Free falling.

T

oday got rolling just about the time I got up. I told you that I was going to get busy. I didn’t think that I meant right this second.

I thought I could cruise into the work a little bit at a time. Silly me.

I made my first mistake when I started listening to music. I started with something soft, slow and nostalgic. I almost couldn’t get started. I switched things up. I started Playing a playlist called “Ray’s Mix.”

Yeah. That’s me. I made it when I thought making play lists on Spotify was important. It’s loud. It’s s noisy. And, I know all the words.

Anyway.

This one will keep me working for hours.

I’ll keep this short. Work awaits.

Darn.

D

o you want technique? This one should fill you up. To the top.

The picture really is about nothing. Since all art is autobiographical what does that say about me?

That aside, this was a picture made from desperation. Or, it was an attempt to come back from wandering in the wilderness.

I made the picture, developed it and thought, “Now what?”

I removed a lot of color and muted it. Then, I tinkered around with different modification filters until I came to this place.

The picture highlights something I’ve been saying, and saying, and saying…

Go outside and take a picture. You’ll find one, or it will find you.


Magical night.

P

laying. Having fun. Tinkering. Messing around. That’s some of what we should be doing. But, often we get sucked into making a living. Or, we really get sucked into the gear of the thing.

Experimenting and playing is what Storyteller is about, has always been about. Oh sure, a client or two has found me here. Or, I’ve sold a couple of photographs to private collectors.

That’s it.

I’m trying to make a big decision. You heard about this in the past. I’ve been quietly building a new website.

It’s a portfolio-commercial site that contains a blog within the website itself. Oh for sure, I’ll take all of you with me who want to come along.

Some of you would like me to stay here. That’s humbling. If I send you an email link that takes you to the new site you shouldn’t see a difference, except you probably won’t be able to “like” a post without commenting.

That’s not the real question.

Actually, there’s two. Will a semi-folksy blog like Storyteller confuse the commercial users? Will LaskowitzPictures confuse the folksy readers?

And, the bigger question.

What is this new website? Do I continue to publish a lot of New Orleans pictures? Or, travel pictures? Or, a giant portfolio from 45 years past?

Or, should I go with my instincts? And, make the site about artistic pictures?

Or? Or? Or?

Please, you tell me what you think. Please.

L

et’s assume that Storyteller becomes an art website and an artistic blog.

See where I am really going with this? Heh!

There are many forms of art.

Some are like these layered things that I’ve been doing a lot over many years. See the picture.

Others are minimalist, almost Zen-like in nature.

Others are a collection of dark, moody and mysterious pictures that I’ve been making.

Do I show a small portfolio of each of them? Could I turn those portfolios into more pictures with a click on the original image? Like a tree with branches?

Do I know how to do that coding and linking?

Does anyone?


New Mexican delight.

D

ream or nightmare, you tell me. I’m going with nightmare and I’ll tell you why. You know that I post most of my tales the afternoon before the publishing date.

I sat down at 1 pm to start editing the picture. It is now 5:43 pm. The computer just gave me hell when the night previous, it was smooth and fast. It wouldn’t load. Every app gave me a hard time.

I finally rebooted the computer and that took three tries. OnOne took four tries to load. WordPress, for once, worked as as expected.

I don’t understand what happened. Apple suggests that you put the computer to sleep for extended periods of non use. I did that.

Apple says this because it takes a good 30 minutes to reboot from a cold start. Even when it is finished, apps don’t respond very quickly.

It could be the age of the computer. But, I’ll tell you this. We bought a refurbed Hewlett Packard Windows 10 computer just as a test. It runs smoother and faster than my main machine ever ran.

Here’s what happened. While Apple was making smartphones and watches, they weren’t paying attention to what should be their core product, computers. They made tiny, incremental changes while Windows products were getting better by leaps and bounds.

The latest iMacs reflect that trend. There is a new chip. But, the really big deal, apparently, is now they come in about five colors. Like that’ll help.

There is a new iMac coming out sometime soon. That’s supposed to have the big upgrades. We’ll see. It probably means five more colors.

Along with my change of blogging location I might as well just switch to a Windows product. After all, Windows 11 is supposed to look like an Apple desktop.

I probably won’t notice the difference except it’ll be much faster.

T

here is a lot of manipulating and technical work that went into this photographic piece of art.

The original picture is simple. It’s an old blue Chevy pickup truck parked in front of an abode building.

I started tinkering with it. Slowly at first, then I went a little crazy.

It may seem like I did everything possible to it. I stopped just before that. But, honestly, I do not remember adding that film strip to the bottom of it.

I must have been in a fine frenzy.

Whatever happened, is the result of going out of my mind. But, not knowing it at the time.

And, here’s more technical nonsense just in case you haven’t had enough.

We’ve decided to not pay so much to cool the house during a normal Southeast Louisiana summer.

The electric bills can be outrageous.

So, we set the thermostat to 75 degrees.

I’m freezing.

Maybe my thermostat is broken.

Sheesh. It’s always something.


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.


Garden of Prayer.

N

ew Orleanians understand death. We mourn and we celebrate. We actually like our cemeteries. Personally, I like the older funky ones.

I like cemeteries like this one that is located in the middle of a working class neighborhood. It’s a Jewish cemetery called, Garden of Prayer. It’s fairly old.

I’ve roamed around the city enough to know most of the cemeteries. I like all of them for different reasons. One of my favorites is Holt, near Delgado Community College. It’s sort of a potters field.

Another aspect of our culture is how people are remembered. We mourn and then celebrate with our jazz funerals. Usually, the more well known in the community the deceased is the bigger the second line, which is really what a jazz funeral is.

I had to chuckle at one tourist’s online request. She wanted to know how she could plan to attend a jazz funerals since she was coming from out of town for a visit. The snarky answer was “die.”

Some people were more helpful than others, but unless you are plugged into the city culture bearers the only other way is to read the death notices in the newspaper.

If you’re lucky enough to attend one and you are on a trip for somewhere else, just follow the locals and what we do. These events can be chaotic so be prepared for that.

T

he top photograph had kind of a quirky approach to post production.

When I worked on it earlier, I made it very golden as if I made it during golden hour.

That fell under the heading of, “What was I thinking?” A lot of things that I do fall under that.

So, this time around I brought it back to its original coloring. That took more work that you would think.

The bottom picture ws simple. I just left alone, possibly enhancing the color a bit. I made it in 2019 so you can’t expect me to recall exactly what I did.

I believe that photographs like that are more long the line of photojournalism so I don’t like to tinker very much.

Second lining to honor Chef. Leah Chase.


One night, lonely.

O

nce, when I used to live in Asia, I traveled around the world to Denmark. I left Singapore exhausted and beaten down by a very rough press check.

My press checks were never rough. I know enough color theory and the art of making compromises when I couldn’t manage everything on the page the way I wanted.

We printed either 8, 12, or 16 pages to view. Or, we printed a certain number of pages at the same time so that when they were folded and trimmed they formed a section of a book. The trick is to make sure the color was what you wanted on, let’s say page one and page eight.

This press check was grueling because it was a co-production with a small sports agency based in New York. They thought we could print one of those big pages, send it to New York where they could make changes, maybe even substituting pictures.

Nonsense.

We’d have been printing the book for a month. Normally, that’s about a three day job.

So.

I went forward without sending them anything. My press, my call. I said they should call me in a couple of days.

When are you going to send the first pages they asked? The book is done I replied. The yelling started. The screaming started. I just listened. Finally, they settled down. I asked if they were done. I also said that if they started in again, I’d dump the whole thing in The Sea of China.

They threatened to call my boss, not realizing that I didn’t have a direct boss. But, I did have a president. Did they actually think that I’d go off half cocked with out making sure my back was covered.

Boy. This is a long set up.

I left Singapore for Denmark. We flew to Switzerland and then to Denmark. When we landed in Switzerland the flight attendant apologized, saying that she tried to wake me, but I was in such a deep sleep that she decided to let me sleep. Good call. She found me something for me to eat while we were on the ground.

When I finally arrived at what would now be called an Air BnB, I was about dead. I turned on the television to keep me company. The only channel that I could understand was a music channel.

I saw and heard it at about the same time.

There was the lead singer wearing long dreads, and leather fringe jacket. He was jumping around and looking happy. It woke me up.

The singer was Adam Durwitz. The band was Counting Crows. The song was Mr. Jones. You’d have think back to the mid-1990s to remember it. It was a huge hit from their first album. I still listen it to this day.

Finally.

S

o, that was a long story wasn’t it?

Just as well.

This side, the technical side won’t be near as long.

I saw the light from my studio. I was a little late. So, I did what I could.

I went to my go to location and started making pictures.

When I started looking at them while I was editing I realized that I didn’t know what was doing.

Figures.

This morning I couldn’t make an espresso to save my life.

I dropped the capsule on the floor. I picked up and dropped it again.

The basket was full so I emptied it into small trash can where we put recyclables. They fell on the floor.

I washed the basket.

I added more water. While I was pouring it into the machine the hatch that covers the water fell back in place. The water flowed all over the counter.

In what world do I think that I can make pictures?

Anyway.

I did some post production magic and made something that is intriguing.

At least I managed to repair all of the noise that was in the sky.

Now, do you want me to tell you about making breakfast?

Sheesh.


T

he edge of town. No darkness here. Just raw, bright New Mexican light.

This is where Route 66 sort of comes to an end. It’s about as far west in Albuquerque as you can go, without leaving the city line.

I think that these ruins, probably once a gas station and cafe, were caused by the move to Interstate 40, which is south of here. Motorists just didn’t drive though here as much and locals wouldn’t stop here since this is very close to modern gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

I’d have probably never run into this place if I hadn’t been roaming around looking for PAD images. But I cruised far and wide.

I went further west than this place, to where the casino and the remains of route 66 re-emerge at a rickety old bridge. I went east out past Moriarity, where the junkyard and car museum is located. I went south as far as Las Lunas and north as far as the San Felipe Pueblo where I made two signature images.

I travelled as much as I could on surface streets. Interstates are not the way to go when you are looking for pictures.

I met great people along the way and some not so great people. I remember going into a small town grocery store about the size of a 7-11. I asked to use the restroom. “You hafta buy something.” “Okay I’ll take these two waters.” “That’s not enough.” “Okay, you’ll lose the sale and I’ll go pee on your driveway.”

I bought the water and used the restroom.

M

ore technical nonsense that I don’t want to deal with.

It seems that WordPress continues to make changes. At least some of the stuff works that didn’t work.

Of course, WordPress didn’t say a word, meaning that I caused myself all sort of problems doing an unneeded work around.

Anyway.

This picture was easy to make. Just shoot almost directly into the sun and pray.

If you expose the bright light properly the buildings will be silhouetted, which is what I wanted.

I added some faux bokeh and stuff, actually to tune down the electric color on the tumbleweeds in the background. The color was real but my eyeballs vibrated.

At least I’m having fun with color drop caps. What a day.


Nearing some end.

With the all seeing dog on the mend I hit a wall. I wasn’t making new pictures. I did the next best thing. I worked on older pictures, experimenting every step of the way.

The good news is that the dog in question is feeling better. She took me for a walk this morning. I put the brakes on about half way through a normal routine because I didn’t want to tire her out.

So.

I did make some new pictures. You’ll see one tomorrow since I was already was working on this one.

Of course, even getting this picture here took an act of God. It started when a client forced me to use some alternate way of uploading PDFs.

It took me the better part of two days to fix all the issues including working in the safe mode to clean out the bad data.

This guy still wants to be a client. That’s fine. My basic billing rate is triple what I normally charge. Shut me down for two days and his accounting department is going to have questions.

Anyway…

Finally, a picture that can take some technical talk.

I built this one sort of backwards. Normally, my pictures are full of color.

This time after layering the images and getting them approximately where I wanted them, I worked backwards.

I removed color. I removed contrast. I almost came close to just leaving the dots in the file. Them I built the image up a little and that’s what you are looking at.

It’s a picture for late spring as we near summer. The brightest colors are fading. Others are starting to appear.

The mystery of life.


Flying.

Looks like wings, doesn’t it? Could be a moth or butterfly. It’s not. It’s too soon for flying creatures like those two. Even down here in the swamp all we have are caterpillars.

There are two kinds. There are soft furry ones. They make butterflies. There are hard spiny ones. They make moths. If one falls on you or you step on one you can get hurt. One of my neighbors still has a scar on her ankle two years after she was stung.

I don’t like to kill any living thing. I make one big exception. Put on a nice pair of hard soled shoes and step on every one of those spicky caterpillars that you see.

Sorry if that offends you.

Anyway.

The little piece of the picture that looks like wings are flower petals. I’ll tell you what I did to this picture on the other side.

I’m trying to figure out what this picture means to me. What the image means to you is your business.

I think there are two components to ma nature. The first, that I’ve written about in the past, is that she always seeks stasis. The second is that getting to stasis takes chaos.

This picture is an example of the later.

Earth’s chaos.

I’m about to use a new phrase. Some of you may know it. It gives me a lot of latitude. I believe ma nature is a tool of the higher power of your understanding.

Get it? Good.

Finally. A technical nightmare. This image was made in many fits and starts.

There are three images layered into the one you see.

That was the easy part. The rest made me crazy. And, that’s saying a lot.

First, I added color. Then, I used a retro setting that took the color of of the image.

I brightened the color slightly. Then I used an app that creates drama by removing a lot of mid tones out of the picture. Then, I selectively added some color.

Getting near the end, I used the grunge app which created all those weird little shapes.

Then I was done. And, so was the picture.

Figure out what it means to you, if anything. Let me know in the comments.