Emerging from the foggy bottom.

L

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s what she is trained to do.

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

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

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

I gave up.

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

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

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

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

Are you reading automattician?

R

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

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

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

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

I also wanna buy a hat. And, socks.

S

o, the picture.

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

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

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

That’s why you get to see it.


All the fall colors.

A

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

That seems like an awfully long way to chase color.

Me?

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

That’s not all bad news.

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

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

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

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

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

T

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

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

So, I gave it art.

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

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

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


What do you see?

T

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

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

Where I come from we say, progress not perfection.

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

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

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

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

I suspect a lot of us are in this place.

What about you?

A

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

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

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

There goes that perfection thing again.

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

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

This time it was.


All of the mysteries.

T

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

You get the point.

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

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

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

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

That, alone, makes me sad.

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

Think about it.

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

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

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

A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully, it will be subtle and peaceful.

Unlike this photograph.


Wet and wild.

S

torms bring and leave their own unique beauty. That’s what I was attempting to capture in order to give you an idea of what it feels like when a big storm moves into my neighborhood.

I think of this picture not as a photograph, but as art. Art isn’t often literal. It’s autobiographical in many ways. That doesn’t mean the viewer must agree with the artist.

Oh no.

The viewer brings about 75% of the meaning to the work of art that is based on their own life experiences. You may see something in this work that is completely different from my intent.

As John Lennon once said when he was asked what his music meant, he replied, “Whatever you want it to mean.”

He said more in that sentence than many people can say in book.

It also confirms my own personal belief, that simpler is better.

What do y’all think?

T

his little attempt at art began as another tree picture.

Hurricane Ida brought the look of fall about two months early.

Once I stripped it down to almost a silhouette I started thinking about improvements.

Make no mistake, often improvements make the image worse. Much worse.

I decide to play with layering. This is tricky. It took me some time to find a picture that might work.

There were a lot of false starts. Finally, I located a picture that was composed of rain drops on a window.

It worked well. All that was left was fine tuning and posting it here.


All the magic.

S

ometimes I just like to experiment with picture and forget WordPress experiments. That’s what I’m doing today.

I started thinking that way yesterday, after I added a new contact form to my contact page. It was the same as my current contact page.

It occurred to me that a lot of these new blocks were nothing more than shuffling the deck again to see what rises to the top.

I looked at the calendar that I used. Same. I looked at the tag cloud. Same. I looked at the group of past posts. Same.

Good job, WordPressateers (They like another word, but I like mine better), you’ve managed to muddy the waters again.

In other words, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Unless… you have to your programmers something to do in order to keep employing them.

They say, follow the money. That’s where the trail leads to. On the other hand, they might not pay programmers properly. WordPress is always advertising for them,

What do you think? Should I apply? Think about it, me — not having any programming skills — could create havoc everywhere in the system. Your page could become my page. My page could become part of FEDEX’s page (They are a VIP client.) They’d probably pay me a lot of money to leave and deny I ever worked for them.

Obviously, my mood has improved.

A

rt. Once in my days in newspapering we had city editor who would walk around the picture desk looking for photographs for local pages.

He used say, “Art, art, art?” He sounded like a seal so I asked if he was one. Luckily, he had a good sense of humor and laughed.

Paybacks are hell. He waited until the last budget meeting — the meeting where we editors discussed what and where stories and art were going in the newspaper — then, he nailed me. I laughed.

And, paid him paid the next day.

This could have gotten out of hand if we weren’t adults. Or, where we?

I’ve almost written enough to not have to talk about this picture. Almost.

It’s layered. It’s enhanced. It’s tinkered with. And, I just published it.

I’d make a good politician.


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.


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!


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.