One night, lonely.

S

ometimes the pictures are better along the way rather than at the event I was going to.

I was going to photograph Krewe du Vieux which is one of the earliest parades of Carnival. The parade was as I expected, too crowded and nowhere to do work arounds. Oh yeah, with the exception of a few pools of light, everything was in shadows.

I made some okay pictures at the parade, but this was the best picture of the night. It’s prime French Quarter. It’s got a food store that mostly sells alcohol, a bike and a guy in a hoody waiting to do God knows what.

I think this was the beginning of Mardi Gras 2020, which means two months before we were blamed for holding a massive super spreader event before anybody knew what CoVid 19 could do.

It was so weird back then. In many ways, I’m glad I stayed out of the crowds as best I could. Which brings me to…

We’ve been watching a Netflix produced three season show called “Formula 1-1, Drive to Survive.” It’s a deep story about the story of Grand Prix drivers and the teams behind them. It’s very, very good.

We are into the third season. 2020. It took us right back to the confusion of the early days of the pandemic.

The first event starts in Australia, where the drivers and teams have just started hear about this new virus. They had no idea what to do.

Quick backstory. The drivers are great athletes. The train in all sorts of ways to handle the stress of driving a car at 200 mph without dying. They are smart as hell. And, they are personable.

Back to the story. One driver finds out that the virus is called Corona Virus. He walks over to a hospitality tent, pulls out a bunch of beers, hands them all around and he kiddingly says, “This will take care of it.” Corona Beer.

Anyway.

The first five events are cancelled. Everybody goes home. The first Grand Prix is held in Austria. Everything has changed. The teams are wearing masks. The drivers, who normally sign autographs with whatever pen they are given, tell their fans they can’t use other people’s pens.

Keep in mind, this is real life. There are no actors.

One more story.

In 2019, there is a heartbreaking accident. It starts out with Lewis Hamilton (at the time he was four time world champion and the face of Formula 1 Motorsports. He’s now six time champion and still the face of the sport.) He’s casually talking to some media and looking up at a monitor. He says, “Oh wow,” and stops the interview. His eyes were wide open.

There was a horrible accident. When Netflix didn’t show it, I knew. There was a fatality. A young driver racing in the Formula 2 category was killed.

The next scenes are heart rending. Drivers, like anyone who does something dangerous, are brothers. It doesn’t matter if they are normally competitors. They gathered on the track, in circle. They prayed. They shared stories about the driver. His helmet was on a stand. One by one they put their hands on it as they left to go to their cars.

Then, they drove as hard as they could.

Y’

all know what I’m going to say about this picture. There’s nothing to it. Except that I can hand hold a camera in available darkness.

You probably can’t.

One day I won’t be able to hand hold a camera at night. That might be now since I haven’t tried in a long time.

We’ll have to test that out one night.

But, not tonight.

I have other work to do since I slept on and off until 2:39 pm.

That’s what watching Netflix will do.

It was some start to my very busy schedule. I’ll start tonight and work tomorrow and catch up.

I think.

Let’s get back to the picture for a minute.

One of the reasons I learned to hand hold a camera is because of a theory called, “Shoot and scoot.”

That means if I keep moving there is a lesser chance of being mugged or killed for my photo gear and my wallet.

Think about it. Using a tripod forces me to stay in one place, maybe for too long. On the other hand, it could be used as a weapon if the timing was right.

I’d rather not need to do that.

So, I make a few pictures and move on. I tuck my camera under my shoulder so that in low light it’s not easily seen.

It’s worked for a long time.

Then, there’s the swagger theory.

It works this way. Working photographers sometimes develop a pretty good way of walking, like a swagger, but not. It works best, when you’ve got about a third of cigar in your mouth and are surrounded by smoke.

Nobody messes with that.


G

oing where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. That’s what the song says. That’s what it felt like on many days out there in the high desert.

This is the other end of Central Avenue, Route 66. In Albuquerque. It is a business district. When I lived there two old school camera shops were within short walking distance. One kept shrinking but still exists. The other went out of business a few years after I left. I had nothing to do with that. I swear.

The light of New Mexico draws many artists to the state. Like this. Light that I had to tune down in order for it to make sense.

I may have made a mistake in doing that because it’s been a long time since I saw that light. My mind is playing tricks on me.

Hey! What was I doing again?

This is actually a picture a day image. I used to pick good times of day to look around. That increased the chance of what I call photographer’s luck.

That’s really luck that you make yourself, usually by walking outside of your door and taking a look around. Or, by using bad weather to make better pictures. And, by standing in front of better stuff.

That’s all I know. And, that’s really all you need to know about the philosophy of making photographs.

T

his is a drive through kind of picture. You can tell because a normally straightly aligned street is tilting to the left.

That’s because I put my camera on the dashboard and let it do it’s thing.

It did its thing, alright. I’m lucky this picture exists. It set the F stop at 1.8.

Huh?

Something like this should be at least f 11. Maybe even a smaller aperture.

With such a gross over exposure I’m lucky that I could fix in post production.

There shouldn’t have been enough data in the file to produce any kind of image.

Let this be a lesson to you. Check everything. Control your camera. Don’t let your camera control you.


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.