New Orleans downtown from Central City

T

his very well could be my last post if the software causes another break down. Make no mistake, this isn’t hard for me. I’ve been doing this for years… and years.

It’s funky, nasty, poorly designed software from WordPress that is causing me grief. Every time I start to think that I should just stay over here, WordPress screws up again.

So.

I’ll be over to my new website and blog very early next week. The site address is laskowitzpictures.com just as it’s been for years, WordPress not with standing.

I made this pictures a few years ago, during a Central City festival. I photographed the usual things then I started thinking about the city skyline from there. I used a long lens, probably a 300 mm to compress everything as much as I could.

Then, I let it sit for years until last night when I needed to process a few pictures. I thought the this might be a good picture to post on Storyteller.

It turns out that it wasn’t but I’ll tell you about that on the other side.

O

n the other side.

There’s a lot of technique to discuss.

The picture that I found in one of my archives was too small.

After I worked on it in Snapseed, where I layered it in sort of an offset pattern, and shipped it to OnOne, I immediately uprezed it. That’s short hand for resizing a picture to be a bigger size. There is a resizing module on OnOne that used to be called Genuine Fractiles.

Genuine Fractiles was state of the art software about twenty years ago. It was sold, improved, resold and improved until I guess OnOne bought it.

I did the usual finishing work on color, contrast and depth.


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.


New Orleans traffic.

Everybody is going somewhere.

This is Central Business District traffic at right about rush hour. There is rain falling in the light dusky shadows. Drivers are trying to dart in and out of traffic blockages.

I got bored. I did what any photographer would do. I made pictures. Before you think that I’m crazy, let me say that I was stopped for a red light. Cars were crawling through the cross street at about two per green traffic light. Most of us were stopped, foot on the brake, just waiting. I had about five minutes to make this picture.

I did this in the days when I used to explore the streets of New Orleans. I sought out situations like this one. I’d like think that I was the only driver who didn’t care if the traffic moved.

As I recall, this picture was made pre-storm. That makes it about 15 years old. This kind of work kept popping up as I was looking for the decade’s best ten. You might ask if this picture is 15 years old, how does it fit into the decade collection? It doesn’t. A version of it was simply misfiled. Actually, it was likely in one collection, was moved to a second collection and it followed along the unorganized pathways of my archive.

I gotta do something about that.


Lights in action.

Driving.

Motion. Movement. The combination of others moving and my own motion helped to create some kind of impressionistic art.

And, a lot of Ws.

I reckon that the Ws were created by NOLA’s potholed streets. Hit a hole and down the car goes. So too, with the other cars around me.  Up. Down. Up. Down.

Anyway.

I was out looking for pictures one evening when I decided to go from the Garden District to the French Quarter. To do that I had to pass through the CBD. Central Business District. That’s where I ran into this pack of cars. And, a bus. I wasn’t really following them. But, they were in front of me.

I took advantage of the situation. That’s what my version of street photography really is about. Opportunism. And, luck.

If I had chosen some other profession, I’d probably be rich by now. I’d have a very easy life. What would be the fun in that?

Oh. NSU. A song from the legendary band, Cream. “Driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy is when I play my guitar.”


Summer rain storm.

New Orleans. The rainy season comes in the summer. Sometimes, we get a little rain every day. Rain might not fall for long. But, it will fall. And, usually, it starts out falling pretty hard.

That’s okay.

I think what most people dislike is not the rainfall, but the inevitable soupy humidity that follows. As we know, what falls down must rise back up. As steam.

Of course, this creates a natural greenhouse, or hothouse, effect. Everything grows. I do mean everything.

I made this picture during a rain storm. I’m not exactly sure what the umbrella did for the man crossing the street. The rain was falling sideways. Yes. This is sort of a drive by shooting. With a camera. The street in front of me is Canal Street. I was coming out of the French Quarter. In front of me is the CBD. I’m sorry to say that the picture is three years old.


Around Lee Circle in storm light.
Around Lee Circle in storm light.

Storm Light. One of my favorite qualities of light. There are others. Light at the ends of the day. Golden. Blue. Night. Almost anything but high noon in bright sunlight.

But, first.

I decided not to chase down all the storm damage in the little upriver towns. Those people have enough on their hands without having me around. I’m about the last thing that they need. Sharing their misery is not what I’m about. Funny how living through a huge hurricane will do that to you.

I did make more pictures in New Orleans. These are  one of them.

Most don’t need a lot of explanation. But, the top picture does.

Lee Circle.

Let me say right off that Storyteller is not normally the place for political discussions. First, I’m not all that political. Second, there are some things that I just don’t have much time for. Politics is one of them.

That said, Lee Circle has been a political polarizer since this summer. Why? After the mass killings in Charleston, South Carolina which inspired the state to stop using the old Confederate Flag, our mayor — Mitch Landreau — was further inspired to remove all of New Orleans Confederate statues.

There are a couple of historical points to know. Of the three statues in question; Lee, Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, only Robert E. Lee never set foot in New Orleans.  The other two, Beauregard and Davis, either lived here or were raised here.  Two, the city was Confederate for just over a year when it was surrendered without a shot being fired. Admittedly, New Orleans was the largest city in the South at the time.

The statue that seems to be causing most of the concern is the Robert E. Lee statue for which Lee Circle is named. The general who never set foot in the city. It was erected in 1884. During the reconstruction. There has been a pitched battle from both sides. Every possible reason has been dredged up, both for and against removing the statues. I didn’t really care. For me, the only thing the Lee statue meant was that I had to be really careful passing through the circle. And, hopeful. I hoped that a streetcar would not hit me. I hoped that I wouldn’t get hit by another car or truck as they entered the circle. But, that’s about it. I rarely even looked at the statue. I was busy driving.

That’s changed.

Despite the historical preservationists agreeing, the city council voting 6 -1 to approve the removal and two courts ruling in favor of removing the statues, the group calling itself something like Save Our Statues won’t let go. Now, they are trying very hard to “persuade” potential removal contractors that it is in their best interest not to make a bid or do the work.

Hmmm.

What does that sound like to you? I know what that sounds like to me.

And, now I care.

Remove the damn things and be done with it. Replace the Lee statue with a statue of somebody who actually set foot in the city. I’m up for a musician like Allen Toussaint or Fats Domino. Or, somebody like them. Somebody positive. A little more current.

The statues?

By the way, I never once used the word demolished. They are being removed and stored until somebody can figure out an appropriate place for viewing, like a museum. We have a Confederate museum. It’s old and dusty. Upgrade it a little and stick them there. One more thing. The removal fees are being gifted to the city by an anonymous donor.

Sorry for the diversion.


Crossing the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge

A couple of semi-left out images. Just a little drive by work… I doubt these will get stolen. Remember that very graphic picture of the bare trees against the backlighted cloud that I published here yesterday? A guy with whom I went to high school, liked it when he saw it on Facebook so much so that he used it on his page. No thanks. No credit. What should I do? Because it’s him, my first inclination is to not ask him to take it down. He already knows better. My first inclination is to have my attorney send him little love letter with an invoice attached.

Whaddya all think?

I’m pretty generous with pictures. Early last week a friend of mine who is starting a beautiful travel agency website (he’s shifted careers and has become a travel agent … go to http://www.tripsbygreg.com)  just sort of casually asked if I have anything from New Orleans. He’s actually from New Orleans. He knows I have  stuff from New Orleans. Heh, heh, heh. Without any second thought I sent him, I think, ten pictures. He’s a friend.  He asked. No problem. Happy to do it. He back linked me. That’s my pay. I’m happy. He’s happy. The world is right.

But, just stealing a picture from me because you can… well, that ain’t happening. It’s time for artists of all disciplines to take back what is ours.

These pictures?

They are a great example of what not to do. Don’t photograph and drive. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. For most people, it’s probably not a good idea to change the radio station and drive. You can see great examples of how some people drive on the interstate. Just look at the cement guard rail on the highway itself. On both sides of the highway, in fact. It seems like a lot of people have been bouncing off of them. Look at all those tire marks. How hard is it to drive in a straight line? Apparently, it’s harder than I thought. What do I know?

The Mercedes Benz Superdome.
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome.


New Orleans from Lt. Louis Cemetery Number 2.
New Orleans from St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.

Before the storm, this place was plain scary. Now, it’s just scary. It was a kind of no man’s land that was one of those places that you shouldn’t go into alone. But, the storm cleared out the bad guys. Most of the nearby housing was torn down. They moved to other parts of the city. Or, they went to the far western neighborhood in Houston. Texas.

This is St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. Yep. That’s how it’s written.

I went there to photograph something else. Well, actually to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. After doing what I came to do, I decided to walk around a bit. That should tell you something. I guess after all these years, I’ve finally acclimated. Imagine walking around at high noon in about 95 degree weather and with humidity at about 90%. Yes. Imagine that. Without a hat. But, I did have water. That’s something. And, a camera. That’s something else.

Anyway. As you know by now, high noon is not my favorite time to work. Ever. But, I had no choice.

So.

I started looking for a picture that could be made into some other picture. Later. Using computer software. I saw this collapsed tomb. I looked through the bricks and the other monuments and I saw the buildings of the CBD. “Aha,” I thought. The dystopian me came out of hiding, cursed the heat, the humidity and started making pictures. When I got back into the studio, I started messing with the picture. This is the result. Maybe I’ll call it, “The End.”

A word about our cemeteries. They are ancient. Many of them are partially uncared for. It’s expensive to that. There is a group called “Save Our Cemeteries.” They are a more-or-less volunteer group that began in 1974 in response the destruction of the wall vaults in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. They work as hard as they can. But, many of these old tombs are family tombs. Some were funded perpetually through trusts and wills. Many were not. When the family left the area or died out, the tombs began to crumble for lack of care. Katrina’s flood waters didn’t help. This is the result.


Glowing Central Business District, or CBD as we call it.
Glowing Central Business District, or CBD as we call it.

It’s art. I suppose. I had an assignment to photograph and architect just down the street in One Shell Plaza. As I was walking back, everything was just sparkling on our first sunny day after the “Great Ice Storm of 2014.” Wonderful winter light. So, I took my time getting back to my car and made a few pictures. It was one of those days when a too high in the sky sun looked good. I’m not sure what more to say. It was nature’s day. Not mine.

Yes. A little bit of post production to clean and darken things a bit on this one.

But, then I go an idea. Here it is.

Experimental. CBD.
Experimental. CBD.

I usually make a horizontal and vertical image of the same scene. This is the horizontal version with a lot more post production. I kind of like this version best. What about you?

I think it has a certain something. It certainly has a lot more post production. Wow! When I previewed it, WordPress’ compression software sure did a number on the coy. I wish you could see the original.