Dancing and celebrating.

It was the first song I heard this morning.

It stunned me. It’s an old Brian Wilson song called “Love and Mercy.” He more or less gave it to the Miraculous Love Kids/Girl with a Guitar. Not only did he approve it, but he reworked it by singing with the girls. They were in Afghanistan. He was in Los Angeles.

The project came to be when two young Afghani girls were killed by an IED that was meant for U.S soldiers.  Innocents killed. Again.

Note. I tried to give you a link to it. I’m not very good at that, which is why I normally don’t share the music I sometimes talk about. Even when I manage to do it, I have no idea how to do what many of you do and attach the link to words on your page without showing the link. You click on a word and takes you to wherever. Not for me.

Today it got worse.

I did what I was told. I pasted the link to my clipboard. I couldn’t transfer it. I typed it in by hand. When I tested the link, Google got involved and said it was a suspicious site and blocked it. I am so damn tired of technology trying to run my life. I’m not very smart about this stuff. Nor, am I any good. But, when I follow written directions I expect it to work.

Isn’t it funny how technology can spoil a wonderful moment? A moment of giving?

If you want to actually hear the song, it’s on YouTube. Type in Brian Wilson — Love and Mercy — you will see a number of versions of the song. Just scroll down about six or seven versions and you’ll see it. I hope it moves you as it did me.

A little housekeeping.

This picture is a couple of years old. I liked it a lot then. I like it a lot now. That’s Julie Jones, “The Dancing Woman of New Orleans.” She makes most of her living dancing and busking in the French Quarter. But, she always turns out for important events like a jazz funeral, where this was made. She’s about my age. I don’t know how she does it. She wears dancing shoes and performs on broken streets. I wear running or hiking shoes and can barely walk on those same streets.

That brings me to a couple of choices.

I maintain two separate sites. Storyteller and my more commercial site; Laskowitzpictures.com. I don’t want to keep both in 2019. As you know I started to move Storyteller to the commercial website. But, unless I can figure out how to transfer all of you, I lose my community. That matters. A lot.

So, maybe I stay here, and create a static website page with Storyteller inside of that, like many people do. Once again I run into technology problems. I really don’t know how to do that. I’m just not that smart. I tried building portfolio pages and that was a disaster. It confused you and it made my page look poorly designed.

There’s another issue.

I’m pretty toasty. I was invited to partake in another gallery show. I’m suppose to hang the work on Sunday. I haven’t even printed it or started framing it yet. I suspect part of this is my pain meds which really don’t make me high or anything like that. But, my motivation is in the dumper. Or, I’m just done with spending money with little or no return. I don’t know.

This week was hell week. It all has to do with retirement, benefits and my little local drugstore closing overnight and transferring everything to Walgreens. Without going into any detail, if you ever have to go to Walgreens, run — don’t walk — as fast as you can to someplace else. But, not CVS.

Having said that, I also haven’t really been motivated to make new work. Most of the images you’ve seen in November were made with my new phone — which is also too technologically advanced for me — on dog walks or while running errands.

Maybe I should take a break for the last month of the year and regroup. My yearly numbers are down, way down. Down in the basement. In theory, the more subscribers you have, the more you should grow. Wrongo. A lot of my friends have been discussing that. Also a lot of my old WordPress friends are missing in action.

On the other hand, a lot of people sort of sweat out a blog post. I don’t. I usually have a new picture in mind. I read a lot during the day, sleep on it, let it spin around in my brain and out it comes the next morning. The doesn’t work for writing books. But, for doing this, it is just fine.

I don’t know.

Maybe, you should tell me.

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Kind of a twofer.

This is another one.

It is a picture that I overlooked because I was trying to make a picture of the full moon. This picture obviously failed. Or, did it?

If I was only trying to photograph the moon, for sure, it failed. If I was trying to make something a little different from the usual than it succeeded. At least it did for me. You may be walking away, shaking your head and laughing. “You call THAT a picture?”

Oh yeah. The moon is the little round white light towards the left bottom center of the picture.

Anyway.

Let this be a lesson to us all. Especially me. Don’t chimp. Don’t delete. Don’t even look at questionable pictures for a couple of days. And, when you do, make sure that you look at them on a big monitor. Those itty bitty LCDs on the back of your camera or on the front of your phone are next to useless when it comes to evaluating a picture. I keep yammering away about that. I hope you hear me. By the way, yammering is a veiled reference to some of the early comics of the late, great Stan Lee. Somebody was always yammering at somebody else.

Think about the next issue. You made a bunch of pictures that are sharp. They are technically proficient enough.

Great.

You don’t have to publish all of them. I see so many blogs where the blogger publishes way too many pictures. That’s great if they tell a story. That’s terrible if most them look about the same.

Food bloggers are the worst. I’m pretty sure they read something that said a lot of pictures are a good thing, without understanding that the pictures should be different and probably tell a story.

That’s especially true with recipes.

Recipes are a process, and fit very neatly into a particular form of storytelling. It is more-or-less, beginning, middle and end. In this case, the end comes first in order to catch the reader’s eye. The rest of the middle pictures show the reader how make the finished food. That’s actually easier in video form. That’s why so many YouTube “how to” videos are so popular. I use them all the time. The end picture — the closer — is another version of the first picture. The same. But, different.

That’s the story. Of telling. Heh. See what I did there?

There are other storytelling forms. I’ll get there eventually. But, I am late to publishing. Many of you are late to reading.

Have a good day or night.


Fall trees as I saw them.

While many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are already having wintry days with snow and very cold temperatures, we in the Gulf Coast are finally in the middle of something that looks like fall.

Make no mistake.

I’m not crowing over it. I know there are those of you who are cold. And, are dreading a long cold, dark winter. I like cold. I like snow. I get it. When you have to live in it, it’s not fun. But, it’s been a long time since I had to do that. It’s likely that my old hip and back would hate it. But…

The picture. It was almost a throw away. It came at the end of a dog walk. I never could frame it properly. I had to crop it in post production. But, I didn’t self edit in the field. I didn’t delete in camera — or phone, as was the case. I looked at it on a big screen and thought that it had possibilities. So away I went. I worked on it.

I had a funny title for it. But, I thought that nature would disapprove. I was going to call it “American Fall.” See what I did there? It’s a double entendre. The picture is red, white and blue. And, my country sure has been slipping these last two years because of the man who thinks his brain is in his gut, which sort of makes sense if you think about it.

Anyway.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t bring politics onto this page. But, well, you know…

The one thing I know is that I call these kinds of pictures, “little pictures.” I’ve been making them for so long that I don’t know if I can make a “big picture.”

Hmmm.


A little rain won’t stop us.

Another storm picture. Rain never stops us. I think a lot of us were fooled because we weren’t ready for the intensity of the rainfall. Never trust the weather people on your local news. They mean well, but if I got about 90% of what I said wrong, I’d fire myself.

I’ll talk about this picture. That’s it for today.

I made it with my new magic smart phone. This is the one that makes a 12 megapixel file. Usually, I process in the phone with Snapseed. I started thinking that I didn’t really like the final product, so I started experimenting by downloading the file to my main machine and using onOne to develop it and do the finishing post production.

What a difference.

The newest version, OnOne Photo RAW 2019, even has a template for making words. At this point, I cull in Photo Mechanic and Edit in OnOne and that’s it.

Goodbye Adobe. Again.

Finally. I don’t have to pay $9.99 a month forever.

Keeping today photographic, more about this picture. The first thing to know is that I made it through the windshield in between wiper swipes. This was another time that my phone thought I had a dirty sensor.

I made a lot of pictures this way.

All I knew was that my umbrella changed hands and I wasn’t going out in the pouring rain. I sat on the car and made pictures. Either I’m smart or just lazy. A betting person would take the latter.

That explains the softness in my subject’s face. We know that she likes bottled Coca-Cola, which is sort of ironic because the bottling plant for Louisiana is less than a half mile away.

That’s the story.

 


Traffic was great fun.

A big storm blew in to the region.

I thought I had I beat when we ran errands. But, oh no. I should just stop thinking.

It wasn’t all that bad because we are used to it. And, it dropped our temperatures by about 30 degrees. When we woke up in the morning, it was a new world. For a few days.

Anyway.

This picture isn’t what you are thinking. I might suggest that you take chances with your photography, but I’m not suggesting that we all get killed doing it. The traffic in our lane was merging into traffic coming from the left. But. This is important. Our lanes were stopped by a red traffic light. I was in the front position, so I took advantage of it and made about a billion pictures. You’ll see more during the week because I done good.

I did have to laugh while I was making these pictures. I was using my magic new phone because I wasn’t expecting to actually work. As I made pictures through the rain falling on the windshield, the phone started talking to me. It was telling me to clean the lens so that I could take better pictures.

Ahahahahahahahaha.

It mistook raindrops and water for a dirty little lens.

I could get started on AI technology, but I won’t. You had enough of me yesterday. I just wish it would stop thinking it was smarter than me. One day it might be. But, that day isn’t today.

Have a good day. And, keep your lenses clean.


And, another thing.

The picture is a placeholder.

It’s pretty enough, but that’s not what this post is about. I promised you my views — among a lot of other people’s views — about Instagram. In yesterday’s chaos I forgot to write about that. Sorry. Today’s post is about social media, and Instagram, in particular.

It didn’t help matters when I read about the “selling of ourselves” in a New York Times editorial piece this morning. It helped even less when a friend of mine who talks about the music business said about the same thing in an email that he sends to a few close friends. About a million of us.

Here goes.

Instagram. There is a growing belief that it hurts photography more than it could ever help. It is derivative in nature, with so many photographers producing the same kinds of images that everybody they follow does too. You know the ones. Pictures with water in them that is exposed at such a slow shutter speed that water appears to be almost mist-like. Or, the high mountain top so over produced that nature could have never made that scene. Or street photography that isn’t really street photography.

This is all done for likes and popularity. What a trade-off. We need to feel good about ourselves rather than actually try to produce something that matters. For some of us it once done in hopes of attracting new business. Not so much anymore. Either buyers or assigners know who you are or they don’t. It’s too hard to wade through the noise.

The same thing happens in every social media. A good idea becomes derivative as many people think it is a good idea, and start to copy it. I see that with my work all the time. At first it’s flattering. Then, it’s annoying.

It really comes down to this.

There are just too many of us trying to break through. There is just too much stuff to wade through in order to find the good stuff. There are no real gatekeepers and anybody who tries gets shouted down. At the same time, many people see this as a new way of doing business.

It isn’t. The same basic business rules apply. Ever hear of the 20-80 rule? Originally it meant that 20% of the staff does 80% of the work. That’s broadened out a bit. It can almost apply to anything now.

So.

Twenty percent of the people are making pictures that might matter. Eighty percent of them make pictures that are crap. The same thing applies to music. To writing. To painting. And, on and on.

That’s not to say that something in that marginal 80% won’t appeal to someone, but that’s a personal preference. The body of work from which that one piece of art came won’t hold up under close view.  It’s also not to say that beginners shouldn’t post for the feedback… as long as they accept feedback for what it is.

Bottom line. It’s almost all noise and no signal.

Better thinkers and writers than me have said it. They go even further. They think the whole thing needs to collapse under its own weight so we can start again.  Some think slight adjustments will recalibrate the whole thing, but I don’t know.

From my own very personal perspective, I’m not immune either. About 80% of the work you see here, on Storyteller, don’t pass my own standards but are good enough. Good enough because I publish everyday and sometimes you just have to go with what you’ve got.

That’s no excuse.

On the other hand, pictures posted here don’t put food on the table. Maybe I should adjust my own thinking. Maybe I should post less, but with some really wowie-zowie work that buyers will be interesting in. If only I knew the proper SEO to get them here. I suppose I could hire somebody. But, they only know what once worked. SEO changes everyday.

Anyway.

Enough.

For the record this isn’t a rant. Although it could be. It is really a state of the arts. Today. It’s not meant to discourage anybody. It is meant to make you think. To help you make original work. To grow. To be different. And, to own that.

 


Reds, everywhere.

Yeah. Oops.

Today is a little fractured. As it happened, I awoke at 3:34 am and could not fall asleep. It seemed that there was a bill due today that I’d neglected to pay with all the holiday and birthday stuff going on. My brain sort of exploded and woke me up.

So. I paid it. Luckily it is bank to bank so even though I paid it on the day it was due, it’s on time. The wonders of banking technology.

Then I was wired. And, I didn’t want to disturb the house. So I decided to work a little until I got tired. That happened about 4:45 am. I awoke again around 7:30 am. I started to doing morning stuff including coffee and breakfast. I was a little woozy so I laid down to read. I awoke at 11:45 am.

The dogs needed walking so I did that. We all ate lunch. I sat down at the big machine. I read some news. I was just getting up from my desk when it hit. Where is today’s Storyteller post?

So. Here I am. Late and confused. I think I need another nap. Or, a lot of coffee.

Anyway.

Here it is. A most unusual picture for me. I generally like to work very closely when I photograph flowers. The scene caught me eye. It is a very backlighted and contrasty scene. I thought that I could make it work even though I was photographing into the sun. It’s just one of those chances you take.

I had to work hard in post production to darken the picture and bring the light on the image to about what I saw in the field. The camera’s lens and sensor couldn’t quite do it. See those purple bands and the multi-colored band on the bottom right? The strong light was too much for the sensor.

All in all, the final picture captures what I originally saw. Sparkly red flowers against a field of green.

The only thing I  can tell you about this picture is that if you want to grow as a photographer, take chances. This picture borders on the line of failure, but it was worth it.


Night motion study part deux.

The blue hour. In motion.

I look back at my career. In the middle past. It was a time when I used film to do this kind of work. It was a time when sometimes I had no other choice. Film had a slow ISO. You had to adjust or light for it. I loved it then. I love what I do now, except that it often takes me time and thought to get back to what was once easy.

Forgive me for constantly dipping into the past. I firmly believe that if you don’t understand where you came from, you’ll never have a path to get to where you are going.

This picture certainly wasn’t made 20 years ago. It was made last night when I was waddling around full of too much turkey and the fixin’s. It’s an example of what you can do if you take your mind out of it.  Or, if you can barely stand up because you ate really well. Too well.

I’ve often found that when I am at my worst physically, I make some of my best pictures.

I discovered that in about 1990, when Kodak gave a number of us a new film emulsion to test. As I recall it was some kind of beefed up Kodachrome.

I caught the flu.

We had deadlines.

I worked with a heavy and spinning head. My brain was turned off.

I worked in all sorts of light. I exposed four rolls of film. I thought, well this is gonna suck. I didn’t see the results until well after the technicians at Kodak did. I wondered, whatever they are the going to think of me. When I saw the film, I was amazed. It was as good a shoot as I was doing back in those days.

Today I say, turn your brain off when you are out making pictures. Don’t think. React.

There is a huge qualifier to that. It is about the same as the Boy Scouts motto. Be prepared. For the most part, if you work like I do you are always prepared to make a picture. If you are working in a new place, read about it. Study it. Listen to the music found in the region. There is so much information to be found online. Find it. Use it.

That’s the same with a portrait or some kind of people shoot. Learn about the person before you make their picture. That works especially well with famous people. Do a little research about them. If you have something to talk to them about, they’ll relax. You’ll make a much better picture.

Don’t look at other photographs pictures of it or them. You’ll only make the same ones. Or, frustrate yourself trying. Make your own pictures.

This picture was made with a simple upward movement when I pressed the button. You can do it. Practice doing it. Don’t do it when you are out there working unless the picture calls for it. No need to duplicate what’s already been done.

That brings me to social media, especially Instagram.

That’s for tomorrow. I promise.