The heart of things.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

The End. The Beatles.

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More like magenta.

Getting close.

Close enough to see the details. The shape. The various shades of color.

Color.

Call this what you want. Is it pink? Is it magenta? Is it something else? If you are trying to match color, as I used to do on a big commercial printing press, it matters. If you aren’t, enjoy it for what it is. Whatever you think it is.

Now. A quick message from our sponsor.

I was reading a Facebook conversation between a couple of people and an author friend of mine. They were discussing how to market a book. One thinks websites are dead. Another thinks blogs are dead. A third one thinks Facebook is old fashioned. None of them discussed tweeting or Instagramming.

They admitted that they had no idea what was right or wrong. They were guessing.

The correct answer, according to the head of SEO for CAA, is all of them as long as the same people don’t follow you around. They may think that they are helping, but they are not. Each of those social media platforms reach different kinds of audiences. Having a Facebook page is like being in the telephone book. Remember those? You have to be there or for sure nobody will find you.

The other big trick is not to share, post or tweet the same material. That makes sense. If people follow you around, you want them to see different stuff. If somebody stumbles on your work in a couple of places, you don’t want to bore them.

Get it?

The picture. A new summer bloom at home. I saw it. I photographed it. That was pretty much it. Ma Nature made that flower. She doesn’t need help from me.


Mardi Gras Indian suit detail.

On Super Sunday.

I told a friend of mine that I was toast from chasing Indians around Central City. That’s not true. It’s worse. I’m toast because I’m really sick. So, I’m later than usual. Much later.

I did manage to download, back up and edit everything. But, I am not ready to finish many pictures.

I selected an image that likely most of you won’t see, even with my work. An extremely close detail of the labor intensive work that goes into making a suit. Everything you see in the picture is done by hand. Each bead is strung and sewed by hand. The velvet is hand sewn. As were the feathers.

That’s why each new suit takes about a year to make. For sure an indian takes a break from time to time. Life gets in the way. But, this is an almost daily labor. A labor of love.

Because.

For the most part, after all this work is done and the suit is debuted on Mardi Gras Day or Super Sunday, last years suit is destroyed. A few are preserved through various museums, a few indians have large enough spaces to save them. But, most suits are either burned or cut to shreds and tossed in a dumpster.

It’s hard to imagine that art like this is worthless. But, it is. Even if a suit can be sold, it’s likely the return will be much less than the investment.

What can I say?

Unless you are at the top of the art ladder, it’s hard to make money doing whatever your art may happen to be. The photography world has been decimated by “everybody is a photographer.” I get that. I don’t agree with it. But, I get that.

But, not everybody can sew like this.


Rain drops on green leaves.

Life, and life itself.

Fresh growth. Water droplets. Leaf veins. Symbols for life.

I made this picture a few days ago, when we knew Hurricane Florence was about to hammer the Carolinas. And, that Super Typhoon Mangkhut was about to tear through the Philippines and parts of Southern China.

I started thinking about the simplicity of nature and how we — most of mankind — were doing our best to destroy it. We use every tool we have at our disposal to create severe weather change. To pollute. To destroy.

As Bob Dylan once wrote, “It doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.” He was talking about political winds, but isn’t weather change a kind of politics?

Already every place in the world is hotter, wetter and more humid. Where it isn’t wet and humid, it’s dryer and more extreme. Storms are more powerful and the season is longer. Where it’s dry, wildfire season is longer and more dangerous. The changing weather, in part, helps drive refugee migration. The window for stopping irrevocable change is already beginning to close.

Some world governments are trying to work against this. All but two. Whether it is too little or too late remains to be seen. One of the two used to be a world leader.

Now?

Not so much. In fact, The United States is regressing in the name of corporate power and earnings because the current presidential administration doesn’t believe in science, thinks that weather change is a hoax, and thinks that what might have been good before we knew better — say 75 or 100 years ago — is good now. For instance, the president seems bent on reviving the coal industry, claiming that there is clean coal. There is no clean coal. Besides, why would you want to burn coal when there are plenty of renewable energy sources around such as sun and wind?

Oh wait. I know. I know.

Anyway.

Pictures like this one make statements more elegantly than all the words I just wrote. Keep it simple. Keep it on point. Make it powerful. A little tiny detail of something can make a grand statement of its own.


Coffee in my cup.

They said. Yes, they did.

They said that new studies indicate that coffee drinkers live longer. With the amount of coffee consumed around this place, I’m pretty sure that some of us will live forever. My first thought was “Damn, I’m never leaving.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have no death wish. I don’t want to die. But, we know that all things must pass. I accept that. Even living to over 100 years old really doesn’t interest me. The quality of life just doesn’t seem to be there. It’s likely that you’d out live most friends and family. It could very well be that living to 100 is a very lonely endeavour.  I don’t know.  I’d ask the next “senior-senior” citizen that I see, but that might not be the kind of question you should ask. Seriously.

Anyway.

I was watching the espresso flowing into the cup when I thought it actually looked kind of cool.

So.

I photographed it while it was in process. Then, I did my thing to it and made it a little more creative. I also realized that when I posted a coffee picture a while back, I earned a new follower. A blog about coffee. I never posted anything about coffee again. What must he or she think of me? Probably, like I’m some kind of bait and switch dude.

Y’all know better than that. I photograph what I see.

By the way, the couple of you who responded to my “should I beg for money” question, said that I should. I probably will. But, it still feels weird to me.


Not keeping anything safe.

All I know is that if you don’t use a thing, it probably won’t do it’s intended task.

This open lock is a case in point. It’s intended to keep a little AT&T substation secure. That’s a telephone communications company for those who don’t know. The substation controls about 3,000 buildings. The last field service technician apparently got lazy. It was probably hard to open so he left it on top of the metal box. For next time. Just think about the potential for mischief or worse. If I was about nine years old…

Anyway.

Today is mostly about housekeeping.

If you live in Louisiana you are probably suffering from allergies. See those little gold dots near the top of the open lock? That’s pollen. It’s in the air. That’s tree pollen. We are also suffering from grass pollen. To make matters worse, it’s unseasonably hot. Record-breaking hot. And, we haven’t had rain for weeks. We aren’t expected to have rain in the near future. It is so dry that the dirt is pulling away from the buildings, leaving huge gaps between the wall and the edge of the earth. People are actually watering their plants and crops.

I didn’t photograph the Mother’s Day second line. I’ve gotten to the point that I really don’t like working in extreme heat. Just as well. For the second time in five years, there was a shooting. This time, “only” two people got shot. Truth be told, it was at the very end of the parade about a half block removed. I wouldn’t have gone to that place anyway. But, still… who shoots up a parade dedicated to our mothers? The last time it happened about 15 people were wounded. One of those eventually died last year. My friend “Big Red” Deb Cotton. She was everybody’s friend, but she liked photographers because we are photographing a way of life. I have to decide if the risk is worth the picture. Yeah. I know that 99.99% of the people at any second line are peaceful and just having fun. But, a stray bullet knows no bounds.

I’m considering a hiatus from Storyteller. It’s not the time. It’s not the people. Well… in a way it is. The people. I gain new followers every day. Between those who receive emails and those who are on the reader there’s a lot. Yet, the people who actually see a picture on any given day keep dropping. If growth data matters, which apparently it doesn’t, I should have somewhere near 500 people who like my work daily. I don’t. In fact, I’ve dropped from a steady 50 or so to less than 30.

Since I’ve long said this place is experimental and I’m not very consistent in what I post, it could be that. I’m sure I disappoint people, like the coffee blog who started following Storyteller based on one odd post. I’m sure there are other people who play the “tit-for-tat” game. I’ll follow you if you follow me. Or, I’ll like your work if you like mine. I don’t play that game. I like what I like. I follow what interests me; usually because there are more than three posts.

Or, it could just be that the work I post just isn’t very good. Oh well. I’ve made a living at this for 40 plus years. Someone likes it enough to pay for it. They have for a long while.

That said, I’m in the middle of building a new commercial website. I’d kind of put it on hold because I couldn’t get a clear vision of what I want it to be. I built it and I published it. Then I went Yucko. Yucko. Yucko. But, it does have a blog component. I bet you can guess what it’s called. Yeah, yeah. Storyteller. It’s likely that I’ll just move this over there. Those of you who communicate with me in some way will hopefully follow me over there. It won’t be hard to find. http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. I think I can still send emails.

I’ll probably drop back to about 100 readers. That’s okay if you really read and talk to me.

I’m not sure when this will happen, although WordPress wants to be paid again for this blog and extra storage by the end of the month so that’s sort of a deadline.

That’s the news. The news that fits.

 


A pleasant surprise.

I’ve been thinking.

You know how dangerous that can be. These are pretty good thoughts about a man who has served my country for his entire adult life. He served in the military. In the House of Representatives. And, in the Senate.

Now, he is dying of brain cancer. A particularly virulent strain that also killed Ted Kennedy.

Senator John McCain is making peace in his last days by writing a book that he might not be alive to see published. He is making peace by visiting with his old friends and telling them what they mean to him. Because he is sick, they have to come to him. They journey hundreds of miles to do this. Despite the political implications of these visits, most of them come because as former Vice President Joe Biden said, “I just want to see my friend.”

Please make no mistake. I don’t agree with many of the things Senator McCain did or said. He is too quick to “put boots on the ground” rather than to settle something diplomatically. He was often an air cowboy as a pilot. Yet, when the USS Forrestal was on fire he landed his aircraft and rushed to the fire to help save the crew. He comported himself with great dignity after his capture and prison time as POW. He came home to serve his country.

Most importantly, I never for a minute believed that he advocated anything — even those things with which I disagreed — without my country’s best interests in mind.

I respect him.

Now, as his time approaches, he is taking care of unfinished business. He is planning his funeral. He’s asked two former presidents to speak. They are from both sides of the political spectrum. Former President George W. Bush and former President Barrack Obama. They said yes. He does not want the current president to attend. It would be easy to criticize him for that. It’s not revenge. The current president stands for nothing the senator believes in. I’m not sure he stands for anything.

Where did all this bring me to?

I’m somebody of thinks through complicated thoughts and distills them into something simple. Understandable. After all, complicated pictures are hard to view.

We don’t have to agreed with each other. But, we owe it to ourselves and to the people around us to listen and to compromise. We owe it to ourselves to speak out whether it be in words, our art, or just in our actions.

You know, like how hard is it to let another car pass in front of you when they need to be in another lane?

Yeah, like that.

The Rose?

Oh, I saw it yesterday. It was too pretty to pass up. To pretty to pass up in my search for junk. You know what I say. The work is the prayer. Call it a prayer for the senator.


Unearthly glow.

I’m always amazed at what I see if I just look.

Since I’ve moved into a new series of things, I see stuff everywhere. Not only for the junk (not junk) series, but for images in general. I suppose by letting my sort of photographic malaise roll around in my head I was able to open up other ways of seeing.

This picture might not be what you think it is. For the most part, that’s one of the visions of this series. What do you think it is?

Give up? Already? Oh, all right.

New cars have a couple of headlight bulbs contained behind a plastic case. When car is really new, the case casts off a lot of reflected light even in broad daylight. If you stick your camera right up  against the plastic or plexiglass case, this is what you get. Then, you just have to tone it way down in post production. You might not even have to add color because it’s hiding in the glare.

Back to the future. In yesterday’s post I wrote about how some people build followers. How some social media planning software encourages it. I received a number of comments on my various social media platforms about that.

Make no mistake, pumping out a bunch or words and unrelated pictures seems counter productive to me. It’s all noise and no signal. Some people do it in an attempt to make money using various systems. Other people seemingly just have the need to be noticed. I can’t speak to that. I don’t know those people.

But…

Two things came up for me.

The web, interwebs or internet — whatever you want to call it — is just a pipeline. It can be used for good or bad. Or, everything in between. There is also the dark web, which — for a while — became kind of fashionable to talk about. You can buy or find anything there. Drugs. Big weapons. Even people who do dirty deeds. It’s not so easy to access. It’s even hard to navigate. On the other hand, because it take some skill to navigate it’s fairly secure.

Me? I’m fairly simple. I want to see the web as something for good. As long as… I understand it’s potential for bad.

Finally, a fellow blogger and online friend who lives in the north of the state (think of it as we do – like North and South Korea…. I’m kidding. Or not. :)) who said that she got a request to reblog her site from someone within the WordPress family of blogs. She later found out that blogger only reblogs.  She was bothered by that.

That’s a little different. Reblogging — at least sparingly — is part and parcel to growing your own readership. That’s how WordPress works. I see that as unpaid advertising. If a reblogger has a good following some of their followers might become mine. I have no idea why somebody would create a WordPress blog only to repost other blogs, but so be it. I think they fancy themselves as creating fort of an online newspaper covering things that interest them. They actually aren’t hurting anybody.

And, some of the people who asked to reblog one of my posts or use a picture have become friends in real life. That’s a good thing, right?