So bright. So pretty. I don’t photograph enough of it. Lately, in an attempt to beat the heat I drag myself out of bed early. Early enough to see low light. Golden light.
In Southeastern Louisiana, and most of the south, the heat just won’t break. We are ten to fifteen degrees higher than normal. But, if I’m reading the weather reports correctly, most of the country is too hot.
Is climate change a thing?
Certainly. And, most of the people who could make a difference are ignoring, or are attacking the scientists who are telling us that time is at hand. Most of the climate deniers are grumpy old men. They don’t care. They’ll be dead before the most extreme changes occur. Don’t they care about their children? Their families? Their friends’ families?
We all gotta go sometime. That doesn’t mean that we don’t want to leave something good behind. I’m not even going to get started on our current presidential administration except to ask, how the hell can they roll back clean water standards? The biggest wars of the rest of this century will be fought, not over oil, but over clean drinking water. And, they want to poison ours.
And, this was gonna be a happy Friday post.
The picture. You know when I made it. You know why I made it. But, you don’t know what I did. I actually used the same post production settings that I used on yesterday’s picture. And, then I brought the color down in order to make my statement.
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.
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.
I don’t usually photograph them, but I happened to look up and saw the most wonderful shapes. So, I did what I usually do and made a few pictures. I liked how fast they were moving across the sky. That’s hard to show using a still camera, so I just mostly concentrated on what I originally attracted me to them and to their layers.
The way that I’m working these days is almost a picture a day. I make the picture one day and publish it the next. That was never my intent. It just seems to be working out that way.
That brings me to this.
I’m about to turn Storyteller into a full blown website with my blog incorporated into that. I’m going to use an outside template designed to replace WordPress template, which should give me more ability to do what I’d like. I found one company that I like a lot. I have a number of questions for them. If they are answered to my satisfaction, I’ll start on the project. There are two big questions. One is about coding. The other is about building the site and how I lay it over Storyteller. It’s possible I could be out of service for a couple of days. I’ll let you know.
And, speaking of being out of service, I’m thinking of working on a picture per week schedule. In reviewing my work, I am repeating myself. And, I’m not making very substantial work. That isn’t to say I’ll only post once a week because I can share my out takes as well as the very best picture. I have to think that through. I’ll let you know about that too.
If all goes as planned, there will be a direct purchasing tab, leading the buyer to a place where images can be bought or licensed by size, with options for paper type, canvases and framing.
All of this will take some work, but I am free for awhile.
The headline isn’t a typo. It’s Latin. I’m pretty sure that only one of you who comments regularly knows what it means.
No worries. I’ll tell you.
“Do what you are doing.”
That sort of falls in nicely with the discussions of the last few days. I read it in a New York Times piece about California Governor Jerry Brown. I first photographed him during his first pass as governor. He was approachable, smart and disciplined. That seems like 150 years ago.
It was during those years that the nickname, “Governor Moonbeam” was hung on him. Do you know what earned him that silly name? He was talking about the future when signals could be bounced off satellites and they could be used to communicate.
Can you say cell phones?
As in many things, he was ahead of his time.
He rebuilt his political career after his failed run for president. He was elected governor again after serving in various other political posts. This time around, he lifted California out of debt and well into profitability. He learned from his mistakes.
Today is his last day as governor. He is 80 years old. He retires today to his family home on a pretty isolated piece of land in Northern California. Somehow, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of him. At least, I hope not.
I didn’t intend this to be about Jerry Brown. It just started that way. When he was a young man, he was in the seminary. He was going to be a priest. The Latin saying is a Jesuit saying. I was taught by Jesuits at Loyola/New Orleans. That was during a masters program. Those kinds of beliefs are embossed in my brain.
Reading that article did bring a lot of memories flooding back. Memories about my teenage years. Memories about my early career years. Memories about my many moves throughout the world and country.
This is added to by a man whose dad just passed. He and sister have two pictures that I made when I worked at the newspapers in Winston-Salem North Carolina. In early 1981. He sent me an email. At first, he was wondering of the name on the picture was me. When I confirmed that, he asked what I knew about the pictures.
That’s a long time ago.
I don’t even remember taking them. One of them is pretty good. I’ll dig through my archives. Unfortunately, they look like they were made for our social pages. It’s likely that I never scooped up those negatives when I left the paper. When you are a staff member of a newspaper, magazine or wire service, your work belongs to them. Most bosses turn a blind eye to a staffer removing negatives as long as you left something behind. Those are the kinds of negatives I wouldn’t taken.
I hope not. I’d like to help this guy out. I’m happy to scan some negatives and make him some prints if I can.
Oh, that learning thing? It seems that I’m mostly trying to learn about myself. All recent signs point to that.
Time passes. Seasons change. The world keeps turning. What seems important today is meaningless tomorrow.
I never claimed to be a nature photographer. In truth, I’m not. I photograph what I see. For the last few years a lot of what I see has many elements of nature. I suppose it could be attributed to my dog walks. Whether it is the pack or just the dog who sees stuff, we tend to walk in places that they like. That means nature rather than urban. True, we live in an urban environment, but they head straight to the places that they know.
I tried an experiment a few weeks back. I took the all-seeing dog to Treme, where I has a little business. When that was concluded, I took her for a walk. She walked around a very long block. But, she didn’t like it. I thought that the new smells, sounds and sights would interest her. They didn’t.
Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a long piece in the New York Times about city folk moving to the country, primarily in the Hudson Valley just Upstate from New York City. I found the piece interesting, but the people who were buying property were all creative hipsters.
But, I’m a lot older than the oldest person interview. One thing I that I know about this particular class in New Orleans is that they are incredibly ageist. They don’t like me. I’m happy to return the favor if that’s what they want because I’ve long said that I am a mirror. I don’t believe I can convert you to anything. And, you can’t convert me. I’d prefer to be good to everyone, but if you attack me… well, you know. Don’t open a window that I can jump through.
The seasons are changing. What a metaphor. The picture is about the last one I can take of fall in the swamp. We are four days away from winter. The scenery around me finally looks like it. Most of the leaves are on the ground. The weather has finally turned cold. Well, cold for us. I doubt that we’ll have the kind of winter that many of you will have. Snow. Low double digits. Maybe even single digits. That could happen down here. But, not for very long.
As you know the season is changing for me too. I turned 65 in November. That’s one of those “big” birthdays. Based on statistics, I know that I have about fifteen years left on this planet, give or take. I have a friend who is about 72. He lost his main source of income, which was stock photography. To be sure that he and his wife aren’t destitute, but they are thinking very hard about moving to Mexico. They want to go out on their terms and with some sort of class. My musicians friends, who are about 70, are producing heavily at the end of their careers, know that time is short.
I’m a little younger than most of them are. Imagine that concept, “younger than.” Sheesh. I can’t say that about many people anymore. That said, I know my time is short. Fifteen years might seem light a long time, but the first 65 years went by like a snap of my fingers.
So, when I talk about changing websites, or taking you with me if I do, I’m not in any pain or mental agony. I just want what are some of my last moves to be productive. Artists of all stripes never really retire. There are just somethings we don’t want to do any more. Since you know that music is important to me, I look at all the musicians with whom I grew up. Many are playing farewell tours. Some are saying that their next tour could be their last. Some won’t do more than a few shows a year in places that they know and like.
It’s not the music from which they are retiring. They love playing music. It’s the nonsense of touring that they can’t stand. The process of marketing their new work is even less appealing. That’s the same with photographers. A friend of mine often quotes this saying, “sometimes the hardest part of taking a picture is getting there.” That’s mostly what I’ve left behind. The marketing, the sales and the constant contact that eat up about half of my day. Days that are getting short.
For sure, I have some traveling left in me. But, to places that I want to go.
Belorussia. I may say that I’m Russian. That’s just short hand. I’m really Belorussian on my father’s side. I’m haunted by not knowing much about my family. I doubt going there will help me locate anything, but I’ll feel like I really tried.
A long road trip through The United States. It’s been years since I’ve toured the country and looked into our nooks and crannies. Sure, I travel for business. Both businesses, in fact. But, I never have the time to go out and really explore.
Hong Kong. Yes. I used to know it well. You can’t help spending six years in a place and not knowing it. I want to see what’s changed and what’s the same. There are photographic places that I didn’t know about while I was there that make great statements about our planet. Actually, I knew about them. I just didn’t see them as I would today.
All of these places would be great picture producers. That’s part of my journey. That will always be part of my journey.
It’s Sunday. I wrote way too long. Sorry about that.
It’s getting longer.
I was walking the dog who sees stuff when it occurred to me that you might be worried about me. With all this talking of passing. No worries. PLEASE. I’m just planning for the future. I’m not worried about it. I’m not even scared of dying. Make no mistake. I don’t want to die. But, as they say, nobody gets out of here alive. The way I figure it, I’m already playing with house money. Besides, every time I photograph somebody who lives into their nineties, I think to myself that I don’t really want to live like this.
It does help to return to the scene of the crime, er, picture. Eventually, I’ll get it right. This may be the best of the skytrain pictures, mostly because of the clouds, the light and the golden color. Also, because I finally found the right angle to capture what a train and the bridge looks like.
If you see a little bow in the middle of the bridge, that’s real. It’s not a lens flaw. The bridge, both the ones for trains and cars has dips and rises in it. It feels a little sporty when you cross the bridge for cars. It was built in the 1930s when cars weren’t so big. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. There’s only so much you can do with a fairly fixed space without messing with the integrity of the original structure.
The only better view would be from the left, but much further down the tracks where the trains make a turn towards New Orleans. Even then, line of sight is limited. The only way to really show the view would be from the air, which means using a drone. However, most railroad property falls under Federal jurisdiction which means you’d need permission from the rail company who owns the track. That either means Canadian National or New Orleans Beltline. I’d prefer that latter. I own a tiny piece of it, as we all do. And, their offices are local. I could actually talk to somebody there.
There’s some history and a little bit about railroad companies. I didn’t intend to go that far and yet, here we are.
The picture was easy to make, as most of mine are. See it. Photograph it. Clean up a bit in post production and viola, done. It’s a good example of why you always keep some kind of camera with you. You just never know what you are going to see.
Sometimes while we are out and about running errands a big storm explodes into sideways rain. A hard rain. Rain that drenches you even with an umbrella. So, we wait. Waiting for the hardest rainfall to pass. It’s the hardest part. In the car. Then, we get bored.
I solve my problem by making pictures. Of the rain. Of the scene in which we find ourselves. Looking through the right hand side mirror. Things like that.
This picture was made by turning the windshield wipers off, letting the water accumulate in front of me and watching rain drops splash off of that. In many way, nature makes its own art. You have to be a little bit patient with this. But, once the water builds up the way you would like, you can make a lot of pictures quickly. Just don’t turn the windshield wipers on.
Then, it’s off to the post production software to further amplify what you saw. I had very little to do with what you see. It’s all nature’s work. I just brought it to you on this page.
I thought I had it solved. I thought I would move to Squarespace after beating them over the head in an email conversation. They want me to renew. I said no. They asked why. I told them they were hurting me and my business be recommending Unsplash for free pictures. They offered me a deep discount. And, they would make my website more commercial friendly. That sounded good.
Then came the deal breaker.
They have no idea how to transfer all of you to my version of Storyteller over there. The suggested a couple of different blogging tools. I tested one of them. It is designed to capture stuff found on the internet and post it to your blog quickly. You can even schedule it to do it multiple times a day according to the kind of material you would like to share. All AI. You don’t even have to do the work.
I’m pretty sure that’s why there are so many general purpose blogs that don’t generate real content but have a very high readership. Post popular items that you find on the net and do it about five or six times a day. You’ll get huge readership.
That’s not what I’m about. You know what I do. I post my own content, both in pictures and words. I post once a day. In order to post more than that, I’d have to make blogging my full-time job. People do make good money doing that. I may have uncovered their secret. I’m pretty sure that’s not for me. Oh, I like the money idea. I don’t like being uncreative to earn it.
Back to square 1.5. Modernizing Storyteller, turning it into a website and keeping all of you. I’ll get it done this weekend. I have to. A friend of mine said that when he’s out of options, things get real simple and he gets ruthless achieving what he needs to do.