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.


Smile though your heart is breaking.

I needed this picture.

The news is grim, getting grimmer. The virus is growing exponentially in New Orleans. I live in a country in desperate need of a leader. Many people, most not from NOLA, are trying to blame the mayor for not cancelling Mardi Gras. None of us knew. We certainly had no direction from the president or even FEMA. I’m not the mayor’s biggest supporter. I stand with her this time.

I followed my own advice. One day at a time. Doing what I do. Making art.

I started tinkering with the base picture which is a very tightly composed and cropped picture of a rose. You’ll see other versions of it eventually. I added the little tiny flowers on the lawn. You’ve already seen those. I started  working on the color, brightness and glow.

I started smiling. I started laughing. This picture is so whimsical that it brought out my hidden happiness. I hope it works for you.

Stay Safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.


And, so it begins.

A new season.

Sometimes it isn’t about the seasons in nature. In New Orleans we have other seasons. Mardi Gras. Festival season. And, of course, second line season.

It starts this Sunday with The Valley of Silent Men. We take a two-week break and then it’s on for 47 weeks. The only breaks come with Christmas, Jazzfest and Mardi Gras. There may be some off weeks because the city has raised the parade permits by almost double. Some social and benevolent societies can’t afford that.

Anyway.

This wasn’t the planned picture for today. The image I had in mind and processed turned out to be too small. That’s right, the image was too small. I could have posted something really new. But, I thought I was getting a little too esoteric and didn’t want to go back to something like yesterday’s post.

So.

I thought about my near and far future. Forty seven Sundays. I intend to photograph them all. That is, if my back and hip will let me. We’ll see.

I went with a picture from last second line season as sort of a walk up to this years season.

Aside from that, today seems to be the rebooting day for a lot of my software. First, Apple rebooted my calendar and image storage. You know, enter a password and go. I only use that for iPhone pictures, so it’s no big deal. I do use their calendar.

Along comes Google. They provide my email, another calendar and storage. I entered the password and they wanted my phone number, which they don’t have. When I entered that, they wanted to send a text with a code that I would have to enter to prove it was me.

Hey Google. I’m working. My life isn’t about programming and knowing everything there is to know about everybody in the world.

I hit the cancel button. I hit the skip button. If they need my telephone number they can search for it. They’re Google.

This happens repeatedly with tech companies. I just hate calling somebody with a question or problem. Whoever I reach thinks that I’m only about technology. If that’s not bad enough, they think I have nothing but time for them to experiment. You would think on 20-year-old software, they’d know the answers. Finally, try talking to two techs at the same company about the same ongoing problem and you’ll never get the same answer.

I think this is intentional. I think all of these companies — Apple especially — want very little to do with their customers. They force you into FAQs, or user forums, or just plain old Googling.

See? I’m back to Google.

And, so it goes.


Glaring at you.

A little skull for you.

Because we are into our long Halloween weekend. Because it seems normal in the swamp that I call home. Because I saw it. Because I made the picture.

Simple. Like a skull.

The picture. It’s pretty much as I described it. f5.6 and be there. I worked on it a little in post production. Mostly to hide its flaws. My photograph’s flaws. Not the skull’s. Shooting a little after noon, does not a great picture make. I knew that. But, sometimes… you have no choice.


Tuba portrait.
Tuba portrait.

Your pictures. Your hands. Eyes. Brain. Heart.

That’s the thing about trying to teach you what I do. We all see differently. We all have different interests. Some of us make fully fleshed out pictures using most of the tools available to us. Others work in jpg and never move away from auto everything. Others use smartphones and post directly from there.

Most of the techniques I can share with you are really only for working from RAW files or lossless .jpg files. Even when I use my smart phone often I run the files through post production tools that I discussed in the past few days. Sometimes I keep the files on my phone and just use Snapseed. But, that’s usually for testing or if I’m in a real big hurry.

So.

Here’s a few technical things you can do.

Make a slightly over-exposed image. More exposure equals more data. To a point. I wouldn’t suggest overexposing by more than 2/3 of a stop. And, that’s in fairly even and low contrast light. Anything more and you run the risk of blown out highlights. You can open up underexposed shadows, but you can not recover badly overexposed highlights. If you try, typically the highlights end up looking gray.

When you are developing your images do not use auto settings. Just like the old days when everything was calibrated to 18% gray, perfect histograms tend to flatten highlights and shadows in a way that is technically perfect, but doesn’t look very good to the eye. On the other hand, don’t go crazy. Use non-destructive programs, work on a copy of the original and work in tiny increments. Use the “Save As” button rather than the “Save” button to preserve a copy of your original image.

Filters. The only filters I use are neutral density filters to allow me to work with slow shutter speeds in bright light, a polarizer to clean up light and sometimes in bad weather I use a clear filter to protect the lens. My immediate goal when I’m working in the field and processing the original image is to make the cleanest, purest image that I can. I do the rest of the fine tuning in post production. That includes adding color filtration and cleaning out odd colored light.

Downloading images. Best industry practices says to back up at least twice and keep one complete set of RAW images and one complete set of finished master images off site. I do something like that. I download a working set of RAW images to my desktop which means my computer’s hard drive. I download a second set of RAW images to my external hard drive. I download a third set to cloud storage. There are all sorts of ways to do that. Some photographers use Drop Box. Others use Adobe. Some use storage provided by their website host. Some use storage right here on WordPress. Some use Google storage.

After a lot of thought and research, I decided to use Amazon. For those who aren’t aware, mass storage is how Amazon really makes their profits. In fact, many of the smaller mass storage providers lease their space from Amazon and mark the rates up slightly. Often we think that a smaller  mom and pop operation is better for whatever we do. This time, I think bigger is better because they really know what they are doing. And, they back up my back ups.

Besides.

If you are an Amazon Prime member mass storage is unlimited. And, it’s free. In this house we use Amazon Prime for every kind of thing — goods, books, music, films, television — so why not use it for storage of images? Originally, I was under the impression the pictures could only be stored if they were small files. Nope. I checked. Any picture file is fair game. Video too. And, you can sync your Amazon archive to all of your devices including other family members or business associates. I’m syncing in the background as I write.

Once I’ve developed and finished my RAW files, I convert them to .tiff files. Those are my master images. I save those in all the places I’ve mentioned. I remove all of the files from my desktop and put them in the trash. I empty the trash every two weeks. I store very little on my computer’s hard drive. A empty hard drive makes the computer happy.

When I read somebody say their computer had a major crash and they can’t reboot it, losing all of their files, the first thing that comes to mind is what are you thinking. Get your precious files off the computer’s hard drive and store them some place else.

One point. External hard drives break too. That’s the reason for RAID systems which are a redundant storage. That’s also the reason you should check the integrity of your external hard drives every six months or so. And, why you should use cloud storage.

If you are wondering, CD and DVD storage are yesterday’s technology. I’ve long downloaded images I stored on discs to clouds and external hard drives. Unless you are spending a lot of money on gold discs, which supposedly last about 100 years without degradation, you should move your files too.

Yes.

I’ve spent a lot of time on downloading, back-up and storage. That’s because our archives are about all we have. Even if you are a hobbyist taking pictures of your family, your pictures are worth something to you. You don’t want them going up in a puff digital smoke because you never stored them properly.

Yes. The files can be recovered. There are companies who do that. It’s very expensive. Just like most things, the cost of maintenance is far less than the cost of repair.

That said, the best way to look at pictures, and maybe store them, is on paper. I’ll discuss that tomorrow.

The picture. I made this portrait on site and helped it in post production. In this case, I used a glow filter that is used in higher end portraiture to help the picture sort of — well, glow.

 


A night of rain.
A night of rain.

No second line today.

It rained. A lot. Sort of a semi-tropical storm that built up in the Gulf.

Normally, most second lines will run regardless of the weather. Not today.  The leaders had the time to make a decision.

Today, I learned something about why second lines walk in bad storms. Or, walk when nobody shows up. It’s pretty simple. The parade leaders waited too long to cancel. They lose their city  permit money if they postpone later than two hours before starting time.

Second line investments are pretty costly. If a parade is large like today’s was supposed to be, the organization spends a lot of money for the permit itself, policing, paying the bands, post parade clean up and so on. They hold all sorts of fund-raisers throughout the year to do this. It’s hard work. They don’t want to just toss their money away.

So.

The parade was shut down about two and half hours before start time.  As nature would have it, the rain stopped before start time and did not resume until much later.  It was supposed to start falling again about mid-parade. It didn’t. Sheesh. When have you ever known a weather person to be right?

There’s more. About second line rescheduling.

I looked at the second line schedule for this season. There is no open Sunday through the end of the year. A friend of mine as they would just reschedule on a Saturday. Nope. By tradition, only the Black Men of Labor walk on a Saturday.

Can you guess why?

When second lines began to walk free of jazz funerals, many of the social and aid clubs’ members worked six days a week. Sunday was church day, and a time to relax with family. That tradition holds true today even though many members of the clubs work a more normal five days a week, or own a businesses, or work in professional jobs or so on.

A bell rang way in the back of my brain. It seems like this happened in either 2013 or 2014. The club who postponed their second line did walk on Saturday. But, they joined the Black Men of Labor’s second line to do it. I suppose something like that will happen this year. Both social clubs — Young Men Olympian Jr and the Black Men of Labor  — are very old line and well-respected. They’ll work it out. It’ll be a massive parade. I’m guessing that it will have at least four divisions and four brass bands.

That said, “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.”

Out I went into the night. To the French Quarter. To Bourbon Street.

This picture was taken at f5.6 at I have no idea how many seconds. Probably 1/4 or 1/2 a second. In a case like this, I pick the aperture and let the camera pick the shutter speed… up to a point. I want my shutter speed to be somewhere around 1/8 to 1/2 a second. The way to control this easiest is with the ISO control. Of course, the higher the ISO, the more potential you have to introduce a lot of noise. Going to Bourbon Street was by design. It’s better lighted. It’s brighter. The colors are warm. I didn’t have to crank up the ISO quite as far. I also don’t want to have to fiddle with the controls. I just want to make pictures.

Oh yeah. I can check the EXIF data to learn exactly how I shot the picture. But, I don’t really care. I’ve been at this long enough to be fairly certain of what I did. I’m not a pixel peeper.


Keeping It Real
Keeping It Real

On any Sunday. Second Lines. This one is called, “Keeping It Real.” It is pretty much a Mid City parade. After reviewing my take, I decide to make as many pictures as I could be about watching. I’m watching you, watching me, watching the parade.

I was watching my Facebook page, my Twitter feed. A lot of people were talking about the second line for Spock. Nobody mentioned this one. Spock was a character played by Leonard Nimoy on television and in movies. He was real. These people are real. Honor him. Honor them.

Watching Me.
Watching Me.

Smiles
Smiles


Little Princess
Little Princess

When I published the pictures of the Hot 8 brass band yesterday, I realized since this second line is called the VIP Ladies and Kids Social Aid and Pleasure Club, that I’d better publish some pictures of the kids. Not to worry. I’ll publish pictures of the ladies tomorrow.

Dancing
Dancing

Big Smile
Big Smile

Happy Parader
Happy Parader