Friday, December 25, 2009


Gateway has been moribund for four months. Good intentions but not enough time. The new plan is to post images that have appeared in the Thursday Arch Series on St. Louis Daily Photo and any other images I come up with. They don't need to be new Arch pictures; they just need to celebrate the monument. So Gateway is back with levels on levels of arches.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Hammer Blow

I've posted a number of pictures lately on St. Louis Daily Photo of the sculpture Kindly Geppetto by Tom Otterness in downtown's Citygarden. The last couple of them (here and here) have been titled Geppetto's Hammer because this old woodcarver in in the process of whacking little Pinocchio to bits with a gigantic mallet. Not kindly at all. I find the work dark and fascinating.

But here's another hammer: a view of the north leg from inside the curve. It looks to me like a titanic blow from Thor or John Henry or maybe Maxwell blasting our city center.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Salvage Job

An exercise: this photo has a close relative appearing today on ST. LOUIS DAILY PHOTO. They are parts of a seven image sequence of the same subject, shot at 2/3 stop intervals from -2 stops to +2 stops. The aperture remained the same and the shutter speed varied. They were intended to become part of a seven layer HDR of the Arch. However, when I blended them in Photomatix, the sky came out with a marked box-shaped weave pattern in. It looked like fabric. Actually, it looked terrible. If any HDR experts can explain that to me I'd appreciate it.

So, I started playing with the individual pictures in the sequence. This one was +1 stop (ISO 100, f 6.3, 1/100 sec., spot metering). I always shoot in RAW so I could mess around with the image a lot. This is what came out.

Click to see the companion photo on ST. LOUIS DAILY PHOTO. Which do you prefer, assuming that either one does something for you?

Monday, August 10, 2009


You could read all sorts of things into this. I'll leave the interpretation to the viewer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Small City, Big Sky

The writer Jonathan Franzen was born in Chicago but grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, the town where I have lived for 22 years. He wrote a novel, set mostly in St. Louis, called The Twenty-Seventh City. That was the city's U.S. population rank at the time. It's fallen considerably since, what with devastating suburban sprawl, although we remain the 16th largest metropolitan area if you believe Wikipedia. It doesn't look like much in this view from across the Mississippi but the Arch is ever glorious and we are covered by the boundless Midwestern sky.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Arch

Sunday was a day you could have ordered out of a catalog, to use an old expression, with the Arch surrounded by the expressions of summer. And it pays to keep a wide angle lens in your bag.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


If you look at the Arch from the side, the very top has the most gentle of curves. You notice the slope when you are in the observation deck inside the top but it's no big deal. Then, as you move down the leg, things go downhill in a hurry, to borrow an expression. When you stand at the foot, you see a horizon part way up, like the way the earth drops away on the ocean.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magic Mirror

I've been neglectful of this blog, although I do get something posted on St. Louis Daily Photo every day. It's not that I've lost interest in the Arch but rather that my time is spread so thin. Taking and editing the pictures themselves has become a compulsion. Everything gets shot in RAW, everything has to be sorted, all the final choices get edited in Photoshop. It's become compulsive. Maybe I should look for a local chapter of Photographers Anonymous. Hi, my name is Bob and I'm a photographer.

Anyway, I got back by the monument over the weekend, trying to slow down and think. The result was a series of Lensbaby shots about the surface of the metal and how it interacts with what's right around it. My friend
Lisa, a painter and photographer who is working in Morocco these days, said that this image felt like a childhood memory. I hope it has some sense of wonder.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Sky Arch

This photo has a similar look to the one posted today on my St. Louis Daily Photo Blog but this one is an HDR. It gives more detail and dynamic range than you might otherwise get. The image sort of looks like an avalanche is about to engulf the monument.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Peek Over The Wall

A more traditional, if that's the right word, HDR, with slightly garish color and big tonal contrast. I have mixed feelings about these in color. They are eye-catching but loud. There's a black and white version of this photo on Flickr here. You can see which you prefer.

The bad thing about shooting the Arch from the new overlook in Illinois are the eight damnable high voltage lines that run right through the middle of your picture. In many of the previous photos from this location I have Photoshopped them out. It's a slow, tedious process. I decided to leave then alone this time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Soft Touch

Nice light. More Lensbaby. What else is there to say? Well, maybe that this was shot from Eads Bridge.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

From The East Side

This is from the same series of photos as today's post on St. Louis Daily Photo Blog. St. Louisans refer to all the Illinois suburbs as the East Side. This is obviously an HDR. When you look at views like this it's hard to accept that the Arch is exactly as wide as it it tall. It's true, though.

As mentioned today on St. Louis Daily Photo, the much-anticipated overlook in East St. Louis, Illinois, opposite the Arch opens on Saturday. It could lead to a repetitive motion injury of my right index finger.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Gamble

St. Louis factoid: this place is awash with casinos. There are three in sight of the Arch. This billboard rises from the parking lot of one of them in Illinois opposite the monument. It advertises that it has the loosest slot machines in the whole country (that is, the highest payout percentage) but it's still a bad bet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


This is an old photo, taken almost four years ago. I was just starting to explore the monument, trying to find different ways to look at it. This is the north leg reflecting the afternoon sun, creating a streak down the stainless steel.

OOPS - Thursday mid-morning: I just noticed that I posted this picture in March. Oh, well. Better get some new material this weekend.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Long Time No See

I'm sorry that posts here have been so infrequent. There are a dwindling number of Arch photos in the inventory and I haven't had time to shoot there in weeks. Finally got by last Saturday.

Another problem is finding a fresh approach. Thousands of snaps over the last few years, a hundred and something posted here and on
St. Louis Daily Photo Blog and what's new to say? Photographic technique offers options. The original of this image, shot from Eads Bridge, looked pretty mundane. With a little Photoshop razzmatazz, there's something worth looking at.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sci Fi Arch

Yes, another silly HDR, shot just before sunset. I should have Photoshopped two moons into the sky. Take me to your leader.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Team member ShadowyOne shoots the monument. I'm learning to make better use of my wide angle lens. The Arch is so big that you need one if you want anything in the foreground. Hooray for digital cameras with full-sized light sensors.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Low Rider

I think I used this photo on my St. Louis Daily Photo Blog way back when. It didn't get a lot of response but I like it a lot. People will pose for you if you are polite and friendly. Love his eyes and low rider jeans.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


This photo of the Arch was taken three and a half years ago, around the time my obsession began. Compare it to today's picture on St. Louis Daily Photo, shot earlier this month. This shows the reflection of the afternoon sun streaming down the plates of the north leg. There is some simplicity and purity that I've lost in recent pictures of the monument. Let us know what you think.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Basics

A shot that couldn't be simpler or more straightforward (except it's an HDR - not immediately evident). Just an illustration of why I love it so much.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts recently. There is way too much on my plate. This photo is a companion to today's picture on the St. Louis Daily Photo Blog. shot moments earlier. It's grandiose, I admit that. I have a soft spot for high quality bombast. For example: the Dies Irae from Hector Berlioz's Requiem (start this track at 5 minutes 30 seconds and crank it up). When I was young and stupid, I liked to make a tent out of two loudspeakers, put this track on a full volume and stick my head in the middle. Bliss. Now I make pictures like this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Barely There

Sorry no posts here in so long - just too much on my plate. This picture was shot on January 3, 2009, in fog with a Lensbaby.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Arch In The City

More of a series emphasizing the Arch in its urban setting. This is taken from the old industrial area a little north of the monument.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Arch In The City

This is a companion picture to today's post on St. Louis Daily Photo Blog. I haven't done much about how the Arch looks in the city where it lives. This is looking south from North Broadway. That unfortunate bit of architecture to the left is the Four Seasons Hotel and Lumiere Place Casino.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Warped Sense Of Scale

There are a lot of tricks the Arch plays on our eyes. For example, most people find it hard to believe that it is exactly as wide as it it tall. In this photo, it looks like the family taking pictures gives us a sense of scale. But the Arch is so tall and, viewed from the side, it recedes more and more sharply as it goes up, that we really can't gague what we're looking at. One of its many wiles.

By the way, there is another new Arch photo today on my St. Louis Daily Photo Blog.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Undisclosed Location

Looks like the entrance to a bunker. I don't think Dick Cheney is down there, though, or else the sign would say "Do Not Enter." This is the entrance to the underground museum beneath the Arch and the tram that takes you to the top. The other leg is immediately behind where I was standing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Disappearing Arch

I enjoy the Arch on foggy days, when its great mass plays peek-a-boo with us groundings.

Today is a particularly auspicious day for Arch pictures.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Museum houses the art collection of Washington University, as well as special exhibits. A biggie opens tonight: Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future. Saarinen was the visionary architect who designed the Gateway Arch, among other notable works. The exhibition traces Saarinen's career and achievements, with special emphasis on the history, design, engineering and construction of my beloved monument.

There is an opening reception tonight and I'll be there, getting my 15 minuted of fame: the muesum's director of education contacted me awhile back and asked if they could use some of my stuff on the exhibit's web site and printed materials. Why, yes, of course. The educational resources page of the exhibit's web site has links to my Gateway Arch photo blog and my big Flickr set of Arch photos. There's also a link to the American Institute of Achitects' web feature on the Arch; most of the photos in the slide show are mine. Lastly, click the link to the Eero Saarinen Connections guide and, um, scroll down to page 14, making note of the photo credits and the last quotation.

Feels good, doesn't it?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Arch

I've taken a lot of pictures of the Arch like this, maybe because when viewed from this angle it reminds me of the monolith in 2001. I suspect that the Arch has similar powers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winter Arch

Howling cold winds on the levee. The Arch takes it without blinking.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Carnival Lights

Once again, no special effects in either camera or computer. Just a 4 second exposure, lots of huge spotlights to ricochet around inside the lens barrel and some variation in color around the scene. That bright green on the near leg of the Arch is from Lumiere Place casino and the Four Seasons Hotel. Carnival itself will come soon enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Bend In The Night

The Arch is floodlit at night. I took this shot with a telephoto from a few hundred meters away, standing on the portico of our Old Courthouse. There will be a picture of that building tomorrow on my St. Louis Daily Photo Blog.

I like the way this photo shows off the plates that form the skin of the Arch and how irregular their surfaces are. From a distance, the Arch looks it could have been cast in one giant piece of metal. Close up, we can see a variegated quilt of stainless steel.

By the way, there is another new Arch photo today on STL DPB.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Night Under The Arch

As I mentioned in today's post on my St. Louis Daily Photo Blog, I went to the riverfront Sunday night to photograph the full moon rising over the Mississippi. Got some cool shots of the Arch, too, which is floodlit in the evening. This isn't an HDR, although you could certainly do that with such a range of light levels (next time). The photo is a 13 second exposure at f 5.6 and ISO 400.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


This photo is the desaturated (a/k/a/ black and white) version of today's post on my other blog, St. Louis Daily Photo. It's interesting to compare the two. You don't see a lot of B&W HDRs around but they can be very interesting. Most HRD images are in lurid color. It's hard to choose, but I think I prefer this one to the color version. If I went back to it in Photoshop, I think I'd darken it and/or increase the contrast some.

Which version do you prefer?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Below Red

A company called LifePixel will convert DLSRs to an infrared sensor for a reasonable price. I had them do my old Canon 10D, which was in storage. I'm having a hard time learing to use it but this is an IR picture of the Arch that turned out well.

Something really nice happened yesterday. Washington University in St. Louis has a newish art gallery, the Kemper Museum. A special exhibit opening on January 30 is about Eero Saarinen, the designer of our own Gateway Arch and architect of many other important buildings. One of the curators emailed me, asking if they could use some of the text from the sidebar in this blog in the exhibit's printed materials and link to my blog in the in its web page once the show opens. Uh, yeah, I think that's okay. Everybody loves recognition.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I must have been using a tripod when I shot this one since it's pretty sharp. The slits are the windows in the observation deck, looking down from about 630 feet / 192 meters. No, they don't open.