I keep saying that I really should work with a real camera rather than a cellphone camera. This picture is a great example of why.

This picture needs about no depth of field to help those tall wildflowers to stand out. There’s a way to do it in the phone, but it takes along time to figure it out. Even when you do, you really can’t see what you are doing on the LCD in almost any kind of bright light.

I’m not sure why I haven’t, except to say that I seem to moving in some sort of sludge. Simple things take me days to complete. Complex things, well let’s just say I have a couple of framed prints that have been sitting on the floor for at least a year.

I read in The New York Times that this is not unusual. Many people, meaning a majority of people, are going through something similar after a year of lockdown and working from home.

I must admit to some confusion because I always work from home, or in a hotel room or something like that. I suppose for me it really means the freedom to move around the city easily. And, the freedom to travel.

I don’t know.

Here’s an example.

It took me until just before noon to have a coffee, do my stretches, lift light weights, and walk the dogs. This would normally be a two hour routine starting at about 8 am. For some reason, I’ve been sleeping an hour later, but still that shouldn’t slow the whole routine.

I don’t think it’s a result of the time change. For me, that lasts about four or five days. We are well beyond that.

Afternoons, when I really should be working a full speed, usually turns into the malaise of completing anything. If the truth be told, my afternoon’s work should take a few hours. I’ll be lucky to complete one task completely.

This has to stop.

This is not a great picture by any means. It is a teaching picture.

I wrote on the left hand side that the picture needs almost no depth of field, something like f 2 or f 2.8. That would have cause those tall wild flowers to pop out of the frame.

The color is also weird. I couldn’t get it back to where it should be. I reworked a brand new frame. Same thing. Wash, rinse and repeat.

I’m pretty sure the color fidelity would have been much better using a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

A friend of mine got into a discussion about resolution. She thinks her Nikon Z6 produces more resolution than a phone. That’s the only thing that’s not wrong with this picture.

The very fact that you can even see those tall wildflowers tells me that.

What you can do with a DSLR is focus more carefully even if you are using autofocus. And, you can see what you are doing in any kind of light.

That’s important.


Little things.

So, people are saying spring is finally upon us. Down here in The Gulf Coast we’ve had spring for about a month. But, in the last day spring exploded. The greens are greener. The flowers are vibrant. Leaves have just exploded out of their slumber.

Luckily, it’s still cool bordering on cold. In a month or so summer’s heat and humidity will be upon us. Until October. Five months of three showers a day. Five months of dog walks as early and late as possible. And, six months of hurricane season.

The world turns.

Nature always seeks stasis. She doesn’t want to move anything too much except for us. That’s why the climate is changing. We will either deal with it or we’ll be gone. And, sooner than we think if we don’t act today.

I read that 40% of all Republicans will not be vaccinated.

This isn’t a political issue. This is a health issue. Both climate change and the virus will kill us if we aren’t careful.

I did get involved a little today. For the first time in 19 months we took a walk through the French Quarter. The air is cool and bright. We’ve had our jabs. We wore our masks. We arrived at the front of St. Louis Cathedral where parishioners were coming out after the Good Friday Stations of the Cross.

No social distancing. Not a mask among them. They were touching each others hands. The Archbishop of Orleans Parish was right there with them.

We weren’t about to get too close. But, worked my way around so that he could see me. I gave him the ultimate teacher’s stink eye. I didn’t say a word, but he thought I might be having a problem.

He came over and asked if I was okay. I said that I was, but he wasn’t and a wondered how many of these people he would be officiating funerals for. He didn’t know what to say. He’s supposed to be a community leader and this is how he leads the people closest to him?

If the thunder don’t get you than the lightening will.

The green, green grass of home. That’s what I saw. There were about a billion of little snowball like wildflowers just about everywhere.

I put the phone down on the ground and pointed it toward the subject. I’d like to say it was easy, but you have no idea how hard the phone fights you in that position.

Tools are supposed to do what you need them to do. Not anymore. Programmers think that they have to save us from ourselves. I’m not that stupid. If I point the lens at something, I want to take a picture of it.

It took me four or five times to make this picture. I’m not talking about extra pictures made as I explored the scene. I mean I’d press the button and nothing would happen.

Working at it in post production was fairly simple. I made it brighter and warmer because that’s how it looked to me when I saw it.

And, that’s it.

A pre-Easter picture because I found it and I could.


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.


General spring growth in southeastern louisiana
Life, and life itself

Yesterday was a day.

Did you ever have a day when technology was not your friend? When saved passwords were not saved? When nothing loaded? When the internet was so slow that you had to perform a hard reset?

That was yesterday.

Let’s hope things go a little better today. Let’s hope people settle down. Actually, all of the silliness of yesterday stopped in mid-stride when the parish leaders extended the lockdown period by another 15 days. Orleans Parish had it right. The adjoining parishes signed a letter of agreement and I suppose the people drinking outside were sent home. I just hope none of them end up in the ER in a few days.

Other than that, I have no idea what the news of the day was. That feels pretty good.

I was so busy fixing all things digital that I didn’t even think about who was lying about what to whom.

It got so bad that at one point my credit card was declined.

WTH?

It has a really high limit because it’s a business card and zero balance. I asked the clerk if he could call the manager over. I showed her my bank’s actual website on my phone. I asked her to match credit card and account numbers. She saw what I knew. No late fees. No balance. No problems. It’s true I haven’t used it in the last seven weeks because I had no work that would need me to float a loan for a client. I’m not alone. Neither has anybody else.

Luckily, the manager is proactive. She got on the phone and asked my bank what was wrong. What do you think it was?

Digital glitches.

Just one more during my day of failed technology. The bank had to approve my purchase the old school way, but there was no problem. They were apologetic. I was understanding. All the wheels fell off.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When every system starts to crash, all the wheels fall off of all the cars. Luckily, it wasn’t something important like me buying you lunch. That would be really bad. Heh!

So, the picture.

I saw this little scene and I just had to get down on my knees and photograph it. It looks like life to me. New grass, new wildflowers, and little three leaf clovers are growing over the dead leaves of last fall. That’s not only hopeful. It’s happening right now. In real time.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Friday follies.

Prettiness on a Friday.

I actually planned this picture for earlier this week, but CoVid19 killed John Prine. So, I waited. Call this his funeral flowers. Call it art. Call it a confusing mess. Call it whatever you like. I just hope that you like it.

Some of the news that almost fits.

Two things today.

From the city of my birth there is concerning news.

The coroner’s office is taking bodies from homes where they died. The numbers are astounding. Normally, they retrieve bodies at the rate of about 138 per week, which isn’t much considering the population of New York. Now they are retrieving at least that many per day. Common sense says that most of them are virus victims. They can’t be counted as such because the mortuary staffs just don’t know. Think about that. That’s almost 1,000 per week. In six or so weeks, that’s almost 6,000 bodies that are likely not counted as CoVid19 deaths. That’s probably happening in other cities as well.

In New Orleans, at least, some people are dying from something other than the virus. It’s pretty clear cut. You can’t miss the cause of death. Gunshot wounds. For a couple of weeks, the streets calmed down because of the stay at home advice.

Now? Not so much.

The drug dealers are losing money just like every other small business. They are doing something about it.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, mass graves are being dug on an island where there is an ancient potter’s field. Since victim’s families can’t collect the bodies of their deceased because of fear of infection, the city has to do something with them. That is horrible.  You can’t say goodbye and you can’t memorialize them properly.

In New Orleans, we’ve had seven Zulus die, one big chief and a man who meant everything to the social clubs. Normally, there would be a second line for each of them. You know, a jazz funeral. Not Now.

I suspect — no, I know — that when we finally can gather, when the virus is behind us, there will be the mother of all second lines. It will be a combination of celebration and memorialization. As the Indians say, “Won’t bow down, don’t know how.”

That’s pretty much how the city feels right about now.

Stay safe. Care for others.  Wash your hands. Wear a mask in public. Keep your distance. Don’t gather. Enjoy all the cheesy shrimp and grits.


Taking back the pavement.

Is the pleasure worth all the pain?

That’s a line from an old Jimmy Buffett song. After warnings, and a few arrests, people of our fine city still seem to think that gathering is okay. I’m sure their momentary pleasure will cause them a lot of pain later.

I’m going to take a break from CoVid19 commentary. Y’all probably read and watch way too much coverage of it already.

Let’s talk a little bit about pictures.

I’ve been asked to participate in a couple of Zoom round table discussions about pictures. I’m hoping they won’t turn into gearhead discussions. I have no interest in that. If the organizers want to talk about philosophy, I’m all in. If they want to talk about art, I’m all in.

If it turns into “which is better a Nikon or a Canon camera” discussion, I’ll reply Leica and fade away.

A little housekeeping.

I’ve developed a very strange problem with WordPress. For many of you I cannot “like” your posts without doing a major work around. Usually, when I hit the like button, I get a blank pop up screen for about a second. Often when I comment, I’m asked to fill in my contact information as if I weren’t part of WordPress. Sometimes a WordPress button pops up. If I click on that, I’m sort of logged in.

I know it’s a WordPress bug because I’ve tested this across computer systems, using Apple and Windows. I’ve also tested it across browsers. I’ll talk to the fine folks at WordPress today. Storyteller is a business account so I have access to immediate help. They are pretty good about that.

The picture. It’s a little bitty detail that I was able to photograph near macro. But, not really macro.

That’s another story.

I see so many people misusing the term macro on WordPress blogs. Macro is the ability to focus so close that the details of a bee’s wing are in sharp detail, sometimes without the whole bee filling the frame.

Most people are focusing on a subject, like a rose on a rose bush and calling that macro. It’s not. Really, those folks are just isolating a part of the scene in front of them. It’s about time.

One more thing about focusing on the subject.

Another blogger likes my work because it has a 3D quality. That’s easy. Use a wide angle lens, set the camera to everything auto, and stick it right into the middle of the thing you are photographing. You’ll get what appears to be 3D . Of course, if you are mostly driven to photograph sunsets, you’ll always have a compressed looking picture. Or, you have to fly to the sun. That’ll get mighty hot.

Stay Safe. Look after each other. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Don’t gather in groups. Enjoy every crawfish.

 


Wonder.

Just give me one good season.

So sang John Prine. The singing mailman. A national treasure. He’s got Covid19. He’s been intubated. He’s 72. He’s beaten cancer twice. He’s been through chemo. He’s been radiated. He’s probably got even more underlying issues. His family asked from prayers last night. You know what to do.

I was feeling pretty down last night. I had this feeling that I wouldn’t come out on the other side of this.

Until.

A friend of mine sent an email saying “open now.” Luckily, it was about two minutes old. I read it and joined a Zoom meeting. One of the lead doctors at Columbia University Hospital was hosting it. The hospital is a 1200 bed leading research hospital. There is a team who takes data, spins it around and provides practical information.

There are four main points. You don’t have to get sick if you follow them.

  1. Keep your hands clean. After you touch anything that isn’t in your own circle, hit yourself with Purcel.
  2. Keep your distance. Covid19 doesn’t live in the air. You have to be hit by droplets. Or, if you come in contact with an infected person and stay too close to them for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Keep your hands off of your face. The virus enters through your, mouth, nose and eyes.
  4. Masks are really not needed for protection unless you are going to spend time with an infected person. They really serve to remind you to keep your hands off of your face.

There’s a lot more, but most are examples.

This doesn’t mean we are safe, but if we follow those four rules, there is a high probability we might be.

One more CV issue. Our grocery store opened even earlier for us oldsters. 7am. For some reason I awoke at about 7:15. Out the dogs went. Out we went. There were about ten people shopping in the entire store. We bought everything we needed. But, if you wanted paper goods, no joy. We didn’t need anything. We don’t have toilet paper dreams.

The picture. Layered again. Three different images combined into one. It took some time to get things tinkered in the right direction. You haven’t seen the individual pictures. You will.

Stay safe. Care for one another. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy every burrito.


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.