Free falling.

T

oday got rolling just about the time I got up. I told you that I was going to get busy. I didn’t think that I meant right this second.

I thought I could cruise into the work a little bit at a time. Silly me.

I made my first mistake when I started listening to music. I started with something soft, slow and nostalgic. I almost couldn’t get started. I switched things up. I started Playing a playlist called “Ray’s Mix.”

Yeah. That’s me. I made it when I thought making play lists on Spotify was important. It’s loud. It’s s noisy. And, I know all the words.

Anyway.

This one will keep me working for hours.

I’ll keep this short. Work awaits.

Darn.

D

o you want technique? This one should fill you up. To the top.

The picture really is about nothing. Since all art is autobiographical what does that say about me?

That aside, this was a picture made from desperation. Or, it was an attempt to come back from wandering in the wilderness.

I made the picture, developed it and thought, “Now what?”

I removed a lot of color and muted it. Then, I tinkered around with different modification filters until I came to this place.

The picture highlights something I’ve been saying, and saying, and saying…

Go outside and take a picture. You’ll find one, or it will find you.


T

here haven’t been very many new pictures made this week. I haven’t been inspired or pushed out the door, which is the usual fix.

I was working in my so-called digital studio when I saw the afternoon light playing on the walls. I just photographed what I saw. You are seeing some of it now.

An espresso cup, mini blind, Alexa and a test print, and the light underneath two photographs that first caught my eye.

All things around me.

Don’t ask about the mini blinds. They came with the house. I was going to change them out, but they are great for shutting out light so they live on to blind me to the light on another day.

Alexa needs cleaning. The print above it is a test print. There are two tests going on. The first is that it’s an early smartphone picture enlarged to 13×13 inches. It held up just fine.The second is a longevity test. It’s been hanging for six years. No fading yet.

The brick wall is where I first noticed the light and the lightbulb went off. Pictures. Pictures. Pictures.

And the espresso cup. What can I say? What is there to say?

Let this whole exercise be a lesson to me. There are always pictures floating around. They just have to find you.

M

y question was how far to take these images in post production.

The answer was not very far.

All I really did was clean things up.

That was enough.

I also tested a different kind of picture grouping template. I don’t see that it’s anything different than I could have done by hand.

I suppose that normally I’d have a big picture followed by three smaller ones.

But, that’s about it.

I am very, very slowly starting to use this block (head) system. I’m just not sure that it’s worth the time.


All on a wall.

The caption says it best.

All on a wall.

I was headed to my car after having coffee with Kim of Glover Gardens. She happened to be passing through on her way from Bay St. Louis to Houston. After she went her way and I went mine I saw this art-driven store. I looked in the window, but what I really liked was this wall. I think the door is their delivery door.

But, that wall.

I have no idea where these creatures came from. Or, from whose twisted imagination they sprang. It didn’t matter. I liked them. So, I photographed the wall. It’s been a long time since I did anything like that. I used my baby Leica. The whole thing made me smile.

Leica glass. Not only is the lens very sharp, but the resolution is amazing. There is another quality that I’ll call richness and depth. This is a flat wall with paintings on it. Look how the creatures just seem to be popping off the wall.

It reminds of the days when I exposed a lot of film. I shot slides in those days. I could tell the difference between slides made with Canon or Nikon cameras and those that were made with Leicas. There was just this sort of special quality about them. Apparently, Leica has been able to translate that in the digital world.

Magical.

 


A little cinematic.
A little cinematic.

This is Netflix’ fault. Or, Amazon Prime’s. I forget which one.

I started out with a nice simple graphic image of an abandoned pay phone. It was cleaned up nicely by whoever owns the boarded up building. There is no actual phone and all the wires are removed. It looked sort of cool as a graphic image so I took it. I did my usual post production and let it sit. You know, marinate.

Then I was watching some weird movie. On Netflix. Or Amazon Prime. I liked the cinematics, so I thought “why not?” Why not, indeed. That’s why it’s one of those streaming services fault. They got me thinking. That’s always dangerous.

I started tinkering around. This is where I came to. Because of the way the colors were laid down, there is sort of a heart shape surrounding the phone. This could be some kind of weird Goth Valentine’s Day card. Or not.

Or, is the picture better in its most minimalistic form? Blue and Gold? Contrasting colors?

By the way, in either case, the biggest eye-catcher for me is all those lines. Horizontal and vertical. And, you know me. There really is no better or best. There is only just different.

As I saw it.
As I saw it.


We all go... in circles.
We all go… in circles.

Sometimes you see it. Sometimes you can’t miss it. I was on my way to someplace else when this wall just reached out and hit me in the head. Right between the eyes.

Sheesh.

How could I miss this? I intentionally left out anything that could add scale, but the biggest circle is at least 15 x 15 feet. The circles are attached to the side of a building. I’m sure that it works as a landmark as well as some kind of marketing. But, there isn’t a sign, so I don’t know what these circles are selling.

Someplace else was the Sunday second line. I arrived there. I looked at everybody lining up and left. I couldn’t do it. I’ve being coming to this moment for a while. Not only I have still not recovered completely from last week and my aches and pains, but I’ve been losing my desire. I was talking to a friend of mine last week via email and she said that maybe it was time to stop for a while. Maybe the project was over. That I’d made a lot of good pictures. I replied that I’d gotten a little OCD about it and that it really wasn’t a project in the sense that it has time limit.

So.

Like many things in my life, I decided on the spot. In the moment.

But.

Not to worry. I talked to my gurus when I got home. That was after wandering around and doing what I do. Photographing what I see. In bright color. After I made today’s picture. With their sage advice, I decided how to move forward with New Orleans culture. I won’t photograph EVERY second line. I’ll photograph the bigger ones, the jazz funerals and when visitors want to go out and see something that they normally wouldn’t see. We have a lot of visitors around this place. But, that’s great fun. Just seeing the looks on their faces is worth being out.

We’ll see how that goes. Knowing me, I’ll probably let myself get drawn back into it fully. But, I need a little break. At least.

The most interesting thing about this is something you don’t know. That I don’t say out loud very often. I truly dislike crowds. It has nothing to do with anything like crime or violence or any of that stuff. It’s just me. But, I’m proud of myself. If you looked at my second line pictures you know one thing. I’m right in the middle of crowds. Big crowds. Moving crowds. Noisy crowds.

This picture. I saw it. I stopped. I worked it. I have a lot of variations on this theme. I doubt that you’ll see them. I was taught very early on that in cases like this, more is less. Absolutely. Give ’em your best picture. Absolutely.

In case you are wondering, I enhanced it a little in post production. But, mostly just to add color to the already bright color.


It's the wall that first caught my attention.
It’s the wall that first caught my attention.

This is a detail. That old saying doesn’t apply here. Devils are banned from this place. They can’t be in this detail. All you have to do is read the sign. What devil is gonna mess with a Central City pastor? The interesting thing about this little parking lot is that I’ve driven by it many times. It’s located on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. But, I never noticed it. I guess the combination of very few people out on a late Sunday afternoon kept me from being distracted, and that amazing winter light must have lit the wall just enough to catch my attention. There is one other detail that caught my eye. This building isn’t great and the paint probably isn’t the best, but look at the drain pipe. Somebody wanted to “class up the joint” by giving it a two-tone paint job. Red on red. Very cool.


Someone got even.
Someone got even.

They say, “Don’t get mad, get even.”  It appears that someone got even. Or not. It could be the taggers whose “work” was painted over. It could be the guy who lost the business that was once located in the building.  Or, it could be an angry neighbor. Maybe, artists having fun. Or, just a bunch of passing kids. Likely them.

This is another one of those pictures that I made on the way to some place else. This place in on the river side of a street called St. Claude which is a main street running through the 9th Ward. I almost didn’t stop. But, I’m glad that I did. Once I started photographing all the brightly colored splats I could hardly stop laughing. Sheesh. I’m laughing now just looking at the picture.


9Ward-4 copy
The new levee designed to protect the Lower Ninth Ward

This picture may just seem like a bunch of lines and sky. But, it’s far more important than that. For those of you who watched Hurricane Katrina destroy The Lower Ninth Ward as well as about 80% of New Orleans, you know that it was not the hurricane itself that did the job. It was the failure of the levees. There were over 50 breaches, including two major breaches along the Industrial Canal which turned The Lower Ninth Ward into a wasteland of water, mud, broken homes, twisted trees and overturned cars and trucks. Yes. There were also many people who died there, making most of The Lower Ninth Ward sacred ground. It is also important to know that the levees did not overtop. They were breached mostly due to poor design and shoddy maintenance. In fact, the levee protecting The Lower Ninth Ward had a hole blown through it that was a quarter of a mile wide. Even a barge managed to float through that giant hole. Many local people call this The Federal Flood because of those failures.

The levee you are looking at is the new Industrial Canal levee. It is armored. It is sunk deeper into the ground. And, it held fast for the last hurricane, which was last summer’s Isaac. With luck, we won’t see a storm with Katrina’s strength and potential for significant damage for many years to come. With even more luck, this levee and all the new levees around the city will hold.

The picture. It’s sort of hard to made such a simple picture, so I worked the picture a little more than normal in post production. Hopefully, it worked. Sorta. Funny about that simplicity thing. The older I get, the more I try to work towards simplicity. But, it isn’t easy.