I

showed this picture another similar one to a friend of mine who plays in the gallery world. He said these pictures are worth a lot in that world.

I suppose, but I really don’t see it. I made these pictures because they were there to be made. Eventually, these pictures will become parts of a book. I certainly never saw them as having interest in the art world.

I’m not even sure they are worth much in the so-called photography fine art world. So-called because a photographer claims to be a fine art guy and shows a picture of a sunset or something just as banal as that. How is that art of any kind?

All art is autobiographical. The viewer brings meaning to it. That’s how it works. How is a sunset that 239 people photographed autobiographical?

I like sunsets well enough. I rarely photograph them because most are mundane. But, when the sky goes crazy I’m out there with everybody else. I never think of that work as fine art. If that is fine art what is Van Gogh or Degas?

There is a group of galleries that do show and sell photography as art, but it is nothing like a sunset picture or a snapshot of a flower. The photographers who they represent are artists in sheep’s clothing.

I just don’t see my pictures of broken buildings as a match for them. Maybe they are.

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Heh!

T

here isn’t much that qualifies as technical in this picture.

But, there is a technique to making a picture like this.

Most of these abandoned places are in funky neighborhoods. You have to be careful.

You need to use situational awareness.

Look in all of your car’s mirrors before you get out. When you get out head straight to your subject with that photographer’s swagger I wrote about a few days ago.

Then, pull out your weapon and fire a few rounds in the air. That’s how we greet each other in New Orleans.

Of course, I’m kidding.

Guns bring more guns. Never shoot one in broken neighborhoods or any neighborhood. Just look into a passerby’s eye and nod pleasantly.

There have been times when I’ve done that only to get a reply back, “Hey Mister Photographer do you remember me? You took a picture of me at so so second line. Do you think I could get a picture?”

Then, in this case, he said there are too many dealers — and he points to a group of houses — and then said, “I’ll just hang wicha while you take pictures.”

He had my back. He got his pictures.


Urbex deluxe.

U

rbex deluxe.

I wrote that in the picture’s caption and I liked it so well that I made it the lead line. I’m thinking it could be a good name for a band.

Anyway.

My past is coming back to haunt me. I used to photograph a lot of urbex, or urban exploration for the uninitiated. A publisher reached out to me. He wants to know if I was interested in publishing a book.

Interested? Sheesh. WordPress claims 90,000,000 users. Probably, 89,999,000 of us hope to publish a book.

But, I have a problem. I’m already committed to another publisher for two books of a very similar nature.

Hmmm…

For months of the lockdown, most of us were so bored that we gained 894 pounds per every three houses. Now, I have more work than I can do for the remaining year.

Because.

I haven’t told you about a picture agency who reached out to me. They are in a small sort of backroom corner of the picture business. They are hard to find.

They distribute and market the kinds of pre-framed art that you see in big box stores and online. This is where the money lies. Really big money because… well, think of it this way, companies line up to sell products through Wal Mart. Why do think that is?

While companies like Wal Mart set the price structure and keep the margins slim, this company has already negotiated those deals.

They found my work on websites like Art.com. An old agency distributed some of my work into websites like that. The agency doesn’t exist and now I have to ask for payment if they made any sales. This is going to take some inspection.

A new hobby.

Back to the mass distributing agency. This means that I don’t have to chase around trying to make new pictures. They want my archives.

This is a giant retirement fund that exists separate from my own retirement fund. That was the dream of photographers who made pictures for stock agencies. When those agencies were scooped up by bigger agencies and the market collapsed, those dreams died.

Maybe those dreams live again.

I just knew that my archives were worth something.

T

his is an example of urbex photography. This one of the few times that I had partners with me.

They were friends of friends. They were young which made them think that they were bulletproof.

Fine with me.

They had my back while I made pictures. We spent a day doing that.

Normally a day is way too long for me. I kind of reach my limit at about three hours.

But, they were driving so I could relax in between locations.

This bar/club was located at the end of Desire Street. Yeah, this neighborhood was the terminus of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The city has been cleaning up this little bit of the parish. First, Club Desire was torn down. That broke my heart although after hurricanes and storms there wasn’t too much left inside that could be restored.

A couple of ruined buildings across the street were torn down including the only gas station for a couple of miles.

This bar was located about a block away from Club Desire. I haven’t been there for a while so I have no idea if this building stands or if it met the wrecking crew’s ball.

Anyway, the story is better than the technique. Wait for the people to be about where you want them and press the button.

Expose for the shadows and open up by 1/3 of a stop.

That’s it. No post production required.


The color of the season.

Fall. This is supposed to what it looks like. Bright orange, yellow and red. Leaves on the ground. That’s autumn. That’s fall. A change of seasons between summer and winter. The air cools. It dries out. I’m not dripping wet from humidity. I feel like being out a lot more.

That’s what this picture is about. The wonder of fall.

The wonder of change. The hope of the new year with the changing of the guard. With the first administration of drugs that may keep us from getting sick. Maybe the slowing down the the pandemic which seems to be racing faster.

Maybe the end of a man’s reign of terror that he is trying every way to subvert. I humbly suggest that what he really needs is a granny with a broom. Not only will he get swept out of office, but he’ll get his butt kicked. Thoroughly. That loser.

Not to end on a bad note, so let’s talk about the wonderful colors of this picture. What I mentioned at the top of this little missive. Bold color. Bright color. Happy color.

The picture. I saw it on the ground. So down I went to get close enough to the leaf and far enough away to show some of the background. Click, click, click…

Post production was a little fun. Especially when I applied a border. For some reason, the border function added another slightly askew layer. The picture became even more interesting with that so I didn’t fight it.

On the other hand, the column function is a mess. I like it well enough, but this not what the page is supposed to look like.

One day in the far distant future maybe WordPress will stop screwing around with stuff and leave us the hell alone. No problem for me. I disconnected the payment function. Now they are asking me for money.

Good luck with that.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


Along the way.

Yesterday is gone. And, good riddance. It started bad and it ended worse. You didn’t see me here because my Cox modem/router failed. They wanted $75 because I didn’t have customer care. Okay, okay. I have a good idea of what this gear costs.

But, when I said yes to having a technician visit, he or she couldn’t be scheduled for almost two weeks.

Uh, wait a minute.

Off I went to the store. The first modem didn’t do what it was supposed to do, so I traded it for another one. I had the COX gear for so long that I forgot that it is a combination modem and router.

Back to the store I went.

New router in hand, I thought, “ah ha, I’me done.”

You know the saying, “If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans?” It turns out that also includes making modern digital things work properly.

I called a Cox online tech who was helping me through the installation. It turns out two techs didn’t know what they were doing. Sure, my main machine — this one — was working. Somewhat. Safari couldn’t load a lot of websites, including WordPress. However, I had no signal to our televisions or our phones.

Luckily, there was a shouting mach on celestial television. When that was done I watched the end of a bad football game. And, finally Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone.

I went to sleep early. Midnight. Normally that would mean I’d wake up around 5am. For some reason I slept until 9am.

During that long sleep I had a dream. In it I figured out how to make every work. Maybe.

It came to me that it had to be the router since nothing but the main machine was getting signal. I Googled around for Linksys and found their website. It turns out that they have an app for my phone. I downloaded that, followed step by step instructions and, ALL JOY.

I do have to adjust each machine’s settings but I expected that.

You know how I say that we should let our pictures marinate? Maybe we should do that with all seemingly complicated issues.

Just a thought.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, er, in front of the porch, who’s the best photographer of them all?

Not me, that’s for sure.

I resurrected this picture from the scrapheap of time. I liked it t the time, but I didn’t share it.

Now I am.

I was walking around The Bywater, which is a realtor’s name. It’s really just a section of the 9th Ward.

I stumbled on this scene. I couldn’t believe my luck… until there was almost nothing to show in the mirror’s reflection.

I did what I could and called it good.

You would have seen another picture today, but it got lost in digital space. Likely, you’ll see it tomorrow.

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


Inversion.

Reflections.

An image found within a photograph. That’s what you are looking at. An accidental picture. I didn’t see it. The dog didn’t see it. I made another reflection picture. I stooped down to do that. When I stood up I saw this one. Really, part of this one. I had to reposition myself so that you wouldn’t see me.

That’s about it.

While I was ranting yesterday, I said something that needs more explanation. I first read about it in late March or April. It’s called the BS Theory. Just about everything we do is governed by some kind of procedure or company imposed rule that makes no sense.

Here’s an example.

I take Tramadol for my hip and back pain issues. It is essential in managing my body’s ills. About a year ago, it wound up on a restricted list. It was the federal government’s way of helping to solve the opiod crisis. It’s heavy handed. None of the medical professionals who treat me like it. The doctor didn’t like it. The insurance company didn’t like it. Nor, did the pharmacy. It was just more red tape.

Part of the process is a urine test, than a doctor’s visit, followed by my signing a form proclaiming that I would use it correctly and that I wouldn’t sell the pills.

This whole thing actually took bits of three days.

Along comes the coronavirus and that goes out the window. I still took the urine test, but everything else was done by teleconference. Even the prescription that I was supposed to pick up in person was faxed to the pharmacy.

See what I mean?

BS procedures.

Admittedly, I’m pure as the driven snow. That may count for something. If it does, why go through all the rest of it?

Think about procedures that you have to follow. They don’t make sense. Even the telephone agent who you may have to talk to doesn’t understand them, but insists that you follow them.

And, so it goes.

Stay safe. Keep might. Enjoy every sandwich.


Not keeping anything safe.

All I know is that if you don’t use a thing, it probably won’t do it’s intended task.

This open lock is a case in point. It’s intended to keep a little AT&T substation secure. That’s a telephone communications company for those who don’t know. The substation controls about 3,000 buildings. The last field service technician apparently got lazy. It was probably hard to open so he left it on top of the metal box. For next time. Just think about the potential for mischief or worse. If I was about nine years old…

Anyway.

Today is mostly about housekeeping.

If you live in Louisiana you are probably suffering from allergies. See those little gold dots near the top of the open lock? That’s pollen. It’s in the air. That’s tree pollen. We are also suffering from grass pollen. To make matters worse, it’s unseasonably hot. Record-breaking hot. And, we haven’t had rain for weeks. We aren’t expected to have rain in the near future. It is so dry that the dirt is pulling away from the buildings, leaving huge gaps between the wall and the edge of the earth. People are actually watering their plants and crops.

I didn’t photograph the Mother’s Day second line. I’ve gotten to the point that I really don’t like working in extreme heat. Just as well. For the second time in five years, there was a shooting. This time, “only” two people got shot. Truth be told, it was at the very end of the parade about a half block removed. I wouldn’t have gone to that place anyway. But, still… who shoots up a parade dedicated to our mothers? The last time it happened about 15 people were wounded. One of those eventually died last year. My friend “Big Red” Deb Cotton. She was everybody’s friend, but she liked photographers because we are photographing a way of life. I have to decide if the risk is worth the picture. Yeah. I know that 99.99% of the people at any second line are peaceful and just having fun. But, a stray bullet knows no bounds.

I’m considering a hiatus from Storyteller. It’s not the time. It’s not the people. Well… in a way it is. The people. I gain new followers every day. Between those who receive emails and those who are on the reader there’s a lot. Yet, the people who actually see a picture on any given day keep dropping. If growth data matters, which apparently it doesn’t, I should have somewhere near 500 people who like my work daily. I don’t. In fact, I’ve dropped from a steady 50 or so to less than 30.

Since I’ve long said this place is experimental and I’m not very consistent in what I post, it could be that. I’m sure I disappoint people, like the coffee blog who started following Storyteller based on one odd post. I’m sure there are other people who play the “tit-for-tat” game. I’ll follow you if you follow me. Or, I’ll like your work if you like mine. I don’t play that game. I like what I like. I follow what interests me; usually because there are more than three posts.

Or, it could just be that the work I post just isn’t very good. Oh well. I’ve made a living at this for 40 plus years. Someone likes it enough to pay for it. They have for a long while.

That said, I’m in the middle of building a new commercial website. I’d kind of put it on hold because I couldn’t get a clear vision of what I want it to be. I built it and I published it. Then I went Yucko. Yucko. Yucko. But, it does have a blog component. I bet you can guess what it’s called. Yeah, yeah. Storyteller. It’s likely that I’ll just move this over there. Those of you who communicate with me in some way will hopefully follow me over there. It won’t be hard to find. http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. I think I can still send emails.

I’ll probably drop back to about 100 readers. That’s okay if you really read and talk to me.

I’m not sure when this will happen, although WordPress wants to be paid again for this blog and extra storage by the end of the month so that’s sort of a deadline.

That’s the news. The news that fits.

 


Wired.

It’s a funny thing.

The minute I stopped trying to make a picture and explaining myself the drought went away. If it was a drought. I think I was just bored.

Here’s why.

For the last few months I’ve been making pictures of my version of nature. Notice that. My version of nature. I’m not a nature photographer. I don’t play one on television. And, I don’t do the things that good nature photographers do.

I’m also not a writer. I write out of self-defense. I write for this blog. I write to make a point. I’m not someone given writing descriptive paragraphs. You’ll never see me even attempt to write a book, like a novel. There’s a lot of reasons for that. I suppose chief among them is financial. I eat what I kill. Posting a few pictures and writing about them here is fun. On the other hand, my commercial work is just that. Work. If I wrote a book I’d have to know that there was something on the other side of the rainbow besides a kind of fulfillment. Self publishing and selling a years worth of hard work for a $1.99 on Amazon does not excite me. It would be work without a financial goal.

So.

Back to pictures.

Unless the picture really calls to me, I’m not going to make anymore nature pictures. Besides, even though it’s early May, we’ve hit our summer stride. Everything is green and full. That’s the least photographic time to me. However, making pictures that are about summer is something else. Making pictures that say summer to most of us, and bring up memories, are something that interests me. It’s hard to do. I tried it a few summers ago. My goal was ten great summertime pictures. As hard as I tried, I made one.

I’ll try again beginning Memorial Day Weekend. Even though that’s not really the calendar start of summer, in The United States, it’s the start of what we think of as summer. I’ll work on this project until Labor Day Weekend. I’ll do what I can. My biggest problem is that my memories of a summer breeze, or a summer day, may not even be possible today.

Meanwhile.

I’ll work on other genres. No nature. This wired picture inspired me. The original file is kind of bland. Muddy.Dull. I added the same basic color formula that I used on yesterday’s picture of the leaf. I did not add the extra post-post production effects. After doing that, what I saw amazed me.

You can see it now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lost in the leaves.

Another day. Another walk.

Truth be told, these pictures are a couple of weeks old. I processed them. I tinkered with them. And, immediately forgot about them.

I don’t know why.

Sometimes, I get lucky. I make three or four pictures on one walk. I choose the one or two that I liked best at the time and move on. The key phrase is “at the time.” Often, after a suitable period of marination, I wonder what I was thinking during my culling and editing process.

I found these shoes where the trees meet the road. They aren’t Crocs. They are fairly inexpensive chef’s clogs. There is something curious about them. There is a pretty good reason why they were tossed out into the street.

Yes. They are worn. But, that’s not it.

Can you see it?

I’ll tell you what I see below the bottom picture.

The mate to the other one.

I have no idea why. I didn’t move them. I never flip pictures. These two pictures are as I found the shoes.¬† One in the street. One near the street. Two shoes. Two different shoes.

But…

They are both right foot shoes. Wearing a shoe on the wrong foot had to have been very uncomfortable. Especially if the person wearing them was standing on his or her feet all day.

Your guess is as good as mine.


French Quarter

I took a stroll in The French Quarter. I made a few “traditional” pictures. I’m pretty sure that will make my agencies smile.

Doing the work and walking around the Quarter made me happy. Yes. It was hot. It was humid. And, the eclipse was all but invisible there. But, it wasn’t crowded. And, the people who “are from here” seemed happy. Free, two-hour parking was found just about everywhere. If I wanted to stay longer, all I need do was move the car.

I haven’t been in the Quarter for a good long time. I’m well aware of the Bourbon Street rebuilding. New street. New pipes. And so on. The schedule is very late, way over budget and now, stopped at a certain point while the city pours money into repairing the flood control system. But, I was surprised by how much other construction is going on right now. Many side — lake to river — streets are being repaired. Many buildings are also being repaired, restored or just renovated.

I suppose that makes sense.

We are passing through the dog days of summer, when it is too hot and humid for all but the most hearty tourists. Of course, because tourism is our main industry, shop owners and restauranteurs are counting their pennies and hoping they make it through the summer slow period. Anybody who has been in business for any length of time has been through this every year and knows how to stash a little money away during their busy seasons to carry themselves through.

For the tourists who are willing to deal with our steamy summers, good deals are everywhere. Lodging, food, and just about anything they might want to buy are marked down well below normal cost. Of course, for many of our seasonal events — Mardi Gras, Jazzfest, French Quarter Fest — everything is marked way up. So, there is kind of a balance.

The picture. Since most of my work is either high stress (corporate and advertising), low light, or artistic, making a daylight picture under blue skies seems easy to me. I mostly have to find a scene that says The French Quarter and work on it. For my agencies, I mostly just process and make slight corrections. They want a “straight” photograph. For you, I added a little more color and glow.

I’ll tell you. I had so much fun doing this, that producing pictures to fulfill my contracts will be a blast. I fully intended to go back this morning.

But.

Nature got in the way. Heavy overcast. The solid kind with no character in the clouds. There is a 40% chance of rain. If it rains around dusk, I’ll go back today. If not, I’ll try again tomorrow. Or, the day after that. Or, the day after that. Just being there helps.

It makes me smile.