A little rain must fall.

Winter.

The first day was stormy. It wasn’t a heavy rain. But, it lasted all day and night. The dog who sees stuff wouldn’t go out except to do what she needed to do. The rest of the dogs acted about the same way.

If I wasn’t so lazy I would have gone to the Quarter and made some nice reflection pictures. My agencies would like that. Of course, they way they license images these days it doesn’t really matter. Some agencies are going to a modified royalty free system. Royalty free is a misnomer. It doesn’t mean a client can use a picture for free. It means that they don’t have to negotiate.

Here’s the problem for photographers.

That generally means that we earn less per image. Agency managers say that we’ll make it up on volume. That sounds like the old joke that goes something like this, “A small business loses money on every item they sell. That’s okay, they’ll make it up in volume.” What that really means is that they’ll just lose more money faster.

That’s happening across the arts.

Unless you are well known, or have a long career, or are a shining star, arts like writing, photography and music are so oversaturated that most people can’t support themselves working at their art. This has occurred for three reasons. Disruption. Democracy. Recession.

Disruption and Democracy go hand in hand.

Digital nerds decided they could do things better and cheaper. Sometimes it works. Mostly it doesn’t. Disruptions generally means the products, whatever they are, don’t get better. They get cheaper and worse. Democracy means that the tools to make something are easy to use partially removing the gatekeepers. Once again the the quality declines and the products get cheaper.

Recession.

When the country tanked in 2006-2007-2008 at lot of people lost their high paying jobs. Some lost their property and homes. Many of those  people decided that if they couldn’t make their usual wages, they might as well have fun. What emerged was a glut of wannabe writers, photographers and musicians of all stripes. Most had no idea what it means to be an artist. Even if some of them had the talent, they didn’t take the time to let it mature. They want tips and tricks.

That lead to our current state of affairs.

Too much of everything. Lesser and lesser high quality products being released. And, a general lowering of prices across the board. There is even an agency that doesn’t pay royalties. The photographers license pictures for exposure. WordPress recommends that writing bloggers use them.

This is the long way of explaining why I’m lazy. If I went to The French Quarter in the rain and worked, I’d get wet. I’d run the risk of hurting myself because of my “bad” left leg. I could damage my gear. And, with our great drivers, I could get in a car accident.

I’m willing to risk all of that if i could make some money with my pictures. But, I can’t say that I will. Sure, it’s still fun to do. But, slipping and falling scares me. Speaking of that, after the first of the year I’m going to have  “Come to Jesus” meeting with my doctors. My issues need to be repaired, not masked. I don’t want to live this way any longer.


Driving in the rain, which really wasn’t a storm.

The rain.

Running errands is a good time for to make pictures in the rain. I just have to be a little careful, and be considerate of other drivers who are probably grumbling at the rain… and me.

I’m not sure how well you can see it, but there is a pickup truck in front of me. It looks like we are about to collide, but no worries. I’m stopped at a traffic light as the truck crosses in front of me. That’s why other drivers were grumbling at me. I was in the right hand turn lane and not making a move.

Oh well.

Grumble, grumble, toil and trouble.

There are a couple of different events that I want to photograph this week. There is second line in celebration of the late Dr. John’s birthday. We were born on the same day, 13 years apart. I’m going to pretend that the second line is for me. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t.

Then, on Saturday, the children’s parade is being held in Treme. That’s always fun, except when one of the kid’s mothers gets overly protective. They are tough. I don’t want one of them being angry with me. I wouldn’t stand a chance.

In between, I’m going to commute to Brooklyn. But, that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say that there is music to be made.

On Sunday, I may photograph the Men and Women’s Original Buckjumpers second line. I keep saying that I’m done with this project, but you know me. I can turn on a dime.  Besides, that’s a really fun and colorful group.

This should be a good week of photographs. I’m excited.

What are y’all photographing or writing about this week?


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.


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.


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.