence. When we turned the corner this is what I saw. I almost got too excited. I calmed down within a few seconds. I steadied myself. I made five frames. I knew I made a picture of what I saw.
That’s how it’s been for the last few days. A lot of photographer’s luck, combined with timing and a little bit of knowledge. When the weather finally cools down, I’ll go looking for pictures in earnest. This is the time when we all got impatient because it seems like summer will never come to a close.
I saw a little meme of Facebook. Southerners say, “We made it through 20 weeks of summer. Only 32 weeks to go.” That feels about right. Right now.
But, this is Southeastern Louisiana. Even though today marks the end of summer according to the calendar, it’s still very hot. This week promises highs in the low 90s.
I call this the weird time of year. It looks like Autumn but it isn’t. Our actual fall will come in another two months. Some leaves will turn colors. Some leaves will fall. Others won’t.
We were doing a Labor Day BBQ thing over in another parish. I looked up and saw some cool light, so I followed it a little bit. I needed a subject so the dusk light could be shown off. I found some nice graphic shapes. I made a few frames. I fine tuned the picture in post production using a combination of Snapseed and OnOne. And, that was it.
I made this image in a neighborhood of the Ninth Ward called Holy Cross. . I saw this woman riding off into the sunset so I followed her in my car. When I got close enough to her, I got out and made a quick ten frames or so.
She heard the sound of the camera, so she circled back to me keeping her distance, not knowing what I was about. I held my hand up in a show of friendship. She decided to trust me. I turned the LCD around and showed her the pictures. She was relieved. I handed her my card and asked her to email me and I would return a full sized image file. She did. I did. All is good.
That’s pretty much how you do it. My instinct, built on my years as a photojournalist is to photograph first and apologize later. But, I seem to be able to sell myself in situations like this one. I’ve long realized that to work as a photographer you have to carry yourself like one. It’s confidence, but it’s something else. You have to look like you know what you are doing.
I’ve read a number of stories about a couple of photographers who have gotten in a lot of trouble taking pictures at state fairs and similar situations. One sounds like he was a creep. The other was just out taking pictures. Both tried to hide and blend in to the crowd when they were approached by concerned parents.
I never do that. I walk purposely to the person asking questions. I introduce myself and shake hands if they’ll let me. I turn my camera around so they can see the LCD and what I was doing. I offer them my business card and tell them if they want a print I’ll email them a file if they ask.
I never have a problem.
Take heed. The world is a weird place. People are scared. People don’t trust each other. Try to repair that when you are out making pictures. Leave folks better off then when they met you. That is the least that you can do.
Here’s a pro tip for you. If you have the time, and if you are close to the place where you made a good picture once, go back. You never know what you’ll find the second time. Or, even the third time.
You’ll never make a perfect picture, because perfection is for angels. But, you might make a better picture than your first attempt. Or, at least it will be different. That’s what this picture is. Different.
When I finally start reviewing my summer time collection, I’ll compare them. I might even let you compare them. You know. The so-called wisdom of the crowd. Storyteller and Laskowitzpictures, LLC isn’t quite that democratic, but I do listen. Because. You never know.
The picture. Like the first version of this scene, I stuck my lens into the scene as I saw it. The sun is a big part of the scene. They — whoever they is — say that you shouldn’t do this. I did it. I do it often. I’m still alive. So are the cameras and lenses. Not doing this is just cheating yourself out of a potentially good picture.
We all think of New Orleans as being a giant city. It’s not. It’s a city of about 375,000 people. We are losing about 1,000 people a year due to all sorts of reasons. Broken infrastructure. Institutional racism. Crime. Horrible schools. High Taxes. Very high rental prices. The list goes on.
That’s not what this post is about.
Instead, it’s about the region in which we live. Fifteen minutes outside of the city lies Southeast Louisiana. If it matters, leaving the city means traveling from a blue city to a red state. It doesn’t matter to me. Even though we might not agree politically, I find the people to be sweet, kind and caring.
So, we don’t talk politics. Or, religion.
Aren’t those topics what you are supposed to avoid during holiday dinners? With people who really look like you because they are you. Sort of.
I like crossing the big muddy and tooling along the roads on the Westbank. You never know what you’ll find. I find pictures like this one. I find good almost home cooked meals in gas stations. I find people who ask why you are taking a picture. When you tell them, they ask to be in a couple frames. They either tell, or guide you, towards locations that they think might make a good picture.
They are country folk.
To them, New Orleans is the “big city.” A place in which they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe. And, yet, the are only 10 or 15 miles away.
The picture. Wandering along River Road around sunset. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out the rest.
Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.
I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.
Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…
The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.
This picture is not one of them.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.
I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.
This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.