The summer wind blew through the grasses of the season.

A

nother weird week. It seems like death is following us around no matter what we do.

I suppose that’s the way it is going to be until we manage the virus and people are able to think again.

I have no idea what killed Charlie Watts. But, it may illustrate something that I’ve long said. Touring is not good for man or animal.

I don’t care how you do it, your body pays for it. I don’t care whether you drive from show to show in a van and sleep on somebody’s couch or fly private and stay in a private home.

Funny, how a musician proceeds up the ladder. You start by sleeping on someone’s floor or couch. You proceed to cheap motels, eventually moving up to five star hotels and finally back into a house.

This time, it’s a 12 bedroom house in an exclusive neighborhood that a sponsor donated to you for a couple of nights.

Still, jumping through time zones, working an upside down day, eating food — good or bad — at the wrong times, coming down from the adrenalin rush and never knowing where you are, is not good for the body, mind and soul.

Did Charlie’s job play a part in his death? Or, was it simply a matter of aging? Or, was it a combination of both.

Does it matter? After all, dead is dead.

It matters to me. In 13 years I’ll be 80. That sounds like a long time, but where the hell did the last 67 years go?

It happened like a blink of the eye.

It always does.

T

his is my third time around on this post. Once again, the paragraphs locked and no edits or additions could be made.

I did learn something. Up at the top of the page there is a blue “Save Draft” line. Press it and it save the page exactly as it is minus the block edits.

No matter what WordPress claims, the block system is not flexible.

See that white space next to this column?

It came about because I wanted to make the picture larger. It’s a picture that I’d hang on my wall so I wanted you to see a larger version.

That went fine until I tried to build a block there. You can’t. You can’t add another column, or a calendar, or a list of previous posts.

All I know is that programmers are programmers. They have no sense of design or art. It’s all math to them.

That’s why there are so many freelance WordPress coders. The code is so complicated that it takes specialty programmers to create anything different.

Hire one of those folks and guess what? The block system is flexible.

Sheesh.


Everything you’ll ever know.

After yesterday’s rant I calmed down. I brought my thoughts back to what really matters. Reflection and review brought me to a quiet place. We all need a quiet place. Especially now, when external forces are attacking us from everywhere. As Bob Dylan once wrote, “You won’t get out of here unscathed.” And, they won’t.

That’s only self defense. What matters is my insides and how they relate to my outsides. Same thing for you.

So.

For today, and just for today, I’m balanced. As we used to say, I’m mellow.

My thoughts on this quiet day, the first day of October in the month of goblins and ghouls?

I learned something a long time ago. A little over 27 years ago. Just do what I can and let the rest go. I can’t help with the rest anyway. I don’t have the power, the reach and contacts to do some of the things that need doing.

What’s my next best step?

My photo business is almost non-existent. Even though I split my time between two careers, I kept the picture making very viable. Along came CoVid 19. Nobody wants a picture because what are they going to do with them? It’s likely that their business are suffering.

Then, this week. Three deep archive sales. I’ve told you about them. I may have said that I started thinking after one art director told me why he reached out. Unique and better work. That’s what he was after. I can’t help thinking that picture buyers are getting tired of reaching Instagram for new and viable photographers.

Besides, Google released a new and better way to search for images. There’s a little backend work but after you’ve completed that, art users can find you easily.

I have another website. http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. I built it as a portfolio site. Guess what? They’ve added new software the for a couple of kinds of sales. You can put up light boxes and let your client see and select the work that fills their needs.

Or, you can use a store front and sell fine art directly to the client. They select the art, pay for it and off it goes to the printer who ships it to them. It won’t be signed, but you can work around that and have the finished print sent back to you.

You can do both methods of selling your work.

It’s going to be a lot of work and many long nights, but I’m going to make my website be the heart of my “new” business. It is also something I can build during pandemic times when nobody is hiring photographers to make pictures of anything.

Wish me luck.

The picture. It’s the all seeing dog’s fault. Once we went outside, she headed straight to my car. She stood her ground. She was looking up at the car.

Okay, I thought. She’s always right. Normally, on a drive, she curls up and sleeps in the backseat. Not this time, she sat on the front seat. She wanted the window open. She got her way. She was being a dog.

She watched as we drove. Finally, she started barking. This is the place.

That was fine with me. We took a walk in a place we didn’t know. If you look at the gate, you might notice that is secured. You need card key to get in. Somebody jammed that up with a piece of cardboard, so in we went.

But.

Before we went exploring, I made a bunch of pictures at the gate because the light was streaming through the trees.

I couldn’t resist.

I have to admit I did a lot of work on the picture in post production. I made a lot of versions of it. I saw some muted work somewhere, so I tried that. Nah.

I settled on an early version of this picture and fine tuned it.

That’s what you see in front of you.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. As cities start letting people do things again wear your mask.

One more thing. I have a young friend. I’ve known her since she was 17. She’s in her late thirties now. Her doctors predicted that she wouldn’t live until she was 30 because she had cancer. She survived. Of course cancer treatment weakens your body.

She caught the virus. She survived that too, but it left with inflammation of her heart, kings and belly. She’s been in the hospital twice for that.

I have a really bad feeling. I don’t get them often, but when I do they are usually right.

Have a good thought for her. Do whatever you do. Please.


After the storm. If you’re lucky you get a rainbow.

Sometimes,

You get lucky. You get to see the rainbow after the storm.You get to see nature being friendly rather than allowing us to get sick and die. That’s what this picture is about. Hope. You know me. You can’t eat hope. If you have hope right now, you’d better go to work.

Hope, unfortunately, is withering on the vine. I read a story in The New York Times about our new future. It’s grim. The virus is forever. There will be ebbs and flows depending on what we open and what we don’t. I fear sort the sports and entertainment industries. Fans going to a venue wil be in a petri dish. Maybe some get sick. Maybe some won’t.

We are in the digital age, so maybe some of these events can be done online. While some people might recoup some funds, that’s not what live events are about. It doesn’t account for what they really about. Excitment. Energy. Fan interaction. Instead there will 300 or 400 people in a stadium designed for 50,000 people.

Okay. That stuff isn’t important.

Non-essential businesses are important. How are they going to be staffed? How are they going to be regulated from a health standpoint? How do staffers interact with the public? These questions, and more, are yet to be answered.

You can’t rush this stuff. You can’t set a deadline. You can’t rush nature. Nature moves in her own good time. This new normal is forever. Oh sure, it will be modified as we learn. I’m sure that there will be V. 1.0, V1.5, V. 2.0, and so on. Maybe in 70 years things will settle down. After all, that’s how long it to the Spanish Flu to eventually morph in H1N1, the seasonal flu that rolls around in the fall.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Hanging around.

Despite whatever you are thinking, the picture is not upside down.

I know. I know. It looks upside down. I made the picture standing directly under the tree and looking up. It is the perfect symbol for our current times.

The world seems upside down.

If everybody isn’t busy hating people who are not like them, then they are busy being fearful of just about everything. In some places people are marching in the streets. In some of those places marches turn into riot. In my country, the president has turned our allies into foes, and his has turned dictators and despots into his friends. He thinks. They are playing him like a fiddle. I could go on. I won’t.

That’s not all.

There is a virus that the same president thinks is named after beer. Mexican beer. In less than a day, New Orleans grew for one infected person to six. This does not bode well. The City of New Orleans essentially closed the weekend. They cancelled two St. Patrick Day parades. The Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday and a second line.

I would have likely photographed Super Sunday and maybe the second line in normal times. Even if it wasn’t cancelled, I would not go to the Indians event in these times. Everybody is hacking and coughing and they might be standing six inches in front of you. That’s the last thing I need.

I have no idea what our future holds, both here in NOLA or in the rest of the world. That’s so far beneath my pay grade that I can’t even get close.

Anyway.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. And, keep your hands off of your face.


It’s the balloons.

They flew once.

Now they have been caught in a tree’s branches where they will likely deflate and die. Was this an accident? Or, were they launched? Probably those of us who didn’t see where the balloons rose from will never know.

I do know this.

I went to my doctor yesterday. You know my ailments so I won’t backtrack and waste your time. There are two additional issues. One is fairly simple. Bursitis. I had a corticosteroid injection and I should be feeling better sometime his weekend.

The other.

Not so simple. As we age internal body parts change. Sometimes they calcify, like my vertebrae which actually doesn’t cause me any direct pain. Sometimes they narrow, like arteries which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Sometimes narrowing occurs in the spine. That’s called stenosis.

That’s what I have. It’s brought on, in part, by age. Arthritis doesn’t help. And, there may be some genetics involved.

Essentially, inside of the spine there is what amounts to a tube. It’s wider at the top and narrows as it gets to my tailbone. Inside of the tube there are nerves. Stenosis occurs when the tube narrows so much that the walls are pressing on the nerves.

My symptoms confirm it. There are times when my hamstrings feel so tight that I can’t stretch them. Sometimes, I have this weird feeling that my feet aren’t touching the ground. Eventually, it passes. Until the next time.

There is a repair. Surgery. Before you say oh no, not back surgery, this isn’t that. The work isn’t done by an orthopedic surgeon. It is done by a neurologist. It’s minimally invasive. It’s done in the office as an outpatient procedure. I can even drive myself home. I would be back in business within a week. Business means walking and hunting for pictures.

Sounds pretty good, yes?

There is a condition. There’s always a condition.

I have to wait until it gets worse, which could be next week, next month or next year. There is a timing issue issue which means we have to catch the pain at the right time.

Between the bursitis issue and stenosis treatment most of my pain should be taken care of within a reasonable time.

The good news is that I rarely have back pain. My Mardi Gras pain was transient in nature. I was feeling a little better before I saw my doctor. The lack of back pain makes me a prime candidate for a successful outcome of the stenosis procedure.

As my doctor said, you often hear people talk about major surgery as a procedure. It’s not. It’s surgery. What I will eventually have done is a procedure.

Thank you all for your concern and good wishes. I promised you that I would keep you in the loop. I try to always keep my promises.

Too much information? Probably. But, you asked.


Motorcycle reflections.

On another day.

The same thing happened. Sort of. It wasn’t a scooter this time. It was a big heavy motorcycle. I saw what I’d passed by. Fifty times. One hundred times. Two hundred times. Who knows how many times? A neighborhood scene. The kind that you never see. Because it’s always there. It doesn’t register.

Until it does.

The light bounced just right. A car parked near by was reflected off of the motorcycle’s mirror-like polished chrome. A look in the wrong direction and I would have missed it. A look in the right direction and the picture still really wasn’t there. It interested me enough that I had to bend down. So I did. The picture is what I saw.

Sure. I added some to it in post production. No picture comes complete from the camera. Film couldn’t replicate what the eye see and the brain creates. Nor, can digital capture. But, you can get closer if you work on the picture after the initial exposure. That’s what I do.  For me, the real problem is pretty simple. Some times I go too far.

So.

I’ll be doing work like this for about the next week.

Then.

Changes.

If you go to my website at http://www.laskowitzpictures.com you’ll notice that almost all the work — certainly the portfolio page — is all things New Orleans. That’s my direction.

New Orleans is the biggest tourist destination in the Americas, and it comes close in world travel. From a business perspective I have no choice but to exploit that. From an artistic point of view, it’s almost the same. And, I live in New Orleans.

That said, I’ve been applying for various press credentials under the name of Storyteller. And, I’m getting accredited. That is eye-opening. I’ve long known that there is power at a certain level of blogging. You must have followers, friends, readers. I have that. A lot of that. Many, many that’s. Thank you all. For some reason, Storyteller’s growth comes in streaks. In the last couple of weeks I’ve gained about 100 readers. Next week. It could be crickets. Thank you for following me.

So.

Rather than beat myself up over what to be, I’ll just go with what’s already there. The flow matters.

For sure, I’m not leaving my artistic pursuits. But, this place will turn a little more towards New Orleans. It’ll also be a little more accessible to every viewer. For instance, it’s one thing to photograph second lines because I like doing it. It’s quite another to force that material onto people who don’t understand it.

I’ll make the change here on August 1st. I like clean edges. And, it is the start of a new business quarter for me.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns?

Fire away.

 

 

 


Late afternoon winter sky.

Amazing.

Last evening, the light was just amazing.

As usual, I was in the wrong place. So, I did what I could. This picture fits nicely into a sub-genre of landscape pictures called, ” New Landscape.” Me? I just call it a picture. Or, photograph. I don’t think photography has to be sliced and diced into little tiny meaningless data points.

Yes. There is a lot of post production going on here. The clouds were reflecting the low winter sunset. The shadows were pretty cool. The sense of time and place was what I was really after. A sort of wrapped in cotton candy, feel good kind of thing. There is also a nice contrast between nature and man-made.

And.

Please don’t think yesterday’s post was a one-off. It isn’t. There are a lot of teachers in my life. Still working on logistics, but I’ll document what happens around here. The students want to walk. For now, it looks like 17 minutes at the end of one class. You know why.

I’m still thinking about it, but the adults around my age can mobilize and make certain everybody votes in November. Traditionally, mid-term elections have a tiny turnout. Those who vote can flip Congress. What happens if we have a massive turnout? What happens if the newly elected Congress people are beholden to nobody but us, the voters? And, dare I say it, what happens if most of the newly elected leaders are women?

Think about that for a minute.

We need change. We are crying out for change. That’s how the guy in The White House got elected. How Bernie never really stopped running. How Hillary never really stood a chance although the race was hers to lose.

What if youngish women replaced all the grumpy old white guys? I say this being and old white guy, myself. I’m grumpy sometimes.

What if that’s how both Houses of Congress get flipped? What does that do to the abuser in chief? I say that as much as he mistreats women, he is really afraid of them. Likely, they’ll get what they want, which is what we want.

Let’s find out.

Oh. Thank you to those who said such nice things about yesterday’s post. I keep that in perspective by reminding myself that I’m a photographer. Writing is something I do out of self-defense. Or, something like that.

 


In the lead.

Once upon a time.

In the fantastical land of Las Vegas, I stumbled upon this scene. It was late afternoon. It was at the Venetian Hotel and Casino. I saw a tour guide leading his folks up the bridge to the hotel. The light was low and wonderful. Not only were the people silhouetted, but their shadows were elongated. Wow. Oh wow. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Then.

Much later in the picture’s life, I did my layering thing and created this image. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen it there. A few months ago. For those who don’t — which is most of you — this a brand new image. Some of you may have also seen it on Facebook since Instagram directly links there. But, I doubt it. Facebook has become a waste of time to me.

About Las Vegas. I don’t drink. My idea of gambling is playing the nickel slot machines. I do eat at some of the good buffets, but I’d rather eat somewhere in the huge Chinatown just away from the Strip. Mostly, I go to Las Vegas on the way to someplace else because I can make a lot of interesting pictures fairly quickly. After all, people are so weird when they go there. To Sin City.

So.

For me, what happens in Vegas leaves Las Vegas.


After the storms.
After the storms.

Another trip to the vault. I have to right now. I’m a little busy and out-of-place.

This is another example of great light and its positive effects on a scene. Yes. I know. The French Quarter is just jam-packed with photo opportunities. But, they get even better when the light is right. In this case, it wasn’t just right. It was really right. Really pretty. And, really strong.

It’s fun to watch me work — or guys like me — when I get lucky and the light turns into a wonderful golden palette like this one. We hustle around and just keep taking pictures. No, I don’t machine gun my pictures. I just never stop moving because I know that I might only have a couple of minutes or maybe 15 minutes. When this light comes to an end, it’s over. Like somebody just flipped a switch. If the sun is setting behind broken clouds, you might get a second chance. But, don’t count on it. Work while the working is good. Be happy you had the light at all. Thank whoever you thank. Smile.