New Mexican transportation.

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ll aboard. I love trains. I started riding them when I was about five years old. We would travel from Los Angeles to New York on Santa Fe’s El Capitan and we changed trains for one of the New Central System trains and eventually for a Penn Central train when the former competitors merged.

The El Capitan was alway late, usually about three hours. That meant racing from one train station to another through Chicago’s Loop. Sometimes we made it. Sometimes we didn’t.

That meant waiting until the next train. We were already punch drunk from three days in a chair. But, Santa Fe’s trains were clean and modern. New York Central’s trains were worn, tired and a little dirty.

Waking up on the NYC train was wonderful. We were usually still a few hundred miles from the big city. The train tracks were located between a lush green forest and the Hudson River. Being awake early meant that there was fog on the river side. I had never seen such scenery.

Passenger trains never made money. They were often subsidized in one form or another. Even the famous joining of the tracks with a golden spike was subsidized by Abraham Lincoln. He thought the best way to heal and for the states to rejoin was physically join them with a national railroad.

The train companies were paid a dollar a mile plus three miles of land on either side of the track. That’s how so many towns were started in the upper mid west and west.

Still they really never made money until World War II. By late 1946 they went back to losing money. Moving people didn’t pay the freight. Moving goods paid the freight.

That’s why the El Capitan was so late. If the train was more than fifteen minutes late, it had to pull over and let freight trains pass. Do this repeatedly and, well, you get it.

Congress believed that we needed passenger service so they passed the Congressional Rail Passenger Service Act. On May 1, 1971 twenty railroad companies became one. The rainbow era began. In the early days Amtrak owned nothing. They leased passenger cars and engines. In order to keep the trains rolling Amtrak lashed engines together from multiple railroads. The colors were different so… rainbow era.

Amtrak still doesn’t make money.

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he picture was made in Albuquerque, New Mexico during my time there. It was part of my Picture A Day project. To do it you make one picture a day for a year. If you want to learn something about yourself and photography you should do it. I liked it well enough that I did it for five years.

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dds ‘n Ends.

The young woman who wrote the review on the 500 mm f 8 lens did respond. We had a nice exchange of emails. She said that she knew about the things I was talking about. I asked her why she didn’t write that. I got the impression that she received a press release and just wrote from that.

Good news. I spoke with a WordPress “happiness engineer.” It turns out that I can export my pictures and all of you to the new Storyteller. It isn’t even as complicated as I thought.


Playing trumpet.

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hey say it’s all in the eyes. That the eyes are the windows to the soul. Who am I to disagree?

I haven’t been on the street for a long time. Y’all know why. It’s driving me crazy. I don’t like being cooped up. I’m not sure I’ll ever return to the street in New Orleans. That’s not always a bad thing.

There was a video that caused on hell of a buzz in New Orleans. A red SUV pulls up to a white coupe. Three guys get out of the SUV and start blasting away. The white car pulls forward and the bad guys keep shooting.

Murders are already on a course to be higher than last year, which was higher than the year before. Car hijackings are up by 500% over last year. There are muggings and beatings everyday even in the “good” neighborhoods.

The city council called a full meeting to discuss this. The police chief lied through his teeth. He said the problem wasn’t lack of cops. B.S. The city is down 500 cops. Most Mardi Gras parades are running on shortened routes and all of the routes are the same because there aren’t enough cops to cover them.

We are short of cops for a number of reasons. Salary and safety are the biggest two. After a year on New Orleans streets a cop with one year experience can cross the border eight miles away into Jefferson Parish and get the same job doubling his salary and they are out of the war zone.

The city thinks they are fooling us. Every 90 days they make a big deal of graduating 30 new cops from the academy. What they don’t say is that in the same time span some 90 patrol men and women leave their jobs. The ones who are left are inexperienced and have to learn on the job.

And, you wonder why a farm in Virginia sounds like such a good.

See below the three pictures

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hey’ll be some changes made. For the near term I’m going to publish pictures of people. I’m not sure that they’ll all be black and white but there won’t be much of the artistic work that I have been publishing for the past gazillion months.

I have to calibrate what the new Storyteller is going to be. The folks on other social media like my people work. That’s what my gut says I should do. People. All kinds of people.

Let’s say what you have to say.


Looking everywhere.

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here was big news in New Orleans yesterday. New Orleans Saints (American football) Coach Sean Payton retired. The city is in shock. Some say it’s just a game. I think that the team impacts the city in many ways. Allied jobs rise and fall because of what the team does.

He’s an honest man. He’s a positive guy. For a time he lived on our street. I’d chat with him when I walked the dogs. He stopped to pet them. I called him coach. We live on a street with a bunch of “known” people. Sheesh. Paul McCartney’s manager live across the street from us. It was his house that our old oak tree fell into during Hurricane Ida.

By the way, the dogs liked him. That tells you a lot.

There is one thing that I haven’t read or heard. Payton came with Katrina and he leaves with Ida. Bookends.

Oh, one more thing. I’m not the biggest football fan in the world. I’m even not a great Saints fan. But, this matters to the city that I’ve called hone for 23 years.

He will be missed.

Anyway.

This picture is an example of what I tell emerging photographers. Keep your head on a swivel. Look up, down, all around. This picture was made because I walk dogs. I follow them and they are on the ground. I see stuff at a low angle. Sometimes.

Of course, I had to tinker a little bit. That’s where the red and green color came from.

Finally. With coach leaving and us leaving all the good people are leaving.

Hahahahaha.


One sunny evening.

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here is nothing new under the sun said an old friend of mine with whom I once worked. She was right.

For the past few days, there has been a buzz about a new lens just released by Tokina. It’s a 500mm F8 lens that fits in the palm of your hand. They call it a reflex lens, but it’s proper name is a catadioptric lens which means there are little mirrors inside of it which allows light to bounce around.

When you are using it, you either get the subject in sharp focus or you don’t. You’ll know as soon as you look it the picture. It also produces a very unique donut shaped bokeh.

Doesn’t this sound like an amazing new break through?

It is.

But, I owned one in — wait for it — in 1979.

That’s right. It’s 20th Century technology. The review that I read was written by a young woman who can’t be older than 25. To me this is the height of newbie photographers not bother to even learn about the subject they claim to love. They want to take great snapshots — that’s a derogatory term — from the first time they use a camera. They write posts about the “ten tips that will make you a great photographer.”

It’s starting to get annoying.

And yet, there are a trillion pictures being made and posted somewhere on the internet every year. Ugh. How many are great? How many aren’t derivative? Maybe ten. You can thank Instagram for that. And, the emergence of smart phones as the preferred camera.

Both Instagram and smart phones are examples of disruption. That isn’t always a good. Disruption doesn’t make things better. It just flattens the curve. So, it makes them worse.

So, I sent the young women writer a friendly email. I wonder if she’ll reply.

Stay tuned.


Into the mysterious forest.

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his image is about fall. Yes, I know fall came to an end a couple of months ago. But, I finally got around to working on this picture. It’s another one of my layering experiments. This one was much easier to do than yesterday mostly because I used the basic template that I built while I made for the image.

I have’t had time to work on the new Storyteller mostly because WordPress keeps telling me to do stuff that I already know how to do. They are being aggressive about it, sending me follow up emails if I haven’t jumped when they told me to. We are going to have a rather spirited discussion about it during business hours.

Anyway.


Going back after a hurricane.

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vents and memories of them last a long time. Eventually, we process them the best that we can. Musicians write songs, writers discuss what happened with their words.

Photographers and artists who work on paper make some kind of visual statement.

That’s what I did.

We hunkered down when Hurricane Ida struck on the exact same day — August 29 — that Hurricane Katrina did sixteen years earlier. We stayed because that was lockdown summer.

Think about that. What, if anything, does that mean?

I started documenting the destruction around me. It was hot sweaty work.

But, that’s not who I am anymore.

I started looking for subject matter that could be assembled and layered into whatever form my mind, heart and soul dictated. Working this way let my intuition take over and decouple my brain.

And, it is my kind of prayer.

You know, “the work is the prayer.”

Remember that. Always.

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et me try to discuss some technique.

The original photograph was made of a big white cloud that appeared in the blue sky. I could see it between two buildings.

I composed it so that there is a power pole in the center. If you look closely you’ll a power line coming in from the right, but that’s where it stops.

Then I started tinkering, all the while never thinking about what I was doing.

I added the first layer which just made things look a little grungy.

That wasn’t enough depth so I added the trees and green stuff. Not only did it add depth but it muddied up the sky.

I tried to finish it in OnOne, but there was not much that I could do.

I knew the picture was complete.


Blue into the night.

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ou’ll understand in a minute. You know, the title.

I’ve been making progress on the new and improved storyteller. It’s active now, but I haven’t published yet. I thought that when I activated it that this Storyteller might be inaccessible. I panicked for a minute until I thought about it. Ah ha! I knew where to find this.

Whew.

I’ll tell you when, but http://www.Laskowitzpictures.com

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efore I forget, WordPress sent me an email. I get those because I pay for this site. They are getting ready to upgrade to WordPress 6.0. Apparently, there are major changes in how we edit. One of the changes is called emersive editing. We can edit everything at once, using drag and drop tools.

You know what I think about this. And yet, they’ve asked me to be a beta tester. I really dislike beta tests. I used to do that for Adobe with Photoshop. Some of the bugs were so bad that they crashed my computer. Not the app, my entire machine.

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his picture was a case of me messing around. I took the original picture as far as it could go, and then I took it further. The biggest change came when I dropped a border around it. Parts of the image turned pink.

I don’t know why.


Stormy winter evening.

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‘ve been struggling to find topics to write about. I’ve been trying to keep my posts lighthearted but we are living through some of the worst times that I’ve ever seen.

The country is so polarized that I’m pretty sure that we can’t agree about the color of the sky. Now we’ve got the Florida legislature writing a new law that will protect white people from being made upset by things said about them. Talk about snowflakes.

In Virginia the newly elected governor who presented himself as being moderate during his campaign is turning out to be anything but that. He signed two executive orders. One bans teaching Critical Race Theory. The other bans masks in school.

Where do these people come from? A bigger question is what are they afraid of?

People like him keep talking about freedom. What freedom? The freedom to kill me? Or, you? Or, you and you?

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few housekeeping matters. Email. I have email. After waiting for the happiness dweebs to respond I finally gave up and figured out how to validate Laskowitzpictures.com.

When they finally did reply, the first person was mostly worried about my non-renewal of my .net domain. They’ve been nagging me about that since I started the process of moving. I’ve told them more than once that I don’t need that address. That’s not good enough. I’ve cancelled that domain. There is a big red reminder posted at the top of my administration page that I continue to ignore.

I wonder what they are going to say when I tell them that I want to move all of you and my pictures to my new web and blog site.

I guess that I’ll find out.


Streaking into the sky.

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kay. I’m going to get back on posting track. So, this one is for 1pm Central Time. We’ll just see about that. That sounds a lot like the always infamous, “Just wait until your father gets home.” You know how that used to work, right?

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with DSLR or mirrorless cameras. If all you are doing is making pictures for the internet it really doesn’t matter anymore.

I have a friend who is a pretty good photographic artist. We went to college together. While I pursed photojournalism he did something smarter. He studied law, worked as corporate counsel, built a retirement program and retired a few years ago.

He and his wife traveled to Mexico City, a hotbed of great places to explore and photograph. You’d think that he would have carried a bunch of “real” cameras. He didn’t. He brought his smart phone. An iPhone.

He posted some of his work on Facebook. I opened some of them so I could get a better look. They were fine. The quality looked like just about anything you could get with a DSLR.

Of course, enlarging them for a gallery show or something similar might be a different issue. But, a few years ago I made a test 16×16 inch test print from an iPhone image file. An older iPhone. It looks great on the wall.

I think that we’ve reach a point that unless we are going to do something exceptional with a photograph, smartphone photography might be good enough.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.