Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


Like a swamp.

Yes. It’s my swamp.

First, the picture. Then, the real comment.

We were walking early in the morning when I happened upon this little scene. We don’t always walk in our neighborhood. I always carry some kind of camera. So, I used it. I enhanced the picture in post production. And, that’s really it. For those of you who keeps score, it was Snapseed for development, including that cute little bit of typography. And, Stackables for most post production.

The real point.

Our new mayor-elect has been issued a subpoena for credit card fraud. This isn’t new. Her personal use of her city council credit card was revealed during the election campaign. It became a huge issue even though she apparently paid back her personal debt. A couple of local news media did deeper investigation. They found that every council member used their cards for some kind of unauthorized purchases, but were able to justify their use.

That’s the basic story. It’s a little more complicated.

Our mayoral election became a choice between two lessers. As usual. But, the race also meant that for the first time in New Orleans history we would have a woman mayor. And, they are both African American. That’s a kind of progress.

But, one had really big money behind her. Good old boys in the background. And, the other either is guilty of fraud or just doesn’t understand how to manage her budget. Neither is what you want in a mayor.

So, back in the swamp we go.

But.

It’s my swamp. It’s my neighbor’s swamp. It’s my city’s swamp. We can do something about it. Somebody living in — oh, let’s say — California — can’t. They probably should just ask a question, but not comment on social media. You have no horses in my race. No dogs in my hunt. Besides, you make the typical comments about the south and about my city. You know the ones. The same kind you probably made about Meghan Markle.

Understand?


Morning glow.
Morning glow.

In the morning.

It wasn’t always my favorite time of day. I used to quote Bart Simpson who was really quoting Ricky Ricardo, who said, “There’s a 5 o’clock in the morning? When did they start that?”  For some reason, not the time change, I’m getting up earlier. Much earlier. I get to see skies like this. Especially when the dogs demand a walk.

Those dogs. Especially the one of who sees pictures for me, think they have to get up at the crack of dawn and walk. They like to go way down by the river and the railroad tracks. Meanwhile, I’m still half asleep. No coffee in me yet.

Luckily.

I believe my best pictures are made when I turn off my brain and don’t think. Early in the morning. No caffeine. Eyes half closed. Perfect for that. I don’t even have to do my routine. My ritual. I just get their leashes. Off we go. The dogs lead me. They know more than me. It seems. When I see something and start to point my camera at it, they stop. Camera down. They go. We’ve trained each other well.


Modern railroad tools.
Modern railroad tools.

A little different. Before tomorrow. Just so you know, no matter who wins the US Presidential election, the country will be in turmoil for years. Maybe the world. One day won’t stop anything.

There. That’s something to look forward to.

I thought I would show you something about America’s greatness. Industry. Yeah. I know a lot of it headed offshore. I also know that much of it will never come back due to technological changes. I know that anybody who claims that they can bring it back is lying. Or, doesn’t know what they are talking about. The guys who lost their jobs making cars, were not only downsized but they were make irrelevant. They didn’t have the needed skills to move into the new technological world. One worker can do the job of 100. What do the other 99 do? The very fact that I’m writing on my computer and you are reading Storyteller on your computer, made this so.

Anyway.

Industry. The railroad industry. A lot of changes were made there too.  Once, there were guys “working on the railroad.” They did this by hand. Beating spikes into ties with very large sledge hammers. Manhandling rails into place. The crews were huge.

Today.

Not so much. The machines in this picture repair track. There must have been 25 of them on this train. 25 people to drive and work them. Some ground crew too, I assume. Nothing like the hundreds that used to spend the day doing very heavy manual labor.

The work didn’t just move offshore. It changed completely.

The picture. Oh. Just get up around dawn and you see stuff. Stuff that might be moved and gone by noon.


Dawn's fire in the sky.
Dawn’s fire in the sky.

This getting up early in the morning thing does have its benefits. This is one them. Golden light so powerful that it illuminates one side of a tree that would normally be silhouetted in a composition like this one.

I’m not even sure what more to write. This is something you just enjoy.

I could say that I am building a very nice collection of early morning pictures. Accidentally. Maybe I am building enough imagery for two books. “What the Dog Saw.” And, “The Dog’s Morning.” Both potential books would be thin, inexpensive and very brightly colored. By the time I got them completed, it would be just in time for Christmas/Holiday sales. Can you say stocking stuffer? Hmmmm…

Now. Don’t get excited. Some plans just evaporate like water on the ground in a humid climate.  They tend to do that with me lately. What can I tell you? I live in a recovered swamp.


Morning glow.
Morning glow.

This is what I saw. At about 6:30 am.

What a day. Right?

Now, it’s about 11:00 am. The sky is so dark that the automatic outdoor lights have come on. Rain has been falling hard for the last couple of hours. It just shows you how quickly things change.

If you were planning a big Labor Day cookout, you never know. This storm could blow out. And, you still could get to burn your supper. On an outdoor grill. Or not.

The picture. I just looked up at the light and pressed the button. The only thing I did to it was darken the edges a little to bring your focus to the golden parts.


This looks like a simple image of a tree in a little early morning fog. It means a lot more than that to me. Trees are a symbol of rebirth across many cultures. They are symbols of life, itself. And, they sometimes relate to immortality and fertility. This particular tree represents a huge change that I made many years ago. Funny. I’m known for making a lot of typos. I turned the word “years” into the word “tears.” That seems appropriate too.

Yes. This is one of those older images that I happened to discover again.


A few years ago I happened to find myself in Shanghai, China. Find myself? You ask… Okay, I took a plane and a train.  I traveled there to photograph the city.

Anyway… I got up early one morning to photograph rush hour and I made my way to The Bund, where I made this picture of people doing their morning exercises with The Pudong region in the background. Then, I chased rush hour traffic, which in that section of the city is comprised of a mix of cars, trucks, bikes and people who are walking. It’s pretty fast paced and very cool to photograph.

This picture, on the other hand, is quite calming and very peaceful. It’s a weekend sort of image.