Photo Exploration: New Orleans, Night. September 2013

December 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm

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 high set­ting. With all of that pre­set, all that remained was to find the shots. You can see more of the work here.

New Orleans Store­front at Night. Sep­tem­ber 2013

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 the menagerie.