A particular kind of summer sky. If you aren’t looking up, it’s likely that you’ll miss it. If you don’t see light, and color, it’s like that you won’t get it.
I was talking to a somebody that I know a little. I was describing what I saw. She looked at me with a quizzical look on her face. It came down to, “Oh yeah. you’re a photographer.” But, she didn’t see it. No dramatic light. No golden color.
That’s what separates us for so many others. Us? Visual artists. We see a little differently. We feel a little differently. We see and feel with more than our eyes. We see with our brains. We feel with our hearts. With our souls.
With any luck this picture is good enough to capture what I saw. What I felt.
I feel good about this picture. It’s simple. It might be good enough to be part of my summer series. Then again…
Despite the heat of summer, I actually like the season. I like the rich greens. I like the cooling shade. I even like the torrential rains that cool the air and knock down the humidity temporarily. Of course, in the heat of summer, what falls down must rise up… in the form of ground humidity.
At a glance that sounds terrible.
In Southeast Louisiana, folks live in a natural greenhouse. Everything grows. And, it grows well. In little home gardens, you need only care for the plants. No watering necessary. There was one year, before the storm, that I grew something like 500 large tomatoes. I kept the plants neat and pruned. I removed tomato worms and that was about it. I rarely watered them. I never misted them. The yield was a little problem. Normally, I give away what I can’t use. Usually to neighbors. Not that year. Everybody had too many tomatoes.
It’s about the same thing with every vegetable or fruit. I planted a little basil bush that I bought at a grocery store. It stood about three inches tall. It was a skinny little thing. Today, it’s at least four feet tall. And, four feet around.
The picture. A tree that I saw on a walk. I liked the backlighted look. I turned it into a painting in post production. I also used a stretched paper look for the shape. Fairly easy to do. If you like experimenting.
For at least the last five years, I’ve been trying to make at least ten very good pictures that are about summer.
I haven’t succeeded yet.
I probably won’t again this summer.
I know, I know. With that attitude I have assured myself of failure.
It’s just a realistic statement that takes into account how difficult it is to make ten good pictures about anything over the course of a year. Sheesh. I’ve been at this for just under fifty years. I’ve made a lot of good pictures. I don’t make bad pictures.
If you were to ask me about my great pictures, only three come to mind. Fifty years. Three great pictures. That ain’t a great ratio. I’m sure there are a lot of better shooters than I am, who have made far more memorable pictures that I have, but, if you ask them, they’ll say about the same thing.
As I’ve been putting older work, mostly from Asia on NGS’ “Your Shot.” I’ve been thinking, “Me?” “I took that picture?” “It must have been a better photographer” I’m not being overly humble. I’m just surprising myself by looking at old, almost forgotten work.” Still, those images don’t crack into my “excellent category.”
That’s one of the great things about getting older — among damn few good things — you have the wisdom of perspective. You understand that most pictures shared on Instagram are nonsense, especially when they are posted as professional work.
The picture. Make no mistake. This isn’t one of the ten great summer images. This is just a tree that I photographed in early morning light. It was backlighted so it caught my attention. It reminded me to start looking right now. Right this minute. For summertime pictures.
Man. I’ve got a lot to do in the next twelve weeks or so.
The sun was peaking through a slight gap in the branches of a tree. There were little pink blossoms everywhere. What a morning scene.
I did what I do.
I started to make pictures. Auto focus was having a very tough time with such strong backlighting and direct sunlight into the lens. I held my finger on the button. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the autofocus function says “oh, no you don’t.” This time I did. And, it did.
That’s what I made.
A completely out of focus picture. It just happened to be the best of my quick little take out of about ten pictures.
I worked on it a bit in post production. Mostly, I brought what wasn’t understandable back to my eye. That was it.
Today is a really fine day. The weather is wonderful. The pictures are coming. And, in a spring of a lot of brand new music, Bruce Springsteen released a new album. “Western Stars.” I’m often a little cautious when it comes to any big musician’s new work. Often, it isn’t all that.
Not this time.
This one is so good. It reaches into my soul. I know words that I’ve never heard as he sings them. I know the melody. A lot of his songs are what some folks call “high lonely.” It’s hard to write one song that carries that feeling. The whole album carries is that.
The record will arrive in this house soon. I want to get as close to the original master as I can.
After I made the blue watercolor-like picture, I kept going. And, going.
I came out here. With this picture. I added a couple of things. More color. All kinds of color. That’s easy to spot. What isn’t so easy to see are the leaves. I added more of them to the background. They fill the space. They change the intent. The picture moved from minimalistic to something more full throated. More full bodied.
Even though the base picture is the same as yesterday’s image, it’s different.
I could try to go further. I’m not sure what that will reveal. We’ll see.
The day started off bad. It continued to get worse. There is only one solution. Reschedule everything. Even things that supposedly can’t be rescheduled. And, just give up. Go back to the place where I made this picture. Lay there. Fall asleep. Luckily, this place isn’t very far from our kitchen door. That’s important. It’s easier for people to bring me stuff. Something cold. Something to fill my belly. More cold stuff.
How bad is it? I almost can’t get through this post. The mouse and keyboard keep freezing every few keystrokes. That’s after rebooting the computer because it froze. I have no idea why. I put the thing to sleep last night. It woke up in a bad mood.
I’d better post this before I can’t.
The picture. Look all around if you are making pictures. I made this one laying on my back.
I saw this little scene. Bathed in golden light. Morning light. There was little I could do. I photographed it for you. For me. I worked on it some. Not that much. Here it is.
Louisiana. In late spring.
You’ve heard this from me in the past. Things seem to be spinning out of control Around here it got worse.
There were two newspapers in town. The Advocate. The Times-Picayune. The Advocate, which started life in Baton Rouge, bought its competition. In thirty days the papers will be blended. In sixty days, the staff of the T-P will be terminated. A lot of my friends will lose their jobs.
I haven’t worked for a newspaper in years. Thirty years to be exact. But, I meet a lot of reporters and photographers on the street. The things that I normally photograph draw a lot of media coverage. I’m sad for these folks. Some are young. They’ll recover. Maybe not in print journalism. But, some other kind of online reporting. Or, they’ll join the wonderful world of freelance.
This picture is a kind of peaceful image. One that gives anybody who sees it a little respite from the overall craziness and polarization of 2019.
We’ve had cool and dry weather. The best kind. Now, we have moist and warm weather. The worst kind, this early in the season. The weather blabbers on the local television stations are already talking about hurricane season. Settle down. That’s just under two months away.
I get to make different kinds of pictures without traveling far and wide to do it.
Lately, I’ve had two problems. You know that I don’t feel like photographing much. I also don’t feel like traveling much. Too bad for me. I have to do both in a little bit. Money beckons.
It’s not that I don’t like photography or traveling. I love both. I just don’t like what it takes to do them.
Since everybody is a photographer, I have to figure out a way to make a picture that is different, but not necessarily better.
Since everybody wants to travel, the actual act of doing it has become crowded and hellish with so many inexperienced travelers not knowing what they are doing. I like to be comfortable when I’m flying somewhere. But, I don’t wear my pajamas and flip-flops onboard a plane.
I’m not whining or ranting. It’s life in the real world. If you were able to plop me down in my destination I’d have a great time. Despite all this new technology, that hasn’t happened yet.
I have no doubt that it will. At least that’s what they say on all the science fiction that I watch.
One more thing about traveling to photograph. Since everybody is a photographer, the classic locations are crowded with people trying to make the very same picture the first 2,745,981 photographers did. I jokingly say that there are tripod holes at prime locations.
That leaves me with a lot of choices. Let’s say I’ve gone to New Mexico. Let’s say I’m staying in Santa Fe. I could get very lazy and photograph the city. Or, I could move on and work outside of the city, coming back at night. That’s what I would likely do. That works for me because I do like to explore.
That’s how I think. These days. Going to a place isn’t enough. Not any more.
The picture. Just about everything has bloomed and has settled into summer’s green. Except for here and there. This tree is an example of here. Or, there. As the storm clouds started to blow in, I started making a few pictures. This is one of them. Since the light was low at around dusk, there is some nice highlight on one side of the tree. That’s also what’s causing the clouds to be yellowish.
That’s what the female FEDEX driver said after I signed for the Leica. Don’t get excited. It’s a southern thing. It’s a nice thing. A good way to treat each other when we interact.
I had the days wrong. Today is Leica test day. A good day too. The light is stunning, once again. It bounces around from lightly overcast with white puffy clouds hiding the sun, to changing the light to bright and contrasty. Wowie-zowie.
I have an idea that I’m going to wander around the Quarter. It’s a good place to work during the day. It’s very different from the usual night views. For one thing, there are very few tourists. All locals. Doing their jobs. Getting ready for the night. And, tourist dollars.
The picture. I’ve been eyeing this window for a while. It takes bright, contrasty, low light to make it work. Even with that, you have to be careful of the window frame since you can’t get an angle that prevents keystoning. Rather than fight it, I just photographed it knowing I would crop it in editing.
I thought that I wanted it bright and colorful. But, after testing different approaches, I liked this version best. Almost no color. All monochrome.