Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Camera Camp, Day Two

On the first morning, our teacher told us that she isn't doing her job right if her students don't make a lot of mistakes. Well, she is a gifted teacher. I grasp the individual concepts but integrating them is terribly complex. I shot a lot of junk today. Once in a great while, though, it all falls together, as in the model shot above. I could explain how we set up the lighting but, you know, you'd be better off if you came here yourself.

We did outdoor night work after dinner. Getting the lighting right for something like this is difficult, painstaking work. You start with some basic principles and then build and adjust for whatever time it takes. This shot took us about an hour and a half to set up and light to Arlene Collins' approximate satisfaction. I learned something, though. The shot was built with three (or was it four?) flashes and the car headlights.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Camera Camp, Day One

My head was throbbing by the end of yesterday. Arlene Collins knows her stuff cold. I didn't know 90% of what she was talking about. Shutter speed is for background exposure and f stop is for the subject and also depth of field but when you're using TTL you can vary the intensity of the light by plus or minus three stops in 1/3 stop increments but also don't forget the inverse square rule and to expose the whole picture in matrix mode first and then start messing with the settings and you can't rely on the color and brightness on your camera's screen and the histogram ain't all that helpful so it's better to download the image to your computer and see it there except your laptop is too big and heavy to carry in the field and what are you supposed to do about color balance because flash has the same color temperature as sunlight and Arlene doesn't like the Stofen Omnibounce I've been using for years and prefers the Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer (which I may want at the bar after dinner) and the regular size soft box.

Get the idea? Ian here was our model for the afternoon shoot. They work us from breakfast to bedtime. It's a blast.

Monday, June 28, 2010

STL DPB On The Road: Rockport, Maine

Another quickie. Long drive up to Maine yesterday. The state slogan on the license plates is "Vacationland" but I think it should be "Excess of Trees." The official title of my class is Mastering Flash, On Camera And Off. There are only five students. The teacher obviously knows her stuff. First session this morning.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

STL DPB On The Road: Harvard University

I'm visiting my brother and his wife in
Southborough, Massachusetts this weekend. My sister and brother-in-law from State College, Pennsylvania (he's faculty, she's administration at Penn State) were in Boston on business, so they are out here, too.

Most people know Harvard University as one of the world's leading academic institutions. No such elite education for me; I am just a humble
To kill some time yesterday we drove into the city and walked around the Harvard campus. Weird place. The architecture is old but mostly drab. Large, plain lawns with aged trees. The University of Chicago, where my kids went, kicks its ass in atmosphere. Lots of tourists at this time of year. And lots of strange people surrounding the gates.

The photo above was an itinerant vegan demonstration on the campus perimeter. Below, a couple of summer students pass the time in Harvard Yard. (You could write a short story based in this image - what's your interpretation?) The young man in the bottom picture was performing for tips. About a quarter to a third of of the black balloon is showing outside of his mouth. We had no idea how he did it but he claimed that he was one of ten people in the world who could.

Note that the motto of the university is
Veritas, truth.

Long drive today up to camera camp in Rockport, Maine. I'll meet my instructor, Arlene Collins, tonight.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Familiar Scene Through Different Eyes

After he saw
last Monday's post, I was contacted by Philip Hu, associate curator of Asian art at the St. Louis Art Museum. On every work day, he gets to walk by the museum's main entrance, overlooking the great statue of St. Louis and the slope of Art Hill. He stepped outside after a recent heavy thunderstorm and got some terrific shots of another kind of arch. This one really pulled me in and it is today's guest post with Hu's permission. I hope I get to meet him.

Hanging around somewhere between Worcester and Boston, Massachusetts today. Long drive up to Rockport, Maine, tomorrow to start my workshop in off-camera flash technique.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Young Shakespeare Fan

Today is a travel day, through Chicago - O'Hare to Boston and ending at my brother's home in Southborough, Massachusetts. So, just a quick picture of what may have been the youngest Shakespeare fan last Sunday night. I'm planning a guest post for tomorrow. Who knows, I may get some shooting time in Boston on Saturday.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Looking toward the north leg from inside the Arch's curve. The ramp in the bottom center leads down beneath where I was standing, to the entrance to the underground museums, theaters and the tram to the top

Probably no Arch picture next week - I'll have my fill of images from the Maine Media Workshops.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eight Out Of Ten Belly Dancers Use Colgate

A squad of belly dancers sent by the American Dental Association gives the crowd some instruction during the green show before the performance of Hamlet Sunday evening.

Ah, not really. I'm just in a panic trying to clear my desk and get all my equipment organized before I leave for Massachusetts and Maine on Friday. Needed a quicky post.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Installment Of That's Entertainment

Mrs. C., daughter Emily and I made it to closing night of our Shakespeare In The Park festival on Sunday. It was still stiflingly hot, 88 F / 31 C, when we left at 11 PM. The Dane was a bit too melancholy for me. What with the weather and a couple of glasses of wine at our picnic supper, I fell asleep in the second half. What a piece of work is man.

In some ways, the most entertaining part of the evening is the green show that precedes the play. Jugglers Josh and Jeff are always on hand. They like a little audience participation. Click on the first picture to enlarge it and look at the face of the "volunteer." They wielded the clubs so precisely that a moment later they knocked his hat sideways by hitting the bill.

Countdown to camera camp: six days.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Constructing Art

Beyond the main entrance of the St. Louis Art Museum are a pair of great yellow cranes. The museum has begun a major addition, even in these hard economic times. The only downside is that almost all of the museum's parking is gone. We expected that to cause a problem last night when we went to Shakespeare In The Park's production of Hamlet, which was performed in a natural amphitheater just down from the lower left of this image. We got home very late so perhaps an update later.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Jellyfish

I think it was
Brattcat who said that one of these sunshades in Friday's post resembled a jellyfish. Good analogy. However, this one doesn't sting. It cools that slide so it doesn't sting your backside.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

So okay, I'm an art snob, but that's the first thing these words made me think of. My wife enjoys art but she's not a snob. Actually she's a Lutheran, and knows that title as
an old chorale hymn from her church. I recognize it as the first section of J. S. Bach's cantata BWV 140. Wake up! a voice is calling. You can hear a clip of the beginning here.

This was shot from the roof of the City Museum. It's the top of a neighboring loft building. Our family had an intense discussion about how the graffiti was painted. Did someone hang over the edge of the wall, maybe with an accomplice holding his/her feet, drawing the letters upside down?

The scrawl below was a few meters to the right. It's hard to decipher. The best I can get is "Drooght Your Suicide (letter M or downward pointing trident or musical notation for a triplet or the glyph for the artist formerly known as Prince) Life." Interpretations are welcome.

Friday, June 18, 2010


The photo in
Tuesday's post was taken on the roof of the City Museum. It has large open areas and the sun is brutal on Midwestern summer days. In response, the museum put up a couple of these giant umbrella or parachute-shaped things to provide some shade. They are startling, a bizarre sight when you go there for the first time. But then most of the City Museum is startling and bizarre. That's the concept.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Arch Series


An HDR from last weekend. The Arch just does not seem real when you walk underneath. It belongs in another dimension or another planet. Eero Saarinen, its designer, was a genius.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The view straight down from the Arch observation deck, facing east toward the Mississippi. Bring your Dramamine.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Both Sides Now

You have to be on the old side to remember the Joni Mitchell song the title refers to, but it fits. Sunday's post had a panoramic view of St. Louis looking west from the top of the Arch. This shot looks southeast from the roof of the wacky City Museum (no place like it on earth). My wife and I, our daughter, son and his girlfriend went there on Sunday. They have a Ferris wheel on top! More pix from here in coming days.

On another subject, the nice people at the web site and phone app Yelp are publicizing their St. Louis local service with Yelp Eats Week from June 21 to 27. You can go to a bunch of area restaurants and get a three course prix-fixe dinner for $25. They have invited me to their special blogger dinner on June 23 to photograph the event and, perhaps, get fed (which is why they're so nice). St. Louisans with an appetite and a budget should check it out.

U "R" Us is back in Chicago this morning. Had dinner with him last night and now all the busy family obligations are finished (for the moment). Back to normal, and commenting.

Camera Camp Countdown: 12 days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Top of St. Louis

I'm writing this late Sunday night. My apologies for not leaving comments all weekend. With my son and his girlfriend in town and an action-packed schedule, I haven't had 10 free minutes. This is the Old Court House from the top of the Arch withe Kiener Plaza behind it.

It's a tight ride in the tiny tram cars that carry five people each to the top. My wife is not tiny and my son is not a giant. This is just what you get with a 17 mm lens at close quarters. And anyone who would tamper with the doors needs a competency examination.

By the way, check out U "R" Us' post from the observation deck here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


So, yeah, we all went up the Arch yesterday for the first time in I don't know when. Here you have a panorama of beautiful downtown St. Louis, shot from the top. It ain't much but it's what we got. My office is down there somewhere in a nondescript building.
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blogger Poses As Fashion Photographer

From last weekend's model shoot. The dress theme was industrial chic or industrial scraps, depending on the spin you put on it. This young lady had eyes as big as saucers, which drew me into the subject.

Most of the shooters brought a full lighting kit. I had light stands and flashes but forgot my umbrellas (these things), which you really need for this kind of work unless you're using a beauty dish or bouncing the light off reflectors or using a gobo or snoot to limit where the hard light falls or...this all gets so complicated. But I've been taught how to use window or door light for indoor pix (thanks, Bobbi!) and that worked fine. In two weeks I start an intensive course on using off-camera flash at my favorite place on earth, the Maine Media Workshops, or, as I call it, camera camp. After that, I'll be doing this kind of stuff better.

Today's the day the whole family goes up the Arch! Reports to follow.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gratuitous Something Else

Okay, guys, wake up. STL DPB has moved from gratuitous cuteness with sweet little kids to gratuitous...well, this. These ladies are are a permanent fixture at the Renaissance Faire; the renaissance of what part of the world is open to question. I don't think it's Florence.

Lots going on this weekend. U "R" Us and special someone Clare will arrive from Chicago late tonight. Tomorrow morning we're all going up to the top of the Arch! I haven't taken the ride in a couple of years. Then some museums, probably, and in the evening our annual Shakespeare in Forest Park festival. This year it's Hamlet. Oh, yeah, that's where the phrase that ended yesterday's post comes from. Act 1, Scene 3, specifically. And we'll have absolutely no problem getting around the 65 or 70,000 thousand people expected downtown for the Susan Komen race/walk for breast cancer research. I got a helicopter on call.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

I really like jet airplane contrails with the Arch and a clear sky. Sometimes it adds a slash of drama. I wish this one were a little brighter but it wouldn't take much more Photoshopping. The Arch itself on that cobalt sky isn't bad, though.

And about that photo competition: I got my butt kicked in the third of six rounds with
this picture against roadside daisies, despite having packed the crowd of 50 with 14 supporters. Well chacun à son goût or de gustibus non est disputandum or however you would like to put it. My stuff can be a little too edgy for a general audience. Onward, and to thine own self be true.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That's Entertainment

More from the Renaissance Faire. I was shooting from the side of the crowd with a telephoto and couldn't hear what the performer was saying. He had the crowd in stitches, though, particularly the kids. Don't ask me what happened to those balls.

The big photo competition at Studio Altius is tonight. The pictures I entered have all been on the blog. In order of appearance tonight they are April 4, May 29, May 10, May 31 and April 25. I'll let you know tomorrow what happened when we have the Thursday Arch Series.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Returm Of Gratuitous Cuteness (for V.)

Haven't had any gratuitous cuteness for a while and it's about time to roll some out. These are from the Renaissance Faire. I rarely shoot babies, puppies, flowers and ocean sunsets (I'm usually going for irony) but I do sometimes. Well, not puppies. But who can resist cute little kids? Not even me. I'm 60 and don't have any grandchildren so this will have to do.

NOTE TO ST. LOUIS READERS: I've been doing an eight week photo competition at wonderful Studio Altius in Maplewood. Tomorrow night are the "playoffs," one-on-one, single elimination, "I like this photo not that photo" contests, set up just like the college basketball brackets. I'm going all-out. Drinks, chat and a rotating projection of the entries are from 6:30 to 7:15. Then the match-ups begin.

Anyone can come and vote. I'm working up a "Vote For Bob" claque. Admission is a six-pack of beer, some wine, $5 worth of snacks or the same amount in cash. If you want to see some good St. Louis photography and vote for Bob, come on over. E-mail me by Wednesday afternoon and I'll provide the beverage of your choice and send you images of my entries (so you know what to look for). First place is a solo show at this gallery, which would be really really great. Studio Altius is located at 3518 Greenwood Boulevard in Maplewood. Map here. Be there or be square.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Honk and Tweet

I have enough material from the Gypsy Caravan, Renaissance Faire and model shoot to carry me a few days. Today we sample the big flea market. Since it was for the benefit of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, it is appropriate to show some musical merchandise. I can't play any of this stuff. I took violin lessons for five years when I was a kid and never got beyond causing others aural pain. Very good ear, very bad hands. Klutz would be a simpler description. Now I just listen, and with pleasure.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Model Shoot

So I went to the
St. Louis Artist/Photographer/Model Co-op event yesterday. I've done a bit of this but not very much. Didn't know what to expect and it was a lot of fun. The empty warehouse space was steamy-hot. Before long, the models and photographers were in the same shape. It was, in fact, a bit racy. If we used the American film rating system, little or none was G, for general audiences. Some, like these shots, was PG 13 (some material may be inappropriate for children). Most of it would be rated R (under 17 admitted only with parent or guardian, which, unfortunately, means not on this blog). None of it got to the level of the never-seen NC 17 rating (no one under 17 admitted). After a censorship fight in a conservative Midwestern city, someone suggested that this rating actually stood for Not In Cincinnati or Within a 17 Mile Radius.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On Angel's Wings

From the Gypsy Caravan. One of the things I like about flea markets is the juxtaposition of random stuff on the sales tables. This one has a nice balance of winged creatures, colors and textures.

I'm going to a shoot today with the St. Louis Artist/Model/Photographer Co-op in a disused warehouse. Never been to one of their events before. Could be interesting. Could be pretty crazy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Five Dollars In Hand

Sure, this gets your attention but it's not meant as a shocker. This is the hand and prosthesis of Ron Trump,
first seen on this blog a year ago. Mrs. C and I met him again last Sunday at the St. Louis Renaissance Faire (from whence the cat woman in May 31st's post).

Ron is the happiest man you might ever meet. He and his wife live in the countryside near Des Moines, Iowa, spending the warm months traveling among the fairs and festivals of the Midwest. They sell kettle corn, a sweet and salty variation of popcorn. They make it in an ancient copper contraption that goes along with them. He always has a smile - do look at his portrait in last year's post and you will grasp his personality at once. I do not know how he lost his hand. When I bought a big bag for my office, he dexterously handled the money. My co-workers loved his product.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Well, you can't expect a close-up every week. It's worth looking at the monument in its urban context from time to time. This was taken during an hour-long rain delay in the Cardinals game on Monday.

Games are not suspended for rain in many ball sport except golf and tennis. Does it happen in cricket? Aficionados please report. In baseball the grounds crew quickly rolls out a tarpaulin to cover the dirt part of the infield. After it is rolled up, the field's amazing drainage system takes over with a little help from the staff.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Motorcycle Parts

Well, my thanks to all of those who left comments on yesterday's theme day post. There were an awful lot by my standards.

Last weekend was photographically productive. I got some good stuff from the Renaissance Faire, the Gypsy Caravan flea market that benefits the symphony, and even the Cardinals baseball game. I'll bounce around among these for a while. The two men above, Randy and Chuck, were selling motorcycle stuff at the Gypsy Caravan. They were willing to pose with a little wheedling but they refused to look at their picture on the camera.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CDP Monthly Theme Day: Odd Signs

I didn't find a lot in the way of laff riot signs around town but this will do. Mr. T. Rex here has been on the blog a couple of times but the placard is new. It's good advice: don't feed the dinosaurs unless you plan on doing so with yourself.

The bottom photo, however, is the quintessential weirdo St. Louis sign. I didn't lead with it because it's not my picture. If fact, the building is long gone. The story is that St. Louis' German immigrants had a taste for fried calves' brains sandwiches, a market served by this emporium on Chouteau Avenue just east of Grand Boulevard in Midtown. The location is near St. Louis University and the building was still around when I was a student there in the late 60s and early 70s.