Car reflections.

After not making pictures for a couple of weeks, they all came tumbling out.

I had an Ernst Haas moment. I had a Jay Maisel moment. I had a David Allen Harvey moment. I had my own moment.

Best of all I photographed what I saw. I saw a lot.

This picture is not what you think it is. I’m willing to bet that you think this is one of my layered pictures. It isn’t. Or, it is water. It’s not that, either.

It’s a reflection of trees on a car trunk, or boot as they say in England. There are a few leaves sort of pasted to the car’s surface. Those were left after the rain storm.  Needless to say, it’s all real.

Sure.

There is some post production going on. It’s mostly to darken highlights, open up shadows and sharpen little bits of the picture. There is no heavy post or editing going on. The picture is pretty much how I saw it.

The image was made on my phone. A little work was done in Snapseed. Most of it was done after a saved it as a Tiff, sent it to my main machine and finished it using OnOne.

Now, you know some of my new tricks. Most of them revolve around letting the picture tell me what to do.

The notion of letting something tell me how to work with it could be my sub-topic for today. I truly believe that, especially in creative fields. As I cruise through various social media, I see way too many people trying to control the process. I think it’s because they are still insecure with their genre. Pictures, Painting, Making music, Writing.

One guy, on Facebook, made a lot of pictures at Jazzfest. Most of what he was posting were pictures of Mardi Gras Indians and various second lines. To me, those are bright, vibrant and colorful scenes. He was torn between posting them in black and white or color. In the spirit of letting the picture tell you what to do, I suggested that they should be made in color for the very reason I just mentioned. There were a lot of folks who got excited by black and white because that gave the picture some kind of gravitas. He went in their direction. Oh well. You can lead a horse to water…

It’s not a question of being wrong or right. It can never be. It’s a question of subject matter. It’s also a question of making the very best picture that you can in the field. If you do that, you don’t have to worry about technique. The picture “just is.”  I think I know what he is trying to do by making black and white files. As I’ve said in the past just about everybody photographs New Orleans events. Making black and white pictures is a way of separating yourself from the pack. If you are trying that and have any guts at all, turn the camera sensor to JPEG and turn off the color capture. Make the pictures in black and white right from the start. No going back.

What do you think?

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The French Market.

Post storm. Post working day.

The French Market. Years ago, this is where people came to buy food. Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit. Fish. Shellfish. Different meats. It was one of about nine city markets that were scattered around the neighborhoods.

Not today.

There is a small section that does sell food. Mostly it’s cooked. Mostly it’s packaged. But, down at this end all sorts of souvenirs, low-end stuff from China and mass-produced African clothes and masks are sold. Oh, and as we get close to Mardi Gras, all kinds of real cheap masks and beads can be found here. I almost forgot t-shirts. Lot’s of very cheap t-shirts.

It’s tourist central. I

I don’t know why.

You can go to almost any city on the planet and find markets like this one. They pretty much offer the same merchandise. Trust me on this. I’ve been to a lot of places. When we get bored — really bored — we go shopping. With the exception of some small adjustments due to local preferences, or laws or the lack of them, most of these markets are all the same.

Of course, I go to the one in New Orleans. It’s good for cheap props for a shoot. If I’m asked to photograph something about travel, I hire a couple of models who are more like actors and have them go shopping. When I do that, the French Market is a giant stage. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are release issues. There are people getting in the way. There are people who don’t want to be photographed, and who tell you that just as you press the button. And, so it goes.

The point in all of this is that everything changes. The French Market went from a real live city marketplace, that became deserted and broken down, to a small tourist zone within a tourist zone. What it’ll morph into next is anyone’s guess. If climate predictions for the future are accurate, it could become paved river bottom.

I started thinking about this because there is going to be a talk next week on “The New Green Deal.” You know. The legislation championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Before I write further, let me say that in general I like her. She brings much-needed energy into the House of Representatives. She has a couple of big flaws  — she doesn’t understand finance and she tends to shoot from the hip like you know who — but on balance I think she’s smart, fairly well spoken and has something I admire a lot. Street smarts.

Anyway.

The talk is being given be regional people. I don’t believe that AOC is coming. This will disappointed people who want to heckle her for flying down here and using oil. Even if I disagreed with the legislation entirely, I’d still go to the talk. After all, we live in a place that could be under water in 25 – 50 years. Given the speed at which the climate is changing, I’d bet on the former. You’d think others would be interested too. We are all in this together. Oh no. Not from the comments on Facebook. Before I get in an argument with somebody I don’t know I do a little trolling. There were the usual suspects. Folks with big trucks, RVs that they use one a year, big boats that they use a couple of times in the summer. 

But.

There was one young woman who broke my heart. She is a recent graduate of LSU’s engineering department.  She works for Entergy, the folks who provide all of our power. They are Fortune 500 company and fairly well thought of. She said that she was giving this event a “hard pass.”

Huh?

I asked her why in the comments. She replied that all of this was nonsense and she was from Louisiana and storms and floods are normal. True. But, they are getting more frequent and more violent. After a little back and forth, I realized that the saying is true. “You can’t change people’s minds on social media.” Everybody is hunkered down in their silo. So, I closed with, “I’m sure that your boss’s boss’s boss will be there because guys at the top are opportunistic and want to capitalize on big changes.”

Crickets.

What I said is the truth. The big owners might not care about you and me, but they care about our cash. Cash. Either we spend it. Or, we hold it back. And, that’s what it’s going to take to save our planet. Our lives. Our children’s lives. And, their children’s lives.

The picture. Roaming around the Quarter does yield some pretty good pictures. This was at the end of one of my walks. I was dodging rain, but I was watching the wonderful light. I chased about as far as I could. I got to the French Market and everything was closed down. You know. Rain and a slow day. Then, this guy comes by on a bike. Five or six shots later and I had it. That, was luck. Photographer’s luck.

 


Seeing everything.

Reflections.

Sometimes they are simply a technique. Sometimes you see them. Sometimes you use them. Like I did here.

I like the picture in the mirror just fine. But, that’s not why I was looking at it. There’s a car coming. In front of that, there is a mule drawn carriage. I didn’t want to hit either of them. I also want to know if anybody is walking on that side. Good guy or bad guy, I want to know how to react.

Good guy because people walk all over the streets of the French Quarter. Bad guy because there are all sorts of car thefts, high jackings and robbery, done in the streets. Forewarned is forearmed.

Anyway.

All was clear except for the car and the carriage, so I waited by photographing what I saw. Since I mostly use wide angle lenses I kept the background and foreground scenes in the picture. A little context for you and me.

And, that’s the story.


Reflections.

“Thank you, my love.”

That’s what the female FEDEX driver said after I signed for the Leica. Don’t get excited. It’s a southern thing. It’s a nice thing. A good way to treat each other when we interact.

Anyway.

I had the days wrong. Today is Leica test day. A good day too. The light is stunning, once again. It bounces around from lightly overcast with white puffy clouds hiding the sun, to changing the light to bright and contrasty. Wowie-zowie.

I have an idea that I’m going to wander around the Quarter. It’s a good place to work during the day. It’s very different from the usual night views. For one thing, there are very few tourists. All locals. Doing their jobs. Getting ready for the night. And, tourist dollars.

The picture. I’ve been eyeing this window for a while. It takes bright, contrasty, low light to make it work. Even with that, you have to be careful of the window frame since you can’t get an angle that prevents keystoning. Rather than fight it, I just photographed it knowing I would crop it in editing.

I thought that I wanted it bright and colorful. But, after testing different approaches, I liked this version best. Almost no color. All monochrome.

Enjoy.

I’m off to Disneyland. Er, the French Quarter.

But, first I have to figure out this camera.


Reflections in Time

The time changed. So did the subject matter.

Even while I was working on Mardi Gras, I had to walk the dogs. Especially the dog who sees stuff. That meant I kept making pictures around our walks. Winter changed to spring. The flowers began to really bloom. The trees began to grow new leaves and drop pollen.

My nose began to itch. Now, I’m fully stuffy. Two Clariton a day aren’t really doing the trick. The best thing we can do at this time a year is stay inside with the air conditioner running. It’s not really warm enough for cold air. But, the second word in air conditioner means the air gets conditioned and unpollinated.

I can’t do that.

There are things to photograph. Worlds to be explored.

I have my books to produce. Some still need to be photographed. Meaning I have to look for the pictures. Then, wait for the right time of day and work quickly. There are Mardi Gras Indian events to photograph. Three in about three weeks. There is other travel.

So.

I anticipate being sneezy until pollen season comes to an end.

No matter.

The picture. I made this image from two other pictures. I layered them and recomposed them as a symbol of my return from the wilds of Mardi Gras. This picture exists on this page and in my mind.

It’s a bright Sunday kind of picture.

Enjoy.

Don’t sneeze.


Reflections.

Too much.

Either I’m working much slower, or I’m working much more. Or, both. Either way, I can’t seem to keep up on my posts. While I’ve edited and processed my raw files, I’ve got a long way to go until they are ready to be seen.

So.

This is an image that I made on my phone, with the intent of posting it to Instagram. I like the picture just fine. In fact, I like it a lot. It just wasn’t my thinking to post something on Storyteller that I captured quickly via phone.

No worries.

One parade today. The Krewe of Barkus. The dog parade. Yes. The hounds in this house like to go even though we are no longer krewe members. I like to photograph dogs and their people so it works out just fine. I’m not sure how far we’ll walk with the parade as it winds through the French Quarter. Wall to wall people, except the center of the street where the dogs and their people walk.

You know what I wrote about crowds. And, me.

No matter. There is plenty to see and photograph without getting squashed in the Quarter.

My plan — yes, I have one — is to finish the edit of about 900 pictures and get them ready for you and my agencies, who need a specific kind of picture. I’ll do this tomorrow after the dogs on parade.

Anyway.

This picture was easy. See it. Check its reflection. Try to stay out of the picture. (I didn’t succeed.) Push the button. It’s almost like two pictures for the price of one. It helps to have multiple tuba players with well polished instruments.

Happy Mardi Gras.

 


Drifting

Brand new. This picture.

I’m late today because I wanted to make a new picture on one of our walks. I’m not really out of new work. It’s just that nothing in my new files moves me. Another day. A new look. A change in thinking.

Which brings me to this.

We began Mardi Gras parade season last night. It was day early because the planners had to fit a new downtown walking parade into the schedule. I didn’t go.

Tonight, Krewe duVieux and Krewe of Delusion hit the streets. They walk about the same route as last night’s parade. As I write, I have no motivation. Actually, I’m not motivated  to photograph any of Mardi Gras this year.

I don’t know why.

Those in the medical and psychological world say that if you don’t want to do the things you like, it is the first sign of depression. I doubt it. Besides, one of the meds my doctor prescribed for my back was actually produced to help with depression.

I have my own theories.

First, I’ve done this for a long time. There is a time in a photographer’s life when you just sort of move on. That’s happened to me with second lines. Sure, I come out now and then. But, I used to photograph every one. It was point of pride. It’s not anymore.

Second, even though I’m in the middle of crowds when I do this kind of work, I truly hate crowds. It’s gotten worse over the years when everybody with a smart phone thinks they are a photographer.

Then, there’s the parking thing. Tonight’s parades are downtown, which means The Marigny, a bit of The Bywater and The French Quarter. Unless I get there at about 5pm for a 7pm start time, I have to walk about a million miles. My poor back, medicated or not, hurts after that.

For the Uptown parades, it’s a little different. I know when to go. I know where to park. If I get there a couple of hours early. There, I have a routine. I go to my local coffee shop, have a coffee and maybe a snack. I hang out with the local cops who are working there and the I photograph before the parades roll and follow them a bit. That’s not boring to me because every year it’s different. And, that’s where the big marching bands rehearse and sometimes have sound offs where the play against each other. That’s the best thing. See? I like that. Depressed, my behind.

Of course, getting home is another question. You’d think that I could work my way through the back streets and around the parade route. But, no. Some streets are closed because street work is being done. For the last five years. I’m trapped. Until the parade and followers pass by the location. My goal is always to get home before the parade reaches our neighborhood. I can park in our drive way and walk two blocks and catch it again. I rarely make it.

So. That is my story and I’m sticking to it. Until I change my mind.

The picture. It’s a pool of water with a sandy bottom. Leaves have settled to bottom. And, droplets of a coming rain are hitting it causing circles. The rest is easy. Point the lens at it and push the button. I cropped it square because the shape suited the picture. As I’ve said before. Let the picture tell you what to do. On the other hand, I gave it a border because I felt like it. It seemed to complete the picture.

Until I change my mind.


In a crowd.

The deep freeze is really 42 degrees.

One day the talking weather people heads will get it right. One day. Last night they were predicting starting the day with temperatures in the low twenties. That may be true somewhere. They said we might have snow. Somewhere else too. Wind was going to coming ripping through. Not here. Not in New Orleans.

I want their jobs. Say whatever you want and get paid for it.

I made this picture yesterday, while I was running errands and pretending to be productive. At first, all I really saw was the traffic and the trucks. Since you can  barely see the LCD in bright light, I didn’t see that I was in the picture.

No matter.

Upon closer inspection, this picture wraps up the day very nicely. Leaving nice blue skies and heading into the storm. With me in the middle. With my phone hanging out the open window. Yes. The case is purple. I thought that I was being different. I thought I could pick it out in the crowd. No. It seems purple is a very popular color for phone cases. Who knew?

So.

More about the picture. No. I’m not doing a drive by. I’m waiting in the left turn lane at a full stop. The trucks are moving while I was sitting there making pictures. I originally wanted to make pictures of the amazing sky that you can barely see. Then, this happened. I took advantage of it. Eventually, I also made the picture I wanted to make.  A window opened and I jumped through it. The door didn’t close. I drove through that a few minutes later.

Sometimes one thing doesn’t have to close in order for another to open. You can have both. You have to be ready for that. You have to accept winning. You have to accept success even when you aren’t sure that you deserve it. For instance, I thought I was sort of a fraud because what I did came easy to me. That happened in photography. That happened in academia. In three post bachelors degrees, I earned almost perfect grades. It seemingly just flowed out of me. It took awhile for me to realize that I started my degree programs later in life. I had real life experience in the subject I studied. All I really did was codify my knowledge with academic work. It was a lot of work. It was easy work. Like working at a hobby job.

That happens in a lot of subjects with which we are involved. For instance, we think that a new musician on the scene broke out easily with one popular record or song. We forget that they may have been singing and learning to play an instrument since they were four or five. They practiced every day. They woodshedded. They played in small public gatherings. The practiced some more. Somewhere along the line, they discovered they could write songs. They made a demo. They got lucky. Somebody liked it. Their career was born.

Same with other careers. Same with me. Those of us who broke through early tend to wonder. Was I lucky? Am I really good enough? Am I a fraud? The answers to those questions are yes, yes, no.

I’ve simplified the process. The path. There is a lot more to say on this subject. Not today. Eventually.

Just know this. Easy or hard, anybody who is productive in whatever they choose to do is not a fraud. We worked hard to get wherever we are today. Even me. Even me in the freezing (kinda) swamp.

Peaches. Oops. I meant peace.


Dancing and celebrating.

It was the first song I heard this morning.

It stunned me. It’s an old Brian Wilson song called “Love and Mercy.” He more or less gave it to the Miraculous Love Kids/Girl with a Guitar. Not only did he approve it, but he reworked it by singing with the girls. They were in Afghanistan. He was in Los Angeles.

The project came to be when two young Afghani girls were killed by an IED that was meant for U.S soldiers.  Innocents killed. Again.

Note. I tried to give you a link to it. I’m not very good at that, which is why I normally don’t share the music I sometimes talk about. Even when I manage to do it, I have no idea how to do what many of you do and attach the link to words on your page without showing the link. You click on a word and takes you to wherever. Not for me.

Today it got worse.

I did what I was told. I pasted the link to my clipboard. I couldn’t transfer it. I typed it in by hand. When I tested the link, Google got involved and said it was a suspicious site and blocked it. I am so damn tired of technology trying to run my life. I’m not very smart about this stuff. Nor, am I any good. But, when I follow written directions I expect it to work.

Isn’t it funny how technology can spoil a wonderful moment? A moment of giving?

If you want to actually hear the song, it’s on YouTube. Type in Brian Wilson — Love and Mercy — you will see a number of versions of the song. Just scroll down about six or seven versions and you’ll see it. I hope it moves you as it did me.

A little housekeeping.

This picture is a couple of years old. I liked it a lot then. I like it a lot now. That’s Julie Jones, “The Dancing Woman of New Orleans.” She makes most of her living dancing and busking in the French Quarter. But, she always turns out for important events like a jazz funeral, where this was made. She’s about my age. I don’t know how she does it. She wears dancing shoes and performs on broken streets. I wear running or hiking shoes and can barely walk on those same streets.

That brings me to a couple of choices.

I maintain two separate sites. Storyteller and my more commercial site; Laskowitzpictures.com. I don’t want to keep both in 2019. As you know I started to move Storyteller to the commercial website. But, unless I can figure out how to transfer all of you, I lose my community. That matters. A lot.

So, maybe I stay here, and create a static website page with Storyteller inside of that, like many people do. Once again I run into technology problems. I really don’t know how to do that. I’m just not that smart. I tried building portfolio pages and that was a disaster. It confused you and it made my page look poorly designed.

There’s another issue.

I’m pretty toasty. I was invited to partake in another gallery show. I’m suppose to hang the work on Sunday. I haven’t even printed it or started framing it yet. I suspect part of this is my pain meds which really don’t make me high or anything like that. But, my motivation is in the dumper. Or, I’m just done with spending money with little or no return. I don’t know.

This week was hell week. It all has to do with retirement, benefits and my little local drugstore closing overnight and transferring everything to Walgreens. Without going into any detail, if you ever have to go to Walgreens, run — don’t walk — as fast as you can to someplace else. But, not CVS.

Having said that, I also haven’t really been motivated to make new work. Most of the images you’ve seen in November were made with my new phone — which is also too technologically advanced for me — on dog walks or while running errands.

Maybe I should take a break for the last month of the year and regroup. My yearly numbers are down, way down. Down in the basement. In theory, the more subscribers you have, the more you should grow. Wrongo. A lot of my friends have been discussing that. Also a lot of my old WordPress friends are missing in action.

On the other hand, a lot of people sort of sweat out a blog post. I don’t. I usually have a new picture in mind. I read a lot during the day, sleep on it, let it spin around in my brain and out it comes the next morning. The doesn’t work for writing books. But, for doing this, it is just fine.

I don’t know.

Maybe, you should tell me.