Souls Dirge


The power of purple.

How it began. I talked to a friend of mine who suggested that I make some changes in how I look at my world. His thinking is solid. I fear that I’ve already worked through the process, at least as far as Storyteller goes.

He did offer me another idea. In order to do that I guess that I’m going to have to leave my compound and start looking around. A lot of people seem to be moving about in order to make pictures. Or, do anything. Like travel.

I’m not sure what my fear of doing that is about because I really don’t need to be close to very many people. That should keep me safe. After all, we run errands, go grocery shopping and the like.

We mask up. We use sanitizer and wash our hands when we return to our home.

And, yet.

I suppose it comes from one underlying condition. CLL. It’s a kind of Leukemia that doesn’t do much. It won’t kill me. It might not even make me ill. But, I produce too many white blood cells and not enough red platelets.

It’s the later that could kill me if I caught the virus. Bottom line, my body can’t defend itself from something like CoVid-19. Or, if it could it would be a big fight.

So. I sit. I want to go out and make pictures away from my neighborhood but I have some fears.

Even though there is some logic too them, they also seem to be a little irrational, especially if I’m 50 feet away from the next person.

What do y’all think?

Magenta. As I’ve said about 100 times, we don’t have a very cold autumn or winter. We do have a few days when the temperature might dip into the teens, but for the most part the weather is pleasant this time of year.

Right now, the temperature is in the low 60s. The windows are open. Cool fresh air is cooling the house.

That’s the long way of saying that flowers are still blooming.

And, that’s what I saw. New blooms. New Camellia blooms.

I haven’t made a detailed, macro picture in a long while so that’s what I did. I set out with intent.

Working in that way allowed me to not have to work much in post production. I developed and fine tuned the file and away I went. It is how you see it right this very minute.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after others. Be kind. Don’t follow leaders. Pay your parking meters. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.

A Very Long Curve… Trying Something New


I promised myself that during the lockdown I would learn something new.

WordPress made that easy. Or, hard depending on your view. Like all major digital, internet based companies, they tell you what to do. Whatever happened to “the customer is always right?”

I believe on June 1, they ‘re taking away all of the older page templates except for one that is older then Storyteller.

This going to be a long, hard learning curve. WordPress says it’s easier. Ha!

Please feel free to make comments, especially those of you who hate this page. You won’t hurt my feelings. I’m not sure how I feel about.it anyway. It is different. But difference for its own sake is a big mistake.

Anyway.

No Rona news again. I reckon that you most of you are deluged with it.

Well. This is different. I suppose I could figure out how to drop the text, but it’s getting late.

So.

Sophie Rose is feeling much better. The Tramadol seems to be doing its job. She even asked me to go out. I haven’t seen that in a log while. We went for a short work. Progress.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

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November 2020
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Orange Sky


Like magic.

The light.

Like magic. In nature. On this day.

Two more to go. Then home. Happy to be here. Happy to be there. Time to take a break. Time to rest. Time to work. Harder.

No. I’m not trying to be any kind of poet. Most of you know that I’m lucky to be able to write in the English language. Or, any language. I confuse people. Sometimes. Sorry. Then, typos. Typo king. That’s me. My mind goes in one direction. My fingers in another.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels. They say. Do you know any? I ask.

I listen to music when I write these posts. Spotify has a playlist called, “Sunny Day.” It’s light and energetic. But. Too much musical miss. For me.

The picture.

Hmmm. Mostly point and shoot. Make sure there is a window. In the background. To reflect light directly into the lens. Refraction. Reflection. Strange circles of light everywhere. That’s it. Simple. You can’t do it. Because. I can’t duplicate it. Again.

Very cool song. By Sufjan Stevens. Called Chicago. He’s got a trumpet going on. Reminds me of Mexican trumpets. I’ve always like that.

 

 

A Little Red


Red is the Color.

Never say never.

That’s what they say. They is correct. Just when I was talking about the lack of color in what amounts to our late spring, guess what? Red roses start blooming.

The thing about nature, besides always seeking stasis, is that while seasonal stages are somewhat predictable, there are always plenty of curve balls. This is one of them. These roses bloomed, flowered and died about two months ago. I didn’t expect to see them again.

That’ll teach me.

Those are the kinds of lessons that I need to learn, during my year of learning. They are also the kind of lessons that most of us forget. I have no idea what spring 2020 will be like, but I’m sure that I won’t remember what I saw and learned this year. That’s my way of keeping me in stasis. If I retained everything that I learned my head would explode. Or, something like that.

So.

Back to learning. In the last couple of weeks I learned some truths about people that I wish weren’t truths. I’m still sorting through them, so I’ll leave it at that. But, I feel like a line in an old Jefferson Airplane song, “When the truth is found to be lies…” At the very least it’s disappointing. I think that’s its limit because I don’t have very high expectations anymore. That may not be a good thing, at least, on its face. On the other hand, The lows aren’t very low.

The picture. Since nature made me a liar, I decided I’d better record what she did. So, that’s what I did. I made a picture of roses. I framed it kind of old style with one main subject in the foreground, and the rest hiding in the so-called bokeh. I did a little post production work, mostly to make the image a little warmer since I found it towards the end of the day. But, the day was a little cloudy. That’s it. A simple picture, framed in my old school way.

More Learning


A different kind of learning.

To everything there is a season.

My season seems to by learning in some of its purest forms. I could also curse this thing. It’s really opened me up. That’s a good thing. It’s helping me to see with different eyes. It’s helping me feel with a different heart.

But.

It’s also bringing up emotions at inopportune times.

After all, who wants to start leaking when you are grocery shopping? That almost happened, as I watched a daughter about my age help her dad with his shopping. Her tenderness towards him was amazing. He was ancient and wearing a World War II service cap. Pinned to it were a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Thanks for your service. You helped save the world.

On balance, I suppose that it’s a good thing. We’ll see where I come out. Next year.

Anyway.

This picture is also about learning. In a different way. It is about experimenting with my smart phone’s camera. Once again, this picture was made in manual, in the so-called pro setting. I did a tiny bit of post production, but the picture is as I saw it on the monitor.

That’s something.

One more thing. If you are so inclined, please go to http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. Take a look around. For sure, there are lots more to be done. But, it’s my new website. It has a blog called Storyteller. Imagine that. There is one post. There is also a store. You can buy photographs there. Currently you can only download files. By the end of the week, it’ll be linked to a printer called The darkroom. They’ve been around for 40 plus years. You can select a picture, select the size, and the finish and it’ll be shipped directly to your address.

Please tell me what you’d like to see in the store. You aren’t committing to anything. I’m just very interested in what might sell. Be patient with that. It’ll take a while to upload masses of pictures from which to select.

Expecting to Fly


Another way.

Learning.

That’s my word of the year. My koan. My focusing point.

Sometimes it’s about the inside. Other times, it’s about the outside. Today’s picture is about the outside.

Here’s the background. The all-seeing dog and I were out walking. Yesterday was a bad day in the pain department. I had to sit twice. Not because I was out of breath. Because my hip really hurt. This is a new one. This is where my NASA grade plastic cup and my titanium femur insert come together. That’s not supposed to happen. Ever.

I made the best of it. We slogged through about a mile-and-a-half walk. Sophie, the all-seeing dog, is very aware and she slowed down. That’s probably worse. In my case, faster is better. Not that it’s all the fast. A toddler is faster than me.

Anyway.

While we were sitting, I started messing with my phone. It doesn’t matter whether you use the latest Samsung or Apple phone, they both have about the same camera functions. I set mine to “pro,” which is really manual. I started messing with the settings. I changed the ISO, reset the shutter speed, changed the f stops and set the compensating wheel as well as changed how the phone’s camera focuses.

Once I was ready to walk again, it was time to test what I had done. Yesterday’s picture. remember that? It was a mistake. I made it. I turned it into some spring-like and pretty. It worked.

But, what about my intent?

This picture was my intent. By using “pro” and changing just about everything to how I like to make a RAW file, I made this picture effortlessly. How effortlessly? The only thing I did in post production was crop the picture.

That’s the real goal in digital photography. To make a file so well exposed and so clean that you don’t have to do anything. Unless you want to.

I love the quality of this image. You can see the texture of the Japonica blooms. You can see the soft, fuzzy fur along the leaves. And, the background. The bokeh, if you will. It’s creamy and gentle. It’s as it should be.

For sure, I won’t stop working with mirrorless cameras. Real cameras. But, this tells me that in a pinch I can make a high quality picture that can be enlarged to at least 16×20. I know this because I tested it. I think it will go bigger.

Learning.

Sometimes, it’s from the inside. Sometimes, the outside.

That’s the beauty of it.

More Is More


First blooms of the winter.

This picture. The real first blooms of winter.

I almost forgot to show you this one because I posted it on Instagram. I know that not all of you follow me there, so I decided you should see it here. On Storyteller. Where it belongs. My first social media home. That one that really matters to me. To you.

I’ve got a few more pictures like that. I’ll share them with you here.

When I made the picture I was just was really just trying to make a good exposure. The blooms were really out of reach for me with a phone. Once I saw how nicely the blooms were back lighted, I thought that the picture needed some special treatment.

Off to the digital darkroom I went. I worked. I played. I tinkered. I finally got to this place. I liked it. It has almost no bearing on reality.

That’s a problem.

I vacillate between something semidocumentary and something that is a kind of art. I reckon that I should sort of settle on some direction. I could do both. That would require separate marketing. Separate websites.

Sheesh. I can barely keep track of one.

We’ll see.

I realized that these days I’m not wanting to spend a lot of time building websites. That came about from my Smugmug experiment. I’m still doing it, but to do that well it takes more time than working on Storyteller. The point is less work. Not more. I want to be making pictures, not fiddling around with a new website.

Another problem has arisen for Smugmug. I watched two pricing videos. I read a lot of their material. They are great at helping you solve technical issues. They are horrible at photo philosophy, which bleeds into sales. Nobody has been able to teach me about price points.

As I see it, just about every photographer links their prices to a photo lab. They sell their prints for what it costs to make a print. Nothing else is added. I eat what I kill. Doing that might get one of my pictures in somebody’s hands, but I can’t make any money from it.

The way to do it, it seems to me, is to add the print cost to the total fee. So, let’s say you want to buy a 16 x 20 print. That costs about $12.00 to make the print. Likely, I’d want to add at least another $250.00 for the subject matter. So, your cost would be $262.00 plus the cost of shipping. I can’t find a photographer who actually does that so I could learn from him or her. When I asked around, it was crickets. Apparently, most photographers who use Smugmug are rich and don’t even want to try to pay for the cost of cameras, lenses and other photographic gear.

And, we wonder why the photo industry is so broken.

I am regional president of a trade group called ASMP. American Society of Media Photographers. We work very hard at teaching professional standards. That includes what it actually costs to produce an image. Wholesale costs and net costs. If photographers actually listened to us, and many other working professionals, we might actually make a living.

But, noooo.

So many photographers are so excited that somebody actually wants to use one of their pictures, that they give them away.  You see it at professional levels all the time. Image users want to use a picture for a credit. I can’t eat credits. I’m at the point in my career — as many of us are — I don’t need the exposure. In many ways I don’t care what the other guy does. It’s not my business. They say.

They are wrong. When another photographer gives away a picture, or undersells a picture, it erodes the market. Ultimately, it hurts me. Luckily for me, the people that I call clients know the difference between a hobbyist with a camera and a professional who has paid his dues.

Aren’t you glad you saw my email and opened it?

New Blooms


Blooming Lilies.

Unlike other regions of the country, we in Southeast Louisiana are into our second phase of new spring blooms. Some flowers have bloomed, flowered, died and now look like typical summer foliage. This has been going on since mid-January. We only had about four days of winter cold. We’ve already had many low 80 degree days.

I can hardly wait for summer.

We expect a fairly wet rainy season because already the gulf waters are freakishly hot. I remember the last time gulf waters were hot. I’m not going there.

 

Time For A Little Change


Even though we are still in the middle of winter, a little bit of pink popped out.

Well. So. And. The sun finally came out today. It’s still a little cold for Southeast Louisiana, but that didn’t stop the flowers from blooming a little. I have an ongoing project called a “picture a day.” Those pictures are usually produced apart from other projects unless those projects become all time-consuming. Sometimes, making a new and different picture every day is really hard. At minimum, you learn a lot about yourself and your working habits. At best, you might actually make a great picture. That’s rare. Today it was really easy. I looked out my office window and saw this. It might actually be a good picture.

The picture. Macro. Get as close to the flower as possible and within the lens focusing specs, set the exposure and aperture and push the button. Very minimal post production. That’s when you know it’s right.

One other thing. Okay, Two other things.

You really should open this picture to its largest size. It’s pretty amazing. I don’t usually do that kind of self promotion, but… oh, you’ll see.

I just built a little portfolio. I think many of you have seen these pictures over the course of the year. But, seeing them in one place and in one collection is pretty interesting. Go here, http-::www.imagebrief.com:profiles:laskowitzpictures