Dark skies.

W

e listen to a lot of podcasts around here. This morning I was listening to The New York Times’ The Daily. The reporter was talking to a viral scientist. It was a pretty good interview until the reporter asked the scientist when the pandemic would end.

She declined to predict that, but did say that because of all the issues we already know about including the politicizing of the virus, anti-vaxers, freedom complainers, and the general lack of concern about masking and potential super spreader events, the soonest the virus could be managed but not eradicated is late 2022 or early 2023.

Think about that. We have another potential 18 months of this stupidity before we even come close to managing this.

In my other world we started cancelling the first two legs of a four leg tour. It’s highly likely that the last two legs will be cancelled too.

The supernutjob fans on Facebook couldn’t understand why. They claimed everything but the truth, including that the star has breast cancer. A legal note will put an end to that.

When I asked who among them could meet entrance requirements of either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 Hours.

I heard.

Crickets.

And, there you have it. They killed a concert tour and their fun.

Morons.


T

he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

P

ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


Out on the road.

between travels. I’ve traveled since I was a little boy. Maybe five or six years old. We took the Santa Fe El Capitain to Chicago and from there the Broadway Limited to New York City. We did that almost every other summer until I was 15 years old. Trains started changing. The Broadway Limited was a New York Central System train. Sometime in the middle 1960s they merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Both were losing money. Apparently, the owners thought that they could lose money together.

That lasted until 1970 when the federal government stepped in and created Amtrak. They never make money, but they weren’t created for that. In fact, since the end of World War II, passenger trains lost money. There just wasn’t a way to earn the money that freight trains do.

Enough about trains.

That’s not where this piece was going. It’s about me. Me. Me. Me.

I started traveling again after 1972. I took mostly road trips. I also commuted from San Jose to Long Beach, California. I went to college in San Jose.

My first real job in the long arc of my career was in southwestern Virginia. Once we got there, we didn’t travel much except to photograph sporting events and to visit friends who lived in Washington D.C. That was before I worked there.

Eventually. I worked at couple more newspapers. By then I was an editor. We never traveled. I join the staff of one of two picture agencies. I never traveled for the first one. I always traveled for the second one. That wore on me. Fly back to The United States from Hong Kong, overnight in Dallas where I supposedly lived and fly to New York the next day.

I kept doing that kind of work until the 2000s, when I began my second career. That one entails constant traveling especially in the summer. I set my alarm and wrote on a piece of paper, “You are in xyzzy city.”

Blammo. Then traveling stopped. Totally.

The summer of the great pandemic.

For the first month or so, being at home felt good. It was different. We got to be home. Even those of us in our households who didn’t travel liked us being home. Now, a little over six months in, our stirs are going crazy. I feel like I’m in a Jimmy Buffett song. “I just shot six holes in my freezer. I think I’ve got cabin fever. Somebody sound the alarm.”

Many of us have completed long postponed home projects. Obviously, if they were undone for so long, they didn’t need to be done. What the hell am I going to do with the five level bird house? There aren’t five levels of birds around here.

For some of us we know that we won’t really start traveling until spring of 2022. That’s right 2022. Not 2021. Not by the end of this year. 2022. I have no idea what trouble I will have gotten into by then.

The picture. We moved to New Mexico in late 2005 after Hurricane Katrina “wiped out region clean like the Bible said.” If memory serves we arrived in mid-November. We stayed until mid-2011. We took a lot of road trips. We flew for business. We flew for pleasure.

Even after we returned to New Orleans, the travel never slowed down.

Until March.

Even though I complain a lot about my ailments (That’s what old people do), I’m built to travel. I can drive 12 hours a day. I recover quickly from jet lag to major time zone crossings. I enjoy all sorts of food. I get along with all sorts of people.

But, here we all sit.

So.

I made this picture on a New Mexican road trip. I can’t remember where it was made. I suppose I could look at my daybook from the last year we were there. What caught my eye was the church. There are churches everywhere just like New Orleans. But, mostly the light got my attention.

Remember, I said that there is a magical quality to New Mexican light? I didn’t do anything to the light and sky of this photograph. That’s what I saw. That’s what you see.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Enjoy all the American Indian fry bread.


Stormy.

Away in the weather.

I wasn’t driving in that place during the storms. But, before and after are good targets. The main idea is to give you a sense of our wonderful weather down here in Southeastern Louisiana. During this time of year we often get a short but violent storm about every other day.

This down time has got me thinking. That’s usually a dangerous proposition. A lot of folks are doing some kind of a review of their lives, right now. For many people it’s more along the lines of, “How the hell did this happen?”

I’m not sure what you can do about the past but learn from it. And, enjoy some of the memories. That’s probably enough. If you can take something away from whatever happened to you, you’ve done it.

The past is all different. Places are all different. We are all different. Our pasts are all different. We mix and match. Trying to understand. “How the hell did this happen?”

Until.

We are brought to this place in time. One moment in history. Our time. Right this minute. This minute. Right now. This one.

What are you going to do with this minute? What are going to do if you believe that there are no useless days?

Tell me. Tell the rest of us. Please.

The Picture

I didn’t even know what I had. If I hadn’t messed with this file, you’d have seen the usual things. Blue sky. A few clouds. A long road reaching out in a sort of brown-grayish color. Another detail or two.

But.

I went the other way. I made the picture look like you were out on some deserted highway, late at night. A storm is brewing. You hope to get there in time. The time before the clouds erupt into hard rain. You hope.

Just so you know, I didn’t use an app that is supposed to be a cinematic filter called, “Night for Day.” I made this one myself.

So. Yes. A lot of post production.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

I didn’t forget. Fifteen years. Today. Fifteen years between Katrina and Lucy. This picture links the two. It leaves me wondering. “How the hell did I get here?”

You’d better have another sandwich.


A long way.

There are days and there are days.

I tried to photograph balloons. There were three. Not enough. There was wind. You’d think that balloons like wind. They do. But, not much more than 10 miles per hour. The wind was stronger than that. So no balloons in the air. No dusk balloon glow.

I gave up.

I started heading back. Then, this picture happened. At 60 miles per hour. Luckily, the magic smart phone came to the rescue. All I did was hold it on the dashboard with a finger. It did the rest and I slowed down.

I have one more day to make a balloon glow picture. We have cold and windy air. With only Continue reading


Looking forward.

I know what I said. I meant it.

But, it seems that I kind of like posting here. After six years of doing it daily, its workflow fits nicely into my daily workflow.  That said, I’m still moving into my planned direction. It does not appear that I can link Storyteller directly to LaaskowitzPictures. But, I can still send you emails and links to my social media.

All good.

Also http://www.laskowitzpictures.com is up and running. But, before you go there, let me just say that it’s rough. Many pictures need to be resized. My contact page is still lacking my client and gallery list. I am still reviewing my files because I know some signature pictures are missing. And, my lead picture is cropped at the head. More adjusting. Always adjusting.

Oh. And projects. That’s a placeholder picture. It’s not mine. I have no idea what kind of project that I want to do for 2018. I’m all ears.

One of the best things about the basic look is that it’s designed to be scrolled, which is how a large group of users will see them… on their portable devices.

I still have some business decisions to make. I can upgrade a little more and add direct sales, another email and all kinds of professional accounting tools. That would mean a lot of extra work on my end. I’d have to build full stock libraries and all the background work that it implies. That would mean converting most of my business to here from my various agencies.

It will also give me a new email address using Google. Oddly, since I already use it, I cannot transfer it to the new website. I can have a new address. But, what would be the point of that? Ray@Laskowitzpictures.com has been around for 20 years.

Ah. Decisions. Choices.

The picture. In our ten minutes of semi-sun I saw it. A compression shot. A picture where the branches are so stacked up that they look like a very dense forest. Trust me. A picture can lie. It’s not so dense. And, it’s not really a forest. It’s just two rows of trees on the curb.

 


This week. Whew.

I was stumbling around in my files around trying to find a peaceful Sunday picture. I still want to keep my promise and publish Christmas pictures until the big day. But. But. But. I’m feeling pretty numb just about now. I don’t think I’m feeling much different from most of the people living in the world after the darkness of yesterday. We are all one in that.  In many ways it got worse today. The shock wore off and left the wound. A big, gaping wound. It didn’t help when we learned the names and ages of the children. The little ones who passed yesterday were little bits of light in our world. They made the world a brighter place. Today they are tears in heaven.

Then I found this picture. It’s not much. But, it says what I want it to say. It’s about peace. I made it in the Sandia Mountains just above Albuquerque, New Mexico. I couldn’t tell you exactly where. But, I do remember it was very cold  and very quiet on that little ridge. The view was spectacular with the city’s lights in the background so it made the cold okay. It was… Cleansing. Bracing. Invigorating. Those things.

You know what? I’m having a helluva a time writing this. Usually, a thought comes to me. And I just sort of write. The words come out. Not tonight. I reckon that I’ll settle down. I’m not so worried about the words. That’s really not what I do anyway. But, the pictures? What if they don’t come? Sandias


This picture is called High Desert Drifter. Drifting is what I’ve been trying to do since the passing of Debbie. But, my neighbors won’t let me. For instance, I haven’t cooked a meal since Monday. That’s not because I’ve lost the will or am not hungry. It’s because they keep feeding me. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. They have my back. They aren’t just saying that. They mean it. I’ve never felt anything like this. I’d like to say that I am healing pretty well. But, I don’t know that. Every day could be a different emotional roller coaster ride. I do know that I have to walk the walk and take one day at a time. And, if need be; one hour at a time, one minute at a time or one second at a time. That’s the only way to do it. That, and tell people. Be honest.

So.

This picture is in a lot of ways  about endings. When I left New Mexico to return home to New Orleans, I started missing it before I left. Even though I was anxious to make the move, New Mexico had become sort of a home to me. I took a drive to one of my “go to” places to make pictures. I had a helluva a shoot. I probably made five or six images that I really like. This one is literally the last picture that I made.  Nothing special about my technique. See the scene. See the light. Take the picture. No Photoshop magic.


When I lived in New Mexico, I realized that Albuquerque is really a giant truck stop. That’s not a negative statement. It’s just the  understanding that while the city has spread out in every direction, the crossroads of I-40 and I-25 are located there. Old Route 66 ran through the city not only east and west, but depending on the year, north and south. How did that happen?  Prior to 1937, Route 66 took a longer, less direct Route through santa fe to the north and Los Lunas in the south. I-25 stretches from I-10 at Los Cruces, New Mexico to I-90 at Buffalo, Wyoming. That makes it major north-south corridor. And, I-40? Well… it is the third longest east-west highway in the country. It stretches from 1-15 in Barstow, California to Route 117 in North Carolina.

That’s the long way of saying that Albuquerque, New Mexico is not only a major truck stop, but a major crossroads.

So. This picture. It was made on I-40 east in Albuquerque a mile or so before the intersection pf I-25. For me, this is the trickiest of my drive by shooting style. If I drift a little into the right lane, I’m squarely in the back of that big rig, The best I could do is steady the camera on the dashboard, point it and press the shutter release button and let the camera do the rest.