Seeing is believing.

Luck. Photographer’s luck. I got lucky. I saw some new arrivals in the world of nature yesterday. I was able to take my time and really work the scene.

As you know, while walking a dog or two that rarely happens. But, the all seeing dog walked herself into a tired puddle. Whenever I stopped to explore a potential picture she just sat down and waited. When we returned home she laid down and slept for about three hours.

Then, she wanted to go for another walk. For a dog approaching thirteen years old she still has a lot of energy. I doubt that I’ll have that much energy as I approach 91 years old, which is about her equivalent age.

No worries. The day was coolish and dry so I let her go, but normally I wouldn’t let her get that far out because it is hard on her to return home. Trust me. I look after her very well.

These are blooms that you are looking at. They will eventually turn into purple flowers. If you’ve been here for a few years, you’ve seen them. I’ll try to do something different as I did with this picture.

It really comes down to light. And, with that it’s time to jump to the right hand column.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all the nature.

Any photograph is about light. For that matter, so are paintings.

If I always had my way, I wouldn’t work until the light was right. That’s not always possible.

But, yesterday morning I awoke fairly early. So did the all seeing dog. She barely let me suck down a cup of coffee before we were off.

I made this picture at about 8 am. The light wasn’t just breaking through the sky, but it was low and very illuminating.

The dog of the hour waited and I made this picture. We were inbound so she was tired. It’s mostly backlighted with a little shadow in the foreground.

I did pump it up a bit because I wanted the glow to pull you into the center of the image.

I think it works as intended.


Down, down, down.

We all watched something two nights ago that we shouldn’t have. They called it a debate. I’ve heard also sorts of negative descriptions. They all fit. I can think of some worse ones, but they aren’t fit to print. I read that the folks who host the debates are going to change them. I read that they may put a mute button on the microphones of each speaker. Something better happen. I won’t watch another debate if one guy won’t even come close to playing by the rules.

I suppose the world saw in 90 minutes what we’ve lived with for the past 47 months. We are tired. We are scared. We are angry. Now the rest of the world pities us. I cannot remember a time in my life when one man has ruined just about every one of my days. If it isn’t him, it’s this damn pandemic which could have been in control except for that very same man. The liar in chief. The denier in chief. The loser in chief.

There. I’ve said it. I’ve had my rant.

I hate to leave like this so…

I think my photo world is starting to turn a little. I’ve licensed a lot of work out of my archives. I asked one art director how he found me and why he wasn’t looking at the inexpensive photo portals. He found me by Googling for NOLA photographers. He didn’t want to use portals because the pictures were either not so great or that they were derivative. Ha! What did I say a few says ago?

Derivative. Derivative. Derivative.

This has gotten me thinking. Maybe it’s time to build my archives in a very public place. Make them very searchable and let people license them for normal uses without me even knowing. And, for more special projects they could talk to me directly.

Maybe there is a way for photography to become real again. Don’t get me wrong. I like my other career. But, this is what I was built to do.

Pictures at an exhibition. The all seeing dog and I were out walking. We arrived at our bench and I noticed that leaves started falling and sticking to odd places like our park bench. So, I made this picture. It’s about as raw as it could be. I wanted to test a picture loading system forgetting that I hadn’t done any finishing work on the image.

Oops.

That’ll happen in this fast paced world.

Stay safe. Stay might. Wear your mask.


Spring like.

I’d write about winter. But. it seems aside from a cold front moving in yesterday, our winter looks like most people’s spring.

I was surprised to see these little guys in full bloom.  When I say little I mean it. Through the magic of a macro lens I was able to make the flowers look silver dollar sized, when in reality they are smaller than the size of a dime.

Of course, since I can no longer get down on my hands and knees to make pictures like this one I let the auto focus do its thing. Fortunately, it latched onto the bloom.

That reminds me of my first mirrorless camera experience.

My Sony NEX-7 arrived along with its kit lense. I decided to go for a drive in the rain, because that’s what I do. I needed gas, so I stopped to fill ‘er up. I sat in the car while the gas pumped. I started to make test pictures through the rainy windows. I looked at the enlarged images on my monitor and thought that the camera had a problem. Every image appeared out of focus

Grrrrrrrr.

I looked at them again at a slightly less magnification.

Every image was in sharp focus. Huh? The autofocus module picked the rain drops on the windshield as the subject. They were as sharp as they could be while the background was well out of focus creating a little mystery.

That was in 2012, well before the mirrorless camera market was developed to the point that it is today. There is something fun about being an early adopter.

Unfortunately, for me, the development has gone in the wrong direction. Lenses are getting much bigger. Camera bodies are growing too.

One of the main attractions for me was that the gear is small. My first lens purchase was a 16mm/f 2.8 wide angle lens. According to the pixel peepers it was no good. It’s a great little lense. It’s also a pancake model which means that is less than 1/2 inch long. It weighed almost nothing. That’s what I was after.

If I wanted to buy a better 16mm lens, I could do that today. There is one that is an f-stop faster. It meets the pixel peepers approval. But, it is about four inches long and weighs around a pound.

Sheesh.

If i wanted that I could have stayed with DSLRs.

And, so it goes.


French Quarter

I took a stroll in The French Quarter. I made a few “traditional” pictures. I’m pretty sure that will make my agencies smile.

Doing the work and walking around the Quarter made me happy. Yes. It was hot. It was humid. And, the eclipse was all but invisible there. But, it wasn’t crowded. And, the people who “are from here” seemed happy. Free, two-hour parking was found just about everywhere. If I wanted to stay longer, all I need do was move the car.

I haven’t been in the Quarter for a good long time. I’m well aware of the Bourbon Street rebuilding. New street. New pipes. And so on. The schedule is very late, way over budget and now, stopped at a certain point while the city pours money into repairing the flood control system. But, I was surprised by how much other construction is going on right now. Many side — lake to river — streets are being repaired. Many buildings are also being repaired, restored or just renovated.

I suppose that makes sense.

We are passing through the dog days of summer, when it is too hot and humid for all but the most hearty tourists. Of course, because tourism is our main industry, shop owners and restauranteurs are counting their pennies and hoping they make it through the summer slow period. Anybody who has been in business for any length of time has been through this every year and knows how to stash a little money away during their busy seasons to carry themselves through.

For the tourists who are willing to deal with our steamy summers, good deals are everywhere. Lodging, food, and just about anything they might want to buy are marked down well below normal cost. Of course, for many of our seasonal events — Mardi Gras, Jazzfest, French Quarter Fest — everything is marked way up. So, there is kind of a balance.

The picture. Since most of my work is either high stress (corporate and advertising), low light, or artistic, making a daylight picture under blue skies seems easy to me. I mostly have to find a scene that says The French Quarter and work on it. For my agencies, I mostly just process and make slight corrections. They want a “straight” photograph. For you, I added a little more color and glow.

I’ll tell you. I had so much fun doing this, that producing pictures to fulfill my contracts will be a blast. I fully intended to go back this morning.

But.

Nature got in the way. Heavy overcast. The solid kind with no character in the clouds. There is a 40% chance of rain. If it rains around dusk, I’ll go back today. If not, I’ll try again tomorrow. Or, the day after that. Or, the day after that. Just being there helps.

It makes me smile.


Spring glow.

A little Friday picture. For your long weekend. At least for those of you who live in the United States. And, for those of you who live in The U.S., remember what that’s for. Memorial Day. It’s for those who died in the service of their country. For those who never came back. For those who gave a full measure of themselves. That’s all. Full stop.

The picture. These trees. New birth. Rebirth. A symbol of all that we have gone through. And, all that we will go through. Let that sit for a while. And, think about it.

Technically speaking. The image is slightly overexposed to keep it lighter and brighter. I added some color. I added a fog-like filter. I softened the edges. I brought your eye to the center of the image. That’s it. That’s my bag of magic trickery.


Another memorial.
Another memorial.

I love waking up to read of another mass shooting in the United States. This time in Fort Meyers, Florida. Since only two young people were killed — and 17 shot — it’s not huge news. Even though most of the wounded are very young. It has already fallen to fourth place on my news feed. Of course, over the weekend, there were attacks all over Germany and Afghanistan and Iraq.

In New Orleans, we had our usual Monday morning scorecard. Just like baseball, before all the data came into play. Hits, runs, errors. Except in New Orleans, its, shootings, stabbings and murders.

Scary? Tiring? I suppose. I just seems that we are getting used to it. It seems like none of these killings stir many emotions now. It’s more or less the new normal.

So…

Peaked inside an open door
“Looked around, don’t know what for
Way too bright, could hardly see
Oh no, can’t believe it
Oh yeah, could almost see it
In a dream in blue
I flew around with shiny things
When I spoke I seemed to sing
High above, floating far away
Oh no, can’t believe it
Oh yeah, could almost see it
In a dream in blue
In a dream in blue
Sock it to me one time
Woke up laughing in my bed
Silly smile stuck on my head
Am I real or still in a dream
Oh no, can’t believe it
Oh yeah, could almost see it
Oh no, can’t believe it
Oh yeah, could almost feel it
In a dream in blue
In a dream in blue.”

— David Hildago & Louis Perez/Los Lobos from the album, “Kiko.”


Sunflowers
The Big Yellow

Something bright. Something yellow. Something happy.

Something for Thursday.

Now, for a little full disclosure.

I confused and old, dear friend of mine with yesterday’s picture. She saw the mountains below the clouds and wondered if we were headed west. To New Mexico.

Nope.

She almost nailed it. Those are not sub-tropical clouds. They are high altitude, thin air, desert clouds. New Mexican clouds. I made the picture  few years ago. Near Taos. I posted it yesterday because I like the picture and you’ve never seen it. In fact, I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Digital files get that way. They have a habit of hiding because you can’t easily look at a slide file. Truth be told, if I never took another picture — like that’s gonna happen — I could probably publish at least a decade’s worth of Storyteller without stretching much to show you unseen work. I’ve been working for a long time and I’ve made a lot of pictures.

As a lot of you know, life got in the way for about the last week. And, almost immediately prior to that, we were out on the road with another project. Even though I normally always have time to take pictures, other things took over last week. There will be some spill over from the past week, but for the most part that’s over. Thankfully. I’m home now and I’ll get back to it.

But.

Before I started roaming around, I had a client request. Pictures from New Mexico. My way. And, they asked, try not to make it easy to place a time or date on them. Evergreen is the publishing word for that. So, I took a portable hard drive and started editing my New Mexico files when I had a little down time. Usually when I should have been sleeping.

Yes. Editing. According to the old school definition. Today, it’s called curating. Culling. Or something like that. I pleasantly surprised myself. There were a lot of cool pictures hiding in those back files. So, I thought, I’d better show them to you as I worked through five years worth of material. You’ve never seen them. You should.

This does two things. It’ll give me a little time to make brand new pictures. I did that a little while I was home for those few days in between trips. The pink flowers, the pine tree and the cemetery were among some of them. Now, I’ll have a lot more time. I’ll also have time to edit the rest of my New Mexican collection and… work on other big internal changes. Maybe, I’ll even get back to two of the book projects. I hope.

There you have it. Enjoy the sunflowers. Yellow brightens up everything.


Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 at sunset.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 at sunset.

Cemeteries and me.

I really don’t think that I have any kind of death fixation. Nor, do I think that much about my end. I just sort of like these places.  Old stuff. Moody places. Broken down buildings.

That said, publishing this picture today was partially inspired by a fellow blogger who traveled to New Orleans. Apparently, he and his wife had dinner at Commander’s Place, which is a few blocks from my house. He was wanting to wander around this cemetery — Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. He couldn’t because the gates close at 5pm on most days. That’s true. In most cases.

However…

If you know that you really want to wander around a cemetery after 5pm, you can call one of two groups and ask if the gates can be kept open for you. Usually, they can. You can call SOC. They are a preservation group called Save Our Cemeteries. They can help. Or, you can call the Catholic Church administration offices and ask them. They take care of daily operations at the famous, historic cemeteries. They will help. Both may ask for a donation. So what? If you really want to roam around at sunset or after dark, a few dollars will not stop you. You should probably also tip the gatekeeper. After all, he is going to be late for dinner. I usually offer a print or two to whoever I asked to keep the gates open.

One more thing, you should probably schedule this is advance of your planned visit. A lot of film and television production companies like to work in the cemeteries. They come first because they spend a lot of money. So do the big organized tour groups. Currently, Lafayette No. 1 seems to be a favorite of NCIS/NOLA. Not this weekend though. They are blowing up something in their studios on Saturday. And, they are closing the Crescent City Connection — one of the bridges that cross the Mississippi River to the Westbank — on Sunday morning. No. I don’t have any special connections to their production teams. They tweet and tell the local newspapers so that people don’t worry when they hear something go BLAMMO or can’t cross the bridge.

I don’t really care about the bridge being closed. But, I’d like to see something explode. Insert evil grin here. Right here.

The picture. They — whoever they are — tell you not to photograph directly into the sun. Well. Sheesh. Now they tell me. I do it all the time. Use a wider lens and just stop down some so that you can get some shape to the specular highlight created by the sun and away you go. The more that you stop down, the more shape you get. But… that also means a slower the shutter speed. You have to balance things a little bit. Sort of like life.