Whew. It’s hot.

So hot.

So damn hot. There is a twitter tag called #neworleansheat. New Orleans heat doesn’t like us. And, we don’t like it.

I made this picture at about 7:00pm. The all seeing dog wanted a walk. I convinced her to wait until she couldn’t. Off we went. I made this picture at about our apex.

By the time we made it home, I was walking in a haze. Everything was shimmering. I felt like I was walking through water. I looked at little dogaroo. Her tongue was hanging out to the pavement. We made it home. We drank a couple of hundred gallons of cold water.

I was feeling a little weird. On one hand, I felt peaceful. On the other, I felt a little disoriented. I wasn’t hungry. I took a break. I laid down. Eventually, things cleared up.

Whew.

Be careful, you will suggest. I thought that I was. That’s why we walked so late. That is, until I  checked the temperature.

97 Degrees.

At 7:15 pm.

Oh, and that bad feeling?

It might be closer than I thought. We have a tropical depression in the gulf that is going to turn into a hurricane or one of those lingering heavy subtropical storms that flooded upriver Louisiana a year or so ago. Depending on which weather model you watch, we are in the middle of it. Or, not.

To make matters worse, the gulf water is hot. In the mid-to-high eighties. That fuels storms. And, in Mississippi gulf waters there is such a bad poisonous algae bloom that you can’t go in the water, you can’t eat anything caught in the water. Hell, you probably shouldn’t even look at the water.

This was caused by diverting Mississippi River waters from the north into Lake Ponchartrain. If that wasn’t done, we, in New Orleans, would have been flooded. The water from the lake flows down river until it arrivers near the Mississippi State border.

Meanwhile, the clown in the high tower was blabbering about how good the environment is doing. All the while, he is gutting environmental restrictions. Oh, he finally admits that there might be something going on. But, get this, Americans aren’t causing it. It’s a global thing, idiot in chief. Last I looked, America is part of the globe.

So.

No. There isn’t climate change.

If you believe that, I gotta a lotta junk that I’ll sell you. You’ll probably think it’s gold bullion.

And, about the cold water that dogaroo and I drank? I fill all the dogs’ bowls with cold water from the refrigerator because cold water directly from the tap is 84 degrees. How refreshing is that? It’s wet. That’s about it.

This just sucks.

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Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.


Cool shade.

Despite the heat of summer, I actually like the season. I like the rich greens. I like the cooling shade. I even like the torrential rains that cool the air and knock down the humidity temporarily. Of course, in the heat of summer, what falls down must rise up… in the form of ground humidity.

At a glance that sounds terrible.

It isn’t.

In Southeast Louisiana, folks live in a natural greenhouse. Everything grows. And, it grows well. In little home gardens, you need only care for the plants. No watering necessary. There was one year, before the storm, that I grew something like 500 large tomatoes. I kept the plants neat and pruned. I removed tomato worms and that was about it. I rarely watered them. I never misted them. The yield was a little problem. Normally, I give away what I can’t use. Usually to neighbors. Not that year. Everybody had too many tomatoes.

It’s about the same thing with every vegetable or fruit. I planted a little basil bush that I bought at a grocery store. It stood about three inches tall. It was a skinny little thing. Today, it’s at least four feet tall. And, four feet around.

The picture. A tree that I saw on a walk. I liked the backlighted look. I turned it into a painting in post production. I also used a stretched paper look for the shape. Fairly easy to do. If you like experimenting.


The longest day.

The goopy season.

It starts around now and lasts well into August, when even hotter temperatures dry out the air a little bit. A loss of humidity would seem to be a good thing.

It is.

Unfortunately, the temperature starts creeping into the triple digits. Like about 219 degrees.

You pick your poison.

Or, you leave.

With climate change — it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not — there are very few cooler places in the United States in the summer months. At least, you might go to a place that has a dry heat heat. Still, it’s hot. I rarely live in anything approaching cool weather from May until October.

Oh well.

So, this is the goopy season in the south. Heat. Humidity. Daily rain.

Move your camera from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the street and you’ve got condensation. On the camera body. On the lens. Do not remove the lens. If you do that you will have condensation inside the camera. Inside the lens. That’s deadly.

Instead, wipe the camera down with some kind of soft, lint free, cotton. Clean the front of the lens with something designed for that job. Lens cleaning tissue, or a micro fiber cloth. Let the camera acclimate and you’ll be good.

Some photographers wear t-shirts to use as a cleaning cloth. Fine, as long as it is cotton, not a blend, and it is clean. Don’t wipe your camera down with your lunch. Or, the egg that you ate for breakfast.

The picture. Running errands. In and out of rain. You can see a fairly good example of that in the picture. To the left, mighty storm clouds. To the center, blue skies.

This picture is a classic  example of the modified drive by. It is a drive through. I could have let my errand running partner drive. But, oh no. I can drive. In traffic. And, make pictures at the same time. Sheesh.

I think that may even be more deadly than texting and driving. On second thought, it isn’t. I put the phone or camera on the dashboard, let it focus, and I just push the button while looking at the road. If I have to react quickly, I just drop the camera or phone. Obviously, I’ve thought about it.

Also, in one way or another, I’ve done it for years. Practice, practice, practice. But, this falls into the category of “kids, don’t try this at home.”

Anyway.

This is a weather picture. I made it because I saw it. I’m not sure it falls into the group of ten great summer pictures. Yesterday’s picture did for sure. Many of you confirmed that on various social media and, here on Storyteller. Thank you.

One down. Nine to go. Or, maybe not.

Doing this is a combination of talent, experience and the luck of being there are the right time. The luck thing is a really big deal in this particular series. For yesterday’s picture, a couple minutes on the either side and scene is blown.

 


The perfect summer.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy.

That’s what the song says.

Truth be told, this summer has been a heat-filled bit of drudgery. As I’ve written, it’s hot mostly everywhere.

Then I saw this little scene.

A nascent picture that almost brought me back to the days of my youth. A time when summers didn’t seem so hot. When summers seemed to be an endless time of sand lot baseball, trading baseball cards, and a little later, hanging out and listening to music with friends.

Like everything, change inserted it’s pointy little head. I grew up. Moved away. Worked. Made millions of pictures. Did whatever it is I did. Now, I’m here.

Sheesh. I can file for Medicare today. August 1, 2018. You can do it three months before your big retirement birthday. Then, there’s retirement. Turns out that if you want maximum social security benefits, people born when I was, must wait until their 66th birthday. But, you can start a year early and only lose a few dollars a month.

Or not.

Artists, in general, never really retire. We can’t. We aren’t made that way. We might cut back. We might hustle a little less, but we don’t stop. That would probably kill most of us.

Obviously deadline and dates have brought me to this discussion. On the other hand, a lot of us are talking about it. A guy who helped me with the more musical part of my career just traveled home to see his 91-year-old mother in Connecticut. He’s on a journey through his past. He’s not liking it. At least, he is finding some of the things of his youth. Carvel soft ice cream. Thin pizzas that are only made on the East Coast. White clam sauce over pasta.

I’ll leave this here. For now.

The picture. I looked up. There it was. Funny how that happens. I brightened it up. I added some color. I made it into a summer’s day long ago.  If I look hard enough I can see a baseball flying over those bushes. You can look too. Maybe your youthful summer will appear.

 


Another kind of bold color.

It’s hot. Everywhere.

If it’s not hot, it’s weird weather. Drought. Or, too much rain. Floods. Or, fire. In Greece. In California. In the Southwest. Throughout Europe. A friend from Ireland posted that his emerald country is now brown. Let’s not forget East Asia. People are dying.

I don’t care what you believe about this hour’s weather. I don’t care what your politics are. Red. Blue. Purple. Those things don’t matter. As BoB Dylan once wrote about something slightly different, “It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

It’s the anomalies that are signs of climate change. All these weird weather related events. You can say that they are cyclical. You might even be right. But, when a cycle lasts 5,000 or 10,000 years that’s a pretty long cycle. It will probably kill your ancestors. The ones in the future. And, their ancestors. You know. The ones who are trying to live on Mars to escape Earth.

Anyway, I made this picture because the duality caught my eye. It’s sort of a metaphor for this discussion. Except for the top. But, those bright flowers are dying too. If I were to walk past this place in a day or two, they’d be dead as well.  I did a little work in post production because I always do a little work in post production. In this case, the image needed it. I pretty much fooled the thing that passes for a light meter by exposing from below the subject.

So.

Hi ho, hi ho, It’s off to work I went.

 


A summer scene.

First. The Wild Boars are free. That’s what I awoke to read today.

I think, after that, I’ll just stop reading the news. Most of it is bad.

I’ll just add one thing. We talk about police, firemen, that military as being heroes. They’re not. For the most part, they are just doing their jobs. Ask them. They’ll tell you. Ask a soldier. He or she will tell you that the only heroes are the ones who didn’t come home.

The divers and support teams who journied to Thailand are heroes. Combined with the Thai Navy Seals and the local medal staff, they went above and beyond. The international team didn’t have to travel to Chiang Rai from all over the world. But, they did. They shared their expertise, courage and skills with 12 young, scared boys and their coach while the world watched.

The picture. Simplicity today in a nod to the Buddhism that most Thais practice. Making this picture wasn’t as easy as you might think. If you look at the detail you know that I was pretty close to this scene. That means hands and knees on the ground. For my poor metal hip and arthritic back that takes an effort. I saw the picture. I wanted to make the picture. I ain’t done yet. The rest was simple.


In the summer, after a storm.

Beneath summer skies.

With daily rain often comes drama. Usually, around dusk when the storm clouds are moving towards the west or upriver.

I can see some of it forming from my windows. But, I really see it on dogarito’s second — or sometimes — third walk of the day. Luckily, she’s pretty patient. So, I can make a picture or two.

This is one of the pictures. Not only do I see the sky and the framing silhouetted trees, but the image almost looks three-dimensional to my eye. There are natural layers upon layers hiding in this picture.

And, another word.

I see that our government has reached out to the DOD and are having immigrants discharged from the Army for no real reason except meanness.. Not only are they being taken out of their path to citizenship, but they are being classified as a security threat, which will get them a dishonorable discharge, hurting their lives going forward. In the ultimate Catch 22, anyone with dishonorable discharge cannot apply for citizenship.

Great.

This means a guy who wants to do the right thing, protect me and become a citizen can never do either. My God.

I don’t talk much about my life here. I see Storyteller as a place for pictures, art, discussion.

But, there’s this.

My paternal grandfather served in the Royal Russian Navy. In 1905, during the first Russian Revolution, his ship was ordered to fire on Russian people.  Rather than do that, the crew scuttled their ship and left the country. My grandfather made his way to Hamburg, Germany. He caught a tramp freighter and sailed for New York.

He passed through Ellis Island. He had no real papers since he had already jumped ship in Russia. He spoke no English, so my name became Laskowitz from whatever it really was. I still don’t really know. In 1917, when The United States entered World War I, he enlisted to serve his new country. His reward? Automatic citizenship. He died in 1949. I never met him. But, I am him. I’m the grandson of an immigrant.

Oh. About the family name. I’ve done a lot of research. The best I can come up with is that I am really Belorussian. I think our village was Horodak. In Russian that means little village. In Belorussia, it is a village. After that, I know nothing.

Oh. My family were sausage makers in the “old country.” This explains a lot. Like, why I can grind it out here. Heh!

 


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.