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.


Pretty in the springtime.

All the yellows of the day. There’s a song with that line in it, but I can’t remember it. Not Kodachrome. That was “greens of summer.”

There’s a little place by the sidewalk that I can be sure to find dandelions. Every year. Right about now. I don’t know about you, but they make me smile. Once they start blooming I know spring is here.

Along with wildflowers, we set the clocks aside early this morning. I don’t know who got the idea that it had to be done at 2am. Nobody I know does that. It’s either before bedtime, or when they stumble in the door after a Saturday night out.

Since very few people go out right now I suppose it’ll be the former. Or, maybe I should just speak for myself. Maybe that’s all I should do. Heh.

This is another of those scenes that I photograph every year. At least this time I found a different way of looking at it, and a different way of editing it.

That’s something, at least.

And, it’s a nice Sunday picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Have a good thought for the person who taught me this. She’s very sad. A death in the family.

Johnny’s Garden. That’s what it reminds me of. The name is a title to a Stephen Stills song.

The story as I know it goes something like this. After his big success with Crosby, Stills and Nash, he moved to London and leased Peter Sellers old house. Or, Ringo Starr’s house. It came with a gardener. You can figure out the rest. Either that, or he watched a movie with about the same plot.

With Stills, you never know.

I saw the scene. I found a way to photograph it a little differently than I had in the past.

It was in development and editing, where it really took off. That’s the entire story of my own Johnny’s Garden.


Winter, my ass.

You say toemato. I say tahmato. You say winter, I just smile. I made this picture yesterday when the temperature was around 60 degrees. The wind was blowing and well be back down in our so-called deep freeze later today.

So-called because even though it’s been cold for us, you are probably thinking is he crazy or what.

I’m probably crazy. But, it has nothing to do with the weather. Heh.

So.

I talked with my pain specialist today. Not only are five vertebrae impacted by osteoarthritis, but that has caused a degeneration of the corresponding discs. My spine has shifted and I have stenosis between L 4 and L 5.

He thinks an epidural should help with the pain. I’ve scheduled it for the first week of February. From his description the “procedure” sounds more like out patient surgery than just a stick with a needle.

This will just relieve my pain. It won’t actually fix anything. The next step is minor surgery. A sort of disk is placed into my back where the stenosis is located. It is done from my side and isn’t anything major.

If that fails…

Give me those deep greens of summer. So sang Paul Simon. These are the deep greens of winter. Winter on the gulf coast.

I didn’t have to do anything to the picture besides just sharpening it a bit. That’s what happens when you work in open shade.

Open shade is especially good for outdoor portraits when you don’t want to do a lot of lighting. You can just bounce a little light on the subject and you are good.

I think simple is better. It’s up to you. Your working methods reflect who you are.

Stay safe, Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy your weather. Winter or not.


Bigger than you think.

Sunday.

A good day for something peaceful. Like these little bitty purple wildflowers that I turned into something huge and unreal. I found these flowers when I was doing what I usually do. Walking a dog. She was exploring something nearby when I saw these two little flowers.

They were harder to photograph than you might imagine. I couldn’t hold the color in the grass and the flower. I suppose if I had some kind of way to create even shade I might have been able to do it. But, I was just out walking. I wasn’t carrying a ton of gear.

Anyway.

Since Sunday is a day of rest, I’m going to rest.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy all the days of rest.


Wildflowers.

Tom Petty sang about them. I think they are often more interesting than flowers. For sure, they are a sign of rebirth, growth and the passing of time.

Covid19 is still creating havoc everywhere, although some countries are starting the long climb toward normalcy. I’m not so sure about down here in the swamp. Our leaders seem to be encouraged, but they were on Sunday when there was a slight downward trend. Along came Monday. Ouch.

Our enforced isolation has created something entirely unexpected. While many people are bored out of their minds and don’t know how much longer they can hang on, there are a lot of us who are getting long term projects done. That’s externally and internally.

For instance, I’m taking stock of my stock. I’m looking back into the past. I’m looking at what worked. Yippee. And, what didn’t. Ouch. Obviously, I can’t change the past. But, I can learn from it. In many ways, I already have learned from my mistakes. The say that you learn more from failure than you do from success. By that standard I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve also had some very strange dreams. Dreams whose main characters I’ve never met in real life. If I have, they played such minor roles that I didn’t even know their names.

I suppose, like everybody else, I’m just processing the new normal and my own personal new normal. That’ll take time. It appears that we have the time.

The picture. While the all seeing dog was sniffing around, I was making a picture. This picture. I know a lot of color theory, but I don’t understand this thing. When I pass by this little dime sized wildflower it looks white. When I photograph it, it looks as you see it. Yes. I subtracted some haze which brought out its color. But, that’s it. Unfortunately, WordPress compression has softened it some. Welcome to the world of online publishing.

Stay safe. Care for others. Thank the caregivers. Thank the people doing essential jobs like bagging your groceries. Wear a mask in crowded places. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy every pizza.


Morning sun, part two.

Just Dandy. See what I did there?

Spring arrived. The time of allergies. The time of sneezing. Not from this little guy, but from Live Oaks. So much pollen. More pollen in years. At least, that’s what the weather person said who comes on at six.

Everybody is sneezing around here. Even the dogs. None of us are amused. Especially in this season of the witch. If we are walking somewhere and sneeze, people glare at us. No. We don’t have “THE VIRUS.” We have allergies. That what our docs told us. We have some kind of steroidal stuff that we spray up our noses.

It’s really not a big deal. It’s just a season in the swamp. I’d say that we get used to it. But, we never do. Just like we don’t get used to Carnival Season. When you think about it, even with a change of costumes, so much of Mardi Gras looks about the same. That’s a little comforting.

The picture. I think smartphones are amazing. The sharpness of the dandelion is something. I didn’t have to do anything magical, or technical. I just pointed the lens and waited until it found its focus point. And, check out the background bokeh. All those little circles pinwheeling around make the picture a little more interesting.

Just like everything seems a bit surreal right now, it’s even more so in my photographic world. Nobody is working. Most events have been cancelled. Travel photographers can’t travel. Music photographers have no music to shoot. Commercial photographers assignments have been cancelled.

When they can, I know a bunch of professional travel photographers who use the newest, most high end smartphone to do their jobs. Some of them don’t even bother to bring their DSLR or Mirrorless cameras. I don’t have that many guts. But, one of my agencies asked me to work using my smartphone in order to produce a different kind of photograph.

Different photographs. For sure. Because phones are so ubiquitous nobody pays attention if you make pictures in their presence. Sometimes I don’t even focus. The camera does. I just stick my hand into the middle of something and push the button. That creates another kind of energy and sensibility.

I didn’t take smartphone photography very seriously. But, lately I’ve seen some stunning work in print and on walls. This has been going on for awhile. I just never noticed it. Now that I have, I’m eager to test it. Not just with my version of nature pictures, but with real people, maybe at a second line or Indian event… if they ever happen again.

When we come out of the season of the virus, most everything will have changed. That’ll be the time to fix things. To make things better.

Even though I was pretty bleak yesterday, I still have a kind of hope. But, you can’t eat hope.

Instead of laying back and waiting, I think we ought to prepare, sharpen ourselves, train, get stronger and spring into action as soon as we can. I certainly don’t want to go back to the way things were with everybody screaming at each other, with intense polarization, with true greed showing at every turn.

I want things to be better. Much better. We can do this. I know we can.

Stay safe. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


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.

 


Very yellow wildflower.

“You belong among the wildflowers,

You belong in a boat out at sea,

Sail away, kill off the hours,

You belong somewhere you feel free.”  — Tom Petty

I often forget that once things start to cool off around this swamp, a second growing season appears out of nowhere. I was doing a little walking with that dog when I saw this wildflower. How could I not? So, I did.

The flower isn’t quite what it seems as you look at the picture. Even the already open flowers are about the size of my pinkie nail. Little, tiny things.  Really beautiful things. Very yellow things.

Petty’s song? He wrote the entire album after his divorce. In “Wildflowers,” he was telling his ex-wife that even though he did love her, it was really time to move on. As far as he goes, I’m still sad at his passing. It happened so quickly.

This pretty little bright yellow wildflower goes a long way towards making me and — hopefully — everybody else feel good today.