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.


Looking for something.

N

ew work. It’s been a little while. I took myself for a walk. I went to a little park that has benches, sat down and took some time for myself.

The bench that I sat was our favorite bench. It belonged to the all seeing dog, Sophie Rose. I don’t know what it did for my recovery process, but I started seeing the little things.

So, I made these pictures and a few more. Then, I went to the doctor. No worries, it was just a wellness check. I passed with semi-flying colors.

When I returned, I made more pictures. Just because. Because I believe in a little routine and doing something photographic every single day. That’s how you get better. That’s how you get good.

I haven’t been doing that lately. It shows.

I’ve been reading about photography as a healing an recovery tool. If for no other reason those of you who are photographers should make pictures, or do something photographic every day.

Do you?

T

here is really nothing to these pictures. They are simple. They are about trees. They are about nature. They are about rebirth.

Rebirth is important to me right now.

There is a little post production going on in both pictures that are very different processes.

The top image is light, sunny and playful. The bottom image is darker, more moody.

Of course nature helped a lot. Light comes and goes and comes back again especially in the summer.

Nature helped my creative process.

One day.


An autumn walk through a forest.

O

nce, awhile back, I used to walk through a forest like place. In truth it is a park but most of it was left as wild land.

It’s a great place to walk because there are measured distances. You chose the trail that you wanted and you could walk from one to three miles.

Along the way you could walk near railroad tracks, you could see a modern all metal sided performance venue. Or, if you walked further you could see the New Orleans Saints training field and their business offices. You could even see the so-called Shrine on Airline. That was a AAA baseball stadium.

Unfortunately, the team called The Babycakes — Yeah, I know what kind of name is that — moved on to greener pastures.

There was hope of getting a new team, but first MLB cut the number of minor league teams and then the pandemic arrived. We’ll see what happens next.

It is currently used as a rugby pitch and for local high school football games.

I like walking through the most natural areas which is how I found this scene. Obviously, it was autumn when I did that. And, yes, this is another “lost” photograph that Amazon Pictures found.

T

he biggest issue in making this picture is one of focus.What stay sharp?What goes soft?

In those days I used a Canon G9 as a walk around camera. It worked like any DSLR. I loved that little camera to the point that I used it up

Anyway.

I decided to keep the bark and moss as sharp as possible because it’s in the foreground and let rest go a little soft in order to make the details in the tree pop out.

That worked.

Post production work was fairly simple. I toned down the red leaves because they were too bright and too red. I sharpened the tree as much as possible without going too far.

I usually go too far.

E

ditor’s note.This is the closest that I’ve come to giving up and thinking the hell with it. For some reason unknot to me, the paragraphs became trapped in a little block. If you tried to edit the words, the entire paragraph was deleted. I have no idea what I did to restore it back to normal.

I also found out why I kept think the text seemed light. That because it was. Apparently, the default setting is a light gray. Black text on a white background is considered to be the easiest to read. Of course, Word %&@# press knows better. I’d better tell all the designers with whom I’ve ever worked.


Life in fantasia.

Y

es. I know what I said. No brand new pictures until I recovered. I still stand by that although this one is a day old.

It doesn’t mean that I’ve recovered. That’s going to take a long time. But, this picture was calling to me. “Ray, Ray, Raaayyy, come here. Take my picture.”

So, I did.

I’m glad that I did because it makes me smile. You know that I like bright color. I made it brighter. And, more colorful. I reckon it’s a good Sunday picture.

It is Sunday, isn’t it?

Somehow I managed to slip into that place of elastic time that was so common during the lockdown. That is probably related to my weird sleeping habits. You know. If you take a long nap when you wake up you are a little disorientated.

Anyway.

Enjoy your Sunday.

O

h boy. Did I do a lot to this picture.

The image probably could have stood on its own because it is backlighted and I pointed the phone almost straight into the sun.

You know me.

That wasn’t enough. First, I corrected the color then I made it “better” by adding color and contrast and glow.

The picture was fine, but it was horizontal which yields a small picture on Storyteller.

So, I cropped into the heart of it, turning it into a vertical image.

And, there you have it.


Not lazy. Not hazy.

A friend of mine said that she changed a lot of guitar chords to ones that she created because she got bored playing the normal progression. I tried to tell her that if she played every possible progression she wouldn’t get bored.

She told me to shut up and stick to doing what I do. Make pictures. She knows not to say, “Stay in your lane” because I’ll call her Karen.

No worries. It’s all in good fun. We think that all of that stuff, including the so-called cancel cultures is nonsense. If anyone is going to do any cancelling it will be me. I’ll cancel myself and be done with it.

Anyway.

The point of the first paragraph is that sometimes I bore myself. So I turned perfectly good trees into nightmares.

I suppose I could claim that this is a tribute to those folks who were hit by tornadoes in the past couple of weeks. The picture does sort of look like trees are flying around in space.

I guess that takes some imagination, which I have in spades.

Flying trees, eh?

First, let me tell you that this is a horizontal pictured turned every which way.

I also stretched the external dimensions .

Then I layered the same picture three times.

I made the color close to what some people call contemporary color. Some people.

That’s all I did. Ha!


Almost like summer.

The long way home, that’s what we took. Really, really, the long way home. I’m not sure we found what we were looking for, but we found other things. We found the peace that comes with sitting under big trees. We found quiet. We found comforting greens.

After the long year that we all had, I’m happier finding these things than I am for finding a favorite restaurant is open or knowing that live music is coming back.

Those things matter, but in order to enjoy them you’d better be fairly whole emotionally and physically. Luckily, throughout the lockdown we did walk the dogs. Granted, they were exactly speed walking but we were walking.

We also ate fairly well. There wasn’t much eating of junk, nor did we eat easily accessible fast food. We actually cooked at home. We do normally, but we made a point of it.

That point was driven home today, when I saw a photographer whom I don’t know all that well walking ahead of us. From behind, it looked like there were two and a half of him. I’m not being mean. It’s just what I saw.

So, now that hope is back and some people think we are turning the corner we probably should take care of what we didn’t do while we were sitting around.

More importantly, we shouldn’t be stupid. Now that the CDC finally said that six feet really wasn’t enough and that the virus lingers in the air inside or out, we probably should take a few precautions.

Yes. I know that most of us who have been vaccinated probably stand a very good chance of not catching the virus. And, if we do it will likely be a mild case. But, what about those who for some reason or another — about 70% of the population currently — come in contact with us? Was if we pass it to them and make them deathly ill?

How would you feel knowing you accidentally did that?

Give me the greens of summer sang Paul Simon. It’s still spring, but close enough.

I like the way greens look in spring or in early summer. Down in Southeastern Louisiana, by mid-August the greens look washed out. By September they are limp. That lasts until fall which starts late.

So, pictures like this delight me. They are magic, not taking away from someone in this house who thinks music is magic.

Making this picture was easy but…

You really need back lighting to make it work. See all those light green leaves in the background? Without them this picture would be dark and foreboding.

I’ll leave that for Halloween.

After making the picture, a little work was needed in post production and viola, I was done.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Use your brain. Look after each other. Enjoy all the peaceful greens.


Narrow way.

Dusk is one of my favorite working hours. The blues are powerful yet quiet. Other colors just seem to pop in the sky. Whatever light left in the sky glows.

It’s nature at her best. It’s a time in the day when the worries and stress of the daylight hours seem to melt away. In addition to being a time when I like to work, it is a favorite of many photographers.

Most of us start our end of the day work during early golden hour and continue on into the night, stopping when there is no reflective light in the sky. When the sky is black, unless you are in a pre-planned location with a tripod, the scene is usually too dark.

Working during the blue hour helps out in other ways. It adds mystery. It adds subtleness. It hides location problems that couldn’t be solved by moving to another shooting spot.

There was a time in my career that I made my living with blue hour pictures, with or without motion. Those days seem so long ago and far away that I wonder if I’ll ever get back to them.

In fact, I wonder if I’ll ever make much money from my photo career. The business isn’t on sound footing anymore. There are many reasons for this. Start with CoVid-19 and work back from there. Too many people are taking pictures for not enough money. I still have my corporate clients and once they are sure that advertising or marketing makes sense after this long layoff, I might find a little work. Who knows?

And, so it goes.

Orange and blue. Two very good contrasting colors that seem to always compliment each other. The colors of the New York Mets, which doesn’t matter to me because I follow the other New York baseball team.

Even though I was able to make this picture in the field, it needed some help in post production. Well, a lot of help. You can see that in he tree where the green bleeds into the blue of the sky.

Oh well. That’ll happen sometimes.

I mostly like the picture because it proves I can still see as the light gets lower and lower and…

You know what I wrote in the left hand column about low dusk light hiding imperfections? It also hides a lot of detail from me. Sometimes, I just make pictures because I think I know what’s there.

And, so that goes too.


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.


Sometimes just the sky.

It’s a great day for experiments. Rainy. Kind of cold. We’ve had a lot of rain since yesterday. Supposedly, there are three or four more inches on the way.

So, I used a new app. I’ve used it once in the past. I’ll get into the technical aspects of that on the right hand column.

With all the rain, I needed something to counteract that on Storyteller. This picture just about does that. It’s bright. It’s gauzy. And, there’s a lot of yellow. The photograph, if that’s what this is, moves from darkness to light, at least for peoples who read from left to right.

Even thought there’s been a lot of stupidity as the pandemic seems to be getting managed, that’s what this picture might mean. We are headed into the light.

Or, if you are if you are cynical like me, moving into the light could mean the end. You know what people say when they have died and came back because it wasn’t their time yet.

I think I’ll choose the first option, mostly because I’m not ready to go just yet. There’s a lot of work to be done. And, I want to help.

I know that you want to help too.

Amiright?

So. The app. It turns the image into all sorts of colors. The original photograph was monochromatic, even with the golden arches in the background.

If that wasn’t enough, I added a setting from OnOne that made those globes, which are supposed to be bokeh.

It’s really not bokeh. Bokeh, an often misused Japanese word that Japanese people don’t use, refers to the quality of the out of focus parts of an image.

Usually, that’s found in the background. You want something that’s soft and creamy with some shape.

Once I completed that, added a border. I had something mid-way between a photograph and something else.