Into the purples.

Friday flowers.

There. Maybe I’ll start something.

Spring is really upon us. You know how I know? My daily viewers have dropped by half. Rather than think y’all were mad at me, I poked around. A lot of the blogs that I read have a much lower readership as we crossed into May.

So.

It’s either better weather and people aren’t staying inside as much. All good.

Or, along with removing spell check, WordPress is messing with the math again, making it harder to find some blogs. Very bad.

This is typical with all social media. A while back, before people really started to distrust Facebook, they admitted to changing certain search parameters. They admitted that they were experimenting with us.

Social media has become ubiquitous. Most of us need it for something. To show artistic work. To keep  in touch with friends. To find long lost friends. The list goes on and on.

It may be worse than we think. In a long piece written in The New York Times, the former co-founder of Facebook admits that all sorts of staff can read our PMs. Ever wonder how something you wrote in confidence ends up being in an advertisement on Facebook, or worse being in an ad someplace completely unrelated? That’s your answer.

I have no reply. The co-founder suggests breaking up Facebook. I’m not sure what that’ll really do. Sheesh. There are rumours of some kind of penalty for Facebook. A fine. $5 billion dollar fine. That’s a drop in the bucket for them. I suggest something a little stronger. Prison terms for the people who want to make us their products and make money from us. Five to ten years for starters. No possibility of parole. No digital devices. Oh yeah. General population. No fancy federal country clubs.

If I sound angry, I’m not. I’m resolute. It’s time to take back our lives. From everybody who seeks to control us. The real problem is simple. We gotten used to these easy ways to communicate. How do we replace them?

The picture. Photograph it. Process it. Carve it up in post production by removing as much of the mid-tones as possible and see what happens.

I’m excited. I was able to get back to the old abandoned railroad cars that I once photographed along while back. There are more of them now. Some old Southern Railroad steel passenger cars have been added to the mix. The baby Leica got a workout in the light rain. The camera and I had fun.

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Bubbling water.

It started by accident.

Accidental approaches are a way of life for me.

Water.

Remember, I wrote that I wanted to do a project about water. I bet you thought that I forgot. I didn’t. I was wrestling with photographing water as a photojournalistic story. Or, as a set of art pieces.

Because of my training and background, my first inclination was to look at water with a photojournalist’s eye. That started an internal fight. It went back and forth.

Until.

I was walking and saw water bubbling through a little man made stream. I photographed what I saw and I knew.

Art.

That’s where I’ve been headed. That’s what I should do.

But, wait.

There’s more.

I think that there are plenty of people photographing what it means to lose water. Or, to be overwhelmed by water, as we are near the Gulf. So, I thought that I would show the beauty of water. After all, it’s us. It’s our place. It’s the earth.

This is the picture that cleared my head.

In case you are wondering, I see this as a small portfolio of no more than twenty pictures. Twenty great pictures that will take a while to produce. And, will be printed very large. Like in measurements of feet rather than inches.

I guess I’d better start carrying a real camera with me. Even though I’m working with very clear intent, you just never know.

Housekeeping.

WordPress says that they removed spellcheck because it’s redundant to so many other systems and browsers. For those of us who actually write directly onto a WordPress page, that’s nonsense. WordPress is a closed environment. I can’t other  spell check from Google or any other browser.

I suppose they want us to cut and paste. Programmers have a way of making things more complicated. Mostly, they just don’t have enough to do.


Red is the Color.

Never say never.

That’s what they say. They is correct. Just when I was talking about the lack of color in what amounts to our late spring, guess what? Red roses start blooming.

The thing about nature, besides always seeking stasis, is that while seasonal stages are somewhat predictable, there are always plenty of curve balls. This is one of them. These roses bloomed, flowered and died about two months ago. I didn’t expect to see them again.

That’ll teach me.

Those are the kinds of lessons that I need to learn, during my year of learning. They are also the kind of lessons that most of us forget. I have no idea what spring 2020 will be like, but I’m sure that I won’t remember what I saw and learned this year. That’s my way of keeping me in stasis. If I retained everything that I learned my head would explode. Or, something like that.

So.

Back to learning. In the last couple of weeks I learned some truths about people that I wish weren’t truths. I’m still sorting through them, so I’ll leave it at that. But, I feel like a line in an old Jefferson Airplane song, “When the truth is found to be lies…” At the very least it’s disappointing. I think that’s its limit because I don’t have very high expectations anymore. That may not be a good thing, at least, on its face. On the other hand, The lows aren’t very low.

The picture. Since nature made me a liar, I decided I’d better record what she did. So, that’s what I did. I made a picture of roses. I framed it kind of old style with one main subject in the foreground, and the rest hiding in the so-called bokeh. I did a little post production work, mostly to make the image a little warmer since I found it towards the end of the day. But, the day was a little cloudy. That’s it. A simple picture, framed in my old school way.


Blooms of Spring.

And so.

It goes.

In the last 24 hours, one person passed. Another is having a birthday. A big one. And, the all-seeing dog found these flowers on a route we rarely take.

Obviously, the birthday was expected.

The dog did her usual thing. She turned a fifteen minute walk in a 60 minute walk because, well you know, all things must be explored.

The passing was not expected. He was a member of my krewe.

The Krewe of Backsteppers, which is not to be confused with backsliders. Backsteppers are the third line, but we walk before the first and second lines. We are the photographers who document second lines, Indian events and all sorts of Mardi Gras cultural events.

As I wrote to a friend of mine, it’s never good when there is a second line during the week. It almost always means some has died. And, so it did. Randolph “Mookie” Square was so well-known in the Treme community that the mayor issued a proclamation upon notification of his death. May he rest in peace. Or, as we say around here. RIH. Rest in Heaven.

So.

Even though I didn’t know it when I made this picture. The flowers are for Mookie. And, the birthday girl.

I’m pretty sure that there will be a jazz funeral. Usually, for well-known community members it’s a really big deal. When Uncle Lionel Batiste passed (You know his nephew if you watch Late Night with Stephen Colbert), it took a while because there were a lot of very violent rainstorms, but when his second line finally got going it was huge.

So huge that the Louisiana State Troopers closed two exits on the interstate where it passes over Claiborne because people were on the off ramp dancing and photographing. Yes. I was one of them.

I expect about the same thing this time.

I’m not sure I have the energy I had back then. That was a long time gone. But, I’ll do my best. You know why.

Sometimes, in New Orleans, it’s about learning. It’s about learning how to deal with death. Of course we mourn. The first steps in a jazz funeral are a dirge. But, we know that all things must pass. That dying is part of living. So, when the dirge is over the music soars. People dance. In the streets. We send the one who just passed, out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, we’ll miss them. But, we’ll always remember them. And, the good times we passed with them.

For me that means on the parade routes. Mookie had a habit of finding the picture at the last-minute and jumping right in front of you. After a couple of times of “WTH?”, you realized that he was no better or worse than you are. I can’t begin to tell you how many how many times I did that to other photographers. I won’t even apologize for it. It is what it is.

Life on the streets.

Peace, y’all.


Reflections.

“Thank you, my love.”

That’s what the female FEDEX driver said after I signed for the Leica. Don’t get excited. It’s a southern thing. It’s a nice thing. A good way to treat each other when we interact.

Anyway.

I had the days wrong. Today is Leica test day. A good day too. The light is stunning, once again. It bounces around from lightly overcast with white puffy clouds hiding the sun, to changing the light to bright and contrasty. Wowie-zowie.

I have an idea that I’m going to wander around the Quarter. It’s a good place to work during the day. It’s very different from the usual night views. For one thing, there are very few tourists. All locals. Doing their jobs. Getting ready for the night. And, tourist dollars.

The picture. I’ve been eyeing this window for a while. It takes bright, contrasty, low light to make it work. Even with that, you have to be careful of the window frame since you can’t get an angle that prevents keystoning. Rather than fight it, I just photographed it knowing I would crop it in editing.

I thought that I wanted it bright and colorful. But, after testing different approaches, I liked this version best. Almost no color. All monochrome.

Enjoy.

I’m off to Disneyland. Er, the French Quarter.

But, first I have to figure out this camera.


Layers of Spring.

Spring Suite.

Although there are other pictures waiting to be shared, you are seeing an image that I made last night as dusk was waiting. The light was incredible. I found a couple of places to make use of it. For now, this is the best of those.

The light is almost winter-like. Low. Golden. Pretty.

It makes this, and almost any picture, look great.

It certainly made me smile. Especially after a long and stupid day.

Let’s just say that the staff of a hospital has no idea what they are doing. A 30 minute trip took over three hours. Most of that was spent waiting for the folks who clear insurance, even though it had been pre-cleared by my doctor. It wasn’t exactly their fault.The senior hospital management thought it would be a good idea to lump all predicting procedures together.

So.

I sat waiting for a x-ray with the folks waiting for blood tests, or MRIs or…. oh you get it.

Keep in mind my set of x-rays was driven by me. I haven’t had a x-ray of my hip or back in almost two years. I want to know what’s going on back there since osteoarthritis is progressive. My doctor agreed.

So, off to the hospital I went. The stuff that I described above took so long that the out-patient x-ray technicians’ shifts were over and there was nobody to replace them. I went to inpatient services where there were people in the middle of surgeries — er, procedures — and had to “play through.” Even so, that staff was professional and very efficient.

I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. They don’t stop with the series ordered by my doctor. They check their work and keep going until the make the right film. Sort of like me with a camera. Of course there is a little radioactivity to this. If I look at you for a long time, you glow. Heh, heh.

I bet most of you have stories like this. At least, those of you who live in the United States. For a major first world country, our healthcare is primitive at best. Usually, the word sucks covers it. I have to wonder what happens if you really need the emergency room. Do the guys who make sure you have insurance talk to you while the doctor is using heart paddles to try to save your life? If it doesn’t clear, do the tell the doctors to turn off the juice?

Sheesh.

Anyway. We are having a coolish, bright and colorful spring day. I’d better not waste it with trips through bureaucracy.


Reflections.

I see pictures everywhere.

I make a lot of pictures when I’m walking the dog who sees things, or any of the others. The difference between walking them is simple. She’s used to stopping while I make a picture. The others aren’t.

We have about five general routes that we take. Sometimes, we take a break. Sometimes, we go visiting. Sometime we walk for about two miles without a break. When we get home, she takes a nap. She’s ten and a half years old. She’s got great spirit. She never wants to stop. But, age is age.

I made this picture on one of our visiting walks. It’s actually two pictures. Reflections in a pool. And, one of the few bare trees left this season. Most have grown their full foliage. I decided to layer them because at first glance they seemed to work together. I was right. They did. I inverted the tree. I also made it a lot lighter and more fluid. That made sense since I overlaid it on water.

Before you ask about particular steps, you should know that I do this by trial and error. Mostly, error. When I manage to make the overlay presentable, I work on fine tuning the total picture. I could take five minutes if I’m lucky. Or, it could take two hours if I’m not.

The cool thing about my way of working is that I think I can do it with any two pictures as long as they make sense together. We’ll see. I’ll test that further down the road.

But, for this week.

Spring.


You’d think.

You’d think.

Spring. Rebirth. All green and bright blossoms, leaves and green shoots.

Oh no.

Not down here in the swamp. I made this picture on the first official day of spring. Those leaves look like the arrival of fall. You know. Fall colors and all. But nope. These are fairly fresh leaves. Red leaves. Orange leaves. Yellow leaves.

What do I know?

It’s spring. I know it’s spring. The calendar says it’s spring. The rest of nature looks like spring. But, not this little tree.

We all know one thing. Despite how humans try to restrain her, shape her, or move her, nature seeks stasis. She does what she wants.

What do you think climate change is about? Humans are polluting and destroying the planet. Nature. Climate change is about rebalance the earth back to where it should be. Nature doesn’t care if humans are involved. We are an irritant to her. A temporary irritant. She’ll destroy us. Or, banish us to a different planet. She doesn’t care.

Think about that. Think about that when climate change deniers spout their nonsense. It’s happened before. It could happen again.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Easy stuff. Except for the seeing it part.


My spring.

Spring.

I think it’s easy to take a picture of flowers or whatever says spring. It’s much harder to express what you feel. This image says spring to me. It’s poppy. It has energy. It is very colorful.

I got lucky. Sorta.

I made the magenta portion of the image about a week ago. I made the yellow flowers a day or so ago. Both pictures stand on their own. I started tinkering. I do that at night when I’m not thinking about the business side of my world. It’s pure creation.

The magenta flower was complete right after I photographed it. I finished working on the yellow flower, saved it and thought… hmm.

Often when you try layering, there are a few false starts. Not this time. The two pictures looked great together. It was a matter of adjusting the intensity of both pictures and fine tuning.

That’s it.

In case you are wondering, there isn’t a lot of hardware involved. the work was done on my smart phone. I could have created this post from there, but I like working on a big monitor for that. I usually can find and correct my mistakes easier on a large screen. Or not.

Even though you might not be interested in layering, there are a lot of little photographic tips throughout this post. They may help you. Or not.