Street portrait of a captain.

Back on track, I’d say.

I’m not that back on track. I thought that I’d written and posted this. Unfortunately, I fell back asleep before I completed this. I walked a lot last night. You know. Five parades. 164 floats. A billion beads. Not as many people as I thought would come out.

All that walking took its toll. First, my hip started killing me. Then, the pain moved to my knee. Luckily, I was able to depend on the kindness of strangers. They let me sit on their stoops, their porches and even on the bumpers of their trucks.

But.

That’s not all. Walking in pain is very tiring. More so than just walking. So, I decided to mostly rest today. The parades that I were interested in photographing have long departed, but are still an hour or two from Canal Street, another good place to work if you can stand the throngs of people competing for beads. Because of the pictures I’d like to make, that’s not a big concern for me.

However.

Now that we are in the heart of the season, parking will be dear or non-existent. Normally, I’d just park in Treme and walk over. And, walk over. I’m not so sure about that. Walking over.

Unfortunately, this parade season is my last. Unless there is a real fix to my issues other than masking them with pain meds, I can’t do this again. That’s sad because I’ve pretty much given up second lines. I’ll likely photograph this years two Eastbank Super Sundays, but that too, will be it.

There’s plenty of stuff to photograph, even without travel. I could document everything in New Orleans and never, ever be finished. That won’t require the long walks that the culture events do. I’ll still walk some. The dog who see things requires it. Those are slow and gentle walks, with places to sit if I need to do that.

The picture. I guess because I carry myself like I look like I know what I’m doing, people take me seriously. I stopped this krewe leader and asked him to just look at me. This took maybe 30 seconds, and I thanked him. See you later. Happy Mardi Gras.

I was exchanging comments with another photographer/poet. She would like to do some street photography but working in a people-driven genre sort of scares her.

I suppose that it’s something learned. I’m sure that because I’ve done it for so long, I don’t think twice about making pictures of people. I usually kiddingly say that with a camera in my hand I’m Superman.

 


The marching band arrived late.

This Mardi Gras parade season seems doomed.

Last night we had tropical storm level winds, the gusts were around 40 mph. So the parades were postponed. Two will roll tonight minus all the walking groups. The third will roll on Sunday. That means 164 floats will be on the streets tonight. At least one of the most powerful krewes in the city — The Muses — will roll during daylight, when their floats are meant for night time. At least they get to roll.

The last twenty or so floats of Nyx may never get to roll. Even if they did, they may not have many “throws” because they could mostly only take what they could carry after the tragic end to their parade The Nyx captain is is exploring joining the Krewe of Pandora, which rolls in Metairie on Sunday. The captain of the Krewe of Nix – Julie Lea — is also the captain of Pandora. They’ll know sometime today. There are two issues. Very few throws. And, they rent their floats. There may not be enough floats for them.

Meanwhile, we’ve learned a lot about the unfortunate woman who died on Wednesday night. She was 58-year-old Geraldine Carmouche. She did not trip or fall. She was trying to pick up some beads.

She gave her life for maybe ten cents worth of Chinese manufactured beads.

She was born and raised here. Toddlers are taught from the moment they come to parades not to run out into the street for beads. Do no cross in front of moving floats or marching bands. When I arrived 20 years ago that’s the first thing I was told when I attended my first parade.

Reading comments on Facebook was sickening. Many attacked the victim. They accused her of being drunk, of having no responsibility. Apparently, they never heard the old saying, “Never speak ill of the dead.” I guess this the the world in which we live.

I’m not buying that. I think she had a kind of tunnel vision. I’ve seen it a lot on parade routes. Parade goers see nothing but throws. They are aggressive and they want them all. Even though she was well old enough to know better, and a local, I think that’s what happened to Ms. Carmouche.

Four more issues to discuss. I promise that I’ll keep it short.

The picture is a leftover. With no parades last night, I ran out of culled and processed images. I also decided that the images I made while the Krewe of Nix was rolling will forever be unprocessed and will not see the light of day.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve changed my policy of not publishing names. While Storyteller remains art driven, I can’t tell stories without names. Of course I’ll follow my own ethical rules which are informed by years of journalism at a time when we were respected.

I’ve long said that the work is the prayer. If I believe that, I must work tonight. There are enough people who could use a few prayers right about now. And, that’s just in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras parades are an interesting thing. Just about ever local who participates in them does it for the experience, for the fun.

Really?

I talked to enough people on Twitter to realize that they were overjoyed at not having to be anywhere near the parades last night. One woman on NOLATwitter said that she felt free.

If that’s the case, just what the hell are we doing?

Do we feel so obligated to “celebrate” that it’s become work?

Even me. I was preparing to go to the parade route when I checked social media one more time. Even though I’m not riding on floats, or marching in bands, or throwing beads, I can’t tell you how relieved I was that I didn’t have to go.

What am I thinking?

 


Mardi Gras beads in the gutter.

New Orleans is in mourning.

The worst possible thing happened last night. A woman was crossing the street in between floats. Or, so she thought. She actually was trying to cross between two connected floats. She tripped or fell. The second float hit her and killed her.

The Krewe of Nix came to a halt. The walking members of the parade — the bands and such — were rerouted down a side street, but it was too narrow for the floats to proceed. The last twenty floats were stopped and the back end of the parade was cancelled.

The mood of the parade changed for celebratory to sober within about 15 minutes.

I am so sorry for the woman who died. I am sorry for the Krewe of Nix members who travelled from far and wide. I am sorry for all of us. I am sorry for our city.

I don’t know what this means for me. I have to let it roll around in my brain. It certainly took all the wind out of my sails. I didn’t even process my images. Normally, I do that when I get home so that I have something to show you the next day.

I really haven’t been feeling this years Mardi Gras. If I decided not to keep working on it, is it an excuse or a reason?


Waiting to start.

I’m sort of at a loss what to call this mini portfolio.

It’s mostly about how people — both krewes and spectators — prepare to roll or catch beads. I call this collection, “Standing Aside,” but that’s not exactly right. I suppose it doesn’t matter. The pictures are of things that I saw during the first couple of days of the Uptown parades.

This is about it for now.

Luckily, there are two big parades tonight night.  The Krewes of Druids and Nix. Both ar great fun. Both roll from the same place, making my life easy. I should be able to make some memorable pictures. Hopefully, that will make all of you smile.

That’s about it. I need to start getting my head on straight. You know. First, I plan. Then, I try to forget everything. The last part seems to be getting easier. Heh!

A little touch up.


Drum major my way.

Promise kept.

I said that I would experiment with Mardi Gras pictures rather than publish images that are documentary in nature. That turned out to be harder than I thought. It’s tough turning a clean, sharp image of somebody doing something into a kind of art. For the most part, it feels forced. And, it looks odd.

Finally, after an even more careful culling of my images I found this one. I knew that I could experiment and likely come away with my original intent.

Intention is everything when you make a cinematic image. Fiddling around with it shows.

So, what do we have here?

The subject is a St. Augustines Marching 100 drum major. He was in the lowest of light. I helped it by using a smaller f stop, which meant the shutter speed was very slow, probably around 1 second, hand held. The blur was intention. It was also helped because the picture was made at night. I could make a motion blurred image during the day, but it loses its mystery and mood.

Happy Mardi Gras y’all.


Reflection.

Mardi Gras parade season.

We come for all sorts of reason. Some like the excitement. Some like the floats. Some come for the throws. I come for the music. I come for the marching bands. Of course, I photograph anything that moves. But, it is the bands that move me the most.

In the past, I use to publish images day by day. Parade by parade. That’s one way to organize pictures. These days, I publish by category. Today, the pictures are all about music. Heh! As if you couldn’t tell. Today is also a day off from the parades because nobody rolls on Monday. I may make my way down to the French Quarter and photograph the silliness there. We’ll see.

We also have to go grocery shopping, or make groceries as they use to say around here. I say “use to” because I haven’t heard that phrase in many years. Anyway, after yesterday’s brunch we are all out of food. We have some king cake, which is fine for breakfast this time of year. But, all cake and sugar does not make Jack a happy boy.

Happy Mardi Gras.

All smiles.


Krewe of Cleopatra.

Waiting. The hardest part.

That’s what Tom Petty sang. That’s what true. We waited and waited and waited. Sometimes that happens, a tractor broke down on one of the earlier parades. The Krewe of Cleopatra could do nothing but wait.

Besides, it’s peak New Orleans.

This picture is sort of a placeholder. I’m jammed up. Night time parades followed by daytime parades will do that. I thought this was a great picture with which to start. I’d have used it in a grouping as well as this way even if I wasn’t too busy.

I don’t think that I have to explain anything to you, do I?

I’m off. I’ll be back.

Happy Mardi Gras, ya’ll.

 


Mardi Gras time.

The future.

Not so far in the future. Maybe just up to Mardi Gras parade time. Anything more would be wasted because as a not-so-wise boxer once said, “You can make all the plans that you want, but once you get punched in the face all the plans go out the window.” That’ll happen with Mardi Gras plans as well. The minute the season starts, everything will change. I have to be on the scene to understand the plans.

My biggest question is do I shoot what I’ve done for the last seven years and work the start of the parade? Or, should I do something different? What that is, I’m not sure yet. Hopefully, it’ll come to me in a dream, or in the shower.

There is also the yearly question of scheduling a number of events. They need to fit somewhat neatly together. Once I’ve got that clear in my mind and on paper I can fit the rest “stuff” into the year.

That’s another thing.

Although I do my scheduling on a digital calendar, I’m going back to paper for the details. It’s a better way to remember and it just feels better, which is like the debate between digital capture and film photography. They both have their place, but to me digital capture is like working on an assembly line in a factory. Film photography feels crafted and a little more artistic.

The picture. A very early Mardi Gras parade image. It was made on film and scanned much later. I forgot about it because somehow it was filed in the wrong archive. It was lost until I started digging. In those days I mostly worked with Fuji Velvia. Its ISO was 50. It really did better when you rated it at ISO 40. That’s slow. Very slow. That made working at night a challenge if you weren’t using strobes. I don’t use strobe at events like that because unless you hit the light dead on the picture looks way over lighted.

Instead, I would work for motion and ambient light. That allowed me to make pictures like this. The only sharp part of the image is part of a motorcycle wind screen is in the middle of the frame.

A picture like this one is impressionistic. That makes sense because of all the photographers who inspire me, painters inspire me more.

That’s the story.


I seem to be in the middle of things. 

In the middle of things.

You know where that’s where I like to be. Don’t think twice. Unlike a second line, when you get jostled around, this is a little more dangerous. I am very respectful of trains in all their forms. Even our cute streetcars. As it  got a little closer, I retreated back beyond that streetlight pole.

Then, I had to dodge cars.

Not really. You can see there is nothing coming.

The picture. It’s about light, energy, power and motion. Often times power is best shown visually with motion. It looks like everything is in motion. Trees, cars, houses. If I wanted this to be a perfect picture, I would have used a tripod. Again, you know me. Perfection is for angels.

I stood there and let the vibration of the passing streetcars make me vibrate. That’s one way of getting you — the viewer — there. To help you to feel what it’s like when a streetcar passes closely.

It’s Monday.

Enjoy.