Night time on Washington Avenue.

Street portraits made easy.

When you have help. My buddy, Pableaux Johnson was working with a new video light on a still camera. It is flat panelled and a continuous light source. He thought it would help illuminate the Mardi Gras Indians as they walked while they showed off their suits. After all, on St. Joseph’s Night we work in available darkness. He turned it on to take a picture of this guy. He couldn’t quite get what he wanted. But, standing to the side of him, I did. I just didn’t know it at the time.

I’m not sure I would use that light. It was a little cumbersome for him. It also seems to provide a very flat — meaning not enough contrast — light. And, I could see him from a block away. My whole way of working on the street is to blend in, and not be seen.

Anyway.

I made a pretty good portrait, mostly just by standing there and pointing the camera.

Of course, the original file didn’t look anything like this. Yes, the red color was there. It just wasn’t so enhanced. And, I buried a lot of noise with darkness. Even with the external light, I really was pushing the camera’s limits since we were standing in the darkest possible location. That took some doing because the picture — his face — needed some sharpening because the focal plane is centered on his hands and the sugar skull button. Even with masking, I ran the risk of sharpening the noise. I made it work. Just.

But.

It came together. I’m really anxious to run a test print. After all, it’s not really a photograph unless it’s printed on paper. With all the technical issues I had to overcome, I’m wondering if the image will just fall apart on when I print it.

Questions? Ask away. Answers? I’m all ears. Like the picture? Buy it. Papa needs a new large format printer to crowd an already crowded studio.

 

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Talking...
Talking…

It was hot. I already mentioned that.

So. I took shelter in the only place I could find. The semi-shady stoop of a long abandoned power plant. Pretty soon other people joined me. We started talking. Pretty soon a couple of them asked why I was taking pictures. So, I showed them. There are some good things about our constant smartphone companions. Communication is one. Understanding is another. I can show people my world. On a little bitty screen. I did that. As a side note, I’m not even sure you need a big expensive portfolio any more.  You have your entire publicity campaign in the palm of your hand.

On that hot Sunday it was more.

Way more.

They all liked it. They were reading and scrolling. And smiling. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. So much of what I photograph and write is about them. Their neighborhoods. Their culture.

If they like my work that means I’m getting it right.

The guy in the picture — yes, I know his name and telephone number — wants me to tell his story. On Storyteller. That’s humbling. And, after hanging with him for a very short time, I think he has quite a story to tell. So, I’ll call him. We’ll sit on his stoop and talk. He’ll take me around his neighborhood. I’ll make pictures.

Even though it was hot and miserable on Sunday, I’d say being there was worth it.

The picture. Point the camera and take the picture. Show your subject the picture on your camera’s LCD. If he likes it, all is good.

All was good.