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Upon Further Reflection


Rain and reflections.

Another look at nature. Through the windshield of my car.

That’s good, and well, not so good.

I generally think you should walk around and explore the scene. But, sometimes staying in your car works out pretty well. Especially if you’re lazy like me and don’t feel like getting wet. Besides, I could not have made those wonderful little reflections showing the entire tree if I didn’t have a place for raindrops to land. I focused on the droplets rather than what was outside the car. It’s subtle, but that’s what makes the picture.

The picture. The layering is much more simple than the work I did on my last few images. Two layers. Pink flower petals on a blue background. That’s it. I’ve always like the contrast between pink or magenta and some deep shade of blue.

A little housekeeping. You may have noticed that Storyteller got a little weird a couple of nights ago. Nights, during my time. In New Orleans. The page went from white, to black, to white. The information on the side of the page went away, then came back in a simpler and more contemporary format.

No worries.

I’m in the middle of converting this blog site into a more fully functioning website. What happened the other night was an experiment. In terror.

At one point, I thought that I lost this format. But, with the help of a pretty smart guy at WordPress, we repaired it.

Eventually, Storyteller will be incorporated into LaskowitzPictures. The most important issues are two. But, they have about a million moving parts within what seems like a simple framework.

All of you must be able to find and read Storyteller easily. That matters.

Static sub pages will display portfolios in order to license stock photography and sell art work. This will be fairly automatic. The licensee or buyer makes a payment through PayPal, and either is delivered a file for use somewhere, or is shipped a print.

I’m pretty sure there will be only three portfolios. My current art. The past more grungy and funky art. And, black and white work. Simplicity and minimalism is the key.

Those connections are fairly simple. For most people. I’m not most people. I always need help with this stuff.

There’s more to come beyond the pictures. I’ll leave those ideas for later.

 

Slight Return Two


Nature v Central Avenue

I seemed to be focused on a kind of rebirth.

Nature was there. Man builds something. Nature returns. Nature is here. And, so it goes. And, goes and goes.

The base picture was made on Central Avenue, or as you might know it, Old Route 66, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The light there is astounding. And, it’s even more so around dusk when everything is painted in gold and yellow tones. The layer is trees that I photographed in New Orleans after the little tropical storm called, Cindy. The trees weren’t much by themselves. But, since I’ve been thinking in components I knew that would eventually have some use. I just didn’t know it would be two days after I made the picture.

Once again. A mixture of old and new. I bit of my past. A bit of my present.

To me, there a couple of things that make this picture. The first is pretty obvious. That red highlight which bounced off of the car’s windshield draws your eye to the center of the image. That’s a combination of luck and angles.

The second is much more subtle. There used to be an old school camera shop on Central Avenue. In fact, there were two. When I first arrived from New Orleans I was in heaven. There are none in NOLA. The one in the picture was called Kurt’s Camera. Look just above the car. There is a little neon sign that says, Kodak Film.

That’s the picture.

Maybe, Mother Nature


Blue face, blue eyes.

Well, maybe.

Maybe this is Mother Nature. Or, at least my attempt at illustrating her. Just eyes peering through some very bright and beautiful foliage.

Seriously, the eyes belong to a model I once photographed in New Mexico. We did a lot of trade; portfolio pictures for her, and stock imagery for me. The actual portrait of her is made digitally, but in black and white. The rest are my usual bits and pieces that I made around Uptown. New Orleans.

If Mother Nature’s eyes look a little angry, that’s maybe because she is angry. Think about it. That’s all I should need to say about that.

We just had an early season, named tropical storm, followed by another storm. This was just your normal, garden variety storm. That dumped 3.7 inches of rain in about two hours. That’s more than the three days of Tropical Storm Cindy. What? Huh? Meanwhile the Southwest — you know, where I used to live — has had days of extreme heat. Like 120 degrees or so.

There’s no climate change. There’s also no fools, or no fun.

About Life


In the palm of my hand.

Life.

This is a Sunday picture. Sort of. Kind of.

It’s made of four elements. The main image is of the palm of my hand holding a king cake baby. I made that picture to show a friend of mine what the little plastic baby looked like and used my own hand for scale. The most basic of pictures. And, a very simple illustration. The other three elements are layers of flowers to add depth and a little mystery. And, mood. The color just seemed to emerge naturally.

That’s it.

This is one of those images that is what you make it. Again. Like most art.

I see it as a kind of life, wrapped around the customs of New Orleans. After all, as much as Mardi Gras is about celebration, it is also religious in nature since carnival starts on the Twelfth Night, and ends on Fat Tuesday. The next day is Ash Wednesday, followed by Lent and finally Easter Sunday.

Think about it. King cakes. What’s that about? Who came on the Twelfth Night?

Of course, you could see it as something I hold in the palm of my hand. Life. I wouldn’t. That’s a big responsibility. Most of us can barely take care of our own lives.

You may see this image as something else entirely. That’s up to you. That’s the beauty of it.

Voodoo Bridge


Nature’s way.

I made this image last night. I showed my neighbor today, before I was ready to show you. The first thing that she was drawn to is that little ghost-like shape near the middle left on the bridge’s trestle. She saw it as a spirit. She called this picture, “Voodoo Bridge.” That’s the title of this post. I don’t have a better idea.

Truth.

I saw this image as an illustration of something that I always say about nature. She never loses. She seeks stasis. Eventually everything goes back to her.

I was further influenced by something I was watching on Amazon Prime about Alexander the Great and his explorations. Apparently, he travelled into the current Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. It’s mostly desert today. But, once upon a time it was green, filled with water. Cities, towns and villages flourished. About 1,000 of them. Today, they are relics. Piles of stone.

My neighbor saw the picture differently. She saw it as something mystical. A little spiritual. And, haunting. In many ways, I like that better.

Which brings me to one of my muses. The late Beatle, John Lennon. Whenever he was asked what his songs meant, he replied, “Whatever you want them to mean.”

There you have it. The artist brings everything to the work. The viewer makes his or her own meaning from it. That is the beauty of it. Many artists don’t like that, especially after they’ve taken the time to make a statement through their art. Too bad. That’s the way it is.

One more thing. A kind of housekeeping note. For as long as I pursue this path I’m not going to talk so much about technique. For me, and many of you, the pictures have become transcendent. Art is art. Besides, if these new works were paintings, I doubt you’d ask me what kind of brush I used. Or, what brand of paint.

Would you?

 

Not Unlike


In the golden light.

After the storm.

In the first hours after the rain stopped, the dogs needed to walk. So did I. Then the rain started again. And, stopped. And, started. For almost two days. That was mixed with wind. There is nothing like looking at poodle and cocker spaniel ears floating in the wind.

To me freshly washed air is wonderful. It sparkles. Shines. Even if it is a little humid. While we walked, I made pictures. When we got home I processed them, layered them and tinkered with them. All on my phone. I thought that I would do everything on my phone including tag, copyright, watermark and post them.

That was not to be.

WordPress completely changed the interface on my phone. I have no idea how to use it. I should have known something was up when earlier in the day, I couldn’t switch between comment and like pages. That usually means they are working on something.

Quite frankly, I don’t have time for these constant unannounced “improvements.” I went back to posting on my main machine. It’s better anyway. The screen is about 100 times larger so I can see what I’m doing. And, if I can see my work as I do it, I don’t have to talk to some customer service agent who tells me to code it “like this.” Unlike a twenty-something helper, my life is about pictures and art. Not living on a computer 19 hours a day.

Anyway.

These are layered pictures. The bottom one is a little more subtle. Mostly, there is just a sort of depth added to the image which you can see much better if you open it. Remember. Big. I like big. A top picture is about the first sunlight we saw in days. Happy sun. Happy sunlight.

The funny thing about all of this is that every time I think that I want to join the modern millennial world, I run into something like I did today. It reminds that new and disruptive doesn’t necessarily make things better. Sometimes — mostly — it makes things worse by lowering the quality across the board.

That’s enough of that. Enjoy your day. Outside.

Shades of pink and blue.

Junk Magic


Tramps through the flowers.

Junk Magic.

I borrowed that from a record album title, which in turn was borrowed from a saying about places that are mostly junk and forgotten. But, have a special and maybe magical, feel about them. Like neighborhoods in New Orleans.

First, the tropical storm. I have no idea what it’s doing upriver. I started this morning by reading a long piece in the New York Times about a musician called Craig Taborn. From there, I decided to play his music. And, take the dogs of their first long walk in three days. So, I haven’t read the news. And, that feels pretty good.

That said, we are very windy, but bright and sunny with some white puffy clouds. It’s windy enough to make the cockers and poodles look like they are flying because their ears were lifted from their heads and fluttering straight out. They kept looking at each other as if to say, “you look silly,” and “it takes one to know one.”

I made the base picture on Mardi Gras Day. The main subject is the Krewe of Zulus and their sub-krewe, the Tramps. That base picture has been exhibited and is the permanent collection of the Jazz and Heritage Foundation, which is the funding arm of Jazz Fest.

The rest of the imagery is just background components that I found along the way. Sometimes walking the dogs. Or, with the dog who sees pictures. I blended them, as usual.

I made a couple of new images yesterday when I got outside in between the rain drops. I’ll show them to you in the next few days. They represent a first for me. Not only did I make the pictures on my smart phone, but I did all the layering and finishing there. And, tomorrow I’ll publish them here straight from the phone. I’ve done bits and pieces of this in the past. But, this is the first time that everything was made on the most portable of platforms. Something I can carry in my pocket. I suppose that until I download them into my archives and stock collections, they exist nowhere but on my phone and in the Apple Cloud.

As you know, I’m not the biggest fan of this method of working. But, it’s likely the future and it’s happening now. I may not use the technology for most of my work, but I should know how to use it, when to use it. And, when not to use it.

 

I Thought…


Trombone and a portrait.

Yes. I just thought.

I thought, that I’d better post last night and schedule it for today.

Because.

The storm hasn’t even officially made landfall. But, we’ve had strong winds and rain since about 1 pm yesterday afternoon. It may never really get stronger this far down river. But, you never know. Besides, you know how OCD I get about not missing a day. Last year, I took a few weeks off in July. By the end of that time I was pacing around waiting to get back to it.

Anyway.

If we have power in the morning (Remember, I wrote and scheduled last night), which I fully expect, I’ll update you on the weather. If not… well, at least you get to see a picture. And, I’ll be back when I can.

UPDATE

I promised you an update if there was power. There is. It is currently 10:15 am. The rain stopped for about an hour and there was just a slight breeze. Rain began to fall a few minutes ago. According to NOAA, we are well within the storm range, and Cindy remains cyclical. Wind should not be a problem since it has died down some on the ground and in the air. But, rainfall might be a problem, especially further upriver. We’ve had rain for almost the last two weeks, mixed with a couple of days of sun. The ground is super saturated.

Dance, Not Dance


Out on the Westbank.

Super Sunday on the Westbank.

No. Not the West Bank in the Middle East. The one in New Orleans. I mention that because I’ve had the question asked of me. You just never know.

I made the base picture — a Mardi Gras Indian Wildman — a few years ago, when I had the energy to photograph two second lines and a piece of the Westbank Super Sunday, all in the space of about four hours. Luck was with me. I made no wrong turns. I found a good parking space three times. Normally, I’d make ten wrong turns and have to walk about a mile because parking was tough.

The rest of this image was layered from more contemporary work. Once again, I started on my smart phone and finished on my main machine.

You’ve all been very kind. You seem to like this new approach. I’m not as confident as you are.

I am starting to miss actually documenting things in the manner of a photojournalist. Life on the streets is rough and getting rougher. There were three shootings yesterday resulting in two deaths. This seems like a broken record with me, but it’s scary.

They are happening in places that I wouldn’t expect. In fact, in a space of 24 hours last Sunday there were 8 shootings resulting in two or three deaths. That included a shooting on I-10 near Treme. Some of the comments on NOLA.com were hysterical, like this one. “You don’t even have to be in New Orleans to get shot, you could just be passing through.” Or, “New Orleans, so many options to get shot.”

Oh.

If I disappear for a couple of days, no worries. With luck I won’t. It just means I’m without power. I could cheat and use my phone to post. But, I try to conserve battery power in after storm days.

A fairly strong tropical storm called Cindy is about to make landfall. Luckily that will happen further up the Gulf near the Texas – Louisiana border. We should be on the outer bands of the storm. Strong wind and some heavy rain. Maybe around 4 to 6 inches.

By the way. The last storm named Cindy was twelve years ago. It was the first of three storms that year, the most famous of which is Katrina. Cindy was originally classed as a tropical storm, but was reclassified as a hurricane, mostly for insurance purposes.

Just sayin’.

Into the Green


Breaking through to another place.

Another day. Another experiment.

I wrote yesterday that I discovered a number of images that would work well with some of the background pictures that I’ve been making.

This is one of them.

In the picture’s metadata I added Mardi Gras Indian. That’s so people might find the image on a Google search. He is really a member of Skull and Bones. Another culture-based krewe. No worries. I added Skull and Bones too.

I’ve been learning a lot about how to make what amounts to a new kind of portraiture for me. A lot of it has to do with colors. Either both pictures — or all three, as in this case — have to have complimentary colors. Or, they have to be totally contrasting. Anything in the middle gets muddy and usually doesn’t work. At least not to my eye.

Me? I like this picture. It’s all about nature. Preserving it. Protecting it. Becoming one with it. I guess I see my new portraiture in two ways. The images are portraits. They are also illustrations. They also accomplish one more thing. They are more closely aligned with how I see color. Bright. energetic. Powerful.

If you try this at home, don’t follow exactly what I do. Yeah, sure. Use the techniques I’ve been discussing. But find your own way. Make your picture. If any of you try this, I’d love to see your work. I am always amazed at how many ways there are to do a thing.