It is true that if you walk around any populated area at night with a camera you will come away with something worthwhile. Yet, some places open themselves up for treasure more readily than others. And one of those places is New Orleans.
Let’s be clear — there is more to New Orleans than Bourbon St, more than the Quarter, more than the Saints and the beignets and Mardi Gras. But let’s also be honest — without that culture, New Orleans would more likely be a sweltering river port, one with tourism built more on fishing and bird watching than revelry and football. And while I love the rest of New Orleans (try the fries at The Delachaise), when I can walk to the Quarter camera in-hand I’ll always try to give it some time.
In September 2013 I was in the area presenting on Gluster with some fortunate hours to spare. I’d been wanting to test the Fuji x100’s lowlight color abilities so this was a perfect fit. If you’ve never been on Bourbon St at night, it is worth a trip at least once. There is the debauchery but there are also the restaurants and bars, the musicians and staff, and the lights that keep it all visible.
Before walking, I setup the camera for 1/125 second, f/2.8 at 3200 ISO. It seemed a good mix where it wasn’t a terribly slow shutter speed, and with the lens stopped down just a bit I could still get some good low light work. The 3200 ISO is a bit of a stretch, but shooting RAW gave me some quality results regardless of the highÂ setting. With all of that preset, all that remained was to find the shots. You can see more of the work here.
Somewhere along the street is this store. Which is very similar to the one across the street, and one around the corner. And down the way. New Orleans has bead and shirt stores like the Coast has swimsuit and sunblock stores. Only you don’t have to walk into a plaster shark head. I’ve never understood how these places don’t get items stolen constantly — maybe there is someone watching the front at all times via CCTV? No idea. Regardless, they are guaranteed good shots for saturated color and throngs of items. I love the variety — where did the Arizona Cardinal banner come from? How many combinations of drinking puns are there in the world? Thing 1 & 2, Drunk 1 & 2, Trouble 1 & 2 side by side with lingerie and costumes. Beads galore. All of it mixed up like a dish of hoppin’ john.
But what really made the image for me is the figure walking by. I don’t think quite drunk, maybe not even tipsy. She walked more with a goal than a meander. Certainly dressed up enough to have gone out (or be going out) but I don’t think her destination had bar stools. A figure of calm, moving deliberately among theÂ menagerie.