Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Man, I have got to get out and shoot some new material. Seems like all I've been doing lately are portraits with the odd Celtic football match thrown in. The portrait photos were taken in St. Louis but they are not really about St. Louis, so it's sort of off-topic. I'll put the portraits aside for now, unless you want to see some. Got a few good ones, if I do say so myself.

This picture is back at the Fourth of July fair in Webster Groves, the suburb where I live. I like the color and light.

TOMORROW: Theme Day - Breakfast

Monday, July 30, 2007

Irish Football, St. Louis Style

On Sunday afternoon, I was driving around Forest Park, St. Louis' great urban green space, looking for something to shoot. Bingo! I think this is Irish football. The ball was labeled Gaelic Gear and one team's jerseys had the name Kerry Patch. I'd appreciate verification from Celtic sports fans. The closest I've come to Irish football myself is buying a hat in Ennis, Ireland, for the County Clare side. That's the part of western Ireland my grandfather left in the late 19th Century to seek his fortune in New York.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

In the Cathedral 3, Plus a Lagniappe

Another example on the mosaics inside the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. I wish that contemporary St. Louis would better follow the saint-king's example.

Lagniappe is a wonderful word in Louisiana Cajun French. It means a little something extra for free, and here's mine for today. There is a professional photo studio here, Studio Altius, that rents space and equipment photographers who do not have their own portrait lights and backdrops. Sometimes on Saturday afternoon they will bring in models for those of us still on our learner's permits. This is some work I did yesterday. These women are not professional models but were great to work with. Laura is completing her Ph.D. in American studies and Cookie is an executive with a corporate relocation firm.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

St. Louis Artists

More portraits of local artists from the studio open house last weekend.

Phil Jarvis is a painter with a wild imagination. His work is made up of fantastical images that seem to unfold in magic space. There are elements of surrealism, shot through with sharp humor. He is also a wood craftsman. His paintings are irregularly shaped and he makes his own frames to suit each work. I am sorry I can't show you any examples. Phil, your need a Web site!

Greg Barth is a photographer who works primarily with large format view cameras. They are technically demanding instruments. Each click of the shutter button is expensive, so photographers in this medium must be careful and precise. Greg told me this forced slowing down improves his vision, work and satisfaction. On occasion, he uses a Holga, a $20 camera with a plastic lens prized by some photographers for its beautiful yet unpredictable results. Check out some of Greg's work here.

I'm becoming more and more interested in portrait photography. We'll see where that takes me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

In the Cathedral 2

I posted a picture from inside the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica a few days ago. The mosaics covering the interior are astounding, among the grandest in the world. This is but one example. You may or may not agree with the theme.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

This picture is a cousin to last Thursday's Arch photo and my blog's first post on March 22, 2007. These images are as much about the sky as the Arch or, perhaps, the Arch in its ever-changing environment. I hope that viewers feel a sense of motion (but not vertigo).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Art Studios Open House

Last weekend, the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis sponsored Open Studio weekend, in which 83 local artists opened their workspaces to the public. I got to eight or ten on Sunday. It was fascinating to talk to the artists about their creative process and discuss their work. Several of them let me take quick portraits photos.

The first artist above is Pat Leigh, who does
acrylic painting and collage with photography. She showed me a book she had crafted with photographs and text, documenting the length of Taylor Avenue in St. Louis. Taylor runs through both run-down and elegant neighborhoods, passing faded grandeur and urban rebirth. I found it quite moving.

Ron Flier is a painter who works in a variety of styles He showed me a parody of Caravaggio's David With the Head of Goliath in which a skinny, youthful George Bush holds the severed head of Saddam Hussein by the hair. He also paints abstracts using an unusual process: he starts with a concept, writes out what it means to him and them creates imagery to represent the idea. The painting behind him is about the expansion of the universe.

I got a few good portraits of other arists, which I may post over the weekend.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DJ Freshstep

This is DJ Freshstep, a long-time friend of the family and buddy of U "R" Us since high school. He was working last Saturday night at Hullabaloo, a Latin American restaurant and bar in Maplewood. Your Inquiring Photographer went over to shoot the action.

Freshstep is a free spirit. Last year he blew off to Bangkok for six months, working as a DJ in that city, Seoul and Tokyo, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was. We need a Bangkok CDPB in the worst way.

TOMORROW: Portrait of the Artists

Monday, July 23, 2007

For Better Or For Worse

After I left the cathedral Saturday afternoon, a Cadillac Escalade stretch limousine pulled up. It is common so see limos carrying a wedding party and photographer on weekend afternoons, stopping in front of the cathedral, the Arch and around Forest Park for group shots. For this good-looking couple and their friends, it was clear that the party had already begun. I hope they felt this well on Sunday as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

In The Cathedral

I was taking pictures on Saturday in and around the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. It's a cathedral because St. Louis is an archdiocese of the Catholic church and this is a great big building. It's a basilica because some Important Person in Rome decided that it's a significant church. I think they got around to that when the pope came here a number of years ago. As a recovering Catholic, I'm more interested in the art and architecture but since childhood I've had a fondness for the gorgeous ceremony - soft light, symbolic colors, grand ritual, the organ and choir, the scent and haze of incense.

The catherdal is known for its sumptuous mosaics, more of which later. I rounded a corner into a side aisle and found this image.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

St. Louis Effort For AIDS

This post is in praise of St. Louis Effort for AIDS, an outstanding organization that provides education about the disease and social services for those who suffer from it. I took this picture at the Pridefest parade a few weeks ago. It may not get much attention through the CDPB portal. The meaning is in the details.

Those details are in strange balance. This woman was a volunteer for EFA, distributing information and free condoms. I don't understand the skull and crossbones on her pants. It could be an out-there symbol for the disease. It could just be her style. In her right hand is a clutch of miniature plastic handcuffs with cards that say "Don't get caught without a condom!" and a red or blue packet containing one. Read those elements as you like. What makes the image a little more strange is that her arm also holds what I think is a rolled-up tee shirt, a bottle of water, a bag of potato chips from Whole Foods and a red rose with the thorns removed. There is poetry in here somewhere.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Matter Of Personal Taste

Back on June 19, I posted a picture of a large plastic alligator chomping a piece of pottery in front of St. Louis' strangest lawn, garden and home decor store, Gringo Jones. Going back over the photo archives until I can shoot some new material, I found these images of the jumble of wacky stuff on the sidewalk in front. Someone buys it. Would you like this sort of thing in your house?

TOMORROW: Public Health

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

I want to apologize to all the good photographers on CDPB for my lack of comments on your pictures recently. There wasn't much time to spare during camera camp last week and work has been piled up high since I got home. I hope to get back up to speed over the next few days.

This is a picture I took within a few minutes of this blog's first post. It was near sunset in winter. There was a beautiful cloud pattern undergoing subtle change. I cannot explain the river of clear air between the two cloud masses
but the effect is dramatic. It makes me think of a tornado high in the sky.

I'm thinking of mixing in more color pictures of the Arch. That might be tough. The Arch is our local icon and I want to avoid cliches. I'll keep my eyes open.

TOMORROW: antiques vs. junk

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Life On the Mississippi: Spaceman In Love

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a few pictures of the art graffiti on the floodwall along the Mississippi River, just south of the Arch. This section is on the end of the wall, where a huge metal gate would close if the waters rise.

I find this very arresting. My guess is that the B&W images were painted onto the green background (I did not inspect closely enough to figure out how) and the word "love" was splashed on later with spray paint. Everyone needs love, even astronauts and people carrying candelabra in horror movies.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series returns

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back In The Lou

Back home after a wonderful week in photography school. This picture is in the Soulard neighborhood, just south of downtown. Most of the area has been yuppified but the income level drops sharply at the edges. This man is sitting on the stoop of a locked storefront church, waiting for something with his striking pink umbrella. No clues about what he awaits.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Boston One-Day-Only Photo Blog

My wife and I stopped in Boston last night on our way home from Maine. We stayed at an airport hotel and took a water taxi across the harbor to dinner in the North End. These are some impressions.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The End of Camera Camp

The end of a wonderful week. Here's the whole class, our TA and tech staff. Our wonderful teacher, Bobbi Lane, is at the lower left. Which one am I?

This workshop transformed my photography. Time to go home to St. Louis.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Camera Camp Special

No, not one of the models - this is my classmate Meg, a California golden girl from Orange County. Okay, she's glamorous, but she learns fast, has a great eye and a creative sense of style. She is becomming an excelent photographer.

Camera Camp, Day 4

One afternoon this week, we had non-professional models, just local people. Tery here is a fine jewlery designer and craftsman. The teacher is working our butts off but I'm learning a huge amount of stuff about photography.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Camera Camp, Day 3

Still working on portraits. I can post some of these now because the models we worked with yesterday were just local people, not professionals. This is Paul, who is in the ski patrol in winter, leads mountain bike expeditions in summer and is an emergency medical technician. Great gombination, great model. One of his friends tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

American Rah-Rah

Yesterday afternoon at camera camp, we shot professional models. I can't put those pix on the blog without permission. So, today we get cheerleaders.

Pix from the Fourth of July parade. I do not know whom these young ladies were representing - I cut off the body of the car, which had a sign about that. I was more interested in the golden cheerleader - American flag motif. Sex and patriotism. Throw in a steak and a Budweiser and the voters are happy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Camera Camp, Day 1

First day at the Maine Photography Workshops. I learned more today about studio lighting today than I had in my previous 57 years, four months and something days, (Is division by zero allowed?) This is my classmate, Aviva, from Massachusetts. The lighting style is called the Rembrant because this is how the painter often lit his subjects in window light: one side illuminated, a triangle of light under the eye on the darker side. So much more to learn.

Monday, July 9, 2007


This is actually, really, Stephen King's house, 47 West Broadway, Bangor, Maine.

Flew into Bangor last night on my way to what my co-workers call Camera Camp in Rockport, Maine. Really interesting little city with fabulous architecture in the older parts of town. And there's a superb restaurant, Thistles, owned by an Argentine-Columbian couple who have a large list of Argentine wines and tango night on Tuesday! Bangor was the world's largest lumber shipping port in the late 19th Century. And Mr. King has lived here for years. Note the bat on the wrought iron fence.

The big guy on the left is Paul Bunyan, the legendary greatest lumberjack of them all. Bangor claims his origin. And I want to tell you, there are one hell of a lot of trees from here into the interior.

Down to the coast and The Maine Media Workshops later on Sunday, for a week of photography fun.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Carney's Repast

Ummm yummie. Dinner for a carny: two fried egg rolls and a large coke. This meal has not been endorsed by the American College of Cardiology, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or anyone with the slightest concern for life expectancy. As I said yesterday, most carnival workers look unhealthy – seriously overweight, bad teeth and often smokers. Is it part of their life on the fringe of our society? I bet they get few or no medical services. That’s a fact of life in this country, since we are the only industrialized nation without universal health care. I’m a strong proponent of what we, in our debates, call a single-payer system, supervised by the government. However, I’m not optimistic about that happening. Health care here is driven by profits and no one wants to lose their personal golden goose.

I do not know of any epidemiological studies about the rates of heart disease and diabetes among carnies. Perhaps the results would be too obvious to be worth the work.

TOMORROW: this is blog laziness week. Something nice and easy, like pretty girls?

Saturday, July 7, 2007


A post-Independance Day thought: we Americans think that this is a country where you can live as freely as you please. And who better to exemplify a footloose life than a carny. Here he is, at night, at the carnival and at his trade.

This term may not be familiar outside of the US. It is a person who works for traveling carnivals, like the one that just passed through my town. They are paid low wages and live in trailers. Some I have seen appear to be young, out for adventure. Many are middle aged and unattached, both men and women, drifting alone. The older ones almost always look unhealthy. The tradition is that they are skilled in cheating naive fairgoers, although now legal regulation is much tighter. I did some quick research on where they go in the winter and couldn't find anything.

Street portraits are a favorite of mine and I think that this is one of the better ones I've done in a while. IMHO, that is, and, well, the lighting could have been better. I'm leaving today for a week at the brilliant Maine Photography Workshops, taking a one week introduction to portrait photography with the gifted photographer and teacher, Bobbi Lane. There probably is enough inventory on my laptop to keep posting STL pix for the week, but if not - shocking idea! - I may just have to take some time off. If all goes according to plan, I'll have better work to show you after my return.

Step right up and try your luck. You could win a prize.

TOMORROW: a picture of another carny and some thoughts on a carny's life

Friday, July 6, 2007

La Vita Non E Bella

More from the Webster Groves holiday fair. Look at the man's expression. He needs a life-changing experience, like one of those beverages or cars that claim they can put you on top of the world. At the very least, a recording of Bobby McFerrin singing Don't Worry, Be Happy.

And on the subject of states of mind, I swear that the second photo was not composed under the influence of any drugs other than those prescribed by my physician. (I have a really great doctor.)


He's getting ready for the show
He's going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row.

- Bob Dylan, Desolation Row, 1965

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

No comment necessary.

TOMORROW: It's supposed to be fun. Lots of fun. Why isn't the man having fun?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fourth of July Mid-Day Update

I was out shooting the big parade in downtown St. Louis when the Bluetooth phone gizmo in my ear rang. A call from Dick Cheney! He said to tell everyone that America is not chicken, that we are not a a bunch of pussies! So watch out! Grrrrrr

Happy Fourth of July From St. Louis

It's our national holiday: summertime, barbecue, beer, parades and red, white and blue everything: tee shirts, porch decorations, silly hats, lawn chairs, dog jackets. Even Budweiser cans are kinda red, white and blue. I'm off Wednesday morning to shoot the big parade downtown. Going to the Cardinals baseball game tonight. The game time is set to lead into the fireworks over the Mississippi River and the stadium, which has a perfect view, will stay open through the show. I'll be there with lenses blazing.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series - a special one if I'm kucky

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

An American Tradition

The American Fourth of July: flags, parades, carnivals, fairs, patriotism (and jingoism) and fireworks. John Phillip Sousa marches: The Stars and Stripes Forever (have a listen!). Yay for us! I just learned that The Stars and Stripes Forever is the official march of the United States of America. For my legal colleagues, check 36 USC 304. It's a toe-tapper for sure.

These pictures were taken at the Independence Day carnival in the suburb of St. Louis where I live, Webster Groves. It's an older town by our standards (more than a century - wow). It has town streets rather than the closed systems of subdivisions now typical in newer suburban areas. I like that a lot. Factoid: in 1966, CBS Television produced a documentary called 16 In Webster Groves, purporting to show the shallow materialism of suburban American youth. Geez, we are so far from the worst in that department. Time magazine revisited Webster Groves High School in an cover-story article and photo essay in 1999. My two kids both bailed on WGHS and attended Crossroads School, the only private, non-sectarian high school in the City of St. Louis proper. They both
went on to the University of Chicago, so maybe they made the right choice.

Like I sometimes say, chacun a son gout.

Oh, probably more of the same kind of stuff

Monday, July 2, 2007

Life On the Mississippi: the Floodwall

Life On the Mississippi is a book published in 1883 by Mark Twain, a memoir of of his of his youth as an apprentice river pilot and a voyage as an adult from St. Louis to New Orleans, observing life on and around this great waterway. It is a good theme for the occasional posts I begin today about St. Louis' main artery.

Like all great rivers, the Mississippi is prone to disastrous floods. Click here for a facsinating photo essay about why we need floodwalls and levees and what happens when they fail. The downtown business district sits up on a bluff but much of the city slides gently down to the water's edge. These areas are protected by a huge concrete floodwall with sections that slide open and closed on rails. The section of floodwall just south of the Arch is reserved for graffiti artists, where the most people can see it.. These are just a couple of sections - there's lots more great stuff. The background of the bottom to these pictures makes me think of a Hans Hoffman abstract expressionist painting I saw in a museum somewhere.

I wonder if you need a city permit for a time and place to paint.

Gee-whiz bonus factoid - they say that Life On the Mississippi was the first book composed on a typewriter.

TOMORROW: America's Fourth of July festivities begin

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Theme Day: Red

Neat, or on the rocks? It is a gratuitous sexist comment, but former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, once said, "I like my women blond and my Johnnie Walker red." Look where it got you, Joe.

By the way, I seem to be one of the very few people in the US who really likes Campari. On a visit to Italy, I became entranced by the cocktail called a negroni, made from equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. I think my wife once took a sip from my glass and spit it out. Lots of American bartenders have never heard of it. It's one of those special pleasures.

So, as they used to say in the Old West (or old Western movies), what's your poison?

TOMORROW: Life On the Mississippi Series


Shanghai, China - Mumbai, India - New York City (NY), USA - Manila, Philippines - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Hamburg, Germany - Stayton (OR), USA - Los Angeles (CA), USA - Hyde, UK - Oslo, Norway - Brookville (OH), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Stavanger, Norway - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Joplin (MO), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Selma (AL), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Seattle (WA), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Arradon, France - Evry, France - Baton Rouge (LA), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Grenoble, France - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Hilo (HI), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - La Antigua, Guatemala - Brisbane (QLD), Australia - Singapore, Singapore - Tel Aviv, Israel - Hong Kong, China - Sequim (WA), USA - Paderborn, Germany - Saarbrücken, Germany - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Tenerife, Spain - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Sydney, Australia - Naples (FL), USA - Cologne (NRW), Germany - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Mainz, Germany - Toruń, Poland - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Singapore, Singapore - North Bay (ON), Canada - Jakarta, Indonesia - Montréal (QC), Canada - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Baziège, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - New York (NY), USA - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia - Sharon (CT), USA - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Nottingham, UK - Villigen, Switzerland - Chicago (IL), USA - Torquay, UK - Brussels, Belgium - San Diego (CA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Paris, France - Seoul, Korea - Manila, Philippines - Milano, Italy - Chennai (Tamil Nadu), India - Austin (TX), USA - Chennai, India - Madrid, Spain - Seoul, South Korea - Wailea (HI), USA - Toronto (ON), Canada - Ajaccio, France - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Zurich, Switzerland - Sydney, Australia - Budapest, Hungary