Nearing some end.

With the all seeing dog on the mend I hit a wall. I wasn’t making new pictures. I did the next best thing. I worked on older pictures, experimenting every step of the way.

The good news is that the dog in question is feeling better. She took me for a walk this morning. I put the brakes on about half way through a normal routine because I didn’t want to tire her out.

So.

I did make some new pictures. You’ll see one tomorrow since I was already was working on this one.

Of course, even getting this picture here took an act of God. It started when a client forced me to use some alternate way of uploading PDFs.

It took me the better part of two days to fix all the issues including working in the safe mode to clean out the bad data.

This guy still wants to be a client. That’s fine. My basic billing rate is triple what I normally charge. Shut me down for two days and his accounting department is going to have questions.

Anyway…

Finally, a picture that can take some technical talk.

I built this one sort of backwards. Normally, my pictures are full of color.

This time after layering the images and getting them approximately where I wanted them, I worked backwards.

I removed color. I removed contrast. I almost came close to just leaving the dots in the file. Them I built the image up a little and that’s what you are looking at.

It’s a picture for late spring as we near summer. The brightest colors are fading. Others are starting to appear.

The mystery of life.


Purple, just a royal color.

I remember, I remember.

Those words almost brought me to tears this morning. There was a piece in The New York Times sports section about Johnny Bench.

For those who you who don’t follow baseball, he was a Major League baseball player. He was a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. He was probably the best catcher in history.

Catching is a hard job. You work in a squat. You are involved in every pitch of every game. In a close play at home plate other players tried to knock you down. And, you are supposed to be able to hit.

In other words, Johnny Bench is a tough guy.

He’s in the baseball Hall of Fame along with a number of other players with whom he played. Being a catcher allowed him to get to know a lot of players. You talk at the plate sometimes. It’s a fraternity of sorts.

This last year has been brutal for all of us. It has been very brutal for MLB, and the living Hall of Fame of players.

Ten of them died.

He spoke about each of them. When he got to Tom Seaver — a world class pitcher — he said that he was very nervous catching him the first time because he was Tom Seaver.

Tom Seaver passed this year.

Then he got to a point where he talked about his feelings and he said, “I remember, I remember, I remember.”

It broke my heart.

The late musician John Prine, another victim of CoVid-19, wrote a song called, “I Remember Everything.” When he passed it broke my heart and about a gazillion other musicians and fans hearts.

He won a Grammy this year for that work. Some where in the universe I know he smiled his crooked smile.

The main story in the Times was about never being able to reach herd immunity. There are a lot of contributing factors, not the least being that about 40% of the country don’t want the vaccine.

Combined with other issues like a mutating virus, economic conditions, and temporary surges many scientists believe this will never end, that the best we can do is manage it.

One scientist went so far as to say that he believed that it will take about two generations to manage it to the point that it will be like getting a common cold.

I was taught that a generation is 40 years. Many people say 30 years. It doesn’t really matter. Reaching that point will take somewhere between 60 and 80 years.

That’s something to look forward to.

This is especially important in light of what I just wrote. Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all the purple.

Well, that left hand column was something. It took a lot out of me to write.

This side won’t be anywhere near as compelling.

Luckily, the dominant color is purple. I like purple. It’s the color of royalty. It’s a Mardi Gras color. I used to wear purple shirts.

This picture was edited fairly straight forward in post production. I really didn’t add much color. I just darkened things up and added contrast.

That’s an old approach. People used to say that I added too much saturation.

No, I didn’t. I just brought out whatever was there in the first place.

Oh yeah. Of course, I sharpened it. I had two ways to go. I could edit it as you see it, or I could add a lot of glow and make it soft and fuzzy.

One more story.

The war against working photographers is heating up.

A photojournalist, documenting the number of tortoises in a place where the sand of the beach was being eroded at a very fast pace, ran into a self-proclaimed speaker for the group who was working there.

She demanded that he leave and destroy his files. He left but didn’t destroy anything. Most comments were in his favor citing the usual legal findings.

I didn’t say anything. If I had, it would be along the lines of what I would have said to the woman on the beach.

I have looked at her and said, “Ma’am, this is a public beach. You have no authority over me or anyone else.”

Apparently, she was pretty aggressive. If she continued with me, I’d have concluded like this, “Ma’am step back and away from me,” In my most low but authoritative voice.

Then, without warning, I’d call the local sheriff.


Twisted.

Twisted. Trunks.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a version of this picture for a couple of years. I’m not sure what the trees are, but they are primordial. They are original trees from the days when much of “backatown” New Orleans was a swamp. A swamp that was reclaimed. Drained and built upon.

Whenever I found them, either the background didn’t work or the lensing wasn’t appropriate.

Along came my new — old now, because Samsung just released a newer version — smartphone. Like most modern phones its camera functions are amazing. Not only can I increase the length of the lens from approximately 28mm to 56mm with the push of a button. But, once I get it there,  I can use two fingers in a pinching motion to increase the length of the lense by six fold to about 336mm. This all internal. Nothing actually pokes its head out of the phone. This is more of that computational photography I wrote about earlier.

Finally.

I found the background. And, I had the lens capable of compressing the scene into my vision. The vision that kept me looking for at least two years.

This picture is the result.

I could have gone out looking for the picture, armed with one of my mirrorless camera bodies and a couple of lenses, but this was easier.

Too easy.

If I wasn’t a working photographer, it would be simple to put my camera gear on a shelf, forget about it, remember it and sell it on Ebay for pennies on the dollar.

But.

I am a photographer.


Spring Flowers

Spring flowers.

From three states. Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.

Exploring layering techniques has some advantages. I get to look back. And, make images by combining the past with the present. I get to see my successes. And, I get to see my mistakes. And, learn from them. I guess they are giving me a kind of wisdom. Finally.

A wise musician once said that, “when you play a song 500 times it teaches you how to play it.” I think the same thing with photographs. Tinker with them every couple of years and you’ll figure it out. Or, they’ll figure you out.

The picture. You know about my experiments in layering. The base image is fairly subdued. Sunflowers. It was made on film. In Texas. The main image, a kind of high desert weed, was made in New Mexico. With a DSLR. The last image — floating around bits — was made in Louisiana using a smart phone. That gives the three pictures a range of about 16 years.

Looking back seems to be a good thing to do. Right now. But, I don’t want to get stuck there. Once I’m back in New Orleans, I’ll make some new pictures. It drives me crazy when I don’t do that.


Like a fall leaf.
Like a fall leaf.

 

Winter doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Hot. Cold. Wet. Dry.

At least in New Orleans. The temperature dropped about 24 degrees in less than a day. We’ve had heavy rain. Some wind. Then more hot weather. Then more rain. Then more heat. Now cold. You can see for yourself in these pictures what all that rain and heat did. Stuff just grows here.

All of these pictures were made during one day. A couple of days ago. In The Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans.

One picture looks like fall, the other three look like spring, or early summer.

I guess that I should count my lucky stars. The West Coast has had a lot of snow. North of here in the Mid West, there have been a lot of big storms that dumped gallons of water everywhere.

That’s not all.

Tornadoes. Flash floods. Small towns flooded. Some interstates near St. Louis have been closed due to flooding. Towns in North Texas and Northern Mississippi were badly damaged. People died.

Eventually, in about two weeks or so, all of this water will move down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, where it will rise to a couple of feet above flood level. Not to worry, there are ways to release the flood water way above the city. Way upriver. Some of the spillways that release the water haven’t been used in decades.

The river will be very high when it reaches New Orleans, but it shouldn’t hurt us.

One thing to know, the river rises this high sometimes on a yearly basis. In the early summer. That’s pretty normal.

But…

It’s winter. It’s New Year’s Day.

You’ll see pictures of our high water when it arrives. Trust me. This kind of extreme weird weather interests me a lot. I’ll work a lot. That’s great for you.

As I said in the last couple of posts, I had no long-term picture projects in mind. Now I do. If this is how 2016 is starting, I’d say that 2016 could be a very interesting year. You know what the worst possible curse in Chinese is, don’t you?

“May you live in interesting times.”


Spring comes to the Lower Ninth Ward.
Spring comes to the Lower Ninth Ward.

… I lied. Not a big lie. Not a whopper. A little one. I wrote that Spring was over in New Orleans. I ought to get out more. Before I blew that pop stand, I did my semi-monthly swing through the Lower Ninth Ward. I’m determined to follow its progress photographically as it tries to come back from the devastation caused by the storm. That storm.

Anyway.

What did I see? What caught my eye?

Wildflowers.

All over the place. Some were coming to the end of their season. But, others were just blooming. Okay. Okay. I was wrong. Spring isn’t over in New Orleans. Or… maybe I saw summer flowers. There. Take that.


LOY-2
Spring Flowers

After the events of this week, I went out looking for pretty. As always I had to put a little spin on the picture. Enjoy it. Enjoy a quiet Sunday.

By the way, I borrowed the name… (sorry about the commercial)

http-::www.youtube.com:watch?v=mf6JYVrfLpI


Spring at Le Beau
Spring flowers at the haunted Le Beau mansion.

I went out to make a picture of the haunted Le Beau mansion. I thought it would be a great day because the sky was overcast, but the clouds were defined. I wanted to make a scary picture. A cloudy day works best for that because it’s a little flat. You can add a lot of “mood” to the picture in post production. But, things changed. They always do. Right? I made the picture that I set out to make. It was easy. I had that picture stuck in my head. For months.Every time the sky turned cloudy, I thought to myself, “I should drive to Arabi and photograph Le Beau.” You know how that is. The thought passed through my mind and just kept going. But, not yesterday.

I actually got my act together and made the drive . It’s not far. But, there is a lot of trucking traffic so the drive takes a while. This area is past Jackson Barracks. And, very near to the Domino Sugar factory. I think part of the Le Beau Plantation land is now part of the sugar factory. There’s a lot of interesting history to his little area.

Anyway. As I wrote, I made my planned picture. As I was walking across the field in front of the mansion, I was happy to see all the spring flowers and little blooms. Aha! That was really the picture. So, I got down low and made this picture. My usual approach to shooting little flowers is to use a macro lens and capture every possible detail of the flower. But, not this time. I was kind of lazy and didn’t feel like walking back to my car to get it. Besides, I thought it would be cool to position the house in the background. I also wanted to layer the picture. So, both the foreground and the background are soft, while the middle area is sharp and shows off the bright yellow very nicely.

Newly inspired, I decide not to rush out  of the area. I made some other very cool pictures that I’ll be publishing in the next few days. They are all very different. Sometimes when I wander around, I sort of get stuck in a groove and shoot the same general subjects. Not yesterday.

In all, a pretty good day.