Monday thoughts.

The headline isn’t a typo. It’s Latin. I’m pretty sure that only one of you who comments regularly knows what it means.

No worries. I’ll tell you.

“Do what you are doing.”

That sort of falls in nicely with the discussions of the last few days. I read it in a New York Times piece about California Governor Jerry Brown. I first photographed him during his first pass as governor. He was approachable, smart and disciplined. That seems like 150 years ago.

It was during those years that the nickname, “Governor Moonbeam” was hung on him. Do you know what earned him that silly name? He was talking about the future when signals could be bounced off satellites and they could be used to communicate.

Can you say cell phones?

As in many things, he was ahead of his time.

He rebuilt his political career after his failed run for president. He was elected governor again after serving in various other political posts. This time around, he lifted California out of debt and well into profitability. He learned from his mistakes.

Today is his last day as governor. He is 80 years old. He retires today to his family home on a pretty isolated piece of land in Northern California. Somehow, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of him. At least, I hope not.

I didn’t intend this to be about Jerry Brown. It just started that way. When he was a young man, he was in the seminary. He was going to be a priest. The Latin saying is a Jesuit saying. I was taught by Jesuits at Loyola/New Orleans. That was during a masters program. Those kinds of beliefs are embossed in my brain.

Reading that article did bring a lot of memories flooding back. Memories about my teenage years. Memories about my early career years. Memories about my many moves throughout the world and country.

This is added to by a man whose dad just passed. He and sister have two pictures that I made when I worked at the newspapers in Winston-Salem North Carolina. In early 1981. He sent me an email. At first, he was wondering of the name on the picture was me. When I confirmed that, he asked what I knew about the pictures.

That’s a long time ago.

I don’t even remember taking them. One of them is pretty good. I’ll dig through my archives. Unfortunately, they look like they were made for our social pages. It’s likely that I never scooped up those negatives when I left the paper. When you are a staff member of a newspaper, magazine or wire service, your work belongs to them. Most bosses turn a blind eye to a staffer removing negatives as long as you left something behind. Those are the kinds of negatives I wouldn’t taken.

I hope not. I’d like to help this guy out. I’m happy to scan some negatives and make him some prints if I can.

Oh, that learning thing? It seems that I’m mostly trying to learn about myself. All recent signs point to that.

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Summer leaf.

The end of summer.

Little details. Seeing. Looking. Feeling.

That’s all this picture really is about. I saw the leaf on an outdoor table. I framed it in a way that you could see the leaf and see the table. Then I went to work on it. That’s it.

Old business.

You’re gonna laugh. Remember Tropical Storm Gordon? The storm that did nothing? It broke apart over Northern Mississippi and Arkansas. The last of the winds pushed it back this way and we got soaked yesterday. As they say, “If the lightning don’t get you, the thunder will.”

The rain is pouring down as I write. This rain has nothing to do with Gordon. It’s just that time of year. There are three storms forming in the Atlantic. I’ll worry about them later.

Google issues. A lot of people are complaining about it. I didn’t know that until I Googled it. How’s that for irony? There is no real work around yet unless I want to go back to a very early desktop from about 2012. That really won’t work.

So, I did a better thing. I saved the WordPress dashboard page as a bookmarked website and placed it on my bookmarks bar. One click and I’m here. This is better than it was on the Google desktop.

See?

I can be creative when I’m forced into it.


Shadows make the picture.

Sticky days and very hot nights.

I’ve noticed that I don’t see a lot of my neighbors. There’s a good reason for this. Everybody is tired of our super sticky days. With the last storm, the humidity has increased to almost unbearable levels. I call it a four t-shirt, three shower, day. They stay inside where the air conditioners are working overtime.

Whew.

So. I make pictures where I can and get excited thinking about fall-like weather. A time when I can roam about without feeling like I’ve been through the rinse cycle.

In a way, that’s what this picture is about. I saw it. It didn’t look like much the first time that I passed by. But… the next time, late afternoon shadows were encroaching on the scene. The picture turned interesting. Now it was ready. So was I. Yes. I helped it in post production. Everything needed to be deeper, richer and glowing.

That’s the photography lesson for the day. Be patient. I suppose that’s the unspoken lesson every day. You know. Study, practice, study, practice, study… that’s another way of saying work hard at what you do and be patient.


Glowing.

One of those things.

That you walk by a hundred times. You never really notice. It’s become invisible to you. You see it. It doesn’t register.

Then. Maybe the light was right. Or, a reflection caught your eye. Something happened. Something changed.

You see the thing you didn’t see.

That’s what happened in this picture. There is a little scooter parked along one of the streets that has become a dog route. We don’t always pass that way. When we do, it’s just an obstacle to walk around. Not the other day.

Something caught my eye. I stopped. I made a few pictures. Of the scooter’s headlight. Dogarito wanted to move on. So we did. I didn’t know if I had the time to make any sort of picture. When I finally looked at the LCD I was happily surprised. I get lucky that way. Sometimes.

I did some work to it. That’s what you are looking at. A quick view. A little work in post production and away we go.

One more thing.

A bit of news. A bit of housekeeping. For those of you who find Storyteller on Facebook, it’s is changing. Yes. Again. They are no longer allowing auto distribution starting August 1. If you follow Ray Laskowitz, you will no longer see Storyteller posts unless…

It gets tricky.

I can post by hand adding extra work to my social media workflow. Or, if you follow Laskowitz Pictures on Facebook. That’s my business page. I think, but it is not clear to me, that once a new post gets there it will bounce to my personal page if I follow Laskowitz Pictures. Ugh.

Once again Facebook shows the world that it really doesn’t care about anybody but them. I suppose this is their ham handed way of preventing trolls, Russian bot and fake news. If they keep going in this direction they’ll drive small business away.

In many ways this is good.

I really only post Storyteller on Facebook to lead you here. Some people come. Some don’t. It gets confusing sometimes. A friend of mine posted the video that I couldn’t show you here. He posted it on Facebook.  All I could do was hold my hands up in the classic what do you want from me pose. That doesn’t help me here.

After all, Facebook and WordPress don’t like each other. Actually, Facebook doesn’t like anybody. Like Apple, they really wanted a closed system. Their own little world.

 


Summer’s glow.

A little peace on a hot summer Sunday.

A day for thoughts and reflections.

I’ll leave you to them.

Or, you can jump in the pool and start the Independence Day right. Right from the start of the week, which is what usually happens when the holiday falls right in the middle of what is normally the work week.

Oh. The picture. Photographed. Then, worked and slightly reworked in post production to make the final image sort of painterly. But, not quite.


Lost in the glow.

Summer pictures.

In many ways it’s the worst season in which to make pictures. The sun is always too high, even when it isn’t. The light color is too white. And, the shadows are too short.

In the digital world, internet photographers speak out of both sides of their mouths. First, they make a big deal of not doing most post production, or even using filters. Then, they say that it doesn’t matter what time of day it is. You should be able to deal with it.

Yeah. Sure. Using reflectors, scrims and fill flash means that you can make a portrait during high noon. But, why would you? Even with all the old school technology that I just mentioned, the light is bright white. There are no shadows to speak of it, and it takes a lot of work in post production. See what I’m saying? Too much work for a not great picture. And, they are breaking their first rule… not a lot of post production.

Instead, either get up early and work in morning light. Or, be patient and work in later afternoon to dusk light. In both cases, that light is so much prettier. Especially in the summertime, when a lot of people have more time to take pictures.

Me? I prefer late afternoon. First you get long shadows, then the light turns golden, then comes blue hour and finally that very short time between blue hour and night. Of course you can reverse this in the morning — and the quality of light is a little different — but who wants to get up at 4am?

Or, you can work smarter.

This picture was made in mid-morning. The summer light was already blaaaah. So, I turned things around. I photographed into the sun. I over exposed slightly and made the interior of the flower more pastel. I let the rest of the light fall where it may.  That actually turned some of the white flowers into a kind of purple.

That, is the story. And, one solution.


It was the sun.

Back to it. Back to things I see as I roam about.

Or, I could just call this who is supposed to clean this pool? Actually, what caught my eye was that mushy white dot located in between the handrail, which is something new. The dot is the sun reflecting off the blue water. It was poking through some light cloud cover.

That’s the story of the picture. I saw it. I made it. I developed it. I manipulated it. And, I posted it.

Easy.

I was wandering around looking for more junk. I found some. But what I really found sort of made me sick. Trash. Strewn everywhere. And, given that I just read a National Geographic Online piece about deep divers finding plastic bottles in the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on earth, I think I found my crusade.

Let’s face it. All politics aside. Every ism aside, if we keep trashing this planet, pretty soon we will not have a place to live. Our piles of trash will get flooded by rising seas and we’ll all steam in higher temperatures. Won’t that smell great? Steamed soggy trash. With all that steam, our wrinkles will go away. So will we.

Stay tuned.


Japanese Maples.

Another tree picture.

Japanese Maples glowing in the morning sunlight.

Spring holds nothing but surprises for me. I wouldn’t have been aware of this picture if I hadn’t been out walking. That’s the thing. My best pictures are made with “boots on the ground.” Every time. Every day.

There really isn’t much to add. See the picture. Watch how the light falls. Make the picture. For the record, the first time I ever saw the word “make” as it pertains to pictures came from an interview with the late, great Ansel Adams. He thought “take” was too aggressive especially as it referred to his work. So too with the current word, “capture.” I don’t capture anything. I make a photograph. Or, I make a picture.

There.


Adding just a little.

A little mystery.

When I was a young photographer, a mentor told me to imagine how a picture might be used when you are actually making it. He was referring to working on location and having a little trouble seeing the end result. For instance, that might mean leaving a lot of “dead space” toward the top of the picture so that type might be overlayed on a potential magazine cover. Or keeping the subject in the center so you can crop and give the final image some shape.

That’s two examples. There are many more.

Today, you can do that in post production. In the old days we worked in wet darkrooms and it was hard to do some of the things we do today. And, color was something very special.

So.

With this image, I tried to see a book cover. The leaves might be symbolic flames. Some of the reddish-orange might have to be toned down some in order to drop in some type. Especially at the top. Or not. That’s my mental exercise. Nothing more. In real life, a designer or art director gets involved at this stage.

What kind of book? Oh, I don’t know. Something gothic, maybe spooky, maybe one of those first person tales that starts off slow and builds into something terrible… that turns out to only have occurred in the author’s mind. I love those. Did it really happen? Or, didn’t it?

Something like that.

The picture. Since I’ve already discussed my thinking, this is just about technique. It was made in very low, dusk light. The image started out dark because of that. I made it a little darker in post production. I also made it glow in post. I made another, somewhat lighter version, but I like the glow in this one better.