About passings.

We were talking.

A friend and I.

About music. Musicians. How fast time seems to be passing. How old they are getting. Compared to us. Seriously, they are around ten years older than I am. That’s not much older.

This morning, I learned that Gary Duncan passed. He was 72. He was one of the founding members, as one of two lead guitar players, of Quicksilver Messenger Service.

You’d have to be a fan of San Francisco music from the 1960s and 1970s to know who they were. They broke out along with Moby Grape, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. The so-called San Francisco sound.

In Southern California, where I grew up, we had the Los Angeles sound. Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Doors and The Beach Boys were among the household names.

Both musical sounds are my bedrock. Sure. Earlier, I listened to my parents music. Big band. Show tunes. Some jazz. I broke away from that when The Beatles, Rolling Stones and the rest of the British Invasion poured through the radio sound waves.

But.

I started to come of age with California music. I am forever grateful for that. Rest in Peace, Gary Duncan. I’m sure you are playing around with Skippy Spence. And, your co-lead guitarist, John Cippolina. I’ll save Skippy’s story for another post. I barely know John’s story.

Which brings me to stories.

Today is the last day ever of our New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune. It was bought by the competing paper, The Advocate. They sort of merged. The masthead will have the T-P’s name over the Advocate’s. For now.

By completing the merger, they had too many editorial staff members. So they terminated all of T-P’s staffers. They gave them two months notice because they had to under laws governing mergers and acquisitions. They kept producing quality journalism.

Eventually, they rehired 6 or 7 of the former staffers back at 20-40% lower salaries. The rest are looking for jobs. Some are creating start ups.

As the days wound down, the soon to be ex-reporters started asking what stories we, the readers, wanted told. For the last month or so, they told a lot of my kind of stories. Little stories. With little pictures.

The best kind.

Any newspaper can publish big national and international stories. The buy AP memberships, the subscribe to New York Times or Washington Post feeds. That’s easy. You pays your money and you get your stories and pictures.

But, little stories.

The kind where reporters talk to local people about, well, anything. Why are you interesting? What makes you a little different? Or, a little the same? And, that’s where some of the best pictures are made. That’s what I think.

Anyway.

I have no idea what my words have to do with my picture. Except to say that everything flows in its own good time.

Gary Duncan passed because it was his time. The newspaper merged and partially closed because printed newspapers are coming to an end. Actually, almost anything printed is coming to an end.  A smart newspaper owner, at every level, has long ago made the digital product the prime method of delivery. Papers like the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are great examples of that.

There’s more.  Just a little.

Online newspapers can’t make the advertising money that they once did. The business has inverted. They need your subscriptions. Paid subscriptions

Yeah. I know. We are in the era of “nobody wants to pay for nothing.” Artists of all stripes suffer because of this. If you want us to produce, we need the money to produce.

In the journalism world, it’s different. If you want to hold people accountable, they must be exposed. Usually by reporters. Photographers. Editors.

Journalists.

That costs money.

 

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Flowing water.

No. I didn’t.

I didn’t forget about it. I bet you thought that I did.

The water project.

I work in bits and pieces. I keep ideas filed away in my brain. When I see something that I think might work I photograph it. That takes time. I find if I look for these elements of a little collection, I could probably complete a project in a week or two. It’ll look like that’s what I did.

That said, I found another picture for my dumpster series. Somebody threw away a lot of old wooden furniture. This was quality stuff. Fairly old. At least made in the 1930s. I looked closely. Dovetail joints. Very good details. Wonderful drawer pulls.

Sure. All of the pieces would need refinishing. Some would take more work. Most wouldn’t take very much at all. There were no holes that needed careful repair.

I have no idea why anybody would just toss it. If I had the ambition to work on it, I would have taken it. Even if we couldn’t use it, we could sell it. I’m sure by now a couple of the regular junk collectors have picked it up. They’ll sell it as is.

Anyway.

This picture might become one of my water collection. After looking at it enlarged, it’s going to take a lot of work to make it the kind of reproduction quality that it must be.

I made the original image in a very contrasty and backlighted situation. I really had no tools to control the original exposure. As you see it, there are deep pools of black that should be opened. It is too contrasty. The highlights are plugged up as a way to control some contrast.

If I’m going to do this project properly, I’m going to have to take a pass on my phone. These situations are just too hard for it to handle even with auto-HDR settings. I’m going to have to carry a real camera everywhere. Like I used to do.

That’s not a bad thing.


Reflections.

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

See those little white dots? They are little flowers blown off of a bush. That’s what I set out to photograph. Rather than work tightly, I used what amounts to about a 28mm lens. It wasn’t until I started framing the picture in the LCD that I realized what I had.

I captured a late spring or early summer picture in blue. In my swimming pool. Nature was just floating around. I only made a couple of pictures. This one, another slightly tighter horizontal picture. And, a couple of vertical pictures which didn’t work at all.

The image took almost no post production. Mostly, I just tuned it up a bit.

How you see the picture is up to you. We all make meaning of art in different ways, based on our own personal experiences.

I wonder about the future. The future of photography.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at the pictures other photographers posted. Before I get into this, please know that I don’t take the so-called wisdom of the crowd all that seriously.

What I found was interesting. The truly unique and challenging pictures had almost no likes. The derivative, technically current popular ways of working had many, many likes. This is partly due to the Instagram effect and young photographers trying to gain popularity so that the become influencers. That may have mattered once to image users and buyers, but that ship has sailed. They know that the waters were very shallow.

If anything, Instagram and Facebook have hurt photography. If you follow the crowd and play for likes and reposts, you’ll never break out. You’ll never really find your own style. You’ll just be copying some other photographer, who copied some other photographer and… you get it. Out of that comes a new photo philosophy. “Fake it until you make it.”

Copy other photographers work until you learn enough technique to start trying to make your own pictures. I don’t know when or how that came to be. It’s the worst possible thing to do. I was taught about 150 years ago to photograph my world as I saw it. Sure. Some of my early work wasn’t all that great, but it taught me to think for myself.

Certainly, some photographers influenced me. They still do, today. But, I didn’t copy them. I learned a lot from how they thought. I learned a lot from how they worked. But, I never set out to make a particular picture like one of them did.

That’s it.

As Sam Abell said, “Take YOUR picture.”


Drifting.

Drifting. Floating.

It’s pretty much the same thing.

Air. Water.

Does it matter?

It’s gentle.

A good way to start the week.

I made the picture on Sunday. You’ll see it on Monday. Either way. It’s the beginning of the week. For some of you.

I’d tell you more. But, what’s to tell?

Enjoy it for what it is.

But.

For technically inclined.

I’ll tell you a bit about the post production. If you’re old, like me, you’ll know. Back in the good old film days, we used Polaroid film much like we use an LCD today. We took a picture with a Polaroid camera to check the framing and lighting. It was hard to check the exposure. Then, we used a film camera to make the real photograph based on what we saw.

We usually threw the Polaroids in the trash.

Some smart art photographer realized that by pressing the wet Polaroid film onto a piece of art paper you could transfer the image to the paper and make — you guessed it — art. It was tricky. The pressure had to be correct. Timing was essential. Usually you managed to make one out five transfers close to the way that you’d hoped.

It fell out of vogue.

Now you can do it with editing software.

That’s what I did.


The thing that I saw.

This is what I saw.

I told you about this yesterday. I made this picture in the Lower 9th Ward. Houses stacked on other houses. Houses stacked on cars. Cars completely left to die after the water finally receded.

The Lower 9th Ward was a vibrant community on the downriver side of the Industrial Canal. It more-or-less sat by itself away from the rest of New Orleans. It started out as small truck farms feeding the restaurants of The French Quarter. Most of the folks who resided there lived in old family homes, many of which were built between 1900 and maybe 1930. They were smallish. They were insured for replacement costs when they were built. The houses passed from family member to family with out a deed or proof of mortgage.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Without the proper paperwork, FEMA funds and LRA funds were unavailable to the people who just lost everything. They might be able to file an insurance claim and be paid at full value. But, a house built at 1,200 square feet that cost maybe $8,000 to build in 1920, cost about $200,000 to replace. The current family members didn’t have that kind of money. The original insurance had never been upgraded and they couldn’t qualify for Federal money.

The community pretty much died.

Sure.

There was actor Brad Pitt’s foundation called Make It Right, who built maybe 40 new homes clustered around one or two streets. That didn’t make a dent. Worse, the very high end architects who volunteered to design energy efficient modern homes didn’t design houses for our very extreme climate. A number of them have serious issues. One was demolished because it couldn’t be repaired. Make It Right doesn’t seem to want to repair the others. As usual, the whole thing is ending up in court.

That’s the story.

Thank you all for your comments and good wishes. They matter. A lot.

I’ll post like I did yesterday when I can. But, producing yesterday’s post was very emotionally draining.

The picture. I saw it. I photographed it. This is a kind of photojournalism so I don’t tinker with it except to correct things like color and contrast. I do remember that when I made the picture it was so hot. So humid. We had one of those hot, hot summers. That’s what heated the gulf, which fueled the storm, which destroyed 80% of the city. Then, there was the smell. The stench of rotted everything. Of mold. Of the oil and chemicals that flooded everywhere. That’s what I remember when I look at this picture.


Bubbling water.

It started by accident.

Accidental approaches are a way of life for me.

Water.

Remember, I wrote that I wanted to do a project about water. I bet you thought that I forgot. I didn’t. I was wrestling with photographing water as a photojournalistic story. Or, as a set of art pieces.

Because of my training and background, my first inclination was to look at water with a photojournalist’s eye. That started an internal fight. It went back and forth.

Until.

I was walking and saw water bubbling through a little man made stream. I photographed what I saw and I knew.

Art.

That’s where I’ve been headed. That’s what I should do.

But, wait.

There’s more.

I think that there are plenty of people photographing what it means to lose water. Or, to be overwhelmed by water, as we are near the Gulf. So, I thought that I would show the beauty of water. After all, it’s us. It’s our place. It’s the earth.

This is the picture that cleared my head.

In case you are wondering, I see this as a small portfolio of no more than twenty pictures. Twenty great pictures that will take a while to produce. And, will be printed very large. Like in measurements of feet rather than inches.

I guess I’d better start carrying a real camera with me. Even though I’m working with very clear intent, you just never know.

Housekeeping.

WordPress says that they removed spellcheck because it’s redundant to so many other systems and browsers. For those of us who actually write directly onto a WordPress page, that’s nonsense. WordPress is a closed environment. I can’t other  spell check from Google or any other browser.

I suppose they want us to cut and paste. Programmers have a way of making things more complicated. Mostly, they just don’t have enough to do.


What I saw one day.

Everything you could want.

All in one picture. Water. Leaves. Grass. Rocks.

During spring. In nature.

I suppose that there’s more. But, I don’t need much. This just about does it for me. In case you’re wondering, this is a little water feature in a pocket park near to where we live. The idea is to keep the water moving which should eliminate mosquitos, one of our summer scourges. It works to a point. At least they don’t appear to be able to lay eggs.

I don’t really know.

I do know that it works as a subject of a picture when I can’t seem to find anything better. I’ll try to do better next time. Posting a picture a day is hard work. Especially when I’m not motivated to really work at making pictures. That’ll happen. It happens all the time.

The picture. A walk. A dog walk. I saw a little different look and shape to something we walk by at least twice a week. I made a few pictures. We kept going. I tinkered with it in post production. I gave it some shape by taking away other shapes.

That’s it.

Over and out.

One more thing. I seem to be in one of those phases. I’m gathering new followers at the rate of about 25 a day. They follow, but leave nothing else. No way to contact them. No real blog. And, no way to thank them for following Storyteller. I have no idea why this happens. The only thing that comes to mind is that my new followers are taking a class or some kind of workshop. They may be instructed to follow blogs that they like. If you Google photography blogs, Storyteller rises to near the top. Most folks like photography, so they follow me.

That’s just a theory. I wish one of them would stick around long enough for me to chat with them and prove or disprove my theory.


Reflections in Time

The time changed. So did the subject matter.

Even while I was working on Mardi Gras, I had to walk the dogs. Especially the dog who sees stuff. That meant I kept making pictures around our walks. Winter changed to spring. The flowers began to really bloom. The trees began to grow new leaves and drop pollen.

My nose began to itch. Now, I’m fully stuffy. Two Clariton a day aren’t really doing the trick. The best thing we can do at this time a year is stay inside with the air conditioner running. It’s not really warm enough for cold air. But, the second word in air conditioner means the air gets conditioned and unpollinated.

I can’t do that.

There are things to photograph. Worlds to be explored.

I have my books to produce. Some still need to be photographed. Meaning I have to look for the pictures. Then, wait for the right time of day and work quickly. There are Mardi Gras Indian events to photograph. Three in about three weeks. There is other travel.

So.

I anticipate being sneezy until pollen season comes to an end.

No matter.

The picture. I made this image from two other pictures. I layered them and recomposed them as a symbol of my return from the wilds of Mardi Gras. This picture exists on this page and in my mind.

It’s a bright Sunday kind of picture.

Enjoy.

Don’t sneeze.


Drifting

Brand new. This picture.

I’m late today because I wanted to make a new picture on one of our walks. I’m not really out of new work. It’s just that nothing in my new files moves me. Another day. A new look. A change in thinking.

Which brings me to this.

We began Mardi Gras parade season last night. It was day early because the planners had to fit a new downtown walking parade into the schedule. I didn’t go.

Tonight, Krewe duVieux and Krewe of Delusion hit the streets. They walk about the same route as last night’s parade. As I write, I have no motivation. Actually, I’m not motivated  to photograph any of Mardi Gras this year.

I don’t know why.

Those in the medical and psychological world say that if you don’t want to do the things you like, it is the first sign of depression. I doubt it. Besides, one of the meds my doctor prescribed for my back was actually produced to help with depression.

I have my own theories.

First, I’ve done this for a long time. There is a time in a photographer’s life when you just sort of move on. That’s happened to me with second lines. Sure, I come out now and then. But, I used to photograph every one. It was point of pride. It’s not anymore.

Second, even though I’m in the middle of crowds when I do this kind of work, I truly hate crowds. It’s gotten worse over the years when everybody with a smart phone thinks they are a photographer.

Then, there’s the parking thing. Tonight’s parades are downtown, which means The Marigny, a bit of The Bywater and The French Quarter. Unless I get there at about 5pm for a 7pm start time, I have to walk about a million miles. My poor back, medicated or not, hurts after that.

For the Uptown parades, it’s a little different. I know when to go. I know where to park. If I get there a couple of hours early. There, I have a routine. I go to my local coffee shop, have a coffee and maybe a snack. I hang out with the local cops who are working there and the I photograph before the parades roll and follow them a bit. That’s not boring to me because every year it’s different. And, that’s where the big marching bands rehearse and sometimes have sound offs where the play against each other. That’s the best thing. See? I like that. Depressed, my behind.

Of course, getting home is another question. You’d think that I could work my way through the back streets and around the parade route. But, no. Some streets are closed because street work is being done. For the last five years. I’m trapped. Until the parade and followers pass by the location. My goal is always to get home before the parade reaches our neighborhood. I can park in our drive way and walk two blocks and catch it again. I rarely make it.

So. That is my story and I’m sticking to it. Until I change my mind.

The picture. It’s a pool of water with a sandy bottom. Leaves have settled to bottom. And, droplets of a coming rain are hitting it causing circles. The rest is easy. Point the lens at it and push the button. I cropped it square because the shape suited the picture. As I’ve said before. Let the picture tell you what to do. On the other hand, I gave it a border because I felt like it. It seemed to complete the picture.

Until I change my mind.