A new storm.

Road trips.

You know them. You like them. Probably.

You drive. You listen to specially curated playlists of road music. You eat gas station food. You drink bad coffee. You stay in motels of questionable quality. Even the ones with big names.

You’re having fun.

Until.

You decide to make tracks to a certain destination. You drive on. And on. You stop for gas. You eat in the car. You speed on. And on.

Until.

You become one with your car. Places whizz by. Signs become a blur. You’re not even going that fast.

Your eyes.

Tired. So tired.

You see. But, not see.

That’s it. You stop. For the night.

Because.

Everything that you see looks like this picture. And, that ain’t a good thing.

The picture. It was planned for yesterday. So was the prose. But, you know what they say. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Chef Leah passed. That stopped me in my tracks. Funny thing, I had a song in my head the whole time that I searched for her picture and started writing. I couldn’t quite place it. I had part of the melody. And, no lyrics. Last night it came to me. “Mandolin Wind.” An ancient Rod Stewart song. A beautiful and appropriate song. So, while I write to you today, I’m listening to his work from that era. When he was young. When I was young. When the world was younger than today.

Oh yeah. What did I do? I did all the post production that I wanted to make the basic picture, which was good enough. By then, that road trippy feeling was in my head. I stacked the same picture on top of itself. I skewed them slightly. I clipped their edges by cropping. I added some edge darkness. Voila!

By the way, I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. Wallah. Huh? It’s voila, pronounced wallah. Sheesh.

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At the heart of it.

This is the heart of us. Green. Water. Renewal.

I published something like this a couple of weeks ago. I like this version better. There is more water. More droplets. And, much better framing.

You already know what I think. So I’ll leave it here.

The picture is fairly simple. See it. Take your time. Frame it. Expose it. Develop it. That’s it. You are done.

 


What it feels like.

Hurricane Florence.

I’m not sure what I can add to everything you’ve likely read or watched. Unless you are actually there, or  hunkered down waiting to help as first responders, there’s not much more you can do. You can have a good thought. You can pray, You can donate to one fund or another which might help the storm survivors repair billions of dollar worth of damage.

It doesn’t matter. Do whatever you can.

As a Hurricane Katrina survivor, I know how long it took for me, my friends and my region to get back on its feet. In some areas, normal life still isn’t back. And, it’s be thirteen years. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right houses are already starting to fall apart. I just read that each house was constructed for around $20,000. What can you build these days for that kind of money that will stand the test of time?

Anyway.

One thing to know is that stacked up behind Florence in the Atlantic Ocean are three more named hurricanes. Two of them look like they could get into the Caribbean Sea, which means there’s a good chance that can get into the Gulf. It could be that around this time next week, I’ll be asking you to have a good thought for me.

The picture. I made this picture during one of our heavy downpours this week. I tinkered with it a little bit and gave it that weird colored sky that you often get with hurricanes. I made it through the windshield. If you look toward the top you can see a leaf stuck to the glass. It’s sort of hiding there in the silhouette of the tree.

Good thoughts, prayers and actions, folks. My water brothers slightly to the north are going to need them.


It takes a long time.

Hurricane recovery.

It takes a long time. I have friends in Florida. In a number of cities. One, who is located near Fort Lauderdale started posting in Facebook, about an hour after Hurricane Irma cleared out. No Power. An hour later. No power. A couple of hours later. Still no power. This morning. The lights are on a “XZY” center, no power here.

He keeps charging his phone somewhere. Maybe in his car.

There are two news stories today. One in The New York Times. One in The Washington Post. Both of them are about electric power restoration after a severe hurricane, and how it is “triaged.” It is likely that my friend won’t have power restored for five or six weeks. Could happen sooner. But, almost the entire state of Florida is having power issues. Electric companies are coming from all over the country to help out. Even ours sent a convoy of trucks. Still, it takes time. And, patience.

That said, a Katrina story.

My neighborhood was flooded and lost all electrical power on August 29. Power was finally restored on the day that I moved to New Mexico. November 20. I used one of those big moving companies. Something like Allied. They put together a package that wasn’t expensive because they picked up five resident’s furnishings in New Orleans and everything went to New Mexico where they broke it down by city. They made a lot more money, even though it was less expensive for us. That’s sort of normal procedure if you can’t fill a truck, but this time they narrowed the local areas.

Anyway.

November 20, 2005. Down the street comes a huge truck and trailer. Electrical power had just been restored to my neighborhood. But, it was hanging by a thread. One power line which crossed the street. Of course that big truck and trailer snagged it, ripping it down. Power gone again after finally being restored after almost three months.

Three months.

Luckily, for me — the neighbors probably wanted to kill me — Entergy, our electric company — was still working on the street. The workers laughed at the look on my face. And, the crowd carrying hand tools, axes and machetes advancing on me. That’s not quite true, but the neighbors were all working so they did have tools in their hands. Entergy reattached the power cable in about 15 minutes. They probably saved my life and the lives of the driver and loader. I’m kidding. But, just barely.

The picture.

Sometimes things are never the same. This picture was made on a block in Hollygrove. All these years after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city. Whoever lived here left. They never came back. Electricity was restored to the neighborhood, just not on this one block.

Yes, there a lot of post production and color management going on. To my eye, these remaining leftovers of the storm are always bleak. I want them to look that way. I made this picture near dusk, during the transition from golden to blue hour. The original image was just too pretty for the scene.

I couldn’t have that.


Healing prayers

August 29, 2005.

That was a day most of us who live in New Orleans will never forget. Hurricane Katrina blew in, and made landfall at Buras, Louisiana. The levees broke and 80 percent of the city was under water.

August 29, 2017.

Hurricane Harvey, now Tropical Storm Harvey, finally makes a turn away from Houston, where most of the city was flooded. Harvey sat over the gulf and refueled, headed northeast and then northwest. Towards us.

So far, in New Orleans, we’ve had 5.85 inches of rainfall. Our diminished pumping capacity is not really keeping up. Streets are flooding. All schools are closed. Many government offices are closed. Our smart phones have been going off all morning with flood advisories.

I know. 5.85 inches of rain is nowhere near Houston’s 40 to 60 inches of rainfall. But, our ground is already saturated. Our pumping capacity is down. The mayor’s office said that the original pumping station, the one that was repaired just about a week ago after being broken down for the last flood, broke down again this morning.

And, as a snarky aside, after most of the old Sewerage Board was fired or resigned, new consultants were hired. They are led by a man whose last name is Rainwater. Oh, come on. Give us a break.

These pictures. After taking a break last year, the 9th Ward folks decided to honor the 12th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a gathering at the levee and a second line followed by a party in the 7th Ward. The city strongly suggested that everybody who didn’t need to be on the streets, stay off the streets.

So.

No memorial. No second line. No party. Just rain. Just water. More rain. More water.

I decided to show you some of the pictures that I made in 2015, commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the storm. The one when seemingly every media in the world descended upon us… and got most of their stories wrong. You know. Ten is a big number. Twelve, not so much.

Some of you who have been around Storyteller for that long may remember some of these pictures. The top picture, of Big Queen Cherise, is sort of famous. It hangs in the Jazz and Heritage Festival’s permanent collection.

Today, I honor our twelfth year anniversary and those Texans who are still going through the flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. They will be recovering for a long time. We’ll be there for them. We can do less. They were there for us in the aftermath of Katrina.

That storm isn’t done yet.

Once it finally turns north, it doesn’t stop until it reaches Indiana. With luck, we’ll only have five or six more inches of rain, bringing New Orleans to about 12 inches of Harvey-produced rainfall.  By the way, that brings us to well over a record-setting summer rainfall total.

Have a good thought. For all of us.

Dancing


Another best of collection.

This time it’s locations. Places. Cities. Nature. Details.

As I was reviewing this work, a thought struck me. So much of it is either weather driven or made at the edges of the day. I just don’t take many pictures at high noon. I’ve preached about that enough in the past. Even the picture of the pick up truck in The Bywater was made before ten o’clock in the morning. Is this the only way to work? Not necessarily. But for me it is. For me, it’s a sort of rule. Yeah. Sure. When I photograph events, like a second line parade, I have no choice. But so much of my work is not driven by schedules. Even when the work is commissioned, I try to build a little extra time into my shoot list to work when I’m pretty sure the light will be at its best.

So. To recap what I wrote yesterday, Today is about locations. Many of these pictures were made on the way to some place else. Tomorrow is about the local Mardi Gras culture. New Year’s Day is a free day. I have no idea what the picture will be. That’s the joy of this blog.There are many days when I have no idea what I’m going to post until I do it. On other days, it is part of a bigger plan. Or, something like that.


Out on the road.
Out on the road.

“I got the key to the highway, billed out and bound to go
I’m gonna leave here runnin’, because walkin’ is much too slow
Give me one more kiss mama, just before I go
‘Cause when I’m leaving’ here, I won’t be back no more” — Charlie Seger, Big Bill Bronzy. 1940.

Apparently, the song was written simultaneously with changes in the melody. At least, that’s the story. It’s been recorded by just about everybody who plays the blues, including Eric Clapton with his then band Derek and the Dominoes. Later, he recorded it with B.B. King. You know where this is going…

With B.B.’s passing, I decided to get back to it. No time like the present, eh? Life is pretty short. Even 89 years. That seems like a drop in the bucket when you consider the planet’s history. Besides, I really do like working in the rain. Especially, yesterday.

Let’s see if this scheduling thing really works.

River Road in the rain.
River Road in the rain.


Orleans Avenue at Broad. A Little Flood.
Orleans Avenue at Broad. A Little Flood.

These things just happen. Often. In New Orleans.

Probably not where you live. But, you likely do not live on swamp which is still settling. Forever. Your streets aren’t all cracked and filled with potholes. Your sewer and water pipes are probably in really good shape. Ours aren’t. They are still broken and cracked by the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. Some still have sediment packed in them from end to end. Yours are also fairly modern. Ours were laid sometime during the 19th Century. Some are ancient iron. Some are made from clay like a brick. Some are wooden. There’s a good chance that some of these pipes have been damaged for 20, 30 or even 40 years.

When we get heavy rains, there are scenes everywhere like this one. This is normal. Just don’t drive on streets that are so flooded that you can see what’s in the water. Remember those potholes? Yeah. Those ones. There’s nothing like a car dropping into one of those on a flooded street. Real issues can occur then. Like drowning. Please don’t misunderstand me. The flood you are looking at is probably only 12″ – 18″ deep. But, that’s enough.

The picture? Well, the original picture is pretty much a straight news picture. But, I seem to be creating something called “Grunge City.” New Orleans, being known as “The city that care forgot,” seems a perfect place to work on a series like this. Oh, New Orleans has many nicknames. That’s just one of them.


This is the last of my post-Hurricane Isaac pictures. It was made downriver in Holy Cross, which as a may have mentioned, is a sub-district of the 9th ward. Seen from this angle, the post-storm clouds don’t look quite so menacing. Again, all post production was done on my i-Pad using Snapseed. I think that phase is getting too easy. It confuses people.