Way Out West.

Morning fingers.

Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.

I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.

Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…

The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.

This picture is not one of them.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.

I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.

This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.

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A new storm.

Road trips.

You know them. You like them. Probably.

You drive. You listen to specially curated playlists of road music. You eat gas station food. You drink bad coffee. You stay in motels of questionable quality. Even the ones with big names.

You’re having fun.

Until.

You decide to make tracks to a certain destination. You drive on. And on. You stop for gas. You eat in the car. You speed on. And on.

Until.

You become one with your car. Places whizz by. Signs become a blur. You’re not even going that fast.

Your eyes.

Tired. So tired.

You see. But, not see.

That’s it. You stop. For the night.

Because.

Everything that you see looks like this picture. And, that ain’t a good thing.

The picture. It was planned for yesterday. So was the prose. But, you know what they say. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Chef Leah passed. That stopped me in my tracks. Funny thing, I had a song in my head the whole time that I searched for her picture and started writing. I couldn’t quite place it. I had part of the melody. And, no lyrics. Last night it came to me. “Mandolin Wind.” An ancient Rod Stewart song. A beautiful and appropriate song. So, while I write to you today, I’m listening to his work from that era. When he was young. When I was young. When the world was younger than today.

Oh yeah. What did I do? I did all the post production that I wanted to make the basic picture, which was good enough. By then, that road trippy feeling was in my head. I stacked the same picture on top of itself. I skewed them slightly. I clipped their edges by cropping. I added some edge darkness. Voila!

By the way, I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. Wallah. Huh? It’s voila, pronounced wallah. Sheesh.


Into the sunset.

Moving. Changes. Life.

If you read Storyteller yesterday you know that changes are on my mind. Most for the better. Some not so much. Today, bright and early, I got a reminder of changes. My new phone shows me anything it thinks is important the minute that turn it on. Note that phrase, “anything it thinks is important.” AI has invaded my little home.

Anyway.

My neighbor and friend sent me a private message via FB in which she attached a long statement about my drugstore. They are closing. Today. My files and prescriptions are being sent to Walgreen, which I suppose is better than CVS, who I escaped from to go my little pharmacy. Apparently, the parent company — Fred’s — decided to close it.

That’s bad enough.

But, in talking with one of the women who was so helpful to me over the past couple of years, I learned how the staff found out.  When they arrived for work last Tuesday — not yesterday — there was a hand written note on the door from Fred’s management.  They had no other notice. No notice of how their salaries would be handled. No two weeks notice. No nothing.

Huh?

Is this what we’ve come to? No consideration for the employees. No consideration for the customers. No consideration for people. If that’s what corporations are doing these days, it’s time to take a big step back. I would suggest that we buy local. But, that’s what I thought I was doing.

Basta! (that’s Italian for enough.)

Ironically, yesterday, I received an email from Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California. You might know her from her very lawyerly-like grilling of Kavanaugh during his hearing. It was kind of a general email to those of us who interacted with her in some way over the past year. She wants me to run for something. It doesn’t matter what office as long we populate it with like-minded people.

Maybe I should.

Certainly it is time to take back my country from high dollar corporate interests. From the one percenters. From the people who are too big to fail, as they flail around looking for any penny that they can find. Your pennies. My pennies.

I keep hearing from my friends who say that 65 isn’t old. That I’m not over the hill because the minute I climb over it there is another hill in front of me. And, when you consider who runs the country, and their ages, I’m still young. That’s saying something. Maybe I am.

See what happens?

Take away my local pharmacy and I get angry. I’ve been angry since about 7:15 this morning. I’m calm. Anybody who really knows me knows that’s not a good thing. Never mistake my calmness for giving up. Instead, I get resolute and lethal.

Oh.

The picture. You want to know about the picture. How could I forget that? It is one of the many I made when I was driving and shooting. I made it before the one that I posted a few days ago. You can just see the clouds starting to come together. Again, I didn’t really do very much to it. Nature took care of my work. As usual.


Over the mountain.

“I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night

Till the morning came around, I set out running but I’ll take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight, I ran into the Devil, babe. He loaned me twenty bills

I spent that night in Utah, In a cave up in the hills, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran down to the levee, But the Devil caught me there, He took my twenty dollar bill

And he vanished in the air, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine,  If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight. ” — Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead)

From a  song I like called, “The Friend of the Devil,” because it speaks to this place. I-80, just east of Reno, Nevada on one winter morning as I was headed toward Utah after stopping by the military cemetery at Fernley, NV.

The picture. I made it through the windshield as I was going about 80 mph. I dressed it some in post production. I even added a running frame to it.


 

Along the Continental Divide.
Along the Continental Divide.

A little more Route 66.

You seem to like this collection. I’ll keep going a little bit. I like these pictures too. I haven’t really looked at them for a long time. Luckily, these images are easily accessible in my archives. On second thought. Luck had nothing to do with accessibility. That’s just management. DAM. Digital Asset Management.

So.

The pictures.

The top one is fairly personal. When I was a young child growing up in Southern California, my parents liked traveling to the Southwest. We used to drive all night. Sometime during the very early morning we arrived at the Continental Divide. We knew we were there. The Southwest. I did a little journey through my past a while back. The coffee was as bad as my mom said it was.

Aztec Motel. It was one of those old motor courts. After it started falling into disrepair, it became sort of a home for artistic people. I have no idea what the rent was. Folks lived there very long-term. They made it their own.  It was torn down in 2011, after the owner said it would cost a million dollars to restore. The sign came down in 2015. The city says it will be renovated and installed in a pocket park. They have applied for a Federal grant. The owner sold the property for — get this – a million dollars.

And, so it goes.

There is a lesson to be learned from this. It’s as Neil Young wrote, rust never sleeps. Never pass an opportunity by thinking that you’ll come back to it later. You won’t. Even if you do. What you saw may not be there.

Aztec Motel
Aztec Motel


Somewhere in Arizona.
Somewhere in Arizona.

Way out there. West of Seligman, Arizona.

This is an image from a road trip that we took in 1981. From North Carolina to California.  You can see some of my current style just starting to emerge. Unfortunately, I haven’t traveled like this in a long, long time.

These days, we always have to get somewhere on time. Make a deadline. Keep a commitment. Think about what to keep in. What to leave out. Wait a minute! That’s a whole other song. The title is from a Neil Young song. These past few words are from a Bob Seger song called “Against the Wind.” Maybe I need to settle down when I write this stuff. Heh!

It’s getting about time to get on the road and wander around a little.  I’ve talked about this in the past. In the recent past. After thinking about it, I think I want to head west. I miss those open spaces. Those long vistas. Those big, huge skies. Maybe I’ll made some “desert in the hot summer” pictures. I’m a sucker for self-abuse.

The picture. I took this with a Nikon FM. A mechanical camera. I used a 20mm f2.8 lens. And, as always back then, Tri-X black and white film. Unfortunately, there is something that I’m seeing after I scanned this image that I don’t like. Technically, it is just horrible.

There is always one thing to remember about scanning old film images. Every imperfection shows up. In a big way. In this case, the entire left bottom side of the image is soft. There is really no reason for that, except lens quality. Lenses have improved dramatically over the last 30 years. Even the most inexpensive of third-party lenses are sharper and better than most of the highest quality lenses of the past. Sometimes that can work in your favor. The quality of the glass affects the final image. It can give you a look and feel of earlier eras. Sometimes. Usually not.


Rain drops in the middle.
Rain drops in the middle.

A big storm came.

I decided to chase storm light, rain, wind-blown stuff and to make a few pictures that might give you the sense of being there. And, yes. I was driving. And, photographing.  Not to worry. You know how I do this stuff.

These pictures were taken during sort of a lull.

We had rain on Monday, a lot more on Tuesday and it broke loose at just about dusk. It was heavy, heavy sideways rain. Fast, gusty wind. I was fine. But, just about 60 miles upriver, a trailer park in the little town of Convent was destroyed by a tornado. Two people died there.

I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, go there for the immediate aftermath. But, I will go some time today. I’m not big on photographing disasters. I spent a long time doing that early in my career.  Newspapers and wire services publish that stuff. I’ll try to do something more meaningful than just take pictures to document it. Or, I may think better of it. We’ll see.

These pictures are just sort of fun. Night. Dusk. Colorful light. Motion. Blur.

Fun.

But, never forget. These pictures were made during part of a massive storm. A classic spring Southern storm.


Out on the Road. Volume 6,891,983.
Out on the Road. Volume 6,891,983.

“Now what would they do if I just sailed away
Who the hell really compelled me to leave today
Runnin’ low on stories of what made it a ball
What would they do if I made no landfall
I lived half my life in an eight by five room
Just crusin’ to the sound of the big diesel boom
It’s not close quarters that would make me snap
It’s just dealing with the daily unadulterated crap

Sail away, for a month at a time
Sail away, I’ve got to restart my mind
And you’ll find me back at it again”

© 1977 Jimmy Buffett/EMI Music Company

Ever feel that way? Me too. Especially that last line. Before the chorus. Especially when every place starts looking the same. Here. There. Everywhere. Luckily, I’m out of that shooting funk. Or, maybe that’s not so lucky. Right now. It’s always something. Right?

The picture. Out the windshield again. Luckily, I wasn’t driving. The rest is pretty simple. F5.6 and push the button. Shoot into the light. Not with the light at my back. As they tell you to do.