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