Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


Arriving in style.

Second lines.

All on a Sunday afternoon.

All joy. Pure fun. Like going to church.

Photographing second lines is hard work. Working in the middle of one is like being in a rugby scrum. You trot, back peddle, dodge and weave. You walk a long way. If you do it right, you’re tired, dripping in sweat and a little bruised.

That’s my fun.

I stopped some time last year. The pain was too much. If I got loose enough, if I swayed to the music, if I ignored the pain, I could get by. Walking back to my car was an exercise in misery. So, I stopped.

I missed them terribly.

I said that I was done with that project. I said that here, on Storyteller. I was kidding myself. I decided to photograph this season. My pain was relieved. I don’t know whether to be grateful or angry. Even though my hip and back are a thing, they weren’t causing the pain..

It was bursitis. I could have been pain free almost two year ago.

Anyway.

God laughed at my plan.

Along came the virus.

No second lines.

It’s hard to know when they’ll return. They have to be one of the biggest super spreaders.

Stay safe. Enjoy every bowl of ramen.


New Orleans

This is a test. I’m trying to learn how to do combined multiple picture designs.

Combined, because I’ve crashed two templates. I’ve also used some older pictures that those of you who are new to Storyteller may never have seen. They highlight a couple of tourist areas. Places that some of you might go if you came to my fair town.

While I was writing, I learned something very new. It appears that the block in which I am working expands to contain the new text. That’s great, but I have to watch the depth if I want some air between the text and the images.

The Pictures

I suppose that you’d like to know a little bit about them because this is, after all, a photography blog.

The top image is Canal Street at dusk.

The bridge is the Crescent City Connection, which crosses The Mississippi River to the Westbank.

Next to it is Bayou St. John.

Below that is a French Quarter scene,

Far left is Magazine Street.

Canal Street. Streetcar.

I hope you’ve me followed this deep. I’d love some feedback. Positive — of course. Negative — because it’s needed.

All About learning

Learn from me if you’d like. You are going to be right behind me. I like challenges, but many of you won’t. There is an old school template that I believe predates me. That means it’s at least ten years ten years old. That’s the option if you hate the block system.

One design note. I’ve thrown just about every design tool that I’ve used to date into this page. Drop caps. Headings. Multiple pictures. Offset text. I could do other things that I’m not so sure about when it comes to contemporary design. I could change the color of the pages. I could do that in one go, or block by block. I could change the color of the type, again in one go or block by clock. I’m more minimal than all of that.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


In New Orleans it’s a streetcar.

Streetcar.

In New Orleans, we have streetcars. Streetcars. Not trolleys. Not trains. Streetcars.

I wouldn’t have my back up, but a women with whom I attended high school is in town with four of her “girlfriends.” They finally left the French Quarter and rode up St. Charles Avenue. On a green streetcar. A good thing to do. They took a walk into the Garden District on First Street. Another good thing to do.

But, one of her friends said they rode on trolleys. Arrrrrgh.

We don’t have trolleys. We have streetcars. It’s a big deal to those of us who live here. It’s a bigger deal to me because we travel so much and have learned the correct terms for more things than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime. Say the wrong thing in Paris and they glare at you.

They took a walk through the Garden District. Apparently, they liked our house. They photographed it. And, published it. No matter. We aren’t home and they didn’t know.

Then there’s that girlfriend thing. These women are all over 65 years old. How can they possibly be girls? Yeah, saying girl is a southern thing. They live in Southern California. I guess that’s south. Sorta. Maybe.

Is this a rant? Sounds like a rant. I assure you, it’s not. It’s just me commenting on stuff I think is funny. But, I will say I’m a little jealous. Not of them taking a trip to my adopted hometown. But, like so many of my high school classmates, the woman in question decided to live in Southern California. She grew up there. She went to school there. She worked there. She lives there still. She has really old friends. Friends that she sees on a regular basis. That’s what I’m jealous of. All of that.

Even though I claim my birth city to be Brooklyn, I really grew up in Long Beach, California. If you ask me where my home is located, that’s what I’ll tell you. Long Beach. Sometimes, I think I’d love to move back. All of us. Back. We could probably afford it. But, who will I be when I go back home? Will it just be another place? Will I find old friends? Do I want to find old friends? And crowds. I hate crowds. As I age that gets worse.

A friend of mine said — you can see her comments — that I seem to be doing some existential questioning. I suppose in this year of one word — learning — I am. I’m learning about me. In a way, I’d like to be that person that calls a New Orleans streetcar, a trolley. I know a lot of things about a lot of places. In the end, the question is, what for?

Before I finish let me make one thing clear. I’ve had a great life. So far. With the exception of the past few years when back and thigh pain became a thing, I’ve been fairly healthy. I’ve seen and done a lot of things. I’ve been to most of the continents. I’ve been to 49 states. I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve been the minority in many places. I’ve made a lot of wonderful pictures. I’ve been so productive, without really trying, that I’ve forgotten some of my pictures. And, yet.

Home.

Maybe I can win a lot of money playing Jeopardy.

The picture. A STREETCAR. It’s really not moving all that fast. But, at dusk and photographed with a low shutter speed and a little bitty F Stop, you can make a picture like this. Everything gets squiggly. It’s not the sharpest picture in the world. But, it sure is fun. Better yet, guess where I made it from. You guessed it. Through my car’s windshield. There was nobody behind me, and you can see what’s in front of me, so I was driving at about 5 mph. I’m supposed to be a professional. Kids, don’t try this at home. In a few years, my timing will be so shot that I’d better not try this at home either. Ouch.

 


A little impressionistic.

Streetcars.

Streetcars are considered to be a huge tourist attraction. With the proper pass you can ride all over the city. You can catch a ride somewhere near The French Quarter and head Uptown on the green cars. They are not air-conditioned. Or, you can can catch the red cars, which are newer and air-conditioned. You can ride to Mid-City, City Park and now downtown.

At any rate, as a tourist, you are not trapped in The French Quarter, nor do you need to rent a car.

That said.

Locals use them too. Some people commute to work on them. Some people use them to do what you would do with a car. Garden District people who don’t want to deal with parking near the Quarter ride the green cars from somewhere along St. Charles Avenue to the point at Canal Street where they make their turn around. Walk across the street and you are in the Quarter.

The picture. Archive editing continues slowly. The last couple of posts have been pictures that are headed to the New Orleans collection. Looking at the copyright and the bare trees in this picture, you can probably surmise that it was made in very early 2016. Usually our coldest months.

 


A little impressionistic
A little impressionistic.

Once again. Blue Hour.

You know, that time right after the sun sets. When the light is so blue. This is also a style in which I used to work. Impressionism. I’m taking a journey into my past. That’s right. I’m going back there.

Here’s why.

I used to do this a lot. I kind of made this a signature style in mid-career. But, it was mostly film based. It evolved out of working in the streets and feeling the need to keep moving. Even in days that seemed less violent than today, a guy with a bunch of cameras and a tripod is an easy target.   So I tried to keep moving. And, the ISO of most slide films was relatively low. Relatively low? Did I just write that? We were shooting slide films that might have an ISO of 50 or 100. So. In this kind of light we might have been working 1/4 of a second at f5.6. Something like that. There faster films, but lower ISO usually meant higher quality.

Along came digital photography.

Early digital cameras didn’t allow for much more flexibility in terms of enhanced ISO. If you turned the ISO up much beyond its native speed, you introduced a lot of noise. Stuff that looks like grain. Most of the time it appeared in shadows. It was mostly heat induced by the image processors of the time.  Other things happened. Like the infamous purple fringe, which is what happened if you shot in backlighted scenes. Like I do.

Flash forward.

Today’s digital cameras have what seems to be unlimited ISO ratings. There are some of the newly released bodies that can push the ISO to well over 100,000. You can turn night into day. If you wanted do to that. That’s a good thing. I think. It also introduces the potential to crank the ISO up to over 500 even in bright daylight. Cool. Everything is sharp. Or should I write, every damn thing is sharp?

That’s where I was. What I was doing.

Then.

We watched a series of videos on Amazon Prime. About Impressionism. It didn’t take much longer than about of half of the first video for the dim lightbulb in my brain to switch on. I had drifted away from the work that makes me who I am. At least from an artistic standpoint. Yeah, sure. Clients may still want every picture sharp and looking like a photograph. That’s fine. But, my own work can be whatever I want it to be. That’s where I’m headed. Back to the past.

One more thing. For you.

All of what I wrote is why many of you use all sorts of filters. On Instagram. In camera settings. In Photoshop. Or, whatever post production you choose. It’s likely that you are starting to look at your digital captures and are thinking that they look too sterile. Too clean. So, you are trying to make your pictures look a little more like they did when you saw them made on film. Or, on analog as the digital folks say.  That’s a good approach. But, you can start by turning your camera’s ISO down. Way down.


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.


Mardi Gras Indian.
Mardi Gras Indian.

New Orleans. We aren’t what you think.

Art. They say all art is about the maker. That most meaning is brought to that same art by the viewer.

Mistakes. I’m great at making them. I may have pretty much made a year old mistake. Most of my 2015 work that you’ve seen ‘s either Mardi Gras culture, Dystopian views of the city, or my kind of nature photography — which is really cheating because well, let’s just say that it is.

A friend of mine recently passed through. I took him out shooting. With a camera. Not a gun. Sheesh. I gotta be careful with every word. The first time was mostly for a smallish second line in Central City. We explored the Bywater a little. The second time was out to the Lower 9th Ward. Those places interest me. They make me happy because in the last five years I’ve watched them progress. But, to the first time visitor they look broke down, ruined, forgotten. Like one of our nicknames, “The City that Care Forgot.”

What I did’t do, stupidly, was direct him to Uptown, to Lakeview, to the places where recovery really has taken hold. We live Uptown. In the Garden District. Yes. Sure, our streets look like Berlin 1946. Our water pipes need serious work. And, our power lines? We’ll let’s just say if two squirrels meet on a power line, we might not have electricity for a couple of hours.

But, it’s a seriously pretty place. The people who rate such things, say that we are the best neighborhood in the country. Not, the most pricey. That’s in the Bay Area or up the Hudson River near New York City. Just the best. I don’t care about that. I just know that one neighborhood in New Orleans probably doesn’t look like another. Even in the general area called Uptown, the neighborhoods differ dramatically in just a few hundred yards.

In an exchange of comments and on his blog, my buddy  — he is among a lot of others — said that New Orleans is a tourist place. For people who want to party hard. Well, yeah sure. The French Quarter is certainly that. But, as I always say to visitors, “Get the hell out of Quarter and see the rest of the city.” Or, at least view the Quarter from a different point of view like the Steamboat Natchez pictures. I don’t see a bar or club in that picture. He also said we are run down and dirty. Hmmm. Everywhere? We’d better move. Right now.

By the way, he’s not the first or only person to say that.

So.

I said earlier this year, at around its turn from 2015, that you sort of guided me to what this blog should be. I took your comments very seriously. But, as they say,”Never tell God your plans.” So we got sick. With some weird upper respiratory cold-like thing. It took forever to get healthy. I’m much better now.

It’s time to do what I said I’d do. Prettier pictures of places that you can come see when you visit. Places away from the most common of tourist locations. How’s that?


One more streetcar picture.
One more streetcar picture.

Like any good artist when somebody comments that it’s “too bad the picture isn’t sharp,” I have no choice but to publish another one. One that shows even more speed. More motion. More blur.  One that is even less sharp.

What else could I do?

I learned this technique from musician Neil Young.

I read this story.  I forget where.  Once, when he was very young and new on the musical scene his manager couldn’t come out to his concert. So, he sent a junior manager. That probably wasn’t a great idea. Most musicians tour to support a newly released album. Young was no exception. He played his new songs. The audience didn’t know them so they didn’t react. Not positively. Not negatively. When he went backstage during the intermission he asked his fill in manager, “Mister Manager what do you think I should do?” His manager replied, “Play something they’ve heard.” So, Young went back out and did that. He played the same new song that he’d played maybe 45 minutes earlier. He still got no reaction so he played it for the third time during the encore.

There you have it.

“It’s too bad that your picture is too blurry, but your writing saved it.” This person said. Well, here’s another picture that is even more blurry. Oh, and by the way, I’m not a writer.

Heh.

I’m sorry. I just couldn’t resist. I’m playing. Mostly. I’m not even sure this new person is following Storyteller. He or she probably hasn’t seen much of my work. And, doesn’t have a blog. Just a place to comment via Gravatar. With a picture of a dog instead of a human portrait.

The picture. Yes. You knew I’d get around to it. It was made at an even slower shutter speed than the one I posted earlier this week. Even so, you can see the driver fairly clearly. And, the streaks of light are really nice and clean. It was made with a 16mm lens, so I’m fairly close. But, not that close. After all, I’m not crazy.