Trains in the fog with help.

Foggy days. Foggy nights.

I took a little walk to a nearby train yard. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. We’ve had a lot of fog so I wanted to photograph the fog at night. I found two engines with their motors warming up. I was astounded to see a caboose sitting between them. Of course, there is a fence between me and them. I heard them before I could see them.

I did the best that I could.

I made this picture and added some roundish highlights to the image. I really didn’t have to, but you know me. I also had help from some business behind this little group. They had their big lights turned on, which helped me to make perfect silhouettes up against a glowing foggy sky.

The caboose is another story all together. My amazement arose because no railroads use cabooses today. Congress changed a law that required them to be attached to freight trains. Once the law changed most cabooses were headed to the scrapyard or to your favorite park. This is a working caboose. It is not used for its intended purpose, but rather as a place for the train crew to rest on long haul rides.

One more thing about the picture. Notice the quality? It’s much better than many images that I post here. I used my baby Leica. It’s a great camera for pictures like this and for many of the subjects that I photograph. It’s not so good for second lines or Mardi Gras Indians. When I say baby I mean it. It has a fixed zoom lens. It’s range is from 24mm to 75mm. It’s also fast. very fast, since it has a large f stop at f1.7.

About walking. I didn’t take a dog. This was a little photo walk.I learned that if I walk at my normal pace, rather than stopping, and letting the dogs explore, my legs don’t hurt anywhere near as much as they normally do.

And, so it goes.


Toward the end of the year. Toward the end the day.

A little obsession goes a long way.

I’m not talking about the perfume. I’m  talking about a mental and emotional obsession. I’m talking about the one that I have when it comes the closing of 2019. Normally, I don’t really care. It’s just the pages of the calendar turning. Not this time. I can hardly wait. Even though a lot of people have said the same things about other years in this decade, 2019 seems worse.

Many people who I know feel the same way. They are worn out. They are tired. They are depressed. They feel beaten down. A writer who I read religiously said, that in this year of truth being turned upside down, she’s gotten to the point where she’s not sure she can trust herself.

I fear that in 2020, in a general election year, it might only get worse. I really fear that the worse possible thing can happen. I am scared that a re-elected president who is unhinged and free to do whatever he wants will finally blow up the country. Not physically, but at least existentially.

Enough of that because there are ways to combat the fear and loathing that so many people are feeling right about now.

Go outside. Leave your house. Life will immediately become unpredictable. It will become, well, life. To be lived in. You can work. You can play. You can meet new people. It’ll will also take the daily pressures off of your soul.

If you are an artist or creator, art harder.

A friend of mine said that at the beginning of this year. It helped her. It helped me. Sink your teeth in to a couple of long term projects. You’ll think more about that and less about the state the world.

See the good in everything and everybody who you meet on your journeys outside. Smile at people. Greet them with a friendly face. Ask for help when you need it. Eat well. Sleep well. Play well. Take care of yourself. Whatever you do spiritually, do it more.

Pick a one word koan to keep in your heart and soul. Trust me, it helps. It becomes the guiding principle for your year. Because of all the bad things that might happen in 2020, I’ve chosen my word for the year. “Positive.”

Stay positive.

That drives everything else.

 


Looking toward the sky.

The headline say it all.

Reaching.

Bare trees look like they are reaching toward each other. It’s not a compositional trick. It’s not a camera trick. It’s not an accident. It’s just what I saw.

I think it’s a giant irony. As trees reach toward other, humans are fracturing more and more. Further polarization is in the air. Just read about the NATO 70th Anniversary meeting. Read the continuing silly attacks on the impeachment process. Red states v blue states. Ignoring the science of climate change for short term profits. And, on it goes.

But, nature knows.

Nature will probably have to destroy us to get us to listen. Maybe with the extreme weather of climate change, maybe with more people dying because of it, our leaders will take notice and listen. Maybe, hope against hope will prevail. Maybe nature will once again unite us.

Probably not. Likely it’ll further polarize the haves against have nots.

Who knows? It’s above my pay grade.

The picture. It was easy. I didn’t do much to it. Nature did all of the work.

There’s that nature thing again.

 


Storm clouds over Louisiana.

It’s about the weather this time of year.

Come to think about it, in Louisiana it’s always about the weather. After all, we live with six months of hurricane season. In about a week, that season will finally be over for 2019. I’m pretty sure that I can say we were lucky this year. The only storm that disrupted anything was the non-storm that became a storm. It was nowhere near hurricane force. It was a light tropical storm.

The strangest thing about Autumn in the south is extreme weather changes. Yesterday, the thermometer topped 80 degrees. Today, we’ll be lucky to reach a high of 65 degrees. This will go on until after Christmas. We’ve had Christmas days when we wore shorts and t-shirts. We’ve had other Christmases when we had snow that actually stuck. I went racing around photographing places with snow covering them.

I suppose I like changing seasons and weather because it is a very measurable way to look at life. Seasons come and go. Life moves on. But, as I get older and older, I am able to more clearly see the relationship between the two. Add to that, my birthday and I sort of want to plan the next year. What to leave in? What to take out?

I know one thing for sure. For a long while, maybe a year or two, I was cutting back. I was thinking that I was old now, and I shouldn’t start this or that. Nonsense. It’s true. Some avenues have closed. But, not because of my age. Instead they are closed by natural occurring changes in technology, in distribution, in usage. Not just in my world, but across the board.

What’s the saying?

“Change or die.”

I’m far from death. Think about that. I’m willing to bet most of you near aren’t death either.

What are you going to do in 2020?


After the storm, comes this.

Then, comes the sky show.

After a storm and as the cold front arrived we had a little color in the sky. I did what I could to photograph it. I really need to understand nature a little better in order to be in better places, to stand in front of better stuff, in order to make better pictures.

I’m starting to get bored with trees and power lines.

Actually, light will get better and easier to predict once we resume Standard Time at 2am this next Sunday. The evening sunlight will drop even lower in the sky. And, I can get ahead of rush hour traffic as I travel around from place to place in town.

There is some strategy to making pictures at the right time of day. A lot of it is simply the time of year.

Of course, there is standing in front of better stuff. That’s just another kind of planning or traveling.

There is lots to do. I’ve been biding my time.

 


Autumn light.

I changed my mind.

I wrote a fairly long post about me. I think I went a lot further than I intended. So, here I am writing something entirely different. It’s about teaching and letting go.

Many of my posts are purely about photography. My intent is to teach even if I don’t expressly say that. Sometimes, I teach by example. Sometimes, I tell you how I did something. Sometimes, I talk about theory and philosophy.

Hopefully, something strikes your fancy and you try it. Maybe you’ll ask more about how, why and what I did. Sometimes, I see a picture that looks just about like something I posted or talked about. I just sort of smile.

All of that is humbling.

I learned a lesson yesterday from some folks on Facebook. I was reading comments on a group page. If someone disagreed with another a big fight ensued. They attacked each other personally. It made me sad. The people in this group should be pulling in the same direction. Of course, disagreements happen, but throwing the kitchen sink at another person never helps.

Whenever you offer advice to another person, keep in mind that it is their life. They can choose to follow your advice or not. In either case, give your thoughts freely and walk away. You’ve done your best. For you, that should be good enough.

The picture. This is what happens when a cool front chases slightly warmer air. First, there is rain. Then comes wind. More rain. Then beautiful blue skies appear with brilliant white puffy clouds cruising through. My approach is to shoot directly into all that brightness and let the foreground fall into silhouette, making a dramatic graphic shape.

You may be inspired by the thought of making a fall picture. You may go about it in a different way. How cool is that? Your brain switched on and then clicked again. You made your picture.

 


Bookend.

Bookends.

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 the story from this land of swampy nod.

It’s a really big deal.


Sky fire.

Like magic.

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.

They say.

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.

And so it goes.