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A walk in the forest. One.

Springtime. Er, summer down here in the swamp. Hot and humid. Wet and drippy. And, some of the trees look like they were photographed during the fall.

Trust me.

They were photographed in the last two days. On dog walks. Morning dog walks. She isn’t stupid. She likes going out early or late in the day, when things aren’t so hot.

Funny thing about living in the swamp. Different plants and trees shed their leaves at different times of year. The most colorful leaves in both pictures are those of Texas Live Oaks. They lose their leaves in late spring and early summer.

Making the pictures was the easy part. See them, photograph them, process them. Done. Before you say that you think pictures should come straight from the camera untouched, don’t. Don’t tell me that you work in .jpeg so pictures the come right out of the camera aren’t processed, they are. That’s what a camera does when you work in ,jpeg. It’s a little computer. It processes the latent image. It also drops out certain pixels of the image that the software deems as being unnecessary. It sort of “thins” out the image.

Think about this. Most of you will post your new picture on some kind of social media. You upload your newly created picture and guess what? Your platform of choice reprocesses the image so that it fits within their parameters. It further “thins” out the image. To you it probably looks really flat — lacking in contrast and blacks. To your viewer the picture just doesn’t look so good.

Better to work in RAW. Better to have the entire file. Better to make processing choices yourself. Better to make your picture, rather than some robo-picture. You can control the contrast. The size. The overall detail.  At the very least, your work stands on its own merit. The praise is yours. the criticism is also yours. Alone.

That’s why nothing I post on — for example, Facebook — is actually posted on Facebook. When you see a picture that you like and open it up, you are taken right back here. I am basically protecting my work from a legal and an artistic standpoint. And, even though Instagram is owned by Facebook, the same thing happens when you open an Instagram picture.

None of this is perfect. But, it’s better.

For now, that’s the best we can do. Besides. Perfection is for angels.

Shimmering leaves on a walk through the forest. Two.

 

 

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Into the Mystic


Golden glow.

I stumbled upon this picture last night. Well, stumble isn’t the right word. Maybe, this picture punched me in the face would be better.

Because.

Remember this?

I found a flower.

Well, the first picture is what happens when the flower finally fills out to its fullest form. And, you work around dusk where you cannot help but get golden backlight on the subject.

You saw the second picture a few says ago. It was just starting to bloom. it looked gentle and delicate. That was a week ago. What a difference seven days makes. Nature works its wonders and I saw a flower that was almost unrecognizable. For sure, I changed the angle. The light drove the angle selection.

I’d ask you which version you like best. But, they are really two different pictures. Almost like they were made of two different flowers. Which you like better really depends on your mood.

For me, I had to sort of search out the bottom picture. The beauty is there. It’s just very subtle. Meanwhile the top picture reached out and grabbed me by the throat as if to say, “Me. me. me.” Still, it depends on my mood.

Summer Glow


Lost in the glow.

Summer pictures.

In many ways it’s the worst season in which to make pictures. The sun is always too high, even when it isn’t. The light color is too white. And, the shadows are too short.

In the digital world, internet photographers speak out of both sides of their mouths. First, they make a big deal of not doing most post production, or even using filters. Then, they say that it doesn’t matter what time of day it is. You should be able to deal with it.

Yeah. Sure. Using reflectors, scrims and fill flash means that you can make a portrait during high noon. But, why would you? Even with all the old school technology that I just mentioned, the light is bright white. There are no shadows to speak of it, and it takes a lot of work in post production. See what I’m saying? Too much work for a not great picture. And, they are breaking their first rule… not a lot of post production.

Instead, either get up early and work in morning light. Or, be patient and work in later afternoon to dusk light. In both cases, that light is so much prettier. Especially in the summertime, when a lot of people have more time to take pictures.

Me? I prefer late afternoon. First you get long shadows, then the light turns golden, then comes blue hour and finally that very short time between blue hour and night. Of course you can reverse this in the morning — and the quality of light is a little different — but who wants to get up at 4am?

Or, you can work smarter.

This picture was made in mid-morning. The summer light was already blaaaah. So, I turned things around. I photographed into the sun. I over exposed slightly and made the interior of the flower more pastel. I let the rest of the light fall where it may.  That actually turned some of the white flowers into a kind of purple.

That, is the story. And, one solution.

Summer One


In the summertime.

I’m trying to make ten great summertime pictures. This could be one of those pictures.

It speaks to me about the hot sun, the wild plants growing along fences, buildings and up and over anything that has been abandoned. We don’t really have Kudzu down here in the swamp. But, just about everything grows.

For me, all this picture really is, is a good start. It means that I got outside and had a look around. Summer says and means a lot more to me that just wild plants reaching toward the sky. That’s one thing, but it’s easily replaceable by a better picture. The best thing about our summers — and there isn’t much — is that they last so long. Almost six months. That gives me a little time. Or, I can do what i usually do, and waste a lot of it.

The picture. It’s a dog walk picture. But, she didn’t see this. It’s a good six feet above her head. I saw it. But, if truth be told I was just grumbling about the sun in my eyes. Eventually, my brain clicked in. Oh yeah. That.

Purple Day


On a purple Sunday.

Sunday. A quiet Sunday.

It’s hot here. It’s humid here.

Only a few flowers seem happy in these conditions.

Since one of the local weather people let it slip and admitted we had started our seemingly never-ending summer’s heat, all I can say as, “Oh goodie.”

Five months of intense heat. A lot of rain. And maybe, a hurricane or two. Yes. That season starts in eleven days. I’d better go buy some canned and potted meat. Some bottled water. Some batteries. And, some other stuff. But, I forget what that is.

Happy Sunday to you all.

It Rained


What were once wires.

Art. Sort of.

Remember those wires that I published a week or so ago? Welp, I found another open AT&T telephony box. So, I did the only thing that I would do. I made more pictures. If I were a bad guy, I could have reached in and yanked out the nest. That would have shut down I don’t know how many homes’ internet and telephone service.

But. That’s not me.

I just make pictures of stuff.

So.

I photographed the wires again with the intent of doing something to them in post production. I made them as minimalistic as I could without dropping out shape, texture and form.

To me, the picture looks like multi-colored flames. To you? I don’t know. You tell me.

Because, Yanni. Laurel.

By the way, it’s no big mystery. It’s all about sonic frequencies and the human ear and brain. And, your ability to process sound. Because our big computers have been fine tuned to listen to music (It’s very easy to do), I could flip one switch and lower the bass. Lower the bass and you hear Laurel. Retune the bass to something less invasive and you hear Yanni. Same machine. Same speakers. Same ears.

Music theory and its more technical cousin, sound theory, isn’t easy to learn. But, once you start, everything falls into place. I suppose it helps that I have a very sound foundation in color theory and the optical side of physics. I really didn’t study it. I didn’t need to in college. I mostly read about it because it affects what I do in my world. I think if you are serious about making pictures you should too.

I Wish It Would Rain


Into the blue.

It’s the little things. That you find. In the dark.

Usually fallen leaves stick to a wet car. That usually means rain has fallen. Not this time. We’ve had no rain for weeks. This is rough. On the animals. On the plants and veggies. On me.

It’s not that I live for rain. I’m like anyone else. Too much is too much. But, the sky is muddy. It is not the normal blue. The light is overly filtered. The color tends to fade to brownish. And, it gets hard to breath. Not for me. But for some. The heat and dryness are very odd for The Gulf Coast region.

What I fear most will probably come to pass. An extra month of heat added to a very hot summer. A few years ago, in July, I was photographing a second line. It did not start on time. Even though I sat in the shade, stayed very hydrated and didn’t move about too much, by the time it started I was starting to wobble. I knew what it was. I headed for the shade, rested and walked to my car. I turned the air conditioning up and quickly drank 32 ounces of water. When my head sort of cleared I drove home.

On that day the ground temperature was 114 degrees. That included the calculation for humidity.

My plan for this weekend is to pair a second line with Westbank Super Sunday. I’ll be working from about Noon until 3 or 4 pm.

We’ll see.

If it is too hot by the time that I leave, I won’t leave.

Simple.

The picture. Leaves on a car’s trunk lid. Unlike wet days, the leaves weren’t stuck. They were just laying there. Dead. I found a good angle that didn’t include my silhouette and made the picture. The blackness on the right is reflected trees. The rest is what you think it is.

Fragility


I found a flower.

I found a flower. A tiny translucent thing. I’ve seen them before. When they are a little older. They are pale yellow. This one is young. You can see through its petals. It is such a gentle thing that I was afraid to get too near.

Enjoy it as it is. I’m certain that if someone doesn’t pick it, it won’t look quite like it did when I made the picture. And, that’s one of the best things about photography. We stop time. As it was. For a  millisecond.

I’ve been thinking about two other things.

I think that I’ve been going too far in post production. Unless I am truly making a piece of art that is beyond the real world as I saw it, I’m stretching things out too much. I’m a photographer. Not a painter.

And.

Tom Wolfe. Where are the words from all the writers who read Storyteller? I’m guessing that many of you are youngish, you’ve never read him. You should. Most of you fancy yourselves to be rule breakers. He broke them all. His writing style was hmm, sort of flamboyant, But, his words brought you there. He immersed himself in his subject, not by doing some googling research, but by being there. Oh wait. That’s a title by Jerzy Kosinski. Have you read that?

I was taught that in order to write, you have to read. And, read widely. Not just from your favorite genre. I was also taught that in order for your work to be read it had to be original. It had to break new ground in both plot and writing.

I know these things to be true. And, I’m a lowly photographer. The guy who works in an art that anybody can do. Writing is different. It’s hard. You must live it. Really live it.

 

Another Lock


Locked tight.

I found another one. A lock. That’s two days in a row.

This time it was just sitting on a curb. Locked tight. It looked like it had been left there on purpose. It took me a long time to figure out how to even make the picture. When I did, I didn’t like the result.

So, I cropped. And, tinkered. And, fiddled. I came to this place. What I really like is the very slim detail towards the top of the lock.

That’s it. A lock. A lost lock. Another lost one.

I’ve made a little progress on the new LaskowitzPictures online home. I think that I have to change formats. You know that I normally like big pictures. In order to enhance that, there really needs to be some little pictures. Space in between the notes as musicians who know what they are doing would say.

I think once I do that I’ll be happier with the project. We’ll see.

Locks and Keys


Not keeping anything safe.

All I know is that if you don’t use a thing, it probably won’t do it’s intended task.

This open lock is a case in point. It’s intended to keep a little AT&T substation secure. That’s a telephone communications company for those who don’t know. The substation controls about 3,000 buildings. The last field service technician apparently got lazy. It was probably hard to open so he left it on top of the metal box. For next time. Just think about the potential for mischief or worse. If I was about nine years old…

Anyway.

Today is mostly about housekeeping.

If you live in Louisiana you are probably suffering from allergies. See those little gold dots near the top of the open lock? That’s pollen. It’s in the air. That’s tree pollen. We are also suffering from grass pollen. To make matters worse, it’s unseasonably hot. Record-breaking hot. And, we haven’t had rain for weeks. We aren’t expected to have rain in the near future. It is so dry that the dirt is pulling away from the buildings, leaving huge gaps between the wall and the edge of the earth. People are actually watering their plants and crops.

I didn’t photograph the Mother’s Day second line. I’ve gotten to the point that I really don’t like working in extreme heat. Just as well. For the second time in five years, there was a shooting. This time, “only” two people got shot. Truth be told, it was at the very end of the parade about a half block removed. I wouldn’t have gone to that place anyway. But, still… who shoots up a parade dedicated to our mothers? The last time it happened about 15 people were wounded. One of those eventually died last year. My friend “Big Red” Deb Cotton. She was everybody’s friend, but she liked photographers because we are photographing a way of life. I have to decide if the risk is worth the picture. Yeah. I know that 99.99% of the people at any second line are peaceful and just having fun. But, a stray bullet knows no bounds.

I’m considering a hiatus from Storyteller. It’s not the time. It’s not the people. Well… in a way it is. The people. I gain new followers every day. Between those who receive emails and those who are on the reader there’s a lot. Yet, the people who actually see a picture on any given day keep dropping. If growth data matters, which apparently it doesn’t, I should have somewhere near 500 people who like my work daily. I don’t. In fact, I’ve dropped from a steady 50 or so to less than 30.

Since I’ve long said this place is experimental and I’m not very consistent in what I post, it could be that. I’m sure I disappoint people, like the coffee blog who started following Storyteller based on one odd post. I’m sure there are other people who play the “tit-for-tat” game. I’ll follow you if you follow me. Or, I’ll like your work if you like mine. I don’t play that game. I like what I like. I follow what interests me; usually because there are more than three posts.

Or, it could just be that the work I post just isn’t very good. Oh well. I’ve made a living at this for 40 plus years. Someone likes it enough to pay for it. They have for a long while.

That said, I’m in the middle of building a new commercial website. I’d kind of put it on hold because I couldn’t get a clear vision of what I want it to be. I built it and I published it. Then I went Yucko. Yucko. Yucko. But, it does have a blog component. I bet you can guess what it’s called. Yeah, yeah. Storyteller. It’s likely that I’ll just move this over there. Those of you who communicate with me in some way will hopefully follow me over there. It won’t be hard to find. http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. I think I can still send emails.

I’ll probably drop back to about 100 readers. That’s okay if you really read and talk to me.

I’m not sure when this will happen, although WordPress wants to be paid again for this blog and extra storage by the end of the month so that’s sort of a deadline.

That’s the news. The news that fits.