Into the sun.

I

was rooting around in my archives when I stumbled upon this picture. I made it very early when we returned to New Orleans.

We used to live in Jefferson Parish, near to where The Saints football team practices. I used to walk on a track. Depending on direction you could walk about 1.5 miles or 3 miles.

Getting there was easy. Parking was ample. People were friendly. I wish that we had something closer to home now. I could go to one of the big parks, but that takes effort.

So, I wander around the streets. Sometimes that’s more interesting. But, I’d like not to have to think about traffic.

Anyway.

No dreams, or at least that I remember. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I think when I see things like I did yesterday, it helps my creative juices to flow. After all, I made a pink picture. 🙂

And, now a word from our sponsor. Or, something like that.

David Crosby — yes, that David Crosby, founder of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash and sometimes Young — released a new album called “For Free” after a Joni Mitchell song.

At 79 years old he is dealing with his own mortality. He understands it and is ready, even though he doesn’t want to go.

Unlike most of us, he has a transplanted kidney. He was a serious drug abuser who has been clean for years. And, he’s had at least three heart attacks. So, at 79 he’s been living on borrowed time.

Y’all need to listen to it. The entire record album (I’m old, so sue me) is great from end to end. Amazingly, he’s managed to keep his voice. That sweet caramel and chocolate voice.

For me, the song is called, “I think I.” The next line is “found my way.”

It only took him 79 years.

Maybe it’s time for the boys in the band to forgive him and hit the road one more time, before they can’t.

A

well known photographer once said that if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

He’s right.

I always say that if you’ve got a block of some kind, just go outside and take a walk.

Creative blocks are really just a twisty or a yip. That’s what got Simone Biles at the Olympics. The minute she explained it and said the word twisty, I thought a yip.

They are worse than you know. When you practice long enough certain things become instinctual.

I could go on about what happened to her, but enough has been written about that.

What she forced me to understand is something that has been going on for a long time for me.

I have the yips.

For some reason my energy, my routine, my focus has been broken.

And, that’s frustrating.

Photography has always been my way of grounding myself. And, now it doesn’t work.

I’m not sure of the steps needed to work my way back. Ms. Biles is going to work the balance beam for her last Olympic event. I think I know why she’s doing it.

I’ll watch her very closely. Maybe there’s a clue for me. Or, maybe I already know it.


Magenta dreams.

D

reams came to me last night or early this morning. They were about this place. Sorta. In my dream everything was dusty, sort of a tannish brown. It was hard to breath without a mask. People were getting sick in the dusty atmosphere.

It doesn’t a weatherman to know which way this wind blows. We are all worrying about Delta-X. In Louisiana a lot of the hospitals are already full. So too, in many other states. There is some concern about my working in September. I’d like to.

I’m pretty sure that many other people are thinking this way as well. We are getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Eventually, something bad will happen, be it a huge surge or a lot of violence. We do not need either.

We need vaccinations. We need masks. We need people still keeping their distance.

I’m not sure we will defeat Covid 19 anytime soon, but we certainly can manage it if people wouldn’t stay stuck on stupid.

A

short technical lesson. This picture was made from an original that had earth tones as its core. I decided to make it magenta – pink – purple because I wanted to make it a happier picture than the one in my head.

I think it succeeds on that level.

It’s mysterious without being moody. It evokes emotions without being frightening. And, it is fairly pleasant to look at.

The basic working technique was to remove most of the tan color and replace it with something purplish and let the rest fall where it may. Doing that even created a little blue. Add some fine-tuning and the job was done.


Flowers, water, and grass.

U

pside down. That’s what’s happening to my days. I go to bed early, as in early in the morning. I get up late, like around noon. I’m not sure why my body is doing this, but it’s fine with me.

The weather is very hot and humid. Summer in southeastern Louisiana.

Walking during the day is draining. Walking at 3 am isn’t so bad. Nobody is ever out in my neighborhood so I don’t worry about bad guys.

I just have to remember to do the things that are expected, like Storyteller, before I go to bed. That’s kind of the long way of telling you why I’m late.

I mentioned this to friend who suggested that I just go to bed earlier. It doesn’t work that way. All I do is toss and turn for an hour or two.

So, I might as well make the best of it.

Sometimes, I work a little bit rather than read or watch a movie. I have to be careful with that because it stimulates my brain which keeps me awake even longer.

That would be a problem.

A

little magic. That’s what it took to make this image.

There are two images that were layered in such a way that the bottom image almost doesn’t show up.

You’ll be amazed when I tell you what the bottom image is.

It’s pool water that I darkened to the point that it turned greenish black.

Then, I layered those little flowers on top. These flowers, by the way, are smaller than a dime in real life.

I also removed some darkness from the base layer once I had the flowers in place.

That’s all there was to it. Ha!


Sitting and playing.

T

he next day. We needed coffee. Good coffee. It turned out that a coffee house was less than two short blocks from our hotel.

Even better were the people who worked there. The were friendly and energetic. One of them took us to this place, an empty club.

Apparently, it was fully functioning until a movie production company used it to make a James Brown biopic. When they tore the set down, they gutted the building.

Those are the kinds of stories that you won’t hear if you just pass through a town, keeping to yourself. I suppose you could look around and never say a word to anybody, but what would be the fun in that?

Anyway.

This little bar or club or cafe is now being rebuilt back, good as it ever was.

One of these days we’ll pass through Natchez again and see it for ourselves. But, not this year.

T

here is some post production technique to discuss.

As you know, I’m about feeling more than seeing.

The picture was easy to make, especially if I didn’t want to show you the guitar player beyond what I did.

The club felt smokey, with a little bit of mist drifting in and out. I could see people standing around listening to the band, drinking beer and hanging out.

But, the club was empty. There wasn’t a finished wall in sight.

So, I softened everything. I made the scene glow a little bit.

The rest is in my imagination. Or, yours.


One stop shopping.

T

his is the kind of place that we saw on our drive to Natchez. That’s Mississippi, in case you were unclear on it.

Stopping at little places like this were one of the reasons the drive too so long. This place was closed. The drive would have taken longer if it had been open because the owner would talk to me and I would start a longer conversation.

If you want to take pictures in unfamiliar places that’s how you do it. Talk. Talk. Talk. Let them know that you aren’t a threat in any way.

Make your picture, thank them and move on.

Do that 15 or 20 times on a trip and it adds up to real time. On the other hand, it’s worth it. Meeting new people is always worth it. And, you may learn something about the place you are photographing.

It may not be historically accurate, but who cares? We do it for the stories we can tell. And, for this blog. Well, I do anyway.

And, then there was lunch.

We read about a legendary cafe tucked away between Highway 61 and the river. We knew the crossroad, but that’s all. It took some poking around and looking because the cafe was located in the middle of a trailer park.

That’s also the joy of this kind of travel. Even though the hangries were approaching, we had fun finding the place and eating. The food was really good. Sort of southern home style cooking.

Imagine that. Southern home cooking in the South. What’ll they think of next?

S

ince there is no technique to making a photograph like this one, other than what I wrote about talking to people, I thought that I would talk about yesterday.

I went to an appointment with a new oncologist. There was nothing wrong with the old one. I liked him a lot. But, he retired.

I kind of grilled him about the efficacy of my vaccinations as oppose to what my CLL did to them.

He looked very carefully at my blood work and saw something encouraging. My hemoglobin numbers look almost normal.

So, in the next week we are going to run a detailed panel just looking at that. If it is as we hope, there is a chance that I don’t have to stay locked down, or at least I don’t have to be quite so strict because if the hemoglobin is near normal then the vaccine will work to a point.

Have a good thought for me.


Out on the road.

L

ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

W

hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


You’ll never guess the name of this flower.

L

earn something new every day, they say. I did. I learned the name of this flower from a friend of mine who’s lived here forever.

Care to guess?

It’s an Okra blossom. I never noticed any pods, but even if I had I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at.

I always thought of the bloom as a pretty, fragile, little flower.

But, I never knew what it was.

One of these days I’m going to learn more about flowers than, “This is a yellow flower, this is a red flower… ”

This post has taken all day to write. Business got in the way. Then, Wal Mart got in the way. In an effort to keep me healthy we started using their home delivery service.

It’s supposed to be simple, it’s anything but that. Deliveries go to wrong addresses, the order might not be complete, the driver gets lost while she is standing in front of the gate.

Last night the thing turned weird. Wal Mart sent me two emails saying sorry for the delay, we’ll let you know when it is coming. The groceries are supposed to be here between 7 and 8pm.

Nothing.

Yesterday morning at 6:20 am, they sent me a list of what had been substituted because they were out of stock. This is supposed to mean that the delivery will be made within an hour.

Oh no.

I finally arrived this morning, after cancelling the original order, calling customer service four times and reordering everything. Only 36 hours late.

They forget that customer is king. The CEO of Wal Mart has an Instagram account. Guess what I did? I wrote to him outlining these problems. Then, I wrote to you.

Safe yourself some grief, don’t use Wal Mart’s delivery service.

W

alking by, I saw these flowers. They usually bloom during late spring and last through early summer.

Okra.

I suppose if I tell some young millennial chef about it, he or she will use them in place of the real thing.

Hmm… deconstructed gumbo.

There is not much to making this picture. Find the angle, frame the scene, push the button.

Back in the studio, I processed the image and cropped it. That’s what I did. Nothing more.

Sometimes, being simple is better.

That reminds me of an ancient saying I learned at least 150 years ago.

“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

That applies to the many things that we all do.

Ever get in a rush and nothing goes right? Slow down, you’ll get more done.

Getting more done, if you aren’t working until the early hours of the morning, is very affirming.

For people who are like me and are built to work it’s essential.

It may just be the start of pulling me out of this funk. That is, working until all hours of the night and getting things done that I want to get done.


The sky.

T

hey say to tell another human being. I suppose that’s what I did yesterday. I told all of you. It worked a little and it didn’t. I slept a little better, my head is a little clearer but, that giant hole is still there.

So, I called my primary care doctor and asked for a teleconference. They are big on that lately because they are trying to keep people out of their offices unless we absolutely have to be there.

Their first question when I told them why I wanted to talk to him was are you a danger to yourself or others?

Nah.

Taking my own life is not within me. Ever. There are two ways to look at that. Either I’m pretty strong emotionally even though I’m down now. Or, I’m a coward because it takes courage to end your own life.

Hurting others?

Nah.

For me, violence is only for self defense. Besides, I’m sad not mad. And, I am mostly just quiet.

Anyway, my doc and I talked for about 12 minutes, which is the normal span of an office visit. I take a medicine for pain that was originally developed as an antidepressant. He raised the dose. I’ll check in with him or his office in 72 hours.

For y’all, no worries.

A

fter looking and not seeing I pretty much gave up trying to make a few new pictures.

Then, I took the trash out. This wonderful sky is what I saw. I took a bunch of pictures.

I suppose that photographer’s luck comes into play when you aren’t trying so hard.

I wasn’t trying at all.

Editing and post production was minimal, just enough to define the clouds a little better than the original file.

This is not my usual style or work. I’m usually bolder and use more contrast than this.

This picture just sort of floats. It’s what I needed at the time.

Something light, lacy, floating and almost ephemeral.

Maybe you could use that too.


Inside out.

W

hen I awoke, I was feeling confused. Something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.The feeling passed. I let it go.

It came back when I started working. I still couldn’t place it.

I played some music. Music is magic. I takes me to other places. It inspires me. It centers me. And, if I’m lucky, it clarifies my thoughts.

That’s what it did.

I don’t know why I selected an album called “Age of Miracles,” by Mary-Chapin Carpenter. The backstory is complicated. It was her first album after leaving Columbia. It was her first album after she recovered from two pulmonary embolisms. It was the first album after her divorce.

I don’t listen to it often because she seems confused. She’s trying to break free of her country reputation, yet she falls back on it. She does sing one of the saddest songs in the word called, “I have a need for solitude.”

But, it caught me. I realized what I was missing.

And, it made me very sad.

I’ll work small to larger. You’ll understand. And, you’ll understand this picture.

I miss Sophie Rose terribly. We have other dogs, but Sophie chose me. I was her person. I feel like I let her down. I know that I didn’t. After a lot of reading, it’s very possible that she had been coming to her end for couple of months. It was just her time. But, that may give me a pass, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Then, there is my CLL, a blood cancer. It likely will never do anything terrible to me. But, it limits me. My CoVid-19 vaccinations do nothing for me. That means, no festivals, no second lines, no Indian events, no Mardi Gras.

If that isn’t depressing enough, we are back to wearing masks because our infection rate, like most of the country has grown by about 150%

Being in my condition of combined illness, sadness and depression makes it very hard to work. I can’t seem to let a picture find me and I can’t work. I have all sorts of projects that could take the rest of the year or more. You’d think I’d be excited to get started.

What do I do? I sleep.

When I finally start my day, I find everything to do but work.

In a word, it sucks.

I wish I knew the path. Maybe I’ll get lucky and stumble onto it. I doubt that. It’s bigger than letting a picture find me. It’s all of me.

Writers give advice about being authentic. Is this authentic enough?

F

or us, down in the swamp, late summer is already approaching. It’s gotten hot. It’s turned dry.

Stuff is dying.

I took a walk with a couple of the other dogs. They need walks too. I was looking for a picture. Or, was open to letting one find me.

No pictures because there is no color. The flowers die in the heat.

It’s also hard to stay motivated because after five minutes you are too hot. After ten minutes your shirt blooms with sweat.

The dogs felt it too. They were ready to turn around after they did what they needed to do.

So, that’s the technique. Walk until you can’t. Make a picture of whatever you see and return home.

The picture suits my mood.

In that way, I suppose I was successful. Or, not.


Summer rain leaves droplets on the leaves.

S

ummer is our rainy season. We had an amazing amount of rain this month. They said we had five times the normal amount of rain for a July. That’s something for us because July is very wet.

The constant rain gets a little bit tiresome, but it does yield scenes like this one. It’s a combination of nature and magic.

Look at those reds. Those blues. Those purples. Those colors are something aren’t they? They look like fall colors except that it’s July.

It’s all about the water.

I’ve written a lot about the lack of water in most of America. We don’t have that problem. We have another problem. We have too much water. We don’t take drought seriously. When we talk about it, it’s after ten days of no rain.

It’s a matter of perceptions.

Those of us in the Gulf Coast States don’t think about the lack of water when we should be thinking about how to distribute our water to people living in the west.

It’s a funny thing. I was thinking about all of the infrastructure proposals and I haven’t seen anything about water issues. Nothing. Zero. Zip.

Well, I have a proposal. Let’s move some of our unneeded water west. A series of giant pipes might be cost prohibitive, but maybe not. Not if we want fresh fruits and vegetables.

Or, maybe there’s another way. I’m not the smartest person in the room but others are. It’s time we start thinking about this. It’s time for those smart folks to get going.

After all, we all get thirsty.

T

his picture didn’t take much post production. I made the picture as I saw it and added a bit of color that the sensor couldn’t seem to see.

But, I only added enough color to make the photograph look like the scene that caught my attention so that you can see it too.

I had to be careful because these rich blues, reds and purples are some of my favorite colors. My natural inclination is to take them too far.

That’s the trick sometimes, knowing when to stop. Maybe that’s the trick with everything in life. Knowing when to stop.

I dunno. I’m just thinking out loud.

Maybe I should stop.

O

ne more thing. You knew it. I couldn’t stop.

Seriously, after a lot of thought, I’m staying here on WordPress.

The basic community building theory is what’s most important. I know a lot of you here. I can’t build that again, because it’s only taken me eleven years.

There’s more too. It’ll take a lot of time to build anything. Time is short these days. Time is expensive. No matter how you use it.


Darkness at the edge of town.

O

bviously, I made this picture a while ago, like in winter. I tucked it away and you’ve never seen it. I’m starting to work through that collection now.

Unfortunately for me, these pictures are scattered throughout the last few months which means that I have to find them. Hard to do when you’ve forgotten about them. That’s how the infamous lost files are found.

This is a prime example of me seeing a scene for what it could be and making that happen in post production. It’s very likely the sky was pale winter blue and the foreground in good light.

That’s fine.

But, it doesn’t always fulfill my photographic needs. In fact, the deeper my journey becomes the more I want to make pictures that express my vision.

Usually, that doesn’t mean making a documentary style photograph. Nor, does it mean just throwing a couple of filters on a picture and calling it done.

The best of my work is brought about by thinking about, and then working, on the picture.

That doesn’t always happen.

I get rushed. I don’t think clearly. Even worse, I don’t feel clearly. I believe that you, the viewer or reader, can tell that. You see right through me.

At least that’s what I think.

N

ow, here are some technical issues to overcome.

First, as I wrote on the other side, the picture was made in color.

As I also wrote, the image was made in pale winter light. It was pretty enough, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

So, I thought about it and decided it might look like winter feels. Brooding. Moody. Even scary.

I took out as much color as I could. But, if you notice, not all.

Then I softened the sky and enhanced the silhouetted subjects.

I blurred everything to soften the feel.

That’s it. That’s enough.

How about those of you who are photographers? How do you achieve your vision?


Free falling.

T

oday got rolling just about the time I got up. I told you that I was going to get busy. I didn’t think that I meant right this second.

I thought I could cruise into the work a little bit at a time. Silly me.

I made my first mistake when I started listening to music. I started with something soft, slow and nostalgic. I almost couldn’t get started. I switched things up. I started Playing a playlist called “Ray’s Mix.”

Yeah. That’s me. I made it when I thought making play lists on Spotify was important. It’s loud. It’s s noisy. And, I know all the words.

Anyway.

This one will keep me working for hours.

I’ll keep this short. Work awaits.

Darn.

D

o you want technique? This one should fill you up. To the top.

The picture really is about nothing. Since all art is autobiographical what does that say about me?

That aside, this was a picture made from desperation. Or, it was an attempt to come back from wandering in the wilderness.

I made the picture, developed it and thought, “Now what?”

I removed a lot of color and muted it. Then, I tinkered around with different modification filters until I came to this place.

The picture highlights something I’ve been saying, and saying, and saying…

Go outside and take a picture. You’ll find one, or it will find you.


Asit shall be.

T

here is a lot of talk about water, especially in the West. Climate change is creating havoc, not only with heat, but with fire and the use of water.

In New Mexico the famous acequia system that provides water to farms has all but dried up.

In California farmers are deciding which crops to grow and what livestock to raise because they have no water.

In Nevada, the water that is backed up into Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam is as low as its been since it was originally filled. In the 1930s.

Meanwhile, the fire in Oregon has turned the skies of New York City gray. The pictures look great with a big bright orange sun up against a deep grey sky. But, pictures can be deceiving. How is that hurting the people of the city?

There are wildfires all over the west.

if we want, we can return to the heat. This’ll make you hot.

The West Coast was broiling a couple of weeks ago. In Death Valley, the highest temperature ever — 135*/F — was recorded one day. In Las Vegas, which is hot enough on a summer day, temperatures of 116* were recorded at 10 am.

If you can’t tell, this stuff is scaring me.

In Louisiana things seem to be normal. If anything, we are having a coolish summer with lots of rain. Of course, the minute I write that, the temperature will rise by ten degrees and the humidity will climb to numbers unknown.

If we don’t want to put our children in hell, we’ve got to get on this.

Now.

Droplets.

T

echniques and stuff. See it, photograph it, develop it, publish it.

There. Now wasn’t that helpful?

Truthfully, I made this in New Mexico, during a spring thaw.

I photographed it with a huge aperture, probably F 2 or so. That’s why there is such a tiny depth of field.

That’s all you need to know.

The rest of this side is about me. It’s about nostalgia. The pictures I’ve been publishing are of my past.

I’m not motivated to make much new work. You know why.

But, I am very nostalgic. I think I’m seeing the past fairly clearly.

This may be time to add to my pile of work.

Over the past few years some people are saying… Wait a minute. That sounds strangely like the words of the president who shall not be named.

Some of my friends have suggested that I write a book. My response has been fairly standard. “I have nothing to say.”

I’m thinking as this stuff rolls around in my head that maybe I could do it. Maybe it’s about me and what I’ve learned along the way. Maybe, you read about me. But you expand it to you, or something more general.

After all, that how most movies are made. Focus on a particular subject as a symbol for something greater.

O

h yeah. The picture to the right. More water. It was made in southeastern Louisiana. I added it because it was there.


Daybreaks.

S

ometimes it pays to cover old ground. One day I drove out to an odd section of the Ninth Ward.

I parked as close to the levee as i could get and walked into the neighborhood which is known as Holy Cross. I saw the wonderful light and stopped.

I made about three frames and moved on.

Then, I stopped for coffee at a favorite place that was just coming back after a lot of years following Hurricane Katrina.

Sure enough, I ran into a couple of folks that I know. We started talking. We mostly talked about what happened in the years following the storm.

Then, nothing.

Our lives had changed so much that we had nothing to say. How could we relate to each other’s stories?

We tried.

One of us suggested that we meet for a meal soon. I mumbled something about we’ll see and I will be out of town from September though mid-December.

The last part is true. Maybe. If the virus doesn’t do what a lot of scientists and doctors said it will, which is to explode into the worst surge yet with some 300,000 people getting sick per day.

Most of them doubt that we can stop this by getting vaccinated late in the game. I guess that’s another we’ll see.

It may be worse for me and mine. We live in a blue city that lies within a red state. Apparently, New Orleans has reached very near to the 70% threshold. The rest of the state is down in the low to mid-thirties.

Most of Louisiana follows the rest of the south. Mississippi and Alabama have even lower numbers than we do. As I recall, only Virginia has anywhere near the numbers we need to manage the virus.

I suspect that Virginia’s numbers are good because of the Beltway and all the people in the northern region of the state.

My very elderly neighbors may be proven right. There is no lost cause. There is just a continuation of the Civil War and the South shall rise — or sink — again.

T

he technique is simple. Wait for the right light. Be patient and wait.

Or, you can be like me and just get lucky.

That’s photographer’s luck. Luck that you make just by going out and roaming around.

I have a friend who is very frustrated. He lives near Tampa, a place where is so much to photograph. He mostly makes pictures of sunsets.

I don’t know why he limits himself. He doesn’t either.

That’s not the frustrating part for him. He and his wife are cruisers. Most countries aren’t allowing people from certain other countries in their borders.

That means no, or very limited, cruise ships.

He thinks he has to sail to Italy, spend a few days photographing whatever else does and move on to — oh, I don’t know — Spain and do the same thing.

That would be great if he found the places that tourists don’t go, but he doesn’t.

What’s the point?

Sheesh.

In Tampa there’s Ybor City. It isn’t as funky as it used to be, but there’s still good stuff to photograph.

Photograph it. Dammit.

That’s my technical discussion for today. Go take a picture of some stuff. Good stuff.


Turn and frayed.

T

he original image is ancient. I was playing around during a snowstorm in New Mexico. It was one of my picture a day images.

It’s shredded newspaper.

Everything came together at once. I need to make a picture and I had a new shredder that I wanted to test.

So, I shredded up a lot of newspaper and made a few pictures.

This was the result. Something huge for your wall. Maybe even wallpaper. Of course, your house would have to be able to pull it off. I’m not sure what kind of house that might be.

I’m thinking something very modern, all in white except for one wall. This wall. The one with shredded newspaper as wallpaper.

I make no claims about being an interior designer. My idea of covering walls is to fill them with framed art until there isn’t any more room and then rotate pictures in and out. The goal is to keep much of my work off the walls as possible.

After all, I know what my work looks like. I want to know what your work looks like.

I used to do some trading here. I thought we were doing a simple transaction. Mine for yours. Yours for mine. I didn’t work out that way. I’d send mine. I never received yours.

So, I stopped dong that. The experiment failed as most do here. I’m not sure why that happens. I have my theories, but I’ll leave that alone unless you really want to know and ask.

A

s I look at this picture a lot of memories come flooding back.

I’m one of those unfortunates who remembers everything.

Sometimes those ghosts are friendly. Often they are not.

Today is one of those days when they aren’t friendly. The biggest memory is why I moved to New Mexico in the first place.

We are a little over a month from the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina changing life as we knew it in New Orleans.

I’d wanted to retire in New Mexico. That would have been a good thing. It wasn’t good because of the way I went there.

I wasn’t done with New Orleans. I missed everything about it.

I remember my first Mardi Gras there. A parade was held in Old Town at the plaza. I got all excited.

What a come down it was. There was one cart that was supposed to be a float and a few people walking with it.

Luckily, it was held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day. I hopped on an airplane and got back to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras Day.

It was glorious. Most of us hadn’t returned to the city yet. The city was in shambles. The parades were small. The Zulus had been scattered to the four corners of the country. Somebody paid for The Shaka Zulus to come from South Africa to replace them.

But, man did we celebrate. We were alive. As Mardi Gras Indians say, “Won’t bow down. Don’t know how.”

That’s what’s in my head today. I don’t know why. I suppose that it’s a kind of PTSD that comes and goes whenever it feels like it.

It’s one of those things that inspires me to say, “Control is overrated.”

It is.

You must be wondering about technique by now. There really isn’t any. Shred all the newspapers you have in the house and take picture of the remains.

That’s it.

A perfect picture of the newspaper industry as it stands today.


Suddenly it hits you.

L

isten to it. This photograph feels like a song. For me, it’s a Steely Dan song. For others it’s probably something different.

It helps that Sunday afternoons — when I write Storyteller’s Monday post — is generally Steely Dan day. I usually listen to one or two albums will I develop, process and work on post production before I get ready to write.

When I write, I turn the music up louder. It works. I tried to listen to podcasts while I wrote. My words got confused with their words so I gave it up. For a while I tried listening to a podcast while I read something else.

Can you say word salad?

It sounded like a politicians trying to speak out of both sides of mouth at once. Or tweeting, or something like that.

Anyway, Steel Dan seems to work with this picture. I could drop lyrics anywhere into my so-called prose and it might make sense or certainly fit.

Drive west on Sunset…

A little more Sunday magic.

Y

ou’d think this was some super duper post production thing.

Maybe a layer or two.

It’s not.

The entire image was made in camera. It was adjusted in post, but it wasn’t added to, subtracted from or layered on any way.

I swear.

Let’s talk about another technique.

Writing.

It seems brighter to me today. I suppose it helps that I drank a double espresso before I started writing.

The thing is, I’ve been sleeping too much. I’ll sleep for 9 or 10 hours, start reading and sleep for 2 or 3 more.

I suspect it’s simply the stress of these last 18 months leaving my body.

There could be worse ways.


Magical night.

P

laying. Having fun. Tinkering. Messing around. That’s some of what we should be doing. But, often we get sucked into making a living. Or, we really get sucked into the gear of the thing.

Experimenting and playing is what Storyteller is about, has always been about. Oh sure, a client or two has found me here. Or, I’ve sold a couple of photographs to private collectors.

That’s it.

I’m trying to make a big decision. You heard about this in the past. I’ve been quietly building a new website.

It’s a portfolio-commercial site that contains a blog within the website itself. Oh for sure, I’ll take all of you with me who want to come along.

Some of you would like me to stay here. That’s humbling. If I send you an email link that takes you to the new site you shouldn’t see a difference, except you probably won’t be able to “like” a post without commenting.

That’s not the real question.

Actually, there’s two. Will a semi-folksy blog like Storyteller confuse the commercial users? Will LaskowitzPictures confuse the folksy readers?

And, the bigger question.

What is this new website? Do I continue to publish a lot of New Orleans pictures? Or, travel pictures? Or, a giant portfolio from 45 years past?

Or, should I go with my instincts? And, make the site about artistic pictures?

Or? Or? Or?

Please, you tell me what you think. Please.

L

et’s assume that Storyteller becomes an art website and an artistic blog.

See where I am really going with this? Heh!

There are many forms of art.

Some are like these layered things that I’ve been doing a lot over many years. See the picture.

Others are minimalist, almost Zen-like in nature.

Others are a collection of dark, moody and mysterious pictures that I’ve been making.

Do I show a small portfolio of each of them? Could I turn those portfolios into more pictures with a click on the original image? Like a tree with branches?

Do I know how to do that coding and linking?

Does anyone?


Summer skies.

W

alking around yesterday for the first time in a long time revealed a very pretty sky framed by a few nice Live Oaks.

I chose a time somewhat close to dusk because, well you know, the light s usually pretty olden, If not that, then the light very golden. In the picture the light is kind of a mixture of both.

I think that was just timing. Or, photographer’s luck. Actually, at this time of day it’s usually both.

T

hat’s it for me.

I have a little infection in my gums. I’m taking and antibiotic for that, but it is very painful. The doc gave me an antibiotic and a pain killer. It’s the same medicine that the late Sophie Rose when she had a gum infection. It’s just a little different dosage.

It’s a thick liquid that comes in a bottle and is applied with aa syringe.

My gums are no longer painful. But, I’m lucky that I can sit up and write this.

Hopefully, I won’t need it tomorrow,

I

looked up and saw the sky framed by the tree.

It was actually framed on both sides, but I cropped it enough to allow the picture to become a very deep vertical photograph.

I also made the yellow clouds a little darker and richer.

I opened up the tree that was questionable when the black was plugged up and looked like a black mass.

The i added a frame to ut and I was done.

But, am I?


N

ormally, you would see Our Lady of Guadalupe paintings in some Southwestern State, usually in New Mexico.

I was surprised to see this one in the Seventh Ward. This location was heavily flooded during the storm. When I made the picture there was mud, and gravel and leftover bits and pieces covering the streets.

A few people returned to their homes and were working on them to make them whole. It’s likely that one of them sprayed out that tag on the building. That tells the tagger that somebody cares. It doesn’t stop them from doing it again, but it may make them think.

The guys who tag buildings are smart, said no one ever. They could come back and get caught in he act. No telling what would happen then if they were caught.

So, there is some CoVid-19 news in New Orleans. Apparently, the virus has increased by 53% over the previous week. It’s mostly the Delta variant. The city is talking about requiring masks in certain situations and they are thinking forward to fall when it’s likely to surge.

This fall is very busy. Voodoo Festival bowed out until next year. But, French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest are scheduled to take place over three weekends. The city said that there may have to be some modifications to crowd numbers, or — ouch, ouch, ouch — the festivals may have to be cancelled. That’ll make four tries over two years for Jazzfest.

Since none of this is firm, Jazzfest is moving head and today The Jazz and Heritage Foundation announced the daily schedules.

The biggest fear may be that if there is fall viral surge that any of these festivals could become a super spreader event.

It’s all guess work ay this point, so stay tuned.

O

bviously, this picture didn’t take much post production.

It didn’t take much photo technique either.

All I did was see it, be surprised at what I saw, and make the picture. I got back in my car and drove away.

I should have investigated further. There are two sheets of paper posted to the left hand side of the picture, where the diagonal door is located. Those will tell you the disposition of the building.

I like to know those things in case I want to come back before it is demolished. In this case, I’d likely have had some time because demolitions didn’t start for another few years.

This building is a good candidate for destruction because the boarded up window looks like it was closed well before the storm.

One of these days I should return and find out what really happened.

One of these days.


I

showed this picture another similar one to a friend of mine who plays in the gallery world. He said these pictures are worth a lot in that world.

I suppose, but I really don’t see it. I made these pictures because they were there to be made. Eventually, these pictures will become parts of a book. I certainly never saw them as having interest in the art world.

I’m not even sure they are worth much in the so-called photography fine art world. So-called because a photographer claims to be a fine art guy and shows a picture of a sunset or something just as banal as that. How is that art of any kind?

All art is autobiographical. The viewer brings meaning to it. That’s how it works. How is a sunset that 239 people photographed autobiographical?

I like sunsets well enough. I rarely photograph them because most are mundane. But, when the sky goes crazy I’m out there with everybody else. I never think of that work as fine art. If that is fine art what is Van Gogh or Degas?

There is a group of galleries that do show and sell photography as art, but it is nothing like a sunset picture or a snapshot of a flower. The photographers who they represent are artists in sheep’s clothing.

I just don’t see my pictures of broken buildings as a match for them. Maybe they are.

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Heh!

T

here isn’t much that qualifies as technical in this picture.

But, there is a technique to making a picture like this.

Most of these abandoned places are in funky neighborhoods. You have to be careful.

You need to use situational awareness.

Look in all of your car’s mirrors before you get out. When you get out head straight to your subject with that photographer’s swagger I wrote about a few days ago.

Then, pull out your weapon and fire a few rounds in the air. That’s how we greet each other in New Orleans.

Of course, I’m kidding.

Guns bring more guns. Never shoot one in broken neighborhoods or any neighborhood. Just look into a passerby’s eye and nod pleasantly.

There have been times when I’ve done that only to get a reply back, “Hey Mister Photographer do you remember me? You took a picture of me at so so second line. Do you think I could get a picture?”

Then, in this case, he said there are too many dealers — and he points to a group of houses — and then said, “I’ll just hang wicha while you take pictures.”

He had my back. He got his pictures.


Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


One night, lonely.

S

ometimes the pictures are better along the way rather than at the event I was going to.

I was going to photograph Krewe du Vieux which is one of the earliest parades of Carnival. The parade was as I expected, too crowded and nowhere to do work arounds. Oh yeah, with the exception of a few pools of light, everything was in shadows.

I made some okay pictures at the parade, but this was the best picture of the night. It’s prime French Quarter. It’s got a food store that mostly sells alcohol, a bike and a guy in a hoody waiting to do God knows what.

I think this was the beginning of Mardi Gras 2020, which means two months before we were blamed for holding a massive super spreader event before anybody knew what CoVid 19 could do.

It was so weird back then. In many ways, I’m glad I stayed out of the crowds as best I could. Which brings me to…

We’ve been watching a Netflix produced three season show called “Formula 1-1, Drive to Survive.” It’s a deep story about the story of Grand Prix drivers and the teams behind them. It’s very, very good.

We are into the third season. 2020. It took us right back to the confusion of the early days of the pandemic.

The first event starts in Australia, where the drivers and teams have just started hear about this new virus. They had no idea what to do.

Quick backstory. The drivers are great athletes. The train in all sorts of ways to handle the stress of driving a car at 200 mph without dying. They are smart as hell. And, they are personable.

Back to the story. One driver finds out that the virus is called Corona Virus. He walks over to a hospitality tent, pulls out a bunch of beers, hands them all around and he kiddingly says, “This will take care of it.” Corona Beer.

Anyway.

The first five events are cancelled. Everybody goes home. The first Grand Prix is held in Austria. Everything has changed. The teams are wearing masks. The drivers, who normally sign autographs with whatever pen they are given, tell their fans they can’t use other people’s pens.

Keep in mind, this is real life. There are no actors.

One more story.

In 2019, there is a heartbreaking accident. It starts out with Lewis Hamilton (at the time he was four time world champion and the face of Formula 1 Motorsports. He’s now six time champion and still the face of the sport.) He’s casually talking to some media and looking up at a monitor. He says, “Oh wow,” and stops the interview. His eyes were wide open.

There was a horrible accident. When Netflix didn’t show it, I knew. There was a fatality. A young driver racing in the Formula 2 category was killed.

The next scenes are heart rending. Drivers, like anyone who does something dangerous, are brothers. It doesn’t matter if they are normally competitors. They gathered on the track, in circle. They prayed. They shared stories about the driver. His helmet was on a stand. One by one they put their hands on it as they left to go to their cars.

Then, they drove as hard as they could.

Y’

all know what I’m going to say about this picture. There’s nothing to it. Except that I can hand hold a camera in available darkness.

You probably can’t.

One day I won’t be able to hand hold a camera at night. That might be now since I haven’t tried in a long time.

We’ll have to test that out one night.

But, not tonight.

I have other work to do since I slept on and off until 2:39 pm.

That’s what watching Netflix will do.

It was some start to my very busy schedule. I’ll start tonight and work tomorrow and catch up.

I think.

Let’s get back to the picture for a minute.

One of the reasons I learned to hand hold a camera is because of a theory called, “Shoot and scoot.”

That means if I keep moving there is a lesser chance of being mugged or killed for my photo gear and my wallet.

Think about it. Using a tripod forces me to stay in one place, maybe for too long. On the other hand, it could be used as a weapon if the timing was right.

I’d rather not need to do that.

So, I make a few pictures and move on. I tuck my camera under my shoulder so that in low light it’s not easily seen.

It’s worked for a long time.

Then, there’s the swagger theory.

It works this way. Working photographers sometimes develop a pretty good way of walking, like a swagger, but not. It works best, when you’ve got about a third of cigar in your mouth and are surrounded by smoke.

Nobody messes with that.


Urbex deluxe.

U

rbex deluxe.

I wrote that in the picture’s caption and I liked it so well that I made it the lead line. I’m thinking it could be a good name for a band.

Anyway.

My past is coming back to haunt me. I used to photograph a lot of urbex, or urban exploration for the uninitiated. A publisher reached out to me. He wants to know if I was interested in publishing a book.

Interested? Sheesh. WordPress claims 90,000,000 users. Probably, 89,999,000 of us hope to publish a book.

But, I have a problem. I’m already committed to another publisher for two books of a very similar nature.

Hmmm…

For months of the lockdown, most of us were so bored that we gained 894 pounds per every three houses. Now, I have more work than I can do for the remaining year.

Because.

I haven’t told you about a picture agency who reached out to me. They are in a small sort of backroom corner of the picture business. They are hard to find.

They distribute and market the kinds of pre-framed art that you see in big box stores and online. This is where the money lies. Really big money because… well, think of it this way, companies line up to sell products through Wal Mart. Why do think that is?

While companies like Wal Mart set the price structure and keep the margins slim, this company has already negotiated those deals.

They found my work on websites like Art.com. An old agency distributed some of my work into websites like that. The agency doesn’t exist and now I have to ask for payment if they made any sales. This is going to take some inspection.

A new hobby.

Back to the mass distributing agency. This means that I don’t have to chase around trying to make new pictures. They want my archives.

This is a giant retirement fund that exists separate from my own retirement fund. That was the dream of photographers who made pictures for stock agencies. When those agencies were scooped up by bigger agencies and the market collapsed, those dreams died.

Maybe those dreams live again.

I just knew that my archives were worth something.

T

his is an example of urbex photography. This one of the few times that I had partners with me.

They were friends of friends. They were young which made them think that they were bulletproof.

Fine with me.

They had my back while I made pictures. We spent a day doing that.

Normally a day is way too long for me. I kind of reach my limit at about three hours.

But, they were driving so I could relax in between locations.

This bar/club was located at the end of Desire Street. Yeah, this neighborhood was the terminus of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The city has been cleaning up this little bit of the parish. First, Club Desire was torn down. That broke my heart although after hurricanes and storms there wasn’t too much left inside that could be restored.

A couple of ruined buildings across the street were torn down including the only gas station for a couple of miles.

This bar was located about a block away from Club Desire. I haven’t been there for a while so I have no idea if this building stands or if it met the wrecking crew’s ball.

Anyway, the story is better than the technique. Wait for the people to be about where you want them and press the button.

Expose for the shadows and open up by 1/3 of a stop.

That’s it. No post production required.


The rainy season.

W

et. That’s what late June and July are in Southeast Louisiana, wet. If we aren’t getting a lot of rain, the skies are gray and the air is very humid.

So far, we’ve been lucky. The temperatures haven’t risen above 90 degrees except on two days and that was the high. If we didn’t have the humidity, we’d have some pretty pleasant days.

I was coming out of The French Quarter, waiting for a stop light and saw the scene in front of me. I turned off my wipers to let the water build up, raised my camera to my eye and what should happen? A businessman walked in front of me holding an umbrella.

That’s photographer’s luck.

If I hadn’t been out and about this wouldn’t have happened in front of me. There would have been no luck involved. There would have been no picture.

As one photographer says, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.”

You can’t stand in front of better stuff while you are watching your 72 inch television.

I wasn’t exactly standing, but I put myself in a position to make a fairly good rainy day picture.

Stand in front of better stuff.

O

n the left side I told you my theory of making pictures. Go outside and put yourself in front of better stuff.

That’s my photo making theory.

What I really did was make a loop from the Garden District through a bit of Treme and into The French Quarter.

As I left the Quarter, I drove through the CBD and part of Central City, where I turned, crossed the streetcar tracks and went home.

That took me a couple of hours. I could have driven faster, but what’s the point? I wouldn’t see anything. You know, that better stuff.

I think I made a total of six pictures that I liked well enough. And, this picture that I like a lot.

Development and post production was easy, taking care to sharpen the raindrops.


New Mexican delight.

D

ream or nightmare, you tell me. I’m going with nightmare and I’ll tell you why. You know that I post most of my tales the afternoon before the publishing date.

I sat down at 1 pm to start editing the picture. It is now 5:43 pm. The computer just gave me hell when the night previous, it was smooth and fast. It wouldn’t load. Every app gave me a hard time.

I finally rebooted the computer and that took three tries. OnOne took four tries to load. WordPress, for once, worked as as expected.

I don’t understand what happened. Apple suggests that you put the computer to sleep for extended periods of non use. I did that.

Apple says this because it takes a good 30 minutes to reboot from a cold start. Even when it is finished, apps don’t respond very quickly.

It could be the age of the computer. But, I’ll tell you this. We bought a refurbed Hewlett Packard Windows 10 computer just as a test. It runs smoother and faster than my main machine ever ran.

Here’s what happened. While Apple was making smartphones and watches, they weren’t paying attention to what should be their core product, computers. They made tiny, incremental changes while Windows products were getting better by leaps and bounds.

The latest iMacs reflect that trend. There is a new chip. But, the really big deal, apparently, is now they come in about five colors. Like that’ll help.

There is a new iMac coming out sometime soon. That’s supposed to have the big upgrades. We’ll see. It probably means five more colors.

Along with my change of blogging location I might as well just switch to a Windows product. After all, Windows 11 is supposed to look like an Apple desktop.

I probably won’t notice the difference except it’ll be much faster.

T

here is a lot of manipulating and technical work that went into this photographic piece of art.

The original picture is simple. It’s an old blue Chevy pickup truck parked in front of an abode building.

I started tinkering with it. Slowly at first, then I went a little crazy.

It may seem like I did everything possible to it. I stopped just before that. But, honestly, I do not remember adding that film strip to the bottom of it.

I must have been in a fine frenzy.

Whatever happened, is the result of going out of my mind. But, not knowing it at the time.

And, here’s more technical nonsense just in case you haven’t had enough.

We’ve decided to not pay so much to cool the house during a normal Southeast Louisiana summer.

The electric bills can be outrageous.

So, we set the thermostat to 75 degrees.

I’m freezing.

Maybe my thermostat is broken.

Sheesh. It’s always something.


Into the light.

E

xperiments are something that helps me to create art. Sometimes I succeed. Other times I fail. That’s okay. That’s how I learn.

Instead of thinking the project was useless, I’ve learned over time that there are no useless days, nor are there useless projects.

However, that doesn’t mean that I have to publish my failures. I see that all the time, especially on Facebook or Instagram. A couple of my friends who photograph New Orleans culture are racing to see who can post the most pictures.

I hate to say this, but well over 50% of the pictures that they post are not very good. Many of them are just plain boring.

That’s not really my business. Do what you want.

For me, less is more. Make a lot of pictures on the scene. Edit them loosely. Then run through them again and again until you are down to about 0.3% of the total take. That’s where the best pictures hide.

Publish, post, or share them.

Trust me. At the very least you won’t bore your followers and friends. At best, maybe you’ll fool them into thinking you are a great photographer.

T

he subject is a magnolia. They grow all over the South.

I photographed just a portion of the flower.

I removed all of the detail making the subject into a graphic shape.

Then I lowered the overall exposure until the color appeared. The colors that you are seeing where there all the time. They weren’t enhanced.

Over the years of color work, I’ve learned to predict which way the colors will go.

Living things, especially as found in nature tend to go toward the warm side.

But, something found in the shade will move toward the cold side.

Keep that on mind the next time that you are photographing around.


Looking for something.

N

ew work. It’s been a little while. I took myself for a walk. I went to a little park that has benches, sat down and took some time for myself.

The bench that I sat was our favorite bench. It belonged to the all seeing dog, Sophie Rose. I don’t know what it did for my recovery process, but I started seeing the little things.

So, I made these pictures and a few more. Then, I went to the doctor. No worries, it was just a wellness check. I passed with semi-flying colors.

When I returned, I made more pictures. Just because. Because I believe in a little routine and doing something photographic every single day. That’s how you get better. That’s how you get good.

I haven’t been doing that lately. It shows.

I’ve been reading about photography as a healing an recovery tool. If for no other reason those of you who are photographers should make pictures, or do something photographic every day.

Do you?

T

here is really nothing to these pictures. They are simple. They are about trees. They are about nature. They are about rebirth.

Rebirth is important to me right now.

There is a little post production going on in both pictures that are very different processes.

The top image is light, sunny and playful. The bottom image is darker, more moody.

Of course nature helped a lot. Light comes and goes and comes back again especially in the summer.

Nature helped my creative process.

One day.


My places.

N

o patience. That describes my attitude these days. I have almost no tolerance for technical issues and yet I know better.

I understand that everything made by man eventually breaks. That’s why there are so many service people. Mechanics, technicians, plumbers, the Maytag repairman, even doctors are working because stuff breaks.

Thinking about leaving WordPress I realized it’s not about the platform. Most of the time it is solid and stable. What aggravates me is the constant changing of workflow. That, and the lack of communication about those changes.

I know one thing about being creative. We need some sort of routine on which to hang our imagination. If the routine changes frequently all we are doing is swimming in place.

It’s one thing to shake things up in order to jump start the creative process, it’s another thing to be perpetually confused.

Take the block system for instance. What was wrong with the older so called classic template?

Nothing.

The block system is supposed to be faster. Nonsense. At best, it’s just a bit slower than the classic system. At worst, it creates extra work because it crashes or traps type, or traps drop caps.

Yes, I know there is a classic template in the block inserter. But, it’s a very early version. It may predate me.

So, that’s it.

I’ll discuss the picture on the other side.

T

his picture is more about feeling and a bit of nostalgia than any type of documentary work.

There are two images layered into one. As usual I was tinkering with number of pictures when all of a sudden it came together.

That happens sometimes when you put the work in. But, you have to put the work into your art. No work, no art.

The pictures in their literal form are of Mardi Gras beads on a fence, and of Kowloon, Hong Kong.

It’s nostalgic. It’s about looking back at my life and understanding that I likely won’t do these things again unless a vaccine is developed for people like me. That will take the federal government’s help. I’m not holding my breath.

I don’t know what you see or feel when you look at this image. After all, you bring your own life to the picture when you view it.

They say that all art is autobiographical. If this photograph isn’t that, I don’t know what is.


New Orleans downtown from Central City

T

his very well could be my last post if the software causes another break down. Make no mistake, this isn’t hard for me. I’ve been doing this for years… and years.

It’s funky, nasty, poorly designed software from WordPress that is causing me grief. Every time I start to think that I should just stay over here, WordPress screws up again.

So.

I’ll be over to my new website and blog very early next week. The site address is laskowitzpictures.com just as it’s been for years, WordPress not with standing.

I made this pictures a few years ago, during a Central City festival. I photographed the usual things then I started thinking about the city skyline from there. I used a long lens, probably a 300 mm to compress everything as much as I could.

Then, I let it sit for years until last night when I needed to process a few pictures. I thought the this might be a good picture to post on Storyteller.

It turns out that it wasn’t but I’ll tell you about that on the other side.

O

n the other side.

There’s a lot of technique to discuss.

The picture that I found in one of my archives was too small.

After I worked on it in Snapseed, where I layered it in sort of an offset pattern, and shipped it to OnOne, I immediately uprezed it. That’s short hand for resizing a picture to be a bigger size. There is a resizing module on OnOne that used to be called Genuine Fractiles.

Genuine Fractiles was state of the art software about twenty years ago. It was sold, improved, resold and improved until I guess OnOne bought it.

I did the usual finishing work on color, contrast and depth.


Seeing the flag.

T

his post started down a different path. I was going to post a whole bunch of flag pictures. As I was organizing this page I’ve been listening to an Audible book.

The book is called, “How to Write One Song” by Jeff Tweedy, the founder and front man of the band Wilco. The book is about creativity and what that really takes.

So, I began again.

I thought about America and what we are. We are people. All people. White, Black, Brown, Yellow and Purple.

Purple?

That’s my way of saying either everyone matters or nobody matters.

Here’s a little portfolio for your Fourth of July viewing pleasure. For those of you in countries that today is just another day, please enjoy my work.

M

y pictures in this little portfolio are what I saw on a particular day.

The technique is simple.

F 8 and be there. I go out and make pictures.

I have a pre-photographing routine that opens my eyes and heart and turns off my brain.

The resulting images were made by using that non photographing routine.

And, a bit of photographer’s luck.

Early morning breakfast stop.


T

here haven’t been very many new pictures made this week. I haven’t been inspired or pushed out the door, which is the usual fix.

I was working in my so-called digital studio when I saw the afternoon light playing on the walls. I just photographed what I saw. You are seeing some of it now.

An espresso cup, mini blind, Alexa and a test print, and the light underneath two photographs that first caught my eye.

All things around me.

Don’t ask about the mini blinds. They came with the house. I was going to change them out, but they are great for shutting out light so they live on to blind me to the light on another day.

Alexa needs cleaning. The print above it is a test print. There are two tests going on. The first is that it’s an early smartphone picture enlarged to 13×13 inches. It held up just fine.The second is a longevity test. It’s been hanging for six years. No fading yet.

The brick wall is where I first noticed the light and the lightbulb went off. Pictures. Pictures. Pictures.

And the espresso cup. What can I say? What is there to say?

Let this whole exercise be a lesson to me. There are always pictures floating around. They just have to find you.

M

y question was how far to take these images in post production.

The answer was not very far.

All I really did was clean things up.

That was enough.

I also tested a different kind of picture grouping template. I don’t see that it’s anything different than I could have done by hand.

I suppose that normally I’d have a big picture followed by three smaller ones.

But, that’s about it.

I am very, very slowly starting to use this block (head) system. I’m just not sure that it’s worth the time.


Nature’s art.

J

uly is the month that you really know where you are; Southeast Louisiana. This is when your windows always have condensation producing water droplets in the morning.

That’s what you see as I look into the garden. Later in the day this dries out and you can see reality again. Not that reality is such a big deal. These days, like so many of you, I think that reality bites.

I just don’t want to deal with anything hard these days. I avoid them as much as possible. Sleep, once came with difficult, now seems easy to come by. That’s not me. I’m usually a six hour a day sleeper. Now, I am a ten hour a day sleeper.

I’m not feeling fatigued. I start reading anything and pretty soon I start to drive and think, “This feels good” and I’m gone.

I did it yesterday. I started working around 8am. I took a break at 11:30am. I thought I’d read the news. I awoke at 3:30pm. Huh? Where am I?

And you?

T

his is the anti-technology column today.

My new iPhone has a 90 day no questions asked return policy.

I might use that.

I’m not sure if it’s me, or the sensor or the lens, but it makes photo files that are almost unusable.

My first attempt at in phone processing of this image was terrible. Even after turning down the contrast to the bare minimum all the darks where clumped into an unreadable mass.

So, I download a completely unprocessed file and worked on it in OnOne, barely doing anything.

That worked.


An autumn walk through a forest.

O

nce, awhile back, I used to walk through a forest like place. In truth it is a park but most of it was left as wild land.

It’s a great place to walk because there are measured distances. You chose the trail that you wanted and you could walk from one to three miles.

Along the way you could walk near railroad tracks, you could see a modern all metal sided performance venue. Or, if you walked further you could see the New Orleans Saints training field and their business offices. You could even see the so-called Shrine on Airline. That was a AAA baseball stadium.

Unfortunately, the team called The Babycakes — Yeah, I know what kind of name is that — moved on to greener pastures.

There was hope of getting a new team, but first MLB cut the number of minor league teams and then the pandemic arrived. We’ll see what happens next.

It is currently used as a rugby pitch and for local high school football games.

I like walking through the most natural areas which is how I found this scene. Obviously, it was autumn when I did that. And, yes, this is another “lost” photograph that Amazon Pictures found.

T

he biggest issue in making this picture is one of focus.What stay sharp?What goes soft?

In those days I used a Canon G9 as a walk around camera. It worked like any DSLR. I loved that little camera to the point that I used it up

Anyway.

I decided to keep the bark and moss as sharp as possible because it’s in the foreground and let rest go a little soft in order to make the details in the tree pop out.

That worked.

Post production work was fairly simple. I toned down the red leaves because they were too bright and too red. I sharpened the tree as much as possible without going too far.

I usually go too far.

E

ditor’s note.This is the closest that I’ve come to giving up and thinking the hell with it. For some reason unknot to me, the paragraphs became trapped in a little block. If you tried to edit the words, the entire paragraph was deleted. I have no idea what I did to restore it back to normal.

I also found out why I kept think the text seemed light. That because it was. Apparently, the default setting is a light gray. Black text on a white background is considered to be the easiest to read. Of course, Word %&@# press knows better. I’d better tell all the designers with whom I’ve ever worked.


Garden of Prayer.

N

ew Orleanians understand death. We mourn and we celebrate. We actually like our cemeteries. Personally, I like the older funky ones.

I like cemeteries like this one that is located in the middle of a working class neighborhood. It’s a Jewish cemetery called, Garden of Prayer. It’s fairly old.

I’ve roamed around the city enough to know most of the cemeteries. I like all of them for different reasons. One of my favorites is Holt, near Delgado Community College. It’s sort of a potters field.

Another aspect of our culture is how people are remembered. We mourn and then celebrate with our jazz funerals. Usually, the more well known in the community the deceased is the bigger the second line, which is really what a jazz funeral is.

I had to chuckle at one tourist’s online request. She wanted to know how she could plan to attend a jazz funerals since she was coming from out of town for a visit. The snarky answer was “die.”

Some people were more helpful than others, but unless you are plugged into the city culture bearers the only other way is to read the death notices in the newspaper.

If you’re lucky enough to attend one and you are on a trip for somewhere else, just follow the locals and what we do. These events can be chaotic so be prepared for that.

T

he top photograph had kind of a quirky approach to post production.

When I worked on it earlier, I made it very golden as if I made it during golden hour.

That fell under the heading of, “What was I thinking?” A lot of things that I do fall under that.

So, this time around I brought it back to its original coloring. That took more work that you would think.

The bottom picture ws simple. I just left alone, possibly enhancing the color a bit. I made it in 2019 so you can’t expect me to recall exactly what I did.

I believe that photographs like that are more long the line of photojournalism so I don’t like to tinker very much.

Second lining to honor Chef. Leah Chase.


Trumpet player at rest.

T

his is another of those “found” pictures. I know where I made it. I have no idea why I did. Now that I see it, I like it.

Maybe , it’s incompetence.

Maybe I’m just as incompetent as the next guy. I’m starting to think that anything good that I’ve ever done was just luck.

Or, it come be two other issues. Maybe I just wasn’t meant for these times. Or, maybe people who make things just don’t think.

It started last night. I wan’t to “get” an app on my Apple smartphone. I found it. I was ready to download. But, first I had to hit this little bitty side tab twice. I tried every which way. I even just held my finger there and moved it up and down.

No joy.

I gave up. This stuff is supposed to make it easier, not harder.

Then, comes this computer that I’m working on as I write to you. First, it was mud slow. I rebooted it. That sped it up.

That was yesterday. Today, most of the apps wouldn’t open. Reboot again. Finally. Stuff works.

So. You get to look at a photograph.

T

here is a problem in this picture that I can’t seem to repair.

See that arm?

The color of the entire arm is the lightest brown, Look at the hand and the forearm. This guy must have been working on a car before he went to the second line.

I doubt that he was, but look at him.

I thought I had moved the color closer together in OnOne, But, when the picture arrived here, the darkened color returned.

My only theory is that whenWordpress did it’s final compression the mid tones were removed leaving only the dark tones.

This usually happens in light colors, but as I said on the other side, I wasn’t meant for these times.


On a summer day.

T

echnology is never my friend. We’ve long had an Audible account. I thought I might like to listen to a book while I work.

After all, podcasts and a book being read is about the same thing. Along comes Apple. Between their normally high rate of paranoia and the slowness of their server I’m almost done working on the computer.

Gee, thanks a lot Apple.

I suppose for me, technology is disappointing. It’s always oversold. It doesn’t deliver what the provider said that it would.

WordPress is a case in point. I write something complaining about it and I receive replies either in the comments or in email about how much the block system sucks. I’ve managed to make it work for me, but this blog is simply designed.

Every time they make a change I start looking at alternatives.

Back to Apple. Okay, now Audible is downloaded and ready to go, except…

Apple wants me to subscribe. I already subscribe. There is absolutely no place to enter my credentials without paying for a new subscription. Here’s another app that is going bye-bye.

Oh, the picture. I’ll discuss it on the other side since their is almost no technical issues.

A

s I wrote on the other side, there is no technology to discuss.

I will say that for the first time ever, my photograph didn’t need any kind of help in post production.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. Amazon found it along with a small section from the take in which I made the image.

For the life of me, I cannot remember where or when I made the picture.

It must be age.

I always remember my pictures, and probably yours. I have a very good visual memory.

Oh. I still wanted to listen to a book. So, I clicked on the app on my phone. I’m listening to a Stephen King book.


Not easy.

S

ometimes… you just never know. A terrible thing happened in Albuquerque, New Mexico yesterday morning. A balloon carrying five people hit a power line, started to dip, hit it again catching on fire and fell to earth killing all five people on board.

At the time that I wrote this, families had not been notified. The passengers and pilot were ages 40 to 60. The balloon crashed at the corner of Central (Route 66) and Unser (Those Unsers of automotive racing fame).

This saddens me because after all the sickness, pain and uncertainty of the past 18 months, I’m willing bet that these people were out just having fun.

Remember fun?

May they all rest in peace.


One night, lonely.

O

nce, when I used to live in Asia, I traveled around the world to Denmark. I left Singapore exhausted and beaten down by a very rough press check.

My press checks were never rough. I know enough color theory and the art of making compromises when I couldn’t manage everything on the page the way I wanted.

We printed either 8, 12, or 16 pages to view. Or, we printed a certain number of pages at the same time so that when they were folded and trimmed they formed a section of a book. The trick is to make sure the color was what you wanted on, let’s say page one and page eight.

This press check was grueling because it was a co-production with a small sports agency based in New York. They thought we could print one of those big pages, send it to New York where they could make changes, maybe even substituting pictures.

Nonsense.

We’d have been printing the book for a month. Normally, that’s about a three day job.

So.

I went forward without sending them anything. My press, my call. I said they should call me in a couple of days.

When are you going to send the first pages they asked? The book is done I replied. The yelling started. The screaming started. I just listened. Finally, they settled down. I asked if they were done. I also said that if they started in again, I’d dump the whole thing in The Sea of China.

They threatened to call my boss, not realizing that I didn’t have a direct boss. But, I did have a president. Did they actually think that I’d go off half cocked with out making sure my back was covered.

Boy. This is a long set up.

I left Singapore for Denmark. We flew to Switzerland and then to Denmark. When we landed in Switzerland the flight attendant apologized, saying that she tried to wake me, but I was in such a deep sleep that she decided to let me sleep. Good call. She found me something for me to eat while we were on the ground.

When I finally arrived at what would now be called an Air BnB, I was about dead. I turned on the television to keep me company. The only channel that I could understand was a music channel.

I saw and heard it at about the same time.

There was the lead singer wearing long dreads, and leather fringe jacket. He was jumping around and looking happy. It woke me up.

The singer was Adam Durwitz. The band was Counting Crows. The song was Mr. Jones. You’d have think back to the mid-1990s to remember it. It was a huge hit from their first album. I still listen it to this day.

Finally.

S

o, that was a long story wasn’t it?

Just as well.

This side, the technical side won’t be near as long.

I saw the light from my studio. I was a little late. So, I did what I could.

I went to my go to location and started making pictures.

When I started looking at them while I was editing I realized that I didn’t know what was doing.

Figures.

This morning I couldn’t make an espresso to save my life.

I dropped the capsule on the floor. I picked up and dropped it again.

The basket was full so I emptied it into small trash can where we put recyclables. They fell on the floor.

I washed the basket.

I added more water. While I was pouring it into the machine the hatch that covers the water fell back in place. The water flowed all over the counter.

In what world do I think that I can make pictures?

Anyway.

I did some post production magic and made something that is intriguing.

At least I managed to repair all of the noise that was in the sky.

Now, do you want me to tell you about making breakfast?

Sheesh.


Drawbridge.

A

ccording to The Washington Post, The President just said that Congress had reach a bi-partisan agreement on the infrastructure bill. All I can say is that is about damn time.

If ever there was a city in need of infrastructure repair it’s New Orleans.

You are looking at one of two drawbridges that cross the Intracoastal Waterway connecting the rest of the city to the Lower 9th Ward and locations further downriver.

Look at it. At the time when I made this picture it had been painted and it’s already rusty.

There are really three points made in this picture. Both drawbridges should be replaced with something modern. The Intracoastal Waterway — known locally as MR-GO — should be closed because it brought the water from everywhere that destroyed the Lower 9th Ward.

Finally, see that concrete structure on the right side of the picture? That’s the new levee built after the old one was broken in many places allowing the water from MR-GO to food and destroyed the Lower 9th Ward.

Now, about the potholes in my street.

O

nce again WordPress has made it way too hard to do anything with this block system. It will be the thing that finally drives me away.

I’m sure that I did it. At least what those fine morons at WordPress will claim.

Yes, WordPress if you are reading, I just called you morons. I’m sorry if I offend anybody with this next line, but leave the fucking thing alone.

They created some way of trapping copy with a blue box. You cannot edit anything in the box. If you hit the delete key, the paragraph is removed. The box continues to move upward deleting and deleting.

The only work around that I could figure out is to go back to a saved draft and use that.

Of course, this means all of the categories and tags are removed. If you schedule posts as I do, that is removed as well.

Moving is looking better and better.

Life is way too short.


Deep and dark.

N

ot every street in The French Quarter is brightly lighted with shops, stores, clubs and bars beckoning to passersby.

A large part of the Quarter is residential or old work spaces converted into some kind of loft or apartments.

Unless you are very lucky you usually can’t park your car near your destination so you find parking space and walk. Or, you can take the streetcar from our neighborhood, ride it to Canal Street and walk.

One way or another you are going to pass through darkened neighborhoods so you might as well do something productive as you look over your shoulder or scan the shadows.

That’s what I did.

I made this picture on the way to someplace else. I pressed the button and keep going. A friend of mine calls this, “Shoot and scoot.” I’d prefer not to use the word, “Shoot,” during these very violent days.

One statistic that concerns me is that over a two year period dating back to 2019 is we are up by 54% just in shootings. That’s a huge number.

Anyway.

This picture is on the very edge of impossible. I’ll tell you more about on the other side.

Even though it’s hidden in shadows, I could see the there are a number of repairs using different techniques from different eras. That suggests that this building was never abandoned.

It may even be an original French built structure, which makes it very old since most of The French Quarter is Spanish, who rebuilt the Quarter after a massive fire.

That’s the story so far.

W

hen I wrote that this picture is on the edge of impossible, I meant it.

The original exposure was underexposed as you might guess.

Strangely, the image is very sharp and in focus.

Luckily, I was able to open up the image even beyond this point. I had to be careful because if I opened up the shadows the night sky became striated and noisy.

I could have made a faux HDR and tried to create what looks like different exposures and blended them together, but I thought this picture was on that edge.

Impossible.

So, I worked very carefully and came to this place.

If you noticed, I’ve been working more and more to the dark side of subjects.

That doesn’t mean anything about me on a personal level. I’m not feeling dark. I’m just intrigued with this color and light palette.


New Mexico in a nutshell.

T

hey say that Mercury passed through its retrograde phase. Things should get and feel better. I’m don’t know what I think about astrology. There may be something to it. There might not.

But, I’ll tell you this. I feel better today than I have in a long time. I seem to have passed through a couple of stages of grief.

I’ll miss that dog for a long time, maybe forever, but it doesn’t feel like something is hammering in my head and making my eyes leak.

So.

This photograph. It was lost. I found it in the archives. It is New Mexico. It’s not what we think of when we think of the state.

F

irst, I want to talk about WordPress. I receive emails about their updates.

I begged them not to keep changing things. They didn’t listen.

This blog was just hell to assemble.

Columns duplicated themselves and were buried, making it impossible to create a paragraph.

Don’t get me started on predictive writing. Just don’t.

W

e tend to thing of New Mexico as being The Land of Enchantment because of the food, the festivals, the American Indians (Yes, that’s what they want to be called. At least in New Mexico.), the light, the high desert, the art, the artists, the indigenous jewelry and the list goes on.

We don’t think of the car culture which is mostly made up of lowriders, restored classic cars, and hot rods. I think they are wonderful, all of them.

It’s fun to photograph them because the owners are very proud of them. They’ll talk about their car for hours. They’ll pose and take direction.

A

nd, the balloons. You already know about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta if you’ve been reading Storyteller for any length of time.

Some 900 balloons and crews come from all over the world to show and compete with their balloons. I attended almost every year that I lived in the state.

Oh yeah. Balloons make me smile.

T

here is a lot of work going on in both photographs. Both have different levels of a glow filter added to them.

The top picture is intentionally very contrasty. I did that to emphasize the graphic shapes around the truck.

The balloon picture has a couple of things going on. First, I reduced the structure filter by 100% which makes the sky soft and allows the balloon to pop out of it.

I made the balloon a graphic shape using a combination of softening and glow filters.

Then I published them on Storyteller after fighting with the %&$*& block system.


The wheel.

T

his is it. The very first one. The very first experiment in layering. I made this picture in 2010, in Albuquerque, New Mexico on my kitchen table.

According to the EXIF data, I made it with an iPhone 4, in December. That means the weather was cold and there may have been snow on the ground.

Normally, that’s not a good reason to stay indoors. Albuquerque doesn’t get that much snow so the city doesn’t own the usual snow plows. Often, you get trapped indoors until the snow starts to melt.

Anyway, I must have been a little bored so I did some experimenting. I’ll get into that on the right hand column.

The subject matter is two items. An indoor fern and a box with watch parts and a razor blade.

For a while my dad played with watch making. He thought that he might like to do that as a job. He’s like me. Either he didn’t have the patience or he lacked really fine motor skills.

So, he gave it up and put watch parts, repair tools and some broken watches into a tool box and into the closet it went. Many years later, I found it in the same closet.

I didn’t do too much with it until that cold December. I opened the tool box and thought, “Wow! I could something with this.”

So, I did.

W

hen I started working on this picture, I had no idea where I wanted to go. For sure, I didn’t know what I was doing.

I know why I photographed the watch parts. I have no idea why I photographed the fern.

Anyway.

Somehow an idea formed in my brain that I could use both of the pictures together.

I didn’t know it, but that was the start of my adventure with layering.

As I recall, I didn’t do much of it for a long time. I started playing around with archive images.

Before I knew it…

This layering is relatively simple. Layer the fern over the watch parts. No adjusting because I didn’t know how to do it.

I did do some finishing work using OnOne yesterday, but that’s it.


About ten miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, there are some strange hump-like hills. These are volcanoes. Theyare long dormant having last erupted some 30,000 years ago when most of the land around them was ocean bottom.

N

ew Mexican skies. There’s nothing like them. Along with the light, that’s what draws artists from every place in the world.

That’s not why I went there, but I exploited those things every chance that I could. So, you get to see a lot of sky photographs.

This place is interesting. If you read the caption you know that the hump-like mountain is really a volcano. You also know that it has been dormant for 30,000 years, which is certainly older than you or me.

The clouds in the sky looks almost like smoke. It isn’t but, the shape is interesting to me.

I used to like driving here. You could leave Albuquerque by what was left of Route 66, make right hand turn on the road facing the volcano, drive north for about ten miles, turn right again and head towards the city.

This was especially good working on PAD projects because you could see a lot of different stuff along the way. And, as you know, if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.

Do you stand in front of better stuff?

O

nce again, I’ve failed you. There is almost no technique to discuss.

See it. Stop your car. Photograph it. Get back in your car. Drive away fast, like you robbed a bank.

Kidding.

Post production is fairly simple.

Once again, I learned that darkening the picture works really well.

And, rather than make really detailed clouds, I’ve been reducing the sharpness with a slider called structure in the app called Snapseed.

Move the structure slider so that it is 100% soft and you’ll make these kinds of dreamy clouds.

Move it the other way and the clouds will have a surprising amount of detail.

How detail oriented are you?


New Orleans from the Westbank.

I

‘ve had two useless days in a row. A friend of mine says there are no useless days. She’s wrong.

Let’s just start with today. We had a power failure before noon. The power companies estimate for restoring power was 4:20 pm today. To their credit they had us up and running around 1:15 pm.

When the computer shuts down like that it takes forever to get things running smoothly again. Apps are funky as well. It took me a good thirty minutes just to load this one. Even now I’m getting speed mystery type. That’s when you type, nothing shows up, and then a whole line of type appears.

At this rate, I’ll get about 15 minutes worth of work done in just four hours.

I decided to publish good pictures that you haven’t seen, no matter where I made them. We’ll start today with the City of New Orleans and our massive downtown. Massive if you live in some little place.

I’m not going to be photographing little pictures for a while. It’s just not the same without Sophie Rose.

You understand.

T

his picture is more about seeing than anything else. If you can’t see this you’d better quit photograph or else you are blind.

This is a fairly accurate representation of what I saw when I blindly stopped the car and made the photograph.

I did darken the picture which brought out more color. But, I didn’t add to the color. In fact, I scrubbed the mid-tones of the red on the ship to bring the color out.

That’s what I did, alright.

Oh yeah, the other useless day. Yesterday.

I awoke at about the normal time. I worked until about 10am when I started feeling groggy so I thought a little morning nap might be in order.

I awoke at just before 2:30pm.

Four hours.

I’ve been talking with some friends and they’ve been doing that too. We believe it’s our way of coping with extreme stress.

That’s better than a stroke or a heart attack.


New Mexican Roads

W

owzer! WordPress fixed the things that they broke. I have captions and I don’t have to do a work around just to use columns and paragraphs.

I have other stuff to say, but I’m excited. It’s the little things, you know?

If it seems like I’m publishing a lot of road pictures, you’re right. But, that’s what I did in New Mexico. I traveled around, learning about the state and making pictures. I also learned about the people and enjoyed a lot of wonderful food.

It’s odd. I really like Northern New Mexican food, which is kin to Mexican or Tex-Mex food, but nowhere near the same. I cannot say the same for New Orleans food. The only time that we eat it is when out of town guests come for a visit and they want to sample New Orleans food.

That’s not quite true. I like a restaurant called Mandina’s which is Northern Italian – Creole. It’s not fancy and yet you can see the city’s moves and shakers.

I really like taking guests there because we can tour. We walk up our street to the green streetcars, ride along St. Charles and transfer at Canal Street to the red streetcars. Get off in front of the restaurant.

Our guests love it. They get to ride our famous streetcars, they get to see parts of the city the they might not normally see. They get real locals food. And, if they want, instead of transferring at Canal Street, we can get off and walk around the Quarter.

They wonder, what’s not to like?

My guests learned what’s not to like, one night when we returned home. The lawn was flooded up to our porch. WTF?

Turns out a water main broke in the middle of the street. By the time the city came to repair it, there was a lake that stretched for about two blocks. This happens a lot in the city.

Yeah.

What’s not to like?

T

here’s not very much to talk about from a technical standpoint.

The most important take away, is to think about reworking your pictures every now and then.

As much as I liked the perspective and compression, the picture never really never did it for me.

After tinkering with a few day ago, I finally figured out the problem.

The picture was too light.

I made it on a cold winter day. It didn’t feel that way.

I darkened it, added colors of winter and I like the picture way more than I did.

One more thing about this picture. It doesn’t look like what you think of when you think of New Mexico does it?

When you drive east of the Sandia or Sangre de Christo Mountains, the land starts to flatten out as it makes its way into western Colorado.

It looks like what it is. High plains and farm land as you leave the high desert.

Can you guess which way the mountains are?


Artists of all dsiciplines have been coiming to New Mexico for years. Most will say that it for the amazing New Mexico light. Some of the best light comes during the late winter when storms roll in and out with great frequency.

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here are days and there are days. On the day that I made this picture I needed a little solitude.

A group of photographers gathered in a coffee shop. I looked out the window and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the most wonderful pre-sunset in a long time.

That’s saying something because New Mexico is the land of great sunsets.

I said that I was going to chase light and asked if anyone wanted to come. The other photographers looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them followed me out and said that he’d have to go home to get his camera. I asked why he didn’t always carry one because we live in a land of incredible light. He didn’t quite know what to say except that he only used his camera on planned excursions.

I hit the road and made five pretty good pictures. I made small work prints and brought them with me to the next meeting in a coffee shop. The other photographers were amazed.

That cause them to change. They probably still aren’t prepared. And, they still make tropes.

I guess it must be the photojournalist in me. I make those kinds of pictures too, but as a way of warming up. But, then again, my landscape work doesn’t look like anybody else’s work.

I’d probably make more money if I took the easy way, but what would be the fun in that?

I’d lose myself in the rush to cash.

T

here are a few technical challenges that I’d like to discuss.

They aren’t really in post production except for a little clean up.

Instead, they are in the making of the original file.

First, comes patience. I found the location. Then, I waited for something to happen.

Without that little touch of red from the car’s tail lights there would be no counterpoint to the isolation.

The actual exposure was easy. By this time of day the light is relatively flat and lacking extreme contrast.

My post production mostly consisted of using a subtle glow filter which gave the clouds a mild 3D effect and separation from the main scene.

Of course, I didn’t do that when I first developed the RAW file. As I recover these pictures I’m reworking them to my current look and feel.

It’s just like playing a song a different way live than a musician does in the studio.

A wise musician once said that after playing the song 500 times on stage, it finally taught him how to play it.


New Mexico Light and Scenes

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ittle pictures. Details. Something to show the texture of a place. You’d think they would be the easiest to find and see.

They aren’t.

Usually, you see them on the way back from whatever caught your eye in the first place. In a design piece they are often called point pictures which is the opposite of a hero picture. Alone, these pictures can’t carry the page. But, together they have some power.

Sounds like human beings doesn’t it. It takes a village. There is no I in team. Stuff like that. That’s why The U.S Army’s old advertising campaign of a team of one, never worked. There are no teams of one. And, before I forget, Happy 246th Birthday U.S. Army.

I’ve given some thought to another approach to using little pictures. What if I compiled a collection of these and printed them huge and turned them into a kind of art statement?

I’m starting to do the ground work to some new projects. Maybe this could be a component in one of them.

T

here really is no secret technique to making these photographs.

The key is to not edit yourself in the field. See it, shoot it. Don’t think about it.

Try your best to keep pictures like these clean.

This is no time for fancy post production and modifications.

You might want to work on these at their biggest magnification. There is no telling what’s hiding in the background.

El Sancturio de Chimayo, the Lourdes of The United States. The church is called that because of its healing properties.


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he edge of town. No darkness here. Just raw, bright New Mexican light.

This is where Route 66 sort of comes to an end. It’s about as far west in Albuquerque as you can go, without leaving the city line.

I think that these ruins, probably once a gas station and cafe, were caused by the move to Interstate 40, which is south of here. Motorists just didn’t drive though here as much and locals wouldn’t stop here since this is very close to modern gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

I’d have probably never run into this place if I hadn’t been roaming around looking for PAD images. But I cruised far and wide.

I went further west than this place, to where the casino and the remains of route 66 re-emerge at a rickety old bridge. I went east out past Moriarity, where the junkyard and car museum is located. I went south as far as Las Lunas and north as far as the San Felipe Pueblo where I made two signature images.

I travelled as much as I could on surface streets. Interstates are not the way to go when you are looking for pictures.

I met great people along the way and some not so great people. I remember going into a small town grocery store about the size of a 7-11. I asked to use the restroom. “You hafta buy something.” “Okay I’ll take these two waters.” “That’s not enough.” “Okay, you’ll lose the sale and I’ll go pee on your driveway.”

I bought the water and used the restroom.

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ore technical nonsense that I don’t want to deal with.

It seems that WordPress continues to make changes. At least some of the stuff works that didn’t work.

Of course, WordPress didn’t say a word, meaning that I caused myself all sort of problems doing an unneeded work around.

Anyway.

This picture was easy to make. Just shoot almost directly into the sun and pray.

If you expose the bright light properly the buildings will be silhouetted, which is what I wanted.

I added some faux bokeh and stuff, actually to tune down the electric color on the tumbleweeds in the background. The color was real but my eyeballs vibrated.

At least I’m having fun with color drop caps. What a day.


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ne of the benefits of having software finding old files is that they are almost new to me, and certainly to you.

I made this picture on Memorial Day 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

No worries. To me this is just about the picture, nothing more.But I do want to tell you about what I think is a very cool tradition.

Yes. Memorial Day still means what it should mean to the rest of the country. We honor our war dead. The troops that gave their all. The ones who never came home.

But, New Mexicans do something different.

They bring a blanket and a picnic and they sit near the grave of their loved on and enjoy a meal with them. There are toasts and offerings and prayers.

There is one thing which makes New Mexicans like New Orleanians. As I walked around photographing — and you know me, I want people in my pictures — they would ask me to eat with them.

I think refusing a small bite would dishonor both the living and the dead. So, I ate with whoever I photographed. Besides, we got to know each other. And, they were able to enjoy a few pictures that I sent to them.

T

his photograph was made with a Canon G 11. It was my picture a day camera. It was a great little camera. I wore it out. It did everything that I wanted it to do.

Many pixel peepers (folks that go too far in their technical evaluations) say that cameras like this one are not good for much more than just snapshots.

Does this picture look like a snapshot?

Besides, these days most clients want images for online projects. The few who want images for paper uses aren’t using them much bigger than a magazine cover. A camera with a good sensor and processor, no matter it’s classification, is just fine.

That’s the real world.


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he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

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ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


Airspace and other stuff.

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his will be very short. I’m taking a break from writing. It happened this way. An old friend of mine from my college decided to drop in here and tell me that I need a new copy editor. I haven’t talked to this guy in at least a year. He said he found typos. That’s rich coming from a guy trained the exact same way that I was, but never worked as a photographer. The sold printing supplies, mostly for large presses, I think. Then he retired.

To my mind, you do whatever it takes to succeed, but if I was able to make it in my chosen field anybody could. I’m not that good. So, anything less is failure.

Criticism is cheap if you’ve never done the job. Besides, perfection is for angels.

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echnically, I will say this. The finished image is layered. There are two pictures hiding in one. One was made in Albuquerque at the Balloon Fiesta. The other was made here during winter. I tinkered with them as usual. I found out something new. I saw it happen once before, but I didn’t think much of it.

Do you see how the image sort of looks like it’s blowing up? That happens when you put a border on it. I don’t know why. But, I’ll look into it. Anything less than perfection is unacceptable. Right?


Sometimes in summer.

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ometimes in early summer the Mississippi River looks like this, especially after a very snowy winter up north. The snow melts, turns into water and flows into a local river which flows into the Mississippi River.

Eventually, the water makes its way down river where either upriver gates are opened to spread it out over a flood plain, or it arrives in New Orleans. Usually, it’s a little of both.

This is not a big deal and we are ready for it, but people who live in other places read or watch a small news item and start emailing me. I assure them that we are okay.

I know that this picture makes the river look like it’s well overflown its banks. Not really. This is the lower Westbank. The land that is flooded is meant for that. The small buildings that you see underwater is a little children’s amusement park that was designed to get wet.

After a couple of hundred years of living in our extremes, we have a pretty good idea of what to do.

That experience matters, maybe in everything that we do. That’s why experts tell us to do something 10,000 times before we are good at whatever we turned our attention to.

That’s why I suggest that new photographers slow down a little, take their time and learn for their successes and, more importantly, from they mistakes.

Besides, they could be like me. I’ve made so many mistakes that I must know a lot of stuff.

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inding a picture like this is a case of listening to local news reports and checking the light.

The rest is F 8 and be there.

For sure, I amped the color up because I wanted the drama.

That may be the take away today.

If you are going to tinker with pictures well beyond normal, have a reason.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of well over amped pictures of New Mexico.

I lived in New Mexico. I know what the skies look like. For sure, they probably hold more color the 90% of the earth.

But, this were atomic skies, electric skies.

Don’t go that far unless you have a reason.

I’m thinking that claiming drama for a reason is a little shaky.