Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beat The Heat

Kiener Plaza Fountain 2013-08-24

Holy bleepers, it got hot around here. One of the nice things about downtown is that the city lets anybody splash around in the fountains and pools of Kiener Plaza and Citygarden. Can you imagine that in the fountains of Trafalgar Square of the Trevi in Rome?               

Friday, August 30, 2013

An African Storyteller

2013 International Festival 8

More pix from the International Festival. This animated woman was telling African folk tales. I confess, though, that I was paying more attention to the images than the story. It that true of many photographers? By concentrating on the photographs you may miss the experience.

The young woman to the speaker's left gave punctuation to the story with a rhythm instrument that I think was made from a gourd.
2013 International Festival 7

2013 International Festival 5

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Arch Series

Arch and Old Courthouse 2013-08-24 1

Something different for a change. Downtown St. Louis in all its radiant glory.

There is a high rise (by our standards) Hilton hotel between my office and the baseball stadium. A couple of years ago they added a glass-walled bar and restaurant on the top, called Three Sixty. Some of it, particularly the side facing the stadium, is open to the sky. Never been there but an old friend is in town and we decided to try it for lunch on Saturday.

The views are great (again, by our standards. This ain't NY or SF). This shot looks east toward the Arch and the Mississippi. The neoclassical building in the lower left is what we call The Old Courthouse. It has quite a history and has been beautifully restored by the National Park Service. Technically, it's in the same park as the Arch.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Poor People of Paris

2013 International Festival 4

I wasn't happy with the overall quality of my shots from the International Festival but today I'll let the music communicate: Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris, French chanson with a jazz twist.

By the way, back to a Thursday Arch post tomorrow. It's a different one.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Feeling Hot?

2013 International Festival 2

If so, there's good reason. At the end of a surprisingly mild summer St. Louis is back in the boiler. High temps this week are in the upper 90s F., roughly 35 - 37 C. 

These young volunteers were peddling drinks at the International Festival. They don't look old enough to sell the beer and margarita mix I see on the table. When I asked the young lady in the top pic whether she was a Yankees fan, as I was when young, she told me they were all given the hats just that morning. Couldn't whoever was buying at least have given them St. Louis Cardinals caps? After last night's action, our beloved Cards have moved back into first place in their division.                    

2013 International Festival 3

Monday, August 26, 2013

Eat International

2013 International Festival 1

Our International Festival has a long, long line of tents serving munchies from around the world. I got there to shoot at opening time yesterday and bought an Israeli pastry, a chunk of cheddar baked inside a small roll of challah bread. When Carolyn went later she had a Bosnian lunch and brought home Afghani for dinner. I don't think we have a big Burmese population here but they were enthusiastic. Their cuisine smelled wonderful.

Below, a very short video showing how tempt people into trying something new.                    

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Om . . .

Tibetan Monks 1

Exiled Tibetan monks on stage at the International Festival in Tower Grove Park.  It seems almost sacrilegious to call it a performance. It seemed even worse to amplify their sounds and play them through huge loudspeakers. My reaction is influenced, I'm sure, by having had the great privilege of visiting some of their brothers back home

It was too hot and too crowded to shoot for long. May try to get back there when it opens this morning.                      

Tibetan Monks 2

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Citygarden 2013-08-07 8

Pause. Enough baby pictures for a while. She'll be around a long time and back here soon.

The problem is I'm out of material. Horrible week at work, plus that pleasant little arrival you've been seeing. So, a placeholder. This woman appears to be the official guardian of Citygarden, about to proclaim thou shalt not pass. Got my eye, anyway.

Out shooting at the International Festival today.                           

Friday, August 23, 2013

Baby's Hands, Grandmother's Hand

2013-08-22 Madeline 1

Baby Photography 101 continues. Hope I'm not boring everyone. Indoor flash photography is not one of my top skills so the lighting effects here are not exactly intentional. Nevertheless, the color and lighting remind me of 15th-16th Century Dutch portraiture (there's self-congratulation at its best). This was taken last night after Madeleine and my daughter came home. It was Emily's 37th birthday, too. Here, the emphasis in on Madeleine's hands and Grandma Crowe's hand.

Some variation soon. The Lou is about to start an annual string of festivals - the International Festival this weekend in Tower Grove Park; the Japanese Festival (konichiwa!) in the botanical garden over Labor Day weekend; and the Hispanic Festival downtown the weekend after that. Only problem is the first two get so crowded it's hard to shoot.                  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Don't Let The Bugs Get In Your Mouth

2013-08-13 Madeleine 3

What, bored already?

Below, dad, mom and baby share a quiet moment. Son-in-law Brian pours a toast with Taittinger La Francaise, the official champagne of St. Louis Daily Photo (although C de Q has told me I could do better) and, last, Emily and Brian, Carolyn and I have a swig.

I read my granddaughter her first story at the hospital last night - of course, one of the Madeline series - and asked her to remember that the first city she heard about was Paris. We took some video on my DSLR. I don't do video but if I can figure out iMovie we'll have a clip soon.

So sorry about the lack of comments. I'm a bit preoccupied. And not just her - some intense stuff going on at work. What perfect timing.                       

2013-08-13 Madeleine 4

2013-08-13 Madeleine 5

2013-08-13 Madeleine 6

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Madeleine Horrocks

2013-08-13 Madeleine 1

The announcement, at last. My first grandchild, born to my daughter Emily and her husband Brian at 4:50 AM on August 20, 2013. Three and a half hours old in these shots. She's perfect. Mother and daughter doing wonderfully.

Lots more of this to come, I can assure you. And my first try at baby photography. Lots to learn.                   

2013-08-13 Madeleine 2

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Cranes While We Wait

Paper Cranes on Art Hill 5

Some of you who know me well have figured out what this announcement business is about.  Well, not yet. So, then, some more paper cranes from Art Hill. You can see the art museum in both photos and the monumental statue The Apotheosis of Saint Louis in the second.       

Paper Cranes on Art Hill 3

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Thousand Paper Cranes

Something unusual happened in Forest Park yesterday. A thousand or more origami cranes appeared on Art Hill, filling the greensward with gestures of flight and peace, yet ever so tethered to the earth. It was a memorial for police and firefighters who died in the line of duty and a benefit for their families. The event was organized by The STL Crane Project. Visitors could take home a crane for a donation and you can see how the flock was thinning by late afternoon. Walking across the hill taking pictures felt otherworldly.

There may be a major announcement tomorrow. Maybe.                        

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fork In The Road

Fork In The Road 1

Getting on and getting off the main highway viaduct over the Mississippi, known locally as the Poplar Street Bridge. The direction is from Illinois to Missouri.

This blog promises the occasional rant, and they are very occasional indeed. But there can be the occasional rave. Our wonderful little summer opera company, Union Avenue Opera, is doing an ambitious Ring Cycle over four years. It's a "reduced" version for small companies and houses (UAO plays in a church with a semicircular auditorium and good acoustics). This summer's offering is Die Walküre, which we attended last night. O M G. This was the most intense, brilliant performance on the musical stage this town has seen since I don't know when. The long, tender final scene with Brünnhilde and Wotan actually brought tears to these cynical old eyes. We're going back again next weekend. If you're around The Lou and you like opera, you gotta catch this one. St. Louis Post-Dispatch review here.

Fork In The Road 2

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Visual Memory

Freddie's Market

Freddie's Market is a neighborhood grocery store just steps from my home in Webster Groves. Freddie's son, Larry, and his wife, Kathy, own it now. Our sons were close friends in elementary school. I've driven or walked by this place a thousand times. It's just part of my enviornment.

So last weekend I was wandering abound in one of those I'm bored, I have no ideas but damn I need some pictures moods. I drove by the store lit with beautiful late afternoon sun. The graphic strength and simplicity reminded me of art based on words, numerals and symbols like the Demuth 5, the work of Robert Indiana and the person who is probably my favorite contemporary artist, Jenny Holzer. The medium is the message and vice versa.                       

Friday, August 16, 2013

Over The Western Wall

Busch Stadium and Downtown 2013-08-14

Wednesday night's baseball game began a little before sunset. After I took the photo in yesterday's post I went to the western side of the upper level and shot some more.

This one has a nice mix of old and new architecture. The tall building on the left is the federal courthouse (for the lawyers - USDC E.D. Mo plus the 8th Circuit). The red brick building below it and running into the center is an old warehouse that's been converted into a beautiful Westin Hotel. If you look closely you can see a station of our light rail system at bottom center. The tower in the background at right center, over the brick turret of the stadium, is where our firm is located.

By the way, our Cardinals took Thursday's game from the division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in 12 innings. The Cards took two of the three games in an important series, leaving them two games behind with a month and a half of the season to go. The Cardinals are the state religion around here.                        

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Arch Series

Busch Stadium 2013-08-14

The family went to the Cardinals baseball game last night. The home town heroes got thwacked  so the evening, although gorgeous,  was not happy.

This is the view from the front of the upper deck right behind home plate. Note the image of the Arch mowed into the outfield (for international readers: the back of the grassy area).                   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Every Picture Tells A Story

Joe Boxer

Found just inside the plate steel walls of the Twain sculpture. I invite readers to tell a little story, just two or three sentences, about how and why these objects came to rest here.              

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mellow Yellow, Citygarden

Mellow Yellow, Citygarden
Okay, anyone old enough to remember that one raise your hand. (Geez, it was popular when I was a senior in high school but lives on in certain circles.) Still wandering around with the fisheye. Serra's Twain and Citygarden are across the street from one another.  That's one of Tom Classen's Two Rabbits in the middle background.                         

Monday, August 12, 2013


Twisted Courthouse

I made it back downtown with the fisheye lens. To complicate matters, I shot HDRs with it, something I've never tried. 

The top image is an old (by American standards) courthouse that gets great light in the late afternoon reflected from the windows of the building across the street. You can see a bit of it in the extreme warp at the top left.

The second picture was taken in exactly the same place as yesterday's lead pic, just different lens and digital technique. Note the weird digital noise outside the circle of the image. That area was theoretically dark, as the fisheye should have kept all the light within the circle. What you see in there was created by Photomatix, the HDR software. Kinda cool. I blacked it out in the top photo and left it in the second. Which do you prefer?

I've been terrible about comments. Too damn much work, with some special business planning issues on the table right now. On the current schedule, retirement is 43 months away. Maybe I should start a countdown clock.                                    

Inside Twain

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lie On Your Back And Look At The Sky

Serra's Twain !

Screw on a wide angle lens and a polarizing filter. Put yourself right in the middle of Richard Serra's Twain downtown. Be willing to get dirty. Push the shutter button a few times.

I want to go back and try this again with my fisheye lens.                                 

Serra's Twain 2

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In The Good Old Summertime

Citygarden 2013-08-07 5

One nice thing  about Citygarden is the water features. Children and their parents are welcome to splash through them, surprising in today's world of liability insurance and litigation. Such a scene on an August day needs an ice cream truck.

I am so low on material. What's going on around here?                         

Citygarden 2013-08-07 6

Citygarden 2013-08-07 7

Friday, August 9, 2013

OnSTL: Less Than 15 Minutes Of Fame

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.
Andy Warhol

Andy overestimated it. I got 3 minutes 49 seconds.

There's a really good local website here, It's about life in St. Louis, its people, its events, its vibe. A couple of times a week they have a feature called Hello, St. Louis!, a visit with a St. Louisan who brings something unusual to the scene. For reasons best known to them, today's subject is me.

The photos below are of Ron Stevens and his wife Joy Grdnic, the principal owners, Grant Murphy, the videographer, and Ric Anthony, the studio engineer. They're all delightful people and the visit was a lot of fun. Looks like they may run a photo of the month from St. Louis Daily Photo.

OnSTL is a great resource for locals. You can sign up for their newsletter here.

OnSTL 1 Ron Stevens

OnSTL 2 Joy Grdnic

OnSTL 4 Rik Anthony
OnSTL 3 Grant Murphy

Thursday, August 8, 2013

That Lady Has A Hot Embouchure

Citygarden Concert 2013-08-07 1

I'm out of touch with so much in my community. I work, work some more, take pictures, edit pictures, tend the blog, have dinner with my wife and fall asleep. Barely use Facebook and have no interest in Twitter. So I can get disconnected.

Fortunately, Mrs. C is just the opposite. She keeps me in the loop. Carolyn told me that there was a series of Wednesday lunch time concerts in Citygarden. Who knew? Today's main performer was Dawn Webber, one of the hottest trumpeters in town. We've heard her before. The performance was terrific, a perfect way to break up an overloaded morning and overwhelming afternoon at the office.     

Citygarden Concert 2013-08-07 3a

Citygarden Concert 2013-08-07 2

Citygarden Concert 2013-08-07 4

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Big Suds

Brewery 2013-08-04 1

A few years ago when Mrs. C and I visited Tibet, our plane landed outside Lhasa. Our group went to lunch at a little restaurant nearby. The first advertising sign I saw in the Tibetan countryside was for Budweiser. The picture of a beer can said "Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis MO USA." 

Not sure why I've posted few pictures of one of The Lou's most famous institutions. Maybe because I don't drink much beer (and when I do it's usually the main local microbrew, not the maxibrew). Maybe it's because the place isn't that photogenic except for this iconic sign. Management recently tore down the decades-old neon sign and replaced it with an energy-efficient LED version.

There are some bizarre decorative details scattered around. The beast below looks like a wolf in German garb, gnawing a bone with a stein of Bud at the ready. Does this say something about the taste of the designers and perhaps the taste of the beer?                     

Brewery 2013-08-04 2

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dream On


There is no national lottery in the U.S., unlike most of Europe. But 44 of our states have one, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. An American variation is that groups of states have joint lotteries, making the jackpots much higher. Powerball and Mega Millions are the big ones.

This sign tells us that the Powerball jackpot is up to $400 million. That creates frenzy and the amount can rise quickly. Of course, your chances of winning are less than the odds of being hit by lightning X dying in a commercial airplane crash X being thrown into an active volcano by malicious Mesoamerican priests. Plus they cheat here: if you win you don't get that amount of money. The $400 mil is the sum of annuity payments over 20 years. If you want all the money now you get much less. Plus it's taxable. Some people call lotteries a tax on the stupid.

The second sign is for a local hospital, actually a very good one. I find it appalling that American hospitals - and sometimes individual doctors - feel the need to advertise and are permitted to do so. Guess who pays the marketing costs in the end. Another aspect of American healthcare, the most screwed up in the industrialized world.       

Monday, August 5, 2013

All You Need Is Love

Citygarden 2013-08-03 1

John Lennon said that all you need is love. Last Friday's post told us that love is the answer. Who better to personify love than Eros, Greek god of the same? Igor Mitoraj's Eros Bendato (Eros Bound) is probably the most popular sculpture in Citygarden. The plinth is a gently sloping circle with water trickling down the surface. It is hollow - you can climb inside through the neck and kids can peek out through the eyes. It looks like something natural - sort of.

But then you have to try to understand it.  Was Eros bandaged or were his eyes and mouth deliberately covered at another time? Is it about repression of vision and speech, injury or perhaps death of love? And what's with that notch in the neck? And why are the eyes empty? (Greek sculpture used plain spheres for eyes. The Romans introduced carved irises and pupils. This is neither.)

I'm just askin'.                             

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Long View

Citygarden 2013-08-03 4

When I'm unmotivated and out of ideas Citygarden is always good for a few images. It's four years now since it opened and even has its own iPhone app.

Most of the sculptures challenge the viewer. None are pretty; all require thought. So what's with Erwin Wurm's Big Suit? Headless, ludicrous in pink, standing on a formal pedestal like a hero. Read it as you will but read it closely. Personally, I wonder if it is making fun of all the businessmen and women in the surrounding office towers. Headless, eyeless, pompous, attempting to gaze over downtown with no chance of vision.                      

Citygarden 2013-08-03 5