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.

The More Things Change


The power of nature.

You are thinking that I’m stressed over this election. Hang in there you say. I’m not hanging anywhere. I’m taking action. I’m getting set to change what I can. I’m getting ready to build for the future.

I’m not going to limit myself to “I’ll do what I can.” I’m going to do the things that go beyond that sort of limitation.

And, that’s the Saturday post for me.

There’s more. There’s always more.

I thought that I would change the appearance of Storyteller. I selected a new template. I customized a few things. I saved it.

Guess what?

The headline type is wrong. The body text is wrong. The background color of the page is wrong. That’s okay. It looks like in twelve days I’ll be moving to http://www.laskowitzpictures.com.

I hope that I can take most of you with me. I think I can. It’s a manual work around that I’ll have to do. But, it should be straight forward. Not simple. Straight forward.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Forget patience. Be proactive.

Setting sun. Remember when I said that I was a little blocked? Remember what happened?

It’s still happening and that makes me smile.

Pictures are in places I wouldn’t have looked. This makes me very happy.

It helps to have that low almost winter light. It helps that darkness falls around 5 to 6 pm.

I helps that I actually go outside.

It’s helps that I see the picture and press the button almost in one motion.

Perfect in the Yard


Glowing.

Maybe this photograph is a little too radioactive. In my defense I cannot predict how WordPress will compress my already compressed .jpeg. Many times I over compensate. Don’t we all? Now that a bit of my life is getting back to some kind of normal feeling workflow I have to be very careful not to move too fast.

I still believe that we can emerge from these pandemic days better than we were before the virus came roaring through the country. I know we can do better. Much, much better.

I make no bones about my political leanings. I hope for a change of leaders in two weeks. Whether you are a democrat or a republican, I’m pretty sure that you’d like a leader who believes and trusts in science instead of his gut, a gut filled with five pounds of McDonalds fried food. I have nothing against McDonald’s, but everything in its place.

I’m not sure why months slipped by, but I could have put the time between March and July to better use. I’d like to claim that I was getting used to working from home, but that would be a lie. I always work from home.

Finally, I got going.

I think that we accomplished a lot as summer rolled on and fall arrived. But…

What about y’all? How did you do during this virus months?

Flowers. The best thing about moving on from WordPress will be the way drop caps are programmed. As you type the first letter of the word you are writing drops to the back of the word. So, Flowers is lowersF. I have no idea why this happens.

Anyway.

Back to flowers. These are the same ones that I turned into the autumn photograph. I reworked one picture into something bright, bold and energetic. It didn’t take long. Between Snapseed and OnOne I think it took me a total of 20 minutes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty.Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay focused. Vote.

The Day After The Day Before


Mum’s the word.

What a difference a week makes.

The all seeing spaniel and I haven’t walked very far in the last week or so. Today, we did. The last time that we passed this place I thought that there would be some nice Mums showing soon.

Today they were. The light was bright overcast, making it good for making a few pictures. Sophie Rose was very patient because… she had plans of her own. She took me on the longest walk we’ve been on in at least a month. Yes. She’s feeling much better. We see her vet on Monday and have enough antibiotics for about ten days after that. I anticipate that she will be as good as new. Just a little older. She’ll be 12 on — wait for it — July 4th. The big holiday.

The world turns

I went black yesterday in support of Black people everywhere. We’ve got to work very hard to achieve what we all hope. You know what Neil Young says. You can’t eat hope. That’s just a version of faith without work is dead. So, let’s work. And, work some more. And, keep going after that.

Some of you meditate. Meditate on this number. 1619. That’s the year slaves were first brought to America. The year of the original sin.

I have some running conversations with some of you and other friends. Between the virus — which it seems like we’ve forgotten — and protests of the horrible treatment Black people have been accorded for years, we have a chance to really do something… if we use this turning point to do the right things.

Unfortunately, there’s going to be less of us to do it. What happened to masking? What happened to social distancing? The protestors, not the rioters, barely wore masks. Worse, they were standing on top of each other. Wait two weeks. I predict Covid-19 surges well above what we thought it could do.

We are getting whipsawed.

We need a leader, not a guy who uses a church and a bible as a prop to prove his manliness. We now call him, “president tweety the bunker boy.” There’s a movie in that.

See?

I’m not political. I’m just doing some lampooning. Or, is that harpooning? Heh. Heh.

The picture

I told you when I made it. The light was right for this kind of picture, or for a black and white portrait. The only real issue that I had processing the picture, was trying to keep the green from going nuclear. I have a little trick that I use for images like this one. It worked. See that green highlight in about the middle of the picture? That’s about how all the green looked. Can’t have that when it takes away from the flowers.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every sandwich.

New Blooms


Sometimes in winter.

Bold color.

That’s what I promised you and that’s what you’ll get. Today is day three of our thirty day pause. Luckily, there is so much to do around this place, so much to read, so much to watch and so much organizing of my archives that I doubt anybody will get bored.

Eventually, we’ll have to sneak out for groceries.

We appear to be self sufficient, but are in a place to help our neighbors and community if they need it. That is so important. And, around here there are so many very elderly blue bloods that I’m sure someone will need something.

So.

For now, we are good. I hope all of you are too. It’s an eye opening thing to realize that I don’t have to explain the feelings or how we are responding because this is global. It’s universal. Hopefully, this will make us realize how alike we are, rather than to drive us further apart.

The picture. See it, photograph it. Unlike yesterday’s picture, this image needed nothing right out of the camera. I did add a little glow to it to make it a little more gauzy and romantic.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Music. We have so much music that we couldn’t listen to it all in a lifetime. But, I’m finding music that I’d forgotten about. Now, that’s really cool.

All The Color


Mixing it up.

I the dead of winter.

This picture is for all of you who still are suffering from cold weather, and I don’t care what that little rodent said. In many places it’s cold. Down In the swamp, we have all sorts of blooms. In this picture I tried to make that point by layering two flower images. The image is bold and bright. Just the way a spring picture should look. Except it’s not yet spring.

Anyway.

My dear old dad used to say that when a person wrote a letter and about half of it was about the weather, the person had nothing to say. He was probably right.

So.

I’m going to talk about photography. I’m a reading book called, “Photo Work: Forty Photographers on process and practice. I think it was recommended by someone who posted to a photographer’s network. It’s a good and interesting book despite it’s academically lengthy title.

In a few words, those 40 photographers are asked a series of questions which are the same for all of them. The group came from different backgrounds, use different tools, and answer the questions fully.

I’m about half-way through the book. Reading is slow, but not for the reason you might think. Instead, I’m savoring it. I read no more than two chapters a day, or, about two photographers a day.

I’m happy to know that many of them think as I do; instinct over research. I also learned that I might be on track when it comes to New Orleans culture. A project or series of pictures might take ten years to complete, but when it’s done, it’s done.

There’s more, but I’m I’m still reading.

The  picture. I mentioned that it is layered. Let’s talk about that because I actually made the picture just like I normally do. See it, photograph it.

Layering works only if you have pictures of the same size and shape. You can approach color from a lot of ways. My two favorites are the use of contrast and bold colors or by using extremely similar colors. You can find your own joy.

It’s a matter of fine tuning and adjusting the layered pictures from there.

Try it. You’ll like it.

Heat


Pretty. Not pretty.

This isn’t what you think.

This about New Orleans.  This is about the New Orleans that makes national news. This is about the city in the throes of summer. This is about murder. Mayhem. Mass shootings. Rolling shootings. This is about at least 11 people shot, leaving three dead. This is about the first shooting that looks like some kind of hit. Ten shot, three dead. About a woman who was shot somewhere near the entrance to I-10, but was part of a rolling gun battle that ended up in Metairie, some five miles away.

That’s what this post is about.

This is about the New Orleans that tourists ignore, forgetting that there was a double shooting on Bourbon Street on Friday night.

I’m not sure which is worse. A city that is so violent that the local police seem to be powerless. A city that is so broken that the water system doesn’t work. A city that can’t pump water out of its streets fast enough that even a hard rain causes heavy flooding. Or, a city that can’t fix its streets within any sort of reasonable time frame.

I don’t know. You pick.

We have a new mayor. The jury is still out on her. Way, way out on her. We are trying to rebuild a broken police force. Yet, two new officers were just fired because they beat an unarmed man while they were off duty. They beat him because he was wearing camo clothing and he didn’t look right to them. He looked Hispanic to them.

I know the country is angry. Polarized. It ain’t getting any better at the national level. It’s getting worse.

That said, New Orleans survives on tourism. It is really the city’s only form of major income. Yeah, yeah. There are some technical companies moving in. But, that money isn’t for the people who live in the city.

I just have to wonder what happens when the tourists get scared enough not to come to New Orleans. When a mass shooting directly involves some people from California. Or, Philadelphia. Or, Seattle. When it really become national news. On CNN. In the New York Times.

Oh yeah.

The picture. Hot summer nights. Kind of mysterious. Kind of funky. A little bit scary. I pretty much left this picture alone in post production. Mostly, I darkened it. And, added a little haze.

Haze. Like our hazy city.

 

Light and Magic


Cold, bright light.

I only made one picture yesterday. This is it.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t work the scene a little. I always do. I don’t “spray and pray.” And, I don’t make more pictures than I need to in order to capture what I’m after. I’m a fairly efficient and economic photographer. I believe that comes from my film days. Back then it cost a lot of money to take pictures. You had to learn the film and how it would respond in different lighting situations.

Today.

People with digital cameras just keep pushing the button hoping to get a picture that they like. After all, once you’ve invested in a camera, some SD cards and a computer, taking pictures is free. When I first converted to digital work, I found myself over shooting a lot. Because – wow — pictures were free to take.

Then I retreated back into my older way of working. Fewer exposures usually yield better pictures.

I read somewhere that people are producing something like two billion pictures a day. Or, is that an hour?

Why? What for?

Go to any of the free sharing sites like Flickr. You’ll see way too many pictures of the same thing. That’s just from one photographer. If that person happens to hit upon a certain style you’ll see multiple derivatives of the same picture. It gets to the point where all pictures in a certain genre look alike. Think about that gauzy flowing water. Could be a river. Could be a sea. When I first saw it, I thought, “how cool.” Now, I’m amazed that it’s still a thing. Same thing with filters. Every Manny, Moe and Jack filters their pictures up without knowing why they are doing it.

This post is not a rant. It’s a backwards, sideways explanation of what I do now. At least for this point in time. This picture doesn’t look like anything that I’ve seen. That’s my intent. When it comes down to it, this is a backlighted picture of what’s left of fall colors.

Nothing more.

But, as I moved the lens around I saw the sunburst. It’s a tricky exposure because you want some detail in the shadows, but for the straight master image you want the burst to be nothing but white — a specular highlight. Once you start messing with it in post production, you can fill it in with slightly lighter colors and shapes.

This little discussion brings up another topic.

There seems to be a huge business of photographers selling to other photographers. They sell technique. They set themselves up as experts. I came across one — a food photographer — who makes a good part of his living conducting workshops. After watching his promo video, I knew exactly what he was doing. In two-and-a-half minutes. One very large softbox the top. Another from the side or back. He says very quietly, that the student has access to a stylist and chef.  All of the students — six of them — are grouped like a bunch of photojournalists at a press conference. They all take the same picture. The food photographer/teacher critiques their work.

I suppose that’s fine. He makes about $3,000 a day for this. And, the students go home with their newly learned knowledge. To try to duplicate what they just learned.

Except.

They don’t have his studio. They don’t have his light. They don’t have his stylist. And, they don’t have his chef. Worse, he’s kind of a one trick pony. His lighting is always the same. He doesn’t actually style the food himself.  On the other hand, he’s been shooting food pictures for 18 years. He has some pretty good local and regional credits.

Which is better than most of the travel photography teachers who have taken one of those “the top ten photo hacks that you can learn in ten minutes online workshops,” gone on a trip with their significant other and took pictures of each other in some far away place. I read one of their blogs. The photographer/writer/teacher was amazed about where the sun rose and set. How the hell do you not know that?

And, so on…

Where does leave me? I think that it’s my turn. At least I’m the real deal. I’ve done this for forty years or so. I’ve worked for major clients — corporate, advertising and editorial. I know how to make my picture and their picture. You know, the picture that art directors dream up without having scouted the region. Oh, and I know many cities like the back of my hand. I’m also pretty sure that I won’t have photographers shooting in a group or filtering their images just because they can. They’ll actually make pictures that matter. Maybe not many. But, they’ll have learned what it takes.

I have no idea where, when or how I want to do it. But, I’ll figure that out. Sheesh, I could it in New Orleans. We are always on the top of every travel destination list. We are interesting. Or, it could be Brooklyn. Or, New Mexico. Or, Hong Kong. Oooooh. That sounds fun.

Whaddya think?