About Spring
Colors of springtime.

Weird.

In a way, spring in Southeast is weird. You can see that in this picture. Green leaves of rebirth. A spring thing. Orange leaves of passing. Usually, in most places, an autumn thing.

Not here.

Obviously, the leaves are confused. Is it spring? is it autumn?

Yes. Those orange leaves will turn brown and fall to the ground. But, not today. It is true that certain trees lose their leaves in March or April, like Texas Live Oaks. Most do not.

I’d just say that it’s a quirk of nature.

That little quirk makes a good Sunday picture. Something interesting, but peaceful. A picture that could be hung on your wall. With a little careful editing, I could make this file big enough to print on wallpaper size paper. For your wall. Your wall. Think about that. You come home from a hard day in the coal mine, you walk in your door. There staring at you is a gorgeous nature picture. All that coal dust falls right off.

In fact, I could do that with most of my semi-nature pictures. I could also print them fairly large and frame them. Remember for me, a small picture is around 16×20 inches.

I like big pictures. I’m old school that way. As more of everything moves online, I still think there is a place for paper. I can download a photo book from Amazon to my i-Pad. Unless it’s a teaching book of some kind, who wants that? I want to hold the book and look at the work. nd, really, really take my time.

I also like my pictures in books.

This year may be the first time that I think about the Christmas season during summer, and actually create a couple of stocking stuffer sized books. As long as I can recover cost, I’d price them very reasonably. I might even try to market and sell them through Amazon, rather than a one-off printer like Blurb.

What do you think about that?

At the very least, that would help me fill a gap. My contracted books really aren’t slated to hit the streets until mid-2020. But, I could get things rolling with a self published project or two. At best, you could hold my work in your hands. And, smile.

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Happy Sunday.

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Creativity.

Creativity.

I was reading something about that this morning. In The New York Times. It was a piece about “The Artist’s Way.” A book which is 25 years old. A book that all of us who claim to be creative, want to be creative or, who are creative, should read.

I’ve only read a chapter or two. I borrowed it from a friend who needed it back well before I was done. It’s full of philosophy and exercises and thoughts that will help. You not be doing anything creative yet, but want to. You may be a working creative and are stuck. You may want to change genres. There is something for all of us.

Oddly, since I didn’t read much of the book but have a very good idea of what the author says, I found that say about the same things.

Things like.

Photography block? Go outside and photograph the first things that you see. In a new city? Photograph “what is it like to be…” Need inspiration? Talk to your friends and colleagues. They don’t have to be photographers. Need to fill your head with creativity? Head to your nearest museum or art gallery.  Practice, practice, practice.

And, so on.

One thing caught my attention 25 years ago. Neil Young says it. Bob Dylan says it. Van Gogh said it. “Let the higher power speak through your work.” Whoever and whatever that is. That’s a version of my, “the work is the prayer.”

It took me many years to learn this. From all sorts of sources.

There is one more thing. You can’t hurry it. You can’t hurry the process. You can’t hurry the technology. You can’t hurry your own learning.

As a friend if mine once said early in my learning, “the river flows in its own time.”


Dusk, like fire.

It looks like fire. Our winter sky.

It’s just clouds and what remains of the sunset. We’ve had some really beautiful days. A little cold, not like many of yours. Brilliant colors. At dawn. During the day. At dusk. I’ve taken advantage of these few days as much as I can. It does take some time. The dog who sees stuff and her brothers and sisters — the dog family — want to go for longer walks. One dog takes a little time. More dogs means more time. They walk in a pack. They don’t always want to go the same way. It’s like herding cats. Oop. Dogs.

There’s my learning moment. No matter how much people seem to be pulling in the same direction, they aren’t. Personal agendas take over. Some are needs. Some are wants.

If we are going to work together as a community, we harness all of that. It takes strong and enlightened leadership. An old saying proclaims, “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Folks in leadership roles will hopefully know how to shift between those three states. Sometimes a goal is set. A team is assembled according to their interest. The leader steps out in order for the team to do its work. Sometimes, the leader steps back in when the group seems to be losing traction. Often a word or two resets the course.

I’ve learned all of this years ago through various management classes, workshops and seminars.

Being human, I forget a lot of what I just wrote. Being human, I don’t do what I just wrote. Luckily, something or someone will remind me.

It’s the same with making pictures. That’s really what Storyteller is about. I forget what I already knew. Someone or something reminds me. Experience takes over. Even though I make an old composition, I make it in a new way. One plus one equals three. Most of the time. If it continues to equal two, then I’ve made a mistake.

I make a lot of mistakes.

I’m trying to learn from them, I’m often quote musician Neil Young’s words, “numbers add up to nothing.” The very thin data that WordPress gives us really doesn’t help us make considered decisions at all. That was proven yesterday. I published a second line parade. I said that data indicates that many of you don’t understand second lines. A huge number of you came by Storyteller.

Take that, Ray.

Last year I lamented that my numbers were way down.  Some of you said the same thing. We discussed it. We tried to understand why. Some said their friends on Facebook were way down. They weren’t posting. Same thing on most social media. A good friend suggested that I stop posting political things on Storyteller because people come here to get away.

All of that is valid.

This year. Two weeks into 2019, my numbers are through the roof. I have no idea why. Maybe some of you are getting back into blogging and reading blogs as a new year resolution. That may be true, to a point. I’ve seen names I haven’t seen in months. That will be tested as the year rolls on.

Maybe you like the new design of Storyteller. Or, not. I could be confusing since you have to click on a picture to get to the text. On the other hand, it could drive some of you to look at work you may have missed.

I don’t know.

That’s the point of learning. The more you learn, the more you don’t know.

That I do know.


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.


About understanding.

Deep Blue.

When I made the picture I had the title in mind. I forgot what I already knew. Deep Blue is the title of a song by George Harrison. He wrote it upon the death of his mother and while he was trying to keep his father and brothers together.

Unless you are like me, you might have never heard it because it was the B-side of Bangladesh of which the proceeds were given away for charity. You know, to help the people of Bangladesh.

Of course, if you have an A and a B side of a record that means you are listening to a 45. I’m old enough to still have a small collection of them, although many of my records were washed away in the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. That’s why, for me, Spotify is the greatest invention since records. I get to listen to just about everything I want just by hitting search. You can do that on YouTube as well, but the sound quality just isn’t the same.

During this bit of seasonal existential search I’ve been having dreams. Oh my! What dreams. Given how I see the world, my dreams don’t surprise me. They are bright, energetic and very colorful. But, the best thing. All sorts of people are popping up from my past. I awoke thinking how good it was to see all of them. These are people who I lost mostly because I was moving around a lot in the early days of my career. People who, intelligently, did not join Facebook so they don’t pop up as “people you might know.”

About that.

A publicist with whom I work says that everybody has to be on Facebook, because it has become the telephone book of the digital age. I don’t know if I agree with her or not. If you want to find me, Google me. I show up about a bazillion times. Just like my pictures do. People find my work on Google even more than they do at my agencies. And, they try to steal it more from Google. I’m fixing that. I have a better way than seeking direct copyright damages.

Anyway.

The picture. You know me. I’m a fairly simple photographer these days. See it. Photograph it. Hope for the best in this kind of light. Of course, the best version of this picture would be made with a tripod. But, I wasn’t planning to actually make this picture. It was just sitting there, waiting for me to find it.


Well, well, well.

It sort of looks like fall.

Oh no.

Nature forgot to push the fall button. It looks like the big Halloween parade, Krewe of Boo, will walk in warm weather on Saturday night. It may come to pass that trick or treaters will be collecting their spoils in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. Oh, how fun.

Meanwhile…

I’m working through my archives and finding some long lost pictures. Katrina coverage, my first Mardi Gras Indian event and stuff like that. I’ll show you some of it. Just keep in mind you’ll be looking at older images.

The picture. The all seeing spaniel wanted to sit and enjoy the weather. I found a bench. I sat on that. She rolled around on the ground. Some days, no amount of brushing fixes that.

 


Motorcycle reflections.

On another day.

The same thing happened. Sort of. It wasn’t a scooter this time. It was a big heavy motorcycle. I saw what I’d passed by. Fifty times. One hundred times. Two hundred times. Who knows how many times? A neighborhood scene. The kind that you never see. Because it’s always there. It doesn’t register.

Until it does.

The light bounced just right. A car parked near by was reflected off of the motorcycle’s mirror-like polished chrome. A look in the wrong direction and I would have missed it. A look in the right direction and the picture still really wasn’t there. It interested me enough that I had to bend down. So I did. The picture is what I saw.

Sure. I added some to it in post production. No picture comes complete from the camera. Film couldn’t replicate what the eye see and the brain creates. Nor, can digital capture. But, you can get closer if you work on the picture after the initial exposure. That’s what I do.  For me, the real problem is pretty simple. Some times I go too far.

So.

I’ll be doing work like this for about the next week.

Then.

Changes.

If you go to my website at http://www.laskowitzpictures.com you’ll notice that almost all the work — certainly the portfolio page — is all things New Orleans. That’s my direction.

New Orleans is the biggest tourist destination in the Americas, and it comes close in world travel. From a business perspective I have no choice but to exploit that. From an artistic point of view, it’s almost the same. And, I live in New Orleans.

That said, I’ve been applying for various press credentials under the name of Storyteller. And, I’m getting accredited. That is eye-opening. I’ve long known that there is power at a certain level of blogging. You must have followers, friends, readers. I have that. A lot of that. Many, many that’s. Thank you all. For some reason, Storyteller’s growth comes in streaks. In the last couple of weeks I’ve gained about 100 readers. Next week. It could be crickets. Thank you for following me.

So.

Rather than beat myself up over what to be, I’ll just go with what’s already there. The flow matters.

For sure, I’m not leaving my artistic pursuits. But, this place will turn a little more towards New Orleans. It’ll also be a little more accessible to every viewer. For instance, it’s one thing to photograph second lines because I like doing it. It’s quite another to force that material onto people who don’t understand it.

I’ll make the change here on August 1st. I like clean edges. And, it is the start of a new business quarter for me.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns?

Fire away.

 

 

 


Glowing.

One of those things.

That you walk by a hundred times. You never really notice. It’s become invisible to you. You see it. It doesn’t register.

Then. Maybe the light was right. Or, a reflection caught your eye. Something happened. Something changed.

You see the thing you didn’t see.

That’s what happened in this picture. There is a little scooter parked along one of the streets that has become a dog route. We don’t always pass that way. When we do, it’s just an obstacle to walk around. Not the other day.

Something caught my eye. I stopped. I made a few pictures. Of the scooter’s headlight. Dogarito wanted to move on. So we did. I didn’t know if I had the time to make any sort of picture. When I finally looked at the LCD I was happily surprised. I get lucky that way. Sometimes.

I did some work to it. That’s what you are looking at. A quick view. A little work in post production and away we go.

One more thing.

A bit of news. A bit of housekeeping. For those of you who find Storyteller on Facebook, it’s is changing. Yes. Again. They are no longer allowing auto distribution starting August 1. If you follow Ray Laskowitz, you will no longer see Storyteller posts unless…

It gets tricky.

I can post by hand adding extra work to my social media workflow. Or, if you follow Laskowitz Pictures on Facebook. That’s my business page. I think, but it is not clear to me, that once a new post gets there it will bounce to my personal page if I follow Laskowitz Pictures. Ugh.

Once again Facebook shows the world that it really doesn’t care about anybody but them. I suppose this is their ham handed way of preventing trolls, Russian bot and fake news. If they keep going in this direction they’ll drive small business away.

In many ways this is good.

I really only post Storyteller on Facebook to lead you here. Some people come. Some don’t. It gets confusing sometimes. A friend of mine posted the video that I couldn’t show you here. He posted it on Facebook.  All I could do was hold my hands up in the classic what do you want from me pose. That doesn’t help me here.

After all, Facebook and WordPress don’t like each other. Actually, Facebook doesn’t like anybody. Like Apple, they really wanted a closed system. Their own little world.