You know that they make me smile. After all, a pack of them allow us to live with them. They aren’t Beagles, but still.
After this miserable week, which isn’t over, I needed something to make me smile. So, I dipped into those lost archives and found something that would do the trick. The funny thing about this Krewe of Barkus was I don’t remember photographing it that year. Obviously, I did. And, I worked from an odd place for me, which makes me think that during Mardi Gras 2020, I should work from here again. Or, near this location.
That’s the thing about photographing something until you are bored with it. Review your archives. Find something you’ve done in the past, but have forgotten about, and think about doing something similar. But, better. Or, a little different.
As you know, I’ve struggling with ways forward. It’s not that I’ve lost my motivation. It’s more along the lines of how do I progress? I’ve been poking around in my archives for about a month. I’ve pretty much photographed everything that interests me in New Orleans about four or five times.
It’s why I didn’t work very hard last Mardi Gras. It’s why I barely went second lining during the 2018 – 2019 season. It’s why I haven’t been roaming around photographing the Quarter. It’s why I haven’t been chasing the things that a great sunset lights up. Then, there’s the traveling for my other side.
I can also say that it’s the middle of a Southeastern Louisiana summer, which lasts from early May until mid-October. It’s hot. I don’t like being in the heat. I can also say that I don’t trust my hip and back.
Truth be told, I’ve acclimated to the heat. Walking dogs will do that. My physical issues have somewhat settled down. I still have no idea why on one day I feel pretty good. And, the next day I feel like I’m 125 years old. But, I know how to manage it. I’m not fast anymore, but I’m a long time veteran of photography. You know what they say. “Young fox, old fox. Old fox always wins.”
Before you tell me that photography isn’t a competition, it is. With myself. I don’t care what the other guy does, but I have to make a picture that progresses beyond the last one, even if it’s only by a teeny tiny bit.
That’s what I ruminating about.
That, and what do I really photograph as the 2019 – 2020 second line starts in a couple of weeks? What do I photograph as Carnival Season starts? Do I just say that I’m done with that stuff. Or, do I figure out some other approach? What would that be?
I have to laugh. Look at the two people in front. Look where the woman has her hand. I don’t know about you, but my head as never been used for a hand rest. I guess the guy doesn’t care. And, everybody is having fun.
I made many pictures of these folks, from standing in the street to deciding to mounting the guys’ shoulders and getting back down after they caught a few beads. They were laughing. So was I. I moved from this scene to a couple of others, as I normally do.
I changed the series. I said I would do that. I’m going to post a little “lost” Mardi Gras work over the next few days. Because I want to. I haven’t seen some of these pictures in a long time. When I cull for my agencies or for Storyteller, I pick the best images. At least, as I saw it then. But, there are sleepers. Pictures that I like better now.
That’ll happen. That’s why I say that you should let your new files or film marinate. The further you distance yourself from the emotions of actually being on the scene, the clearer you’ll see the images that matter. Don’t be like me and let the images sit for a couple of years or so.
I didn’t go out for Krewe du Veaux last year. In fact, I didn’t photograph Mardi Gras as much as I normally would. I have to think about it for next Carnival Season. My physical health is one issue. But, like everything else in the world, the crowds keep getting bigger and bigger. It’s getting harder and harder to work myself into position.
I’m thinking about this now because like an athlete who plays a particular sport, I have to train and then get parade ready. It’s better to do that than to try to “play myself into shape.” That only works for the youngest of athletes. We’ll see how it goes. At least the dogs won’t let me walk less than 2.5 miles a day, every day. Of course, that’s not exactly speed walking. All of them, especially the all seeing dog, like to poke around, smell stuff and amble toward their destination.
I reckon that yesterday’s post about spring was a fairly good one. That’s a good way to go out.
I’m not leaving. I’m just a little tired of photographing nature when I’m not even a nature photographer. I suppose it shows. Real nature photographers go places. Even if they stayed around here, they’d head out to the swamps, to the gulf, to the bayous that aren’t in the city.
I don’t even know the difference between most flowers. You know me. I describe flowers as a pink one, a yellow one, a blue flower. I make pictures on dog walks.
But, I am a fairly good street shooter being born and bred as a photojournalist. And, I don’t mean the kind of pictures that pass for street photography these days. You know the ones. Pictures taken from far across the street. Pictures taken of people from behind. Pictures taken of the street. All are fine if they are done for a reason.
But, most of the pictures I see on Facebook or Instagram are not done for a reason. They are made by people who are scared of other people. People who just “got” a camera and out the door they go. They declare their work to be street photography because they don’t know what else to call it. Or, themselves.
Why can’t they just say, “I’m a photographer and these are my pictures.”
I’ve just called myself a street photographer. Sort of. I wander the streets and photograph what I see. In my town. My city. If that makes me a street photographer, so be it. I don’t really care. I take pictures. For myself. For my clients. For my agencies. For you.
The pictures I make for myself are usually the ones I like best. That’s what you are going to see here. At least until the end of April. Maybe longer. Some will be “little” pictures like this one. Others will have a depth to them that makes them a “bigger” picture. We’ll see.
This picture. I started this little portfolio with beads on a fence because it says New Orleans. Even though most beads are thrown for Mardi Gras and a couple of other seasonal events like St. Patrick’s Day and so on, the beads don’t just disappear. They can’t. They are everywhere. These beads are fairly new. They haven’t faded yet, to the dull silvery-gray color that is the base of all plastic beads. With our extreme weather they will. I’m not sure how much experimenting I’ll do with this collection. As I said, these are more about photojournalism than not. The rules — well, my rules — say that you can’t do what I did with yesterday’s flower and call it street photography.
That’s how I made this picture. I parked my car and started walking to the parade route. I saw this. Even without the woman sitting there, the house would have made a good picture. The woman just made the picture wonderful.
As usual, I asked if she minded being photographed. She was fine with it, so I made a few pictures. I thanked her and went on my way.
On the way back, between the second and third parades. I passed by again. She was still there, but she was sitting with a youngish man. The krewe and bands getting ready for their parade stopped and played and danced for them.
I asked one of the people from the neighborhood about them. It turns out they are just as I hoped. They are kind and friendly people. They decorate their house to this extreme for every big season. They just want to bring joy to their neighborhood.
Ain’t that something?
The picture. Arrgh. The sunlight was bouncing off all that green. Normally, I like the color added by reflection. Not this time. I couldn’t even make a pure, clean white. So, I worked on her face. I was trying to make that color as true as possible. I think I got it. Of course, the rest has sort of a green cast about it. That’s one of those compromises that I was talking about.
Since the color really doesn’t add that much to the picture, this might be a time to convert it to black and white. I’ll test it. I’ll post it if it works at all.
One more thing. Last night was a washout. At least from where I normally work. Lots of rain. Hard rain at times. Since I’m given to falling down these days, I don’t want to slip and fall. That really hurts. So I bagged it. So did one parade. The other two rolled late. Apparently, later, as the Krewe of Muses made its way downtown, the rain stopped, just leaving wet streets. I’m disappointed because my god-daughter’s mom is a Muse. That’s who was rolling last night. They are known for throwing shoes. Highly decorated shoes.
Tonight is a time when I traditionally sit it out. I catch my breath for the next four big days. I’m light on pictures, so out I’ll go. Three parades. All of them start rolling within minutes of each other near my favorite starting point. Yipee.
This post is driven by a couple of comments I read on Facebook. It seems that a small city in Indiana might not be able to have Mardi Gras because a bar closed.
Is that what you think of Mardi Gras? Sure, we have big parades. The krewes toss beads and other stuff. You know, “Trow me sumptin’ mistah.” There is plenty of boozing and a little debauchery, usually on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. But, that’s not all.
At the heart of it, Mardi Gras season — Carnival — starts on the Twelfth Night after Christmas when the wise men journey to Bethlehem to bring the baby Jesus gifts. It lasts until midnight Mardi Gras Day when the police clear out the remaining revelers. Night turns into day. And, it’s Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent.
In other words, it’s a religious holiday. Imagine that.
It’s also a time when we locals celebrate quietly. It’s more-or-less like Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one. We visit with friends and family. We gather around meals. We bring little gifts. The more blue blood among us go to fancy balls and events that are by invitation only. The big krewes, like Muses, have balls, lunches and other events for their members and guests. It’s an honor to be invited.
For our part, we host a brunch on the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day. Our friends and family mingle, eat, have a drink or two. If they want, they can walk up a couple blocks and see the parades on St. Charles Avenue. We are also lucky enough to be invited to two balls. We aren’t blue bloods. Imagine me in evening wear with a little mask. That’s what I do. That’s what they do.
There is a lot of symbolism. Mardi Gras Day is the day when the Indians reveal their new suits for the first time. For some, a year’s worth of work comes down to this one day. For others, they’ll show their new suits throughout the year. It’s a day when Zulu leads the parades. They mask in blackface. It harkens back to a time when they couldn’t afford masking materials. The so-called Take It Down movement wants them to stop. The Zulus just laughed and started dancing. As far as I’m concerned, the Zulus can do whatever they want. They are the soul of Mardi Gras. Maybe of the entire city.
The million or so tourists who flood our streets, drink way too much, and fight for beads and other “throws” don’t know any of this. It’s all a giant party to them. One day of being stupid. Some try to arrive on the day, itself. With blocked streets, heavy traffic and the parades they are lucky to get anywhere near in time for… what?
I’m not attacking the partiers. Sheesh. We need the money. I’m explaining what those Mardi Gras partiers in other cities don’t understand.
When I was exiled to the desert after Hurricane Katrina, I went to Mardi Gras in Old Town Albuquerque. Make no mistake, Christmas there is breathtaking. The onset of fall is wonderful. But, Mardi Gras? Not so much. It made my very sad. I think we went during our first year there. It was on a Saturday. Sheesh. Whatever happened to Fat Tuesday? I was so homesick that we flew back to New Orleans for a cobbled together Mardi Gras, because 80% of the city was still broken. It’s when I saw Zulu warriors — the real ones from Africa — walking in place of our Zulus because most of them couldn’t get home. If they could, they had no home to come back to.
That’s what Mardi Gras means.
The picture. This is the one I planned for yesterday. I intentionally made it contrasty. WordPress “helped me” by tuning it down. She walked by me while I was sitting on a wall getting ready for the next parade. I couldn’t catch up with her. That is, until we both walked into the local grocery store for lunch. I asked if I could photograph her. Even though anybody masking is fair game, it was our lunch break. Heh! I made some smiling portraits and I made this one. I like it best. My agencies will like the smiling pictures. They are trying to make money for us. Besides, you can see me working in the reflection in her sunglasses. Nice shorts, huh?
This wasn’t the picture that I was going to publish today. I had something grander planned. But, Apple came along and did it’s thing again sometime early in the morning. Not only did those bastards download stuff that I didn’t ask for, but they changed every setting. It took a good hour to get back to where I was yesterday when I put the computer to sleep. They are determined to make me use that weak Safari instead of Google as a search platform. They went so far as to shut down Google. Improperly, I might add, so that it took forever to reboot.
I’ve complained and complained and complained. You know how that goes. Usually, you can’t even find any contact information. So, it seems that my only choice is to seek injunctive relief. Unlike so many people, I have a contracts attorney just waiting… A Texas attorney, and all that it implies. I don’t care about a settlement. I want this to be so public that it scares the other members of the big four. Apple. Microsoft. Amazon. Facebook.
When I, like most of you, subscribed to any of their services we did it for what they could do for us. It seems that they are trying to turn the tables. They want us to bend to their wills. I can tell you, it ain’t happening.
One of the best things about getting old is that we won’t take BS from anybody. I don’t care if those four companies are worth trillions of dollars. They ain’t the boss of me.
Then, there’s WordPress. They aren’t bullies. They just don’t like pictures very much. They drive bloggers towards free picture sites. They make great templates for writers. For photographers, not so much. I really dislike my blog design now. I want you to see a lot of pictures without a lot of clutter. It’s cluttered. I can’t even find some of the things I need. Worse, for somebody who lives on visuals, their compression ratio is terrible. When I make a finished photo file, it’s done. Leave it alone. I’ll forget more about color reproduction than any millennial coder will ever know. This picture had good contrast. The woman had shape to her cheeks. The reds were red. The picture looked good.
WordPress’ compression software squeezed the image to death. It removed the contrast. It toned everything back. In case you are wondering, this is something new. It’s only been happening in the last few weeks. Let me remind you, I pay for the pleasure of this. All of this.
I’m slowly going to move my best blog work to laskowitzpictures.com. I encourage you to follow me there. Eventually, probably when my yearly charges are due, I’ll sort of drift away from WordPress. After all, I want what I want. Especially, if I’m paying for it.
Aren’t you glad you stopped by today? I’d apologize for a seemingly never-ending rant, but I’m not sorry. I’m fed up.
The picture. I’m disappointed at its technical look. I’d change it if I had all day to fiddle with this stuff. The woman in the picture is getting ready to ride in a parade. When you work outside sometimes there is no place to get ready. You do what you can. She did. I just photographed her. She posed. I suggested she just do what she needed to do. She liked that better. Time was running short.
One more thing. I never threaten legal action. I just do it. I suppose this time, I’m wondering if I can turn this into a class action suit. That means more than an individual action.
Often, it’s hard to show that. Motion is thought of being better portrayed on video. I don’t make videos. I do it using still cameras. I’ve done that since the days of film. For a time, I made my career on that.
The trick is to find something that’s recognizable and keep that somewhat sharp. Like a face. With a big smile. With laughing eyes.
I don’t do it as much because in the digital age, everybody thinks the picture should be sharp from front to back. That’s too bad. I find intentional motion blur to be one of the most interesting parts of a photograph. There’s many ways to do that. One, easy way, is to focus on something that doesn’t move, use a slow shutter speed and let things in motion pass through the picture.
That’s not what I did.
I allowed the subject’s natural motion meet my natural motion and create another kind of painterly motion to take place. Because the picture was made at night, all I did was stop down and let the shutter speed take care of itself.
As far as presenting pictures from Mardi Gras goes, I’m not going to try to show them in chronological order. Instead, I’m grouping them by photographic subject matter. I’ve been lucky to have made really good shoots. There is too much material to present the pictures by parade. Yesterday’s post of ten pictures was way too much. It was hard on me to do the prep work. It was hard on you to work your way through so many images. There is one blogger who posts a lot of pictures. He or she is proud of themselves when they write something like there are 42 pictures in this post. I usually just trash the blog. I don’t know about you, but 42 pictures is way too many to view. Especially, when it looks like the photographer stepped two steps to the left or right. Sheesh. Cull your work.
That’s not a rant. It’s a pro tip.
New Mardi Gras parades resume on Wednesday. You’ll probably see the work in a week. Heh!
The first one. The first Uptown Mardi Gras parade.
Normally on the first night shoot during Mardi Gras, I’m trying to knock off the rust. Not this time. I had an almost perfect shoot. Not only that, but getting there and parking was easy. I parked as close to the parade route as I could. I returned home easily. All of this matters.
The pictures. Let’s put it this way. I could see. I could see as the pictures revealed themselves to me. I suppose that put me in a good mood and place. It seemed like everybody I photographed was happy and having fun. Or, it may have been me.
That shows in the work.
You know me. I like to work at the start of a parade so I can make more than just the usual, “float rolls down the street” picture. I made a lot of good pictures. You’ll see them eventually. For today, you are seeing only one. I’m a bit late and should be on my way to some day parades. Their time has been moved up since we are expecting pretty violent storms.
Anyway the lead tuba player was looking over my head into the crowd for somebody or something. I managed to make the picture in poor light. But, not as poor as this picture indicates. WordPress got me again. Their compression software about killed the image quality. When I look at it on my monitor via OnOne, the image looks great. Not so much here.