More like a summer dream.

Like a dream.

Summer arrives like a dream.

Even though we are five days from Summer Solstice, and the longest day of the year, those of us who live in the south have had summer-like weather since some time in May. We had a few cooler days, but for the most part we feel the heat of 90 degree days. And, we are moist from the humidity.

Even though I seemingly jumped the gun, I didn’t. You understand.

The foreground of the picture is composed of summer weeds and leaves. It is photographed against a background of almost pure bokeh. The out of focus part of the picture. Everything is backlit.

That’s it.

I made a picture of a dream.

I think.

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The band plays despite the heat.

Brass bands.

You know me. There is something special about them. The minute that I hear them,  my poor hip and back feel better. I move easier. I move freer. I move faster. I dance with them. I am more flexible. I am convinced my pictures are better than usual.

I’ll get to the pictures a little further down, below the tuba picture.

A musician friend of mine who lives in the Pacific Northwest once described brass band music as being chaotic.

I suppose.

What do you expect? The musicians first heard the music on the streets. It’s very likely that they learned to play their instruments in high school. Different high schools for each of them. And, they rarely rehearse. The members come together on the street right before the second line begins. If they don’t have enough members on the scene, musicians from other bands show up to fill in the gaps.  Cell phones are working overtime.

Yeah. They all know the same songs because the music is among New Orleans standards. But, each of them might play a song slightly different. Yes. That breeds chaos.

That’s just wonderful. After all, at her best, New Orleans is the home of wonderful chaos.

Isn’t that what many of you come to the city for?

The tuba starts it. Always.

The pictures. I think you have to be in the middle of something to be able to make the best pictures. These pictures were made with a wide angle lens or a very short telephoto… like 70mm. The scene sort of envelopes me.

I have the same theory about music. I never use ear buds. Even when they are free. I sometimes use over the ear cans, when I have to be quiet or I want to hear a certain detail. Mostly, we just have a bunch of speakers that put us in the middle of the music. We can hear. We can share.

I feel the same way about pictures. Standing on the sidelines is the same way. Sometimes you have to. And, that’s fine. I don’t imagine the NFL would be very happy if photographers worked in the huddle or the line of scrimmage.

But, when you can you should try.

It’s a whole different sense of place. For me. For you.

This works even with travel pictures. For instance, I recently saw a picture of Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Everybody makes a picture like that. Then I saw one from inside the steeple. Whoa. That was something. I imagine getting permission takes some time and effort. That’s tough enough. But, what if you want to work around golden time and blue hour. Good luck. But, oh, what a picture.

That has me thinking. Hmmmmm.

The drummers pound out the beat.


Taking our minds off of all the news.

Storms to the east. Fires to the west. A liar up north.

I don’t know about you, but I need a break. From the news. From thinking about prepping for the next three potential storms.

That’s what this picture is about.

Rain poured down at night. By morning, the sky was bright and clear with just a few white puffy clouds. The all-seeing dog and I went for a walk. She decided that sitting was in order. We found a bench. I sat on it. She sat on the grass. I looked up and saw this picture. I pushed the button. We sat a while longer. When we got home, I headed to the studio where I tinkered with it and helped it to glow.

That’s what I wanted. A bright, glowing picture that reminds me of  1930s Art Deco posters.

 


Summer leaf.

The end of summer.

Little details. Seeing. Looking. Feeling.

That’s all this picture really is about. I saw the leaf on an outdoor table. I framed it in a way that you could see the leaf and see the table. Then I went to work on it. That’s it.

Old business.

You’re gonna laugh. Remember Tropical Storm Gordon? The storm that did nothing? It broke apart over Northern Mississippi and Arkansas. The last of the winds pushed it back this way and we got soaked yesterday. As they say, “If the lightning don’t get you, the thunder will.”

The rain is pouring down as I write. This rain has nothing to do with Gordon. It’s just that time of year. There are three storms forming in the Atlantic. I’ll worry about them later.

Google issues. A lot of people are complaining about it. I didn’t know that until I Googled it. How’s that for irony? There is no real work around yet unless I want to go back to a very early desktop from about 2012. That really won’t work.

So, I did a better thing. I saved the WordPress dashboard page as a bookmarked website and placed it on my bookmarks bar. One click and I’m here. This is better than it was on the Google desktop.

See?

I can be creative when I’m forced into it.


Summer water flow.

We are a wet place.

Even with all of our rainfall, summer dries us out a bit. I’d call this a kind of levee. Normally, the water level is about equal on both sides. Look at this picture. It’s not even close. Even the side wall is starting to dry out.

With our daily rain, which is normal for this time of year, it’s really not enough. The ground is still dry. And, cracking. In our humid conditions, I always say what falls down must rise up. After a rain storm, the air gets very moist and sticky. The water that fell from the sky is being evaporated back into the sky. So that we can have another rainfall.

Oh well.

That’s what living in southeastern Louisiana is about. That, and heat.

Speaking of heat, no matter which weather service you choose, it seems that they all agree that we have passed through our hottest part of the year. Some say we won’t be reaching 90 degrees for at least the next 15 days. Of course, on the day that I read that, the high was 91.

I always take long-term weather predictions with a grain of salt. Enough salt to drive anybody’s blood pressure through the roof. Actually, at this time of year, the only high/low prediction that I care about is the low temperature. When we start moving in the 60s, things start to cool off.

That should be any day now. Any day in late November.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. F8 and be there. It’s all reaction. No thought. That’s the best way to make pictures in the street. Or, on the water. Such as it is.


Trapped in a world created by a life-preserver.

I lost it. I found it.

Remember the life-preserver picture that I posted a few weeks ago? This is the much tighter version of it. I didn’t select it then because there is no context. You have no idea what you are looking at. Since you’ve seen that one, it doesn’t really matter about the context for this one. That is, assuming you saw the first one. Heh, heh, heh.

This time I went full monty. I did about everything I could do in post production. I wanted to remove about all the subject’s context. You can barely tell that the main subject is leaves. I also made it look like it is glowing from below. I wish I could say that was my intent. Instead, it’s by-product of all my tinkering. The twisting of knobs. The sliding of sliders. To my credit, once I saw it, I made every effort to enhance it.

I went for art, rather than a document. There are a lot of versions of this image. Remember, I save as I go. Ask me in an hour which one I like best and I’ll give you a different answer. Look at the image below. That is the version I made after cleaning up and enhancing what amounts to the raw capture. Yes. There is some post production. But, not nearly as much as the image I offer to you as the finished version. It’s not quite as mysterious. And, it may make more sense to you.

Original leaves.

Anyway.

That’s the picture. And, a little bit about my working methods. I wouldn’t call it workflow because for this picture, it was all over the place. If you take anything from this, it could be something like… Study. Practice. Study. Practice. Study. Experiment. Practice.


A little tribute from nature.

I keep reading and hearing that summer is almost at its end. That most schools are back in session. And, forget baseball. It’s football season.

Some of those things are correct. They are set according to a calendar. Summer isn’t over, at least for us, not by a long shot. Around here the end of summer starts to arrive around late October. Maybe not even that soon. The humidity of summer may drop. But, the days are hot. Last Halloween people were roasting in their costumes. That makes for grumpy trick or treaters.

For me, around here, summer comes to an end when the night temperatures drop in the high 50’s or very low 60’s. Last night, the temperature was 79 degrees at midnight. See what I’m saying?

I suspect that people all over the country are saying that summer is almost over because it’s been very hot every where. They are hopeful. They need and want a break. They want cooler air. Colder air. Even snow sounds good right about now.

That’ll eventually happen this year. But, various weather services are predicting this kind of very hot weather will occur for the next five years, whether or not you think that global climate change is a thing, or not.

There are the doom and gloom types — some of which are highly thought of academics — who believe it’s way too late to reverse course. One thinks that we have ten years left as humans. He said that when the polar ice caps melt, food production will drop to nothing and you can figure out the rest. All those apocalyptic movies that you’ve been watching on Netflix? Well…

Take action folks. Some of the major deniers are our leaders in the swamp that will never be drained. Not our swamp which is real and about nature. But, the political swamp in Washington D.C. The one that is unreal and about greed.

Vote.

The picture. It’s a what the dog saw picture. She saw it. She walked by it. Circled around it and came to a place about a foot away. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I saw it. Even though I’m trying to stay away from these kinds of picture, this one caught my eye. There is some post production going on. I wanted those pine needles to be clean and sharp, so I did that. That helped with the water droplet on the flower petal as well.

That’s it. Happy day.


A little rain must fall.

Summertime. And the living is wet and rainy.

Ask any New Orleanian and you’ll learn the July and August are soggy months. If the humidity doesn’t get you, the rain will. They go hand in hand. The humidity builds up, the heat draws the clouds and bang. The rain falls. Usually pretty hard. But, we all know that it won’t last long. The rain stops. Everything cools down. The air becomes a little more pleasant.

For ten minutes.

Then it starts again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Most of us know to carry an umbrella. We mostly wear some kind of open shoe. Like flip-flops. Like Crocs. Or, sandals. We wear shorts. T-shirts. Women wear sun dresses, sometimes. We are going to get wet. The lighter that we dress, the quicker we dry.

Real old school, long time folks just dress normally. Jeans. Long sleeved shirts. Closed shoes. The summer weather doesn’t seem to bother them.

Or.

They are delusional from heat induced craziness.

It’s not for me to say.

That’s a very long-winded way of saying, be like a Boy Scout.

Be prepared.

I know a photographer who won’t take pictures in the rain. His camera isn’t weather sealed in any way. He hasn’t figured out the trick of using a small garbage bag and scissors. Cut two holes in the bag, wrap it around your camera and you are good. To go.

Not photographing in bad weather doesn’t fly with me. I live by the old saying, “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.” At the very least, you’ll have some pretty wonderful reflections. It’s even better if people are part of the picture.

So.

This picture. I posted it on Instagram. I didn’t post it here. I started thinking that I should. So, here it is.

I met a friend for coffee prior to the first day of Satchmo Summer Fest. I actually wasn’t really up for working that day so we hung out for a while. The rain started falling. I turned around in my chair and made this picture through the door window. Easy as that.

For Instagram, I made the picture black and white. That’s sort of become my signature over there. Obviously, I left the color alone for Storyteller.

Not exactly.

I wanted you to see the rain drops as clearly as possible so I worked on that in post production. I also didn’t want to over enhance the color since it was bright enough on its own.

Funny thing about this place.

Back in the day when I lived just down the street, I would finish my work and hang out here. I’d walk my dog  and we’d sit outside and visit with our neighbors.

In those days, I had to ship my work. It was film. After review and selection, the seconds were returned to me via FEDEX. I did this so much that the driver knew where I was. He’d drive up Esplanade make a u-turn and bring the box directly to me. He couldn’t stop because of their tight schedules, so I asked what he liked to drink. Drivers can’t accept cash gifts, but they can accept food, drinks, and stuff like that.

I started trading him.

He’d drop off my package and I’d have coffee waiting for him. Or, ice tea in the summer. I could do this because he had to stop at a red light. I would hustle inside and buy his beverage. The baristas thought that was very cool, so when they saw me coming they had the drink ready. I paid them after the driver passed by.

Neighborhood places are like that. This is a chain, but it’s a local chain. One of their Uptown stores is where I hangout prior to photographing the start of Mardi Gras parades.  Instead of FEDEX drivers, I hang out with the NOPD.


Reflections.

A story. My story.

Something happened yesterday that really dug into me. Into my heart. My soul. My physical being.

First, I have to tell you the back story. Where I come from they say to tell another living person. It shouldn’t be somebody who is close to you. It shouldn’t be somebody who supports you unconditionally.

So.

I’m telling you.

Before I do, I want to tell you not to worry. The words my be scary. The illness isn’t and likely will never be.

In 2015 my primary care doctor noticed that my white blood cell count had been high for a year. He was running a blood test as part of my normal annual physical. He referred me to another doctor. A blood specialist. After more blood work and specialized research, I was diagnosed with CLL. A kind of leukemia. After assuring me that it wouldn’t kill me, and that it probably would never become symptomatic, he sent me home with a lot of research — online and in hard copy. I found out that he was right.

But, still…

It’s an emotional upheaval. It wasn’t until musical miss’ mom, a retired surgical nurse, said that once we got over the shock, I should just go on living my life. Three years later, and probably four, I’m fine. I am asymptomatic. I have my blood checked regularly. If anything my numbers are getting better. I do take care of myself and that matters. It will likely never emerge. The odds are great 98% of newly diagnosed patients never have it emerge. That’s why you shouldn’t worry.

Flash forward to yesterday.

I was at my oncologist’s office (how weird is that to say out loud) waiting my turn. I was talking to a family. Their little boy liked me, so he and I played iPhone games.  They were waiting for their daughter who was helped into the office by a nurse. She was barely hanging on to a walker. She was wearing a tank top. She had two chemo port holes in her upper chest. The family helped her put on a t-shirt. The nurse was talking about the next treatment plan. The current plan was not having the desired effect. I guess there must have been a lot of pain in my eyes. This young girl’s dad put his hand on my shoulder and said, quietly “I’ll be alright.”

My turn in the office.

I have a great doctor. While he’s looking me over and explaining my numbers we talk about everything. Since we are close to another Katrina anniversary we talked about that. Because he is a good doctor, he noticed that I was a little sad. When he asked why, I told him. He replied that he really couldn’t say anything. I just said that it didn’t look good. He looked me in the eye and said that it wouldn’t be good.

The young girl is 13 years old.

She will never be able to live her life. Please understand that I have no desire to die. No death wish. Nothing like it. I hope to be old and feisty when I go. But, in that one moment I thought that if I could change places with her I would not hesitate. I’ve lived most of my life. She’s just getting started. It doesn’t seem fair. But, who said life was fair?

Please have a good thought for her. You may not know her. But, she is universal. You do know her.

The picture. Oh. Yeah. I saw a bunch of leaves reflecting off the back of a sign. A handicapped sign. I guess that was meant to be. I just darkened it a bit.