Whew. It’s hot.

So hot.

So damn hot. There is a twitter tag called #neworleansheat. New Orleans heat doesn’t like us. And, we don’t like it.

I made this picture at about 7:00pm. The all seeing dog wanted a walk. I convinced her to wait until she couldn’t. Off we went. I made this picture at about our apex.

By the time we made it home, I was walking in a haze. Everything was shimmering. I felt like I was walking through water. I looked at little dogaroo. Her tongue was hanging out to the pavement. We made it home. We drank a couple of hundred gallons of cold water.

I was feeling a little weird. On one hand, I felt peaceful. On the other, I felt a little disoriented. I wasn’t hungry. I took a break. I laid down. Eventually, things cleared up.

Whew.

Be careful, you will suggest. I thought that I was. That’s why we walked so late. That is, until I  checked the temperature.

97 Degrees.

At 7:15 pm.

Oh, and that bad feeling?

It might be closer than I thought. We have a tropical depression in the gulf that is going to turn into a hurricane or one of those lingering heavy subtropical storms that flooded upriver Louisiana a year or so ago. Depending on which weather model you watch, we are in the middle of it. Or, not.

To make matters worse, the gulf water is hot. In the mid-to-high eighties. That fuels storms. And, in Mississippi gulf waters there is such a bad poisonous algae bloom that you can’t go in the water, you can’t eat anything caught in the water. Hell, you probably shouldn’t even look at the water.

This was caused by diverting Mississippi River waters from the north into Lake Ponchartrain. If that wasn’t done, we, in New Orleans, would have been flooded. The water from the lake flows down river until it arrivers near the Mississippi State border.

Meanwhile, the clown in the high tower was blabbering about how good the environment is doing. All the while, he is gutting environmental restrictions. Oh, he finally admits that there might be something going on. But, get this, Americans aren’t causing it. It’s a global thing, idiot in chief. Last I looked, America is part of the globe.

So.

No. There isn’t climate change.

If you believe that, I gotta a lotta junk that I’ll sell you. You’ll probably think it’s gold bullion.

And, about the cold water that dogaroo and I drank? I fill all the dogs’ bowls with cold water from the refrigerator because cold water directly from the tap is 84 degrees. How refreshing is that? It’s wet. That’s about it.

This just sucks.

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The longest day.

The goopy season.

It starts around now and lasts well into August, when even hotter temperatures dry out the air a little bit. A loss of humidity would seem to be a good thing.

It is.

Unfortunately, the temperature starts creeping into the triple digits. Like about 219 degrees.

You pick your poison.

Or, you leave.

With climate change — it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not — there are very few cooler places in the United States in the summer months. At least, you might go to a place that has a dry heat heat. Still, it’s hot. I rarely live in anything approaching cool weather from May until October.

Oh well.

So, this is the goopy season in the south. Heat. Humidity. Daily rain.

Move your camera from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the street and you’ve got condensation. On the camera body. On the lens. Do not remove the lens. If you do that you will have condensation inside the camera. Inside the lens. That’s deadly.

Instead, wipe the camera down with some kind of soft, lint free, cotton. Clean the front of the lens with something designed for that job. Lens cleaning tissue, or a micro fiber cloth. Let the camera acclimate and you’ll be good.

Some photographers wear t-shirts to use as a cleaning cloth. Fine, as long as it is cotton, not a blend, and it is clean. Don’t wipe your camera down with your lunch. Or, the egg that you ate for breakfast.

The picture. Running errands. In and out of rain. You can see a fairly good example of that in the picture. To the left, mighty storm clouds. To the center, blue skies.

This picture is a classic  example of the modified drive by. It is a drive through. I could have let my errand running partner drive. But, oh no. I can drive. In traffic. And, make pictures at the same time. Sheesh.

I think that may even be more deadly than texting and driving. On second thought, it isn’t. I put the phone or camera on the dashboard, let it focus, and I just push the button while looking at the road. If I have to react quickly, I just drop the camera or phone. Obviously, I’ve thought about it.

Also, in one way or another, I’ve done it for years. Practice, practice, practice. But, this falls into the category of “kids, don’t try this at home.”

Anyway.

This is a weather picture. I made it because I saw it. I’m not sure it falls into the group of ten great summer pictures. Yesterday’s picture did for sure. Many of you confirmed that on various social media and, here on Storyteller. Thank you.

One down. Nine to go. Or, maybe not.

Doing this is a combination of talent, experience and the luck of being there are the right time. The luck thing is a really big deal in this particular series. For yesterday’s picture, a couple minutes on the either side and scene is blown.

 


Rusted railroads.

Rust never sleeps.

That’s what Neil Young said. He’s right.

Even though I use the word “abandoned” in my tags, these old trains really aren’t. The are owned by the Louisiana railroad historical society, or whatever they are called. They are a small group. The don’t return phone calls or emails. They work on their collection on Saturday.

That’s too bad.

They will never restore most of their old property. There is just too much of it. It mostly sits rusting and moldering away. I’m glad the own this stuff. If they didn’t, it would likely be scrapped. I like to see examples of the way we used to live which is part of my obsession with abandoned old buildings, trains and cars.  I like to photograph all of that, which is what lead me to so many book contracts.

So.

This picture wasn’t made in a bubble. Even though I was mostly just returning from an appointment, I was accidently working on a book. That’s cool, right?

No long tales of the past today. That doesn’t mean my journey through the past is over. It just means I’m showing you what I’m up to right now. Quite the contrary, I think my trip is just starting for real.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. That simple. Very little post production. If anything, I tuned down the color. That Leica glass is just a little too good. That’s saying something, yes?


It’s no big deal.

It’s no big deal.

Wet weather is a way of life down here in the swamp. We live with it. We live in it. We get wet. We dry off. We get wet again. Sort of like in the heat and humidity of summer when four or five quick showers might be the order of the day.

I was talking to somebody about the heat and humidity of summer. We agree. While it gets mighty uncomfortable, we build up to it. But, for tourists, it’s brutal. They come from someplace milder, or at least dryer, and they just die in our summers.

That’s a reason that hotels and restaurants are so inexpensive during July and August. They’ll do anything to attract customers. In fact, many restaurants close for a couple of weeks during August. Not only do they lose money by being open, but it’s a good time to do the deep cleaning and other maintenance that they put off during their busy seasons.

This picture is a pretty good example of our attitude towards weather. He’s been to a grocery store and he’s headed some place else. His only concession to the rain is that he is walking his bike. He doesn’t want to hit a slick patch and end up on his butt.

My only concession to the rain was to stand under an overhang to protect my gear. Me? I don’t care if I get wet. If I wasn’t carrying cameras I’d be out walking in the wet weather.

The real trick was image exposure. I had to balance my need for blur with the falling rain. So, I focused on the rain and let everything else fall where it may. Actually, I didn’t focus on anything. I’m fairly fast at manual focus. But, rain? Oh no. I let the camera do its thing. Even with that, the rain isn’t all that sharp. I doubt with low light and such narrow parameters that anything can be truly razor-sharp. I don’t care. As Henri Cartier Bresson said, “Sharpness is such a bourgeois concept.” For those of you new to photography Google him. He is the father of the decisive moment and one of the first photographers to switch to “miniature” cameras. He used 35mm Leicas. Film cameras. Follow the links from him to other photographers. You’ll learn a lot.

And, that’s the story from my home.


It came.

A little rough.

The weather. And, other things.

In Southeastern Louisiana, we went from warm sunny days to cold wet days. In a matter of hours. It’s cold enough that we had to heat the house. The weather predictions are calling for rain tomorrow.

If that continues to hold up, Super Sunday will be postponed. It’s one thing to walk in the rain during a second line. It’s very different with Mardi Gras Indian suits. Thousands of dollars have been invested in the creation of one of them. With feathers, beads, sequins and what not, they are fairly fragile. We’ll see. Because of the fees they pay to the city for police protection and street clean up, they’ll call it sometime today. Or, not.

And, then.

A few months back I asked you to comment on hate. And, what seems to be an all-pervasive anger. I wanted to know why. I wanted your opinions. We all sort of danced around it. We didn’t come to any conclusions.

It’s a hard topic.

Then it happened again. A mass shooting. In New Zealand. To Muslim people praying in their mosques during Friday Prayers. 49 people died. A total of 89 were shot. This time, we know a white supremacist allegedly did it. Maybe with help from others. The shootings were spread live via Facebook. When Facebook took down the site, it had already been spread via sharing to all social media platforms.

A global event. That hurts every one of us. Anybody that I know is in mourning.

So.

Hate. We couldn’t come to a conclusion the last time I posed the question. Maybe we can this time.

For me, it’s getting clearer. The roots of hate come from fear. I’d like to say from stupidity, but this (or these guys) guy was fairly smart. His manifesto was long and detailed in a fairly intelligent way. It wasn’t one of those rambling things. He knew how to leverage social media for maximum effect.

Fear.

Fear of everything that is different. Fear of people unlike himself. The belief that people different from himself wanted his life and stuff. That they are on a world-wide quest for domination. It doesn’t help that national leaders are stoking the fear. It doesn’t help that the so-called leader of the United States spreads this fear, champions dictators and threaten us with his “tough guy” backers, bikers and military who he claims love him.

That has just stoked the fires of all the other fearful people. What did former fixer Michael Cohen say? That he fears for a peaceful transition if the president is voted out of office. Or, even in 2,024 when term limits apply.

Does this mean the United States is a banana republic? Nah. Not yet. That’ll take some doing. But, POTUS is trying to do just that.

That’s my thinking.

What about yours?

One more thing. Have a good thought, pray, or do whatever you do. For our brothers and sisters in New Zealand. They are us. We are them.

 

 


Big clouds.

This morning’s readings were pretty bleak.

I learned about the word deep. And how it might be the word of the year as it is currently used. Everybody seems to be diving deep into all sorts of data. Our personal data is no longer safe no matter what we do.

I learned about post truth. That this years Superbowl is perfect for the current President of The United States. Illegitimate. I don’t say that as a Saints fan. I say that as a fan of the truth.

I learned that just about everybody who knows about such things as war, safety, immigration and most world views disagrees with that same president.

I learned that the door is open to beating and hurting people who don’t look like you. Who don’t act like you.

That makes me sad.

No country for old men. Sheesh. No country for anybody.

On the other hand.

This picture makes me smile. It’s the one I saw when I made the picture of trucks and me, that I posted yesterday. Look at it. Look at the beauty of nature. Even in changing and often hard times. Look at it as the clouds blow into the region dropping the temperature by about 30 degrees.

This is the real stuff. All the rest — post truth, lack of privacy, and violence — is just temporary. It’ll come to an end. It has to. Nature won’t allow it to go on. For me, there is no debate about climate change even if the president doesn’t understand what extreme weather really means. He keeps going on about how cold it is in the midwest, forgetting that on the other side of the world temperatures are way up in triple digits. That there are some children who have never seen or felt rain because droughts have lasted for longer than their short lives.

Nature seeks stasis. She’ll do whatever it takes to balance the planet. That could mean getting rid of us. Getting rid of all the noise. Getting rid of the polluters. Getting rid of those of us who do not respect her ways.

We are already seeing it.

Brand new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was criticized for saying the world would end in twelve years. That’s not what she said. She cited studies that said we have about twelve years to do something before it is too late to do anything. She gets attacked for anything she does. Sure, sometimes her numbers are off. But, she has our welfare at heart. The point is simple. We don’t have that much time to act. Twelve years is a short time.

That’s what these clouds got me thinking about. That’s what the words I read this morning got me pondering. That’s what this post is doing. At least, it is for me.

The picture. It’s a drive by. We talked about that yesterday. It’s a fairly simple thing. See it. Make it. Yet, so much is contained within its frame. For me, a picture brings up all sort of thoughts. I hope, if it isn’t this picture, that some picture does the same for you.


Winter color.

More cold.

The few blooming flowers are no more. They don’t like the cold temperatures. They pass into another world. The world of compost. The world of endings. This happens before their seeds are passed from flower to flower. There are no flying insects to do that job.

They do another job. They catch my eye. I’m not that important. They catch everybody’s eye. That’s more important. They give us all a break from the winter drabness. I can’t imagine living where some of you live. Where you have a five month winter of cold and snow.

I complain about our hot, humid summers. At least they are bright and colorful. Until the end, when even the greenest of leaves look washed out and faded.

They say that cold winters are better than hot summers. That you can pile on the clothes. I’m not sure about that. Even with our mild cold, it takes me ten minutes to prepare. I suppose that I’m used to it, but I’d rather change my clothes and take more showers than prepare to take a walk.

Anyway.

The picture. At this time a year my eyes are drawn to bright spots, whether they are blooming or dying. I try to make a picture that reflects a flower’s life. In this case, it’s almost a macro picture so that you can see the state of the flower.

It took a little work in post, mostly to hyper-sharpen the details without making the picture go crazy with a sharpening rim. The best method is to darken the picture, increase the contrast to way more than normal and work backwards from there in small steps. It may not look it, but this image is the result of about 15 tiny steps. One of the markers that I look for is in the shadows. They are light enough to give you a hint of what is lurking there.

At the end of the day, I am balancing deep shadows with bright highlights after making the picture too dark and too contrasty in the first place. There is probably a more efficient way of getting there, but what would be the fun in that?


Fall…

It’s funny how it happens.

One day is stormy and humid. The next day the weather is cool and dry. Fall arrived. Finally.

The very weather pattern that pushed Hurricane Michael away from New Orleans brought cool air to the region. The windows in the house are open for the first time since late April. Natural cool air replaced refrigerated air. For sure, the temperatures will warm up a little next week, but the humidity will stay low. That’s a big deal around these parts.

So.

Happy Fall to us. Yippee.

The picture. There is a little bridge located on one of our walking routes. I saw the leaf on the hand rail and framed the picture as you see it. All those little glowing things are other leaves below laying on the ground. I actually tuned this picture down a little. Real world color looked enhanced.

I bought a new smart phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It is the latest and greatest. It cost about half of Apple’s latest and greatest. I have a hard time paying about $1,200 for a phone, even though it is fairly powerful computer. That’s what an Apple phone would cost.

According to the tech guys I talked with, my new phone is the best in the world. They keep telling me that I can do a lot more with it than I could with my now retired i-Phone 6. I’m sure I can. I’m also pretty sure that it is too much for me. I’m fairly technology challenged.

But.

The camera. The two cameras. Wow! The front camera, the one I use most, is 12 mega pixels. When I first started working in the digital world, we had 3 or 4 megapixel dslrs. Six mega pixels was a big deal. That went on for few years. Today, I work with 24.6 mirrorless cameras. Obviously 12 mega pixels is half of that, but far more than cameras I once used professionally.

I’m excited to see the quality of the images I produce.


Very wet, pretty hot.

Sometimes it’s hard living in the Gulf Coast.

Hot weather, humidity, extreme storms and hurricanes plague us. When the cool air of autumn finally arrives tomorrow, we will feel like we have made it through the desert into the promised land.

A huge hurricane should be making landfall as you read this. We, in New Orleans, are clear but our friends in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle are going to get hit very hard. As the storm makes its way inland it will soak the Carolinas. That’s about the last thing those folks need right about now while they are still barely recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Please. Have a good thought for all of them.

This storm is really frightening because of the way it formed. As late as last Saturday it was an unformed tropical storm. By Monday it was a tropical storm and in the past two days it developed into a major hurricane. It will make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. It is called Michael which happens to be my middle name after my grandfather who was Mikhail.

Here’s why this hurricane is so scary.

It formed quickly in The Gulf of Mexico. Normally, that’s where storms pick up heft and slow down after crossing the Atlantic Ocean forming somewhere off the coast of Africa. Normally, the pace speeds up over maybe a week or ten days. This one formed and grew locally in two days.

I think you know why. The next time your hear somebody say they don’t believe in climate change, just laugh.  They won’t be convinced until their property is underwater.

I made the picture during our last strong storm which occurred on Saturday or Sunday or Monday or yesterday. It doesn’t matter which day. Everyday is time for a big, hard-hitting storm. I changed the color palette because I want the sky to look mean and foreboding. The rest, well.