I am a visual storyteller. I've been making pictures for some 40 years. I travel the world in search of the right image. in the right light at the right time. You can reach me by phone at 505.280.4686, or by email at Ray@Laskowitzpicturess.com or Pictures34@me.com. For a quick look at my work please go to www.laskowitzpictures.com.


In the shade.

“Give me the greens of summer.”

So, said Paul Simon. I wonder what he would think about the greens of fall. Because we live in a swamp and have two growing seasons, we do get new foliage growing at what is an odd time of year for the rest of the country.

This is an example.

The rocks are in a pile as a flood deterrent. They’ve been stacked for a long time. Nature had her way with them. Stuff is growing over them, around them and they are collecting moss. This moss won’t help you find your way, unless you are digging into the earth to… China.

Green is the color of rebirth. It’s peaceful. Quiet. That makes green pictures a great Sunday offering.

Sunday.

The day of second lines. Yes. I’m going. this one is The Prince of Wales. It rolls on a wide street. It rolls for a long way. Lots of pictures lurking there. It’s one of my favorites to photograph because there is room to move, room to work. The day is cool. The parade starts at 1pm, which for today is the hottest time of day. About 82 degrees.

That’s nothing.

It’ll be a lot of fun. You should be here.

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Crossing a railroad overpass.

Once again. A road and sky picture.

It’s not really what it seems. It looks like I am out on some distant road. Not really. I was running errands. I drove out to Jefferson Parish. I was getting ready to drive home. I realized that I was driving up and over a railroad bridge, which made a good picture. So, I sort of did a drive through.

I learned something.

A smart phone is much harder to brace and trigger than a more normal DSLR or Mirrorless DSLR. In an effort not to drive off the road or run into another car, most of the pictures are cockeyed, pointed to the wrong place, or have my fingers in them. Even this picture required a heavy crop because too much of my car was in it. If I knew how to do a one time bit of coding, I would have made this a panorama stretching across the top of the page.

Alas, along with my inability to paint, I also barely know the basics of coding. I know just enough to do more harm than good. I did make another version of the scene, with the car hood in the picture. But, it’s too psychedelic for even me.

The good news is that in the past few days of low autumn light and cooler weather, I’ve made a lot of interesting pictures. That’s how it goes. On some days you can’t see. On other days, you see everything.

The weather is even cooler today. But, I’m not around to make pictures.

That’s also how it goes.


Into the light.

Finally. Fall.

A look at morning image made as the sun peeks through the golden leaves of Autumn. As a wise man once said, “If you want better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” That is so true. I would add to that, have some patience. Wait for the light you want, no matter how long it takes.

I once worked with a former National Geographic Society photographer who was known for his desert work. His trick was to get to the place where he wanted to work. And wait. And wait. And wait. For days. Sometimes weeks. For the light he wanted. He reckoned that since you can’t control nature, you might as well control yourself.

There is another approach. Know the place in which you are working. Make yourself available for the light and whatever else you want in the picture. The first time I thought about that was during my days in Hong Kong. At the time, as a western expat, I made one of the best collections of pictures in a foreign place. It wasn’t due to extraordinary skill. It was due to just being there. When I think back to that time, I realize that I wasted a lot of precious moments.

I try not to be so wasteful now. Even when I’m not working for a client I try to be photographically productive. Hopefully it shows in the work that you see.

The picture. You know what I did. F8 and be there. I didn’t do so much in post production because I made most of the picture in camera. I darken, sharpened, and brought the color out a little. Nature did the rest.

One more thing. I posted the black and white version of this picture on Instagram. If you want to see that version, please follow me there.


The end of time.

Until the end of time.

That’s art. Once you make it, the art lasts. It will out live you and me. I suppose that’s one reason to make pictures. To make paintings. To make music. Or, to make just about anything else that you can think of.

It’s a legacy.

I suppose that’s one reason to keep pushing. To keep plugging away. To experiment. To grow.

At least it is for me.

Oh sure, I can make pictures for clients and friends. I can do the expected because that’s what I’m expected to do. That pays the bills. Feeds everyone. Puts better kibbles in the dogs’ bowls. Note: They don’t eat kibbles. They eat homemade dog food. Food that is better than some humans eat. That’s sort of weird, but they are all healthy. That matters.

Anyway.

The picture. The original picture was pretty cool on its own. I just had to experiment. I had to tinker. And, play. I tell you, I want to be a painter. But…


Leaf as a still life.

I saw a leaf.

My normal instinct would be to photograph it in situ. Instead, I brought it home. I worked on it in the studio. I simplified the picture by photographing the leaf by itself, on a light table. The result was pretty good.

That was just a start.

I knew it would be post production time. Usually, I have a clear vision. Not this time. I tinkered and tinkered. There must be twenty versions of the image at which you are viewing. Once I saw them all together I picked this one. I wasn’t done yet. I gave the image a little more energy by sharpening everything. I added the frame.

Now, I was done.

That’s my working method unless I’m making some kind of documentary picture, like second line participants or Mardi Gras, itself. I don’t treat those like art except when I experiment a little. That’s just me. But, I came from a pure photojournalism background. That means change nothing except to fix the flaws and maybe adjust the contrast and color.

Housekeeping.

In the next week, starting on October 15th, I’ll do my Halloween thing. Last year I didn’t photograph enough. This year I will. Stay tuned for new Halloween material.

My new and improved website is in its last stages of completion. I want to add some more pictures. I need to add a lot of captions and fine tune the SEO.

But, it’s truly ready for prime time.

My biggest problem is that I have not found a way to let you know when a new Storyteller story is online. For right now, the best I can do is email you all individually. That’s hard, and one of the biggest pluses of a WordPress blog. Create a new post, hit the button and away it goes. I’ll do some research and figure it out. Soon.

Enjoy the season.


Bookend.

Bookends.

I made this picture during the last dog walk of the day. Yesterday. I don’t usually chase sunsets. How could I not photograph this one? Admittedly, I used a small bag of tricks to enhance the clouds. It’s small because you have to be careful. While you are messing with the clouds the trees go wonky.

Here’s the real news of the day.

Pants. I wore pants for the first time since late April in New Orleans. The long promised, and longer awaited, cool front arrive last night. The sky is a little gray and leaden, but I’ll take it. The dogs loved it. I already went for two very long walks with them this morning. I haven’t seen them walk so fast since, well, April. When it’s hot for us, it’s hot for them.

How long, you ask?

The temperature will rise to the mid-eighties by Friday and then dip again, well below today’s weather for the weekend. This means I can finally work in comfort rather than dripping and cursing.

That’s the story from this land of swampy nod.

It’s a really big deal.


Autumn sky.

In the morning.

The air was lighter. The sun was clearer. The shadows were longer. That’s what I felt and saw. That’s the picture that I made just a few hours ago. Today.

I made it at the end of a walk. The light wasn’t great until the moment I saw this scene. I tried a couple of different compositions, but this one did it for me. I saw it as a painting the from minute I pushed the button. So, that’s how I treated it in development and post production. It’s a little magical, but it hasn’t crossed the line.

Now, as I often do.

The rest of the post isn’t about the picture.

When I was a young guy I started my musical journey by listening to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other bands of those early times. Along came Cream. Wow. I never heard anything like them. Apparently, I was hip for a 14 year old. I bought their first album and kept building from there.

Cream was Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton. Three super stars in their own right. Jack Bruce passed a few years ago. Eric Clapton will turn 75 next March. He’s planning some extensive touring next year after a couple of years of relative inactivity because of physical issues. Ginger Baker was 80. Earlier last week, his family said that he was in critical condition in the hospital. They asked for our prayers.

I knew right then that the outcome wouldn’t be good. When you are 80, have a number of physical ailments, being in critical condition isn’t a good thing.

Ginger Baker passed yesterday morning.

His drumming was inspiring to a couple of generations of rock drummers. Yet, at his essence he was a jazz drummer. He explored African poly rhythms. He could play with anyone, yet he made his name with Cream and the very short lived super group, Blind Faith.

Ginger Baker was also outspoken. He was cantankerous. He could get angry at the drop of a hat. Clapton once said that when Cream was playing their best live music, it seemed like a musical fist fight between Baker and Bruce. It often scared him because of its violence. And, he was life long heroin user. That may have contributed to his death. But, I don’t know. He was 80 and sick. But, never frail.

Once there was three. Now there is one.

Yesterday was hard. These guys are aging before our eyes. Most of my musical heroes are in their late 60s or 70s. They made the music of my life’s soundtrack. You know the rest.

Ginger Baker 1939 -2019 RIP

 


Mysterioso.

Into the mystic.

There is one place that the dog and I walk. It is by turns, moody, swampy, and beautiful. It was at sunset, beautiful. For sure, it’s not purely nature. There is a water feature built into it. That just adds to the feel. In high summer when the humidity is at its highest, the area is downright scary.

Not so much now.

Even though it is not so moody right now, you’d better watch where you walk. Along with the usual suspects of frogs and a billion lizards, there is the occasional snake and opossum. No worries though. If you don’t bother them, they’ll ignore you. Besides, the snakes aren’t anything nasty. A rattlesnake was roaming around another walking route. People feared that rattlers were making their way into the city. Turns out that the snake escaped from its owners fish bowl. If I were a snake I’d want to be free too.

That is one of those things that we call “very New Orleans.”

There are all sorts of events that we term that way. A guy had his car broken into. He had his car door open on the street side while he was waiting for the police. Another car came along and took off his door, making his already bad day, worse. The driver of that car got out of it and fell down. Dead drunk. That’s some New Orleans stuff right there.

A few months back, while checking all the water outflow tunnels, the water department found a crippled and battered car. You might remember me telling you that. It turned the car was lodged in the tunnel for fourteen years. It was a Hurricane Katrina car. Fourteen years of no reviews or repairs. Now, THAT’S some New Orleans stuff right there.

Finally, I want to photograph a big second line later today. After a month of no rain, the skies are dark, heavy with rain clouds. My weather apps agree. Rain today. More New Orleans stuff.

That’s the story from the swamp on this fine Sunday.

 

 


Sky fire.

Like magic.

That’s what it was. That’s how the sky lit up. It fooled me. Usually to have the sky catch fire, there must rain followed by light clouds. The sunlight hangs among the remaining clouds, its rays bouncing off of them and exploding in the sky.

Not this time.

There hasn’t been rain in over a month. Some of the northeastern parishes are already declaring a drought. I’ve been talking about the heat almost daily on Storyteller. No rain combined with heat means pretty boring sunsets.

Not last night.

Admittedly, I’ve enhanced the color among other things, but the light and color has to start from somewhere. There were even god rays which usually only come in a cloudy sky. They were so low and weak on the horizon line that I couldn’t get to a place to photograph them.

Something’s happening here.

And, it’s still hot.

I took whoever wanted to go for a walk out at around 8am. They’re smart dogs. They don’t like the heat anymore than their humans do. I passed one of my neighbors who said that it was much cooler today. I looked at him like he was crazy. 8am. 86 degrees. Of course it was cooler than 95 degrees. It was 8am. Sheesh.

They say.

A cold front should move in on Sunday night. On Monday we should have more normal weather for this time of year. This will be followed by a colder front which according to the weather people will drop the high temperatures down in the 70s and the lows in the middle 50s. You know what one of the Eagles sang… “that bubbled headed bleached blond who comes on at six.”

That’s how I feel. I don’t trust them. I wish I had a job like theirs. Get their brand of news wrong 90% of the time and be called a regional legend.

And so it goes.