Sunday, December 31, 2017

Another Year Flown By

I learned something yesterday. Apparently, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was the first newspaper to hire a staff photographer, Garnett Palfrey. It happened some time between 1899 and 1901. This gee whiz fact was acquired yesterday during a family visit to the Missouri History Museum, specifically a great show of panoramic photos of our city from the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

There were supposed to be some special kids' activities but that was kind of a bust. The museum does have a string of galleries aimed at teaching children the history of the region, There is lots to play with and Ellie's activities were not of the intellectual sort. As she wound down, she declared that was having a flower nap and wouldn't move along with us. Four year olds.

The central hall is dominated by a replica of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis aircraft. Seems like a good way for STL DPB to say good bye to 2017. Tomorrow: pictures of the year.       

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's A St. Louis Thing

It's been going on for decades. Every December, a St. Louis County park near us puts up elaborate Christmas light displays. It's big and must take an enormous amount of work. People drive slowly through a set route with many oohs and ahs. You can also ride on a horse-drawn carriage. We were booked for that tonight but it's so cold the rides were canceled for the horses' safety.

So we drove through with Ellie yesterday. Cute, a little cheesy and immensely popular. Mrs. C did the driving while I shot out the window with the new Fuji. It still feels like I'm talking to someone from rural Alabama or Scotland. It's the same language, technically, but not always intelligible.


Friday, December 29, 2017

I Forgot Ludwig's Birthday

First, I don't think enough of my Facebook readers went down to the end of the text in yesterday's STL Daily Photo post.

I've had a virus or bad cold or something that's really slowed me down all week. So, while I've been reading and watching videos about the Fuji and playing with it a bit indoors, I have not had it out on the street. That leaves me combing other recent material shot with the Canon. 

Beethoven's Birthday was December 16 and I should have noted it. (And Mahler, my idol, has the same birthday as my father, which is really weird if you are into that kind of stuff. But I share a birthday with Ansel Adams, so there. And also Kurt Cobain. But I digress.) This bust is in what is sometimes called composers circle. It is an arrangement of columns and busts surrounding a gazebo in Tower Grove Park, reflecting the taste in music of rich local guys ca. 1900. They got L v B, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Verdi and Gounod. (Not Bach.) I might be forgetting someone. Not great art, just a little gem of STL strangeness.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

101 Things

Something new on graffiti-allowed section of the river flood wall. However, no list was provided. Maybe the panel is designed to be thought-provoking. You have to figure it out for yourself. Is it worth the bother?

There have been suggestions offered in the past. My high school library in The Bronx had a great selection of magazines. One of them was called Sing Out, the premier folk music magazine of the day. From time to time they ran columns by a great blues harmonica player, Tony "Little Son" Glover. 

In the spring of my senior year, when I had decided to attend St. Louis U, he wrote a piece called The Ten Best Things To Do When You Get The Blues. Number 1, the ultimate act, said simply: Piss in the Mississippi. It will give you a feeling of immortality.

So you can guess what one of first things 17 year old me did when he hit town. By the way, it didn't really help.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Monday Morning

Ellie on Christmas morning. My little friend got quite a haul. Green is her favorite color and her best gift was a new green bike with training wheels (she's ready for it) and a green bike helmet. When it gets warmer, there's gonna be action.

This is one of my first pictures with the Fujifilm X-T2. Its control and menu system is very different from my Canon DSLR and the transition will take some time. But it's so much lighter. I notice that the reds are truer than on my 5D Mk III, which tends to oversaturate them. I need a lot less sharpening and get somewhat less noise at high ISO. On the other hand, I wish it had simple M, Tv and Av exposure settings, to use Canon's terminology. You can do the same thing on the Fuji but it's less intuitive. And it seems to underexpose when the scene is on the dark side. Lots to learn.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

'Twas The Mid-Day Of Christmas

“Twas the mid-day of Christmas and all through The Lou,
Not a salesman was pitching, as far as I knew.
The wine racks were filled with the utmost of care
With hope that Aunt Flo doesn’t spill everywhere.
The children were plugged into PlayStation 2
With sounds of big mortars and gunfire, too.
While mom in her tennies and my Cardinals cap
Had just finished picking up holiday wrap.

Etc. etc. It was awfully quiet around town yesterday. In fact, haven't heard it so quiet since last Christmas when we had thick fog. Here, the parking lot in front of Nordstrom in the St. Louis Galleria is dead empty.

Beginning to take some shots with Santa's best gift of all, a Fujifilm X-T2 camera. It's wonderful, half the size and weight of my Canon DSLR but it's going to take some time to get used to. I can't get in the habit of adjusting the f stop with a ring at the base of the lens. My brilliant teacher, Bobbi Lane shoots with one and, although she gets paid for it, I trust her.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Could It Be?

Local news outlets say that St. Louis last had a white Christmas in 2010. 2016 was foggy, misty and dark (but I liked it). We got the first snowfall of the season in the early hours of Saturday and may get a bit more today. The weather should stay cold enough to keep some of it. So maybe this year?

Ellie woke up yesterday, looked outside and squealed with delight. In no time she was outside making snow angels. According to the family botanist (not me, since I grew up in the concrete jungle) the plant just below is called heavenly bamboo. Doesn't look like that to me but I love the berries. Ellie deigned to pose before it. Lastly, chez Crowe with extra white accents.       

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Short Days

The length of days is creeping forward again but sunset is still early. Our city isn't very far north, about on the same parallel as Washington and Rome. Still, the calendar gives lots of opportunities for dramatic shots like this. It's called a pagoda, although it doesn't look Oriental, in a pond in Forest Park.

We had our first snow overnight. Not much but enough to cover the grass and cars. Ellie will be out making snow angels as soon as the sun is fully up.            

Friday, December 22, 2017

Graph Of A Function

For me, the Arch is like Shakespeare's Cleopatra: age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. She's 52, by the way.   

Thursday, December 21, 2017


I could tell while editing that this is a Delta jet passing behind the Civil Courts building. It is approaching our airport from the southwest so it's probably coming from the airline's hub in Atlanta.

We almost always fly American. It took over TWA, which was based in St. Louis. We play the frequent flyer points game with a vengeance, so we stick with the carrier that gives us the most freebies.        

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Winter Trees

Near sunset, looking out from Kiener Plaza towards 10 South Broadway.       

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Naughty Or Nice

After the children's pageant and pot luck dinner at St. John's Sunday evening, who should appear but a merry old elf. Ellie looks a little concerned. How do the scales of justice hang between naughty or nice? As an observer of her behavior I'd say there is a definite tilt toward nice but, well, nobody's perfect.  My sources tell me she's going to make out very well this year.      

Monday, December 18, 2017

Temporary Angel

There was a little Christmas pageant and pot luck dinner last night at St. John's Episcopal Church, where daughter Emily and Ellie attend. Three small girls, including our own. were dressed as angels. While the outfit isn't always appropriate for her, they played their roles well. The three of them, but Ellie most of all, performed impromptu interpretive dance in the sanctuary during the carols.

The bottom picture is a phone cam shot by Emily.   


Sunday, December 17, 2017

First Time On Ice

We took Ellie to the holiday rink in Kiener Plaza yesterday afternoon. First time on ice skates. The little kids can have a double-bladed model and this sled-cum-walker to hang on to. After entering the rink under the watchful eye of the SLPD, she found that she just loved it.

Her mother, Emily, hadn't been on skates in at least twenty years and found it very difficult. Mrs. C and I wouldn't even consider going out there. (I never learned and I'm too old to start.) But this kid, who is nearly fearless, has a lot of promise.     

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Geometry Of Parking

Just walking west on Walnut, almost to Broadway. There is a lot of rhythm and energy in the scene, IMHO, even something a little Cubist.       

Friday, December 15, 2017

Trompe l'Oeil

A French art term, literally to deceive the eye. The idea is to depict in two dimensional space something three dimensional and to make it look very real, and often at the same time impossible. Here is an example

There is something of that here: Arch reflections in two curtain wall buildings with different color glass. The one on the right is a block behind the other.      

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday Arch Series

Haven't had one of these in a long time. After nearly eleven years of this project it's hard to find a new perspective but something new may get your eye just walking down the street. Taken on Chestnut just east of Broadway, next to a bank building.

No, nothing to do with McDonald's. They aren't golden.      

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Downtown buildings: shape, color, wiggly mirrors, sunset.

Sitting here Tuesday evening watching the Alabama senate results come in.  I can't hold my breath long enough.       

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In Honorem S. Ludovici

You don't need to have been a poor student of Latin like me to translate this: in honor of St. Louis. This town, not just le roi saint, could use a few honors. We have something of an image problem.

This is part of the facade of the Old Cathedral, under the Arch on the edge of downtown.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Broadway Line Up

Same light, different view. Looking north on Broadway, the Old Courthouse, 100 and 200 N. B'way. My office building is three more blocks behind.    

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Nice Light

Out of the office late yesterday afternoon . . . must - shoot - something. Felt like Frankenstein staggering around downtown in the cold, looking for something, anything. Turns out the sunset colors were gorgeous, the light as good as it could get. It hit the north wing of the Old Courthouse with perfect framing and the new lamps in Kiener Plaza added a nice touch.          

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Triangle, Sphere

Back at Laumeier for a bit. I really need to shoot some new material but I really need to go to work today. (It occurs to me that I am the oldest of four siblings and the only one who hasn't retired.)

This is a bit of clever geometry -  Mark di Suvero's Bonibus, which feels like a Calder made of steel beams rather than floating, amorphous planes. And then there is the all-seeing eye. Can you hide from it in the woods behind?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Yeah, Lots

Can we save American democracy?

Will the rich devour the poor? Will it lead to attempted revolution?

What is the president's appropriate diagnosis?

What are the odds that in 50 years a big percentage of current jobs will be automated and a chunk of Florida will be under water?

Will the Cardinals win the pennant next year?

Is this the best time in history to be old? And many more...

This golf cart was on the grounds of Laumeier Sculpture Park, I suppose to get the staff across its large expanse. The sign must be directed at visitors. It could, as the saying goes, open up a can of worms.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Beer Rocket

Schlafly Beer promotes itself as the second biggest brewery in St. Louis. It follows, of course, the one that makes Budweiser and related brands, which is larger by some orders of magnitude. Schlafly has two restaurant-pubs. This is the one on the edge of downtown. I'm sure this is some kind of brewing tank but it looks like a rocket about to launch a sudsy attack on the Illinois suburbs.

BTW, I like Schlafly's products way more than those of the local behemoth. I'm particularly fond of their K├Âlsch, beer made in the style of Cologne, Germany.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Giacometti At The Planetarium, Maybe

Other than Sunday night's moonrise I haven't been out shooting much.  So, I need to pick through recent inventory.  That's our planetarium (a pretty cool place). When I was driving around Forest Park looking for material, I found this sculpture, perhaps three times life size, outside the entrance. I didn't see any identifying information around it or on the web site but it sure looks like the work of Alberto Giacometti, right down to the oversized feet. Like the mission of the planetarium, the figure looks to the heavens and even seems to be stretching toward them. Appropriate, although it looks uncomfortable.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Supermoon Over Webster Groves

Mrs. C sent me a text as I was driving home Sunday that the moon had risen over the clouds. I got off the highway in Webster Groves, the suburb where we live, and pulled into a parking lot with an unobstructed view. Not crystal clear but better than when I was on the riverfront. A dark telephone pole gives a little accent.     

Monday, December 4, 2017

What I Could Get Of The Supermoon

I set up my tripod under the Arch beside the Mississippi, letting whatever emanates from the giant steel wicket penetrate my brain and camera. 5:11 PM, 66 degrees, the tables said. The day had turned from clear to hazy and, as the sky darkened, I could not tell how much cloud touched the eastern horizon.

Time passed and I was impatient. Finally, a dirty yellow light rose over Eads Bridge. The full moon was indistinct, wrapped in haze. This was the best I could do. A few minutes later it was completely covered in cloud.

Before I left I turned my lens across the river. Lots of gambling going on in and around this town.

The clouds pulled back as I got home to Webster Groves, more about which tomorrow.   

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Way

The other object that everyone remembers after a visit to Laumeier Sculpture Park is Alexander Lieberman's The Way. These photos lack scale since no one is walking by. The diameter of the tube flat on the ground is greater than my height, and I'm rather tall.

The pieces are made from disused oil tanks that are painted cadmium red. I sometimes imagine legions of people whose jobs were lost to automation marching through.

Remember, supermoon tonight.                 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Big Brother Is Watching You

So I had to go to a hardware store last weekend a bit further out in the suburbs. As usual, I needed blog material and had no ideas. The store was very near Laumeier Sculpture Park, a 76 acre haven of art and nature amidst our suburban sprawl. Hadn't been there for a while so let's go see what's up. 

Many visitors' strongest impression of the park is Tony Tasset's Eye. The description in this link strikes me as art babble but there is no question of its power. Think of it as a metaphor of what every web site you ever visited has done to you.    

Friday, December 1, 2017

City Daily Photo December Theme Day - Gift

Ellie's two best friends in a not-so-great phone cam shot. In her right hand, Old Lambie, given to her soon after her debut by our good friend Virginia. Not long ago she became greatly concerned about O.L.'s increasingly decrepit condition, and so New Lambie arrived courtesy of her grandparents. She treasures both of them equally.

BTW, she sometimes insists on wearing her coat in the house just because she is four and wants to be assertive. She does it in conversation, too. For example, Mrs. C was talking to her about the day's activities at dinner last night. Ellie had helped change the furnace filter. My wife asked her where they had put the old one after they were done. The kid cheerfully replied, "applesauce!"   

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ars Gratia Artis

There is a storefront at 8th and Pine that has been vacant for 20 or 30 years. Its former use was unusual. The phone company filled it with physical phone books from all around the country. In pre-internet times, you could go there to look up a phone number in Chicago or Dallas. I did occasionally.

It's obvious what happened to that idea. This season Art St. Louis filled the dark interior with glowing, onion-shaped constructions, pulsing and changing colors. Maybe it was supposed to be Christmas-y. I thought it was spooky.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you patio furniture, make sculpture.

Found at 6th and Chestnut, walking back to my car from Kiener Plaza. This is the outdoor seating area of a T. G. I. Friday's restaurant. (One of my law firm's slogans: Thank God it's Friday. Only two more work days until Monday.) Getting pretty chilly for dining al frecso so maybe this furniture was just stacked up for the winter. It made for pretty interesting geometry.       

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


The Arch is sort of downtown's eye of Buddha. It peeks at you from unexpected places and always seems to be watching you. Better behave yourself and brush up on catenary geometry.       

Monday, November 27, 2017

Back To What Passes For Normal

Time to get back home. Too much to do, no ideas, the usual. So go walk around with a camera.

Someone funded an outdoor ice rink in Kiener Plaza downtown, open from Thanksgiving to New Year's. As you can see from some people's dress it's not terribly cold. We have had only a couple of nights below freezing and as high as 74 F / 23 C in the last week. It ain't right.