That’s what you get down here. The rainy season. Like many tropical or semi-tropical places, summer is the wet season. And, the most humid season. Oh yeah. It’s also hurricane season.
I’ll worry about that later.
For right now, it means a lot of chances to photograph wet stuff. Sparkling stuff. Glowing stuff. Brightly colored stuff. It’s nature’s way of using an old photographer’s trick. If you want something to shimmer and shine, wet it down. If you want reflections where there are none let the water pool and shoot into it. For movies you may see whole city blocks soaked so that light bounces off of the pavement.
Me? These days I’m lazy. I’ll just nature do the work. And chase the water and, most of all, the light. That’s what I did here. Then, I layered three pictures. Many people think that those little white flowers look like ghosts. At least they did on the bridge picture. Okay. Now, you have a lot of ghosts.
I like circles. They are infinite. I like fire. It is purifying. And, I like flower blossoms. They are restorative. All exist in nature. Nature seems to be where I’m headed in this new style of art. If I am intentionally making any kind of statement, it has something to do with nature. Or, the abuse of it. At least, lately.
This is a picture that anybody could make at home. Since some of you have asked, here’s a little primer.
Light the wick of a candle. A big fat candle. Let it burn a while. Photograph it. Just stick your lens over it and take a picture. Not too close. We don’t want a flaming camera. Go outside. Look for fallen flower blossoms. Preferably after a rain storm. Photograph them. Find some other bigger blossoms or flower petals. Photograph them.
Pick your favorite editing software. Make three layers. Pick one of them for the base layer, which is most important. I used the candle since I wanted the round repeating shapes. Add the remaining layers. Manipulate them until you get the approximate final picture. Finish the picture however you chose. I usually adjust color, brightness, saturation and contrast. Sometimes I add a glow.
When you export the final image don’t forget the meta data and tags. You can see some of the tags on the page. No more than 15. Google will drop them all out if their software thinks you are gaming the system. More than 15 is gaming the system. Be accurate. Your tags should reflect what is in the picture, not what you are dreaming about. For example, let’s say I took this picture while I was on holiday at the beach. I would not add beach as a tag. The picture has nothing to do with a beach.
It could take you ten minutes. Or, ten hours. It just depends on how much you practice. I practice a little every day. It’s like playing a musical instrument. Even if you have the raw talent, you’d better practice a lot of you hope to appear on a big stage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.