Art creativity flowers New Orleans

September 4, 2012 … post-processing rant

In photographic circles there is much debate as to what constitutes a photograph.

Indeed, when I went to the New Orleans Museum of Art, it was to see an exhibition entitled “What is a photograph?” (If you click on the link, you can browse some of the images from that exhibition on the Museum’s Flickr site).

The curator(s) of that exhibition were more open to new possibilities than many who debate the topic locally. The word means drawing with light.  Nowhere is it engraved on tablets of silver or blocks of gelatin that such a drawing must be accomplished using a camera only, and with a single exposure taken at a particular moment in time.

Nevertheless, there are many who are quite precious about requiring a photograph to be the picture exactly as it was seen through the lens at the moment the shutter was opened.

Frankly I don’t understand it. I can think of no other graphic art form whose followers are so intolerant of an image being constructed in several stages.   So let me add yet another “bah humbug!” zone.

I have no qualms about using “post-processing” techniques to produce images. Is it cheating? It would be if I were using the image in a way that attempted to misrepresent a constructed scenario as an experienced reality. There are many examples in which people use Photoshop™ to insert impossible or improbable elements … a giant shark leaping out of the water attempting to devour a helicopter, for example.

On the other hand, if the sole purpose of the exercise is to create a pleasing image, then as long as it is original, how it is achieved should be nobody’s business but the artist’s. I have friends who are painters. Nobody challenges them as to the processes by which the finished image was made, so why this strange double standard?

All of this came from musing on my remark in yesterday’s post “it is very difficult to do a straight shot of a flower and achieve any kind of wow factor in photographic circles” … I wondered what could I do with a single flower? An orchid was extracted from the bouquet, and several macro images were made with different backgrounds. Then, using Photoshop™, I added some radial blur to the background, and inverted the colours. Orchid in blue

It won’t win any prizes. It doesn’t purport to represent a new kind of flower.

I find it interesting, and had fun making it. So there!

Art Food Louisiana New Orleans Travel

July 26, 2012 … weighing in, in the bronze corner

This will be a short post because today got out of hand.

We got an email yesterday from Delta to tell us that they had moved the departure time forward, so we were waiting for the airport shuttle at 6:30 am this morning. It’s now 10:45 and 94 deg F.

Back to yesterday. I had two goals in mind for yesterday. One was to try the famous beignets with coffee as described so well in the detective novels of James Lee Burke. The other was to visit an exhibition called “What is a photograph” at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). A bit of Googling suggested the appropriate place to go was the Café du Monde, which, according to Google Maps, is at 1 Poydras St. Well it’s not. It’s on Jackson Square , about a mile further East.

We sat waiting for a streetcar and an engaging old gentleman detected that we were from out of town, and won favour by telling us we didn’t have to buy the already cheap $1.25 per ride on buses and streetcars. Instead, for just $3 each we could get an all day pass, covering as many rides as we liked. So we took the streetcar to NOMA. We saw the exhibition, and enjoyed it.

We admired the sculpture garden, and parts of the botanic garden, before deciding we needed relief from the sun. Another streetcar to the lower end of Canal Street and then along the narrow streets of the French Quarter to the Café du Monde. I have ticked beignets off my bucket list and need never consider them again. They tasted well enough, despite being buried in at least half a bag of icing sugar, but perhaps their taste was spoiled by being served by someone who clearly hated her job, her customers or both, or perhaps it was just the sheer guilt of deep-fried choux pastry dipped in white icing sugar.

Anyway, photos for the day include some water lilies at NOMA. It takes more than a good lens to replicate the work of Monet, But here’s my lily shot.Water lilies in the pond at NOMA

My other shot is of a statue in the sculpture garden. I thought if I included the placard, I wouldn’t need to remember the sculptor or the name of the piece, but unless this pieces is called “please do not climb on sculpture”, I have no idea. I can only surmise that the model lived on a diet of beignets. Unknown sculpture by unknown artist at NOMANormal service should resume tomorrow from Washington DC. Good night.


Architecture Food New Orleans Travel

July 23, 2012 … it’s hard work having fun

Somehow, I feel I am not the target demographic for the City of New Orleans.

This is a party town. It  is food and booze, and even the most respectable of institutions carry unsubtle advertisements for “gentlemen’s clubs”. I don’t mean to sit in judgement on those who seek such things, and heaven knows food is the favourite thing I eat, and I like a drink.  But this is a place for the young, or the very rich.

For those more conservative souls like me, the architecture is fascinating, and swamps, bayous and plantations near the city are all worth looking at. But it does seem to me to be an exploitative city. Even the sacred places (perhaps especially the sacred places) seem to know how to turn a buck. And am I being squeamish when I turn away from the “Katrina Tours”? I just don’t do “disaster tourism”. How would we Kiwis feel about “Pike River Tours”?   Or “Red Zone” tours? (Oh wait …)

Like I said, I am not the target market for most of their product.  So what did we do yesterday? We started out by walking past the Piazza d’Italia which seems to be a combination of public space, fountain, art work or whatever. It was an oddity that served little useful purpose that I could see, but it did provide some sheltered crevices in which some homeless people could stack cardboard boxes to sleep for the night. A young tourist also found the fountain useful to wash his shirt and then spread it to dry on one of the bench seats.Piazza d'Italia, New Orleans

We walked on into Canal Street to see the Audubon Society’s Insectarium, the culmination of which is a live butterfly exhibit. A butterfly in the InsectariumI know the butterfly is sitting on an artificial flower, but I liked the insect. After that it was off to the Imax theatre to see a movie about the impact of Katrina on the bayou (and yes, I do see a difference between this and disaster tourism).  Well worth the visit if you can get there before the crowds.

From there we had lunch on Decatur Street … jumbo shrimp stuffed with crabmeat was very nice indeed.  Then we walked though the French Quarter, admiring the quaint buildings, the expensive artisan shops, and the many many restaurants and bars. We also caught glimpses of elegant but secluded courtyards. A glimpse into an elegant courtyardIn the treacle-thick heat of the afternoon, we felt sorry for the mules pulling multi-seat carriages full of tourists, and smiled at the sight of a police officer whizzing by on his heavy-duty Segway.Mobile policing in New Orleans

We admired the architecture of the city’s Catholic cathedral, but felt it was outshone by the delicacy of the lesser known St Patrick’s church on Camp St.St Patrick's Church, Camp St, New Orleans

By then we were thoroughly “knackered”, to put it bluntly, so we ate at home and went to bed, exhausted.

Aviation Louisiana New Orleans Travel

July 22. 2012 … in a different land

Louisiana is different.

Or at least New Orleans is. Humidity seemed so high when we arrived, you could cut chunks off it with a knife.  Our departure from Denver was uneventful, and the much discussed security processes, while tedious, were simply routine. Mary forgot she had a jar of Marmite in her backpack (she’s normally a Vegemite girl, but we haven’t found a source of supply for that yet), and of course that raised the issue of more than 100ml of any liquid or gel. Somehow she managed to negotiate that before all the bells went off, and then we had a pleasant flight on Frontier Air’s Airbus to New Orleans. A lot of cloud on the way prevented a clear view of the vast landscape below us.Somewhere over Kansas, Oklahoma, or perhaps Arkansas

I was surprised at the both the huge scale of the Denver airport, and the comparatively small scale of New Orleans. It seemed about the same size as Christchurch’s airport. We got a shuttle bus to our hotel. Try as I might I could see no sign of a speed limit on the freeway into town, and if there was one, I am certain the driver ignored it. The little bus obviously had a huge engine and fairly flew into the city, overtaking most other traffic and took corners in a style that would make any rally driver proud.  We got our first sight of the back streets of the city as the driver negotiated the multiple hotel drop-offs for his passengers. Noteworthy from the moment we left the freeway was the density of restaurants and bars, though at 4pm, most had not yet opened. I rather liked this reflection of our shuttle in the window of one such restaurant as we passed.Reflecting on the restaurant trade

At our hotel, we were delighted to be given a “complimentary upgrade” to a good-sized suite. For dietary reasons we have booked places where we can do our own cooking all the way. We have found that most hotels which advertise “full kitchen” don’t really mean it. In Santa Rosa and Boulder, it was two hotplates and a microwave. This one has a huge full-sized stove with a four plate hob and a microwave. As before, they don’t take self catering seriously, or expect anyone to actually use the facilities. There was just one frying pan and one pot (no lid). The moment a steak hits the frying pan, the smoke alarm starts screaming.

The nearest supermarket is vast and stocks thousands of things I would have no idea what to do with.  And huge amounts of food that I would love to try. The city thrives on tourism and the prices probably reflect that.  In Colorado every pedestrian crossing (crosswalk) had a prominent sign reminding motorists that “STATE LAW” required vehicles to yield to pedestrians.

In Louisiana, I suspect there is a bounty on pedestrians because, despite marked “crosswalks” there is no facility for pedestrians to activate a safe crossing period, and no certainty at all that anyone will stop while you cross, regardless of what the lights say. And if you do survive the crossing, the chaotic post-Katrina state of some sidewalks will snap your ankles anyway.

All that said, we look forward to exploring the city and its attractions before we leave for Washington on Thursday.