I

showed this picture another similar one to a friend of mine who plays in the gallery world. He said these pictures are worth a lot in that world.

I suppose, but I really don’t see it. I made these pictures because they were there to be made. Eventually, these pictures will become parts of a book. I certainly never saw them as having interest in the art world.

I’m not even sure they are worth much in the so-called photography fine art world. So-called because a photographer claims to be a fine art guy and shows a picture of a sunset or something just as banal as that. How is that art of any kind?

All art is autobiographical. The viewer brings meaning to it. That’s how it works. How is a sunset that 239 people photographed autobiographical?

I like sunsets well enough. I rarely photograph them because most are mundane. But, when the sky goes crazy I’m out there with everybody else. I never think of that work as fine art. If that is fine art what is Van Gogh or Degas?

There is a group of galleries that do show and sell photography as art, but it is nothing like a sunset picture or a snapshot of a flower. The photographers who they represent are artists in sheep’s clothing.

I just don’t see my pictures of broken buildings as a match for them. Maybe they are.

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Heh!

T

here isn’t much that qualifies as technical in this picture.

But, there is a technique to making a picture like this.

Most of these abandoned places are in funky neighborhoods. You have to be careful.

You need to use situational awareness.

Look in all of your car’s mirrors before you get out. When you get out head straight to your subject with that photographer’s swagger I wrote about a few days ago.

Then, pull out your weapon and fire a few rounds in the air. That’s how we greet each other in New Orleans.

Of course, I’m kidding.

Guns bring more guns. Never shoot one in broken neighborhoods or any neighborhood. Just look into a passerby’s eye and nod pleasantly.

There have been times when I’ve done that only to get a reply back, “Hey Mister Photographer do you remember me? You took a picture of me at so so second line. Do you think I could get a picture?”

Then, in this case, he said there are too many dealers — and he points to a group of houses — and then said, “I’ll just hang wicha while you take pictures.”

He had my back. He got his pictures.


The rainy season.

W

et. That’s what late June and July are in Southeast Louisiana, wet. If we aren’t getting a lot of rain, the skies are gray and the air is very humid.

So far, we’ve been lucky. The temperatures haven’t risen above 90 degrees except on two days and that was the high. If we didn’t have the humidity, we’d have some pretty pleasant days.

I was coming out of The French Quarter, waiting for a stop light and saw the scene in front of me. I turned off my wipers to let the water build up, raised my camera to my eye and what should happen? A businessman walked in front of me holding an umbrella.

That’s photographer’s luck.

If I hadn’t been out and about this wouldn’t have happened in front of me. There would have been no luck involved. There would have been no picture.

As one photographer says, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.”

You can’t stand in front of better stuff while you are watching your 72 inch television.

I wasn’t exactly standing, but I put myself in a position to make a fairly good rainy day picture.

Stand in front of better stuff.

O

n the left side I told you my theory of making pictures. Go outside and put yourself in front of better stuff.

That’s my photo making theory.

What I really did was make a loop from the Garden District through a bit of Treme and into The French Quarter.

As I left the Quarter, I drove through the CBD and part of Central City, where I turned, crossed the streetcar tracks and went home.

That took me a couple of hours. I could have driven faster, but what’s the point? I wouldn’t see anything. You know, that better stuff.

I think I made a total of six pictures that I liked well enough. And, this picture that I like a lot.

Development and post production was easy, taking care to sharpen the raindrops.


Let it rain.

More about the reckoning. I’m starting to poke around a little deeper. It started last night or early this morning when I awoke from a delicious dream.

It was about my newspaper days. For some reason the newspaper photo staff was made up of about everybody with whom I ever worked.

We were sidelined. The new, young staff was sent on assignment. They couldn’t complete it.

Some editor came back to the photo area to ask us to finish the assignment. Off we went, the pros from dover. The heavyweight veterans. Heh, heh.

Mostly, our hair was silver and our beards were white. Veterans, indeed.

It was some huge event, but I don’t remember what. I do remember that there was color exploding everywhere. It wasn’t violent. It was pretty and awe inspiring.

We divided up the coverage and came back with every possible picture. The young guys didn’t know what to think. We, the old guys, knew what to think.

All I can say is that it was very good seeing those guys again. Sheesh. Some of them had to come back from the grave. That was even better.

A few words about the picture since I completely ignored it in the left column.

I’m back to the project. I realized that I just couldn’t force it.

I always say to let the picture find you. I wasn’t doing that.

This time it did. It was so stealthy that I didn’t even realize that it did find me.

It took a review of work to actually see it.

When the picture really does find you, there is no need to overwork it.

It just is.

Even the little raindrops are nicely shaped.

Okay. Picture number three.


All the water in the sky.

Here I go again. Driving and making pictures. You know how I do it so I won’t go there. I will head over to intensity.

I talk about not taking the picture, instead letting the picture take you. I discuss the zen of photography. I talk about practicing until you don’t think about what you are doing.

That’s all true.

Yet, there is another quality that is every bit as important.

Intensity.

When I work I’m intense. When I work it’s about the picture. Nothing else. I’m laser focused. I see everywhere and nowhere. At the same time.

This picture is an example. I knew that there were no cars around me. I knew what was happening in front of me. I knew that water was starting to accumulate on the windshield. I knew how fast I was traveling. And, in what lane I was in.

All that data was rolling around the best computer of all time. The human brain.

This picture is simple to make. The intensity doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. But, let me work for more than a few hours and I’m toast. I’m exhausted. Generally, when I get home I need a nap.

This all sounds terrible doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s refreshing. It’s knowing that I left it all on the field.

That’s satisfying.

This place is strange. The main road dips under a railroad bridge and a cloverleaf.

It is so strange that it has a water measurement gauge. Yes. This place floods.

If the weather changes quickly and a big storm blows through it’s best not to drive on this road.

The picture was made in the usual way. A drive by shooting.

The overall weather made the picture. The light was right. The clouds were bluish – gray. The rust on the railroad bridge popped right out. The cement sort of glowed.

There was very little post production. Mostly, I darkened and added contrast to the image.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You all know the rest. Enjoy every flood.


The region of storms. And, kings.

The rain came down. Then the temperature dropped. Finally, we are turning a corner into pleasantness. At least, for now. The passing of winter to spring is always interesting in the swamp.

May you have an interesting life is one of the most harshest of Chinese curses. I think most people are like dogs. We like routine. That’s what’s been so hard living in the pandemic era. Routines are blown. Lifestyles are blown.

We’ve lost a lot. Everything is changing. Nothing is normal, or at least what we used to call normal. I’ve discussed that a couple of times. The new normal is a chance for us to do better. At least I hope that it is.

I have a better sense of hope, even though you can’t eat it, as Neil Young says.

But, with the change of presidents and governing administrations issues are being dealt with in an efficient manner. I just wish the other side would stop lying. The New Green Deal, which is only an idea, did not shut down power in Texas. Nor, did it blow out all kinds of water pipes.

I don’t see the gain in saying such nonsense. Eventually, the truth comes out. Especially these days when you don’t have the last president creating chaos everyday just to see his name out there. That noise is just about gone.

Yeah. He’s gonna run again. After four years of healthy change even his base is not going to be interested. Yeah. He’s going to start a new social media. Just like his steaks, wine, and university.

He’ll be so buried in legal issues that he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to suck money out of the last true believers to pay his legal fees that he’ll never raise his head again.

Now, that’s hope.

See where the picture of the rainy street lead me.

Now, that’s imagination.

drive by shootings. No. Not those kind. The kind where I make photographs from a moving car.

I’ve discussed this enough in the past that you know I don’t take silly chances. I’m not going to get hurt, nor am I going to hurt you.

Look at the picture. Not a car close enough to see me.

The real trick to this picture and the other picture from a couple of days ago is to find a color palette that makes sense for the subject.

The next trick is to be able to duplicate it in such a way that you can make subtle changes to suit the picture.

Once you’ve figured that out the rest is easy.

To be sure, the subject really should dictate the color palette. I don’t think bright, sunny scene would look great using this one.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every color palette.


It is gonna be bad.

You could see it coming from miles away. The storm. The cold. The wind. Luckily, we didn’t have heavy rainfall. Maybe a couple of inches. But, we are having a cold spell that is as cold and long as anything in recent memory.

I’ll tell you more about this picture in the right hand column.

For now it’s enough to say that it was made in the parking lot of a grocery store that we went to after running errands in Jefferson Parish.

We didn’t want to load and unload groceries in the cold rain.

It’s called Postcard Blues for two reasons. It’s mostly blue and because of that McDonald’s sign in the background. It struck me how many people photograph something in the foreground and forget to look in the background.

No. That didn’t happened to me. I saw it as a little point scene to all the rest of the picture.

A way station, if you will, in that dense dark air. A place that you can call home if you like that sort of thing. I’m not big on their food, but for an emergency cup of coffee it’s pretty good.

As they say, anyplace in a storm.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wear two masks. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every McDonald’s coffee.

Anyplace in a storm, but not standing in the middle of a parking lot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pictures are everywhere. Just look and see. They’ll reach out and grab you.

When I made this picture the sky was dark and gray. I decided to just enhance how the picture looked.

I made it moody and, maybe even scary.

I could have moved my location or removed that McDonald’s sign in the middle of the picture. I didn’t want to. It makes a good focal point for the entire picture. I did brighten it up a bit, but not so much that would be a glaring beacon.

The more that I look at the picture, it looks like something from the dinosaur era. With a McDonald’s sign.


Cold, wet and slippery.

The cold weather came. It won’t leave. As I write this the temperature outside is 24 degrees. We should warm up sometime tomorrow.

Luckily, the rain stopped falling. The sun is shining through broken clouds. Clouds hold warmth in, so you know what this means. Colder still.

Yesterday was the saddest, coldest, wettest Mardi Gras ever. Sure, some people came out. They masked both ways. They wore their protective masks. They wore their Mardi Gras costumes. We call that masking too.

Of course, today is Ash Wednesday. The day when Catholics go to church and have an ash cross drawn on their foreheads. It’s the beginning of 40 days of sacrifice called Lent. I wonder how this is going to work out in the era of distancing and masking. If I were a better Catholic than I am, I’d just go and find out.

That’s a whole other story.

So.

This is a current picture. The first in ten days. I was excited to make it, even if it almost killed me. Oh well. Sometimes you have to decide if the pleasure is worth all the pain.

Making photographs is my one great pleasure. Note the word “great.” I do plenty of other things that bring me pleasure. But, photograph is the main thing.

Let’s see what you think. What is your biggest source of pleasure? What are the minor ones?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the weather.

Rain. You’d think that in Southeast Louisiana we’d know how to drive in wet conditions.

Oh no.

Most drivers are bad enough during the best of times. When the roads get wet, they forget what little they know about driving.

This is not a rant about local drivers. It’s the long way of saying that when I make a picture on a larger sized street I’m taking my life in my hands. Working on an interstate highway is much easier.

It’s also a way of saying that, both of my hands are on the steering wheel. I’ve talked about this previously.

I make sure the camera, or in this case, the phone is set on auto everything. I brace the camera, on the steering wheel. The only part of my hand that leaves the steering wheel is one finger or thumb. I just hope that the lens sees as I want it to.

The lens was close, but not quite there. If you look hard enough at the bottom of the picture you can see a bit of the dashboard. It’s part of the picture so I left it in.

I’ve been softening backgrounds in post production. I like it because it helps to enhance the subject by not being sharp.

I also like gauzy clouds.

That’s it.

Oh, this is not in New Orleans. I made this picture in Kenner after coming home from a CoVid-19 test.

No worries. My doctor wants his patients to take the test three days before the procedure.

If you recall, I took another test last week. But, the procedure was postponed because of… a CoVid-19 scare.

In many ways, that’s photographer’s luck. If I didn’t have the test I wouldn’t have been in a position to make this picture.


Deep, dark at dusk.

They said that we were going to have snow. Yep. That’s what they said. We may still see some, but the national weather maps have snow as a possibility in northern Louisiana. Not down here in the swamp.

The temperature is cold for us. We had a high of 40 degrees. We had cold rain. We had miserable dogs. They don’t like going out in rain. They really hated cold rain.

For me, a guy who dislikes summer’s heat and likes cold weather, this is a dream.

However spring flowers are already blooming. The Japonica tree has quarter-size buds on it. Sheesh. It’s mid-January. And, barely that.

Maybe that’s a sign. A sign of things to come. On the other hand, I’m about ready to toast 2022.

2021 already seems to be saying to 2020, “Hold my beer.” Maybe things will get better. I do worry about the next nine days.

Maybe I’m worrying for nothing.

I hope so.

This is what I saw before the cold rain came pouring down.

I normally don’t make a cloud picture without some kind of anchor — a tree, a building, the ubiquitous telephone poles — but theses were just to powerful to ignore.

You know the next step. And, the step after that.

This image took almost no work in post because I exposed for that highlight — the bit of sky that is bright white and blown out.

I usually do that by accident.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy the cold weather.


Which witch?

The storm ended and I remembered that it is still Halloween, not that we have the electric power to do much about it.

The storm was no big deal, lasting about only two hours. But, with 100 mile per hour wind, plenty of trees and power lines were destroyed. We are not sure when we will have power but the power company says by the end of the weekend by the latest.

I’m writing this on my phone. Every few hours I get in a car and charge it. Generator or not, there are only so many appliances you can attach to it.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.