Wet and wild.

S

torms bring and leave their own unique beauty. That’s what I was attempting to capture in order to give you an idea of what it feels like when a big storm moves into my neighborhood.

I think of this picture not as a photograph, but as art. Art isn’t often literal. It’s autobiographical in many ways. That doesn’t mean the viewer must agree with the artist.

Oh no.

The viewer brings about 75% of the meaning to the work of art that is based on their own life experiences. You may see something in this work that is completely different from my intent.

As John Lennon once said when he was asked what his music meant, he replied, “Whatever you want it to mean.”

He said more in that sentence than many people can say in book.

It also confirms my own personal belief, that simpler is better.

What do y’all think?

T

his little attempt at art began as another tree picture.

Hurricane Ida brought the look of fall about two months early.

Once I stripped it down to almost a silhouette I started thinking about improvements.

Make no mistake, often improvements make the image worse. Much worse.

I decide to play with layering. This is tricky. It took me some time to find a picture that might work.

There were a lot of false starts. Finally, I located a picture that was composed of rain drops on a window.

It worked well. All that was left was fine tuning and posting it here.


M

ore water. More reflections. Even as we dry out, some things don’t change. I think most people have power. Not everyone has internet, which doesn’t seem important but in the modern world it is.

We use Cox. They don’t know what they are doing. They sent us a long email apologizing for the lack of service and yada, yada, yada,

That’s great, but our service returned about an hour after our power was restored.

I guess we are lucky.

The house suffered some damage but it is in the process of being repaired. Compared to our neighbors we did pretty well.

Now it’s time to help where we can.


Sometimes in summer.

S

ometimes in early summer the Mississippi River looks like this, especially after a very snowy winter up north. The snow melts, turns into water and flows into a local river which flows into the Mississippi River.

Eventually, the water makes its way down river where either upriver gates are opened to spread it out over a flood plain, or it arrives in New Orleans. Usually, it’s a little of both.

This is not a big deal and we are ready for it, but people who live in other places read or watch a small news item and start emailing me. I assure them that we are okay.

I know that this picture makes the river look like it’s well overflown its banks. Not really. This is the lower Westbank. The land that is flooded is meant for that. The small buildings that you see underwater is a little children’s amusement park that was designed to get wet.

After a couple of hundred years of living in our extremes, we have a pretty good idea of what to do.

That experience matters, maybe in everything that we do. That’s why experts tell us to do something 10,000 times before we are good at whatever we turned our attention to.

That’s why I suggest that new photographers slow down a little, take their time and learn for their successes and, more importantly, from they mistakes.

Besides, they could be like me. I’ve made so many mistakes that I must know a lot of stuff.

F

inding a picture like this is a case of listening to local news reports and checking the light.

The rest is F 8 and be there.

For sure, I amped the color up because I wanted the drama.

That may be the take away today.

If you are going to tinker with pictures well beyond normal, have a reason.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of well over amped pictures of New Mexico.

I lived in New Mexico. I know what the skies look like. For sure, they probably hold more color the 90% of the earth.

But, this were atomic skies, electric skies.

Don’t go that far unless you have a reason.

I’m thinking that claiming drama for a reason is a little shaky.


Summer rain leaves droplets on the leaves.

S

ummer is our rainy season. We had an amazing amount of rain this month. They said we had five times the normal amount of rain for a July. That’s something for us because July is very wet.

The constant rain gets a little bit tiresome, but it does yield scenes like this one. It’s a combination of nature and magic.

Look at those reds. Those blues. Those purples. Those colors are something aren’t they? They look like fall colors except that it’s July.

It’s all about the water.

I’ve written a lot about the lack of water in most of America. We don’t have that problem. We have another problem. We have too much water. We don’t take drought seriously. When we talk about it, it’s after ten days of no rain.

It’s a matter of perceptions.

Those of us in the Gulf Coast States don’t think about the lack of water when we should be thinking about how to distribute our water to people living in the west.

It’s a funny thing. I was thinking about all of the infrastructure proposals and I haven’t seen anything about water issues. Nothing. Zero. Zip.

Well, I have a proposal. Let’s move some of our unneeded water west. A series of giant pipes might be cost prohibitive, but maybe not. Not if we want fresh fruits and vegetables.

Or, maybe there’s another way. I’m not the smartest person in the room but others are. It’s time we start thinking about this. It’s time for those smart folks to get going.

After all, we all get thirsty.

T

his picture didn’t take much post production. I made the picture as I saw it and added a bit of color that the sensor couldn’t seem to see.

But, I only added enough color to make the photograph look like the scene that caught my attention so that you can see it too.

I had to be careful because these rich blues, reds and purples are some of my favorite colors. My natural inclination is to take them too far.

That’s the trick sometimes, knowing when to stop. Maybe that’s the trick with everything in life. Knowing when to stop.

I dunno. I’m just thinking out loud.

Maybe I should stop.

O

ne more thing. You knew it. I couldn’t stop.

Seriously, after a lot of thought, I’m staying here on WordPress.

The basic community building theory is what’s most important. I know a lot of you here. I can’t build that again, because it’s only taken me eleven years.

There’s more too. It’ll take a lot of time to build anything. Time is short these days. Time is expensive. No matter how you use it.


Asit shall be.

T

here is a lot of talk about water, especially in the West. Climate change is creating havoc, not only with heat, but with fire and the use of water.

In New Mexico the famous acequia system that provides water to farms has all but dried up.

In California farmers are deciding which crops to grow and what livestock to raise because they have no water.

In Nevada, the water that is backed up into Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam is as low as its been since it was originally filled. In the 1930s.

Meanwhile, the fire in Oregon has turned the skies of New York City gray. The pictures look great with a big bright orange sun up against a deep grey sky. But, pictures can be deceiving. How is that hurting the people of the city?

There are wildfires all over the west.

if we want, we can return to the heat. This’ll make you hot.

The West Coast was broiling a couple of weeks ago. In Death Valley, the highest temperature ever — 135*/F — was recorded one day. In Las Vegas, which is hot enough on a summer day, temperatures of 116* were recorded at 10 am.

If you can’t tell, this stuff is scaring me.

In Louisiana things seem to be normal. If anything, we are having a coolish summer with lots of rain. Of course, the minute I write that, the temperature will rise by ten degrees and the humidity will climb to numbers unknown.

If we don’t want to put our children in hell, we’ve got to get on this.

Now.

Droplets.

T

echniques and stuff. See it, photograph it, develop it, publish it.

There. Now wasn’t that helpful?

Truthfully, I made this in New Mexico, during a spring thaw.

I photographed it with a huge aperture, probably F 2 or so. That’s why there is such a tiny depth of field.

That’s all you need to know.

The rest of this side is about me. It’s about nostalgia. The pictures I’ve been publishing are of my past.

I’m not motivated to make much new work. You know why.

But, I am very nostalgic. I think I’m seeing the past fairly clearly.

This may be time to add to my pile of work.

Over the past few years some people are saying… Wait a minute. That sounds strangely like the words of the president who shall not be named.

Some of my friends have suggested that I write a book. My response has been fairly standard. “I have nothing to say.”

I’m thinking as this stuff rolls around in my head that maybe I could do it. Maybe it’s about me and what I’ve learned along the way. Maybe, you read about me. But you expand it to you, or something more general.

After all, that how most movies are made. Focus on a particular subject as a symbol for something greater.

O

h yeah. The picture to the right. More water. It was made in southeastern Louisiana. I added it because it was there.


The rainy season.

W

et. That’s what late June and July are in Southeast Louisiana, wet. If we aren’t getting a lot of rain, the skies are gray and the air is very humid.

So far, we’ve been lucky. The temperatures haven’t risen above 90 degrees except on two days and that was the high. If we didn’t have the humidity, we’d have some pretty pleasant days.

I was coming out of The French Quarter, waiting for a stop light and saw the scene in front of me. I turned off my wipers to let the water build up, raised my camera to my eye and what should happen? A businessman walked in front of me holding an umbrella.

That’s photographer’s luck.

If I hadn’t been out and about this wouldn’t have happened in front of me. There would have been no luck involved. There would have been no picture.

As one photographer says, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.”

You can’t stand in front of better stuff while you are watching your 72 inch television.

I wasn’t exactly standing, but I put myself in a position to make a fairly good rainy day picture.

Stand in front of better stuff.

O

n the left side I told you my theory of making pictures. Go outside and put yourself in front of better stuff.

That’s my photo making theory.

What I really did was make a loop from the Garden District through a bit of Treme and into The French Quarter.

As I left the Quarter, I drove through the CBD and part of Central City, where I turned, crossed the streetcar tracks and went home.

That took me a couple of hours. I could have driven faster, but what’s the point? I wouldn’t see anything. You know, that better stuff.

I think I made a total of six pictures that I liked well enough. And, this picture that I like a lot.

Development and post production was easy, taking care to sharpen the raindrops.


In the winter.

We had snow. It melted. We had rain. The water stuck around long enough to freeze. We had snow on top of that.

I ran some errands a few miles from home. I came to this street and thought, “Oh oh.” I had no idea if it was just wet or icy. It was wet turning to ice as the day got colder.

Even though I like to say that I enjoy bad weather, mostly because you can make pictures like this one, driving in it doesn’t make me happy.

Even though it’s been a while, I’m fairly comfortable driving on snow. Ice is another story. You have no control. The car slides whichever way it wants to go unless you have studded tires or chains.

And, then there’s getting trapped in icy and snow conditions. With my car if you turn on the anti skid settings, you cannot drive out of a snow drift or ice. If you turn it off, out you go. I’m sure my friends in northern climes have something to say about this.

I’ll tell you an ice story.

My newspaper career started in Virginia. I was married to a woman who is not my wife now. She was a great reporter. As I understand it, she’s retired now. I have nothing bad to say about her. Not ever.

Anyway.

We spent the weekend in Washington D.C. We were headed home on Sunday racing a big snow storm coming from the East behind us. We got to a really steep drop on I-81. At the bottom were two state trooper cars. One trooper had a flashlight and was slowing everybody down.

No problem.

My wife was driving. She applied the brakes slowly. Nothing. Finally a little grab. She managed to slow down to about 1 mph or so. She really had no control. We were right upon the trooper when he stepped slightly to the side and she hit him. At less than 1 mph.

He wasn’t hurt but he was angry. He got to our and started yelling, when he saw my arm holding her back and a terrified look on our faces. When he saw that his anger faded. He understood what happened. He saw us sliding down the highway.

We talked for a few minutes and he told us to be safe.

As I recall that happened somewhere between Roanoke and Christiansburg, where we lived. My then wife drove home. We brought the luggage in. We were exhausted. We went to bed.

When we awoke there was eight feet of snow on the ground. No way to get out until the snow plows arrived sometime in the afternoon.

We should have just stayed in the District

A friend of mine complimented me on a picture that I made in Southeastern Louisiana that looked something like this one.

No, not the scene. The light.

I told her that it is a very hard picture to make because of the light. I also said that the last time I made a picture like it was in about 1978.

It turns out I was wrong.

I made this picture about 12 for 13 years ago.

It has the same quality of cold, silvery backlighting that makes the road sort of shine and drops the edges into a bit of shadow.

Oh okay. I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve been at this since about 1972. Next year makes 50 years.

You can’t expect me to remember everything.

If you ever come to light that looks like this, stop your car, get out of it and make a few pictures. That’s all there is to it.

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


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. There 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.


Not always this way.

Once upon a time we lived in a land of peace. But, I forget when that was.

I read a comment that said we’ve had two mass shootings in two weeks. Yes, America is opening back up.

In New Orleans last Saturday night there were eight shootings. They weren’t in one place so it wasn’t a mass event. Still, eight people were wounded or killed. On touristy Bourbon Street, two people with guns shot at each other and hit two other innocent people.

Are we emerging from a year long lockdown only to walk into a hail of bullets?

So.

I decided to publish this spring-like picture of these pretty little wildflowers. They were growing along the parking lot to my doctor’s office.

Oh, nothing is terribly wrong except that I’m still very limited in what I do. I mostly chatter on about my back and legs. Those won’t kill me, but CoVid-19 combined with CLL will.

I’ve written about this is the past. I have a kind of Leukemia that doesn’t do much. It’s called CLL. I get my blood tested twice a year and I talk with my oncologist about anything else but my condition. You see there’s nothing to be done. Or, that needs to be done. I’m mostly fine.

But.

If, by chance, I caught the virus my body couldn’t defend itself. My red blood platelets are compromised. There are “holes” in them. Vaccination or no vaccination, I could die.

That’s what my doctor told me yesterday.

Me? I treasure my life. I have things to accomplish. I have things to do. Roads to travel. Life to live.

You? Stop shooting each other. Your life is worth something too. Enjoy it. If your mind and emotions are twisted, get some help. Don’t buy a gun.

Do you remember when I first started adding a tagline to my posts?

It started with “Enjoy every sandwich.” Warren Zevon said that to David Letterman when he was asked what he took away from his death sentence of cancer. It was his way of saying life is short. Enjoy it.

Man. Enjoy every sandwich.

I wish I had some big post production story to tell you about this photograph.

I don’t.

I made it after I left my doctor’s office thinking that we had all dodged some kind of bullet after being vaccinated. Most of you have. I haven’t.

I did the only thing I know to do in good or bad times.

Make a picture.

Two different kinds of monks say, “The work is the prayer.” If you’ve been around here for any length of time you’ve read that.

That’s what it is for me. Work equals prayer.

After that, post production editing was easy. The hardest part was to keep everything from becoming too bright, too oversaturated, too bloody.

That’s it. That’s the story. Photographing this bunch of little wildflowers made me feel good.

Maybe, they’ll help you feel good too.