Magic sky.

Still waiting.

Seems like that’s what we do. Even though we said that 2020 would be good. That the year would be positive. The first ten days have been anything but that. I’m sensing a very palpable uneasiness. It’s not just me. A lot of people feel it too.

It’s not politics. It’s not just the impeachment, or the failure of government to do their constitutional duties. It’s something else. It’s bigger than that. Something’s coming. And, as I used to say many years ago, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I said that was after looking at the hurricane maps for Katrina.

I have a nightmare feeling about Mardi Gras. I’m not going to tell you. But, I don’t think the Iranians are done yet.

Just sayin.’

That feeling is reflected in my work. The pictures are getting darker. If I photograph something bright and shining I leave it in my archives. I look for scenes that reflect my thinking. After all, they say that artists make images that are autobiographical. The rest of you make your own meaning. Success means that you see and feel things the way that I see them.

Some 2020, eh? Still I’ll hold onto my word for the year.

Anyway.

This picture was bleak. Too bleak. So I added a little color and some strange shapes to it in post production. The picture has a little smile to it now. I think.

The only thing I know to do these days is just to keep going. Art harder as a friend who lives in Memphis says. Play harder. Work harder. Whatever you do, keep doing it. Harder.

There. Is that positive enough?


A little rain must fall.

Winter.

The first day was stormy. It wasn’t a heavy rain. But, it lasted all day and night. The dog who sees stuff wouldn’t go out except to do what she needed to do. The rest of the dogs acted about the same way.

If I wasn’t so lazy I would have gone to the Quarter and made some nice reflection pictures. My agencies would like that. Of course, they way they license images these days it doesn’t really matter. Some agencies are going to a modified royalty free system. Royalty free is a misnomer. It doesn’t mean a client can use a picture for free. It means that they don’t have to negotiate.

Here’s the problem for photographers.

That generally means that we earn less per image. Agency managers say that we’ll make it up on volume. That sounds like the old joke that goes something like this, “A small business loses money on every item they sell. That’s okay, they’ll make it up in volume.” What that really means is that they’ll just lose more money faster.

That’s happening across the arts.

Unless you are well known, or have a long career, or are a shining star, arts like writing, photography and music are so oversaturated that most people can’t support themselves working at their art. This has occurred for three reasons. Disruption. Democracy. Recession.

Disruption and Democracy go hand in hand.

Digital nerds decided they could do things better and cheaper. Sometimes it works. Mostly it doesn’t. Disruptions generally means the products, whatever they are, don’t get better. They get cheaper and worse. Democracy means that the tools to make something are easy to use partially removing the gatekeepers. Once again the the quality declines and the products get cheaper.

Recession.

When the country tanked in 2006-2007-2008 at lot of people lost their high paying jobs. Some lost their property and homes. Many of those  people decided that if they couldn’t make their usual wages, they might as well have fun. What emerged was a glut of wannabe writers, photographers and musicians of all stripes. Most had no idea what it means to be an artist. Even if some of them had the talent, they didn’t take the time to let it mature. They want tips and tricks.

That lead to our current state of affairs.

Too much of everything. Lesser and lesser high quality products being released. And, a general lowering of prices across the board. There is even an agency that doesn’t pay royalties. The photographers license pictures for exposure. WordPress recommends that writing bloggers use them.

This is the long way of explaining why I’m lazy. If I went to The French Quarter in the rain and worked, I’d get wet. I’d run the risk of hurting myself because of my “bad” left leg. I could damage my gear. And, with our great drivers, I could get in a car accident.

I’m willing to risk all of that if i could make some money with my pictures. But, I can’t say that I will. Sure, it’s still fun to do. But, slipping and falling scares me. Speaking of that, after the first of the year I’m going to have  “Come to Jesus” meeting with my doctors. My issues need to be repaired, not masked. I don’t want to live this way any longer.


Driving in the rain, which really wasn’t a storm.

The rain.

Running errands is a good time for to make pictures in the rain. I just have to be a little careful, and be considerate of other drivers who are probably grumbling at the rain… and me.

I’m not sure how well you can see it, but there is a pickup truck in front of me. It looks like we are about to collide, but no worries. I’m stopped at a traffic light as the truck crosses in front of me. That’s why other drivers were grumbling at me. I was in the right hand turn lane and not making a move.

Oh well.

Grumble, grumble, toil and trouble.

There are a couple of different events that I want to photograph this week. There is second line in celebration of the late Dr. John’s birthday. We were born on the same day, 13 years apart. I’m going to pretend that the second line is for me. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t.

Then, on Saturday, the children’s parade is being held in Treme. That’s always fun, except when one of the kid’s mothers gets overly protective. They are tough. I don’t want one of them being angry with me. I wouldn’t stand a chance.

In between, I’m going to commute to Brooklyn. But, that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say that there is music to be made.

On Sunday, I may photograph the Men and Women’s Original Buckjumpers second line. I keep saying that I’m done with this project, but you know me. I can turn on a dime.  Besides, that’s a really fun and colorful group.

This should be a good week of photographs. I’m excited.

What are y’all photographing or writing about this week?


More like fall.

It’s about time.

The rain poured out of the sky. The cold weather arrived. The leaves turned yellow. They began to fall. We finally had golden leaves in the swamp.

I made this picture yesterday afternoon at about 4pm.

There were a lot of leaves already on the ground. Looking up however, was a little marvel. The leaves of fall.

And, I didn’t have to travel to Vermont to find them. I didn’t have to go to New Mexico, either. Nor, did I travel to Virginia. Or, to the Upee — the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s not that I don’t want to travel. But, I travel enough.

There are a few more little trips coming and then it’s 2020. The whole thing starts again. Another trip around the globe.

Anyway.

This is a great Sunday picture. I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I tinkered and made it more like an etching than a photograph. That’s not to say that the very purest picture, almost right out of the camera wasn’t pretty good. After all, how hard can it be to make a picture when nature does all the work?


Droplets.

First, the rains came. Thunder too. The mixing of two weather systems.

When we ventured outside, man, it was cold. And, windy. The dog who sees things wanted no part if it. She knows a few words. One of them is walk. She hears that and waits by the leashes. Another is home. She hears that and heads straight for home. This morning we went out. She did her business, as they say. She stepped away from that, I asked, “walk?” She stood there. So, I asked, “home?” She headed right back through the gates.

Just as well.

I knew the weather would turn cold. Well, coldish. I didn’t think I would feel that cold. I rarely do. I did. If we had continued on I would have been freezing by the end of the walk.

It’s always something.

A few days ago I was complaining about the unseasonable heat. Now, I’m complaining about the cold. No, not really. I was just surprised this morning.

The picture. We’ve had rain for parts of three days. We also live in a semi-tropical swamp. That means that while many of you are living with dead things, our plants don’t go dormant. In fact, some continue to grow if the weather never drops below freezing for more than a few days.

I know. I know. Green in the autumn. It’s maddening to some of you.

I just saw the picture while we were walking. I thought, “ah ha, that’ll get them.” So I pressed the button.


Late blooming summer flower.

While I was walking.

I spotted these tiny little pink flowers.

They are located high up, growing from a sort of ivy that covers a chain link fence. As we enter into September, this is the time of the summer season when most flowers are dying. Green trees look faded. Not these flowers. They are new blooms. I realize that we have year round growing seasons, but they normally start in late February and again in October.

This summer has been more moderate than past summers. The actual temperature has not risen to 100 degrees. The air is a little dryer now, but when it was wet we did have “feels like” days when the combined temperature and humidity rose to around 110 degrees. But that happened early in the summer and it wasn’t often.

It still could happen. We normally don’t start drying out and cooling down until mid to late October. Even then, we have warm days. We rarely have a white Christmas, but sometimes we do have a warm Christmas.

That’s life in the swamp.

The picture. Old school approach. Many youngsters have no clue how to do this even though DSLR cameras and some phones allow you to do it.

I metered very tightly and from the lightest point of the flower. I wanted the flower to have shape and detail. I wanted the background to be dark. The white part of the flower is at least a stop and a half lighter than the darkest areas of the picture. It enhanced the drama and draws your eyes to the center of the picture without much post production. Ask if you have any questions.

Happy Sunday.


Rain, rain, rain.

Rain.

We, in New Orleans, get a lot of it.

It doesn’t stop us. Usually.

It certainly didn’t stop these two women. They were soaked through and through. What did it matter if they got even wetter? Besides, when was the last time that anybody saw Bourbon Street without crowds at night?

And, she’s wearing flip flops. Normally, that’s just an act of craziness. If twenty people don’t step on your toes, consider yourself very lucky. Besides, you don’t want to know what covers that street on a normal night. By the end of the night, Bourbon Street truly stinks. I’ll leave it at that. Y’all have good imaginations.

The picture. It’s one in a series of “lost” pictures. That rainy night in the French Quarter sure added a lot of magical qualities to the image. Water. Reflections. Wet people. All I had to do was be willing to get wet. And photograph what I saw.

Simple.

 


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.


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.