My summer.

In the summertime.

This picture does it for me. This is what I meant by a summertime picture.  My pal in France liked yesterday’s picture of a tree and said that was summer to her. I think that’s a good place filler. A place to get started. A place to wrap my mind around what comes next.

But.

This picture. This is what’s in my mind’s eye. Or, something like it. A hot summer day after a heavy rainfall. A kid on a bicycle. A passing train. A school bus in my rearview mirror. Even a little piece of me. This picture.

Yeah. Sure. If it’s summer, what’s a school bus doing in the picture? It takes a caption to explain that this bus serves a private school and they are having summer camp and workshops.

I came to make this picture in a roundabout way, and by luck. I was running errands. I was a bit late. I took a shortcut. A shortcut that turned out to take more time than if I went the long way around. You know. Railroad crossings. This one is particularly nasty because the trains that pass through are long. People are in a hurry, drive around the gate and… never do that. Ever.

So. There I sat. Being patient. I started looking for pictures. The kid and his buddies peddled around the corner so fast that I almost didn’t react. Luck was with me. Photographer’s luck. Luck that was trained into me for years and years. As I tell photo-blocked folks, pick up your camera, open your door and go outside. Take a walk. I’m pretty sure a picture will find you.

The only down side to this picture is the file. I made it on my super duper smart phone. I did no work on the phone. I downloaded it to my main machine. I processed it in OnOne. The software calculates and creates data about all data. This picture’s file size is 42.8 megs. Sheesh, my first DSLR made a 6 meg file.

That’s the story of what I think is my first summer project picture. Accidental to be sure.

Then I left town.

That’s a story for another day.

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Rusted railroads.

Rust never sleeps.

That’s what Neil Young said. He’s right.

Even though I use the word “abandoned” in my tags, these old trains really aren’t. The are owned by the Louisiana railroad historical society, or whatever they are called. They are a small group. The don’t return phone calls or emails. They work on their collection on Saturday.

That’s too bad.

They will never restore most of their old property. There is just too much of it. It mostly sits rusting and moldering away. I’m glad the own this stuff. If they didn’t, it would likely be scrapped. I like to see examples of the way we used to live which is part of my obsession with abandoned old buildings, trains and cars.  I like to photograph all of that, which is what lead me to so many book contracts.

So.

This picture wasn’t made in a bubble. Even though I was mostly just returning from an appointment, I was accidently working on a book. That’s cool, right?

No long tales of the past today. That doesn’t mean my journey through the past is over. It just means I’m showing you what I’m up to right now. Quite the contrary, I think my trip is just starting for real.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. That simple. Very little post production. If anything, I tuned down the color. That Leica glass is just a little too good. That’s saying something, yes?


Engine in blue.

Sometimes I can’t make up my mind.

I was poking about looking for abandoned railroads for one of my book projects. The book title is in hand. “Abandoned Railroads of New Orleans.” That would be great, except that most of our rail yards and tracks are fully working. Certainly, you can find abandoned railroad stuff here and there. But, not enough to make a book.

I did find one thing of serious interest. A working railroad turntable. It’s tucked in behind the offices of  the New Orleans Belt Line switching yard. I didn’t think there were any in existence. Working or not.

Notice the word. “Working.” That doesn’t help my project.

I talked to my editor. I suggested that we broaden it to all of the state. He had a positive reaction. He wanted to discuss it with his colleagues because this book is one in a series. If we change the parameters, we change the parameters of all the books. Luckily, it’s the first book. The publisher can set the template anyway that he wants. Other photographers can work to my lead. I’m pretty sure they’ll be relieved. It’s hard to do this in one city unless the city happens to be New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Big railroad terminus cities.

Anyway.

The pictures. I was looking for trains. I know where they are. I don’t know where very many abandoned ones are. Same scene, developed and processed two different ways. I worked on the bottom one first. You know me. I can’t let something rest until I push the limits a little. Which do you like? Why? Do you hate one of them?

 

A more modern look.


It’s the clouds.

The third time is a charm. They say.

Maybe.

It does help to return to the scene of the crime, er, picture. Eventually, I’ll get it right. This may be the best of the skytrain pictures, mostly because of the clouds, the light and the golden color. Also, because I finally found the right angle to capture what a train and the bridge looks like.

If you see a little bow in the middle of the bridge, that’s real. It’s not a lens flaw. The bridge, both the ones for trains and cars has dips and rises in it. It feels a little sporty when you cross the bridge for cars. It was built in the 1930s when cars weren’t so big. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. There’s only so much you can do with a fairly fixed space without messing with the integrity of the original structure.

Anyway.

The only better view would be from the left, but much further down the tracks where the trains make a turn towards New Orleans.  Even then, line of sight is limited. The only way to really show the view would be from the air, which means using a drone. However, most railroad property falls under Federal jurisdiction which means you’d need permission from the rail company who owns the track. That either means Canadian National or New Orleans Beltline. I’d prefer that latter. I own a tiny piece of it, as we all do. And, their offices are local. I could actually talk to somebody there.

So.

There’s some history and a little bit about railroad companies. I didn’t intend to go that far and yet, here we are.

The picture was easy to make, as most of mine are. See it. Photograph it. Clean up a bit in post production and viola, done. It’s a good example of why you always keep some kind of camera with you. You just never know what you are going to see.

While you are running errands.

 

 


A little rain won’t stop us.

Another storm picture. Rain never stops us. I think a lot of us were fooled because we weren’t ready for the intensity of the rainfall. Never trust the weather people on your local news. They mean well, but if I got about 90% of what I said wrong, I’d fire myself.

I’ll talk about this picture. That’s it for today.

I made it with my new magic smart phone. This is the one that makes a 12 megapixel file. Usually, I process in the phone with Snapseed. I started thinking that I didn’t really like the final product, so I started experimenting by downloading the file to my main machine and using onOne to develop it and do the finishing post production.

What a difference.

The newest version, OnOne Photo RAW 2019, even has a template for making words. At this point, I cull in Photo Mechanic and Edit in OnOne and that’s it.

Goodbye Adobe. Again.

Finally. I don’t have to pay $9.99 a month forever.

Keeping today photographic, more about this picture. The first thing to know is that I made it through the windshield in between wiper swipes. This was another time that my phone thought I had a dirty sensor.

I made a lot of pictures this way.

All I knew was that my umbrella changed hands and I wasn’t going out in the pouring rain. I sat on the car and made pictures. Either I’m smart or just lazy. A betting person would take the latter.

That explains the softness in my subject’s face. We know that she likes bottled Coca-Cola, which is sort of ironic because the bottling plant for Louisiana is less than a half mile away.

That’s the story.

 


Freight train high above me.

On some days it looks like trains are flying.

They’re not.

They are crossing The Mississippi River over the railroad bridge that ties into the Huey P. Long bridge originally built in the 1930s. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. For trains it is the gateway to all points west. Or, to every traveler’s dreams.

Once a train crosses the river it passes through a little town called Westwego. Legend has it that the town was named by train conductors calling out, “West we go.” I suppose it could be true.

The picture. New smart phone. New techniques. The color rendition is nothing like my mirrorless cameras or my old iPhone. It’s taking some getting used to.

I made the picture after looking at this bridge for years. You may know it from a news story a couple of years ago. A strong storm blew in from seemingly nowhere and knocked about ten freight cars off the bridge. They crashed down to the ground below, making a giant racket. Luckily, nobody was hurt. A chain link fence was destroyed.

A few changes around this place.

Aside from haringing you to vote, I’m going to stay away from politics as much as humanly possible. I don’t just mean here, but on social network sites and even on traditional news sites like The New York Times. It’s all day, every day. And, that’s too much. The country isn’t just polarized. It’s pushed, pulled and torn in every direction. It’s as if instead of messing with our elections, the Russians dumped something in our water and made us all crazy.

That’s enough.

Vote.

 


The transportation situation.

More of a graphic shape than a documentary picture. At least that’s how I see it. The silhouetted train car shape makes it so.

It was just something I saw one late afternoon in the swamp. The swamp that has become really swampy.

And, not to be forgotten, June 1 is the official start of hurricane season. Even though Alberto missed us and made land fall close to the Alabama — Florida border, he just arrived early.  Besides, he was a subtropical storm. Whatever that is. Too much slicing and dicing of data for me.

Luckily, the folks who predict such seasonal events are saying this year is a normal hurricane season. So was last year. So was 2005 when Hurricane Katrina blew us to New Mexico. How did those years turn out? Just ask the folks in Puerto Rico who still have no electrical power. And, whose death toll from last year just increased yesterday by some 4,000 souls.

Numbers add up to nothing. Neil Young wrote that in a song. I believe him. No data can teach you what it feels like to live through a big storm. A hurricane. A tornado.

I could tell you how that feels. But, I won’t. No sense in dredging that up again. I pretty much put it to bed on Hurricane Katrina’s tenth anniversary. Most of us did. Every now and then something turns up to remind me of it. Like the start of every year’s hurricane season.

Anyway.

A little housekeeping. I’m getting the feeling that some of you can’t wait to get rid of me once Storyteller moves from WordPress to Laskowitzpictures.com. If you subscribe to Storyteller via email, you’ll still receive it. If you only see me on your reader that will be a problem. I suggest that if you like reading and seeing what I offer that you subscribe via email. Once I work out the kinks and find a distribution service, you’ll still receive Storyteller.

Of course, the kinks come in the strangest way.

Lemme tell ya a story. I’ve been testing Storyteller from my new website. Some of you could see the writing, but not the pictures. Even after watching a couple of blogging videos on Square space — the host site — I couldn’t do it. Keep in mind that I’ve been working on the new website — on and off — since January. While I was struggling with it last night, a passing toddler walks by and asks, “Does it know your email address?”

Huh?

As I said, I’ve been working on my site since January.

So I opened my personal information window, thinking that you never know. Sure enough. in order to blog, which also allows me to license images directly from Getty Images (one of my representatives) I have to verify my email address. Once I did that it appears to be smooth sailing.

We’ll see.

When I asked the toddler in question how she knew, she replied, “I know stuff.” Sort of like a dog, I thought. That’s my lesson for the week. Toddlers and dogs. Both of them know more than me.

 

 


At day’s end.

After a long hard week, this is what I saw as daylight came to an end on Friday. I don’t think it could get any better for me unless I was in the French Quarter. The picture contains two things that are close to my heart. Rainbows and trains. On some days, it doesn’t get any better.

I did help this picture some.

The light meter looked at that dark cloud and made its version of the image way too light. I darkened it, helped the colors a little bit and added a little twist that would bring the picture more in line with the work that I’ve been doing lately. But, not much. You don’t need to tinker with Mother Nature when she lays a rainbow on you.

That’s it for today.


Trains under stormy dusk skies.

Settle down.

Everyone. All of you.

Try your best to think. Try your best not to overreact.

We are in the middle of one our worst years ever. Between a pumpkin-headed president who hates anybody who isn’t like him and wants badly to fight a major war, all manner of anger, nature’s fury and just general stupidity, it’s bad.

Don’t make it worse.

I’ve read some of silliest comments on Facebook about how to prepare for a storm. Most people forget to ask the most basic question. Are you staying or are you going? A particular poster lists every possible step to prepare. That doubles the work. For no reason. It’s just panic. In one of the craziest posts, the writer suggests cleaning your bathroom tub and filling it with water so you can drink it. WHAAAAT? You fill your bathroom tub with water so you can have water to flush your toilet when the power fails. You don’t drink it. The same posters forget to say that if you staying that you need about a billion batteries, and battery-powered storm lanterns. And, cans of Spam. And, Vienna Sausages. And, canned pasta. There is nothing like cold pasta and potted meat to ruin your day.

There’s more, but…

This one is better.

There is a photographer who lives in New Orleans who’s like me. Great creds. Good shooting rep. He’s going to Cuba. Today. He isn’t going to photograph Hurricane Irma. He’s mostly going to produce art and stock imagery. Some people think he’s being brave. Other people — like me – think there is a fine line between being brave and stupidity. You pick.

He’s also like me, because at 67 years old, he’s got back problems that make mine look minor. Often he hires a fixer who carries his gear because he can’t. I’m not quite that old. Or, quite that broken down. But, you get the idea.

Think that’s crazy?

Ha!

He doesn’t like converting digital captures from color to black and white. He’s old school. He wants to shoot Tri-x in his “antique cameras.” Okay. Fine. He gets to the airport and posts on Facebook. He wants to know if anyone is going to Havana with film. He packed his cameras, but forget to buy or pack film.

What?

This is a working pro. A guy who knows better. Supposedly.

First, anybody actually going to Cuba to cover Hurricane Irma has deadlines and will not be working in film. Maybe one person might be. He ain’t sharing. Second, I can’t think of anybody who is flying directly into the storm. Including first responders. There’s a reason for that. You could get killed. Third, I’m willing to bet Cuba closes their airports to commercial traffic well before the hurricane arrives. Even if he manages to get in, getting out will take an act of God.

By the way, I’m not attacking him. Or, making fun of him. It could just as well be me. Sheesh. I could pack cameras and film and forget my clothes. You know…

Everybody.

It may be fire. Or, rain. Or, political stupidity and meanness with which you are dealing, just settle down. Nothing is ever achieved with a monkey mind. Focus on something and stay focused. If you need to survive nature, do that. If you are in a position to fight back against a mad leader, organize properly and do that. If corporations weren’t so focused on the bottom line, the ones who employ dreamers would shut down in protest of this latest outrage.

Oh. I almost forgot.

The picture. After the last storm. Our clouds typically light up once the sun breaks through because light refracts of the remaining clouds and the water droplets in the air. Luckily there was a brightly, and lowly lighted subject in the foreground. A train. I like trains. Woo, woo.