Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Arch Series

Arch And Downtown 2013-01-29

View from my office window after a heavy thunderstorm rolled through Tuesday evening. This was taken with an iPhone 5 and an Olloclip with the fish eye adapter. Fun little toy.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Objects d'Art

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 10

These are some examples of the ice carvers' efforts. They are a bit strange. A wolf and a mountain lion in a face-off? Three Little Pigs, one of whom seems to be standing on a portable oven and holding a fork? Mr. Clean after swallowing a wheel and tire? A local TV station affiliated with an abominable news network (although this station does carry The Simpsons)? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Sorry no comments yesterday. Got home from work way late.    

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 9

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 12

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 11

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peace Out

 Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 6

More ice carving. I was talking to someone today about how on earth the sculptor could make a perfect circle out of a block, not using a mold. He suggested that it could have been as simple as two nails and a piece of string to trace the shape. But how to keep the sides straight, how to make the interior angles so perfect? If anyone know how it's done please inform us.    

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 5

Monday, January 28, 2013

Artist At Work

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 3

The ice carvers I saw on Saturday had amazing skill. They used all sorts of power tools freehand. The web site for the event said that each of the sculptors was given big frozen blocks to work from but I don't see how they could have done some of this without molds. Their efforts ended in gleaming works of fine art, like the surfing chimp below.      

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 7

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Poke In The Eye

Ice Carving in St Charles 2013-01-26 1 (Poke In The Eye)

There was an ice carving festival in the outer suburb of St. Charles yesterday. Not an ice festival like last week's in University City, where some small and simpler ice sculptures pulled people into restaurants and bars on a winter day. This was the real deal, expert craftsmen making big frozen treats. The sculptor here is drilling a pupil into a figure's eye. Ouch!

And speaking of which. while reviewing these pictures I noticed that none of the artists wore eye  protection. Bad example for the kids.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Goodbye, Stan

Musial Memorials 1

Stan Musial's funeral is today. It's hard to explain to people from other places how much this means in St. Louis. It the context of another sport, it's as if you had David Beckham, Pele, Ronaldo and Diego Maradona rolled into one (without any of Maradona's vices) representing only one city for his career, and who also was the most kind, warm and humble person you'd ever hope to meet. And now gone.

Note the medal hanging around Stan's neck in the fourth picture. It is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian in the United States. President Obama conferred the award on Musial two years ago.

These are some of the memorials left by the public around his statue at Busch Stadium.     

Musial Memorials 2

Musial Memorials 3

Musial Memorials 6

Musial Memorials 5

Musial Memorials 7

Friday, January 25, 2013

Woman In A Bubble

Loop Ice Festival 3

One of the more bizarre scenes at the Loop Ice Festival. I didn't get the frozen connection, if one was intended. She was walking around with someone in a snowman costume. But what's with the crown, the platinum blond hair and baby blue outfit? Quick, call a professor of semiotics!

Makes you think of Bubble Boy, doesn't it?    

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Arch Series

Busch Stadium and Arch - Sunset 2 BW

This was part of the same series of shots as last week's Arch picture. The curve is contained by two light towers of the baseball stadium. I like the rhythm.

It's an appropriate week to think about baseball in St. Louis. Stan Musial, the most beloved player in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals and one of the greatest in the history of the game, died last weekend at the age of 92. He spent his whole career here, playing for 22 seasons. People are placing all sorts of memorials beneath his monumental statue in front of Busch Stadium. I'd go shoot it if I had the time but I haven't this week.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Loop Ice Festival

Loop Ice Festival 8

University City (so-named because it contains part of Washington University) is an old suburb that borders the City of St. Louis proper. The stretch of Delmar Boulevard called The Loop is lined with shops, theaters, restaurants and clubs. It got the name because streetcars from downtown looped around there to make the return trip. It's a fun place.

A recent addition to its calendar is the Ice Festival on a Saturday in January. Calling it a festival is an overstatement. It's more of a gimmick to draw visitors on a cold day. Most of the businesses have an ice sculpture in front with a theme relateing to the establishment. There are a number of photo booths like the one below, some kid events and an ice carving demo. (How do they do that freehand with a chain saw?)

The temperature was well above freezing and everything had started to melt by mid-day. All things must pass. An Arch picture tomorrow and back to this on Friday.  

Loop Ice Festival 1

Loop Ice Festival 2

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Penguin Parade 1

I've never been impressed by penguins' intelligence. After all, so many of them live in Antarctica. The king and gentoo species here do. If one of the caretakers stands squarely in front of them they just stop, oblivious to other directions. It would be exciting if one of them made a break for it.      

Penguin Parade 2

Penguin Parade 3

Monday, January 21, 2013

Penguins On Parade

Penguin Parade 5

No, not the one on the television.

Well, who knew. Penguins have no fear of humans and the younger ones are quite curious. (Apparently the older ones would rather stay home and watch their friends on the telly.) The St. Louis Zoo, one of the best in the country, lets them out for a stroll among the visitors on winter Sunday afternoons.

With moderate temperatures it was absolutely packed yesterday. I was lucky to find a place to sit along the route. The chilly birds were completely unfazed by the crowds. They even brought a mascot promoting a brand of ice cream.

A bit more of this tomorrow.      

Penguin Parade 6

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another Saturday Night In The Lou

Art St Louis Opening "Misperception" 1

There was an opening at Art St. Louis last night of a show called Misperception. Having weaseled my way onto the gallery wall, it was appropriate for me to show up.

The two women above were interesting. The one on the left had a piece nearby mine, that wonderful photograph in the first and second pictures. We introduced ourselves. She told me that she was a professionally trained, world-famous artist who rarely showed in St. Louis (she's from the area). Well, then. I told her I was a semi-trained, mostly unknown amateur who was happy to have something in the show. Chacun à son goût.

Never did understand what the woman on the right was about. In the end, I thought she might have been one of the works in the exhibit.

Afterwards, Carolyn and I went to Layla's, a Lebanese restaurant, for dinner. The unexpected entertainment had more visual appeal than most of the stuff at the gallery.      

Art St Louis Opening "Misperception" 2

Art St Louis Opening "Misperception" 3

Dinner At Layla's

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Low Water On The Mississippi

Low Water On The Mississippi

Going, going... The water level on the Mississippi continues to fall. It's at the lowest level in the many years I've been here. It's hard to get a sense of it in one photo but think of it this way: that rough patch by the river in the foreground is the cobblestone levee. It's steeper than it appears. At normal levels, the water is half or two-thirds of the way up. I was standing on the street at the top of the levee and you can see that my POV is well above the top of the barge. In just a minor flood the street would be under water.

Barge traffic is a key element of the regional economy. It is down to one-way traffic in several areas south of St. Louis. If the water drops any further it will close altogether in the next few weeks. Then we'd really have trouble.    

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mom's On The Left

Mom's Soul Food Kitchen 2

Daily photo blogs are hungry beasts and there are times when I have no idea what to feed mine. I often just cruise around the city in my car, looking for something I hadn't noticed before. This was discovered on Delmar Boulevard, just west of the City Museum. Bet mom is a heck of a cook.

Mom's Soul Food Kitchen 1

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Arch Series

Busch Stadium and Arch - Sunset

A little extra material added. Like yesterday's, this picture makes me think ahead to when the place will be full of people, noise and wildly overpriced concessions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We Are The Champions

World Champions

Oh, go ahead. Listen to it.

Thoughts of spring in the January cold. The first game is less than 90 days away. It's 90 feet from base to base. It will be warm. Will our hometown heroes fulfill our dreams?

Busch Stadium - Sunset 2

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back On Washington Avenue: Evil Prints

Evil Prints (16th and Washington)

Tom Huck, owner of Evil Prints, is a mad genius. He is a maker of woodcut and linoleum prints with enormous skill. Huck even has gallery representation in New York. However, his imagination is twisted, and that's an understatement.

A portrait of Huck and some info about his work was posted here a few years ago. To get a sense of how weird his stuff is, you can check out his latest series of images, The Hillbilly Kama Sutra, here (mature audiences only, please).

The scene is at 16th and Washington in St. Louis.

Thanks to all of you who left comments on my then-and-now photography post yesterday. I agree with the note from Buck of Schenectady DP. The second picture is far superior, IMHO. The first one is exotic to Western viewers but it's static. The color and light are flat. The second one crackles with electricity, giving the viewer of what's it's like after sunset around Times Square.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Photographer's Reflection: Then and Now

February 2000 - Pilgrims In The Ganges

NYC 2012-12-27 1
December 2012 - 42nd Street, New York City

This week is one of City Daily Photo's new "festivals," officially called Navel Gazing. It's about our members introspections on their progress as photographers.

My wife and I had a film SLR camera years ago, a Yashica (remember that?). I played around with it, taking one terrible picture after another, no idea what I was doing.

The first consumer digital cameras came out in 1999 and I bought a good one for the time, a Sony DSC-D700, in anticipation of a trip to India and Nepal. It took 1.5 megapixel, 1344 X 1024 pixel images at 72 dpi, and I certainly used auto mode. A wonder then, a toy now. But it was so liberating to have no cost to push the button, to record everything that caught my eye. People liked the results. I was hooked.

Roll forward 13 years. I've had the benefit of some real training at the Maine Media Workshops. Fortune has been kind and I've been able to get professional-quality equipment. Now I use manual or semi-manual modes, know the difference between an f stop and my elbow, use a flash competently (I was so clueless until I took Bobbi Lane and Arlene Collins' courses in lighting and flash technique, such brilliant photographers and teachers) and know what to do in low light at high ISO on a camera that can handle it. And then there were the wonders of Photoshop. My skills are still limited but I know how to make a good photograph better.

The second picture is recent work, taken on an Olympus E-M5 (those little things are amazing). It pulls lots of that learning and experience together. Not that the first shot is bad. People told me I had a good eye. Now photography is my passion. I wish I could get rid of the stupid day job and become a real photographer.

See more photographic journeys from City Daily Photo members here.         

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Wet Walgreens

Sure, it's kind of fuzzy colorful cool but I am, shall we say, borrowing someone else's technique. Our colleague Nathalie of Avignon In Photos does this occasionally (here, for example). I needed something to post and this was just right in front of me when I went to pick up some of the fine pharmaceuticals that keep me going. It's the branch of Walgreens, a national pharmacy chain, in my neighborhood. 

A rare no-post day yesterday. Spaced out at the end of the day Friday and left my laptop with my photos at my office. It was wonderful - I read a book!

CDP has this "navel gazing" theme going this week. I think it's an awful name - wouldn't catch me doing that, sounds unsanitary - but I'll probably join in tomorrow. There will be a photo I took with my first digital camera in February, 2000, and something recent for comparison.   

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Walk Along Washington Avenue: 3.14159, With Mozzarella And Basil

Walk Along Washington 12

It's not like our town has a particular mathematical bent. π is a very popular local chain of upscale pizzerias. I'm sure some people don't get it but, if needed, there's always a Pizza Hut somewhere nearby. Good stuff, by the way. Mrs. C and I recommend the thin crust. The deep dish pizzas are belly bombers.

This is their newest branch, at 6th and Washington.

Walk Along Washington 13

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Walk Along Washington Avenue: Thursday Arch Series

Walk Along Washington 5

You can see the Arch from the eastern end of Washington. The view is south down Memorial Drive. (I have never been able to find out who or what is being remembered.) Lots of geometry going on.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Walk Along Washington Avenue: 3 The MAC

Walk Along Washington 8

The old headquarters of the Missouri Athletic Club has sat for a century at the corner of Washington and Broadway. Its stated mission is "to be the premier athletic, social and dining club for business, professional and civic leaders and their families in the St. Louis area." I think that means a place for monied white guys to go to the gym and bar, have a steak and cut business deals away from the riff-raff. Of course, they admit women and people of color these days but everyone has to pay to play. I do not belong. As Groucho Marx said, I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

The distinctive logo is known at the cherry diamond. The top and middle pictures were taken moments apart, just before and after the lights were turned on at twilight. I can't decide which I like better.

TOMORROW:  it's Thursday, and you can see the Arch from at least one place on Washington.

Again, sorry for so few comments. It's nutso month at work. 

Walk Along Washington 9

Walk Along Washington 10

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Walk Along Washington Avenue: 2

Walk Along Washington 6

This 20 foot / 6 meter stainless steel sculpture has been at the corner of 8th and Washington since 1976. Its title is Synergism. Quite a few years ago I represented one of the two co-designers. Before I knew this was his work he simply told me that he was a sculptor. I asked him what kind. "A great one!" he immediately shot back. You can form your own opinion. He's got several pieces around town.

Walk Along Washington 7

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Walk Along Washington Avenue: 1

Walk Along Washington 1

I needed a project, a basis to gather some new material. Sitting in my office yesterday on yet another Sunday, an idea occurred to me. I'd go for a walk, or a series of them, down Washington Avenue downtown, from the foot of Eads Bridge to 18th Street. It's a strip that has gone from ruin to revival, a nice summary of what St. Louis was, is and can be, with wonderful old architecture as a bonus. This will take some time and many visits.

We start with our convention center, officially named America's Center (because we're in the middle of the country. Get it? Har har!) The top shot shows the edge of the plexiglass awning over the main entrance on Washington with the U. S. Bank building across the street. Below, the view east on Washington with the Center on the left. The last picture is of the corner of the building, featuring the city's current marketing slogan: St. Louis Is All Within Reach. Again, because we're in the middle. I wonder how much they paid a consultant to come up with that one.

Blog posts for the rest of January may be intermittent and comments on your blogs may be less frequent. I've got the heaviest schedule on my professional calendar this month that I can remember. At least if you're self-employed, like I am, it's better than being idle.

Walk Along Washington 2

Walk Along Washington 3