Category: Landscape-Cityscape

THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS

Posted by – November 21, 2011

Danny Oceans would feel right at home under the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel on the Vegas Strip, the subject of this image, inadvertently shot as a jpeg, with very little post-exposure tweaking.

“The house always wins,” Danny would say in the casino-caper film, Ocean’s Eleven.  Danny (first played by Frank Sinatra, then by George Clooney in a more-recent remake) insisted the only way to beat the house was to cheat the house, or more to the point, to steal from it.  And who could argue with Danny in a city of sin built by the Mafia and paid for by gambling?

Along with its legendary fountain, the Bellagio ceiling has served as a backdrop for numerous feature films looking for iconic Vegas opulence.  It’s famous for being adorned with intensely colored blown glass created by the renowned artist, Dale Chihuly, and valued at over $2 million.  Chihuly is a Fulbright Scholar and RISD graduate who honed his craft in Venice and has since become a wildly successful entrepreneur.  Those of you from the St. Louis area may remember the recent exhibit of his work at the Missouri Botanical Gardens or the instillation in the atrium of the St. Louis Art Museum.  One thing you can bet on: you can’t afford art like this by playing a losing hand, but the house can afford it, because “the house always wins.”

YOU’LL LOVE THE VIEW FROM HERE

Posted by – August 1, 2011

Motor from Miami down “Avenue A1A,” gateway to the Florida Keys, home to the famous and infamous, pirates and poets, and discover the beautiful bracelet of keys Ponce de Leon first stumbled upon, still dangling in the ocean, barely 90 miles from Cuba.

Proceed with due trepidation through Key Largo and continue south across Seven Mile Bridge (guess how long it is).  Take your time; soak in the scenery, but don’t dawdle too long; you’re traveling the haunts of such nefarious characters as Edward G. Robinson, Bogie and Bacall.  If you should see a bale of ganja washed up on the beach, don’t be tempted.  The original owner, his AK-47 and his twin pit bulls might not be far behind.  The Keys are always a series of contradictions.

Your destination is the same as it once was for literary giants like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams — Key West, where drinking is compulsory, fighting and running-with-the-bulls-type acts of bravado are optional and “chilling out” is de rigueur.

When you finally run out of land, stand on the dock at Mallory Square at day’s end, wander among its daily cadre of performing characters such as jugglers, mimes, musicians and fire-eaters.  Reverently observe the sunset celebration as the ocean slowly swallows Ol’ Sol.  Catcalls, wolf whistles and thunderous applause are all proper sunset decorum in the Conch Republic.

Now stroll down DuVal Street in the cooling twilight to Sloppy Joe’s, Margaritaville, or about a hundred other bars and restaurants and enjoy a well-deserved beverage with your new best friends.  Say hi to Captain Tony.  You may even qualify as an honorary Parrot Head.  And when you finally have to leave, don’t worry; they’ll keep the fun going until you return.


A CAPITAL LOSS

Posted by – July 5, 2011

I grew up in Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Shawneetown, Illinois.  At the time, the legal drinking age in Illinois was 18, but the local watering holes had a very liberal interpretation of that statute.  We misspent more than a few nights of our youth there, contributing to the local economy at places like Hog Daddy’s Saloon, which at that time were about all the remaining commerce the dying town had.

Among our many misconceptions was that Shawneetown was the first sate capital.  Actually, it was home to the first bank charted in Illinois.  In addition to other dubious distinctions from its municipal past, the town had refused to buy the first bonds issued by the City of Chicago, stating, “No city located that far from a navigable river could survive.”  This picture is actually of the town’s second bank, considered to be a fine example of Greek revival architecture.

At one time, this US Government center for the Northwest Territory was an integral link to the new frontier.  Lewis and Clark may (or may not) have slept here.  It was one of only two towns chartered by the Federal Government, the other being Washington, D.C.

Today, the river that was once the town’s ally has become the town’s enemy.  The series of locks, dams, levees and floodwalls that made our rivers commercially viable have made small towns like Shawneetown susceptible to flooding.  Think Cairo, IL.  Many have simply closed their City Halls and called it quits.

When I went back to shoot this photo, I discovered that even Hog Daddy’s Saloon had closed.  These are hard times for small towns.


DOO-DA, DOO-DA

Posted by – April 27, 2011

It was the first Saturday in May, 1973, and the sun was shining brightly when Secretariat made his glorious, record-breaking run for the roses. He broke last, made his move in the backstretch, then ran every successive quarter faster than the previous one. He was still “moving up” when he streaked across the wire, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.

Secretariat became the first Triple Crown Winner in 25 years, setting new race records in two of the three events in the series – the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, records that still stand today. What an athlete!

On that great day in May I had unfettered access to not only Secretariat, but to Jimmy Stuart and, oh yeah The Queen of England, thanks to a press pass from the State of Kentucky (my summer employer) and my Hilton Hotel windbreaker that just happened to match the windbreakers worn by the CBS TV Crew.

It was a nice gig for a little ol’ country-boy who had just come to the big city and was trying to get by. Looking back 38 years, Pilgrim and The Great Horse are gone, but Her Royal Highness and I are still in the race.

RED SKY AT NIGHT

Posted by – November 2, 2010

My client wasn’t thinking about that old couplet when I took this shot at the bustling Port of New Orleans.  He was too busy talking about large shipments of American soybeans that had made their ways down the Mississippi from fields in Illinois, and now were headed for the Panama Canal, the South Pacific, and eventually China.

I don’t really understand the complexities of global commodities, and I’m pretty sure the guys who work these ships don’t read much poetry.  But I do know how to read the sky, and this one was a photographer’s delight.

Silent Storyteller

Posted by – September 21, 2010

Another day slips into history as the old Kirkwood Train Station sentinels the passing of time and the lives passing through it.  How many joyous welcomes has it witnessed?  How many tearful farewells?  How many adventures have been launched from the humble, foot-worn bricks that hug its earth at track level?  Yet it still stands, a monument to the perennial notions that life itself is an adventure, and the train waits for no one.

Not Just Another Hard Day At Work

Posted by – August 5, 2010

Archive Alert!

It’s a long way to the top in the corporate world — 14,036 feet to be exact if you were in this upper-management group.  I grabbed this shot as these stubborn, triumphant survivors were reaching the summit of Mt. Sherman, on the narrow backbone of the Continental Divide in the gorgeous Colorado Rockies.

An unexpected late-spring blizzard with high winds and altitude sickness had reduced the initial group of 18 that left base camp to just these intrepid six who made it all the way to the top.  (Obviously, the photographer made it, too.)  Their climb was the final event of a week-long trip in which the company encouraged team-building, partnership, and personal excellence.

Local Color

Posted by – July 13, 2010


Recently, while in Scottsdale to photograph key management and top performers for AT&T, I had the chance to grab some local-interest shots.

It’s my understanding both the cacti and the cowboy light up at night.

City As Art

Posted by – May 22, 2010

Not all of Florence’s art is in her galleries.  In fact, sometimes it’s just outside a gallery.  I grabbed this snapshot from a window when I discovered this scene while looking at the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River from the Uffiz Gallery.  I didn’t have the time to wait for just the right moment of just the right day with just the right sky to do this cityscape artistic justice, so all of that was added later through the magic of digital post-production.