Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


Look to the west.

We listened to a podcast this morning that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a conversation between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s not about that. Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, this is worth listening to. You’ll learn something about the two men. More importantly, you might learn something about yourself.

They discussed their fathers and how they helped them grow, or didn’t. Mostly, they didn’t. Obama’s heritage is well known. Springsteen’s not so much.

I relate to Springsteen’s story much more than Obama’s. I’ll stop there because I’m not quite really explore those depths and write about them. Let’s just say I am what I am despite my upbringing.

Springsteen did say something funny that can be taken one of two ways. He said that he dresses like a blue collar worker, but he never worked a day in his life. You can take that at face value.

Or.

You can take it the way that I did. Even though every musician that I know says they are working or that music is their job. It’s the kind of job that they love doing. In that way they have never had a job. They enjoy what they do.

Do you?

Into the sky. That’s what caught my attention. The crazy, almost exploding sky.

Look at it. Please.

It’s almost like an upside down beach with the waves leaving trails in the newly exposed sand.

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one like this.

I did what I could to make the proper exposure so that it would be easy work in post production.

I helped it a bit. The result is what you see here. For me, the real trick was to keep the buildings in silhouette while retaining just enough light on them to let them glow.

Let’s see what happen today.


Glowing.

Maybe this photograph is a little too radioactive. In my defense I cannot predict how WordPress will compress my already compressed .jpeg. Many times I over compensate. Don’t we all? Now that a bit of my life is getting back to some kind of normal feeling workflow I have to be very careful not to move too fast.

I still believe that we can emerge from these pandemic days better than we were before the virus came roaring through the country. I know we can do better. Much, much better.

I make no bones about my political leanings. I hope for a change of leaders in two weeks. Whether you are a democrat or a republican, I’m pretty sure that you’d like a leader who believes and trusts in science instead of his gut, a gut filled with five pounds of McDonalds fried food. I have nothing against McDonald’s, but everything in its place.

I’m not sure why months slipped by, but I could have put the time between March and July to better use. I’d like to claim that I was getting used to working from home, but that would be a lie. I always work from home.

Finally, I got going.

I think that we accomplished a lot as summer rolled on and fall arrived. But…

What about y’all? How did you do during this virus months?

Flowers. The best thing about moving on from WordPress will be the way drop caps are programmed. As you type the first letter of the word you are writing drops to the back of the word. So, Flowers is lowersF. I have no idea why this happens.

Anyway.

Back to flowers. These are the same ones that I turned into the autumn photograph. I reworked one picture into something bright, bold and energetic. It didn’t take long. Between Snapseed and OnOne I think it took me a total of 20 minutes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty.Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay focused. Vote.


Look into the sky.

So it was.

It seems that my attitude has gotten worse towards opening schools too soon just because there’s a dangling carrot. They say follow the money and I did. Don’t fully open the schools and the state loses federal funding.

I have a couple of words about it. Two words. I won’t write them here. This is a family blog.

This really hit home this morning. I read a long piece written by a school administrator in southern Arizona. It was horrifying. He lost his most senior teacher to the virus. Three more got sick. Students have gotten sick. In every case, the school followed every possible protocol. When they didn’t receive plastic shields they cut and hung shower curtains.

Still, human beings died.

The headline says, “I’m sorry but it’s a fantasy.”

And, so it is. I can hardly wait until my teacher friends start getting sick. I can hardly wait until one of them passes. I don’t know what depths of hell their families and I will sink to.

Some say that’s negative. Nonsense. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Make plans even though they will change. There are no plans. Only hope.

All the Blue

Let’s do something more positive. Let’s talk about this picture. After all, artists gotta art harder if we want to be heard.

Normally, I don’t carry my phone when it’s the last trip outside. We don’t go far. For some reason I took with us. Good thing that I did. The moon was just shining away in a deep blue sky. Photographing the moon with a phone is a little sporty, especially since I wanted to frame it with something. Although my phone has a sort of internal zoom lens when you reach the outer edges of it, focusing takes a hope and a prayer.

I leaned up against the wall, took a deep breath and released it as I pressed the button. I did it three times in rapid succession. Wonder of wonders. All three frames were sharp. I made a few more different compositions. The dog was done and so was I.

Post production was mostly a matter of correcting the noise I see that I didn’t quite get, and to make sure the blues were the ones that I saw. I got that.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every night sky.


Summertime green

Soon.

Soon, this wonderful deep green will change. We are in the wettest month of summer. It will stay green. In a few weeks, there will be more heat and less rain. By mid-August much of the green will fade into a sort of dull gray-green. You know what comes next.

The lifecycle never changes.

The wheel keeps turning. It may slow down for a bit. It may speed up for a little while. But, it is relentless. I have to wonder in this pandemic era will something change that shouldn’t. Will the brakes be put on the wheel? Will the lifecycle really speed up?

Or.

Will mother nature move at her constant speed, always seeking stasis? Will she provide us with something to hold onto, like a rock in a fast moving river. I believe so. If not, we have been completely cast adrift.

We’ll see.

The Picture

I suppose that’s why I turned to nature the minute the month flipped over in the calendar. Even though mother nature can be rough as she seeks stasis, she can be incredibly comforting. Like this one, many of the pictures that I published in July are green. A color of rebirth. Of rejuvenation. Of hope.

We live in a time that’s going to require a grinding ethos to make it through to the other side. So, rebirth found in nature is a little fuel so that we can carry on.

Hope. That’s what the little sprout in all those ferns me to me. I hope you see that too.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy all the general tso’s chicken.


Summertime and the living is easy.

Summertime.

I know summer started a few weeks ago, but I wanted to show you a few pictures from my past. So, the real colors of summer start on July 1, in the age of the pandemic.

The picture is pretty. It looks and feels like a rich, verdant summer lawn. With a golden leaf on it. I reckon that’s a good way to start.

The real topic today is government advisories.

I don’t understand the public’s resistance to everything. Wear your mask. It saves lives. Maybe it will save the life of your beloved granny. There is so many arguments about that. It’s really not want I want to talk about.

Instead, I want to talk about hot weather.

It’s really hot in Southeastern Louisiana. The heat and humidity “feels like” temperature was over 105 degrees yesterday. The governor posted a set of charts and maps, with a few words saying stay hydrated, stay rested and if you can, stay inside, on all social media. This is normal procedure in the summer around here.

I could not believe the blowback he got over that. “You can’t tell me what to do.” “You can’t tell me to stay inside.” “You can’t tell me to stay hydrated.”

What the hell?

I realize that people have already been trapped inside with various degrees of lockdowns. I realize that the country is smashed into little tiny bits. That division is at an all time high. I even know who to blame.

But, really?

People are attacking a heat notice?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay inside. Enjoy every grilled cheese sandwich. (You can grill them on the hood (bonnet) of your car.


Get out of the French Quarter, I tell visitors.

I don’t mean quite as far out as the locations in these pictures. Going to some of these places would mean really long days for some of them. But, I live here. I can pick them off one by one when the light and the heat suits me.

It’s an interesting thing about heat. It’s hot and very humid now. That will last until mid-October. Normally, I complain about it, but since I want you to be able to feel the picture I have to work in the heat. I reckon if I’m hot or cold, you’ll feel that way too.

Sometimes, my “method acting works,” many times it doesn’t. Same thing with writing. A friend of mine wrote about the passing of her dog. It broke our hearts. It took a couple of attempts to get through it. That worked. Man, did it work.

As I review this mini-portfolio I realize that I need to return to some of these places. I’m going to make a collection of Our Lady of Guadalupe photographs. I know where some are — obviously — but, I’ll have to just look around for others. I also want to return to the broken trees. I have some plans to use the pictures as components of other pictures.

Stay safe. Enjoy every fritter.


Backlight.

My kind of picture.

Something backlighted. Something different. Something about nature. I made this picture on a walk. Another dog walk. We are starting to work together again. She stops. I stop. I stop. She stops. Good timing. Good communication.

The picture

I’m doing this a little inside out. This is one of those photographs that is best made in the moment. You may see it start to form as you walk to the place from which you want to work. When you arrive, everything — the sun, the trees and even the star — is just as you hoped. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. You’re done. When you develop it you find that the exposure was right on. There is very little work to do. Next stop. Storyteller.

Today

I had a couple of Zoom meetings. One meeting. One presentation. I looked at the work of Peter Turnley. He’s fairly legendary in the photojournalistic world. I know him a little bit. He showed us his work during his three months in New York City. The three months when the virus was surging and nobody had any idea what to expect. He worked everyday. 90 days.

He had no client. He did it for himself. He had to.

His work is amazing. You know that I was born there. Well, in Brooklyn. When Brooklyn didn’t have panache that it does today. His pictures made me cry. Not only is the city my first home, but you could see the kindness, compassion and tiredness in the eyes of the front line medical staffs.

He knows something that I know. In his case, he realized that almost every group that he photographed were predominantly made up of people of color. They were the ones who did the hardest jobs. They were also among the kindest people.

I known it for a while.

It really hit home for me last Mardi Gras. As you might remember, I mostly gave up working because walking was too painful for me. I realized it that one night when I could barely walk the length of a long street where the floats were lining up.

I knew I need a break.

I needed to sit down. The first two porches I came to were owned by white people. Give me a break. You’ll see where I’m going with this. Both groups suggested I find some place further down the street and that I sit on the curb.

Thanks a lot. If I sat on the curb, I would need help getting up.

I walked about two houses further and asked if I could sit down. Not only did the couple let me sit down, but they gave me a bottle of water and some food from their picnic dinner.

We chatted and introduced ourselves. It turns out that they were grandpa and grandma to the young boy who was with them. I made portraits of all of them. The little boy was playing. I made pictures of that. I helped them clean up and thanked them. I sent them pictures.

Care to guess?

My own — supposedly — people turned me down. Twice.

Black people took me in. They fed me. They let me sit with them. We got to know each other a little.

I know what Peter knows.

We learned it working on the street. Most of you who follow my exploits here on Storyteller believe the same things. We believe in the equality of all people. Racism and the killing of a Black man by white cops disgusts us. But, until you are there, really there, you don’t what the goodness of all races means. I’m not sure that I do.

But.

I’m willing to learn. And, I’m willing to listen

Uno Mundo.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every sandwich.


The color of royalty.

Some things seem to be getting better.

Don’t hold me to that.

Georgia opened up all sorts of close contact businesses. Guess what? The state now has a surge of infections.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Buffett’s management team thinks that it’s a good idea to restart his tour in early July. They had to cancel a couple of shows because the municipalities where they wanted to reschedule said no. That’s what everyplace should say. I predict wherever he plays will see a surge in the city and surrounding locations.

Why are so many people in such a hurry? I get it. We all need to earn a living. But, if we rush back to nonessential businesses we may not have a life for which to earn. That doesn’t sound so smart to me.

Normally, I am a kind of dive into the pool guy. Not this time. I’d rather get back in the water a toe at a time.

I’ll tell you why.

We were doing some grocery shopping yesterday. We started down an aisle and about twenty feet ahead of us was a woman who was coughing, sneezing and dripping. She made no attempt to cover her nose. I told her to put on a mask. She replied that she had a constitutional right not to, and that I could go f*uck myself. I told her that I had a constitutional right not to be killed by her. She started screaming and yelling so loud that we could hear her three aisles away, where we retreated to.

What the hell is wrong with people?

We arrived at the check out counter at about the same time. She started yelling at us again. The manager heard her, came over and asked if there was a problem. I told him. He wouldn’t do a thing. I can assure you that I’ll be writing to the corporate office and taking our business elsewhere.

I wish we could just leave the state. Too many extremists everywhere. New Orleans is a blue city surrounded by nothing but red. But, there is nowhere to go. This isn’t like evacuating from Hurricane Katrina.

This didn’t start out to be a rant. Sorry about that.

The picture. More purple flowers. I added a lot to this image. Enough to make the flowers look metallic. Let’s hope that it works.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.