Magical night.

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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?


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.

O

n the other side.

There’s a lot of technique to discuss.

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

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

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

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


Garden of Prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second lining to honor Chef. Leah Chase.


Life in fantasia.

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es. I know what I said. No brand new pictures until I recovered. I still stand by that although this one is a day old.

It doesn’t mean that I’ve recovered. That’s going to take a long time. But, this picture was calling to me. “Ray, Ray, Raaayyy, come here. Take my picture.”

So, I did.

I’m glad that I did because it makes me smile. You know that I like bright color. I made it brighter. And, more colorful. I reckon it’s a good Sunday picture.

It is Sunday, isn’t it?

Somehow I managed to slip into that place of elastic time that was so common during the lockdown. That is probably related to my weird sleeping habits. You know. If you take a long nap when you wake up you are a little disorientated.

Anyway.

Enjoy your Sunday.

O

h boy. Did I do a lot to this picture.

The image probably could have stood on its own because it is backlighted and I pointed the phone almost straight into the sun.

You know me.

That wasn’t enough. First, I corrected the color then I made it “better” by adding color and contrast and glow.

The picture was fine, but it was horizontal which yields a small picture on Storyteller.

So, I cropped into the heart of it, turning it into a vertical image.

And, there you have it.


Flying.

Looks like wings, doesn’t it? Could be a moth or butterfly. It’s not. It’s too soon for flying creatures like those two. Even down here in the swamp all we have are caterpillars.

There are two kinds. There are soft furry ones. They make butterflies. There are hard spiny ones. They make moths. If one falls on you or you step on one you can get hurt. One of my neighbors still has a scar on her ankle two years after she was stung.

I don’t like to kill any living thing. I make one big exception. Put on a nice pair of hard soled shoes and step on every one of those spicky caterpillars that you see.

Sorry if that offends you.

Anyway.

The little piece of the picture that looks like wings are flower petals. I’ll tell you what I did to this picture on the other side.

I’m trying to figure out what this picture means to me. What the image means to you is your business.

I think there are two components to ma nature. The first, that I’ve written about in the past, is that she always seeks stasis. The second is that getting to stasis takes chaos.

This picture is an example of the later.

Earth’s chaos.

I’m about to use a new phrase. Some of you may know it. It gives me a lot of latitude. I believe ma nature is a tool of the higher power of your understanding.

Get it? Good.

Finally. A technical nightmare. This image was made in many fits and starts.

There are three images layered into the one you see.

That was the easy part. The rest made me crazy. And, that’s saying a lot.

First, I added color. Then, I used a retro setting that took the color of of the image.

I brightened the color slightly. Then I used an app that creates drama by removing a lot of mid tones out of the picture. Then, I selectively added some color.

Getting near the end, I used the grunge app which created all those weird little shapes.

Then I was done. And, so was the picture.

Figure out what it means to you, if anything. Let me know in the comments.


China Rose

A while back I had an interesting discussion on Instagram. It was probably my only one. It wasn’t about photographs. Instead it was about flowers.

The photographer that I was talking with misidentified a flower that he called a China Rose. I knew that it was something else because I grew up with them.

We both started Googling and found out what a real China Rose looked like. We learned that it isn’t the color, but the smallness and the shape.

These are China Roses produced my way.

Artfully.

I have more traditional pictures, but today we are still headed towards confusion and mixed up imagery. That’s just fine. It’s what I feel like producing.

If anything, this image gets me closer to how I saw it in bright and contrasty sunlight. It was a little dream-like at the time. If I went out today, it would also be the same. I’m having trouble waking up.

That’s after finishing packaging homemade dog food, and having a coffee and a donut. Don’t judge me. I know that you’ve eaten worse. Gummy Bears for breakfast just shouldn’t be a thing.

Which brings me to one of the lamest things I’ve heard in years. Some Republican know-nothing is claiming that President Biden won’t let us have meat in our beer.

Imagine that. Meat Beer.

And, the world turns.

Whatever did I do to this picture?

For one thing, nothing is in sharp focus but by tinkering with it there appears to be sharpness. Trust me, there isn’t any real sharpness.

The next thing I did was remove all of the mid-tones. That caused overly bright contrasty color which I added more color. I give that saturation slider a good, hard pull.

The result is what you see. I don’t know about you, but it’s art to me. Sorta.

We’ve been through that before. I don’t need to repeat it just to make a point or fill space.

So. I won’t.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask inside. Keep your distance everywhere. Wash your hands. Get your jabs, especially your second one. Look after each other. Be patient because we are getting close.


All the reds and oranges.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Normally, I’d post something on the day of the event. This time, I thought I’d give you a little time to plan.

What are you going to do to make the planet a little healthier?

Me? I’m going to pick up trash.

It’s locals and tourists.

Once, I heard a tourist in The Marigny say that all this trash on the ground was just terrible as she proceeded to throw her trash on the ground.

Huh?

Once, after watching a guy throw trash on the street in front of our house, I asked him to pick it up. When he refused I said, “Pick that up. This isn’t your mama’s living room.”

He did.

It doesn’t matter what you do, but do something.

On another note, justice was served yesterday. Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges: second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.

At the time that George Floyd was killed, the Minneapolis police department claimed that he died in transit. Their lie was exposed by a courageous 17 year old teenager named Darnella Frazier. I think I read that the city honored with a medal.

I agree with Stephen Colbert. I find it hard to celebrate when a man is still dead. I think, like many people do, that this is just a start.

Of course, just as the verdict was being announced, another teenage girl was killed by a cop in Columbus, Ohio. The police department immediately released the body camera footage and it looks like the shooting was clean.

I have some thoughts about that.

When I was a young man — a teenager — cops were not so heavily armed. They didn’t carry tasers and their weapons were a revolver and baton.

Back in the day, they would have tried to talk her down. If they couldn’t do that and she threatened them, they’d hit the arm holding the knife with their baton. Likely, they would have broken her arm.

A broken arm isn’t dead.

Maybe that’s how you reform police departments. Go back to the basics. Most departments are way too up armored. They often look like soldiers going into combat. They are on the street to protect and serve, not kill people.

Now is the time for technical comments.

But first, a rant.

This damn block system has got to go. Once again, it put a box around my writing. Click anywhere near the box and everything is gone.

I’ve been having what the Brits call a spirited conversation with a “happiness engineer.”

The picture. It’s really two layered horizontal pictures. I twisted them up in a program that is designed to help you correct compositional problems like a tilted horizon line.

Then, I turned the horizontal picture to the vertical. I corrected whatever I thought was a problem and pushed the contrast and sharpening until it looked like an illustration.

That’s it.

If you want to learn about actual settings I’ll tell you, but first make sure that your phone is equipped with Snapseed, which is a free product.

Then, ask me questions. I’ll guide you through the process.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. (Don’t turn red state on me) Look after each other. Be patient.


Long ago.

Long ago and far away. Ten years. 1,000 miles.

New Mexico is in my head. I was able to put it away for a while. OnOne archived all the work it could find on my computer’s hard drive and on one of my portables.

It found images that were “lost.”

They were not necessarily lost in my archives so much as being lost in my brain. Once I started seeing them again I looked at many of them in amazement.

It was like looking at them in a dream. I can’t remember the circumstance of making them although I do remember the pictures. Clearly.

And, speaking of dreams, this morning’s dream was very cool.

I was walking in a long tunnel like the kind that are made for mines. Everything was dark. I arrived at an open place. Everything was glowing. I got in line with the rest of the workers. We were handed five gallon buckets and sent to a dark fountain.

We dipped our buckets in the fountain until they were filled with multi-color fluid. It was stunningly beautiful. The colors were bright, they jumped in and out of the bucket, they sparkled.

What a show.

Then I woke up.

Pictures at an exhibition. April is going to be all over the place.

Some photographs will be old. Some will be my kind of art. Some will be from the project. Some will be from a survey of other ideas.

This picture from the mountains of New Mexico kicks off the month.

I decided to tone it down and make it look like a dream.

All of the work was done in Snapseed. I could have done a little more in OnOne, but I was satisfied with my work as it stood.

So, this is spring.


Sometimes just the sky.

It’s a great day for experiments. Rainy. Kind of cold. We’ve had a lot of rain since yesterday. Supposedly, there are three or four more inches on the way.

So, I used a new app. I’ve used it once in the past. I’ll get into the technical aspects of that on the right hand column.

With all the rain, I needed something to counteract that on Storyteller. This picture just about does that. It’s bright. It’s gauzy. And, there’s a lot of yellow. The photograph, if that’s what this is, moves from darkness to light, at least for peoples who read from left to right.

Even thought there’s been a lot of stupidity as the pandemic seems to be getting managed, that’s what this picture might mean. We are headed into the light.

Or, if you are if you are cynical like me, moving into the light could mean the end. You know what people say when they have died and came back because it wasn’t their time yet.

I think I’ll choose the first option, mostly because I’m not ready to go just yet. There’s a lot of work to be done. And, I want to help.

I know that you want to help too.

Amiright?

So. The app. It turns the image into all sorts of colors. The original photograph was monochromatic, even with the golden arches in the background.

If that wasn’t enough, I added a setting from OnOne that made those globes, which are supposed to be bokeh.

It’s really not bokeh. Bokeh, an often misused Japanese word that Japanese people don’t use, refers to the quality of the out of focus parts of an image.

Usually, that’s found in the background. You want something that’s soft and creamy with some shape.

Once I completed that, added a border. I had something mid-way between a photograph and something else.