Magical night.

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laying. Having fun. Tinkering. Messing around. That’s some of what we should be doing. But, often we get sucked into making a living. Or, we really get sucked into the gear of the thing.

Experimenting and playing is what Storyteller is about, has always been about. Oh sure, a client or two has found me here. Or, I’ve sold a couple of photographs to private collectors.

That’s it.

I’m trying to make a big decision. You heard about this in the past. I’ve been quietly building a new website.

It’s a portfolio-commercial site that contains a blog within the website itself. Oh for sure, I’ll take all of you with me who want to come along.

Some of you would like me to stay here. That’s humbling. If I send you an email link that takes you to the new site you shouldn’t see a difference, except you probably won’t be able to “like” a post without commenting.

That’s not the real question.

Actually, there’s two. Will a semi-folksy blog like Storyteller confuse the commercial users? Will LaskowitzPictures confuse the folksy readers?

And, the bigger question.

What is this new website? Do I continue to publish a lot of New Orleans pictures? Or, travel pictures? Or, a giant portfolio from 45 years past?

Or, should I go with my instincts? And, make the site about artistic pictures?

Or? Or? Or?

Please, you tell me what you think. Please.

L

et’s assume that Storyteller becomes an art website and an artistic blog.

See where I am really going with this? Heh!

There are many forms of art.

Some are like these layered things that I’ve been doing a lot over many years. See the picture.

Others are minimalist, almost Zen-like in nature.

Others are a collection of dark, moody and mysterious pictures that I’ve been making.

Do I show a small portfolio of each of them? Could I turn those portfolios into more pictures with a click on the original image? Like a tree with branches?

Do I know how to do that coding and linking?

Does anyone?


Summer skies.

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alking around yesterday for the first time in a long time revealed a very pretty sky framed by a few nice Live Oaks.

I chose a time somewhat close to dusk because, well you know, the light s usually pretty olden, If not that, then the light very golden. In the picture the light is kind of a mixture of both.

I think that was just timing. Or, photographer’s luck. Actually, at this time of day it’s usually both.

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hat’s it for me.

I have a little infection in my gums. I’m taking and antibiotic for that, but it is very painful. The doc gave me an antibiotic and a pain killer. It’s the same medicine that the late Sophie Rose when she had a gum infection. It’s just a little different dosage.

It’s a thick liquid that comes in a bottle and is applied with aa syringe.

My gums are no longer painful. But, I’m lucky that I can sit up and write this.

Hopefully, I won’t need it tomorrow,

I

looked up and saw the sky framed by the tree.

It was actually framed on both sides, but I cropped it enough to allow the picture to become a very deep vertical photograph.

I also made the yellow clouds a little darker and richer.

I opened up the tree that was questionable when the black was plugged up and looked like a black mass.

The i added a frame to ut and I was done.

But, am I?


In City Park, New Orleans.

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his is the backside of City Park in New Orleans. For the life of me I cannot remember why or when I made this picture.

It just turned up in my iPhotos files.

But, wow, do I like it.

The picture almost came out of the archives just about the way that you see it. Of course, I did a little work which I’ll discuss on the other side.

Apparently, the building was a maintenance shed. There were a few buildings a couple hundred yards away. I once used them as a location for a commissioned shoot. I’m glad that I did because the next time I went to the area they had been torn down.

That’s what’s happening in New Orleans these days. After Hurricane Katrina there were over 60,000 abandoned and destroyed buildings in the city. Between two mayors and their administrations about 30,000 buildings were torn down. There are a lot of buildings remaining.

The city government celebrates each building that is demolished, yet violent crime can’t be curbed. In fact, it’s getting worse to the point of breaking records. The potholes aren’t fixed. Parts of the city flood every time there is rain. The power goes out when two squirrels are on the line at the same time.

It seems to me that the priorities are skewed.

My friend was murdered. Other people’s friends and families have been murdered or mugged or had their cars hijacked.

Apparently, those crimes are trending upward throughout the country. There are all kind of theories about why this is happening. I’d love to tell you what I think but that’s well above my pay grade.

Let’s just say that we are all lockdown addled.

My fear is that we are turning into the wild west. It’s already happened in The French Quarter. A drunk guy broke into a front door, walked into the house where the owner shot and killed him. The owner was exonerated.

That’s no way to live.

In Texas you can walk around with a gun without weapons training. In Florida you can shoot somebody if they threaten you. That’s called, “The stand your ground law.” It was tested a few years ago. The shooter was cleared of any crime.

Flash forward to a few years in the future. You already know what I could write.

This won’t end well.

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ere’s the story. The picture came out of the camera just about the way you see it.

The image didn’t take much post production. I’m not sure why.

My little knowledge of color theory tells me that the almost blue hour gray skies reflected blue light every where, especially in shadows.

Or, I could have accidentally reset the camera.

It’s likely that’s what happened.

None of that matters.

The resulting picture is what matters. And, how you and I feel about it.

I really like this picture. It may end up being a hero picture on my website.

I’ve located a number of dark and mysterious pictures in my archives. A post a lot of them on my Instagram feed.

I think that I’ve built enough of an archive that I can build a portfolio page with them.

And, speaking of websites… I’ve wavered again. I work with a number of public relations and marketing people.

When I told them how many followers I have on Storyteller, they told me that I was crazy to leave my community behind even if there are a lot of ghost followers because you never know.

“You never know” became a reality when a blogger who follows Storyteller, but one that I don’t know, reblogged about five posts. I’ll have to look at his readership, but anything is good.

Right?


Is this the dream?

The dream returned. This picture could have been part of it, but I can’t remember.

What I do remember was walking towards Long Beach but ending up in a broken down place like New Orleans.

I bought a house. It was huge house. It was ancient. I mostly lived in the back of it where the kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a sitting room was located. In many ways that’s how I lived in my first New Orleans house which was built in 1834. It was too big for me, but it was a great deal.

This dream house wasn’t like that real one. This was huge. A lot of it was falling down. It was also much older. It had broken down fireplaces throughout the house. I dug down into one of them which was about three times the size of a normal fireplace and found a tunnel that lead underground to the back of the house. It was some kind of commercial production building that was mostly hidden.

Some friends were helping me work on it. All of us kept finding weird things throughout the house. As we were coming out of the industrial fireplace a couple of people were walking by.

We asked them what they knew about the history of my house. Neither of them wanted to talk about it, but they suggested that I talk to the owner of the “food store” that was across the street.

All the owner would say that was my house had “bad juju” and that I should abandon it and find something else.

What the hell kind of dreams am I having? Everything I pass through or live in is broken down, spent and abandoned.

What is my brain telling me?

I’m not sure that I want to know.

I’m not sure if this picture was part of my always weird dreams, but it fits in very nicely.

It’s really just a simple picture of a tree in a forest. It’s not layered although I tried. Layering just never worked.

Instead, I used different filters in On One.

I played with them until I made a picture that I liked. That took endless moves because every time I got close, I went too far or didn’t like the result.

Finally, I stumbled on this version which was nothing like I intended but caught my eye.

I finished it and you lucky folks are seeing it.


Not late for the sky.

Sometimes this picture is all you need. Sometimes nature fixes everything. Sometimes nature settles everything. Often as not, it’s not what you were hoping for.

We’ve had an awful lot of rain this spring. Something like 40 inches during a time when the normal rainfall is less than 20 inches. I don’t know what that means for our rainy seasons which is summer.

I do know that in six days hurricane season starts, with a heavier than normal year predicted. According to those folks whose job it is to know, there will be three major hurricanes to hit our shores this year. All the storm names will be used.

Oh joy.

Even when storms turn out to be nothing, there is anticipation. There is a fear rising from deep inside. A remembrance of storms past.

Or, just the big one.

When I see clouds like this I’m amazed. Look at them. Wow! They seem to be boiling up from somewhere unknown.

The unknown. That’s where I’d like to go. Today

And, you?

Point and shoot. F8 and be there. See it, shoot it.

That’s all this was. I wish I could tell you about some secret, but this is just literally walk out of the door and take a picture.

Post production was nothing too. I think I darkened the picture a little to help it be what I saw and felt.

That’s the thing. Feeling. That’s what matters. Today, we seem to be wrapped around taking pictures that show our technical prowess. Sharpness matters. Content matters. Pixels matter.

That all fails when you look at a bazillion pictures on Instagram or Facebook. Most of the pictures you see there are shallow and derivative. I find myself getting bored looking at them.

I’ve said I was leaving social media. I can’t seem to do that. As a working photographer I need it. But, I find myself liking less and less work as the weeks roll on.


Sugar magnolia blossoms blooming.

Magnolias. I love them. They are big, bold, white and fragile. I suppose a lot of spring flowers are fragile. All of the pinks, magentas and purples are done for now.

Aside from their obvious beauty, I suppose I like flowers because like life itself, flowers are passing, somewhat fragile and shine for a while.

You think I’m going to write about life don’t you?

I’m not. I have nothing to say about life. In fact, I’ve come to one of those times when I’ll have to let my photographs do the talking because I have nothing to say.

I guess yesterday’s battles wore me out. Musical Miss and I went around and around about the inner workings of the music business as it relates to touring and playing live. A project may have been compromised. And, after thinking about it, I’m not sure that I can complete three books on deadline. On any deadline.

Those books, there’s at least a year’s worth of work on each of them.

Between both careers, I could be booked for the next five or six years. A few year ago that would have been great, but that will just about account for the rest of my working life. I’m not Joe Biden. I don’t want to work in one of the world’s hardest jobs until I’m in my mid-eighties.

I guess I had something to say.

Sometimes I wish that I was a more complicated photographer. I’d have something to write about on this side of the page.

But, alas, I’m a simple photographer. Even when I did something like I did yesterday, it’s nothing compare to what really good Photoshop drivers can do.

I do what I do because I don’t have the patience to do the little fiddly things that you must do in a studio, either in the real world or on the computer.

I liken myself to a Zen photographer. I like to clear my head of distracting noise and just react to whatever is around me.

That’s how this photograph was made. I saw it. I pointed. I pressed the button. I was done. Even post production was a matter of doing a couple small things.

That’s me. That’s how I am.


Sugar Magnolia.

The things that make us who we are. All of those things. How we were raised. What we did when we were young. The things we did later. All of our actions and deeds.

That’s who we are.

Although I did many things, music was my greatest influencer.

Deja Vu was re-released yesterday. That’s right, the 51 year old album by Crosby, Still, Nash and Young hit the streets again. This time it is one of those box sets that is usually just a ploy to put a few more dollars into the musicians bank accounts.

Not this time.

The main album is remastered to match modern sonics. The rest… whew.

The out takes, the songs that were left out, the demos remind me of what could have been.

But, that never happened. The band fractured and broke apart and came back together until it cracked for the last time just a few years ago when Neil Young started dating Darryl Hannah, who he eventually married. Crosby said what he shouldn’t have and that was it.

That’s all history. You can read about it.

What’s important, as I keep saying about pictures, is how it made us feel.

It was pure joy listening to the sings. A few tears fell thinking about the years in between. And, we were wondering just how the hell they hit those notes as we tried to sing along.

A few friends — the ones who don’t know what they are talking about — say that I should write a book. They are wrong. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t see how my life is any different from so many people who grew up during the era that I did.

But, that doesn’t mean no books.

My long postponed two book set of broken buildings and places in the New Orleans area is back on the front burner.

My publisher asked me if I also wanted to take part in a photographer’s series of books that are street photography based.

It’s a good thing that he’s based in Great Britain because I was about to say that I didn’t see how that was feasible. It takes a long time to produce a book’s of worth of street images.

It was his Friday night when I received his email. I didn’t reply because there was nobody to reply to.

That’s a good thing.

While I was writing this, it hit me. I’ve done this for over 40 years. This is my golden opportunity to publish in real book — not a custom book — most of my life’s work.

It’s going to take a long while to get this together. By the time I’m done, I really will be ready to retire and play with the vegetables in the garden.

Finally.

Technical? Ha! Just stick the lens in a tree and fire away.

That’s all there is to making this picture of a Magnolia in early morning light.

I told you, that dog gets me up too early.

Without her I wouldn’t have a golden Magnolia, I’d have a white one, the real color.

I think golden light is so much more interesting, don’t you?

Magnolias are mostly a southern thing. It occurred to me while I was ruminating on the other side, that I’ve spent the majority of my career somewhere in the south. I never intended it that way. But, time flies when you are having fun.

At least, I think I was having fun. Sometimes, I can’t remember.

But, I do remember how to make pictures. For me, that’s what matters.

Which brings me back to the other side.

This third book is gonna be hellish. While I review and produce all those years worth of pictures, everything is going to come back to me.

Pictures and smells, you know.

That reckoning that I was talking about a few months ago? That was nothing. That was a drill.

This is the real thing.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. I don’t care what the CDC says. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Be patient. Look after each other.


Nature’s best.

Lately, I’ve been waking up way too early. That would be fine, but the all seeing dog is ready to go. I haven’t even had a coffee and she’s waiting by the door. Since she’s usually right, out we go.

Sometimes, but not always, pictures like this result from our early morning walks. This picture was made on our return route so the sun is a little higher in the sky than something like a dawn picture.

I would have preferred not to have the power pole in the picture. I’ve pretty much given up on that idea because in New Orleans power lines are above ground. Most of the city is built on elastic soil of the swamps below. That’s why we lost power seemingly forever after Hurricane Katrina. Above ground power lines.

Now do you see my problem?

My ground is elastic. Time is elastic. My clothes aren’t.

No matter, only the ground’s flexibility matters to this picture.

Morning light. Normally, I mostly work with late afternoon light. That’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to get up early.

For some reason, that’s changed. Of course, because I haven’t gotten enough sleep I take a nap… at 9am.

Who does that?

There really is no secret technique to making a picture like this. See it, click the shutter, do it a couple more times to be sure and you’re done.

Studio time is minimal too. Finish your picture and live your life.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Don’t be stupid. Enjoy all the early morning light.


All the reds and oranges.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Normally, I’d post something on the day of the event. This time, I thought I’d give you a little time to plan.

What are you going to do to make the planet a little healthier?

Me? I’m going to pick up trash.

It’s locals and tourists.

Once, I heard a tourist in The Marigny say that all this trash on the ground was just terrible as she proceeded to throw her trash on the ground.

Huh?

Once, after watching a guy throw trash on the street in front of our house, I asked him to pick it up. When he refused I said, “Pick that up. This isn’t your mama’s living room.”

He did.

It doesn’t matter what you do, but do something.

On another note, justice was served yesterday. Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges: second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.

At the time that George Floyd was killed, the Minneapolis police department claimed that he died in transit. Their lie was exposed by a courageous 17 year old teenager named Darnella Frazier. I think I read that the city honored with a medal.

I agree with Stephen Colbert. I find it hard to celebrate when a man is still dead. I think, like many people do, that this is just a start.

Of course, just as the verdict was being announced, another teenage girl was killed by a cop in Columbus, Ohio. The police department immediately released the body camera footage and it looks like the shooting was clean.

I have some thoughts about that.

When I was a young man — a teenager — cops were not so heavily armed. They didn’t carry tasers and their weapons were a revolver and baton.

Back in the day, they would have tried to talk her down. If they couldn’t do that and she threatened them, they’d hit the arm holding the knife with their baton. Likely, they would have broken her arm.

A broken arm isn’t dead.

Maybe that’s how you reform police departments. Go back to the basics. Most departments are way too up armored. They often look like soldiers going into combat. They are on the street to protect and serve, not kill people.

Now is the time for technical comments.

But first, a rant.

This damn block system has got to go. Once again, it put a box around my writing. Click anywhere near the box and everything is gone.

I’ve been having what the Brits call a spirited conversation with a “happiness engineer.”

The picture. It’s really two layered horizontal pictures. I twisted them up in a program that is designed to help you correct compositional problems like a tilted horizon line.

Then, I turned the horizontal picture to the vertical. I corrected whatever I thought was a problem and pushed the contrast and sharpening until it looked like an illustration.

That’s it.

If you want to learn about actual settings I’ll tell you, but first make sure that your phone is equipped with Snapseed, which is a free product.

Then, ask me questions. I’ll guide you through the process.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. (Don’t turn red state on me) Look after each other. Be patient.