My places.

N

o patience. That describes my attitude these days. I have almost no tolerance for technical issues and yet I know better.

I understand that everything made by man eventually breaks. That’s why there are so many service people. Mechanics, technicians, plumbers, the Maytag repairman, even doctors are working because stuff breaks.

Thinking about leaving WordPress I realized it’s not about the platform. Most of the time it is solid and stable. What aggravates me is the constant changing of workflow. That, and the lack of communication about those changes.

I know one thing about being creative. We need some sort of routine on which to hang our imagination. If the routine changes frequently all we are doing is swimming in place.

It’s one thing to shake things up in order to jump start the creative process, it’s another thing to be perpetually confused.

Take the block system for instance. What was wrong with the older so called classic template?

Nothing.

The block system is supposed to be faster. Nonsense. At best, it’s just a bit slower than the classic system. At worst, it creates extra work because it crashes or traps type, or traps drop caps.

Yes, I know there is a classic template in the block inserter. But, it’s a very early version. It may predate me.

So, that’s it.

I’ll discuss the picture on the other side.

T

his picture is more about feeling and a bit of nostalgia than any type of documentary work.

There are two images layered into one. As usual I was tinkering with number of pictures when all of a sudden it came together.

That happens sometimes when you put the work in. But, you have to put the work into your art. No work, no art.

The pictures in their literal form are of Mardi Gras beads on a fence, and of Kowloon, Hong Kong.

It’s nostalgic. It’s about looking back at my life and understanding that I likely won’t do these things again unless a vaccine is developed for people like me. That will take the federal government’s help. I’m not holding my breath.

I don’t know what you see or feel when you look at this image. After all, you bring your own life to the picture when you view it.

They say that all art is autobiographical. If this photograph isn’t that, I don’t know what is.


New Orleans downtown from Central City

T

his very well could be my last post if the software causes another break down. Make no mistake, this isn’t hard for me. I’ve been doing this for years… and years.

It’s funky, nasty, poorly designed software from WordPress that is causing me grief. Every time I start to think that I should just stay over here, WordPress screws up again.

So.

I’ll be over to my new website and blog very early next week. The site address is laskowitzpictures.com just as it’s been for years, WordPress not with standing.

I made this pictures a few years ago, during a Central City festival. I photographed the usual things then I started thinking about the city skyline from there. I used a long lens, probably a 300 mm to compress everything as much as I could.

Then, I let it sit for years until last night when I needed to process a few pictures. I thought the this might be a good picture to post on Storyteller.

It turns out that it wasn’t but I’ll tell you about that on the other side.

O

n the other side.

There’s a lot of technique to discuss.

The picture that I found in one of my archives was too small.

After I worked on it in Snapseed, where I layered it in sort of an offset pattern, and shipped it to OnOne, I immediately uprezed it. That’s short hand for resizing a picture to be a bigger size. There is a resizing module on OnOne that used to be called Genuine Fractiles.

Genuine Fractiles was state of the art software about twenty years ago. It was sold, improved, resold and improved until I guess OnOne bought it.

I did the usual finishing work on color, contrast and depth.


The cat came back to find his hat.

Hmm, I thought. Maybe there are no green eggs and ham. I knew that wasn’t right so I thought a Dr. Suess-like photograph might help.

I’m sure that by now you are all aware of the controversy cause by Theodore Geisel’s estate removing six of his books from publication.

No. This is not part of the so-called cancel culture. So-called because it’s nonsense as far as I’m concerned. Closing out some books cannot be part of the cancel culture because the estate themselves did it. I don’t think you can cancel yourself, although on some days I’d like to try.

More to the point, who the hell set up a bunch of blathering idiots on social media as judge and juror? Most of the loudmouths on any social site are lucky they can walk and talk.

Of course, the six books should have been pulled from publication. They are racist on their very surface whether or not they were intended to be.

New York Times Columnist Charles Blow said this is a good first step since the estate did themselves, but he recalls growing up as a Black child that he was always made to feel inferior.

I think the world of Mr. Blow. He’s kind of the angry Black man among NYT columnists. That’s good. We need to hear his side.

Here’s the dirty little secret. Those six books were among the worst sellers in the entire franchise. If they were not Dr. Suess books they would have been remaindered and discontinued long ago. It’s really a matter of clearing out the fulfillment house.

That’s the story from the left hand column.

What a glorious mess.

I thought, after thinking about an illustration for this post, that I would make a Cat in the Hat tree.

I combined two images of winter trees. I layered them so that they almost appear to be one. I added a bit of color.

I smoothed the background, as I’ve been doing lately, and I sharpened the branches to the point where they glowed.

Then, I softened the whole thing slightly.

That’s it. Just a few 5,917 steps to get to this illustration.

It looks a little Suess-like I think.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Keep doing all the rest no matter what some state governments think because we are going to pay for that. Enjoy all the Dr. Suess books you can read.


All the fall color

Telling stories is what I do on Storyteller. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Sometimes I veer way off track. Sometimes, I get too political. And, sometimes I just talk about pictures, which is what you came to read.

This is about pictures, or rather my working methods. Whenever a subject finds me, I try to give the pictures their due. I work it as best that I can. That’s what I did here.

These flowers are for sale. They were placed outside of a grocery store. The minute I saw them I knew there were pictures there. But, which one?

I realized that if I published each one I’d be bombing you with very similar images.

So.

I decided to layer them. And, maybe add a little more to them. That’s what happened with the lead picture, the one at the top of this page.

It’s about autumn, but not your usual one. It’s a southern autumn. a gulf coast autumn. A southeast Louisiana autumn. A New Orleans autumn.

Things just don’t die here. They also bloom because October has almost perfect weather, which gives us a second growing season.

How perfect?

When I awoke the outdoor temperature was 61 degrees. The high may reach 80. The skies are blue. Humidity is down.

Normally, I tell visitors that this is the best time of year to come to New Orleans. Even though we really need the business, I’m discouraging people in this pandemic year, and that’s too bad.

Anyway.

That’s why I was able to photograph such colorful flowers.

Questions. I know you have questions. I’ll try to answer them on this side of my page. The picture side of the page.

As I said, I saw what amounts to three feet square plots of flowers for sale in front of the grocery store.

I did what I always do. I made pictures of them.

I thought that it would be visually boring to just publish them one day after another. I decided to layer them.

In the two bottom pictures you are starting to see the process. On the left are flowers just like I saw them. On right, two flats of flowers are over laid.

Still not enough.

I added flowers and leaves from the past. Sunflowers and very red leaves. I tinkered with that until I made the picture I saw in my head.

This is a gulf coast fall. Very colorful even as the leaves may have already turned in northern climes.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.


Seriously spooky.

All in my head.

I saw one scene. I photographed it. I saw another scene. I photographed it. When the time came I combined them.

Oooh. Spooky.

The picture does have an eerie feeling to it. Like something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Can’t you just see Cthulhu lurking back in those trees? Lovecraft wrote in a number of themes. Threat to civilization was one. Another was fear of science. A third was the subject of race. And, finally religion and superstition.

Mix all of those together in a toxic stew and what do you get?

2020.

If we distill some of that into the “Era of the Rona,” as I heard a young guy call it, you start observing more than you did in the early days of sickness and death.

I think we are getting too comfortable with the virus. While we all seem to be following the rules of masking, at least in my limited world, we aren’t keeping our distances and I saw one guy shake another’s hand. I miss that too.

But…

We can’t do that right now.

On the other hand, we are wearing our masks. We went to make groceries — a New Orleans way of staying I’m going grocery shopping — I noticed that everyone was masked except for one guy. About four or five people ganged up on him and told him to get out. He didn’t know what to do. He knew that four or five is more than one so he left.

That’s good. We have to take care of each other. Making that guy leave was taking care of him. Think about it.

This is all hard to do.

I photographed Big Queens Kim’s funeral procession. Before I write further, everyone was masked. Our great NOPD street cops had cloth bags tied at their wastes. If they came upon somebody without a mask they reached into their bag and gave them one. They were new and sealed in plastic. Nothing else was said.

One of the hardest things about going was saying hello to other photographers. We are sort of tight knit. We haven’t seen each other in about six months. Normally, there would be hugs and talking closely. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t shake hands. We tried elbow bumps, but that felt stupid.

I think I’ve also said about our cops, that if they were in any of the cities were protests turned to riots, the riots would never have happened. They know how to handle crowds. Down here, when one group was determined to destroy things, the cops isolated and arrested them. Everyone who came to protest, protested.

We don’t fear our cops. During Mardi Gras my routine is to find parking early, walk over to C.C’s. (Community Coffee) and have a cup before I go out to make pictures. I need the caffeine boost. Usually that means that I’m sitting at a four top — ooh, restaurant talk — by myself.

Often I’m joined by two or three NOPD. We talk about this and that as you do. After sitting with the same group on a couple of occasions, I asked them why they are so good at crowd control. They said, they try never to overreact, they talk with the citizens around them and they never ever draw their weapons unless a citizen’s life is in peril. Not their’s. One of them said that he thinks there is too much tactical gear on the streets which implies an aggressive approach.

There you have it.

We might not have Mardi Gras next year. It depends. Obviously, on this day of reflection about Hurricane Katrina, other traditions come into play. Mardi Gras was blamed for the rapid spread of the virus in early March. I’m not sure that’s fair. Unless, we do everything we can as a city to calm down the virus there is no way Carnival should happen.

That’ll be a horrible shame.

Aside from the long term planning and energy that everyone puts into the production, and all of us who celebrate it as something more than partying, the city needs the money. We’ve been shut down for so long that the tax base is almost non-existent.

The Picture

Wow! See what you get from one spooky looking picture? You get to see my mind wandering around through so bad neighborhoods. I told you about the picture, so…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Keep your distance. Enjoy every po’boy.


Magnolia in space.

” Sugar Magnolia, blossoms blooming

Heads all empty and I don’t care

Saw my baby down by the riverside

Knew she’s have to come up soon for air

We can have high times if you’ll abide

We can discover the wonders of nature

Rolling in the rushes down by the riverside

She’s got everything delightful

She’s got everything I need

Takes the wheel when I’m seeing double

Pays my ticket when I speed

She comes skimming through rays of violet

She can wade in a drop of dew

She don’t come and I don’t follow

Waits backstage while I sing to you

She can dance a Cajun rhythm

Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive

She’s a summer love in the spring, fall and winter

She can make happy any man alive

Sugar Magnolia

Ringing that bluebell

Caught up in sunlight

Come on out singing and I’ll walk you in the sunshine

Come on honey, come along with me

She’s got everything delight

She’s got everything I need

A breeze in the pines and the sun and bright moonlight

Lazing in the sunlight, yes indeed

Sometimes when the cuckoo’s crying

When the moon is half way down

Sometimes when the night is dying

I take me out and I wander around

I wander round” — Lyrics & Melody by Robert Hunter & Bob Weir / The Grateful Dead

No. I didn’t write this song, but it felt appropriate for the picture. It is, in fact, a magnolia blossom that I worked on very heavily. I used my normal post production tools, plus some new apps that do stuff. One adds strange old school colors to the picture. The other adds what the makers call bokeh.

It’s not true bokeh, which is used to describe the background sharpness of a photograph. Instead, it’s just stuff. Nice shapes that you can brighten and lower in intensity. In short, another filter. A fun filter.

That’s it. No Cvid update. Just Fun Friday.

Stay Safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


On Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday.

The world is upside down. Time has no meaning. People are living in fear. Stupidity is the order of the day.

Still.

There is hope. Even though the current state of change is very negative, there are those of us who think that if we make it to the other side there is reason something positive can come of this. I happen to be one of those people who might not make it. I’m in a very vulnerable age group. I have one underlying condition.

Maybe.

If I follow the directions I can make it. I think I can. But, the government advice keeps changing. Last week we were told to buy enough food for seven days. Now were are being told that “this is not the time to go shopping. This is not the time to go to the pharmacy.” Great. Just great. We have enough food to make it through a week. Luckily. I do have to go to the pharmacy. Eventually.

We are told to wear masks in public. The president says that’s just advice and he won’t be wearing one. What kind of leadership is that? I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. What’s the point?

The picture. It’s layered to make a point about spring. Now that the unseasonable heat has passed and we are living in typical spring weather, beauty abounds. I enhanced it. Two Irises in one. Since Catholics cannot hold services in the real world, this is for them.

Stay safe. Care for each other. Keep your distance. Mask up. Enjoy every plate of pasta.


Mixing it up.

I the dead of winter.

This picture is for all of you who still are suffering from cold weather, and I don’t care what that little rodent said. In many places it’s cold. Down In the swamp, we have all sorts of blooms. In this picture I tried to make that point by layering two flower images. The image is bold and bright. Just the way a spring picture should look. Except it’s not yet spring.

Anyway.

My dear old dad used to say that when a person wrote a letter and about half of it was about the weather, the person had nothing to say. He was probably right.

So.

I’m going to talk about photography. I’m a reading book called, “Photo Work: Forty Photographers on process and practice. I think it was recommended by someone who posted to a photographer’s network. It’s a good and interesting book despite it’s academically lengthy title.

In a few words, those 40 photographers are asked a series of questions which are the same for all of them. The group came from different backgrounds, use different tools, and answer the questions fully.

I’m about half-way through the book. Reading is slow, but not for the reason you might think. Instead, I’m savoring it. I read no more than two chapters a day, or, about two photographers a day.

I’m happy to know that many of them think as I do; instinct over research. I also learned that I might be on track when it comes to New Orleans culture. A project or series of pictures might take ten years to complete, but when it’s done, it’s done.

There’s more, but I’m I’m still reading.

TheĀ  picture. I mentioned that it is layered. Let’s talk about that because I actually made the picture just like I normally do. See it, photograph it.

Layering works only if you have pictures of the same size and shape. You can approach color from a lot of ways. My two favorites are the use of contrast and bold colors or by using extremely similar colors. You can find your own joy.

It’s a matter of fine tuning and adjusting the layered pictures from there.

Try it. You’ll like it.


Changing the look of past pictures.

I promise.

You’ve seen the pictures that I layered to make this picture. Based on another bloggers positive comments I thought I would tinker with a couple of them. My intent is to show that while nature always seeks stasis — which is why we are doomed as a species — she is also very flexible.

Stasis is one thing. Static is another. Nature isn’t static. Think about trees for a minute. They change according to season. Leaves bloom, the flourish, they fade and finally die. The tree doesn’t die. The leaves do. We couple explore further, but I think you get the point.

The picture was made from two very different pictures of the same tree. Layering is fairly easy once you select the images. Blending and finishing is not so easy.

I was chatting with a neighbor about my working method. I cannot listen to anything when I am writing. That takes thought. I can listen to music when I’m processing and finishing pictures, just as I can when I experiment. I just react. I don’t really think.

Same thing when I’m photographing. I review everything that I know about the scene and what it takes to make a good picture. Then, I try to clear my head of anything. I just try to react.

That’s also why I rarely go on photo walks. The last time that I did, I worked so far from the group that whatever caught my attention was not apparent to them. Talking in my ear doesn’t help when I’m trying to take a picture, unless it is from somebody I’m to whom I’m very close. Even then, talking takes the form of suggestions and directions.

That’s me. I can’t speak for you. How do you like to work?