Urbex deluxe.

U

rbex deluxe.

I wrote that in the picture’s caption and I liked it so well that I made it the lead line. I’m thinking it could be a good name for a band.

Anyway.

My past is coming back to haunt me. I used to photograph a lot of urbex, or urban exploration for the uninitiated. A publisher reached out to me. He wants to know if I was interested in publishing a book.

Interested? Sheesh. WordPress claims 90,000,000 users. Probably, 89,999,000 of us hope to publish a book.

But, I have a problem. I’m already committed to another publisher for two books of a very similar nature.

Hmmm…

For months of the lockdown, most of us were so bored that we gained 894 pounds per every three houses. Now, I have more work than I can do for the remaining year.

Because.

I haven’t told you about a picture agency who reached out to me. They are in a small sort of backroom corner of the picture business. They are hard to find.

They distribute and market the kinds of pre-framed art that you see in big box stores and online. This is where the money lies. Really big money because… well, think of it this way, companies line up to sell products through Wal Mart. Why do think that is?

While companies like Wal Mart set the price structure and keep the margins slim, this company has already negotiated those deals.

They found my work on websites like Art.com. An old agency distributed some of my work into websites like that. The agency doesn’t exist and now I have to ask for payment if they made any sales. This is going to take some inspection.

A new hobby.

Back to the mass distributing agency. This means that I don’t have to chase around trying to make new pictures. They want my archives.

This is a giant retirement fund that exists separate from my own retirement fund. That was the dream of photographers who made pictures for stock agencies. When those agencies were scooped up by bigger agencies and the market collapsed, those dreams died.

Maybe those dreams live again.

I just knew that my archives were worth something.

T

his is an example of urbex photography. This one of the few times that I had partners with me.

They were friends of friends. They were young which made them think that they were bulletproof.

Fine with me.

They had my back while I made pictures. We spent a day doing that.

Normally a day is way too long for me. I kind of reach my limit at about three hours.

But, they were driving so I could relax in between locations.

This bar/club was located at the end of Desire Street. Yeah, this neighborhood was the terminus of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The city has been cleaning up this little bit of the parish. First, Club Desire was torn down. That broke my heart although after hurricanes and storms there wasn’t too much left inside that could be restored.

A couple of ruined buildings across the street were torn down including the only gas station for a couple of miles.

This bar was located about a block away from Club Desire. I haven’t been there for a while so I have no idea if this building stands or if it met the wrecking crew’s ball.

Anyway, the story is better than the technique. Wait for the people to be about where you want them and press the button.

Expose for the shadows and open up by 1/3 of a stop.

That’s it. No post production required.


Look to the west.

We listened to a podcast this morning that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a conversation between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s not about that. Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, this is worth listening to. You’ll learn something about the two men. More importantly, you might learn something about yourself.

They discussed their fathers and how they helped them grow, or didn’t. Mostly, they didn’t. Obama’s heritage is well known. Springsteen’s not so much.

I relate to Springsteen’s story much more than Obama’s. I’ll stop there because I’m not quite really explore those depths and write about them. Let’s just say I am what I am despite my upbringing.

Springsteen did say something funny that can be taken one of two ways. He said that he dresses like a blue collar worker, but he never worked a day in his life. You can take that at face value.

Or.

You can take it the way that I did. Even though every musician that I know says they are working or that music is their job. It’s the kind of job that they love doing. In that way they have never had a job. They enjoy what they do.

Do you?

Into the sky. That’s what caught my attention. The crazy, almost exploding sky.

Look at it. Please.

It’s almost like an upside down beach with the waves leaving trails in the newly exposed sand.

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one like this.

I did what I could to make the proper exposure so that it would be easy work in post production.

I helped it a bit. The result is what you see here. For me, the real trick was to keep the buildings in silhouette while retaining just enough light on them to let them glow.

Let’s see what happen today.


Out on the edge.

Luckily for all of us, WordPress made a lot of changes in the block system. They announced it today. I use the word luckily in a snarky tongue in cheek way.

I am convinced they “improve” their apps because they want to keep their staff employed. I guess during these pandemic times that’s a good thing.

I imagine a lot of coders working from home, wearing their daytime pajamas and sitting in front of a screen mindlessly typing, typing, always typing. Around them are piles of empty burrito wrappers, energy drink cans, taco chip bags and ice cream containers.

Then, they send their work to us. They send it in bits and pieces. Eventually, an email from the home office (somebody’s three car garage) is sent telling us about these changes.

Woah!

That’s not what I intended to write about. I thought I was going to tell you about a wonderful morning when I made this picture.

The air is beginning to warm a bit. The all seeing dog enjoys being out even if she isn’t walking as far these days.

So, we walk to a place where I can sit. She sits too. Eventually, she lays down in her pose. Front paws forward, back paws extended backwards. She’s enjoying herself and that’s what matters.

Right?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t be foolish, it’s not over yet. Enjoy all the spring.

The edge. That’s what this picture is about. It’s about the real fine edge when winter turns into spring.

There you see it. Now you don’t. Follow the magic ball.

Then, spring is here. Fully present.

We were sitting outside after walking a bit, I was watching to clouds dance around the sun.

I did what I always do. I made a few pictures. I returned home wondering if I made anything good because the sun so bright I couldn’t even see to frame or focus. Truly point and shoot.

I got lucky.

I did a little work in post production and there you have it.

A photograph.

This brings me to something I was reading about. Maybe you did too.

An anonymous collector paid $69 million dollars in cryptocurrency for a work of art that only lives in the digital world.

Sheesh.


Seriously spooky.

All in my head.

I saw one scene. I photographed it. I saw another scene. I photographed it. When the time came I combined them.

Oooh. Spooky.

The picture does have an eerie feeling to it. Like something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Can’t you just see Cthulhu lurking back in those trees? Lovecraft wrote in a number of themes. Threat to civilization was one. Another was fear of science. A third was the subject of race. And, finally religion and superstition.

Mix all of those together in a toxic stew and what do you get?

2020.

If we distill some of that into the “Era of the Rona,” as I heard a young guy call it, you start observing more than you did in the early days of sickness and death.

I think we are getting too comfortable with the virus. While we all seem to be following the rules of masking, at least in my limited world, we aren’t keeping our distances and I saw one guy shake another’s hand. I miss that too.

But…

We can’t do that right now.

On the other hand, we are wearing our masks. We went to make groceries — a New Orleans way of staying I’m going grocery shopping — I noticed that everyone was masked except for one guy. About four or five people ganged up on him and told him to get out. He didn’t know what to do. He knew that four or five is more than one so he left.

That’s good. We have to take care of each other. Making that guy leave was taking care of him. Think about it.

This is all hard to do.

I photographed Big Queens Kim’s funeral procession. Before I write further, everyone was masked. Our great NOPD street cops had cloth bags tied at their wastes. If they came upon somebody without a mask they reached into their bag and gave them one. They were new and sealed in plastic. Nothing else was said.

One of the hardest things about going was saying hello to other photographers. We are sort of tight knit. We haven’t seen each other in about six months. Normally, there would be hugs and talking closely. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t shake hands. We tried elbow bumps, but that felt stupid.

I think I’ve also said about our cops, that if they were in any of the cities were protests turned to riots, the riots would never have happened. They know how to handle crowds. Down here, when one group was determined to destroy things, the cops isolated and arrested them. Everyone who came to protest, protested.

We don’t fear our cops. During Mardi Gras my routine is to find parking early, walk over to C.C’s. (Community Coffee) and have a cup before I go out to make pictures. I need the caffeine boost. Usually that means that I’m sitting at a four top — ooh, restaurant talk — by myself.

Often I’m joined by two or three NOPD. We talk about this and that as you do. After sitting with the same group on a couple of occasions, I asked them why they are so good at crowd control. They said, they try never to overreact, they talk with the citizens around them and they never ever draw their weapons unless a citizen’s life is in peril. Not their’s. One of them said that he thinks there is too much tactical gear on the streets which implies an aggressive approach.

There you have it.

We might not have Mardi Gras next year. It depends. Obviously, on this day of reflection about Hurricane Katrina, other traditions come into play. Mardi Gras was blamed for the rapid spread of the virus in early March. I’m not sure that’s fair. Unless, we do everything we can as a city to calm down the virus there is no way Carnival should happen.

That’ll be a horrible shame.

Aside from the long term planning and energy that everyone puts into the production, and all of us who celebrate it as something more than partying, the city needs the money. We’ve been shut down for so long that the tax base is almost non-existent.

The Picture

Wow! See what you get from one spooky looking picture? You get to see my mind wandering around through so bad neighborhoods. I told you about the picture, so…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Keep your distance. Enjoy every po’boy.


As dusk arrives.

“As pieces of cloud dissolve in the sunlight.” — Rumi

When I saw this and made the picture I didn’t know what I had. What a wonderful scene as nature created it. I just had to let it find me. That was the hard part. The easy part was pushing the button.

Call it what you want, but this is the best way to make pictures. The pictures are usually pretty good because I had nothing to do with them.

This is also why I try to teach my travelling photographers friends not to run around from one place to another trying to see what they can see. Instead, I suggest that they should camp out for a while in place like a coffee house or bar or cafe and just watch the world go by. A picture will stumble past.

I also suggest that if they are going to be in one location for a week or so that they return to the place they settled into earlier. Other daily patrons will see you, chat for a few minutes and get to know you. When you tell them what you are doing they might have some locations that they see with a local’s eyes.

If you do something like this, think of the pictures you might bring home. They won’t be like every tourist pictures. They won’t be postcard-like. They will be uniquely yours. Let me be clear, sometimes you have to work through the touristy and postcardy pictures to come out on the other side. At least, those won’t be your best selects.

When I decided to publish this picture, I had no idea where my words would take me. Funny how being in the moment allows for a lot of spontaneous thought and creativity.


Silhouette in the winter sky.

Number two.

I said that I made a lot of pictures of one of the most amazing sunsets that I’ve seen in many moons. This is the second one. I hate to say this, but I was only about ten steps from yesterday’s picture. I just saw it, walked a bit, and pressed the button again.

I’m a fairly economical and efficient photographer. So, when I say I made a lot of pictures I don’t mean that I held the button and machine gunned the exposures. That’s kiddie stuff. Two or three exposures at each scene is enough for me. Sheesh. The trees aren’t moving.

Anyway.

I had one of those mornings.

Mostly, I can laugh at it. I had ton of client email to attend to. These folks don’t want to wait a few days. They want answers, plans and schemes today. Right now.

Then, the dog who sees stuff has developed an aversion to fog. I know she won’t go out in the rain, but this is something new. She goes outside, does her business (she was trading food to a cat), and heads back home. I have no idea what’s gotten into her Cocker Spaniel head.

When you send a business email you get replies. Back to the computer I went.

Finally, the weirdest thing happened to my main machine. Once upon a time I used Google Chrome. It’s too bloated and because I use a Mac, Safari works much better. It also has its own protection software.

I opened it. At the same time Chrome opened. I used “force quit” and shut it down. It opened again. I shut it down again. Up popped some kind of app I’ve never seen. It wanted me to share everything with it including your WordPress addresses. I said no. It tried three more times. It also said its app was installed. Huh?

Apparently, it rode in with Chrome. I went into my apps file and trashed Chrome. I could not find any kind of rogue app anywhere. I looked in the usual hiding places. And, some more unusual places. There was nothing that I didn’t recognize. Hopefully, it attached itself to Chrome and now it’s been shredded.

Be careful out there.

I didn’t do anything wrong. All I did was open my computer.


Today.

We have agreement.

There is a big, huge storm headed this way and to the rest of the Southeast coming tomorrow. Supposedly, there will be punishing rains, high winds and the possibility of tornadoes.

Some say.

The storm will be warm. Others say the storm will be cool and will usher in another cold front. People are also talking about the storm eventually reaching the Northeast where for sure there will be snow.

I just have to laugh.

Our local weather folks have been wrong the last three storms that headed this way. They predicted that two of them were going to be a big deal. They weren’t. They said the last storm would amount to nothing. They were wrong. It was something.

We’ll just see about this one.

I still say that I want a job in which I can be wrong 100% of the time and not get fired.

The picture. It is a fresh as possible. I made it this morning. It’s the beginning of something, or nothing.


Looking at the sky.

Look up.

Sometimes, that’s where the picture lies. I did that the other night at around dusk. I was housebound and I need to get outside for a few minutes. I made the picture about ten steps from the door.

Is there a lesson in there someplace? Nah. I’ve preached enough about going outside when you are in a photographer’s block. You don’t need to read it again. Oh wait. You already did just read it. No matter. If  you’re like me, a little brain pounding is needed. If not, sorry.

I’m going to post another reworked picture tomorrow. It’s about something that is seen yearly in the French Quarter. I was going to write something about not having to work the scene again because it’s always the same. While I was thinking that, an idea came to me. It’s an early evening shot, so I’ll go very soon to see if it works. At least, my brain is starting to work.

It hasn’t been working for most of the week. But, that’s another story, for another time. I’ll eventually discuss it, but not now.

The picture. It’s a kind of F8 and be there thing. But first, you have to find the framing.The picture is cropped into a square because I didn’t exactly find the right frame. I cropped it into the right frame. And, that little dot way up there? That’s the moon.

Enjoy.


Into the mystic.

Deep. Dark. Mysterious.

That’s what I saw. That’s what I felt.  Luckily, I was able to make a picture that has feeling rather than just the usual documentation of a thing or place. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen very often.

It was kind of a fluke. Kind of photographer’s luck. Kind of what I tell me people who are suffering from a photography disorder.

It was a fluke because the dog and I normally don’t walk in this direction. It was photographer’s luck because we picked the time of day. It was the solution to the question I had been asking myself earlier in the day.

Together, all of this worked in my favor. Or, really, your favor.

The picture. From a technical standpoint, it was be there, see it, push the button. In post production it was more of the same. Most of the work was about darkening and enhancing the color to the point that I saw it while we were walking.