The power of nature.

You are thinking that I’m stressed over this election. Hang in there you say. I’m not hanging anywhere. I’m taking action. I’m getting set to change what I can. I’m getting ready to build for the future.

I’m not going to limit myself to “I’ll do what I can.” I’m going to do the things that go beyond that sort of limitation.

And, that’s the Saturday post for me.

There’s more. There’s always more.

I thought that I would change the appearance of Storyteller. I selected a new template. I customized a few things. I saved it.

Guess what?

The headline type is wrong. The body text is wrong. The background color of the page is wrong. That’s okay. It looks like in twelve days I’ll be moving to http://www.laskowitzpictures.com.

I hope that I can take most of you with me. I think I can. It’s a manual work around that I’ll have to do. But, it should be straight forward. Not simple. Straight forward.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Forget patience. Be proactive.

Setting sun. Remember when I said that I was a little blocked? Remember what happened?

It’s still happening and that makes me smile.

Pictures are in places I wouldn’t have looked. This makes me very happy.

It helps to have that low almost winter light. It helps that darkness falls around 5 to 6 pm.

I helps that I actually go outside.

It’s helps that I see the picture and press the button almost in one motion.


And, then the light went crazy.

Exploded. The light exploded. The developed and processed image actually caught me by surprise. It did everything I didn’t think that it would.

Which brings me to this.

“Everything that I didn’t think it would.” Sounds just about life. I got caught out this morning. I was listening to a song from home, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew the singer when she was young, and yet we didn’t know each other.

She was singing about a specific kind of “girl.” They are the ones who stay in the corners, who are shy but have the same desires that everyone else does. They love you from afar but if you love them back, they run away.

Damn.

This singer has been nailing me every few weeks. Her song, “Asking for a Friend,” brought back so many bad memories that I haven’t listened to it since. I talk a good game, but I’d rather run than fight.

These feelings are from the past. The distant past. My life is good. All the rest is fine. Although I’m worried about a few things on the world’s stage, I’m happy.

But.

I’ve been digging in my past when it comes to learning about my family. These songs are either killing me, or are a very big help.

As I’ve written a few weeks ago, I’ve come to learn that everything we were told as children is a lie. Why would my parents lie to us about how my paternal grandfather made it to these shores?

They said that he sailed on a tramp steamer, eating kasha and apples for two weeks. They said he arrived at Ellis Island where the kind folks at immigration couldn’t spell our last name so they made us Laskowitzes.

No. No. No. And, no.

My grandfather didn’t sail from Hamburg. He made is way to London from Russia, where he worked for a couple of years. He learned some English. He saved his money. He sailed from Liverpool in cabin class, which is equivalent to first class on other ships.

I think that I told you that. Since then I’ve seen pictures of how he traveled. He spent 12 days in a suite of rooms. He ate very well on board. He lacked for nothing.

He didn’t arrive at Ellis Island. He arrived in Philadelphia. The immigration folks didn’t mangle our family name. They handled it just fine. I know this because I saw his immigration document. He signed it “L-A-S-K-O-W-I-T-Z. In English letters, not Cyrillic.

What the hell?

Why were we lied to? Why didn’t any family member tell us about my dad’s sister, Olga? Apparently, she followed my family west. She lived in Los Angeles in 1953. She returned to the East, got married in 1962 and returned to the West where she lived and died not five miles from where I grew up. I had an aunt that I never knew existed. I have cousins that I never met.

Oh, that’s not all.

I’m learning this through Ancestory.com. They found documents that I could read. They kept asking me if I want to add another family to my tree. Why? I’ve never heard of them.

Silly me. I followed one of my cousins on my mom’s side of the family. That mysterious family is linked to my mom’s side. Who the hell are they?

And, you wonder why I never share much personal stuff. Go ahead. Ask away. Apparently, it doesn’t matter anyway.

I’ll likely never know any of this.

I’m pretty sure that you want to know about this picture. After all, it looks like an explosion on the page. Or, worse.

You know I love autumn light. I was walking toward the sun when it poked through the trees. Ah, that light. I broke the biggest rule in the book.I photographed right into it.

It didn’t look like so much in my LCD. But, when I developed and processed it, the picture exploded.

I took the picture a little further because I always do, and this is what you get.

When I uploaded it into OnOne, I had to tune it back some. It was too vibrant and to sharply defined.

As it is, it looks like a version of heaven. Or, hell. You can pick.

A technical comment. A couple of my younger friends love AI. I can’t stand it. When I copy edit these posts I find words that I would never in a million years use.

Automated Intelligence is anticipating my words incorrectly. I realize that in theory it learns from me, but I think it’s learning from someone else.

I just wasn’t meant for these times.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Vote.


More about water.

Water in motion.

Clean. Pure. Healthy.

And, wet.  Very wet. Cooling wet.

Every now and then, I get away just a little. I find places like this one, which fit nicely into my never ending water project. This particular picture seems to speak to purity. That’s probably why I like it.

I realized yesterday that so much of my computer work and online presence is a time sink. I thought about that last night as I didn’t watch the presidential debates. I opened Twitter and I might as well have been watching the debate. I switched to Facebook, mostly to respond to people who liked my pictures. They usual political folks were at it again. I switched it all off. I read. Much better.

I am getting to the point where I might just ghost.

Only time will tell.

I used to like working in Asia. In the beginning. The old days. Back then you had to call an operator to connect you to your home country. Work arrived at my office via courier with notes written to me. You couldn’t be found if you didn’t want to be found.

The internet intervened. But, it wasn’t any everyday thing. We talked by email. There was no social media. There was no internet within the internet like Facebook.

Now? Sheesh. You can’t burp online without everybody knowing about it. And, screaming about it. Piling on is the norm. Following people that you don’t like is the norm. It’s all so tiresome. I haven’t made my mind up about anything.

It’s hard just to check out.

After all, I haven’t shipped a package of pictures to anybody in at least two years. Everything is sent online. Maybe via Dropbox or something like that. Sometimes using a secure file transfer system. If it’s just a picture or two, by email.

Sheesh, I haven’t even met newish clients face to face. If we actually talk, we use something like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Apple Facetime. It used to be that we’d travel to have important meetings. That was expensive if people were coming from around the world. Now, we just meet via one of the video apps that I just mentioned.

Sure. It’s less costly. But, not meeting in real life leaves a lot out. A lot is missing. You really don’t get to know your colleagues. There is nothing hands on. And, it’s a lot less fun. Fun matters.

Anyway.

 


Motion on Royal Street.

All motion.

For years I made a career out of pictures like this one. Motion. Movement. Energy. It wasn’t hard to do. About 1/4 second at f/5.6 and I’d make a picture likes this one. But, that was the film days.

When digital photography came into being sharpness was everything. That’s why mega pixels became a big marking tool. That’s why faster and bigger lenses became a thing. That trend continues today. I switched to mirrorless cameras because I liked their small size. The first lenses were small too.

Today? Not so much.

Lenses are huge. They are fast. They are sharp. But, they defeat my purpose for switching to mirrorless bodies. I want small. I want unobtrusiveness. I want to blend in with the people around me. For me, bigger is not better.

Anyway.

It’s been a long week. I’ll leave you with that.


A range of motion.

This wasn’t today’s picture. At least it’s not what I planned.

I thought that it was a little too bleak for a Sunday picture. I read a lot. Especially on Sunday morning when I have a little more time. I probably shouldn’t do that.

There was a story that appeared on Twitter with a link back to it. I know. I know. Twitter. It may be one of the meanest places on earth.

I followed the link.

What I found made me horribly sad. The story was about a ten-year old boy. A cute little guy. He had a butterfly bandage over his eye. His lips were swollen and cut up. He had been bullied in school.

That’s bad enough. What happened next was truly horrifying.

He killed himself by hanging.

Where does a ten-year old boy get the knowledge of how to hang himself? Sure. You might see it on the tube. But, you don’t see the technique.

A whole host of questions came to mind.

Where were his teachers? Where were his school caregivers? Where were his parents? How does this stuff happen?

I stopped reading Twitter. I stopped reading news stories for today.

We’ve got some errands to run. I’ll watch some baseball. Yankees baseball. Eventually, I’ll recover. For today. There’s always tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t get stopped in my tracks again.

The picture.

That’s why you came here. Even though we’ve had some glorious spring days, there are others that are cloudy and a little bleak. Today is one of those days. There is rain in the clouds. It’s about noon as I write, and the temperature is at its high of 49 degrees.  No wonder the dogs are lazy. They don’t want to go outside. But, because I publish every day, I have to make a picture. In this case, I made the original picture. Then I removed the color and made it black and white. I layered it over the original color image. And shifted it slightly. You are looking at the result. A bleak picture. One that suits my mood. Today.


Leading them out.

You know me.

On most Sundays, you can find me at a second line. This one was important to me. Because, the work is the prayer. The whole world seems to need a whole lot of prayer right now. You know what I wrote yesterday. That’s what this work was for.

Second lines are joyous. They are happy events. The are celebratory. That’s what I needed. Probably, you did too.

The pictures. The actual making of them is easy. See them, press the button. Done. Oh, and a little work in post production. Very little work. Mostly, it’s a question of getting there. And, staying there.

Always, a street portrait.


Another first… Mardi Gras.

A lot of firsts.

As I work through my archives and share newly “found” images with you, I realized that you are seeing a lot of firsts.

A few days ago, you saw my first New Orleans picture. Today you are seeing my first Mardi Gras picture. I made this picture in 1999. On film. Fuji Velvia to be exact. The film was slow, even for its time. I usually worked at ISO 32. That explains the total movement in this picture. Even at f2.8, the shutter speed would likely be around 1/4 of a second. Way too slow to stop motion, especially in the darkness in which I worked.

I made it even harder, by liking to work at F 5.6. That meant the shutter speed would be around one second. You can stop no motion with that shutter speed.

Working this way, at night, meant you either failed entirely or you made something dreamy and moving. The images could look like a watercolor painting, or they could be a mess. Even with all the working knowledge I have, pictures like this depend on a couple of things. One is clicking the shutter where there is just enough light. The other is a kind of luck. Not photographer’s luck, but the kind where everything comes together in one second. With practice and experience you can approximate that.

It surely was a different way of working than today when everything is gauged on sharpness. Today is a time when new photographers look at work by Henri Cartier Bresson and say, “but everything isn’t sharp.” It doesn’t matter. As a wise old professor used to say, “sometimes your best picture isn’t your sharpest one.” HCB is a touchstone for every working street, documentary and journalistic photographer.

I think that’s why a lot of very experienced photographers are moving back towards something more artistic after working on making pictures that are tack sharp for over a decade. We want the pictures to hit you on an emotional level, not a technical one.  Sheesh, we own cameras that we can control in any way possible. Why limit ourselves to technical perfection? With a smart phone anybody can do that.

For me, this picture might be as good or better than anything I’ve produced  in almost 20 years of Mardi Gras pictures. It captures the energy of a big parade. You feel the controlled chaos. And yet, you know where you are. St. Charles Avenue. The never moving street sign says that.


Blooming in the sun.

Today is September 11.

9.11.

The anniversary of the day the towers fell. In New York City. And, the Pentagon was attacked. In Washington, D.C. On September 11, 2001. Today, it almost seems like an afterthought, because most of the past 30 days have been close to hell on earth. In some cases, a watery hell. But, hell never-the-less. The date shouldn’t be forgotten. But, it shouldn’t be mourned.

Not anymore.

Today, I met a woman walking her dogs while I was walking mine. She is staying with her family. She is from Florida. She left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She decided to settle in Florida.

It seems to me like that is going from the frying pan into the fire. Never mind.

We talked. Mostly she talked. I listened. She was worried that she would go home to nothing. She would have to start over. Again.

So.

Let’s not mourn for what happened on September 11, 2001. Remember it. But, instead of mourning, let’s try just try be extra kind to each other. Talk to each. Listen to each other. Be patient. Be grateful. While we are all going through the things we know about, none of us really knows what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.

Peace.


Through the tube.

Earth Day.

Forty years or so. I know, I know. What does this picture have to do with Earth Day? Not much. Except I made it on either the first or second Earth Day at a festival. For the life of me, I cannot remember what this tube was supposed to teach. I do remember that the children loved running through it. If you think about it, this child is probably now in his or her late forties or early fifties today.

That’s a point reference for just how long this day has been going on. Along the way, there have been some real world gains and losses. The two most current are; yesterday England powered the country without coal for the first time since the 1800s. That’s something. On the other hand, the current United States leadership wants to bring the country back to the 1800s. The president is trying to revive the coal industry. Even when the industry itself doesn’t really want that.

You know me. I don’t get very political on the pages of Storyteller. But, I live here. On Planet Earth. With all of you. It’s the only home we’ve got. I’d like to see it live on. Healthily. For my children. Your children. Their children. Their children’s children.

The picture. Well. It’s forty years old. I made it on black and white film. Tri-X, most likely. I scanned a print and worked on it digitally. That combination seems to be a real winner. One of these days, I’ll actually get all of my archives scanned. Or not. My archives are deep. Likely, my children’s, children’s, children couldn’t complete the job. If they had an interest.