On Your Shore


Green is like.

There is something that I’ve mentioned is the past. I’m repeating myself. Some of you replied that it didn’t matter because nature changes in subtle ways. Some of you were wrong. After I made this picture I happened to scroll through my Storyteller archive. Guess what?

Not only did I find a a very similar picture, but I found the exact shooting sequence. This is almost picture for picture. Whew!

I have no idea what it means.

Or, do I?

I haven’t been able to make very many pictures this month. I made a few images, but not anything that I really like.

I’m trying to figure out way.

I know that I am bored with the scenes and subject matter. I feel a little trapped by the virus. I’m not comfortable going to places where other people go.

I suppose that I also see an end to my photographic career. That’s a really hard issue. At best, it means I move on. At worst, it’s very depressing. I don’t feel sad. I feel sort of stuck.

Maybe when we have a vaccine, I might feel more comfortable among people not in my pod.

How do y’all feel?

The picture. Remember, I have practice with this subject and with the scene. So making it a second time was no big deal. See it, keep the flair to a minimum, push the button. That’s it. Do that, and there is minimal post production.

Stay safe. Stay mighty, Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

Oh yeah, the title is borrowed from Enya.

Sunrise, Sunrise, I Can See It


In the morning when we rise.

Sometimes it’s all light and color with just a hint of subject matter. Sometimes it’s more. This picture straddles both, leaning to the previous. It’s sort of musical.

That’s just as well. It’s been a musical sort of day. The musicians in my life have been playing sort of tag with me and I with them. We’ve been liking each others’ work on the socials.

We are supposed to be secret keepers. That’s a title of a song, but it isn’t quite so positive. Google it, listen to it and maybe you’ll figure to out.

See what I mean? We are all playing with fire.

Anyway.

All music, all day.

We started with something on the quiet side. A morning mix made by a friend of mine. It only got louder and more energetic from there. Remember Cream’s live version of “Crossroads?” Like that.

I don’t know what we were thinking. The neighbors wondered if we were thinking.

I don’t believe we were. After so many months in lockdown, it was time to feel, not think.

That was Sunday. Today is Monday. Either we get back to thinking or just keep going. I vote for the latter.

You?

Bokeh. The Japanese word that means the quality of the background in a photograph. Somebody started using the word and it became a thing. It’s not really a thing. Japanese people don’t even use it.

The bokeh in this picture is fake. It was created by software on OnOne. Real bokeh is creamy and is created by the quality of the lens used to make the picture.

I used it to hide a billion imperfections, which is just about the only time that I use it.

The rest of the photograph is real. So there.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other.

The Calling


As the season change.

Staying True.

I’m having a conversation with some Photoshelter folks about the so-called Photographers Bill of Rights via a comment section. Most of it concerns photojournalism. That’s where my career started. That’s where my heart lies.

I read the entire document. If I’m going to talk about it, I should read it. That’s only fair. I have questions.

Let’s start with this one.

Why is a portrait photographer — a good one — telling photojournalists how to be? This is the same guy who wants working photographers to seek permission before we photograph someone on the street or at an event like a protest.

I’d like to know if he’s ever worked on the streets. He has no idea what that world is like.

Then, there is the term that the authors want to use for us. “Lens Based Workers.”

Oh really?

They claim that they want to be all inclusive. They want the term to be about photographers, videographers, picture editors, and so on.

Great !

I like inclusiveness. But, why such a low end blue collar name? Most of us attended universities. We are, at the very least, professionals.

Some of us have more advanced degrees like a Master of Science, or even a doctorate. That would be me. Laskowitz, PhD. I don’t use my title very much because my work has nothing to do with my degree.

You don’t get to call me a “lens based worker.”

If you push me, I’m going to insist that you call me, Dr. Laskowitz. Nobody wants that. Least of all me.

At the end of the day, I see this as an attempt to quantify what most of us in my generation have known for most of our lives. I don’t want that. I bet the young men and women won’t either.

I learned how to be a photojournalist/photographer from those who came before me. My elders. I’m willing to be a young photographer’s elder. Mentor. Guru. All they have to do is ask.

Just don’t call me an old white colonialist.

You have no idea what I think. As little as I know about my heritage, I know this. It’s very likely that my grandfather was a kind of serf. He left because Communism was raising its ugly head. He wanted to be free. Just like me.

What kind of colonialist is that? White? I’m sorry (not sorry). I was born this way. Old? I hope the writers of the document get to be old. Like me.

I had to think about why I take offense at the so-called bill of rights. The headline says it all. What I do is my calling. My work is what I was given to do. If I’m any good at all, it’s because I worked hard, listened to my elders and took a few chances.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy your own photographs.

The Thing Itself


Chasing light.

Light. The thing itself.

We chase it.

That’s what we do. That’s what photographers do. Maybe everybody does it. We chase light. Photographers need it to make pictures. Artists use the interplay between light and dark to work. All of us needs light to live.

Artificial light is fine, but sunlight is the real deal.

Of course, humans can alter that. We can create different environments. Some are good. Some aren’t. And, some are terrible. Just think about the environment we are creating for ourselves called climate change. Australians sure are thinking about that right now.

The light that I’m talking about is pretty. It’s created by late afternoon winter sun when the blue sky. That’s what this picture is about. The scene is common. Cars parked in a parking lot. But, the light. Oh my God, the light. I wish I were in a better place to work this light. But if I was, I might have lost it. Or, it might not have the reflective strength. So, I took what I had. I worked the technique to make it as good as I could.

After all, that’s all we can do with anything. We can do the best that we can. Do that and be a happy person.

Happy New Year.

Memories


Across the high desert.

Memories.

The Sandias near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This was one of the last pictures I made in the state before we returned to New Orleans. Originally, the picture was bright and bold. I thought that I would rework it into something a little different. I wanted to feel like I was gazing at a dream. These days, that’s what our time in the state feels like. A dream. All a dream.

As I’ve been working through my best of the decade work, I’ve been bringing up all sorts of memories. About people. About places. About events. It all feels a little hazy to me. Sometimes remembering something sends me to an entirely different mental image. You probably know how that goes.

Anyway.

I’ve edited a big archive down to the decade’s ten best pictures. I wish I had another reviewer to check my selections, but I don’t. I’ll publish them during the week between Christmas and New Year. That’s what a couple of you suggested. That sounds right to me.

In the Shadows


Into the mystic.

Deep. Dark. Mysterious.

That’s what I saw. That’s what I felt.  Luckily, I was able to make a picture that has feeling rather than just the usual documentation of a thing or place. Let me tell you, that doesn’t happen very often.

It was kind of a fluke. Kind of photographer’s luck. Kind of what I tell me people who are suffering from a photography disorder.

It was a fluke because the dog and I normally don’t walk in this direction. It was photographer’s luck because we picked the time of day. It was the solution to the question I had been asking myself earlier in the day.

Together, all of this worked in my favor. Or, really, your favor.

The picture. From a technical standpoint, it was be there, see it, push the button. In post production it was more of the same. Most of the work was about darkening and enhancing the color to the point that I saw it while we were walking.

Seeing Red


Glowing red leaves.

Seeing red.

Usually that means being very angry. Not this time. I just happened to see a lot of red on a morning walk. The light was lower in the sky so it illuminated things that might not be so easily seen. It was a kind of photographer’s luck. I made other pictures on the walk. You’ll see them later. But, these three just sort of came together naturally. I try not to fight that.

Backlighted red leaves in the morning.

Meanwhile, the dog who sees things wanted to go out three times. We walked close to five miles. Of course, yesterday was a bad day for pain. I took the limits of my pain medication and that barely took the edge off. But, she doesn’t understand that so we walked.

This morning, I felt just fine. There is no explanation for this. But, I don’t question great days. This time, we walked about 150-200 yards and she headed for home.

Both of us have to get our timing down.

Fallen leaves in dust bin.

That’s the story for today. I usually try to publish by noon my time. I’ve been late the last few days. Really, there is no reason except a lack of motivation. I sit down to work on Storyteller and just sit there. It’s taking me two or three tries to actually want to work. Maybe it’s the season. Maybe I need a new toy. Who knows?

 

A Little Too Much


Autumn light.

I changed my mind.

I wrote a fairly long post about me. I think I went a lot further than I intended. So, here I am writing something entirely different. It’s about teaching and letting go.

Many of my posts are purely about photography. My intent is to teach even if I don’t expressly say that. Sometimes, I teach by example. Sometimes, I tell you how I did something. Sometimes, I talk about theory and philosophy.

Hopefully, something strikes your fancy and you try it. Maybe you’ll ask more about how, why and what I did. Sometimes, I see a picture that looks just about like something I posted or talked about. I just sort of smile.

All of that is humbling.

I learned a lesson yesterday from some folks on Facebook. I was reading comments on a group page. If someone disagreed with another a big fight ensued. They attacked each other personally. It made me sad. The people in this group should be pulling in the same direction. Of course, disagreements happen, but throwing the kitchen sink at another person never helps.

Whenever you offer advice to another person, keep in mind that it is their life. They can choose to follow your advice or not. In either case, give your thoughts freely and walk away. You’ve done your best. For you, that should be good enough.

The picture. This is what happens when a cool front chases slightly warmer air. First, there is rain. Then comes wind. More rain. Then beautiful blue skies appear with brilliant white puffy clouds cruising through. My approach is to shoot directly into all that brightness and let the foreground fall into silhouette, making a dramatic graphic shape.

You may be inspired by the thought of making a fall picture. You may go about it in a different way. How cool is that? Your brain switched on and then clicked again. You made your picture.

 

On This Day


As the sun lowers near dusk.

Today.

Today is a sacred day. On a bright fall morning in 2001 our world changed. Terrorists crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers in the city of my birth, New York. They crashed a third plane into the Pentagon, the hub of our military in Washington D.C. They tried to steer a fourth plane back to the district, when very brave passengers, knowing they would lose their lives, forced that plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.

If you ask me about my personal opinion, I’ll say this. Of course, I’m sad. I was even scared at the time. But, I believe the bad guys achieved their purpose. They changed the world. As one false step lead to another, we ended up — for now — in hateful place.  A polarized place where seemingly everybody is against somebody who is even remotely different from them.

I’m happy to report that I’m not that way. I guess, for the most part, I’ve seen enough in my life to not really be afraid of much. Even death. I don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of it. I don’t know when these changes came to me. They sort of just slid in there. In a way that also explains this picture.

For sure, we should stop, think and reflect on this day. We should make an extra effort to be kinder than we were yesterday. But, we also have to move on in our own ways. For me, that’s making pictures. It’s the only way that I can defeat the bad guys. A friend of mine who lives in Memphis say that as artists we need to “art harder.” I agree.

For those of you who do something different, keep doing it. Do more of it.

That’s how we win.

So.

This picture hasn’t got anything to do with my thoughts for today. Sometimes that happens. I’m just chasing the wonderful autumn light these days. Someday, the weather will actually change and the temperatures will match the light. #nolaheat is relentless.

Peace, prayers and love.