Blue. My picture. Joni Mitchell’s song. My eyes. The sky on a sunny day. A clear lake. The ocean away from land.

I made this picture in New Mexico. Older pictures keep resurfacing on Amazon Pictures. They are pictures that I’ve forgotten about. Pictures that have never been seen by anybody. Pictures that were “lost.”

So.

Lucky you. You get to see them before anybody else.

I’m not sure what these desert flowers are called. They come out in late spring and stay for the summer.

Once, when I could actually crawl around on the ground and get back up without aid, I used to make pictures like this with a DSLR camera. Those days are gone.

There is a song in which one line says that we don’t know how much we would lose. Even though I think this picture is happy, the day is sad.

Yesterday, I read a quick two inch story about somebody getting killed in New Orleans. I didn’t think much about it because rarely does a day go by that somebody doesn’t die by violent means.

We were watching the 10 PM News. The murder was across the street from my old house. Uh oh. A woman was killed. My oldest friend in New Orleans. She was stabbed to death as she was walking to her car to go to work, by a guy who was stealing it.

Rest in Peace, Portia.

June is starting out like a hellhound on my trail. A dog, and a person died. Makes me wonder what’s next.

This column is going to be more of a rant.

Sorry.

WordPress is running terribly. Yesterday, I blamed it on the huge internet outage.

Today, it’s on WordPress.

There is still no caption line. Worse, making this two column alignment took an act of God.

I’m not sure what it was doing, but the software was stacking column on top of column. The paragraph template didn’t know where to go.

It turned out that pressing the column template once dropped six templates on top of each other.

Leave well enough alone. The block system is bad enough without WordPress making it “better” every time the programers think about it.


Too early for me.

The thing about going to bed early means that I awake too early. I mostly sleep around six hours a night. You can do the math. If I go to bed around 11 pm, well, you know.

It’s a little maddening. It means that I haven’t gotten quite enough sleep. It also means that I usually need a nap. In the morning.

Of course, the dogs hear me moving around even if everybody else doesn’t. They want to go out. That would be fine if all they wanted to do was empty themselves, but oh no, they want to go for a walk.

Today it was just the all seeing dog. Big dreamer. We walked about a third of our usual walk and she turned around and headed for home. She drank some water and went back to bed.

Uh huh.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Large venues are starting to open to full capacity. Don’t go to them. I predict another surge. Many of the newly sick will be Texas Ranger or Atlanta Braves fans.

I’m not a big sunset or sunrise photographer. I know that each one is a little different, but they all look the same to me.

I’d rather photograph what they illuminate, or at least stick something in the foreground. That’s what I did here.

Of course, looking into the sun I couldn’t quite see what I was photographing.

There was a bunch of junk in the bottom area. I cropped that out.

I also added some bokeh mostly because I could and to hide a couple of imperfections that came from looking into the sun.

It might not sound like it, but there are a lot of tricks to the trade buried in those few paragraphs.


Out on the edge.

Luckily for all of us, WordPress made a lot of changes in the block system. They announced it today. I use the word luckily in a snarky tongue in cheek way.

I am convinced they “improve” their apps because they want to keep their staff employed. I guess during these pandemic times that’s a good thing.

I imagine a lot of coders working from home, wearing their daytime pajamas and sitting in front of a screen mindlessly typing, typing, always typing. Around them are piles of empty burrito wrappers, energy drink cans, taco chip bags and ice cream containers.

Then, they send their work to us. They send it in bits and pieces. Eventually, an email from the home office (somebody’s three car garage) is sent telling us about these changes.

Woah!

That’s not what I intended to write about. I thought I was going to tell you about a wonderful morning when I made this picture.

The air is beginning to warm a bit. The all seeing dog enjoys being out even if she isn’t walking as far these days.

So, we walk to a place where I can sit. She sits too. Eventually, she lays down in her pose. Front paws forward, back paws extended backwards. She’s enjoying herself and that’s what matters.

Right?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t be foolish, it’s not over yet. Enjoy all the spring.

The edge. That’s what this picture is about. It’s about the real fine edge when winter turns into spring.

There you see it. Now you don’t. Follow the magic ball.

Then, spring is here. Fully present.

We were sitting outside after walking a bit, I was watching to clouds dance around the sun.

I did what I always do. I made a few pictures. I returned home wondering if I made anything good because the sun so bright I couldn’t even see to frame or focus. Truly point and shoot.

I got lucky.

I did a little work in post production and there you have it.

A photograph.

This brings me to something I was reading about. Maybe you did too.

An anonymous collector paid $69 million dollars in cryptocurrency for a work of art that only lives in the digital world.

Sheesh.


Floating into the distance.

Amazon pictures is the problem. Every time that I open it up I find more and more “lost” pictures. It doesn’t help that I’m a little lost myself.

You’d think that I want to travel. I don’t.

Although some big news about travel happened yesterday via Live Nations’ president Michael Rapino. He’s booked the three major festivals in the UK. He believes that touring in the United States is a little more difficult because of individual state restrictions, but that by late summer the mid-sized music halls could be in play.

Yipee.

Music. Work. Money. Tour buses. Hotels. Catered food. Bad food. Gallons of coffee. People messing with you 16 hours a day.

Funny. Even my last line sounds good to me right now.

With that will start to come photo jobs. Pictures. Work. Money. The rest is not applicable.

Of course this all depends on the people in the country. I was reading something on Facebook about local venues starting to open up. A woman said just to break the law. Since I always want to know who is going to fight with me I went to her page. A lawyer. Can you believe it? A lawyer.

She graduated from Loyola New Orleans Law School. As I recall from my days at the university, three kinds of lawyers came out of there. Very good and moral lawyers. Ambulance chasers and liars.

What can I say? She doesn’t come from the first group. And, she and her ilk are going to be what delays everything.

I saw it a little yesterday when I went to get injected. The hospital is in an active area of the city. Little cafes, bars and restaurants line the streets. I didn’t see much social distancing. For sure, I saw no masks.

Everybody looked like they were having a good time. Come on folks. Think.

The sky and other stuff, namely balloons.

I like to try to make unusual photographs. At the balloon fiesta that’s not easy. Working photographers like me are all trying to do the same thing. Make a lot of different kinds of pictures.

There’s a lot of good to that. If we do our jobs we will make pictures that you haven’t seen. And, we won’t get into each other’s way doing it.

This is one of those pictures. I made it from an overlook near I-25.

I’d like to say that it’s a little gauzy and soft because I wanted the picture to look that way. In truth, the sky had a lot of noise in it so I had to correct it.

I don’t know why. That’s not the usual place for noise to appear.

No matter. I like the outcome.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Do all the rest. And, get injected. Enjoy all the outcomes.


One glorious morning.

Once upon a time. I lived in New Mexico. We lived there after Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans. We needed a little peace. Solitude. Quitetude.

I don’t know how long we planned to stay. I thought maybe a year or two. It turned out to be almost five years.

We heard the pounding of the Mardi Gras Indian drums. The noise of second lines. The brass music on the streets.

In the distance.

We returned to the place from which we came.

Now, almost ten years later I have a feeling. It’s not a good one. It’s one that’s been creeping up on me a little at a time.

I made a mistake. A big, huge mistake.

Looking back, we should have just stayed there. Maybe we should have moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe or even Taos.

And, now?

It seems like it would fun to return but we’ve got too much invested in the other “new.” Not New Mexico.

New Orleans. I don’t know if I have the energy to move a quarter of the country away.

Ten years in one place means ten years older. Ten years means 67 years old. If I move it would be my last move. Yeah. That sounds ominous. It’s not. But, who wants to keep moving?

As I worked to make my career I moved many times. That got old, but I had a direction. Upward. Ever upward. Now? Not so much.

I have friends with whom I went to high school in Long Beach. A good number of them married their high school sweethearts. Others married a little later. But, they stayed. They stayed for 50 years. In Long Beach. Or, Southern California.

Some days that sounds really good. For some of them, their big trip is to Las Vegas. That sounds good.

Now.

For a long time that sounded boring. For me, it may have been. I think you learn a lot by being in a place. I know a lot of cities pretty well. Of course, some of those memories have drifted. But, a little strolling around and I’m right back where I left off.

That sounds fun. But, who’s traveling now?

Not me.

One more thing. I’m mostly thinking out loud. I’m not going anywhere.

Are you?

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That’s where I made this photograph. We lived about five miles from the balloon field.

That meant I photographed it almost every year. I used to scrounge up a letter of assignment from a friend of mine. That got me press credentials which don’t matter on the balloon field, but they give you parking. That matters.

Of course, the great equalizer is the traffic.

There were some mornings when I got tied up in traffic. Those fives miles took 45 minutes to work through. I arrived late so I had to find other ways to make pictures.

New Mexico has wonderful light. Some photographers think that means all day. For sure the light is crystalline even at noon. But, the usual rules apply. Work at the ends of days where the golden light is the best.

Morning balloon lifts are great for working in some amazing light. If I arrived late I just chased balloons which allowed me to make pictures like this one.

A picture that speaks to solitude. To peace. To nature.

Man (the balloon) becomes a tiny speck in the universe.

Isn’t that what we are? A blip. That is reinforced time and again. It’s what brought us to New Mexico. It’s what happened to the people of Texas last week.

So, really. That’s what this picture is about. Man. Nature. Our relationship.

Which isn’t so great right now.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy your universe.


One winter afternoon.

One day in winter when the sun was starting to lower, I saw the it explode behind a tree. Light and color went flying everywhere. I left without my hat.

After seeing the image on the monitor I started thinking random thoughts.

Again.

I have a friend who lives in Vermont. The state has done an amazing job of controlling CoVid-19. It wasn’t until last week that there were enough infections to rise to the next level of sickness.

It comes as no surprise that he doesn’t get it. He was wondering when things would return to normal. You know what I think about normal.

He was really concerned about masking and social distancing. Sorry my friend, since the scientists are saying even with the vaccine you should still wear your mask, I think that’s going to be around for a long time. Maybe a decade. Maybe forever.

And, social distancing. As long as I can hug the people I love and care for I don’t give a hoot about relaxing it. Besides, after my family and friends, there might be six people in the real world that need a hug from me.

He wasn’t even thinking about changes that will last forever. We can do business without being a road warrior. We can learn from anywhere, even though it’s a documented fact that children learn better in school. We can even play full blown concerts without have to be on location. That, unfortunately, is not is much fun without a live audience.

There are downsides that are beginning to evolve. Crossing international borders will get harder. You may have to provide your passport, your vaccination certificate, and your recent negative CoVid-19 document.

That will feel like the very old days.

“Papers please.”

Sun explosions. They don’t really happen. It just looks like they do. Besides, if the sun really exploded, goodbye earth. Goodnight moon.

I saw the scene. I pointed the lens right into the sun. Everything kind of blew up, sending light and shadow everywhere.

You need light and shadow to enter through your cracks. A friend says that’s how you know you are alright.

Anyway.

I knew what I had. I developed it and worked in post production on Snapseed. Then, I ran it through OnOne where I added some exploding bokeh.

I finished it and here it is. I’m late today because I had to buy dog food fixins’.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Watch all the beautiful light.


On a very cold day.

Sometimes you look and see. Sometimes you only look. Despite my talking about not being able to produce good pictures or think creatively, I keep making photographs. I must be seeing.

I think I want to move forward into another kind of photography. I’m tired of making faux nature pictures.

A couple of you suggested workshops or listening to other photographers who share inspirational videos. I did that. I Googled to find Sean Tucker.

He is a British photographer who works in all genres of photography. He seems to like nature work the best. His video was interesting because he says what I’ve said for ages. Quiet time. Turn your brain off. Sit. Meditate. If any idea comes to you write it down so it clears your head for other ideas. Zen. Zen. Zen.

My problem isn’t that I don’t have creative ideas. My problem is moving well beyond where I am today. In my dog walking faux nature work I find myself making pictures with an idea of how I can edit them into something else.

I’ll tell you more about that on the right hand side of the page.

That’s fine as far as it goes. But, that’s not what I want to do. Remember my project? Jefferson Highway? I don’t want to produce a story. I want to produce 12 to 20 pictures that I can collect in a portfolio. I want that to be a gallery hanging. And, a very slim volume that people can collect as I move forward.

That sounds fairly straight forward. It isn’t. There are lot of questions to be answered. Color? Black and White? Day? Night? Dusk? And, so on.

I think before I settle into that project, I’m going to have to make a detour. There are a lot of houses being decorated as floats since there are no parades for Mardi Gras. Some are quite elaborate. I’d better photograph them before I don’t.

At least, I’m a lot less frantic than I was earlier when I was discussing this. Thank you to those who reached out.

Into something else. The picture is a great example of what I did to make it something else.

I made the picture about 10am. The sky was blue. The sun was peaking through the bare winter branches.

It was a boring picture.

I thought about what it could be. I exposed for the sun which darkened everything else a little.

I worked on it a lot in post-production. I let the sky go dark. I helped the sun to pop. I enhanced the sky’s color.

The process took a little while. For me, it is process over product. Enjoy the process and the product will always be right.

And, experiment within your process. I cannot tell you how many times that I went too far with this photograph. If you don’t go too far how will you know when you’ve reached the right place?

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy the process.


It came out of the sky.

Running on empty. I don’t know if it is the pandemic, the political situation or just 2020 — where anything where happens — or something else.

I usually take some time to think about my last year. Some of it, in 2019, was pretty good. The rest not so much.

I could have done better.

Yeah, sure. Nine months of my year was impacted by the pandemic. There were shutdowns, lockdowns, no touring and no traveling.

I could have done a lot more with my time. I had grand plans of really cleaning up my archive. That didn’t get done. I started in the wrong place. My earliest black and white work is not a good starting point even though it seems logical to do so.

Ha!

I store my black and white negatives in strips of five. What do I do with the rest of a strip if only one picture is relevant? I should have started backwards with my latest work. Digital images do not need to be stored that way. Keep the best picture and toss the rest.

Or, something like that. Often when I re-cull my work I come to an image that clearly espouses the “what was I thinking” theory.

I was going to move from here to my website. I haven’t yet.

I never documented New Orleans during the pandemic. For many of you that means The French Quarter. I haven’t been there since last Mardi Gras in February. Since there was nobody there that wouldn’t have been an illness spreading job.

Unfortunately, we have moved into stage red — a new way of classifying virus spread in Louisiana. I may get my chance.

I better get moving.

On all of those projects. Don’t you think?

I cropped this deep vertical picture out of a horizontal image. I did that because horizontal pictures are tiny on this new template. A free template. I told you that I was moving on. I have until December 18th to renew the paid version of Storyteller. I’m not doing it. It isn’t worth it. Luckily, I already removed my payment method so there will be no surprises.

Look at the picture. There ain’t much to it. It’s a crop of a picture I might not publish. But, I needed something. It’s not to say that I haven’t been making pictures on my walks. I have. They all look the same to me. There isn’t much that I like. I am a harsh critic of my own work, but not now. Anything’ll do.

That’s my life these days.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Look after others. Enjoy every sandwich.


And, then the light went crazy.

Exploded. The light exploded. The developed and processed image actually caught me by surprise. It did everything I didn’t think that it would.

Which brings me to this.

“Everything that I didn’t think it would.” Sounds just about life. I got caught out this morning. I was listening to a song from home, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew the singer when she was young, and yet we didn’t know each other.

She was singing about a specific kind of “girl.” They are the ones who stay in the corners, who are shy but have the same desires that everyone else does. They love you from afar but if you love them back, they run away.

Damn.

This singer has been nailing me every few weeks. Her song, “Asking for a Friend,” brought back so many bad memories that I haven’t listened to it since. I talk a good game, but I’d rather run than fight.

These feelings are from the past. The distant past. My life is good. All the rest is fine. Although I’m worried about a few things on the world’s stage, I’m happy.

But.

I’ve been digging in my past when it comes to learning about my family. These songs are either killing me, or are a very big help.

As I’ve written a few weeks ago, I’ve come to learn that everything we were told as children is a lie. Why would my parents lie to us about how my paternal grandfather made it to these shores?

They said that he sailed on a tramp steamer, eating kasha and apples for two weeks. They said he arrived at Ellis Island where the kind folks at immigration couldn’t spell our last name so they made us Laskowitzes.

No. No. No. And, no.

My grandfather didn’t sail from Hamburg. He made is way to London from Russia, where he worked for a couple of years. He learned some English. He saved his money. He sailed from Liverpool in cabin class, which is equivalent to first class on other ships.

I think that I told you that. Since then I’ve seen pictures of how he traveled. He spent 12 days in a suite of rooms. He ate very well on board. He lacked for nothing.

He didn’t arrive at Ellis Island. He arrived in Philadelphia. The immigration folks didn’t mangle our family name. They handled it just fine. I know this because I saw his immigration document. He signed it “L-A-S-K-O-W-I-T-Z. In English letters, not Cyrillic.

What the hell?

Why were we lied to? Why didn’t any family member tell us about my dad’s sister, Olga? Apparently, she followed my family west. She lived in Los Angeles in 1953. She returned to the East, got married in 1962 and returned to the West where she lived and died not five miles from where I grew up. I had an aunt that I never knew existed. I have cousins that I never met.

Oh, that’s not all.

I’m learning this through Ancestory.com. They found documents that I could read. They kept asking me if I want to add another family to my tree. Why? I’ve never heard of them.

Silly me. I followed one of my cousins on my mom’s side of the family. That mysterious family is linked to my mom’s side. Who the hell are they?

And, you wonder why I never share much personal stuff. Go ahead. Ask away. Apparently, it doesn’t matter anyway.

I’ll likely never know any of this.

I’m pretty sure that you want to know about this picture. After all, it looks like an explosion on the page. Or, worse.

You know I love autumn light. I was walking toward the sun when it poked through the trees. Ah, that light. I broke the biggest rule in the book.I photographed right into it.

It didn’t look like so much in my LCD. But, when I developed and processed it, the picture exploded.

I took the picture a little further because I always do, and this is what you get.

When I uploaded it into OnOne, I had to tune it back some. It was too vibrant and to sharply defined.

As it is, it looks like a version of heaven. Or, hell. You can pick.

A technical comment. A couple of my younger friends love AI. I can’t stand it. When I copy edit these posts I find words that I would never in a million years use.

Automated Intelligence is anticipating my words incorrectly. I realize that in theory it learns from me, but I think it’s learning from someone else.

I just wasn’t meant for these times.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Vote.