Seeing the flag.

T

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

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

So, I began again.

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

Purple?

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

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

M

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

The technique is simple.

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

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

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

And, a bit of photographer’s luck.

Early morning breakfast stop.


In the balance.

The day after. It seems like nothing was settled. The Democrats seem to have held the advantage in the House. The Senate is about equal. The presidency — oh the presidency — has the challenger leading, but not by much. The current president wanted to stop counting votes the minute the polls closed. He never studied Civics in high school.

But.

Here’s what I’ve learned. First, had a really bad feeling going in. I came close. The current president made a career of slithering in between rocks in order to make his escape.That’s not all. I read a lot of comments on various socials. His backers were everywhere. They attacked and they attacked and they attacked. There was very little fight from the Democratic posters.

You could claim that they held their fire, knowing they had the advantage, but they didn’t. They were overmatched. Out gunner and out maneuvered at ever turn. Er, post.

Today’s hope is that once the distance ballots are counted that some of this will turn. It might, but let me be clear. The current president will push it into the court. The Supreme Court. Guess what?

Yeah. You know.

Me? I already knew all of this. Sometimes, I just know what I know. However, the final outcome is well beyond my pay grade. In one way this might be the best current choice. If the president had lost overwhelmingly, he would have been a lame duck feeling that he had to leave a trail of wonton destruction on his way out. He still could lose, but he’ll have less time to do a lot more harm.

Or not.

One more thing about what I know. My country is as divided and polarized as possible. We need to come together, at least about some things. The challenger will try to unite us. The current president won’t.

America’s children are feeling a lot like this old junked and tagged Cadillac. I made this picture on a trip out west when I lived out west. The copyright date says 2017, but the image is older than that. I know that I made the picture on the way to New Mexico, which makes it a lot older than that.

You could say I was lucky to be there is such nice weather. True enough, but I’ve seen pictures made in bright, cloudy weather and they are really something. Stunning is the word that I’d use. My photograph is fine. But, still…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Be patient.


And, so it begins. Election Day. At least it is the official day. Some 97 million citizens have already voted. This election is a really, really big deal. It’s been discussed, written about, polled and screamed about, so there is no need for my recap.

There isn’t much more to say about today. If you haven’t already done so, go VOTE.

For those of you who live in other countries, have good thought for us. As we’ve seen in the last four years this affects you too.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Be kind.

And.

VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE.

Many pictures. I started with an idea. I thought I could post about a bazillion American flags and call it good.

And, it would have been.

Then, I thought, what do those flags represent? Me. Us. We. You.

So, on this election day I worked through my Storyteller posts and found these images in my media.

They are, Me. Us. We. You.

We are the people who make America great. We are the people who help the entire world. And we are a beacon.

These are our photographs.


In all its glory.
In all its glory.

I’m going to tell you a story.

This story, in so many ways, is about all of us in The United States.

My grandfather was a Russian immigrant. He came to this country in 1905. He was a sailor in the Royal Russian Navy during the time of the first Russian Revolution. He was a large machine mechanic. A machinist’s mate. He served on board a battleship. His ship, like so many others, was ordered to fire on Russian people in order to quell the early uprising. Like so many others in the navy, he refused. He would not fire on his own people.

He jumped ship somewhere near Vladivostok. He and a large group of his unit. There is a famous book and movie about this called, “The Potemkin Incident.” It is about a battleship crew, how they scuttled the ship and deserted. But not his crew. He made his way to Hamburg, Germany. He had few citizenship documents. And, if history serves, Russian police, soldiers and agents looked everywhere for these men. They had to, since about half the navy deserted. Yes. Deserted. My grandfather deserted rather than kill his own people.

When he got to Hamburg, he managed to buy a steerage class ticket on some broken down old tramp freighter. He and his friends lived in the bottom of a ship for about 30 days eating only apples and Kasha (a sort of rough grain that we still eat today) and drinking putrid water. When they arrived at New York harbor they were quarantined for a short time and then passed through immigration at Ellis Island. My grandfather spoke no English. The immigration officers spoke no Russian or Ukrainian. That’s how I got my family name. When he entered, they wrote “Laskowitz” because that’s the best that they could do. That’s not what our name is. It is something like Laskowicz, or Laskevitz or…

He passed through immigration and made his way to the Lower East Side of New York City, which was an Eastern European ghetto. In 1910, he met my grandmother who immigrated from Poland. They married. They moved to Newark. New Jersey. They had two children. My aunt Olga. And, my dad. Walter. In 1917, while World War I was starting to move slightly in the Germany’s favor, my grandfather enlisted in the US Army. As did many immigrants, he went back to Europe to fight for his newly adopted country. The US government decreed that all immigrants who served and who were holding the historical equivalent of the “green card,” would immediately be granted full naturalized citizenship upon being discharged from the military. They just had to  apply.

Apparently, my grandparents learned a couple of lessons too well. They didn’t trust any government.  Register? Apply? Noooooo…. Although he could have been naturalized in 1919, he wasn’t. He waited until 1947. My dad, by this time, had served the country during World War II. He was home and convinced my grandfather — his dad — to claim his veterans right. He did.

My grandfather passed in 1949. I never knew him.

One more family story. My grandfather’s family were sausage makers by family trade. They lived in a small village. During World War II, the Nazis burned the village to the ground. Later as the Soviets pushed through the village, they salted the land so nothing would grow. The only thing that stands there today is a small monument.

Today is 30 January 2017. The past week was pure hell. Think about it. Make what you will of my family’s story.

Barbed wire.
Barbed wire.


Pictures of everything.
Pictures of everything.

A holiday. A national holiday. The 4th of July. Independence Day.

These pictures were made in a lot of places. Las Vegas, New Orleans, Virginia City. Somewhere that I can’t remember. I don’t think that matters. It’s just a collection of what I saw on my rambles.

For those of you in other countries, not to worry. I’ll be back with my usual work. On Sunday.

In the French Quarter.
In the French Quarter.

Uptown American flag.
Uptown American flag.

American flag and Katrina Cross.
American flag and Katrina Cross.

Hanging American flag.
Hanging American flag.


Rain & Bricks
A little rain in the brickyard as I call it.

Luckily, I had some more files from the last time I was in New Orleans. So. I’ll stop whining about being at the bottom of the barrel. I’m not. And, I’ll be able to produce new work in few more days. Better yet, this picture dovetails very nicely with my new blog site at HUB, since my post there was about making pictures in bad weather. Before I write much more, if you’d like to see the new blog please go to http-::raylaskowitz.hubpages.com:hub:Travel-Photography-Made-Easier . The blog is more how-to oriented than Storyteller when it comes to making pictures.I’m writing to those people who are traveling for pleasure, business or whatever and want to take a few snaps. However, I still try to stay away from photo-speak and heavy technical jargon. Nobody likes reading things that you need a dictionary to understand.

Not to worry. I’m not abandoning Storyteller. I enjoy telling you little stories and sharing my pictures with you.

Anyway. Back on topic. This picture was made in the same area where I found all that graffiti, and ducked into the old power plant and cannon ball factory. The area is not always as bleak as this picture looks. But somehow, bright sunny days and clear blue skies aren’t really appropriate for this old broken down and abandoned place. To my eye, it looks a little better in the gloom and rain. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll go back on a really pretty day and test my theory. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. So will you.

 

 

 


Sometimes on my back road drives, I find stuff. Well, not exactly that. I’m sure the stuff that I find isn’t lost. It is more like dumped. Sometimes it’s interesting stuff. You know what they say. “If you want to take better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” Sometimes, even better stuff doesn’t help. Anyway, the thing about the high desert is its dryness. Very dryness. While we have humidity in New Orleans that ranges in 70 and 80 percent range, New Mexicans complain when humidity is like 12 percent. All that dry air prevents rust. Or at least inhibits it. While you may see old, dumped cars and trucks that look rusty, upon closer inspection you find that they are not. They are wind-blown and sand blasted. They are faded by the strong sun light. The sun tends to magnify in intensity when you are a mile up. At least you aren’t eight miles high. And, waiting to touch down. Did you catch that?

So. This truck. It’s an ancient GMC truck that I found “parked” in a field. I doubt that it ran or even could be started. It’s tires looked firm but dry rotted. Obviously, the windshield needs a little work. Other than that, it looked intact. Unfortunately, I stopped to make the picture at exactly the wrong time of day. High Noon. Flat. Chalky light. Ugly. Still I made the picture. It was a record shot. One that I would keep in the back of my mind for when I was in the “neighborhood” again. Something to be reworked at a more appropriate time of day. But, I “found” image file when I was looking for those act of traveling pictures that I mentioned. I decided to play with it. I added a little color. I added a little contrast. I sharpened some of the details. Then I added some “glow” to it. That did it. The image is somewhat presentable. Here it is. 


Only in New Mexico. Only in the high desert of Northern New Mexico can you see a wonderful sunset and feel the rain on your shoulders at the same time. It’s wonderful. The rain falls. Hard. But you know that it won’t last long and you can get back to it. Or just get to it. I made this picture as I was getting ready to leave the state. I knew it would be a while before I would be back, at least with the time to poke around the back roads and find places like this one. And, what’s great about this road is that it is only about 15 miles west of Albuquerque which makes it an easy trip. That’s not a big deal. But, if you blow a sunrise or sunset, it’s not like you drove for 500 miles and camped out. Waiting and waiting. Instead, it means you come back the next morning or evening until you make your picture. One this evening I got lucky. Very lucky. I went out the weekend before I was leaving. I made three or four very nice pictures in about an hours time. And, that was it.

The picture. To me it means something about the great American open road. The miles go on forever. So does the view. It’s simply magnificent.  But, you need a white pick up truck to complete the picture. Technically speaking, it isn’t much. I drove out there, turned on some music and waited. When the sun and the rain started doing magic things to the sky and the scenery I started working  in a fast but measured manner. Click. Click. Click. The pictures started coming. Time slowed down. Pretty soon it was dark. It was time to go.


I’m not really a big fireworks kind of guy. So, while I was thinking about what to post today, I came up with the idea of a collection of Americana pictures. So here we go.