Green knight.

T

here’s no mystery to this picture. See the subject, talk to him for a minute and ask if I could photograph him.

But, I wanted to open up the picture and turn it into something the verges on the edge of high key. That meant dropping out a lot of background detail which I did. By doing that I sort of highlighted the church in the background which made a great background for a green knight.

In fact, the more I look at the picture as I write, the more I think this is a great portrait. It’s not the usual Mardi Gras parade photograph. It’s something else entirely. It almost has a very stylized studio-like feeling. This may be something else to explore a little.

If I do everything I’ve said I wanted to do, I would never have to leave the house again except to go on the road. I doubt that I’ll accomplish everything especially since we just bought the farm.

No. Not that way.

I mean that we just spent a lot of money for a house in the country. And, some land. 80 acres of it.

Something to keep us busy in the new year.


Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


Arriving in style.

Second lines.

All on a Sunday afternoon.

All joy. Pure fun. Like going to church.

Photographing second lines is hard work. Working in the middle of one is like being in a rugby scrum. You trot, back peddle, dodge and weave. You walk a long way. If you do it right, you’re tired, dripping in sweat and a little bruised.

That’s my fun.

I stopped some time last year. The pain was too much. If I got loose enough, if I swayed to the music, if I ignored the pain, I could get by. Walking back to my car was an exercise in misery. So, I stopped.

I missed them terribly.

I said that I was done with that project. I said that here, on Storyteller. I was kidding myself. I decided to photograph this season. My pain was relieved. I don’t know whether to be grateful or angry. Even though my hip and back are a thing, they weren’t causing the pain..

It was bursitis. I could have been pain free almost two year ago.

Anyway.

God laughed at my plan.

Along came the virus.

No second lines.

It’s hard to know when they’ll return. They have to be one of the biggest super spreaders.

Stay safe. Enjoy every bowl of ramen.


In New Orleans it’s a streetcar.

Streetcar.

In New Orleans, we have streetcars. Streetcars. Not trolleys. Not trains. Streetcars.

I wouldn’t have my back up, but a women with whom I attended high school is in town with four of her “girlfriends.” They finally left the French Quarter and rode up St. Charles Avenue. On a green streetcar. A good thing to do. They took a walk into the Garden District on First Street. Another good thing to do.

But, one of her friends said they rode on trolleys. Arrrrrgh.

We don’t have trolleys. We have streetcars. It’s a big deal to those of us who live here. It’s a bigger deal to me because we travel so much and have learned the correct terms for more things than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime. Say the wrong thing in Paris and they glare at you.

They took a walk through the Garden District. Apparently, they liked our house. They photographed it. And, published it. No matter. We aren’t home and they didn’t know.

Then there’s that girlfriend thing. These women are all over 65 years old. How can they possibly be girls? Yeah, saying girl is a southern thing. They live in Southern California. I guess that’s south. Sorta. Maybe.

Is this a rant? Sounds like a rant. I assure you, it’s not. It’s just me commenting on stuff I think is funny. But, I will say I’m a little jealous. Not of them taking a trip to my adopted hometown. But, like so many of my high school classmates, the woman in question decided to live in Southern California. She grew up there. She went to school there. She worked there. She lives there still. She has really old friends. Friends that she sees on a regular basis. That’s what I’m jealous of. All of that.

Even though I claim my birth city to be Brooklyn, I really grew up in Long Beach, California. If you ask me where my home is located, that’s what I’ll tell you. Long Beach. Sometimes, I think I’d love to move back. All of us. Back. We could probably afford it. But, who will I be when I go back home? Will it just be another place? Will I find old friends? Do I want to find old friends? And crowds. I hate crowds. As I age that gets worse.

A friend of mine said — you can see her comments — that I seem to be doing some existential questioning. I suppose in this year of one word — learning — I am. I’m learning about me. In a way, I’d like to be that person that calls a New Orleans streetcar, a trolley. I know a lot of things about a lot of places. In the end, the question is, what for?

Before I finish let me make one thing clear. I’ve had a great life. So far. With the exception of the past few years when back and thigh pain became a thing, I’ve been fairly healthy. I’ve seen and done a lot of things. I’ve been to most of the continents. I’ve been to 49 states. I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve been the minority in many places. I’ve made a lot of wonderful pictures. I’ve been so productive, without really trying, that I’ve forgotten some of my pictures. And, yet.

Home.

Maybe I can win a lot of money playing Jeopardy.

The picture. A STREETCAR. It’s really not moving all that fast. But, at dusk and photographed with a low shutter speed and a little bitty F Stop, you can make a picture like this. Everything gets squiggly. It’s not the sharpest picture in the world. But, it sure is fun. Better yet, guess where I made it from. You guessed it. Through my car’s windshield. There was nobody behind me, and you can see what’s in front of me, so I was driving at about 5 mph. I’m supposed to be a professional. Kids, don’t try this at home. In a few years, my timing will be so shot that I’d better not try this at home either. Ouch.

 


All eyes.

Good Fellas Second Line.

The children go first. Then the adults. It’s a two division second line.

Thankfully.

Even though the second line walked forever, it was on the smallish side. A good thing, because as a friend of mine wrote about another outdoor event in the city, it was 184 degrees out. Not really, but by start time the air temperature was 98 degrees. My car’s sensor which reads ground temperatures said it was 102 degrees.

Not too hot. If it’s in the middle of summer.

But, it’s not.

It’s fall. In three days that calendar says it’s fall. I read a group on Facebook that is all about fall and pumpkin spice everything. They say it’s fall. Sure it is. The light is getting low. The shadows are getting long. But, it’s 184 degrees outside, or 98 degrees. Whichever you prefer.

The picture. Normally, I’d get on the long bridge runs outside of the Eiffel Tower to the street. Yes, yes. We have a small one in New Orleans. But, I always feel trapped up there. It might not be healthy for me with my ailing hip and back. Moving very fast is not really an option these days.

Instead, I worked from ground level. A great choice. I managed to photograph both divisions — children’s and adults — in their entirety as they made their ways to the first turn at Jackson Avenue. That was my stopping point. My plan was to jump to the next stopping point. Unfortunately, my head was spinning by the time I returned to my car. With discretion being the better part of valor, I decided that heat stroke wasn’t worth more pictures.

Speaking of more pictures, there will be plenty of them from the Good Fellas Second Line as the week progresses.


Sparkling beads.
Sparkling beads.

St. Charles Avenue.

I didn’t travel on this street very much during the parade season. I usually seek out little back streets to make it to and from home.

But, I happened to pass by a few days ago. I was truly amazed to see the little city of parade ladders, folding chairs, folk art and carnival tents that had grown up on the neutral ground on which streetcars normally travel.

It’s been big in the past, but with all the never-ending road construction and blocked off streets, it’s grown to huge proportions. If streetcars and automobiles are blocked, so are the places that they travel. So, serious parade watchers took advantage of that.

I decided to take a walk in what really is my own neighborhood. Aside from walking the dogs, I really don’t poke around all that much. I should. Not only did I take these pictures, but I found a lot of other non-Mardi Gras pictures along the way. So, I took those too. You’ll see them eventually.

For now, it’s all Mardi Gras all the time.

The pictures.  I worked at a time of day that I claim I don’t know exists. As Bart Simpson once said, “There’s a 5 o’clock in the morning now? When did they start that?”

It wasn’t 5 am, but it was early. For me.

Early morning. My subjects were lighted in a soft yellow glow. By walking I could see so much more. You ought to see my cemetery pictures. Wow. Not to worry, you’ll see them. Soon.

Aside from the people hanging out by their tents and ladders, there weren’t all that many people out and about when I first started working. By the time I was done, more people were starting to look for spots to catch beads since the parades started earlier in the day.

Finally, when I was done I just walked home. Easy.

A few words of explanation. All of those six-foot step ladders started out home-made. Some dad probably wanted a little extra height for his child to sit, see the parades and catch about a billion beads and other throws. Now, they are factory made and sold at a places like Lowes, or Home Depot. But, only where Mardi Gras is celebrated in a big way. Like Louisiana. I’ve begun to notice that ladder owners are customizing them with their very own kind of folk art.

Cool.

The top picture is all bokeh. No subject. Well, kinda sorta. It’s what happens when backlighted beads blow in a slight breeze. In winter light.

Finally. My favorite picture is what I call a little picture. The purple beads and the pink flower. That pink flower is a great example of what we like to call winter.

Have a great Sunday.

For us in New Orleans, it’s still Mardi Gras. Until the stroke of Midnight on Tuesday evening. For many people in The United States, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Big, giant football game. American football. Not what some of you call football, or soccer. It’s likely that as the game starts I’ll be photographing the Krewe of Bacchus parade. For many of you, it’s Sunday night. Or, Monday morning. Sorry about that. Some times I can’t publish stuff quickly enough.


WordPress finally did it. They forced me to leave. They changed the editing desktop to a way that’s almost unusable, especially for somebody like me who isn’t a writer.  They changed it in the dead of night without telling anybody. The lack of respect that they show their users — who pay the bills — is astounding. So, here’s a set of pretty New Orleans pictures. I had intended to show you some options to only staying in the French Quarter if you visited my city. But, I can’t split the picture sup in order to tell you about them. I’m not even sure that you can actually see them if you happen to come to Storyteller though Facebook, Google + or Twitter.

It’s too bad. I enjoy doing this.

By the way, that’s also the reason I’m so late today. There is a work around that you can find on the WordPress forum where many people — thousands — are complaining. I used it. It doesn’t work.


Streetcars and construction.
Streetcars and construction.

It never ends.

Construction. Along the streetcar tracks. Along the three major river-to-lake streets. Everywhere. Streetcar tracks have been torn up. Work done. Tracks replaced. And torn up again.  These major streets have not been construction free for years. And, won’t be for many more years. People cannot park in front of their homes. Businesses have been forced to close. Traditional Mardi Gras routes have been changed. The construction companies don’t care. Why should they? It’s a never-ending revenue stream. Now, it seems that there is more cash flowing into the area. Construction companies say this state of chaos is eternal. By dead reckoning, back of the envelope math, a couple of media outlets say we are in for at least 18 more years of this. 18 years. Imagine that.

Upon hearing and reading this news, a group of Uptown residents have filed a large class action suit. Why would they do that? The people who initiated the suit live closer to the construction than we do. Their homes are literally being shaken to pieces. Foundations are breaking. Walls are cracking. Pipes are leaking. Personal items are being destroyed. Houses are being covered in construction dust, mud and junk.

Further up the road, for people like us, the streets are looking like Berlin 1946. Broken. Potholes. Patches that need patches. Water leaking from broken underground pipes. Make no mistake, New Orleans has always had a broken and cracked street problem. After the waters of Hurricane receded the streets got worse seemingly overnight. A week or so ago, FEMA just poured some $350 million in city coffers to repair the streets. That, at first glance, is a good thing.

But.

Why, oh why, do I think that the streets will finally be repaired and then torn up again to fix the leaking pipes? Because. I know this city. I know the city government.

I didn’t mean to go off on this tangent, but we realized we have never lived in this house when some kind of major construction was going on. Near us. Very near us.

I meant to talk about this picture.

It’s about a lot of things. Construction, for sure. But, it’s also about streetcars. Everybody loves our street cars. It’s also about winter light. Light that I love. It’s also about technique. Real live, on the street technique. See those circles? That’s trendy bokeh. But, these circles are real. Not added. Not created. Part of the scene as I saw it. As the camera recorded it. As the lens could control it.

I hope that you like it.

I’ll get a little more Christmasy this week. I promise.


Dead head.
Dead head.

We tried. We really did.

We even moved Halloween to an earlier day. It didn’t help. We did our little rain dances. Big storm coming.  It was too late. That didn’t help.  Nothing could. Nothing would.

We brought out our voodoo practitioners. Bitten. We brought out our social aid clubs. Chewed on. We brought out our Mardi Gras Indians. Eaten. We brought out our Mardi Gras krewes. You don’t want to know. The brass bands? They are still marching. To a very different beat.

New Orleans is now a zombie city. We are in the hands of the walking dead. Where is Rick when we need him? I think he’s headed to Virginia. Like that’s gonna help.

Seriously. Have you ever noticed? All this zombie stuff takes place in the south. What’s that about?

Happy Halloween.

They took over everything.
They took over everything.

Zombie head
Zombie head