Dark skies.

W

e listen to a lot of podcasts around here. This morning I was listening to The New York Times’ The Daily. The reporter was talking to a viral scientist. It was a pretty good interview until the reporter asked the scientist when the pandemic would end.

She declined to predict that, but did say that because of all the issues we already know about including the politicizing of the virus, anti-vaxers, freedom complainers, and the general lack of concern about masking and potential super spreader events, the soonest the virus could be managed but not eradicated is late 2022 or early 2023.

Think about that. We have another potential 18 months of this stupidity before we even come close to managing this.

In my other world we started cancelling the first two legs of a four leg tour. It’s highly likely that the last two legs will be cancelled too.

The supernutjob fans on Facebook couldn’t understand why. They claimed everything but the truth, including that the star has breast cancer. A legal note will put an end to that.

When I asked who among them could meet entrance requirements of either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 Hours.

I heard.

Crickets.

And, there you have it. They killed a concert tour and their fun.

Morons.


Changes in latitude.

The season of changes.

We’ve had cool and dry weather. The best kind. Now, we have moist and warm weather. The worst kind, this early in the season. The weather blabbers on the local television stations are already talking about hurricane season. Settle down. That’s just under two months away.

Anyway.

I get to make different kinds of pictures without traveling far and wide to do it.

Lately, I’ve had two problems. You know that I don’t feel like photographing much. I also don’t feel like traveling much. Too bad for me. I have to do both in a little bit. Money beckons.

It’s not that I don’t like photography or traveling. I love both. I just don’t like what it takes to do them.

Since everybody is a photographer, I have to figure out a way to make a picture that is different, but not necessarily better.

Since everybody wants to travel, the actual act of doing it has become crowded and hellish with so many inexperienced travelers not knowing what they are doing. I like to be comfortable when I’m flying somewhere. But, I don’t wear my pajamas and flip-flops onboard a plane.

I’m not whining or ranting. It’s life in the real world. If you were able to plop me down in my destination I’d have a great time. Despite all this new technology, that hasn’t happened yet.

I have no doubt that it will. At least that’s what they say on all the science fiction that I watch.

Oh.

One more thing about traveling to photograph. Since everybody is a photographer, the classic locations are crowded with people trying to make the very same picture the first 2,745,981 photographers did. I jokingly say that there are tripod holes at prime locations.

That leaves me with a lot of choices. Let’s say I’ve gone to New Mexico. Let’s say I’m staying in Santa Fe. I could get very lazy and photograph the city. Or, I could move on and work outside of the city, coming back at night. That’s what I would likely do. That works for me because I do like to explore.

Anyway.

That’s how I think. These days. Going to a place isn’t enough. Not any more.

The picture. Just about everything has bloomed and has settled into summer’s green. Except for here and there. This tree is an example of here. Or, there. As the storm clouds started to blow in, I started making a few pictures. This is one of them. Since the light was low at around dusk, there is some nice highlight on one side of the tree. That’s also what’s causing the clouds to be yellowish.

You know the rest.

F/8 and be there.


Before the Storm.

Yes. The big square.

It made a lot of sense to me to crop the picture into a square format. Normally, I would say that square crops are sort of a vanilla design approach. It keeps the picture from showing motion. Or, direction. It’s been a fad for website designers for a while now. I think it’s simply because they don’t understand photographs. To them, they are just design elements, rather than something that speaks 1,000 words.

I’m not attacking designers. In my past I designed a lot of pages. For newspapers. For magazines. And, for books. I also know that web design is very different. You can use a lot of pictures because you don’t have to pay for the real estate of paper. When I was designing stuff, everything had to be relevant. That really does mean everything. Pictures. Words. Headlines. Even white space. Today. Not so much.  In most cases, you can not even tell what the photographer thought was the best or most storytelling picture because all pictures are the same size. Size has a weight to it that denotes importance.

So.

That’s what I’m thinking about today. I’ve had all sorts of people tell me that they want me to stay on WordPress. So, I’ll listen. It’s too bad because I really like the ease of use on Squarespace pages. But, y’all matter to me.

That said, I guess I’ll learn about WordPress coding, at least to the extent that I can understand it. There will be some changes made. It’s likely that Storyteller will have a static front page that looks more like a website, and then a header where you can find my daily musings and drivel. I’ll build portfolio pages behind that where you can see, buy or license my work. I’m going to limit it to all things New Orleans and Southern. I really am not up for travelling to take pictures. That is, until I feel like it.

All of that came to me in the shower. I do my best thinking there.

The picture. We are kind of in between season. In calendar terms, we have three more days until winter. It feels like winter down here. Our kind of winter. I really don’t know here this picture falls. I do know that the clouds were the lead up to a short but violent storm. What’s left of the few leaves in the foreground tree are now on the ground.

I did a little bit of cool post production. Mostly what I did was darken everything, which brought out the clouds. I went back in and opened up the silhouetted parts and sharpened them so that you could see individual branches. I added a little darkness to the sides to bring the eye to the center of the picture.

That’s the story.


Trains under stormy dusk skies.

Settle down.

Everyone. All of you.

Try your best to think. Try your best not to overreact.

We are in the middle of one our worst years ever. Between a pumpkin-headed president who hates anybody who isn’t like him and wants badly to fight a major war, all manner of anger, nature’s fury and just general stupidity, it’s bad.

Don’t make it worse.

I’ve read some of silliest comments on Facebook about how to prepare for a storm. Most people forget to ask the most basic question. Are you staying or are you going? A particular poster lists every possible step to prepare. That doubles the work. For no reason. It’s just panic. In one of the craziest posts, the writer suggests cleaning your bathroom tub and filling it with water so you can drink it. WHAAAAT? You fill your bathroom tub with water so you can have water to flush your toilet when the power fails. You don’t drink it. The same posters forget to say that if you staying that you need about a billion batteries, and battery-powered storm lanterns. And, cans of Spam. And, Vienna Sausages. And, canned pasta. There is nothing like cold pasta and potted meat to ruin your day.

There’s more, but…

This one is better.

There is a photographer who lives in New Orleans who’s like me. Great creds. Good shooting rep. He’s going to Cuba. Today. He isn’t going to photograph Hurricane Irma. He’s mostly going to produce art and stock imagery. Some people think he’s being brave. Other people — like me – think there is a fine line between being brave and stupidity. You pick.

He’s also like me, because at 67 years old, he’s got back problems that make mine look minor. Often he hires a fixer who carries his gear because he can’t. I’m not quite that old. Or, quite that broken down. But, you get the idea.

Think that’s crazy?

Ha!

He doesn’t like converting digital captures from color to black and white. He’s old school. He wants to shoot Tri-x in his “antique cameras.” Okay. Fine. He gets to the airport and posts on Facebook. He wants to know if anyone is going to Havana with film. He packed his cameras, but forget to buy or pack film.

What?

This is a working pro. A guy who knows better. Supposedly.

First, anybody actually going to Cuba to cover Hurricane Irma has deadlines and will not be working in film. Maybe one person might be. He ain’t sharing. Second, I can’t think of anybody who is flying directly into the storm. Including first responders. There’s a reason for that. You could get killed. Third, I’m willing to bet Cuba closes their airports to commercial traffic well before the hurricane arrives. Even if he manages to get in, getting out will take an act of God.

By the way, I’m not attacking him. Or, making fun of him. It could just as well be me. Sheesh. I could pack cameras and film and forget my clothes. You know…

Everybody.

It may be fire. Or, rain. Or, political stupidity and meanness with which you are dealing, just settle down. Nothing is ever achieved with a monkey mind. Focus on something and stay focused. If you need to survive nature, do that. If you are in a position to fight back against a mad leader, organize properly and do that. If corporations weren’t so focused on the bottom line, the ones who employ dreamers would shut down in protest of this latest outrage.

Oh. I almost forgot.

The picture. After the last storm. Our clouds typically light up once the sun breaks through because light refracts of the remaining clouds and the water droplets in the air. Luckily there was a brightly, and lowly lighted subject in the foreground. A train. I like trains. Woo, woo.

 

 


Spring storms.

If the you live in the middle regions of the country, you sort of get used to seeing this kind of weather. Rough weather. Powerful weather. Destructive weather.

I’ve long said that man can never defeat Mother Nature. Sure. We can hold her back for a while. But, at the end of the day, whether it is by something big and powerful, or by the constant erosion of something that gets in her way. Mother Nature always wins. She seeks and receives stasis.

The picture. More-or-less, just point and shoot. See it. Photograph it. A little fine tuning, mostly so that I could show it to you and that’s it. Ma Nature took care of the rest.


Around Lee Circle in storm light.
Around Lee Circle in storm light.

Storm Light. One of my favorite qualities of light. There are others. Light at the ends of the day. Golden. Blue. Night. Almost anything but high noon in bright sunlight.

But, first.

I decided not to chase down all the storm damage in the little upriver towns. Those people have enough on their hands without having me around. I’m about the last thing that they need. Sharing their misery is not what I’m about. Funny how living through a huge hurricane will do that to you.

I did make more pictures in New Orleans. These are  one of them.

Most don’t need a lot of explanation. But, the top picture does.

Lee Circle.

Let me say right off that Storyteller is not normally the place for political discussions. First, I’m not all that political. Second, there are some things that I just don’t have much time for. Politics is one of them.

That said, Lee Circle has been a political polarizer since this summer. Why? After the mass killings in Charleston, South Carolina which inspired the state to stop using the old Confederate Flag, our mayor — Mitch Landreau — was further inspired to remove all of New Orleans Confederate statues.

There are a couple of historical points to know. Of the three statues in question; Lee, Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, only Robert E. Lee never set foot in New Orleans.  The other two, Beauregard and Davis, either lived here or were raised here.  Two, the city was Confederate for just over a year when it was surrendered without a shot being fired. Admittedly, New Orleans was the largest city in the South at the time.

The statue that seems to be causing most of the concern is the Robert E. Lee statue for which Lee Circle is named. The general who never set foot in the city. It was erected in 1884. During the reconstruction. There has been a pitched battle from both sides. Every possible reason has been dredged up, both for and against removing the statues. I didn’t really care. For me, the only thing the Lee statue meant was that I had to be really careful passing through the circle. And, hopeful. I hoped that a streetcar would not hit me. I hoped that I wouldn’t get hit by another car or truck as they entered the circle. But, that’s about it. I rarely even looked at the statue. I was busy driving.

That’s changed.

Despite the historical preservationists agreeing, the city council voting 6 -1 to approve the removal and two courts ruling in favor of removing the statues, the group calling itself something like Save Our Statues won’t let go. Now, they are trying very hard to “persuade” potential removal contractors that it is in their best interest not to make a bid or do the work.

Hmmm.

What does that sound like to you? I know what that sounds like to me.

And, now I care.

Remove the damn things and be done with it. Replace the Lee statue with a statue of somebody who actually set foot in the city. I’m up for a musician like Allen Toussaint or Fats Domino. Or, somebody like them. Somebody positive. A little more current.

The statues?

By the way, I never once used the word demolished. They are being removed and stored until somebody can figure out an appropriate place for viewing, like a museum. We have a Confederate museum. It’s old and dusty. Upgrade it a little and stick them there. One more thing. The removal fees are being gifted to the city by an anonymous donor.

Sorry for the diversion.


Domino Sugar Plant
Domino Sugar Plant

We all forget. New Orleans, and most of the land along the Mississippi River was once devoted to some kind of industry. Some still is. It was a very productive place. Now, not so much. Plenty of industry is still here. But, today the biggest industry is tourism.

There is still lot of shipping going on. Some is by boat. Lots by trucks. Some by train. If you look at a map of the Greater New Orleans area you’ll see that we are really one giant railroad yard. Freight trains come from north, south, east and west. Passenger trains too. Not as many. And, not from as many directions.

This is Old Arabi. I used to go there to photograph the old Le Beau mansion. But, it burned down. While I was traveling there, I’d look for other subjects if the light was right. Especially if the light was right. Sometimes, only if the light was right. It was right when I made this picture.

This is the Domino Sugar Factory. It is one of the largest sugar processing plants in the country. It was first built in the 19th Century. Some buildings look old and weather-beaten. Some are newer.

When I made this picture, the weather was very stormy. I decided to use that and enhance it to make a point. An almost evil point. Maybe the place is haunted. Maybe not. You decide.

 


An experiment. On Bayou Road, in St. Bernard Parish.
An experiment. On Bayou Road, in St. Bernard Parish.

As you know, I like to experiment with my pictures. A few days ago, I published a picture similar to this one. Well, five days ago to be exact. The picture was two images away from this one in the files. I thought this particular frame was even more desolate than the original picture. So, I began to work on it. In a big way. I wanted to move the picture from being desolate to something that was down right apocalyptic. These days, that’s pretty easy to do with all the Photoshop plug-ins. Sheesh. Most of the movies that are produced in this genre are manufactured on the computer. The work that is done in the field is really just the base for what comes next. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Create the base photograph when I’m out and about, and add cinematic effects back in the studio. This is time-consuming. It also means that I don’t have to produce as many pictures. That, means I have to edit or curate a lot tighter and better. My stock agencies will hate this. My clients probably will like it. We’ll see. It’s really just a giant experiment. Isn’t that what art really is; a giant experiment?

Anyway.

This picture was made on an industrial section of Bayou Road. It’s Louisiana. We have all sorts of refineries and manufacturing plants that have different divisions located across Bayou Road from each other. That’s why you see so many pipes and bridges spanning the road. Much easier than trucking it across and holding up traffic. Usually, the speed limit around these places in around 30 mph or less. That means it’s easier to do my usual drive by thing. Besides, I like being close to the center line. It adds a nice leading line. Oh yeah. Don’t think I like shooting from the car. I’d much rather get out and let the picture find me. But, two issues come into play. There is nowhere to park. And, guards appear from nowhere wanting to know if you are planning some bad thing. Me? Not hardly.


9 Ward Post copy
Rain falls on the yet to be fully rebuilt Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Things are going to get a little busy around my normal posting time, so here goes. Sunday. Oh yeah. That’s gonna get a little weird too. I’ll deal with that later.

Anyway. A few weeks ago, I took a couple of out-of-town friends on a tour of The Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. They were pretty amazed that not more property had been repaired and restored. They also were pretty unimpressed with the Make It Right Homes. Brad Pitt’s project. I have to say, that after a few years, those Disney-like homes look pretty worn and tattered. So. I decided to go back and work. I usually go back and wander around every month or so. But, I’ve been a little busy and I haven’t gotten back as often as I should. I went back on a good day for what I was feeling. Dark. Stormy. Bleak. I don’t care how many homes have been built by Make It Right, or the few that have been built by home owners who managed to cobble together enough money to rebuild, it still looks and feels very sad. It’s coming to eight years.

This picture. Hmmmm… Music was the key. I played a somewhat new Neil Young song called Ramada Inn. It’s long. I still managed to play it about five or six times. The lyrics have nothing to do with this place. They are about a couple who have been married “for forever” and alcohol is getting in the way. But, the melody just set the tone for this work. Dark. Brooding.