Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => User Critiques => Topic started by: michael ellis on December 01, 2016, 07:20:23 am

Title: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 01, 2016, 07:20:23 am
Probably not the final state. Processed on my laptop. Any comments?

Michael Ellis
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Otto Phocus on December 01, 2016, 09:09:44 am
Could you explain what you were going after with this shot?  What was your artistic intention.  It is kinda hard to offer useful critique unless we understand what your intentions were.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 01, 2016, 09:54:21 am
Hi Otto-

I just liked the signage, no real social commentary or anything. I mostly shoot what I like and don't have any real agenda/artistic intentions besides making technically sound photographs which please me. Over the years I have found I do have favorite subjects like architectural details and nature and will probably have a coherent set of work at some point in the future. Thanks for taking a look.

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 01, 2016, 11:32:43 am
To me, this one looks a bit documentary. That's not necessarily a criticism because that might be what you are going for. The image, however, has some meaning for me because I'm pretty sure that is the laundry that my uncle used for decades. He lived on Dumaine Street.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: RSL on December 01, 2016, 11:50:01 am
I'm with you, George. I'm starting to see way too many tourist shots on LuLa -- the kind of thing that says nothing more than "I was there." It's discouraging. For a while there I was seeing more than the usual number of photographs that I'd be willing to call art.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 01, 2016, 11:58:16 am
I'm with you, George. I'm starting to see way too many tourist shots on LuLa -- the kind of thing that says nothing more than "I was there." It's discouraging. For a while there I was seeing more than the usual number of photographs that I'd be willing to call art.

I'm guilty of that myself. Posted a New Orleans street scene here that I thought was interesting but it was panned here, or elicited indifference (which is worse than criticism!). My wife concurred that the picture was uninteresting to her as well. But, that's part of the reason I post images here. Sometimes we see things in our images that just aren't that meaningful to anyone else. And that's good to know.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Otto Phocus on December 01, 2016, 01:07:31 pm
The photograph looks a bit flat.  But that could be because the scene itself was flat.  Was it a flat scene?

To me there are three parts of this photograph that I find interesting.  So interesting that if I were there, I would shoot them as separate photographs.

The street drain has a nice pattern and tone that combined with the cracked curb provides an interesting composition in my opinion.
I also like the lighting on the door and I am most intrigued by the bends and weathering of the balcony railing.  Each one of these I feel would make a good photograph.  Unfortunately, the one portion of the photograph that I don't find interesting is the signs.  Some of them are difficult to read.

However, if the shop has a personal connection to you, then the signs are probably the most important aspect of this composition.

That's why I asked my question.  Technically, the quality of your photograph is pretty evident (assuming that you were stuck with a flat scene), but in order to critique the artistic or symbolic quality of the photograph, I need to know what was important to you.   Because what is important to you may not be what is important to me and what is important to you is really all that matters.  ;D
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: RSL on December 01, 2016, 02:14:05 pm
Hi Otto, Have you considered that maybe what's "important" to the author of a photograph and what's "important" to a viewer of the photograph may not be what's important at all?

I have loads of pictures of stuff important to me that I've made over the years, but I don't post them for general consumption. I stick by what I said in my article on street photography that you can find at https://luminous-landscape.com/on-street-photography/:

"I sometimes see howlers people post on the web as street photography, and I try not to laugh because Iíve shot my share of flubs like these too. Iím sure Iím far from the only one who reacts that way. Fact is that even when you get good at street photography, youíll shoot bags and bags of bloopers, a smaller number of not too bad shots, and the rare picture you should be willing to show. Beyond that, thereís the kind of picture upon which youíd be willing to hang your reputation. If you can average one of those a year youíre getting pretty good."

In that article I'm talking about street  photography, but the principle extends to any kind of art -- if art is what you're trying to produce.

I'm probably inviting the kind of opprobrium directed at those who criticize things other people don't agree should be criticized, but more and more I look at "User Critiques" on LuLa and see what I call "tourist pictures": the kind of pictures that simply say "I was there." I'm not sure that really falls properly under the general heading "The Art of Photography."

And I want to apologize to Michael Ellis. I don't mean to pick on you specifically, Michael. What I'm talking about is a general problem that seems to be growing.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 01, 2016, 02:35:38 pm
I think this just brings us back around to the purpose of a critique forum. I don't think such a forum should be restricted to those once a year or once in a lifetime photos. Beginners need criticism as much or more than pros. So I don't think that the presence of more mediocre photos is a problem; it should be an opportunity for the seasoned veterans to help someone improve. It is also valid, I think, for people to say "I don't like it and here's why". We just have to remind those who post here to be thick skinned and open to opinion and advice.

What I have observed in this forum for the short time I have been active here is a small group of regulars who tend to critique each other's work fairly positively. This is an observation, not a complaint. A lot of good stuff gets posted here. I have also observed general civility and kindness, which is great.

Critique forums are tough. I wish there was some type of "Read Me" dialog box for each new post that makes it clear that feedback might be negative and might even, on occasion, seem brutal and that the poster should be open minded and willing to accept and use all criticism.

As one who frequents this critique forum fairly often, I feel guilty when I open a post, look at an image that does not move me at all and then move on without commenting. It is a matter of being lazy and not wanting to hurt someone's feelings. But at the least I think I should say, "It doesn't do anything for me".  Better yet, I should take the time to provide useful critique. As we are all aware, that is fairly hard, especially if the image is mediocre. It takes talent, tact and a good eye to help with mediocrity.

I think it is important to remember that some good stuff is often misinterpreted by critics. Even good ones and in large numbers.

It would also be nice if those who post for critique would mention where they are in their pursuit. Critique for a seasoned amateur will be different than for a beginner.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: RSL on December 01, 2016, 02:48:15 pm
It would also be nice if those who post for critique would mention where they are in their pursuit. Critique for a seasoned amateur will be different than for a beginner.

That would be a splendid idea.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Otto Phocus on December 02, 2016, 06:34:49 am
It would also be nice if those who post for critique would mention where they are in their pursuit. Critique for a seasoned amateur will be different than for a beginner.

Except for what exactly is a "seasoned amateur"?  At what point does one stop being a beginner and become promoted to "seasoned amateur"?  To me the terms are meaningless.

I judge a person's critique on what they write and how they write it.  Even people who have never taken a photograph in their life, can offer useful critiques.

Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 02, 2016, 08:03:30 am
Except for what exactly is a "seasoned amateur"?  At what point does one stop being a beginner and become promoted to "seasoned amateur"?  To me the terms are meaningless.

I judge a person's critique on what they write and how they write it.  Even people who have never taken a photograph in their life, can offer useful critiques.

I'm talking about the person who posted the image for critique, not the critic.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: RSL on December 02, 2016, 08:06:10 am
Before the last overhaul of the LuLa software it was possible to include a bit of your background in your profile. Can't do that any longer, and it's a shame because it would help to know how experienced the poster is. Of course it's always possible to puff yourself up in that kind of background summary, but usually the photographs themselves make clear what the truth is.

Maybe I'm wrong, but to me the title "The Art of Photography" at least implies that those "users" asking for a critique are trying for more than tourist pictures. On the other hand I see plenty of cases where people post tourist pictures and the "critique" devolves into "I remember that place. I was there in. . ." So maybe that's what we mean by "critique."
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 02, 2016, 08:37:44 am
But there's an underlying problem with photography, should one be expecting clear reasoning for motivation: I don't believe that many of us really know why we shoot something when we do; I think it's all about flying by the seat of our pants and recognizing the possibility of something lurking within the frame that caught our eye.

Needless to say, this has become far more bearable in the digital age, if only for the fact that once we have a card... But personally speaking, I feel obliged to say, yet again, that Terence Donovan was right: the most difficult part of photography for the amateur is having a reason to make/take (use the one that brings comfort) a photograph. Having spent my working life doing it for clients, it was far easier a task. One simply did one's best to catch what the client thought he was after. Sure, technique develops quickly, or you die, but that is of little help in the amateur condition. You can be as skilled as you like, but if your heart and mind remain empty, you are sunk. And that's why I recognize the amateur's dilemma so clearly: out to pasture, I find myself right slap bang in the middle of it myself now. Knowing how to do something well is of little help when you don't really know what it is you want to do, other than knowing that you don't want to stop doing what you could do well.

Russ is right about 'tourist shots' of course, but Russ has (as have I) also been around cameras for most of his long life. The problem with long memory is that one increasingly becomes aware that there ain't much new under that old Sun. Trust me, knowing that what you are doing has been done to death, and better than you can do it too, is a bit daunting, not to say discouraging.

Perhaps we should just celebrate the innocence of the neophyte. Maybe he/she's the hope for the industry.

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on December 02, 2016, 08:44:16 am
Except for what exactly is a "seasoned amateur"?  At what point does one stop being a beginner and become promoted to "seasoned amateur"?...

Sophism  ;)
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Otto Phocus on December 02, 2016, 09:16:57 am
I'm talking about the person who posted the image for critique, not the critic.

Good point.  I misread your comment.  But I am still not sure I understand what a "seasoned amateur" is or how that would affect critiques.

To me, it does not matter how much experience someone has, but what they were intending in their art.

But that's just my opinion.   :)
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: RSL on December 02, 2016, 10:05:40 am
I'd certainly agree, Rob, that if you know, in a logical sense, why you're shooting something the result probably isn't going to give a viewer the kind of experience I expect art to give me.

I keep coming back to HCB: "It's always luck. You have to be receptive, that's all." The winning image is there, and then in a flash, it's gone. Your shot on "Brexit" of the woman with, I'd assume, her doctor with his finger on his lip as he ponders a result, is a classic example. How long did he have his finger in that position? I'd be willing to bet it was less than three seconds. It was a snapshot. You're hit with the scene. You raise the camera and shoot. And sometimes, as HCB said, you feel as if you've really gotten something. In my own experience it turns out more often than not that I was wrong. I hadn't really gotten something. But if what you've gotten is the bug, you press on and look for the next opportunity.

Regarding having a long memory, which both of us have: yes, I'm pretty familiar with the stuff that's been done over and over and over. A lot of it gets done over because young people don't take the time and the trouble to familiarize themselves with what's already been done. Many don't have the time to do that. But sometimes that's a bonus. They try something they don't know has been done over and over, and, suddenly what appears is something new.

Never be discouraged! Every day is a new day.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 02, 2016, 11:43:39 am
Good point.  I misread your comment.  But I am still not sure I understand what a "seasoned amateur" is or how that would affect critiques.

I am a seasoned amateur. If you comment that a different perspective might help an image, or that a different fstop would be better or that output sharpening was overdone I would know what you mean.

Someone with his first ever camera might not benefit from such comments. Someone with their first camera might be proud that they simply got the exposure right or chose the right fstop and will not understand or benefit from a detailed analysis of composition or tonal range.

So the difference seems pretty straight forward to me.

Quote
To me, it does not matter how much experience someone has, but what they were intending in their art.

But that's just my opinion.   :)

I think we will have to agree to disagree here. Yes, someone who has an artistic vision but who does not understand the mechanics and technology of photography might be able to produce "art". But the chances are far less than for someone who understands the mechanics and technology of photography AND has a clear artistic vision. And I believe we would or should critique those two examples differently.

Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 02, 2016, 11:13:04 pm
To me, this one looks a bit documentary. That's not necessarily a criticism because that might be what you are going for. The image, however, has some meaning for me because I'm pretty sure that is the laundry that my uncle used for decades. He lived on Dumaine Street.

Hi N80-

I was just trying to make a photo that was satisfying to me. I liked the signs and the scene. The signs actually look happy to me. I can't say why though. I find it pleasing that someone with an actual connection to the scene had a look at it. Thank you for your comment. While I was walking around the French Quarter I was constantly telling myself "you aren't here to document the French Quarter" although that did happen just because I was there making photographs.

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 02, 2016, 11:22:05 pm
The photograph looks a bit flat.  But that could be because the scene itself was flat.  Was it a flat scene?

To me there are three parts of this photograph that I find interesting.  So interesting that if I were there, I would shoot them as separate photographs.

The street drain has a nice pattern and tone that combined with the cracked curb provides an interesting composition in my opinion.
I also like the lighting on the door and I am most intrigued by the bends and weathering of the balcony railing.  Each one of these I feel would make a good photograph.  Unfortunately, the one portion of the photograph that I don't find interesting is the signs.  Some of them are difficult to read.

However, if the shop has a personal connection to you, then the signs are probably the most important aspect of this composition.

That's why I asked my question.  Technically, the quality of your photograph is pretty evident (assuming that you were stuck with a flat scene), but in order to critique the artistic or symbolic quality of the photograph, I need to know what was important to you.   Because what is important to you may not be what is important to me and what is important to you is really all that matters.  ;D

Hi Otto-

It was quite overcast that morning. As I said in my reply to N80, the signs looked happy to me. I often see things in the photos I make after I look at them on the computer that I want to zero in on. Unfortunately many times I am not able to return due to traveling and limited time. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the time you have invested.

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 02, 2016, 11:28:30 pm
Hi Otto, Have you considered that maybe what's "important" to the author of a photograph and what's "important" to a viewer of the photograph may not be what's important at all?

I have loads of pictures of stuff important to me that I've made over the years, but I don't post them for general consumption. I stick by what I said in my article on street photography that you can find at https://luminous-landscape.com/on-street-photography/:

"I sometimes see howlers people post on the web as street photography, and I try not to laugh because Iíve shot my share of flubs like these too. Iím sure Iím far from the only one who reacts that way. Fact is that even when you get good at street photography, youíll shoot bags and bags of bloopers, a smaller number of not too bad shots, and the rare picture you should be willing to show. Beyond that, thereís the kind of picture upon which youíd be willing to hang your reputation. If you can average one of those a year youíre getting pretty good."

In that article I'm talking about street  photography, but the principle extends to any kind of art -- if art is what you're trying to produce.

I'm probably inviting the kind of opprobrium directed at those who criticize things other people don't agree should be criticized, but more and more I look at "User Critiques" on LuLa and see what I call "tourist pictures": the kind of pictures that simply say "I was there." I'm not sure that really falls properly under the general heading "The Art of Photography."

And I want to apologize to Michael Ellis. I don't mean to pick on you specifically, Michael. What I'm talking about is a general problem that seems to be growing.

Hi Russ-

No offense taken. I value the diversity of opinions here on LuLa and appreciate that you have taken the time to respond to something I have posted. This does seem to me though to be a pretty atypical "tourist picture" of the French Quarter.

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 02, 2016, 11:35:51 pm
But there's an underlying problem with photography, should one be expecting clear reasoning for motivation: I don't believe that many of us really know why we shoot something when we do; I think it's all about flying by the seat of our pants and recognizing the possibility of something lurking within the frame that caught our eye.

Needless to say, this has become far more bearable in the digital age, if only for the fact that once we have a card... But personally speaking, I feel obliged to say, yet again, that Terence Donovan was right: the most difficult part of photography for the amateur is having a reason to make/take (use the one that brings comfort) a photograph. Having spent my working life doing it for clients, it was far easier a task. One simply did one's best to catch what the client thought he was after. Sure, technique develops quickly, or you die, but that is of little help in the amateur condition. You can be as skilled as you like, but if your heart and mind remain empty, you are sunk. And that's why I recognize the amateur's dilemma so clearly: out to pasture, I find myself right slap bang in the middle of it myself now. Knowing how to do something well is of little help when you don't really know what it is you want to do, other than knowing that you don't want to stop doing what you could do well.

Russ is right about 'tourist shots' of course, but Russ has (as have I) also been around cameras for most of his long life. The problem with long memory is that one increasingly becomes aware that there ain't much new under that old Sun. Trust me, knowing that what you are doing has been done to death, and better than you can do it too, is a bit daunting, not to say discouraging.

Perhaps we should just celebrate the innocence of the neophyte. Maybe he/she's the hope for the industry.

Rob

Hi Rob-

When I am traveling to new places I like to just wander around and shoot what takes my fancy. If I think too much about why I am doing something it brings me to stasis because, really, it is pretty difficult to come up with a good solid reason why I do most of the things I enjoy doing.

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 02, 2016, 11:42:39 pm
Thank you to everyone who has posted here on this topic. For a picture that no one really cared for this sure was a great discussion! For the record, I am an amateur who has had a life long love of photography. I haven't been active here for several years due to life events intervening but things have settled somewhat now and I intend to try to be more active here in the future.

Sincerely,

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on December 03, 2016, 04:11:56 am
Maybe I'm wrong, but to me the title "The Art of Photography" at least implies that those "users" asking for a critique are trying for more than tourist pictures. On the other hand I see plenty of cases where people post tourist pictures and the "critique" devolves into "I remember that place. I was there in. . ." So maybe that's what we mean by "critique."

I think it would be a shame if comments such as those were to be lost because we took a collective decision to confine ourselves strictly to photographic technique. This is a social as well as a technical/artistic site. I regard some of the people here, whom I have never met and probably never will, as friends. Reminiscences draw us closer together, which can make later, more focussed, comment more valuable.

Jeremy
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 03, 2016, 04:51:14 am
I think it would be a shame if comments such as those were to be lost because we took a collective decision to confine ourselves strictly to photographic technique. This is a social as well as a technical/artistic site. I regard some of the people here, whom I have never met and probably never will, as friends. Reminiscences draw us closer together, which can make later, more focussed, comment more valuable.

Jeremy


What's photographic technique? Do we speak of the abillity to expose and process "correctly", or to make pictures that have character or whatever positive values a photograph can have?

I think that the two are inextricably in bed together in pretty much all the photographs that I have seen and admired. But at the end of it all, I have to tip my vote in favour of the 'style' of the photographer, way beyond the adherence of the images to some preconception of photographic quality.

A case in point would be Bailey's first Vogue expedition to New York, where his pictures of Jean Shrimpton, each burdened with the presence of a teddy bear, fall (in my view) way below the quality he was capable of producing, and certainly was producing, in more normal studio and domestic locations. However, the take, the use of location, was perceived as novel by Vogue at the time, even though they didn't want him to shoot on 135 format (which he did do). It might have been new for some editions of Vogue, but certainly wasn't groundbreaking at all, as many other fashion photographers were doing their versions of fashion 'street' well befor he did it in that issue. Bailey lived with Shrimpton for a delightful period, shot her almost exclusively and made wonderful images with her, but yet, my favourite Shrimpton one is of her in a red coat shot through a window of some sort, by Saul Leiter who certainly did not live with her nor have that length of personal opportunity to shoot with the lady... so yeah, style is king. (Pour moi.)

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on December 03, 2016, 12:16:58 pm

What's photographic technique? Do we speak of the abillity to expose and process "correctly", or to make pictures that have character or whatever positive values a photograph can have?

I think that the two are inextricably in bed together in pretty much all the photographs that I have seen and admired.

I agree. Both.

Jeremy
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 03, 2016, 08:08:41 pm
Hi N80-

I was just trying to make a photo that was satisfying to me. I liked the signs and the scene. The signs actually look happy to me. I can't say why though. I find it pleasing that someone with an actual connection to the scene had a look at it. Thank you for your comment. While I was walking around the French Quarter I was constantly telling myself "you aren't here to document the French Quarter" although that did happen just because I was there making photographs.

Michael

To me the French Quarter is hard to photograph. Kind of like El Capitan is hard to photograph. You end up with a post card or something that approximates what someone famous has already done. I spent 3 days in the Quarter last January and I have 1, maybe 2 photos which are satisfying to me and one of them is Canal Street at night so not really even in the Quarter. Another one that I liked is one that folks here uniformly found uninteresting (and I now agree they are right).

And yes, in the end, all photos are documentary to some extent.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 03, 2016, 08:13:47 pm
Well, a little off topic, but my brother-in-law recently took a very expensive Alaska cruise on a small ship with multiple professional photographers who would critique the passenger's images (if they wanted to) at the end of the day in a group session. My B-I-L is fairly new at photography, but he was a bit taken aback by the constant adherence to the old saws: never put the horizon in the middle, there needs to be a bird in that landscape, etc.....
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 03, 2016, 09:48:34 pm
To me the French Quarter is hard to photograph. Kind of like El Capitan is hard to photograph. You end up with a post card or something that approximates what someone famous has already done. I spent 3 days in the Quarter last January and I have 1, maybe 2 photos which are satisfying to me and one of them is Canal Street at night so not really even in the Quarter. Another one that I liked is one that folks here uniformly found uninteresting (and I now agree they are right).

And yes, in the end, all photos are documentary to some extent.

Hi N80-

Well, you can't please everyone. I found it difficult due to all the parked cars and garbage cans on the curb. Tough to get a "clean" shot of much. I didn't want to carry my tripod either, and I got food poisoning the first meal I ate so I wasn't in tip top shape. I also felt kind of unsafe there, like I could be robbed at any moment. I've travelled in Latin America quite a bit and on this trip in a few large American cities and this is the only place I felt like something bad could happen at any moment. It was pretty quiet though between 6 and 9 AM.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 04, 2016, 04:36:14 am
Hi N80-

Well, you can't please everyone. I found it difficult due to all the parked cars and garbage cans on the curb. Tough to get a "clean" shot of much. I didn't want to carry my tripod either, and I got food poisoning the first meal I ate so I wasn't in tip top shape. I also felt kind of unsafe there, like I could be robbed at any moment. I've travelled in Latin America quite a bit and on this trip in a few large American cities and this is the only place I felt like something bad could happen at any moment. It was pretty quiet though between 6 and 9 AM.


Ah, the  mind...

I've only been to the States twice, and on each trip we had to spend time in Florida. We were based on the Atlantic coast, just north of Miami.

Part of the attraction had been geography, which because I've never been a good early riser, meant I could hope to get my golden light shots in the right direction at the right time of the day. So, we did what had to be done for some shots during broad daylight, looking forward the while to better luck in the evening. Come the moment, the model, my wife and I drove down to the bit of beach we'd eyed previously, and we got out of the car. And then we got right back in again. Not only had the light changed as expected, but so had the population: from white faces it had turned to a beach of black. No way we were going down into that to start shooting pin-ups. That could have been a silly reaction on our part or not; being strangers we went on gut.

I'm told nobody walks in parts of America. I guess nobody told Winogrand that.

But anyway, that's the reaction we had to the vibe. New Orleans has always had a rep as a dangerous city; it all goes together with the birth of jazz, speakeasies, whore houses, ports. Hamburg on the Gulf.

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 04, 2016, 04:17:52 pm
Well, to Rob and Michael, it is probably always best to go with your instinct when in a strange place. But the French Quarter is not the dangerous part of New Orleans. It might look that way but is probably the safest. I wandered about, alone, during the early morning hours and late at night. If you pay attention you will see that police are everywhere. The Quarter is N.O.'s bread basket. The city cannot afford for it to be dangerous. Now, wandering outside the Quarter at night, well, that IS dangerous. And Rob, yes, the Quarter is the heart of sin city but in its current state it is Disney compared to what it was 40-50 years ago.

Rob, I can't imagine what someone meant when they told you that "nobody walks in America". First off, America (the US) is a big and culturally diverse nation. I've lived across a wide swath of it. I see great throngs of people walking in New York City. People walk all over the small university city I live in. So the statement perplexes me, even makes me laugh. Especially in terms of safety. Where I live we do not lock our front door with regularity. There are obviously dangerous places in the US. What large nation can claim otherwise? What large city can claim otherwise? Now, if the statement had to do with how fat and lazy we Americans are getting......well, maybe there is some truth there. And yet, I see people walking for exercise everywhere from Central Park to the backwoods where I have a cabin.

And things change. When I was a student at an all male school in Charleston, SC we were told to walk in groups no smaller than 5. College girls were told never to go downtown alone. All it took was a new, common sense, no nonsense police chief (who happened to be black) and things changed seemingly overnight.

But I will relate two stories to put things in perspective. In NYC a few springs ago. My first trip. Considering the subway in Manhattan. I stand there staring at the stairs into that dark unknown thinking "I'm not going down there" when a group of small, uniformed school children came pouring up the stairs. Second, Bologna, Italy with my wife and kids. Great city (one of my favorite in Italy) but not exactly on the grand tour itinerary for American tourists.  We'd had a fine meal and a bottle of wine and were wandering back to our inn late in the evening when I looked around and got that feeling you guys are talking about. Dark narrow street. Blind corners. Not sure where we were. I was just about to suggest we turn around when we turned a corner to see many children and family members playing and socializing in the street. It was not dangerous. It just seemed that way because I was ignorant.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Osprey on December 04, 2016, 09:54:27 pm
Yeah, the French Quarter is safeish.  If you stay on Bourbon Street or St. Peter or something fairly major you should be fine.  Wander onto the side streets towards Rampart or Esplanade and it thins out remarkably and YMMV.  Even Bourbon Street, if you keep walking east.   As a dude, I'll take the NYC subway at night over wandering around even touristy New Orleans at night.

Well, to Rob and Michael, it is probably always best to go with your instinct when in a strange place. But the French Quarter is not the dangerous part of New Orleans. It might look that way but is probably the safest. I wandered about, alone, during the early morning hours and late at night. If you pay attention you will see that police are everywhere. The Quarter is N.O.'s bread basket. The city cannot afford for it to be dangerous. Now, wandering outside the Quarter at night, well, that IS dangerous. And Rob, yes, the Quarter is the heart of sin city but in its current state it is Disney compared to what it was 40-50 years ago.


But I will relate two stories to put things in perspective. In NYC a few springs ago. My first trip. Considering the subway in Manhattan. I stand there staring at the stairs into that dark unknown thinking "I'm not going down there" when a group of small, uniformed school children came pouring up the stairs.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 05, 2016, 04:38:05 am
On the Florida 'fear' thing: before going there I'd set up a deal with, I think, AMF to do some pictures from/with a Crestliner Rampage motorboat. In the hotel, I asked the desk clerk for instructions as to how to drive to the office. He took a look at the address and told me I couldn't go there. I asked why, and he said because you're white. I thought he was kidding, and we set off to find the place as best we could, armed with the address and an Avis street map. It appeared to be simple to work our way along the grid system and get to where we wanted to get. Not so. The corners were not all signed with names, and we never did find our destination. We stopped., at one point, to look at the map again and perhaps ask local directions. As we sat there, I noticed that we were indeed the only white people in sight, and that the cars were all rather old, large ones with smoked windows, exactly as per all the gangster movies you ever saw. We decided we didn't want to have walk-on parts, and just turned round and got the hell out.

We ended up hiring a staid old fishing/tourist cruiser and going along rhe Intracoastal waterway for a morning, not at all the experience or photo-op that a Rampage would have offered.

Struck me as odd that the company would have given us a dangerous address for our co-operative venture... The other thing that made me a bit nervous was going down to Key West: hoped I wouldn't go the wrong way out of Miami and end up in Freedom City. You may laugh, but my sense of direction is not perfect! It took me years to find my way around the local town of Pollensa: take me up a side-street and I'd have been totally lost. (In my defence, though, it was designed to defeat raids from Barbary Coast pirates.) I do think, though, that we are connected, more or less, to the pigeon family of birds: my wife had a wonderful sense of direction and seldom felt lost in any strange place we ended up working; I was the absolute opposite. Descended from the wrong breed of pigeon, I suppose.

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 05, 2016, 02:36:10 pm
Yeah, the French Quarter is safeish.  If you stay on Bourbon Street or St. Peter or something fairly major you should be fine.  Wander onto the side streets towards Rampart or Esplanade and it thins out remarkably and YMMV.  Even Bourbon Street, if you keep walking east.   As a dude, I'll take the NYC subway at night over wandering around even touristy New Orleans at night.

I think YMMV is key here. I never felt the least bit intimidated in the Quarter. And no, I do not have a misplaced sense of well-being. I am a pretty cautious person. But, I'm 6'4" and 200 pounds. I'm also armed at least in some small way. Not that I'm tough or any match for a young healthy criminal, but I'm not the typical target. That is changing as I get older of course.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 05, 2016, 05:17:50 pm
Enjoy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKL-RJDPH3w&list=RDAkClv5O15s0&index=14

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 05, 2016, 07:17:53 pm
Enjoy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKL-RJDPH3w&list=RDAkClv5O15s0&index=14

Rob

Sublime. I'd have braved the dangers of the Quarter any day to see/hear that!
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 06, 2016, 04:24:40 am
Sublime. I'd have braved the dangers of the Quarter any day to see/hear that!

Indeed; I sometimes sit back as videos flicker across the screens here and there, and one contemporary 'singer' or dancer or whatever does its thing in attempts to get rich, famous and entertaining. At times like that I wonder whether the black musicians of today have absolutely no idea of their recent musical history, or whether they see it not as heritage of art, but of terrible social times to which they rather not admit. But, as such times are still to be found in all sectors of humanity, right across race, it seems a wanton waste of the cultural heritage and talents to abandon that for something as crude as, well, rap.

But it isn't confined to jazz: Chuck Berry's greatest hit was that sad little number, My ding-a-ling.

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Osprey on December 06, 2016, 06:03:52 am
Isn't the problem with that stuff that it pretty much stopped advancing and has become largely antique for tourists?  I mean jazz isn't all that popular anymore, but that Youtube video was old fashioned for jazz in at least 1950.

Indeed; I sometimes sit back as videos flicker across the screens here and there, and one contemporary 'singer' or dancer or whatever does its thing in attempts to get rich, famous and entertaining. At times like that I wonder whether the black musicians of today have absolutely no idea of their recent musical history, or whether they see it not as heritage of art, but of terrible social times to which they rather not admit. But, as such times are still to be found in all sectors of humanity, right across race, it seems a wanton waste of the cultural heritage and talents to abandon that for something as crude as, well, rap.

But it isn't confined to jazz: Chuck Berry's greatest hit was that sad little number, My ding-a-ling.

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 06, 2016, 02:46:19 pm
Isn't the problem with that stuff that it pretty much stopped advancing and has become largely antique for tourists?  I mean jazz isn't all that popular anymore, but that Youtube video was old fashioned for jazz in at least 1950.

No. There is still an active jazz 'scene'. It is fairly confined....in other words, it isn't pop music. But there are still those who like it and it is still evolving. I'm not particularly a jazz fan. I am a fan of the blues however. And yes, in a sense maybe the blues have run their course, but they are infused in pretty much all popular music and in that sense they live on.

I am also perplexed why it is mostly white people in the US and Britain (and some other parts of Europe) who remain blues fans. 

But when you talk about the music being "largely antique for tourists" that is pretty much what New Orleans is. And Charleston, SC. And a good many of the places I've visited in Europe too.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 06, 2016, 03:24:25 pm
Jazz, popularity... it's the problem that some fashionable art galleries actively promote too.

I don't see popularity as measure of quality, of depth or even of pleasure. That only tourists might appreciate George Lewis is an amazing concept, if more than a little depressing in what it may signify about us as a species.

Evolution isn't the answer or panacea for artistic expression some might demand. If so, one might as well close the Prado etc. etc. and collect comics instead. But wait: folks do.

Blues, for me, is about some form of communal, subliminal recognition the origins or causes of which I am not sure. And I think that it's totally colour-blind. I loved blues (in the jazz sense, as per Bessie Smith etc.) when I met it at about the age of sixteen; I had no personal pain axes to grind then; now that I do, the blues are every bit as valid, and every bit as likely to soothe as to turn on the next bout of tears. You never know with the blues; they can come visit at the most inconvenient of times. And frequently they do.

Look at country and western, and it's basically white blues with lots of suger on the side, and difficult hair piled high and unreasonably thick... Then the Killer comes along and tickles his keys and with vision switched off he could be black. Blues goes deeper than a simple, single musical style; it spread north from New Orleans up into Chicago; sideways right through Creole zydeco and the later swamp pop of Louisiana and on into Texas. It has swept into almost everything we can hear.

I bet that half the time many people have no idea that they are listening to blues. Twelve- or eight-bar formats are heard every day.

Rob
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: michael ellis on December 06, 2016, 04:05:35 pm
I think Terrence Blanchard is a New Orleans native and still lives in the city, I think he ranks at the top tier of contemporary jazz musician/composers. Not sure if he plays in the French Quarter though. Several jazz musicians from New Orleans moved to Portland, where I live, after hurricane Katrina and they are also moving the form forward.

Michael
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 06, 2016, 04:27:38 pm
Blues goes deeper than a simple, single musical style; it spread north from New Orleans up into Chicago; sideways right through Creole zydeco and the later swamp pop of Louisiana and on into Texas. It has swept into almost everything we can hear.

Just a quibble here, but the blues spread outward from the Mississippi delta, Clarksdale, Indianola, Sunflower, etc.

Alan Lomax (? the folk documentary guy) helped preserve and promote the blues up north. Elvis and Jerry Lee popularized it here at home. The British musicians of the 60's, Stones, Clapton, Led Zep picked up on it, stole it, modified and made it even more popular....as you say,most people do not know they are listening to it when they hear Cream, or The Animals or Van Morrison.

I'm from the south. Lived in Clarksdale. But the blues came to me via Led Zep and the like. They were influenced most by the hardcore delta blues like Robert Johnson, Bukka White, etc. Those are the blues I like. A guitar, maybe a harmonica, rarely a drum kit.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Osprey on December 06, 2016, 10:51:31 pm
New Orleans is a lot more dynamic and contemporary than places like Venice or those old art villages in the South of France, though.  It's not a museum, there's a definite modern discussion going on.  Even with the music, you could argue that stuff like the brass bands such as Rebirth or the Dirty Dozen are the more modern continuations of the jazz that is on display at Preservation Hall.

No. There is still an active jazz 'scene'. It is fairly confined....in other words, it isn't pop music. But there are still those who like it and it is still evolving. I'm not particularly a jazz fan. I am a fan of the blues however. And yes, in a sense maybe the blues have run their course, but they are infused in pretty much all popular music and in that sense they live on.

I am also perplexed why it is mostly white people in the US and Britain (and some other parts of Europe) who remain blues fans. 

But when you talk about the music being "largely antique for tourists" that is pretty much what New Orleans is. And Charleston, SC. And a good many of the places I've visited in Europe too.
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: Rob C on December 07, 2016, 04:50:35 am
Just a quibble here, but the blues spread outward from the Mississippi delta, Clarksdale, Indianola, Sunflower, etc.

Alan Lomax (? the folk documentary guy) helped preserve and promote the blues up north. Elvis and Jerry Lee popularized it here at home. The British musicians of the 60's, Stones, Clapton, Led Zep picked up on it, stole it, modified and made it even more popular....as you say,most people do not know they are listening to it when they hear Cream, or The Animals or Van Morrison.

I'm from the south. Lived in Clarksdale. But the blues came to me via Led Zep and the like. They were influenced most by the hardcore delta blues like Robert Johnson, Bukka White, etc. Those are the blues I like. A guitar, maybe a harmonica, rarely a drum kit.


Yes, it's ironic that the Stones etc. introduced blues to the American teenagers! But rather than blame the Brits for exploitation (which I do not accuse anyone of doing), which on some levels it is (though it also had the effect of restarting some stalled black careers), but blended the while with pure adulation for the originals, one should blame the U.S. radio station systems which were also segregated back then. Strange, though, that when stations were but a turn of a knob apart, few found their way to white ears. Or so one is led to believe. Maybe there was just a huge company of informed, closet white blues fans awaiting release and acceptance (or even public forgiveness?) via the men from Tupelo and Ferriday?

Fom way across the ocean, thank goodness for the seamen who brought the music back with them to Britain on disc. Personally, I think I first heard the stuff via AFN radio out of Germany on the odd moments when it was accidentally hearable in Scotland. Which must indicate that at least AFN wasn't hung up on making black invisible. Which in the physical circumstances, would have been a neat trick to pull off.

Rob C
Title: Re: "washingwell" New Orleans
Post by: N80 on December 10, 2016, 08:41:20 pm

Yes, it's ironic that the Stones etc. introduced blues to the American teenagers! But rather than blame the Brits for exploitation (which I do not accuse anyone of doing), which on some levels it is (though it also had the effect of restarting some stalled black careers),

I don't know. Led Zep ripped off many of the blues greats word for word. They settled some of these in court and some of them voluntarily (thank goodness). Willie Dixon especially got ripped off by Zeppelin. (And don't et me wrong, Zep is one of my favorite bands and Robert Plant is one of my musical heroes.) On the one hand, this music seemed so obscure to them at the time (early to mid sixties) that they probably didn't feel they were stealing anything. But they did and in a big way. If you listen to Zep and the blues enough (as I have) it is shocking how much they "borrowed". I'm glad they did. And I'm glad they made it right in the end. Sadly some of the old blues men they borrowed from were too far gone to benefit.

Quote
Strange, though, that when stations were but a turn of a knob apart, few found their way to white ears. Or so one is led to believe.

Oh, its true. The problem is that the white audiences did not want to hear real "black" music. They used a different racial slur of course. They wanted to hear it from Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson and Elvis. Nice and white. Sad? Yes. Even sadder when you consider how awful the Pat Boone and Rickey Nelson songs were. At least Elvis and Jerry Lee left a little of the "black" in the music.