Tower Rock Overlook

Tower Rock 04-18-2014I’ve shot Tower Rock from about every angle except underwater (and I came close once to doing that when Brother Mark and I walked over there). I’ve been on the top of it, flown over it and have seen it from both the Missouri and Illinois sides.This is the view from the parking are where most folks see it.

The one place I HADN’T seen it from was the overlook.

In the summer and fall, the leaves are too thick to see anything and in the winter, I’m not crazy about a long, cold walk.

Overlook hangs out over hill

Tower Rock 04-18-2014On April 18, though, I didn’t have any excuses. The day was cool enough that I wouldn’t overheat, the sky was blue and there was no rain around. I drove across the railroad tracks (Stop, Look and Listen) and went up the road a couple hundred yards until I came to a wide spot that looked like the start of the trail.

Mother suggested I take a couple of deep swigs of water before heading up the hill. She said she’d stand by to dial 9-1-1 if I keeled over. I told her not to bother. There’s no signal down there.

The climb is moderately steep in some places, but it flattens out toward the top. You’ll definitely feel a burn in your thighs if you aren’t used to exercise. When you get close to the top, you look at the tiny platform hanging out over space and feel a little twinge of concern, but closer examination shows that it’s solidly built and in good condition.

Didn’t use polarizing filter

Tower Rock 04-18-2014Photo geek stuff: I keep Hoya circular polarizing filters on my lenses all the time. I find that being able to kill reflections improves many photos, even indoors. It also protects the front element of my lens from scratches.

Most folks think of them useful only to make skies darker, but that’s not the case. When I was rotating the filter to get the best result here, though, I quickly saw that the reflection of The Rock in the river added to the photo, so I kept as much of it as I could. It was a lot less interesting picture with the reflection knocked out.

Higher than The Rock

Tower Rock 04-18-2014Overlook is the right word. You are clearly higher than Tower Rock. If you are going to see it, better hurry, I think the trees will have too many leaves for a clear view before long.

Booms for river spill

River activity near Wittenberg 04-18-2014While we were in Altenburg, we heard scuttlebutt that a barge with fuel of some kind had run aground on a sandbar north of Wittenberg and that equipment was being staged at the boat ramp there. We saw about a dozen vehicles and two trailers of orange flotation booms in the parking lot, but there was nobody around to talk with.

Some of the trucks and trailers had “SWS Environmental Service” on their sides.

I called my friends at The Missourian with the tip, but told them I didn’t see much photo opportunity there, and I wasn’t even sure it was worth a story. I haven’t seen anything in the news, so either they couldn’t find out anything or it really wasn’t worth covering.

I didn’t offer up a photo because the last time I went in with a spot news photo I was told they don’t pay even a token amount for submitted photos these days.

Wonder if this was it?

River activity near Wittenberg 04-18-2014On the way from Tower Rock, we could see some activity close to the shore north of Wittenberg. We could tell that it wasn’t a string of barges. I heard traffic on the marine radio about trying to make fast some lines, but they were afraid they were going to foul. The action was too far away to see clearly, plus I was getting hungry.

Click on the photos to make them larger.

If you are interested in my small picture book, Tower Rock “A Demon that Devours Travelers”, stop by the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg for a copy.

 

 

Working 300 Seconds a Year

I was trying to explain newspaper photography to a group in Altenburg Tuesday night. I shared with them some stats I had uncovered while working on my operating budget in the mid-80s. I was trying to figure out how much to budget for film, paper, chemicals and travel for each photographer each month and annually. For reasons you’ll see below, I didn’t share ALL of my findings with management.

The average photographer shot about five rolls of film a day; each roll contained about 30 frames; there were five work days in a week, and we gave everybody two weeks a year for vacation.

37,500 pictures a year

So, if you multiply those numbers: 5 x 30 x 5 x 50, you get 37,500 pictures a year.

1969 Nikon F body

This is the top of my 1969 Nikon F camera body. I called it my “crash camera” because it was on my lap for every airplane takeoff and landing, “just in case.” It was the non-automatic workhorse that I used so much the black coating has been worn down to the brass. I fell off a truck covering a flood once and both of us went underwater. The F body survived better than I did: IT wasn’t embarrassed and it still worked perfectly when it dried out.

The round dial with numbers running from 1 to 1000 is the shutter speed dial. The numbers represent fractions of a second from 1/1 second to 1/1000 of a second. Each number is either half or twice the number on either side of it. Let’s say that the average exposure is 1/125 of a second.

Math Question

So, what do you get if you divide 37,500 pictures by 1/125 of a second?

Math Answer

You discover that the average photographer on my staff worked about 300 seconds a year. At 1985 pay scales, that comes to about $69.33 per second. That’s a great gig if you can get it. See why this wasn’t a number I passed on to management? They already thought we were overpaid.

7,199,700 seconds a year

Now, if you ask lab tech Bob Wiley, who is doing a portable color film run in the back of an airplane about a mile up in the air, he’d say that left 7,199,700 seconds a year for the photographers to whine to the lab techs about how hard they were working.

Fred Lynch says he works longer

Missourian photographer Fred Lynch flattered me by coming up for my preview presentation. He said in a comment to yesterday’s story that “That was before you retired. We work much longer these days with digital cameras.”

I’ll concede that by the mid-90s, when we were shooting many more of our assignments in color, photographers probably doubled their film consumption. We used color slide film because it gave better reproduction than print film. Our engravers would argue that the whites in a color print could be only as bright as the paper it was printed on, but the whites in a slide were as bright as the light source. The catch is that your exposure was much more critical with slide film, so the shooters bracketed their exposures to make sure they hit it right on target. That took more film. In addition, they generally backed up the color with black and white.

How much film you shot was as much a matter of how much film you could process as anything else. If we sent four photographers to cover an event involving a portable color run, we would tell them they were limited to eight to 12 rolls total for the four. They could shoot as much as they wanted to, but the tank would only hold so many rolls. They had to decide individually and collectively which rolls adding up to tank capacity would be processed.

Shooting my shoes

Because the film would arrive back at the office long before the photographers would, we used some tricks to give the photo editor a clue who shot the roll and when. At a football game, for example, I would take a picture of my shoes and a picture of the scoreboard at the front of every roll. We also used “twin tags,” two waterproof sticky numbered labels; one would go on the end of the film, the other on the film envelope that held the rolls.

In the digital world, that’s not an issue. Since there is no processing involved on the front end, it becomes a matter of how many images do you have time to look through to find the best one? If you’re on deadline, you don’t have the luxury of being able to eyeball thousands of images.

With all due respect to Fred, I’ll agree that photographers today shoot way more than 37,500 images a year. I’ll also say that the ability to essentially record a ‘movie’ of an event by holding down the shutter button makes for sloppier shooting. I know that I shot differently when I was sent to a football game with four sheets of 4×5 film and five flashbulbs than when I could shoot four 36-exposure rolls of 35-mm film. When I documented the CHS vs. Sikeston football game in the fall of 2010, I banged off 313 pictures with my digital Nikon D40 camera.

Calendars and books

I have two calendars and two photo books available for sale at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum. They are $20 each. If you order more than one, the price for each additional copy drops to $15. Shipping and handling will run about $5 for a single copy (or as many as will fit in the mailer for that rate).

The 2013 Ordinary People calendar features photos taken in Missouri, Ohio and Florida, plus a shot of Queen Elizabeth II in the Bahamas. These are some of my favorite pictures.

Tower Rock

There are a limited number of my Tower Rock: “A Demon that Devours Travelers” photo book left. If you were lucky enough to be able to climb The Rock when the river was low, this is a great souvenir.

Ordinary People

Ordinary People Doing Ordinary Things is a catalog of some of the pictures and layouts in my photo exhibit. It makes a great pairing with the Ordinary People calendar because it gives the stories behind the photos.

Trinity Lutheran Church

The 2013 Trinity Lutheran Church calendar would be a great gift if you know someone with an interest in the 1867 Altenburg church.

How to order the publications

If you are in the area, I encourage you to drop in the museum. It’s free, interesting and has the friendliest staff and cleanest bathrooms you’ll every find. You can also order the publications by mail. They are $20 each. If you order more than one, the price for each additional copy drops to $15. Shipping and handling will run about $5 for a single copy (or as many as will fit in the mailer for that rate) if you can’t make it there in person.

Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum
P.O. Box 53
75 Church Street
Altenburg, Missouri 63732

Open Daily seven days a week: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Telephone: 573-824-6070

Email: info@altenburgmuseum.org

Top Stories: 2009 to 2011

When I cranked up this blog on Oct. 20, 2009, I never dreamed that I’d still be churning out stories two years later. The first post contained a photo that later became one of two rotating pictures at the top of the blog page. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

This is the time when publications traditionally look at the previous year. I started to do that, but discovered that some of the top read stories from 2011 had actually run in 2010 and were still getting hits, probably from search engines. That caused me to look at what the most popular stories were overall.

 Rush Limbaugh – Koran-burning Terry Jones

The most-read story of 2010 and 2011 continues to be the coincidence that the two best-known members of the Central High School Class of 1969 are Rush Limbaugh and the kooky pastor, Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran (and eventually DID burn one when he was out of the spotlight).

The Sept. 9, 2010, story has garnered 14,274 pageviews, about four times as many as any other story I’ve done. It was picked up by media all over the world.

I rode tight herd on the comment section, which attracted 150 comments, to keep the train on the tracks. I was impressed by the general high tone of the discussion compared to the trash talk I saw on other sites. When it was all over, I had deleted only three comments that stepped over the line into personal attacks on other readers.

 Cape’s new water park

The second most-popular story is probably a fluke. April 18, 2010, I did a quick and dirty story on Cape’s new water park while it was still under construction and compared it to the Lickitysplit Water Slide that used to be between Cape and Jackson on Hwy 61.

It kept getting a smattering of hits during the summer of 2011, probably from people searching for information about the park. Interestingly enough, folks who got there, probably by mistake, ended up spending over two minutes reading the page, something that’s highly unusual. Folks who don’t find exactly what they’re searching for generally bounce out in about 10 seconds.

The Boat House

When you wanted to impress visitors from out of town with the homes in Cape Girardeau, there’s one place you’d always take them – The Boat House at the corner of West End Blvd. and Highland Dr., across from Capaha Park. This story attracted 2,109 readers and 28 comments, including good information from the family that owns it.

 Bill’s Transition to Jacqie

One of the most interesting and challenging stories I’ve done started out with this email: “Hi lila and kenny. Its bill jackson but if you have facebook, you will discover that many changes have taken place. It seems that after all these years I am more comfortable as Jacqie, my female half and counterpart. Florida is much more familiar with this than cape. The reunion should be very interesting.”

 Bill and Wife Lila were good friends from lifeguarding days. In fact, he was her first date in high school. We connected in Cape and St. Louis and I produced a video showing our classmate as both Bill and Jacqie. For a first effort at an ambitious project, I’m happy with the way it turned out. The page has only logged 2,024 hits, but the video has been viewed 16,106 times. I was really pleased to see how understanding the 31 commenters were and how well Jacqie was accepted at the class reunion.

Here’s a comment I posted after I saw the reaction to the piece:

“It’s amazing how much more accepting we are of others’ differences when we get a few miles on the old odometer. Maybe some things do get better with age. In a scene I had to cut because of time constraints, Bill commented, ‘We were all not exactly as kind to each other as children as we could have been, but that’s the nature of being children. You’re learning how to be human beings.’

 “Looks like my readers have done a good job passing the human being test. That’s a pretty good diploma to tack on the wall.”

 Rains, Wind and Flooding

I was in Cape during the spring of 2011 just before the near-record flooding. A page of photos showing Cape’s flood control project that kept the Town Plaza from flooding like it did in earlier decades, attracted 1,976 visitors and 28 comments. There’s a link on the page to a video I shot when Mother and I took shelter from a hail storm earlier in the week.

 Kent State, Never Forget

I can always count on getting a message from friend and fellow photographer John Lopinot every May 4. Usually the subject line says it all: “Never Forget.” May 4th, of course, is the day that four Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

 I pulled together a sequence of photos of protests and demonstrations I covered at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, during that tumultuous period. Another photographer and I were on our way to Kent State when word of the shootings came over the car radio. We headed back to Athens, figuring we needed to be in our own backyard that night.

The page has been read 1,876 times and attracted 27 comments, including one from my former Ohio University Post colleague Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a frequent talking head on TV.

From Shoe Factory to Casino

I still contend that the city missed the boat in not finding a way to make a productive use of the old shoe factory. If the old Central High School on Pacific can be re-purposed as Schultz Senior Apartments, then surely the landmark building on North Main could have been saved. It’s a moot point, though. The building was torn down decades ago and a gambling casino is going up on the property.

The page showing aerial and ground photos of the shoe factory taken in 1970 and the area around it taken before the land was cleared in 2010, drew 1,829 visitors and 22 comments, one from the granddaughter of a woman who had been scalped by machinery in the shoe factory.

Capaha Park reduced to memories

I did several stories on the razing of the Capaha Park swimming pool. This was one that hit close to home: much of Wife Lila’s teen years were spent at the pool swimming, lifeguarding and teaching swimming.

I dug out a bunch of vintage photos and turned the page loose for Lila, Bill/Jacqie Jackson and Terry Hopkins to write about how much that hole in the ground meant to them. Terry’s account ended, “At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved. Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.”

There were 35 comments, some almost as long as the original piece. A total of 1,654 people visited the page.

 Central High School ’60s reunion

June 27, 2010, I ran one of several galleries of photos of the 1960s decade class reunion. It picked up 1,641 readers and 23 comments.

On the last night, I was moved to write, “This isn’t my favorite photo of the weekend, far from it. It’s a mediocre image from a technical standpoint, but it’s the one that caused a wave of deja vu to wash over me.

 “It was the end of the evening. The crowd was starting to drift away. A few couples got up to dance. I climbed up on the stage for a higher angle and stood there holding my camera and waiting for a photo to happen.

 “Suddenly I was transported back forty-plus years. It dawned on me that my life had come full circle. I was the same kid I was in high school who was AT the event, but not PART of the event.”

This account of the last night contains links to all of the reunion pages.

 Annie Laurie’s Laurie Ann

There’s a bit of nepotism here. Laurie Everett, who owns Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway across from Shivelbine’s, is my wife’s niece. Putting that aside, she’s a shrewd businesswoman who was worth a story because of the building she’s in (the old Brinkopf-Howell Funeral Home) and for her interesting life. The petite blonde was an army MP who was an Expert marksman before she got into the antique business. She’s as good at that as she is with a gun: her shop was rated #1 Antique Shop in Cape County three out of three years (maybe four, since that story was done in 2010).

It’s not your typical stodgy antique shop. She makes good use of social media and has developed quite a following of SEMO students with her emphasis on vintage clothing, dorm makeovers and competition for models to become the face of the shop.

 Tornado drills and the JFK assassination

I stopped by Alma Schrader School to get some photos identified just as they were conducting a tornado drill. That give me a flashback to that stormy day in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I took photos of students gathered around a TV in the gym and rushed them to The Missourian to make my first EXTRA!

 Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009

There are two topics that will always bring in readers and comments: Wimpy’s Drive-in and the Blue Hole BBQ. Everybody who grew up in that era has fond memories of both.

I shot a night time exposure photo of the intersection of Cape Rock Drive and North Kingshighway in 1966 that showed the traffic patterns in and around Wimpy’s. In 1967, I shot a wreck at the intersection with the drive-in in the background. By 2009, Wimpy’s was gone and the intersection had changed, but I tried the time exposure technique again.

Readers: 1,552; comments: 31, including much discussion of a shootout near there that took  the lives of two Cape police officers.

 Top Stories of 2011

In addition to the 2009 and 2010 stories above, here are the top stories that were published in 2011:

  •  Cape’s tornado of 1949: a riveting account of the May 21, 1949, tornado that killed 22 people, hospitalized 72 and injured hundreds, written by a pregnant newlywed to her mother on pages torn from a day calendar. If you haven’t read it, you should.
  • Do these photos say Cape? A collection of photos of Cape Girardeau for use by the city on its web page.
  • 43 years of Cairo photographs: I’ve been fascinated with Cairo since I covered my first riot there in 1967. This was a collection of photos of the town which is, unfortunately, disappearing a block at a time.
  • Arena Park Stock Car races: Vintage photos of the Arena Park stock car races. Some of them are classics.

 Mind-numbing statistics

Since the site started in 2009, it has seen its pages viewed 565,631 times. I’ve written 641 posts containing 512,268 words and you all have left 5,728 comments. In fact, commenters have written 391,796 words, almost as many as I have in the original stories. The depth of detail in those comments is astounding. I’ve posted nearly 5,600 photos.

Support this site

Here’s a link to my Tower Rock book and my 2012 calendar.

In addition, if you do your Amazon shopping by clicking on any of the Amazon ads on the page, I get a tiny percentage of your purchase without it costing you anything additional.

 

 

Christmas Exhibit and My Calendar

My 2012 Glimpses of East Perry County calendar is available at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg and at Annie Laurie’s Antiques in Cape Girardeau. I’m pleased with the way the project turned out. Despite the “East Perry County” in the title, the photos should appeal to anyone who likes scenic photos, the Mississippi River, historical landmarks and quirky stories. I tried to pick images that you could enjoy for a month.

They’ll be available both places for $14. I’ll list contact information at the end.

Tower Rock book available

Tower Rock: “A Demon that Devours Travelers” has gone into its second printing. (OK, so the first press run wasn’t all THAT big until I could be sure I wouldn’t have a shed full of them.) It’s available at the Altenburg Museum. The price is $14. They’ll mail it for an additional $5 shipping and handling.

It’s worth a drive up to Altenburg

Admission to the museum is free. It’s worth a drive up there to see this year’s themed Christmas exhibit with more than 30 trees. Here’s what the exhibit looked like last year.

Photo hint of the day

Most of the room light in the museum and the Christmas tree lights are tungsten (old-fashioned light bulbs). They produce a warm glow that your eyes and brain translates into normal shades without us thinking about it. I didn’t realize how much color plays a part in how we perceive things until I had an assignment to shoot color photos in a grocery store. When I saw the film, I discovered that the store used red-tinted bulbs in the meat aisle to make meats look more attractive; green tints in the produce cases and yellow lights in the bakery to make the breads prettier.

This is what this tree and ornament looked like with my camera’s color balance set to Automatic (which usually works fine). Notice how “warm” the colors look.

Change the color balance to Tungsten

This is what happened when I changed the color balance menu to Tungsten, meaning he camera added a bluish digital filter to the image to compensate for the overly yellowish tint imparted by the bulbs. This comes closer to being how your eye would see it. In this case, however, you may find that you are a warm dragonfly person instead of a cold butterfly person. Most of the Christmas tree photos were taken with the Tungsten color balance turned on.

Christmas exhibit photo gallery

Here are what some of the trees looked like. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Sneak peek at January

I try not to be back here in January because this is how I remember the month: gray, gloomy and cloudy, with just a hint of color from time to time to keep you from going bonkers. My February photo is a bit more colorful.

Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum

P.O. Box 53
75 Church Street, Altenburg, Missouri 63732

Open daily 10:00am – 4:00pm (free admission)

Telephone: 573-824-6070 Email: info@altenburgmuseum.org

Museum Website

Annie Laurie’s Antiques

536 Broadway; Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 (at the corner of Broadway and Frederick across from Shivelbine’s)

Telephone: 573-339-1301 Email: info@capeantiqueshop.com

Annie Laurie’s website (or click on her ad on this page)

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.