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.


New Orleans.
New Orleans.

New Orleans. Louisiana.

At dusk. On a very hot rainy and humid evening.

I know what you’re thinking. If it’s raining, why isn’t the highway wet?

Good question. Simple answer. What falls down, must go up. We’d have rain. Heat. Humidity. The streets would dry out. Causing more humidity. At a certain point, rain falls again. Then… well, you know. Wash, rinse and repeat. All day long. Really, for two days. That’s Southeast Louisiana. We live in a hot-house for at least seven months a year. Even when the temperature drops, we still have humidity. It just feels chilly. And, stuff still grows. We are about to enter our second growing season of the year. How about that? Fresh, garden grown vegetables in January?

The picture. I made this picture on the way to the new hospital corridor. Remember that? The place where the new rolling hills are hiding debris? I make a version of this every picture time that I circle around I-10. I’ve got a great collection of “Entering New Orleans” pictures. Most of them aren’t worth showing you. Or, anybody. But, every now and then…

You know my “drive by shooting” routine by now. Use a wide angle lens. Set everything possible on the camera to auto. Put it on the dashboard and push the button. Pay attention to the work at hand. That’s driving. Let the camera do whatever it does. Just before I get to the place where those tail lights are showing, I just drive. That’s a merge lane. Things get a little weird around there. Especially if there a couple of big trucks and a bus are trying to merge into the same line that I’m in.

You know what the main rule is… take pictures, but come home safely.

Oh, this great. Spell check helped me out today. It changed the word, “button” to — wait for it — “button.”


Central City Street Festival
Central City Street Festival

Lists. I may just be more aware of it this year. It seems that just about everybody is publishing a “Best of 2014” list. It could be anything. In fact, it is anything. Music. Movies. Books. Travel destinations. Bucket lists. Restaurants. Recipes. You name it and somebody has a best of list.

That’s cool. For them.

All art is autobiographical and the viewer, reader, listener, eater… whatever makes meaning of it. Meaning based on his or her’s life experience. That said, all of these lists are personal. I don’t care if you write for The New Yorker Magazine, Rolling Stone or “Fred’s Blog.” Best of lists are personal unless they are data-driven. You know. Something like, “Top ten selling books of 2014.” There is something you can measure. Sales. The rest? Opinions.

So, I thought to myself — that’s really a dangerous thing to do — what can I do differently? I thought of musician Joni Mitchell. In 1996 she released a two album set. “Hits” and “Misses.” You could buy one, or both. Not like the never-ending collection of boxed sets released today. I like the misses concept. Something that didn’t quite work. A failed experiment. Or, a non-seller. Then I saw that my blogging colleague over at “Cooking with a Wallflower” decided to publish “2014 Recipe Disasters” on her blog. Normally, her recipes are right on. They are fun and easy to make. But, we all experiment and with that we sometimes fail. She is on the right track. Ah ha. That moment. Ah ha.

So I decided to work back through my 2014 leftovers. Out takes.

That’s what these pictures are. Leftovers. You may have seen something similar. Or, you may have seen a picture that was taken in the same place. Or a nearly the same time. But, for some reason I decided not to publish these particular ten pictures on Storyteller. To me, they represent the breadth of my work over 2014. I photographed a lot of stuff. And, that doesn’t even to begin to account for the commercial, corporate and editorial work I did to pay the bills and buy kibbles for the dogs. More importantly, I experimented a lot. And… failed a lot. That’s good. Can’t grown without failure.

As far as turning the page with the change of the year goes… well, a lot of people seem excited about that. Not me. Not so much. Once, when musician Neil Young was playing a concert, a fan yelled out “the songs sound the same.” Neil Young replied, “It’s all one song.”

If you think that you need to make changes with the coming of the new year, make them. Keep in mind, it’s just a continuum.

Happy New Year.

Oh yeah. Enjoy the misses.

Levee at Lake Ponchartrain
Levee at Lake Ponchartrain

Getty ready for a second line parade.
Getty ready for a second line parade.

Crescent City Connection in the rain.
Crescent City Connection in the rain.

Second line parade.
Second line parade.

Train track.
Train track.

Halloween Parade
Halloween Parade

Tunnels and cannon battery.
Tunnels and cannon battery.

Have a bike ride.
Have a bike ride.

New Orleans skyline.
New Orleans skyline.


Mardi Gras World and the skyline.
Mardi Gras World and the skyline.

Well. The title has nothing to do with the post. I just thought it was sort of funny. We heard it while we were making groceries. When we looked at the speaker’s basket, that’s what he had. A fifth of bourbon and about a dozen bottles of baby food. It could be that one thing lead to the other. Or, maybe one thing is causing the other. I don’t know. I thought the phrase would make a cool song title. For a country song. I was quickly disabused of that notion.

I reckon this picture is just weird enough to work with that song. Just in case you are wondering, there is a place called Mardi Gras World. Yeah, yeah. I know. It lives inside of a lot of people’s heads. No. Not that. The real place. The place located in New Orleans, in Algiers Point. It’s sort of a warehouse compound. Mardi Gras floats, larger decorations and float tractors are stored there. Some are repaired there. And, some of this stuff is shown there as sort of a tourist attraction.

I guess these pieces and parts didn’t make the cut. They are outside being left to rot in the rain and hot Southeastern Louisiana sun. I don’t know from which float she came from. I don’t even know what Mardi Gras. But, there she lays. Broken. Fractured. Cracked. Yet, she survives. Sort of like the city.


Driver's eye view on the Crescent City Connection.
Driver’s eye view on the Crescent City Connection.

After working for a couple of hours on Algiers Point it was time to go home. I felt photographically fulfilled. That’s pretty much the whole point, isn’t it?

Since the golden light seemed to just crash into the ground, we left the Westbank before darkness actually arrived. As usual, I propped the camera on the dashboard and pushed the button. No, no, no. I don’t raise the camera to my eye. I just set everything on auto-something and let the camera do its thing.

In order to help orient you, the Central Business District and the French Quarter is on the right. We are heading to the left side of the picture toward Uptown once we get off the bridge. In case you are wondering, this is the Crescent City Connection on Sunday evening. Normally, it’s a parking lot around the time we passed over it. That probably would have been better… if you are trying to make pictures. Most people are just trying to go somewhere.

So.

A change is gonna come.

Before we hit the road again, I did a lot of work in The Lower 9th Ward and in a bit of the 7th Ward. One of my favorite abandoned houses in the 7th Ward is starting to be demolished from neglect. The second story fell off. Into the street. The entire second story was laying in the street when I passed by. Of course I stopped and took a few pictures. Well, more than a few pictures. I guess part of a building laying in the street will get the fine folks in city government to actually do something. Or not. What am I thinking? The is New Orleans. Not.


New Orleans from the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward.
New Orleans from the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward.

After a couple of winter-like days, we’ve warmed up a bit. Well, a lot. Today, the high temperature was around 82 degrees. With that, we’ve had a lot of low winter light along with a lot of fast-moving clouds.  So. I did the only thing that I could do. I took advantage of it and worked for about six hours one day. That kind of day doesn’t happen often and it does tire me out. I don’t get tired physically. I get very tired emotionally and psychically. It takes a huge amount of energy to keep seeing, reacting and processing bits of mental information.  But, not on this day. I just kept going and going and going. You should also know that if I am shooting an assignment or commission I don’t tire. That’s a whole different set of processes. At least, for me.

So. This picture. I started down river in Old Algiers where I thought I’d take one last look at the burned out Le Beau Mansion. The chimneys and burned wood is still there. But, it is now a crime scene. Normally tape and plastic streamers don’t stop me if I want a picture. But, I know that the watchman lives directly across the street. I’m sure he’s sitting at his window with his hand on the phone. I worked my way upriver slowly. I worked a lot in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward. This area was not wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. But, it was seriously damaged. It is coming back pretty well. But, it’s taken over eight years. I made this picture from the levee along The Mississippi River in Holy Cross. In the background you can see most of New Orleans. Toward the left you can see a bridge. That’s The Crescent City Connection. That’s how I get to Point Algiers when I shoot sunset and dusk with the Central Business District in the background. The rest of the picture is composed of clouds. The clouds are why I really came.


The New Orleans Skyline and The Crescent City Connection photographed from Algiers at sunset.
The New Orleans Skyline and The Crescent City Connection photographed from Algiers at sunset.

See? See how the light changes, minute-by-minute? I made this picture a couple of weeks ago, on the night when I was chasing the Super Moon. If you recall, the pictures that I published then where of just about this same location. But, they were much brighter and much more brightly colored. They were a bright light blue, magenta, orange. This picture, of course, is much more muted. A little of that is due to a slightly technical reason. I exposed this picture for the highlight, which is the sun. The other pictures were exposed for the overall scene. But, that’s almost insignificant when you consider the very short period of time in which I had to work. They call this period the golden time. Some call it a golden hour. That may be true in a very broad sense. But, truth be told, it’s really more like a golden three to five minutes. The light appears, changes very rapidly, and is gone. I think it changes a lot faster than the time it took to write this line. That’s nature. That’s also why I write that I’m lucky. I know this… turn your head in the wrong direction for a minute and you miss the light. And, that is in spite of all the planning, positioning and setting up. Editing — oh yeah, curating –,is just a matter of taste.


Algiers Ferry
Ferry At Dusk

So. This is about the last of the work from that wonderful night. This is the ferry at Algiers Point. This one doesn’t go to New Orleans. Instead, this one goes to Chalmette. Actually, it really docks just down river at the battlefield and military cemetery. You know. That battlefield. The one where the Battle of New Orleans was fought. After The War of 1812 was over. Mail was much slower then. And, there was no email, Tweeting or Instagramming. Anyway, the picture was made just before I made the sunset over the trees picture.  However, in this case, I sucked the color out of the picture. Why? Because. That’s probably the best answer for just about everything. Especially in the art world.

So, I’m pretty much out of pictures. But, not to worry. I went back again. I went back on Sunday to chase the Super Moon.Unfortunately, we had clouds. Lots of them. I thought that they might break. But, they didn’t. Fortunately, I’m the impatient type. While I was waiting for the moon not to appear, I photographed the bridge from a lot of different angles. I walked up on another section of the levee and I photographed the New Orleans skyline. Before I forget to tell you, the sunset was just amazing. You’ll see… in a few days.