More than you know.

These things are delicate, very delicate. They usually last less than a day. Wind, water and animals destroy them just by touching them.

They can be very hard to photograph. Get too close and they sway in the light breeze you created. Get even closer, touch them and they fall apart. Stand over them to make a picture like this one and your shadow makes them too dark, which is why you should wait for an overcast day.

It’s a timing thing. It always comes down to timing. I suppose that’s what I call photographer’s luck. Look one way and you see the picture. Look the other and… nothing.

When I post to Instagram, it’s all New Orleans culture and locations. Yesterday, I posted a picture of a Black Masking Indian that I made during Big Chief Bo Dollis’ funeral.

A woman who is a friend of a friend really liked it. She said so. I thanked her and replied, “Photographer’s luck.” She replied with “LOL,” and some laughing emojis.

She mostly photographs birds and flowers.

She has no idea how hard it is to work in the street during any of the cultural events that I photograph. I always liken it to working in a rugby scrum. There’s pushing and shoving. There’s twisting and turning. There’s looking and seeing nothing.

Making a picture in that environment is damn near impossible. And yet, we do it. Almost every Sunday. Or, at least, we did. Maybe, soon, we will once again.

I still say that after not being able to properly mourn our New Orleans dead for over a year that we need one giant second line and jazz funeral. God’s own second line. Twenty divisions. All the social aid and benevolent societies. All the Indians. All the brass bands. Let it stretch from one end of the city to the other. Thousands of people watching and dancing.

Wouldn’t that be something?

And, that’s how I got from a dandelion to New Orleans culture.

As I wrote on the other side it’s hard to photograph these delicate little wildflowers.

They are easy to find during springtime, but you have to work carefully in order to get even as close as this picture is to photographic perfection. And, that’s not very close.

Even as good as the base exposure was, the picture needed help. It looked too thin to my eye.

So, I layered it. I layered one finished layer over another. The picture looks richer and fuller. And, it doesn’t really look that over done.

I fine tuned it a little and I was done.

It didn’t take all that long to do the work, but I had some idea of where I wanted to go which wasn’t far.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all your days because you never know.


Green. The color of spring.

Symbol.

That’s what this picture brings to mind. A symbol. I saw this little weed growing through a gap in the concrete and I knew. I knew that we would keep on hanging on through this dark time. A time of uncertanty and fear. A time of outright greed and corruption.

And, that’s not out on the street. That’s in The White House.

When I heard Jared Kushner say that the national stockpile of medical goods was not the states, but theirs, I knew. He and his fellow administration members want to monetize needed supplies by selling them to the highest private bidder, who will in turn sell them to hospitals. I knew. I knew that we will have to fend for ourselves because this White House will kill us all if we don’t.

So.

It’s time to prepare as best we can. To use all of our resources. To use all of our creativity. To beat this virus. And, them. I no longer want them voted out of office. I wanted them imprisoned. I want them stripped of their ill gotten fortunes. I want them to rot behind bars.

I have been calling this time and place, life during wartime. It really has turned out to be that. This is not a political thing. A red v blue state thing. This is about surviving a dark hour.

Yes.

Many people are pulling together. Doing the right things. Our city and state government leaders are doing just that. Leading. There are governors, including ours, who are doing incredible jobs. Even the mayor, of whom I’m not a big fan, is doing just great.

I read a story in the New York Times about a landlord who owns twenty buildings. In Brooklyn. About 200 to 300 people’s housing. He forgave their April rent, saying that they should take care of each other and keep food on their tables.

It’s at the federal level that the problems begin.

If the Jared Kushners of this world aren’t corrupt than they are merely incompetent boobs. Kushner has never actually succeeded at anything. He blew a hole through the Middle East Peace Process. He bought property that should have never been bought. He ran his father’s business into the ground. The golden spoon in his mouth does not mean anything when he has no talent. No ability.

Angry? Me? Hell yes.

The world is in the toughest fight of our lives. These bastards who claim to be leaders want to pillage us. They want to line their pockets at our expense. They want to revive their now failing businesses with our money.

I’m not sure which is worse. The pandemic or the corruption. You can tell me. Please.

I won’t be around, but I hope in 40 or 50 years that the history books will decribe this era as one of the worst periods in all of modern civilization. I also hope that they will discuss the heros — famous and unknown — who did their level best to help us to survive.

Stay safe. Care for each other. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Stay indoors. Vote when it’s time. Enjoy all the bacon.


Like a firework.

Nature’s handiwork.

I’ve heard this little round, normally white wildflower called a Clover Flower. It may very well be because it grows in small patches of clovers. Three leafed ones, not four. Or, it just might be a local phrase.

Obviously, I did a lot of work in post production. But, it’s not what you think. I did not add color, I removed the haze caused by the white color to reveal what is underneath. It’s really something, isn’t it?

This way of working is really a large press printer’s technique. It’s really contra to normal instincts.

I learned it from a long time veteran of working on big presses. He could print anything, repair bad color film and fix design mistakes. All, on press. I learned as we worked on big jobs. There is no class that you can attend. There are no set of tips that you can buy. You have to live it on high pressure, tight deadline projects. I worked with him for seven years. I probably know 10% of what he knows.

You’d think that I’d be done learning about photography. But the same thing holds true as it did learning to print books. After 45 years I probably know and understand 10% of the photo knowledge that is floating around through history.

I don’t believe that anybody can know it all. I see the compiled knowledge as something akin to understanding Photoshop. That software is so big and all encompassing that you learn just enough to do what you do after a steep learning curve of five years.

I suppose the bottom line is simple. There are no tips or tricks to turn a person into a great photographer in a very short time. True, you can fake until you make it by copying others work, but where’s the fun in that?

The fun comes in the process. All art is a process.

Enjoy that ride.

The results will come in time.


Those little bulbish things turned into this.

Looks like a southern winter.

Bright yellow and deep greens along with some unknown flower.

Debra, a blogging buddy, asked if i could post a picture when the little yellow pods turned into something. They only took a few days, but here they are. Pretty little wildflowers.

Wildflowers?

I thought that they were growing out of some Elephant Ears. They aren’t. They are growing very near to them. I learned that by finding some of them growing in the grass by themselves. They weren’t all that colorful and healthy. I think that is because the ones in the picture grew recently turned soil that was mixed with fertilizer.

Partial mystery solved. It’s partial because I still have no idea what they are called. I’ve also stopped called wildflowers by their negative name. Weeds. These are not weeds. They are wildflowers.

Happy weekend.

 


Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair. A song. 

Color.

For the most part, our spring color has come and gone. It came early. It left early. Luckily, the wildflowers, er weeds, started making their appearances.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Color. Bright color.

Yesterday was a bad day. It shouldn’t have been. It was my birthday. Not my natal birthday, but my other one. I made it to 27 years of constant sobriety. It means a lot to me. Without that, I wouldn’t have the things I have today.

My neighbor gave me the best birthday present she could have. She’s been sick. She’s had every kind of sinus and lung issue you could have. I had the same, but it came and went. Her’s has been going on for at least a month, always getting worse.

She’s also a smoker.

Instead of fighting it, she took her illness as a sign. A sign for clean up time. She’s quitting smoking. She’s not a heavy drinker — a glass of wine a day — but, she’s giving that up. And, she’s going to eat better.

We’ll see how far she gets, but everybody in this house supports her fully. I even get to be the cigarette nazi, just in case. Oh boy. Oh boy. Said with a very evil grin.

The rest of the day? In a word? Sucked.

I spent a good part of the day arguing in public about the legal ramifications of copyright, a subject which I’ve been forced to know well. The person with whom I was arguing was a friend. I respected him for his work in the community and his work in his profession.

When he started getting personal, I did what I always do. I slowed down and I started digging around. He hasn’t worked in his field in a year or two. He really never had the national honors that goes with his work.

This makes me sad. I haven’t confronted him and probably never will. I’ll do the other thing I always do. I’ll stay away. Probably for good.

This entire argument taught me one more thing. A lesson in how fake news builds and is spread. The folks who believe in him starting posting things that had nothing to do with the subject at hand. They were so out of line that I became a MAGA and POTUS supporter. WTH? Y’all know my feelings about that and him.

Yes. It bothers me. And, it will for a long time.

Life.

The picture. Another experiment in how I see things. This actually took some doing. My shadow kept getting in the way. And, when I contorted myself in a way to stay out of the picture, I started falling over for no other reason than even at my healthiest, I’m not built to stand that way.

It’s always something.

Today started much better. Although the sky is dark and rain is falling in buckets, I have no computer issues — that’s how my day started yesterday — and my housekeeping tasks are going along pretty easily. Of course, it’s more quiet than usual. When it’s dark and rainy, the dogs like to sleep in. Lazy dogs.


Dandelion.

What is it?

A weed? A flower?

We started this discussion yesterday. Since I like nature’s offerings, I think this is a wildflower. It’s fragile. You can blow a dandelion away in a couple of seconds. Its seeds will be scattered. You’ll be sneezing. You’ll deserve it.

Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

Don’t mess with anything. Leave it alone if you find it on a walk. It’s not yours. Make a picture like I do. Walk away. I have what I needed. I didn’t handle it.

Look at it. It’s the first time that I’ve thought to photograph a dandelion straight down. And, I left it right where I found it.

So.

So many pictures. I promised this discussion yesterday. It’s prompted by two blogs that I read. One, by a friend, and one on Photoblographer, an online magazine.

My buddy was talking about getting back into posting after a layoff because he retired, moved, and in general, he ripped up his old life. He was talking about creativity to which I replied that most photographers aren’t creative. They follow each other around taking the pictures that their peers did before them. I said that they should stay away from tripod holes. And, find their own picture.

Photoblographer broke yet another story of a photographer cheating and winning a lot of money in a contest. He presented a picture of a Vietnamese woman and her two young children as something he just sort of stumbled upon. To him it was either photojournalism or documentary photography.

It wasn’t either.

Another picture revealed the truth. There must have been a dozen photographers taking the same picture. They were either a group being lead in a photo walkabout. Or, they were taking a workshop and the woman and her children were hired models.

No way in hell is that photojournalism.

I expected the comments to just destroy this cheating photographer. That’s what usually happens. Oh no. Most of the writers tried to justify what the cheating photographer had done. They split hairs saying that the scene was real even though a group of photographers was taken there to take the picture.

What?

The entire scene was staged and by extension, every picture that was there was also staged.

A couple of commentors not only split hairs, but said that so many pictures were being produced on a daily basis that the people who saw the picture would either forget it, or just wouldn’t care.

Huh?

When did we become so jaded that honesty stopped mattering?

They all said that the leading picture social media site — Instagram — had something like a billion pictures being posted every hour. That’s a lot of pictures. To be more precise, that’s a lot of bad pictures. A lot of derivative pictures. A lot of scenes that were designed to be Instagramable. A helluva a lot of free marketing and publicity. And, a lot of selfies.

When did photographing — or, rather taking snapshots — matter so much that people trample all over everything in order to stick their face in front of some scene? That trampling all over the massive spring blooms in California looking for perfect selfie matters more than the flowers themselves. When did losing your life in order to take a selfie at the Grand Canyon become more important than just enjoying the place?

Sure, over the length of my career I’ve been in some sporty places, photographing some scary things. But, documenting those subjects mattered. I wasn’t trying to take a picture of my face in front of something. And, I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing and how to mitigate the risks.

So.

So many pictures.

I just hope it slows down soon. I can say this after almost 50 years of making pictures, sometimes it just isn’t worth it. These days when I find myself standing in front of some kind of beauty, I make a conscious decision not to make the picture. To stand there and just enjoy the moment. To let it soak in. After all, it’s way better for my soul, my heart and my brain.

And, you?


Smaller than you think.

Now that I’ve been seeing things again…

I see everything. Little things. Tiny things. Details of huge things.

This little weed — at least that’s what’s it’s called by people who manicure their lawns — is smaller than a U.S. dime. That’s our ten-cent piece to those of you who don’t speak in American English. A cent is like… oh, never mind. 🙂

I think of these so-called weeds as just another flower. In nature. Like all flowers, they are built to spread pollen and therefore, themselves. They may hurt the greenness of some people’s lawns, but they don’t hurt me. Or, most other people.

This all came to me while I was watching a bit of a CBS new program called 60 Minutes. It was a rather long story that dealt with animal genetics, how to breed better animals, how to have an adoptee raised by other animal parents and whether less genetically endowed animals should be given some kind of birth control.

Of, fer gosh sakes. (This is a family blog)

Animals have been taking care of their own needs for years and years and years. They did it well before humans thought we needed to help them procreate. Or not.

This is technology and data run amok.

Of course, this is being written by a guy who dislikes zoos and roots for the animal when some dummy trying to prove something stands on a fence and falls into the lion pit. What can I say? I get along with alligators. And, lawyers.

The picture. I’d like to say it’s something the dog saw. But, she was busy. Taking care of one of her needs. I made it with my “ancient” iPhone 6 that has a kind of telephoto-macro function in the camera ever since the last patch or two of the latest operating system was installed. It’s not exactly macro and the picture did take a bit of cropping to get it where I wanted it to be, but it worked out fine for Storyteller.


What the dog saw. Part one.
What the dog saw. Part one.

We have a lot of dogs.

I’m sure you know that if you’ve read Storyteller for any length of time. If the truth be told, we don’t have any dogs. They have us. They run the house. The know what time they want to eat. They tell us when to go for walks. They protect the house.

Just as well.

Dogs act in the moment. They don’t hold grudges. They are happy to see their dog friends. And, their people friends. In many ways, they are a lot like little Buddhists.

About that telling us when to go for walks thing. They don’t all want to go at the same time. Some like to get up early and get us up early. Others want a later walk. Or, two. We don’t mind. It’s good for them. It’s good for us. Since I always carry my smart phone, I decided to start making pictures with it. I photograph whatever they see. Whatever I see. The dogs are all pretty patient. It’s their walk so we go wherever they lead us. If I stop to take a picture they wait. They could tug and pull but they don’t. They wait.

The picture. And, the series. This, as they used to say in the newspaper business, is an occasional series. I shoot every day. I just don’t know if I want to turn Storyteller into a dog’s eye view page. So, you’ll see “What the Dog Saw” maybe once a week, or every ten days. Something like that. I’ll mostly keep publishing as I usually do.

And.

About the upriver flooding. For the couple of you who’ve asked about helping out, thank you. You can see my suggestions in the comments of yesterday’s post. For those of you who are wondering how it’s going, I’ve mostly been sharing on Facebook or Twitter. Once things settle down a little bit, I’ll drive up and make my own pictures. For now, more photographers is the last thing those people need. Besides, I’m really not a news guy anymore.


Dandelion
Dandelion

Dandelion.

This is what I found.

Blowball, Cankerwort, Cochet, Common Dandelion, Couronne de Moine, Dandelion Extract, Dandelion Herb, DĂ©lice Printanier, Dent-de-Lion, Diente de Leon, Dudal, Endive Sauvage, Fausse ChicorĂ©e, Florin d’Or, Florion d’Or, Herba Taraxaci, Laitue de Chien, Leontodon taraxacum, Lion’s Teeth, Lion’s Tooth, Pisse au Lit, Pissenlit, Pissenlit Vulgaire, Priest’s Crown, Pu Gong Ying, Salade de Taupe, Swine Snout, Taraxaci Herba, Taraxacum, Taraxacum dens-leonis, Taraxacum officinale, Taraxacum vulgare, TĂŞte de Moine, Wild Endive.

Guess you can call it whatever you want. In almost any language.