Reflections.

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

See those little white dots? They are little flowers blown off of a bush. That’s what I set out to photograph. Rather than work tightly, I used what amounts to about a 28mm lens. It wasn’t until I started framing the picture in the LCD that I realized what I had.

I captured a late spring or early summer picture in blue. In my swimming pool. Nature was just floating around. I only made a couple of pictures. This one, another slightly tighter horizontal picture. And, a couple of vertical pictures which didn’t work at all.

The image took almost no post production. Mostly, I just tuned it up a bit.

How you see the picture is up to you. We all make meaning of art in different ways, based on our own personal experiences.

I wonder about the future. The future of photography.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at the pictures other photographers posted. Before I get into this, please know that I don’t take the so-called wisdom of the crowd all that seriously.

What I found was interesting. The truly unique and challenging pictures had almost no likes. The derivative, technically current popular ways of working had many, many likes. This is partly due to the Instagram effect and young photographers trying to gain popularity so that the become influencers. That may have mattered once to image users and buyers, but that ship has sailed. They know that the waters were very shallow.

If anything, Instagram and Facebook have hurt photography. If you follow the crowd and play for likes and reposts, you’ll never break out. You’ll never really find your own style. You’ll just be copying some other photographer, who copied some other photographer and… you get it. Out of that comes a new photo philosophy. “Fake it until you make it.”

Copy other photographers work until you learn enough technique to start trying to make your own pictures. I don’t know when or how that came to be. It’s the worst possible thing to do. I was taught about 150 years ago to photograph my world as I saw it. Sure. Some of my early work wasn’t all that great, but it taught me to think for myself.

Certainly, some photographers influenced me. They still do, today. But, I didn’t copy them. I learned a lot from how they thought. I learned a lot from how they worked. But, I never set out to make a particular picture like one of them did.

That’s it.

As Sam Abell said, “Take YOUR picture.”

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Rusted railroads.

Rust never sleeps.

That’s what Neil Young said. He’s right.

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.

So.

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?


It’s no big deal.

It’s no big deal.

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.

And, that’s the story from my home.


Hard rain out on the road.

“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

So wrote Bob Dylan.

Where is that shelter? Again, a year to the day of the Pittsburgh shooting, and not more than two weeks from the last mass shooting, a Jewish synagogue was attacked. Four wounded. One dead. A woman died attempting to protect her rabbi.

Christians say it’s a war against them. Jews say it’s an anti-semitic war against them. Muslims say it’s a war against them. None of them see the big picture, or, they are ignoring it. It’s a war against everybody who is different from some other guy. It’s a war against people who think differently from some other guy. For sure, the Catholic churches that were attacked in Sri Lanka were claimed by ISIS, but the shootings in The United States were allegedly done by deranged white guys.

It’s  a war fueled by pure hatred. And carried out at the point of a gun.  An AR-15. an A-R, that are the model letters for Assault Rifle. Think about that for a minute. The minute when you try to defend gun ownership in all cases.

When does this stuff stop? How does it stop?

It won’t.

We don’t have the leaders to stop it. You may have heard the speeches at the NRA convention. The convention that does not allow guns inside. That one.

The only way to stop it is to get angry. To get very angry. An anger that is sustained and will flow through the next general election in 2020. It’s not enough to vote out the punk president. Anybody who gets in the way of positive change must go. We must do this. We must organize. We must fight back. Legally.

It’s time.

There is so much to do. These guys are getting in the way. They have to go. It can be done. We saw a little of it during the mid-term elections. The House of Representatives was flipped. And, not just be a few representatives. We can do it in the Senate. We can do it in The White House. It’ll take hard work. But, as they say, anything good takes hard work.

I promised you that I would keep Storyteller politics free. And, I will. This is a place for art, for photographs, for New Orleans. But, yesterday kind of broke me. I’m getting afraid to open any social media. I dislike reading newspapers — the job I liked best. In the early days. That’s all ridiculous. But, I just hate reading what I find. I should be reading about baseball, and Jazzfest, and general news, and news about New Orleans. Oh no.

Enough.

The picture. One stormy day on River Road. Camera on the dashboard and me stopping a little long, so that I can make the picture. It says a lot. About Southeast Louisiana rain storms. I don’t remember exactly, but I’ll bet that I either drove out of it, or it stopped not far away. That’s how it is. The storm doesn’t last for long. Unlike the state of my country. That storm shows no signs of breaking. Unless we break it.

Lori Gilbert Kaye.

Remember her name. That’s the least we can do.

 


Reflections in Time

The time changed. So did the subject matter.

Even while I was working on Mardi Gras, I had to walk the dogs. Especially the dog who sees stuff. That meant I kept making pictures around our walks. Winter changed to spring. The flowers began to really bloom. The trees began to grow new leaves and drop pollen.

My nose began to itch. Now, I’m fully stuffy. Two Clariton a day aren’t really doing the trick. The best thing we can do at this time a year is stay inside with the air conditioner running. It’s not really warm enough for cold air. But, the second word in air conditioner means the air gets conditioned and unpollinated.

I can’t do that.

There are things to photograph. Worlds to be explored.

I have my books to produce. Some still need to be photographed. Meaning I have to look for the pictures. Then, wait for the right time of day and work quickly. There are Mardi Gras Indian events to photograph. Three in about three weeks. There is other travel.

So.

I anticipate being sneezy until pollen season comes to an end.

No matter.

The picture. I made this image from two other pictures. I layered them and recomposed them as a symbol of my return from the wilds of Mardi Gras. This picture exists on this page and in my mind.

It’s a bright Sunday kind of picture.

Enjoy.

Don’t sneeze.


Bored in the car.

Big storms. Boredom.

Sometimes while we are out and about running errands a big storm explodes into sideways rain. A hard rain. Rain that drenches you even with an umbrella. So, we wait. Waiting for the hardest rainfall to pass. It’s the hardest part. In the car. Then, we get bored.

I solve my problem by making pictures. Of the rain. Of the scene in which we find ourselves. Looking through the right hand side mirror. Things like that.

This picture was made by turning the windshield wipers off, letting the water accumulate in front of me and watching rain drops splash off of that. In many way, nature makes its own art. You have to be a little bit patient with this. But, once the water builds up the way you would like, you can make a lot of pictures quickly. Just don’t turn the windshield wipers on.

Then, it’s off to the post production software to further amplify what you saw.  I had very little to do with what  you see. It’s all nature’s work. I just brought it to you on this page.

Housekeeping.

I thought I had it solved. I thought I would move to Squarespace after beating them over the head in an email conversation. They want me to renew. I said no. They asked why. I told them they were hurting me and my business be recommending Unsplash for free pictures. They offered me a deep discount. And, they would make my website more commercial friendly. That sounded good.

Then came the deal breaker.

They have no idea how to transfer all of you to my version of Storyteller over there. The suggested a couple of different blogging tools. I tested one of them. It is designed to capture stuff found on the internet and post it to your blog quickly. You can even schedule it to do it multiple times a day according to the kind of material you would like to share. All AI. You don’t even have to do the work.

I’m pretty sure that’s why there are so many general purpose blogs that don’t generate real content but have a very high readership. Post popular items that you find on the net and do it about five or six times a day. You’ll get huge readership.

That’s not what I’m about. You know what I do. I post my own content, both in pictures and words. I post once a day. In order to post more than that, I’d have to make blogging my full-time job. People do make good money doing that. I may have uncovered their secret. I’m pretty sure that’s not for me. Oh, I like the money idea. I don’t like being uncreative to earn it.

So.

Back to square 1.5. Modernizing Storyteller, turning it into a website and keeping all of you. I’ll get it done this weekend. I have to. A friend of mine said that when he’s out of options, things get real simple and he gets ruthless achieving what he  needs to do.

Me too.


Traffic was great fun.

A big storm blew in to the region.

I thought I had I beat when we ran errands. But, oh no. I should just stop thinking.

It wasn’t all that bad because we are used to it. And, it dropped our temperatures by about 30 degrees. When we woke up in the morning, it was a new world. For a few days.

Anyway.

This picture isn’t what you are thinking. I might suggest that you take chances with your photography, but I’m not suggesting that we all get killed doing it. The traffic in our lane was merging into traffic coming from the left. But. This is important. Our lanes were stopped by a red traffic light. I was in the front position, so I took advantage of it and made about a billion pictures. You’ll see more during the week because I done good.

I did have to laugh while I was making these pictures. I was using my magic new phone because I wasn’t expecting to actually work. As I made pictures through the rain falling on the windshield, the phone started talking to me. It was telling me to clean the lens so that I could take better pictures.

Ahahahahahahahaha.

It mistook raindrops and water for a dirty little lens.

I could get started on AI technology, but I won’t. You had enough of me yesterday. I just wish it would stop thinking it was smarter than me. One day it might be. But, that day isn’t today.

Have a good day. And, keep your lenses clean.


Finally, leaves on top of leaves.

The light was flat and formless.

I wasn’t expecting to make any pictures. But you know what I say. Make the picture first. Worry about it later. Never self edit in the field. Never chimp. Never delete. If you must delete a really bad picture, do it after you’ve had time to look at on a bigger monitor.

That’s really sort of the basics.

The rest, like camera and lens selection is really just stuff.

I always suggest that a new photographer have one body and two lenses. The two lenses are the kit lens that came with the camera. The second lens is one of your choice. Right now the so-called “nifty-fifty” is popular. 50 mm lenses are great. But, when I was young and still learning the very basics, it was out of favor. I trained myself to see another way. My second basic lens is either a 20 mm, a 24 mm, or a 28mm.

The 28mm is the lens of choice for most serious street photographers. It sees more like our eyes do. It is not so wide as to distort a subject to whom you are very close. And, it’s generally sharp throughout the frame when you set the  aperture  at f 5.6 or smaller.

Some people like an 85 mm lens because the background is softer and you don’t have to work closely to film the frame with the subject. I think that it is a great portrait lens.

As usual, it all depends.

On to this picture. I made it while walking. As I mentioned the light was flat and gray. Just like it is today. When that happens I look for details that I can enhance in post production. It wasn’t happening. Then I saw a bunch of newly fallen leaves covered with water droplets. That was better. Than I found the picture you see. The original capture was light and lacked contrast. I helped it along in post production.

That’s the story.

Oh. One important thing. Tomorrow is my birthday. Don’t forget to buy my a coffee. 🙂


Waiting it out.

When it rains…

I was running errands. I didn’t feel like getting wet. I sat in my car waiting for the pouring rain to slow down. I started getting bored. I started photographing the rain as it bounced off the car’s windshield. I framed the trees in the background. Some still had a few remainders of summer. Little pink flowers.

The white streaks are elongated rain drops.  The blurred effect is the rainwater on the windshield. I did everything I could to keep it real. As usual, I experimented. I made this picture almost electric in color. That didn’t feel right. I tried a few other post production techniques. None of them felt right. I kept coming back to this version which is just cleaned up so that the streaks were as clear as possible.

I know. Yesterday’s offering was a tack sharp, black and white portrait. Today’s picture is swirling, maybe unrecognizable and almost pure art. Musical Miss was once asked to choose between the jazz that she loves and the country flavored music that she often plays. She asked why she had to choose and why she couldn’t do both.

I’ll stick with that.