One night, lonely.

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ometimes the pictures are better along the way rather than at the event I was going to.

I was going to photograph Krewe du Vieux which is one of the earliest parades of Carnival. The parade was as I expected, too crowded and nowhere to do work arounds. Oh yeah, with the exception of a few pools of light, everything was in shadows.

I made some okay pictures at the parade, but this was the best picture of the night. It’s prime French Quarter. It’s got a food store that mostly sells alcohol, a bike and a guy in a hoody waiting to do God knows what.

I think this was the beginning of Mardi Gras 2020, which means two months before we were blamed for holding a massive super spreader event before anybody knew what CoVid 19 could do.

It was so weird back then. In many ways, I’m glad I stayed out of the crowds as best I could. Which brings me to…

We’ve been watching a Netflix produced three season show called “Formula 1-1, Drive to Survive.” It’s a deep story about the story of Grand Prix drivers and the teams behind them. It’s very, very good.

We are into the third season. 2020. It took us right back to the confusion of the early days of the pandemic.

The first event starts in Australia, where the drivers and teams have just started hear about this new virus. They had no idea what to do.

Quick backstory. The drivers are great athletes. The train in all sorts of ways to handle the stress of driving a car at 200 mph without dying. They are smart as hell. And, they are personable.

Back to the story. One driver finds out that the virus is called Corona Virus. He walks over to a hospitality tent, pulls out a bunch of beers, hands them all around and he kiddingly says, “This will take care of it.” Corona Beer.

Anyway.

The first five events are cancelled. Everybody goes home. The first Grand Prix is held in Austria. Everything has changed. The teams are wearing masks. The drivers, who normally sign autographs with whatever pen they are given, tell their fans they can’t use other people’s pens.

Keep in mind, this is real life. There are no actors.

One more story.

In 2019, there is a heartbreaking accident. It starts out with Lewis Hamilton (at the time he was four time world champion and the face of Formula 1 Motorsports. He’s now six time champion and still the face of the sport.) He’s casually talking to some media and looking up at a monitor. He says, “Oh wow,” and stops the interview. His eyes were wide open.

There was a horrible accident. When Netflix didn’t show it, I knew. There was a fatality. A young driver racing in the Formula 2 category was killed.

The next scenes are heart rending. Drivers, like anyone who does something dangerous, are brothers. It doesn’t matter if they are normally competitors. They gathered on the track, in circle. They prayed. They shared stories about the driver. His helmet was on a stand. One by one they put their hands on it as they left to go to their cars.

Then, they drove as hard as they could.

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all know what I’m going to say about this picture. There’s nothing to it. Except that I can hand hold a camera in available darkness.

You probably can’t.

One day I won’t be able to hand hold a camera at night. That might be now since I haven’t tried in a long time.

We’ll have to test that out one night.

But, not tonight.

I have other work to do since I slept on and off until 2:39 pm.

That’s what watching Netflix will do.

It was some start to my very busy schedule. I’ll start tonight and work tomorrow and catch up.

I think.

Let’s get back to the picture for a minute.

One of the reasons I learned to hand hold a camera is because of a theory called, “Shoot and scoot.”

That means if I keep moving there is a lesser chance of being mugged or killed for my photo gear and my wallet.

Think about it. Using a tripod forces me to stay in one place, maybe for too long. On the other hand, it could be used as a weapon if the timing was right.

I’d rather not need to do that.

So, I make a few pictures and move on. I tuck my camera under my shoulder so that in low light it’s not easily seen.

It’s worked for a long time.

Then, there’s the swagger theory.

It works this way. Working photographers sometimes develop a pretty good way of walking, like a swagger, but not. It works best, when you’ve got about a third of cigar in your mouth and are surrounded by smoke.

Nobody messes with that.


New Orleans downtown from Central City

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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.

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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.


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oing where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. That’s what the song says. That’s what it felt like on many days out there in the high desert.

This is the other end of Central Avenue, Route 66. In Albuquerque. It is a business district. When I lived there two old school camera shops were within short walking distance. One kept shrinking but still exists. The other went out of business a few years after I left. I had nothing to do with that. I swear.

The light of New Mexico draws many artists to the state. Like this. Light that I had to tune down in order for it to make sense.

I may have made a mistake in doing that because it’s been a long time since I saw that light. My mind is playing tricks on me.

Hey! What was I doing again?

This is actually a picture a day image. I used to pick good times of day to look around. That increased the chance of what I call photographer’s luck.

That’s really luck that you make yourself, usually by walking outside of your door and taking a look around. Or, by using bad weather to make better pictures. And, by standing in front of better stuff.

That’s all I know. And, that’s really all you need to know about the philosophy of making photographs.

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his is a drive through kind of picture. You can tell because a normally straightly aligned street is tilting to the left.

That’s because I put my camera on the dashboard and let it do it’s thing.

It did its thing, alright. I’m lucky this picture exists. It set the F stop at 1.8.

Huh?

Something like this should be at least f 11. Maybe even a smaller aperture.

With such a gross over exposure I’m lucky that I could fix in post production.

There shouldn’t have been enough data in the file to produce any kind of image.

Let this be a lesson to you. Check everything. Control your camera. Don’t let your camera control you.


Leaving the place.

Things come and they go. The things we want most are those things that we don’t need. Usually, the plans I made are full of holes. If they succeed, it’s pure dumb luck.

No. I’m not sad. Why should I be? I made it through the first night of my second jab without a reaction. I don’t even have a sore arm.

What I am doing is working through my own reckoning. Once, I acted like a pirate. I just knew you couldn’t catch me. Now, I’m sure that you can.

Funny, how age does that sometimes.

I just wish this would have happened earlier so that I would have some time to adjust and improve before it’s time to amble off this moral coil. I guess it’s still early enough.

I would start this semi-confession with things I wished that I’d done differently, but the list is way too long. As somebody wrote in a song, the wars I lost I shouldn’t have fought. This is especially true when you realize that you lost most of them.

As we used to say in a five year old building at one of the newspapers for which I worked, it’ll be better in the new building. It did get better for a while, but the company contracted, was sold, and sold again.

And, so that goes.

We are starting to talk about what comes next now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. All I know is that patience is a virtue and I still don’t want to catch CoVid-19, jabbed or not.

So, be patient. Take stock. Figure out what you really want and head in that direction. Slowly.

I haven’t actually made enough urban pictures. At least, not in a long time. It’s high time that I started.

I made this as we walked out of the hospital after we were jabbed and sat there for the obligatory 15 minutes to make sure we didn’t pass out. Or, something.

I looked up, I saw what I saw and I had to make this picture.

I had to do some fun stuff in post. Because i wanted to. Most you can figure out.

The door to our branch of the hospital is behind us. So, is waiting for jab appointments. Now if we can just get past CoVid-19.

This line is done too. It’s run its course. Stay safe.


Always beads.

Time for a change.

I reckon that yesterday’s post about spring was a fairly good one. That’s a good way to go out.

No.

I’m not leaving. I’m just a little tired of photographing nature when I’m not even a nature photographer. I suppose it shows. Real nature photographers go places. Even if they stayed around here, they’d head out to the swamps, to the gulf, to the bayous that aren’t in the city.

Me?

I don’t even know the difference between most flowers. You know me. I describe flowers as a pink one, a yellow one, a blue flower. I make pictures on dog walks.

But, I am a fairly good street shooter being born and bred as a photojournalist. And, I don’t mean the kind of pictures that pass for street photography these days. You know the ones. Pictures taken from far across the street. Pictures taken of people from behind. Pictures taken of the street. All are fine if they are done for a reason.

But, most of the pictures I see on Facebook or Instagram are not done for a reason. They are made by people who are scared of other people. People who just “got” a camera and out the door they go. They declare their work to be street photography because they don’t know what else to call it. Or, themselves.

Why can’t they just say, “I’m a photographer and these are my pictures.”

I’ve just called myself a street photographer. Sort of. I wander the streets and photograph what I see. In my town. My city. If that makes me a street photographer, so be it. I don’t really care. I take pictures. For myself. For my clients. For my agencies. For you.

The pictures I make for myself are usually the ones I like best. That’s what you are going to see here. At least until the end of April. Maybe longer. Some will be “little” pictures like this one. Others will have a depth to them that makes them a “bigger” picture. We’ll see.

This picture. I started this little portfolio with beads on a fence because it says New Orleans. Even though most beads are thrown for Mardi Gras and a couple of other seasonal events like St. Patrick’s Day and so on, the beads don’t just disappear. They can’t. They are everywhere. These beads are fairly new. They haven’t faded yet, to the dull silvery-gray color that is the base of all plastic beads. With our extreme weather they will. I’m not sure how much experimenting I’ll do with this collection. As I said, these are more about photojournalism than not. The rules — well, my rules — say that you can’t do what I did with yesterday’s flower and call it street photography.

Anyway.

Enjoy the new collection of pictures.


Looking forward.

New Orleans.

You don’t think of my city this way. It’s true. We are funky. We are old. We have many buildings that are well over 100 years old. Houses in the Garden District are 150 years old. My first house in the 7th Ward was built in 1837. It was the second common house that was built on a plantation that grew indigo. You know. The stuff that makes your blue jeans, blue.

First and foremost for most of our history, New Orleans is a port city. A business hub. People worked here to sell cotton, sugar, rice. They imported coffee and vegetables from South America. The Bywater, which has become gentrified and a place to go for dinner and to stay in Air BnB lodging, was the country’s chief importer and processor of coffee. And, bananas.

That’s all changed. But, we still have a pretty good-sized business district. These days a lot of former office spaces have been converted into condo and high-end apartments.

After all, our biggest business is tourism.

That’s kind of too bad. We’ve gone from making, and doing, to serving. That happened long before my time. I have no issue with that except… the local newspaper just published a study on salaries in the service industry.

Unless you have a name as a chef or something equivalent, the highest pay you’ll make is around $14.85 per hour. It goes down from there. That’s not good. Not in a city that has rapidly gentrified. Not in a city where most of the folks who are part of the culture that tourists come here to see can’t afford to live here. In a city where most of the folks working in the service industry have to have more than one job to afford the rent.

I know. I know. That isn’t limited to New Orleans. Some places have it worse. Much worse. Think about San Francisco or Los Angeles. I grew up in Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. If we sold everything, I’m not sure we could go back to my home even if we wanted to. I’m not sure that I do. I think it’s crowded and traffic is terrible here. Think about the Los Angeles region. Sheesh. It would drive me crazy.

The picture. Not a drive by. But, a drive through. I was waiting for the light to turn green. The light you see towards the bottom of the picture. I decided that I liked what I saw so I made the picture. I’ve done that in the past as I passed through the French Quarter on the way to some place else.  I actually proved a point with this picture. An editor with whom I work wants me to photograph something specific. It needs a city-like background. She thinks of NOLA in the same way that so many people do. The funky, old French Quarter. I emailed her this picture. Now, she thinks differently. The funny thing is, if you are walking up Bourbon or Royal streets, you can see this if you just look up. Too many people are looking down into their hurricanes and wondering where the time went.


Fire hydrant and words.

A little change.

Something a little more grungy. A little more urban. A little more made by hand.

Some people think graffiti is some kind of blemish. A kind of destruction. An attack on civilized society. Others think it is a kind of street art. I fall into the latter category. Sometimes. Some of this is just tagging for tagging’s sake. Leaving a mark.

It gets controversial when an artist like Banksy came to town a few years after Hurricane Katrina. He tagged 18 buildings. Almost immediately, 17 of his works was painted over in gray, by a guy who took it upon himself to cover all graffiti with gray paint. The remaining one was removed along with the wall on which it was painted. The owner of the building did that. He also had it restored a bit, and it is now on display as part of another show.  I think it just opened.

I made these four pictures in The Bywater. I also turned the graffiti into my own art by cropping in camera and then bringing out the color in post production. On the other hand, if I actually knew who did the original tagging, I would love to credit them too. Unfortunately, unless you know the taggers’ work by name, secrecy is kind of the whole point.


An urban look.

Yes. Once upon a place.

I keep writing about my time in Hong Kong. And, how I filled my down time with walks. With making pictures. With exploring. I thought that I should show you a little of my work from that time.

However.

I’ve reworked this picture a couple of times. Over a couple of years. My intent was always to show the city as a dynamic and colorful place. Hopefully, I finally did that by using more contemporary post production techniques.

Hong Kong is slowing down a bit now. But, in the past things changed quickly in the city. There were times when I found myself a little lost because old landmarks were torn down and new buildings were quickly built in their place. I suppose that if I traveled there today, I would have to relearn the city the I once knew quite well.

The picture. I made it from high in Times Square. No, not Times Square in New York. That would have taken one very long lens. Heh! There is a shopping mall called Times Square in Hong Kong. You can enter it in many ways. From various doorways. From a direct entrance from the MTR (mass transit) and from tunnels in Causeway Bay that are really intended for MTR use. On the sub floors there is a food court. Mostly like fast food. For the next ten floors there is a shopping mall. Finally, as you reach the tower there are offices and fine dining. That’s where I made this picture. Towards the top.

Technically, this picture is the result of a couple of modifications. At first I saw the picture as a HDR work. Later I saw it differently, but I used my early post production work as a base of the new version which is mostly adding a huge amount of color. That’s about me. I choose to believe that Hong Kong was, and is, a very colorful place. In fact, the color can be overwhelming. But, not to me. I like that.


In all its glory.
In all its glory.

More freedom.

Really the same freedom. As yesterday. Just a different look at it. I like “compression” shots. They help to make a crowded scene look really crowded. They add a “stacked” look. They help urban pictures look really urban. Bottom line. They help my vision.

Yes.

I used a long lens. I don’t use it to get close. When I photographed sports, that was one thing. Today, I use it to help create the graphic I have in my head. The shape, the tight framing. a central pop of color.

That sort of thing.

Housekeeping. I’m way behind in responding to your posts or emails. I’m in motion. Transit. Something like that. I promise I’ll get to them. Soon.