What happens when…

S

ometimes I forget the work I’ve already done. If you recall I wasn’t posting everyday. That didn’t mean I wasn’t making new pictures and working on others.

I was. And, I forgot about it.

I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon a little group of pictures that I had forgotten about.

This is one of them. Well, three of them to be precise. They are layered and combined. I’ll get to that on the right side.

Questions. I have questions.

After reading the testimony of the former Facebook employee and their crash the other day, I’m thinking about giving up on their products. There’s more to that. Facebook is pushing those of us who post our still photography into posting videos.

I’m not a videographer. I’ve made two videos in my lifetime. They are unedited. One is just a bit of Hurricane Ida as she blew through. The visual isn’t much, but the audio is terrifying.

That said, I’m not posting videos anywhere. That’s not what I do.

The reason to stay with Facebook/Instagram is to show my work. I have a place for that. Right here. Oh, for sure, I get likes and hearts and a few comments. Mostly, from my friends.

Originally, many years ago, I thought that it could be a marketing and sales tool. That hasn’t worked out. So, what’s the point?

I can be found here if anybody wants to find me.

What do you guys think?

T

he work. That’s what matters. Doing it. Practicing it. Do it for long enough and you might get good.

That’s one reason that Storyteller exists. There are a lot of other reasons, but that’s one of them.

As I wrote over there, this is image is layered and created from three photographs.

There was an adjustment phase because not all of them were the same size or shape.

Once that was completed, I adjust for density first, and color second.

I tinkered with them to sort of smooth them out.

Then, I published them right here, on Storyteller. As if you didn’t know that.

By the way, the title is a title of a song by the same name recorded by Roseanne Cash. Sometimes, I steal — er — borrow things.


Time fades away.

W

hat remains.

This is one of our storm ravaged trees. Branches are broken, but new leaves are sprouting up like today was spring and not fall.

I’m not sure in what form the recovery will take, but at least nature is doing her work. All nature really wants is stasis. One way or another, this tree will be dealt with.

Okay. Enough of that.

Let’s talk about technological dependence. Let’s talk about Monday. Let’s talk about Facebook and all it’s secondary companies. They crashed. There was a DNS problem.

We think.

Facebook executives lie about everything. Here’s one now. They claimed service was down for five hours. Oh really?

I was looking for a post so I went directly to Facebook at 7:30am. It was down, at least for any new posting. You could still read whatever was posted before the system came down. You couldn’t reply.

I didn’t have service until around 5pm. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s 9 1/2 hours. Of course, that’s in New Orleans where time moves at a different pace. They say that we are 50 years behind. So, there’s that.

Anyway.

The New York Times published a story about what this really means. Facebook claims a membership of 2.6 billion users. Most just use it like many of us do. Mostly we talk amongst ourselves.

However, about half of that total use it to conduct business, to communicate within companies, to sell stuff, to publish newspapers and — in some countries — it is the prime method of communication.

That’s all great. But, in another story, the Times says that Facebook is weaker than we think and that it is already showing cracks.

There are those who talk about regulatory measures. That’s good. It’s a good idea. Let’s take it a few steps further.

What if Facebook is turned into a utility like electric companies and phone companies? What if the entire internet is declared a utility?

I know, I know. That could take the freedom of the internet away.

That’s been done about a decade ago.

There are only three — or four — big players; Amazon, Facebook, Google and some people say Apple.

There’s no privacy. I could post something on Instagram and see ads for something related on Google. That implies there is no freedom.

It seems simple enough to me. It could be done. It won’t be.

T

his picture needed something a little different. At least, I think it did.

I made it monochrome. It seemed a little bleaker that way.

It still wasn’t done. I tinkered. I added extra bokeh using OnOne.

I messed around with the basic color because I thought I made it too bleak.

So, this is the finished picture.

Let’s jump back to the other side for a minute. I realized I wasn’t done with it yet.

I concluded that any kind of regulation or reclassification of the internet and its most dominant sites wouldn’t happen.

It’s not because of a lack of political will. There may be. Or, not. I don’t know.

The real issue is that the people conducting hearings — mostly the Senate — have no clue what to ask or how to follow up because they don’t understand the digital world at all.

You’d think that after the last two decades of digital growth they’d take some time to get familiar with these things.

But, noooo.

They are busy doing something else; obstructing everything, trying to tear down the good things about government and taking money from certain rich players. You know, bribes. There I said it.

The very least they could do is ask their younger staffers to explain the questions they are about to ask on the floor or in committee so they wouldn’t look like idiots.

But — once again — noooo.


Emerging from the foggy bottom.

L

et’s see if this thing works today. In many ways, I’m becoming afraid to post. It’s become what bad thing is WordPress going to do to me today.

I don’t know why I care. It’s not the most important thing do on any given day.

I read an op-ed column in which the writer tries to understand what is causing so many massive protests. He suggests a couple of potential reasons; the pandemic and the failure for government to take care of us.

Let’s talk about the last one and then get a little more granular. See, I know contemporary buzzwords.

Hurricane Ida left us with a lot of damage. I applied to FEMA for grants. We received the emergency grant of $500. That’s for food and hotel rooms. But, I didn’t receive the business grant of $1,500.

Almost immediately I received an email from the SBA who wanted me to apply for a low interest loan. I ignored it. I received another the next day, and the next day and the next day.

It seems the U.S. government wants me to take out a loan. I finally called someone at FEMA who apparently was used to dealing with brain dead monkeys. Every time that I need to make notes she asked me very carefully if I had a piece of paper and something to write with. After the third time, I asked her why she would think that if had those things the first time why I wouldn’t have them now.

That’s what she is trained to do.

She told me that I had to be apply for a SBA loan in order to qualify for more FEMA aid. Oh, okay.

In order to do that you join a general government aid website. Then, you join the FEMA website, and finally the SBA website.

If that doesn’t make sense, in order to read an email that FEMA sent you have go the general website. No email can come directly to me at my personal/business email address which is Ray@Laskowitzpictures.com.

I gave up.

Just last week I received an email from a human at SBA, wanting to know why I hadn’t applied for a loan yet. I told him in no uncertain terms why I hadn’t.

I’ve been dealing with federal crap since 1970. I’ve had enough.

I think I’ll start a protest march against FEMA. I know plenty of locals who would join me.

Then just because I can, I think I’ll start another march… against WordPress.

Are you reading automattician?

R

ound two. In which the idiot (me) thinks he can get through writing this blog unscathed.

While I was editing the other side, it came to me that I am going to fight my way through governmental interference and apply for an SBA loan.

Yep. With interest below one percent I’m going to apply for the full monty. $40,000.

I need it to buy a computer. That’s gonna be some computer.

I also wanna buy a hat. And, socks.

S

o, the picture.

I started with the background. It’s a bush full of pink flowers. I made it as over processed as I could. Then, I layered another flower over that.

When that was sufficiently mixed up, I added the trees to that.

I wasn’t sure at first. But when I tinkered with it, I was.

That’s why you get to see it.


Not spring.

Y

ou would think that this picture was made in spring, but it’s not. It was made a couple of days ago. This is a weird year and we normally have two growing seasons. We’ve just entered the second one.

Things are starting to bloom again.

Trees aren’t blooming except for the ones that Hurricane Ida shook. They are exhibiting spring-like growth.

I suspect that we’ll be hearing a lot about Pandora, an investigation that tries to understand where big money goes and who is doing all of this corporate scheming, er, scamming.

I read that in The Guardian, a London based newspaper, not because it’s better than U.S. newspapers, but because I wanted their perspective.

I had to laugh. They named locations like Ukraine, Belarus, England and… South Dakota.

Huh?

Apparently, the state has been stashing money offshore for years.

I don’t think that anybody is clean when it comes to money these days. Most folks are out for themselves which explains the fight to get people vaccinated when the very act is a no brainer.

What can I say? What can you say?

I

give up. WordPress is as fucked up as it’s ever been. This damn block system dropped two paragraphs on the other side. If you try to put the coursor in the middle of a paragraph it immediately defaults to the first line.

Until, I backed out of everything, wasting money and time, I couldn’t even type here.

And, they have the stones to tell me that I’m going to be billed at the end of the month. Good luck with that.


And, so it came to be.

Y

esterday was a day of nothing. It wasn’t useless. There are no useless days.

Instead, on a day normally reserved for errands, I did nothing. I awoke at about 8:15 am, looked the clock, turned over and the next thing I knew, it was 10:44 am.

After a bit of stretching and exercise, it was noon. Time for breakfast, er, lunch. If this had been another time in my life, lunch would have turned into drunch. It didn’t.

Then, I did something different. Or, not. I took a nap. Now, we’re talkin’.

Actually, what I probably need is some traveling to someplace far and to the north. That ain’t happen’. I can’t travel now and you know why. For a while I accepted it. Now I’m getting angry. If any of you who follow me are anti-vaxxers for any reason, unsubscribe NOW.

In the next few weeks I’m going on an unholy tear against you and your entire dumbass selfish cohort. If you raise your voice to fight me, trust me when I say that I’ll leave you for dead.

I bet none of you saw that coming. I’m tired of being confined to home, staying away from my neighbors when I walk the dogs, ordering our groceries from Shipt and watching people parade around like the pandemic is over. It is not over.

There. I said it.

S

unset. As you know I’m not really big on photographing a sunset just because it is there.

I’ll photograph a sunset if it is incredible. I’ll turn around and photograph what it illuminates. Or, I’ll photograph it in a situation like this one.

Three out of four isn’t bad.

This sunset surprised me. I couldn’t really see it until I moved around the tree trunk.

Then, wowie-zowie.

What great light. It reflected off some structure and created even more golden light. It turned bright orange as it passed through the foliage.

That’s where it stopped. I turned around. Nothing.

I did two things to the picture in post production. I opened up the tree so it wasn’t a big black thing in the middle of the picture.

And, I cropped it.


All the fall colors.

A

friend of mine used to travel from Michigan to Vermont to photograph fall colors. Now he travels from Florida where he retired.

That seems like an awfully long way to chase color.

Me?

I’m lazy. I walk out of my door and take pictures of fall color. Or, I could. We lost a lot of trees around here a month or so ago.

That’s not all bad news.

Downed trees mean new views. New views mean new pictures. New pictures mean new smiles.

That’s what happened when I made this photograph. It seems like this amount of color is way too early, but Hurricane Ida seemed to change everything. Or, maybe it’s climate change… no matter what the Republicans say.

I’m won’t get into the politics of that because it really is just politics based on money. Follow the money, they say.

You know where the money goes. I know you know.

And, that’s enough for a pretty, but weird picture.

T

his is one of those pictures that needed a lot of help.

It needed cropping. It needed color control. And, it needed art.

So, I gave it art.

I gave it Pointillism, which is an art movement that uses a technique in painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. Unless you enlarge the image, you don’t usually see the dots.

This is an extreme application because you can see the dots with just a glance.

That’s your Saturday art semi-lesson. There’s a lot more, but there always is.


What do you see?

T

his has been a very quiet time for me. I’m not doing much more than I need to do. That’s not me. Nor, is it good for me.

I’ve always been a believer of finishing your daily work and then do one more thing. Big or little, it doesn’t matter. You are making progress.

Where I come from we say, progress not perfection.

That’s good because I’m never perfect. I make mistakes. I’m the typo king. Some of my best pictures are either motion shaky art out of focus.

That’s not a terrible thing. I learn from all of those things. I edit my words tighter. I compensate for cameras shake either with a tripod or I make sure my shutter speed is high.

But, right now none of that is happening. I reckon that the pandemic and the last 18 months have worn me out. It’s worn a lot of people out. Add to that the pressure of really not working much and I’m probably blown out.

My way of dealing with this is not working. Or, working very well. I probably need a long, long vacation. But, I’d worry about what was going on where I wasn’t.

I suspect a lot of us are in this place.

What about you?

A

ll reflections, that’s what this picture is really about. I’d finished a very short walk when I looked up and saw the window.

I had to move around a bit in order to make this picture as well framed as it is, which is to say, not very well.

If I could have moved back about 15 feet, I could have aligned the final image a lot better.

There goes that perfection thing again.

Nonsense. I did the best I could with what I had.

Once again, I didn’t do much but darken and sharpen the picture. After all, simpler is usually better.

This time it was.


“U

nderneath the heavens above.” That’s a line from a Bob Dylan song. I heard it just as I started writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”

Y’all know that I listen to music while I write, yes? I’m playing a Spotify play list called Summer Rewind. I’m trying to think about what summer this particular list comes from. It is certainly eclectic mix of songs.

I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Philadelphia, who rents a small apartment in The French Quarter. She and her husband are coming down in a few weeks. It’s hard to beat the weather then. But, I was surprised because we’ve been talking about the crime and how it’s become very hard to take pictures.

I’ll see them while they are here. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay in the Quarter. During the day it may be one of the safest places in the city. As night rolls into early morning all bets are off, especially near upper Bourbon Street where it meets Canal Street.

My city. It’s really something these days. I keep trying to talk myself into staying. That’s getting harder every day.

Like everything, it depends.

T

his picture was easy to make. Just look up and try to put the moon and a subject on the ground to line up in some way.

Then, push the button.

The exposure was pretty close except for the center of the picture where the high mid-tones were too light, and they always will be. It seems to be a quirk of all smart phone cameras.

Maybe I should go hunting with a real camera.


All of the mysteries.

T

iming. It’s everything. Look in one direction and you see nothing. Turn around and there’s the picture. Make some great music and nobody hears it unless the timing is right. Play sports, maybe baseball. The difference between striking out and hitting a home run is timing.

You get the point.

This picture is a great example of timing. I was trying every which way to get under the wires to get some of the orange cloud into the picture. I couldn’t do it.

I turned to the side and thought, “There is a picture here after all.” This one. The one you are looking at.

Here’s an extreme example of timing. As you know, I can’t be in crowds. That means I can’t photograph second lines. Normally. I start at the beginning, walk a good bit with the parade. Then, I get back to my car and jump to the end.

If I had been out on Sunday, I could have been way too near a shooting that left one dead and one critically injured. I’m pretty sure it was gang related. For sure, it was Black on Black.

That, alone, makes me sad.

But, a misfired bullet in the air doesn’t see color. It just zooms through the air hitting whatever it comes in contact with. It would be one thing if these boneheads could actually shoot. But, they can’t. They spray bullets everywhere trying to hit the one poor guy they are after.

Think about it.

I was on the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and St. Claude on one Mother’s Day a few years back when two fools started shooting into the crowd in order to hit their target. They didn’t hit him, but they did hit a lot of innocent people.

They hit my friend, and just about everybody’s friend, “Big Red” Deb Cotton in the stomach. That may be the worst survivable wound. She survived, but after years of painful surgeries, she died.

Murders are up by 24% in New Orleans. Gun deaths are the highest they’ve ever been in the city.

A

fter I saw the picture I did everything I could to avoid those power lines, but I couldn’t.

It’s ironic. If I photographed this scene about a month earlier those lines wouldn’t have been in the way. They’d have been in the street.

My biggest trick was to darken the entire picture to bring the color out. I did add some soft glow because I like it.

If I left the picture horizontal there would have been way too much black. The color would have receded into the scene. So, I cropped it.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of square pictures. Obviously, I use them when the situation calls for it.

Nothing is set in cement. Photographic rules should be learned and understood so that you can break them when your work calls for it.

I suppose that’s the same with most rules. Live by them until something goes way south. Then, do what you have to do.

Hopefully, it will be subtle and peaceful.

Unlike this photograph.