Waving Goodbye at Lambert

Anne Rodgers at STL airport 07-02-2013Friend Anne and Wife Lila hopped on a plane at St. Louis’s Lambert Airport Tuesday morning. (Lila isn’t in the picture because she’s still on the shuttle.) Just as I started to pull off, I thought, “Maybe I should bookend the trip by getting a final shot of her leaving Missouri.”

‘It’s just my daughter….’

Anne Rodgers at STL airport 07-02-2013I got out of the car, called her name and watched heads swivel around. To avoid attracting the attention of the security folks, I announced in a loud voice, “It’s OK. I’m just sending my daughter off to school.”

(I’m pretty sure Anne paid that woman to say, “Looks more like his granddaughter,” but I could be mistaken.)

On our first day on the road, the server said, when I asked about an item on the menu, “I find that a little on the spicy side. The couple behind you ordered it, though.”

I started to get up. Anne put her hand on my arm. “You wouldn’t, would you?” Yep, I would. The server was right. The couple agreed that it might be a bit too spicy for a long road trip that late in the evening. Anne knew from that moment on to expect the unexpected. I have no shame.

Stuff to remember

Jackson mailbox 06-27-2013Once she gets past the cringing and embarrassments, I hope she’ll remember all the cool stuff we saw and the people we met.

The gas tank read somewhere between “Low Fuel” and “Who gets to walk for gas?” when we pulled out of Wib’s, but Anne and Lila wanted to shoot a sunset. While they were making art, I was looking at this mailbox and thinking that sometime over the next couple of days, maybe a mailperson would come by and take the survivors back to civilization.

Boat traffic on the Mississippi

Trail of Tears - River - Bald Knob CrossWe stopped at the overlook in Trail of Tears State Park only to be greeted by a nice ranger who said, “This part of the park closes at 7:00 and it’s 7:05.” Anne must have batted her eyelashes at him, because he waved us on, saving me from having to pull out one of my “we’re newlyweds” stories. I knew there was a reason to bring her along.

Bald Knob Cross

Trail of Tears - River - Bald Knob CrossLooking up and to our right, we saw one of the clearest views of the Bald Knob Cross I’ve seen in years. Anne resisted directing any bald knob comments in my direction, for which I was grateful.

Spectacular rainbow

Irrigation system Charleston 06-29-2013Shortly after I took this photo of an irrigation system, the temperature dropped about 15 degrees and we were met with a gust of wind that sent umbrellas flying, accompanied by a brief squall. After the storm moved on, a double rainbow of incredible intensity formed off to our side. It’s the first time I can recall actually feeling like I could see where it was touching the ground.

Good persimmon crop

Tower Rock 06-28-2013I can’t take anyone to Missouri without showing them the Lutheran Heritage Museum in Altenburg and Tower Rock. We coasted into town after the museum closed, but we spotted Gerard Fiehler pedaling down the street. He recognized my van, pulled over and agreed to open the museum for us even though he was hot and sweaty from mowing.

If they don’t fall or get blown off, it looks like Mother’s favorite tree is going to have a good crop of persimmons.

Flood not so good for fish

Dead fish after 2013 flood 06-28-2013We spotted lots of vultures sitting on the wires of the suspension pipeline, but didn’t think much of it. When we drove out of Wittenberg and over to Frogtown, we saw lots of white wading birds off in the distance. When we got past where the old train depot and church would have been, we noticed all sorts of white objects in the fields.

They turned out to be huge carp and other fish who had come in on the flood waters, then gotten trapped when the waters went out quickly. My guess is that the white wading birds were going after the live fish because they weren’t bothering the carrion. The vultures had probably had their fill for the day (or like their food a little riper).

Years have taken toll

Barn near Altenberg 06-28-2013_5116The years and high winds have taken their toll on this old barn seen on the way back home from Altenburg. You can click on the photos to make them larger, by the way.

Here are earlier Anne road trip stories:

Don’t forget First Friday

If you missed me at Hastings, stop in at Annie Laurie’s Antiques on First Friday, July 5. I’ll have Snapshots of Cape Girardeau calendars and Smelterville books. I’ll be there from 6pmish until 10 or when I start snoring and Laurie kicks me out.

Barn on Hwy 74

Barn on Hwy 74 south of Cape Girardeau 03-02-2013

I’ve passed this barn hundreds of times, and every time I’ve wondered if it would still be there the next time I was driving Hwy 74 between Cape and Dutchtown. I guess it must be made of some strong stuff, because it’s still standing.

Still, I pulled off the road “just in case” a spring storms would be The One. As I looked at the photos, it dawned on me that one of these days old wooden barns will be as scarce as covered bridges. New, modern steel buildings are fast to put up, cheap to build and are efficient, but you can’t beat an old barn for aesthetics.

If it had been summer, I’d have stopped to ask the owner if I could wander around. My desire to make art diminishes in direct proportion to the wind chill, so I was content to shoot these pictures from the roadside.

Other barn stories

Barn photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

How to Shoot a Barn

Well, that title is a bit presumptuous, but studies have shown that using the words “How to…” in the headline causes the story to rate higher with search engines.

When Friend Shari and I were on our way back from shooting Tower Rock Quarry and taking the scenic route where I discovered High Hill Church, she said to keep my eye out for old barns; there was one in particular she’d like to shoot again. She recalled doing it years ago and wanted to have another crack at it.


We were tooling along down 177 near Egypt Mills when she hollered, “STOP!” She was always good at that. I locked down thinking she saw an 18-wheeler getting ready to hit us head-on and heard everything loose in the car slide forward.

She had spotted her barn. I threw it in reverse and cut over on CR 634 (I think) and pulled off on the side of the road with the hazard flashers on.

What are you looking for?

Being a former shrink, she’s always curious about the thought processes that go into making a photo. After dismissing her (and most other folks who ask that question), I’ve started to think about it. I told her that I would try to explain how I looked at the overall scene and then drilled into a detail here and there. As we walked around, I explained that sometimes everything would fall into place. Other times, I’d shoot a frame and decide that something didn’t work. Sometimes a slight change in angle would fix the problem; other times, there would be some extraneous object that would intrude that I couldn’t work around, and I’d move on.

I’m a sucker for contrast

I love dark photos where the light hits something and causes it to pop out. Sometimes, like in this shot, the light is striking it directly. More often, I look for a strong back or sidelight to make it translucent.

Signs that it wasn’t a good shoot

Leica made some great photo enlargers. One of the neat things about them was that their negative carriers were cut just a little larger than a 35mm frame. That let pure white light project down on the photo paper if you printed full frame. It was a point of pride to have your print have that black border around it because it showed that you “cropped in the camera.” In other words, you visualized the final product when you pushed the button.

When I looked at these pictures, I found myself reaching for the Crop tool to hack out pieces that didn’t work for me. I might have thought the composition worked, but I hadn’t successfully ‘cropped in the camera.” When we did that in the real darkroom, we’d call it “pulling it out of our rear orifice (or something close to that).”

Here’s an example. This is the full frame photo of the splotch of red paint with an orange leaf in front of it and some tendrils of vine and their shadows on the gray, weathered wood.

I couldn’t find the center of interest. Is it the leaf? Is it the vines? Is my eye supposed to follow the vines up and down, left and right? What’s important?

Cropping helps, but it’s not the answer

In this print, I’ve taken the same picture, but I’ve cropped up from the bottom and down from the top so you don’t see any of the gray wood there. Your eye tends to go toward the lighter area of a print, so this keeps you in the frame better. It also brings your eye to the leaf. I would have cropped a little more off the left, but I like the shadow of the vine over there. If you look closely, you can see the vine, then the shadow. The shadows of the vines on the right become more prominent and more interesting. Still, if the first photo was a D-, playing with it barely raised the grade to a C+.

Photo gallery of barn pictures

It’s not one of my best barn sessions. I shot this particular barn when I was riding my bike in this area about eight or nine years ago. I didn’t capture Essence de Barn then, and I’ve missed it this time, too. Maybe this barn and I just don’t click. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.