Out on the road.

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ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

W

hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


T

he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

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ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


Into the mystic.

There were days when I drove from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to run errands. Even thought ABQ had to old school camera stores within short walking distance from each other, neither had a great selection of printing paper.

Two stores in Santa Fe did. I’d start my day early, having breakfast out on the road, go paper shopping, go to a nationally known bookstore and poke around looking for pictures. Sometimes, I’d eat dinner on the plaza.

That was always a nice day.

Sometimes I’d head back home to Albuquerque under fairly clear skies like this one, but with rain falling in the far distance. That’s one of the benefits of living in the desert. Long distance views.

If you’ve ever driven cross country, you’ll see this a lot as you get into southwestern states. Sometimes, if the storm lingers and you are driving fast enough you’ll actually catch the storm and you’ll get wet.

Since I enjoy so-called bad weather that was never a big deal. Sometimes, I’d intentionally do it in order to photograph the falling rain.

I’m looking forward to long road trips again. However the virus may still get in the way.

Off in the distance. That’s one of the easiest ways to work if you are a drive by photographer like I am from time to time.

There is nobody near me and nobody in front of me that makes a difference. I could actually make a picture like this without fear of hurting anybody.

I still practice a kind of safety by letting the camera be auto everything and doing its thing. One thumb pushes the button, every other part of my hands are on the steering wheel.

That’s it the technical part of photographing. Processing and editing are easy because, as I wrote yesterday, this is a kind of photojournalism and I don’t mess with the picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs.


Stormy.

Away in the weather.

I wasn’t driving in that place during the storms. But, before and after are good targets. The main idea is to give you a sense of our wonderful weather down here in Southeastern Louisiana. During this time of year we often get a short but violent storm about every other day.

This down time has got me thinking. That’s usually a dangerous proposition. A lot of folks are doing some kind of a review of their lives, right now. For many people it’s more along the lines of, “How the hell did this happen?”

I’m not sure what you can do about the past but learn from it. And, enjoy some of the memories. That’s probably enough. If you can take something away from whatever happened to you, you’ve done it.

The past is all different. Places are all different. We are all different. Our pasts are all different. We mix and match. Trying to understand. “How the hell did this happen?”

Until.

We are brought to this place in time. One moment in history. Our time. Right this minute. This minute. Right now. This one.

What are you going to do with this minute? What are going to do if you believe that there are no useless days?

Tell me. Tell the rest of us. Please.

The Picture

I didn’t even know what I had. If I hadn’t messed with this file, you’d have seen the usual things. Blue sky. A few clouds. A long road reaching out in a sort of brown-grayish color. Another detail or two.

But.

I went the other way. I made the picture look like you were out on some deserted highway, late at night. A storm is brewing. You hope to get there in time. The time before the clouds erupt into hard rain. You hope.

Just so you know, I didn’t use an app that is supposed to be a cinematic filter called, “Night for Day.” I made this one myself.

So. Yes. A lot of post production.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

I didn’t forget. Fifteen years. Today. Fifteen years between Katrina and Lucy. This picture links the two. It leaves me wondering. “How the hell did I get here?”

You’d better have another sandwich.


Along came the clouds.

Driving.

Out on Highway 61. That’s where Abraham and God a conversation. That’s what Bob Dylan said. Apparently, God wasn’t messing around. So Abraham did what he was told. Sometimes there are little miracles when you least expect them.

On Saturday, Sophie Rose wasn’t doing so good. I was afraid I might lose her. It was later than the vet’s office was open so I considered taking her to an emergency vet.

Before I did, I had a word with God. I don’t really pray. I just talk. I said that I didn’t matter. I said that Sophie is a sweet, gentle loving dog. She didn’t deserve to cross the rainbow bridge just yet. She fell into a deep sleep. When she woke up on Sunday, she wanted to go for a walk. I thought she just need to go out for a minute. Oh no, we went for a very good longish walk. She came in and drank a lot of water.

She also annoyed the other dogs, she kept me from working. She acted like her normal self. When it was dinner time she ate three cups of food. That’s all of the dogs limits. Usually, they are happy with 2 1/2 cups. For the past week or two she was barely eating about a half a cup. She lost a lot of weight. My goal is to add weight to her.

I’m not very religious. I have a spiritual side to me. My prayers are discussions. I have no idea if God, or whoever your higher power is, even works this way. But, something happened.

For sure, she still has a dental appointment. I’m fairly confident that I managed to kill the gum infection. I’m pretty sure her bladder stone has fallen apart.

For now, that’s enough.

That’s Highway 61 that you are looking at. We live pretty much at the southern terminus. When you get to the Crossroads up in Mississippi, that’s where Robert Johnson supposedly made his deal with the devil. We also live fairly near to the cemetery where Gram Parsons, founder of THe Flying Burrito Brothers and who also brought country rock to Los Angeles, is laid to rest. We live in a weird place. All sorts of pirates and assorted characters roamed these parts.

Some still do. They just don’t have the class of their forefathers.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Twenty-Nineteen.

The year that was. The closing year of the end of a decade. Ups. Downs. All arounds. This year wasn’t as great photographically as it could have been. That was pretty much my fault. Between physical issues and a general lack of motivation I mostly produced a lot of faux nature pictures. Some where better than others. Some are found here. My biggest natural successes were trees. They are well represented here.

I did manage to make some of  “my” pictures. I photographed second lines and Mardi Gras Indian events. Those are here, too.

The one link between nature and a kind of photojournalism is that I work the same way to make both. I walk. I see things. I make the exposure.

As far as my version of nature pictures goes, most them were made in a healthy way. The dog who sees stuff and I went for walks. Despite my physical pain we managed to walk three miles a day whenever I was home. That’s good for me and her. She’s a sweetheart. Because she’s a cocker spaniel she’s as funny, loyal, and affectionate as she can be. Cockers are notoriously stubborn. She is too. She thinks nothing of standing in the middle of the street with me in tow staring down a car just daring the car to come closer.

There are 12 pictures here. You know why.

There are a few more days left in 2019. There are a few more days left in the decade. I’ll make and post a few pictures between now and then. But, for the most part, the year and decade are over for me. This is the strange in-between time. I mostly use it to clean up yearly messes and plan the new year.

 


All in one picture.

I went back.

Just in case. I do that sometimes.

Here’s a pro tip for you. If you have the time, and if you are close to the place where you made a good picture once, go back. You never know what you’ll find the second time. Or, even the third time.

You’ll never make a perfect picture, because perfection is for angels. But, you might make a better picture than your first attempt. Or, at least it will be different. That’s what this picture is. Different.

When I finally start reviewing my summer time collection, I’ll compare them. I might even let you compare them. You know. The so-called wisdom of the crowd. Storyteller and Laskowitzpictures, LLC isn’t quite that democratic, but I do listen. Because. You never know.

Anyway.

The picture. Like the first version of this scene, I stuck my lens into the scene as I saw it. The sun is a big part of the scene. They — whoever they is — say that you shouldn’t do this. I did it. I do it often. I’m still alive. So are the cameras and lenses.  Not doing this is just cheating yourself out of a potentially good picture.

That’s what I think. What do you think?


Little or nothing.

“Baby, baby, take the long way home.”

Written about someone who wants to stay on the road and not go home. That’s us right about now.

The situation.

First, the good news.  It is very likely that the levees will not overtop. We are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain in the next two days. If it’s steady it won’t overwhelm the pumps. It will add more water to the already high Mississippi River.

There is even better news. The Rolling Stones will not be denied. They are already in town. And, their stage crew is building their stage, lighting and video screens as we speak. They are playing on Sunday. Come hell (not likely) or high water (likely).

The predictable news. The storm’s outer bands are reaching us. There are winds of about 20 mph with light rainfall. It is not steady, it is more like spitting. It’s on and off as the cyclone spins.

There is no bad news. We are as prepared as I’ve ever seen. That’s the city. The parishes. And, us. The only possible bad news are power failures, which are unpredictable. Yesterday, I saw Entergy crews checking the likely weak links. But, storms are storms and you can’t know what will fail.

Have a good thought for us.

The picture. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight. We’ll see about that. It looks like I’m a million miles away. Nah, Earhart Expressway. The back way to the airport.

Just remember, you thought you knew what the Tibetan word Nameste means. Around here, that’s Cajun for the answer to this question.

“Are you evacuating?”

“Nameste.” (Nah Imma Stay)


A long way.

There are days and there are days.

I tried to photograph balloons. There were three. Not enough. There was wind. You’d think that balloons like wind. They do. But, not much more than 10 miles per hour. The wind was stronger than that. So no balloons in the air. No dusk balloon glow.

I gave up.

I started heading back. Then, this picture happened. At 60 miles per hour. Luckily, the magic smart phone came to the rescue. All I did was hold it on the dashboard with a finger. It did the rest and I slowed down.

I have one more day to make a balloon glow picture. We have cold and windy air. With only Continue reading