Two days ago, the sky was muddy gray. There was rain in the air. It was, in a word, yucky. Then came yesterday. Wowzer! Beautiful cold air. The sky turned blue. The light was spectacular. It turned even better around dusk.
Cold. Like winter is supposed to be. But, not so cold that you didn’t want to be outside. What a show nature put on for us.
In case you are wondering, I’m ignoring the news. I suggest that you do it too. Besides, it’s Sunday. The New Orleans Saints are playing in the wild card game of the playoffs. What could be better?
Oh yeah. I’m not the biggest football fan. I am a big baseball fan. Only six weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Then it starts. Soon after we’ll all be complaining about New Orleans Heat.
I am NOT laughing at you who live in places where it so terribly cold.
Instead, I’m showing you what we get for putting up with New Orleans things. We have a high murder rate (two weekends in a row). We have an ancient water system that breaks every week. We have a terrible street infrastructure filled with car killing pot holes. We have a city government that wraps everything up in a marketing tagline, “The City of Yes.” Yes, most of us would like them to actually do something rather than all their posturing. And, they raised the value of our homes so that they could claim that they didn’t raise property taxes. The list continues. And, continues.
We also have mild weather. Of course, that contrasts with the extreme heat of summer. But, our mildness allows me to publish a picture like this one, twelve days from the winter solstice and the actual start of winter.
Older people who live in the north move to Florida for mild weather during the winter. They don’t have dodge bullets and potholes. And, the don’t have to live in our summer heat if they live somewhere near Florida’s long coast.
The picture. I saw it, I photographed it. It didn’t need any help in post production.
They (the legendary and mythical they) say that if you have snow or rain followed by a cold snap you’ll likely see bright fall colors. That’s what happened. Apparently, they are right because I don’t recall ever seeing bright colors like these in Louisiana. Maybe I just wasn’t looking. Nah. Even somebody not paying attention would see these colors.
I made this picture while walking the all seeing dog. Dogs see in something like monochrome, so this didn’t catch her attention. That means that I made the picture using my smart phone which is all I carry on dog walks. To my eye it shows. I suppose I’m going to have retrace my steps and make another set of pictures using a real camera.
I hate to say this, but because of the very ephemeral nature of fall colors, I may have to make a trade. There is a Dr. John birthday second line tonight. Normally, this would be a no brainer. Photograph the event, come back for pictures like this the next day. But, these leaves are at just about peak color. Come back tomorrow and they could be brown. Or, they could be laying on the ground.
I could try to do both. We’ll see. Sometimes rushing from one location to another means that neither scene is done well. Besides, if I miss the start of the second line, I’m about done because I have’t seen a route map. Likely, there isn’t one.
The hole was just a big portion of the picture that was right in the middle. There was also this great stuff going on around the edges. The center had no subject, just an open space. Like a donut.
It reminded me of so many pictures posted on social media with great leading lines… to nowhere. I had options. I think the leading line pictures that I’ve seen could have presented the photographers who made them with options. But, noooooo.
I chose an easy option. I layered another image right into the middle of the original picture. I adjusted it as needed and it was ready for you.
I made the picture about two days ago. I made the layer about four days ago.
The interesting thing about our autumn season is that it is also a second growing season. The weather normally turns cool, not cold. You can start planting veggies for spring. The weather is turning colder and colder so I’m not sure about that for this year. But, native outdoor plants have already started blooming. That’s why I could make this picture.
Isn’t that great?
Unfortunately, we pay for this with brutally hot and humid summers. They last for at lest six months. I read something about this in a climate change story I found. Apparently, as the weather turns weirder and weirder, we won’t have an extreme change to our already hot weather, but New Jersey and that region will.
Yep. The weather up there will become more like our summers. Lucky New Jersey.
On the other hand, as that happens we will continue to subside and the water will rise. That means as we sink, we will sink into higher water. At first, New Orleans will be an island. Then, we will be underwater.
I likely won’t be here by then, unless I survive to be about 115 years old. But, the Mardi Gras Indians will have to learn to swim.
Don’t you think we out to really start doing something about this?
A real swamp would likely be very deep and wet this time of year. Most of the real swamps have been developed. Into concrete. But, here and there, you can find some little groves of what came before us. This one takes about ten minutes to walk through.
If I was really feeling my oats, I’d drive down to Barataria Preserve and walk along the wooden plank sidewalk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park where alligators lurk underneath you, and snakes watch you from above. Jean Lafitte was a pirate. Not only did he serve with U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans, but he wasn’t afraid of alligators and snakes. Like I am.
You’d think getting to such a primitive place would take hours. Nah. Forty-five minutes to an hour and you are there. A lot of tourists visiting New Orleans take a tour of the swamp by boat, then drive upriver to plantation country. Between the two, it’s a nice day trip and not all that far from the “big” city. And, it’s really hard to get lost.
The picture. I didn’t have to do much to it. I made it in the early morning sun which gave it a nice yellow glow. But, not that early. In order for the light to penetrate the foliage, the sun had to get high enough to find the right angle to do its work for me. That’s it.
One more thing. If you take a swamp tour by boat, the guide usually has a couple of chickens that he or she bought at the local Wal-Mart. Cold. Not alive. The chickens are tossed into the water where gators are known to lurk. That creates a commotion so that pictures can be taken.
That’s probably what this image is about. It’s really just my old layering technique from a couple of years ago. But, better. Better because I’ve had years to play with it. Just like all of us, using certain tools, I hope to improve. Experience matters.
My learning isn’t limited to photographs and art.
Today, I learned that one of my other venues for sharing pictures is moving to Instagram. I realize that once upon a time, Instagram was fairly powerful as a portfolio platform. Picture and assignment bookers could see a lot of work quickly. But, with changing software Instagram is harder to use for searches. I’ve noticed that my likes have been cut in a half lately. I never had that many, but still.
A few months ago, I started posting to NGS Your Shot. I’ve been fairly successful there. Not any more.
As you may or may not know, National Geographic sold themselves to Fox a couple of years ago. They, like so many others, were having financial problems. Fox brought a measure of stability to them, without messing around with the product too much.
A couple of months ago Disney bought Fox. We knew the other shoe might drop.
They terminated 70 staffers. They are closing the US version of NG Traveler. And, they are shifting NG Your shot to Instagram on October 31. Oh, and the yellow bordered magazine that you know as National Geographic Magazine is safe, “for now.”
My reaction? I lost a client in NG Traveller. And, when I saw the letter on my feed of NG Your Shot announcing the move to Instagram, I terminated my postings today. Why wait until tomorrow to do things that you can do today? In the near term, they will instruct us how to download our shared files. Even though I already have those files in my archives, I’ll download them from the soon to be defunct site. You know why.
That leaves me with only a few online platforms, and is partially the reason Storyteller continues to exist. Well, you too. But, I do have some small measure of control on WordPress. As far as other platforms go, if I want to broaden my picture sharing, I might just give up and post directly to Facebook and Twitter. knowing full well that the images might get poached. In many ways, it doesn’t matter anymore. Privacy is now a myth. And, as Bob Dylan once said about music, pictures ain’t worth nothin’.
The picture. It started with a red poolside umbrella and progressed from there. There are two additional layers tucked into the frame of the overall image. I did my usual playing around and there you have it. I do have to figure out what to do with this stuff. These pictures ARE worth 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.
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.
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.
I was walking and saw water bubbling through a little man made stream. I photographed what I saw and I knew.
That’s where I’ve been headed. That’s what I should do.
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.
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.
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.
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.