Place: Dogtown Neighborhood, St. Louis, Missouri
Date: March 17, 2017
Every year the city of St. Louis holds a St. Patrick’s Day parade the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. The Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade on St. Patrick’s day, regardless of the day of the week. Dogtown is the historically Irish neighborhood in St. Louis. I’ve lived in St. Louis for over fifty years and my wife has lived here all her life but neither one of us had ever been to either parade. Last year we went to the Dogtown parade with another couple and enjoyed it so much we went again this year with the same couple plus another.
What a difference a year makes. Maybe it was because last year the parade was on a Thursday and this year it was a Friday but it was CROWDED this year. Last year the day was sunny and warm but this year it was cloudy so the weather did not bring out the crowd. We’re thinking people were taking Friday off and making it a three day holiday; that way they could sleep in the next day and believe me, there was a very large number that were going to need to sleep in.
I had intended to try some street photography but the parade route was so crowded that was impossible. It took me twenty minutes to walk from the restaurant where ate lunch to the viewing area we had used the prior year. That’s twenty minutes for a three block walk.
Anyway, it was way too crowded for street photography and our spot from the prior year was pretty much taken so I found a spot next to a bakery on the corner. In the front of the bakery that faced the parade route they were selling pizza and some other snacks. On the side they were selling beer. Guess where I stood. Yep up against the wall of the building with the beer table on my right. From there I had plenty of space. I could see parts of the parade to my right (like the top of heads and floats), lots of people in the street and vacant lot in front of me, lots of people down the sidewalk and street to the left of me, and a great view of the beer line just three feet to my right.
Taking pictures of the actual parade was out of the questions so I decided to concentrate on snapping close up candid portraits of people around me and in the beer line. Head shots were what I had done with my first few photos taken while we were eating so I figured that would probably be my best bet here too. It turned out to be a pretty good area for me. Lots of happy people having fun.
Street photography is usually black and white but this was St. Patrick’s Day and I wanted to show all the people in their their finest greenery. One problem though; way too much greenery. All the green made the photos much much too busy and very distracting drawing the eye all over the place so you couldn’t focus on the subject. What to do!? You can’t have St. Patrick’s Day portraits taken at a St. Patrick’s Day event and not have green in the photo.
I opted for a cheap post processing trick, a variation on selective color. Selective color is when you desaturate all the colors in the photo except one. An example in its most trite and cliched form is a photo which is completely black and white except for the red petals on a rose. Okay, I’m not proud of it but I will admit I have done this too. My variation was that I desaturated the background and the subject except for the green they were wearing. Well that was my plan. Turns out I at times got so involved in the processing I forgot to desaturate the subject too. I went back and correct some but just too much work to redo all the ones I got carried away with.
This was the most painstaking and time consuming post processing I had ever done. I had ninety photos I had to process, down from the 135 or so I came home with. Sometimes I would create selections for the item or items I wanted to keep the green. I would then invert the selection and desaturate the photo. Other times it was easier to select everything that was to be black and white and desaturate that selection. Either way it was a pain and I doubt I’ll ever do it again, at least not with that many photos. After all ninety photos were processed and converted to jpg for easier viewing and I started culling them down even more. I would go through and eliminate one or two, wait a day or so and do this again. I’m down to forty-two and hopefully I’ll realize these are not all winners and get rid of some more. Self editing is really hard for me.
It’s been a few of days since writing the last paragraph above and I now need to upload the photos and and get this post publish ready. I still have forty-two photos and not that much time so I’ll be interested to see which ones make the cut. It will be even more interesting to see what viewers think. My mind wonders did I waste a lot of time and effort on a so-so gimmick or are the photos interesting. I keep going back and forth on that.
During processing I was surprised at the expressions I had caught. At the time I was photographing all I was seeing was happy smiling faces. Everyone was having a good time and didn’t seem to have a care in the world. But the results don’t have nearly as many smiling faces as I thought there would be or remembered seeing all around me. One other point. A few of the photos have more interest than just the subject because of a background subject a.k.a. photobomb.
Not everyone was wearing green.
It’s as if he’s daring me.
The moustache is real.
Thank yo for stopping by.