If you are lucky, you’ll be outside to see it as it drops down over the earth like a dark curtain. For me, it just depends. If I’m done with inside work and a dog wants to go out, I get to see nature’s magic. Magic and renewal. A 24 hour cycle. A kind of rebirth.
Sometimes, I’m trapped inside. I see dusk and nightfall through my studio windows. Sure, I can see the light. I can see day turn to night. But, it’s just not the same.
We — the dog and I — were walking along a little fence. When we turned the corner this is what I saw. I almost got too excited. I calmed down within a few seconds. I steadied myself. I made five frames. I knew I made a picture of what I saw.
That’s how it’s been for the last few days. A lot of photographer’s luck, combined with timing and a little bit of knowledge. When the weather finally cools down, I’ll go looking for pictures in earnest. This is the time when we all got impatient because it seems like summer will never come to a close.
I saw a little meme of Facebook. Southerners say, “We made it through 20 weeks of summer. Only 32 weeks to go.” That feels about right. Right now.
I made a musical picture. At least, that’s how I see it.
I don’t know why, but it does. It’s very likely that it will look like something else to you. That doesn’t matter. We all bring our life, our experience and our influences to all art. That’s why you like a piece of art or a bit of music, and somebody else doesn’t like it. It has nothing to do with being good or bad. It has everything to do with you.
To do with you. That little phrase is really a mouthful. That’s the key to making changes. Rather than blame outside influences, change yourself first.
We’ve all being complaining about social media, news media and what have you. It never stops. It’s ugly. People are nasty. The change is simpler then we realize. Adjust your thinking. For instance, I had a lot of political commentary on my Twitter feed. That just was wearing me down. So, I changed things around. Now, I mostly have people discussing music, art and photographs. Much better. I even removed the White House. 24 hours of propaganda gone. Better yet.
I did the same thing on Facebook. I’m only there to share my work and to talk to old friends. I’ve silenced any political discussions for 30 days. I expect those discussions to be even more shrill as the 2020 general election approaches. I’ll just keep putting those threads on a 30 day silence.
I feel so much better today. Mondays are usually hard for me. I start out in a bad mood. Then, the usual stuff starts. Not today. I have a smile on my face.
You can do it too. Should you? That’s up to you.
Consider this, the general din, the hollering and the continual nonsense from our leaders isn’t going to change anytime soon. Who needs to keep hearing it?
Now, about this picture. It’s really three pictures layered over each other. The base was a Fourth of July wreath. I followed that with a dirt pathway. And, finally I added the pink flowers. You’ve seen the flowers. The other two images are new to you. But, not to me. For instance, the Fourth of July picture was made before the big celebration… in 2018. I just never had a use for it.
The rest of the process is mostly adjustment. The layers have to make some kind of sense to me, and, hopefully, you. There are color, brightness and contrast adjustments too. That little extra tinkering takes some time. There are a lot of false starts. There are some close, but no cigar, starts. Eventually, it all works out.
It was hidden in plain sight. So small that I had to look twice and break my cardinal rule of photography. I had to move some of the greenery around to photograph the flower. I try never to move or change anything when I make these kinds of semi-nature pictures. I had no choice. If I wanted to make the flower’s picture, I had to be able to see all of it.
Honesty. Full disclosure.
It’s a very peaceful picture. After another week of political craziness, more lies and memorial sadness, I think we could all use a picture that’s a little quiet. Besides, it’s Sunday in the U.S. It’s a Sunday kind of picture.
That’s what caught my eye. A little too much. I couldn’t really open my eyes with such direct sunlight. So, I made this picture with my eyes closed. A true point and shoot. Then my fingers got in the picture. I thought I was trying to shield my eyes. I shielded the lens instead. That’s why I used a square crop. I wasn’t being creative. I was being pragmatic.
Aside from my practicality with this picture, I am also a creature of habit. I returned to the scene of a past crime, er, picture. Add practicality with being habitual and it could equal boring. Luckily, the backlighted train engine, plus just about every other thing in the picture wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Oh yeah. The tilt. I couldn’t see the subject so I didn’t exactly know where the lens was pointing. See? This picture is all mistakes.
The curious thing about the picture is all those power lines. As I worked in post production, I built an unintended consequence by creating light lines around them. I’ve done it in the past. The only way to avoid them is to not shoot into the sun. I know this. I don’t follow the rule. Or, I could have not done so much post work. What fun is that?
A real swamp would likely be very deep and wet this time of year. Most of the real swamps have been developed. Into concrete. But, here and there, you can find some little groves of what came before us. This one takes about ten minutes to walk through.
If I was really feeling my oats, I’d drive down to Barataria Preserve and walk along the wooden plank sidewalk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park where alligators lurk underneath you, and snakes watch you from above. Jean Lafitte was a pirate. Not only did he serve with U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans, but he wasn’t afraid of alligators and snakes. Like I am.
You’d think getting to such a primitive place would take hours. Nah. Forty-five minutes to an hour and you are there. A lot of tourists visiting New Orleans take a tour of the swamp by boat, then drive upriver to plantation country. Between the two, it’s a nice day trip and not all that far from the “big” city. And, it’s really hard to get lost.
The picture. I didn’t have to do much to it. I made it in the early morning sun which gave it a nice yellow glow. But, not that early. In order for the light to penetrate the foliage, the sun had to get high enough to find the right angle to do its work for me. That’s it.
One more thing. If you take a swamp tour by boat, the guide usually has a couple of chickens that he or she bought at the local Wal-Mart. Cold. Not alive. The chickens are tossed into the water where gators are known to lurk. That creates a commotion so that pictures can be taken.
Today is a sacred day. On a bright fall morning in 2001 our world changed. Terrorists crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers in the city of my birth, New York. They crashed a third plane into the Pentagon, the hub of our military in Washington D.C. They tried to steer a fourth plane back to the district, when very brave passengers, knowing they would lose their lives, forced that plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.
If you ask me about my personal opinion, I’ll say this. Of course, I’m sad. I was even scared at the time. But, I believe the bad guys achieved their purpose. They changed the world. As one false step lead to another, we ended up — for now — in hateful place. A polarized place where seemingly everybody is against somebody who is even remotely different from them.
I’m happy to report that I’m not that way. I guess, for the most part, I’ve seen enough in my life to not really be afraid of much. Even death. I don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of it. I don’t know when these changes came to me. They sort of just slid in there. In a way that also explains this picture.
For sure, we should stop, think and reflect on this day. We should make an extra effort to be kinder than we were yesterday. But, we also have to move on in our own ways. For me, that’s making pictures. It’s the only way that I can defeat the bad guys. A friend of mine who lives in Memphis say that as artists we need to “art harder.” I agree.
For those of you who do something different, keep doing it. Do more of it.
That’s how we win.
This picture hasn’t got anything to do with my thoughts for today. Sometimes that happens. I’m just chasing the wonderful autumn light these days. Someday, the weather will actually change and the temperatures will match the light. #nolaheat is relentless.
A deep blue sky at just around dusk. I was lucky to make the picture. This is one of those times when a tripod might come in handy. In my own defense, I wasn’t expecting to see such a sight. So, I did what I could.
Dan Rather tweets and posts on Facebook. Yesterday, he said that the points of light in this dark time, are the arts. He talked about any of us who keep going. To keep making work. To continue to grow. I guess that I’m one of those artists to whom he was referring.
I never really think of myself that way. I suppose that you never do when you are in the midst of your work.
Speaking of photographer’s work, I’m in mourning today. Photographer and videographer Robert Frank passed yesterday at 94. Without him there would be no me. Without him, there would be none of the guys and ladies I came up with. Without him there would be no photojournalism as we know it today.
He turned the photography world on its head when he released his seminal work, “The Americans.” The self-congratulatory photographers, and a lot of photography critics at the time, thought his work was terrible. It was grainy, sometimes the horizons tilted, he made statements about America that weren’t so pretty. He told the story of the underclass.
Basically, his work was honest but it wasn’t pretty.
That’s what opened the door for a lot of us.
You know what Neil Young would say about that. He once famously said that, “when he was in the middle of the road he headed towards the gutter where things were a lot more interesting.”
Walking the dogs in the heat requires at least two places to sit and recover slightly. Luckily, there are a couple of park benches on our usual route. We stop at each of them if nobody else is using them. We sit for a few minutes, regroup and keep going.
That’s how I found this picture. There was a leaf on the bench next to me. I looked down and thought, “Wow, look at that.” I leaned over and made this picture. I’ve long agreed with the philosophy of, “Don’t take the picture, let the picture take you.” That’s what happened.
No, I didn’t. No second line for me yesterday. At 5pm, the temperature had “dropped” to 98 degrees. With the heat index of about 9 degrees, the “feels like” temperature would have been 107 degrees. Too hot for this boy. From the lack of posts around social media, it doesn’t look like to many of my brother and sister photographers braved the wild streets. It takes us a while, but we do learn.
There is no relief in evening’s darkness. I went outside with the dogs for their late night business. We didn’t really walk. I mostly just stood there. When I returned, I changed my clothes for the sixth time that day. Oh, did I mention that when we went outside it was midnight? I have no idea how hot it was. I didn’t want to know.
I asked my friend from another blog what she learned from looking at http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. Her’s was a long reply. When I finish talking with you, I’m going to reply to her reply. Its’ all about photography. I invite to to read what we both wrote.
We all know about our natural seasons. Arrange them in any order that you like. Winter. Spring. Summer. Autumn.
The transition from summer to fall is, to me, the most dramatic change. Leaves go from a bright, rich green, to a sort of faded green and finally they turn golden and fall. In most of the south, you almost don’t see that coming. When the leaves finally turn golden they linger on the trees and all seem to fall at once.
That, as they say, is the nature of things.
Today. I’m still wanting to photograph the second line that I mentioned yesterday. The high temperature is down. From 97 to 96 degrees. At 5pm, which is the start time, we usually lose a few degrees from the high. Although last night at around midnight, if you include the heat index measurement, the weather outside was frightful. 104 degrees.
I hate to make Storyteller about the weather, but down here is the swamp, that’s what is at the top of mind. For most of us.
It’s hard to do anything in this kind of heat. After a dog walk, they come inside and have a drink of water. Then, they adjourn to their places and sleep the sleep of the dead. I usually take a break from whatever I’m doing and relax a little before I get started. It is truly draining. After a little recovery, I think about my chores for the day and promptly forget them.
The picture. I was struck by the already golden leaves of this tree. They helped to make the branches of the tree almost look like something out of The Cat in the Hat.