Sky pilot deluxe.

S

omeone asked me what kind of projects I want to do. I talked about two, but they require some major culling.

Reviewing archive work is taxing. Not only to you sit in a chair with your eye glued to a loupe and stare into a light box, but all sorts of emotions crop up. Some are those ghosts that you hope are friendly. Some are simply photographic like, “What was I thinking?” You start wondering how many misses you had that should have been hits. And, how many hits were just luck. Or, wishing you had better technical skills.

Between the physical and the emotional issues you often can’t work more than four hours. Anything more will put you in bed the next day. I’m not sure that the emotional memories aren’t worse than sitting in a chair.

As I may have written, the black and white project could almost be life long. In many ways it has to be done in its entirety if my archives will be meaningful to future generations. The goal is a couple of art books, but I don’t think that I can just stop and start whenever I feel like it. I suppose I could do it in year collections, but that probably won’t yield enough material for even a “chapter.”

The other project is a little more personal. It’s about my days on the musical road. The images are made digitally so that the culling is easier. These images could actually be profitable but I have to be a little careful. Some people assume the wrong things. Or, the right things.

Anyway.

If I delve into these projects that’ll just about put a stop to making new work. By now you might be wondering if I’m only working four hours a day why can’t I made new images. I can’t really work much more than four hours on photography without making too many mistakes.

Besides, the older I get (I can’t get much older can I?), the lazier I get. Or, is it that I tire more easily?

That’s a whole other story.


All the air.

T

his picture was made of a little of this and a little of that. I mean it. There are three pictures in there lurking somewhere. None of them were made at the same time. One was made in New Mexico. One was made in New Orleans. And, one was made in Shrewsbury. The last two locations are found in Louisiana. Heh.

I’m at a place in my life were experimentation and rebirth are the most important things. As much as I complain about not being able to photograph second lines, Mardi Gras and Indian events, I’m not sure that I want to do that.

I want to move forward. I once asked a well respected art photographer how he knew when a project was complete. He said when he started repeating himself. I asked how long it usually took for him to get to that point. As usual, it all depends. But, after four or five years he knew that he was done.

I photographed New Orleans culture for a decade. The pictures are repeating themselves. I think that I’m done. For sure, there are a couple of pictures I’d still like to make but I’d have to earn my drone pilot’s license. I really don’t have any interest in that.

So.

I’m working with older pictures in an attempt to add something to them. I’ve done layering for years, but in most cases the images were similar. Now, I’m combining images that have no real relationship to each other.

Let’s see where this takes me.


Sun splash.

I

was thinking about the rest of my photographic career when I stumbled upon a photographer called David Carol. What caught my eye was something in his biography.

He said that he was the first Image Bank assignment photographer. The division of Kodak for whom I worked was The Image Bank. The only TIB photographer and staffer was me.

Eventually, I’ll try to get to the bottom of this because it’s akin to stolen valor.

However, after looking at his work and reading about him I don’t much care about his bio because he shoots like I do, or I did. And, his philosophy is like mine. He said, “I don’t photograph homeless people or people who can’t defend or protect themselves. I genuinely it’s exploitative and it doesn’t interest me to do or see. Pick on people your own size.”

The difference between us is he’s published a large number of books and hangs in all sort of galleries and museums.

I ought to be jealous, but I’m not. He spent his time cultivating street photography as art. I spent my time doing just about everything else.

They keep saying that age is just a number. I’m going to test that.

I have a huge black and white archive. You’ve seen the best of my photojournalism in past Storytellers. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I must have ten thick binders. I started to try to archive them when I realized they were organized by date.

Good enough.

But, those images were made the same quirky way that I photograph sometimes. There are probably gems in there that I haven’t seen in years. It’s time to revisit every one of those binders. Or, it’s all a bunch of rubbish.

I’ll find out.

T

his is all technique so you get a right hand column.

I made this picture while I was sitting by the pool, looking up.

The picture is on point. The point being that you’ve seen this kind of image in the past.

I decided to do something about that.

I left well enough alone in Snapseed. But, then I came to OnOne for finishing.

That’s when I went crazy with experimentation.

I aded and subtracted stuff. I looked at a finished image and tossed it in the bin.

I started again.

After more of this experimentation I started to find a thread.

I followed it. I eventually came to the end. That’s the image you are seeing.

I darkened the image. I added fake bokeh. I added that sunburst. I added some glow.

The picture was done.

Finally.


For Friday.

I

started working on this picture so long ago that I forgot what picture I was going to use when it came to publishing this page.

I suppose it’s a leftover of lockdown fuzziness. Or maybe I’m just losing my ability to think and remember stuff.

I’d like to remember important things. Maybe photographs and Storyteller aren’t all the important. Or, maybe they are and should be.

Storyteller wasn’t always that important. I realized through the lockdown until the present that it kept me aware of the date (sometimes) but rarely the time.

I think that’s why many musicians played some version of songs from home. On one day they would check requests, figure out a small set list or song, rehearse and play the song on whatever day they picked.

Some did it live. Some didn’t.

That didn’t seem to matter. They needed to play for people. People were craving anything the approximated any live music.

That worked for a time.

Somehow we all came to the same place. We needed freedom. Eventually, some people gained some. Of course, I’m not one of them. That’s gonna change.

I made my career taking risks. Now I don’t. It’s time to weigh risk and reward and do the best that I can. No. I won’t take stupid risks, but I’ve got to get out and about.

I can’t take pictures if I don’t.

P

eaceful for Friday. I started working on this picture. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I realized that this image would look best in black and white. Better yet, it needed a very light monochromatic color.

I’m not sure how I started working in light yellow tones, but that seemed to be a good option. Besides, I liked what it did to the bare trees.

So, that’s the direction that I started to work. I added some stuff in OnOne, but not much. It was ready when it was done. That’s how it happens sometimes.


Emerging from the foggy bottom.

L

et’s see if this thing works today. In many ways, I’m becoming afraid to post. It’s become what bad thing is WordPress going to do to me today.

I don’t know why I care. It’s not the most important thing do on any given day.

I read an op-ed column in which the writer tries to understand what is causing so many massive protests. He suggests a couple of potential reasons; the pandemic and the failure for government to take care of us.

Let’s talk about the last one and then get a little more granular. See, I know contemporary buzzwords.

Hurricane Ida left us with a lot of damage. I applied to FEMA for grants. We received the emergency grant of $500. That’s for food and hotel rooms. But, I didn’t receive the business grant of $1,500.

Almost immediately I received an email from the SBA who wanted me to apply for a low interest loan. I ignored it. I received another the next day, and the next day and the next day.

It seems the U.S. government wants me to take out a loan. I finally called someone at FEMA who apparently was used to dealing with brain dead monkeys. Every time that I need to make notes she asked me very carefully if I had a piece of paper and something to write with. After the third time, I asked her why she would think that if had those things the first time why I wouldn’t have them now.

That’s what she is trained to do.

She told me that I had to be apply for a SBA loan in order to qualify for more FEMA aid. Oh, okay.

In order to do that you join a general government aid website. Then, you join the FEMA website, and finally the SBA website.

If that doesn’t make sense, in order to read an email that FEMA sent you have go the general website. No email can come directly to me at my personal/business email address which is Ray@Laskowitzpictures.com.

I gave up.

Just last week I received an email from a human at SBA, wanting to know why I hadn’t applied for a loan yet. I told him in no uncertain terms why I hadn’t.

I’ve been dealing with federal crap since 1970. I’ve had enough.

I think I’ll start a protest march against FEMA. I know plenty of locals who would join me.

Then just because I can, I think I’ll start another march… against WordPress.

Are you reading automattician?

R

ound two. In which the idiot (me) thinks he can get through writing this blog unscathed.

While I was editing the other side, it came to me that I am going to fight my way through governmental interference and apply for an SBA loan.

Yep. With interest below one percent I’m going to apply for the full monty. $40,000.

I need it to buy a computer. That’s gonna be some computer.

I also wanna buy a hat. And, socks.

S

o, the picture.

I started with the background. It’s a bush full of pink flowers. I made it as over processed as I could. Then, I layered another flower over that.

When that was sufficiently mixed up, I added the trees to that.

I wasn’t sure at first. But when I tinkered with it, I was.

That’s why you get to see it.


Another way.

T

he caption says it all. Another way. I keep reading what a great camera the iPhone 12 is supposed to be. I had better be because it’s a terrible phone.

I decided to test it.

I made this photograph towards the end of dusk. That means I made a time exposure. I wasn’t sure about the first couple of exposures. A little yellow wheel caught my attention. It turns out that it shows just where in the exposure time the camera is working.

I tested that theory.

If you want a sharp exposure let the wheel finish turning. If you want motion, move the camera slightly during the exposure, say about in the middle of the wheel’s turning.

Oh man.

Maybe this phone will be more than I thought it was, which is to say no fun at all.

I’m not a video maker, but I did test the phone during Hurricane Ida. For the fist 30 seconds or so I didn’t know how to turn on the microphone. For the next 30 seconds you can hear what it sounds like. It’s very scary.

Try it sometime.

T

he real experiment was in the camera rather than in post production.

The camera over exposed the scene. It’ll do that when it’s trying to capture detail in the deep shadows.

That’s any easy fix.

It happens with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Digital cameras of all types want to open up the shadows.

That’s great if you are making a RAW file. You have control of everything. Not so much using a smart phone.

In all cases you should darken the file in development. Once I did that all those reds and oranges popped out.

There wasn’t much to do after that.

You are looking at the results of what turns out to be a really important experiment.


Wet and wild.

S

torms bring and leave their own unique beauty. That’s what I was attempting to capture in order to give you an idea of what it feels like when a big storm moves into my neighborhood.

I think of this picture not as a photograph, but as art. Art isn’t often literal. It’s autobiographical in many ways. That doesn’t mean the viewer must agree with the artist.

Oh no.

The viewer brings about 75% of the meaning to the work of art that is based on their own life experiences. You may see something in this work that is completely different from my intent.

As John Lennon once said when he was asked what his music meant, he replied, “Whatever you want it to mean.”

He said more in that sentence than many people can say in book.

It also confirms my own personal belief, that simpler is better.

What do y’all think?

T

his little attempt at art began as another tree picture.

Hurricane Ida brought the look of fall about two months early.

Once I stripped it down to almost a silhouette I started thinking about improvements.

Make no mistake, often improvements make the image worse. Much worse.

I decide to play with layering. This is tricky. It took me some time to find a picture that might work.

There were a lot of false starts. Finally, I located a picture that was composed of rain drops on a window.

It worked well. All that was left was fine tuning and posting it here.


Weirdness.

M

y thinking changes a little bit every day depending what I read or see or do. I made this photograph a couple for days ago. I started playing with it last night. The picture lead me to the way it looks. Look at the next column for that.

I generally listen to music when I work, especially when I write. Today’s first selection is a new live album, from a very old band. Steely Dan. The album is called, “Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live”

For me, it is really about memories because most of the tunes are their signature songs.

In a way that’s too bad. I’m someone who really wants to hear new music. I don’t get fixated on the past music.

Today is a very good day, although it started late. For some reason even though we went to bed early, for us. I slept until 11:49 am. I had over ten hours of sleep. I rarely need that much. I guess I needed it.

Sleeping so long sure cleared my head of the accumulation of stress that had been building over the past month.

Maybe it’s going to be a much better ride over the next few months. I sure hope so because if it’s good for me, it might be better for a whole lot of people.

H

ere’s what happened.

A lot of trees have been left bare branched after the winds of Hurricane Ida blew through.

This is one of those trees.

Oddly, other trees that had their leaves blown off are starting to regrow them. They look like springtime.

How’s that? Spring and fall at the same time. In the same place.

Anyway.

I started tinkering with this picture and it lead me to this version. When I let the picture lead me I rarely go too far unlike the times I try to impose my will on it.

I wish I could tell you what I did, but I was on auto pilot. And, we were watching a movie. That may be the best way for me to work.


A kind of blue

I

t began today. Cool air. Not exactly cool but very dry. And, the temperature struggled to reach 75 degrees.

For us, after our usual very hot summer that included a hurricane and a half this is the start of something very good.

Fall.

Thankfully.