T

he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

P

ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


The streets were wet.

One of my road trips during the PAD days was to Reno, Nevada. There is a story behind this adventure which I’ll tell in a bit.

I drove from Albuquerque through Las Vegas and north on state route 95. I stopped along the way. I turned a two day trip into three.

I made a huge amount of signature pictures. Most of that was just due to timing. Arrive at a place that you want to photograph in good light and guess what happens.

When I arrived, I was tired, grumpy and wet. The grumpiness was at myself. Nobody else. I checked into the hotel at time when nobody was traveling. The hotel was a pretty good one, but my room cost ten dollars.

The front desk manager took one look at me and upgraded my room without asking.

What a room.

It was one of those high roller suites. It was located on a very high floor so I could see the city. It had a huge bigger than kingsize bed, a 60 inch television right in front of the bed. If you didn’t want to watch anything you could lower it and see the rest of the room.┬áThere were sitting areas with couches and deep, plush chairs.

There was a heart shaped couples bathtub in the room. There was a shower for two. There was a wet and dry sauna. And, get this, the minibar was free.

I stayed three for three days. Thirty dollars for all of that.

Anyway.

My parents retired to Reno. They also passed in Reno. They are buried at the veteran’s cemetery in Fernley about 15 miles away. That’s really why I came. When my dad passed I promised myself I’d come every two years.

I’m sorry to say that I was last there in 2007. Fourteen years. That’s too long. Maybe when I feel like it’s safe to travel I’ll go there. It’s gonna be a long road trip.

I like road trips.

If the weather is my kind of weather, it’ll take me a week to get there even though from New Orleans I’ve only added an extra days driving time.

Maybe the fall.

Picturing things, I walked out on the street into the pouring rain.

I din’t care. I was wearing rain gear, my cameras were protected and I felt like making pictures. After all, that was the secondary reason for this trip.

I had dinner in a Thai restaurant that I knew from past trips. I finished that and started walking.

I walked up behind this couple and started making pictures. I never look at my work even when I return to my hotel room. I had no idea what I had until I returned to New Mexico.

It may be superstitious of me, but I never look. Or, it just may be the realization that I can’t do anything about a blown set of pictures.

The take away is that this picture was made in the camera. The only change I made in post production was to sharpen the image a bit.

When the picture is right, it’s right.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Look to the west.

We listened to a podcast this morning that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a conversation between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s not about that. Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, this is worth listening to. You’ll learn something about the two men. More importantly, you might learn something about yourself.

They discussed their fathers and how they helped them grow, or didn’t. Mostly, they didn’t. Obama’s heritage is well known. Springsteen’s not so much.

I relate to Springsteen’s story much more than Obama’s. I’ll stop there because I’m not quite really explore those depths and write about them. Let’s just say I am what I am despite my upbringing.

Springsteen did say something funny that can be taken one of two ways. He said that he dresses like a blue collar worker, but he never worked a day in his life. You can take that at face value.

Or.

You can take it the way that I did. Even though every musician that I know says they are working or that music is their job. It’s the kind of job that they love doing. In that way they have never had a job. They enjoy what they do.

Do you?

Into the sky. That’s what caught my attention. The crazy, almost exploding sky.

Look at it. Please.

It’s almost like an upside down beach with the waves leaving trails in the newly exposed sand.

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one like this.

I did what I could to make the proper exposure so that it would be easy work in post production.

I helped it a bit. The result is what you see here. For me, the real trick was to keep the buildings in silhouette while retaining just enough light on them to let them glow.

Let’s see what happen today.


The region of storms. And, kings.

The rain came down. Then the temperature dropped. Finally, we are turning a corner into pleasantness. At least, for now. The passing of winter to spring is always interesting in the swamp.

May you have an interesting life is one of the most harshest of Chinese curses. I think most people are like dogs. We like routine. That’s what’s been so hard living in the pandemic era. Routines are blown. Lifestyles are blown.

We’ve lost a lot. Everything is changing. Nothing is normal, or at least what we used to call normal. I’ve discussed that a couple of times. The new normal is a chance for us to do better. At least I hope that it is.

I have a better sense of hope, even though you can’t eat it, as Neil Young says.

But, with the change of presidents and governing administrations issues are being dealt with in an efficient manner. I just wish the other side would stop lying. The New Green Deal, which is only an idea, did not shut down power in Texas. Nor, did it blow out all kinds of water pipes.

I don’t see the gain in saying such nonsense. Eventually, the truth comes out. Especially these days when you don’t have the last president creating chaos everyday just to see his name out there. That noise is just about gone.

Yeah. He’s gonna run again. After four years of healthy change even his base is not going to be interested. Yeah. He’s going to start a new social media. Just like his steaks, wine, and university.

He’ll be so buried in legal issues that he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to suck money out of the last true believers to pay his legal fees that he’ll never raise his head again.

Now, that’s hope.

See where the picture of the rainy street lead me.

Now, that’s imagination.

drive by shootings. No. Not those kind. The kind where I make photographs from a moving car.

I’ve discussed this enough in the past that you know I don’t take silly chances. I’m not going to get hurt, nor am I going to hurt you.

Look at the picture. Not a car close enough to see me.

The real trick to this picture and the other picture from a couple of days ago is to find a color palette that makes sense for the subject.

The next trick is to be able to duplicate it in such a way that you can make subtle changes to suit the picture.

Once you’ve figured that out the rest is easy.

To be sure, the subject really should dictate the color palette. I don’t think bright, sunny scene would look great using this one.

Stay safe. You know the rest. Enjoy every color palette.


Cold, wet and slippery.

The cold weather came. It won’t leave. As I write this the temperature outside is 24 degrees. We should warm up sometime tomorrow.

Luckily, the rain stopped falling. The sun is shining through broken clouds. Clouds hold warmth in, so you know what this means. Colder still.

Yesterday was the saddest, coldest, wettest Mardi Gras ever. Sure, some people came out. They masked both ways. They wore their protective masks. They wore their Mardi Gras costumes. We call that masking too.

Of course, today is Ash Wednesday. The day when Catholics go to church and have an ash cross drawn on their foreheads. It’s the beginning of 40 days of sacrifice called Lent. I wonder how this is going to work out in the era of distancing and masking. If I were a better Catholic than I am, I’d just go and find out.

That’s a whole other story.

So.

This is a current picture. The first in ten days. I was excited to make it, even if it almost killed me. Oh well. Sometimes you have to decide if the pleasure is worth all the pain.

Making photographs is my one great pleasure. Note the word “great.” I do plenty of other things that bring me pleasure. But, photograph is the main thing.

Let’s see what you think. What is your biggest source of pleasure? What are the minor ones?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy all the weather.

Rain. You’d think that in Southeast Louisiana we’d know how to drive in wet conditions.

Oh no.

Most drivers are bad enough during the best of times. When the roads get wet, they forget what little they know about driving.

This is not a rant about local drivers. It’s the long way of saying that when I make a picture on a larger sized street I’m taking my life in my hands. Working on an interstate highway is much easier.

It’s also a way of saying that, both of my hands are on the steering wheel. I’ve talked about this previously.

I make sure the camera, or in this case, the phone is set on auto everything. I brace the camera, on the steering wheel. The only part of my hand that leaves the steering wheel is one finger or thumb. I just hope that the lens sees as I want it to.

The lens was close, but not quite there. If you look hard enough at the bottom of the picture you can see a bit of the dashboard. It’s part of the picture so I left it in.

I’ve been softening backgrounds in post production. I like it because it helps to enhance the subject by not being sharp.

I also like gauzy clouds.

That’s it.

Oh, this is not in New Orleans. I made this picture in Kenner after coming home from a CoVid-19 test.

No worries. My doctor wants his patients to take the test three days before the procedure.

If you recall, I took another test last week. But, the procedure was postponed because of… a CoVid-19 scare.

In many ways, that’s photographer’s luck. If I didn’t have the test I wouldn’t have been in a position to make this picture.


Someone had fun.

Not my normal location. Wandering from my normal scenes lead me to find these shoes. I have no idea why they were left behind. But, they are neatly aligned as if someone was returning to get them. I don’t know what the soles look like, but it could be that she was slipping and sliding. It could be her feet and shoes got soaked, so she left them to dry in the rainy weather.

It could be the she is a he.

This is a good example of photographer’s luck. If I hadn’t started running errands, I wouldn’t have seen these shoes. Many people don’t believe in luck, but I do. At least in small doses like this.

The second interesting subject in the picture is the moss. After three days of intermittent rain, it is flourishing everywhere. I’ve never seen it in a parking lot, but during 2020 anything can happen. Most of it bad.

However, as we come to the end of what was a very brutal year, maybe it’s time to look forward, to look at the little things that may actually be just a bit good.

I’ll tell you what a really good thing is for me. The background noise has been tamped way down. The current President of The United States is not in my head as he has been for the last five years. Yes, five years. He got into our heads from the moment he rolled down the golden escalator.

His steady drumbeat was brutal. Now I have to seek him out. Don’t get me wrong, he will make plenty of noise between now and January 20, but it’s irrelevant.

Not only is that a small thing, but it feels really good.

Shoes. To me, in my doddering old age, they look like nighttime shoes. Shoes that you’d wear to a night of dancing. But, what do I know? Today they could be worns on the street with jeans or shorts

Anyway.

I found them without the help of the all seeing dog. I was running errands. She was home sleeping or annoying the other dogs.

I did it again. I saw it. I framed it. I pushed the button. The day was overcast so I didn’t have to deal with harsh light, shadowss and contrast.

Development and post production was minimal.

That was it.

Shoes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


The truth.

The truth about nature.

She does whatever she wants. You can’t control her and you can’t predict her. It seems to me that she is showing that in three ways. We can’t get our arms around a rampant virus. The west is burning. And, we are being threatened with two hurricanes at once.

We dodged a bullet with the first hurricane. Marco was downgraded to a tropical depression. All tropical storms warnings are removed. She glanced off the coast of Louisiana, making a kind of landfall well west of New Orleans. This, despite the exhortations of the big name weather people on The Weather Channel.

All I can say about that is I want one of their jobs. They are wrong 90% of the time. They act like idiots and yet they keep their jobs.

There is some question about Hurricane number two. Laura has not yet entered the gulf far enough to know where she is going. NOAA, who I trust way more than any weather channel, says that she is headed to the Texas-Louisiana border. She won’t come anywhere near us. With luck, that won’t change.

They say that if you talk about the weather you have nothing to say. They is wrong.

If you live down here you talk about how hot it is. You talk about how humid it is. You talk about how wet it is. You talk about hurricanes and tropical storms. And, for the few days when the weather turns cold, you complain loudly about that.

Anyway.

The Picture

The one thing that the storm brought is amazing skies. I couldn’t help but make a good picture. Or, twenty. Or, 391. I didn’t go that far, but you know what I mean. I know you know.

I did help this picture some. I added a little color to a very monochromatic picture. I did that in a surprisingly weird way. I used the fake bokeh tool. See that little thumb print looking thing on the left above the power pole? That’s bokeh. Supposedly.

Oh yeah. I added a border. I’ve been doing that lately as a way of finishing a picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Take care of each other. Enjoy every bowl of homemade soup.


As dusk arrives.

Thunderheads.

I suppose they are a summer event. I’m pretty sure most of the country has them, although growing up in California, I don’t remember seeing them.

I was drawn to this cloud from a distance. That sideways V caught my eye. I was hoping that it wouldn’t fall apart before I arrived at a location where I could make a nice photograph. The problem was with the all seeing dog. The heat index was through the roof. She was taking her time, sauntering along. I never rush her, but I was kind of saying, “come on, come on.”

We got there.

We always do.

That’s the case with most time-bound events. You always get there, usually on time. At least I do. I try to keep an old Chinese saying in my head. “Go slower, Go further.”

I suppose I could look at photographing natural events as, “It’s just a picture. Missing it won’t kill me.”

Yeah. Right.

This might not work for you, or you, or you. That’s fine. Work at your own pace.

That’s why within certain agreed upon concepts, photography is wide open. I remember the big Golden Rule debate of a few years ago. Newbies, without actually learning what it meant said, “I’m not following any rules.”

Oh, fer…

It’s just a mathematical description for what occurs in nature.

Settle down.

Take your time. Read. Practice. Learn. Rinse and repeat.

That’s my giant photo lesson for today.

The Picture

I told you how I found it.

There was also a technical issue. What part of the scene is most important? Get that straight in your head and expose for it. Obviously, I was interested in the cloud. I knew that certain parts of the picture would be dark or in silhouette. That worked to my advantage because it framed the picture.

I seem to be looking to the sky a lot. That’s much better than looking down at my shuffling feet. Anything helps in this pandemic era.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy the summer skies.


Life on the surface.

May.

Bill Gates and the surgeon general agree. We will finally see a turning of the tide in mid to late May. But, but, but… only if everybody in the entire country does the right thing and self isolates.

After seeing pictures from around the country, I don’t believe that will happen unless the president declares marshall law. Many people are just plain stupid. That sounds harsh. Don’t endanger my life and I won’t call you stupid.

I think the newness of staying at home is wearing off. If we have to stay home until sometime in May, we will probably look like people coming out of a bunker during WWI or WWII.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

In New Orleans businesses are hunkering down. Grocery stores are taping off six foot areas at checkout counters. They are building plexiglass wall between the checkout clerk and the shopper. Many businesses will not take paper money. Many business will not survive.

Me?

If I am going to the store, buying gas, or going to the pharmacy I wear rubber gloves. I don’t know who or what touched the very thing I want. I certainly don’t know who touched the keypad or nozzle at a gas station.

A photographer colleague did a video about despair. It’s very good. If you aren’t there yet, you will be. It more or less describes a hopeless future. The only way through is something that I’ve written (I knew I understood something, so there.). One day at a time. Or, as we say in the rooms of AA, if need be, one hour at a time. Or, one minute at a time. And, stay focused on whatever it is you do.

Because my mind was scrambling some things, I followed the advice of another blogger. Create a schedule similar to the one you used in early times. You know. Three weeks ago. Follow it. You’ll do what needs to be done and maybe a little more. You won’t be lying on the couch watching cartoons all day.

One more thing. Get dressed. You’ll feel a little more real even if time has no meaning. I liked wearing my pjs the first week. Later, I realized that I spent way too much time sleeping or watching television about nothing.

The picture. I put the smartphone down on the ground. I moved it around while looking at the LCD and made a few variations on a theme.

Stay safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

Say a little prayer for a friend of mine’s father. He is a little older than me. (The father, not the son.) He is a Vietnam Veteran. He’s one of those guys who never really came home. That’s sad enough. He has CoVid19. He’s on a ventilator. About 12 hours ago he had less than a few hours to live. I have no idea if he made it through the night.

My friend lives in Bloomington, Indiana. His dad lives in Fresno, California. Even if he could get there, he wouldn’t be allowed to see his dad. He will never get the chance to say goodbye.

That’s just horrible.