Scary face, without development.

This mask was scary before I worked on it in post production. It got scarier after I was done. To me, this looks like some underground subway creature who lives in the lost subway tunnels and tracks of New York City.

I have a big imagination.

Imagination will get you places, either to the top or in deep trouble. Mine is usually the latter.

Seriously, ideas and imagination are what art is about. That’s one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of Instagram, although I do play there.

Instagram is the worst of all possible photographic worlds. If some photographer posts an interesting picture, his followers copy him. Their followers copy them. And, so on.

That’s what make so much popular work so derivative.

It got so bad a week or so ago that I couldn’t stand it. So, I said something. It seems whenever a dusk or night picture needs a little something extra, some shooters drop in a person holding an umbrella. I don’t literally mean drop in. They usually have a friend hold an umbrella.

That’s fine, if the streets are wet or if there is falling rain or snow. But, the picture that broke my camel’s back was a picture of some guy holding an umbrella at night. The streets were dry. There was nothing in the air. The people in the background were’t even wearing coats.

Oh, Moses smell the roses.

I replied. The photographer replied to me in a snarky way to which I said, “Well, you must not be a very good photographer if all you do is copy others work.”

Silence.

Crickets.

Solitude.

I must have made a point to someone. Since that day, there have been far fewer umbrella pictures. Those that are still being shared make sense in their context. Or, they become art in themselves.

Imagination.

We all have it. Use it, or lose it.

Masking. In New Orleans it shouldn’t be a big deal. We mask for every damn thing that comes along. What’s the big deal about masking to protect ourselves or others?

That’s not what the right column is about, but I had to say it.

This is a daytime picture of all things. I was waiting to meet a friend when this guy happened to hop on a horse and rode towards me. What could I do?

You know what I could do. I did it. I made tight portraits. I made loser frames. My friend stumbled along and she made pictures too. It looked like a press conference.

I published one picture and left this one behind. This is the week to share it.

This is all post production. Nothing looks even remotely the same as the original file. I went darker rather than lighter because of the context. This dude looks evil.

He isn’t.

We talked while I, and then we, were making pictures. he’s a nice guy. He let us take our time while he was getting ready to lead his krewe.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Eat all the king cake.


Once upon a French Quarter parade.

This isn’t that.

I was going to talk about New Orleans culture, but a fire got in the way. You know where. In Paris. France. Notre Dame burned. Early on, it looked like it might be a total loss. Now, we know it’s not. Already 400,000,000 Euros have been pledged to its rebuilding.

Just as important, after reading a long comment from a researcher who studies Notre Dame as well as other Gothic structures throughout Europe, I know that there is a cycle of boom and bust for the cathedral. For instance, the steeple that fell was built in the 19th Century. At one point, it was derelict and restored. Of course, the medieval wood is mostly gone, and the roof is cinders, but most of the art is safe. The walls are safe. And, the bell towers are intact.

It likely will be rebuilt again. In 100 years, people will be talking about the fire of 2019 while they are looking at it.

However, yesterday’s sadness was about more than the burning of what amounts to a Catholic Church. 856 year years of history was being stripped away. The heart of a city was burning. Art that should never die, was thought to be dying.

The core of the matter was something was burning. In many ways, the fire was a symbol for the past few years of upheaval and violence. For, the nasty turn to the right-wing. For the hatred of people not like ourselves. And, something even more than that. I cannot put my finger on it. But, it hurt. And, it scared me.

It may be because I live in a French city. After all, New Orleans was founded by the French. True. The French Quarter actually looks Spanish. That’s because when the city burned for the last time, it was the property of the Spanish who rebuilt it in their architectural style. But they city was split, for a time between The French and The Americans. That’s what Canal Street is about. The middle of the neutral ground was the boundary between the two countries.

Never-the-less, I feel better today knowing what’s left and what’s to come. What’s to come is elastic and flexible. Something we all need to be if we are going to make our way through the challenges of the future.

The picture. That’s what you really came for, yes? It’s a parade through the French Quarter. I chose to leave it even after the terrible news of yesterday. After all, that’s what we in New Orleans are about. This is one of those F8 and be there pictures. Except it was more like f 2.8 and I almost got run over. More than once or twice. Oh well. Whatever it takes, right?

 


Getting ready for the big ride.

I had other plans.

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.

Enough.

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.

Oh no.

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.


Two trumpets, one musician.

This is a fine example.

An example of not letting pictures marinate long enough to see the good ones. The subtle ones. The slightly hidden ones.

As you know, I photographed the Dumaine Street Gang second line a week ago in Treme. I showed you a few pictures, moved into my comings and goings and thought I was done.

Oh no.

My final work flow is to run through the outtakes just in case I missed something. Then, I add  any further selected images to my archives.

This time?

Not so fast, buddy.

It appears that I missed five pictures. Five pictures that you might like. Five pictures that my more editorial agent might like. Five pictures that are just too many for me to miss. Miss one. Miss two. That’s okay. But, this was like I was culling with one eye closed.

Anyway.

Here they are. They are more graphic than documentary. That’s just fine. The top picture really caught my eye. Normally, you don’t see one musician playing two trumpets. You still don’t. Two trumpet players were facing each other. In the street.

The bottom picture is another one that made me wonder what I was doing all last week. I wanted to catch the mass of brass. Something like that needs a subject, like the man in the foreground happily playing away. It helps the building in the background is painted a light shade of purple.

In many ways, this is a weird set of pictures. Even though brass bands working the streets are a little chaotic, they generally face in one direction. You know, like a band walking down the street. These guys are all over the place. They are facing each other. They are off on the side. They are turned in every direction. I guess this is what happens when you crash a couple of bands with extras who normally don’t work together.

All brass. All light.

One more thing. A good thing. The dog who sees stuff is a full-blooded Cocker Spaniel. She came with an AKC registration. She’s also a rescue dog. The person who owned her passed away at 85 years of age. We scooped her up. She was never really trained well and often ate food near the table.

She’s smart as she could be. Training was easy. We make homemade food. Every dog loves it. But, she never had a bone. Ever. I felt terrible. Every dog should have a bone. I’ve tried in the past and she didn’t know what to do with it.

Tonight. We had really thick double cut pork chops. Nice, thick solid bones. I put one near her and walked away. Pretty soon she was tasting it with her tongue. Then she started it nibbling at it. Now she’s laying down happily chewing away at it.

Yipee.

Every dog should have a bone.


French horns and helmets.

Once upon a time I posted a brass bands’ instruments at rest. The were lying on the street, on a curb or something like that. A number of you commented. You wondered how anybody could just lay their instruments on the ground.

Here’s your answer. They learned how to do it in high school. These pictures are from a couple of different bands. Mostly they came from the St. Augustine Marching 100. This is a big time band. They’ve played The Rose Bowl. They’ve played during half times at NFL football. The travel all over the country.

And, they leave their gear on the street. Especially when they have a long break between arrival to a parade and actually marching. After all, this gear is heavy. They march 12 miles for the length of the parade. Then, they turn around and do it the next day. Every minute that you can stay lighter matters. Just like me. Less gear means more pictures.

It matters to me in other ways. I can make some nice artistic pictures with their gear. They don’t care. They just don’t want me messing with it. That’s fine. I’m more of a photojournalist than a studio guy. But, if I did want to turn a piece of gear I’d ask a band member for help. They are happy to do it.

The pictures. The usual. F8 and be there. Or, in the case of the low light and rain, f 4.0 and be there. The rest is simple. Leave the picture as you found it. No tinkering unless it is to adjust lightness, contrast and general color.

Cymbal as art.


One for the road.

I’d rather photograph people.

I’d rather make pictures of people by discovery. On the scene. Whatever the scene happens to be. I’d make their portrait without showing the event. This transports them — and me — to another place.

As it happens, these three casual portraits were made at various parades. The top two were taken at various Mardi Gras parades. The bottom picture, which I call wolf man for obvious reasons, was made at a second line. I think I mentioned them in writing about the pictures I showed you from these events.

Finally. Now you get to see them.

The pictures. The one thing to keep in mind is that these aren’t portrait sittings. They were made in the moment. On location. In about 30 seconds time for each of them. I learned to work fast in my newspaper days. I had to. None of my subjects wanted to sit and pose. Same thing today. These people were gracious enough to let me photograph them. That didn’t mean that they wanted to spend an hour with me. But, you do have to make some sort of connection. You have to think about that when you are working the street.

Smiling slightly.

Wolf man.


All the fun.
All the fun.

Open and closed… at one time.

Mardi Gras 2017 has been in the history books since Wednesday morning at 12:01 am. With that,  my Mardi Gras pictures are closing for this year too. Of course, I’m two days late. But, that’s usual for me.

Mardi Gras was good. The parades were good. Looking back to the start way back in January, Carnival Season was very productive and a lot of fun for me. I made some pictures that I like. I made some that I didn’t like. And, I didn’t capture anything. That’s a story for another day. An Ansel Adams story.

These pictures. Odd moments along the parade routes. There is no trick to this. Just walk a lot. See a picture. Point the camera. Make the picture. Thank your subject. If you can.

Marching 100.
Marching 100.

Orpheus float.
Orpheus float.


Reflections of Mardi Gras.
Reflections of Mardi Gras.

Marching bands.

Some say they are one of the best parts of a Mardi Gras parade. I’m not sure about that. But, you know how much I like them. I spend a lot of time making pictures of the bands. Their instruments. A lot of little details. In another life I might have been a musician. As it is, I can’t play a note.

Or, perhaps it’s just the bright and shiny objects. Like everybody else, I’m attracted to bling. As you know, I like reflections of stuff.

The pictures. This is why I go to the start of the parades. I can walk around and just make pictures. I can show you things that many people don’t ever get the chance to see. That’s one of my biggest jobs. To be a witness. Maybe I should go back to doing that a little more seriously. Seems like we are heading into interesting times. The worst Chinese curse.

A little housekeeping. Something weird happened yesterday. I managed to make a “butt” post. I have no idea why or how, but I managed to turn my phone on, press the WordPress app, type a few things in, and post it. All, without knowing it.

This is what I wrote in the title bar. “BBB…” No pictures, no text.

Here’s the telling and discouraging part. Twelve of you liked it. I had no idea that I accidentally posted until I saw the “like” notifications that said so-and-so liked “BBB…”

Wait, what?

I can’t speak for anybody but me. I read your posts before I like them. Even if I have to use Google Translator to do so. Just saying’.

Flag bearer, Krewe of Muses, Mardi Gras 2017, Uptown, New Orleans
Flag bearer, Krewe of Muses, Mardi Gras 2017, Uptown, New Orleans


The smile.
The smile.

Ebb and flow.

A couple of the people who make Mardi Gras so much fun. And, a lot of colorful bling that makes Mardi Gras, well, so much fun.

I was going to group pictures by subject. But, I realized that wouldn’t give you the sense of it all. For instance, in the course of my parade work I make a lot of pretty good portraits that do not look like they have anything to do with Mardi Gras. You’ll see those later. After Mardi Gras. Throughout March.

For now, enjoy these. Open the small pictures. Plenty to see. Lots more to come. More and more and more.

The nose.
The nose.