Summer skies.

W

alking around yesterday for the first time in a long time revealed a very pretty sky framed by a few nice Live Oaks.

I chose a time somewhat close to dusk because, well you know, the light s usually pretty olden, If not that, then the light very golden. In the picture the light is kind of a mixture of both.

I think that was just timing. Or, photographer’s luck. Actually, at this time of day it’s usually both.

T

hat’s it for me.

I have a little infection in my gums. I’m taking and antibiotic for that, but it is very painful. The doc gave me an antibiotic and a pain killer. It’s the same medicine that the late Sophie Rose when she had a gum infection. It’s just a little different dosage.

It’s a thick liquid that comes in a bottle and is applied with aa syringe.

My gums are no longer painful. But, I’m lucky that I can sit up and write this.

Hopefully, I won’t need it tomorrow,

I

looked up and saw the sky framed by the tree.

It was actually framed on both sides, but I cropped it enough to allow the picture to become a very deep vertical photograph.

I also made the yellow clouds a little darker and richer.

I opened up the tree that was questionable when the black was plugged up and looked like a black mass.

The i added a frame to ut and I was done.

But, am I?


New Orleans from the Westbank.

I

‘ve had two useless days in a row. A friend of mine says there are no useless days. She’s wrong.

Let’s just start with today. We had a power failure before noon. The power companies estimate for restoring power was 4:20 pm today. To their credit they had us up and running around 1:15 pm.

When the computer shuts down like that it takes forever to get things running smoothly again. Apps are funky as well. It took me a good thirty minutes just to load this one. Even now I’m getting speed mystery type. That’s when you type, nothing shows up, and then a whole line of type appears.

At this rate, I’ll get about 15 minutes worth of work done in just four hours.

I decided to publish good pictures that you haven’t seen, no matter where I made them. We’ll start today with the City of New Orleans and our massive downtown. Massive if you live in some little place.

I’m not going to be photographing little pictures for a while. It’s just not the same without Sophie Rose.

You understand.

T

his picture is more about seeing than anything else. If you can’t see this you’d better quit photograph or else you are blind.

This is a fairly accurate representation of what I saw when I blindly stopped the car and made the photograph.

I did darken the picture which brought out more color. But, I didn’t add to the color. In fact, I scrubbed the mid-tones of the red on the ship to bring the color out.

That’s what I did, alright.

Oh yeah, the other useless day. Yesterday.

I awoke at about the normal time. I worked until about 10am when I started feeling groggy so I thought a little morning nap might be in order.

I awoke at just before 2:30pm.

Four hours.

I’ve been talking with some friends and they’ve been doing that too. We believe it’s our way of coping with extreme stress.

That’s better than a stroke or a heart attack.


G

oing where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. That’s what the song says. That’s what it felt like on many days out there in the high desert.

This is the other end of Central Avenue, Route 66. In Albuquerque. It is a business district. When I lived there two old school camera shops were within short walking distance. One kept shrinking but still exists. The other went out of business a few years after I left. I had nothing to do with that. I swear.

The light of New Mexico draws many artists to the state. Like this. Light that I had to tune down in order for it to make sense.

I may have made a mistake in doing that because it’s been a long time since I saw that light. My mind is playing tricks on me.

Hey! What was I doing again?

This is actually a picture a day image. I used to pick good times of day to look around. That increased the chance of what I call photographer’s luck.

That’s really luck that you make yourself, usually by walking outside of your door and taking a look around. Or, by using bad weather to make better pictures. And, by standing in front of better stuff.

That’s all I know. And, that’s really all you need to know about the philosophy of making photographs.

T

his is a drive through kind of picture. You can tell because a normally straightly aligned street is tilting to the left.

That’s because I put my camera on the dashboard and let it do it’s thing.

It did its thing, alright. I’m lucky this picture exists. It set the F stop at 1.8.

Huh?

Something like this should be at least f 11. Maybe even a smaller aperture.

With such a gross over exposure I’m lucky that I could fix in post production.

There shouldn’t have been enough data in the file to produce any kind of image.

Let this be a lesson to you. Check everything. Control your camera. Don’t let your camera control you.


Leaving town.

There are many ways out of Albuquerque, but this is my favorite. If you are going on a road trip you can kind of say goodbye to the city as you leave. Even if you are not, you can pretend.

This is what is left of Route 66 west of Albuquerque. Just a little over the rise in the far center of the photograph is where it meets I-40 and all points west.

There are little bits and pieces and parts of Route 66 that run along I-40, but not enough to really get anywhere. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t photographable. They are.

There have been a lot of reflective articles lately about photography. There have been a few concerning how it relates to social media. I’ve said on Storyteller that each has their specific place in the branding world, but do they?

I have never gotten even a nibble from anything that I post on Instagram, which is distributed to Facebook. Oh sure, I get a lot of likes. But, you can’t eat likes. I read Twitter mostly for NOLA Twitter and news. I really don’t know most of the local folks who post on Twitter. And, I read news at the source.

So, why do it?

A photographer/writer who I read and like, reckons that we waste 2.5 hours per day on social media. Think about it. That’s 17.5 hours per week, or 70 hours per month, or 840 hours per year.

That’s 35 days.

What could you do with 35 days?

I have to think about it for another ten minutes, but I think I may do that. There are plenty of ways to reach, find, and talk to me.

Or, I can stay around, not post and just read here and there.

We’ll see.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere here, on Storyteller.

Wowie Zowie. Look at the big ball of light. Wouldja? Oh wait, that’s the sun as it blasts its way through the windshield.

Yes, if you leave Albuquerque at around sunset, this is your view.

There are some big businesses outside of the city limit so you have an inbound rush hour of sorts.

The finished picture takes some explanation.

I tried to keep some details in the sun. Yeah, right. But, doing that made the surrounding everything very dark. It also added a lot of contrast which is no problem for me.

Of course, all of that created a lot of shadows and silhouettes. A lot of people don’t like that which is why HDR was invented.

I like shadows and silhouettes. If anything, I want to make them stronger and more defined.

It’s all a matter of personal taste.

For me, this is how it looks and feels if you are leaving Albuquerque around sunset.

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


Into the mystic.

There were days when I drove from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to run errands. Even thought ABQ had to old school camera stores within short walking distance from each other, neither had a great selection of printing paper.

Two stores in Santa Fe did. I’d start my day early, having breakfast out on the road, go paper shopping, go to a nationally known bookstore and poke around looking for pictures. Sometimes, I’d eat dinner on the plaza.

That was always a nice day.

Sometimes I’d head back home to Albuquerque under fairly clear skies like this one, but with rain falling in the far distance. That’s one of the benefits of living in the desert. Long distance views.

If you’ve ever driven cross country, you’ll see this a lot as you get into southwestern states. Sometimes, if the storm lingers and you are driving fast enough you’ll actually catch the storm and you’ll get wet.

Since I enjoy so-called bad weather that was never a big deal. Sometimes, I’d intentionally do it in order to photograph the falling rain.

I’m looking forward to long road trips again. However the virus may still get in the way.

Off in the distance. That’s one of the easiest ways to work if you are a drive by photographer like I am from time to time.

There is nobody near me and nobody in front of me that makes a difference. I could actually make a picture like this without fear of hurting anybody.

I still practice a kind of safety by letting the camera be auto everything and doing its thing. One thumb pushes the button, every other part of my hands are on the steering wheel.

That’s it the technical part of photographing. Processing and editing are easy because, as I wrote yesterday, this is a kind of photojournalism and I don’t mess with the picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs.


Reflections of a far land.
Road Trips.

Driving in New Mexico can be tedious if you are on an interstate. Driving on many roads can be lonely. But, not if you are looking for pictures.

As I recall I made a lot of pictures on this long day trip. None of them summed up being out on the road as well as these two do.

Once upon a time, rest stops were far and few between. Stops like Whitings and Cracker Barrel dominated the old days.

Today, most of those are long gone, left behind as ruins in the dirt. They’ve been replaced by modern gas stations, fast food and stores, all in one well lighted building. And, they are boring. Convenient, but boring.

These pictures were made a one of the boring stops. Obviously, I like the reflection more than I do the scene setter, but you need both to understand what you are looking at.

Technically, there’s not much to these pictures. They were made at dusk at a low shutter speed.

They are, after all, picture a day work.

I did very little to them in post production except sharpen them a bit because it was cold and I was shaking without gloves on my hands.

I did what I could. I was going to walk around the store and make more pictures, but I was making people inside a little nervous.

This restop is a good bit from Albuquerque. It sits at a cross roads. Continue west and you eventually come to “The Q.” Take the intersecting highway, drive northwest and you arrive in Santa Fe.

Stay safe. Safe mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Get your jabs.


Still late winter light.

The dogs don’t understand. Holiday or not, they want their walks. Even the aging dog who sees things still wants to go for long walks, just not as fast.

That’s okay with me.

I get the chance to look around and see stuff. I saw this scene about ten minutes into our walk. Then… nothing. That’s fine. It happens when it happens.

Yesterday was fine day. Coolish and bright. I opened the office/studio windows, proceeded to turn up the music and let the neighbors know that we were awake. You have no idea what live Bob Dylan does to the neighborhood. I supposed it’s better than lining up three or four buses on the street and letting them run so that the electricity keeps flowing.

No. I’m not that inconsiderate. Sometimes you just have to do your job and it gets a little loud. Yeah, even the loud Dylan is part of my job if you want me to write, right?

I wished this paid something. Photography barely pays these days. My other career has been shut down for over a year. We are talking about going back to work soon. That would be nice.

I’ll have to park some of those busses outside so they can be prepped. Their motors will take at least 45 minutes of warming up, belching diesel smoke all the while. And, that’s just to get to the point where needed work can be done.

One more thing. I don’t have a class whatever license. Hopefully the beat cops who patrol our neighborhood will just shake their heads and smile.

Or, not.

Maybe the pandemic will keep us shut down yet again. If all those people who won’t wear masks or social distance keep doing that, this will never end.

You know what Jerry Seinfeld said?

“People! They’re the worst.”

I don’t really believe that, but sometimes…

Doggo walked right to the place in front the trees. She wasn’t seeing any subject. She was just sniffing around.

The weather has been pretty dry for the last three days. We had two days of rain earlier. Everything smells different to her.

While she sniffed, I made a few pictures. Then, we walked. And, I made no more pictures.

I probably made a few exposures, the camera fighting me all the way. Or, rather the phone did.

Technology is defeating me these days. I didn’t care this time because nothing was moving, but if this was something like a second line I’d be pretty unhappy.

Admittedly, this picture took some work in editing. Remember, it’s fairly difficult to control the exposure. The phone exposed for the trees which blew everything out, especially the sun and surrounding areas.

The picture looks a little over cooked to me, but I give up. I think it’s time to use the phone for everything but making pictures.

No worries. My abandoning the phone as a camera won’t matter to the billions of people who continue to do it.


One sunset in the cold weather.

This doesn’t happen very often, but when the sky lights up like this it’s usually in winter, with nice low, golden light.

Because I know that some of you may be wondering, I had my “procedure” yesterday. It lasted for less than two hours, which includes a mountain of paperwork and a billion questions.

The actual time between prepping me and making me comfortable — Fentanyl and Valium — took less than 30 minutes. After 30 minutes in recovery I was wheeled down to the car, where musical miss was waiting. They said the driver used to sit in the office, but in these pandemic days, the driver sits in the car.

Somewhere in the recovery instructions I read that I couldn’t drive for 24 hours and that I shouldn’t make any big decisions. The second one was funny.

I learned about the first one when I tried to help cook dinner. I’m a very efficient cook. I forgot stuff. My timing was off. I got in the way.

So much for that.

Now, into my second day of recovery I’m fine with all that weird stuff. Although an epidural is just steroids on steroids and can take up to about two weeks to take effect, my back feels lighter.

Today is dog food cooking day. Usually, I cannot make it through prep before my legs start feeling lighter than air and buzzy. No problem. Worked through everything and still had plenty more where that came from.

That’s a huge change.

On to the right hand column.

The right hand column.

You know that I’m not a big sunset photographer. I’d rather turn around and see what the golden light is illuminating.

Sometimes, if you are lucky a good subject appears before you. That usually means something in silhouette.

That’s what I had. Trees and buildings. That combined with the wonderful light and the sun made for a better picture.

I typically try to expose for the sun which pretty my assures me that I’ll have good silhouettes.

There is little to no work in post production unless I went to clean up the shadows which I did.

And, that’s it.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every sunset.


All tree. No ground.

Trees. One of my favorite things in all of life. This one was remarkable because it just extended up and up and up. It is no optical trick.

A strange thing has happened to me on the way to pictures. And, other stuff.

I’m slowing down.

I don’t mean the speed at which I walk, which is slow enough these days. I do mean the speed at which I work. That could mean anything from making pictures, to writing Storyteller, to cooking a meal.

It’s not a bad thing since I realized when this started occurring. Right around January 20. You know. The arrival of a new president.

I guess that I started relaxing. I don’t feel frantic now. Time is still short. We have a lot to do. I have a lot to do. But, it seems that I’m living an old Chinese saying. “Work slower, go farther.”

I seem to be doing more work in four hours than I was doing in 10 hours because I’m not having to fix my Speed induced mistakes because there aren’t very many. I’d like to say that I’m making no mistakes, but you know. That perfection thing and angels.

I still haven’t made time to start the Jefferson project, but I will. I can tell. I’m getting antsy. I may postpone it a little because I want to do some Mardi Gras work even though we aren’t parading.

We are, however, Yardi Grasing. That means we are decorating our houses to look like floats. People will drive by throughout the next two weeks. If we are home and outside we’ll toss them beads even if it means having to dig up the potholes that I filled with them.

Meanwhile, in downtown selfishness reigns. People who aren’t from here head to Bourbon Street. They drink. They don’t mask. And, social distancing is a foreign concept.

That mayor is at wits end. The city council is talking about closing The French Quarter during Mardi Gras.

The mayor isn’t much help. A lot of the city sees her as a hypocrite. There are plenty of pictures of her at various events not wearing a mask and standing way too close to other people. She isn’t taken seriously.

If I had my way the city council and the police department would take the lead. They would aggressively enforce the CoVid-19 rules. They would arrest people and put them in jail over a weekend when the courts aren’t in session. They’d fine them.

I’m not trying to hurt anybody, but I reckon that if people knew this was happening they’d think twice. This might help.

On the other hand, so many people still partying are tourists. They might not even know. When people return home from New Orleans they usually rave about the city to anyone who will listen.

Imagine this. A friend asks how was New Orleans and the wannabe partier says, “They put me in jail.”

That would work.

Winter is ending. Everything is starting to bloom.

I know. If you live in the east, southeast or midwest you are buried under tons of snow. More is coming.

That rodent in Pennsylvania predicts six more weeks of cold stuff.

He doesn’t live down here.

The nights, early mornings and after dusk are cold. The rest of the day is pleasant.

So, things are starting to grow. Gardens will go into the ground in the next two weeks. Summer crops will be plentiful.

Hopefully, we’ll actually get to eat some strawberries this year. Oh, they grow just fine but those little jerks we call dogs smell them ripening and eat them off the bush.

I hate to say this, but it may be time for barbed wire.

So.

The picture. You thought that I forgot. I didn’t.

The all seeing dog and I were sitting on a park bench when I happened to look up and saw a picture.

So, I made it.

Even though I said that the height of the tree was not an optical illusion, I did crop it in a way that it made the tree look like is was reaching for the stars.

Welcome to Ray’s technical tricks that do not require editing.

This trick is more about leading your eye to a place where I want it to go. That’s why I often crop vertical pictures so long and deep.

It’s just another way to help you see what I saw, to feel what I felt.

Stay safe. Stay powerful. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Look at all the new blooms. (If you live in the south.)