Sometimes you just feel like it.

Because… why not?

I was working on the original version of this picture in color. A light bulb went off. Experiment in black and white, I thought. So, I did. I liked it. I smoothed it out a bit. I helped you to see some of the rain drops and that was it.

I’ve been reading about pictures. They seem to be flooding everywhere and everything. Apparently, about 30,000,000 pictures are uploaded to somewhere every single day. That’s amazing to me. I suppose, in one way, that’s a good thing. In theory we should all be speaking the same language. Unfortunately, we aren’t. Most of the pictures are made by people with phones who really don’t know the first thing about photography. That’s okay. They mostly take pictures of their friends and family. And food.

What it does mean is that pictures aren’t worth much these days. Maybe ten years ago, Bob Dylan said “music ain’t worth nothin’. ” I’m sure that except for the very elite most art isn’t worth much.

There’s just too much of it.

The best thing I can suggest is to find your niche and build your community. That’s a big reason I don’t shut down Storyteller. I’d love to move it to my more commercial site, but I lose all of you. There seems to be no way to convert you to Laskowitzpictures.com. I’d have to do it by hand. Email address by email address. Some of them are imbedded when you comment. Some are not.

It cuts both ways.

Some of you rarely comment and I can’t really see who stops by just to visit or hit the like button. But, I enjoy visiting your blog. I’d lose that. I don’t want to lose that.

One more thing. There seems to be a move towards making slim volume photo books on very short press runs. I feel about that just about the same way I do discussing the release a music album and spending a lot of time promoting and supporting it. It doesn’t work anymore. Marketing music is best done one song at a time on some streaming platform. That keeps your name out there, driving publicity. And, you are making new music every month.

Writing that just cleared my head. How would you feel about subscribing to something like one picture per month?

Instead of a book, you get a portfolio of 12 pictures over the course of a year.

There are some logistics to think through, like the size of the print, the selection of the image and the cost. I have some ideas, but I want to mull them over.

There other questions like matting, glazing and framing. But that could drive the cost through roof. Besides, odd as it sounds, that’s more personal than liking the art. Ten people can agree that they like a picture, but each of them will have their own ideas about hanging it.

Hmmmm.


Clean these drains out or your house will get flooded.

I’m not kidding.

If you don’t keep the drains cleaned near your house, your street will flood. If your street floods, your house will flood. And, so will your car.

You won’t be happy. Neither will your insurance agent. And, your insurance company will probably drop you for making a claim, leaving you to ask “what’s insurance for if I can’t use it?”

That’s a story that never ends.

Here’s my last insurance company story.

About nine years ago my car was parked in a shopping center lot.  I was still inside. The ignition was turned off. I was unstrapping my seat harness when some guy backed into my car. We did all the right stuff. We exchanged licenses and insurance information. His car was fine. Mine was dented. I filed a claim with my insurance company who collected from his insurance company. Everybody agreed that it was the other guy’s fault. Including him. He tried to get out of it, but his wife gave him “the look.”

What do you think happened?

If you guess that my insurance company raised my rates because of a no fault accident, you would be right. WTH?

I want a business like insurance companies have. If you drive a car, most or all states, require you carry insurance. You are smart if you carry far more than the minimum. You pay monthly, or as frequently as you can over a years time to keep the rate down. You pay for years. In my case, I hadn’t been involved in anything for at least a decade. Until that little fender bender.

Okay.

Let’s keep the numbers simple. Let’s say I pay $100 per month. Over a years time that is $1,200. Over ten years time that is $12,000. I have a minor fender bender that cost the insurance company maybe $1,500. I’d say that their ROI was pretty good.

The insurance company will either raise my rate or drop me.

The insurance company’s gross return is at least $10,500 over ten years time. I’m sure their are some administrative costs incurred by them. Those are offset by investment packages that my money finances. At worst, it’s a push. At best, they are making money on administrative costs.

I want that kind of return on my investments. On my business.

No. I didn’t get in an accident. I was looking at the last quarter of the year. Grumble, grumble, grumble.


Droplets.

First, the rains came. Thunder too. The mixing of two weather systems.

When we ventured outside, man, it was cold. And, windy. The dog who sees things wanted no part if it. She knows a few words. One of them is walk. She hears that and waits by the leashes. Another is home. She hears that and heads straight for home. This morning we went out. She did her business, as they say. She stepped away from that, I asked, “walk?” She stood there. So, I asked, “home?” She headed right back through the gates.

Just as well.

I knew the weather would turn cold. Well, coldish. I didn’t think I would feel that cold. I rarely do. I did. If we had continued on I would have been freezing by the end of the walk.

It’s always something.

A few days ago I was complaining about the unseasonable heat. Now, I’m complaining about the cold. No, not really. I was just surprised this morning.

The picture. We’ve had rain for parts of three days. We also live in a semi-tropical swamp. That means that while many of you are living with dead things, our plants don’t go dormant. In fact, some continue to grow if the weather never drops below freezing for more than a few days.

I know. I know. Green in the autumn. It’s maddening to some of you.

I just saw the picture while we were walking. I thought, “ah ha, that’ll get them.” So I pressed the button.


Storm damage. Sort of.

I hesitated to post this picture.

Because?

We are Katrina evacuees and survivors. We know what it is like to be horribly hurt by a big storm. We lost cars. A house. Out buildings. A lot of furniture. And, keepsakes. Somehow I became the keeper of my maternal grandmother’s bible. It survived being brought to this country from Europe. It was 117 years old. Even though the water in the house didn’t reach it, the humidity did. It became what people in the paper industry call slurry. That’s broken down paper that is turned into liquid prior to recycling.

So, when I look at this picture I feel like I’m looking at one of those memes. The ones that have turned over plastic chair and in bold type, and says “we will rebuild.”

Never-the-less, retrieving this umbrella is proving more problematic than you might guess. You can’t pull it out of the pool directly, because it’s upside down and holds too much water. I tried to turn it over in the pool. Still too heavy. My next approach is going to be turning it on its side so the edge of the umbrella is facing up. Hopefully it will sort of glide through the water.

If that fails?

I’ll hire two boys from the neighborhood. The problem with that is finding them. Most of this neighborhood is very special. These kids hire people to start their cars when nothing is wrong with them. I may have to cross the tracks — the streetcar tracks — and head into Central City. Those guys will do it. They’ll work for free, but will expect a healthy tip. Besides, after all the second lines, I know and trust most of them.

One more thing.

I wouldn’t have published this picture at all, but I promised two people on Facebook that I would. One is a high school classmate. An old friend. I can’t let her down.

The picture. What else could it be? F8 and be there.


Water and flowers.

We had a storm last night.

It wasn’t the usual kind. This thing was a fairly big tropical storm. I heard the the winds at about 3am. I got up to close the storm shutters. As I looked out the windows, I was amazed to see the gale force winds. Things were blowing around. Tree branches snapped. Our very heavy pool furniture blew around and into the pool. One of the umbrellas was open when it sank to the bottom. That’s going to be fun to rescue.

Oddly, all of our local meteorologists mostly said this storm would barely pass us by. The one that I trust the most, said it would stay out in the gulf and make landfall in Alabama.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’m pretty sure that they downplayed this storm because they well oversold the last two storms. One was a severe tropical storm. The other was a hurricane. Both fell apart before they came close.

But, this one was cooking all day long. We had rain for about 28 hours. We had six inches fall during that time and then the winds arrived.

Right now, we are looking at overcast skies with the sun peaking through from time to time. The sidewalks are dry and the ground is starting to dry out. But, the broken tree limbs and tossed outdoor furniture will take some work. Normally, when the weather folks go crazy, we close the umbrellas and maybe move all the furniture undercover. They didn’t so we didn’t.

When the dogs and I went for a walk, we looked around our neighborhood. There were some pretty big trees pulled out by their roots. There were a couple of broken windows. But, luckily no cars or homes were damaged seriously. It just looks like a low level bomb went off.

The picture. That’s a car hood with water droplets and a bunch of windblown stuff on it. I saw it, I photographed. F8 and be there, or something like that.


Mysterioso.

Into the mystic.

There is one place that the dog and I walk. It is by turns, moody, swampy, and beautiful. It was at sunset, beautiful. For sure, it’s not purely nature. There is a water feature built into it. That just adds to the feel. In high summer when the humidity is at its highest, the area is downright scary.

Not so much now.

Even though it is not so moody right now, you’d better watch where you walk. Along with the usual suspects of frogs and a billion lizards, there is the occasional snake and opossum. No worries though. If you don’t bother them, they’ll ignore you. Besides, the snakes aren’t anything nasty. A rattlesnake was roaming around another walking route. People feared that rattlers were making their way into the city. Turns out that the snake escaped from its owners fish bowl. If I were a snake I’d want to be free too.

That is one of those things that we call “very New Orleans.”

There are all sorts of events that we term that way. A guy had his car broken into. He had his car door open on the street side while he was waiting for the police. Another car came along and took off his door, making his already bad day, worse. The driver of that car got out of it and fell down. Dead drunk. That’s some New Orleans stuff right there.

A few months back, while checking all the water outflow tunnels, the water department found a crippled and battered car. You might remember me telling you that. It turned the car was lodged in the tunnel for fourteen years. It was a Hurricane Katrina car. Fourteen years of no reviews or repairs. Now, THAT’S some New Orleans stuff right there.

Finally, I want to photograph a big second line later today. After a month of no rain, the skies are dark, heavy with rain clouds. My weather apps agree. Rain today. More New Orleans stuff.

That’s the story from the swamp on this fine Sunday.

 

 


Falling water and fallen leaves.

Falling Water. Fallen Leaves.

Let’s just emphasize that in case you didn’t read the caption. I like that little turn of a phrase. I could write it again just to make sure that you understand. Nah. Y’all are smart readers.

I stumbled on this picture a few days ago. I thought I would save it until I could put together a few pictures about Autumn water. However, I couldn’t wait. I like this picture. Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to make a picture like this. Either the water wasn’t right. Or the leaves weren’t right. Or, or, or…

I realized that I had to make an angular picture, so that’s what I did. I only made two or three images because once I had it, I knew I had it. The rest was easy. Aside from the radical vertical crop, I did very little to the picture. The picture pretty much took itself. That’s what you want. That’s when you know that you did okay.

Two things.

I just discovered there is no second line for Sunday. In fact, aside from the normal Sundays off, during Mardi Gras and Jazzfest, there are a number of holes in the calendar. I have a pretty good idea of what that means and it isn’t good if you like our culture.

Many of the folks who actually create the second lines, and who are really first liners, have been forced to move out of the city because of intense gentrification. The very reason people come her is being gentrified out of existence. That means…

That some clubs and krewes, whose members haven’t left yet, cannot afford to pay the new city parade fees which have been raise by over 50% and, in some cases, close to 100%. If the clubs still exist, they can’t afford to roll.

New Orleans is mostly a service industry. People come here for the culture. If the culture ceases to exist what happens next?

Restaurant owners and managers are already screaming for help because line cooks, back of house and front staff can’t afford to live in the city. Many restaurants are short staffed.

The culture bearers are leaving because they can’t afford to live here either.

It gets worse. Remember my discussion about police retention? They leave after gaining a couple years of experience, going to the next neighboring parishes where the pay is much better and the crime is much lower.

All this from a simple flowing water picture. Isn’t that something?

Think about it.


Fall’s colors emerge.

Oops. I almost forget.

In my effort to publish second line pictures, I almost forget that yesterday was the real start to autumn. To the fall season. Luckily, I’ve been finding and making pictures for the past couple of days. So, no worries.

I have two favorite seasons. Spring and Fall. Both are about changes. I guess that’s why I like them. There is implied energy to both. Even in my quietest pictures, there is a sort of energy. Mostly through the use of bold color.

What is there to say about Autumn? Leaves change color and eventually shrivel, die and fall to the ground. The days get shorter. The light gets lower. We set the clocks back by an hour in most states. The air gets colder. And, the season progresses until winter arrives. Eventually, the days start to get warmer, daylight increases and the cycle turns. As it has for many millennium.

It is life and life itself.

Floating Fall.


Abstract French Quarter.

Rain. Motion Blur. And, a strange crop of a woman standing next to me.

It seems that there is a kind of finality to this picture. That’s a good thing. This is the last of this series. I reckon that you’ve had enough. Besides, tomorrow is Sunday. The first day of the week. The first day of a new thing.  Don’t ask me what.  I haven’t thought that far in the future. Yeah. I know. That’s just tomorrow. It’ll come to me sometime before that.

As you already know, sometimes I don’t talk about the picture. I veer off in some other direction. This is one of those times.

Yesterday evening was just terrible.

Peter Fonda died. He’s a big part of my youth. Movies like Easy Rider helped to form me. The music of that time was the soundtrack to my life. It really hit me when Roger McGuinn — the founder of The Byrds — tweeted, “I just lost a dear friend.”

Not ten minutes later I learned that Nancy Parker, a journalist and anchor person for local television channel FOX 8, died in an airplane crash while she was working on a story about Franklin Augustus, a local a licensed stunt pilot. He was also killed. Nancy Parker had been with the station for 23 years. It seems that everybody knew her or watched her. To a person everybody talked about her kindness and caring. I met her very briefly prior to the Zulus starting Mardi Gras Day one very cold year. We talked for a few minutes as people do. She made sure to stand behind me, so as not to get in the way of my lens.

My city is in mourning.

You know what I always say. The work is the prayer. That’s what I’m doing. I’m listening to Byrds music. A little of it was used in Easy Rider.

RIP Peter Fonda

RIP Nancy Parker

RIP Franklin Augustus