Inside out.

W

hen I awoke, I was feeling confused. Something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.The feeling passed. I let it go.

It came back when I started working. I still couldn’t place it.

I played some music. Music is magic. I takes me to other places. It inspires me. It centers me. And, if I’m lucky, it clarifies my thoughts.

That’s what it did.

I don’t know why I selected an album called “Age of Miracles,” by Mary-Chapin Carpenter. The backstory is complicated. It was her first album after leaving Columbia. It was her first album after she recovered from two pulmonary embolisms. It was the first album after her divorce.

I don’t listen to it often because she seems confused. She’s trying to break free of her country reputation, yet she falls back on it. She does sing one of the saddest songs in the word called, “I have a need for solitude.”

But, it caught me. I realized what I was missing.

And, it made me very sad.

I’ll work small to larger. You’ll understand. And, you’ll understand this picture.

I miss Sophie Rose terribly. We have other dogs, but Sophie chose me. I was her person. I feel like I let her down. I know that I didn’t. After a lot of reading, it’s very possible that she had been coming to her end for couple of months. It was just her time. But, that may give me a pass, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Then, there is my CLL, a blood cancer. It likely will never do anything terrible to me. But, it limits me. My CoVid-19 vaccinations do nothing for me. That means, no festivals, no second lines, no Indian events, no Mardi Gras.

If that isn’t depressing enough, we are back to wearing masks because our infection rate, like most of the country has grown by about 150%

Being in my condition of combined illness, sadness and depression makes it very hard to work. I can’t seem to let a picture find me and I can’t work. I have all sorts of projects that could take the rest of the year or more. You’d think I’d be excited to get started.

What do I do? I sleep.

When I finally start my day, I find everything to do but work.

In a word, it sucks.

I wish I knew the path. Maybe I’ll get lucky and stumble onto it. I doubt that. It’s bigger than letting a picture find me. It’s all of me.

Writers give advice about being authentic. Is this authentic enough?

F

or us, down in the swamp, late summer is already approaching. It’s gotten hot. It’s turned dry.

Stuff is dying.

I took a walk with a couple of the other dogs. They need walks too. I was looking for a picture. Or, was open to letting one find me.

No pictures because there is no color. The flowers die in the heat.

It’s also hard to stay motivated because after five minutes you are too hot. After ten minutes your shirt blooms with sweat.

The dogs felt it too. They were ready to turn around after they did what they needed to do.

So, that’s the technique. Walk until you can’t. Make a picture of whatever you see and return home.

The picture suits my mood.

In that way, I suppose I was successful. Or, not.


Summer rain leaves droplets on the leaves.

S

ummer is our rainy season. We had an amazing amount of rain this month. They said we had five times the normal amount of rain for a July. That’s something for us because July is very wet.

The constant rain gets a little bit tiresome, but it does yield scenes like this one. It’s a combination of nature and magic.

Look at those reds. Those blues. Those purples. Those colors are something aren’t they? They look like fall colors except that it’s July.

It’s all about the water.

I’ve written a lot about the lack of water in most of America. We don’t have that problem. We have another problem. We have too much water. We don’t take drought seriously. When we talk about it, it’s after ten days of no rain.

It’s a matter of perceptions.

Those of us in the Gulf Coast States don’t think about the lack of water when we should be thinking about how to distribute our water to people living in the west.

It’s a funny thing. I was thinking about all of the infrastructure proposals and I haven’t seen anything about water issues. Nothing. Zero. Zip.

Well, I have a proposal. Let’s move some of our unneeded water west. A series of giant pipes might be cost prohibitive, but maybe not. Not if we want fresh fruits and vegetables.

Or, maybe there’s another way. I’m not the smartest person in the room but others are. It’s time we start thinking about this. It’s time for those smart folks to get going.

After all, we all get thirsty.

T

his picture didn’t take much post production. I made the picture as I saw it and added a bit of color that the sensor couldn’t seem to see.

But, I only added enough color to make the photograph look like the scene that caught my attention so that you can see it too.

I had to be careful because these rich blues, reds and purples are some of my favorite colors. My natural inclination is to take them too far.

That’s the trick sometimes, knowing when to stop. Maybe that’s the trick with everything in life. Knowing when to stop.

I dunno. I’m just thinking out loud.

Maybe I should stop.

O

ne more thing. You knew it. I couldn’t stop.

Seriously, after a lot of thought, I’m staying here on WordPress.

The basic community building theory is what’s most important. I know a lot of you here. I can’t build that again, because it’s only taken me eleven years.

There’s more too. It’ll take a lot of time to build anything. Time is short these days. Time is expensive. No matter how you use it.


Darkness at the edge of town.

O

bviously, I made this picture a while ago, like in winter. I tucked it away and you’ve never seen it. I’m starting to work through that collection now.

Unfortunately for me, these pictures are scattered throughout the last few months which means that I have to find them. Hard to do when you’ve forgotten about them. That’s how the infamous lost files are found.

This is a prime example of me seeing a scene for what it could be and making that happen in post production. It’s very likely the sky was pale winter blue and the foreground in good light.

That’s fine.

But, it doesn’t always fulfill my photographic needs. In fact, the deeper my journey becomes the more I want to make pictures that express my vision.

Usually, that doesn’t mean making a documentary style photograph. Nor, does it mean just throwing a couple of filters on a picture and calling it done.

The best of my work is brought about by thinking about, and then working, on the picture.

That doesn’t always happen.

I get rushed. I don’t think clearly. Even worse, I don’t feel clearly. I believe that you, the viewer or reader, can tell that. You see right through me.

At least that’s what I think.

N

ow, here are some technical issues to overcome.

First, as I wrote on the other side, the picture was made in color.

As I also wrote, the image was made in pale winter light. It was pretty enough, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

So, I thought about it and decided it might look like winter feels. Brooding. Moody. Even scary.

I took out as much color as I could. But, if you notice, not all.

Then I softened the sky and enhanced the silhouetted subjects.

I blurred everything to soften the feel.

That’s it. That’s enough.

How about those of you who are photographers? How do you achieve your vision?


Free falling.

T

oday got rolling just about the time I got up. I told you that I was going to get busy. I didn’t think that I meant right this second.

I thought I could cruise into the work a little bit at a time. Silly me.

I made my first mistake when I started listening to music. I started with something soft, slow and nostalgic. I almost couldn’t get started. I switched things up. I started Playing a playlist called “Ray’s Mix.”

Yeah. That’s me. I made it when I thought making play lists on Spotify was important. It’s loud. It’s s noisy. And, I know all the words.

Anyway.

This one will keep me working for hours.

I’ll keep this short. Work awaits.

Darn.

D

o you want technique? This one should fill you up. To the top.

The picture really is about nothing. Since all art is autobiographical what does that say about me?

That aside, this was a picture made from desperation. Or, it was an attempt to come back from wandering in the wilderness.

I made the picture, developed it and thought, “Now what?”

I removed a lot of color and muted it. Then, I tinkered around with different modification filters until I came to this place.

The picture highlights something I’ve been saying, and saying, and saying…

Go outside and take a picture. You’ll find one, or it will find you.


Asit shall be.

T

here is a lot of talk about water, especially in the West. Climate change is creating havoc, not only with heat, but with fire and the use of water.

In New Mexico the famous acequia system that provides water to farms has all but dried up.

In California farmers are deciding which crops to grow and what livestock to raise because they have no water.

In Nevada, the water that is backed up into Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam is as low as its been since it was originally filled. In the 1930s.

Meanwhile, the fire in Oregon has turned the skies of New York City gray. The pictures look great with a big bright orange sun up against a deep grey sky. But, pictures can be deceiving. How is that hurting the people of the city?

There are wildfires all over the west.

if we want, we can return to the heat. This’ll make you hot.

The West Coast was broiling a couple of weeks ago. In Death Valley, the highest temperature ever — 135*/F — was recorded one day. In Las Vegas, which is hot enough on a summer day, temperatures of 116* were recorded at 10 am.

If you can’t tell, this stuff is scaring me.

In Louisiana things seem to be normal. If anything, we are having a coolish summer with lots of rain. Of course, the minute I write that, the temperature will rise by ten degrees and the humidity will climb to numbers unknown.

If we don’t want to put our children in hell, we’ve got to get on this.

Now.

Droplets.

T

echniques and stuff. See it, photograph it, develop it, publish it.

There. Now wasn’t that helpful?

Truthfully, I made this in New Mexico, during a spring thaw.

I photographed it with a huge aperture, probably F 2 or so. That’s why there is such a tiny depth of field.

That’s all you need to know.

The rest of this side is about me. It’s about nostalgia. The pictures I’ve been publishing are of my past.

I’m not motivated to make much new work. You know why.

But, I am very nostalgic. I think I’m seeing the past fairly clearly.

This may be time to add to my pile of work.

Over the past few years some people are saying… Wait a minute. That sounds strangely like the words of the president who shall not be named.

Some of my friends have suggested that I write a book. My response has been fairly standard. “I have nothing to say.”

I’m thinking as this stuff rolls around in my head that maybe I could do it. Maybe it’s about me and what I’ve learned along the way. Maybe, you read about me. But you expand it to you, or something more general.

After all, that how most movies are made. Focus on a particular subject as a symbol for something greater.

O

h yeah. The picture to the right. More water. It was made in southeastern Louisiana. I added it because it was there.


Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


Turn and frayed.

T

he original image is ancient. I was playing around during a snowstorm in New Mexico. It was one of my picture a day images.

It’s shredded newspaper.

Everything came together at once. I need to make a picture and I had a new shredder that I wanted to test.

So, I shredded up a lot of newspaper and made a few pictures.

This was the result. Something huge for your wall. Maybe even wallpaper. Of course, your house would have to be able to pull it off. I’m not sure what kind of house that might be.

I’m thinking something very modern, all in white except for one wall. This wall. The one with shredded newspaper as wallpaper.

I make no claims about being an interior designer. My idea of covering walls is to fill them with framed art until there isn’t any more room and then rotate pictures in and out. The goal is to keep much of my work off the walls as possible.

After all, I know what my work looks like. I want to know what your work looks like.

I used to do some trading here. I thought we were doing a simple transaction. Mine for yours. Yours for mine. I didn’t work out that way. I’d send mine. I never received yours.

So, I stopped dong that. The experiment failed as most do here. I’m not sure why that happens. I have my theories, but I’ll leave that alone unless you really want to know and ask.

A

s I look at this picture a lot of memories come flooding back.

I’m one of those unfortunates who remembers everything.

Sometimes those ghosts are friendly. Often they are not.

Today is one of those days when they aren’t friendly. The biggest memory is why I moved to New Mexico in the first place.

We are a little over a month from the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina changing life as we knew it in New Orleans.

I’d wanted to retire in New Mexico. That would have been a good thing. It wasn’t good because of the way I went there.

I wasn’t done with New Orleans. I missed everything about it.

I remember my first Mardi Gras there. A parade was held in Old Town at the plaza. I got all excited.

What a come down it was. There was one cart that was supposed to be a float and a few people walking with it.

Luckily, it was held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day. I hopped on an airplane and got back to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras Day.

It was glorious. Most of us hadn’t returned to the city yet. The city was in shambles. The parades were small. The Zulus had been scattered to the four corners of the country. Somebody paid for The Shaka Zulus to come from South Africa to replace them.

But, man did we celebrate. We were alive. As Mardi Gras Indians say, “Won’t bow down. Don’t know how.”

That’s what’s in my head today. I don’t know why. I suppose that it’s a kind of PTSD that comes and goes whenever it feels like it.

It’s one of those things that inspires me to say, “Control is overrated.”

It is.

You must be wondering about technique by now. There really isn’t any. Shred all the newspapers you have in the house and take picture of the remains.

That’s it.

A perfect picture of the newspaper industry as it stands today.


Suddenly it hits you.

L

isten to it. This photograph feels like a song. For me, it’s a Steely Dan song. For others it’s probably something different.

It helps that Sunday afternoons — when I write Storyteller’s Monday post — is generally Steely Dan day. I usually listen to one or two albums will I develop, process and work on post production before I get ready to write.

When I write, I turn the music up louder. It works. I tried to listen to podcasts while I wrote. My words got confused with their words so I gave it up. For a while I tried listening to a podcast while I read something else.

Can you say word salad?

It sounded like a politicians trying to speak out of both sides of mouth at once. Or tweeting, or something like that.

Anyway, Steel Dan seems to work with this picture. I could drop lyrics anywhere into my so-called prose and it might make sense or certainly fit.

Drive west on Sunset…

A little more Sunday magic.

Y

ou’d think this was some super duper post production thing.

Maybe a layer or two.

It’s not.

The entire image was made in camera. It was adjusted in post, but it wasn’t added to, subtracted from or layered on any way.

I swear.

Let’s talk about another technique.

Writing.

It seems brighter to me today. I suppose it helps that I drank a double espresso before I started writing.

The thing is, I’ve been sleeping too much. I’ll sleep for 9 or 10 hours, start reading and sleep for 2 or 3 more.

I suspect it’s simply the stress of these last 18 months leaving my body.

There could be worse ways.


Magical night.

P

laying. Having fun. Tinkering. Messing around. That’s some of what we should be doing. But, often we get sucked into making a living. Or, we really get sucked into the gear of the thing.

Experimenting and playing is what Storyteller is about, has always been about. Oh sure, a client or two has found me here. Or, I’ve sold a couple of photographs to private collectors.

That’s it.

I’m trying to make a big decision. You heard about this in the past. I’ve been quietly building a new website.

It’s a portfolio-commercial site that contains a blog within the website itself. Oh for sure, I’ll take all of you with me who want to come along.

Some of you would like me to stay here. That’s humbling. If I send you an email link that takes you to the new site you shouldn’t see a difference, except you probably won’t be able to “like” a post without commenting.

That’s not the real question.

Actually, there’s two. Will a semi-folksy blog like Storyteller confuse the commercial users? Will LaskowitzPictures confuse the folksy readers?

And, the bigger question.

What is this new website? Do I continue to publish a lot of New Orleans pictures? Or, travel pictures? Or, a giant portfolio from 45 years past?

Or, should I go with my instincts? And, make the site about artistic pictures?

Or? Or? Or?

Please, you tell me what you think. Please.

L

et’s assume that Storyteller becomes an art website and an artistic blog.

See where I am really going with this? Heh!

There are many forms of art.

Some are like these layered things that I’ve been doing a lot over many years. See the picture.

Others are minimalist, almost Zen-like in nature.

Others are a collection of dark, moody and mysterious pictures that I’ve been making.

Do I show a small portfolio of each of them? Could I turn those portfolios into more pictures with a click on the original image? Like a tree with branches?

Do I know how to do that coding and linking?

Does anyone?