Mardi Gras Sunday.

Letting everything in.

It’s about that time. Time to let in the shadows and the light. That’s how we know we are alright. I think I’ve been doing that as it relates to the age of the pandemic. There are days when all I see are shadows. I tried my best to get into the light. I think I might be better off letting the shadows in and work toward the light. Slowly.

Then, I could actually see some progress.

I came to this way of thinking after reading a friend’s blog. It was all sweetness and light. It drove me crazy. There was no room for error or failure. I know for a fact that most things end in failure. It’s that baseball hitter thing again. It’s how we recover that really matters.

Sometimes, what we do is a lonely job. If something works, really works, we deserve the credit. If we had help, share the credit. But, remember that lonely job thing. If you succeeded, claim it.

Anyway.

That’s what I think. What I think may not matter. Much.

The Picture

As I mentioned, I’ve been posting a different collection of images on Instagram. As I edit my archives I find some images that I’d rather keep over here on Storyteller.

This is one of them. I made this picture on a Mardi Gras Sunday, walking back to my car from the parade route. I’d seen the decorated porch on my way to the parade. I thought if there was a person sitting there it would be a cool image.

On the way back, there she was. The perfect person. And old Black woman with a gentle smile on her face. I asked if she minded if I made a photograph with her in it. She smiled and said, yes. I thanked her. I made the picture. I thanked her again. I returned with a print. A year later.

The hardest thing about making this file into a photograph was keeping it from turning green. The house is green. The trim is green. The light reflected all that green. The female jester’s head was my calibration mark. She’s pure white. Get that white and everything falls into place. I did and it did.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Feel the shift within you. Enjoy every fried fish sandwich.


Something about the winter solstice.

The long night.

The longest night of the year when autumn formerly turned into winter. When the day was short and rainy. Many local artists couldn’t do their work because they need light and there was only gray skies.

Later that night the rain slowed and finally stopped. The moon poked its head out and away we went.

And, I found a tripod.

The picture that I made is spooky. It’s mysterious. It’s even a little scary. For me, it caught the feeling of the solstice. Summer solstice is people dancing around. Winter solstice is people hunkering down. That’s what I think.

The picture. A tripod is required to make this picture. Yes, I actually own a couple of them. Once that is in place the rest is easy. I exposed for the moon because I wanted everything else a little dark and moody. That blew the moon out beyond repair. It’s way over exposed. The moon is a week removed from being full. The picture isn’t entirely about the moon. It’s about the mood that the rest of the picture shows. It’s deep, dark and a little evil.

That’s about the best I could do on short notice. A years notice.

Sheesh. There’s no accounting for me.


Mysterioso.

Into the mystic.

There is one place that the dog and I walk. It is by turns, moody, swampy, and beautiful. It was at sunset, beautiful. For sure, it’s not purely nature. There is a water feature built into it. That just adds to the feel. In high summer when the humidity is at its highest, the area is downright scary.

Not so much now.

Even though it is not so moody right now, you’d better watch where you walk. Along with the usual suspects of frogs and a billion lizards, there is the occasional snake and opossum. No worries though. If you don’t bother them, they’ll ignore you. Besides, the snakes aren’t anything nasty. A rattlesnake was roaming around another walking route. People feared that rattlers were making their way into the city. Turns out that the snake escaped from its owners fish bowl. If I were a snake I’d want to be free too.

That is one of those things that we call “very New Orleans.”

There are all sorts of events that we term that way. A guy had his car broken into. He had his car door open on the street side while he was waiting for the police. Another car came along and took off his door, making his already bad day, worse. The driver of that car got out of it and fell down. Dead drunk. That’s some New Orleans stuff right there.

A few months back, while checking all the water outflow tunnels, the water department found a crippled and battered car. You might remember me telling you that. It turned the car was lodged in the tunnel for fourteen years. It was a Hurricane Katrina car. Fourteen years of no reviews or repairs. Now, THAT’S some New Orleans stuff right there.

Finally, I want to photograph a big second line later today. After a month of no rain, the skies are dark, heavy with rain clouds. My weather apps agree. Rain today. More New Orleans stuff.

That’s the story from the swamp on this fine Sunday.

 

 


On Easter Sunday.

On Easter Sunday.

A day about redemption. A day for reflection. For us, a quiet day.

Right now the world is in terrible shape.

Leaders want to be dictators. Leaders who lie. Small wars in many countries. Church burnings in my own home state. Church bombings today, Easter Sunday, that killed at least 220 people and hurt around 500 others in Sri Lanka. A mosque fire in the Middle East. Notre Dame burning in Paris. Scared people trying to escape death in their countries being turned away at our border. A general shift in immigrants from the Middle East to Europe. Bad water in Flint, Michigan. People in Puerto Rico still struggling from their last hurricane And, more. Much more.

Sheesh. I haven’t even included the mother of all issues. Climate change. How it already affects us. How it will affect us in the future.

There doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate on this Easter Sunday.

Yes. I know.

If you are Christian, you celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. After three days.Those must have been three, long tortuous days for his followers, believers and friends.

What does that mean for us, 2019 years later?

For me, it lies in my headline. In a small way. For sure, most of us can’t help directly with some of the bad things I mentioned above. I’m not going to Sri Lanka to help the people recover from a most despicable act. I can give some money to help them recover, but that seems to be sort of any easy way out.

In my country, at least,  I can support the political candidate of my choice and vote the wannabe dictator and his ilk out of office. That’s the right thing to do. And, it’s peaceful. It’s how my country was founded and is supposed to work.

But.

Maybe more direct action is necessary. Help our neighbors when they need it. Help strangers when they need it. It can be anything. The smallest of things.

Today, I held a door open for a young woman who was carrying a couple of boxes. She controlled the boxes okay, but she couldn’t open the gate. She was so thankful when I opened and held for her to pass through. I’m not special. It was the very least that I could do. When did doing such a simple thing become so extraordinary? It shouldn’t be.

So that’s it.

My challenge. To me. You can do whatever you like. I’d like you to try it.

Do three things for someone else. Tasks that are so simple you normally wouldn’t even think about it. Do this daily. Do it one day at a time. Seems that I heard that somewhere. Don’t go chasing around looking for stuff, but when it occurs you should do it. Why three? I’ll tell you later.

If my belief that 1 + 1  = 3 is right, pretty sure we can change some things on a local level. Maybe, eventually, we can all climb out of our silos and talk to each other. Talk to people with whom we disagree, but are trying to understand. Maybe that leads to collaboration. That’s how things used to work. There is an old saying that if a negotiation was successful, everybody left the room pissed off. Fair enough.

Maybe, that leads to some kind of energy and bigger issues are solved.

I honestly don’t know. But, it’s worth a try on this day of redemption. On any day.

Peace. Happy Easter. Shalom. Happy Passover.


Portrait in the second liners.

Day two. The Valley of the Silent Men second line in Central City.

New Orleans.

I thought I would publish a few more pictures of the day. A good day. A happy day. And proof of a hot day. At least one picture, where my buddy’s wife is wiping his face with a towel.

Of all the pictures, I like the top one best. It’s a little subtle, but to me it’s one of those pictures that says a whole lot. From a technical standpoint I almost didn’t select it. The man in the foreground looked like he was buried in shadow. But, deep details in shadow is where digital capture just shines. I opened his face, and the man standing behind him, just fine. Should they be lighter? No. They are backlighted.

So now you know what it’s like to stand in the heat, with the entire second line snaking around in front of me after making its first two left hand turns. I will say that this picture was lucky. You know, photographer’s lucky. Look a different way and it’s gone. Think too much and it’s gone. Try to catch up and its gone.

The rest of the pictures. I wanted you to see — once again — what it looks like between the ropes with the first liners are coming out. I also wanted you to see that it really was hot. This man and I have been on the injured reserved listed for a while. He had shoulder surgery. You know about me. We were as happy as we could be to see each other.

And finally, the spiritual bling. On another day this would be a stand alone picture. But, I wanted to work it in with the rest of what I saw. Funny. This guy was walking with a cane. I sat down next to him because my hip was starting to ache. I needed another pain med. I took it, looked up and saw his chest. I asked if I could photograph it and he proudly answered yes. Then, we limped away from each other.  My hip felt better in like 20 minutes. Nothing like extra strength Tylenol.

That’s my story. Today.

Spiritual bling.


On Easter Sunday.

This was harder than you’d think.

I wanted to post an Easter Sunday picture. But, I want to continue to explore my emerging vision. So the question was fairly simple. How do I do that without offending many of you with some weird post production? Art is art. I know that. But, Easter is symbolically a time of rebirth. Bright colors are normally used to portray that. It’s a huge day. So what do I do to make that happen?

Well.

I had to find the right picture. I wanted it to be something you’ve never seen. And, that maybe I had forgotten.

No bright colors. But how about a kind of glow from the heart of the picture? A glow that pierces through the darkness. An illuminating glow. Maybe a glow of hope.

Maybe.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. However you believe, have a great day.

For those of you who are keeping score. I made this picture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the Cathedral of St. Francis Assisi. In the side chapel. I was looking for something a little different. This is the place where people go who want a little peace and quiet away from visiting tourists.


Temple incense.

Another bit of reworking.

Man Mo Temple. Sheung Wan. Hong Kong. Everybody takes this picture in some form. Mostly, I’ve seen it with many rows of incense coils. It’s a stock travel staple. I’ve probably shot the location 15 or 16 times. Nothing really changes. The temple was built in 1847. It’s reputed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, buildings in the city. The gods of Man and Mo literally translate to “civil” and “martial.” Man is also regarded as the god of literature, while Mo is regarded as the god of War.

The picture. Again, I made it first on black and white film, printed it, scanned it and did most of the manipulations digitally. I’ve found a couple of these reworked pieces interesting from a standpoint of adding color. You can see blues, yellows and a sort of purplish color throughout the picture. Ah. The magic of digital post production. Or, at least digital filtering.


In prayer.

Since I’m still not working, I’m looking at a deep review of my archives. I made a switch to Google Pictures. I cannot tell you how good it is at finding pictures that were “lost” in the nooks and crannies of my hard drives. Not only that, but it organizes them very well. It also searches pretty well. As long as I wrote the proper keywords or tags.

However.

Back in the old days, I’m not sure how many people understood that you needed to add complex metadata. You know? Data about data. Sounds funny. I know. You’re a visual person. Pictures are visual. In order to find a picture you have to write about it.

Anyway.

I made this picture in 2009. There is a little shrine not very far from where I lived in New Mexico. I went there a lot. Not because of any religious belief. Instead, because the place kept growing and retracting as the seasons turned. Besides, you know me. I think the work is the prayer. Lately, I’ve taken to describing myself as non-denominational for those who aren’t sure of my slightly Buddhist saying.

Of course, I’m non-denominational. I like $5 bills, $10 bills, $20 bills. Any kind of folding money. I’m not particularly greedy. But, I need things. Cameras. Dog food. New Music. Probably a new mattress made out of concrete to protect my slowly healing back.

One more thing about “The work is the prayer.” I heard that from two religions. Buddhist monks. And, Benedictine monks. You know. Catholic monks. I reckoned that if two religions actually agree on something you can’t go wrong.


Store window in the French Quarter.
Store window in the French Quarter.

Oh, I dunno.

This is what happens when you walk. When you look in windows. At details.

I’ll let you guess which kind of spiritual belief this group of icons represents. It may not be what you are thinking.

For those of you who are wondering about avoiding reflection in glass, it’s pretty simple. If you don’t want reflections just take the lens hood off and press the lens against the window. No external side light. No reflections. It also works like sort of a tripod. At least, sort of a brace. You can work at lower shutter speeds. And, slightly higher f stops.

One more thing. Since I rarely chimp — that is, look at the LCD to see how the picture “came out” — I often shoot a little more than might be necessary. Then, I edit. Or, cull. Or, curate. Whatever you want to call it. Even if I took — oh, let’s say ten pictures to get this one — one is what I’ll show you. Less is more. I come from an era before digital. An era when paper cost money. Publishing space was prime real estate. You picked the best picture. The rest went into your files.

Oh yeah. Chimping? Why don’t I do it? It breaks my shooting flow. I’d rather explore and interact with the subject than look to see if somehow I managed to take the picture. That’s important. Especially if you are working with people.

That’s all for today.