Mother Mary watch over this house.

“Sometimes the hardest part of taking a picture is getting there.”

For the abandoned railroad project, sometimes the hardest part of taking picture is finding the picture.

Four hours looking in two likely places yielded nothing. For the project. I did find a picture or two. For myself.

This is one of them.

I went to a neighborhood in Shrewsbury, which is a little area in Jefferson Parish. I’m not even sure how many people call it by its name. Or, even know its name.

I went to a street that is under the Causeway Boulevard crossover. There are train tracks there and maybe a community of a dozen houses or so. They are small. They are working class houses of maybe 100 years old or so. They are weather beaten. They are covered in grime from the trains that pass by and the dust that falls down from the bridge. They are mostly in constant shadow.

However.

I found a little statue. Of The Blessed Virgin Mary. They are common in some neighborhoods. I didn’t expect to find one here. I did what I do. I made a picture. It’s a Catholic thing. It’s a New Orleans thing.

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Special security in Mid City.

I saw this little guy while I was meeting friends for lunch.

This little carving may be the best possible security in New Orleans.  Better than the NOPD. Better than the guys in jeeps and drink coffee in my neighborhood. Would you try to break into this house with this guy sitting there? Lord knows what’s waiting for you once you get in.

Now that I’m back, I’ve been reading blogs.

I get so confused.

There seems to be a trend in picking a word for the year. I guess this is supposed to replace resolutions. If a word is going to be your mantra, why don’t you just read some Buddhism? You don’t have to change your religion to do it. You’ll learn a lot. About the world. About yourself. You might even understand your dog a little better.

Then, there’s some kind of concert going on at one blogger’s site. I’ve never understood the rules, of which there are too many. The last time that I tried to play, I apparently didn’t know the correct title to a song. The person who wrote it was sitting next to me at the time. Her comment was something along the lines of that’s how I introduce it on stage. Now, people are picking their favorite Beatles songs. Yes, “Day in the Life” is one song written separately by two musicians. They combined the lyrics during rehearsals. Anybody who claims them as their favorite band knows that.

Sheesh folks.

We all want 2019 to be much better, much more positive than 2018. Lighten up. Have some fun. Grow beyond one word. Stop making rules up for something that should fun. If you like something, go do it. If you want to grow, go do that. Otherwise, 2019 is going to be a giant let down. It’s gonna be rough in the political world. Imagine, calling out a brand new Congresswoman over dancing that she did in college. Her reply was wonderful. She walked out of her new office and danced.

Go dance.


A Sunday stumble.

I had big plans today.

Hahahahahaha! You know the old joke about that.

I was going to photograph a second line. I haven’t done that in a while. But, my back and legs hurt a little too much for that. So I took some pain meds which didn’t really work. I thought that I post this a little early. My Apple computers decided that all sorts of things should go wrong including not being able to “see” my mouse or trackpad. Rebooting a Mac takes a lot of time. It also means that any of the apps with which I work also must reboot.

Two hours passed by.

Here I am.

The cool thing about this picture is that I made it two and a half hours ago. You could have seen it 30 minutes after I made it. But, nooooo…

Since I am somewhat disabled today, I guess I’ll go watch my local American football team, The New Orleans Saints, lose their third consecutive game as their die-hard fans scream about firing everybody. That might help. The team has no talent. And, I’ll look to see how the players react to the man I refuse to call president last racist speech and tweets. Personally, I liked world-famous basketball player Lebron James’s twitter reply in which he called him a “bum.”

The picture. iPhone and be there. A little light post production.


Angels in St. Louis Cathedral.

Some days you eat the bear. Some days the bear eats you.

Yesterday was one of those days when the bear won. After four years of battling colon cancer, an old friend of mine passed.

We went to college together. We worked in newspapers for many years. I left them. He did too. Everybody does. Printed newspapers are a dying breed. Worse, they’ve always eaten their young. To advance you have to move on and on. And, on. Eventually, you find a home. Either you move out, or you get moved out. In his later career he taught. I edited and published.

That’s only a small part of the story. All of our stories are individual. But, they are the same.

So is the final chapter. I suppose we all knew that his time was short. But, when it came, it seemed unexpected. It seemed sudden. Like bricks falling from a storm-blown building, they hit us in the head.

Our Facebook pages lit up with remembrances and expressions of sympathy. Your know that I’m not big on social media. Any of the platforms. I use them because I have to, not because I want to. I usually discuss my thoughts and emotions here. On Storyteller. Whatever drifts onto my social media pages is accidental, not intentional.

Anyway.

Anacleto or Michael, depending on what point of our lives intersected, was a helluva a photographer. In the past, he led Los Angeles Times photography teams on coverages of things like last night’s Emmy Awards. That’s probably not all that important.

This is what is important.

He was Yoda. Quiet. Positive. Gentle. A leader without trying to be. Even as the end drew near and his family came to see him, to say goodbye, he made the group portraits. He simply said, “‘Tis the season of reunions.” To a person, everyone who posted yesterday said that he made the world a better place. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years. You know. Life. Distance. But, there is giant hole right now. In the world.

Rest in Peace, Anacleto Rapping.


Evil little angel.

This little statue is scary. This does not bring the word “angelic” to mind. It looks a little twisted. Maybe I should go back there one of these days and see if I still see it in the same way.

If it is still there.

This cemetery is sort of what used to be called a potter’s field. It’s been submerged by flood waters, tombs and graves have been moved, souvenirs have been removed. Yes. That’s really creepy.

Anyway. I was wandering around and I found this little angel. I made the picture and it lived in my archives for a while, until I recently “found” it. The original file is perfect for my latest experimentations. Now that I look at it, I think I will go back. I want to put the angel in a different place in the frame.

If it’s still there.


Joanie explodes.
Joanie explodes.

Joanie on the Pony.

That’s what locals call this statue. Really. It’s Joan of Arc. The statue was given to the city by France. For a long time nobody knew what to do with it. So, Joanie lived in a warehouse. Then she was located to one place and finally relocated to the foot of The French Market. That’s where she rides today.

Of course, all the glimmering and sparkling gold draws everybody from everywhere to look at her. And, to take a picture. Most of the pictures are from the side or from far down the street. So, I set out to do something about that. To make something a little more dramatic. I must have been on the right track. One of my agencies licenses the original version of this very picture repeatedly. My picture has been seen on travel guidebook covers, in travel guidebooks, in books about New Orleans. In books about the Franco-American shared history of New Orleans. And, even in a couple of travel ads.

Since the original version of the picture is successful, I just had to go and tinker around with it for Storyteller. No sense showing you the same old thing, right? So this version is called “Joanie Explodes on the Pony.” I know, I know. No respect. Not even for my own work.

I’m like that. Sometimes.


San Francisco de Asis Church
San Francisco de Asis Church

You’ve seen this place. You know you have.

Just about everybody has photographed it. Or, painted it.

A few of those artists who did are: Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Ned Scott. And, that’s just getting started. Georgia O’Keeffe said that it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the United States left by the early Spaniards. There you have it. I almost can’t say anything more.

But. You know me. I can.

I’ve been stopping by this place — the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, in Rancho de Taos — for years. I’ve photographed it on black and white film. Color film. Digital sensor. If I could paint, I probably would have painted it. I haven’t really hadn’t added very much to the original artists who worked here. I doubt that many of the millions of photographers who passed this way have added much to the general collection either. We all end up repeating ourselves. We become derivative. We can’t help it. This place is beautiful in its wonderful simplicity.

Then, on one trip to Taos I saw the light. I was heading back to my hotel at about dusk I got very, very, very lucky.  The sky went crazy. It exploded with color. I worked as hard as a could for about 15 or 20 minutes. That’s all the time I really had. The top picture is one of the results. It’s special. To me. I’m sure somebody may have made a picture something like it. After all, New Mexico is all about light. At least for artists of all genres. Just stand there. The light will make you look good.

This is one of those pictures that I can’t really claim. It’s nature’s work. I really just saw it and pushed the button. Really.

San Francisco de Asis.
San Francisco de Asis.


Mysterious
Mysterious

This is a symbol. An icon.

There’s been a lot of debate in The United States about symbols, flags and meanings. It started with murders. In New Orleans, it has gotten strange, with the mayor wanting to remove statues. Some people are cheering. Others are appalled.

This picture isn’t about any of that. I’m not getting into it. The real issues have devolved into well, nothing. Just yelling and screaming. This picture is about ways of making what could normally be a boring subject a little more exciting.

This is a bronze religious statue. You could use a flash and light it up. You could also make a strictly documentary picture, showing exactly what you saw. You could wait for people to move into the frame.

Some of that takes a little time and patience. Some of that takes technical skill. All of them are reasonable options.

Or…

You could walk around, look at the light and take no pictures until you see what the light is really doing. In this case. I took the picture through temple candles, focusing on the subject using a very shallow depth of field. This made the picture a little moody and a little mysterious. All those out of focus circles? The proper term, I guess, is bubble bokeh. I just think they are a kind of out of focus specular highlight.

What do I know?


Inside the chapel at St. Roch Cemetery.
Inside the chapel at St. Roch Cemetery.

Where to start? How about this? WordPress, stop making things better. Leave things alone. You only make them worse. This post was supposed to contain three pictures. But, for some reason, after uploading two pictures, WordPress won’t let me upload the last picture. Well, it uploads fine. It posts as a question mark. I give up. Sorry dear reader. You get two pictures today.

Two. I am not a writer. I am not a historian. I can barely type without introducing about 20 typos. It takes me a half hour just to compose an email. I do not know each and every neighborhood of New Orleans very well. If I need to learn something about the subject of picture, I Google just like everybody else. I usually use the Wikipedia version of the story which ALWAYS differs from the street, or local, version. I don’t know which one is true. I suppose if I were a better journalist, I’d look for a third source. But, I’m not. And, I don’t.

I’m just a photographer. All I want to do is make pictures. That’s it. End of story. Full stop. Period.

I write the little nonsense that I do to give you some context. I guess that’s gonna have to stop. And to the person who asked if I was writing about the rusted rainbow bridge, I have no idea. I call it the rainbow because that’s what it looks like to me. It is also the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. I suppose it’s fitting. It’s built on a piece of land that was what used to make New Orleans a city. Industry. Importing. Exporting. Coffee. South American fruits and vegetables. The river warehouse burned to its subfloor and then down to the river. The industrial buildings were torn down or “repurposed” (A word I dislike) into expensive and ugly condos. Sheesh. Who wants to live in a corrugated former factory? I did that once when I was young and thought I needed to be cool.

So. The bridge might as well stay rusted. If I recall, it was supposed to have some kind of impressionistic painting on it. But, the contractors gave up on that and just opened the bridge. Just as well. Between the extreme weather, the taggers and the little criminals any kind of art statement would be destroyed.

I don’t call it the rainbow bridge because that refers to something else. That’s either a bridge in Hawaii or a place where dogs cross from this life to the next one. Google it. That’s what you’ll learn too. You won’t learn much about the bridge in the Bywater.

This place. St. Roch cemetery. There is little chapel in about the middle of it. In one room, about the size of a closet, there are all sorts of icons donated by the people who were healed by praying here. Sort of like Lourdes in France or Chimayo in New Mexico. That’s what I know. If you are really interested, Google it and post back. I’ll add it to the story. Maybe a little crowd sourcing would do Storyteller some good. Oh. I know some more stuff about St. Roch. I posted about it in the past. Just poke around Storyteller. You’ll find it. Maybe you’ll even run my numbers up. I don’t really care about the numbers. They add up to nothing. But, given all the end of year WordPress data, the folks who actually own WordPress do.

Oh. A new edit. A guy over on Google+, called Larry Henley decided he had nothing better to do then to try to embarrass me publicly. Why? I don’t know. That’s the world we live in. Nothing good to say. Attack. Criticize. Embarrass. That said, I’m done. I don’t this shit anymore.

Yeah. Mr. Henley is right. St Roch is in the 8th Ward. It’s a really narrow ward that lies between the 7th and 9th Wards. Once again. I DO NOT KNOW EVERY PART of the city.

Inside the room containing thank yous from healed petitioners.
Inside the room containing objects as a thank you from healed petitioners.