A brand new tree.

It’s got to start somewhere.

I thought.

The change has to come. Maybe from a little seed. Maybe from a terrible tragedy. Like gun violence. Like the three mass shootings that we had last week. Like the horrific number of shootings in Chicago. Like the never ending gun violence in my home city. New Orleans.

When I made this picture, I knew what it was about. This is a little bitty baby tree, growing from seeds after a storm.

We’ve had the storm. The storm clouds haven’t broken. The man in charge won’t do anything. I watched his speech. Did you? He looked drugged. He mumbled. He thought one of the shootings took place in Toledo. No, Mr. President. That’s was Dayton. Dayton, Ohio. In a state that you need to carry if you have a hope of being re-elected.

I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Aside from his hate filled racist rhetoric, he killed my retirement fund yesterday, with his “easy to win trade wars.” The Chinese reacted in the only ways they could. They stopped buying grain and soy beans from American farmers. And, they let the Renminbi (Yuan) drop to a conversion rate that is higher than it was when I used to roam around Asia.

I can afford to travel to China since goods, services and lodging are much cheaper for me. But, after the stock market reacted, my retirement fund tanked. Now I might not have the money to travel.

So.

What to do?

Since our government leaders seem to be stuck in place, it’s up to us. It is always up to us.

Look around the world.

Puerto Rican citizens forced a corrupt leader out of power.

Hong Kong people are striking in every possible way. On Monday, they shut the whole city down. By forcing the MTR (subway) to stop, the Hong International Airport was forced to cancel 200 flights.  My fear is that with the PLA (People’s Liberation Army — Chinese Army) mounting up in Shenzhen, just across the border, they may enter the city. There will be serious bloodshed. I lived in Hong Kong for a long time. Those are my people.

All of that said, maybe it’s time for us to strike. To shut everything down. To force our politicians to act. To act now, because waiting 18 months to vote is too long. People are dying. People are afraid to go shopping, to go school, to go hear a concert, to gather in a crowded place.

One of my jobs in my other career is to predict the future. I think about our local events.

What about Mardi Gras?

What about French Quarter Fest?

What about Jazzfest?

A guy with a gun could kill hundreds before he could be stopped. I’m having second thoughts about making pictures during those events.

Even neighborhood second lines — the thing that is near and dear to me — could be compromised. If a deranged white power dude wanted to take out Black People that would be the place to do it.

The whole thing sucks.

That’s why we have to step up. Somehow. Some way.

Because.

Doing nothing will kill more of us.

A few notes.

I promised that Storyteller would be a politics free zone. It would be a place to talk about art. About photography. About seeing. And, about some technology.

I’ve broken my promise to you. I’m so sorry.

But, if I say nothing I’m as culpable as the people doing us harm. So, you see, I have no other choice. I’ve got to speak. I fear that in the future — I don’t know when — Storyteller may publish pictures of events I don’t really want to photograph. But, my journalistic roots won’t let me ignore the events of change.

I’m sorry about that too.

That was never my intent.

Peace.

 

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During a walk, I saw a little hope.

Morning light.

The day looks good. My country doesn’t look so good. Normally, we’d have a leader who would guide us through mass murders. In my lifetime, every president has spoken to calm the country. To bring us together. To let us know that he has our backs.

Typically, they travel to the scene and talk to us from there.

Not this president. He tweeted a couple of general thoughts. He didn’t stop playing golf. He went dark. His supporters are trying to spread the blame. They said just about everything but the truth.

Here’s the truth.

Guns are too easy to obtain. That’s legally. They are even easier to obtain on the streets. Illegally. There are more guns than people in The United States.

The President of The United States is a racist. He’s hateful. He’s bitter. He seeks to polarize my country. His speeches and tweets are designed to denigrate “others.” People who aren’t White. People who are immigrated from someplace else. With brown skin. With black skin.

He’s given unspoken permission for every white power extremest to come out of the sewers where they’ve been hiding. The two mass killings on Saturday and Sunday are examples of that.

Our Congress isn’t helping. They are too fearful. Bought and paid for. Too compromised. The Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will not let bipartisan legislation come to the floor to be voted on if it affects positive change. His new nickname is Moscow Mitch. He blocked legislation to prevent the Russians from interfering with our elections.

With Karma being the bitch it is, he fell at home yesterday. He broke his shoulder. Knowing what I know about joint breaks, he’ll live the rest of his life in pain. Damn.

The only option is to vote all of these people out of power. Vote POTUS out of power and then send him to prison.

If I sound angry. You’re damn right I am.

It’s bad enough that this president is trying to bring down democracy. But, too many people are dying because of his words. Because of his racism. Because of his corruption. This must change.

We must change.

Now.


Sometimes, I make pictures from the inside of the subject.

From the inside.

Sometimes, the subject sort of envelopes me. It happened the other day. Dog or no dog, I take walks. That’s going to get stepped up a bit as I prepare for second line season, assuming we stay in New Orleans. Our property taxes shot through the roof. I don’t mind that, if I get something in return. Like streets without potholes. Or, a city that doesn’t flood with each rain storm.

Anyway.

I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking. When I looked up I realized that I was standing inside of a tree’s branches.

I was inside the tree.

What to do? What to do?

Oh, I know. I’ll make a few pictures. So, that’s what I did.

And, this picture is what I got.

Yeah, I did a little post production. I made the picture glow. That wasn’t quite how I saw it. But, it’s what I liked. So, I went with it.

Anyway.

As you know, I’ve been thinking about social media. The good and the bad of it. I was thinking about giving it all up. But, in 2019, it’s how we sell ourselves. Instead of just leaving it behind, I’ve been removing folks who don’t teach me something, or make me smile. That, in itself, has been making me smile.

If you are starting to feel the way that I was, maybe you should try that too. Just don’t get rid of Storyteller. That would make me frown.


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?


Shimmering tree.

Something like good vibrations.

The shimmering tree is an experiment that I’ve tried once or twice in the past. That’s about it. Point the lens at a tree and photograph it. Do some magic in post production and away we go.

That’s the picture.

The rest of today’s mumblings are about the weather situation.

We pretty much dried out after yesterday’s deluge. The city’s pumps actually worked about as well as they could. We got 9 inches of rain in in three hours. That overwhelmed them. There are two solutions going forward. Tear up every pipe in the city, install pipes that are about double in size and hope that works.

Or, we can adopt the Dutch system which means that we embrace water and build holding ponds, greenways and water features that actually do something with extra water. We had that option once in the years following Hurricane Katrina. We should revisit that kind of thinking.

And, speaking of hurricanes. Hurricane Barry is still not formed as I write. There should be a NOAA update in a little bit.

Currently, it’s projected to make landfall near Lafayette, Louisiana, which means that it has moved to the east. In New Orleans, we should get some rain and some wind. Our fear is still overtopping levees. It looks like there are two places where the levee is built only to 20 feet. They are not near us. One is at the Industrial Canal near the Upper Ninth Ward. The other is at the Jefferson-Orleans Parish border. The people there have a double problem. Not only will the levee overtop, but they’ve built homes in the battature, which is the ground between the river and the levee. It is almost certain that their homes will be flooded and destroyed.

The Army Core of Engineers said that there is no chance that overtopped levees will be broken. From the moment they said that, I revised my estimate from 50-50% that we’ll be okay, to 20-80%. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw this house.

That’s it.

The storm should make landfall on Saturday, sometime in the afternoon. Unless the power fails, I’ll just keep going. Everybody has been shipped to safety. I’m hanging out until the storm passes. Somebody has to close the storm shutters. Then, it’s on the road again.


Whew. It’s hot.

So hot.

So damn hot. There is a twitter tag called #neworleansheat. New Orleans heat doesn’t like us. And, we don’t like it.

I made this picture at about 7:00pm. The all seeing dog wanted a walk. I convinced her to wait until she couldn’t. Off we went. I made this picture at about our apex.

By the time we made it home, I was walking in a haze. Everything was shimmering. I felt like I was walking through water. I looked at little dogaroo. Her tongue was hanging out to the pavement. We made it home. We drank a couple of hundred gallons of cold water.

I was feeling a little weird. On one hand, I felt peaceful. On the other, I felt a little disoriented. I wasn’t hungry. I took a break. I laid down. Eventually, things cleared up.

Whew.

Be careful, you will suggest. I thought that I was. That’s why we walked so late. That is, until I  checked the temperature.

97 Degrees.

At 7:15 pm.

Oh, and that bad feeling?

It might be closer than I thought. We have a tropical depression in the gulf that is going to turn into a hurricane or one of those lingering heavy subtropical storms that flooded upriver Louisiana a year or so ago. Depending on which weather model you watch, we are in the middle of it. Or, not.

To make matters worse, the gulf water is hot. In the mid-to-high eighties. That fuels storms. And, in Mississippi gulf waters there is such a bad poisonous algae bloom that you can’t go in the water, you can’t eat anything caught in the water. Hell, you probably shouldn’t even look at the water.

This was caused by diverting Mississippi River waters from the north into Lake Ponchartrain. If that wasn’t done, we, in New Orleans, would have been flooded. The water from the lake flows down river until it arrivers near the Mississippi State border.

Meanwhile, the clown in the high tower was blabbering about how good the environment is doing. All the while, he is gutting environmental restrictions. Oh, he finally admits that there might be something going on. But, get this, Americans aren’t causing it. It’s a global thing, idiot in chief. Last I looked, America is part of the globe.

So.

No. There isn’t climate change.

If you believe that, I gotta a lotta junk that I’ll sell you. You’ll probably think it’s gold bullion.

And, about the cold water that dogaroo and I drank? I fill all the dogs’ bowls with cold water from the refrigerator because cold water directly from the tap is 84 degrees. How refreshing is that? It’s wet. That’s about it.

This just sucks.


Southbound.

Southern light. Gulf light.

I was told just the other day that our light is special because of the humidity. Supposedly, it is more creamy. I’m not sure about that. Humidity is caused by airborne water droplets. They reflect red light, making blue skies muddy. Sort of gray.

That’s just science. Optics.

I suppose if you aren’t looking at the sky and are focused on ground bound subjects that the light could seem creamy. Or, at least, heavy. That’s not a bad quality.

Anyway.

The picture. I made it yesterday. I was running errands. The kind of stuff that you do on your first day home. I parked the car, looked up and thought, “oh wow.” I made the picture. I made a couple of them. Once again, not much post production. Nature’s handiwork again.

This is a summer project picture. This is a southern summer sky. A classic.

I made it only a block or two away from the “boy riding his bike next to the train” picture. Another summer picture. Maybe I should hang out there. Maybe not. That could be strangling the golden goose.

 

 


Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.


Black and white study.

As a young man I studied all of the classic black and white masters. Weston. I read his diaries. Adams. I learned his exposure system. Strand. I studied his composition. The list goes on.

That’s what we did back then. No. We didn’t copy them. Instead, we looked at their works in books. We went to museums. If we were lucky, one of their shows appeared at a local gallery. So, we went.

Today, it’s a little different. You can find everything you want online. That’s good. And, bad. It’s a great reference point, but you can’t see the texture of the print. You can’t see the depth of shades of gray from pure white to the deepest black.

For so many new photographers seeing the work online is good enough. Worse, they are told by a lot of online photo gurus to “fake it until you make it.” That would be fine, but what they are really saying is “find a picture that you like and copy it.”

That runs across the grain of everything I was ever taught. I was taught to learn from masters, apply it to your work, but make it YOUR WORK. I’m pretty sure that copying an exact work runs counter to copyright law as well. But, that would mean the image was fairly complex with clearly defined characteristics. Most of what new photographers are trying to copy is fairly simple. Work that anybody could do.

The picture. I saw the rock laying in between the roots of a Texas Live Oak. I never arrange subject matter. I’m fairly sure the rock didn’t just happen that way in nature. Somebody, likely a child, put it there.  No matter. That’s how I saw it.

I also saw it in black and white. It’s been a long time since that’s happened. I work in color. I see that way. Not this time.

I’ve long said that Storyteller is an experimental place. With its new redesign, two of the four days work has been in black and white. Hmmmmmm.