Original flower.

The other one.

Yesterday, I wrote about seeing a delicate white and yellow flower. The one that I used as a layer behind a pink flower.

Welp.

This is the original flower with a little post production work done to it. I made it more colorful. I made the file a little more meaty. And, I gave the white areas more shape and definition.

That’s really what caught my eye.

I reckoned that you should see it. The way that I saw it. The way that it inspired me to go further.

A little bit about the gear. My smart phone is a Samsung Note 9. It is not a great phone. That includes both talk and text. It is a great little handheld computer. It also has a wonderful camera that allows me to do a lot, from just using the onboard lens as a zoom, to turning it into a fully manual handheld camera. And, lots in between. Video. Pano. Other size formats.

I’ve mostly been photographing with it even though I’d really rather use some kind of mirrorless body and interchangeable lenses. I don’t always carry that kind of gear. I do carry my phone. Everywhere.

I have this little baby Leica. It’s a great little camera. And, with Leica glass it probably out performs just about most cameras out there. It would be very easy to carry everywhere. But, It’s 965 degrees outside, with a humidity factor of about 10,000, making the
“feels like” temperature about 900 billion degrees. Anything I don’t have to wear on a strap over my shoulder is better.

And, you think it’s hot where you live.

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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.


Like magic.

The light.

Like magic. In nature. On this day.

Two more to go. Then home. Happy to be here. Happy to be there. Time to take a break. Time to rest. Time to work. Harder.

No. I’m not trying to be any kind of poet. Most of you know that I’m lucky to be able to write in the English language. Or, any language. I confuse people. Sometimes. Sorry. Then, typos. Typo king. That’s me. My mind goes in one direction. My fingers in another.

Oh well.

Perfection is for angels. They say. Do you know any? I ask.

I listen to music when I write these posts. Spotify has a playlist called, “Sunny Day.” It’s light and energetic. But. Too much musical miss. For me.

The picture.

Hmmm. Mostly point and shoot. Make sure there is a window. In the background. To reflect light directly into the lens. Refraction. Reflection. Strange circles of light everywhere. That’s it. Simple. You can’t do it. Because. I can’t duplicate it. Again.

Very cool song. By Sufjan Stevens. Called Chicago. He’s got a trumpet going on. Reminds me of Mexican trumpets. I’ve always like that.

 

 


Getting to the heart of the matter.

You belong among the wildflowers.

The first line of Tom Petty’s second album. Wildflowers.

I found this on — what else — a dog walk. These wildflowers are little teeny-tiny things. That “big” bloom is less than the size of a dime. Ten cents. About an 1/8 of a Euro.

That’s what attracted me to the scene. Once I started looking at it, I saw something else. The heart of it. A place that looks like it is giving birth to six more wildflowers. That’s what I focused on. That’s what mattered to me. Yes. I sharpened the center of the picture in post production. I also cropped the entire picture into a square. I also softened the background a little bit.

All of that was done to move your eye to the important part.

Question time.

I’ve read this term on a couple of “trendy” food blogs. Jelly Egg. What the hell is a jelly egg? I have a sneaking suspicion that I know. But, I’ll wait.  I’ll be patient. Then, and only then, will I go on a rant.

HA!


Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair. A song. 

Color.

For the most part, our spring color has come and gone. It came early. It left early. Luckily, the wildflowers, er weeds, started making their appearances.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Color. Bright color.

Yesterday was a bad day. It shouldn’t have been. It was my birthday. Not my natal birthday, but my other one. I made it to 27 years of constant sobriety. It means a lot to me. Without that, I wouldn’t have the things I have today.

My neighbor gave me the best birthday present she could have. She’s been sick. She’s had every kind of sinus and lung issue you could have. I had the same, but it came and went. Her’s has been going on for at least a month, always getting worse.

She’s also a smoker.

Instead of fighting it, she took her illness as a sign. A sign for clean up time. She’s quitting smoking. She’s not a heavy drinker — a glass of wine a day — but, she’s giving that up. And, she’s going to eat better.

We’ll see how far she gets, but everybody in this house supports her fully. I even get to be the cigarette nazi, just in case. Oh boy. Oh boy. Said with a very evil grin.

The rest of the day? In a word? Sucked.

I spent a good part of the day arguing in public about the legal ramifications of copyright, a subject which I’ve been forced to know well. The person with whom I was arguing was a friend. I respected him for his work in the community and his work in his profession.

When he started getting personal, I did what I always do. I slowed down and I started digging around. He hasn’t worked in his field in a year or two. He really never had the national honors that goes with his work.

This makes me sad. I haven’t confronted him and probably never will. I’ll do the other thing I always do. I’ll stay away. Probably for good.

This entire argument taught me one more thing. A lesson in how fake news builds and is spread. The folks who believe in him starting posting things that had nothing to do with the subject at hand. They were so out of line that I became a MAGA and POTUS supporter. WTH? Y’all know my feelings about that and him.

Yes. It bothers me. And, it will for a long time.

Life.

The picture. Another experiment in how I see things. This actually took some doing. My shadow kept getting in the way. And, when I contorted myself in a way to stay out of the picture, I started falling over for no other reason than even at my healthiest, I’m not built to stand that way.

It’s always something.

Today started much better. Although the sky is dark and rain is falling in buckets, I have no computer issues — that’s how my day started yesterday — and my housekeeping tasks are going along pretty easily. Of course, it’s more quiet than usual. When it’s dark and rainy, the dogs like to sleep in. Lazy dogs.


Dandelion.

What is it?

A weed? A flower?

We started this discussion yesterday. Since I like nature’s offerings, I think this is a wildflower. It’s fragile. You can blow a dandelion away in a couple of seconds. Its seeds will be scattered. You’ll be sneezing. You’ll deserve it.

Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

Don’t mess with anything. Leave it alone if you find it on a walk. It’s not yours. Make a picture like I do. Walk away. I have what I needed. I didn’t handle it.

Look at it. It’s the first time that I’ve thought to photograph a dandelion straight down. And, I left it right where I found it.

So.

So many pictures. I promised this discussion yesterday. It’s prompted by two blogs that I read. One, by a friend, and one on Photoblographer, an online magazine.

My buddy was talking about getting back into posting after a layoff because he retired, moved, and in general, he ripped up his old life. He was talking about creativity to which I replied that most photographers aren’t creative. They follow each other around taking the pictures that their peers did before them. I said that they should stay away from tripod holes. And, find their own picture.

Photoblographer broke yet another story of a photographer cheating and winning a lot of money in a contest. He presented a picture of a Vietnamese woman and her two young children as something he just sort of stumbled upon. To him it was either photojournalism or documentary photography.

It wasn’t either.

Another picture revealed the truth. There must have been a dozen photographers taking the same picture. They were either a group being lead in a photo walkabout. Or, they were taking a workshop and the woman and her children were hired models.

No way in hell is that photojournalism.

I expected the comments to just destroy this cheating photographer. That’s what usually happens. Oh no. Most of the writers tried to justify what the cheating photographer had done. They split hairs saying that the scene was real even though a group of photographers was taken there to take the picture.

What?

The entire scene was staged and by extension, every picture that was there was also staged.

A couple of commentors not only split hairs, but said that so many pictures were being produced on a daily basis that the people who saw the picture would either forget it, or just wouldn’t care.

Huh?

When did we become so jaded that honesty stopped mattering?

They all said that the leading picture social media site — Instagram — had something like a billion pictures being posted every hour. That’s a lot of pictures. To be more precise, that’s a lot of bad pictures. A lot of derivative pictures. A lot of scenes that were designed to be Instagramable. A helluva a lot of free marketing and publicity. And, a lot of selfies.

When did photographing — or, rather taking snapshots — matter so much that people trample all over everything in order to stick their face in front of some scene? That trampling all over the massive spring blooms in California looking for perfect selfie matters more than the flowers themselves. When did losing your life in order to take a selfie at the Grand Canyon become more important than just enjoying the place?

Sure, over the length of my career I’ve been in some sporty places, photographing some scary things. But, documenting those subjects mattered. I wasn’t trying to take a picture of my face in front of something. And, I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing and how to mitigate the risks.

So.

So many pictures.

I just hope it slows down soon. I can say this after almost 50 years of making pictures, sometimes it just isn’t worth it. These days when I find myself standing in front of some kind of beauty, I make a conscious decision not to make the picture. To stand there and just enjoy the moment. To let it soak in. After all, it’s way better for my soul, my heart and my brain.

And, you?


Purple day.

Ah yes. Purple. Purple Furble.

I don’t know why that old joke came back to me. Back in the old folkie days, when songs were heard in a haze, a friend with whom I grew up heard the wrong words to a song and said, “Oh wow. Purple Furple.”

This may be due to “learning.” As I wrote in any earlier post, the koan has opened me up to a lot of things. Including bits of memories of things still to come.

This is all very interesting. We’ll see what becomes of it.

So.

The picture. I made this picture a few weeks ago. I let it sit because it was too similar to others I had just posted. While it sat, I played. I made some extreme experiments. More extreme than this image. When I got all the way out there. I reversed course and headed back. This image is the result.

If you were to ask me what steps I took, you’d have me a disadvantage because I let the picture lead me. I don’t write down what the picture and I did. I save each step. I suppose I could post a whole lot of little pictures if someone insisted. I’d rather not. After all, had you lived back in the 1880s you wouldn’t ask Van Gogh each step to his paintings.

Wait. I’m not comparing myself to Van Gogh. That would be a big stretch on my part. Besides, I have two ears. Still.

That’s it.

Parade season — the real one — not all those downtown walking parades, starts tonight. This continues, with a few breaks, for the next ten or so days when we all end up on the streets for Mardi Gras Day. Wish me luck. Right now, I feel pretty good. My back and hip seem fine, or as fine as they can be.

The dog food is almost cooked for most of those ten days. The dogs are nagging me for a walk. So…


A different kind of learning.

To everything there is a season.

My season seems to by learning in some of its purest forms. I could also curse this thing. It’s really opened me up. That’s a good thing. It’s helping me to see with different eyes. It’s helping me feel with a different heart.

But.

It’s also bringing up emotions at inopportune times.

After all, who wants to start leaking when you are grocery shopping? That almost happened, as I watched a daughter about my age help her dad with his shopping. Her tenderness towards him was amazing. He was ancient and wearing a World War II service cap. Pinned to it were a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Thanks for your service. You helped save the world.

On balance, I suppose that it’s a good thing. We’ll see where I come out. Next year.

Anyway.

This picture is also about learning. In a different way. It is about experimenting with my smart phone’s camera. Once again, this picture was made in manual, in the so-called pro setting. I did a tiny bit of post production, but the picture is as I saw it on the monitor.

That’s something.

One more thing. If you are so inclined, please go to http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. Take a look around. For sure, there are lots more to be done. But, it’s my new website. It has a blog called Storyteller. Imagine that. There is one post. There is also a store. You can buy photographs there. Currently you can only download files. By the end of the week, it’ll be linked to a printer called The darkroom. They’ve been around for 40 plus years. You can select a picture, select the size, and the finish and it’ll be shipped directly to your address.

Please tell me what you’d like to see in the store. You aren’t committing to anything. I’m just very interested in what might sell. Be patient with that. It’ll take a while to upload masses of pictures from which to select.


Another way.

Learning.

That’s my word of the year. My koan. My focusing point.

Sometimes it’s about the inside. Other times, it’s about the outside. Today’s picture is about the outside.

Here’s the background. The all-seeing dog and I were out walking. Yesterday was a bad day in the pain department. I had to sit twice. Not because I was out of breath. Because my hip really hurt. This is a new one. This is where my NASA grade plastic cup and my titanium femur insert come together. That’s not supposed to happen. Ever.

I made the best of it. We slogged through about a mile-and-a-half walk. Sophie, the all-seeing dog, is very aware and she slowed down. That’s probably worse. In my case, faster is better. Not that it’s all the fast. A toddler is faster than me.

Anyway.

While we were sitting, I started messing with my phone. It doesn’t matter whether you use the latest Samsung or Apple phone, they both have about the same camera functions. I set mine to “pro,” which is really manual. I started messing with the settings. I changed the ISO, reset the shutter speed, changed the f stops and set the compensating wheel as well as changed how the phone’s camera focuses.

Once I was ready to walk again, it was time to test what I had done. Yesterday’s picture. remember that? It was a mistake. I made it. I turned it into some spring-like and pretty. It worked.

But, what about my intent?

This picture was my intent. By using “pro” and changing just about everything to how I like to make a RAW file, I made this picture effortlessly. How effortlessly? The only thing I did in post production was crop the picture.

That’s the real goal in digital photography. To make a file so well exposed and so clean that you don’t have to do anything. Unless you want to.

I love the quality of this image. You can see the texture of the Japonica blooms. You can see the soft, fuzzy fur along the leaves. And, the background. The bokeh, if you will. It’s creamy and gentle. It’s as it should be.

For sure, I won’t stop working with mirrorless cameras. Real cameras. But, this tells me that in a pinch I can make a high quality picture that can be enlarged to at least 16×20. I know this because I tested it. I think it will go bigger.

Learning.

Sometimes, it’s from the inside. Sometimes, the outside.

That’s the beauty of it.