Sun splash.

I

was thinking about the rest of my photographic career when I stumbled upon a photographer called David Carol. What caught my eye was something in his biography.

He said that he was the first Image Bank assignment photographer. The division of Kodak for whom I worked was The Image Bank. The only TIB photographer and staffer was me.

Eventually, I’ll try to get to the bottom of this because it’s akin to stolen valor.

However, after looking at his work and reading about him I don’t much care about his bio because he shoots like I do, or I did. And, his philosophy is like mine. He said, “I don’t photograph homeless people or people who can’t defend or protect themselves. I genuinely it’s exploitative and it doesn’t interest me to do or see. Pick on people your own size.”

The difference between us is he’s published a large number of books and hangs in all sort of galleries and museums.

I ought to be jealous, but I’m not. He spent his time cultivating street photography as art. I spent my time doing just about everything else.

They keep saying that age is just a number. I’m going to test that.

I have a huge black and white archive. You’ve seen the best of my photojournalism in past Storytellers. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I must have ten thick binders. I started to try to archive them when I realized they were organized by date.

Good enough.

But, those images were made the same quirky way that I photograph sometimes. There are probably gems in there that I haven’t seen in years. It’s time to revisit every one of those binders. Or, it’s all a bunch of rubbish.

I’ll find out.

T

his is all technique so you get a right hand column.

I made this picture while I was sitting by the pool, looking up.

The picture is on point. The point being that you’ve seen this kind of image in the past.

I decided to do something about that.

I left well enough alone in Snapseed. But, then I came to OnOne for finishing.

That’s when I went crazy with experimentation.

I aded and subtracted stuff. I looked at a finished image and tossed it in the bin.

I started again.

After more of this experimentation I started to find a thread.

I followed it. I eventually came to the end. That’s the image you are seeing.

I darkened the image. I added fake bokeh. I added that sunburst. I added some glow.

The picture was done.

Finally.


In the air.

A

brand new picture. Imagine that. I went for a walk when the light was right and I started having fun. I just kept making pictures until I was finished, which took a while. I think that I wanted to take the long way home as they say.

The funny thing was that the more I saw, the more I saw.

I think my problem isn’t not being able to see. It’s feeling trapped in place by the current circumstances. I don’t like to be stuck anywhere unless I want to be. It’s one thing being stuck in New Orleans. It’s another to be stuck on St. Barts.

It’s also one thing to know that almost everybody thinks that the pandemic is over when it has years to go and that too many of them aren’t taking any kind of precautions thinking that they are protected by the vaccinations. To a certain extent they are, but there are enough breakthrough infections to make me wonder a little bit

In my case, that doesn’t matter. I isolate myself or I run the risk of dying. So, as I write I’m talking to the Shipt buyer. Because of me, everybody in the house likes not having to go grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, they like buying specialty items at a farmers market or a fruit stand. They like going to Hong Kong, the Asian grocery store, not the city.

One of the things that I’ve come to understand is that the pandemic made a lot of us think about how we do things. We don’t always have to be some place to work. We don’t have to travel across the country to have an hour meeting. We’ve managed to find and cut out a lot of BS factors.

On the other hand, shopping from home for bigger products has put a huge stress on the logistics chains, to which most people never gave a second thought. There are ships and containers stacked up at every major port city. In China, or other ports in Asia, there aren’t enough containers or ships to move new product.

This is a pandemic which keeps on giving in ways that never occurred to us. I’m sure that there will be more.

A quick change. When it comes to photo technique I keep writing the same things. Unless I do something out of the ordinary, I’m not going to divide the columns.


Transition time.

T

ransitions between dark and light, the end of the day and daylight is what I look for. Sometimes I’ll wait for that time rather than burn myself out shooting daylight pictures which I’ll never even look at after the fact.

It’s the light. It always the light. For me transitional light is the best light. Dawn or dusk. It doesn’t matter, but I have trouble getting up for dawn light.

As Bart Simpson said, “There’s a five o’clock in the morning? When did they start that?”

This is a dusk picture. It what was made during the blue hour while what was left of the day’s sunlight was reflecting off of the cloud.

In nature’s way, the orange and blue contrast very nicely. It’s no wonder that designers have been using that combination for years. Being a sometimes New Yorker, I think of The New York Mets.

Let’s not go too far down that track because I was born to be a Yankee fan, but blue and white is boring to me.

So.

It’s really about light and color. That is photography, no matter what or who the subject happens to be. Find a subject can be fairly easy. Finding the patience waiting for the light to be right is hard. Very hard.

I used to know a photographer who worked for National Geographic Magazine. He find the place where he wanted to work. He’d set up camp and he would sit. And sit. And sit.

When the light was right he’d wake himself and expose maybe twenty rolls of film and then, finally, he was done with that scene.

Do you have that kind of patience? Well, do you?

I don’t.

M

aking this picture was harder than you’d think. I exposed for the clouds which plugged up the tree.

It’s still pluggy because in order to bring up the clouds I had to darken the entire image.

When I lightened the image a little and now you can see the overly light area in the center. I could have done a couple of other approaches.

But, as you know, I’m lazy. So, what remains is what remains.

I darkened the edges of the picture a little to make it look old school burning and dodging. The kind that you did in a wet darkroom.

And, that’s it.

I’d tell you about working in a darkroom. I’d tell you about the peace it brought sometimes. I’d tell you about the smells. I’d tell you what it was like to watch a photograph come up in the developer. And, how we fine tuned little bits of the unfinished print.

I’d tell you that whenever I get a chance to just walk into one that it feels like I’m visiting a dear old friend.


Evening glow.

T

his post was inspired by a band called Ranky Tanky. They are a Gullah band from the Lowcountry area of South Carolina.

They play a kind of country jazz. I’m always amazed at how many of their songs I know. Songs that were covered by The Rolling Stones and Little Feat. The good news is that both bands always acknowledged their musical roots.

Roots. I think that knowing who’s shoulders you are standing on. That’s another little piece of Storyteller. I haven’t talked about my inspirations in a good long while. (Let’s see if I can write that anymore Southern.)

Maybe I should start doing that again. Whaddya think? I can write about particular artists, or photographers or musicians to authors.

Let me just say that there are only a few photographers who inspire me. Most of them are old now. But, artists and musicians? You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting them. (Southernism number two.)

I wonder why that is.

S

ometimes things that look easy to do are a lot harder than we think.

This picture is an example of that.

It’s a time exposure made on my smart phone. Easy enough, right?

Sure. If you don’t care about the highlights or the deep shadows.

I did everything I could to keep those areas intact. I failed. Either one or the other had to go.

So, I kept the highlights and let the shadows go dark. I tried to hold the shadows, but they lost way too much contrast.

I did the best that I could, which wasn’t enough.

That’ll happen sometimes.


Time fades away.

W

hat remains.

This is one of our storm ravaged trees. Branches are broken, but new leaves are sprouting up like today was spring and not fall.

I’m not sure in what form the recovery will take, but at least nature is doing her work. All nature really wants is stasis. One way or another, this tree will be dealt with.

Okay. Enough of that.

Let’s talk about technological dependence. Let’s talk about Monday. Let’s talk about Facebook and all it’s secondary companies. They crashed. There was a DNS problem.

We think.

Facebook executives lie about everything. Here’s one now. They claimed service was down for five hours. Oh really?

I was looking for a post so I went directly to Facebook at 7:30am. It was down, at least for any new posting. You could still read whatever was posted before the system came down. You couldn’t reply.

I didn’t have service until around 5pm. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s 9 1/2 hours. Of course, that’s in New Orleans where time moves at a different pace. They say that we are 50 years behind. So, there’s that.

Anyway.

The New York Times published a story about what this really means. Facebook claims a membership of 2.6 billion users. Most just use it like many of us do. Mostly we talk amongst ourselves.

However, about half of that total use it to conduct business, to communicate within companies, to sell stuff, to publish newspapers and — in some countries — it is the prime method of communication.

That’s all great. But, in another story, the Times says that Facebook is weaker than we think and that it is already showing cracks.

There are those who talk about regulatory measures. That’s good. It’s a good idea. Let’s take it a few steps further.

What if Facebook is turned into a utility like electric companies and phone companies? What if the entire internet is declared a utility?

I know, I know. That could take the freedom of the internet away.

That’s been done about a decade ago.

There are only three — or four — big players; Amazon, Facebook, Google and some people say Apple.

There’s no privacy. I could post something on Instagram and see ads for something related on Google. That implies there is no freedom.

It seems simple enough to me. It could be done. It won’t be.

T

his picture needed something a little different. At least, I think it did.

I made it monochrome. It seemed a little bleaker that way.

It still wasn’t done. I tinkered. I added extra bokeh using OnOne.

I messed around with the basic color because I thought I made it too bleak.

So, this is the finished picture.

Let’s jump back to the other side for a minute. I realized I wasn’t done with it yet.

I concluded that any kind of regulation or reclassification of the internet and its most dominant sites wouldn’t happen.

It’s not because of a lack of political will. There may be. Or, not. I don’t know.

The real issue is that the people conducting hearings — mostly the Senate — have no clue what to ask or how to follow up because they don’t understand the digital world at all.

You’d think that after the last two decades of digital growth they’d take some time to get familiar with these things.

But, noooo.

They are busy doing something else; obstructing everything, trying to tear down the good things about government and taking money from certain rich players. You know, bribes. There I said it.

The very least they could do is ask their younger staffers to explain the questions they are about to ask on the floor or in committee so they wouldn’t look like idiots.

But — once again — noooo.


And, so it came to be.

Y

esterday was a day of nothing. It wasn’t useless. There are no useless days.

Instead, on a day normally reserved for errands, I did nothing. I awoke at about 8:15 am, looked the clock, turned over and the next thing I knew, it was 10:44 am.

After a bit of stretching and exercise, it was noon. Time for breakfast, er, lunch. If this had been another time in my life, lunch would have turned into drunch. It didn’t.

Then, I did something different. Or, not. I took a nap. Now, we’re talkin’.

Actually, what I probably need is some traveling to someplace far and to the north. That ain’t happen’. I can’t travel now and you know why. For a while I accepted it. Now I’m getting angry. If any of you who follow me are anti-vaxxers for any reason, unsubscribe NOW.

In the next few weeks I’m going on an unholy tear against you and your entire dumbass selfish cohort. If you raise your voice to fight me, trust me when I say that I’ll leave you for dead.

I bet none of you saw that coming. I’m tired of being confined to home, staying away from my neighbors when I walk the dogs, ordering our groceries from Shipt and watching people parade around like the pandemic is over. It is not over.

There. I said it.

S

unset. As you know I’m not really big on photographing a sunset just because it is there.

I’ll photograph a sunset if it is incredible. I’ll turn around and photograph what it illuminates. Or, I’ll photograph it in a situation like this one.

Three out of four isn’t bad.

This sunset surprised me. I couldn’t really see it until I moved around the tree trunk.

Then, wowie-zowie.

What great light. It reflected off some structure and created even more golden light. It turned bright orange as it passed through the foliage.

That’s where it stopped. I turned around. Nothing.

I did two things to the picture in post production. I opened up the tree so it wasn’t a big black thing in the middle of the picture.

And, I cropped it.


What do you see?

T

his has been a very quiet time for me. I’m not doing much more than I need to do. That’s not me. Nor, is it good for me.

I’ve always been a believer of finishing your daily work and then do one more thing. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. You are making progress.

Where I come from we say, progress not perfection.

That’s good because I’m never perfect. I make mistakes. I’m the typo king. Some of my best pictures are either motion shaky art out of focus.

That’s not a terrible thing. I learn from all of those things. I edit my words tighter. I compensate for cameras shake either with a tripod or I make sure my shutter speed is high.

But, right now none of that is happening. I reckon that the pandemic and the last 18 months have worn me out. It’s worn a lot of people out. Add to that the pressure of really not working much and I’m probably blown out.

My way of dealing with this is not working. Or, working very well. I probably need a long, long vacation. But, I’d worry about what was going on where I wasn’t.

I suspect a lot of us are in this place.

What about you?

A

ll reflections, that’s what this picture is really about. I’d finished a very short walk when I looked up and saw the window.

I had to move around a bit in order to make this picture as well framed as it is, which is to say, not very well.

If I could have moved back about 15 feet, I could have aligned the final image a lot better.

There goes that perfection thing again.

Nonsense. I did the best I could with what I had.

Once again, I didn’t do much but darken and sharpen the picture. After all, simpler is usually better.

This time it was.


“U

nderneath the heavens above.” That’s a line from a Bob Dylan song. I heard it just as I started writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”

Y’all know that I listen to music while I write, yes? I’m playing a Spotify play list called Summer Rewind. I’m trying to think about what summer this particular list comes from. It is certainly eclectic mix of songs.

I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Philadelphia, who rents a small apartment in The French Quarter. She and her husband are coming down in a few weeks. It’s hard to beat the weather then. But, I was surprised because we’ve been talking about the crime and how it’s become very hard to take pictures.

I’ll see them while they are here. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay in the Quarter. During the day it may be one of the safest places in the city. As night rolls into early morning all bets are off, especially near upper Bourbon Street where it meets Canal Street.

My city. It’s really something these days. I keep trying to talk myself into staying. That’s getting harder every day.

Like everything, it depends.

T

his picture was easy to make. Just look up and try to put the moon and a subject on the ground to line up in some way.

Then, push the button.

The exposure was pretty close except for the center of the picture where the high mid-tones were too light, and they always will be. It seems to be a quirk of all smart phone cameras.

Maybe I should go hunting with a real camera.


All of the mysteries.

T

iming. It’s everything. Look in one direction and you see nothing. Turn around and there’s the picture. Make some great music and nobody hears it unless the timing is right. Play sports, maybe baseball. The difference between striking out and hitting a home run is timing.

You get the point.

This picture is a great example of timing. I was trying every which way to get under the wires to get some of the orange cloud into the picture. I couldn’t do it.

I turned to the side and thought, “There is a picture here after all.” This one. The one you are looking at.

Here’s an extreme example of timing. As you know, I can’t be in crowds. That means I can’t photograph second lines. Normally. I start at the beginning, walk a good bit with the parade. Then, I get back to my car and jump to the end.

If I had been out on Sunday, I could have been way too near a shooting that left one dead and one critically injured. I’m pretty sure it was gang related. For sure, it was Black on Black.

That, alone, makes me sad.

But, a misfired bullet in the air doesn’t see color. It just zooms through the air hitting whatever it comes in contact with. It would be one thing if these boneheads could actually shoot. But, they can’t. They spray bullets everywhere trying to hit the one poor guy they are after.

Think about it.

I was on the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and St. Claude on one Mother’s Day a few years back when two fools started shooting into the crowd in order to hit their target. They didn’t hit him, but they did hit a lot of innocent people.

They hit my friend, and just about everybody’s friend, “Big Red” Deb Cotton in the stomach. That may be the worst survivable wound. She survived, but after years of painful surgeries, she died.

Murders are up by 24% in New Orleans. Gun deaths are the highest they’ve ever been in the city.

A

fter I saw the picture I did everything I could to avoid those power lines, but I couldn’t.

It’s ironic. If I photographed this scene about a month earlier those lines wouldn’t have been in the way. They’d have been in the street.

My biggest trick was to darken the entire picture to bring the color out. I did add some soft glow because I like it.

If I left the picture horizontal there would have been way too much black. The color would have receded into the scene. So, I cropped it.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of square pictures. Obviously, I use them when the situation calls for it.

Nothing is set in cement. Photographic rules should be learned and understood so that you can break them when your work calls for it.

I suppose that’s the same with most rules. Live by them until something goes way south. Then, do what you have to do.

Hopefully, it will be subtle and peaceful.

Unlike this photograph.