There it was.

There it was.

The sun was peaking through a slight gap in the branches of a tree. There were little pink blossoms everywhere. What a morning scene.

I did what I do.

I started to make pictures. Auto focus was having a very tough time with such strong backlighting and direct sunlight into the lens. I held my finger on the button. Sometimes  it works. Sometimes the autofocus function says “oh, no you don’t.” This time I did. And, it did.

A mistake.

That’s what I made.

A completely out of focus picture. It just happened to be the best of my quick little take out of about ten pictures.

I worked on it a bit in post production. Mostly, I brought what wasn’t understandable back to my eye. That was it.

Today is a really fine day. The weather is wonderful. The pictures are coming. And, in a spring of a lot of brand new music, Bruce Springsteen released a new album. “Western Stars.” I’m often a little cautious when it comes to any big musician’s new work. Often, it isn’t all that.

Not this time.

This one is so good. It reaches into my soul. I know words that I’ve never heard as he sings them. I know the melody. A lot of his songs are what some folks call “high lonely.” It’s hard to write one song that carries that feeling.  The whole album carries is that.

Whew.

The record will arrive in this house soon. I want to get as close to the original master as I can.

A good day.

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Painted flowers and stuff.

This morning.

I started by reading the last column from a young writer at NOLA.com/Times-Picyune who was terminated — a euphemism for fired — when the competition, The Advocate bought the newspaper and website. Because it was a purchase and take over the new owners had to give them sixty days notice. Today is the 30 day mark.

It is her last column because she and her husband, also a T-P reporter who covers the Saints, want to stay in New Orleans. They bought their first home in February. She is looking for work outside of journalism since there is really no place to look in the city. There is the potential of conflict of interest. She’ll still edit and report. Just no more columns which have her opinion sprinkled into them. For the record, her column caused a lot of eye leakage. But, it wasn’t sappy.

That got me thinking about my own life, my career and my changes. It’s long and winding. It would probably take a couple of months worth of posts to tell you all the stories.

Sometimes, I wonder how I got here.

In terms of places, I lived all over. I even lived in Asia. A lot of my adult life has been lived in the south. Aside from Louisiana, I’ve lived in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. All was career related. Sometimes, I wish that I didn’t let my work drive my life.

Make no mistake, along the way I’ve lived in some wonderful places, had some great adventures and met some amazing people. The trick for me today is to keep going. In theory, even at my age, I’m not that old. But, getting older is simply the body’s way of saying if you think that was bad, just wait. So, on I go.

That’s the story. So far.

The picture. When I changed my phone system I thought that I lost photo editing software called Stackable. That’s like Lunchables, only you can’t eat it. I realized, only last week, that it still exists on my iPad. So back to work I went. I made this picture, using flowers and vines and all the stuff the dog usually sees.

By the way, she was groomed two days ago. Man, is she a pretty girl. She’s always cute, but this cut. Oh wow!

I have only one question about the finish of this picture, which I do in OnOne. What the hell happened to my watermark? I went back to the TIFF. It’s there. I went back to the working JPEG. It’s there. Yet when I export it, part of it falls off. I don’t even know how to fix it since it’s correct everywhere. Oh well.


It doesn’t look like it.

It’s been a while.

I’ve been walking around this kind of scene. Passing it by. For some reason, I stopped. I made a picture. This picture. I guess something caught my eye.

I know what you are thinking. This is an autumn picture.

I promise. It’s not.

I made it yesterday. On a very short dog walk,

Short? Yes. It seems that the dog who sees stuff isn’t liking the heat. So, she cuts her walks short. After all, she’s an old girl. She’ll be eleven years old in July. On the Fourth of July to be exact. I see the signs. Her muzzle is turning white. She’s buff in color. That’s fading a little bit. When the weather turns wet, I see her arthritis kicking in a little.

No matter.

She takes care of us. We take care of her. She’s the boss of the other dogs. That’s funny to watch. She herds them by walking in circles around them until they move to the place that she thinks that they should be.

So.

The heat? She’s getting groomed as I write. She’s has a long relationship with her groomer. She’s getting a short summer cut. That should help a lot. When she’s done, she’ll have a short skirt, her legs will be fairly full, but her back and head will be very short. If you are doing this at home, remember that you can’t cut the dog’s hair too short. He or she will get sunburned.

Anyway.

The picture. Yes. It really is a spring picture. Around this place, leaves are always falling. Often, in fall-like colors. That’s due to the various species of trees that grow in what was a swamp.

If you ever saw the movie, “JFK,” there is a meeting in which one prosecutor says that the trees in front of the famed Texas Book Depository didn’t lose their leaves in November because they were Texas Live Oaks. They lose their leaves in April and May. That’s true.

As an aside, if you ever find yourself in Dallas, do yourself a favor. Go to the grassy knoll. Take the book depository tour. I did that years ago with a group of international staff. Nobody left the sixth floor with dry eyes. I don’t know what kind of president John Kennedy could have been if he hadn’t been killed because he was just getting started.  But, he stands for something bigger than that. Optimism. Hope. Dreams. All was lost on that November day.

We could use a little bit of that today.

Or, at least, leaders capable of leading.

 


A spring flower bundle.

Sunday.

Memorial Sunday. In New Orleans, today is the day we memorialize our war dead. The guys who gave their fullest. The guys who never made it home. This is their day.

We have a ceremony. Their graves are covered with little American flags. There are speeches. We ring the bell. We pay them the highest honors that we can.

These spring flowers are for them.

I may go. I may not.

It’s a little hard.

If I go, and I go to the Money Waster’s second line, I’ll be hopping and bopping. It’s hot out there. I’ll need lots of water to stay hydrated. I’ll need to eat something somewhere along the line. Some kind of New Orleans food.

But.

It’ll all be great fun.

Or, I could lounge by the pool. Take a dip. Work on my tan. Burn some meat on the grill. The American way.

Or.

I could photograph what needs photographing. And, do the lounging thing later in the day. That would work.

That’s what I’ll do.

I need some pictures. New ones.


Sometimes, I never listen.

They told me.

Leave well enough alone.

Do I listen?

Never.

If I did, I wouldn’t be me.

After I made the blue watercolor-like picture, I kept going. And, going.

Until.

I came out here. With this picture. I added a couple of things. More color. All kinds of color. That’s easy to spot. What isn’t so easy to see are the leaves. I added more of them to the background. They fill the space. They change the intent. The picture moved from minimalistic to something more full throated. More full bodied.

Even though the base picture is the same as yesterday’s image, it’s different.

I could try to go further. I’m not sure what that will reveal. We’ll see.


Blooming.

Yes, indeed.

April showers bring May flowers.

This is what I saw yesterday when I got home. I really mean home. Walk outside and this picture found me. I didn’t have to do anything. Just marvel at it and push the button.

Then, I worked my so-called magic. I post-produced the hell out of it. I made nature’s energy come back two or three fold. I reckon that’s okay because I too am part of nature.

Which brings me to another part of nature.

I swore I wouldn’t get political on Storyteller. But, the women around here are steaming. Big women. Little women. The female dogs. Okay. Not them. Also, those of us who love and care about them.

Ohio. Georgia. Alabama. Missouri. And, in a few weeks, Louisiana. The last begs a lot of questions. We have a Democratic governor. I thought that we might be safe. Oh no. He supports the bill.

Damn.

I don’t care what you think about the rightness or wrongness of the issue. Or, when you think a human being begins, this isn’t about that. And, that’s your business. Not mine. Or, anybody else’s business. This is about controlling another human being. This about about the ultimate patriarchy. It could be called a war on women.

In theory, I’m sort of liberal. Nah. I’m more libertarian. I think most personal things are between you and your maker. Not the guy next door. Not the state. If you aren’t hurting anybody, what you do is your business. To me.

That’s my soapbox.

About that comment. “Begs a lot of questions.” We live in a very blue city surrounded by a red state. You know what I’m thinking. I won’t go to any of the states who have done this stupidity already. But, what do we do? Here in the swamp?

.


Into the purples.

Friday flowers.

There. Maybe I’ll start 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.

So.

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.


Bubbling water.

It started by accident.

Accidental approaches are a way of life for me.

Water.

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.

Until.

I was walking and saw water bubbling through a little man made stream. I photographed what I saw and I knew.

Art.

That’s where I’ve been headed. That’s what I should do.

But, wait.

There’s more.

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.

Housekeeping.

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.


Flowers for the children.

These flowers.

These flowers are for all the children who have been harmed in any way from this almost constant spate of mass shootings. They are for those who died in their places of worship. Two safe places that are no longer safe.

Seeing the pictures of the children coming out of their school with their arms raised yesterday, just about broke me. It’s true. We are seeing this on an almost weekly basis. My prayer for myself is that I don’t become jaded. That I don’t get so much into myself that I don’t see the pain in others. And, that once in a while, I see the joy in others.

These days it seems like seeing joy is getting harder and harder to find. That isn’t right. Children should be nothing but joy. Oh sure, they have their meltdowns. Even that is a kind of joy. It’s part of their growth. However, when I talk to little ones, they seem to have a kind of resignation in their voice. They talk about their active shooter drills. They know that, not that it might come, but that it will come.

That’s horrible. It makes me so sad. My eyes are wet as I write.

I know that we can’t go back in time. But, the worst thing I feared when I was growing up was my parents wrath for doing something I shouldn’t. Even that was gentle.

Now?

I don’t know what to do. It’s well above my pay grade. I know that we can “vote the bastards out,” but can we change the trajectory that we seem to be headed on? I think that comes in small steps. Maybe be running for office in some teeny tiny election. Fix what we can fix. Hope that it moves upward.

An old friend of mine tweeted yesterday about wanting some big things to be fixed. Now. I replied, “run for office.” She thinks I’m kidding. I’m not. She’s smart, talented, a life long learner. No. She won’t fix the issues she wants fixed. But, she can fix something.

I’m really sorry about this. It seems like one long rant or vent. It’s not. It’s my thoughts after a really bad day. I thought I had problems. Nah. Mine didn’t even register on any scale.

The picture. Dog walk. She found this place. I just did what I always do. No lesson to share except keep your eyes open.

Peace.

And, the fine folks at WordPress removed the spell check function. Yeah. We are all perfect writers.