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.


Green. The color of spring.

Symbol.

That’s what this picture brings to mind. A symbol. I saw this little weed growing through a gap in the concrete and I knew. I knew that we would keep on hanging on through this dark time. A time of uncertanty and fear. A time of outright greed and corruption.

And, that’s not out on the street. That’s in The White House.

When I heard Jared Kushner say that the national stockpile of medical goods was not the states, but theirs, I knew. He and his fellow administration members want to monetize needed supplies by selling them to the highest private bidder, who will in turn sell them to hospitals. I knew. I knew that we will have to fend for ourselves because this White House will kill us all if we don’t.

So.

It’s time to prepare as best we can. To use all of our resources. To use all of our creativity. To beat this virus. And, them. I no longer want them voted out of office. I wanted them imprisoned. I want them stripped of their ill gotten fortunes. I want them to rot behind bars.

I have been calling this time and place, life during wartime. It really has turned out to be that. This is not a political thing. A red v blue state thing. This is about surviving a dark hour.

Yes.

Many people are pulling together. Doing the right things. Our city and state government leaders are doing just that. Leading. There are governors, including ours, who are doing incredible jobs. Even the mayor, of whom I’m not a big fan, is doing just great.

I read a story in the New York Times about a landlord who owns twenty buildings. In Brooklyn. About 200 to 300 people’s housing. He forgave their April rent, saying that they should take care of each other and keep food on their tables.

It’s at the federal level that the problems begin.

If the Jared Kushners of this world aren’t corrupt than they are merely incompetent boobs. Kushner has never actually succeeded at anything. He blew a hole through the Middle East Peace Process. He bought property that should have never been bought. He ran his father’s business into the ground. The golden spoon in his mouth does not mean anything when he has no talent. No ability.

Angry? Me? Hell yes.

The world is in the toughest fight of our lives. These bastards who claim to be leaders want to pillage us. They want to line their pockets at our expense. They want to revive their now failing businesses with our money.

I’m not sure which is worse. The pandemic or the corruption. You can tell me. Please.

I won’t be around, but I hope in 40 or 50 years that the history books will decribe this era as one of the worst periods in all of modern civilization. I also hope that they will discuss the heros — famous and unknown — who did their level best to help us to survive.

Stay safe. Care for each other. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Stay indoors. Vote when it’s time. Enjoy all the bacon.


Red, red, red.

Red.

They say in design school that if you want to make your readers or viewers happy use warm colors rather than cold. So, that’s what I did. And, a red rose. For love.

The picture is simple. It is a macro photograph. A real one. I saw it. I stopped. I made a few pictures. In fact, you’ve seen another version of this in some of my layered images. This one took very little post production. Nature did the rest.

Some virus notes. No statistics. No bad news. Just a few observations.

I saw a couple of folks shopping in their PJs. At least PJ bottoms and a house t-shirt. You know the ones. They are really ready for the rag bag, but they are so comfortable that you never put them there.

A lot of people stopped combing their hair. For the first week or so everything was unique. As we entered in the third week, people gave up or just don’t care. I’ve a had a number of online meetings. At first, people looked like they were dressed for work. Now? Not so much. Some people look like they haven’t shaved since stay at home rules were put in place. Some of them, like me, may have started with some kind of chin hair. Now, I’m really close to having a full beard.

At least I get dressed. And, wear pants.

Then there are groceries. I have no idea what motivates people. One day there are no paper products at all. I’m not sure why people are buying everything. How many fancy dinner napkins do you need? The next day, those shelves are restocked. But, other shelves are empty. Why, oh why do people need every potato chip in New Orleans?

And so it goes. And, goes. And, goes.

Stay Safe. Look after others. Wash your damn hands. Keep your distance. Wear a mask in public. Enjoy every piece of sushi.

 

 


Taking back the pavement.

Is the pleasure worth all the pain?

That’s a line from an old Jimmy Buffett song. After warnings, and a few arrests, people of our fine city still seem to think that gathering is okay. I’m sure their momentary pleasure will cause them a lot of pain later.

I’m going to take a break from CoVid19 commentary. Y’all probably read and watch way too much coverage of it already.

Let’s talk a little bit about pictures.

I’ve been asked to participate in a couple of Zoom round table discussions about pictures. I’m hoping they won’t turn into gearhead discussions. I have no interest in that. If the organizers want to talk about philosophy, I’m all in. If they want to talk about art, I’m all in.

If it turns into “which is better a Nikon or a Canon camera” discussion, I’ll reply Leica and fade away.

A little housekeeping.

I’ve developed a very strange problem with WordPress. For many of you I cannot “like” your posts without doing a major work around. Usually, when I hit the like button, I get a blank pop up screen for about a second. Often when I comment, I’m asked to fill in my contact information as if I weren’t part of WordPress. Sometimes a WordPress button pops up. If I click on that, I’m sort of logged in.

I know it’s a WordPress bug because I’ve tested this across computer systems, using Apple and Windows. I’ve also tested it across browsers. I’ll talk to the fine folks at WordPress today. Storyteller is a business account so I have access to immediate help. They are pretty good about that.

The picture. It’s a little bitty detail that I was able to photograph near macro. But, not really macro.

That’s another story.

I see so many people misusing the term macro on WordPress blogs. Macro is the ability to focus so close that the details of a bee’s wing are in sharp detail, sometimes without the whole bee filling the frame.

Most people are focusing on a subject, like a rose on a rose bush and calling that macro. It’s not. Really, those folks are just isolating a part of the scene in front of them. It’s about time.

One more thing about focusing on the subject.

Another blogger likes my work because it has a 3D quality. That’s easy. Use a wide angle lens, set the camera to everything auto, and stick it right into the middle of the thing you are photographing. You’ll get what appears to be 3D . Of course, if you are mostly driven to photograph sunsets, you’ll always have a compressed looking picture. Or, you have to fly to the sun. That’ll get mighty hot.

Stay Safe. Look after each other. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Don’t gather in groups. Enjoy every crawfish.

 


Out making groceries.

Morning glory.

Maybe I should be out and about in the morning. Pictures made then are usually a lot of fun. I usually have things to do then. Not the least of them being taking the all seeing dog on her morning walk. Maybe I can work around that.

Here’s a morning picture now. This one came after we parked in the grocery store lot. I made two reasonably good pictures there and one that is of the time. You’ll eventually see all of them

All the news that fits.

Covid19 rages on and on and on. In some American cities it may peak toward the end of April. New Orleans is following New York’s path, but only two weeks later. That means that we are nowhere near the midpoint. The rest of this week should get interesting. May you live in interesting times is the worst possible Chinese curse. We are cursed.

It seems that a lot of people are going through some kind of reevaluation of their lives. I’m no exception. I awoke this morning counting all the places that I’ve lived. There are a lot. I use to write it off to making career moves. Now, I just think it was caused by personal stupidity.

My career cost a lot. People, cool places, family. It’s harder to regain any of those things the older that you get. I could go further, but I’ll just depress myself.

On a positive note, I always had a lot of fun. I did get to see a lot of very different locations. I did get to participate in some great events. I met some interesting people. I am coming up to my 50th high school reunion. Many of my classmates grew up in Southern California and there they stayed. That’s great for some people, but it’s likely I would just have gotten bored.  I’ll never know.

Stay Safe. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Care for others. Enjoy every po’boy.


Wonder.

Just give me one good season.

So sang John Prine. The singing mailman. A national treasure. He’s got Covid19. He’s been intubated. He’s 72. He’s beaten cancer twice. He’s been through chemo. He’s been radiated. He’s probably got even more underlying issues. His family asked from prayers last night. You know what to do.

I was feeling pretty down last night. I had this feeling that I wouldn’t come out on the other side of this.

Until.

A friend of mine sent an email saying “open now.” Luckily, it was about two minutes old. I read it and joined a Zoom meeting. One of the lead doctors at Columbia University Hospital was hosting it. The hospital is a 1200 bed leading research hospital. There is a team who takes data, spins it around and provides practical information.

There are four main points. You don’t have to get sick if you follow them.

  1. Keep your hands clean. After you touch anything that isn’t in your own circle, hit yourself with Purcel.
  2. Keep your distance. Covid19 doesn’t live in the air. You have to be hit by droplets. Or, if you come in contact with an infected person and stay too close to them for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Keep your hands off of your face. The virus enters through your, mouth, nose and eyes.
  4. Masks are really not needed for protection unless you are going to spend time with an infected person. They really serve to remind you to keep your hands off of your face.

There’s a lot more, but most are examples.

This doesn’t mean we are safe, but if we follow those four rules, there is a high probability we might be.

One more CV issue. Our grocery store opened even earlier for us oldsters. 7am. For some reason I awoke at about 7:15. Out the dogs went. Out we went. There were about ten people shopping in the entire store. We bought everything we needed. But, if you wanted paper goods, no joy. We didn’t need anything. We don’t have toilet paper dreams.

The picture. Layered again. Three different images combined into one. It took some time to get things tinkered in the right direction. You haven’t seen the individual pictures. You will.

Stay safe. Care for one another. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy every burrito.


Smile though your heart is breaking.

I needed this picture.

The news is grim, getting grimmer. The virus is growing exponentially in New Orleans. I live in a country in desperate need of a leader. Many people, most not from NOLA, are trying to blame the mayor for not cancelling Mardi Gras. None of us knew. We certainly had no direction from the president or even FEMA. I’m not the mayor’s biggest supporter. I stand with her this time.

I followed my own advice. One day at a time. Doing what I do. Making art.

I started tinkering with the base picture which is a very tightly composed and cropped picture of a rose. You’ll see other versions of it eventually. I added the little tiny flowers on the lawn. You’ve already seen those. I started  working on the color, brightness and glow.

I started smiling. I started laughing. This picture is so whimsical that it brought out my hidden happiness. I hope it works for you.

Stay Safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.


Life on the surface.

May.

Bill Gates and the surgeon general agree. We will finally see a turning of the tide in mid to late May. But, but, but… only if everybody in the entire country does the right thing and self isolates.

After seeing pictures from around the country, I don’t believe that will happen unless the president declares marshall law. Many people are just plain stupid. That sounds harsh. Don’t endanger my life and I won’t call you stupid.

I think the newness of staying at home is wearing off. If we have to stay home until sometime in May, we will probably look like people coming out of a bunker during WWI or WWII.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

In New Orleans businesses are hunkering down. Grocery stores are taping off six foot areas at checkout counters. They are building plexiglass wall between the checkout clerk and the shopper. Many businesses will not take paper money. Many business will not survive.

Me?

If I am going to the store, buying gas, or going to the pharmacy I wear rubber gloves. I don’t know who or what touched the very thing I want. I certainly don’t know who touched the keypad or nozzle at a gas station.

A photographer colleague did a video about despair. It’s very good. If you aren’t there yet, you will be. It more or less describes a hopeless future. The only way through is something that I’ve written (I knew I understood something, so there.). One day at a time. Or, as we say in the rooms of AA, if need be, one hour at a time. Or, one minute at a time. And, stay focused on whatever it is you do.

Because my mind was scrambling some things, I followed the advice of another blogger. Create a schedule similar to the one you used in early times. You know. Three weeks ago. Follow it. You’ll do what needs to be done and maybe a little more. You won’t be lying on the couch watching cartoons all day.

One more thing. Get dressed. You’ll feel a little more real even if time has no meaning. I liked wearing my pjs the first week. Later, I realized that I spent way too much time sleeping or watching television about nothing.

The picture. I put the smartphone down on the ground. I moved it around while looking at the LCD and made a few variations on a theme.

Stay safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

Say a little prayer for a friend of mine’s father. He is a little older than me. (The father, not the son.) He is a Vietnam Veteran. He’s one of those guys who never really came home. That’s sad enough. He has CoVid19. He’s on a ventilator. About 12 hours ago he had less than a few hours to live. I have no idea if he made it through the night.

My friend lives in Bloomington, Indiana. His dad lives in Fresno, California. Even if he could get there, he wouldn’t be allowed to see his dad. He will never get the chance to say goodbye.

That’s just horrible.


All is peaceful and calm.

We need a break. All of us.

I know. Nothing has changed. In fact, it’s getting worse. The United States is now number one. That’s not a good thing. The virus grew by almost 50% in one day in the state. The deaths in the city are growing by leaps and bounds. The governor sounded as stressed as I’ve ever heard him.

That’s enough.

It’s Friday. Time to rest. Time to relax. Time to think. I know, those pastimes are normally left for Sunday. But, time has no meaning. Days pass without anyone realizing it. I sit down to work at noon. Suddenly, the all seeing dog taps me on the leg. It’s 5pm. Time for her evening walk.

I spent some of the time creating this image. It’s quiet. Calming. Peaceful. It wasn’t easy to do. I made more mistakes than usual. That didn’t matter. I had the time. I wanted to play a little. That’s the thing. Time. It’s meaningless.

Stay Safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.


Seeking stasis.

I had a really weird thought.

That’s nothing new. Most of my thoughts are weird. I’ve said in the past that nature always seeks stasis. Nature does not determine the rightness or wrongness of a thing. She just wants balance. When something gets out of equilibrium, she solves it. It may take time, but balance is restored.

Do you see where I’m headed with this?

I have no idea how CoVid-19 began. I don’t think anybody understands it. The prevailing theory is fairly simple. A human ate some tainted meat from a wild animal which was purchased in a wet market in Wuhan, China. There really is no one to blame except that I would never think to eat pangolin meat.

For sure, the conspiracists are out in force. I read that some of the black community thinks the whole thing is a plot to kill them off. Even if a cure is developed, they won’t be taking it. Because, you know, the government will be injecting them with poison that will finish the job. Back up the stupid train. Nobody intentionally wants others to die.

All of that said, what if nature wants more stasis? Mankind isn’t exactly earth friendly. What if nature needs to kill a good number of us off? What if nature thinks we are killing the planet and wants to get our attention in a dramatic way?

That’s no conspiracy theory.

Nobody is plotting to kill other people. It’s just a thought. It’s similar to something I said to my neighbor a few weeks before the virus became a pandemic. I was joking, but something happened that questioned my faith in man. I said, “God said, you people suck. I give up. Just watch this.”

Think about that.

And, consider this. We are no longer out and about. The whole planet has more or less shut down. The earth is healing. Slowly, to be sure. But, it is healing.

The picture. It’s just me trying to find my own artistic stasis. A balance point. It’s me creating art from a number of layered photographs. Or, at least, trying to. I still wish that I had the talent to paint.

Stay safe. Care for each other. Enjoy every sandwich.