Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taste of St. Louis

You see this around a lot in the US: some local organization has a Taste of Wherever festival. Lots of area restaurants set up tents and sell small portions of their offerings for a moderate price. You can sample this and that. I always go to shoot at these and then afterwards I always tell myself it was a waste of time. It's really crowded, you can't get any good angles and the light is often harsh. So I went again anyway (it was near my office) and only got a couple of good shots. The promotion pictured above seems particularly appropriate and candid. In fact, I was quite surprised by it. Sort of like going to a medical clinic and finding someone selling life insurance.

WHAT'S DOWN TODAY: as if you have to ask. Farewell, retirement.

TOMORROW: CDPB Monthly Theme Day: Lines

Monday, September 29, 2008

Redbird/Blackbird (Closing Day)

This bizarre mannequin stands near the door of the St. Louis Cardinals team store at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are redbirds, like the birds on the bat across the shirt. No idea where this evil twin comes from. No, not a Minnesota Twin (who may or may not be in the playoffs at this writing). Minneapolis is too cold and clean for evil, isn't it?

Anyway, the Cardinals won their final game 11-4 over the Cincinnati Reds and were victorious in their final six games of the season, finishing 10 games over .500 in a 162 game season. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Their season attendance was over 3,400,000, pretty damn good for the US's 18th largest metropolitan area. Wait til next year.

WHAT I ATE TOO MUCH OF: KFC fried chicken (moi?). Our condo association's annual block party was late afternoon yesterday. One of my neighbors owns the regional KFC franchise. Call in the cardiologists.

TOMORROW: Taste of St. Louis

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Teddy at Third Base, Or, Sentimentality Run Wild

From the season ticket holders open house at Busch Stadium. You figure it out. Now playing third base for the St. Louis Cardinals... But it's so cute. This picture was taken and provided by team member ShadowyOne.

WHAT'S ON FOR TODAY: the final day of the regular baseball stadium with the Cincinnati Reds visiting St. Louis. I'll be there.

TOMORROW: Redbird? No, blackbird.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baseball Memories (Secrets Revealed)

Last Sunday, there was an open house at Busch Stadium for St. Louis Cardinals season ticket holders. We buy them for the office and mostly give them to clients but the account is in my name. ShadowyOne and I went (see yesterday's post). There were tours of the clubhouse and dugout. When our new stadium opened in April, 2006, season subscribers were invited to write up their memories of the team. You can search for people by name on a couple of video screens on the premises.

So, here's the beginning of the entry for the Strangetastes family, written by me. That guy on the left is your humble blogger in the Cardinals' dugout, sitting where Albert Pujols might hang out. Below, Strangetastes and ShadowyOne, at the special request of VJ. Secrets revealed.

WHAT I"M DOING AS I WRITE THIS: watching the Obama - McCain debate. I don't think I can take two hours of this.

TOMORROW: teddy at third base, or, sentimentality run wild.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Farewell To The Boys Of Summer

An empty Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, near the end of the day and the baseball season. The Cards are finishing with a record just over .500, far behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs. The final game is this Sunday, which ShadowyOne, her husband and I will attend. Baseball is the only sport I follow. I love its nuggets of brilliance, intellectual strategies, lack of intentional violence and living, breathing time scale, not tied to a clock.

WHAT I GOT TODAY: a photographer's vest. My brilliant wife suggested this. I usually schlep around with two cameras, one with a mid-range lens and tho other with a heavy telephoto, plus a gear bag over one shoulder that weighs, well, too much. The idea with the vest is that it has big pockets all over the place to hold all your photo gizmos, distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders and eliminate the need for the bag. Good investment.

TOMORROW: baseball memories, containing information never before revealed on this blog.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

The Arch looks so smooth from a distance but has so much detail when you are close. This shot is on the inner side of the south leg, just over the ground. These stainless steel plates get smaller as the structure tapers from bottom to top. Imagine the precision needed for their manufacture. The irregularity of tone from plate to plate is also interesting. I have no idea why that is so.

WHAT TODAY'S OPPORTUNITY AND CHALLENGE IS: I have nothing on my work calendar today. I'm going to close my office door, put a Do Not Disturb sign on it and attack the mountain of files that need my attention. Sisyphus, get to work.

it's the final weekend of the regular baseball season. Since our team didn't make the playoffs, we will say a slow farewell.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Goes Up Must Come Down

A little final color from the Great Forest Park Balloon race, to which we now must bid farewell. If I posted any more of this my visitors might think I'm full of hot air.*

WHAT'S SORE: my legs. This gym business can be difficult for sedentary urban types with snobby, quasi-intellectual tendencies. Seesh, a Rushdie novel and a class of port are so much more comfortable.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series. Back to the weird, sort of abstract stuff.

* I'm sorry. I really do apologize. There are times when I just can't seem to control myself. Maybe I should seek professional help or buy a new lens or something.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Geometry and Color

You have no idea how easily a tall, clumsy, middle-aged photographer could fall over backward taking a shot like this. I didn't, actually, but damn close.

WHAT'S UPSETTING ME: Republican proposals on health care. (Insane!) B.S. junkyard dog political campaigning. (Disgusting!) Sarah Palin. (The horror! The horror!)

TOMORROW: okay, one more day of balloons (worth your patience, I promise). Then Thursday Arch Series. Then a farewell to the regular baseball season.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It Keeps Going And Going And Going Nowhere

Americans know the Energizer Bunny - it keeps going and going and going. This one is going nowhere in a hurry. Energizer's corporate headquarters is here and its balloon is traditionally the hare (now that's clever) that the other inflatables follow. There was a last minute announcement on Saturday that it was not airworthy and it would just stay tethered, wiggling its pink bunny batteries at the crowd.

WHAT WAS PRETTY COOL: Sunday was the St. Louis Cardinals open house at Busch Stadium for baseball season ticket holders. ShadowyOne and I waited in line over an hour to go through the Card's clubhouse and dugout but it was worth it. Pix later in the week.

TOMORROW: would you put up with another balloon or two?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Great Forest Park Baloon Race

It's not exactly a race in terms of who gets somewhere fastest. A first balloon, known as the hare, takes off ahead of the others. The rest launch one at a time (no mid-air collisions of hot air bags, please). They attempt to follow the hare and whoever lands closest to it wins. This, of course, is impossible because the wind blows them where it will. Nevertheless, a good excuse for a spectacle. By the way, this is not HDR. It's Photoshop magic.

WHAT WAS GOOD/BAD AT THE RACE: lots of colorful balloons and gentle wind / bright, flat cloud cover and light. Hence the enhancement.

TOMORROW: hey, kid, would you like another balloon?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Panoramic

I went to Forest Park with my tripod last weekend to play around with panorama shots. You take a number of pictures while panning across the scene, being careful to overlap them a bit. Then Photoshop carefully stitches them together. Crop, a little touch-up and voilá. The scene here is Art Hill, the great, sweeping lawn below the museum. It’s been on the blog before, like here and here. For a sense of scale, note the tiny person at the near edge of the Grand Lagoon.

WHAT WAS A LAFF RIOT: a touring company of Chicago’s Second City improv comedy troupe was in town with the current production, Deface the Nation. Political razor blades flying in every direction.

TOMORROW: with luck, something from Saturday afternoon’s Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

Friday, September 19, 2008

From Wall Street to Market Street

Gordon Gecko would like this inflated device. A local bank had it at a community event downtown on Market Street, drawing attention to their booth. There's an obvious metaphor here for current financial news. It was big, alluring, full of fake money. If someone stuck a little pin into it as they passed by it would collapse. Gecko said, "Greed is good." Well, perhaps there is a limit.

WHAT'S ON FOR WEEKEND PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE LOU: two good things. On Saturday we have the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, which is quite a spectacle. I had a well-received post about it a year ago. On Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals baseball team has an open house at Busch Stadium for season ticket holders. We'll get to visit the dugouts and clubhouses, and maybe wander around on the field. Camera in hand, of course.

TOMORROW: it's panoramic.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

Just another HDR image of the Arch. As I get more experience with the format, I'm finding that there is pleasure to be found in understated HDRs, not just the oh wow eye-poppers you see a lot.

WHAT TREASURE WE DISCOVERED: while I was driving home from work my wife called me from a local food market. They were clearing out discontinued wines, with many nice bottles for $5 or $6. We're wine lovers but I'm a value shopper. We cleaned 'em out. Right now, I'm sipping a pinot noir from Romania. Really. We wouldn't have taken the risk for $12 but for five bucks it's some pretty nice swill.

TOMORROW: from Wall Street to Market Street.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cheapo Helicopter Rides

I really don't want to pay the lowest possible price for a helicopter ride. Or eye surgery, tax advice and DSLR lenses. These are important, risky matters. However, St. Louis Helicopter Tours offers a quickie up and down along the riverfront for $29 from their heliport on the Mississippi under the Arch. They have longer rides at higher prices. Why haven't I ever done this? I should get off my rear and go one their long rides this weekend, but only if they can guarantee a front seat. My cameras would be blazing. Would you like to see the photographic results of that?

WHAT I'M DOING FOR MY OWN GOOD: getting back to the gym more often. It felt much harder to go during the summer. If it wasn't for earphones and loud, fast music, I might never get there at all.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gasses And Liquids But Not Solids

This post reflects what Hurricane Ike did through the central US from the Gulf coast to Michigan and up into Ontario, Canada. There was a lot of fluid. Galveston, Texas got wiped out. Houston got soaked like it was Noah's flood. We got enough to cause some significant local flooding in low-lying areas but Chicago got more than twice as much as rain as we did. No place is safe (including Wall Street). Incidentally, this building is a block away from the nailed books of recent posts.

Where could you live in your country that is relatively free of the risk of natural disaster?

WHAT THAT TICKING SOUND SIGNIFIES: we get on a plane to Tokyo four weeks from today. Nihon-e ikkimas. Honto desu. (Quoted from Really, Really Basic Japanese for Foreign Devils by S. Tastes, Bloggy Press, St. Louis, 2008.)

TOMORROW: cheap helicopter rides. Does that idea bother you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monsters In Our Midst

Were the last couple of days' posts a bit, um, heavy? Then maybe a sightless monster will be more to everyone's liking. It kind of reminds me of a blind horror I saw in a Star Wars movie or the cover of a Dune novel from way back somewhere. It may stalk you in your dreams. You may feel compelled to fill the ravenous dark maw with an itsie doggie treat.

WHAT I WAS TOO LAZY TO DO: I wanted to get out yesterday and shoot the remains of Hurricane Ike as it passed over St. Louis. However, by the time I drank some more coffee, looked over the paper, took a shower and cleaned my lenses, it was gone.

TOMORROW: fluid.

Sunday, September 14, 2008



I went back to the place of the nailed, exposed books yesterday. Almost all of the small building's windows are boarded up and that's where the books are affixed. There are two sets, the one below and ajother just around the corner. The books are more weathered than when I first saw them a month ago, some pages bleached to emptiness. The selection of titles seems obviously meant to convey something. They include: Brave New World; The Silver Chair; The Scarlet Letter (twice); A Farewell to Arms; The Fellowship of the Ring; Sophocles: Three Theban Plays (Antigone, Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus); Great American Poems; Death of a Salesman; The Cave of the Ancients; Frankenstein; The Outsiders; Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies.

The more I look at this, the more I think it is a brilliant work of art. If anyone in the area knows more about it, please contact me.

WHAT DELIGHTED ME LAST NIGHT: an old college friend passed through town. We had dinner. He moved on to Arizona and Colorado while I stayed in St. Louis. He's had some hard times - cancer and divorce leading to depression and drinking - but seems to have moved through all that. He still has the twinkle and enthusiasm I remember from 35 years ago. I was really happy to see him.

TOMORROW: well, I'm mining the archives. Let's hope tha canary doesn't die.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Books Nailed To A Wall

I was wandering around a gritty commercial area just south of the Arch and came upon a breathtaking work of art (in my opinion, but by definition I have strange tastes). At the corner of Third and Gratiot Streets there is a low brick building with a board fixed to the outside. Eight books, classic novels, are nailed to the board, sitting out in all the weather. There's Jane Eyre, Of Mice and Men and Brave New World, among others. They could be read but their spines are nailed open to a particular pair of pages, they are above many people's eye level and they are being slowly eaten by the atmosphere. Then there is the single page pictured at the upper left.

What do you think it means? The decline of literacy, perhaps, in an instantaneous, electronic age? A prophesy of the end of civilization? I think it's bloody brilliant and even more expressive because it is lonely, unpublicized and rarely seen. I'd like to know how it affects you.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: my iPod is plugged into the sound system, running my Favorites playlist. Brian Eno's Music for Airports. Orquesta Tipica fernandez Fierro's cover of Carlos Gardel's beloved tango, Questa Abajo. Au Fond du Temple Sant from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. The Prayer from Philip Glass' opera Ahkenaten. Alla bella Despineta from Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti (I saw the production in this YouTube clip-it was fabulous). Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop by the immortal Captain Beefheart. Chopin's Ballade in G Minor. At the wrong time of year, The Rite of Spring.

TOMORROW: more about these books..

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vanity Plates

This may not happen anywhere in the world outside of the US. They used to have it in the UK but I think the nanny state swept it away. Personalized license plates, sometimes called vanity plates, are available in many American states for a fee, so car owners get to promote themselves or their views. Some of the St. Louis metropolitan area is in Illinois. My son, city photoblogger U "R" Us, lives in Illinois but this isn't his car dedicated to me. He drives a Honda, not a Toyota. I have a vanity plate, too, pictured below. The message is very obscure. You probably have to know me or do exactly the same work to understand. A print of the STL CDPB photo of your choice will be awarded to anyone who can decode it. Employees of STL CDPB, our sponsors, travel agents, legal counsel, photo equipment vendors and family are excluded.

WHAT I'D LIKE TO DO (Thursday night): sleep. 220 miles / 354 km of driving round trip for a single hearing, three hours prep time and conference call about a re-make of our firm's web site and assembling today's blog post are enough. Thanks heavens I have Robert Mondavi to blow me a kiss goodnight.

ex libris.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

I thought I'd find something appropriate in the archives for our favorite Thursday monument photo. This one is a study in sky texture and the filling of space. I like the little optical illusion in shots from this angle. The apex of the Arch appears to be the topmost point in the picture, although it is actually further around the curve going clockwise. You may just be able to see the little slot windows of the observation deck. That's the top.

WHAT'S REALLY ANNOYING: I have to drive 2 1/4 hours each way today for a single hearing in an outlying town and the case isn't even that good. Guess I signed up for this, though.

Greetings, paternal unit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Your Dreams, Kid

A couple of St. Louis Rams cheerleaders were at the Hispanic festival, autographing knicknacks and posing for pictures. Readers of this blog know that I think American football is idiotic. Our local team stinks, going 3 and 13 last season and getting clobbered 38 - 3 in the season opener last week. The young man above may be interested only in his personal statistics. No harm in dreaming. He does have a very self-confident air, though, doesn't he?

By the way these two pictures have blown away anything I've posted on my Flickr page for a long time in terms of total views. Sex sells.

WHAT WAS FUN LAST NIGHT: a friend from my portrait photography workshop was in town on business. I took him out on the grand tour of St. Louis drinking and dining favorites. Snapped a few pix, too.

I must have an Arch picture around somewhere that I can post. Haven't been down there shooting in a while.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

St. Louis Art Fair - Beauty In Pewter

It started as it so often does: something visually interesting crosses my path and I stop to check it out. In this case, it was a woman behind an intriguing triangle of curtain who had a warm smile. To one side are tall, elegant pewter containers holding flowers. The woman is identified by a banner in unusual colors, complimenting the curtain. As I so often do, the first words out of my mouth are, "Hi! Would you mind if I took your picture? You look so..." This Janet Miller from Nashville, Tennessee, one of the artists at the fair last weekend. Her work is gorgeous - check it out at her web site. Better still, buy something. The list of art shows she is attending for the rest of the season is here.

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. It's about the science, the math of randomness and probability theory and their meaning in ordinary daily events. Don't overestimate that "hot streak" at the slot machine.

I got to the Art Fair late on the last day and didn't get a lot of pictures. So, we'll go back to the Hispanic Festival with a meditation on adolescent male fantasy and one of the National Football League's worst teams.

Monday, September 8, 2008

St. Louis Art Fair

This weekend brought us the annual St. Louis Art Fair. Quite an event. Not just any riffraff gets to display work - only a small percentage of applicants are accepted. For me, a lot of the stuff on display shows a high degree of craftsmanship but is aimed at a mass audience (the artists do have to make a living). If I see one more photographer with pictures of Paris, Venice or various colorful places in the American Southwest I'm gonna scream. I swear, I will. However, each year there are a few original gems. The airborne dancers or acrobats above are an example. It would be hard to find a place to install them in your home unless you have a big yard. I think they are magical.

WHAT I REALLY SHOULD DO: throttle back my photography addiction, work harder and make more money to feel my habit (not to mention household expenses). Contact me in a week and see if I succeeded.

TOMORROW: Art Fair? Hispanic Festival? Not even I know.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Salsa at the Hispanic Festival

There's a lot going on in town this weekend. Besides the big annual outdoor art fair (actually, we have two, May and September, but this is the REALLY BIG one), there is also the Hispanic Festival. That's downtown, close to my office, and I went there Saturday afternoon. The dancers and musicians knew how to work that thing. I guarantee that they use more parts of their bodies than the Irish dancers I featured a couple of weeks ago. (See here and here. I can say stuff like this because I'm of Irish descent.) In this picture, a young couple was giving a salsa demonstration. A few minutes later they came down into the street and gave lessons to all comers. Are we having fun yet?

WHAT"S ON FOR SUNDAY: shoot the Art Fair. Bang bang, your image is captured. Does that mean I've stolen your soul?

TOMMORROW: arts or crafts, for sure.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Giant Catsup Bottle

Well, back to my home town after a fun trip to the Pacific Northwest. And what better way to return than with a gigantic catsup bottle in black and white HDR? This is actually in the Illinois suburbs and served as a water tower at a now disused catsup factory. (There is a raging debate in this country as to whether the product should be pronounced and spelled catsup or ketchup. H. J. Heinz, the largest manufacturer by far, goes with ketchup). It has been restored by conservationists and the darn thing is now actually on the National Register of Historic Places. There's a whole web site devoted to it and you can read about its history here.

I like this picture because the thing looks so alien. It could be a bizarre tangy red rocket awaiting liftoff. It could be a condiment from an distant planet.

WHAT'S ON FOR THE WEEKEND: browsing and shooting at the big annual St. Louis Art Fair. There's also the St. Louis Hispanic Festival, where I got some good images last year. The town is hopping.

TOMORROW: ¡ Salsa ! (And I don't mean catsup.)

now that our national political conventions are over, I recommend viewing this analysis of reasons to vote Republican:

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Last Note From Seattle

Typically for me, I took thousands of pictures in Washington State. Tomorrow it's back to St. Louis but today I leave Seattle with a couple of visual memories. Above, the Space Needle is framed by a giant work in Olympic Sculpture Park. Below, a vendor at the famous Pike Place Market. Seattle is a city I reture to over and over again.

There are many more of my pictures of the Olympics and Seattle on Flickr. Click here.

WHAT I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO: get out on the street this weekend and shoot some local stuff.

TOMORROW: back to The Lou, but with what? How about a giant catsup bottle drained of all the red color?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

It's Thursday so I might as well post an Arch picture and save that Northwest stuff. I'll need it until I shoot some new local material. This Arch photo is about surface and scale, details of the great structure.


TOMORROW: probably something Seattlish.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

STL CDPB On The Road: Seattle - Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle is a relatively new development of the Seattle Art Museum. It is built around and over city streets, a highway and waterfront railroad tracks and contains terrific contemporary work. One of the works is incorporated into a pedestrian bridge over the railroad. Seattle Cloud Cover by Teresita Fernández is a translucent wall on one side of the walkway, composed of soft color and shape suggesting the city's skies.

WHAT FEELS SATISFYING RIGHT ABOUT NOW: my own cozy home. My own bed. No more driving for hours and hours through the wilderness (although some wags might put a transit of St. Louis in that category).

TOMORROW: More Northwest stuff? There was so much to see and shoot. Oh, but tomorrow is Thursday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

STL CDPB On The Road: Seattle

We went to dinner Sunday night at the home of a friend and his wife in the Ballard neighborhood. He's a lawyer with the same kind of practice of mine and a pretty good photographer. In fact, he's the person who first told me about CDPB. Between the main course and dessert, we went to the primo overlook of downtown from Queen Anne Hill to take sunset pictures. This view is hardly original but it represents memories of this wonderful city.

WHAT I'LL PROBABLY BE DOING WHEN YOU SEE THIS: flying home to St. Louis, hunched over my MacBook, frantically editing pictures.

TOMORROW: more souvenirs of this trip until I can shoot some more home town material.

TUESDAY EVENING WEIRDNESS UPDATE: I had hoped to meet Kim from Seattle Daily Photo when I was in town but it didn't work due to a communication mix-up. But see Kim's post today here - almost exactly the same as mine above! Turns out we were on the same overlook at the same time shooting the same subject. We probably tripped over one another - there were a lot of photographers there - but didn't know who one another were. We'll work it out the next time I'm in Seattle and, of course, Kim (and all of our CDP colleagues) are always welcome in St. Louis.

Monday, September 1, 2008

CDPB Monthly Theme Day - Sister Cities - Bogor, West Java, Indonesia and St. Louis, Missouri, USA


I was going to take a pass on this theme day but, to my pleasant surprise, I was contacted by Alaya of Bogor, Indonesia, CDPB who suggested a joint venture. Bogor is a city near the west end of Java. It's a little bigger than St. Louis, with a city population of 800,000 in a metropolitan area of 3 million. The first picture above os Tugu Kujang, the landmark of the city. The other is Bogor palace. an old dutch colonial building. Thanks to Alaya for the photos.

WHAT'S ON FOR TODAY: Le Grand Tour de Seattle.

Undoubtedly something from the Emerald City, as the locals call this place.