At the counter.

S

ometimes, I can tell you everything about making a picture. You know, the how, what, why, when and who of it?

But, not this picture.

I know where it is located in my archives. But, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the take. My big goal during the lockdown was working on my archives. Some got done. Most didn’t.

To tell the truth, I have no idea where this picture belongs. But, I like it. It brings back feelings of traveling and memories of driving all night and finally stopping for breakfast in some little town.

Somewhere.

I’m sure many of you have done that too. You walk into a place like this and your body is still all jangly from the wheels on the road. You look at the menu and the type swims before your eyes.

You give up. You order the old standby. 10,000 eggs over easy. A hunnert pieces of bacon. Five pounds of has browned potatoes and toast, or biscuits if you re in the south.

Oh, and coffee. About five gallons of strong black coffee that leaves you with a stomach ache.

You leave the way you came in. Instead of swaggering you roll.

And, on the road you go.

M

aking this picture was easy. It was sitting there staring at me.

I raised my camera to my eye and snapped away. The counter person asked why I took it. I said that I liked the scene. She walked away shaking her head.

I ate, paid the bill and left.

All of that is great. But, I have no idea where I took the picture. I’m pretty sure it was in the West. That’s all I can tell you.

I’m mostly just wondering what the hell Numi Tea is supposed to be.

Anyway.

The post production is minimal. I darkened it and added contrast and all that color popped out.

Oh yeah. For those of you who just love the block system, he said with an evil gleam in his eye, WordPress sent me an email. They improved it.

Oh, God.


Out on the road.

L

ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

W

hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


T

he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

P

ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


In the balance.

The day after. It seems like nothing was settled. The Democrats seem to have held the advantage in the House. The Senate is about equal. The presidency — oh the presidency — has the challenger leading, but not by much. The current president wanted to stop counting votes the minute the polls closed. He never studied Civics in high school.

But.

Here’s what I’ve learned. First, had a really bad feeling going in. I came close. The current president made a career of slithering in between rocks in order to make his escape.That’s not all. I read a lot of comments on various socials. His backers were everywhere. They attacked and they attacked and they attacked. There was very little fight from the Democratic posters.

You could claim that they held their fire, knowing they had the advantage, but they didn’t. They were overmatched. Out gunner and out maneuvered at ever turn. Er, post.

Today’s hope is that once the distance ballots are counted that some of this will turn. It might, but let me be clear. The current president will push it into the court. The Supreme Court. Guess what?

Yeah. You know.

Me? I already knew all of this. Sometimes, I just know what I know. However, the final outcome is well beyond my pay grade. In one way this might be the best current choice. If the president had lost overwhelmingly, he would have been a lame duck feeling that he had to leave a trail of wonton destruction on his way out. He still could lose, but he’ll have less time to do a lot more harm.

Or not.

One more thing about what I know. My country is as divided and polarized as possible. We need to come together, at least about some things. The challenger will try to unite us. The current president won’t.

America’s children are feeling a lot like this old junked and tagged Cadillac. I made this picture on a trip out west when I lived out west. The copyright date says 2017, but the image is older than that. I know that I made the picture on the way to New Mexico, which makes it a lot older than that.

You could say I was lucky to be there is such nice weather. True enough, but I’ve seen pictures made in bright, cloudy weather and they are really something. Stunning is the word that I’d use. My photograph is fine. But, still…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Be patient.


Interstate 25 northbound.

Travel. What does it mean? How do we do it? Normally it means going to a place other than your home. For some of us it feels like we move when we are done with a location.

We moved to New Mexico after Hurricane Katrina. It was a good move. I always wanted to live there. I was creatively productive.

But, the New Orleans culture kept calling us, so we moved back. Looking back that may have been a mistake.

We are now talking about moving to New Mexico. Yeah, I know you can never go home again. It was never home. Home is Long Beach, California. That state costs too much money. But, it is home.

If we actually do it, we won’t return to Albuquerque. We’ll either move to Santa Fe or Taos. Of course, Taos is really at the end of the road, even though it is beautiful.

4th Street.

Of course, there is the light. It’s is so hard to put into words. It’s just different. It’s one of the biggest reasons that visual artists move there.

The pictures. They were all made in New Mexico at different times. They are all about roads. They are about travel. They are about moving, and moving on. During those days I literally made a picture a day unless I was working on assignment.

That didn’t mean I only took one frame. I worked on a scene until I was done with it, unless it was a drive by or drive through.

It’s a great exercise. You learn a lot about photography. You learn even more about yourself. I suggest that everybody who is a photographer at any level do this exercise for a year. Photograph your world. Your life. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Route 66, Central Avenue, Albuquerque

All of these images were made during my picture a day adventures. Two of the three pictures were accidental and driven by the quality of the light. The third picture, called 4th Street was just learning where a major street ended.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy all the green Jello.


Disney Center, Los Angeles, California.

The past.

My journey through the past. A couple of you said that you’d like to look at my work prior to your arrival at Storyteller. Very cool.

I thought that I would work from June and as far back as I could go.

I made this photograph in downtown Los Angeles. California. 20 miles from where I grew up.

In those days I worked for a lot of travel publications. Since I owned my work, the unselects were marketed through various agencies. Most of that has been blown to bits. Pictures aren’t worth what they once were. Or, anything if you listen to WordPress.

Ain’t no thang.

My archives are rich. I still like the photographs. That matters. This one is a favorite. The contrast between the metal and the spring flowers is wonderful.

Stay safe. Enjoy enjoy every sushi roll.


Out on the Westbank.

The long way home.

After a long day driving upriver towards Baton Rouge on the Westbank’s River Road, I came to this little spot in the road. Blue hour coming. Dusk coming. Trains on one side. Power lines on both sides making great leading lines. What could be better?

Actually, there are two River Roads. One on the east bank of The Mississippi River, where I live. And, one on the Westbank, which some people call “the best bank.” Maybe if you live there. I always get lost on there.

Anyway, it feels like you are way out there when you drive along the river, even if you are fifteen minutes from home. You are in the countryside. The southern countryside. There are still little tiny communities of former sharecroppers homes, that were slave quarters even earlier in history. Yes, descendants of both of those eras still live there.

Even though I always get lost, I like going there. I’ll be back once hell’s weather begins to cool down a bit. Air conditioning or no air conditioning, it’s no fun to get out of the car to make a picture and walk into a blast furnace.

The picture. After a long day of looking for pictures, I was vibrating. So was the camera. What you see here is the result of that.

 


The back of the Wisdom Sea Temple at Longevity Hill, The Summer Palace.

Once upon a time.

I spent a lot of time traveling in Asia. I live for a year in Shanghai, China. Between my comings and goings, I spent six years in Hong Kong. Long enough for me to have resident visa. I worked on a lot of big projects. Often, one project would take two months to complete. And, that was with very long and odd hours.

On my free time, I photographed wherever I was. Hong Kong. Singapore. Japan. All over Southeast Asia. And, China.

I became a kind of “Old China Hand.” Between my year in Shanghai and my travel, I’ve probably spent two years in China. For a while when the photography industry was good, that made me a go to photographer when it came to working there. At least for my clients.

So.

When Hurricane Katrina forced me to evacuate, I begged one of my editors for a foreign assignment to anywhere. He came up with a trip to Beijing. Perfect. I worked there for about two weeks. I made all the pictures that he needed. In between, I’d wander around the sites that he asked me to photograph and make a few of “my pictures.”

I made this picture at the back of the Wisdom Sea Temple at Longevity Hill at The Summer Palace. This isn’t what you think it is. It is not a building made of some kind of brick. Well, it is. But, the bricks are made of colored glass. Red colored.

A few facts. The Summer Palace was built during the Jin Dynasty in 1153.  It was expanded over time. Various dynasties added more and more buildings with final additions being built, and the entire area being restored in 1888. It fell into disrepair until it was restored again in 1953 and 2006. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1998.

There’s a lot more to the story. But…

The picture. I worked at the site for an entire day. It’s about an hour bus ride from Beijing. I didn’t want to leave without photographing what I came to see. I wanted to have enough time to just poke around. Since I was there in September, at the very end of the travel season in China, I had a lot of it to myself. It also meant that construction and restoration projects where beginning for the off-season. I had to work around them, which wasn’t a big deal.

When I turned the corner of the Wisdom Sea Temple, I saw the scene you are seeing and just knew there was a picture there. One of “my pictures.” I didn’t think my editor would care about it when he saw it. Wrong. This picture was a two page crossover picture in the book I was working on. I guess my vision and intuition was pretty good.

 


Flautist's hands.
Flautist’s hands.

Road Trips. America. Coast to coast. City to city.

That’s what these pictures are about. I was having a hard time thinking about what more to show you from my assignments collections.

Then it hit me.

I mentioned working for a lot of travel publications. Guide books. Trade books. Corporate travel companies. Brochures. Magazines. And, so on.

So.

I thought that I might show you some of that work. Every picture you see today was published somewhere. At some time. Sometimes for more than one use. The images are a mix of film and digital files.

The pictures. You may have seen some of them here, on Storyteller. After all, this blog has been around for a long time. If I am lucky, you may have seen them published somewhere else.

The top picture. I made that in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Was walking down the street. This guy was playing his flute. I asked if I could take his picture. He said that would be okay if I bought one of his CDs. I agreed as long as he signed a release. He said that he would if I bought two CDs. Fine with me. I shared one with a friend and kept the other one.

The Mission District. I was working in San Francisco. I was looking for a kind of signature picture in the Mission District, which is probably one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. I found this one.  It’s what I call a compression shot. 300 mm lens which brought everything into one plane of focus.

Earl. Everybody knows Earl. You may have seen a picture that I call Eggs. That’s the number one picture from this take. This is number two and makes a statement about the friendliness of New Orleanians. I think.

Los Angeles Boots. I made this picture on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles back in the day when cowboy boots were fashionable just about everywhere. You know. Black cowboy boots. Jeans. A black t-shirt. And, black blazer. That look. I saw this old 1930’s style gas station. One day it was closed. The next day it was open and the parking lot was covered in second-hand boots. What could I do? I just had to take some pictures.

The Chrysler Building. I was walking around in New York City at might when we decided to take a ride up  to the top of the Empire State Building. Even though I was carrying a camera, I wasn’t really prepared for working at night from a distance. No tripod. Just two lenses. No off body flashes. Good thing too. I probably would have made a very sharp picture of the city with the Chrysler Building in the scene. Like just about every other picture.

Flying Over Las Vegas. If you’ve ever ridden to the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, you know this scene. Since this was one of the main reasons that I was working in Las Vegas, I actually stayed there. The accommodations are on the lower-middle end. But, I could ride up and down the elevator to the top as much as I wanted. Besides, I was working a lot. I didn’t stay in my room all that much.

Fisherman. Most tourists know the front of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. They rarely wander around to the back where the wharf is a real working place. I’m not like most people. You already know that.

Cemetery Boots. An Albuquerque picture. One of my favorite grave markers of all time. The cemetery, and the church across the street, is so small that a traveling priest comes once a week to say Mass.

Wynn. It’s great fun shooting casino floors in Las Vegas. Mostly, it’s not permitted. But, in this day and age of cell phone cameras, almost everybody does it. Secretly. Sometimes, not so secretly. But, when I made this picture I actually contacted the marketing department. They limited my freedom some. But, they also ran authorized interference for me when security personal questioned me. I think it took me more time to arrange access than it did to actually take the picture.

Rush Hour on Wall Street. The picture is all about early morning late fall light and motion. In New York City. I can’t think of a prettier city to photograph at that time of year.

So. What do you think? A little more before I slip into the craziness that is actually Carnival Season and Mardi Gras?