Ghostly hoops.

Escape.

Escape from the French Quarter to Uptown. When this ghostly apparition got there he couldn’t figure out what to do, so he started playing basketball. When nobody else arrived, he looked at me — your trusty photographer — and hissed. Then, he pointed. I left quickly. His yellow eyes were watching every step I made.

That’s the story. I’m sticking to it.

I’m pretty sure that everything is a story. That’s why we do stuff. As Jimmy Buffett once wrote, “We do it for the stories we can tell.” He was right.

Unfortunately, lately I haven’t been doing that. These hurting body parts have taken  on a life of their own. Everyday is a new adventure in “what’s gonna hurt me today?” One of the once unspoken reasons for changing my photographic content is that it hurts me physically to do it. But, it hurts me emotionally not to do it.

A good friend says that coming out for a second line is like going to church. He’s right. Not only do I get to make pictures, but I see a lot of friends, I meet new people, I eat BBQ sausages and I soak in the great vibes. And, there is a spirituality to the whole thing.

If I give up, I lose that. I’m not ready for that.

So.

I have to get a little aggressive. My doctors are nibbling around the edges. For sure, they are kind. They give me the medications that I need to get by. I don’t want to get by. I don’t want to exist. I want to flourish.

If traditional medicine can’t do it. I’ll shift. I spent a total of seven years in Hong Kong and China. I trusted the old ways. Maybe it’s time to make a move toward that again. Time for a few phone calls, texts and emails.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I thought after writing about him, I should listen to a little Jimmy Buffett. So, I am.

“Don’t ever forget that you just might end up in my song.”


Bones in the window.

In New Orleans, you see them everywhere.

You see them in windows. On balconies. On the street. Well, maybe not on the street. But, if you look hard enough you might. In a city that loves Halloween, anything is possible. You can look around the city in every ward, on every street and you’ll see Halloween spookiness. .

But, for the real adventure head to the French Quarter. That’s where the real stuff comes to life. Or, comes to death. It’s everywhere. While there is a big parade called Krewe of Boo, you’ll find some of the weirdest people wandering around in the best costumes throughout the Quarter on the big night. If you haven’t been to the city on Halloween, you owe it to yourself to come on down.

Before I sound too much like the tourism board, check out the picture carefully. The skeleton is wearing eyeglasses and has hair. You don’t see that very often.

No matter what, it’s all in good fun. So, have some.

 

 


Still living.

I almost forgot.

I’m a few days late in showing you Halloween. No worries. I’ve got it now.

New Orleans is the right place to celebrate ghouls, ghosts and witches. During normal times it’s a bewitching place. Ghosts seem to be floating around everywhere. Walk down a deserted French Quarter street at about midnight and you’ll likely scare yourself. It gets even worse when the fog rolls in. Somebody just passing by becomes a ghost in the fog.

Who knows?

Maybe he is a ghost. Maybe she isn’t.

So many weird things have happened during our history that somebody born in about 1810 must be wandering around today looking for his or her killer.

If you’ve never visited the city, this is a good time to do it. The air has finally cooled enough to open all the windows. And, Halloween is wonderful down in the swamp.

Pictures like this one are best made by looking. Maybe you’ll find a few. Maybe you won’t. But, the fun is in the chase, not always in the finding. It’s a really good way to discover parts of the city that you normally never visit.


Mother Nature in the tree.

Keep your eyes open. That’s what I always say.

I do.

If I didn’t, I would have missed the wood nymph hiding in the tree trunk. Do you see her? Do you see her eyes? Her nose? Her lips?

Or, is that a very young Mother Nature? She could be, since we’ve never seen Ma Nature. There are plenty of illustrations. A couple are quite famous. But, in a photograph?

The cocker spaniel who sees stuff went crazy. Bark, bark, bark.

Nah.

That didn’t happen.

With the rain and the warmth around this place, we’ve had some wonderful moss blooms. I found one that is as green as this picture. I photographed it. I prepared a picture for Storyteller. I liked it well enough, but it just seemed empty. When the background is the subject, sometimes it’s a  little boring.

Make no mistake. Backgrounds are important in the design process. An art director might use the mossy, green picture as a background for something else. He or she could tone it down, lay type over it, add maybe a picture or two. And, viola. You be surprised at how many movie posters are a combination of images that have very little to do with the film.

Anyway.

My working method these days is to prep the picture at night and post it the next morning. Or, schedule it to be posted for the next day or two. I do try to keep current.

I did that.

I went to sleep. I awoke with the picture on my mind. I remembered photographing a little girl of four maybe last summer. I found the file. I did the magic of stacking and blending. Here we are.

The wood nymph, or, Mother Nature.

Just a little Saturday experiment. Because? Because why not?


Lafayette Cemetery No. 2

Into the deserted city of the souls.

That’s where I went. Or, as we know it, Lafayette Cemetery No. 2 in Central City. Often as I drive around going from one place to another, I end up going to someplace that I know well. Someplace where I know there is an interesting picture waiting for me.

This is one of those places.

The picture has an interesting genesis. The cemetery was closed, so I thought that I would just stick the camera’s lens between the bars. That wasn’t doing it for me. I backed off and saw that tire laying by the curb. That was just the counterpoint that I needed. The city is old. The city is broken. The city is trashy.

Settle down. It’s my city. I can say that.

The original exposure was almost black and white. I added a lot to it in post production. I helped with the tone. And, the feel. It’s a little moody now. And, spooky too. Post production is an amazing thing. The picture was made at about 3pm. That’s a time when I don’t like to work. My editing apps helped a lot. As usual, I made the post much more complicated than need be. This is my fourth try. I finally had a good feel for the picture and it had a good feel for me.

Coming up. I’m trying to make some “Christmas in New Orleans” pictures. Our Christmas is unique. My agencies want the pictures. Of course, the skies are overcast tonight. The temperatures are cold. The minute the sky clears around dusk I’ll be out there.

One more thing. I’m a little worried about the all-seeing dog. She hasn’t wanted to go for her usual long walks. She’s eating well. Sleeping well. Playing a little inside. With a bazillion dogs, as you might imagine, we have a good relationship with their vet. I sent him an email. He asked a couple of questions, including her age. She is ten-and-a-half years old. No worries he said. She’s just starting to show her age. A little. Just like me. Her person.


Out there on Highway 61

“Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son” Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”

God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?” God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but

The next time you see me comin’ you better run” Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”

God says, “Out on Highway 61””– © 1965 Bob Dylan/Warner Brothers Music

Yep. This is it the Highway 61 that Bob Dylan wrote about so many years ago. Not this part exactly.

But, further on up the road. In Mississippi. Rosedale, Mississippi. At the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49. Where Robert Johnson made a bargain the devil. He traded his soul for musical genius. He wrote “Traveling Rosedale Blues,” which eventually was morphed into “Crossroads,” by Eric Clapton.

That’s a little history for you.

This place is Highway 61, or Airline Highway, way down road from the area that the song is about. So far down south that it is almost located at its starting point on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans.

This place is called Shrewsbury. It’s a light industrial and railroad neighborhood. Everything still works there. But just across the street is a shopping mall and Old Metairie Road, which is home to a lot of wealth without paying outrageous New Orleans taxes.

The picture. I made it is eerie as I could. It just felt that way. The original scene was actually bright, sunny, with pre-storm clouds rolling in. In many ways, this picture feels like an album cover. Yeah, yeah. I know. With music streaming… what’s an album cover?

I may rework the picture again. I’d like to make it feel even more evil. Ahahahahahaha.


St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Cemeteries. A lot of people like to photograph them. I’m one of them. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I like to use them as a base photograph for something else. After all, where can you find a place that’s sacred, moody, mysterious and spooky? All in one? You just have to work at the right time of day.

Like anything photographic, I think that you just want to feel, and not think about the subject too much while you are making the pictures.

But, but, but…

I also believe that you have to make a loose plan that outlines your goals. Often times, I just sort of stumble onto pictures. That’s not always an effective way of working. If you are seeing well, you can make a bunch of good pictures in about a half hour. Or, you might spend all day looking, but not seeing. The result is predictable. No pictures. A tank of gas wasted. Time wasted.

My preferred way of working is by assignment, or self assignment. That doesn’t mean that every picture has to be planned. In fact, it shouldn’t mean that.

It should mean that you’ve picked a location based on your interest. Or, a subject that you enjoy exploring.  It might mean that you’ve done a bit of research. You might know the area’s history. You might have talked to people who spend a lot of time at your soon-to-be-photographed location. And, who might understand the subject better than you do. They might even become part of your picture story.

From the  technical side, you might have planned for the light and shadows. You know, the time of day in which natural light helps make the picture better. You might bring allied equipment like strobes and reflectors.  If you want maximum sharpness and depth of field you might also bring a tripod.

Depending on your planned location, you might also bring other people. Maybe just a friend to watch your back. Maybe an assistant who understands photography and can make your life easier. And, maybe a fixer who takes care of everything needed to allow you to be in the place you want to work. This person, understands your photographic needs, speaks the local language and English and can deal with the proper paperwork.

Please don’t misunderstand. On most self-assignments, I’m just exploring. The only extra person I might bring is the one who watches my back. The other two assistants that I mentioned are really for a paid assignment work.

The one thing you don’t want is a map of tripod holes. That’s a joke. You know, that’s when you try to find the exact place where a great photograph was made so that you can copy it. Make your own pictures. Always.

This picture. I made it a few weeks ago on St. Joseph’s Night when the Mardi Gras Indians rolled through the streets of New Orleans. Even though I knew the kinds of pictures I hoped to make, I also knew from experience that if I parked my car on the street that divides the two sides of the cemetery I might get lucky and make a couple of unrelated, but good pictures.

I did make a few pictures worth looking at more than once.

This ought to help you understand the notion of “photographer’s luck,” which is really a mix of experience, talent and situational awareness.  It paid off nicely. I made the “sunset, crosses and telephone poles” picture that many of you liked. I made this picture, along with another that I haven’t shown you yet. Unlike the first picture, this one took a lot of work in post production to make it look like my vision. The vision in my head.

That’s my story. I’m sticking to it. I’ll answer questions though. I’ll always answer questions.


Skulls in the hood.

And, so it starts.

One of the biggest holidays in New Orleans, among other big holidays.

Halloween. This weekend and into next week.

How could it be otherwise, when we mask for just about everything else? I made this picture the other day, in the depths of Mordor. Or, the Lower 9th Ward. Whichever comes first.

The picture. Yes. I messed with it. I tinkered until it got that general “spooky” feel. Then, I kept going. One thing to know. Pictures like this work better — for me — if they can be taken from the ground, rather than looking down on the scene. Luckily, my camera’s LCD tilts upward. I’m well beyond the point of crawling around on my belly. If I ever was.