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.

Advertisements


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.


Like little sparkling jewels. 

After a hard rain.

The jewels of nature. Sparkling like they have their own light source. Laying on wet pavement for all to see.

We are at that weird point of summer merging into autumn. It is very hot. The light is getting low and golden. Leaves are starting to fall. A leaf fell on the all seeing dog. She shook it off and barked at it. How dare that leaf invade her space.

You see pretty little scenes like this one. Wet pavement. Wet bits of flowers. Wet leaves. The scene turns sort of magical. If you have eyes that see. Really see. Or, if you have an imagination to take you away from the mundane.

The picture. Wet pavement and brightly colored bits of nature make for a very nice picture. A little work in post production to tune things up a bit and away you go.

Housekeeping.

I spent the better part of yesterday working on my new and improved website. There were a number of technical difficulties that were mostly caused by unique terminology. The basic format is done and there are some pictures, mostly older ones. I invite you to come see for your self at http://www.laskowitzpictures.com


After a hard rain.

After a hard rain.

You find… pictures.

Everything is crisp, bright, colorful. Even the moss is emerald green. This doesn’t last for long. What falls down must rise up in our heat and humidity. An hour or two after I made this picture everything calmed down. The brightness was mundane again. An hour or two after that someone came along and cleared their drain. That’s a big issue around the swamp.

Because we flood so much, the city — meaning we, the people — do whatever we can to keep rainfall from pool and building until we are underwater. To be sure, the city government is complicit in this too. After finding that car in a storm drain, and determining that it was a Katrina car, we know the city hasn’t even inspected that drainage system in fourteen years.

Now that the city has been busted, they are looking at all the main drains. As they worked through the drain where the car was found, the pulled out some 470 tons of stuff including shopping carts, the remains of two more cars, a huge amount of Mardi Gras beads and so on. This must be an ongoing program. The city is trying to find the money to pay for it. Not only have our property values been increased by big percentages — our went up by 65% — but now the city is talking about increasing the property tax. This amounts to a tax on top of another tax.

The funny thing about this is that the financial people I trust say that unless we made capital improvements on the house, the increase in property values is unknowable until we sell the it. Houses in our neighborhood have not turned over, so there is no comparable real estate values. Anything is a shot in the dark estimate.

That said, if our property value has increased by 65% and the city raise the property tax, I guess will find out what our house is really worth.

The picture. It’s the damnedest thing. I had another picture planned, but every time I tried to download it from the picture editing software something happened. The picture went from bright and colorful, to something muddy and flat.

So, I used a backup picture that I made last week when there was a lot of rain. You know, on a dog walk.

I’ll have to figure out what’s going on. I have to know if it was just that one picture, or if the picture editing software having a problem. I’ll start with the original image and work backward.

It’s always something.


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

 


Lucky Dogs.

Rain. Wet streets.

The whole place is glowing. Neon. Color. Reflections.

As a wise man once said, “when the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.

And, so they do.

These so-called lost files having been showing me the way. I’m glad that I’ve worked through this little series. There is so much more that I could show you. But, as I say, just because I made a lot of pictures doesn’t mean I have to dump them on you. Sheesh, a friend of mine from here and on Facebook just posted 54 pictures on Facebook. I don’t think I can count that high. Give your viewers a break. Cull that down. Just show your best work.

Lucky Dogs. See that hot dog on a bun looking food stand on the corner?

I participate in a food group on Facebook. It’s about New Orleans food. There’s been a changing of the guard with the admin folks. Now, we have people asking the same old questions, when all they really need do is go to the group’s archive section and search. Whenever somebody asks about inexpensive restaurants in the Quarter, I always respond, “Lucky Dogs.” (Wow! It took me forever to circle back to that.)

The truth. I wouldn’t eat from one of those stands if you paid me. They hit the streets about 11am. When I made the picture it was about 10pm. I’d venture to guess that some of the hot dogs in the steamer ave been there all day. They might not hurt you, but surely they are tough, chewy and don’t taste all that good.

They are a New Orleans institution.

That’s great. But, who wants to eat in an institution?

The picture. F8 and be there, except that it was probably more like f4 and stand very still.

That’s the story. On the anniversary of Elvis’ death. The day when he really did leave the building. RIP Elvis Presley.

 


More about water.

Water in motion.

Clean. Pure. Healthy.

And, wet.  Very wet. Cooling wet.

Every now and then, I get away just a little. I find places like this one, which fit nicely into my never ending water project. This particular picture seems to speak to purity. That’s probably why I like it.

I realized yesterday that so much of my computer work and online presence is a time sink. I thought about that last night as I didn’t watch the presidential debates. I opened Twitter and I might as well have been watching the debate. I switched to Facebook, mostly to respond to people who liked my pictures. They usual political folks were at it again. I switched it all off. I read. Much better.

I am getting to the point where I might just ghost.

Only time will tell.

I used to like working in Asia. In the beginning. The old days. Back then you had to call an operator to connect you to your home country. Work arrived at my office via courier with notes written to me. You couldn’t be found if you didn’t want to be found.

The internet intervened. But, it wasn’t any everyday thing. We talked by email. There was no social media. There was no internet within the internet like Facebook.

Now? Sheesh. You can’t burp online without everybody knowing about it. And, screaming about it. Piling on is the norm. Following people that you don’t like is the norm. It’s all so tiresome. I haven’t made my mind up about anything.

It’s hard just to check out.

After all, I haven’t shipped a package of pictures to anybody in at least two years. Everything is sent online. Maybe via Dropbox or something like that. Sometimes using a secure file transfer system. If it’s just a picture or two, by email.

Sheesh, I haven’t even met newish clients face to face. If we actually talk, we use something like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Apple Facetime. It used to be that we’d travel to have important meetings. That was expensive if people were coming from around the world. Now, we just meet via one of the video apps that I just mentioned.

Sure. It’s less costly. But, not meeting in real life leaves a lot out. A lot is missing. You really don’t get to know your colleagues. There is nothing hands on. And, it’s a lot less fun. Fun matters.

Anyway.

 


Reflections.

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

See those little white dots? They are little flowers blown off of a bush. That’s what I set out to photograph. Rather than work tightly, I used what amounts to about a 28mm lens. It wasn’t until I started framing the picture in the LCD that I realized what I had.

I captured a late spring or early summer picture in blue. In my swimming pool. Nature was just floating around. I only made a couple of pictures. This one, another slightly tighter horizontal picture. And, a couple of vertical pictures which didn’t work at all.

The image took almost no post production. Mostly, I just tuned it up a bit.

How you see the picture is up to you. We all make meaning of art in different ways, based on our own personal experiences.

I wonder about the future. The future of photography.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at the pictures other photographers posted. Before I get into this, please know that I don’t take the so-called wisdom of the crowd all that seriously.

What I found was interesting. The truly unique and challenging pictures had almost no likes. The derivative, technically current popular ways of working had many, many likes. This is partly due to the Instagram effect and young photographers trying to gain popularity so that the become influencers. That may have mattered once to image users and buyers, but that ship has sailed. They know that the waters were very shallow.

If anything, Instagram and Facebook have hurt photography. If you follow the crowd and play for likes and reposts, you’ll never break out. You’ll never really find your own style. You’ll just be copying some other photographer, who copied some other photographer and… you get it. Out of that comes a new photo philosophy. “Fake it until you make it.”

Copy other photographers work until you learn enough technique to start trying to make your own pictures. I don’t know when or how that came to be. It’s the worst possible thing to do. I was taught about 150 years ago to photograph my world as I saw it. Sure. Some of my early work wasn’t all that great, but it taught me to think for myself.

Certainly, some photographers influenced me. They still do, today. But, I didn’t copy them. I learned a lot from how they thought. I learned a lot from how they worked. But, I never set out to make a particular picture like one of them did.

That’s it.

As Sam Abell said, “Take YOUR picture.”


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?