Original flower.

The other one.

Yesterday, I wrote about seeing a delicate white and yellow flower. The one that I used as a layer behind a pink flower.

Welp.

This is the original flower with a little post production work done to it. I made it more colorful. I made the file a little more meaty. And, I gave the white areas more shape and definition.

That’s really what caught my eye.

I reckoned that you should see it. The way that I saw it. The way that it inspired me to go further.

A little bit about the gear. My smart phone is a Samsung Note 9. It is not a great phone. That includes both talk and text. It is a great little handheld computer. It also has a wonderful camera that allows me to do a lot, from just using the onboard lens as a zoom, to turning it into a fully manual handheld camera. And, lots in between. Video. Pano. Other size formats.

I’ve mostly been photographing with it even though I’d really rather use some kind of mirrorless body and interchangeable lenses. I don’t always carry that kind of gear. I do carry my phone. Everywhere.

I have this little baby Leica. It’s a great little camera. And, with Leica glass it probably out performs just about most cameras out there. It would be very easy to carry everywhere. But, It’s 965 degrees outside, with a humidity factor of about 10,000, making the
“feels like” temperature about 900 billion degrees. Anything I don’t have to wear on a strap over my shoulder is better.

And, you think it’s hot where you live.

Advertisements


Like magic.

The light.

Like magic. In nature. On this day.

Two more to go. Then home. Happy to be here. Happy to be there. Time to take a break. Time to rest. Time to work. Harder.

No. I’m not trying to be any kind of poet. Most of you know that I’m lucky to be able to write in the English language. Or, any language. I confuse people. Sometimes. Sorry. Then, typos. Typo king. That’s me. My mind goes in one direction. My fingers in another.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels. They say. Do you know any? I ask.

I listen to music when I write these posts. Spotify has a playlist called, “Sunny Day.” It’s light and energetic. But. Too much musical miss. For me.

The picture.

Hmmm. Mostly point and shoot. Make sure there is a window. In the background. To reflect light directly into the lens. Refraction. Reflection. Strange circles of light everywhere. That’s it. Simple. You can’t do it. Because. I can’t duplicate it. Again.

Very cool song. By Sufjan Stevens. Called Chicago. He’s got a trumpet going on. Reminds me of Mexican trumpets. I’ve always like that.

 

 


Getting to the heart of the matter.

You belong among the wildflowers.

The first line of Tom Petty’s second album. Wildflowers.

I found this on — what else — a dog walk. These wildflowers are little teeny-tiny things. That “big” bloom is less than the size of a dime. Ten cents. About an 1/8 of a Euro.

That’s what attracted me to the scene. Once I started looking at it, I saw something else. The heart of it. A place that looks like it is giving birth to six more wildflowers. That’s what I focused on. That’s what mattered to me. Yes. I sharpened the center of the picture in post production. I also cropped the entire picture into a square. I also softened the background a little bit.

All of that was done to move your eye to the important part.

Question time.

I’ve read this term on a couple of “trendy” food blogs. Jelly Egg. What the hell is a jelly egg? I have a sneaking suspicion that I know. But, I’ll wait.  I’ll be patient. Then, and only then, will I go on a rant.

HA!


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.


Blooms of Spring.

And so.

It goes.

In the last 24 hours, one person passed. Another is having a birthday. A big one. And, the all-seeing dog found these flowers on a route we rarely take.

Obviously, the birthday was expected.

The dog did her usual thing. She turned a fifteen minute walk in a 60 minute walk because, well you know, all things must be explored.

The passing was not expected. He was a member of my krewe.

The Krewe of Backsteppers, which is not to be confused with backsliders. Backsteppers are the third line, but we walk before the first and second lines. We are the photographers who document second lines, Indian events and all sorts of Mardi Gras cultural events.

As I wrote to a friend of mine, it’s never good when there is a second line during the week. It almost always means some has died. And, so it did. Randolph “Mookie” Square was so well-known in the Treme community that the mayor issued a proclamation upon notification of his death. May he rest in peace. Or, as we say around here. RIH. Rest in Heaven.

So.

Even though I didn’t know it when I made this picture. The flowers are for Mookie. And, the birthday girl.

I’m pretty sure that there will be a jazz funeral. Usually, for well-known community members it’s a really big deal. When Uncle Lionel Batiste passed (You know his nephew if you watch Late Night with Stephen Colbert), it took a while because there were a lot of very violent rainstorms, but when his second line finally got going it was huge.

So huge that the Louisiana State Troopers closed two exits on the interstate where it passes over Claiborne because people were on the off ramp dancing and photographing. Yes. I was one of them.

I expect about the same thing this time.

I’m not sure I have the energy I had back then. That was a long time gone. But, I’ll do my best. You know why.

Sometimes, in New Orleans, it’s about learning. It’s about learning how to deal with death. Of course we mourn. The first steps in a jazz funeral are a dirge. But, we know that all things must pass. That dying is part of living. So, when the dirge is over the music soars. People dance. In the streets. We send the one who just passed, out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, we’ll miss them. But, we’ll always remember them. And, the good times we passed with them.

For me that means on the parade routes. Mookie had a habit of finding the picture at the last-minute and jumping right in front of you. After a couple of times of “WTH?”, you realized that he was no better or worse than you are. I can’t begin to tell you how many how many times I did that to other photographers. I won’t even apologize for it. It is what it is.

Life on the streets.

Peace, y’all.


They said it would come.

The big, huge moon.

I made the picture earlier in the night because I knew that I would have no position to make it when it turned red and wolfish. I usually don’t chase these events down, but I had to. I needed to cheer myself up.

Because. The NFL playoffs were yesterday. If you recall, I said that it didn’t matter who won. I was raised in Los Angeles and live in New Orleans. Those two teams were playing.

Man. Was I wrong.

I started watching the pregame ceremony. I watched Jimmy Buffett sing The National Anthem. Memories started flooding into my head, my heart, my soul.

I remembered moving here. I thought about how I left with Hurricane Katrina hot on our heels. And, how we came back year after year for various events. I finally couldn’t stand it. It took awhile, but we finally returned. That was hard work. We’ve been back for seven years. I may complain about the swamp, but for better or worse, this place is home. We have another house in the north. We go there to work. That’s about it.

I began to root for the Saints. It was a back and forth game towards the end, when they mounted a drive. A Ram defender committed two major penalties — pass interference and helmet to helmet contact — which would have put the Saints in scoring position. The referee didn’t see it. He claimed. That ended the drive. The game went into overtime. The Saints lost.

The city is angry, disgusted and sad. Probably about half the city was drunk. And, not in a good way.

It gets worse. It always does.

The NFL headquarters called Saints head coach Sean Payton to tell him that the referees blew it. They knew it. The twitterverse exploded. People who don’t normally watch football were howling. A NOLA.com writer who I like reading said that her feed was covered in “f-bombs.” Her husband is one of the lead sports writers who covered the game. He was angry.

Maybe officiating will change. It’s been marginal all year. We’ll see.

I needed to take a walk. Clear my head. The all-seeing dog came with me. A guy wearing a Saints jersey said hi and growled at me. He wasn’t happy. I decided to try to stay away from people. The all-seeing dog is very cute. She can’t go anywhere without somebody wanting to pet her. She was fine just walking with me. Mr. Grumpy. I didn’t want to run into other grumpies.

We turned a corner. Oh my God. That big, giant moon was staring right at me. I made pictures. I did some post production, mostly to clean up the file. This is it.

Seeing the moon and being able to photograph it, helped a lot. Seeing nature like that was stunning. Making a picture is always good medicine. I’m still not exactly happy about the game. But, I’m much better.

It’s hard to explain the team’s relationship with the city. It’s not like most other cities. The Saints were terrible for about 40 years of their existence. They were nicknamed, “The Aints.” People went to games wearing paper bags over their heads. Still, they went.

Along came Hurricane Katrina. The first year during the city’s recovery, they played all road games. Sure, they had home field designations, but they played at LSU, they played a bunch of games in San Antonio, Texas. Sometimes they played at another team’s stadium, but played as the home team.

They didn’t do well.

They started rebuilding. They hired Coach Payton. The signed quarterback Drew Brees. In 2006, they opened the newly rebuilt Superdome against their arch enemies, the Atlanta Falcons. They won. In dramatic fashion with a blocked punt and a score. I remember sitting on our couch in New Mexico, with tears streaming down my face. I didn’t think I would get to see that. When they won the Superbowl in 2009, the same thing happened.

The football team is so wrapped around the city’s recovery that I doubt the two could be separated. New Orleans people are that way. That loyal. Recovery and the Saints go hand in hand.

That’s why today was so painful. The team is great. The players are generous to each other and to the city. We didn’t deserve this.

One more thing. I not a sour grapes guy. If I play hard and win, great. If I lose, I learn and move on. I don’t blame others. This time it’s different. Luckily, the moon was there to help me through it.


On a cold winter’s day.

“When we act our age they tell you there’s no more snow crab.” – Frankie

Yes. One of our guilty pleasures is Netflix’ Frankie and Grace. It’s back for another season. I’m not going to tell you much about it except to say that it’s wonderful. It’s for everybody, but it speaks a certain generation. it addresses a lot of issues. Especially about seniors.

Anyway.

I liked that quote. It struck something in me. It also begs the question. Why – no matter what kind of shape we are in — do we walk slower as we get older. I know why I walk slower. Hip. Back. But, even many people without those issues, and are fairly healthy, walk slower.

I have a theory. As we get older we understand more. At least we think we do. It’s probably just cynicism. We have seen a lot. Things we wished we hadn’t. Therefore, the weight of the world is heaped upon our shoulders so we slow down because we are carrying it. That’s pretty cheeky. Still.

That’s not what this post is about.

It’s about pictures.

It’s about backup pictures. Like this one.

I’ve been really tied up writing all those book briefs. Because the publisher really likes my work, most of the books have turned into two books. I have to first write a brief so that we are all on the same page. The next step is my own research. For some of them, that’s not much. Either they are already photographed and the images are sitting in my archives. Or, they are on my home turf. No research required.

A couple of the projects do require a lot of research. In many cases, just to know where some stuff is located. Travel plans follow that. All is time-consuming. That’s the long way of explaining why this is a back up picture.

I made the picture a couple of days ago. I saw it first, so I photographed it first. On we went. I saw scenes that I liked better, so I made pictures of them. This picture lives in my current files.

The time arrived. A new post is due.

Uh oh. No matter. I have this picture hanging around. Now it’s yours.

Funny thing. Nature has her ways. I have time to take a real break and make some pictures today. Right. The sky is leaden. Rain is falling intermittently. You know me. I say when the weather turns bad, the pictures get good. Not in this kind of dull, flat light. Nothing looks good in it.

This rain storm is just the beginning. It leads a deep cold front. It’s part of what a lot of you are getting as a snow storm. We won’t get snow, but it’ll drop our temperatures down into the twenties. I’ve really been wanting to photograph a second line. Second lines in the cold aren’t quite the same as the ones in the drippy heat of summer.

Besides that, the streets will be jumping. The Saints play the LA Rams for the NFC championship. Around here, the Saints are everything. I’m not sure how any business got done yesterday, because there were rallies, and parties and little parades everywhere as a lead up to the game. The Saints better win. If not, the city will be in a deep depression. Either way, win or lose, there are street pictures everywhere. Do I have a favorite team tomorrow? Nope. I may live in New Orleans, but I was raised in Los Angeles. It was easier when the Rams were located in St. Louis. That’s changed.

Change. Just like life, itself.

 


Not like winter.

Winter. Not winter.

No. I’m not gloating. I just feel lucky. After being in the cold north for a bit and coming back to NOLA, I realized just how good we have it. In late fall, winter and spring. The rest of the year is hot, humid, sticky and generally miserable. We all try to leave.

For a little bit.

With climate change and all that it implies right this minute, I have no clue where to go to cool off in the summer. Just about everywhere is hot. Oh sure. There is dry heat. After a while that just feels hot. If you happen to be in the high desert, the temperatures drop at night. That’s something. At least. The very least.

For right now, this picture is fun. I made it yesterday. After being in the cold for a few days, just seeing the flowers made me feel good. Even better, they are fresh blooms. These aren’t the last of dying flowers left over from summer.

Okay.

Housekeeping. Part two.

I told you yesterday that I made my decision. I’m staying here at WordPress. I’m sticking to that because today starts the billing cycle for next year on both sites. I removed my work from Squarespace and closed the account. I reupped here. Doing it prior to the very last second gave me a break. My year starts today but lasts until May 18, 2020.

WordPress congratulated me.

My next step is to turn this into a .com instead of a .org. You won’t notice the difference. From there, it’s off to the races.  WordPress says that they have a new photography oriented basic template that is more along the lines of what I want. I’ll check it out and go from there.

Things may be a little wonky here for a few days or a week or so, while I make changes to Storyteller. Hopefully, it won’t last long. At least for the basics. I think this will be an ongoing project for a couple of months. You’ll see little things, tiny things, change over that time.


Fall flowers.

They said the weather would turn cold. They said that we’d get fall colors. They said the humidity would drop

Hahahahahaha.

Yesterday, election day, the temperature dropped to a brisk 82 degrees. The humidity? Let’s just say that I changed clothes three times. Just like in the dog days of summer. Then, the rain fell.

Wet. Hot. Humid.

Great late fall weather. In November. Our Thanksgiving month. My birthday month. At this rate there will be spring flowers for my birthday and on the table along with a turkey. Sheesh.

The picture. A “what the dog saw”  picture. I think she was a little confused. Spring smells in the wrong season. Anyway, she found the flowers. I just pushed the button. Not just any button. This smartphone’s camera can be used in an old school way. I am able to set f stops and shutter speeds. I am able to adjust the lens. And, the megapixels? More than my first couple of dslr cameras. After testing, I realized that I can make a print larger than 20 x 24 inches. While that may not matter when it comes to my professional cameras, it spells the coming end of starter and bridge cameras. And, that is where the money is for camera manufacturers.

Photography is changing. Yet again.

Happy Wednesday.