Look to the west.

We listened to a podcast this morning that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a conversation between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

I know what some of you are thinking. It’s not about that. Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, this is worth listening to. You’ll learn something about the two men. More importantly, you might learn something about yourself.

They discussed their fathers and how they helped them grow, or didn’t. Mostly, they didn’t. Obama’s heritage is well known. Springsteen’s not so much.

I relate to Springsteen’s story much more than Obama’s. I’ll stop there because I’m not quite really explore those depths and write about them. Let’s just say I am what I am despite my upbringing.

Springsteen did say something funny that can be taken one of two ways. He said that he dresses like a blue collar worker, but he never worked a day in his life. You can take that at face value.

Or.

You can take it the way that I did. Even though every musician that I know says they are working or that music is their job. It’s the kind of job that they love doing. In that way they have never had a job. They enjoy what they do.

Do you?

Into the sky. That’s what caught my attention. The crazy, almost exploding sky.

Look at it. Please.

It’s almost like an upside down beach with the waves leaving trails in the newly exposed sand.

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one like this.

I did what I could to make the proper exposure so that it would be easy work in post production.

I helped it a bit. The result is what you see here. For me, the real trick was to keep the buildings in silhouette while retaining just enough light on them to let them glow.

Let’s see what happen today.


From and old place. We took a walk to visit friends after driving a bit. When a dog has to go a dog has to go. She seems to be feeling much better. She’s finally been eating too much.

Anyway.

We were walking and this scene popped up. Wowie Zowie. What a scene.

It’s all in how you see things.

There’s been a lot of talk about seeing even the smallest things in a positive light. That’s a good idea.

Consider the lockdown. I could have been sitting around watching way too much Netflix and eating some kind of savory treat. I started out that way. Then, I thought, “What am I doing?”

So, I started working on projects that needed doing. I didn’t do as much as I planned. But, I have a path way now. Besides, the minute you implement a plan everything changes.

And, you?

How were the last ten months? What did you do? What didn’t you do?

Orange sky at dusk. I don’t know if that means anything, but it sure was pretty.

This is one of those scenes. “Oh, my God,” you think.

Then you push the shutter release button. Click. Click. Click.

Then, you go home and get to work.

This picture didn’t need much post production. I did clean it up a bit.

If you recall, I wrote that I had a good photographic spell during my Storyteller break. It hasn’t stopped yet.

My eyes are open. My heart, brain and soul are also open.

All of that matters in the art world.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Be kind. Enjoy the winter light.


Craziness

Cold front coming. We had a weird — not this weird — sky this morning. Then came the thunder and lightening followed by rain. When we got up this morning the temperatures dropped by about 20 degrees. This won’t last, but it feels so good.

I am experimenting with free design templates. Since most of my work is moving, but I still want to keep all y’all I have to learn a new template. I found one that I like a lot. I think I’ll try to make it look more like a website than blog site with a static font page and posts just behind that. You’ll still get the same emails and reader posts.

This could put me in a good position. If I can never move you over to my website than I can just come back here with no interruptions. Or, something like that.

If you believe in such things as astrology this should be my power month being a full bodied Scorpio.

So far during my month my modem and router gave up the ghost. A day went by before I could get back up and running. And, that big storm and all that rain? The dogs refuse to go out in it. That means I have to get wet.

My month, indeed.

I can hardly wait until my birthday week. That ought to be a hoot.

What a morning. Even though the sky wasn’t quite this yellow, there were tinges of bright yellow and green. Tornado skies. Never a good thing.

I didn’t hear of any water spouts touching down so maybe we are good.

I made this photograph while the all seeing dog was sniffing around for, well you know.

She likes to go places that aren’t in our neighborhood, so we did that. Our slight return probably put us in a better place to photograph the light.

Normally I say something like see it, photograph it. Not this time. I had to figure out where to put that tree in the foreground. It took longer than you think.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.


Everything you’ll ever know.

After yesterday’s rant I calmed down. I brought my thoughts back to what really matters. Reflection and review brought me to a quiet place. We all need a quiet place. Especially now, when external forces are attacking us from everywhere. As Bob Dylan once wrote, “You won’t get out of here unscathed.” And, they won’t.

That’s only self defense. What matters is my insides and how they relate to my outsides. Same thing for you.

So.

For today, and just for today, I’m balanced. As we used to say, I’m mellow.

My thoughts on this quiet day, the first day of October in the month of goblins and ghouls?

I learned something a long time ago. A little over 27 years ago. Just do what I can and let the rest go. I can’t help with the rest anyway. I don’t have the power, the reach and contacts to do some of the things that need doing.

What’s my next best step?

My photo business is almost non-existent. Even though I split my time between two careers, I kept the picture making very viable. Along came CoVid 19. Nobody wants a picture because what are they going to do with them? It’s likely that their business are suffering.

Then, this week. Three deep archive sales. I’ve told you about them. I may have said that I started thinking after one art director told me why he reached out. Unique and better work. That’s what he was after. I can’t help thinking that picture buyers are getting tired of reaching Instagram for new and viable photographers.

Besides, Google released a new and better way to search for images. There’s a little backend work but after you’ve completed that, art users can find you easily.

I have another website. http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. I built it as a portfolio site. Guess what? They’ve added new software the for a couple of kinds of sales. You can put up light boxes and let your client see and select the work that fills their needs.

Or, you can use a store front and sell fine art directly to the client. They select the art, pay for it and off it goes to the printer who ships it to them. It won’t be signed, but you can work around that and have the finished print sent back to you.

You can do both methods of selling your work.

It’s going to be a lot of work and many long nights, but I’m going to make my website be the heart of my “new” business. It is also something I can build during pandemic times when nobody is hiring photographers to make pictures of anything.

Wish me luck.

The picture. It’s the all seeing dog’s fault. Once we went outside, she headed straight to my car. She stood her ground. She was looking up at the car.

Okay, I thought. She’s always right. Normally, on a drive, she curls up and sleeps in the backseat. Not this time, she sat on the front seat. She wanted the window open. She got her way. She was being a dog.

She watched as we drove. Finally, she started barking. This is the place.

That was fine with me. We took a walk in a place we didn’t know. If you look at the gate, you might notice that is secured. You need card key to get in. Somebody jammed that up with a piece of cardboard, so in we went.

But.

Before we went exploring, I made a bunch of pictures at the gate because the light was streaming through the trees.

I couldn’t resist.

I have to admit I did a lot of work on the picture in post production. I made a lot of versions of it. I saw some muted work somewhere, so I tried that. Nah.

I settled on an early version of this picture and fine tuned it.

That’s what you see in front of you.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. As cities start letting people do things again wear your mask.

One more thing. I have a young friend. I’ve known her since she was 17. She’s in her late thirties now. Her doctors predicted that she wouldn’t live until she was 30 because she had cancer. She survived. Of course cancer treatment weakens your body.

She caught the virus. She survived that too, but it left with inflammation of her heart, kings and belly. She’s been in the hospital twice for that.

I have a really bad feeling. I don’t get them often, but when I do they are usually right.

Have a good thought for her. Do whatever you do. Please.


Interstate 10 heading into New Orleans.

Driving.

You are looking at the CBD — Central Business District — of New Orleans. The timing was perfect. I made a lot of frames of the scene from the interstate. Even though I’ve been known to drive and make pictures, I had a driver this time.

We were going to The French Quarter.

That’s the oddest thing about living in New Orleans. We can go to the Quarter whenever we want, while people journey here from all points on the compass. We forget how unique that makes us. Of course, many locals disavow the Quarter, claiming to never go there. I used to be one of them.

Not any more.

I talk about photographers luck often. There is more than luck completing the equation. To stumble onto this scene means that we had to be on the interstate. I had to have my cameras ready. And, that I could react quickly enough to make the picture.

One more thing.

I had to put my pants on and go outside.

I have no idea how long it took me to reach this point. Years and years, I think. Reacting without thinking is a Zen exercise. Alone, that takes years of practice.

That’s one of the purposes of Storyteller.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every slice of pizza.


Toward the end of the year. Toward the end the day.

A little obsession goes a long way.

I’m not talking about the perfume. I’m ┬átalking about a mental and emotional obsession. I’m talking about the one that I have when it comes the closing of 2019. Normally, I don’t really care. It’s just the pages of the calendar turning. Not this time. I can hardly wait. Even though a lot of people have said the same things about other years in this decade, 2019 seems worse.

Many people who I know feel the same way. They are worn out. They are tired. They are depressed. They feel beaten down. A writer who I read religiously said, that in this year of truth being turned upside down, she’s gotten to the point where she’s not sure she can trust herself.

I fear that in 2020, in a general election year, it might only get worse. I really fear that the worse possible thing can happen. I am scared that a re-elected president who is unhinged and free to do whatever he wants will finally blow up the country. Not physically, but at least existentially.

Enough of that because there are ways to combat the fear and loathing that so many people are feeling right about now.

Go outside. Leave your house. Life will immediately become unpredictable. It will become, well, life. To be lived in. You can work. You can play. You can meet new people. It’ll will also take the daily pressures off of your soul.

If you are an artist or creator, art harder.

A friend of mine said that at the beginning of this year. It helped her. It helped me. Sink your teeth in to a couple of long term projects. You’ll think more about that and less about the state the world.

See the good in everything and everybody who you meet on your journeys outside. Smile at people. Greet them with a friendly face. Ask for help when you need it. Eat well. Sleep well. Play well. Take care of yourself. Whatever you do spiritually, do it more.

Pick a one word koan to keep in your heart and soul. Trust me, it helps. It becomes the guiding principle for your year. Because of all the bad things that might happen in 2020, I’ve chosen my word for the year. “Positive.”

Stay positive.

That drives everything else.

 


In another neighborhood of the 9th Ward.

This time I wanted to feel it.

So, I played with everything that I could in post production without going too far. I suppose this is a kind of art, but I’m not sure. It could just be a mess. Ironically, in my world of typos I originally wrote that, “I could just be a mess.” That’s probably closer to the real story.

These two houses are located very near to the one in yesterday’s post. The neighborhood wasn’t in the best shape when the storm arrived. When Katrina blew through it sort of dealt a death blow to the area. Houses stood. Brick buildings remained. The streets were still there. But, for the first couple of years of recovery this area was a ghost town. People didn’t start returning until at least 2012, seven years after the big event.

That’s how it went. Many people were forced to take the long way home either by lack of funds, or by FEMA, or by the passing of a loved one either during or after the storm. Some people never came back.

This is an odd subject to write about during the holiday season. Once our holidays are upon us they don’t stop. Christmas, followed by New Year, followed by The Twelfth Night, followed by Carnival and Mardi Gras, followed by the Lenten season. And, finally Easter.

I suppose that I want to remember my thoughts as they come to me. It’s the end of the year. The end of the decade. These little histories matter to me, if nobody else.

After all, somebody might ask me how I spent my decade. Probably not.

I have a question.

I’m going to publish my ten best pictures of the decade right here on Storyteller. The editing wasn’t as hard as I imagined. Storyteller is ten years old. The decade is ten years old. My signature pictures — the ones that I didn’t make on assignment — are all right here in my archive.

So.

The question.

When do you think I should publish them? All the big publications have already published their “best lists.” I could do it next week, or I could do it the week in between Christmas and New Year. What’s your pleasure?


A little painting. Or not.

Any major dude will tell you.

I wanted make a picture that was a little different. I set out to make a painting. Instead, I made something like an etching. It’s all one experiment.

Here’s what happened. We had a little rain to go along with our newly cold weather. And, that’s all I’m going to say about that. I had some errands to run. I did what I always do. I let the rain water accumulate on my car’s windshield. I photographed through that. No worries. As many of you know, I drive. I don’t really look at what’s on the monitor. Mostly, it’s just plain dumb luck if I’m successful.

I made a couple of nice rain shots that way. Was I satisfied? You already know the answer to that. If you’ve forgotten, NO!

I layered an older picture with the rain streaks. I made one image that is way too bright and colorful. It wasn’t that kind of day. So, I made this picture and intentionally toned it down. Now I had a picture that feels like yesterday.

That’s it.

Anyway. I’m a little amazed at the news from Washington D.C. . Well, not really the news, but some reactions to it. The guy who shall not be named ranted and rave on Twitter and in real life. His son said that it was boring. Most of the media, even the folks I like, picked up on that theme.

What the hell?

It’s Congressional testimony. It’s words. It’s dry. It’s content rich. The people in the room are not going to attack each other physically, like they do in Italy.

That got me thinking.

We live in an on demand world. There is a constant stream of news and commentary on Twitter, the worst place in the world. Most big box office earnings are cartoon-like movies. Movies about comic books that I read when I was child. Unless there is a lot of sizzle, there is no steak.

I hate to say it, but this is where the digital age has lead us. Make no mistake. I’m not against technology. How much of it do I use myself? I’m mostly worried about how most of the world’s population use it. I once read something about online flame wars. The line that caught my eye was this, we have the equivalent of a $25,000 computer in our hands. We use it to argue with people that we don’t know.

Think about that.


Into the light.

I made a few new pictures. New work. Seasonal work. Spooky work.

You’ll see.

They say that all art is autobiographical. I agree. To a point. Even though I’m going through a burnt out phase, I’m not feeling dark. I’m not sure that you can really find that in my work because of the way I work. I photograph what I see. I suppose that I could be looking for things that are dark. However, this picture is the result of the dog “who sees things” wanting to go for a walk around dusk.

It could also be the way many people are seeing the world. Me included. We are passing through a very dangerous time. A time when lies are passed off as truth. When up is down. When we have been told to only trust one person. That’s rich. That person lies as easily as he breathes.

You know.

I’m not really feeling that way. I’m just looking for a way of moving forward. That’s hard. It’s always hard. I think it’s best to just be open and let it come to you. Just like good pictures. They are out there. They’ll find you. Just be open to them. So will the way forward.

Anyway.

This picture. It really is the result of a dog walk at around dusk. The blue hour. We were passing by a little alley and I looked up. There it was. Hanging on a tree. A picture. So, I made it. The extra bit, a balcony, was bathed in light. Red light. What a nice counterpoint. Done and done.

One more thing.

I think that we should all be a little sad right now. A president died. A man died. His last words were, “I love you too.” He said that to another president. His son. Make no mistake, I feel about him the way that I felt about the late Senator John McCain. I didn’t agree with him a lot of the time. But, I respected him. He harkened back to a time when we could disagree, and debate, politely. That may be really why I’m a little sad. I fear those days are over.

Our National Day of Mourning is on Wednesday. I’ll mourn. For about ten minutes. I strongly believe in the Chinese saying that translates loosely to, “when somebody who is 80 dies, you laugh.” It’s not as harsh as it sounds. It really means when somebody has lived a long, full life, you should celebrate that.

By all accounts, that’s what George H.W. Bush did.

Besides, wouldn’t you like your last words to be, “I love you too?”

Rest in Peace Mr. President. Be with Barbara. You’ve earned it.