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.


Like summer, but not quite.

Unlike yesterday, everything could not have gone better.

Everything started out well and only got better. The air was warm, but cool in the shadows. There was a gentle breeze in the air. Not much humidity. Like New Mexico.

The all seeing dog woke up early and wanted to walk. That makes me happy. She’s been very sick. She didn’t like to get up before noon or walk. After our walk, we sat in the shade. I just sat there watching, listening, with no thought in my head. She laid down with her head up and just enjoyed herself.

I made a few pictures. I was trying to find the mood of the day. Warm sun. Clouds drifting by. Trees fully recovered from winter. Almost like summer… in some other place. That made me laugh because another blogger was writing from some much more northern place and she said she was enjoying early spring. I guess it’s all relative.

The news of the day. I dunno. Somebody turned left. Somebody turned right. They got where they were going. Something like that.

The picture. When I first made the picture the trees were green, the sky was blue with white puffy clouds racing the sun. For the most part, the picture didn’t work. The light was bouncing around so much that the sky looked mottled in the files.

So, I thought… how about something from The Hudson School (of thought)?

I study artists more than photographers. Photographers are like me. Either I like their work or I get jealous. That doesn’t help. I don’t get inspired.

But, painters? That’s another story. I am usually inspired.

The Hudson School were a group of artists who had a particular style and thought process. They worked from about 1825 to 1880. They were interested in American scenery. They were the first to paint scenery rather than portraits. In America.

I set out not to duplicate their work, but to honor it.

That’s what you are looking at. I even added a canvas finish to it.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


The color of royalty.

Some things seem to be getting better.

Don’t hold me to that.

Georgia opened up all sorts of close contact businesses. Guess what? The state now has a surge of infections.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Buffett’s management team thinks that it’s a good idea to restart his tour in early July. They had to cancel a couple of shows because the municipalities where they wanted to reschedule said no. That’s what everyplace should say. I predict wherever he plays will see a surge in the city and surrounding locations.

Why are so many people in such a hurry? I get it. We all need to earn a living. But, if we rush back to nonessential businesses we may not have a life for which to earn. That doesn’t sound so smart to me.

Normally, I am a kind of dive into the pool guy. Not this time. I’d rather get back in the water a toe at a time.

I’ll tell you why.

We were doing some grocery shopping yesterday. We started down an aisle and about twenty feet ahead of us was a woman who was coughing, sneezing and dripping. She made no attempt to cover her nose. I told her to put on a mask. She replied that she had a constitutional right not to, and that I could go f*uck myself. I told her that I had a constitutional right not to be killed by her. She started screaming and yelling so loud that we could hear her three aisles away, where we retreated to.

What the hell is wrong with people?

We arrived at the check out counter at about the same time. She started yelling at us again. The manager heard her, came over and asked if there was a problem. I told him. He wouldn’t do a thing. I can assure you that I’ll be writing to the corporate office and taking our business elsewhere.

I wish we could just leave the state. Too many extremists everywhere. New Orleans is a blue city surrounded by nothing but red. But, there is nowhere to go. This isn’t like evacuating from Hurricane Katrina.

This didn’t start out to be a rant. Sorry about that.

The picture. More purple flowers. I added a lot to this image. Enough to make the flowers look metallic. Let’s hope that it works.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Life on the surface.

May.

Bill Gates and the surgeon general agree. We will finally see a turning of the tide in mid to late May. But, but, but… only if everybody in the entire country does the right thing and self isolates.

After seeing pictures from around the country, I don’t believe that will happen unless the president declares marshall law. Many people are just plain stupid. That sounds harsh. Don’t endanger my life and I won’t call you stupid.

I think the newness of staying at home is wearing off. If we have to stay home until sometime in May, we will probably look like people coming out of a bunker during WWI or WWII.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

In New Orleans businesses are hunkering down. Grocery stores are taping off six foot areas at checkout counters. They are building plexiglass wall between the checkout clerk and the shopper. Many businesses will not take paper money. Many business will not survive.

Me?

If I am going to the store, buying gas, or going to the pharmacy I wear rubber gloves. I don’t know who or what touched the very thing I want. I certainly don’t know who touched the keypad or nozzle at a gas station.

A photographer colleague did a video about despair. It’s very good. If you aren’t there yet, you will be. It more or less describes a hopeless future. The only way through is something that I’ve written (I knew I understood something, so there.). One day at a time. Or, as we say in the rooms of AA, if need be, one hour at a time. Or, one minute at a time. And, stay focused on whatever it is you do.

Because my mind was scrambling some things, I followed the advice of another blogger. Create a schedule similar to the one you used in early times. You know. Three weeks ago. Follow it. You’ll do what needs to be done and maybe a little more. You won’t be lying on the couch watching cartoons all day.

One more thing. Get dressed. You’ll feel a little more real even if time has no meaning. I liked wearing my pjs the first week. Later, I realized that I spent way too much time sleeping or watching television about nothing.

The picture. I put the smartphone down on the ground. I moved it around while looking at the LCD and made a few variations on a theme.

Stay safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

Say a little prayer for a friend of mine’s father. He is a little older than me. (The father, not the son.) He is a Vietnam Veteran. He’s one of those guys who never really came home. That’s sad enough. He has CoVid19. He’s on a ventilator. About 12 hours ago he had less than a few hours to live. I have no idea if he made it through the night.

My friend lives in Bloomington, Indiana. His dad lives in Fresno, California. Even if he could get there, he wouldn’t be allowed to see his dad. He will never get the chance to say goodbye.

That’s just horrible.


Made at night.

Night walk.

I like working at night. I made a career of it. This picture wasn’t made very late at night, because the dog who sees stuff wanted to go out at just around dusk. I don’t mind that, but with our broken streets and sidewalks I prefer not to walk in the dead of night. Even though our street Iights are fairly bright, they cast weird shadows and I could end up on my face.

That’s something I have to think about these days.

Another thing to think about is the coming CoVid-19. There are no patients at all in the state. That didn’t stop people from wearing masks and surgical gloves while they were grocery shopping. I suppose that might be a good idea since you can be asymptomatic and still be contagious.

Like everywhere else there was a run on toilet paper, sanitizer and soap. Ironic, because a week ago there was a million people in the streets celebrating Mardi Gras without any thought of a virus.

I really don’t understand the panic. The virus isn’t nearby and people are acting silly. However, if and when it does reach us, we’ll be in trouble. Our main industry is tourism.

According to what I’ve read, planes are mostly empty as are airports. Since we travel a good bit, I get emails from various airlines. American Airlines will not charge change or cancelation fees for tickets booked now through the end of March, with flights from now until January 2021.

Back to the city. Already two major conventions have cancelled. We are headed into festival season. If French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest should be forced to cancel that will just about kill the hotel and restaurant business. I can’t speak for hotels, but most restaurants run on paper thin margins. We could see the loss of quite a few smaller ones.

The say the waiting is the hardest part.

Yes, it is.

 

 


FQNITE-6
St. Louis Cathedral during Holy Week.

Casting a shadow. Locally, people call this view “Touchdown Jesus.” What do expect from a city who has an NFL football team called “The Saints?” After all, we live in “Who Dat “city. I’ve photographed this scene from many angles. But, never straight on. I guess I thought that the bars on the fence would get in the way, so I never even considered about it. Guess what? I stuck the lens of my camera through the bars and everything was fine. So. I made a Holy Week picture. On Sunday, I’ll return and photograph everyone in their Easter finery. Easter is a real big holiday around here. Three parades snake their way through The French Quarter. Women are dressed in real Easter bonnets. Children wear their best dresses and suits. Hopefully, it will warm up just a bit. Last night was the coldest night this late in March since 1955.

The picture. You know my first little trick. I stuck my camera’s lens through the wrought iron fence. I also exposed for the white in Jesus’ s statue. That assured me of some detail and turned the rest of the scene darker which emphasized the giant shadow. I’m not really sure what is causing the purple light on the obelisk  on the right. Yes. Yes. That’s what that shape is called. An obelisk.  I thought it is called a plinth. But, that’s the square block at the base of the Jesus statue. If you take away just one thing from this post, it’s this. Google is your friend.

Oh yeah. before I forget. This picture was made at the back of The St. Louis Cathedral. This view, or any of the others I’ve made, were not possible before Hurricane Katrina. There were tall trees blocking the view. They were too badly damaged. They had to be removed. Not to worry. In about ten years the new trees that were planted after the storm will block the view again.


Memphis
I saw the Mississippi River poking through the two tall buildings, so I thought I would try to do something a little for me.

To be very honest with you, I’m running out of pictures for Storyteller. At least for now. I am about five days away from the point where I can make some new images. So, I’m rooting around in my out takes. This image was sort of an experiment. When I arrived in Memphis, I sort of had a day off because of some snow delays for my partners in crime. They were trying to fly from Spokane to Memphis with a change of planes in Salt Lake City. Snow. They were rebooked. More snow. Finally, they flew to Los Angeles, or Honolulu or some place. Eventually they made it. But, I got bored and started walking around. I had a day to do some poking around. A few years ago, I photographed a book in Memphis so I sort of had a lay of the land. But, still… As dusk arrived, I found myself  looking down at the river. You know. The big river. The Mississippi River. So, I started making a few pictures. In many ways, I was sort of lucky. If the season was different, say like summer, I probably couldn’t have even seen they water. But, with the bare trees of winter it was no problem to see the river from the street.

Most of this picture’s mood and feel comes from some work in post production. Once I move the image through Lightroom and Photoshop, I fine tuned it using OnOne. And, that’s it.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow ought to be real interesting since I’m really having to dig pretty deeply in my files. And, I don’t have a lot of them with me.


New Orleans Color
Yellow9Ward-1

Remember the yellow picture? It’s posted on my Laskowitzpictures page on Facebook. A lot of readers have commented on it. Well. Many people think New Orleans really doesn’t change all that much. They think we are steeped in tradition.  In many ways we are. And, we probably would have remained remain that way. But, Hurricane Katrina changed things. A lot of things. Many people left. New people arrived. People started businesses. Some failed. Some prospered. Even though The Joint opened a few years before the storm, it became very successful after the storm. It grew so big that the owners found a much bigger building and moved. It is still located in The Bywater, which is also experiencing huge changes and growth. It’s those hipsters again.

Anyway. The bright yellow wall was painted bright blue. The funky, painted garden chairs became red and black kitchen chairs.

Everything changes. Even the little things. Even in New Orleans.

 


Caring for His Truck in Central City
Caring for His Truck in Central City

The plan for yesterday was to photograph a second line parade. I wasn’t sure how big it was going to be, but after plotting the route on Google Maps I realized this parade was going to be a long, long walk. That’s okay. Second Line Parades in Central City are usually a lot of fun to shoot. People sell water,beer and home cooked food along the route. The people are always in great moods. And, since this one was going to take place during Carnival, I could claim that it was a Mardi Gras event. That’s probably stretching things a bit, but… It didn’t matter. It didn’t happen. We drove to the corner from which it was leaving and… nothing. I made a couple of quick calls and found out that it was postponed because we had a 60% chance of rain. Oh well. The rain didn’t fall for the couple of hours that we were there. However, the rain did come pouring down later… much later. The temperature dropped by about 20 degrees.

Anyway. What to do? I realized that I really hadn’t done much work on my Central City project lately, so we just started poking around and I made pictures where I found them. I also realized that there is a section of Central City that I had never really worked, so this was a good opportunity to get to know that part of the neighborhood. For those of you who don’t know much about Central City  — New Orleans, just let me tell you that during Hurricane Katrina the area got almost as much water as the Lower 9th Ward. You don’t know that because CNN didn’t cover it. However, part of Central City did not flood because it is the only low-priced higher than sea level land left in New Orleans. When I say above sea level, I mean only higher than the rest of the city which makes it about 5 or 6 feet above sea level. That’s it. One big issue that Central City has to contend with is very high crime. So high, in fact, that when I asked the man in the picture if I could photograph him and we got to talking, he warned me to be very careful. I already knew that, but I thought his words were very kind. He didn’t know that I know Mike Keller, the owner of Keller’s Food Store. Mike has been shot three or four times. He’s also returned fire and shot three or four bad guys. Yes. It’s that bad. Sometimes. On the other hand, the people who I’ve met and photographed there have been just wonderful.

This picture. The actual picture is pretty simple. It’s a documentary picture of a man working on his truck in front of an old abandoned gas station. It’s the kind of building I wish that I owned. Most of the real work is in the post production. For the first few months that I worked in Central City I made the pictures in my usual way… by not being afraid of color. The colors are bright, energetic, richly saturated with a lot of pop. But, that doesn’t describe the place. The place is in transition. Only one out seven houses are habitable. You could probably buy an entire block of houses for under $100,000. However, when you get to “main street” which is Oretha Castle Halley Boulevard, things start to change. There are big restoration and public programs. If you continue towards the river, there are even new condos and apartment buildings. So, what is the right color palette? The work I did on this picture is an experiment, just as the burger joint images that I published last week were experiments. I’m thinking that the second version of the restaurant is about right. While today’s picture is interesting in its tone, I think it is a little too much.

Comments are more than welcome. Stay tuned.