Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Special Day

Elvira's 90th birthday

Yesterday was the 90th birthday of my wife’s mother, Elvira. Her children organized a big party in the community center in Hanover, Kansas. About 100 people attended. I think that my mother-in-law was delighted but it disappointed her that there were so many people that she couldn’t greet all of them.

Elvira was not quite the oldest person at the party. At least one cousin was several months older. The young lady below, Mya, wasn't quite the youngest person but less than 1 is young enough. She and her twin sister Payge are the daughters of my niece. A friend of the family, Martha, was invited to entertain the guests with her accordion. She was great but why no polkas?

a 7 to 8 hour drives back to STL. Could run into some snow. I'll be able to resume posting comments when I get home.

TOMORROW: CDPB monthly theme day, if I get the silly picture finished.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

STL CDPB On The Road: The Marshall County, Kansas, Quail Hunt, Barbecue and Wine Tasting

For the second year in a row, the in-laws, uncles and cousins went out with shotguns looking for quail on the day after Thanksgiving. They are so good they have their own private entourage of paparazzi, me, ShadowyOne and U "R" Us. Above, the two of them and son-in-law Brian pose with deadly weapons. Two of them had never before touched a firearm. Lunch and dinner were full of warming swill. Since there were no birds to be found, the afternoon session was shooting clay pigeons. The rookies who couldn't shoot a moving object had a chance to perforate a been can, which was thoroughly blasted by my daughter and finished off by my son. Near sunset, everyone posed for a group picture. Then back to the farmhouse for more swill.

WHAT I DIDN'T DO: shoot a gun. I did shoot a Canon. I am a peaceable man.

TOMORROW: this afternoon is my wife's mother's 90th birthday party. Expect documentation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

STL DPB On The Road: Hanover, Kansas

We’re out on the Kansas prairie for Thanksgiving weekend. My wife’s mother lives in the town of Hanover, population about 500. It has its own high school that serves the town and surrounding rural community. Their teams’ nickname is the Wildcats. The logo has colors that remind me of one of those old posters from the Fillmore West. The football field, at the corner of town, has stands for just a couple of hundred people. We think this building is the locker room, refreshment stand, toilet facility and press box rolled into one. Opponents must be terrified on arrival.

WHAT I DIDN’T DO TODAY: eat too much. What happened? WHAT I DID DO: shoot a bunch of cool HDRs around town.

with luck, the Great Marshall County Quail Hunt.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

.Shot in (bad) color infrared and converted to black and white. You might not immediately think that this is an IR picture but it's got that extra high-contrast pop. I'm still trying to get the hang of IR photography with my old DSLR that I had converted for this purpose.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends.

football. Stupid and boring IMHO. WHAT I'M GOING TO LOOK AT TODAY: US Route 36 across northern Kansas, from St. Joseph, Missouri to Hanover, where my wife's mother lives.

need to work on that but probably something Kansan.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nature, Modified

Sort of the same idea as yesterday's picture but with a little more arts & crafts added. This is a large schoolyard next to the condo development where I live. Once again, it's an HDR, shot handheld. I hand painted the grass at the bottom to make it less dull and put a mask over the entire sky, fiddling with its edges around the trees, then messing with levels, contrast, color balance and saturation. So, it's kind of a student project.

Sorry no comments on your posts today since it's a travel day for us.

dinner tonight at Cafe Trio in Kansas City with some of the in-laws. Been there before - yum yum.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

End Of The Line

A sunset HDR image in Webster Groves, where I live (for the locals, this is the track by Big Bend, looking west between Gore and Gray). Not my usual kind of picture but I have a crazy week and I need material for the hungry mouth of the blog. Slap me if I start posting pictures of kittens.

WHAT EVERYBODY SHOULD DO TODAY: go see Virginia at Birmingham Daily Photo and welcome her home from Paris.

I think it's oversaturated sky shots through Wednesday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mayor Slay and Chief Isom

Local dignitaries attended the municipal Christmas tree lighting on Friday night. Above and to the left is Mayor Francis Slay, now finishing his second four-year term. He is a lawyer (isn't everyone in America?) and a graduate of my alma mater, St. Louis University (motto: We're almost as good as Washington U.). Downtown enjoyed a renaissance during his administration (I've been working there for 34 years and, believe me, it needed the defribrilator paddles). Unfortunately, that has stopped dead in the current real estate bust. Some of his policies have been controversial but no polititian escapes that in this town's racially polarized politics.

On the right is newly-appointed
Chief of Police Daniel Isom. His predicessor was given the bum's rush when it got around that his daughter was driving hot cars towed and impounded by the cops. We have great hopes for Chief Isom. He is young and full of ideas. He has a Ph. D. in criminology and criminal justice, a masters in public administration and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Can your police chief say that?

I'm happy with the way these portraits turned out, considering that it was night and I was shooting hand-held with flash. Got a bit of a boost, though, from the TV lights.

'S TONIGHT'S SPECIAL EVENT: the annual big board of directors meeting and dinner of the Eastern Missouri Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. I am a member of the board, which is appropriate for two reasons: I represent people who are disabled with arthritis and I have rheumatoid arthritis myself (well-controlled with these new whiz-bang "biologic" therapies). I get to hang out with rheumatologists and have my funds raised.

TOMORROW: oh, I don't know. How about a cheap but dramatic HDR shot of sunset over railroad tracks?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lighting The City's Christmas Tree

Many of my photographs are set in Kiener Plaza downtown. On Friday evening, the city lit the municipal Christmas tree there. It's two blocks from my office so I went over after work. A rather trim Santa listened to the wishes of children who had been through the face painting booth and were apparently exhausted by it. The MC was local radio personality Smash (given name Asher Benrubi, which doesn't sound very smashing), who has appeared on STL DPB before, working his other job. After the lights were switched on there was a good little fireworks show. Then the crowd headed up the street to event sponsor Macy's, where there were hot chocolate and low, low sale prices.

WHAT'S ON TONIGHT: ShadowyOne is coming over to print some pix from a one-year-old's birthday party she was commissioned to shoot. Coochie coo.

TOMORROW: da mayor an da chief.

There is a new Arch photo

today on GATEWAY.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blinded By The Light

A downtown office building clad in stainless steel and mirror glass, blasted by the late afternoon sun. It looked to me like the first building on earth to be vaporized by Vogon Constructor Fleet when they needed to get us out of the way for an interstellar bypass. I also like what it does to the color of the grass at the Old Court House.

WHAT'S ON TONIGHT: the Saint Louis Symphony orchestra is performing Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony, a big favorite (it's really intense). Listen to the ending, in which the composer contemplates his approaching death, with comments by Leonard Bernstein - click here.

TOMORROW: so soon? Somebody must be trying to sell something.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's All About The Light. Well, Maybe The Lens. Could Be The Software.

Wow, the town is looking good. At this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere we have nearly day-long Golden Hour. This was taken from Kiener Plaza looking southeast about an hour before sunset. The classical-style building on the left is the Old Court House, scene of the gay rights rally featured in Monday and Tuesday's posts. By the way, since the title refers to how the picture was made, here's the setup: f 6.3, 1/200 sec., ISO 400, Canon 5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens with B+W circular polarizing filter, shot in RAW and buffed up in Photoshop. That's an awful lot of bother to go to. I think it's worth it.

WHAT'S ON TV WHILE I'M WRITING THIS: wow (again), Stephen Colbert is really babbling tonight.

TOMORROW: alien death ray strikes office tower?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

This picture is about the Arch's relationship to its setting. It was taken facing east on Pine Street between Broadway and Fourth Street. The building at the right is the historic Old Court House, the scene of last weekend's gay rights rally featured in my posts on Monday and Tuesday. The monument dominates our city center.

a week from today, my wife, daughter, son in law and I are heading to Kansas for Thanksgiving with my wife's family and her mother's 90th birthday party. We'll pick up my son in Kansas City who's flying in from Chicago. I'll be out in the fields photographing the nephews' annual holiday quail hunt. Delightful people and beautiful country.

TOMORROW: wow, this picture makes downtown look good. Must be from Photoshop. Or maybe the light. The light was gorgeous.

There is another new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dragon Eats Toyota!

Seen along Manchester Avenue in The Grove neighborhood. Those hungry dragons will eat anything. Why, if you left them on this lot it would probably nibble on a couple of Mini Coopers for an appetizer and then snarf down a Hummer for the main course. Be careful where you park.

WHAT I NOTICED ABOUT THE REACTION TO MY POST YESTERDAY: it had the highest number of visits in quite some time (must have been that catchy thumbnail). The subject, as they say, is a hot potato.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series and a new companion post on

BY THE WAY, a commenter on yesterday's post asked for an explanation of the "God Hates Shrimp" poster in one of the photos. See the footnote added to the end of Tuesday's text for a gloss on the subject.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The People At The Rally

Faces in the crowd at the rally in support of gay marriage rights and the things they had to say. I agree with their cause. In those countries and (two) American states where this is recognized, it's just no big deal. This may be a generalization, but those who oppose it seem to think that the institution of marriage has had an immutable sameness throughout the ages that must be preserved. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Consider the sweeping changes in Europe (and later North America) from the French Revolution into the 19th Century, when marriage changed from an institution under the control of the Church to one defined by the State. No one thinks about that any more. Then there is the concept of marriage as being a locked-down lifetime bond, no matter how horrible it may become, to today's freedom to divorce. No one thinks about that any more. Like all human institutions, it changes over time, but many of us are shortsighted and don't understand this.

Having said that, I think the two sides do a certain amount of talking across one another. Of course there are hateful wackos, like the counter-protesters found in Eric's Salt Lake City post on Monday. But some of the people in these pictures feel they are hated by the other side. I don't think that's always true. A lot of opponents are motivated by sincere religious belief. However, some of them do seem to think that gay marriage is shameful and practiced by perverts. Read D. C. Confidential's eloquent comment on my Monday post to see why that's just not so. Sometimes we don't listen to one another very well, do we?

the marked upswing in gun sales in this country over the last couple of weeks. Some people seem to think Obama is going to take them all away so they better stock up.

Dragon eats Toyota!

A FOOTNOTE ON WEDNESDAY: NYC's Ming the Merciless asks in a comment what the business with the shrimp is all about (see picture below left). A person I live with who is better acquainted with the Bible than I am provided the answer. It's a bit of a parody, comparing the Old Testament injunction against eating shellfish (like shrimp) with Bible verses condemning homosexuality.

In the King James Version, Jude 1:7 is translated as, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." The same verse in the International Standard Version comes out as, "Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities near them, which like them committed sexual sins and engaged in homosexual activities, serve as an example of the punishment of eternal fire." Similarly, in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:9 states that, "You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don't you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals..." (ISV).

Now, as to unclean foods, my correspondent looked up the verses cited on the poster:
Leviticus 11: 9-12 (KJV):
9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.

10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Deuteronomy 14: 9-10 (KJV):

9 Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. 10 But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean.
So, the point of the shrimp poster seems to be nobody worries about eating shrimp any more except the relatively few people who keep kosher. The rest of the world ignores the prohibition. By implication, the protester in the photo is saying that Bible verses condemning homosexuality are also passé. It is a subtle, witty comment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Love That Damn Well Dares To Speak Its Name

I was at my office Saturday playing the desperate game of catch-up when I walked over to the window. Twenty-three floors down and a couple of blocks away, I saw a rally on the steps of the Old Courthouse spilling over to Kiener Plaza across the street. Grabbed the camera and zipped on over.

As most Americans know, one of the things that happened on Election Day was a referendum in California that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, which is to say, no gay marriage. It had been legal in California for a brief time after a ruling by the state Supreme Court. Only two other states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, permit it. Gay and lesbian communities without the country reacted to the vote with outrage. Demonstrations were held throughout the country on Saturday. I'm not going to take a position on the issue in this post. Tell us what you think of these images and the questions behind them.

the sun came out, the temperature moderated and I got some some great pix around downtown, including the big croquet wicket.

the people at the rally.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wall Art

It's a cold, gray weekend in St. Louis so I thought I go for a bit of brightness. This is a wall of my office on a sunny autumn late afternoon.

WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY: I was in my office on Saturday cleaning up paperwork (and browsing the portal) when I saw something going on in the plaza below. What was it? Come back...

TOMORROW: who do you love?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Upper Deck

The view straight down from my office window to the top level of a big garage, about 18 floors down.

WHAT BLOGS I'M RECOMMENDING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Strobist, the bottomless font of knowledge for those of us who use small flashes rather than studio lights - more possibilities than you ever imagined. They had a feature a couple of days ago about Drew Gardner, a photographer of enormous creativity, humor and technical skill. He's started a blog, Photography - The Dark Art. Check out his professional web site, too. You will enjoy it. I met Gardner a few summers back at the Maine Photography Workshops and have enjoyed his work ever since.

TOMORROW: patterns on the wall.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Last Frame

.Like these models of old-fashioned pin boys who vanished with changing times, the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame has slipped into our city's past. If it interests you, go look it up in Texas in a couple of years. Everything is bigger in Texas.

WHAT THERE IS TO SHOOT IN ST. LOUIS THIS WEEKEND: nothing that I know of. Better put my thinking cap on.

TOMORROW: upper deck.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Arch Series - And Something New

If you looked at the Thursday Arch Series post last week, you heard me whining about how I was getting burned out with the project. How to find something a little different week after week, how to keep it going? Well, Friend Of The Blog PJ from Pensacola Daily Photo had a great idea: start a new blog just for the Arch.

And thus we are happy to announce
GATEWAY,, all Arch, all the time. I'm putting the finishing touches on the design but it will be full of my photos of St. Louis' great monument, links and fun facts about the Arch and, in a few days, an opportunity to buy prints of my images (the perfect gift for all occasions). Stop by, leave a comment, sign up to be a follower (there are three already!) and return from time to time to see what's new.


a last few pins and then lights out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A 4-sided regular polygon with all sides equal and all internal angles 90°

Yeah yeah yeah, it's stereotyping and prejudicial and it would feel completely normal if you lived in that time and place. But, having admitted my bias, aren't these people square? I mean, bowling in a dress shirt and tie? Beaming over a baroque but cheesy multi-tiered trophy with a clock in it? (If you really need to know the time, become a bowling champion.) Heavy-set, middle aged Polska mama knockin' 'em down while someone who looks just like Edward G. Robinson leers lustfully over her shoulder? I mean, really. These are display panels of Great Moments In Bowling History or something at the dear departed International Bowling Museum, which recently closed its doors in downtown St. Louis.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, which lets you shoot portraits with unsurpassed clarity. But, um, then there's the price, so fat chance.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


.One of the most interesting things about the late International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is the large area devoted to women bowlers and the Women' International Bowling Congress. The greater part of it contains scores of portraits like the ones you see here. They are all formulaic but there are interesting little differences. Who gets blue and who gets gray backgrounds? What's with the one in pink? What if anything do these paintings tell us about the subject? I think the best one is the Italian-looking woman on the right of the top photo, who looks like she is about to leap out of the plane of the picture. By the way, IMHO the last photo is the best image I've made in some time. Your results may vary. Which portrait appeals to you the most? Why?

St. Louis has an ambitious little semi-pro opera company, New Opera St. Louis, that puts on one or two productions a year in church halls or school auditoriums. We just heard that they are doing a rarely performed gem this weekend,
Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah, in the sanctuary of a local Jewish temple. We say: be there or be square. This burgh has three opera companies. How about that?

TOMORROW: they say white men can't jump. But they sure can bowl.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Bowl No More

Little know factoid about St. Louis: since 1984, we have been home to the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. Until Saturday, that is, when it shut its doors. Despite being across the street from the baseball stadium, it had very few visitors. It got no promotion and did nothing to make people aware of it. Some years ago, the Cardinals baseball team took part of the space for its own hall of fame but it wasn't enough. Now, I haven't bowled a line since my son's bowling birthday party when he was about 10, so 2008 - 1990 = a while ago. Although I drive by the place almost every day going to and from work, I set foot inside for the first time on closing day, camera in hand. It was really pretty interesting. Over the next few days we will look at some of the neat stuff inside.

the old camera I had modified to shoot infrared doesn't seem to be working right. Everything comes out in shades of red. If I can find the solution to the problem, you'll find out here.

women who set 'em up and knock 'em down.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Soldiers Memorial - Full View In HDR

So this is what the whole building looks like. The statues I've been posting pictures of are on pedestals towards the top of the outside stairs - you can just see one here.

One of the things I especially like about Photomatix is the way you can control the result. It's easy to achieve an image that's painterly as well as eye-catching. The color tones are often the bit-more-than-real typical of color postcards up to the 1960s. Lots of HDRs are screaming crazy (although there is a place for that). Search for HDRs on Flickr. Too many look like the backgrounds on futuristic blow-em-up computer games. I like a little more subtlety.

WHAT I DID YESTERDAY: attended a closing. See below and come back tomorrow.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Courthouse That Glows

Photomatix can do strange and wonderful things to your pictures, although it takes some experience to get comfortable with it. If you didn't know better, you might think that this image was a painting. I particularly like the way the software adds a light glow around large objects although I don't know the technical reasons why that happens. This image is made of three photos, shot at correct exposure, two stops underexposed and two stops overexposed. The variable is the shutter speed, not the f stop, because you need to keep the depth of field the same. Photomatix squishes everything together, preserving high and low tones. Then you can fiddle with it some more. This is another picture of the architecturally wacky Civil Courts Building, with the Arch lurking in the background.

you may begin to notice some changes in the blog starting today. For one thing, I'm now using my real name, not the old nickname. Something new is afoot, something exciting (well, depending on how somnolent you are), with a projected launch next Thursday, November 13.
Watch the skies. And thanks, PJ.

WHAT'S ON FOR THE WEEKEND: very little (a relief!), made up of tons of paperwork at the office, photo shooting, photo editing, dinner with our daughter and son-in-law, and working on this hush-hush new project. That's what I call free time.

all of Soldiers Memorial. The full view. More than meets the eye but not necessarily the lens.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More of Autumn In Forest Park

This picture is just me having fun playing in the toy box: Forest Park in mid-autumn, tricked out in HDR with Photomatix Pro and a few bits of this and that in Photoshop. Looks better than nature. Who needs reality? Make your own.

WHAT I HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS MORNING: I have an appointment with my ophthalmologist. I have been going to this guy for more than 30 years and he's a great doctor but, man, he's a far out right-winger. I'm gonna get an earful and will have to change the topic. He and I both like opera. Let's talk about opera, doc.

you could even say it glows.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

I could make some corny comment about a new morning in America. The problem, though, would be that the view in this picture faces roughly west so it would be afternoon in America (or at least St. Louis), suggesting the same old day. We don't want that now, do we? Sometimes I feel this way about the Thursday Arch Series, which must be up to about 75 photos by now. Our visitors know what I have to say about the subject. Should I put it on sabbatical for a while or keep pushing? We could have, say, the Thursday My Messy Desk Series (which might be Zen-like). Or just put the series thing to rest for a bit. Let me know what you think.

WHAT MY STAFF AT THE OFFICE MADE ME DO YESTERDAY: they were so elated by the election results that they insisted that the boss (me) buy lunch for everybody so there could be a little party. Happy to oblige.

TOMORROW: I'm thinking more colorful fall foliage in wildly exaggerated HDR. The results may look like the cover of an LP produced in San Francisco in 1973.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy

The members of the Strangetastes family are doing the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance! My wife and I waited about an hour and forty-five minutes to vote but it was worth it. We wish the best to President-Elect Obama and hope for a fresh wind blowing across our country. Join us, Ren and Stimpy in dancing for joy.

Thursday Arch Series (new day in America?)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

...and who, disguised as a mild mannered lawyer at a great metropolitan law firm, fights a never-ending battle for TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY

No, not me. That line was about Superman or Barak Obama, I forget which. Lawyers in my specialty don't even go to the courthouse. The Civil Courts building downtown, completed in 1927, is one wacky piece of architecture as I discussed in a post last year. To call it grandiloquent might be an understatement (although it's kind of run down inside). I tried to bump up the volume in this picture with a wide angle lens. HDR, and various Photoshop magic tricks.

gluing my nose to the television as the election returns come in. Que serà, Que serà.

TOMORROW: well, that depends on what we Americans learn late tonight, doesn't it?

BY THE WAY, my friend Snapper at Gabriola Daily Photo was kind enough to give me the Kreativ Blogger Award that's been in the blogosphere of late. I appreciate his support. When you get this, you are supposed to nominate six other bloggers for the prize and publish a list of six things that make you happy. I'm going to almost pass on the first part; most of the bloggers I would nominate has already been so honored, with two exceptions. First, Andre of Chicago Flair. Never routine, never boring, always a fresh eye on that Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler. Second, to iBlowfish of Cleveland Daily Photo, who stopped publishing last July. He is one of the finest photographers to have graced this group, a street photographer in the tradition of Cartier-Bresson and Winogrand, but with a melancholy spirit. I wish he would rejoin us. Look at his work. If you agree, email him and ask him to come back.

So, I am supposed to list six things that make me happy:

- my wife and two children. Really.
- arts and sciences.

- learning. Knowing is fun but learning is more fun.
- seeing the whole damn world, or as much of it as I can get to.
- this image thing, photography.
- independence.