Streaking into the sky.

O

kay. I’m going to get back on posting track. So, this one is for 1pm Central Time. We’ll just see about that. That sounds a lot like the always infamous, “Just wait until your father gets home.” You know how that used to work, right?

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with DSLR or mirrorless cameras. If all you are doing is making pictures for the internet it really doesn’t matter anymore.

I have a friend who is a pretty good photographic artist. We went to college together. While I pursed photojournalism he did something smarter. He studied law, worked as corporate counsel, built a retirement program and retired a few years ago.

He and his wife traveled to Mexico City, a hotbed of great places to explore and photograph. You’d think that he would have carried a bunch of “real” cameras. He didn’t. He brought his smart phone. An iPhone.

He posted some of his work on Facebook. I opened some of them so I could get a better look. They were fine. The quality looked like just about anything you could get with a DSLR.

Of course, enlarging them for a gallery show or something similar might be a different issue. But, a few years ago I made a test 16×16 inch test print from an iPhone image file. An older iPhone. It looks great on the wall.

I think that we’ve reach a point that unless we are going to do something exceptional with a photograph, smartphone photography might be good enough.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.


Symbolic of changing.

T

oday is a big day.

In New Orleans, January 6th marks the start of Carnival with a parade through The French Quarter and a streetcar ride. It only grows from here until the season ends on Mardi Gras Tuesday.

More importantly, today marks the one year anniversary of the insurrection, storming and temporary take over of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

One event marks a season of joy, the other, a country filled with hate. I could recap what happened but it is enough to say that a former president would do anything to hold onto power. He was not used to being told no. Many of his followers believed him. Most of them still do. The attacked our government. They attacked my belief system and my country.

They say the presidential election was stolen. After audit upon audit there is no evidence of that, so I reply to the so-called stop the steal group, “Prove it.” Don’t tell me you know. Tell me what and how you know.

You can’t.

This picture is more spring-like than wintery. It is about rebirth. The nation is tottering right now. Between extreme polarization, a weakened economy and Covid-19 to name a few issues, don’t you think it’s time for a little rebirth?

I do.


Like fire.

I

t seems I went backwards today. My last two posts were artistic in nature. They were pictures that helped you to feel. I hope.

This picture is more traditional in the sense that it helps you to see the end of a day as I documented it. It may also help you to feel. But, everybody’s life experiences are different.

As many of you know, I’m not big on basic sunset images. It has to be wonderful to move me. It’s not that I don’t like sunsets. I do. It’s just that there are so many that are kind of meh. Enjoy the light. And, just look at them.

I also think that you need something in the sunset to give it some kind of context. That’s why there are silhouettes at the base.

I believe that you should turn around and see what that amazing like is illuminating. On this day the light was reflecting off and through the light cloud cover. It was too broad to light anything dramatically.

So, that’s what I think about sunsets.

And, you?


This picture.

T

his picture started out its life in black and white. That’s not quite true. The original file is color, but because of the way I isolated it against a bald whitish sky it looks black and white.

The picture became experimental. I wanted to see if I could introduce some color to a black and white picture. It turns out that there are plenty of ways to do that, but none of them add true color. They add sort of a transparent color on the upper layer which was fine for this test.

Because I used OnOne for the job it didn’t take a lot of moves to get here because you can see what the filter will do on the left hand column of the desktop.

That’s what I did. Last night.


In the air.

A

brand new picture. Imagine that. I went for a walk when the light was right and I started having fun. I just kept making pictures until I was finished, which took a while. I think that I wanted to take the long way home as they say.

The funny thing was that the more I saw, the more I saw.

I think my problem isn’t not being able to see. It’s feeling trapped in place by the current circumstances. I don’t like to be stuck anywhere unless I want to be. It’s one thing being stuck in New Orleans. It’s another to be stuck on St. Barts.

It’s also one thing to know that almost everybody thinks that the pandemic is over when it has years to go and that too many of them aren’t taking any kind of precautions thinking that they are protected by the vaccinations. To a certain extent they are, but there are enough breakthrough infections to make me wonder a little bit

In my case, that doesn’t matter. I isolate myself or I run the risk of dying. So, as I write I’m talking to the Shipt buyer. Because of me, everybody in the house likes not having to go grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, they like buying specialty items at a farmers market or a fruit stand. They like going to Hong Kong, the Asian grocery store, not the city.

One of the things that I’ve come to understand is that the pandemic made a lot of us think about how we do things. We don’t always have to be some place to work. We don’t have to travel across the country to have an hour meeting. We’ve managed to find and cut out a lot of BS factors.

On the other hand, shopping from home for bigger products has put a huge stress on the logistics chains, to which most people never gave a second thought. There are ships and containers stacked up at every major port city. In China, or other ports in Asia, there aren’t enough containers or ships to move new product.

This is a pandemic which keeps on giving in ways that never occurred to us. I’m sure that there will be more.

A quick change. When it comes to photo technique I keep writing the same things. Unless I do something out of the ordinary, I’m not going to divide the columns.


Emerging from the foggy bottom.

L

et’s see if this thing works today. In many ways, I’m becoming afraid to post. It’s become what bad thing is WordPress going to do to me today.

I don’t know why I care. It’s not the most important thing do on any given day.

I read an op-ed column in which the writer tries to understand what is causing so many massive protests. He suggests a couple of potential reasons; the pandemic and the failure for government to take care of us.

Let’s talk about the last one and then get a little more granular. See, I know contemporary buzzwords.

Hurricane Ida left us with a lot of damage. I applied to FEMA for grants. We received the emergency grant of $500. That’s for food and hotel rooms. But, I didn’t receive the business grant of $1,500.

Almost immediately I received an email from the SBA who wanted me to apply for a low interest loan. I ignored it. I received another the next day, and the next day and the next day.

It seems the U.S. government wants me to take out a loan. I finally called someone at FEMA who apparently was used to dealing with brain dead monkeys. Every time that I need to make notes she asked me very carefully if I had a piece of paper and something to write with. After the third time, I asked her why she would think that if had those things the first time why I wouldn’t have them now.

That’s what she is trained to do.

She told me that I had to be apply for a SBA loan in order to qualify for more FEMA aid. Oh, okay.

In order to do that you join a general government aid website. Then, you join the FEMA website, and finally the SBA website.

If that doesn’t make sense, in order to read an email that FEMA sent you have go the general website. No email can come directly to me at my personal/business email address which is Ray@Laskowitzpictures.com.

I gave up.

Just last week I received an email from a human at SBA, wanting to know why I hadn’t applied for a loan yet. I told him in no uncertain terms why I hadn’t.

I’ve been dealing with federal crap since 1970. I’ve had enough.

I think I’ll start a protest march against FEMA. I know plenty of locals who would join me.

Then just because I can, I think I’ll start another march… against WordPress.

Are you reading automattician?

R

ound two. In which the idiot (me) thinks he can get through writing this blog unscathed.

While I was editing the other side, it came to me that I am going to fight my way through governmental interference and apply for an SBA loan.

Yep. With interest below one percent I’m going to apply for the full monty. $40,000.

I need it to buy a computer. That’s gonna be some computer.

I also wanna buy a hat. And, socks.

S

o, the picture.

I started with the background. It’s a bush full of pink flowers. I made it as over processed as I could. Then, I layered another flower over that.

When that was sufficiently mixed up, I added the trees to that.

I wasn’t sure at first. But when I tinkered with it, I was.

That’s why you get to see it.


“U

nderneath the heavens above.” That’s a line from a Bob Dylan song. I heard it just as I started writing. So, I thought, “Why not?”

Y’all know that I listen to music while I write, yes? I’m playing a Spotify play list called Summer Rewind. I’m trying to think about what summer this particular list comes from. It is certainly eclectic mix of songs.

I’ve been chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Philadelphia, who rents a small apartment in The French Quarter. She and her husband are coming down in a few weeks. It’s hard to beat the weather then. But, I was surprised because we’ve been talking about the crime and how it’s become very hard to take pictures.

I’ll see them while they are here. I’m pretty sure we’ll stay in the Quarter. During the day it may be one of the safest places in the city. As night rolls into early morning all bets are off, especially near upper Bourbon Street where it meets Canal Street.

My city. It’s really something these days. I keep trying to talk myself into staying. That’s getting harder every day.

Like everything, it depends.

T

his picture was easy to make. Just look up and try to put the moon and a subject on the ground to line up in some way.

Then, push the button.

The exposure was pretty close except for the center of the picture where the high mid-tones were too light, and they always will be. It seems to be a quirk of all smart phone cameras.

Maybe I should go hunting with a real camera.


All of the mysteries.

T

iming. It’s everything. Look in one direction and you see nothing. Turn around and there’s the picture. Make some great music and nobody hears it unless the timing is right. Play sports, maybe baseball. The difference between striking out and hitting a home run is timing.

You get the point.

This picture is a great example of timing. I was trying every which way to get under the wires to get some of the orange cloud into the picture. I couldn’t do it.

I turned to the side and thought, “There is a picture here after all.” This one. The one you are looking at.

Here’s an extreme example of timing. As you know, I can’t be in crowds. That means I can’t photograph second lines. Normally. I start at the beginning, walk a good bit with the parade. Then, I get back to my car and jump to the end.

If I had been out on Sunday, I could have been way too near a shooting that left one dead and one critically injured. I’m pretty sure it was gang related. For sure, it was Black on Black.

That, alone, makes me sad.

But, a misfired bullet in the air doesn’t see color. It just zooms through the air hitting whatever it comes in contact with. It would be one thing if these boneheads could actually shoot. But, they can’t. They spray bullets everywhere trying to hit the one poor guy they are after.

Think about it.

I was on the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and St. Claude on one Mother’s Day a few years back when two fools started shooting into the crowd in order to hit their target. They didn’t hit him, but they did hit a lot of innocent people.

They hit my friend, and just about everybody’s friend, “Big Red” Deb Cotton in the stomach. That may be the worst survivable wound. She survived, but after years of painful surgeries, she died.

Murders are up by 24% in New Orleans. Gun deaths are the highest they’ve ever been in the city.

A

fter I saw the picture I did everything I could to avoid those power lines, but I couldn’t.

It’s ironic. If I photographed this scene about a month earlier those lines wouldn’t have been in the way. They’d have been in the street.

My biggest trick was to darken the entire picture to bring the color out. I did add some soft glow because I like it.

If I left the picture horizontal there would have been way too much black. The color would have receded into the scene. So, I cropped it.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of square pictures. Obviously, I use them when the situation calls for it.

Nothing is set in cement. Photographic rules should be learned and understood so that you can break them when your work calls for it.

I suppose that’s the same with most rules. Live by them until something goes way south. Then, do what you have to do.

Hopefully, it will be subtle and peaceful.

Unlike this photograph.


Weirdness.

M

y thinking changes a little bit every day depending what I read or see or do. I made this photograph a couple for days ago. I started playing with it last night. The picture lead me to the way it looks. Look at the next column for that.

I generally listen to music when I work, especially when I write. Today’s first selection is a new live album, from a very old band. Steely Dan. The album is called, “Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live”

For me, it is really about memories because most of the tunes are their signature songs.

In a way that’s too bad. I’m someone who really wants to hear new music. I don’t get fixated on the past music.

Today is a very good day, although it started late. For some reason even though we went to bed early, for us. I slept until 11:49 am. I had over ten hours of sleep. I rarely need that much. I guess I needed it.

Sleeping so long sure cleared my head of the accumulation of stress that had been building over the past month.

Maybe it’s going to be a much better ride over the next few months. I sure hope so because if it’s good for me, it might be better for a whole lot of people.

H

ere’s what happened.

A lot of trees have been left bare branched after the winds of Hurricane Ida blew through.

This is one of those trees.

Oddly, other trees that had their leaves blown off are starting to regrow them. They look like springtime.

How’s that? Spring and fall at the same time. In the same place.

Anyway.

I started tinkering with this picture and it lead me to this version. When I let the picture lead me I rarely go too far unlike the times I try to impose my will on it.

I wish I could tell you what I did, but I was on auto pilot. And, we were watching a movie. That may be the best way for me to work.