Wednesday, June 30, 2021


The very peak of the old building that houses the City Museum, perhaps 15 stories over the street. I suppose that's a praying mantis on top, perhaps beseeching the gods to find the Cardinals some pitchers who can throw strikes. You can reach the top of this dome by one of the museum's innumerable climbing tubes but there is also a ramp that comes up from the back.That's son Andy standing  in the center, holding grandson Atlas. Daughter-in-law Claire is to Andy's left. No idea who that guy is waving at the world.                            

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


For no apparent reason, the City Museum has added a small tractor to one of its open spaces since my last visit. Children like to sit on it and work the wheels and levers. Ellie seems to be taking this seriously. After all, one of her grandmothers grew up on a farm. While Audrey shares the same heritage, she would rather climb on all the protrusions for the fun of it.             

Monday, June 28, 2021


Thunderstorms passed through the area off and on all weekend while the Michigan division of our family was here to visit. One evening Mrs. C and I watched the kids while our son and his wife went to dinner with an old friend. Another line of storms blew across, leaving this view from their Air BnB apartment when the sun returned.         

Sunday, June 27, 2021


Television viewers of a certain age (well, candidly, old Americans) may remember The Patty Duke show from the 60s. The premise was that the daughters of identical twin brothers were, well, identical cousins.  MICrowe Audrey and MOCrowe Ellie aren't quite identical, although Audrey's mother bought them matching dresses. They are almost exactly two years apart in age but Ellie is only a little taller and they are the best of friends. They favor the same hairstyle. Here they are patiently waiting to board the  Ferris wheel on the roof of the City Museum.                


Saturday, June 26, 2021


My son and his family live in central Michigan, a 10 hour drive from here with gas and kid breaks. We don't get to see them enough but they made the long trip down here this weekend. The postal abbreviation for Michigan is MI. It's MO for Missouri. Clever Andy refers to his division as MICrowes and ours as MOCrowes.

So we all went to the Magic House, STL's children's museum yesterday morning. OMG was it crowded. At some point part of the family made it to their Van der Graff generator. MICrowe Audrey, almost 6, had no fear. Great phone cam shot by daughter Emily.

The first time we saw a Van der Graff generator was at the Deutches Muzeum in Munich, at least 30 years ago. We expect to be there in September but, with the passage of time, I don't have enough hair to be worth a try.           

Friday, June 25, 2021


This patio is a few steps away from Nature Playscape we've seen lately. It's at the back of a hilltop pavillion that's been preserved from the 1904 World's Fair. (We also had the Olympics that year. We used to be somebody.) The turtle hasn't made any progress that I've noticed. It was designed by Bob Cassilly, the late mad genius who founded our wacky City Museum. We are taking the grandkids there Saturday and there should be plenty of images.                  

Thursday, June 24, 2021



The infrared pictures I've been posting look strange, but I suppose that's the point. I decided to drop back into the visible spectrum in the same venue. I wouldn't stick my nose this close to a bee, even though this one is tiny, but I'm not so worried using my lens.

We will be back to more typical material soon. Our Michigan grandchildren, whom we see all too seldom, will be in town for a few days, and we're doing the grand tour of St. Lou kid stuff.                             

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


Another infrared image from the Nature Playscape in Forest Park. Someone on a Facebook group I belong to said this looks like a winter late afternoon after snow has cleared. Well, that's dumb luck. I usually don't go for pretty but this has its charms.          

Tuesday, June 22, 2021



There is a new, or at least repurposed, area in Forest park called Nature Playscape, Its web page says that it is an

experiential play space with natural landscapes . . . featuring distinct activity areas,  include[ing] sand play areas, willow tunnels, stump steppers, boulders and rocks, hand water pumps and much more. The goal: Encourage visitors — especially kids — to connect with nature as they engage their senses as they explore, discover and learn.  

I took Ellie there a couple of weeks ago and she was bored. We think it's not so great as a children's play area but a beautiful place for adults to wander in a carefully curated recreation of Midwestern meadows and woods. Parts of it deserve close visual attention. 

Another infrared shot obviously.          



Monday, June 21, 2021


A little exercise you sometimes see in books about the nature of consciousness poses the question "what is it like to be a bat?" Your vision is weak and you navigate through space with a version of sonar, using systems alien to humans. There are lots of animals that see and hear wavelengths we cannot. Infrared photography offers a peek behind the curtain and teaches us about the limits of our perception.           

Sunday, June 20, 2021


The only time I've ever been to Greece we visited an Orthodox church. If I remember correctly, there was a screen or wall across the area that Catholics call the sanctuary. There were things present and things that happened both in front and behind, a religious metaphor for the spiritual seen and unseen. I thought it was very poetic.

Infrared photography is kind of like that. The shapes, sizes and perspective are what we know in everyday life.  However, the light itself is something we literally can't see but is absolutely there. I don't know how the camera records it as something our eyes can perceive but it's real. Makes me feel a little like an Orthodox priest.                       

Saturday, June 19, 2021


Summer doesn't officially start until tomorrow, June 20, but much of the U.S. is under a dome of high-pressure, hot air that has us cooking. This photo was taken downtown yesterday afternoon. 100 F is about 38 C. I think it was 119 F / 48 C in Phoenix on Thursday. Most - but not all - of us have air conditioning, but then think of our substantial homeless population. There are cooling shelters here but it's not unusual to hear of low income elderly people dying in their roasting apartments. 

I'm sure we will revisit this in a month. Maybe less.       

Friday, June 18, 2021


On a normal summer evening the crowd in front of Ted Drewes' frozen custard stand can be so thick that you might have to walk out in the street to get past. In pandemic times, there is a system of railings behind the far side of the building to keep the crowd orderly and spaced. People are sent up to the service window individually or in family groups. St. Louisans know any wait is worth it.      

Thursday, June 17, 2021


One last image extracted from the series I shot recently from the top a garage with a direct view of downtown. The tall building with a dome is the federal courthouse, much-criticized because it exactly blocks the view of the Arch from the main east-west highway leading downtown. Note also the trompe-l'oeil design on the lower building beneath and to the right, looking like there was a big bas relief sculpture. The structure, once a warehouse, is now a hotel and expensive condos.           

Wednesday, June 16, 2021


A typical summer night in The Lou, hanging out in the parking lot at Ted Drewes' (if you can find a space). Families, teens and a few odd photographers hanging around. I don't know why the blue car left its lights on but it makes for a better picture.                

Tuesday, June 15, 2021


Everybody in this town knows Ted Drewes frozen custard stand, It has been serving taste heaven for 80 years (and selling Christmas trees in December for 50 years). The signature treat is called a concrete because if you turn the cup upside down the custard won't fall out (subject to melting on a hot day). It's available in a boggling variety of flavors. I like peach.

This picture was taken late on a weeknight so it's not too crowded. But for the virus crowd control fencing, at mid-evening in the heat of summer the crowd can be spilling out onto Chippewa Street despite the cars speeding by.             

Monday, June 14, 2021


Pretty much the same view as yesterday but now at blue hour with a few bright city colors. The Wheel is covered with LEDs that constantly change. Still some sunset orange reflected in well-aimed windows.           

Sunday, June 13, 2021


One of our City Daily Photo colleagues commented yesterday that it seems mandatory for cities to have a Ferris wheel these days, and it's nice to have one here. It is built on the side of Union Station, now a hotel and entertainment complex. There is an aquarium, a mirror maze, mini golf and more. Expensive but fun. But two things to note about this scene:

Something in this image is totally fake and it would take a Photoshop nerd to spot it. The newest version of the program has a tool called Replace Sky. It precisely finds the edges of everything in front of the sky and drops in a new background of your choice. These clouds weren't there. The actual sky was empty (see yesterday's post).

The tall building just right of center is vacant and has no immediate prospect of reuse. After the breakup of the old AT&T into the regional "Baby Bells," STL was the home of Southwestern Bell. It bought up some of the other regional carriers and then acquired the rights to the AT&T name. This building was, for a time, AT&T's world headquarters. Then they decided that St. Louis was Podunk and moved the operation to Dallas. I read that it is hard to repurpose a large building built for a single tenant so it just sits there.                  

Saturday, June 12, 2021


I recently had an opportunity to join a group of photographers who had access to the rooftop of a multi-level garage. It had an unobstructed view of downtown, perhaps two or three miles away. We met before sunset. I brought my full frame DSLR, my longest telephoto and fired away.

We are a middle size city in the middle of the country, not much of a destination outside the region. We have our jewels. (And our horrors, but what city doesn't.) I have worked downtown for almost 47 years, although those days may be numbered. It has changed a lot, in some ways better, in some ways worse. The Ferris wheel in the lower left is a nice touch.

There are more infrared images I'll get back to some time.                   

Friday, June 11, 2021


The Arch was right out in front in yesterday's picture. Today it slides into the background behind downtown buildings, notably the architecturally wacky Civil Courts Building, described in an early post on this blog. For the locals, the view is east on Chestnut from about 14th Street. I got a little subtle color out of this infrared shot. So much more to learn.             

Thursday, June 10, 2021


Haven't had the big wicket up in a while. My experiments with infrared photography brought about this somber rendering with an enigmatic sign. Quo vadis

When I first started trying this I was getting some interesting color effects and it didnt work with the last batch of shots. I think you have to set a custom white balance for every scene. Not that hard to do on a Fujifilm camera but something else to remember.         

Wednesday, June 9, 2021


More fun with infrared: a defunct night club on the edge of downtown. There is still so much to learn about this.           

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Our town has a wonderful organization called Circus Harmony,, which takes young people from every part of the community and trains them in circus acrobatic arts. Part of it is for physical development and education, but an important part is to mix kids from every part of St. Louis in cooperative, harmonious efforts. They have traveled and performed internationally.   

The public can watch them work out and attend smaller performances at their headquarters in the City Museum. The group is always part of Circus Flora. They moved so fast I was lucky to get a clear shot.        

Monday, June 7, 2021


Circus Flora's performance this weekend was a scaled-down, late pandemic affair. There were no full trapeze acts like I saw the last time I took my granddaughter. A swing had to suffice but I could not have  imagined how beautifully someone could dance on a bar in the air.             

Sunday, June 6, 2021


Our scaled down circus performance  this weekend had all local performers. Shooting this was quite a photographic challenge, with movement and extreme dynamic range. For the techies out there, this was shot at ISO 6400, 1/240, f 2.0, on a Fujifilm XS-10 with in-body image stabilization and a 35 mm prime lens with a 1.5 crop factor. Go ahead and use that for an icebreaker at a cocktail party. Fine with me.     

Note that the man is supporting the woman with one bare foot under her neck and another under her thigh. I can't imagine rehearsing this. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021


One of the nice things about this town is that we have a permanent circus company, Circus Flora,, with a permanent big top tent for a home. It has been dark for a long time but it returned this weekend with a limited production. There was a reduced, well spaced audience and the sides of the tent were open for ventilation. The traditional ring was replaced by two smaller stages.

If you look carefully, you can see that this performer is hanging by her hair, or seems to be. Ellie couldn't believe it and I, too, find it hard to understand.             

Friday, June 4, 2021


The U.S. Navy's engineering unit known as the Seabees has a slogan: The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.  There are some things, however, that are beyond the realm of the wildest imagination. If I seriously tried to do this, emergency medical intervention would be required.

So, another entertainer at members night at the botanical garden. We are taking Ellie to the circus tonight and I'll be looking for new images.      

Thursday, June 3, 2021


More of the entertainment from members night at the Botanical Garden. Ellie, of course, was fascinated by this. She was wearing a unicorn shirt (fascinated by that, too) and made the comparison to the performer. He told her it was a narwhal but I think it was just to tweak her a little.                

Wednesday, June 2, 2021


One of the jewels of our town is the Missouri Botanical Garden, often seen in these pages. Yesterday they had a members night with food, entertainment and lots of children's activities. Ellie had a great time, which I hope we'll get to.

I regret that I didn't make a note of the names of these musicians but they may email me, in which case I will update this. As you rounded a turn in the path entering the Japanese garden they were concealed behind a small grove, with only their sound to draw you in. It was like perfume in the air, pulling the visitor around to their music. They were playing a piece by Carl Stamitz,, a rough contemporary of Mozart and Haydn. To me, it was the highlight of a beautiful evening.        

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


The Crowe family will not be wasting any time breaking out of the confinement doldrums. This is Playa Tamarindo, on the northwest coast of Costa Rica. Our trip planned for January was canceled, of course, but we will be heading back in early July. Then a road trip to Kansas in August and a few places in central Europe in September, if they let us in. Travel is the best education, teaching us that our habits at home are not the only way to live.