Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I DIDN'T KNOW WE HAD CHERRY TREES


I drive down the street in front of the Old Courthouse every day on my way home from work and never before noticed these cherry trees in Kiener Plaza. The whole place was re-done about three years ago so maybe the trees are new.  The park will become more delightful as the years pass and the trees grow.

There is a beautiful grove of cherry trees along the tidal basin in Washington DC, a gift from Japan, but I've never seen them in person. However, Mrs. C and I have walked through the many blossoming pathways of Kyoto and it is an experience not to be forgotten. Glad we're getting a touch of it here.
         

Monday, March 30, 2020

in Just-


in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and

         the

                  goat-footed

balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee
                               e e cummungs
                            Chansons Innocentes



Sunday, March 29, 2020

PLEASE


Entrance to the closed cinema at the grand old Chase Park Plaza Hotel, Lindell Boulevard and Kingshighway.

The hotel is adjacent to Forest Park, which I drove through a moment later. The flowering trees have exploded in the last two days. Saturday, when I took this, was drizzly. Sunday should be sunny and I will go back to see their glory.

           

Saturday, March 28, 2020

NO DISTANCE


I am staying clear of everybody except my family. If I go to a park I keep my distance. (Being upwind is a plus.) Not everybody is conscious of this, though.

There is a small park downtown where homeless people congregate. As I drove by Thursday I noticed how closely they were gathered. It is heartbreaking on many levels and something I thought should be documented so I took a quick shot. To avoid voyeurism I edited the picture in B&W, soft focus and added noise. Our colleague Rockenon Ldn, a retired press photographer, can tell us if this is appropriate.           

Friday, March 27, 2020

KEEP YOUR MONEY IN YOUR POCKET


Possibly the only good that has come of the virus shutdown. I have described St. Louis in these pages as Little-Las Vegas-On-Mississippi. (And the Missouri, too.) There are five good-sized casino-hotels ringing the metro area. When this was first legalized the casinos literally had to be riverboats, you know, actually floating. Now they only have to be kinda sorta near the rivers, allowing for much bigger operations.

Lumiere Place, a big one, is just north of downtown. The complex has a very expensive Four Seasons Hotel. I know there are people who who like it and can control their spending, but, like the lottery, I've always thought casinos were ethically indefensible, preying on the most vulnerable. But, hey, this is America! Business ethics are an oxymoron.

Note from the Language Police: shouldn't the verb in the next to last line be "are"? Or does the whole place consider itself a collective noun?               

Thursday, March 26, 2020

THURSDAY ARCH SERIES


Haven't been to the big wicket in a while. It's hard to find something new after photographing it for so many years. This shot was taken on last weekend's photo blitz. The technique, though, is an old trick I discovered when I got my first DSLR in 2005. If you get just the right angle of the setting sun on the stainless steel skin, the result is a lightening-like arc of light. Expose for that and everything else goes dark. I actually lightened the original PSD file with masks to bring some color back.             

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

FIGHT LONELINESS

Before our not-very-strict stay at home order went into effect, I went cruising around town hoarding photographs like some people amass toilet paper. As I drove by the front of the closed art museum I did a double take. 

Across the lane, under the statue of St. Louis, I met David. He had quit his job as an emergency medical technician (!) a few weeks ago, spent some time out on Missouri's Ozark trails, came home and decided not to be a hermit. He had set up a folding table full of granola bars and other snacks along with an ice bucket of flavored sparkling water. He was asking a dollar for them, implying he had gotten them for less at Sam's, but was giving them away on Monday. Then there was this display.

I still had lots of questions but other people walked by and engaged him. Why did he quit his important job? What motivated him to set up this display? What is he going to do with himself now? I hope he stays well.        

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

AS IF THE VIRUS WASN'T ENOUGH


The Mississippi is approaching flood stage. It's not supposed to get too high on this round but there is plenty of time for more and higher crests.  


Monday, March 23, 2020

MADELEINE MONDAY


Need to perk things up a little. We got a bit of snow yesterday. Ellie thinks that few things are more amusing than catching snowflakes on her tongue. And, FWIW, that's not a halo around her head. It's a Toyota hubcap.          

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A SOMBER 13TH ANNIVERSARY


Today is the thirteenth anniversary of St. Louis Daily Photo. It's not a time for celebration although I have posted pictures almost every day. The missed days were due to being in remote locations without Wifi or severe work overload. This is the 4,648th post. 

We represent the occasion with an elevator button in my office building, which I touch only with my cuff or a paper towel, and a street sign in lonely downtown. STL begins a stay at home order tomorrow, although we can go out to food stores, pharmacies, medical appointments and getting curb delivery meals from restaurants. We can even go out for a walk. How this affects my blog depends on how long isolation lasts.          


Saturday, March 21, 2020

EMPTY


Kiener Plaza downtown late yesterday afternoon, without a soul in sight. We are not on mandatory isolation but there is no place to go, nothing to do. It struck me as I was driving around that a high proportion of the people I did see were evidently homeless. The cruelest form of social distancing.         

Friday, March 20, 2020

EMERGENCY


A fuzzy, through-the-windshield shot of the entrance to the emergency department at St. Louis University Hospital. I didn't want to get out of the car with my big lens because these days it might attract unwanted attention. Don't go here unless a doctor has already told you to.       

Thursday, March 19, 2020

CALM


We could all use some. Legal tip for Americans: do you have your advance care directive and durable power of attorney in order in case you can't make your own decisions? Free forms are widely available online. Your state bar association's web site is a good place to look.       

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

RELIEF AND REFRESHMENT


I'm not out on the street much these days, mostly home to office and back, making it hard to get material. My neighborhood isn't very visually interesting (although I could try harder). There are lots more orchid pictures but I thought I would give you a break. This is at the botanical garden. You can get relief, steal a roll of toilet paper and get a little pick-me-up all in one stop.

Sunday is the thirteenth anniversary of this endeavor. What can I find that is worthy of the occasion?          

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

YOU WOULDN'T KNOW THEY WERE ORCHIDS


Trying to think of better, stable times. Not getting crazed but I'm pretty high risk. My rheumatologist called yesterday and said she doesn't want me around more than 10 people and doesn't want me to go in stores, period. So let's be calmly meditative. 

The association I get with this image is the corps de ballet, softly dancing and softly seen, after maybe a second glass of wine at intermission.      

Monday, March 16, 2020

WHICH DO YOU PREFER?


More from the bumper crop of orchid photos. It's so difficult to decide which to select. Then, even with my mid grade Photoshop skills, there are so many ways to interpret the raw image. It's sort of like looking at sheet music of something you will perform in public and deciding how you will make it sound. Do you prefer the color or the B&W?          


Sunday, March 15, 2020

MACRO


I got some decent pictures at the orchid show last weekend but too many of them had poor focus. For the many years I shot with Canon 5D series cameras there was a solution - macro lenses. They are designed to focus from a very short distance so you can get great close-ups. My Canon phase ended because my decrepit frame couldn't take the considerable weight. Now I shoot lighter and smaller Fujifilm X-T cameras but I didn't have a lens that got way in close.

So I blew a wad (well, not a big one) and got a FF macro lens this week. Mrs. C and I went back to the orchid show yesterday and, wow, what a difference. I've got images that might last until toilet paper is back in the stores. (None in the local supermarket today but two local restaurants are giving out a free roll with every take out order. Brilliant.) 

These examples look like vicious little monsters, don't they?               

Saturday, March 14, 2020

HOW'S YER EPIPHYTE?


Well, our big St. Patrick's Day parade, always held on the preceding Saturday, is off. So is the small, crazier one held on the day itself. Minor problem given the big picture these days, but there is a scarcity of photo material as well as toilet paper. (None of that in the local Target today.)

But the orchid show is still on at the botanical garden. I went by myself last Sunday and may go back with Mrs. C, depending on how strictly we're social spacing. Pretty photographs are not usually my thing but these are irresistible. It's counter-intuitive but carefully made B&Ws produce some of the most intense images. No question that the monochrome flower pictures of Robert Mapplethorpe are a big influence.

       

Friday, March 13, 2020

ARCHED WINDOWS


The setting in the second floor of the St. Louis Art Museum. The arched windows overlook the central great hall and you can see the one on the other side. The placard on the left of the pedestal shows the artwork that inspired the floral arrangement, in this case a white marble statue.

THE LOCAL SITUATION - we have one confirmed COVID-19 case in St. Louis, a student who just returned from Italy, and two in the State of Missouri. St. Louis City and County just banned all public gatherings of more than 1,000 people. (500 is safe?) We were to attend a big fundraising dinner and auction for an arts group tonight and it's off. The symphony is canceled for the weekend (we had tickets). Our small law office is open but our desks are all more than 2 meters apart. We are changing all client meetings to phone calls. There are contingency plans if most of us have to work from home. I'm getting all of us burner phones so we can call clients without having our personal phone numbers on Caller ID. Hoping for the best and preparing for trouble. 

PS: moments ago, St. Louis County prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people. St. Louis City and County are separate political entities but the City should follow along shortly.    

Thursday, March 12, 2020

SOUTHBOUND END OF A NORTHBOUND HORSE


The caption is sort of rude regional expression, or I presume it is. Never heard it until I transferred to the Midwest from the Northeast. It's easy to get the meaning.

This is the monumental statue of St. Louis seen here many times before, taken from inside the art museum during the Art In Bloom show. And, yes, his majesty is facing north.         

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A WISP OF SMOKE


I don't remember which work of art this arrangement was associated with. Too much distraction from the crowds, trying to find lines of sight and getting a good exposure. I like the asymmetry from this POV. The twisted branch off to the left makes me think of a jet of soot shooting off from a furnace.        

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

WAS IST LOS, DEUTSCHLAND?


The German artist Anselm Kiefer seems preoccupied with the dark side of technology and his country's history. The work in the background, Burning Rods, refers to the legend of Osiris, the Cernobyl meltdown and a generally dystopian view (although a German business magazine ranked him among the thousand richest people in the country). You need a precis to find your way through it.

The arrangement in front won first prize in the show. You can hardly call it floral. It's barely organic.     

Monday, March 9, 2020

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE ART MUSEUM


Another example of the creative floral designs at Art In Bloom. Both the painting and the arrangement respond to a literal sensory experience, transforming it through the perception of an artist.            

Sunday, March 8, 2020

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL


This country's bizarre process of choosing a president rolls on. Mrs. C and I supported Elizabeth Warren and were sad about the way things turned out. We are Democrats and despise the incumbent but now we must choose between imperfect alternatives. Joe Biden was in town yesterday. I wanted to photograph the event but I also wanted to see and hear whether he was, well, in full control of his faculties.

He was. His speech was articulate, engaged and moving. There is a biggish set of state primaries this Tuesday and Missouri is one of them. Biden has many problems but we expect to vote for him. Although many of our friends and a member of our family vigorously disagree, Sanders is unacceptable to us, although we agree with some of his positions; he is so shrill, so uncompromising, so impractical. Bernie visits here Monday morning. We shall see how things turn out.         




Saturday, March 7, 2020

ART IN BLOOM


Here's a good example of how the Art In Bloom show works. The museum staff selected thirty works of art from throughout the galleries and invited a like number of floral arrangers. Each of them was to create something in the spirit of the artwork. Here a dark, moody seascape that inspired a wild arrangement with the colors of sea and sky.           

Friday, March 6, 2020

WHAT BECAME OF PHOTOGRAPHY


The St. Louis Art Museum has a wildly popular event at this time of year called Art In Bloom. Thirty master flower arrangers are invited to create a piece in response to one  of the artworks. The results are striking. The show is Friday to Sunday, as long as the flowers will last, and on weekend afternoons it's just mobbed.

The museum had a members-only viewing early this morning. Mrs. C and I went at opening time and it was already busy. What struck me were the scores of people taking pictures on their phones. I was the only person staggering around with two fancy camera bodies, one of which had an f2.8 telephoto lens that is so heavy I thought I was dragging a fire hose. Not that you can't take good pictures on a phone. I use my phone camera, too. It's just that some of us keep up this snobby sense of craft.

Many pictures of the flowers to come. There's a political event downtown Saturday morning - Missouri and some other states have primaries on Tuesday -  that I want to shoot.       

Thursday, March 5, 2020

THURSDY ARCH SERIES


A dark day in Kiener Plaza, looking east across the strange checkerboard pattern in the pavement. The place was empty but the forecast for the next three days is all sunshine with spring-like temperatures. That should bring lots of opportunities, including an unusual event Saturday we'll get back to.                           

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

REPOSE


A cloudy, quiet winter afternoon in Citygarden, our two-block long downtown sculpture park. Laura Ford's Bird looks like it has its own seat, while Aristide Maillol's La Riviere seems to have taken a tumble. If, like me, the figure was wearing an Apple Watch it would start beeping and display in red and white "DID YOU FALL?" If you don't respond within 30 seconds it starts sending out emergency calls. Think of the infamous "I've fallen and I can't get up" TV ads. I just tell mine to shut up, I've just plopped on the bed.            

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

SKATER


I was wandering around Kiener Plaza downtown Sunday afternoon looking for something to shoot. It was gloomy and I didn't have an idea in my head. Then a group of young men with skateboards came by. This one hopped up on a stone wall about six feet high and a foot wide (just visible in the lower left), zoomed into a gap of three or four feet to the next section (not visible here), landed smoothy and then swooped off the end onto the sidewalk with aplomb. I was stunned and asked if I could photograph him doing it again. He was happy to oblige. I showed him some of the shots afterward and he gave me a fist bump. Made me feel cool.            

Monday, March 2, 2020

MADELEINE MONDAY


We usually take the kid on some kind of outing on Saturday. There are plenty of choices here. This weekend we went to the St. Louis Science Center, a technical fun zone for children. This big drum/treadmill powers a screw that lifts colored balls into what some people call a Rube Goldberg machine (here's a really good one). Ellie isn't very big and she had to work hard but she got the job done.

           

Sunday, March 1, 2020

CITY DAILY PHOTO MARCH THEME DAY - MUNICIPAL BUILDING


St. Louis City Hall was was completed in 1898. The architecture is said to be inspired by Paris' Hôtel de Ville. If you look at pictures of the latter you can see a resemblance, although the one in Paris is quite a bit bigger and ours is more colorful. It could use a restoration - if you look closely you can see window air conditioners - but this is not a city with money to spare. Still, it is an eye-catching downtown landmark.