M

ore water. More reflections. Even as we dry out, some things don’t change. I think most people have power. Not everyone has internet, which doesn’t seem important but in the modern world it is.

We use Cox. They don’t know what they are doing. They sent us a long email apologizing for the lack of service and yada, yada, yada,

That’s great, but our service returned about an hour after our power was restored.

I guess we are lucky.

The house suffered some damage but it is in the process of being repaired. Compared to our neighbors we did pretty well.

Now it’s time to help where we can.


S

ometimes I really don’t have much to say about world events. I’ve read enough to know that some days I’m better off staying in bed.

And, on other days I just go for a walk.

This picture found me on a walk. Aside from the square crop, I did nothing to it. It is simply what I saw. Or, what saw me. You know what Rumi said, ”What you seek is seeking you.”

Better be careful what you wish for.

Peace.


Dark skies.

W

e listen to a lot of podcasts around here. This morning I was listening to The New York Times’ The Daily. The reporter was talking to a viral scientist. It was a pretty good interview until the reporter asked the scientist when the pandemic would end.

She declined to predict that, but did say that because of all the issues we already know about including the politicizing of the virus, anti-vaxers, freedom complainers, and the general lack of concern about masking and potential super spreader events, the soonest the virus could be managed but not eradicated is late 2022 or early 2023.

Think about that. We have another potential 18 months of this stupidity before we even come close to managing this.

In my other world we started cancelling the first two legs of a four leg tour. It’s highly likely that the last two legs will be cancelled too.

The supernutjob fans on Facebook couldn’t understand why. They claimed everything but the truth, including that the star has breast cancer. A legal note will put an end to that.

When I asked who among them could meet entrance requirements of either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 Hours.

I heard.

Crickets.

And, there you have it. They killed a concert tour and their fun.

Morons.


Out of the black and into the blue.

T

om Petty said that they waiting is the hardest part. And, so it is. Most of the preparations have been done. I was about to take the trash out when I remembered not to do it. During a hurricane the trash cans get blown around and the trash gets plastered to your house. Or, your neighbors house.

Besides, a trash can launched in a 75 mph wind and becomes an unguided rocket. What goes up always comes down. Maybe through somebody’s roof. It could rip through the roof, blow through the second floor and land on granny sitting in her chair on the first floor.

That would not be good.

In case you are wondering, my humor gets blacker as the big event gets closer. Besides, it’s not yet time to get into my zone. The cold, very clear eyed one that allows me to respond calmly and not in a panicked way. If I started that process now by the time the hurricane arrived I’d fly into the air and try to stop it by myself. It’s a well known fact that I’m not Superman.

Seriously, here’s what I know.

Unless there is a radical change, Hurricane Ida should make landfall upriver from New Orleans, near Baton Rouge, 75 miles away sometime tonight. That may seem like it’s far enough away to not hurt us. That would be wrong. Hurt us it will because we lie within the cone of uncertainty. Landfall can shift anywhere along that cone. Or, the entire cone can move.

Even if it doesn’t, we will get very strong winds, rain and a big storm surge.

Here are the numbers.

Wind gusts. 50-75 mph over the windspeed.

Storm surge. 12 – 15 feet above normal.

Rain. 12 – 15 inches above normal.

The house is armored for storms. That’s how it was built in 1854 when whole parts of town used to get blown away. Once we close the storm shutters we are safe. The biggest fear is loss of power and cellphone service, which also means loss of the internet.

We can deal with loss of power, partially with the hardwired generator and battery system. It only powers the kitchen and not all of that. We also have one of those little in room air conditioners. It’s useless in a big room, but works fine in the kitchen.

That’s all well and good if we have a few power lines down, but Hurricane Katrina knocked down whole power grids. It look weeks for power to be restored. It’ll get awfully old living like a refugee. No disrespect to our Afghan friends.

We cannot do anything about the loss of cellphone and internet service. I recall that after Katrina, we were able to get service after the telco rerouted us through some unaffected region. I don’t know if that’s possible today.

So, this might be it from me for a while.

Have good thought for all of us in Southeastern Louisiana.


Luna at dusk.

W

ordpress has beaten it out of me. After yesterday’s fiasco I think I’ll go back to simple things because WordPress really doesn’t like photographers.

Instead of fostering community growth and spirit by suggesting we work together on projects, they want writers to use Upsplash if they need photographs.

Upsplash is a portal. Photographers upload their work. If a user needs a picture, they find it, use it with no payment or credit line.

Even worse, if the user makes modification to the image, the copyright flows to them.

It’s licensed robbery.

Young photographers are so anxious to get noticed that they see this as a way to build up clients and tear sheets.

Hahahahahaha.

If your name isn’t seen, you don’t get noticed.

In fact, it would be very easy to go to Upsplash, cull the best pictures, download them, modify them ever so slightly and stick my copyright information on the images.

Hmmm…. I’d never have to leave my house again.

But, that would be boring.

T

hat little quarter moon is what caught my attention. It was really hard to photograph, which is why some of the trees look a little soft.

But, the moon is sharp and that’s what matters to me.

For sure, there was some editing going on here. I did what I often do. Instead of adding colors, I remove the mid tones to reveal the colors hiding in the gray fog.

That’s what you are looking at.

I

was done writing, thinking less is more.

Apparently, WordPress is watching or scanning Storyteller.

They fixed the problem of the jumping cursor.

I complained here, not directly to WordPress.


The summer wind blew through the grasses of the season.

A

nother weird week. It seems like death is following us around no matter what we do.

I suppose that’s the way it is going to be until we manage the virus and people are able to think again.

I have no idea what killed Charlie Watts. But, it may illustrate something that I’ve long said. Touring is not good for man or animal.

I don’t care how you do it, your body pays for it. I don’t care whether you drive from show to show in a van and sleep on somebody’s couch or fly private and stay in a private home.

Funny, how a musician proceeds up the ladder. You start by sleeping on someone’s floor or couch. You proceed to cheap motels, eventually moving up to five star hotels and finally back into a house.

This time, it’s a 12 bedroom house in an exclusive neighborhood that a sponsor donated to you for a couple of nights.

Still, jumping through time zones, working an upside down day, eating food — good or bad — at the wrong times, coming down from the adrenalin rush and never knowing where you are, is not good for the body, mind and soul.

Did Charlie’s job play a part in his death? Or, was it simply a matter of aging? Or, was it a combination of both.

Does it matter? After all, dead is dead.

It matters to me. In 13 years I’ll be 80. That sounds like a long time, but where the hell did the last 67 years go?

It happened like a blink of the eye.

It always does.

T

his is my third time around on this post. Once again, the paragraphs locked and no edits or additions could be made.

I did learn something. Up at the top of the page there is a blue “Save Draft” line. Press it and it save the page exactly as it is minus the block edits.

No matter what WordPress claims, the block system is not flexible.

See that white space next to this column?

It came about because I wanted to make the picture larger. It’s a picture that I’d hang on my wall so I wanted you to see a larger version.

That went fine until I tried to build a block there. You can’t. You can’t add another column, or a calendar, or a list of previous posts.

All I know is that programmers are programmers. They have no sense of design or art. It’s all math to them.

That’s why there are so many freelance WordPress coders. The code is so complicated that it takes specialty programmers to create anything different.

Hire one of those folks and guess what? The block system is flexible.

Sheesh.


A cold wind blowing from the north.

A

nyone who has been around Storyteller for any length of time knows that there I are things I almost never do.

I rarely post twice in one day.

I rarely post another photographer’s work unless we are working on something together.

And, I never post a picture without a credit line.

All of those things happened yesterday day.

But, with the passing of Charlie Watts, and the musical world in tears, I thought it was the right thing to do.

In the words of Eric Clapton, goodnight sweet prince.

I

think I wrote that when something really big goes south, like the pandemic, it takes a lot of lesser things with it.

August has certainly proven that to me. The number of non-Covid deaths among people I care about in some way has risen to ten in twelve days.

I have no idea what to make of it except to say, “Yeah, I told you so.” But, what’s the point of that? You know it and I know it.

T

his is one of those pictures in which I try to make something from nothing.

It’s an almost bare tree in winter. The sky is pretty.

I photographed it, took the detail out of the sky.

Viola.

R

ather than be snarky with the “I told you so nonsense,” I thought I’d talk about an idea that came to me in a moment of day dreaming.

Many of you know that I don’t drink. I stopped over 28 years ago with a little help from my friends and hundreds of others who I didn’t know. At one point I even employed a psychiatrist to guide me. He discussed the notion of psychic energy.

It’s not what you are thinking. It’s not a spacey predictability idea. It’s not spooky. Instead, it refers to the amount of truly powerful energy we can put into a project. His point is that once you exhaust that you have to take some time to recharge.

I’ve talked about three hours being the length of time that I can photograph something before I start feeling like “I’ve left it all on the field.” That’s my psychic energy being depleted. If I take some time to rest, I can go back to work.

So, here’s my theory.

The New York Times talks about lethargy being introduced to us via the pandemic and accompanying lockdowns and worry.

What if, our (my) psychic energy has been drained and not been restored to a point that we start everyday full and ready to deal with the day’s issues?

What if we never fully recharge?

For me, I know that half the time I am walking around in a daze. When I do manage to work I complete my task and stop. That’s not me. I’m the Energizer Bunny. I go until there’s nothing more to do that day

You know how “you know what you know” sometimes? That’s how I feel right now. That’s great, but the question is what to do to recapture the energy.

I think routine is important. For almost 18 months I haven’t done what I normally do. I work from home in the studio most of the time unless we are traveling. My routine isn’t that of someone who goes to work everyday outside of the home. I’m either blessed or cursed.

Think about what you do before you go to work. Even though you normally don’t think about it, it tells your body and mind that you are leaving for work. And, to get ready.

Right now my psychic energy is at an all time low, if it exists at all. It’s time to restore that. At least, I’ll be a little more focused. But first, the routine.


Out of the blue and into the black.

W

e do it for the stories we could tell, so says Jimmy Buffett, even when we know do that something could end badly. It’s especially true if you are a young teenager. I was 13 or 14 when I did that story telling thing.

I went to a day camp during summer. One day we were taken to a pretty big and wild park. We could borrow or rent bicycles. So, I borrowed one.

All good so far.

We road to a sort of big peak. The ride was gradual, but if we wanted to continue in the same direction we had to ride down a pretty steep path. The chose would have been walk down or turn back. We should have chosen either of those two options.

Oh no.

We just had to ride. Being the biggest idiot among us, I rode first. About 30 feet into the ride I realized there was no braking and certainly no stopping. I made it about 75% of the way down. I hit a surface tree root. I went airborne, then I went side wise, and finally upside down.

I landed on my face.

I was battered and bruised. After a little clean up by one of the camp counselors I looked better, but not much. I was lucky. I could have broken all sorts of parts. I didn’t.

When I got home my mom was horrified. My dad just laughed. He asked if I would do it again.

Yes.

Of course, for the rest of the summer I was called skid face.

Kids can be so cruel.

I was their hero. I did something they were afraid to do.

So there.

A

pologies. If something doesn’t make sense on the other side.

That WordPress programming trick of capturing everything in a block and not allowing editing happened not once, but twice.

If you try to edit, the software deletes whole sentences. The only way to recapture any of it is to revert to a saved version.

But, that only brings your work so far.

So you rewrite whatever you lost.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember sentences exactly. I reconstruct them as best I can.

Do that three times and you have no idea what you originally wrote.

Add to that the newest annoyance, placing the cursor at the start of a sentence even though I intentionally placed it in the middle, and I almost gave up today.

WordPress has to stop this. Even though I said I’d stay here because of the community, I’ll leave if this nonsense doesn’t stop.

I’ll ghost. That’s where I’ll go to a blogging platform called Ghost.


Into the mystic.

M

ostly, I say that a picture needs a little post production work to turn into something presentable.

Not this time. What I saw is what you get.

Better yet, I decided to take a little walk because I’m mostly trapped inside. I looked up and there it was. The moon poking through a wisp of white clouds and a bright blue sky backing it.

I made five pictures. That was it. I mostly just moved the moon around in the frame.

When things are right, that’s how my best work comes. Things haven’t been right for many weeks. I listened to a TED Talk by Dewitt Jones. He’s a former NGS photographer who now mostly gives talks. He’s polished and funny.

He discussed his way of working photographically which is to look for the good rather than document or find the bad. I kind of chuckled at that, but thought maybe I should do that. Maybe it would help me get out of this funk.

It did. Making this photograph made me feel pretty good. I don’t know how long this will last, but there’s always tomorrow to make another picture.

T

here is nothing technical to tell you. Just go outside and let a picture find you.

There’s magic in music and there’s magic in photographs. Let the magic come. Let it embrace you.

That’s all need to know.

From a technical point of you, I’ve been trying not to work so hard. I read that there is a new trend afoot.

For years, we’ve been told to capture RAW files. They are like a negative that you can work with in many ways.

Now some photographers are questioning that. They suggest that if you get your exposure down properly you should be able to make .JPEG files that are as good or better than RAW ones.

There is a way to test that easily. Set the capture to both RAW and .Jpeg and see what happens.

I’ll let you know.


One day, one night.

Y

ou’ll never believe what I did to this picture. Before I tell you, let me say that for the rest of this week Storyteller will look a little different.

WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”

WordPress sent me a long email about changes to the block system to which I replied, “Oh God.”

I thought about it for a little while and decided that rather than complain out of hand I should at least test some of the new stuff. There’s a lot of it.

Immediately, you see the tag cloud. They have existed from the dawn of WordPress, but not in such a flexible manner. If all I can do is make the text red, this will be my last day of using it. I suspect that I might be able to make color changes in the text block.

I’m also adding a publishing calendar and a comments list today. There may be other things, or I’ll just wait until tomorrow.

September 2021
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

L

et’s start with the tag cloud text color. I can’t find a way to change it, but I’ll leave it for today.

On to the picture.

I made it in broad daylight probably around 10 am. It is a winter tree against a cloudless blue sky.

My original post production turned the sky a very dark blue and the branches almost a silvery white. I posted that some time ago.

Last night I started messing with it because I had to clear my head of a day in which another New Orleans photographer died. I’ll write a bit about him tomorrow.

I turned the branches green and the sky turned black on its own after color overlap from the branches.

I made sure the image was as sharp as possible and gave it to you.


Something wild, something yellow.

T

here is a period in my life when I liked to make very closely focused pictures that are akin to macro photography.

That period started about twenty years ago and continues to this day. Some period, eh?

For me, this work is something like a palette cleanser between other, more gritty subjects.

Of course, I’ve been trapped lately.

Eventually that will change, but nobody knows when or how. When it does I’ll be chasing all over wherever I am, making pictures of anything, of everything.

Because, that’s my magic. My way of contributing. The thing that I know best. These days I feel old, but i’m young. The age thing will go away once I make magic, with light and color.

Then there’s musical magic.

As I write, I’m listening to an album called, “One Night Lonely.” Mary Chapin Carpenter did a live streaming show from Wolf Trap. There was no audience except remotely. It’s her and her guitars. She doesn’t talk, but she plays for two hours.

She’s doing the same thing that she did when I rediscovered her when she was playing songs from home.

Like James Taylor, she’s doing what she did back then, bringing me peace. We could all use a little bit of peace just about now, right?

T

his picture is about seeing. For sure, the yellow caught my attention. But, the details took some seeing. Or, luck. Photographers luck.

You make that kind of luck by being there. By being present. By focusing. And, by emptying your mind for just a little while.

I have a routine to do that. I’d tell you about it, but you may want do it differently. There is no one way. There is no right way. There is no wrong way.

That’s good.

We’d get bored if we did things the same way as other people.

So don’t.

I see so many derivative pictures on all social media. There is a saying among new photographers, “Fake it until you make it.”

That’s a saying from AA for newly sober people who are struggling to do what sober people do until they understand it.

It applies there. It shouldn’t apply to someone making pictures.

Stop copying. Stop faking. Start experimenting. Start being you.

You’ll go farther, faster.


At the counter.

S

ometimes, I can tell you everything about making a picture. You know, the how, what, why, when and who of it?

But, not this picture.

I know where it is located in my archives. But, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the take. My big goal during the lockdown was working on my archives. Some got done. Most didn’t.

To tell the truth, I have no idea where this picture belongs. But, I like it. It brings back feelings of traveling and memories of driving all night and finally stopping for breakfast in some little town.

Somewhere.

I’m sure many of you have done that too. You walk into a place like this and your body is still all jangly from the wheels on the road. You look at the menu and the type swims before your eyes.

You give up. You order the old standby. 10,000 eggs over easy. A hunnert pieces of bacon. Five pounds of has browned potatoes and toast, or biscuits if you re in the south.

Oh, and coffee. About five gallons of strong black coffee that leaves you with a stomach ache.

You leave the way you came in. Instead of swaggering you roll.

And, on the road you go.

M

aking this picture was easy. It was sitting there staring at me.

I raised my camera to my eye and snapped away. The counter person asked why I took it. I said that I liked the scene. She walked away shaking her head.

I ate, paid the bill and left.

All of that is great. But, I have no idea where I took the picture. I’m pretty sure it was in the West. That’s all I can tell you.

I’m mostly just wondering what the hell Numi Tea is supposed to be.

Anyway.

The post production is minimal. I darkened it and added contrast and all that color popped out.

Oh yeah. For those of you who just love the block system, he said with an evil gleam in his eye, WordPress sent me an email. They improved it.

Oh, God.


Southern spring.

A

little something pretty for a Friday afternoon. I made this picture a while back, sometime in spring. I did the developing and post production and promptly forgot about it.

I found it looking for something else just as I did yesterday. I reckon if I keep doing that I won’t ever have to take a new picture again.

What would be the fun in that?

Besides, I’d just go crazy.

I just have to find safe places to work. There are plenty of stories I’d like to tell around this place that don’t require me to be part of a crowd.

And, that makes me happy.

After thinking about it I realized that I added 2+2 and really did come out with 4. The twos are simple. I can’t be in crowds ever, or at least until the pandemic has been managed. The second two is my realization that it maybe years before that happens.

That’s pretty depressing.

Understanding that helped. So did a little stiffer med. I feel better now. I have one problem with it. I sleep a lot. I suppose it could be worse. A friend of mine started on a new medicine and within about nine months she gained 40 pounds. She’s working on that now.

I suppose that everybody has something.

F

lower, flower on the wall. Who’s the fairest flower of them all?

I’m pretty partial to this one. It has a lot of names. Around here people call it a Swamp Iris. Oddly, something very close to this grows in the high dry mountains along the northern Pacific Coast.

I wouldn’t have thought that it could survive in such different locations.

But, what do I know? I name flowers by their color as in that’s a red flower, that’s a blue flower…

I managed to lay the flower over grass that has crepe myrtle blossoms and fallen leaves on it.

Judging by the amount of little broken branches on the ground I must have photographed the lawn after a storm.

I tinkered with it and used a filter that approximates frosted glass.

And, there you have it.


Never more.

R

escued from my archives.

I found this picture while I was looking for something else. That’s sort of the way I make pictures, on the way to some place else.

The funny thing about the picture is that the subject doesn’t exist. Not anymore. It was a designer’s idea as part of the landscaping of a new venue.

The venue is all angles and made of metal. I suppose bamboo made a nice counterpoint, but the it was planted on the hottest side of the building in really dry soil.

I photographed it the day it was planted. Two weeks later the bamboo was dry and starting to die. Two weeks later there were broken stalks and little more.

Eventually the landscapers got around to clearing it and planting something else. Some of it succeeded. Most did not because they planted it too close to the artist driveway. Big touring trucks rolled over it again, again.

Oh well.

S

o, while I was working on this post I was listening to a new record by Los Lobos called, “Native Sons.”

It’s all covers.

That doesn’t sound great does it?

But, in their hands the songs are better than the originals. Better yet, I can sing along to most of it.

I can’t sing the two Spanish songs which is my fault for listening to my teachers in high school. They said take Latin. It’ll be fun and prepare you for college.

I never once used Latin in college, but I could have spoken Spanish in a lot of places.

Oh well.


One night, long ago.

M

y thoughts brought me to a couple of places. As events start to close down I’ve been thinking about anniversaries.

This picture of a flambeaux during Mardi Gras is a great example of that.

It’s just a picture, right?

Maybe.

To me it means a lot. I was suffering during Mardi Gras 2020. I was at the peak of my back pain which was transmitting even more pain to my right knee. I walked up Jefferson Street to my usual pre-parade stop, CC’s.

The flambeaux were lining up. I stuck my camera through the line and made this picture.

I gave up. Thee pain was too much. I limped back to my car with a couple of stops along the way.

This picture is important. It was my last serious photograph before the pandemic forced the lockdown.

For sure, I’ve been making little pictures on dog walks and my own walks. But, I haven’t made a serious picture since February, 2020.

My doctor thought I was depressed. Well, gee…

I

have a theory. When something goes south, just about everything else goes to hell.

I knew it a long time ago. I know it now.

This week is four days old.

We lost Jazzfest. We lost the red dress run. We lost Action Jackson. We lost Rosy Guste.

All of that happened during our fourth CoVid-19 surge. The national infections are now just about 130,000 infections a day. Our hospitals are jammed. The two big hospitals in Baton Rouge are filled. They literally cannot take more patients.

Louisiana and the rest of the country are headed south. All manner of smaller bad things are starting to happen. What’s next?

Y

ou just never know. That’s what Action Jackson said to me when we first met.

He was right. Maybe more than he knew.

When you photograph second lines every Sunday to get to know many people.

Photographers cluster together and chat. We get to know each other. We are happy to see each other.

One photographer was Roy Guste. I knew him as a photographer. Once, when his car was broken down I gave him a ride.

There was more to him.

He studied cooking at Cordon Bleu. He was the proprietor of one of our famous old restaurants as his dad was before him. He wrote ten books about our food, traditions and cooking.

He was very well known to the food culture of New Orleans.

I never knew. I wonder how many of the photographers on the line knew.

Roy Guste died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

RIP.


In a quiet place.

M

any years ago, I used to publish an experimental picture every Sunday. I haven’t done it for a long while. I’d like to say that I’m going to resume, but I’ll probably forget.

Throughout the news sites that I read there have been discussions about CoVid-19 (Over 106,000 daily new infections.), The Olympics, national and global fires, climate change and water.

Since I live in the land of too much water, I thought that I’d focus on that, not so much from a documentary standpoint, but from an artistic standpoint.

So.

This picture is about water. And, leaves. And, branches.

It took some doing to combine these natural elements because they are three separate pictures. We’ll get to that in a minute.

To my mind, all of the news with the exception of The Olympics are nature being nature. Even sports in Japan could fall into the nature category because anyone who competed outside felt the Japanese heat.

I’ve written this in the past, but to me it seems like nature, always seeking stasis, has finally had enough. Ma Nature has decided we — the human race — is the problem and she’s going to do something about us.

Or, we can mend our way. Right this minute. Now.

L

ayers. That’s my trick. As I wrote on the other side, there are three layers here.

Water, leaves and branches. Each of them was photographed at different times.

I started with the water and dropped the leaves into that. I held that back and worked on the branches, which ultimately becomes the base of the entire image.

There was the usual fine tuning and adding the faux bokeh.

I was finished.

I want to discuss one other topic. A friend of mine wrote blog about light. He said that the “overused painting with light” was really not in the discussion.

I wonder why he did that. Photography is literally the Greek words for “Painting with light.” Or, really, “Drawing with light.”

That’s the very first thing you learn in a photo class at any level.


At night in the French Quarter.

I

‘ve made a change. You’ll figure it out. It comes under the heading of who was I really hurting?

In these pandemic days when many people aren’t able to travel, it’s possible to get a European fix right here in New Orleans. After all, we are a French, Spanish and American place. Much of the Quarter was rebuilt after a massive fire and is really Spanish-influenced even though we call it the French Quarter,

But, this place. It looks and feels like it belongs in Paris. It was an old run down apartment building. If you’ve walked on Royal Street, you’ve probably seen it. It is catty corner from Rouses, the only real grocery store in the Quarter.

if you noticed I used the word, “was.”

No worries. It was run down. Now it’s restored. It still exists. Thankfully.

It’s very hard to demo any building in the Quarter. They are all historical. When a building comes down it usually fell down on its own accord. Sometimes, it’s not really on its own. Sometimes, the owner didn’t take very good care of it and it rotted from the inside out.

Anyway, I’ve always liked this building. If there is any kind of pretty light, I usually head over there to make a few pictures, meaning that I’ve got a pretty good archive of this building. Besides, if it’s a hot and humid day, the grocery store is a great place to buy water at normal prices.

And, speaking of normal, nothing is normal in New Orleans as much as we try to pretend it is. We lead the nation in new CoVid-19 infections. Florida is a close second. The rate of infection upriver and in Baton Rouge is so bad that Our lady of The Lake — a major hospital — has no beds for anybody. All of their vents are in use. They were forced to hire traveling nurses to augment their staff.

The entire state is under a governor’s mandate to wear masks inside and outside, if it’s necessary. Many clubs want a proof of vaccination or tests results no older than 72 hours and you still have to wear a mask.

It’s bad and getting worse.

If you are a tourist and you love our city please don’t come.

L

et’s talk about this photograph.

The first thing you should know is that I cropped it out of a horizontal picture because I wanted more detail than a horizontal picture could show on this page.

I followed the crop with what I consider to be normal improvements. I darkened it a little, added some color to it, and sharpened it.

Then…

I went a little crazy. I added glow and softness. I made the picture moody, maybe even spooky.

Finally, I had to repair what normally is a radius issue, meaning that little rim of light you see around subjects, sometimes. This time it was thick and only in one place. It looked like somebody tried to erase the sky. Normally, it is repaired by lowering the radius or “structure.”

Not this time.

I had to fiddle and tinker and fiddle some more. Finally, I found a solution hiding in a vibrance feature. Make the top more colorful and the problem vanished.

I don’t know why.


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.


In the water.

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appear to be stuck on reflections. That’s a pretty good thing, I think. It’s especially after a hurricane, another hurricane and seasonal sideways rainfall.

And, good news of all possible good news. The weather is turning cool. It’s been a long hot summer punctuated by Covid fears and untimely passings of people we cared about.

With the change of seasons I feel like we made it through something. We passed through some kind of portal.

What do you think? What do you think is ahead?

I’m going with good things.

.


Bits and pieces.

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hat remains, indeed.

Clean up continues while I wander around taking pictures. In this case, pictures of floating leaves in a pool that had already been cleared of a lot of storm junk, which brings me to the topic of junk.

When you are sitting around in a hot house at night with little to do because it’s dark and there’s no power, you think.

Most of those thoughts turn strange. Some make no sense in the light of day like ”if I ever get out of here I’m going to kill the first rock I see.”

Huh?

What did a nice rock ever do to me?

Some thoughts make sense. Here’s one now. When I first began my journey on Storyteller, I was advised by people who know more than me that consistency is important. So, I posted every day.

Why?

After taking a storm enforced break, I came to the conclusion that no longer makes me happy. So, I’ll post when I have something to say since it turns out that many of you come here for my words as much as my pictures.

That in itself strikes me as strange but what do I know?

Very little it seems.

Enjoy every sandwich.

.

,


Lots of tubas.

It started during the pandemic and was enhanced by Delta-x and Hurricane Ida.

Memories. They’ve been floating around for days. It was bad enough when time was flexible. Now? Whew.

And. Then.

The anniversary of Warren Zevon’s passing arrived. You know. The guy who sang “Werewolves of London.”

He was so much more than that.

But, for me, his very last song is THE song. It’s called, “Think of me for a little while.”

The song without the video is hard enough to listen to without balling. With the video? There wasn’t a dry eye in this broken down house.

And, speaking of broken down, I am grateful for what little damage this house had. When I think of the upriver communities of Houma and Laplace who were destroyed beyond recognition, I am humbled by our luck.

We are on our way out of here, either for a few months or forever. I’ve been though two 100 storms in 16 years. That’s enough.

Where? A couple of places. I’ll let you know. Until then, enjoy every sandwich.

I thought that as I moved on that I would show you some of the images that approximate my memories.

Unfortunately, pictures can’t come close to what’s in my head. I think that’s the way it alway is. That’s as it should be.

In case you are wondering, I made these pictures all over the place. It’s all part of my life.

I have no idea what’s next and that feels freeing.


So many of you have expressed concern about us. We are fine. Our house is damaged, but not badly. Our trees are in our neighbors houses. We have no power, no water, no phone. But, the internet is up. We are running out of food. Some grocery stores are open. But, we can’t get to them because streets are covered with broken trees, power poles, power lines and parts of houses.

Thanks for thinking of us. All of us


Once upon a time.

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ere it comes. Hurricane Ida blowing through the gulf. She is expected to make landfall in Louisiana around 2pm on Sunday, August 29.

Something just walked up my back as I wrote that. A kind of chilling thing. A kind of dread.

Because.

August 29th is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

I had a bad feeling then, and I have a bad feeling now.

According to the NOAA map and cone, at this time it should actually hit about 75 miles north on a line with Baton Rouge. That can change hourly. The barometric pressure is about 1002. By the time IDA arrives the BP will be in the mid to upper 800s.

There will be a very high storm surge since that time of day will host a high tide.

That should not affect us. That’s because we bought this house in a place that has never flooded in NOLA history. It’s located on very high ground; 6 feet above sea level he wrote with a large dose of snark.

We are getting ready, but we are always mostly ready. The last thing we’ll do on Sunday is close the storm shutters.

We aren’t evacuating because of CoVid-19. What good will it do to leave a place that might get damaged to end up on a place that could kill me?

I’ll post again on Sunday. It’ll be short and mostly discuss current storm conditions.

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elieve it or not, this is a Hurricane Katrina picture. I made it the next summer after the storm.

I came back to sell our New Orleans house which has been flooded by four inches of water that came through a door in the service area.

floor If the people who did the add-on would have built it to the rest of the house’s height, our home would have stayed dry.

But, they didn’t.

I wanted to have a look around. I made my way to The Lower 9th Ward, a place that was flooded by 14 feet of water and is sacred ground because so many people died there.

I was looking for a landmark house. Seeing it would tell me where to to turn.

I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there. A stand of bamboo took its place.

Nature always seeks stasis.

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want to talk about one more thing. Mental health. After the storm and the heavy destruction about 85% of the returnees were on some kind of mood stabilizer. Every one and anyone.

Most of us stopped using those meds because we had, in the words of many psychological practitioners, “Situational Depression.”

Nobody thought about our next phase of mental upset. PTSD. Anybody who has been through an extreme trauma can suffer from it. It doesn’t just affect former military personnel.

It manifests itself in different ways. A photographer I know tried to commit suicide by cop. Thankfully, he’s known about town. The NOPD knew him and talked him down. Drinking reached an all time high in a city that is perpetually drunk. There was a very high divorce rate in the first couple of years after the storm.

On the other hand, when we ran into each other for the first time after the storm we’d greet each other with hugs, kisses and dancing in the streets. And, that was just the men.

Me? Only a kind of PSTD plagues me every year about this time. I start getting hyper vigilant. I start checking our storm plans. And, I start getting clumsy. For a big guy I’m pretty light on my toes. In the house, we all are.

Ha!

Let’s talk about today. I started to make espresso. We have big plumbed thing that is a PIA to use so we bought a little Nespresso machine. I noticed the water tank was almost empty. I filled a measuring cup and started to pour it into the tank. I missed it by that much and the water ended up on the counter and floor. I dropped two full cups of espresso on the floor. I went upstairs and walked into a wall. That wall has been there since we lived into the house. And, so it went.

I can hardly wait for tomorrow.