Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Can't Be March

This Can't Be March

This was taken downtown on March 24 (courthouses in the background, Richard Serra's Twain on the left). It looks like June. The forecast for tomorrow, the first of April, is sunny and 88 F / 31 C, full summer weather. It's wrong. We're looking into mid-year holidays in Edmonton or Fairbanks.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Downtown Traffic

Downtown Traffic

I'll get out and shoot some new stuff this weekend (the new camera is looking pretty cool) but I'm hard up right now. The plan was to post more orchid pix today. However, as I was leaving downtown and heading home last night, my comfy Honda and I got passed by a horse.

That doesn't happen every day. I whipped out my iPhone and shot this through the windshield just because it was strange. (Kids, don't try this at home.) It's a maybe 3/4 scale model of a Budweiser Clydesdale horse. There is an Anheuser-Busch distributor a few blocks away so it was probably heading home.

For local readers, this is southbound on 7th Street just north of Chouteau. The Purina headquarters is off camera to the right.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2012-03-28 1

The Thursday Arch Series is back after a much-needed rest. Our friendly UPS delivery person dropped off a new camera body yesterday at the world headquarters of Crowe & Shanahan. Since it was a beautiful spring afternoon (it's still way too early for this) I had to go out and shoot with it. It's Thursday today so what better to do than walk over to the Arch. I have not been down underneath it in a few weeks. The space feels so alien - wide open lawn and this enoumous steel thing dwarfing all of us below. I liked the way this one turned out, sort of like a color field painting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Let's Get Artsy

Orchid Show At MoBot 8

More orchids. As much of the work in making these images is done in post-processing as in shooting. Love the magic of Photoshop, even though my skills are limited. The top one is my favorite of those I've edited so far. The flowers in the bottom pic makes me think of paragliders coming in for a very fuchsia landing.

There are more orchids still to come.

Orchid Show At MoBot 9 (Paragliders)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At The Orchid Show

Orchid Show At MoBot 4

A late winter delight in this town is the orchid show at the sumptuous Missouri Botanical Garden. I managed to make it there on Sunday, closing day.

Flowers are hardly everyday subject matter for me but, hey, the show is a good opportunity for blog material. The challenge is how to avoid the banal. The example of Robert Mapplethorpe comes to mind (hmmm - I don't remember seeing Number 4 before now). It was way too crowded to use a tripod. These pictures were taken with an 85 mm prime lens and varying lengths of extension tubes. Apertures ranged from f 2.8 to f 11. Keeping the center sharp was often a matter of holding the camera within a range of a few millimeters.

The orchids ranged from subdued to sensual. Some were unabashedly erotic. We'll see a few more in days to come.

Orchid Show At MoBot 2

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hollow Men

Hollow Men (Pink Suit, Citygarden)

Seems like every couple of years I find a reason to quote the opening lines of St. Louisan T. S. Elliott's masterwork, The Hollow Men. I'll spare you today but only because it will be in a link I'll probably use in tomorrow's post.

This is a close-up of Edwin Wurm's Big Suit in Citygarden. The stocky pink wraith was installed two years after the venue opened. There is a post about it here with the actual color. Perhaps the black and white emphasizes the lask of a core.

All is not gray, though. I spent a couple of hours today shooting the orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Results will be on display over the next few days.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Too Early

2012-03-24 Tulips Downtown 1

These pictures were taken yesterday, March 24, on the lawn surrounding Richard Serra's Twain downtown. It worries me. There have been some baseball opening games in early April at which the temperature was a few degrees above freezing. What's to come? However, we should remember statistics and randomness, and not panic. (American TV weather announcers love panic.) The newspaper says that this is only the fourth warmest winter since they started to keep statistics in the 19th Century.

The picture on top is a hand-held HDR, taken while the flowers were shaking in the breeze. The one below is of a tulip that may be the first of the new crop to fall. All things must pass.

Fallen Tulip Leaf

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Madness

KU Band At Kiener 3

The quarterfinals of the U.S. men's college basketball tournament is in town this weekend. The whole process is usually referred to as March Madness, and it really is. People get silly-stupid about 20 year olds shooting baskets for far-away schools. I, of course, have no interest in it (well, at least since St. Louis University got knocked out in the second round).

I was out at lunchtime with my camera yesterday, hoping the fresh spring foliage would provide some new material. The sound of brass bands was wafting out of Kiener Plaza so I walked over for a look. Turned out that the team bands and cheerleaders of each of the schools was performing. North Carolina State University was going off and Kansas University coming on. My wife's family is from Kansas (she even has a sister named Dorothy who still lives in Kansas, but who sadly does not have a dog names Toto). This became a mandatory stop 'n' shoot.

NC State's teams are known as the Wolfpack, which is kind of gruesome. The avatar on hand yesterday was a slender lady in a 50's-looking skirt and a really ugly head. No shortage of irony. No one around in a Kansas Jayhawk suit but the band was pretty good.

GOOD NEWS: a commenter from Indianapolis yesterday said that she had e-mailed Eric Tenin about the portal and He replied. The portal was hacked. Tenin said they hope to have it back up this weekend.

KU Band At Kiener 1

NC State Wolfpack

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spectators At The Corrida

Corrida At Villareal 11

I'll bring my camera to work today and try so start collecting local material at lunchtime. It's been so warm the trees and flowers are three or four weeks ahead of normal schedule so there's some dewey-fresh vegitation out there to shoot.

For now, a few more images from the corrida at Villareal, Costa Rica, last weekend. Above, two apparently bored young women who look particularly poignant in B&W. Below, the shield on the boy's shirt says New York City Training 1982. Well, English language tee shirts in Japan make even less sense. Last, the grandstand begins to fill before the show with a fair number of gringos in attendance. The boy on the far left is wearing a New York Mets baseball hat. The man with red horns is selling light-up trinkets to children.

It looks more and more like the portal is out of business. I relied on my Favorties page to scroll through my friends' blogs. I'm starting to reconstruct my own list so I can get back to regular commenting.

Thanks for all the kind comments yesterday on the anniversary post.

Corrida At Villareal 10

Corrida At Villareal 12

Thursday, March 22, 2012

STL DPB's Fifth Anniversary

Carolyn and Bob, by Jilly

This is a daily photo blog and I take it seriously. I can't remember the last time I missed a post but it happened yesterday. After returning from Costa Rica and going back to work I've felt like the coyote in the road runner cartoons - you know, with the 1 ton weight dropped on him. Home from work pretty late yesterday. Carolyn was out and left me some dinner. I pushed it around my plate on the kitchen counter while watching the left wing rant channel on cable (about all I look at when it's not baseball season), then picked up the kitchen. (She cooks, I clean.) After that, up to my desk to write a post. Carolyn found me around midnight fast asleep in my chair, chin drooping down on my chest.

What a way to mark the end of a cycle. St. Louis Daily Photo first waived at the world on March 22, 2007. This is its 1,825th post. Usually I do some silly Photoshop paste-up for these occasions but there's no way I had time this week. So, instead, I'm using a photo about the delights of City Daily Photo. This is a picture of me and my wife of almost 38 years, my best friend, taken last August in Menton, France. It was shot by our dear friend and CDP colleague Jilly Bennett of Menton and Monte Carlo DP. We've met and enjoyed the company of CDPers from the Riviera to Shanghai. It's been a wonderful experience and well worth the work.

Like the Energizer bunny, this will keep going and going, if the Force is with me. Sure hope that CDP itself hasn't gone belly up; it's such a great way to meet good photographers and delightful people (you haven't lived until you've had the full tour of Evry personally conducted by Olivier). I'm hopeful - there is still a (non-working) link to the portal on Eric Tenin's Paris DP, and he ought to know.

The work crush lightens after today. Back to commenting on all your wonderful blogs and new STL material this weekend. Thanks for five years of your comments and encouragement, your art and your friendship.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Children At The Oven Store - Guiatil

One of our favorite places around Tamarindo is the tiny village of Guaitíl, about an hour's drive away. The people are the descendants of the indigenous Chorotega people, who were nearly wiped out by the Spanish. Now it is a center for making exquisite pottery in the ancient tradition. There are more photos in my post of 14 months ago.

I wish I had gotten the names of the sweet children in the top picture. The girl was in my previous post about the village. The man below is their father, Jesús, at work on the hand-operated wheel. The process of collectiong the ingredients, shaping, glazing and firing is an arduous one.

Guaitil 1 (Jesus At The Potter's Wheel 1)

Guaitil 1 (Jesus At The Potter's Wheel 2)

Monday, March 19, 2012

La Corrida

Corrida At Villarreal 6

There was bull riding and bull baiting Saturday night at the corrida and fiesta in the little town of Villareal, just up the road from Tamarindo. It's after midnight as I write this, we just got in from the airport and I'll have to explain all this loco-ness later on Monday.

I've been a little out of touch while in Costa Rica. Can anyone tell me what happened to the portal?

Corrida At Villarreal 8

Corrida At Villarreal 5

Corrida At Villarreal 7

Corrida At Villarreal 9

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Ride Is Over

Sunset Surfer 2

The last wave. We're about to leave for the airport. I will be posting more photos this week. One post will include a video from a wild country rodeo we attended last night. Time to travel now.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pura Vida

Palo Verde 2

Pura vida is the unofficial national motto of Costa Rica. It translates literally as pure life but it means so much more. It's about making the most of what live gives you in a generous and caring way, sort of carpe diem with a warm, soft touch. It is expressed in many ways, including the country's strong commitment to environmental preservation (although not its bad roads). The large national park system is evidence.

We took a day trip yesterday to Palo Verde National Park, which surrounds the Tempisque River. I'm no nature photographer but the subject matter was literally falling out of the trees. These photos are just a part of what I shot yesterday. I will edit more when I can and put them in the growing set of CR pictures on Flickr here.

Today is our last day here. We'll drive to the next village up the road where where there is supposed to be a festival. There may be bull riding or even a bull fight.

I want to take a minute to recommend Carolina's restaurant in Tamarindo. We had dinner there last night and twice when we were here 14 months ago. It's one of our favorite restaurants in the world.
The food is incomparable - I had potato-crusted mahi mahi in a vanilla cream sauce that was simply amazing. Carolina, who received her culinary training in Switzerland, and her staff are the warmest, sweetest people you could meet. Pura vida.

Palo Verde 7

Palo Verde 6

Palo Verde 8

Palo Verde 3

Palo Verde 10

Friday, March 16, 2012

Booze Cruise Revisited

Booze Cruise 8

People who have nothing better to do with their lives than read this blog may recall last year's post from Tamarindo about going out for the afternoon and sunset cruise (known as the booze cruise - open bar) with Blue Dolphin Sailing. It's a lot of fun but a word of warning: you better like Latin pop music played LOUD. It gave me a splitting headache, although that may have been enhanced by the fruit punch with cacique, the local hooch. Someone said it's made from sugar cane and industrial solvents. We're back at the condo now. I put Cosi Fan Tutti on the iPod and things are much better.

In any event, the passengers were young and beautiful, with certain exceptions. Our captain, first below, steered us through some high winds and sea swells. On the way back, the crew started to pull the ladies out to dance, adding to the hilarity.

We've got a day trip today to Palo Verde National Park and the village of Guaitil. So many pictures, so little time.

Booze Cruise 6

Booze Cruise 3

Booze Cruise 5

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lush Tropics In Black And White

Playa Braslito 1

The tropics are full of color. Things made by people exaggerate the effect. However, some images look better stripped to their essentials of shape and tone. I found this to be true even here.

Above, jet skis ready to go on Playa Brasilita, up the coast. Below, some of the forest of wind turbines on the gusty west coast of Lake Nicaragua; little sea kayaks for rent on Playa Tamarindo; massage on the beach; and sunset, surfers and sailboats.

Sorry I'm not leaving any comments this week. Our days and evenings are packed with slow-moving action and, after editing pix and writing posts, there isn't much spare time. I must have some distant link to sharks: if I stopped moving I would perish. ¿Un poco loco, no?

By the way, there are a lot more pix from Costa Rica and Nicaragua in a set on Flickr here, with more to come.

WInd Farm Lake Nicaragua 1 BW

On Tamarindo Beach 6

On Tamarindo Beach 4

On Tamarindo Beach 7

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Lake Nicaragua

Boating On Lake Nicaragua 3

Another late post. This has not been a relaxing trip so far. I was sitting on the sofa last night editing photos and fell sound asleep. Time to wake up and do nothing! Well not exactly. We plan to drive north up the coast and look in on some other villages and beaches.

These shots are from our boat ride on Lake Nicaragua that I mentioned yesterday. Monkeys are not native to the little islands. This island and house are owned by a veterinarian who imported a few and has special food delivered to them daily. Not all the homes are opulent. Even a small volcanic lump can support a small house (people do run electric cables out to them).

It was a fascinating half hour. On your way back to the dock, though, don't forget the boatman.

Boating On Lake Nicaragua 2

Boating On Lake Nicaragua 4

Boating On Lake Nicaragua 1

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Nicaraguan flower

Exhausting, fascinating day trip to Nicaragua yesterday. It was not what I expected. Got back to Tamarindo last night, had a bit to eat and fell into a deep, tropical sleep. These are some first edits.

I expected the country to be rather scary from the alarming travelers advice page published by the U.S. State Department. We only saw a bit of it, but it looked at least as prosperous as Costa Rica and the roads were way better. Edwin, a law student from the town of Rivas who was our excellent guide, said that English and dancing were compulsory in the schools. However, he also told us that the economy is dependent on exports to the U.S. so when things are down for us, Nicaragua suffers.

We took a boat ride out of the beautifully preserved colonial town of Granada, about 30 miles from Managua, on vast Lake Nicaragua. That part of the lake is full of small islands that were literally blown out of the nearby
Concepción Volcano. That's a frightening concept - great chunks of lava big enough to become islands hurtlinng through the sky. Edwin picked something from a low-hanging tree that looked like a long, waxy bean, spread it open and revealed the flower in the top picture. Many locals will only get married when it is in bloom.

He told us that public transportation is bad. Many vehicles, like the one below, are former Texas school buses. There is a state law that they can only be in service ten years. The Nicaraguans buy them, fix them up and use then until they disintegrate. If the inside is full, people ride on the back or top.

Next, some local industry. A woman rolls fine, hand-made cigars and a sugar cane truck lumbers down the road. They grow three crops of sugar a year. Some of it is used for
Flor de Caña rum, their highest quality.

The following two pictures are of Masaya Volcano, near Granada and Managua. It is active in the sense that it emits gas and occasionally some chunks, although the last big blow was in 1772. Vehicles must park facing the way out in case a hasty retreat is needed. Edwin told us to spend not more than ten minutes at the overlook because of the sulfurous gasses. We followed his advice but still felt the sting in our lungs for another hour.

The man in the bottom photo is Daniel Ortega, the former Sandinista dictator and now elected president of the republic. The center-right had controlled the government for some years after Ortega was ousted, leading to a period of political stability and growth. However, that party split in two (Edwin said that the Sandinistas planted fifth-columnists in it to push the break-up) and Ortega was re-elected. This summary is simplistic; you might want to look at the link on his name.

Today is a lazy day, nothing scheduled. As I've mentioned, I don't do nothing well. I'll probably edit some more pictures of Nicaragua.

Public Transport In Nicaragua

Cigar Rollers In Granada 2

Sugar Cane Truck

Masaya Volcano 1

Masaya Volcano 2

Meet Daniel Ortega