Tag Archives: Photography

New Orleans, Louisiana – Garden District – E. Burton White, Jr. House

1 Dec

At one time this house was known as the E. Burton White Jr. home. It is located in the historic Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Garden District has a very interesting history and it is always a pleasure to learn more about this historic and unique treasure.  It is always a pleasure to stroll this area of town and to photograph the beautiful homes and yards. It is as much park like as it is residential.

New Orleans is a very historic city and the Garden District certainly contributes to that designation. Because of the old system of filing many legal transactions by the notary it can be challenging to discover the important things about a structure or about a person.   I think that most of the homes in the Garden District have stories to tell and it is always interesting to know some of the history.  If one sees a beautiful home it feels good to know the name, if it has one, or maybe the families that have lived there.

I’m not interested in a detailed history of most homes but I always like to know a little information about any building that I photograph. I have purchased several books on the Garden District, and New Orleans, but even with those it is difficult to learn the history of one of the homes.  Somehow I discovered that one of the beautiful homes, in the Garden District, that I had photographed was called “The White House.”  It could be called something else these days or in times past but there is a description of this home in “The Great Days of the Garden District,” by Martha and Ray Samuel. The information was published by “The Parent’s League of the Louise S. McGehee School.” In this booklet the structure is referred to as the “E. Burton White, Jr. House.”  So the home is/was known for one of its owners – not the color of the house.

E. Burton White, Jr. appears to have been a medical doctor in New Orleans.  I have found information on him by doing searches on the Internet.  From what I have found he is now deceased but I have found other sources that do not make this clear.  At the time that the Garden District book was written Dr. White was the owner and resident of the house. The “White House” which is not the color white is good enough for me.

The above publication says that records of 1877 show the house advertised as a “raised cottage facing Chestnut Street.”  In 1878 a renovation took place in which the entry of the home was moved to First Street and the cottage was raised even higher. A new first story was constructed and the old first floor was moved to the second story and a new facade was constructed.  Bays were added to both floors.

The original construction of this structure is believed to have taken place in 1849. It was a typical Louisiana cottage with a gallery across the front, having a wide center hall with two large rooms, on either side, and two additional bedrooms in the “attic like” second floor.

Sometime after the 1878 renovation the house was converted into three apartments. When the publication was printed in was stated that the present owners were in the process of converting the structure back to a single family dwelling.

Today the home is a beautiful structure that adds its character to the Garden District.  It is hard to picture this home being located anywhere else! Oh, if you have a few million bucks to spare you can purchase this house – it is for sale. It has five bedrooms and five baths and is 6,751 square ft. in size.

Lacombe, Louisiana – All Saint’s Day – La Toussaint

10 Nov

Cleaned and Painted Graves, Flowers, and Candles are All Part of the All Saint's Day Observance in Cemeteries in Lacombe, Louisiana

Louisiana is a place of contradictions – or at least it may appear that way to the outsider.  Many of us that live here even have a hard time figuring it all out but as time goes on we learn.  The great river, The Mississippi River, has sculpted and shaped our landscape but is also responsible for shaping our culture and even our lives.  The river brought many cultures together along its banks.  These diverse cultures found a way to live together and to create a unique common culture.  This blended culture at times appears to be contradictory in many respects but in fact it is the glue that keeps us together.

In Louisiana we have a hedonistic celebration called Mardi Gras but then we also have observances that I would classify as very spiritual. New Orleans, and south Louisiana, have become the cradle of Mardi Gras but this location is also famous for its All Saint’s Day observance.  Louisiana is a very spiritual place and these roots run deep among most of the cultures that call this place home.  So, many people and cultures that have come to this place have seen their customs and traditions blended over time.  Many of those cultural traditions are expressed through religious venues.

A religious tradition associated with south Louisiana is the observance of All Saint’s Day.  November 1st finds many cemeteries clean and sparkling and filled with beautiful flowers and with people.  Some communities even have night-time observances, with the lighting of candles, in their cemeteries.

Priests Prepare to Bless the Graves

In the community of Lacombe, Louisiana, the newly cleaned and painted and whitewashed tombs welcome visitors on the first of November.  Most of the graves have also been decorated with lovely flowers and other expressions of love.  However, as dusk approaches more solemnity comes over the people and it is not long before the priests are there with robes and water and are walking through the cemetery blessing the graves.  After the procession of the priests through the rows of pretty graves it is time for the candles. White candles are placed around most of the graves and are lit.  As evening and night become established the cemeteries take on a beautiful glow from the many candles.  Children, usually relatives of the deceased, hurry to light the candles at some plots.  At others it is more of a ritual.

Although many of those that come to the cemeteries on November 1 are observers, the occasion is for the living family members that have relatives buried there.  They perform their rituals, or observances, and it matters not if people are there to watch.  What is done is between the relatives, the living and the dead, others are welcome to watch but those participating pay them little mind until the proper time.

At LaFontaine Cemetery, in Lacombe, the relatives of the dead tell the stories of their family members that have died.  They relate the hardships and joys that their families have experienced through the generations.  They young children listen intently.  The children also have participated in preparing for this day and they look eager to help when the candle lighting starts.  In a few years some of them will be standing where their parents and grandparents are now standing and telling the same stories about their families.  They will become the guardians of a great tradition and of family knowledge.  It is a wonderful thing to see those that are living honor the lives of those that have died.

Woman Relates Family History, and Some Personal Notes, About Her Relatives in LaFiontaine Cemetery in Lacombe, Louisiana

I guess in some respects many people think that this night is an observance of the dead.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The night is to honor and to remember the lives of family members that have departed – what a great way to honor the memory or relatives and to pass on that memory and respect to future generations.   Those in attendance, just to observe, learn of the things that are important to the families from this region.  Things like what brought their relatives to this place, and the hardships and triumphs that the family has faced.  After listening to many stories and looking at the decorated graves it seems somewhat odd to me that World War 2 has now become a part of the past.  It was so real to my generation.  Many of the graves have pictures of the deceased placed on them and the pictures are of soldiers that are wearing the uniforms of the  United States Military.

Many of the men and women in the cemeteries served in the United States armed forces and all seem to have been honored to serve and many are still honored for their service on this occasion.   If one listens carefully they will understand that most that came to this place had different backgrounds and cultures.  However, they blended into one culture over time but at the same time retained elements of their own family’s cultural heritage.

The cultural heritage of south Louisiana is unique in many respects.  The Mississippi River attracted people from all over the world yet the people lived among each other.  In New Orleans there weren’t strictly Italian neighborhoods, or German neighborhoods, or French neighborhoods among the immigrants.  They lived among each other. There was a gradual blending of the cultures but at the same time families of different cultures maintained some of their own cultural expressions.  There was cultural give and take.  That explanation is a little simplistic and leaves out the problems and hardships that took place among different groups but in the end it resulted in a common blended  culture, sort of like a gumbo, with all the ingredients mixed but at the same time separate.  In a good seafood gumbo the oysters and shrimp and the crabs all retain their distinct identify but they are in that gumbo together.

Both Flat and Tapered Candles Adorn This Grave

The observance of All Saints has changed down through the years.  I have read and heard stories of how great and important the observance was in New Orleans and yet I am not sure what goes on during All Saints in the city these days.  The lighting of candles, in New Orleans, has been forbidden because of the threat of fire.  At one time it was a great religious and social tradition.  So many people were going to the cemeteries that vendors offered special foods and treats and had carts outside many of the cemeteries. Women gathered and prayed and talked and of course there was plenty of peer pressure to keep the family cemetery plot clean and decorated.

A Cleaned and Decorated Plot is Ready for a Night of Candle Light

In the region around New Orleans, and in French influenced areas, All Saints is also called Le Toussaint.  Le Toussaint and/or All Saints has been observed in Louisiana for over 200 years.  It is still with us.  Much of the drama and the tremendous throngs of people in the cemetery has slipped into the past.  In New Orleans it was not uncommon to have thousands of people in one cemetery.  In Lacombe the crowds in some of the cemeteries may approach 100. In the areas outside of Lacombe there are tens or maybe dozens of people. Small scale stuff compared to the past. I have to remind myself that this is an important family observance for the local people and not for me – the outsider. This observance would take place regardless if outsiders attended or not.

Although All Saint’s Day is not the social occasion that it once was in south Louisiana it is still an important ritual and observance.  In my opinion the candle lighting will go on for more generations in Lacombe and other areas around the state.  Mums will continue to decorate many graves on November 1st.  As mentioned earlier many things in Louisiana are spiritual in nature and that spirit is alive and well for the time being in Lacombe, Louisiana.

Port Gibson, Mississippi – Windsor Ruins

29 Oct

Twenty-Three Columns Are All That Remain of the Grand Plantation Home Windsor

The first time that I visited Windsor I turned off of Highway 61 near Lorman, Mississippi, and drove straight to the place.  On another visit I decided to go the back way from Port Gibson.  I thought I would never find the place and perhaps end up hopelessly lost.  After driving through the thick woods and all the ravines filled with kudzu it became more of a maze than a trip. If I had driven off of the narrow road and into one of those kudzu covered ravines chances are I would still be there.  If lucky, the cold weather might have knocked the leave off of the kudzu enough for someone to spot a vehicle wrapped in those tenacious vines.  In my estimation there is a chance that Jimmy Hoffa is there – someplace on the back roads, toward the Mississippi River, in a kudzu covered ravine west and south of Port Gibson.

One thing about Windsor is that it makes a person wonder why in the world it was built in the middle of nowhere.  There are places located in the middle of nowhere all over the place but not many as wondrous as Windsor.  Those large palatial columns are just standing there.  It is sort of like a story book setting.  When it was built, back in the late 1850s, it was located near the Mississippi River and near a narrow road known as the Rodney Road.   The soil in the area is loess.  That means in was brought to the location by wind.  The loess layer is very thick and the loess formation that Windsor was built on extends from Memphis down to Baton Rouge on the east side of the Mississippi River. How it got there is somewhat of a mystery.  Perhaps during the an ice age most of the fresh surface water was tied up in glaciers and westerly winds just pushed the soil westward as if it was a great dune.  In any case it does erode very fast when exposed to the rain and so the giant ravines have formed and reformed over the ages making it very difficult to traverse.  After the ice age the waters began to flow and perhaps a large stream worked its way around the loess and eventually became the Mississippi River.  The ridge tops of the loess formations are flat and fairly fertile and they make good places for winding roads and the soil is also fairly fertile so it would be possible to grow cotton in the area, however, the other side of the river is much more fertile as it was continuously replenished by yearly floods.

Well that is it for the geology of the area but to me it is a part of the story of Windsor, or at least a part of the story that I am interested in.  Those  interested in architecture will love the ruins of Windsor and those that like plantation homes can only imagine how great the home was that once stood between the columns.  Those that are interested in history will perhaps relate the land and columns back to the historical events that took place here about 150 years ago.  That is what I wish to discuss after the obligatory brief history of the home.

These Fluted Corinthian Columns Appear Almost in the Middle of Nowhere, Mississippi

Windsor was built as a plantation home for Mr. and Mrs. Smith Coffee Daniel, II.  The plantation consisted of about 2,600 acres and was completed in 1861 just in time for the War Between the States.  Twenty-nine columns were constructed of bricks, made at the site, that supported the magnificent structure.  Each Fluted Corinthian Column was 45 feet in height and was covered in mortar and plaster. The fluted columns had iron Corinthian capitals and were joined at the galleries by an ornamental iron balustrade. The completed structure was a marvel in that it contained its own school, commissary, Dr.’s office, dairy and kitchen under one roof. On top of the house was an observatory. Each of the 25 rooms had its own fireplace and the home contained indoor bathrooms with running water that was supplied by a water tank in the attic.  This was the state of the structure on the eve of the most important event in American history.

Capturing the Mississippi River strategically was the top priority of the Union, so it wasn’t long before the war came to Mississippi.  As the war continued Vicksburg became the key to victory but the Union Army was on the western side of the river.  Grant had to cross the river.  On the night of April 30, 1863,  troop ships were loaded with soldiers and a journey down the river commenced.  The first planned stop for a possible landing was Grand Gulf but the Union gunships could not silence the guns at the confederate stronghold so General Grant proceeded south to Bruinsburg. There was a road (Rodney Road) near there that could be used by troops headed east.  Thus began the largest amphibious landing of American troops in military history prior to D-Day. On April 30 and May 1, 1863, over 17,000 troops landed at Bruinsburg and headed east on the narrow and winding road.

There was still a considerable “unknown” that General Grant had to deal with and that was the location of the Confederate Army.  As the troops were landing in Bruinsburg General Sherman feigned an attack on Vicksburg and the confederate forces stayed at home.  The Union troops at Bruinsburg immediately began a hasty advance along the road that passed in front of Windsor.  Grant had to get his troops into strategic positions and capture strategic locations such as bridges quickly.  If the large confederate force at Vicksburg moved against him all could be lost.

When walking around the large columns at Windsor one hardly thinks that Union Soldiers were resting and crunching on their hardtack on the grounds.  Union forces took control of the house and when the ensuing battles with confederate troops took place the plantation was used as a hospital and the observatory became a place to observe troop movements.  Prior to this the confederates had used the observatory to monitor Union ship movements on the river and to signal confederate forces on the other side of the river.

The Original Corinthian Metal Caps Sit Atop Columns Made of Bricks That Where Manufactured On Site

Each time I visit Windsor I think about the advancing Union forces and their dash inland and the ensuing fights at Port Gibson and other locations.  General Grant went on to destroy Jackson in order to protect the rear of his army when he advanced on Vicksburg.  That turned out to be one of the most important decisions of the Civil War.  If Grant had decided to go directly to Vicksburg he would have certainly been destroyed by a waiting confederate army. Instead he protected his army by taking Jackson and then set in for a siege at Vicksburg.  Lots of history in the middle of Nowhere, Mississippi.
But try as I may to remember all of the history that is close by I have to admit that the ruins of Windsor captures my mind in a mysterious way and makes it impossible to think of troop movements and the like.  Windsor is a place unto itself –  a place to experience awe and mystery.

Windsor did not come to ruins because of the Civil War. The house survived until 1890 and hosted a number of people and events over the years.  One visitor was Mark Twain and he even used the observatory on top of the home to observe the Mississippi River.  On the 17th of February 1890 some work was being done on the house by carpenters.  There were some visitors that day and apparently one of them left behind a lighted cigar or cigarette and it fell into some wood shavings on the third floor.  The family was returning home from a trip to get the mail when they saw the flames. Windsor burned from top to bottom.

The haunting columns are all we have of the structure today.  Twenty-three of them remain.  Those columns have not only witnessed history but they have become part of history.  It is a mysterious place and is hard to comprehend.  I have taken picture after picture and can’t capture the essence of the place.  There is just too much here for the senses to take in and process at one time.  There are so many questions that can’t be answered.  If fact they can’t even be verbalized so one is left with their feelings.  You can feel the history, the architecture and the grandeur but you cannot explain it to others – it is just one of those places that impresses you and stays with you but you can’t really say why!

Amite, Louisiana – Tangipahoa Parish Fair

4 Oct
 

 

An Exposure of Several Seconds Helped Make the Ferris Wheel and Another Ride a Wondrous Pattern of Lights

It has been over 25 years since I had attended any portion of the Tangipahoa Parish Fair.  Every year I attended, all the way through high school.  Going back was somewhat of a surprise.  My original intention was to photograph the livestock – the back bone of fairs when I was younger.  The only livestock on exhibit happened to be poultry.

Good Things to Eat Everywhere!

Now there was plenty of food.  Funnel Cakes, Blooming Onions, Large Corn Dogs, Popcorn and of course the traditional Cotton Candy and Candied Apples.  A fair is not a fair without a good candy apple or cotton candy stuck in your hair one your hands and all over your face.

Cotton Candy Was Being Sold Faster Than She Could Make It!

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Lots of lines at the food booths and not many people at the game booths.  It was just the opposite when I was younger.  We couldn’t afford to eat all the food and all they  had available were hamburgers and hot dogs.  Nachos had not even made the scene yet.  We would crowd the game booths even though we weren’t playing to see if anyone actually could win a large teddy bear.

Plenty of Temptation for Those Wanting to Win a Large Prize

It was fun though.  There was a cowboy shootout in the Pioneer Village and plenty of rides to make one sick.  Pans of squeezed sugarcane juice were being cooked and reduced to syrup too.

Top Gun Shoot Out at the Pioneer Village

There were a number of scary rides and that is where the lines were.  Not much of the tame stuff – one had to be scared to death or throw up in order to get their monies worth.

The Sizzler Runs So Fast One Can't See the Carts Full of Kids On a Timed Exposure. The Streaks of Light Were Made By Lights on the Side of the Carts As They Raced By

But I came for pictures and found plenty.  The press of the crowd was terrific but everyone was in a good mood and polite.  The weather was much cooler than in previous days – a good time for all at a good time of the year.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana – LSU – Allen Hall Murals

25 Sep

18 ft by 15 ft Fresco Mural Painted in the Late 1930s by Carol Brown Dietrich Under the Direction of Conrad Albrizio. It is Located Under the Northeast Portico of Allen Hall at LSU in Baton Rouge.

LSU has a beautiful campus.  Aside from the million cars trying to park, there is art and history and architecture and natural wonders all over the campus.  It is a joy to pass under the large oaks around campus and to witness the flowering dogwoods and the many azaleas.  Of course thousands upon thousands  visit Tiger Stadium and the Assembly Center and of course Mike the Tiger.  The quadrangle offers a park like setting in right in the middle of the main part of the campus and many students enjoy that environment between classes or just to sit a spell and relax and talk.  When students head into the buildings around the quadrangle the thoughts get more serious and classes become top importance.  When walking to and from classes it is hard to notice and to appreciate some of the great art work that is exhibited to students on a daily basis.  Allen Hall at LSU has some of the best fresco murals that can be found and I must have walked by these murals a hundred times without really taking notice.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s the late Conrad Albrizio, LSU’s first professor of painting and an internationally known fresco painter, guided 5 undergraduate art students as they painted history onto the walls of Allen Hall.  Sue Brown Dietrich, Jean Birkland McCandless, and the late Roy Henderson, Ben Porter Watkins and Anne Woolfolk White painted panels for an interior mural at the east end of Allen Hall.  The restoration of the interior murals and another exterior mural was undertaken to celebrate the university’s 75th Campus Jubilee in 2001, which commemorated the 75 years LSU has been located at its present site.  The exterior mural was also painted on the wall outside the northeast portico of Allen Hall but it was painted over in the 1960s.  Well, that explains why I never noticed the one outside because it was after that I attended LSU.

A Section of the LSU Allen Hall Murals. Cotton and Hand Labor were Important Parts of the States Economy When the Murals were Painted.

Sue Brown Dietrich painted the fresco under the portico. The mural was Dietrich’s master’s thesis project.  Approximately 18 feet wide by 15 feet high, the mural represents the importance of both education and hard work. It depicts two men, one smaller crouching under the arm of another larger man, and a large red-headed woman embracing a child. A huge wheel, representing industry, forms the backdrop.  It took Deitrich eight hours a day for a month to paint the mural.

My photos do not capture the beauty or the work entailed in the murals nor the scope of their size.  They truly are works of art and then some.  They have to be seen in person to be appreciated and everyone that I know, that has seen them, has been fascinated.  It is best to visit on a weekend since the press of the students makes it hard to sit and contemplate as one “reads” the mural.  I can’t remember why I passed through Allen Hall just a couple of years ago and really noticed the murals for the first time.  After viewing them for a long while I then stepped outside through the northeast portico and gasped at what I saw.  Great works of art for all to see and appreciate at LSU in Baton Rouge.  If you are on campus it would well be worth your time to see the wonderful murals in Allen Hall.

Timber and Waterways and Fishing are Integral Parts of Louisiana's Economy and Culture.

Albrizio was an international known fresco painter and was a perfectionist for fine work. He used the same techniques as the Italian fresco masters in the 15th and 16th centuries. The LSU murals compare very well to the highest quality frescos in Italy.  Also there are more murals in Allen Hall awaiting restoration.

New Orleans, Louisiana – In A Different Light

10 Sep

Royal Street During a Light Rain

New Orleans is probably one of Americas most photographed cities.  It certainly makes up a great number of my images.  One of the most difficult things that I encounter is ending up with a bunch of images that rarely captures the beauty and excitement of the French Quarter Streets or Canal Street – the River you name it.  In this series of images, taken at different times, I decided to pump up the saturation, chroma and whatever else I could manipulate in order to make the mood different.  I have overdone it in some of the images but again the colors make me feel good about the picture.  It helps me to see what is there and not to concentrate on what is not there.

The image above was taken on Royal Street after a light rain had started falling.  It was a nice image but just sort of gray.  So I decided to play around with the sliders in Photoshop and in Capture NX.  I liked the result.  The Royal Street image and all the ones that follow are simply produced by adjusting the saturation and chroma of the images.

Late Afternoon Lights on Canal Street

The image above was snapped on Canal Street and I was lucky enough for two streetcars to show up.  As luck would have it I was already soaking wet and just after taking this picture I walked over to the Walgreens at Baronne and Canal and bought a much-needed bottle of water.  Upon exiting the store I stepped into a crater on Baronne Street and fell.  I broke my fall but not that of my camera.  The lens hit the street and broke into a number of pieces.  I also soaked up all the water and essence that Baronne had to over.  This year I will go back and get some of the pictures that I intended to take that night.

An Image Taken From A Small Boat in the Mississippi River

This too was a gray toned image in the original image.  After pumping up the saturation a little the tones in the buildings started matching those found in the water.  A small ship is passing New Orleans headed downriver early in the morning.

The colors in this image turned out completely different.  At first it appeared to me that the image was taken at about the same time as the other but as it was we were running up and down the river quite a bit that day.  This does show how much lighting and colors can change dramatically while one is out and about taking images.

Adding saturation and playing with the color added a lot of drama to the clouds.  The off set was the color of the water that resulted.  I guess I could change it if I wanted to but all in all I enjoy looking at the image as it is.  The colors and the clouds gives the image a “depth” that it would lack otherwise.

Well, after any photo excursion it might be better to look at some pictures and to see what you can do with them.  When I first saw these I was disappointed but after a year it was fun to play with them and see what resulted.  They indeed give one an opportunity to see the same old stuff in a new light.