Open to the expressway.

Looking around.

Looking for subjects for my various projects — abandoned railroads, abandoned furniture, and unique examples of water — leads me to other places and things.

Like this one.

This is a gated fence, probably for road workers, that has been broken wide open. By itself, it’s meaningless. In the context of what you are looking at, it’s very dangerous. Beyond that guardrail in the mid-ground and in front of that bright grassy area, lies a two lane expressway. It’s an entry point where drivers are starting to put their foot on the gas pedal.

I’m was shooting from a residential area. Imagine if a child found this place. Or, a dog being chased by a child found this place. It could be a true tragedy.

I attempted to address it, even though his would be a great place to work during the blue hour. Deep blue, silhouetted trees, speeding cars. Wowie zowie. A picture in my back pocket.

The folks who maintain the road say it’s the property owner’s responsibility. The property owner says that it’s not on their property.

Typical.

Crossed pointing fingers. Nothing gets done.

As a country, we are doing pretty well with that now. Aren’t we?

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PVC pipe parts waiting…

Pipes. Water pipes. Replacements meant for a lawn sprinkler system.

You wouldn’t think people in New Orleans would need it. Sometimes we do. It isn’t just for keeping the lawn green. For some folks a manicured lawn is important. Not for all of us.

Sprinkler systems really help when we’ve gone more than a week or so without rain during the hot summer months. The dirt starts pulling back from the buildings leaving gaping holes and cracks. This can expose house pipes, underground electrical wires, and even the piles on which most homes are built, to damage. We wet the soil, especially in more outlying neighborhoods like Lakeview.

You wouldn’t think that in Swampville. But, we are built on a swamp, or at least, shifting sands. If we are lucky we are built on a ridge. There are only so many ridges to go around. When the swamp starts to dry out a bit, bad things can happen. So, lawn care sprinkler systems come into play.

The picture. I saw the pipe parts box laying near to the repair work. I made a few pictures. I developed them and added some heavy post production to bring out the hidden color. I really never add color. I find it in the digital file.

So.

The mass shooting. When three or more people die, the Feds get involved. They are. There is a $25,000 reward for good information leading to the killers. Yes, it was definitely gang related. No, we still don’t know who the shooters are.  The mayor made one statement and hasn’t been seen since. This is the time when the city, and especially that neighborhood, needs her leadership. Oh, Madam Mayor.


Locked tight.

I found another one. A lock. That’s two days in a row.

This time it was just sitting on a curb. Locked tight. It looked like it had been left there on purpose. It took me a long time to figure out how to even make the picture. When I did, I didn’t like the result.

So, I cropped. And, tinkered. And, fiddled. I came to this place. What I really like is the very slim detail towards the top of the lock.

That’s it. A lock. A lost lock. Another lost one.

I’ve made a little progress on the new LaskowitzPictures online home. I think that I have to change formats. You know that I normally like big pictures. In order to enhance that, there really needs to be some little pictures. Space in between the notes as musicians who know what they are doing would say.

I think once I do that I’ll be happier with the project. We’ll see.


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.

 


On the ground.

I was out walking. The dog who sees things accompanied me. She saw this. But, just the shapes. Not the color. The brightly colored circles caught my eye.  She — the dog — doesn’t see color like that. Dogs see monochromatically. That’s fine for them because their noses know.

I saw them. Circles. I think a space alien put them there. Or, a little kid. I’m not even sure what they are. They are round. Obviously. They are brightly colored. I thought that they might be rubber bands. Nope. They are made of hard material and have almost no flexibility.

I brought a couple of them home. I’ll photograph them and let Google Images do its thing. That may work. Since I don’t know what to call these things, Googling in the normal manner might not be of much help.

Anyway.

That’s life. Sometimes you find the thing you want. Often you don’t. For this discussion, things can be anything. Finding stuff on the ground often comes to mind. But, what if you are searching for something more specific? A partner? A new life philosophy? Even validation of your life or work?

I’ve come to think that the more you search, the harder it is to find the thing that you are chasing. You tangle yourself up in yourself. Your searching may scare the thing you want away from you.

That’s why I let pictures come to me. I think they’ll find me easy enough if I just look and see.

If you have read this far, you’ll notice that I haven’t cited any examples. That’s because I can only speak for myself. If I commented on another’s approach I would just be blathering. I don’t know enough about another’s head, heart and soul.

You work with intent. With vision. But, that’s an overarching set of concepts. The rest — the notion of letting a thing come to you — lies within them.

The picture. You know that I found it almost by accident. But, there was a framework. The dog who sees things likes a little plot of grass where I found the circles. She sniffs around. She gives me time to look. To see. She is patient when I start to work.

You know how I found it. My entire post is about that. My post production is mostly about highlighting color without getting otherworldly. Some of my production outtakes look like the world from neon hell.


Christmas balls everywhere.

Now it’s Christmastime.

I found this picture.  Actually, the dog who sees things found it. My head was wrapped in thought. Or, fog.

I walked right by it. The dog saw the shiny object and had to investigate. Good thing too. I had a back up picture for today, but it is plan B and all that it implies. How last-minute is this picture? I’m writing this at 11:40 am Central Standard Time. I according to my phone, I took it at 10:48 CST.

The dog saved me yet again.

So. What was I thinking about?

Going forward, I suppose it could be called. If this messed up Republican budget plan gets passed, it strips away a lot of deductions that are normally there for artists. Artists of all stripes. Photographers. Painters. Musicians. Designers. The list is endless. Somehow, I just know that it’s going to stretch into entire industries. This is going to hurt all of us. Then, there is the next step. Tax revenues are bound to fall. The current crop of Republicans will use that as a trigger to cut Social Security benefits and Medicare. I’ve paid all my life into those accounts. Now they are going to try to claim that I can’t have that. Hmmm…

I wrote, yesterday, that my real home is Long Beach, California. I may visit there, but if this budget and thinking goes forward, I’m pretty sure I’ll never live there again. I’ll probably pass through the Pearly Gates (I hope)  from some place like Costa Rica, or Peru. Or Hong Kong, or Thailand. That sounds exciting. But, those places aren’t home. And, as you know, I have really mixed thoughts about New Orleans. And, Brooklyn.

The picture. Oh that. 🙂 See it. Press the button. Do a little post production to make it pretty. And, stuff.


Lost in the village.

This made me smile.

The bright red mushroom made me think of a hobbit. All bright and colorful. Attractive. Pretty. Seeing them made me smile. And, I’m pretty sure if you ingested it, you wouldn’t like the effects.

It’s called the Fly Agaric. It’s the classic toadstool of children’s books. Often, their caps are more round and have yellow dots on the tops.

There are two toxins in it. Muscimol  and Ibotenic Acid. They act on the central nervous system. They can cause lack of coordination, agitation, drowsiness, nausea and hallucinations. In other words, after about an hour when they kick in, they cause craziness. Imagine being sleepy and agitated at the same time.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

They also kill dogs. Luckily, the dog who finds stuff has no interest in them. But, some dogs do. Be forewarned.

The picture. It’s pretty much as you see it. If anything, I toned it down a little since the sensor wants to see the mushroom as bright red, when to my eye, it is a little golden. It may be dangerous, but I reacted immediately. I also added a little glow to make it more mystical. After all, some ancient cultures eat these in measure quantities for exactly their hallucinogenic effects.


Along the way.

I like photographing graffiti.

Despite your views on it, graffiti done well is a kind of folk art. Tagging is another matter entirely. Yesterday I wrote that my work is done by discovery. Just photographing the wall would, to my mind, make it a copy of somebody else’s work. Adding an element — the red scooter — makes it my work. That’s what my own sense of right and wrong says. Copyright law happens to agree with me.

This picture. I was photographing some parade — they are all a blur now — and happened to see the scooter parked about a half a block away. So, I did what I do. I made the picture. One thing to note about the graffiti. The darker — purple, teal and orange — bit of folk art is painted over something that was once simpler, painted in black and white. Apparently, mural sized walls are at a premium in the Bywater.


Squares, not squares.

Never.

No little boxes. Don’t left anybody put you in them. Don’t put yourself in one. If your experiment fails, it fails. That’s how you learn. How you grow. Anybody who knows me knows I am a baseball fan. Think about this. The very best hitters have a batting average of around .300. That means they only get a hit once in three at bats. They make an out the other two times.

Who are we as artists, writers, musicians, to think that we should do any better?

If I really think about it, I’m not sure that I can claim the mantle of artist. I see things. I make pictures of what I see. That’s it. Artists, as I understand them, actually create something from whole clothe. Yeah, sure. I do some stuff in post production that makes my picture a little different. But, without being there. Being on site. Seeing stuff the somebody else has already done, what would I have?

Make no mistake. People call me an artist. I’ll take it. I’m honored. Humbled. But, for me, I have to strip it back and understand what I really do. Pictures by discovery.

This picture. Somebody painted a bunch of squares on an iron door. A while ago. The door is starting to rust. Somebody else hung few Mardi Gras beads over the top. A while ago. They are fading. Discolored. Then, I walked by and took a picture. On the way to somewhere else. As usual.

I managed to put everyone’s work in my picture. I suppose that at least three of us are part of it. Maybe more.