Out on the road.

L

ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

W

hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


New Mexican delight.

D

ream or nightmare, you tell me. I’m going with nightmare and I’ll tell you why. You know that I post most of my tales the afternoon before the publishing date.

I sat down at 1 pm to start editing the picture. It is now 5:43 pm. The computer just gave me hell when the night previous, it was smooth and fast. It wouldn’t load. Every app gave me a hard time.

I finally rebooted the computer and that took three tries. OnOne took four tries to load. WordPress, for once, worked as as expected.

I don’t understand what happened. Apple suggests that you put the computer to sleep for extended periods of non use. I did that.

Apple says this because it takes a good 30 minutes to reboot from a cold start. Even when it is finished, apps don’t respond very quickly.

It could be the age of the computer. But, I’ll tell you this. We bought a refurbed Hewlett Packard Windows 10 computer just as a test. It runs smoother and faster than my main machine ever ran.

Here’s what happened. While Apple was making smartphones and watches, they weren’t paying attention to what should be their core product, computers. They made tiny, incremental changes while Windows products were getting better by leaps and bounds.

The latest iMacs reflect that trend. There is a new chip. But, the really big deal, apparently, is now they come in about five colors. Like that’ll help.

There is a new iMac coming out sometime soon. That’s supposed to have the big upgrades. We’ll see. It probably means five more colors.

Along with my change of blogging location I might as well just switch to a Windows product. After all, Windows 11 is supposed to look like an Apple desktop.

I probably won’t notice the difference except it’ll be much faster.

T

here is a lot of manipulating and technical work that went into this photographic piece of art.

The original picture is simple. It’s an old blue Chevy pickup truck parked in front of an abode building.

I started tinkering with it. Slowly at first, then I went a little crazy.

It may seem like I did everything possible to it. I stopped just before that. But, honestly, I do not remember adding that film strip to the bottom of it.

I must have been in a fine frenzy.

Whatever happened, is the result of going out of my mind. But, not knowing it at the time.

And, here’s more technical nonsense just in case you haven’t had enough.

We’ve decided to not pay so much to cool the house during a normal Southeast Louisiana summer.

The electric bills can be outrageous.

So, we set the thermostat to 75 degrees.

I’m freezing.

Maybe my thermostat is broken.

Sheesh. It’s always something.


New Mexico in a nutshell.

T

hey say that Mercury passed through its retrograde phase. Things should get and feel better. I’m don’t know what I think about astrology. There may be something to it. There might not.

But, I’ll tell you this. I feel better today than I have in a long time. I seem to have passed through a couple of stages of grief.

I’ll miss that dog for a long time, maybe forever, but it doesn’t feel like something is hammering in my head and making my eyes leak.

So.

This photograph. It was lost. I found it in the archives. It is New Mexico. It’s not what we think of when we think of the state.

F

irst, I want to talk about WordPress. I receive emails about their updates.

I begged them not to keep changing things. They didn’t listen.

This blog was just hell to assemble.

Columns duplicated themselves and were buried, making it impossible to create a paragraph.

Don’t get me started on predictive writing. Just don’t.

W

e tend to thing of New Mexico as being The Land of Enchantment because of the food, the festivals, the American Indians (Yes, that’s what they want to be called. At least in New Mexico.), the light, the high desert, the art, the artists, the indigenous jewelry and the list goes on.

We don’t think of the car culture which is mostly made up of lowriders, restored classic cars, and hot rods. I think they are wonderful, all of them.

It’s fun to photograph them because the owners are very proud of them. They’ll talk about their car for hours. They’ll pose and take direction.

A

nd, the balloons. You already know about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta if you’ve been reading Storyteller for any length of time.

Some 900 balloons and crews come from all over the world to show and compete with their balloons. I attended almost every year that I lived in the state.

Oh yeah. Balloons make me smile.

T

here is a lot of work going on in both photographs. Both have different levels of a glow filter added to them.

The top picture is intentionally very contrasty. I did that to emphasize the graphic shapes around the truck.

The balloon picture has a couple of things going on. First, I reduced the structure filter by 100% which makes the sky soft and allows the balloon to pop out of it.

I made the balloon a graphic shape using a combination of softening and glow filters.

Then I published them on Storyteller after fighting with the %&$*& block system.


Like a painting

All the news that fits. But, first the picture. It’s actually a layered picture containing a scene on a New Mexican highway and a Jefferson Parish expressway. Mostly, it’s the New Mexican photograph that rose to the top of the layer. Obviously, it’s heavily worked over in post production.

I wasn’t sure how far to take it, but the further I went the more I liked what I was doing. That’s important. If you don’t like your work, stop doing it.

Eventually, two photographs became one and became a watercolor painting. Or, something like that. It also became mostly about the gentle color since the main subjects are almost blurred beyond recognition.

That’s the picture. The painting.The watercolor. Here comes the big news of the day. I’ve been struggling for the last few years to decide the viability of having two sites. Storyteller, a blog site. Or, Laskowitzpictures, a website that contains a blog.

WordPress made the decision for me. I received an email saying that they couldn’t bill me for next year, starting on November 18th. They also commented saying almost the same thing except my new year started on December 18th.

They can’t bill me because I intentionally disconnected the link to my credit card because I wanted to know when my billing date was due. In the past they’d bill me and then tell me that done that. Of course, I could dispute it but that’s a PIA. Or, they’d tell me way in advance and I’d forget about it.

I need the Website more than I need the blog site, so I won’t be paying for what you see currently. I think what I’ll do is downgrade to a free version of Storyteller, post less, maybe three times a week and remove my images from the WordPress archive. That’s not a big deal because every picture I publish here goes into a file on my desktop.

Once I can figure out how to link you to Laskowitzpictures.com then I’ll let this version of Storyteller drift away into the clouds. That may take a while. Or not, since my energy will only be focused on one site.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other. VOTE.


 

Through the looking glass.

Such a weird little picture.

It looks fairly normal. Just wait until I tell you about it. You’ll understand.

I was walking by a fence. There was a hole in it. I looked through it. And, what did I see? The very scene before you. I thought it would make a cool picture. What to do? What to do? The hole is about the size of tennis ball, or a little smaller. I knew that if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t have a picture.

So.

I stuck the lens up to the hole and looked through the LCD to make sure I didn’t include the ragged edge of the hole. I continued to look at the LCD and waited for some kind of truck, which I knew would eventually come. I made four exposures, managed to get my hand in the fifth, and called it a picture.

I’ve made pictures in just about every way a person could. This was a new one for me. For my next trick I’ll take a picture behind my back while still looking forward. You never know… some days feel like that.


In a crowd.

The deep freeze is really 42 degrees.

One day the talking weather people heads will get it right. One day. Last night they were predicting starting the day with temperatures in the low twenties. That may be true somewhere. They said we might have snow. Somewhere else too. Wind was going to coming ripping through. Not here. Not in New Orleans.

I want their jobs. Say whatever you want and get paid for it.

I made this picture yesterday, while I was running errands and pretending to be productive. At first, all I really saw was the traffic and the trucks. Since you can  barely see the LCD in bright light, I didn’t see that I was in the picture.

No matter.

Upon closer inspection, this picture wraps up the day very nicely. Leaving nice blue skies and heading into the storm. With me in the middle. With my phone hanging out the open window. Yes. The case is purple. I thought that I was being different. I thought I could pick it out in the crowd. No. It seems purple is a very popular color for phone cases. Who knew?

So.

More about the picture. No. I’m not doing a drive by. I’m waiting in the left turn lane at a full stop. The trucks are moving while I was sitting there making pictures. I originally wanted to make pictures of the amazing sky that you can barely see. Then, this happened. I took advantage of it. Eventually, I also made the picture I wanted to make.  A window opened and I jumped through it. The door didn’t close. I drove through that a few minutes later.

Sometimes one thing doesn’t have to close in order for another to open. You can have both. You have to be ready for that. You have to accept winning. You have to accept success even when you aren’t sure that you deserve it. For instance, I thought I was sort of a fraud because what I did came easy to me. That happened in photography. That happened in academia. In three post bachelors degrees, I earned almost perfect grades. It seemingly just flowed out of me. It took awhile for me to realize that I started my degree programs later in life. I had real life experience in the subject I studied. All I really did was codify my knowledge with academic work. It was a lot of work. It was easy work. Like working at a hobby job.

That happens in a lot of subjects with which we are involved. For instance, we think that a new musician on the scene broke out easily with one popular record or song. We forget that they may have been singing and learning to play an instrument since they were four or five. They practiced every day. They woodshedded. They played in small public gatherings. The practiced some more. Somewhere along the line, they discovered they could write songs. They made a demo. They got lucky. Somebody liked it. Their career was born.

Same with other careers. Same with me. Those of us who broke through early tend to wonder. Was I lucky? Am I really good enough? Am I a fraud? The answers to those questions are yes, yes, no.

I’ve simplified the process. The path. There is a lot more to say on this subject. Not today. Eventually.

Just know this. Easy or hard, anybody who is productive in whatever they choose to do is not a fraud. We worked hard to get wherever we are today. Even me. Even me in the freezing (kinda) swamp.

Peaches. Oops. I meant peace.


Rain storm and traffic.

Stormy weather. 

It’s supposed to be fall. But, the temperatures are in the 90s. Sometimes, things cool down some. After a little bit of rain. Even though I usually think we can’t drive in the rain, we do alright. I suppose that we have a lot of practice. 

Even me.

I can put the camera on the dashboard, let it do its thing and not run into that truck next to me. Or, the car in front of me. That wouldn’t be a good thing. At all. Since this picture was taken in Jefferson Parish, the policing agency are sheriffs. And, deputies. I doubt that they would be amused to learn that instead of texting and tweeting, I was taking pictures when I I ran into the back of a car waiting at a red light. Luckily, that didn’t happen. 

The picture. I took it as I sometimes do. Through the windshield without actually seeing what the camera is seeing. It’s pretty much just point and shoot. Then I play around in post production. I’ve been tinkering with older looks and more cinematic effects. That’s what is going on here. 


Details, Details, Doors
Details, Details, Doors.

A promise is a promise.

I wrote, yesterday, that I would show you what was across the street from the old car repair shop. This is it. A 1932 Ford Panel Delivery Truck. It’s for sale. There’s a bit of a funny story to be told. While I was researching this old thing of rusted beauty, I ran across an ad for one up in British, Columbia. The owner said it was the only unrestored one left in the world. Good Try. I certainly didn’t travel up to Canada to photograph it. I like old cars. But, traveling that far for this truck… sheesh.

Anyway.

This one is located in Algiers Point, just across the river from New Orleans. I have no idea if it’s running. Or, if it even starts. It actually looks pretty solid. It was last inspected and licensed in 2012. It might make a great project for somebody. Not me. In fact, I tried to talk a guy who was just passing by into buying it. I told him that he looked like he needed a project. He wasn’t having it. Smart guy. While I was researching around, I found out that a completely and properly restored version of this truck is worth about $30,000 – $35,000. The asking price for this hulk is $15,000. Ray’s rule of thumb says that, at a minimum, the price you paid is equal to the restoration cost. Unless, you restore this truck because you love this model, there is no return on investment.

The pictures.

This is an interesting neighborhood. The repair shop that I showed you yesterday is across the street. This lot used to have a building on it. It’s pretty easy just to walk around the neighborhood and take pictures. The neighbors seem friendly. My danger radar didn’t come on. The bells didn’t ring.

The pictures were made pretty much as you see them. With the bright overcast light, it was sort of like working with a big, huge soft box. I added a little more pop to the color. But, that’s about it.

Oh. Why four pictures? You know that I think less is more.

This post sort of needs them.

The top picture is a detail picture. It really needs to be huge. It could be a huge picture hung on the wall. You could call it fine art. You could. I won’t. But, there are some technical limitations to this WordPress format. Yes. I could tinker with the code to make bigger pictures. But, I don’t think anybody wants me to do that. After all, I’m a coding idiot.

The middle picture is probably the view I photographed first. A lot of my composing and framing is straight ahead. If I had to choose only one picture, this would be it even though isn’t my favorite picture.

The third picture is simply an establishing shot. You see the truck, the lot and the neighborhood.

The fourth picture is my favorite… AS A PHOTOGRAPH. Unfortunately, you can’t see enough of the truck, the lot or the location.

There you have it. That’s sort of how I think. Especially about little photo essays.

Oh. And one more thing. Help a brother out. Printing, mounting, matting, glazing and framing a gallery show doesn’t come cheaply. Please slide over to Storyteller for November 4 for details.

https://www.gofundme.com/gk8bajd8

Ford front grill.
Ford front grill.

Just so you can see it
Just so you can see it.

In the weeds
In the weeds.


Here's looking at you.
Here’s looking at you.

Junk. New Mexican Junk. Sunday’s junk.

Unlike the junk in New Orleans, this junk isn’t so rusty. It is mostly sand and wind-blown. Sure, there’s some rust. But nothing like you get in the high humidity swamp that I call home. For now.

This place. It’s in Moriarty. New Mexico. You can see it from I-40 just east of Albuquerque. It’s owned by a very New Mexican sort of fellow called Archie. He owns a lot of land out this way. He’s also pretty much well-known throughout the area. Generally when he talks about the history of the region, he tells the truth. After all, he’s lived a lot of it. He knows some stories about nuclear development that are downright scary. You can see him in the third picture. I should also add that the last time I saw him was before my return to the swamp. A while back. I’m not saying anything more about that. Bad juju. You know?

Anyway. He’s friendly. Call ahead. Let him know you are coming. He’ll let you have the run of the junkyard. He’ll ask for a donation, but that’s to be expected. It’s mostly to support the wonderfully restored or pristine cars in the car barn. After all, how much of this old junk can he sell? Some of the oldest cars and trucks — Model-Ts and before are almost melting into the dirt.

A word about this page design. I had grand plans of making a newspaper page-like design. Like the kind I used to do. Very clean. Large leading picture. A very nicely organized group of sub pictures. Yeah. Good luck with that. Maybe if I could write code, I might be able to do something. But, no way within the confines of this page template. I could make smaller pictures. But, I couldn’t align them. If I did, one picture dropped below the group. And, of course, I couldn’t wrap the type. I probably shouldn’t worry much about it. Storyteller is really about pictures. Not page design.

Oh well.

If any of you have a better idea, please let me know.  I could use some better ideas.

Some kind of truck.
Some kind of truck.

Archie
Archie

Piles of cars.
Piles of cars.