Ink and gold.

He was sitting.

My neighbor was worried that he was doing something he shouldn’t be. I thought that I’d check him out using the guise of liking his ink. He turned out to be a nice guy and that’s all I need say about that.

I haven’t seen him since I made this photograph. If I do, I’ll make sure he gets a print.

So.

Wrapping Up

It’s Sunday and I don’t have much to say. The teachers in my life are going a little crazy not knowing in what form they are going to teach next semester. Most of them want to teach remotely. They don’t want to get sick, nor they want to bring it home to somebody who might be compromised.

I mostly stay home because of my age and one compromising condition. I had to laugh when I looked at my Google analytics. I drove a whopping 22 miles in June. Not in a day. Not in a week. But, the entire month.I have to cut down on this wandering around.

However, I am going to get out and make 15 year anniversary Hurricane Katrina pictures. I’ve mostly put all of that behind me, but I haven’t been looking at what’s happened in the five years since I did it last. When I mentioned that to my neighbor she said why are you starting now? You’ve got six weeks.

I have to find the locations. I have to make the pictures. And, I have to stay dry and try not to get shot. It’s hot, but that’s never stopped me in the past. Time to get out there, stay away from people and make a few photographs.

The Picture

I told you why I made the picture. I didn’t tell you how. I walked up to him and I used a little photographer patter. I said that I noticed his ink and could I made a few pictures? He nodded yes and away I went. Then we talked for a while, which is when I came to know that he is a nice guy. I made a couple more pictures and we were done.

I see so much street photography, being a member of about ten groups, that almost has nothing to do with the work of making pictures. The pictures are taken from behind or they are taken from across the street or down the street with a long telephoto lens. In these pandemic days a lot of people are feeling lonely. You don’t have to get within six feet and a couple of words might help. Do be careful. But, you know what I’m saying. Make a friend.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. Enjoy the summer weather.

Oh, after reading about Ruth Bader Ginsberg fighting cancer again, the woman from whom I got the saying — Mary Chapin Carpenter — posted a picture of RBG and said, Stay Mighty. I don’t know MCC, but thank you for that.


Early morning breakfast stop.

The Clover Grill.

A classic dive in the French Quarter. The food is good. Hamburgers are cooked under a hubcap. You probably can’t finish a side order of french fries. And, you’ll never know who or what you’ll see.

Go there late at night and the trannies will perform for you. Especially if they think they can get a rise out of you. I can use that name in this era of no fun, no fools, because that’s what they tell you to use. It’s all good fun. They laugh. You laugh. If you’ve brought an out of town quest, they sit there stunned, until they realize it’s better to join in. And, the pictures? Sheesh. They pose. The waiters pose. The cooks pose.

I tell you. It’s a kind of street theater.

I made this picture on an early Sunday morning walk. That’s why there is condensation on the window. Cold, dry air up  against a window that has moist, warm air pressing against it, and guess what happens. The picture was easy. See it. Photograph it. That’s how I work when I’m wandering around.

I haven’t been doing that lately. There are a lot of reasons for that. But, it’s coming to an end. I miss working this way. I miss exploring. Photographing whatever happens in front of me. Whatever comes to me.

Give me a day or two.


It’s all the same.

I met this guy on the way to somewhere else. That’s when the best pictures happen.

I was walking to the second line in Central City. I parked a few blocks away. A little distance is important so I could make a quick getaway. That is, if I want to jump to another location. I’m not fast enough anymore to cut through the streets on foot and get ahead of it.

He was sitting on a little stoop in front of a battered old house. He saw the cameras on my shoulder. He called me over. He wanted me to take his picture. So I did. He wanted something in return. I know the drill. I gave him a couple of bucks (that pro tip thing). He stuck the dollar bills in his mouth. I don’t know why. I took another picture.

Which brings me to the picture.

I sort of overlooked it at first. I looked at it again. The color wasn’t working. I converted it to black and white. Then it worked. This might be my best picture of the year. Ten months into the year and I finally made a picture.

Imagine that.


Sitting, think and waiting.

Yes. It’s a long story.

The picture seems fairly simple. These two guys are waiting for Big Chief John to dress and make his appearance. That part is simple enough.

But.

Oh, you knew this was coming.

The Original Wild Tchoupitoulas were getting dressed next door. In a private home. One that was rock solid. The building next door had been falling down for years. But, gentrification is coming to Central City. It was being restored. I said to somebody at the time that now it looked like it was ready to fall down.

I was right. It did.

It fell down. The next day. On Monday. It completely collapsed, trapping three workers, and onto Washington Avenue, closing it in both directions until the debris could be cleared.

I’m trying to figure out a couple of things. It’s one of those chicken and egg things. The building was abandoned for years. For years, we sat on the stoop waiting for Second Sunday activities to start. Drummers played their drums on the porch. Brass bands practiced there. It was solid. Now with new construction and the shoring up of the foundation, the building became fragile. We all did the things that we usually did. It fell down.

Did we cause it to fall down? Was it the new construction? Was it simply the fact that it sat abandoned for so many years?  I don’t know. It’s probably our faults. Luckily, the workers who were trapped were not injured. And, the building didn’t block traffic during rush hour.

The picture. It was one those extra pictures I made during the main event. I just liked the position of the two men. I did a lot to it in post production, including adding that frame. I’m not sure if it helps or hurts.


Life in The Bywater.

This is what I thought.

If I’m changing the last series to something new, it really ought to be new. Something different. Something unexpected. Something in black and white.

So.

Here it is.

The picture is about two months old. I made it when I was taking a couple of guys around New Orleans while they were scouting for possible film locations. After an extended email conversation, I had some pretty good ideas of where to go. I took them to my first idea. Vaughn’s. In The Bywater. A dive that is known for Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers long, long Thursday night residency.

Of course, we went out during the daytime. The bar was open. There was no food. No music. Just this guy hanging out, trying to keep cool. He didn’t care if I photographed him. In return, I bought him a beer. That seemed like the New Orleans thing to do.

We went inside. My friends fell in love with it. One day, I suppose, it might be in another movie. Who knows? These things change.

The picture. It started out as a color image. But, I wanted to make a change. So I did. I really did. I converted it. Then I did my little magic and made it creamy and less contrasty. I hoped to make it feel old. Or, oldish.

Here’s a little clue for you all. Open this picture as big as you can. This is a very subtle image. I made and finished it as I saw it in my mind’s eye. Hanging on the wall. About 6 x 4 feet.

The funny thing about this picture is that after watching an unrelated movie I came to the conclusion that my best work is in color. Yeah, yeah. I know the argument. You see form, shape, light, texture better in black and white.

My reply to that is simple. The world is a colorful place. Honor that.

 


Sitting, waiting.
Sitting, waiting.

Another one.

A picture made on the way to someplace else. This time, I was walking on Bourbon Street near Jean Lafitte Blacksmith Shop, which is really a bar. I was waiting for the action to start. And, looking for a picture or two. People were wandering around everywhere. On the sidewalk. On the street. In the patio. In the bar. A few minutes earlier, while I was looking for a place to park, I passed this same place and noticed four people posing for a group shot. In front of the bar. They were all naked. I’m willing to bet they were tourists. They would never do that at home. They would do it in my home.

That’s the thing.

During Mardi Gras we have this terrible reputation of hard partying and nudity. Women baring their breasts for beads. The partying might be on us. But, the public nudity? Nah. Those are tourists who will do anything for a 19 cent string of beads.

Our local women. Never. If they wanted a bead (that’s what we call string of beads), they’d say, “Gimme a bead or I’m coming up there to take one.” We are tough down here in the swamp. Or, they wouldn’t even go to the Quarter during Mardi Gras. They couldn’t be bothered.

Anyway.

I saw this guy sitting in his window. Across the street from Jean Lafitte’s old place. He was ignoring the hub-bub and reading. I took a couple of pictures with a longer lens and thought, “Nah, I need to work closer.” I always think that. I asked if he minded. He didn’t. And, I took this picture.

Thank you for all the compliments about yesterday’s picture. A friend of mine who has a lot of advertising agency experience sent me an email that said something along the lines of that agencies would have art directors, and assistants, and lighting and all that stuff… and I just stood on the corner and waited.

That’s what I was taught to do.

Often, when I show up to an advertising campaign shoot, I drive young ADs and CDs crazy. I have one small bag of gear and an assistant… usually a friend who knows cameras, but who needed a little time off and a little cash in their pockets. His or her job is mostly to get in the way of the “creatives” while I work with the talent (models and props). Afterwards, when the “creatives” see the pictures they are gobsmacked. “Oh my God, these pictures are soooooo good.” Their reactions have more than convinced me that bringing tons of gear is mostly a selling tool, not a technical need to make the picture.

Heh.


Haircuts and other things.
Haircuts and other things.

This picture says it all.

About getting your hair cut. About getting photographed. About being forced to do anything.

I’m not exactly sure about the interaction between the barber and his customer, but the man with the shears has a pretty good grip on the kid’s head. While the barber was cool with my work, his customer might not have been. Hard to know. Or… easy. Heh!

The picture. I try to use events as a platform to photograph other community pictures. While I was photographing the second line and the people getting ready to walk, I also made pictures of anything else that caught my attention. Even though the Hot Spot was functioning as the club’s dressing room, the show still had to go on. So, while some folks were putting on the final touches to their suits, others were just going about their Saturday business. Getting their hair cut. For instance.

Technical stuff. I don’t really know. I could check the meta data, but I won’t. Knowing me, it’s f5.6 or greater since there’s pretty good front to back sharpness in fairly low light. Shutter speed? Nothing is blurred, so at least 1/60th of a second.


Passing the time.
Passing the time.

This is as great example of “my picture.” A small picture that has a little bit of personal meaning attached to it. It is also a picture I made on the way to some place else.

Here’s a bit of backstory.

I photographed the second line that I posted yesterday. Parking is always a big deal when I go to these things. First, you have to find a fairly safe place. Second, you need it to be at the mid-point of the parade because if you walk a long way, you have to walk back. Third, when the weather is as hot as it’s been, you’d like to park in a bit of shade. I managed to do all three. In fact, I parked under a drooping palm tree that pretty much covered the car.

So.

As I was walking back to my car, I noticed three people sitting on their porch. From the front it didn’t look like that much of a picture. The house was on a corner. When I turned the corner, I saw… this.  I asked if they cared if I took a picture. The guy in the baseball cap said okay. The guy in the red was asleep. When he heard the shutter click, he sat straight up slightly alarmed. His friends told him what I was doing and he just started talking to me. It was only then that I realized why he was alarmed. He is blind.

After editing the picture, I realized why he is blind. I’m willing to bet that two out of the three people on this porch are sick. With the same illness. Can you guess with what?

I’ll let you tell me. But, take good care of yourselves. You can prevent some of this.

The picture. I already told you what I did. I suppose the shutter speed was around 1/2oooth of a second, with the aperture at somewhere above f 8. Remember I was photographing a second line. I need shutter speed and good depth of field. And, that’s it.

 


Sitting and thinking.
Sitting and thinking.

Water. We are surrounded by it.

If you look at a map you’ll see that New Orleans is pretty much surrounded on all sides by water in some way.  To the north is Lake Ponchartrain. To the south and sort of east is The Mississippi River. If you cross the river and work your way through the Westbank you come to the Gulf of Mexico. If you head down river you come to a place where the lakes and the gulf come together.

There are places where the gulf’s saltwater mixes with lake water like this one. This is Lake Borgne. It used to be considered a lagoon. But now, due to erosion it is really just part of the Gulf of Mexico. There is still a smallish “land bridge” at Lake Catherine which sort of divides the two bigger lakes. But you cannot cross without a boat. Much of the freshwater-based foliage is dead or dying because of the salinity in the gulf mixing with the freshwater of the lakes.

So.

What do we do with all this water? A lot. But, we mostly fish. Well, I don’t. But, people fish for their livelihoods, for recreation and just to put fresh seafood on their diner tables. Me? If I want really fresh fish, I go here or a couple of other places. I can buy fish as it is being offloaded from a boat and into a cooler in the trunk of my car. That’s pretty fresh. Depending on the season I can pretty much buy whatever we like. Well, not everything. For instance, Salmon or Tuna isn’t local.

Anyway,

These pictures were made on a drive I took with a friend of mine. I met this guy — Robert — through WordPress. He travels and lives in different places throughout the year. He decided that he likes New Orleans so he decided to stay here for little longer than some of his other stays. He was getting ready to leave, likely for cooler pastures, when I said that he’d been here so long that he really ought to stay around and see Mardi Gras. So he did. That’s late February in 2017. With any luck, it will be a little warmer than the last three Carnival Seasons.

I didn’t really go out looking for pictures of people and boats used to fish. But, when we got to Shell Beach — which took the brunt of an almost direct from Hurricane Katrina — the pictures started coming together into some sort of visual collection.

That’s what you are seeing.

One more thing. This is really the SOUTH. In big, capital letters. Although it is less than 15 miles away, it is nothing like the third world Caribbean country we call New Orleans.