The sky.

T

hey say to tell another human being. I suppose that’s what I did yesterday. I told all of you. It worked a little and it didn’t. I slept a little better, my head is a little clearer but, that giant hole is still there.

So, I called my primary care doctor and asked for a teleconference. They are big on that lately because they are trying to keep people out of their offices unless we absolutely have to be there.

Their first question when I told them why I wanted to talk to him was are you a danger to yourself or others?

Nah.

Taking my own life is not within me. Ever. There are two ways to look at that. Either I’m pretty strong emotionally even though I’m down now. Or, I’m a coward because it takes courage to end your own life.

Hurting others?

Nah.

For me, violence is only for self defense. Besides, I’m sad not mad. And, I am mostly just quiet.

Anyway, my doc and I talked for about 12 minutes, which is the normal span of an office visit. I take a medicine for pain that was originally developed as an antidepressant. He raised the dose. I’ll check in with him or his office in 72 hours.

For y’all, no worries.

A

fter looking and not seeing I pretty much gave up trying to make a few new pictures.

Then, I took the trash out. This wonderful sky is what I saw. I took a bunch of pictures.

I suppose that photographer’s luck comes into play when you aren’t trying so hard.

I wasn’t trying at all.

Editing and post production was minimal, just enough to define the clouds a little better than the original file.

This is not my usual style or work. I’m usually bolder and use more contrast than this.

This picture just sort of floats. It’s what I needed at the time.

Something light, lacy, floating and almost ephemeral.

Maybe you could use that too.


One night, lonely.

O

nce, when I used to live in Asia, I traveled around the world to Denmark. I left Singapore exhausted and beaten down by a very rough press check.

My press checks were never rough. I know enough color theory and the art of making compromises when I couldn’t manage everything on the page the way I wanted.

We printed either 8, 12, or 16 pages to view. Or, we printed a certain number of pages at the same time so that when they were folded and trimmed they formed a section of a book. The trick is to make sure the color was what you wanted on, let’s say page one and page eight.

This press check was grueling because it was a co-production with a small sports agency based in New York. They thought we could print one of those big pages, send it to New York where they could make changes, maybe even substituting pictures.

Nonsense.

We’d have been printing the book for a month. Normally, that’s about a three day job.

So.

I went forward without sending them anything. My press, my call. I said they should call me in a couple of days.

When are you going to send the first pages they asked? The book is done I replied. The yelling started. The screaming started. I just listened. Finally, they settled down. I asked if they were done. I also said that if they started in again, I’d dump the whole thing in The Sea of China.

They threatened to call my boss, not realizing that I didn’t have a direct boss. But, I did have a president. Did they actually think that I’d go off half cocked with out making sure my back was covered.

Boy. This is a long set up.

I left Singapore for Denmark. We flew to Switzerland and then to Denmark. When we landed in Switzerland the flight attendant apologized, saying that she tried to wake me, but I was in such a deep sleep that she decided to let me sleep. Good call. She found me something for me to eat while we were on the ground.

When I finally arrived at what would now be called an Air BnB, I was about dead. I turned on the television to keep me company. The only channel that I could understand was a music channel.

I saw and heard it at about the same time.

There was the lead singer wearing long dreads, and leather fringe jacket. He was jumping around and looking happy. It woke me up.

The singer was Adam Durwitz. The band was Counting Crows. The song was Mr. Jones. You’d have think back to the mid-1990s to remember it. It was a huge hit from their first album. I still listen it to this day.

Finally.

S

o, that was a long story wasn’t it?

Just as well.

This side, the technical side won’t be near as long.

I saw the light from my studio. I was a little late. So, I did what I could.

I went to my go to location and started making pictures.

When I started looking at them while I was editing I realized that I didn’t know what was doing.

Figures.

This morning I couldn’t make an espresso to save my life.

I dropped the capsule on the floor. I picked up and dropped it again.

The basket was full so I emptied it into small trash can where we put recyclables. They fell on the floor.

I washed the basket.

I added more water. While I was pouring it into the machine the hatch that covers the water fell back in place. The water flowed all over the counter.

In what world do I think that I can make pictures?

Anyway.

I did some post production magic and made something that is intriguing.

At least I managed to repair all of the noise that was in the sky.

Now, do you want me to tell you about making breakfast?

Sheesh.


About ten miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, there are some strange hump-like hills. These are volcanoes. Theyare long dormant having last erupted some 30,000 years ago when most of the land around them was ocean bottom.

N

ew Mexican skies. There’s nothing like them. Along with the light, that’s what draws artists from every place in the world.

That’s not why I went there, but I exploited those things every chance that I could. So, you get to see a lot of sky photographs.

This place is interesting. If you read the caption you know that the hump-like mountain is really a volcano. You also know that it has been dormant for 30,000 years, which is certainly older than you or me.

The clouds in the sky looks almost like smoke. It isn’t but, the shape is interesting to me.

I used to like driving here. You could leave Albuquerque by what was left of Route 66, make right hand turn on the road facing the volcano, drive north for about ten miles, turn right again and head towards the city.

This was especially good working on PAD projects because you could see a lot of different stuff along the way. And, as you know, if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

Do you stand in front of better stuff?

O

nce again, I’ve failed you. There is almost no technique to discuss.

See it. Stop your car. Photograph it. Get back in your car. Drive away fast, like you robbed a bank.

Kidding.

Post production is fairly simple.

Once again, I learned that darkening the picture works really well.

And, rather than make really detailed clouds, I’ve been reducing the sharpness with a slider called structure in the app called Snapseed.

Move the structure slider so that it is 100% soft and you’ll make these kinds of dreamy clouds.

Move it the other way and the clouds will have a surprising amount of detail.

How detail oriented are you?


New Orleans from the Westbank.

I

‘ve had two useless days in a row. A friend of mine says there are no useless days. She’s wrong.

Let’s just start with today. We had a power failure before noon. The power companies estimate for restoring power was 4:20 pm today. To their credit they had us up and running around 1:15 pm.

When the computer shuts down like that it takes forever to get things running smoothly again. Apps are funky as well. It took me a good thirty minutes just to load this one. Even now I’m getting speed mystery type. That’s when you type, nothing shows up, and then a whole line of type appears.

At this rate, I’ll get about 15 minutes worth of work done in just four hours.

I decided to publish good pictures that you haven’t seen, no matter where I made them. We’ll start today with the City of New Orleans and our massive downtown. Massive if you live in some little place.

I’m not going to be photographing little pictures for a while. It’s just not the same without Sophie Rose.

You understand.

T

his picture is more about seeing than anything else. If you can’t see this you’d better quit photograph or else you are blind.

This is a fairly accurate representation of what I saw when I blindly stopped the car and made the photograph.

I did darken the picture which brought out more color. But, I didn’t add to the color. In fact, I scrubbed the mid-tones of the red on the ship to bring the color out.

That’s what I did, alright.

Oh yeah, the other useless day. Yesterday.

I awoke at about the normal time. I worked until about 10am when I started feeling groggy so I thought a little morning nap might be in order.

I awoke at just before 2:30pm.

Four hours.

I’ve been talking with some friends and they’ve been doing that too. We believe it’s our way of coping with extreme stress.

That’s better than a stroke or a heart attack.


Blue. My picture. Joni Mitchell’s song. My eyes. The sky on a sunny day. A clear lake. The ocean away from land.

I made this picture in New Mexico. Older pictures keep resurfacing on Amazon Pictures. They are pictures that I’ve forgotten about. Pictures that have never been seen by anybody. Pictures that were “lost.”

So.

Lucky you. You get to see them before anybody else.

I’m not sure what these desert flowers are called. They come out in late spring and stay for the summer.

Once, when I could actually crawl around on the ground and get back up without aid, I used to make pictures like this with a DSLR camera. Those days are gone.

There is a song in which one line says that we don’t know how much we would lose. Even though I think this picture is happy, the day is sad.

Yesterday, I read a quick two inch story about somebody getting killed in New Orleans. I didn’t think much about it because rarely does a day go by that somebody doesn’t die by violent means.

We were watching the 10 PM News. The murder was across the street from my old house. Uh oh. A woman was killed. My oldest friend in New Orleans. She was stabbed to death as she was walking to her car to go to work, by a guy who was stealing it.

Rest in Peace, Portia.

June is starting out like a hellhound on my trail. A dog, and a person died. Makes me wonder what’s next.

This column is going to be more of a rant.

Sorry.

WordPress is running terribly. Yesterday, I blamed it on the huge internet outage.

Today, it’s on WordPress.

There is still no caption line. Worse, making this two column alignment took an act of God.

I’m not sure what it was doing, but the software was stacking column on top of column. The paragraph template didn’t know where to go.

It turned out that pressing the column template once dropped six templates on top of each other.

Leave well enough alone. The block system is bad enough without WordPress making it “better” every time the programers think about it.


Not late for the sky.

Sometimes this picture is all you need. Sometimes nature fixes everything. Sometimes nature settles everything. Often as not, it’s not what you were hoping for.

We’ve had an awful lot of rain this spring. Something like 40 inches during a time when the normal rainfall is less than 20 inches. I don’t know what that means for our rainy seasons which is summer.

I do know that in six days hurricane season starts, with a heavier than normal year predicted. According to those folks whose job it is to know, there will be three major hurricanes to hit our shores this year. All the storm names will be used.

Oh joy.

Even when storms turn out to be nothing, there is anticipation. There is a fear rising from deep inside. A remembrance of storms past.

Or, just the big one.

When I see clouds like this I’m amazed. Look at them. Wow! They seem to be boiling up from somewhere unknown.

The unknown. That’s where I’d like to go. Today

And, you?

Point and shoot. F8 and be there. See it, shoot it.

That’s all this was. I wish I could tell you about some secret, but this is just literally walk out of the door and take a picture.

Post production was nothing too. I think I darkened the picture a little to help it be what I saw and felt.

That’s the thing. Feeling. That’s what matters. Today, we seem to be wrapped around taking pictures that show our technical prowess. Sharpness matters. Content matters. Pixels matter.

That all fails when you look at a bazillion pictures on Instagram or Facebook. Most of the pictures you see there are shallow and derivative. I find myself getting bored looking at them.

I’ve said I was leaving social media. I can’t seem to do that. As a working photographer I need it. But, I find myself liking less and less work as the weeks roll on.


Something like art.

This little cloud drifted by. It was front lit by the sun. No matter what I did, I couldn’t quite help the image to be what I saw, so I did what you are seeing.

I tried a lot of attempts. Nothing looked right. I’ll, show you a couple in a few more lines. Sometimes, photograph goes this way. Sometimes, it’s even worse.

Anyway.

So, what did I do to these pictures? In a word, everything.

I tried all the tricks in my bag. Nothing looked very good to me.

Then, I tried pulling everything back.

See what I mean? The middle top picture of this group is about how the cloud and sky looked to my eye when I saw it. It felt weak to me.

Try as I might without going into a lot of layering, I could not bring out the colors in any way that I really liked.

So I just made it different.

To tell you the truth, the picture I like best is the really dark one on top. The big picture. It is so different that it became its own form of art.

I’m also interested inn the bottom left image. It almost looks 3-D.

What do you all think?

I made the very dark picture and thought that it had nothing to do with reality but it did look like a nice piece of art. So, I stopped before I turned the orange dark and the image would have been just a dark blob.

As I’ve written in the past sometimes I just go back and forth with certain sliders until I’ve gotten to the picture.

Obviously, I did that six times. More than six times, but these are the images that I’m showing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Don’t be stupid. Be patient. Look after each other. Look at all the clouds in the sky.


Nature’s best.

Lately, I’ve been waking up way too early. That would be fine, but the all seeing dog is ready to go. I haven’t even had a coffee and she’s waiting by the door. Since she’s usually right, out we go.

Sometimes, but not always, pictures like this result from our early morning walks. This picture was made on our return route so the sun is a little higher in the sky than something like a dawn picture.

I would have preferred not to have the power pole in the picture. I’ve pretty much given up on that idea because in New Orleans power lines are above ground. Most of the city is built on elastic soil of the swamps below. That’s why we lost power seemingly forever after Hurricane Katrina. Above ground power lines.

Now do you see my problem?

My ground is elastic. Time is elastic. My clothes aren’t.

No matter, only the ground’s flexibility matters to this picture.

Morning light. Normally, I mostly work with late afternoon light. That’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to get up early.

For some reason, that’s changed. Of course, because I haven’t gotten enough sleep I take a nap… at 9am.

Who does that?

There really is no secret technique to making a picture like this. See it, click the shutter, do it a couple more times to be sure and you’re done.

Studio time is minimal too. Finish your picture and live your life.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Don’t be stupid. Enjoy all the early morning light.


Over and over.

Art or not, I like this photograph. It was the last of the New Mexico pictures that I was showing you earlier. I decided to make it into something more after claiming that my PAD pictures were akin to photojournalism.

So, I held it back.

It’s been living on my desktop staring at me, reminding me, nagging me. The image won. They always do.

I’ll discuss how I made it on the other side, the right hand column.

Under the heading of all the news that fits, there are some things going in the city that are scary.

There has been a rise in violent crime of 50% year to year. Shootings are up by 23%. There have been 12 shootings on upper Bourbon Street near or on Canal Street in the last two weeks.

One shooting was big enough that I read about it in the London newspapers. It was national news. You probably didn’t read about it because it’s likely there was another mass shooting the next day.

Somewhere.

Talk about a short news cycle.

Granted, the French Quarter is a touristy place, but the 100 and 200 blocks of Bourbon Street are gangland. There are armed wannabe thugs hanging out there, especially at night and the early morning.

If you are visiting stay away from there. Besides, there isn’t much to see.

The city’s response is to add another 150 cops there. That’s understandable because tourism is the city’s lifeblood. But what about other neighborhoods, of which the Quarter is just one?

In my hood we pay for armed private police. Most of them are former military and some are former M.P.s. No, they weren’t working in English parliament, they were military police.

They are armed, but they can’t apprehend anyone. They can put the cuffs on someone, but they have to call the NOPD in order to make an arrest.

I feel relatively safe right now. Most strangers are transients. They are either tourists taking pictures or people just passing by.

Right now nobody is passing by. Our street is finally being repaired. The construction crew thought the best way to fix it was to tear it all up. The street is all dirt with holes everywhere as the city pipes are being repaired to replaced.

As messy as it is, that’s a good thing. And, they are ahead of schedule, The original plan was to begin work in 2032. There are a lot of political and business heavyweights who use and live on the street. The former mayor’s aunt lived there.

What do you think happened?

His aunt was 82. She passed before any of the work began.

I was afraid that with the original schedule, the same thing would happen to me. I suppose that it still could.

And, so it goes.

Balloons floating through the air in the quiet of early morning.

That wasn’t enough so I added a foreground.

That still wasn’t enough so I added what picture editing apps call bokeh. I think they are just round circles that have been softened so that the fit into the picture.

Besides, bokeh is something else entirely. It’s the quality of the out of focus area of the picture.

For a while it was a really big deal. Brand new photographers were trying to take bokeh pictures. Others were discussing how to add it when it didn’t exist in the picture.

The conversation turned silly, even though the very best out of focus areas are creamy, but in which you can still recognize the shapes.

I have friends in Japan. The word bokeh is Japanese, but they said nobody uses it there.

Oh well.

Another western appropriation shot to hell.

Anyway.

After I added all of that, I fine tuned and tinkered a bit. Finally, I was done. So was the picture.

The picture has a sort of explosive quality to it, don’t you think?

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Float around in all the air.