Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring Out The Old

My son, Chicago photoblogger and heir to the STL DPB fortune, U "R"Us, was down for a few days around Christmas. He and I got bored on Christmas Eve afternoon and went out shooting in a strange, desolate industrial area north of the Arch. He had a post of one of his shots yesterday.

The area is the beginning of a walking and bike trail along the Mississippi. A odd and amusing industrial decay-themed park is being built around the entrance. In this picture, the photographer (and software engineer) finds a fence made of rebar, picks up a couple of loose pieces of the stuff and turns the whole thing into a giant marimba. Music rang through the ruins.

You think this has been a bad year? Well, cheer up. Always look on the bright side of life.

CDPB Monthly Theme Day - Picture of the Year
. The Thursday Arch Series is officially off for the New Year's Day holiday. Or is it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

STL DPB On The Road: Leaving New York

Back home in St. Louis. I get such a charge every time I return to NYC but, frankly, I can see more of the world because we live in cheap STL. (We saw $1.23 per gallon gasoline on our way home from the airport on Monday.) And we certainly have plans to get out of here in 2009, including Kansas, like the woman below. There is a growing set of my recent NYC photos on Flickr here.

about half way right of center, where the Lensbaby blur really kicks in, is an off-white building that looks like a step pyramid sitting on a cube. That's 120 Wall Street, where my father worked most of his career. He was in commodities, sugar, specifically.

ring out the old. Also, time to get back to writing comments on your work.

Monday, December 29, 2008

STL DPB On The Road: Across the Broklyn Bridge

Today's trek was to Brooklyn Heights, along the promenade opposite lower Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge, then up to Greenwich Village.


WHAT"S THE STORY ABOUT THE LOWER PICTURE: we were about half-way across the bridge. Although it was exceptionally warm the wind was howling across the middle of the East River. And there, on a bench, was a young man working intently on his MacBook. We asked him if there was free WiFi on the bridge (there is in a lot of places in NYC). He said no. I asked if I could take his picture. He said yes. And here you have it.

TOMORROW: flying back to STL. Lots more pix from this weekend to post.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

STL CDPB On The Road: Queens

On Saturday, my nephew and I went to the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens, the part of New York City where I grew up. More about that soon. Later, we drove a short way to Long Island City, the district across the East River from the United Nations in Manhattan. I ran some of these pix by a CDPB colleague, who told me I should use this for today's post. But my favorite is the one below. No idea what was going on between those two but my title for the picture is "I'm Leaving."

WHAT'S ON FOR SUNDAY: my nephew and I are going back into the city and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, cameras in hand. The rest is left to fate.

Pssst, Mister. Wanna buy a bridge?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

STL DPB On The Road - Back Home In NYC

This is being written late Friday night: flight into La Guardia today arrived early (!); took the Major Degan Expressway up the Bronx side of the Harlem River to look at the new Yankee Stadium (a big traffic mistake); over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey; then back into Manhattan for a big family dinner at Dos Caminos at 50th Street and Third Avenue, the best Mexican restaurant I've eaten at in a long time. Some of us walked a short distance to Rockefeller Center to see the lights. That's 30 Rock itself in both of these pictures. Like the sign says, this is my New York.

WHAT SMALL INCIDENT HAPPENED ON THE WAY BACK TO THE CAR THAT I SHOULD WRITE A LITTLE STORY ABOUT: several of the group, particularly the teens and twenty-somethings, had to go real bad before the drive back to New Jersey. Since we were walking right by it, my sister suggested we go through the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. So here were ten of us, trying to look casual, exploring the refined halls of the Waldorf hunting for a place for the kids to pee. I think the embossed luxurious paper towels were worth more than the memory card in my camera. No one questioned our presence.

more NYC.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter Whirl

The St. Louis Zoo had the carousel running during the Wild Lights display last weekend (see post of December 23). It was cold and dark but the kids didn't care. I set the camera on a tripod as my fingers got more and more numb and this is what came out.

WHAT'S THIS AIRPLANE TICKET SAY? 12/26/2008 R CROWE STL - LGA 11:10 AM. That's New York City! Yippie!

TOMORROW: something in Manhattan, I hope, but the picture remains to be taken.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday Arch Series (Christmas Edition)

Merry Christmas From St. Louis

Here we are, near the end of another year. Santa advises us to "wine a bit - you'll feel better," a concept endorsed by some of our CDPB colleagues (you know who you are). I must have been a good boy all year, 'cause look what was under my tree! (Below. left.) Well, actually we don't have a tree - haven't had one since the kids moved out. That's not important to us. We have each other.

I am grateful that my wife and I and our two children are all together today; that we are all healthy; that we all have jobs; that the mortgage or rent is all up to date and that there's enough left over for a couple of bottles of that stuff Santa is pushing. We don't need no stinkin' tree.

WHAT HAPPENED ON OUR QUEST FOR AN OPEN RESTAURANT LAST NIGHT: our favorite Vietnamese restaurant was closed, too. There is a stretch of South Grand Avenue with a regular United Nations of ethnic restaurants. We ended up at Mangia Italiano, happy as can be. They were busy! Two of the five lawyers in my office are Jewish so I asked their advice earlier in the day. Get Chinese carry-out and go to a movie, they both told me. Now there's a Christmas tradition.

TOMORROW: winter whirl.

There is a new Arch photo today on GATEWAY.
It's kinda
cheesy but you might like it.
Oh, and a story! Everybody loves a story.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For Your Consideration

This post is not a comment about The Salvation Army. Just a combination of elements for your consideration on Christmas Eve.

WHAT'S MILDLY ANNOYING THE FAMILY: my wife, son and I were going to dine out tonight. However, St. Louis premier (well, only) Nepalese restaurant that we planned to visit just decided to close this evening. Hmmm, what about our favorite Vietnamese place? Oh, the challenges of the non-traditional middle class.

Thursday Arch Series (Christmas Edition) and a new Arch photo on Gateway.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wild Lights

The St. Louis Zoo, one of the best around, has a thing going on this holiday season called Wild Lights. Much of the area is covered with Christmas-style lighting displays on animal themes. These are just a couple of examples. I may post more after Thursday. By the way, if you were standing in front of the bottom display, the fish would appear to leap out of the water on the left and move in an arc until it plunged back in on the right. With a 3.5 second exposure, you see all the stages at once.

ice, and quite suddenly. I can see it from my office window. It's gotten down to about 7 F. / -14 C. here lately and, of course, much colder upriver. I'd love to get over to the riverfront and shoot it. In my spare time, of course.

a Christmas Eve thought.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Even Highway Patrolmen Get The Blues

These officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol attended the official opening of the rebuilt section of Interstate 64 a week ago. Clearly, they lack enthusiasm for the ceremony. Was it disdain for the officials giving tedious speeches or had they worked the night shift before the 10:30 AM ceremony? Hope they feel better.

If I did what some of our CDPB friends do and inserted a song into this post, it would be Elvis singing Blue Christmas.

edited the photo for my combo Thursday Arch Series - Christmas Day post. Hope you like it.

wild lights.

There is a new Arch photo
day on GATEWAY.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Open Road

It's hard to appreciate how huge a swath an eight lane highway cuts through the countryside until you stand in it without tractor-trailers bent on converting you into road kill. That's what I saw when a big section of Interstate 64, shut down a whole year for complete reconstruction, opened to the non-motoring public for a day. It's such an alien feeling, like you are floating in an unnatural space with a concrete floor. A recumbent bike might blow by you in a fast blur of color. If you careen into a barrier while missing an exit, a new-technology crumple zone will cushion the blow. Still, better wear a helmet.

WHAT I SHOT LAST NIGHT THAT YOU WILL SEE SOON: the grounds of the St. Louis Zoo have been filled with colored lights for the holidays, on display after dark. I went over last night with my tripod and froze my patootie off, but I got some good images.

the sad eyes of the Highway Patrol and a new Arch photo on Gateway.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Don't Think They're French. What Do You Think?

We have a main east-west highway through St. Louis City and County, Interstate 64 - US 40. It's pretty old. The Missouri Highway Department, in its wisdom, decided to entirely shut down and rebuild the stretch through the heart of the area. They are doing it in two segments, taking about a year each. You can imagine the traffic chaos.

The western section reopened last weekend. I met this couple in an ordinary place under unusual circumstances. MoDOT invited the public to walk, bike and rollerblade the new highway last weekend. These two showed up for the festivities. Her vehicle was welcome then, but not now. It was very strange to wander a brand-new eight lane highway with no car traffic.

ADVICE I GOT TODAY: friend of the blog D.C. Confidential of Washington DC Daily Photo told me it's okay to goof off at work for the rest of the year and everyone else is doing it anyway. But I'm self-employed (but so is she). There's a blunt but accurate saying in small law firms that you eat what you kill. Plus, we have to fund the newly-established Send Bob To Tibet In September 2009 Foundation! Such conflicting motives.

TOMORROW: Modern highway technology!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bite Me

Bah, humbug. Not far from Steinberg Rink in a secluded corner of Forest Park you'll find something strange. You can't see it from any of the roadways. Tucked between the planetarium and Interstate 64 (more about which tomorrow) are lifesize, semi-realistic models of a tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops. You know, just hanging out in a grove of trees, waiting to scare small children when they round a bend in a bike path. I think they are very weird and cool. Truth be told, though, they aren't the scariest things in St. Louis. We got places where angels fear to tread (like all American cities).

heavy freezing rain. Time to find my slippers and a glass of port.

easy rider.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

A different view from most of my Arch pix. In an earlier post, I mentioned that my wife and I stayed at a hotel downtown after our office holiday dinner last weekend.. I made sure to reserve a room with a view of the Arch. This was shot early the next morning on a very gray day. It's an HDR to pump it up a bit. Hard to tell from this picture, but the Mississippi River level is really low.

WHAT I WAS FANTASIZING ABOUT: retiring and spending all that silly work time on photography and reading more books. Ha! Fat chance. My 401(k) has lost at least a third of its value this year and I couldn't get health insurance anywhere in this fine country outside of work until I'm 65 and eligible for Medicare. So, nose back to the grindstone, Bobby.

TOMORROW: something not at all Christmas-y. Ggrrrr. Who needs TV when you have...

There is a new Arch photo
today on Gateway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa Stands Accused!

These two children appear to be fingering Santa as the culprit, but why? Is he guilty of wage and hour violations in the elves' sweatshop? Shipping huge amounts of loot internationally without the necessary customs licenses? Failure to record a flight plan with the Federal Aviation Administration? I couldn't tell from this distance but just look at his guilty expression. Later, I saw him flashing gang signs with this bro from the hood, pictured below. Something fishy was going on.

WHAT I'M READING: Salman Rushdie's most recent novel, The Enchantress of Florence. Rushdie plays the English language like Horowitz played the piano. The book is riveting (to old Strangetastes, anyway). It is coming out in paperback in the US in early January if you want to save a buck or two.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series and also a new Arch photo on Gateway.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Do You Believe In Santa Claus?

There was an interesting and diverse crowd on the ice at Steinberg Rink last weekend. The young woman in the top picture proclaims that she still believes in Santa. And why not? He was right there, skating with everybody else. Maybe she shouldn't be so confident, for reasons we shall discuss in tomorrow's post.

WHAT I'M FINALLY USING: Photoshop CS4. I've had the new version on my computer for two or three months but I've been intimidated about using it - there are some important changes. However, I got the excellent, concise book, Adobe Photoshop CS4: Up To Speed by Ben Willmore, which is only about what's changed since CS3. Very, very useful. Lots of good new features in CS4. Wow, is the sharpening better!

We accuse Santa!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hey, lady! Getcher picture taken with a reindeer?

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.

But can you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?
No, Rudolph didn't make it to The Lou a couple of weeks before the big night. However, on Skating With Santa day, he did send a heavily tranquilized cousin from a "petting zoo" to the rink. The children generally ignored him/her (I am not an expert in these matters, although the Wikipedia article on the species' description of antlers makes me suspect this is a female and I did not attempt closer inspection) but lots of adults posed for pictures. The animal's handler didn't seem to be having any better a day than her charge.

So, have you been naughty or nice?

WHAT I HEARD YESTERDAY THAT BLEW ME AWAY: the Saint Louis Symphony performed composer John Adams' Nativity oratorio, El NiƱo. I'm not usually a big Adams fan - a little too retro for me - but this work, which I had not heard before, is full of invention, brilliance and poetry. As soon as I got home I jumped on Amazon and ordered a copy (there's some impulse gratification for you).

skaters' waltz.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Skating With Santa 2008

Little did I know before I started a city daily photo blog, but every year around this time kids can go skating with Santa at Steinberg Ice Rink in Forest Park. I went for the first time last year and got some good shots - see them here. The weather was milder and it was much more crowded this time but I still got a few good ones. What's weird is that when Santa and I got chatting last year we found we had the same last name; his first and last name is the same as my father. He remembered me, calling out, "Hi, Mr. Crowe!" and I replied, "Hi, John!"

My wife and I scour the newspaper for community events I can shoot. So much more going on in this town than I realized.

all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Moonrise on Mississippi


We had our firm's holiday dinner at a hotel by the river last night. I had to take a detour down to the levee when I saw the full moon rising over the Mississippi. This shot was handheld at ISO 3200 but I need to get up a post this morning. We stayed downtown overnight and got a room with a view of the riverfront.

Did I say something in yesterday's post about the possibility of paralegals behaving badly at the office holiday party? This pair isn't too bad. The woman on the left has been my partner's paralegal for 23 years and her sister for a lot longer than that. The one on the right has been my paralegal for 26 years. Her husband just passed his 20th anniversary as one of the lawyers in our firm. It was an office romance. The story is that when we hired him we gave him a good salary and threw in a woman as a signing bonus. We're just one big family.

TOMORROW: The STL DPB Second Annual...
You'll have to come back to find out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Loose Associations

Readers of this blog know that I formerly used the nickname Strangetastes. I also considered Loose Associations. That's a psychological term describing a thought disorder in which a person's statements do not relate to a question asked, or when statements do not logically relate to what was expressed before of after.The phrase has another, more positive sense, in which an individual sees meaningful relations among things that are not obvious, that are subtle or unnoticed by others. To me, the second meaning is a badge of honor.

Yesterday, I wrote about how these HDR pictures remind me of the work of painter Richard Estes. While I was working on this one, another association hit me. It has the feel of the work of another American artist,
Edward Hopper (Google Images of his work here). Hopper, who lived from 1882 to 1967, depicted quiet, sometimes lonely landscapes, small towns, big cities and intimate interiors. His most famous painting is Nighthawks, which you can see in the Art Institute of Chicago. He loved oranges and reds in urban settings but skillfully kept them from shouting.
Look at some of Hopper's work and tell us if you see a connection.

This picture is in the old commercial area south of the Arch. I was shooting under an elevated section of Interstate highway. The bridge at the upper left carries trains over the Mississippi to Illinois and beyond.

WHAT I'M DONE WITH FOR THE YEAR: no more hearings, no more court appearances. Lots of stuff to do but the big pressure is off for a couple of weeks.

this could go a couple of ways: 1. More downtown HDR. An insane, four meter tall dancing bunny statue? An oversaturated redbird under lunar influence? Or, 2. Tonight is our little law firm's holiday dinner party. I am both the boss and the house photographer. Perhaps there may be a shot of paralegals behaving badly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Arch Series - More HDR

Another HDR concoction. If I didn't tell you, you might not notice that it's HDR. The more I play with this, the more I appreciate the images you can get with restrained use of the technique. They can be very vivid without being crazed.

A side note: I shot this from the levee, the paving stone slope leading down to the Mississippi. You can see the river level on the right. During the floods last spring and summer, the water level was well above the street behind the short wall on the left.

WHAT NICE AT HOME BETWEEN ME AND MY WIFE: neither of us is a bit sentimental. We've completely blown off Christmas decorations for years. Haven't had a tree since the kids moved out. It's much more important just to have us all here together.

gasp! More HDR. This time it's in the semi-desolate, old commercial area south of the Arch (one of my favorite parts of town).

There is a new Arch picture
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Almost As Realistic As A Photograph

Looking north on 6th Street from just south of the downtown core.

My style of HDR photos has vaguely reminded of the work of some painter but I couldn't place it. It finally came to me yesterday: Richard Estes. You can see a large sample of his work through Google Images here. He is a member of the 20th Century school of (mostly) American painting known as Photorealism. Other members of the movement include Ralph Goings and Chuck Close. Close is a personal favorite but his work has gone far beyond approximations of photographs. Again, Google Images provides many examples (click here).

The link I see between some HDR photographs and photorealist paintings is this: they sort of look like conventional photos but not completely. More like paintings of photographs with detail, color and tonality modulated to suit the artist. People often see the images as hyper-real. A photographer with software like Photomatix Pro, which I use (thanks to Minneapolis CDPBer Greg for the tip), doesn't have nearly the range of options of a painter but, still, we can lift a scene like this one to something above the mundane. Plus, it just looks cool. I will now get off my soap box.

WHAT I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DO LAST NIGHT BUT DIDN'T: start an introductory yoga class. I'm 58 and have poor physical flexibility and balance - thought it might do me some good. But I left work late and was tired (whah) and didn't want another obligation. So I came home, had a bite and wrote this. And I'm happy.

TOMORROW: more HDR with the Thursday Arch Series, plus a new post on Gateway.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Apocalypse Now

It looks like the aftermath of an environmental disaster but it's just the industrial area south of the Arch. The big slab in the foreground is a section of the flood wall where graffiti art is permitted. The smokestacks in the background are across the river in Illinois. What makes if look like Mad Max would feel right at home here? HDR image processing, of course. In fact, I think I'll devote the rest of the week to HDR pictures. This ain't highbrow art but it's fun to make and can be quite dramatic.

spend a month in and around Paris (the individual is not French). Why not me? Why?

okay, I finally remembered the painter whose style these HDR photos remind me of. Check back Wednesday
for another high-volume urban landscape and I'll tell you about him.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The name is Crowe. Bob Crowe. I have a license to shoot.

Okay, okay, this isn't about my city. Boys just wanna have fun. Saturday night was my one annual occasion to wear a tuxedo, the gala fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. I do some stuff for them. After feeling silly wearing the tux in a snooty country club where all the guys were wearing tuxedos (except for one man in full formal Scottish kilt regalia), I was feeling sillier. I'm not the country club type. Recall the words of the great early 20th Century philosopher, Groucho Marx, who said, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." Anyway, took some shots in mirrors at home before I chucked the penguin suit. This post violates founder Eric's Prime Directive but I think it's amusing. He can come and get me if he has a problem with it.

WHAT I PICKED UP CHEAP YESTERDAY : a 22 inch / 58 cm LG monitor. Editing photos on my 13 inch / 33 cm MacBook screen is a bit hard on the eyes. The display is fabulous and BestBuy is selling them for peanuts.

post-apocalyptic St. Louis. Or it could be. Oh, and a new Arch photo on Gateway.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Other Spheres and Curves

I was going to use this shot for the December Theme Day until I had the idea for Planet Arch. Good thing I did; it was more fun. This is the Planetarium in Forest Park. The dome with the projector is under the hourglass-shaped building. This ball and ring in the foreground is just a bit of architectural decoration.

wore a tuxedo; leading to...

TOMORROW: if the pix I just sleepily downloaded late Saturday night turned out, maybe...The Penguin. If they didn't turn out then, well, I got some HDRs downtown Saturday afternoon. The moon is in some of them.

At the request of friend of the blog PJ of Pensacola Daily Photo, I re-edited this to B&W. She's right, as usual. This version is better.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hole In The Sky

Another one of those "um, what do I have on some hard drive that I can post?" photos. Shot from my office window. I'm on the 23rd floor and there's nothing taller in this direction (south) until maybe Memphis.

1. Clean my desk. (Yeah, right). 2. Edit more pix from Kansas (no problem there). 3. Do all my Christmas shopping on Amazon. (They love me and vice versa.) 4. Look really silly at my once-a-year tuxedo wearing event, the annual black tie fundraising dinner dance for the Arthritis Foundation. I'm a member of the local board and I have to show up. Anyone want to see a picture of that? Have I ever mentioned that I can't dance to save my life?

what I was going to post on theme day if I couldn't think of anything better.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Big Blue Box

This was taken downtown on the same day as the Arch photo post of November 21. The natural and the artificial share a color palette and sense of simplicity. Both parts deserve design awards.

WHAT MY FRIENDS AT AMAZON BROUGHT ME TODAY: two books, Adobe Photoshop CS4: Up To Speed and Photoshop CS4 For Dummies (see my favorite books in my profile). I got CS4 several weeks ago and I haven't been able to use it. The new version of the famous software has lots of changes. I can't get the hang of it on my own and I can't find any good instruction online. So, uh, when am I going to read these?

TOMORROW: Mommy! Mommy! There's a hole in the sky!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday Arch Series

Taken about three weeks ago, showing the last orange tree of autumn under the monument. The highlights are blown out on the left (north) leg, whose angle looks straight back into the sun but I kind of like the way it glows.

driving. 1,000 miles / 1,600 km to, from and around Kansas last week, then 250 miles / 425 km yesterday and today for hearings in an outlying town. Damn good thing gas is cheap again.

TOMORROW: economy of form, constriction of palette

There is a companion photo to
the one above today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Old Court House and Contrail

Out here in the Midwest we're in flyover country, as jet airplanes float across our skies from east to west coast and back, literally looking down on us here in the middle. I love contrails, though. They are magical clouds that can create symbols in the heavens.

time! How did I get myself into this? Zooming around the office Tuesday, two hour drive down here to Carbondale, Illinois in the evening, a full day of hearings here Wednesday, drive back to my office in St. Louis this afternoon - you get the picture. No rest for the wicked. I haven't forgotten you

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leaving Kansas: Self-Portrait With Toyota and Prairie Sky

Farewell to Hanover, Kansas. It looks like you could surf those clouds.

Carbondale, Illinois, two hours' drive southeast of here. I'm spending the night because I have five disability hearings there on Wednesday. Carbondale is known as the home of Southern Illinois University, whose most famous faculty member was the renowned R. Buckminster Fuller, designer of the geodesic dome.

TOMORROW: back in the Lou. How about a flyover?

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.