Darkness at the edge of town.

O

bviously, I made this picture a while ago, like in winter. I tucked it away and you’ve never seen it. I’m starting to work through that collection now.

Unfortunately for me, these pictures are scattered throughout the last few months which means that I have to find them. Hard to do when you’ve forgotten about them. That’s how the infamous lost files are found.

This is a prime example of me seeing a scene for what it could be and making that happen in post production. It’s very likely the sky was pale winter blue and the foreground in good light.

That’s fine.

But, it doesn’t always fulfill my photographic needs. In fact, the deeper my journey becomes the more I want to make pictures that express my vision.

Usually, that doesn’t mean making a documentary style photograph. Nor, does it mean just throwing a couple of filters on a picture and calling it done.

The best of my work is brought about by thinking about, and then working, on the picture.

That doesn’t always happen.

I get rushed. I don’t think clearly. Even worse, I don’t feel clearly. I believe that you, the viewer or reader, can tell that. You see right through me.

At least that’s what I think.

N

ow, here are some technical issues to overcome.

First, as I wrote on the other side, the picture was made in color.

As I also wrote, the image was made in pale winter light. It was pretty enough, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

So, I thought about it and decided it might look like winter feels. Brooding. Moody. Even scary.

I took out as much color as I could. But, if you notice, not all.

Then I softened the sky and enhanced the silhouetted subjects.

I blurred everything to soften the feel.

That’s it. That’s enough.

How about those of you who are photographers? How do you achieve your vision?


N

ormally, you would see Our Lady of Guadalupe paintings in some Southwestern State, usually in New Mexico.

I was surprised to see this one in the Seventh Ward. This location was heavily flooded during the storm. When I made the picture there was mud, and gravel and leftover bits and pieces covering the streets.

A few people returned to their homes and were working on them to make them whole. It’s likely that one of them sprayed out that tag on the building. That tells the tagger that somebody cares. It doesn’t stop them from doing it again, but it may make them think.

The guys who tag buildings are smart, said no one ever. They could come back and get caught in he act. No telling what would happen then if they were caught.

So, there is some CoVid-19 news in New Orleans. Apparently, the virus has increased by 53% over the previous week. It’s mostly the Delta variant. The city is talking about requiring masks in certain situations and they are thinking forward to fall when it’s likely to surge.

This fall is very busy. Voodoo Festival bowed out until next year. But, French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest are scheduled to take place over three weekends. The city said that there may have to be some modifications to crowd numbers, or — ouch, ouch, ouch — the festivals may have to be cancelled. That’ll make four tries over two years for Jazzfest.

Since none of this is firm, Jazzfest is moving head and today The Jazz and Heritage Foundation announced the daily schedules.

The biggest fear may be that if there is fall viral surge that any of these festivals could become a super spreader event.

It’s all guess work ay this point, so stay tuned.

O

bviously, this picture didn’t take much post production.

It didn’t take much photo technique either.

All I did was see it, be surprised at what I saw, and make the picture. I got back in my car and drove away.

I should have investigated further. There are two sheets of paper posted to the left hand side of the picture, where the diagonal door is located. Those will tell you the disposition of the building.

I like to know those things in case I want to come back before it is demolished. In this case, I’d likely have had some time because demolitions didn’t start for another few years.

This building is a good candidate for destruction because the boarded up window looks like it was closed well before the storm.

One of these days I should return and find out what really happened.

One of these days.


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.


Taking them home.

G

reen Streetcars. They travel from Canal Street, along St. Charles Avenue, making a turn on Carrolton where they come to their terminus after about a mile or so.

Many local people use them to commute to work, to shop, to visit friends, and to go to appointments.

It’s real live public transportation just like a bus, except that it’s much more fun to use.

I always tell tourists to get out of The French Quarter and go see the rest of New Orleans. The easiest way is to catch the street car on Canal Street and go for a ride.

If you do ride to the end, you can catch the red streetcar and travel down Canal Street where it makes a turn and ends near the French Market.

If you take it in the other direction you can ride to City Park near the art museum.

That’s my tourist advice for today.

T

oday seems to be experimentation day. I tried to enlarge the picture. Oh, I can, but it skews the page to the point that it is unreadable. Even small increases in size do that.

Then, I’m experimenting with different columns widths just to learn what happens. This one is a simple swapping of columns.

No worries.

I think it’s a little hard to read the main story. I’ll switch it back or do something that’s a little easier to read.

T

he picture.

That’s what you came for, isn’t it?

This is obviously a blurred motion picture. Everything moves and vibrates. That wasn’t my intent. On this night working in The Garden District I felt safe enough to use a tripod.

But, not on this picture.

I hadn’t planned on a streetcar passing by as it did. I swung around with the tripod pretty much hanging in the air. That’s not how you use a tripod but it was a “Hail Mary” sort of thing.

When I started to cull the images I realized that photographer’s luck came into play and I made this picture.

There’s not much you can do with it in post production. The biggest task is to make it light enough to view, but not lose contrast in the dark areas.

If you come to town, ride the streetcar. Make a better picture than this one.


One night, lonely.

S

ometimes the pictures are better along the way rather than at the event I was going to.

I was going to photograph Krewe du Vieux which is one of the earliest parades of Carnival. The parade was as I expected, too crowded and nowhere to do work arounds. Oh yeah, with the exception of a few pools of light, everything was in shadows.

I made some okay pictures at the parade, but this was the best picture of the night. It’s prime French Quarter. It’s got a food store that mostly sells alcohol, a bike and a guy in a hoody waiting to do God knows what.

I think this was the beginning of Mardi Gras 2020, which means two months before we were blamed for holding a massive super spreader event before anybody knew what CoVid 19 could do.

It was so weird back then. In many ways, I’m glad I stayed out of the crowds as best I could. Which brings me to…

We’ve been watching a Netflix produced three season show called “Formula 1-1, Drive to Survive.” It’s a deep story about the story of Grand Prix drivers and the teams behind them. It’s very, very good.

We are into the third season. 2020. It took us right back to the confusion of the early days of the pandemic.

The first event starts in Australia, where the drivers and teams have just started hear about this new virus. They had no idea what to do.

Quick backstory. The drivers are great athletes. The train in all sorts of ways to handle the stress of driving a car at 200 mph without dying. They are smart as hell. And, they are personable.

Back to the story. One driver finds out that the virus is called Corona Virus. He walks over to a hospitality tent, pulls out a bunch of beers, hands them all around and he kiddingly says, “This will take care of it.” Corona Beer.

Anyway.

The first five events are cancelled. Everybody goes home. The first Grand Prix is held in Austria. Everything has changed. The teams are wearing masks. The drivers, who normally sign autographs with whatever pen they are given, tell their fans they can’t use other people’s pens.

Keep in mind, this is real life. There are no actors.

One more story.

In 2019, there is a heartbreaking accident. It starts out with Lewis Hamilton (at the time he was four time world champion and the face of Formula 1 Motorsports. He’s now six time champion and still the face of the sport.) He’s casually talking to some media and looking up at a monitor. He says, “Oh wow,” and stops the interview. His eyes were wide open.

There was a horrible accident. When Netflix didn’t show it, I knew. There was a fatality. A young driver racing in the Formula 2 category was killed.

The next scenes are heart rending. Drivers, like anyone who does something dangerous, are brothers. It doesn’t matter if they are normally competitors. They gathered on the track, in circle. They prayed. They shared stories about the driver. His helmet was on a stand. One by one they put their hands on it as they left to go to their cars.

Then, they drove as hard as they could.

Y’

all know what I’m going to say about this picture. There’s nothing to it. Except that I can hand hold a camera in available darkness.

You probably can’t.

One day I won’t be able to hand hold a camera at night. That might be now since I haven’t tried in a long time.

We’ll have to test that out one night.

But, not tonight.

I have other work to do since I slept on and off until 2:39 pm.

That’s what watching Netflix will do.

It was some start to my very busy schedule. I’ll start tonight and work tomorrow and catch up.

I think.

Let’s get back to the picture for a minute.

One of the reasons I learned to hand hold a camera is because of a theory called, “Shoot and scoot.”

That means if I keep moving there is a lesser chance of being mugged or killed for my photo gear and my wallet.

Think about it. Using a tripod forces me to stay in one place, maybe for too long. On the other hand, it could be used as a weapon if the timing was right.

I’d rather not need to do that.

So, I make a few pictures and move on. I tuck my camera under my shoulder so that in low light it’s not easily seen.

It’s worked for a long time.

Then, there’s the swagger theory.

It works this way. Working photographers sometimes develop a pretty good way of walking, like a swagger, but not. It works best, when you’ve got about a third of cigar in your mouth and are surrounded by smoke.

Nobody messes with that.


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 rainy season.

W

et. That’s what late June and July are in Southeast Louisiana, wet. If we aren’t getting a lot of rain, the skies are gray and the air is very humid.

So far, we’ve been lucky. The temperatures haven’t risen above 90 degrees except on two days and that was the high. If we didn’t have the humidity, we’d have some pretty pleasant days.

I was coming out of The French Quarter, waiting for a stop light and saw the scene in front of me. I turned off my wipers to let the water build up, raised my camera to my eye and what should happen? A businessman walked in front of me holding an umbrella.

That’s photographer’s luck.

If I hadn’t been out and about this wouldn’t have happened in front of me. There would have been no luck involved. There would have been no picture.

As one photographer says, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.”

You can’t stand in front of better stuff while you are watching your 72 inch television.

I wasn’t exactly standing, but I put myself in a position to make a fairly good rainy day picture.

Stand in front of better stuff.

O

n the left side I told you my theory of making pictures. Go outside and put yourself in front of better stuff.

That’s my photo making theory.

What I really did was make a loop from the Garden District through a bit of Treme and into The French Quarter.

As I left the Quarter, I drove through the CBD and part of Central City, where I turned, crossed the streetcar tracks and went home.

That took me a couple of hours. I could have driven faster, but what’s the point? I wouldn’t see anything. You know, that better stuff.

I think I made a total of six pictures that I liked well enough. And, this picture that I like a lot.

Development and post production was easy, taking care to sharpen the raindrops.


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.