The greens of summer.

the greens of summer.

This is our greenest time of year. Between the rain and the dripping humidity, we have an outdoor greenhouse. Everything grows.

As we roll into August, the wet season dries out a bit. The hot weather really hits. Instead of the low 90s of July, the temperature rises into the high 90s and, maybe even into triple digits. That’s brutal. That’s also the time to lock down everything in hopes of mitigating CoVid-19 because most everybody closes their businesses. No tourist traffic. You can buy hotel rooms for a fraction of their normal price even in a good year.

Of course, you have to do what we do. Walk slow. Slouch around. Stay hydrated. And, walk in the shade.

That’s the secret.

Bars are closed. Music venues too. Most restaurants are closed for August even without the virus floating around. Small shops may also be closed. But, you can wander around without bumping into too many people. And, very few of us. Locals.

Yes. Please visit. We need your money. You need our vibe.

Green Manalish

Peter Green died this week. He was the founding guitar player of Fleetwood Mac well before they became poppy and very famous. He was scary good. He didn’t work for long enough to gain the kind of fame of Eric Clapton, Jimmy page or Jeff Beck, but he might well have been the best of them.l One of his songs was called Green Manalish. Understand now, y’all?

The Picture

I’ve been watching Live Oak sprouts growing in the swamp grass. Finally, I did something about it. You are looking at the result. It is surprisingly difficult to get green to pop out of another green. I’ve been noticing that on videos. The way those guys do it is to turn the green into something fluorescent. Looks silly. Green grass doesn’t glow.

Stay safe, Stay mighty. Enjoy all the green.


Sunset at the crossroads.
While I was stopped in traffic.

Storm season.

The soggy time of year. If we don’t get wet from above, we get wet from very moist air. You know, humidity. The number that drives the heat index into numbers unknown. The air temperature might be around 90 degrees, but with the humidity the heat index (feels like) temperature is about 102 degrees.

Too hot to do anything. Even the all seeing dog only wants to go out to do what she needs to do. There are errands to run. We keep those short and compact because we have a masking mandate. We have been to stay home. Again.

I made this picture on one of those errand runs.

After months of figuring out the right time to buy groceries, we stumbled upon it.

First, we did the senior citizen thing. Getting up before 7am to be at a grocery store was a little much. It felt like we were surrendering to the virus. The world was too upside down

An executive decision was made. We’d shop whenever we wanted. Still, we experimented. We wanted to know the least crowded time of day. We wanted to know if that was consistent. We found it by accident.

By accident. That seems to be our way.

We kept put off shopping on a day when there was almost nothing in the refrigerator. We had to go.

So, we went in the evening. I don’t think that I’ve ever done that.

7pm. That’s the time. Most people are home from work, if they still have work. They are likely finishing dinner. There were less than a dozen people in the store. They all wore masks. That happened three weeks in a row.

The Picture

That’s how this picture happened. By accident. I made it after a shopping trip. I’m not normally out at this time. We stopped for a traffic light. The sky was wonderful. I had the time. I made a lot of these pictures. I helped it a bit, but not much.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. Enjoy every sunset.


A summer look and feel.

Summer.

The calendar may say that we’ve got almost a month to summer, but the heat, humidity and rain have given us a summer-like feel for the past couple of days. I’m not really ready for it, especially since we planned on not being here for a couple of months, but a virus took that from us.

Speaking of that virus, I spent some time consoling a friend of mine who managed to keep busy for a good part of lockdown number one. Today is a quiet day for her. She realized what was lost and really started feeling blue.

I listened for a long time because I’ve learned a while back that when somebody reaches out and asks for help they really don’t want help. They want a friendly ear. They want something who will just listen.

That’s what I did.

When she was done, she asked what I thought. Her world is upended and may never come back. I said some of the things that I write here. That the “new normal” should not be a return to the old normal. Instead, we were all given a task. Make our lives better. Make our city better. Make our world better.

Those are quite some tasks.

It will take us a long time to even come close to getting the stuff done in those three simple sentences. Sometimes simpler is harder.

Photography, design and stuff

I’ve been talking way too much about the block system and design. I haven’t been talking about the theory of photography enough. Or, the concept of artistic thinking.

So.

I’ll let this new block stuff simmer on the backburner where I can play with it and not worry about what you actually see. I learned today that my picture captions may not be where they should be. I learned it depends on how you are looking at them and what OS and browser you use. I also learned that some things just don’t scale. Remember that music video? There is a place for it on my phone. No video.

I’ll work on that in the deep background. Instead, I’ll talk about the emotional and personally historical issues that come into play when you are trying to make and view art. What resonates? What doesn’t? What do you do or not do with either feeling?

You know. The important stuff.

I won’t take about cameras, lenses, or f stops or shutter speeds. You can find all of that on YouTube, which is why I laugh when somebody wants to sell me a workshop about that technical stuff. On the other hand, it’s also why I cry when I see good information on YouTube. Somebody just gave it away. That’s nice. It’s kind. But, we’ve learned in the past three months that we have to do something to earn a living.

You know the rest. I know that you know.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Trains in the fog with help.

Foggy days. Foggy nights.

I took a little walk to a nearby train yard. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. We’ve had a lot of fog so I wanted to photograph the fog at night. I found two engines with their motors warming up. I was astounded to see a caboose sitting between them. Of course, there is a fence between me and them. I heard them before I could see them.

I did the best that I could.

I made this picture and added some roundish highlights to the image. I really didn’t have to, but you know me. I also had help from some business behind this little group. They had their big lights turned on, which helped me to make perfect silhouettes up against a glowing foggy sky.

The caboose is another story all together. My amazement arose because no railroads use cabooses today. Congress changed a law that required them to be attached to freight trains. Once the law changed most cabooses were headed to the scrapyard or to your favorite park. This is a working caboose. It is not used for its intended purpose, but rather as a place for the train crew to rest on long haul rides.

One more thing about the picture. Notice the quality? It’s much better than many images that I post here. I used my baby Leica. It’s a great camera for pictures like this and for many of the subjects that I photograph. It’s not so good for second lines or Mardi Gras Indians. When I say baby I mean it. It has a fixed zoom lens. It’s range is from 24mm to 75mm. It’s also fast. very fast, since it has a large f stop at f1.7.

About walking. I didn’t take a dog. This was a little photo walk.I learned that if I walk at my normal pace, rather than stopping, and letting the dogs explore, my legs don’t hurt anywhere near as much as they normally do.

And, so it goes.


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.

 


Red, and fading.

Southeastern Louisiana is an outdoor hothouse.

Heat, humidity and rainfall make it so.  We have weird growth. Until I moved here I never saw a red mushroom. I see them towards the end of summer. There are also white ones. Brown ones. Huge misshapen ones. I’ve lived in a lot of places. Louisiana is the most primal place I’ve ever lived. If you removed all the man-made things, you might think you lived in the age of dinosaurs.

It makes you think.

It makes me think about going forward. Life for our children. And, their children. And, on and on. I’m trying to leave something behind. Or, at least not take anything away.

The picture. Another dog walk picture. Good thing that dog has me. I might never explore these kind of places. She sniffed this mushroom and immediately turned away. She knows. I know too. Anything red through purple is a no go. Eat it and die. Or, at least, get really sick.

It’s really just a simple see  it and push the button kind of picture. I worked hard in post production to not turn it into a flourescent nightmare.


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!

 


In the summertime.

I’m trying to make ten great summertime pictures. This could be one of those pictures.

It speaks to me about the hot sun, the wild plants growing along fences, buildings and up and over anything that has been abandoned. We don’t really have Kudzu down here in the swamp. But, just about everything grows.

For me, all this picture really is, is a good start. It means that I got outside and had a look around. Summer says and means a lot more to me that just wild plants reaching toward the sky. That’s one thing, but it’s easily replaceable by a better picture. The best thing about our summers — and there isn’t much — is that they last so long. Almost six months. That gives me a little time. Or, I can do what i usually do, and waste a lot of it.

The picture. It’s a dog walk picture. But, she didn’t see this. It’s a good six feet above her head. I saw it. But, if truth be told I was just grumbling about the sun in my eyes. Eventually, my brain clicked in. Oh yeah. That.


Passing by in the sky.
Passing by in the sky.

How could I not?

I claim that I’m not a nature photographer. I also don’t usually take pictures of clouds except as part of a much larger scene. But, when I see it I photograph it. So I did it. This is also what happens when you keep a camera handy. I was running errands when I looked up. I’m thinking that most of this week’s posts are the result of keeping a camera around all the time.

Sheesh.

I even took one with us on the way to the vet. One of my Cockers had the Spaniel trifecta. An ear infection, a gastrointestinal infection and a urinary track infection. Two of them are pretty unpredictable, but the extreme humidity this summer defeated our best efforts to keep her ears clean.

She slept in the back seat. I did my usual drive by shooting when we stopped for traffic lights and such. I think having a camera around helped calm her. If I do normal stuff, she may think that things are okay. I don’t know what’s in a dog’s mind, but they know stuff.

Oh. A day later. She seems to be feeling much better. She still has to take her course of pills and ear drops, but she slept soundly and hasn’t been making a run for the door every half hour. The other dogs are fine.