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.


It’s all in the details.

Details. Details. Details.

I was wondering just how many pictures of old couches, chairs and furniture would hold a readers interest.

My answer?

Not many.

I wasn’t sure what to do about it until I saw this scene.

It hit me.

Details.

A picture like this holds the reader’s interest in many ways. Not the least of them being the human need to understand the photograph. To study it. To spend some time with it. To let your brain grasp the details within the details.

The first couple of pictures that I made for the “Junk Project,” were mostly overall scenes.  You look at them once, quickly, and you are done. You see everything that needs to seen in less than a second. They rely on color, shape and hue.

This picture relies on content. Subject matter.

This picture would work in black and white, as well as in color.

This picture is also harder to find. Even harder for it to find you.

If somebody wanted it for their wall, I work hard to convince them to use the horizontal version and turn it into wall paper. Something that is about twelve feet wide and eight feet high. Something that when you came home at night, you could stare at and forget the day. You’d mumble to yourself, “Oh wow. I didn’t see that before.”

Just like I’m doing now. That light bulb. They are expensive. It isn’t broken. What was I thinking?

Oh yeah.

Pictures.

 

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Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.


The good stuff.

The junk project.

I had a good week. Not only did I find a couple of pictures for the summer project, but I found a couple of pictures for my junk and water projects. I’m not saying that everything I photographed will make it into the final cut, but having many pictures from which to select is better than too few. Right?

I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.

Durability. Sustainability. Repairability.

The furniture that was set out by this dumpster was old. The pieces were probably manufactured in the 1930s. Every piece was well made of good solid wood. Nothing was broken. They needed a little refinishing work, but that was about it.

Abandoned.

All they needed was a little loving touch. They would have made a fine collection of furniture for somebody. Anybody.

We live in a time when everything is made so cheaply that it costs more to repair an item than it costs to replace it. That’s too bad. More broken stuff for the overflowing landfills. More broken stuff to add to our pollution. More broken people not working.

A few weeks ago, we went through the great plastic purge. We are still working on it, but it’s damn near impossible. Sheesh. We tried to buy butcher paper locally. Good try. Yes. It can be found in our local and regional grocery stores. But, it’s improved. It has a — wait for it — plastic backing.

Sure. You can buy paper butcher paper on Amazon. And, you add to the carbon footprint by having it shipped. Get this, most of it comes in huge rolls for commercial use.

So?

So, you have to buy a rack and a paper cutter.

I believe that we are at a point beyond which we can’t turn back. Everybody and everything is too invested in the stuff that could kill the planet. Besides, follow the money. How does Mitch McConnell grow his wealth by some $24 million in a couple of years?

The picture. First, I would have taken that furniture if I had a truck. But, I had a dog on a leash. She refuses to carry heavy stuff. Seriously, I photograph my projects as I see potential subject matter. For me, it works better to let the pictures come to me, rather than chasing them. As I wrote earlier, I think I have my color palette figured out going forward.  For the junk project.

One more item of semi-interest.

Doctor John was buried yesterday. His family and friends organized a true jazz funeral with a second line and a mule drawn hearse. I didn’t photograph it. The temperature was 96 degrees at 3pm when the parade began. The heat index was 104 degrees. Way too hot for me.


Cool shade.

Despite the heat of summer, I actually like the season. I like the rich greens. I like the cooling shade. I even like the torrential rains that cool the air and knock down the humidity temporarily. Of course, in the heat of summer, what falls down must rise up… in the form of ground humidity.

At a glance that sounds terrible.

It isn’t.

In Southeast Louisiana, folks live in a natural greenhouse. Everything grows. And, it grows well. In little home gardens, you need only care for the plants. No watering necessary. There was one year, before the storm, that I grew something like 500 large tomatoes. I kept the plants neat and pruned. I removed tomato worms and that was about it. I rarely watered them. I never misted them. The yield was a little problem. Normally, I give away what I can’t use. Usually to neighbors. Not that year. Everybody had too many tomatoes.

It’s about the same thing with every vegetable or fruit. I planted a little basil bush that I bought at a grocery store. It stood about three inches tall. It was a skinny little thing. Today, it’s at least four feet tall. And, four feet around.

The picture. A tree that I saw on a walk. I liked the backlighted look. I turned it into a painting in post production. I also used a stretched paper look for the shape. Fairly easy to do. If you like experimenting.


 

Frozen food.

Summer.

Now, I’m seeing pictures everywhere.

The ten best pictures of summer project is coming along nicely. Much to my surprise, so is the dumpster project. My book projects are in the phase of, “are we there yet?”

We were doing a little grocery shopping when I turned down the aisle in the frozen food section. I was able to retake a picture that I made a few years ago. That one was all ice cream. This one is all pizza. Boxes. Heat and eat.

When I made the original one I sort of hid was I was doing. Not this round. I took my time.  If somebody saw me and gave me a strange look, I didn’t care. Eventually, the man who was stocking the frozen cases asked what I was doing. I didn’t tell him. I showed him. He liked what he saw and told me that if anybody complained, he had my back.

How cool is that? Or is it, how frozen is that?”

I’m not sure if this is one of my summer series. It could be. If not, it’s colorful fun.

The picture. Arrrrrgh. WordPress has been messing with the color software again. The original version of this picture is far more colorful. More contrasty. It grabs you. I says, “look at me.” But, WordPress compressed my .jpeg into something muddy. I tried some of my usual editing tricks. Three times. To no avail.

You’d think that they would want contrasty imagery since so many pictures published on WordPress are that of writers, cooks and other folks who just want a picture to go with their story. Typically, those images are not properly exposed and are flat and muddy.  I’m not attacking those folks. It’s just not what they do or care about.

On the other hand, some of them make wonderful pictures.

Anyway.

The picture works well enough — a phrase I’ve come to hate. If it became part of my ten summer pictures project I would print it on paper. The color and contrast would be what I intended.

 


The longest day.

The goopy season.

It starts around now and lasts well into August, when even hotter temperatures dry out the air a little bit. A loss of humidity would seem to be a good thing.

It is.

Unfortunately, the temperature starts creeping into the triple digits. Like about 219 degrees.

You pick your poison.

Or, you leave.

With climate change — it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not — there are very few cooler places in the United States in the summer months. At least, you might go to a place that has a dry heat heat. Still, it’s hot. I rarely live in anything approaching cool weather from May until October.

Oh well.

So, this is the goopy season in the south. Heat. Humidity. Daily rain.

Move your camera from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the street and you’ve got condensation. On the camera body. On the lens. Do not remove the lens. If you do that you will have condensation inside the camera. Inside the lens. That’s deadly.

Instead, wipe the camera down with some kind of soft, lint free, cotton. Clean the front of the lens with something designed for that job. Lens cleaning tissue, or a micro fiber cloth. Let the camera acclimate and you’ll be good.

Some photographers wear t-shirts to use as a cleaning cloth. Fine, as long as it is cotton, not a blend, and it is clean. Don’t wipe your camera down with your lunch. Or, the egg that you ate for breakfast.

The picture. Running errands. In and out of rain. You can see a fairly good example of that in the picture. To the left, mighty storm clouds. To the center, blue skies.

This picture is a classic  example of the modified drive by. It is a drive through. I could have let my errand running partner drive. But, oh no. I can drive. In traffic. And, make pictures at the same time. Sheesh.

I think that may even be more deadly than texting and driving. On second thought, it isn’t. I put the phone or camera on the dashboard, let it focus, and I just push the button while looking at the road. If I have to react quickly, I just drop the camera or phone. Obviously, I’ve thought about it.

Also, in one way or another, I’ve done it for years. Practice, practice, practice. But, this falls into the category of “kids, don’t try this at home.”

Anyway.

This is a weather picture. I made it because I saw it. I’m not sure it falls into the group of ten great summer pictures. Yesterday’s picture did for sure. Many of you confirmed that on various social media and, here on Storyteller. Thank you.

One down. Nine to go. Or, maybe not.

Doing this is a combination of talent, experience and the luck of being there are the right time. The luck thing is a really big deal in this particular series. For yesterday’s picture, a couple minutes on the either side and scene is blown.

 


My summer.

In the summertime.

This picture does it for me. This is what I meant by a summertime picture.  My pal in France liked yesterday’s picture of a tree and said that was summer to her. I think that’s a good place filler. A place to get started. A place to wrap my mind around what comes next.

But.

This picture. This is what’s in my mind’s eye. Or, something like it. A hot summer day after a heavy rainfall. A kid on a bicycle. A passing train. A school bus in my rearview mirror. Even a little piece of me. This picture.

Yeah. Sure. If it’s summer, what’s a school bus doing in the picture? It takes a caption to explain that this bus serves a private school and they are having summer camp and workshops.

I came to make this picture in a roundabout way, and by luck. I was running errands. I was a bit late. I took a shortcut. A shortcut that turned out to take more time than if I went the long way around. You know. Railroad crossings. This one is particularly nasty because the trains that pass through are long. People are in a hurry, drive around the gate and… never do that. Ever.

So. There I sat. Being patient. I started looking for pictures. The kid and his buddies peddled around the corner so fast that I almost didn’t react. Luck was with me. Photographer’s luck. Luck that was trained into me for years and years. As I tell photo-blocked folks, pick up your camera, open your door and go outside. Take a walk. I’m pretty sure a picture will find you.

The only down side to this picture is the file. I made it on my super duper smart phone. I did no work on the phone. I downloaded it to my main machine. I processed it in OnOne. The software calculates and creates data about all data. This picture’s file size is 42.8 megs. Sheesh, my first DSLR made a 6 meg file.

That’s the story of what I think is my first summer project picture. Accidental to be sure.

Then I left town.

That’s a story for another day.


About summer.
Looking toward the east.

For at least the last five years, I’ve been trying to make at least ten very good pictures that are about summer.

I haven’t succeeded yet.

I probably won’t again this summer.

I know, I know. With that attitude I have assured myself of failure.

Not really.

It’s just a realistic statement that takes into account how difficult it is to make ten good pictures about anything over the course of a year. Sheesh. I’ve been at this for just under fifty years. I’ve made a lot of good pictures. I don’t make bad pictures.

But.

If you were to ask me about my great pictures, only three come to mind. Fifty years. Three great pictures. That ain’t a great ratio. I’m sure there are a lot of better shooters than I am, who have made far more memorable pictures that I have, but, if you ask them, they’ll say about the same thing.

As I’ve been putting older work, mostly from Asia on NGS’ “Your Shot.” I’ve been thinking, “Me?” “I took that picture?” “It must have been a better photographer” I’m not being overly humble. I’m just surprising myself by looking at old, almost forgotten work.” Still, those images don’t crack into my “excellent category.”

That’s one of the great things about getting older — among damn few good things — you have the wisdom of perspective. You understand that most pictures shared on Instagram are nonsense, especially when they are posted as professional work.

The picture. Make no mistake. This isn’t one of the ten great summer images. This is just a tree that I photographed in early morning light. It was backlighted so it caught my attention. It reminded me to start looking right now. Right this minute. For summertime pictures.

Man. I’ve got a lot to do in the next twelve weeks or so.


Fallen.

Things fall down.

Like this flower. It fell from a tree. I don’t know its name. That’s rare. While I readily admit that I don’t know flower names, I do know tree names.

It starts blooming in late spring and continues until early summer. Streets, cars, sidewalks are cover in tiny pink flowers. I like photographing them after a rain. They glisten and glow. They stick to everything. But, they aren’t damaging. They are just pretty. Just pretty. Funny, that. If every thing was “just” pretty  we’d be far better off.

Anyway.

We had some rain.

The rain knocked a lot of these little flowers off of the trees. The walkway was glistening. Sparkling. The light was getting low so it backlighted this one little flower. I got down as low as I could go and pushed the button a couple of times. I selected another version of this picture. I struggled very hard to make it work. It really didn’t work.

I took another look. This image took about a two minutes in post production. It just sort of “was.” This is the right picture. Work is hard. The process should be easy.

The picture can never be made again. Yes. It was a moment in time. A brief flash. That’s not it.

Nah.

The dog who sees things stepped on it and crushed it.

Sometimes, that’s how it goes.