Thursday, February 28, 2013

Urban Decay in St Louis

St. Louis is a city (and county) with a lot of history, and a lot of transition as people move from place to place. Unexpected disasters happen, both economic and natural and skeletons of buildings are left behind. Sometimes that's literal and sometimes that's figurative.

As a neighbor, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want an eyesore like these near my house. As a curious human being, I really like finding these relics, photographing them and then trying to figure out what it used to be - if its not just a regular residence. I've found former mansions, an former gymnasium,  a lost, sunken city and a former hospital with many lives this way.

Recently, I've had a chance weather-wise and time-wise to "wander" about in places I don't normally go. I found the following gems - especially ones to add to my Windows and Doors 2013 sets. One of these was a rundown ex-church/school, another was just a regular residence and a few were abandoned industrial/office buildings. I even found a few vacant schools, that made me sad for their abandonment for various reasons. For the record, my "wandering" was limited to driving by in my car and photographing out the window, often with the doors locked. I may be slightly crazy for urban decay but I'm not stupid nor do I have a death wish. And I trust my gut instincts.

Urban Explore February   Urban Explore February   Urban Explore February    St Paul Lutheran School    St Paul Lutheran School  

Urban Explore February      Abandoned House    St Paul Lutheran School  St Paul Lutheran School    Urban Explore February

I found this in a dangerous ghost town of a city - a hidden gem that I almost missed:

Urban Explore February

In fact, this was my first time to this particular city. I drove about two blocks each way off the main intersection, on what clearly used to be the main street. Once you get past that two to three block boundary, the neighborhood picks up slightly. But it is absolutely shocking and saddening to see the state of decay and disrepair in what once was surely a thriving town. Almost every building is broken down and/or boarded up. So very sad. :(

There are plenty more in my Urban Explore 2013 sets and Urban Decay sets on flickr.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

8/52 - Photo Project 2013

As my parents will tell you, this decision was difficult. It doesn't help that I was semi-brain dead from a long week at work.

I had the first snow day of my professional career (or at least in recent memory) and I got to spend it with a friend, enjoying a champagne and strawberry cocktail while having a movie marathon.

Champagne Thursday

She definitely tolerated my photo nerdiness while enjoying our delicious, well-earned beverage. But I think it was worth it, yes?

My runner up - flowers from an event at work:

White Flowers

Tough choice, eh?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday Photo Drive

This Sunday afternoon, I got to drive around with my friend A, who is a fellow photography enthusiast like me. We kept planning on photographing the first snow, but it kept happening at NIGHT and both of us have crazy schedules. So when we both found out we had time off this weekend, we decided to drive around together.

I introduced her to the USS Inaugural, which has started to have been scrapped but the mighty Mississippi has risen, so that has put the temporary kibosh on it:

Old photo first, and new photo second:

USS Inaugural   USS Inagural

And then we went to see how the destruction (*sniff*) of Powell Square was going... and it's nearly done...

  Powell Square

Oddly enough, I can't find an earlier picture of the place. I know I have one, but I'll be darned if I can find it at the moment. At any rate, I also took some shots of the Crumden Martin place that caught fire 2 years ago. I hadn't been down that part of the street because it'd been blocked off but now is open for construction traffic.

But our main goal of the day was Creve Couer Lake. We didn't arrive early enough to scout, since I was try to shoot along the theme of "When Night Falls", but we found a great location and walked about a mile down the shore and back. We saw several HUGE dead fish on the shore which confused us:

Creve Couer Lake at Dusk    Creve Couer Lake at Dusk

But the sunset was gorgeous - there is very little or no enhancement on these photos:

Creve Couer Lake at Dusk

Creve Couer Lake at Dusk   Creve Couer Lake at Dusk   Creve Couer Lake at Dusk   Creve Couer Lake at Dusk   Creve Couer Lake at Dusk   Creve Couer Lake at Dusk

We capped off our photo exploration with some delicious wings at Sybergs! That was an afternoon well-spent. And we have a future exploration planned (exact date TBD - we didn't have time to do both)

We also pledged to revisit Creve Couer Lake and explore more of it in the daytime before dusk hits. I need to find, as well, a place to watch the sunrise in St. Louis... suggestions taken!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

7/52 - Photo Project 2013

Again, I have many photos to choose from this week, but the winners mostly came from Valentine's Day.

"Love Mussels"

LOVE Mussel

I was watching my mom scrub mussels and this caught my eye. As soon as she was done, I set them up and it worked just as I'd imagined. You never know what you'll see when you're cooking.

Runners up:

An accidentally blurry Tommy:

Tommy Blur!

My favorite candy - nonpareils with rainbow sprinkles:


I took about 35 pictures today, exploring a new-to-me part of St. Louis as part of a new photographic meetup group... but none of them caught me quite like these. I look forward to future meetups with them! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy 5th Blogiversary to Me!


Holy cow, I cannot believe I have had this blog for 5 years! This blog was started on a friend's couch in Houston on one not-so-wintery day (9th) in February of 2008. When I created the blog, I didn't quite know what I wanted to do with it but I was just starting to really get back into photography so I figured I could use my blog to showcase my favorite photos and the stories that went along with it and perhaps an anecdote or rant along the way.

5 years (and 672 posts) later, this blog has seen many things - and got refocused several years ago, when I created the Life List and started using the blog to have folks hold me to my list items and to showcase the items completed (totally 20 since the inception of the list)!

This blog has watched me go from having fun with my photography to taking a more serious take on the photography and seeing what I can learn. I certainly think my eye has improved and I'm working on my technical skills.

This blog has watched me change over from my free-lance career in opera to a local, stable job in the arts in St. Louis. It has watched me live in several cities (short-term and long-term) and even seen me over to China for but a brief moment.

It was really eye opening to go back and click randomly through different posts over the years. I thought about highlighting my favorite posts, but it's like picking your favorite candy in a candy store. It's really hard. So instead I encourage you to go to the sidebar, find the Blog Archive, and pick a year and month and just click around. Leave me a note to say hi and enjoy the time warp, just as I have.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

6/52 - Photo Project 2013

Some weeks, I don't have many photo opportunities. This week, I had SO many and so many choices to choose from. Sunday had a beautiful unexpected snow, Thursday had a gorgeous rainbow in the morning, and yesterday I got to go on one of my urban driving adventures and found lots of wonderful (yet sad) gems.

Let me start with the 'winner' of the week.

Dilapidated Ex-Funeral Home

This is a former funeral home, on St. Louis Avenue that has clearly fallen into disrepair. You can see the remains of the former beauty. This is the stuff I love when I am urban photo exploring.  I tried to find more at my favorite historical resources like St Louis Patina, Built St. Louis but couldn't find anything conclusive. (EDIT: St. Louis Patina has several posts on it - and in later posts, identified it.)

Close-calls - what almost made it:

Rainbow over U City

U City City Hall Sunset

Snowy Day in Forest Park

You should definitely check out my photostream for more pictures from this week. There are easily 100 from this week alone. That *rarely* happens when I'm not on vacation or something like that.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Unexpected Surprises

Sometimes, the best things are unexpected. I was eating breakfast and reading Facebook (and the news) in the morning, as I do almost every morning. A high school classmate of mine posted about a beautiful rainbow over her kids' school. While I waited for her to confirm that the rainbow wasn't fleeting, I quickly finished getting ready so I could chase the rainbow.

And I wasn't disappointed. I drove west for a few blocks, going towards the beautifully storm darkened sky on which the rainbow was reflected, and opposite the rising sun creating the enormous beauty. It was a HUGE arc and seemed to be doubled at times. But I kept getting blocked by buildings, so I turned tail and headed to Forest Park hoping that the rainbow would last. 

Rainbow over U City

I made it to Art Hill in time to enjoy it for several minutes before the rising sun killed the gorgeousness in the sky.  It was so worth it. This is why I carry a camera (especially a  DSLR) with me wherever I go. You never know when you're going to encounter something so unexpected. 

Rainbow over U City   Rainbow over U City    Rainbow over U City   Rainbow over U City

Rainbow over U City   Rainbow over U City

Well worth it, don't you think? Check out my photostream for more. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5/52 - Photo Project 2013

St. Louis played host to some 'strange' weather for January but strange weather often lends itself to fun sunsets and sunrises. Some day, I'll get up early enough to watch the sun rise over a lake.

Since I all I managed to take this week were sunset pictures, I had to choose between the 'best' of a few. I like the colors of this one better,  plus the clouds that are masquerading as 'mountains'.

Sunset in Forest Park

This one was a closed second, because of the framing:

Sunset in Forest Park

Not too shabby from about 20 minutes out in Forest Park, up by the World's Fair pavilion.

Hopefully this week will be more fruitful...