This one works.

The only working pay phone in New Orleans lives in Central City. It’s sort of in one of the worst areas of the neighborhood. I suppose people need to communicate or — forgive me — set up drug deals.

That’s what makes this corner of the area so dangerous. When drug deals go bad, there is gun play. When there is gun play innocent people get shot. Innocent like a little three year old girl who was celebrating her birthday.

Even though that was a few years ago, I won’t soon forget that. I had an assignment. I photographed her grandma. We had no real contact information but we knew where she lived.

I knocked on her door with my heart in my mouth. She stepped out of her door and screen door just enough so I could make her picture. I took a couple of steps back so I could set the context and found success. As much success as you can have photographing a grieving family member.

I haven’t been to Central City in a long time. I don’t really feel unsafe there, but the pandemic changed everything.

And, speaking of that, don’t make me start having to type that tagline again. The United States is on its way to a fourth surge. The head of the CCD was almost in tears as she talked about it. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do it. Please keep your distance. And please wear your masks in public places.

And, please be patient.

I know that we are burned out from being isolated or in a lock down, but now is not the time to take chances.

One more thing. None of this is a political thing. The last president made it so. He’s a moron. Don’t listen to that. This is a health issue. A big, giant health issue.

Honestly, this is an older image. There are a couple of reasons for that.

You know me. I’m marginally digitally incompetent.

I downloaded and installed an upgrade for OnOne. Everything works as it should except that it can’t seem to see my desktop. That’s where new pictures go until they are archived.

It sees everything else. It even archived the unarchivable.

I can find no solution or even the same question anywhere. I have an idea that it’s not OnOne, but it’s Apple. Apple hates everybody. So does Adobe.

There isn’t much to say about this photograph. I found it in my archive. I’d forgotten about it. I fine tuned it with something that OnOne calls cinema and that was it.

The pay phone is an added bonus. And, yes it really works.


Leaving the place.

Things come and they go. The things we want most are those things that we don’t need. Usually, the plans I made are full of holes. If they succeed, it’s pure dumb luck.

No. I’m not sad. Why should I be? I made it through the first night of my second jab without a reaction. I don’t even have a sore arm.

What I am doing is working through my own reckoning. Once, I acted like a pirate. I just knew you couldn’t catch me. Now, I’m sure that you can.

Funny, how age does that sometimes.

I just wish this would have happened earlier so that I would have some time to adjust and improve before it’s time to amble off this moral coil. I guess it’s still early enough.

I would start this semi-confession with things I wished that I’d done differently, but the list is way too long. As somebody wrote in a song, the wars I lost I shouldn’t have fought. This is especially true when you realize that you lost most of them.

As we used to say in a five year old building at one of the newspapers for which I worked, it’ll be better in the new building. It did get better for a while, but the company contracted, was sold, and sold again.

And, so that goes.

We are starting to talk about what comes next now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. All I know is that patience is a virtue and I still don’t want to catch CoVid-19, jabbed or not.

So, be patient. Take stock. Figure out what you really want and head in that direction. Slowly.

I haven’t actually made enough urban pictures. At least, not in a long time. It’s high time that I started.

I made this as we walked out of the hospital after we were jabbed and sat there for the obligatory 15 minutes to make sure we didn’t pass out. Or, something.

I looked up, I saw what I saw and I had to make this picture.

I had to do some fun stuff in post. Because i wanted to. Most you can figure out.

The door to our branch of the hospital is behind us. So, is waiting for jab appointments. Now if we can just get past CoVid-19.

This line is done too. It’s run its course. Stay safe.


Everything you need to know is in this picture.

Thoughts that cross my mind. Not everyday, but more often than not during our pandemic times. There’s another random thought that crossed my mind. “Pandemic Times.” A good name for a newspaper in these non-newspaper days.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Lately, my thoughts have been roaming and random. Like the one above, but it doesn’t count.

I think about how to fix the streets after the mayor made a big deal out of starting a big project in the area of the city in which I probably venture to twice a year. Meanwhile, my street has potholes in potholes. Some people grow crops in them. Some people decorate them.

I fix some of them the same way that my neighbors do. Fill the base up to about two inches from street level with unneeded Mardi Gras beads. Then, a layer of quick set concrete and finally a layer of a compound that looks like asphalt that you buy at Home Depot.

This is all illegal, but when the NOPD beat cops come by in their cars, they pull over blocking us from the street and turn on their red and blue lights. They are protecting us, so in return they get coffee, tea, water and some kind of snack.

This is one of the reasons we like our street level cops. They use their heads. They don’t over react. Besides, if they hit potholes near my house, their teeth rattle in their heads.

If you are wondering why they just can’t avoid the pothole, well, when you do that you just hit another pothole, probably worse than the one you’re avoiding.

The subject in the picture reminded me of all that. I’ll tell you about that in the right column.

The right hand column. It’s mostly used for technical issues. Because I’m not a huge technician there isn’t much of that.

I saw a car that was reflecting the foreground scene almost perfectly so I stood back and made a few frames.

I stood back because I didn’t want to be in the picture. That succeeded but I managed to capture a few letters. I have no idea where they came from.

I also had to use a border to hold in the bottom which looks like a mistake. It’s not. It’s just a part of the car’s hood.

The rest looks pretty cool, I think. It really needs those bright leaves to make the picture pop.

All of this was done in camera with just a bit of tuning up in editing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the weather.


A mystery wrapped inside a riddle/

All patience is gone. I’ve had nothing but technical problems here. I spoke to the minions — oh wait, I meant automattitions — at WordPress. They say that I don’t understand the block system. Really? Nobody understands the block system. The only people who really do are the coders who work for their VIP clients. Brands like The New York Times, Federal Express, UPS and so on. Clients with entire technical staffs, a few of which are dedicated to their websites.

Well, I’m just me.

I don’t have a staff. I have about a thousand things a day to do. None of those are about photography. Photography? Sheesh. No wonder I think that I have a shooting block. I don’t have a block. I just have no time. If I had a client of course I would have time. These days clients are far and few between. That’s in both industries.

So, I work to improve things within my own realm and that goes bonkers. We decided to change checking accounts because our bank has no branches in Louisiana. It’s a quirk of state law. We open a new checking account, while leaving the old account open.

I should have known better.

The first thing to know is that we keep a solid balance in our working accounts. We also have credit cards with that new bank. Had them for years. I paid one of those credit cards from the new checking account.

A few days after I tried to pay the credit card bill, I received an email saying the money was returned because of some refusal to pay.

WTF?

I contacted the bank. Three agents later the problem is declared repaired even though they can’t say what the problem was.Of course, during that time, the entire bank’s computer system went down. Thisn’t some small commercial bank. This is a major institutional bank.

Guess what?

Yesterday I received the same notice about the same payment. And, today I received the same notice about another payment.

I give up. I should have known better.

So, on Monday, I get to start all over again. For the third time.

Art. Before I get started, I’m still unhappy here. I tried to tell those minions about the drop cap problem. If you flip the little switch to start a paragraph with a drop cap, the software moves the drop capped letter to the end of the word. No. It should be at the beginning of the word.

I guess what it really comes to, after reading both main subjects, is that technology is not my friend. It never has been. It’s just that I’ve learned enough out of pure self defense that I’ve fooled myself into thinking I know something.

Anyway.

The picture is layered. Two pictures create a third new one. It’s about a little vision and a lot of tinkering. It’s time consuming. Even though few people aren’t working, and time doesn’t really matter, based on the number of emails and PMs I receive, it seems like many people still want a shortcut to doing what it’s taken me close to 50 years to learn. Either I’m stupid or they are lazy. I pick the second one.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other.


All night.

Happy Thanksgiving. May y’all be blessed with the riches of the day whether you are lucky enough to be with family or happen to be alone.

During this weird pandemic year of 2020, some celebrations must be put aside so that we can celebrate in the future.

The word today on the socials is #gratitude. It’s a great word.

Think about what is good in your life. Simple things are often the best. For me, The words to an old Traveling Wilburys song popped into my head. “I’m just happy to be alive…” That line was sang by the late Tom Petty.

That was true for me in the late 1980s and early 1990s as it is today.

There are plenty of other things to be grateful for, but that is the most basic need.

And, you? What are you grateful for?

Don’t ask me. I have no idea why when I add certain borders to a picture it goes crazy.

This started out as a simple night photograph. Then, blammo.

There is no technique that I can tell you about. There is no trick to this. I just added a border.

I’ve been looking for a little magic. I guess I got some.

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Stay home. Enjoy all the cranberry sauce.


Light from behind.

Nature. She never sleeps nor, does she stop. She’ll take away and add all in the search for stasis. That’s why I’m pretty sure CoVid19 os nature’s way of telling us something’s wrong. If only we’d listen.

Fighting nature is the wrong war. We’d be better off if we do like I do with the all seeing cocker spaniel. When she shows me something I stop and look. She’s mostly right.

Some people get confused. They say that they pray. To God. But, they don’t heed nature.

Now wait a minute.

Think about this. What if nature is God’s tool to make things happen? If you don’t believe in God, there is still nature and all her calming or violent ways.

Heed that.

We talk about the consequences of the general election that is a month away. We talk about democracy being at stake. I believe that. But, what’s more at stake is something even more basic. Mother Earth. Save democracy but loose our planet, our home, and what have you got?

Not much.

The pictures. I was lucky. I made two pictures that work except for one small thing.

Contrast.

Photographer’s luck came into play. These two pictures found me.

Luck cuts both ways.

I saw the pictures. That’s good luck. I was using my smartphone. That’s bad luck.

Bad luck because there is no way to control contrast. So I present you with circus pictures.

I’m not a fan of circuses.

Anywhere.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Prepare to vote.


Love, Love, Love…

The picture. Some of our neighbors hire professional gardeners to look after their yards. It’s about this time of year that people start clearing out undergrowth and dead bits from vegetable gardens and so on. We do this because we have two growing seasons. We plant in October for spring crops. We do that because of temperate winter climates. If winter turns cold it lasts for two days.

So.

The all seeing dog and I were out on a walk. I’ve never noticed the sign in the past. Apparently, the gardeners cut just enough brush to reveal it.

I thought, now that might make a picture especially in these days of hate and rage. We could use a little love just about now.

I didn’t do very much to it in post production. But, I did make it happy and glowing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy every taco.

A long time gone. It must be at least four years since i saw a love sign. At one point they were all over the city, especially in Central City.

Nobody knew who was putting them up. Whoever was doing it either had mad climbing skills or a ladder. The signs were at least 10 feet above the ground, nailed to a power or telephone poles.

The city was going through a very violent period, sort of like we are going through right now.

The streets were getting out of control. Things came to a head when a little girl who was celebrating her third birthday was killed during a drive by shooting.

The NOPD started cracking down because they feared the revenge killings would really spiral out of control.

All of a sudden, LOVE signs started popping up everywhere. I’d like to say that they helped, but things started calming down.


Looking forward.

New Orleans.

You don’t think of my city this way. It’s true. We are funky. We are old. We have many buildings that are well over 100 years old. Houses in the Garden District are 150 years old. My first house in the 7th Ward was built in 1837. It was the second common house that was built on a plantation that grew indigo. You know. The stuff that makes your blue jeans, blue.

First and foremost for most of our history, New Orleans is a port city. A business hub. People worked here to sell cotton, sugar, rice. They imported coffee and vegetables from South America. The Bywater, which has become gentrified and a place to go for dinner and to stay in Air BnB lodging, was the country’s chief importer and processor of coffee. And, bananas.

That’s all changed. But, we still have a pretty good-sized business district. These days a lot of former office spaces have been converted into condo and high-end apartments.

After all, our biggest business is tourism.

That’s kind of too bad. We’ve gone from making, and doing, to serving. That happened long before my time. I have no issue with that except… the local newspaper just published a study on salaries in the service industry.

Unless you have a name as a chef or something equivalent, the highest pay you’ll make is around $14.85 per hour. It goes down from there. That’s not good. Not in a city that has rapidly gentrified. Not in a city where most of the folks who are part of the culture that tourists come here to see can’t afford to live here. In a city where most of the folks working in the service industry have to have more than one job to afford the rent.

I know. I know. That isn’t limited to New Orleans. Some places have it worse. Much worse. Think about San Francisco or Los Angeles. I grew up in Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. If we sold everything, I’m not sure we could go back to my home even if we wanted to. I’m not sure that I do. I think it’s crowded and traffic is terrible here. Think about the Los Angeles region. Sheesh. It would drive me crazy.

The picture. Not a drive by. But, a drive through. I was waiting for the light to turn green. The light you see towards the bottom of the picture. I decided that I liked what I saw so I made the picture. I’ve done that in the past as I passed through the French Quarter on the way to some place else.  I actually proved a point with this picture. An editor with whom I work wants me to photograph something specific. It needs a city-like background. She thinks of NOLA in the same way that so many people do. The funky, old French Quarter. I emailed her this picture. Now, she thinks differently. The funny thing is, if you are walking up Bourbon or Royal streets, you can see this if you just look up. Too many people are looking down into their hurricanes and wondering where the time went.


Fire hydrant and words.

A little change.

Something a little more grungy. A little more urban. A little more made by hand.

Some people think graffiti is some kind of blemish. A kind of destruction. An attack on civilized society. Others think it is a kind of street art. I fall into the latter category. Sometimes. Some of this is just tagging for tagging’s sake. Leaving a mark.

It gets controversial when an artist like Banksy came to town a few years after Hurricane Katrina. He tagged 18 buildings. Almost immediately, 17 of his works was painted over in gray, by a guy who took it upon himself to cover all graffiti with gray paint. The remaining one was removed along with the wall on which it was painted. The owner of the building did that. He also had it restored a bit, and it is now on display as part of another show.  I think it just opened.

I made these four pictures in The Bywater. I also turned the graffiti into my own art by cropping in camera and then bringing out the color in post production. On the other hand, if I actually knew who did the original tagging, I would love to credit them too. Unfortunately, unless you know the taggers’ work by name, secrecy is kind of the whole point.