Thursday, October 31, 2013

Back to the Bayou

Back to the Bayou
By Andy Lopusnak,
October 26-27, 2013

CBS can at most get two Saints home games a season and this makes five straight seasons covering a game in New Orleans (that’s not counting the week I was here for the 2012 Final Four, the 2010 NCAA Tournament and ArenaBowl XXII). Needless to say, I’ve photographed a lot of this city. CLICK HERE AND YOU CAN VIEW MY VAST NEW ORLEANS PHOTO GALLERIES.
When I was here last year (CLICK HERE TO READ ALL ABOUT IT), I didn’t take a single shot of New Orleans as I photographed a Tulane football game and then drove to snap shots of the Mississippi capitol in Jackson.
This year, I got to shoot the Tulane game on Saturday once again, but did get some photos of the Crescent City, in fact I walked nearly 20 miles in the two days. Everything is pretty close to the French Quarter, so I just footed it from the hotel.

There’s a great selection of sculptures in this park that make it very photographic. The one of the park’s namesake is, in my opinion, the weakest of the statues. Across the Mississippi River in Algiers, there’s a fantastic statue of Armstrong (CLICK HERE TO VIEW). There are two sculptures that are by far my favorites in the park: Big Chief Tootie and Buddy Bolden.
Allison Montana, aka Tootie, was the chief of chiefs for the Mardi Gras Indians. The Big Chief changed the culture from violence to pageantry. 
Bolden, was the first king of jazz. He is credited as the first jazz musician and band leader. This sculpture reminds me of my sports sequence photos, where I combined multiple shots into a single image. Below the image of the sculpture is one of Saints QB Drew Brees in this sample.

Located inside Armstrong Park, this small swath of land is where the 18th century French and Spanish colonial slaves gathered on Sundays and were allowed to have a day off from “work.” This one afternoon a week, they were allowed to be Africans and sang, danced and played their tribal music. 
Unlike the British settlers to the east, the French & Spanish (also the Creole) didn’t force the slaves to assimilate to Christianity and allowed them to keep their culture since they couldn’t keep their freedom. Many musical scholars believe that these cultural influences developed into today’s Mardi Gras festival and is the root for Jazz as well as R&B music.

I almost by accident stumbled up a statue of Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, who founded New Orleans on May 7, 1718. He was also the father of Biloxi, MS and Mobile, AL. Bienville made New Orleans the capital of the Louisiana colony, which he was the governor for 30 years. 

On the four corners of many streetlight poles, are four small plaques stating the years that a certain power controlled New Orleans: The French (1718-69), the Spanish (1769-1803), the American (1803-61 and 1865 to date; and the Confederate (1861-65). Many of the Confederate plaques have been destroyed. The one pictured below is the only one I found on Rampart Street for three blocks.

Dedicated in 1995, the New Orleans' Italian-American community unveiled this double-sided sculpture. On one side, Miss Liberty faces the Mississippi River, while an immigrant family faces the French Quarter. 

The skyline is just a bunch of boring rectangle hotels, but in the heart of the French Quarter towering over the two-story buildings is St. Louis Cathedral, a Spanish Colonial Renaissance minor basilica built was completed in 1794. Sadly, the inside of the church is only open for mass & confession and briefly after a wedding. In all my travels here, I’ve only been inside once and it was right after a wedding. I literally got one picture before I was pushed out (that was back in 2009).
Outside the church is Jackson Square where the traditional sculpture of Andrew Jackson on horseback (exactly the same as you’ll see in Jacksonville, Nashville and many other cities in the South.

Around the corner from Jackson Square is a golden statue of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. She led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War that paved the way for Charles VII being crowned, then eventually was burnt at the stake when she was 19.

The Green Wave (6-2) beat the defending Conference USA champions 14-7 to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2002. Tulane quarterback Devin Powel tossed two scores and the Green Wave defense forced four turnovers. Tulsa had won its previous eight matchups against Tulane before this game.
When I shot the Tulane-Ole Miss game last year, I thought the Superdome looked empty though 28,000 fans were in attendance (the building holds 72,000). This time, it was much worse though they announced 22,000. Having games at the Superdome is no home-field advantage when it’s so cavernous. Luckily for the Green Wave, the team moves into its new on-campus stadium next year – the 30,000-seat Benson Field at Yulman Stadium.

The Saints improved to 6-1 on the year thanks to the eighth career game with five passing touchdowns by Drew Brees, who also tossed his 72nd career 300-yard passing game (second in league history to Peyton Manning’s 78). Brees completed 76% of his passes for 332 yards with the five scores and no turnovers.
This was my second Bills-Saints game. The first was in 2005 with the Saints winning 19-7 and was played in San Antonio due to the damage in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. I did go out and got some Alamo photos; but at the time wasn’t into photography (though I did have a DSLR for Rampage games) so I don’t have any shots of the Alamodome. That game was the Saints’ lone “home” win that year after splitting home games in San Antonio and Baton Rouge.

Previously, I’ve shot three time lapses of Saints games and you can click for those: HIGH SIDELINE, HIGH CORNER, END ZONE. I also did multiple ones at the 2012 Final Four. This time I did two from a different corner of the dome – one a wide shot and the other a close up. With the smaller crowd, I didn’t do a Tulane time lapse. Next time, when the Green Wave is in its new stadium I’ll be doing one.

UP NEXT: Kansas City at Buffalo
I get to go back to Buffalo next week to see the Bills that lost this week face off against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, the Chiefs were the worst team in the league and this year are the lone undefeated team. There’s a few things I didn’t get to shoot in Buffalo in Week One that I’m going to check off my list. I also get a chance to photograph the 2013 #1 overall draft pick – Eric Fisher from Central Michigan (Fire Up Chips!).

Here’s a collection of my top shots from this weekend.

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