A different kind of learning.

To everything there is a season.

My season seems to by learning in some of its purest forms. I could also curse this thing. It’s really opened me up. That’s a good thing. It’s helping me to see with different eyes. It’s helping me feel with a different heart.

But.

It’s also bringing up emotions at inopportune times.

After all, who wants to start leaking when you are grocery shopping? That almost happened, as I watched a daughter about my age help her dad with his shopping. Her tenderness towards him was amazing. He was ancient and wearing a World War II service cap. Pinned to it were a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Thanks for your service. You helped save the world.

On balance, I suppose that it’s a good thing. We’ll see where I come out. Next year.

Anyway.

This picture is also about learning. In a different way. It is about experimenting with my smart phone’s camera. Once again, this picture was made in manual, in the so-called pro setting. I did a tiny bit of post production, but the picture is as I saw it on the monitor.

That’s something.

One more thing. If you are so inclined, please go to http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. Take a look around. For sure, there are lots more to be done. But, it’s my new website. It has a blog called Storyteller. Imagine that. There is one post. There is also a store. You can buy photographs there. Currently you can only download files. By the end of the week, it’ll be linked to a printer called The darkroom. They’ve been around for 40 plus years. You can select a picture, select the size, and the finish and it’ll be shipped directly to your address.

Please tell me what you’d like to see in the store. You aren’t committing to anything. I’m just very interested in what might sell. Be patient with that. It’ll take a while to upload masses of pictures from which to select.

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Looking, searching, learning.

Always learning.

That’s what Storyteller is about. That’s what I try to do. It ain’t always easy. You can rile up some people along the way. You ask questions that can’t be answered. I ran into that yesterday.

It was that music thing. The blogger thought that I was offended. I have no idea how he got that idea. Nothing I wrote indicated that. I still don’t understand what he’s doing. The worst thing you can do with certain kinds of interactive events is to impose too many rules. I never really received an answer. I guess I won’t be trying to play along. Oh well. I’m not very good at games anyway.

If I’m writing about it, I guess it bothers me. It does, because the whole idea behind making pictures or blogging is to communicate something to somebody in an understandable fashion. At least, that’s what it means to me. But, I come from a journalism background. Whether you tell a story in words, or in pictures, the basic premise never changes. Tell a story. Clearly.

I fail at doing that as much as the next guy.

Musician Stephen Stills once said that in his early days, when many of his best songs were written, he just wrote them. They sort of came to him. He said that later, he got too cute. He started analyzing his writing as he wrote. We haven’t seen a new, great song for him in years.

That happens to all of us. If you are of a certain age you might think that the late 1960s and 70s were popular and rock music’s best era. You might even listen to those musicians today. They might even be writing new music. Unfortunately, their peak creative time has passed. Very few continue to write as well or easily as they did in their youth.

That also happens to all of us. After working in my archives, I’m convinced that although I’m a much smoother photographer than I was, most of my best work lies behind me. I’m not complaining. It’s the truth. I’m glad I had a time of “best work.” Some never do.

Anyway, I’ll play along with the single word thing since one of you was clear in why she does it. It’s a pretty fair assessment of herself even though I only know her online. My word is learning. I realized that when I started thinking about how and when I stop reading certain blogs. I hope to learn something from everything. Even if it’s only to help me remember what I forgot. When I don’t learn, I move away.

The picture. It is about learning. Learning to use my not so new smart phone. Learning what it can do at night, in the dark. Learning my own limits. Learning what kinds of post production I can do with an image like this one without going too far.

The truth is, I saw the scene and I pushed the button. It took me a while to realize that the design element that helps make the picture for me is two overhead wires.

Post production is minimal. Mostly, I darkened the original picture in order to bring up the details. Sometimes, you do that to hide the noise because the camera’s sensor can’t handle a picture like this. In computational photography, it seems that there is no noise.


One, two, three…

I learned something yesterday.

That’s not unusual. The older I get, the less I know. So, somewhere along the line I’ve got to be learning. What I learned sort of stunned and saddened me all in one.

I am in a lot of LinkedIn groups. Some are artistic. Some are business oriented. Others are about SEO and growing your online audience.

That’s where I learned something.

Someone asked about auto-posting and scheduling. Someone else suggested a site called HootSuite. Depending on your subscription, you can auto schedule everything. Then, there was one level that allows you to auto schedule “content.’

The word content as it is used today has always made me queasy. It seems that I’m not a photographer. I’m a content creator. Same with a writer or musician. They don’t create what it is they do. They create content.

It doesn’t stop there.

Oh no.

HootSuite suggests that you clip and past content that you might find interesting all over the web as a method of growing your fans or followers. It doesn’t matter if you are a photographer — as I am — if you post something about, oh let’s say weapons of mass destruction. Or, something favoring Neo-Nazis, when, in fact, you are liberal. Just as long as it draws eyes and you can convert them to followers and maybe buyers of whatever your products might happen to be.

This explains a lot.

I get a couple of emails every month asking me if I need content for Storyteller. If I reply with something even mildly affirmative, the “content producer” sends me a sample of the work that “fits” in Storyteller. Usually, it is so far off the mark that I don’t even bothering to reply.

If I read HootSuite’s theories right, and then confirmed them by visiting similar sites, I now understand why most of social media is so boring. I understand why “fake news” is a thing. People are making money sitting in little rooms, in front of little monitors, churning out nonsense. Obviously, there are some people with suspect agendas pouring out content that is pure lies. Can you say Russian trolls?

That said. I promise you that Storyteller will never become one of those sites. I will never post nonsensical provided content of the sake of blog growth. Sure. Storyteller might grow. But, at what cost? I’d like to think that I’m an ethical and sincere person. Besides, even though it’s taken a little while, I’ve grown fairly holistically with original material I post. Every day.

Anyway.

The Picture. It’s one of those found objects. To tell you the truth, I made it look more like junk than it is. It is a functioning electric meter. Of course, the weathering is real. We live in Southeast Louisiana. The home of extreme weather. Stuff gets rusty. Stuff gets moldy.

That’s the news from the swamp.

Oh yeah. We have a new mayor as of 11 minutes ago… 11am. She’s probably going to be the worst mayor ever. I could tell you all the reasons, starting with a general incompetence and graft, but I’ll leave you with this. After she started assembling her transition team she made them sign and NDA. That’s Non Disclosure Agreement. Huh? City government must be transparent by law. For example, if the city council needs to go into executive session they have to follow very strict rules. Her explanation? It allowed people to say what they really felt. Excuse me?


The super moon. Or not.
The super moon. Or not.

The super moon. My version. Or, something like that.

If you recall, my picture-taking of the super moon pretty much failed. It wasn’t for lack of planning. Or, maybe it was. I didn’t realize that about an hour after it rose, it would look about like any other full moon. It would also be fairly small in the sky. I do now. Just wait until September. I’ll get it then. Yeah, yeah. Sure I will.

They say that you learn more from failure than you do from success. With this particular project, I sure am learning a lot. I think I need to run out and buy that $160,000, 1200mm Canon lens of which only 20 were manufactured. Yeah. Expensive gear. That always fixes the problem with the gray matter between the ears.

Anyway. Once I saw just how small the rising moon would be, I switched things around and went to shorter — not longer — glass. That helped capture the scene, but not necessarily the moon. In case you are confused and wondering something like, “just where is the moon anyway,” it’s the bright glowing thing that is immediately to the left of the cathedral. It looks like a giant light bulb. Heh, heh.

As I said to a friend mine just this week, I think pictures should be strong in content and not rely so much on post production techniques. Yes. I said that. I also said that you can really tell if it’s one of this times when I got nothing because I grunge up the picture and make it into “art.” Well, something like art, anyway.

Even though this is experimental Sunday and I usually tinker around with pictures, I’m willing to bet that you, kind reader, know exactly what kind of picture this is…


Second line paraders start young.
Second line paraders start young.
Second Line paraders start young.
Second Line paraders start young.

I said it before. It’s a culture. You may be born into a neighborhood. But, you are trained from an early age to walk in the parades. You learn how to be. You learn how to dress. You learn that traditions and rituals. And, you walk. You walk fast. You have to keep up with your adults. It’s a long walk. Three or four miles at least. Through all sorts of neighborhoods. Everybody comes out to see you. If you walk in early fall, you get very hot. You can’t drink enough water. And, you shouldn’t drink too much. For those of you reading, I’m sure you can figure out why.

There are no second line parades in the heart of the summer. Way too hot down here in Southeast Louisiana. And, it’s humid. Very humid.

Anyway.

This young guy wasn’t sure to make of me. Not only was I walking in the parade, but I was keeping up and staying ahead. And, I was doing it backwards. No other way to photograph a moving parade but to take back steps and take them fast. I’m sure he was positive I was gong to fall down. I didn’t. But keeping the pace wears me way down. When I finish this kind of shoot, I’m done. Really done. Yeah. We went to lunch after this, but I was mostly staring off into space.


Rain & Bricks
A little rain in the brickyard as I call it.

Luckily, I had some more files from the last time I was in New Orleans. So. I’ll stop whining about being at the bottom of the barrel. I’m not. And, I’ll be able to produce new work in few more days. Better yet, this picture dovetails very nicely with my new blog site at HUB, since my post there was about making pictures in bad weather. Before I write much more, if you’d like to see the new blog please go to http-::raylaskowitz.hubpages.com:hub:Travel-Photography-Made-Easier . The blog is more how-to oriented than Storyteller when it comes to making pictures.I’m writing to those people who are traveling for pleasure, business or whatever and want to take a few snaps. However, I still try to stay away from photo-speak and heavy technical jargon. Nobody likes reading things that you need a dictionary to understand.

Not to worry. I’m not abandoning Storyteller. I enjoy telling you little stories and sharing my pictures with you.

Anyway. Back on topic. This picture was made in the same area where I found all that graffiti, and ducked into the old power plant and cannon ball factory. The area is not always as bleak as this picture looks. But somehow, bright sunny days and clear blue skies aren’t really appropriate for this old broken down and abandoned place. To my eye, it looks a little better in the gloom and rain. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll go back on a really pretty day and test my theory. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. So will you.

 

 

 


The staff of Cafe Reconcile
The staff of Cafe Reconcile

Cafe Reconcile. I’ve written about this restaurant in the past. But, it’s getting ready to re-open after a lengthy renovation. So, I thought it was a good time to show you another picture and talk about the changes. But, first. Cafe Reconcile is a project started in 1996 by Father Harry Thompson S.J, then pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish and Craig Cuccia and Tim Falcon to address the generational problems in Central City. They were joined by like-minded community folks. The established a neighborhood presence with a sweet shop called “Sweet T,” which became a place for local youth to hang out, make friends and avoid negative situations. With Sweet T as a foundation, Cafe Reconcile opened on September 5, 2000. It’s earned praise from national, regional and local critics. More importantly, its development program has graduated 600 formerly at risk students. They’ve learned basic life skills, interpersonal skills and trade skills. They staff many of the city’s professional kitchens today.

And… the future. When Cafe Reconcile reopens it will have five floors. It will be open for breakfast lunch and dinner. Seating will increase by 75%. It will double the number of students served to 300 annually. It will have a hospital-certified catering kitchen, event space for up to 150. It will feature classes for parenting, GED-preparation, computer instruction, financial education, resume writing among other things. The list goes on and on.

Now. You know that isn’t my writing style. It’s Cafe Reconcile’s more formal style. They wrote it effectively and concisely. I edited it some to fit Storyteller. More importantly. If it sounds I like this place, I do. Not only is the food great Southern comfort food, but service is excellent. The kids work hard and it shows. Their lives have changed. For the better.

If you’d like to learn more go here. http-::reconcileneworleans.org

The picture. Hmmmm… The technical information almost seems irrelevant to the content. It’s really just about me working close to the subject and waiting for the right moment. Funny — spell check wants to change “Hmmmm…” into “Ham.” I suppose that’s okay. It’s food.


So, I took my friend and writing partner to Cafe Reconcile in Central City. I could write reams about it, but he’s better than I am at that, so I’ll let him tell you about it on his blog once it’s written. I’ll post his blog site address then. But, in a nutshell it’s a restaurant that was started to teach youth who are at risk a viable skill. They can learn to cook, run the front of a restaurant, and — in general — learn all the skills that it takes to run or be employed at a successful restaurant. If you’d like to learn more, go here http://reconcileneworleans.org Even better yet, if you happen to be in New Orleans, go there. The food is excellent. It’s Southern Soul Food. It will fill you up and make you smile at in one go.

This picture is just one of many that I made there a few days ago. This is Chef Harold.