In early spring.

Early spring.

At least it was for us down here in the swamp. This picture was made in mid-February. Before the storm. Before the war. Before the killing era of the virus. It feels like years ago. Time may have become flexible and meaningless, but that translates into some kind long term distortion.

For sure, people with deadlines or a lot of online meetings know the time. On the other hand, if you allow the meeting planner to schedule a meeting via Zoom it just pops up on your calendar. Press the code on your planner and you are taken directly to the meeting. You don’t need to know the date. Or, wear pants.

Since most people can’t focus for more than about 20 minutes in those little boxes, the leader usually sends an email with the goals needing to be met prior to the next meeting. I’m probably like most people. Once I’ve discussed my issues I tend to drift off or find other things to do. I answer email, work on a picture, fine tune my calendar so that I don’t have to look at it for another week. And, find my pants.

Of course, a lot of us can be very productive working from home. Normally, that’s mostly where I work from. I’m used to it. Many newbies to this are having a tough time. If children are in the mix, it triples the problem. Parents are expected to raise their kids, teach their kids, work from home, cook meals and keep the house tidy.

Those of us who are used to working at home have all sorts of tips and tricks. That’s assuming we have to use a clock and a calendar. Even with that, the most important thing to know is when to change from your daytime pajamas into your sleeping pajamas.

And, we might not have to teach our children. And, baby sit them. That’s something I’ve been discussing with my teacher friends. They worry about how parents will manage without having a sort of built in babysitter. I keep reminding them that isn’t their problem. They teach. A couple of their principals agree. Teach. Don’t worry about the rest.

That’s for later, when school becomes sort of normal. For now, it’s a juggling act. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months these issues should settle down. That’s good, not just from a short term perspective, but for what will likely be on and off over the next two or so years.

This is our new normal. The virus isn’t magically going away. A vaccine will not be created, tested and properly vetted in less than 18 months. Even that is extremely fast. If our so-called leaders aren’t going to settle down, stop playing politics and get to the real work of leading, the virus won’t be going away anytime soon. More importantly, if we don’t settle down and stop taking chances, it’ll be on “we the people” when the virus keeps cycling through its fifth and sixth year.

The picture. I was sitting outside thinking how nice life was, never thinking that the world was about to turn upside down, when I looked up and saw what you are seeing. I took pains to make sure I kept the picture light and airy.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


The pool umbrella returns.

Changes.

First, the pool umbrella. Back from its watery grave. No worse for wear. These kinds of pictures are easy to make. Easy to take. We’ll get back to that in a minute.

But, first.

My new watermark. I don’t think watermarks have to be flashy or over designed. It’s the content that matters. I was reading a new book — new to me — about more contemporary photographers. One of them used a copyright/credit line that had his last name and his location. I thought that was pretty cool, so I just stole it lock, stock and barrel.

From that same book, I was reading about Todd Hido. I’ve liked his work from the first time I saw it. This guy produces single themed books and exhibitions. He takes his time finding and photographing  his subjects. One of the questions he was asked is concerned with knowing when a project is done. When do you stop making pictures and started culling and organizing?

Hido said that he knows that he’s done when it is not worth the trouble to stop, get out of his car and set up. He also cautions that you shouldn’t pull the trigger too early especially in today’s sped up culture. A project could last for many years. He weaves projects around each other, pretty much like I do.

“Not worth the trouble…”

That phrase says a lot. It explains why I am having such a hard time photographing second lines and Mardi Gras Indian events. I’ve been doing that for seven years. It’s not just that I’m in pain, or that I’m afraid of falling down in the street. It’s that I’ve finished my project and it’s time to move on. I know this to be true because if I really want to do something I’ll deal with the pain. That won’t stop me.

So. I’m free. Time to move on. Time to finish other projects.

It’s also time to look at the work of photographers who are younger than me. Hido is 12 years younger. His work is great. His thinking got me going enough to gain some clarity. As much as I always return to the work of Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas and Robert Frank, two of them are gone and one is 88 years old.

The world turns. It changes. Change or die… they keep telling me.


Storm damage. Sort of.

I hesitated to post this picture.

Because?

We are Katrina evacuees and survivors. We know what it is like to be horribly hurt by a big storm. We lost cars. A house. Out buildings. A lot of furniture. And, keepsakes. Somehow I became the keeper of my maternal grandmother’s bible. It survived being brought to this country from Europe. It was 117 years old. Even though the water in the house didn’t reach it, the humidity did. It became what people in the paper industry call slurry. That’s broken down paper that is turned into liquid prior to recycling.

So, when I look at this picture I feel like I’m looking at one of those memes. The ones that have turned over plastic chair and in bold type, and says “we will rebuild.”

Never-the-less, retrieving this umbrella is proving more problematic than you might guess. You can’t pull it out of the pool directly, because it’s upside down and holds too much water. I tried to turn it over in the pool. Still too heavy. My next approach is going to be turning it on its side so the edge of the umbrella is facing up. Hopefully it will sort of glide through the water.

If that fails?

I’ll hire two boys from the neighborhood. The problem with that is finding them. Most of this neighborhood is very special. These kids hire people to start their cars when nothing is wrong with them. I may have to cross the tracks — the streetcar tracks — and head into Central City. Those guys will do it. They’ll work for free, but will expect a healthy tip. Besides, after all the second lines, I know and trust most of them.

One more thing.

I wouldn’t have published this picture at all, but I promised two people on Facebook that I would. One is a high school classmate. An old friend. I can’t let her down.

The picture. What else could it be? F8 and be there.


More fun with layers.

It must have been the heat.

That’s why I got crazy. And, made this picture. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It starts with a deck umbrella and goes on from there. I know. Find the umbrella. I added a couple of layers to this one. Layering, refining, rinsing and repeating. Don’t ask me to tell you exactly what I did. I don’t remember. I was working in a heat crazed frenzy.

Seriously.

New Orleans is not alone in its heat induced craziness. This “warm” spell stretches west to Arizona, north to the plains states and east to the Atlantic Ocean. Even Washington D.C. is not immune. Apparently, yesterday they had temperatures in the high 90s, with a heat index making it feel like it was over 100 degrees. Of course, that may just becoming from the White House.

Black humor is a New Orleans thing. You need it in order to survive in the swamp. Somebody wrote “isn’t this brisk 90 degree fall weather much better than the 95 degree heat of summer?”

Heh.

I am so tired of it. The dogs and I go out by around 7:30 am. Sure. It’s a little cooler. But, it’s very humid. We all come home with our tongues hanging out of our mouths. We all run into the kitchen for drinks of water.  They drink from their bowls. I use a glass. Maybe, it’s the other way around.

One of these days I’ll actually be able to wear long pants. I feel like one of those old retired guys in Florida. Shorts. T-shirts. Grumbling about those kids these days.

Sheesh.


An opportunity.

The photo caption says it all.

An opportunity.

To blow off the rest of the day.

So far.

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.

Anyway.

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.

Think about that. Heh!


A little rain won’t stop us.

Another storm picture. Rain never stops us. I think a lot of us were fooled because we weren’t ready for the intensity of the rainfall. Never trust the weather people on your local news. They mean well, but if I got about 90% of what I said wrong, I’d fire myself.

I’ll talk about this picture. That’s it for today.

I made it with my new magic smart phone. This is the one that makes a 12 megapixel file. Usually, I process in the phone with Snapseed. I started thinking that I didn’t really like the final product, so I started experimenting by downloading the file to my main machine and using onOne to develop it and do the finishing post production.

What a difference.

The newest version, OnOne Photo RAW 2019, even has a template for making words. At this point, I cull in Photo Mechanic and Edit in OnOne and that’s it.

Goodbye Adobe. Again.

Finally. I don’t have to pay $9.99 a month forever.

Keeping today photographic, more about this picture. The first thing to know is that I made it through the windshield in between wiper swipes. This was another time that my phone thought I had a dirty sensor.

I made a lot of pictures this way.

All I knew was that my umbrella changed hands and I wasn’t going out in the pouring rain. I sat on the car and made pictures. Either I’m smart or just lazy. A betting person would take the latter.

That explains the softness in my subject’s face. We know that she likes bottled Coca-Cola, which is sort of ironic because the bottling plant for Louisiana is less than a half mile away.

That’s the story.

 


Night, rain and light. What could be better?
Night, rain and light. What could be better?

Ahhhhhhhh.

Rain. Light. Night.

An out on the road picture. In the city.

Oh. You want some help? 1/4 second at f5.6. Focus on infinity and walk at the same pace as the people. Very simple. Have fun with it.


Keeping cool and dry.
Keeping cool and dry.

Hot. Hot and wet. Hot, wet and humid.

Yep. That’s a New Orleans summer. I was telling somebody in yesterdays comments that eventually you get acclimated to our summer. You have to, because in the words of Rosanne Cash, “It’s hot from March to Christmas.” Besides, our humidity keeps your skin soft and moist. You have fewer wrinkles because the minute you go outside you are hydrated in a global sauna. Heh!

You do find ways of keeping a little cooler and dryer. Typically, my pace slows down. I walk on the shady side of the street. I eat cooler foods. I drink a lot more water. Stuff like that.

This guy, may have found the best of a couple of worlds. The umbrella keeps him a little cooler and on a day like last Sunday when there was intermittent rainfall, it kept him a little dryer. Besides it looks kinda cool. And, it attached to his head. How’s that for fun?


Rainy weather in New York City.
Rainy weather in New York City.

Bad weather.

I like working in it. Rain. Snow. Slush. Ice. Even wind. I often quote National Geographic’s Sam Abell who said, “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.” I probably live in a good place for that. Although we don’t often get snow or ice in New Orleans, we do get a lot of rain. Misty rain. Sprinkles. Hard rain. Sideways rain.

This picture was made in 1995. In New York City. I was mostly working with a lot of color slide film by then, but often I would shoot a little black and white.

Just because.

Generally, I was falling into one of the patterns you see today. Some of my better work was produced while I was on my way to someplace else.

This picture was made with a Nikon F90. Yeah, the “Rest of the World” version of the of the N90, which I believe was only sold in The United States. I’m not such a gear guy, that I know those sorts of things. For sure. Especially something from 20 years ago. The lens was a 105mm. F 2.8. The film, as usual, was Kodak Tri-X black and white film.

Here’s where the fun begins.

The film was rated at 320 ISO. The lens was set to f5.6 and the shutter speed went wherever it needed to go using auto metering. I’m guessing this picture was made at 1/4 of a second. I also took off the lens hood. Doing that made me a little less conspicuous. Mostly, I wanted to capture the feeling of being in a rain storm. I usually think feeling and sensing are better than documenting.

All that weird refraction and blur along the edges of the picture was caused by photographing through rain drops on the lens. Yes. I know. That’s not a great idea. Protect you gear at all costs. But, what’s the point of having cameras and lenses if you can’t break them while you are making pictures?

Seriously. The lens didn’t stay wet for very long. It does illustrate how far I’ll go to make the picture in my head.