Hope

When my siblings and I were in high school, there was a nursery (a plant store) up on the highway. It was only a couple of blocks from my parent’s home, but I never visited the store. I was young after all and had little need for plants. Still, it was a fixture and a business that we’d pass often.

It seemed this store did a good deal of business, though I can’t even remember its name.

The nursery shut down, at some point, very unceremoniously. There was no fan fare or going out of business sale – not that I knew of. This once vibrant store, now gone.

In time, the wear started to show, as it always does. Time and the elements have a way of doing that, nothing or no one escapes it.

When I saw the building recently, I knew I wanted to photograph it. Knowing that It could be torn down at anytime or succumb to the elements, so I didn’t want to miss my chance. I also wanted to make the photo at or near sunrise, as I had already mapped out where the sun would be and when it would be at the proper angle.

As I stood in the wet grass waiting for just the right moment, I couldn’t help but think about the plant store back in its ‘hay day’. Who owned it? How many people worked here? All that effort, time and expense, now lost forever. I wondered if it was all worth it. How did the store owner feel closing the door for the last time? Was it sad occasion or was it a relief?

As these thoughts were filling my brain, it happened… The rising sun burst through the window. The sun brought with it something that it aways brings;  The hope of a new day.

As I shot photos, trying to get the sun in perfect position, I was struck with the lyrics of one of my (current) favorite songs by a band called Sevendust. The song is “Waffle” and in it the singer speaks of what can only be described as depression. Then, as the music builds to the chorus… there’s some hope, something that everyone seems to crave…..

“Bring me a light, make my life worth something more, show me a light, bring a light.”

Even though this building and business are done and long gone, with the new day, there’s new hope.  No matter what happens, the sun will rise tomorrow.

Anyway, I’m often asked what draws me to create certain photographs and why I do it at all…… now you know.

Make today worth it.

Belle Chasse Plant store

 

Yes, It’s Worth it.

A couple of days ago I took the hour long trip across the lake hoping for a decent sunset. It’s always a gamble as I’ve mentioned before, but you have to be there ‘just in case’. There were a lot of scattered clouds in the late afternoon, so I felt pretty good about it. Still, the sky can change very quickly, so you just never know what you’re going to get.

I arrived well before sunset and visited some other areas of interest I learned about from a friend (Thanks Rickie!) – more on that later.

Once I got to the lakefront, it was time to scope out a spot where I wanted to be should the sunset work out as hoped. The sun was already pretty low in the sky and, in the light streaming through the branches of the trees I could see little clouds of gnats. Now, if you’re not from here, you’re probably thinking…. so what… what’s the big deal?   If, however, you’ve ever had several of these tiny bugs on you and biting you (all at the same time), then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!  Not fun!

You can really barely see them on your skin, but there’s no question exactly where they are! Normal bug spray has limited power against them. A product called ‘skin so soft’ is supposed to work on them, but… well, I’m not going to carry around something by that name!  Sorry, I’m just not.  Sometimes you just have to ‘man up’….. LOL

Anyway, there were a lot of other people at the lake so I wasn’t the only person on the menu, that’s something I suppose.

As I waited and watched the sky, I watched the clouds of gnats grow larger. They seem to be most active at dusk – great!  To top it off, I started to notice a thick layer of clouds right along the horizon – usually that’s not a good sign.

Still, I was already there. Not a time to be too hasty. There’s nothing to do at that point but to ‘ride it out.’

The sun seems to barely move all throughout the daylight hours, but let me tell you, that baby can MOVE at sunset!

I did manage to get several different images from different vantage points, but I literally had to run from one location to the next!

Here is one of the last images I was able to make just before the sun dropped out of sight for the night;

web northshore sunset

I’m still scratching those gnat bites!  In the end, I think the wait and the bugs were worth it to get this image.  I hope you agree.

See ya next time.

What a Difference!

After having heavy rain, hail and gale force winds at our last attempt at working an art fair, we had a MUCH better time this morning at the “Mandeville Trailhead Market.”

The weather couldn’t have been better, we had a nice shady spot under the pavilion (so we didn’t need our canopy) and we had a fairly steady stream of customers. We got some really great feedback from several of the visitors and had a profitable day as well! That’s the whole idea after all.  It was also fun to meet some really nice people.

The event coordinator (Donna) was so helpful and just such a nice lady! We’ll be a regular fixture at this event! We can’t do every weekend as we’ll need to replace product and that takes time, but this was a really nice turnaround from our last outing.

The weather was the problem for that one, so it’s not really fair to compare. We’ll be back in Gretna in May and back in Manderville very soon!

Special thanks to everyone who came out, including family and friends. While it was still work, it was also a fun day!

Tall Ships

As part of the year long celebration for New Orleans 300th anniversary, A ‘Navy week’ was scheduled. Part of this Navy week would be several historical ‘tall ships’. A few of them would be tied off on the bank of the river, while two more would be docked in a canal just off the Lake. These two would be allowing people to take a ride on the ships out into the lake!  Of course, the rides were sold out well in advance of the ships arriving.

As a photographer, you begin to become weary of shooting so many similar images. That’s one of the reasons I felt so inspired by our trip to New York last year, different subjects to photograph. The tall ships represented a similar opportunity for something ‘different’ that you just don’t see everyday. So, I was pretty excited about them being here. So excited in fact, that I purchased an app for my phone that would track maritime traffic so I could keep an eye out on their locations and know when they would be arriving. Using this app, I was able to drive down river and, after waiting on the levee for over an hour, get several images of one of the tall ships heading upriver towards the city.

web tall ships are coming
The masts of the ship were even visible over the tree tops!

web crop river tall ship edit

Of course, the ship was under engine power and not using the sails, which was a bummer, but to be expected. Still I was excited to get these shots.

I had BIG plans for several different photos of the tall ships. The last time the ships were in the city, you could just walk up to them. Well, that wasn’t the case this time! Although they were free and open to the public, that wasn’t a 24 hour proposition. When I arrived just before sunrise on Friday, I was disappointed and surprised to be met with a six foot fence surrounding all the ships! Not only that, but there were several vendor tents and other equipment blocking most of the view of the ships.  Still, I worked around these issues the best I could raising my camera up on a tripod above the fence and taking shots, then readjusting as needed until I got the shot I wanted. Well, not the shot I WANTED, but the best I could get under the circumstances.

web tall ships william wolfeweb william wolfe tall ships 002web william wolfe tall ships 004web william wolfe tall ships 005web william wolfe tall ships single image edit

I could have come back at 10:00 AM when the area was open, but that would have meant having people in the photographs – lots of people! Also, the light would be too harsh, so I had to be satisfied with what I got and didn’t go back downtown the rest of the time the ships were here.

The ships out at the lake however, that was a different story!

These ships; The “Lynx” and the “When and If” were on a pretty tight schedule as they had to coordinate with a railroad bridge and a drawbridge which services a fairly busy highway.  The schedule was also available online, so I made a print out of it and began planning my best possible location and times.  While the ships kept to their schedule and I was able to get to the most of the locations I planned on, the weather was a different story (It’s always something!) The first day the skies were too clear – no drama. The second time I went out, there were some nice clouds, which was great, but it so windy that the ships didn’t leave the sails up for the whole trip, greatly reducing the shots that I could get.

web tall ships lake 002web tall ships lake edit 002

The above images are from the first day while the image below is from the second day;

 

web 2 ships at the lake

I was even inspired to create a little photoshop ‘art’ with the tall ships;

web full moon ship bnw

This above image and the header image for this article are both photoshop composites. This one is pretty obvious, while (hopefully) the other is more realistic. The header or featured image of this post is what I first envisioned when I heard that the tall ships were coming back to our area. The weather didn’t cooperate sadly and there was no available angle to get an image with the ships sailing as the sun set behind them, so I created it!  The power of photoshop!

Time to Stretch a Bit

If you know me…. well, most of you don’t – but if you did, you’d know that I’m always ‘up’ to something. Nothing bad usually, just always pushing to do more… to try new things.

Well, this time I tried my hand at creating a book. My daughter Ashley is the real author in the family, but this is a photo book (of course). Don’t get me wrong, there’s text in it as well. Not a lot, just a ‘sprinkle’ (if you will). This first edition is really just a test to see how it all works. I even mention that this is a ‘test’ book on the last page.

The book itself is only twenty pages and it’s on the iBooks bookstore. While you can sell books on iBooks, this one is 100% FREE!

All you have to do is follow the link and download it.

I didn’t have my daughter proof-read it, so there my need to be some revision (probably will if I’m completely honest).

Anyway, please feel free to download and check it out! I’d love to hear what you think and whatever suggestions you might have.

Perhaps in the future I’ll publish (I like the sound of that!) a longer more detailed book – who knows? Like I said, I’m always up to something!

Here is the link;

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/new-orleans-a-photographic-tour/id1369312494?mt=11

book cover

First One in the Books

Our first ever Art Fair is in the books….. Well, sort of. We were approved by the committee and paid our vendor fee over three weeks ago. At that time, of course, there was no expectation that the day of the April Art Walk would be, maybe, the worst weather day that we’d have in a long time!

All week leading up to the fair, the meteorologists warned that this Saturday was going to be a ‘wash out’. Still, they are always correct in their predictions and the Art Walk is pretty much a “rain or shine” type of situation.

So, as we’d already paid and prepared, we loaded up and drove the shot distance to the Art Walk location. We unloaded and set up in overcast conditions, but I saw the sun peek through a few times and thought that we’d be ok.

The Art Walk officially ‘opens’ at 8:30 and runs until 12:30 – so it’s not a long day to begin with. However, the gathering dark clouds and the reports from those who had drove in or who were listening to the radio warned that the “bad stuff” was closer that we would’ve hoped.

Shortly after 10:00 AM, the organizer approached us and told us to go ahead and start packing up as they were worried about just how bad the weather was going to get.

In the short time we were then we got to meet a few people and got some very nice comments on our booth and the product that we had to offer. Sales were not what we hoped for, but about what we expected with the weather + the French Quarter Fest and the Strawberry Fest being on the SAME weekend!

We’ll do it again next month (hopefully with MUCH better weather).

I snapped a few photos of our booth at the Art Walk, which is worth the trip itself as these types of photos are instrumental when it comes to being accepted in larger craft and art fairs.

Not what we hoped for the first one, but it is what it is.

Inspiration – it’s All Around You

As a landscape photographer, primarily, you’re always looking for the best scene. More importantly, you’re looking for the best light to capture that scene. One quickly learns that the best light can be found at sunrise and sunset. These times aren’t called ‘golden’ for no reason. We’d all like the drama of a setting sun lighting up the sky with a warm glow, or the sparkle of the sunrise shinning through some distant trees.

However, the weather, sun and sky don’t always cooperate. Of course, we mere humans have no control over this. So, you have to work with what you’ve got. This past weekend, the weather was well….. not too good. There was some rain and the skies were overcast for most of the time. Still, that doesn’t mean that you leave the camera in the bag and sulk.  

The included photo didn’t even involve travel, I just walked right across the street from my house!

I simply walked over and snapped a few images. I already knew what I wanted the final image to look like, so the lack of directional light – or any light for that matter wasn’t a problem.

We had a pretty stiff breeze going so, wanting to avoid motion blur, I knew I would have to get the fastest shutter speed possible. With low light, that meant two things; 

1) bumping up the ISO (usually not recommended, but necessary in this case)

2) shooting with a wide aperture. This second part was no problem as I was shooting with my macro lens and it has a very fast aperture (f=2.5).

I didn’t want to open up quite that much as I wanted some latitude where it came to depth of field. f=2.5 is VERY narrow and it would be possible to have only a small portion of the image in focus. So, I stopped down to about f=3.5.  As for the ISO, I greatly dislike shooting at an ISO above 100 as that provides the best quality. However, as the sun was blocked, and it was a dark overcast, I knew that ISO 100 wasn’t going to give me the shutter speed that I needed to stop the swaying subject in its tracks. I decided to bump up the ISO to about 400 for starters.

I also wanted to be very specific with the exposure, with this in mind, I set the metering system to spot metering (so only the center of the focus area would be included in the metering). This caused the image to stand out while the rest of the image goes darker. This looks like a night photo, but was actually made at about 2:30 – 3:00 PM.

With all the setting aligned as needed, I started to look for the best angles and compositions of the scene at hand.

I ended up with a shutter speed of about 1/2500 of a second – certainly fast enough to stop a moving subject!

I knew I was going to convert this image to Black & White so the noise form a higher ISO image wouldn’t be a problem.

The challenge is to see the interest in all things. After all, Inspiration is all around you!

web dandylion 001

Gretna Art Walk

Having been a photographer for several years, I’ve made the decision to try something new. It all started when I got the idea to affix some square versions of my images to some ceramic tiles and display them on an easel. Truth be told, the idea came from my mother when she did something similar.

As more and more people saw the tiles, I kept hearing the same thing; “You could probably sell these!” Never one to turn away from an opportunity, I took the plunge and invested in the needed items to set up a booth that could be used at art fairs and festivals. What started with photo tiles has grown into several sizes of matted prints and even framed prints to round out our display area.

The included photos are from one such “test” set up on our back lawn.

As you can see, this is quite an undertaking! With help from my wife Mendy, her friend Mona, my Sister Denise and my Mother (as well as long distance support from my daughter Ashley), I think we’re just about ready. A lot of time and care went into every aspect of the design and I think it turned out pretty well!

The first occasion when we’ll be able to set this up ‘for real’ will be Saturday April 14th at the Gretna Art Walk (on Huey P. Long Ave. between 3rd and 4th streets (under the pavilion).

The art walk is only 4 hours long (8:30 – 12:30), so it’s not a very long day. The perfect situation to get our ‘feet wet’ and see if we even enjoy this type of thing!

I’d like to invite everyone reading this to come out and see us if you’re available. We’re even doing a free raffle and you could win a framed print – again for free!

We won’t be the only vendor either (of course), so there’s a lot to see.
I’ve also created a Facebook ‘event’ that will have all the information.

I’m looking forward to it and will post a follow up to the art walk with my thoughts after the fact – those are always interesting!

Come on out!web art booth college

Sometimes you win…. sometimes you don’t

In my last article I mentioned that you sometimes get lucky when you roll the dice and take a chance on a sunset. Well, If I’m going to share my “success” stories, it’ only fair that I also share when things don’t go as hoped.

Now, as everyone knows, we can’t control the weather. We can’t control most things in life actually, but the weather is probably the least of them.

Yesterday afternoon was partly cloudy and when the sun wasn’t behind a cloud, it was bright. Historically, this is a good recipe for a great sunset. So, I searched out a location that would hopefully have a clear view of the sky as well as some visual element of interest on the ground. That’s always a challenge, but if the sunset works out, it’s secondary anyway.

So, I had my spot picked out and checked the time so I could arrive in time to set up and still not be there too early. Waiting for the sun to set (or rise) can be fairly boring to tell the truth.

Once I arrived and took a look around, it still seemed that this was going to be a great sunset. The clouds were starting to clear, but there were still enough to give the sky visual interest and the sun was near the horizon already, so there was no time to waste.

Well, I shot off a few images. Worked a bit on different compositions to get all the element lined up where I wanted them.
The Mississippi river has be very high of late, so I was surprised to see some (sort of) dry ground on the water side of the levee.
Well, the ground was pretty muddy to be honest, but hey…. if you want the shot, you gotta do what’s necessary. That’s how a lot of photographers get into trouble. Once you get an idea of a shot in your head, you’ll go to great lengths to get that shot. That often means putting yourself in places where you normally wouldn’t.

So, I kept watching and waiting…… and waiting…. and waiting.

it never happened. The spectacular sunset that I set out to capture and was fairly confident would happen – never did.
Here is the resulting image.

Stay tuned as I’ll try again, but I wanted to share that not every adventure is successful.

web huey p sunset11x14

It’s not a ‘bad’ photo, just not what I pictured or had hoped for.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑