Friday, January 19, 2018

Frozen Chuck

I don't remember the exact temperature but it was really cold (for us) when I visited the ice carnival. Walking by the statue of St. Louis' Chuck Berry across the street from Blueberry Hill, where he performed regularly until he died last year, I couldn't help but think how frigid the bronze was. The man himself was a complete contrast.

I never met Berry as such but I attended the dedication of the statue in 2011. A casual acquaintance with the sculptor, Harry Weber, got me into the room at Blueberry Hill where Chuck was hanging out. That got me this picture, one of my all-time favorites.

Mrs. C and I are attending a fundraiser later today for Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection this year in this red-leaning state. We need her. Hope I get a couple of pictures while I'm at it.    

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sculpture With A Chain Saw

Where do you go to learn ice sculpture? It is an art with narrow applications and not a lot of room for self expression. The subjects don't vary much. This one is becomming a big and little penguin.

Still, there is a lot of skill in this. It amazes me that it is done freehand, no template, not even a sketch to look at. A chain saw is not a precise tool. The fine work is done with picks and chisels. The sculptor uses a blowtorch for smoothing. Can you make a living doing this?    

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ice Festival

Last weekend brought the annual ice festival in the University City Loop district. The town is called that because most of Washington University is within its borders. The area is named for the old transit loop, where trolleys from the city proper would turn around for the return trip. It's a hip part of town.

It was cold and, as you can see, snowing. There was a good crowd, though. The festival always has someone making ice sculptures. It looks awfully difficult, done freehand with a chainsaw, circular sander, chisel and blow torch. I'll get something posted soon about the sculptor.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Plastic Towers

The theme of the Lego exhibit at The Magic House was the world's tallest buildings and towers. These models were all displayed to scale with each other and a few were too tall for the room's ceiling. I can't remember the names of all of them but dead center in the top photo is New York's beloved Chrysler Building, with the Empire State Building a bit to the left. (The new One World Trade Center was not represented.) Those two very tall, very thin structures to the right of the Chrysler are ultra-expensive apartment buildings erected on small lots in mid-town Manhattan. I think the blue one to the right of that is the Comcast Tower in Philadelphia. Didn't make a note about the others.

Below, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers are in the left background. The foreground contains Toronto's CN Tower, and to the right, some unimaginably tall building with torticollis in Shanghai, new since our one visit there, and then the Tree Tower in Tokyo.       

Monday, January 15, 2018

Madeleine Monday - Architect

Such concentration! Ellie is not ready to build an eighty brick tall tower but she was making quite an edifice (with a little initial help from her grandmother). She took over the design and construction quickly. There were a few collapses but she always went right back to work, making the next version stronger and taller.   

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Giant Tower

Mrs. C and I took Ellie to the Magic House yesterday, STL's excellent children's museum. There is a special exhibit called Towers of Tomorrow, with stunning models of some of the world's tallest buildings and towers made entirely of Legos. The structures were on a number of tables, each with a surrounding platform and a well full of thousands of bricks for visitors to use.

Ellie dove right in but the man next to us created an amazing structure. The slab rose higher and higher, steadied only be a small cross brace at the bottom. Several of us watched as it grew and wobbled, wondering when it would collapse. It didn't. Kenny, the builder, took it to a display table (top), staying together the whole time. It was quite amazing.     

Saturday, January 13, 2018

No Picnic Today

Tower Grove Park is full of ornate, 19th Century gazebos. They are all different in size and design. You can rent them for a day. During warmer months, they are always busy with groups holding picnics, barbecues and outdoor games. Empty, though, during frigid weather.

Should be able to shoot some new material today.       

Friday, January 12, 2018

Two Kinds Of Cathedrals

Edifices dedicated to commerce and religion.  Behind, the former regional headquarters of the Shell Oil Company in a style that borders on art deco. It is still an operating office building if a bit down at the heels. Right foreground, the gothic tower of Christ Church Cathedral, the seat of Episcopal practice in STL. Another first experiment with the Fuji X-T2.    

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Taken on the levee on New Year's Day when I was shooting the crazy water skiers in the Mississippi. Used the new Fuji X-T2 and a fair amount of Photoshop. Liking the camera.   

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Macedonian Wine

I am really low on material but last night brought an opportunity. There is a hot restaurant in our town, Webster Groves, that's been open about a year. It's called Olive + Oak. We've never gone because you have to book about two weeks ahead and, frankly, it's a bit expensive for our trying-to-retire budget. But my staff gave me a gift certificate for Christmas so off we went last night.

It was a delight. No space here for a full review but there was an unusual treat. The wine list had a page of "no one would ever buy this" bottles at reasonable prices. Absolutely unknown stuff. The owner is also a qualified sommelier and gave us guidance. We ended up with this Macedonian red. Just terrific. Ever drink wine made from kratosija or vranec grapes?         

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Land's End

Kind of looks like that but it it's just another point on a map in the Midwest. Again, the Missouri is on the right with all the ice carrying into the stream on the Mississippi from the left. There were a couple of photographers with tripods. I don't see why it was needed unless they were trying to shoot panoramas. The scene was blindingly bright.

The river levels are very low. This area is under water some of the year.         

Monday, January 8, 2018

Madeleine Monday (Color Sense)

If she were a little bigger Ellie could have been a riverside beacon along the Missouri. She is generally allowed to pick out her own clothes, subject to the occasional veto from mom.  Hence her Nepalese leopard hat (from the organization at the bottom of the sidebar), flowered sunglasses, her grandmother's crimson scarf, pink jacket, purple pants and blue-and-orange boots. (Yet she says green is her favorite color.) Oh, and note Old Lambie clutched in the left hand.         

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ice Water

Yesterday was clear and very cold (for us). The family took a ride to the state park at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The point on the right is literally the tip of land between the two. The view is roughly to the southeast. All the ice is coming in from the Missouri, on the right. 

The Mississippi, on the left, is clear for a reason. The site is just below the massive lock and dam at Alton, Illinois. Ice backs up behind it and only clear water flows through. There hasn't been enough time and space for it to re-freeze. The drop in elevation downstream is so gradual that there are no locks all the way from St. Louis to New Orleans.             

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Where To Go Sledding

The place in STL to go sledding, tubing, or your choice of sliding device is Art Hill. The great sloped arc descends from the art museum to the Grand Lagoon in Forest Park. Almost every child in St. Louis had sped down it at one time or another. The problem, though, is that if you are going too fast you could slide off the edge into the water. It is partly frozen now but was completely open when this was taken.

Today's newspaper headline says they we have stayed below freezing for thirteen days, the longest stretch in 35 years. As a rule, we're not that cold a city.          

Friday, January 5, 2018


We have not been above freezing since before Christmas and there have been several nights sub-zero Fahrenheit (that's -18 C. Why this country does not convert to metric is beyond me.). That's unusual for here. In these pictures, freezing condensate pours off the top of the Federal Reserve Bank next to my office building (maybe they have to keep the money chilled) and ice flows throughout the Mississippi.

As I look out my office window this afternoon, there are chunks of ice in the river from bank to bank. If time and weather permit tomorrow, I may walk out onto Eads Bridge (rear of second photo) or even drive up to the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi. It's not that far away but the route is very indirect because of the shape of the rivers. And I've been trying to find the last time the river froze solid here. Hard to be sure but I think it was 1936.       

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cold + Wet + Wind

A  last note about sub-zero aquatics on New Year's Day. I admit to being a cold weenie but having the aromatic spray from the Mississippi in your face at such temperatures is unimaginable. It seems that you have to be the kind of person who wears a flamingo on his head to tolerate it.    

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Fox & Friends

I didn't see anyone dressed like this in the frigid Mississippi after I arrived but I suspect the event began before the advertised hour of noon. There was a picture in the Post-Dispatch yesterday taken from the back of someone water skiing in a Santa suit. I didn't see it. But was it this man? The suit doesn't look soaking wet.

A couple of the TV stations always show up with reporters and camera operators. You can see them milling around below. (New Year's is usually a slow news day.) The local Fox outlet got an interview with the person who would have played Santa in Frozen if Santa had appeared in Frozen. No Fox in this household. We watch MSNBC.   

BTW, that skin color and tone is a nice example of what the Fuji X-T2 can do. My 5DM3 would have put too much magenta in the face and coat.   

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Age Of Crazy Has Not Passed

It was -5F / -20.5C when I woke up yesterday morning. At noon on the riverfront it was 4F / -15.5. The water temperature was just below freezing. Remember, we are on about the same parallel as Sicily and Athens.

Being New Year's Day, it was time for the annual water ski run on the Mississippi by the Missouri Disabled Water Ski Association, a fine organization that gets people usually confined to wheelchairs out on the water at high speed. Fine people, yes, but they don't all necessarily have all their marbles together.

I've shot this event before and on some cold days, but I've never seen ice in the river on January 1. It left the skiers with little room to maneuver. Only two people tried and only one actually got up.      

First day of  shooting with just the Fujifilm X-T2. There were other photographers with big Canon cameras and bigger white lenses. Doubt they got better shots than I did and my shoulders left in better shape.    

Monday, January 1, 2018

City Daily Photo Theme Day - Best of 2017

January 1 is the day City Daily Photo members post their best work of the year. It's theoretically supposed to be one picture, I think, but I'm greedy. These are my favorites. 
There is a tie for first, two photos taken a short time apart in Canyonlands National Park In Utah. The first is the baddest of the badlands. The second shows two men playing with their cameras, while only a child appreciates the awesome beauty of the scene.     

Portrait Of The Year

Our friend Olivier Perrin on the tramway between Governor's Island in the East River, New York City, on our way to midtown Manhattan.      

Leading to the Travel Photo Of The Year

Taken seconds after the last one with a 180 turn - the Queensboro Bridge from the tramway heading into midtown.      

Best Theatrical Picture

I've done a lot of theatrical photography in last year and this shot is my favorite - Chicago performer Matthew Markum doing Pollack: A Frequency Parable. Free jazz with words and abstract expressionist art.   

Best Grandchildren, Period

Audrey  and Ellie, taken in Clare, Michigan, within a few days of their second and fourth birthdays.

And last, another best picture of paradise, Playa Langosta, Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It's been here before. Thanks, Dave and Julie! 

More adventures await.