Looking for something.

N

ew work. It’s been a little while. I took myself for a walk. I went to a little park that has benches, sat down and took some time for myself.

The bench that I sat was our favorite bench. It belonged to the all seeing dog, Sophie Rose. I don’t know what it did for my recovery process, but I started seeing the little things.

So, I made these pictures and a few more. Then, I went to the doctor. No worries, it was just a wellness check. I passed with semi-flying colors.

When I returned, I made more pictures. Just because. Because I believe in a little routine and doing something photographic every single day. That’s how you get better. That’s how you get good.

I haven’t been doing that lately. It shows.

I’ve been reading about photography as a healing an recovery tool. If for no other reason those of you who are photographers should make pictures, or do something photographic every day.

Do you?

T

here is really nothing to these pictures. They are simple. They are about trees. They are about nature. They are about rebirth.

Rebirth is important to me right now.

There is a little post production going on in both pictures that are very different processes.

The top image is light, sunny and playful. The bottom image is darker, more moody.

Of course nature helped a lot. Light comes and goes and comes back again especially in the summer.

Nature helped my creative process.

One day.


One sunset in the cold weather.

This doesn’t happen very often, but when the sky lights up like this it’s usually in winter, with nice low, golden light.

Because I know that some of you may be wondering, I had my “procedure” yesterday. It lasted for less than two hours, which includes a mountain of paperwork and a billion questions.

The actual time between prepping me and making me comfortable — Fentanyl and Valium — took less than 30 minutes. After 30 minutes in recovery I was wheeled down to the car, where musical miss was waiting. They said the driver used to sit in the office, but in these pandemic days, the driver sits in the car.

Somewhere in the recovery instructions I read that I couldn’t drive for 24 hours and that I shouldn’t make any big decisions. The second one was funny.

I learned about the first one when I tried to help cook dinner. I’m a very efficient cook. I forgot stuff. My timing was off. I got in the way.

So much for that.

Now, into my second day of recovery I’m fine with all that weird stuff. Although an epidural is just steroids on steroids and can take up to about two weeks to take effect, my back feels lighter.

Today is dog food cooking day. Usually, I cannot make it through prep before my legs start feeling lighter than air and buzzy. No problem. Worked through everything and still had plenty more where that came from.

That’s a huge change.

On to the right hand column.

The right hand column.

You know that I’m not a big sunset photographer. I’d rather turn around and see what the golden light is illuminating.

Sometimes, if you are lucky a good subject appears before you. That usually means something in silhouette.

That’s what I had. Trees and buildings. That combined with the wonderful light and the sun made for a better picture.

I typically try to expose for the sun which pretty my assures me that I’ll have good silhouettes.

There is little to no work in post production unless I went to clean up the shadows which I did.

And, that’s it.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every sunset.


A surprising day.

What a nice day. The hurricane called Delta seems to be turning west, so much so that New Orleans is completely out of the cone. With two days to go, anything could happen. I feel 90% safe. I am worried for the people of Lake Charles. They were devastated by one hurricane, hit by another and this one could be their third in only a few months.

Remember, I have a soft spot for Lake Charles. They took me, and a lot of other New Orleanians, in when we had no place to go fifteen years ago after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80% of the city.

The day was warm, but not hot. However, the all seeing dog was very lazy today. Our first walk was very good. Our second walk was short because she wanted to take a shortcut home. That’s when I found the flower. Even in her laziness she lead me to something pretty.

I also received some good news about a potential assignment. It’s good news because it’s an idea that I pitched. That doesn’t happen very often for anyone these days. We’ll have to see how it goes during the payment offer phase of the conversation.

I’m trying to keep national news out of Storyteller, but the president, in his last few months of power, is tweeting craziness. He’s scaring a lot of people including me. Doctors say that steroids have a lot of side effects. One is that they change your mood and the other is they affect your ability to think.

Don’t make me say it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Take care of each other.

Purple. I really like the color purple. Truth be told, it was the yellow that first caught my eye.

Between the purple, green and yellow (gold) we have Mardi Gras colors. At least for Mardi Gras past. I’m pretty sure that we will not celebrate Carnival in 2021.

If The White House is a super spreader, just think about the streets of New Orleans with people competing for beads.

Already, a couple of krewes are opting out.

The more I work with my smartphone the more I’m starting to dislike it.

There was another operating system upgrade a few days ago.

One thing that Samsung added was a patch over the LCD when you are photographing. It’s a little circle. Theoretically, the patch tells you the best version of the picture according to sharpness.

Does this picture look like it was ever sharp?

I had to turn it into something weird in order to publish it.

I just wish technology companies would leave well enough alone.


Flowers in winter.

Sunday’s art.

Flowers in winter. Not your usual winter. New flowers. Bright and pink. Growing in the cold. Growing in the swamp. To brighten the landscape. To brighten the day. To lift a mood. To make you smile.

Yes. I know that a lot of you are snowed in today. I know that the snow keeps falling for others. I know that the roads are frozen. It’s seasonal and predictable. Just like the heat of six months of summer is down here in the swamp. That’s also our rainy season. Our storm season. Our hurricane season.

You know what they say. It’s always something.

It’s just part of life. I say enjoy it. I like working in the rain. I used to work in the snow. I enjoyed that too. There are days when I wish I was doing that again. All of it eventually passes. Seasons change. So do we all.

The picture. A dog walk picture. She was sniffing around. I saw a bush full of flowers. I wasn’t going to make a picture. How many flowers have I photographed over the past couple of years? I’ve been repeating myself. At least by a factor of four or five times. The light was right. I saw the crop as I made the picture. I also saw the post production at the same time.

It’s a Sunday picture. A pretty picture. One that could hang on your wall. I could see this printed on aluminum or on glass. A  really big picture. At least three feet deep. Hung in a sunny room where it would sparkle and shine. Think about it. The purchasing function is only a few days away. Patience.

Yeah, I know. What did the one buzzard say to the other buzzard? “Patience? Hell. Let’s kill something.”


Into the darkness.

What do you see? At night? When you are alone?

What do you imagine? Late at night? When nobody is around? Do you worry about your bills? About the next day? Maybe even the ultimate thing — dying? Does that make you fearful? Does it scare you? Does it excite you?

I’ve been reading some posts from friends. On Facebook. On Twitter. Even a few on Instagram.

Some are about loneliness. Some are about the long cold night. Some are about a day. Good or bad. Some are just saying good night. Some are about not being able to fall asleep. Some are about having somebody to talk to at 3am. Online.

I have no answers to these questions. Or, the posts.

I have my own late night issues. Mostly, I’m just not a great sleeper. It’s not worry. Even about the great ending. I’ve always reckoned that we all have to pass sometime. I just don’t sleep sometimes.

I have my own ways of dealing with it. When I know I have to get up early, it’s in pill form. Sometimes, it’s just simple carb loading and decline. Sometimes, not wanting to disturb anybody, work helps. Usually, in the studio. Once in a great while, I go outside and look around. I make pictures. At 2 am. Or, 3 am. I’m sure if a neighbor saw me, the local cops would appear asking me what I was doing.

That’s how this picture came to be.

Not sleeping. Walking. Looking. Seeing. Making a picture or two. Let me tell you, things get spooky out there. At about 3 am. In the darkness. Well after dark. Way before dawn.

Now you are wondering, I think. How is the tree lighted? It’s an urban area. The light comes from a street light. Shining from across the street. With a nice long exposure, I was able to put enough light on the sensor to illuminate the tree. The bare tree. The moody tree. The spooky tree.

In order to get my head in the right place to talk to you, I listened to Spirit. From an album called, “The Family That Plays Together.” For the more youthful of you who read Storyteller, I’m fairly sure you never heard of them. For the folks around my age, you still might  have never heard of them. They were only around for maybe five years. The album that I’m playing was recorded in 1969. Some members left. New players joined the band. Eventually the band splintered into a bunch of other bands. They are like branches of a musical tree.

That was a time.

Creativity burbled up from an underground spring. It carried on through the 1970s. Music changed. Art changed. It changed many people. I changed me. It brought me to where I am today.

Today, everybody is a musician, a photographer, a writer, a chef. That’s okay. But, really? There isn’t enough people to consume all of the new work. Not that they would. Because the new creators want everything right now. They don’t want to pay their dues. To learn. To grow. To practice. To grow some more. They’ll tell you that they don’t need a gatekeeper because the want to keep control of their work.

Seriously? Truth be told, they’d love a gatekeeper. Alas, much of their work doesn’t cut it. It isn’t good enough for mass sales. Make no mistake, sales aren’t everything. But, that’s how you put food on the table. And, sales mean that people are doing something with your work. They are seeing it. They are liking it. They want more. That’s the trick. Do something so well that your readers, fans, viewers, want more.

That.

That is why I work hard every day. Why I do what I do. Everyday.

What about you?

Sure. I get it. Day jobs. Paying the bills. Putting the food on the table.

But.

I hope that you think about your passion daily. After dinner, family time, good night-time to children. I hope that you do whatever you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be taking pictures at 3am. It could be watching a movie to study the cinematics. To look at how light is used. To see beginnings, middles and ends. Just to learn.

Learn. There’s my word for the year. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t force it. It just sort of came.

Apparently, I’ve ingested it. It’s my word for the year. It rises up out of the primordial mists that make up my brain, heart and soul. It’s right where I want it. I don’t think about it. It’s just there. There for whenever I need it.

And, you?


The quiet of a little green.

“I told you about the fool on the hill. I tell you he’s living there still.”

Well, that’s not what the picture is about. That’s a lyric from “Glass Onion.” From The Beatles “White Album.” The newly released 50 year anniversary version. Remixed. With a lot of other versions of songs with I which I grew up. I working my way through it right now. I haven’t gotten to the demo versions which are stripped down and, I’m told, are very good.

I’m listening to the remixed songs that I know by heart. It’s strange. The remix changes a lot of things. Guitars pop out in front on some songs. Vocals are brighter. The drums are moved around. Bass notes are up front in some cases. Buried in others.

It’s kind of off-putting. After listening to songs played one way for fifty years, and hearing them this way is often confusing. I would have been very happy with a remix that just emphasized the differences in technology. Oh well.

That brings me to pictures.

I’m forever remixing older work. I take the master image, which I may have made ten years ago, and rework it using newer, better technology, and what I’ve learned over that time. I hope that I’ve made the picture a little better. Maybe a little cleaner. Sometimes, I go too far. I make a mess. An example of that is this picture.

As you see it now, it is elegant and very clean. For me, it’s artistic. But, last night I started playing around with it. I went too far. I went further still. And, beyond that. It turned ugly. It turned dystopian. I’m sure you are wonder how this picture could end up looking like something from a terrible future. Suffice it to say, I did it. And, you aren’t going to see it anytime soon.

Sometimes you have to know when to just hide a thing away. Not every picture deserves an audience.


Red, and fading.

Southeastern Louisiana is an outdoor hothouse.

Heat, humidity and rainfall make it so.  We have weird growth. Until I moved here I never saw a red mushroom. I see them towards the end of summer. There are also white ones. Brown ones. Huge misshapen ones. I’ve lived in a lot of places. Louisiana is the most primal place I’ve ever lived. If you removed all the man-made things, you might think you lived in the age of dinosaurs.

It makes you think.

It makes me think about going forward. Life for our children. And, their children. And, on and on. I’m trying to leave something behind. Or, at least not take anything away.

The picture. Another dog walk picture. Good thing that dog has me. I might never explore these kind of places. She sniffed this mushroom and immediately turned away. She knows. I know too. Anything red through purple is a no go. Eat it and die. Or, at least, get really sick.

It’s really just a simple see  it and push the button kind of picture. I worked hard in post production to not turn it into a flourescent nightmare.


New birth in nature.

It’s the season.

We talk about summer, summer, more summer and another summer. That’s how it is down here. But, there are phases. We are entering the wet season. The rainy season. Hurricane season. The time when we watch each storm as it forms off the coast of Africa.  Many of those storms don’t amount to much. Sometimes they do. Last year, we were spared. But the folks in Puerto Rico, Houston and Florida were not.

You never know.

Be prepared. Or, at least prepared as you can be.

Most of the time, we just live in a hothouse. Plants grow. Skin stays soft and moist. Walking outdoors anywhere drains you. And, electric bills pile up.

But, the hothouse.

You see scenes like this one. Healthy plants giving birth to more healthy plants. I hate to say this, but some of this is an early warning sign. I’m seeing moss and mushrooms in places that I never did. Summer is starting earlier and earlier. Winter, such as it is down here, is getting really cold. Only for a short time. But, still…

I don’t tell people what to do or think. But, that word. Think. Do it.

 


Into the darkness.

This is one of those posts. One of those posts when the picture has very little to do with the writing. When the picture is more-or-less there to catch your eye. It’s a summertime picture, made after a rain storm so the greens are sparkling. I helped it by darkening the shadows and adding a vignette.

That’s about all.

Today, I want to talk about children. Children kept in cages. Screaming children, Crying children. Terrified children. Children who are apparently being used as bargaining chips by the subhuman who runs my country. The subhuman whose defenders tell lies, lies and more lies. The subhuman whose actions with the children have been condemned by the four living first ladies. By just about every church body including the subhuman’s normal supporters. By those on the left. By those on the right. Even by Ted Cruz, for whom I have no use.

Still they persist. They blame everybody but themselves for putting children in cages. For separating children from their mamas. And, from their papas. They don’t even have a system for reuniting children with their families.

Yet, they persist. The subhuman screams on twitter. His minions can’t get the story straight. What have we done?

To my friends from other places, please let me say that this is not my country. This is not my America. These are not my leaders. My country is open. We are tough, but we are fair. We are not cruel. We try to do the right thing. We are kind.

To those who say that the children’s parents are breaking a law, just shut up. You have no idea what these people have gone through. They are coming to The United States not just for a better life, but for a safe life. One in which they can survive. Until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, I’ll say it again, shut up. Oh, and you can stop following Storyteller.

One more thing. Children are sacred to me. Protect them. Care for them. Hold them. Love them. The minute you cross the line to abuse, you are dead to me. The subhuman and his administration crossed the line.

Do I sound angry? Very angry?

Good.