Riding off in the sunset.

Golden light. Southern light.

I made this image in a neighborhood of the Ninth Ward called Holy Cross. . I saw this woman riding off into the sunset so I followed her in my car. When I got close enough to her, I got out and made a quick ten frames or so.

She heard the sound of the camera, so she circled back to me keeping her distance, not knowing what I was about. I held my hand up in a show of friendship. She decided to trust me. I turned the LCD around and showed her the pictures. She was relieved. I handed her my card and asked her to email me and I would return a full sized image file. She did. I did. All is good.

That’s pretty much how you do it. My instinct, built on my years as a photojournalist is to photograph first and apologize later. But, I seem to be able to sell myself in situations like this one. I’ve long realized that to work as a photographer you have to carry yourself like one. It’s confidence, but it’s something else. You have to look like you know what you are doing.

I’ve read a number of stories about a couple of photographers who have gotten in a lot of trouble taking pictures at state fairs and similar situations. One sounds like he was a creep. The other was just out taking pictures. Both tried to hide and blend in to the crowd when they were approached by concerned parents.

I never do that. I walk purposely to the person asking questions. I introduce myself and shake hands if they’ll let me. I turn my camera around so they can see the LCD and what I was doing. I offer them my business card and tell them if they want a print I’ll email them a file if they ask.

I never have a problem.

Take heed. The world is a weird place. People are scared. People don’t trust each other. Try to repair that when you are out making pictures. Leave folks better off then when they met you. That is the least that you can do.

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All in one picture.

I went back.

Just in case. I do that sometimes.

Here’s a pro tip for you. If you have the time, and if you are close to the place where you made a good picture once, go back. You never know what you’ll find the second time. Or, even the third time.

You’ll never make a perfect picture, because perfection is for angels. But, you might make a better picture than your first attempt. Or, at least it will be different. That’s what this picture is. Different.

When I finally start reviewing my summer time collection, I’ll compare them. I might even let you compare them. You know. The so-called wisdom of the crowd. Storyteller and Laskowitzpictures, LLC isn’t quite that democratic, but I do listen. Because. You never know.

Anyway.

The picture. Like the first version of this scene, I stuck my lens into the scene as I saw it. The sun is a big part of the scene. They — whoever they is — say that you shouldn’t do this. I did it. I do it often. I’m still alive. So are the cameras and lenses.  Not doing this is just cheating yourself out of a potentially good picture.

That’s what I think. What do you think?


So close, yet far away.

It’s a funny thing.

We all think of New Orleans as being a giant city. It’s not. It’s a city of about 375,000 people. We are losing about 1,000 people a year due to all sorts of reasons. Broken infrastructure. Institutional racism. Crime. Horrible schools. High Taxes. Very high rental prices. The list goes on.

That’s not what this post is about.

Instead, it’s about the region in which we live. Fifteen minutes outside of the city lies Southeast Louisiana. If it matters, leaving the city means traveling from a blue city to a red state. It doesn’t matter to me. Even though we might not agree politically, I find the people to be sweet, kind and caring.

So, we don’t talk politics. Or, religion.

Aren’t those topics what you are supposed to avoid during holiday dinners? With people who really look like you because they are you. Sort of.

I like crossing the big muddy and tooling along the roads on the Westbank. You never know what you’ll find. I find pictures like this one. I find good almost home cooked meals in gas stations. I find people who ask why you are taking a picture. When you tell them, they ask to be in a couple frames. They either tell, or guide you, towards locations that they think might make a good picture.

They are country folk.

To them, New Orleans is the “big city.” A place in which they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe. And, yet, the are only 10 or 15 miles away.

The picture. Wandering along River Road around sunset. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out the rest.

 


Way Out West.

Morning fingers.

Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.

I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.

Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…

The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.

This picture is not one of them.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.

I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.

This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.


Spring skies.

I looked up.

I liked the sky. It needed a subject. I framed that lone tree into the picture. I never saw the sun. I knew it was there because of the bright highlight in picture. But, the sun didn’t show up in the LCD.

When I developed the image, there it was. A little, tiny circle in the highlight. I helped it a little by toning down the highlight. That’s it.

I was lucky. The sensor saw what I couldn’t. It’s very hard to use a LCD in very bright sunlight. That’s why I mostly use the eyepiece.

I could tell you that I’m a cynical guy. That I always try to look beyond false truths.

Not today.

I’ll save that kind of post for the weekdays.

Instead, I’ll look at a book that just arrived. Not a photo book. A children’s book. Written by Julian Lennon. The oldest son of the late John Lennon. I bought it through his sales agent. Jules signed it.

How cool is that?


It can fool you.

It can fool you.

The picture. Sometimes, the weather. This picture looks cold. It’s not. I made this picture yesterday. The high was unseasonable. It was 80 degrees. The winds blew, a storm followed and the temperature won’t get above the mid-fifties. For the next four days.

Yippee.

With Mardi Gras Indians Uptown Super Sunday, and St. Joseph’s Night to photograph, colder is better than warmer. Besides, if I get too warm I can start taking layers off. If the day starts out warm, well, nobody wants to see that.

This picture. I really did make it yesterday. It really was 80 degrees. But, the way that I photographed it combined with the post-production it looks and feels cold. Yeah. A picture says a thousand words. These days, you can’t always trust a thousand words.


Twisted.

Twisted. Trunks.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a version of this picture for a couple of years. I’m not sure what the trees are, but they are primordial. They are original trees from the days when much of “backatown” New Orleans was a swamp. A swamp that was reclaimed. Drained and built upon.

Whenever I found them, either the background didn’t work or the lensing wasn’t appropriate.

Along came my new — old now, because Samsung just released a newer version — smartphone. Like most modern phones its camera functions are amazing. Not only can I increase the length of the lens from approximately 28mm to 56mm with the push of a button. But, once I get it there,  I can use two fingers in a pinching motion to increase the length of the lense by six fold to about 336mm. This all internal. Nothing actually pokes its head out of the phone. This is more of that computational photography I wrote about earlier.

Finally.

I found the background. And, I had the lens capable of compressing the scene into my vision. The vision that kept me looking for at least two years.

This picture is the result.

I could have gone out looking for the picture, armed with one of my mirrorless camera bodies and a couple of lenses, but this was easier.

Too easy.

If I wasn’t a working photographer, it would be simple to put my camera gear on a shelf, forget about it, remember it and sell it on Ebay for pennies on the dollar.

But.

I am a photographer.


Winterlude Five. Bare Trees.

Bare Trees.

Winterlude. Again. As we head towards spring in the swamps, we have a weather pattern that is up and down. Cold. Wet. Warm. Humid. Cold. Rinse. Repeat. Ten times.

I made this picture a few days ago. I was bragging about our warm spring like days. Then. This.

Luckily, I really like this picture. It’s clean. Minimalistic. Monochromatic. You could do a lot with it if you wanted it to be a base for some layering.

I put a frame around the picture. Last time that I did that, it was because I felt like it. Not this time. I needed to hold the picture within something lest it blend into the white background.

Speaking of backgrounds, head over to http://www.laskowitzpictures.com to see my new website. The background is black. I think that it looks really good. I finished the architecture yesterday. That means all the underlying work, the things you don’t see, is done. I just need to add more pictures and write the “About Ray” section.

You can even buy pictures. Not many. Not yet. I’m still building that collection.

I’m pretty sure that, unlike some of my former websites, this one will be fairly active.  It won’t just be a portfolio site. It has a blog component. It has the above mentioned sales section. And, an ever-growing collection of my work.

Oh. There are two Storytellers. One says “Storyteller on Laskowitzpictures.” That’s the blog attached to the website. The other Storyteller leads you right back here. How cool is that?

I said something in a similar vein a while back, but as I work through my archives in order to build this website, I am stunned by the volume of work. It goes on and on. I’m my own hardest critic. Looking at my work in the space in between, I am amazed by the quality. I should have known. My publisher signed me to all those contracts on strength of individual portfolios tailored to each proposal.  Still…

That may explain a bit of my reluctance to go back out in the street to photograph events in big crowds. I started photographing my projects almost from the day we returned from the desert. Eight years ago. I’m probably a little toasty. A little burnt. I know myself. Even in physical pain I can usually rally and play the ninth inning. The fourth quarter. Score the winning run or touchdown. It’s not that I can’t. It’s that I don’t really want to do that.

As far as my six book projects go, that’s different. I won’t be working in crowds. I won’t be shooting a version of the same old thing. The subject matter is interesting. My way of working is more studied.

Page 43. It’s an old David Crosby song. You know, Crosby, Stills and Nash. That David Crosby. One line touched me this morning. “Look around. Have a sip of it. Or, else you’ll find it’s passed you by.”

As I’ve worked through my learning process I’ve been grimacing a bit. About my past. Yeah, the past is the past. Can’t go back. Not that I’d want to. But, you can learn from it. The past that makes me frown is about blown chances, or, not going far enough. Not working hard enough at times when it was laid out in front of me.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

I think I’m old at 65. Much of that comes from my semi-broken parts. But, that’s young when it comes to artists. That’s how I have started thinking. Young. Young. Experienced. Young, Wise, Young. Thanks Michelle, “MamaMick,” on her blog pages, for pushing me into it. Good journey so far.


A winter sky.

Drifting.

A winter sky. A little branch of something not dormant. A little bit of peacefulness. That’s what I saw. That’s why I made the picture.

It seems that it’s time for a little shift. At least here. On Storyteller. I’m in an odd place.

Tonight, I’m going to photograph one of the first parades of the Mardi Gras parade season. Chewbacchus. With that name you can imagine what it will be like. It’s a walking parade. A downtown parade. A hipster parade.

Let’s hope that I’m motivated enough to actually go. I could tell you about the difficulties of working in The Bywater. Parking. Broken streets. That stuff.  As a wise friend once said, “sometimes, the hardest part of taking a picture is getting there.”

That should cover my whining excuses.

Anyway.

You don’t need a lesson in making this picture. It’s a simple picture. A graphic picture. See it. Frame it. Push the button. It’s a test. I’ll tell you more about that later.

From the fine world of housekeeping.

I finally found a way to sell pictures without creating what amounts to another website. And, with the ability to price my work at the right rates. It’s called The Darkroom. After reading and testing, I think it’s going to be very cool. I’ll add the link somewhere on this page. After that, it’s just a matter of clicks for you. You can look at the work and have it delivered to you anywhere in the world. Even Texas. That’s a joke.

Your photographic art will arrive in a matter of days. Hopefully, you’ll like it. Hopefully you’ll like the pictures with which I start building my collection.