The Blues


The start of something.

The idea started yesterday. But, between then and now I fell asleep three times. I don’t know why. I’m not tired. I’m not sick. I don’t feel stressed. At least not any more so than any other day this year.

The idea was flowers for friend. A friend who was there at the start of my career and who passed yesterday. He was a few years older than me. I have no idea what took him. I believe he lived in Tucson. In Arizona. In normal times, I’d go to his funeral.

While there are a lot of deaths this year, there aren’t many funerals that anyone other than close family can attend. Sometimes the rules get broken slightly, like when there was a second line for a former Zulu king. In that case, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

You know, the old risk v reward thing.

All I know, in New Orleans at least, is that if we ever make it through the pandemic and when the vaccine works at a very high rate, there will be God’s own second line/jazz funeral. Too many people have passed without any kind of commemoration. We need to do it. It’ll be good for them. Good for their family and close friends. And, good for us.

What I did. To the picture. I saw these little blooms. The all seeing dog paused during her walk and I framed what I saw and pushed the button. I let the file sit and marinate. When I learned that my colleague passed, I knew what to do.

Blue.

The picture needed to be blue with some colorful highlights. I did the work, first using Snapseed and finishing it using OnOne. You are looking at the result. What do you think?

Is it good enough? Is it tribute enough?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Enjoy every sandwich.

Come Down In Time


Then, they floated away.

Come down in time. That’s what Elton John sang back in 1971, when my life began. Or, something like that.

There are moments that truly amaze me. I had one of those today. I received a letter that said my checks could no longer be sent to me because they didn’t have my address. Okay. But, at the top of the letter there was an address. Mine.

Before you ask.

Yes. It came from the federal government. I tried to call them. They are closed. I forgot.

It’s Veterans Day. Before I forgot to do this, for all of you who served, thank you for your service. For all those who served in Vietnam, welcome home.

We watched a movie last night called “Outpost.” It was about a distant firebase in Afghanistan. It was an army compound. Whenever something fubar happened, one soldier would say snarkily to another, “And, thank you for your service.”

They know, as I do, “Thank you for your service,” has become very empty. Most people say it without thinking. It means something. Or, it should.

And, that’s the story for today.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your gloves.

What the hell is that thing? I know that’s what you are thinking.

It’s a couple of flower blooms. You know the drill. I tinker with this stuff until something emerges.

Not this time.

A few weeks ago I published a picture of a truck that was all mist rolling down the highway.

A friend of mine really liked it. He said that I should stop talking about paintings and the like.

He added that no matter how we try, digital is digital. It is its own art form. Stop apologizing.

I took that to heart.

I made a picture of some tiny pink flowers that seem to bloom whenever they feel like it.

It was slightly soft, so I thought why not this one? I did my usual tinkering. I sent it to him.

He replied that it might need some color in those white “blobs.” He meant flowers.

I did that. And, that’s what you are looking at.

The Calling


As the season change.

Staying True.

I’m having a conversation with some Photoshelter folks about the so-called Photographers Bill of Rights via a comment section. Most of it concerns photojournalism. That’s where my career started. That’s where my heart lies.

I read the entire document. If I’m going to talk about it, I should read it. That’s only fair. I have questions.

Let’s start with this one.

Why is a portrait photographer — a good one — telling photojournalists how to be? This is the same guy who wants working photographers to seek permission before we photograph someone on the street or at an event like a protest.

I’d like to know if he’s ever worked on the streets. He has no idea what that world is like.

Then, there is the term that the authors want to use for us. “Lens Based Workers.”

Oh really?

They claim that they want to be all inclusive. They want the term to be about photographers, videographers, picture editors, and so on.

Great !

I like inclusiveness. But, why such a low end blue collar name? Most of us attended universities. We are, at the very least, professionals.

Some of us have more advanced degrees like a Master of Science, or even a doctorate. That would be me. Laskowitz, PhD. I don’t use my title very much because my work has nothing to do with my degree.

You don’t get to call me a “lens based worker.”

If you push me, I’m going to insist that you call me, Dr. Laskowitz. Nobody wants that. Least of all me.

At the end of the day, I see this as an attempt to quantify what most of us in my generation have known for most of our lives. I don’t want that. I bet the young men and women won’t either.

I learned how to be a photojournalist/photographer from those who came before me. My elders. I’m willing to be a young photographer’s elder. Mentor. Guru. All they have to do is ask.

Just don’t call me an old white colonialist.

You have no idea what I think. As little as I know about my heritage, I know this. It’s very likely that my grandfather was a kind of serf. He left because Communism was raising its ugly head. He wanted to be free. Just like me.

What kind of colonialist is that? White? I’m sorry (not sorry). I was born this way. Old? I hope the writers of the document get to be old. Like me.

I had to think about why I take offense at the so-called bill of rights. The headline says it all. What I do is my calling. My work is what I was given to do. If I’m any good at all, it’s because I worked hard, listened to my elders and took a few chances.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy your own photographs.

They Say It’s Winter


Evidence.

Winter.

I have a friend in Milwaukee who was complaining because his four year old snow blower broke down yesterday. I have friends further east who were just waiting until the big snowstorm reached them. Even in Seattle, where the weather is fairly mild, the streets were tangled by snowfall.

Not down here. Oh no. Not down here in the swamp.

Instead, the temperature yesterday was in the mid to high 70s. The Japonicas are blooming. So are all sorts of new little buds. The squirrels are complaining. I’ve heard bird sounds that I’ve never heard in the past,

Not to worry. Today turned chilly. The rest of the week will be downright cold. Lows in the low 30s. At least cold for us.

Then, around the first week of May, things will heat up. NOLAHeat will come after us until October. If I could think of a place where we could spend our summer, we’d go there. But, every place is hot. Some air is dryer. Some air is moister. But, it’s still hot.

My neighbor suggested that we go to the beach. Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to stay for at least eight weeks? If I were going to the beach — which sounds very nice — I’d like to go to the ocean, not the gulf. I’d rather go to the Pacific, not the Atlantic. If course, beggars can’t be choosers.

Where would you go for a couple of months if you could?

Inside Out


A lot of color.

The picture had a hole in it.

I fixed it.

The hole was just a big portion of the picture that was right in the middle. There was also this great stuff going on around the edges. The center had no subject, just an open space. Like a donut.

It reminded me of so many pictures posted on social media with great leading lines… to nowhere. I had options. I think the leading line pictures that I’ve seen could have presented the photographers who made them with options. But, noooooo.

I chose an easy option. I layered another image right into the middle of the original picture. I adjusted it as needed and it was ready for you.

I made the picture about two days ago. I made the layer about four days ago.

The interesting thing about our autumn season is that it is also a second growing season. The weather normally turns cool, not cold. You can start planting veggies for spring. The weather is turning colder and colder so I’m not sure about that for this year. But, native outdoor plants have already started blooming. That’s why I could make this picture.

Isn’t that great?

Unfortunately, we pay for this with brutally hot and humid summers. They last for at lest six months. I read something about this in a climate change story I found. Apparently, as the weather turns weirder and weirder, we won’t have an extreme change to our already hot weather, but New Jersey and that region will.

New Jersey?

Yep. The weather up there will become more like our summers. Lucky New Jersey.

On the other hand, as that happens we will continue to subside and the water will rise. That means as we sink, we will sink into higher water. At first, New Orleans will be an island. Then, we will be underwater.

I likely won’t be here by then, unless I survive to be about 115 years old. But, the Mardi Gras Indians will have to learn to swim.

Don’t you think we out to really start doing something about this?

Summers End Days


Late blooming summer flower.

While I was walking.

I spotted these tiny little pink flowers.

They are located high up, growing from a sort of ivy that covers a chain link fence. As we enter into September, this is the time of the summer season when most flowers are dying. Green trees look faded. Not these flowers. They are new blooms. I realize that we have year round growing seasons, but they normally start in late February and again in October.

This summer has been more moderate than past summers. The actual temperature has not risen to 100 degrees. The air is a little dryer now, but when it was wet we did have “feels like” days when the combined temperature and humidity rose to around 110 degrees. But that happened early in the summer and it wasn’t often.

It still could happen. We normally don’t start drying out and cooling down until mid to late October. Even then, we have warm days. We rarely have a white Christmas, but sometimes we do have a warm Christmas.

That’s life in the swamp.

The picture. Old school approach. Many youngsters have no clue how to do this even though DSLR cameras and some phones allow you to do it.

I metered very tightly and from the lightest point of the flower. I wanted the flower to have shape and detail. I wanted the background to be dark. The white part of the flower is at least a stop and a half lighter than the darkest areas of the picture. It enhanced the drama and draws your eyes to the center of the picture without much post production. Ask if you have any questions.

Happy Sunday.

Cosmic Slop


In space.

A little bit out there.

I keep trying to reach some kind of experimental art. Work that has nothing to do with my photographic roots.

It doesn’t come easy.

I can’t just say something like, “I think I’ll go make art today.” It doesn’t work that way. I have to find it. Or, it has to find me. It can’t be planned. It can’t be orchestrated. It just happens.

Like life.

I have friends that try to plan every detail of what they are doing. Like traveling. Every detail from air travel to car rentals, to hotels and then a daily itinerary. That’s great. The plane arrives late. They miss their connecting flight. That blows their other reservations. When they arrive at their destination they are scrambling to keep up their daily schedule. They think their trip is terrible.

Not for this boy.

Sure. Plan the travel arrangements. Without reservations you could be sleeping on a park bench. Plan an outline of what you’d like to do. Let the day intervene. If you really like something why leave it to keep a schedule? If you dislike something, why stay? Besides, a lot of what I do is determined by light. Sometimes, by nature. My trips just sort of flow. They are never terrible.

That’s for me and mine. Your mileage may vary.

Business trips are entirely different animal. But, usually everybody understands travel delays.

The picture. I walked by it a couple of times. I was carrying stuff. Suitcases. Anvil cases. Gear bags. Finally, I stopped. I saw the picture for what it could be. It took the picture as it was. I went to work in the studio. It took some time. I knew what I wanted. I understood my intent. And, my vision. I just had a hard time getting there. It wasn’t until I tried something radical that I finally came close. This is what I came up with.

The Heart


Getting to the heart of the matter.

You belong among the wildflowers.

The first line of Tom Petty’s second album. Wildflowers.

I found this on — what else — a dog walk. These wildflowers are little teeny-tiny things. That “big” bloom is less than the size of a dime. Ten cents. About an 1/8 of a Euro.

That’s what attracted me to the scene. Once I started looking at it, I saw something else. The heart of it. A place that looks like it is giving birth to six more wildflowers. That’s what I focused on. That’s what mattered to me. Yes. I sharpened the center of the picture in post production. I also cropped the entire picture into a square. I also softened the background a little bit.

All of that was done to move your eye to the important part.

Question time.

I’ve read this term on a couple of “trendy” food blogs. Jelly Egg. What the hell is a jelly egg? I have a sneaking suspicion that I know. But, I’ll wait.  I’ll be patient. Then, and only then, will I go on a rant.

HA!

Something About April Showers


Blooming.

Yes, indeed.

April showers bring May flowers.

This is what I saw yesterday when I got home. I really mean home. Walk outside and this picture found me. I didn’t have to do anything. Just marvel at it and push the button.

Then, I worked my so-called magic. I post-produced the hell out of it. I made nature’s energy come back two or three fold. I reckon that’s okay because I too am part of nature.

Which brings me to another part of nature.

I swore I wouldn’t get political on Storyteller. But, the women around here are steaming. Big women. Little women. The female dogs. Okay. Not them. Also, those of us who love and care about them.

Ohio. Georgia. Alabama. Missouri. And, in a few weeks, Louisiana. The last begs a lot of questions. We have a Democratic governor. I thought that we might be safe. Oh no. He supports the bill.

Damn.

I don’t care what you think about the rightness or wrongness of the issue. Or, when you think a human being begins, this isn’t about that. And, that’s your business. Not mine. Or, anybody else’s business. This is about controlling another human being. This about about the ultimate patriarchy. It could be called a war on women.

In theory, I’m sort of liberal. Nah. I’m more libertarian. I think most personal things are between you and your maker. Not the guy next door. Not the state. If you aren’t hurting anybody, what you do is your business. To me.

That’s my soapbox.

About that comment. “Begs a lot of questions.” We live in a very blue city surrounded by a red state. You know what I’m thinking. I won’t go to any of the states who have done this stupidity already. But, what do we do? Here in the swamp?

.