The sky looked almost like rows of crops with cotton ball clouds floating by my discerning eye. I was going to wait to publish this picture. I’ve been enjoying working with “real” cameras. And, sharing those pictures.
But, my Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of these clouds made by local photographers. I think every photographer in town made pictures of them. So, without any further delay I’ll share mine with you.
I was out walking when I looked up. These clouds were passing by my location at a fairly rapid clip. So, I photographed at a fairly rapid clip. This formation of clouds is fairly rare which makes my decision to work quickly begin to make sense. I’m usually not that fast. Unless I have to be.
I actually hung out hoping that they would last until the low, glowing light of dusk would have really made a great picture. That was not to be. The cloud formation fell apart a few minutes later.
That’s what happened to me. I got lucky. After the nothing burger storm blew through I decided to walk with the dog who’d been inside all day. From the minute I stepped outside I saw orange cotton candy skies. I went a little crazy. I made a lot of pictures from a lot of different locations. I rarely do that, but how could I not and call myself a photographer?
So, I did.
This picture is about the fifth or sixth that I saw.
Sometimes, that’s how things go. I think this picture is the result of photographers luck. Sure we can discuss all the things that make a photographer a photographer. But, it mostly comes down to luck. And, listening. And, watching. And, timing.
Timing is everything. At least it is for photographers who work like me. Studio guys don’t think about luck so much because they create the scene.
That’s just about it.
I seem to have awoken from my black mood. It all comes down to pain. I accidentally fixed my knee. My mood accidentally lifted. Today, it’s king cake shopping time. Nothing better during carnival days. This is the time of year when most of New Orleans is walking around in a sugar induced fog. I’d better join them.
Seems like that’s what we do. Even though we said that 2020 would be good. That the year would be positive. The first ten days have been anything but that. I’m sensing a very palpable uneasiness. It’s not just me. A lot of people feel it too.
It’s not politics. It’s not just the impeachment, or the failure of government to do their constitutional duties. It’s something else. It’s bigger than that. Something’s coming. And, as I used to say many years ago, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I said that was after looking at the hurricane maps for Katrina.
I have a nightmare feeling about Mardi Gras. I’m not going to tell you. But, I don’t think the Iranians are done yet.
That feeling is reflected in my work. The pictures are getting darker. If I photograph something bright and shining I leave it in my archives. I look for scenes that reflect my thinking. After all, they say that artists make images that are autobiographical. The rest of you make your own meaning. Success means that you see and feel things the way that I see them.
Some 2020, eh? Still I’ll hold onto my word for the year.
This picture was bleak. Too bleak. So I added a little color and some strange shapes to it in post production. The picture has a little smile to it now. I think.
The only thing I know to do these days is just to keep going. Art harder as a friend who lives in Memphis says. Play harder. Work harder. Whatever you do, keep doing it. Harder.
Two days ago, the sky was muddy gray. There was rain in the air. It was, in a word, yucky. Then came yesterday. Wowzer! Beautiful cold air. The sky turned blue. The light was spectacular. It turned even better around dusk.
Cold. Like winter is supposed to be. But, not so cold that you didn’t want to be outside. What a show nature put on for us.
In case you are wondering, I’m ignoring the news. I suggest that you do it too. Besides, it’s Sunday. The New Orleans Saints are playing in the wild card game of the playoffs. What could be better?
Oh yeah. I’m not the biggest football fan. I am a big baseball fan. Only six weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Then it starts. Soon after we’ll all be complaining about New Orleans Heat.
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.”
The year that was. The closing year of the end of a decade. Ups. Downs. All arounds. This year wasn’t as great photographically as it could have been. That was pretty much my fault. Between physical issues and a general lack of motivation I mostly produced a lot of faux nature pictures. Some where better than others. Some are found here. My biggest natural successes were trees. They are well represented here.
I did manage to make some of “my” pictures. I photographed second lines and Mardi Gras Indian events. Those are here, too.
The one link between nature and a kind of photojournalism is that I work the same way to make both. I walk. I see things. I make the exposure.
As far as my version of nature pictures goes, most them were made in a healthy way. The dog who sees stuff and I went for walks. Despite my physical pain we managed to walk three miles a day whenever I was home. That’s good for me and her. She’s a sweetheart. Because she’s a cocker spaniel she’s as funny, loyal, and affectionate as she can be. Cockers are notoriously stubborn. She is too. She thinks nothing of standing in the middle of the street with me in tow staring down a car just daring the car to come closer.
There are 12 pictures here. You know why.
There are a few more days left in 2019. There are a few more days left in the decade. I’ll make and post a few pictures between now and then. But, for the most part, the year and decade are over for me. This is the strange in-between time. I mostly use it to clean up yearly messes and plan the new year.
After celebrating enough Christmas I adjourned to the patio chairs. Some of the dogs had enough excitement and joined me. I was sitting and wondering about the trees and the night light. I made a few exposures. Sure enough the cloudy sky trapped the night glow which is caused by city lights.
The sky looked orange to the camera’s sensor. To the naked eye it looked sort of gray-black. If the night sky had been clear or maybe with a few fleeting clouds there would have been no color. The city lights color would have traveled to the heavens.
I know the theories. But, since I can’t really see the color I have to test the theory. That’s a little secret of photography. Aside from capturing the moment and preserving certain subjects so that future generations can see them, there are a lot of optics, color and pure physics to test. Good photographers do that when they are playing. I wouldn’t want to test them when I am working for a client.
The week between Christmas and New Year is always calm. I do things to prepare for the next year, 2020. Can you imagine it? It sounds the like a title for some futuristic book and film. This year the dates of Christmas and New Year are putting my brain into a dizzy. A Wednesday holiday seems to make time seem either really short or very long. I woke up today thinking it was Saturday. I looked at my calendar and thought — or, rather, didn’t think — what is going on?
Then, I had a coffee.
How about you? What’s this week like for you? How do you feel about a Wednesday holiday?
The longest night of the year when autumn formerly turned into winter. When the day was short and rainy. Many local artists couldn’t do their work because they need light and there was only gray skies.
Later that night the rain slowed and finally stopped. The moon poked its head out and away we went.
And, I found a tripod.
The picture that I made is spooky. It’s mysterious. It’s even a little scary. For me, it caught the feeling of the solstice. Summer solstice is people dancing around. Winter solstice is people hunkering down. That’s what I think.
The picture. A tripod is required to make this picture. Yes, I actually own a couple of them. Once that is in place the rest is easy. I exposed for the moon because I wanted everything else a little dark and moody. That blew the moon out beyond repair. It’s way over exposed. The moon is a week removed from being full. The picture isn’t entirely about the moon. It’s about the mood that the rest of the picture shows. It’s deep, dark and a little evil.
That’s about the best I could do on short notice. A years notice.
Winter seems to have arrived a few days early. Everywhere.
That gives me a chance to make some of my favorite kinds of pictures. Bare trees. Faded blue skies. And, a feeling of cold.
That’s one of the tricks they teach you early in photography and in commercial press printing. If you want your snow scene to look cold add a little bit of cyan. Just enough to give the viewer the feeling of cold, but not enough to overpower the picture.
That’s about it for a Friday. I’m sure that you have plenty of last minute holiday stuff to do that is much more important than reading blogs.