Into the light.

E

xperiments are something that helps me to create art. Sometimes I succeed. Other times I fail. That’s okay. That’s how I learn.

Instead of thinking the project was useless, I’ve learned over time that there are no useless days, nor are there useless projects.

However, that doesn’t mean that I have to publish my failures. I see that all the time, especially on Facebook or Instagram. A couple of my friends who photograph New Orleans culture are racing to see who can post the most pictures.

I hate to say this, but well over 50% of the pictures that they post are not very good. Many of them are just plain boring.

That’s not really my business. Do what you want.

For me, less is more. Make a lot of pictures on the scene. Edit them loosely. Then run through them again and again until you are down to about 0.3% of the total take. That’s where the best pictures hide.

Publish, post, or share them.

Trust me. At the very least you won’t bore your followers and friends. At best, maybe you’ll fool them into thinking you are a great photographer.

T

he subject is a magnolia. They grow all over the South.

I photographed just a portion of the flower.

I removed all of the detail making the subject into a graphic shape.

Then I lowered the overall exposure until the color appeared. The colors that you are seeing where there all the time. They weren’t enhanced.

Over the years of color work, I’ve learned to predict which way the colors will go.

Living things, especially as found in nature tend to go toward the warm side.

But, something found in the shade will move toward the cold side.

Keep that on mind the next time that you are photographing around.


What it feels like.

Hurricane Florence.

I’m not sure what I can add to everything you’ve likely read or watched. Unless you are actually there, or  hunkered down waiting to help as first responders, there’s not much more you can do. You can have a good thought. You can pray, You can donate to one fund or another which might help the storm survivors repair billions of dollar worth of damage.

It doesn’t matter. Do whatever you can.

As a Hurricane Katrina survivor, I know how long it took for me, my friends and my region to get back on its feet. In some areas, normal life still isn’t back. And, it’s be thirteen years. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right houses are already starting to fall apart. I just read that each house was constructed for around $20,000. What can you build these days for that kind of money that will stand the test of time?

Anyway.

One thing to know is that stacked up behind Florence in the Atlantic Ocean are three more named hurricanes. Two of them look like they could get into the Caribbean Sea, which means there’s a good chance that can get into the Gulf. It could be that around this time next week, I’ll be asking you to have a good thought for me.

The picture. I made this picture during one of our heavy downpours this week. I tinkered with it a little bit and gave it that weird colored sky that you often get with hurricanes. I made it through the windshield. If you look toward the top you can see a leaf stuck to the glass. It’s sort of hiding there in the silhouette of the tree.

Good thoughts, prayers and actions, folks. My water brothers slightly to the north are going to need them.


A little north and south.

Once, there was a man named Tom Petty. He was a musician. He played rock ‘n roll. the way it should be played. He was humble. He was driven. He was well-loved by people who weren’t his fans. His fans adored him. He played a long tour last year. He went home. And, he died.

His death broke a lot of hearts.

Yesterday, when the coroner’s reports were released, his death broke a lot of hearts. Again. He didn’t die from a heart attack. He died from an overdose of a massive amount of pharmaceutical pain medications. His family released a statement supporting the report and him.

He had a number of illnesses, including knee problems and emphysema. But, the thing that killed him was a fractured hip that got worse as he toured. On and on he went until on the last day of his life, he learned that it had finally broken. The pain must have been unbearably intense. He tried to medicate himself. And, he died.

Pain.

I could not imagine jumping around on a stage in that sort of pain. It must have been agony. His fans never knew. He kept playing. He gave them everything.

My heart is broken because I know about pain. I play it down when I sometimes write about it here, on Storyteller. I rarely tell the truth about it. Even to those I love because I don’t want to worry them. My pain is nowhere near what Petty must have felt on any day, playing any show. But, I do take various pain medications. Not one of them is strong as the pain meds that he was taking. That’s good. If I get to that place where I mostly live in a fog, we’ll see what happens.

But.

The pictures I publish here on a daily basis come at a price. A very painful one. The dog who walks me and sees things knows. She is very patient with me. We might cross paths with a squirrel. She loves to chase squirrels. Right up the tree. But, she doesn’t. Somehow, in her doggy mind, she knows if I have to chase her it will hurt me.

That said, in case you are wondering why I haven’t made many street pictures, or second line pictures after I said that I would, that’s the reason. That pleasure might not be worth all the pain. Sometimes, it is. I have to weigh those options.

I love making picture. I love making pictures on the street. But…

As Neil Young once wrote, “The thing that makes you who you are will kill you in the end.”  I know that to be true.

RIP (Again) Tom Petty. RIP (Again) Prince. (Who died the same way)


From behind.
From behind.

A little more winter. Bare trees. Foggy days. Warm air.

Yes.

Warm air. We’ve gone from very cold days — for us — to spring-like weather with temperatures just under 80 degrees. So, I thought I’d show you a few more pictures from around the house. And, once I get processing again, I’ll show you a butterfly. Not just any butterfly, but the most amazing butterfly ever. It’s lavender and purple and magenta. It’s about the size of my fist and it is growing on a bush that has those color flowers.

The streets?

Oh, more pictures are coming. I’ve just had a month’s worth the technological problems in three days. I haven’t been able to process or edit very many pictures. As usual, various companies’ software doesn’t play well with one another after various upgrades. In this case PhaseOne, my basic editing software does not like the new Mac operating system. It shows its dislike by grabbing onto all apps and even my internet browser and not letting go even when I force it to quit. This stuff happens around the change of the year when everybody releases new upgrades.

For the record, Apple and Adobe (Photoshop) never, since the beginning of digital time, have ever played well together upon new releases.

So. Yes. These pictures came from my iPhone and were processed in Snapseed. I finished them in On1, which has its on set of issues.

No matter. I am never denied.

That’s your lesson for the day. Don’t be denied. Now, let’s just see if I can get Alexa working again. She gave up yesterday because of my other digital issues. I need her to do stuff for me. Like play music, alarm the house, wake up various people, set the thermostat, buy stuff from Amazon. Yes, especially that. Buy stuff.

Winter softness.
Winter softness.


That's it. The leaf of Fall.
That’s it. One leaf.

I’ve been too a lot of places recently. I really haven’t seen anything that came close to the Autumns that I remember. This has been a trend for the past couple of years. But, this year is the worst.

According to friends around the country, it’s been pretty much unseasonably warm just about everywhere. That’s toned down the brightness of normal fall color changes. You need at least one cold snap. I’ve hardly seen any bright color. Anywhere. I’m sure there are places I’ve missed. I saw some bright color online from New Mexico. Where I used to live.

So. This is it.

The Fall Leaf.

One.


This was out goal. The Kenilworth Plantation House.
This was our goal. The Kenilworth Plantation House.

I wrote about this place a couple of days ago. But, I never showed you a picture. It is called The Kenilworth Plantation Mansion. Originally constructed in 1759, it was pretty much ruined by Hurricane Katrina. But, it was restored to way beyond its former glory. When I first saw it, I was stunned. I also couldn’t figure out how to photograph it. Sure, It’s a beautiful place. But, like all of the restored plantation homes — except for Laura – it’s white. White doesn’t often make for a great picture in this setting. But, I started playing with all of the hanging moss. You know, moss is a southern thing. It is also mostly found in very swampy, humid places.

When I started “developing” the pictures I wasn’t having much success. It was the fault of the moss. Moss isn’t bright and colorful. At least, not that I’ve ever seen. It’s usually sort of a green-gray washed out sort of thing. That doesn’t make a very good picture. So, now I’ve got the deadly combination of white and faded green-gray. Arrrrgh.

Aha.

I came back to my sense of place. These old southern mansions — at least the ones that aren’t in ruins — are about a certain time and place in history. Sort of a dream-like sort of thing. So, I changed directions. I made this picture about a dream. In more practical terms, that meant a lot of experimenting. I don’t usually use the tools that make a picture like the one you are looking, possible. I’m usually more efficient than that. But, my mind was drifting around. This was made possible by the fact that when I went to bed on Monday night, I didn’t fall asleep until Tuesday morning at 10am. I managed to sleep for all of three hours. From about 10am until about 1pm. So, I don’t know what was going on. Mentally, I was in a huge fog. But, be that as it may, by the time I started working everything I did was sort of by remote control. And in, what seemed like, another place. I don’t recommend this way of working for anyone. But, maybe I’m finally becoming an artist. Or not. Like, I’m still just disoriented. I promise not to cut off my ear. Van Gogh, I’m not.


IMG_1181
Memphis Trolley

Technology saved me. Or, something like that. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m running out of new pictures. For now. I can fix that in a few days. But, I’m really diving deeply into what files I have with me. I don’t really have that much. Why should I? I’m traveling. Then, I noticed that I had a punch of app upgrades due on my i-Pad. One was for Snapseed. That’s a Nik product that I really like. It’s only available for portable devices. However, Google bought the company. I was wondering what that meant. Well. It mean good things. Lots of changes on the app. All for the better. Once I realized that, I started looking for an appropriate picture. I found this picture of a Memphis Trolley. I made it about the same time that I made yesterday’s picture. Unlike the streetcars in New Orleans that are painted either green or red, these cars come in all colors and all shapes. Some look pretty traditional like the one in the picture. Others are short and squat. Some are more streamlined and look bullet-shaped. And, the colors. Red. Blue. Bright yellow. Orange. Green. White. My kind of colors.

The picture. First, I used a very slow shutter speed and I panned. Those techniques gave the picture the look of pretty fast motion even though the trolley was just crawling along. Then I got into playing with the app. My workflow is set up in a way that first I make any basic corrections that improve the image. Then, I make modifications. In this case, I used a  lot of retro settings. The engineers’ intent at Snapseed seems to be to make a digital capture look more like film. That’s pretty cool on its own. Then, to take things further they created settings that made the “film” image look old, scratched and light damaged. I’m not exactly sure why people want to see damaged pictures, but they are sort of cool to see. The first time. Or, maybe even the second time. I doubt many of my clients will be that happy to see me deliver beat up pictures. But, it is a good tool. In a way, the trolley is blowing a hole in time and speeding along from the past. Okay. Okay. I’ll stop now.


Memphis
I saw the Mississippi River poking through the two tall buildings, so I thought I would try to do something a little for me.

To be very honest with you, I’m running out of pictures for Storyteller. At least for now. I am about five days away from the point where I can make some new images. So, I’m rooting around in my out takes. This image was sort of an experiment. When I arrived in Memphis, I sort of had a day off because of some snow delays for my partners in crime. They were trying to fly from Spokane to Memphis with a change of planes in Salt Lake City. Snow. They were rebooked. More snow. Finally, they flew to Los Angeles, or Honolulu or some place. Eventually they made it. But, I got bored and started walking around. I had a day to do some poking around. A few years ago, I photographed a book in Memphis so I sort of had a lay of the land. But, still… As dusk arrived, I found myself  looking down at the river. You know. The big river. The Mississippi River. So, I started making a few pictures. In many ways, I was sort of lucky. If the season was different, say like summer, I probably couldn’t have even seen they water. But, with the bare trees of winter it was no problem to see the river from the street.

Most of this picture’s mood and feel comes from some work in post production. Once I move the image through Lightroom and Photoshop, I fine tuned it using OnOne. And, that’s it.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow ought to be real interesting since I’m really having to dig pretty deeply in my files. And, I don’t have a lot of them with me.


GRA-6b
Graffiti One

GRA-9b
Graffiti Two

GRA-21b
Graffiti Three

GRA-12b
Graffiti Four

GRA-1b
Graffiti Five

Well. You know I like color. Bright, energetic , bold color. These pictures are certainly colorful and bright. While I was exploring the ruins of the power plant, I took the time to explore some other abandoned buildings near by. The whole area was once devoted to heavy manufacturing. There were railroad sidings that ran through cobblestone streets. Many of the buildings were of pre-Civil War design and construction. Others were built in the late 1800s. Today, they are in various stages of decay. Some have been repurposed as design firms and different kinds of studios. So have been torn down. The building in which I found this very colorful graffiti was a medical supply manufacturing company. It’s pretty much abandoned today. I say pretty much abandoned because it is being used. If you wander into the deepest regions of the ground floor or climb the rickety old stairs you’ll find plenty of evidence of people living there. I suppose you could call them homeless. But, they’ve dug themselves in pretty well. They have tents, beds, cooking areas, coolers, chairs. All that kind of stuff. I didn’t see any people who might live there. I suppose they hit the street corners by day. They probably return at night to hide among the ruins. I did see three other people while I was there. A photographer, and assistant and a model. We talked for a moment but stayed out of each other’s way.

The pictures. Most tagging is purely destructive. But, I do like graffiti when it is bright, colorful and artistic. This work fills that bill. But, in order to get to it I had to wander deep into the bowels of this building. That’s how I know there were what could be called semi-permanent residents lurking around somewhere. Piles of stuff everywhere. Most of these pictures are just time exposures deep in the dark. I intentionally underexposed them since I know that my post production software — Lightroom and Photoshop — likes to see images lighter and more over exposed then I like. I added a lot of post production manipulations in OnOne and I made the pictures are as you see them. I suppose you could say the taggers and I are co-conspirators in this work. I’d really like to photograph them at work. But, that’s not going to happen. Even if I could convince them that I mean no harm, they wouldn’t want to let me see them work. You know why. If you know a tagger or two, please have them call, email or text me. Really.

Yes. I’ll go back very soon.