Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tall Stacks Flashback

Originally posted: December 21, 2013

Flashback: Sometime in the early 1990's.

The world was getting at me – inside and out. I needed a road trip. I had to get away, out-of-town and out of the entire state if I could. No, I wasn’t running from the law, but I was running away from bad memories. You know the kind that haunt your every waking moment – even some during sleep as well.

An opportunity presented itself. It wasn’t far away and it would be a fairly inexpensive day trip.  A little road trip – over and back to Cincinnati, Ohio from Greenfield, Indiana. Just my style of short day trip in those days.

The Tall Stacks is an occasional event which celebrates the growth of a nation along the countries natural Interstate Highways – the aquatic system of rivers and lakes. More specifically, America’s Steamboat Era. Search your history banks for stories of the Erie Canal, the Indian Wars, the French-Indian War along the mighty Hudson River and the westward expansion along the Ohio River. Coincidentally, Cincinnati lies right next to the river supply lines across from Covington and Newport, Kentucky.

Opening paragraph from the Tall Stacks Times event newspaper made available all along the wharf.

At that time, I didn’t have my cameras with me. It was all film in those days. Instead, I purchased one of those (no kidding) $6.00 disposable Kodak cameras which held 24-27 shots and then you turned-in the entire camera for processing and printing of your valuable images. In this case, the term snapshot certainly applies. There was no in-camera cropping with zoom lenses or adjusting focus point, exposure compensation or anything else. Using a relatively fast 400 ISO , would produce relative clear shots at about f/ 5.6 @ 1/125 or 1/60  second on a cloudy day.

To get the better view, we drove across the Ohio River bridge into Covington, found the dock area where a few of the old steamboats were docked for tours and in preparation for the big parade scheduled later in the day. Of course, there is nothing particularly artistic or creative about these shots as I could do no such thing with the 35mm semi-wide angle lens on the camera. However, after I scanned the processed into digital format, I decided to take matters into hand with image Corel PaintShop Pro X6 processing software. That was years later from the original scan to digital.

A few boats await the Grand Parade scheduled for later today.
Of course, nearly everywhere that could be found to crowd-in a food, novelty or souvenir tent or booth was utilized and they were busy with their businesses. That was great for me because all I wanted to do was get a better spot along the waterfront to view the parade. I finally found the best spot I could and prepared. If I had more film or my zoom lenses, I should have had many more images to show you. Here’s a view looking up river.

A River Tug Boat continues his daily routine heading up the Ohio River.
I’ve been across the Ohio River Bridge several times. In a few hours from now, there won’t be a space along this expansion that doesn’t have a curious on-looker present. Unfortunately, I ran short of film before that time as I only had 24-27 shots in the camera. In event photography, you get what you can, when you can. The rains could come, the crowds could get ugly and rowdy making clear view shots impossible.

Here is the luxurious Belle of Louisville.Folks a little farther down river know her well. She serves a dinner cruise with gourmet food, waiters in tux and white gloves as she steams along offering diners the view along the river not normally seen. I think we ate at Fudrucker's with the rest of the huge crowd had also viewed the Grand Parade.

The luxurious Belle of Louisville.
The luxurious Belle of Louisville is a perennial favorite here but is normally moored in Louisville and is quite busy with evening dinner cruises especially during Derby Days in May.

In this shot, the city of Cincinnati (as it was in 1992) is in the background. In this case, I’m thankful for the cloudy day, which broadens out the light and removes harsh shadows.

Isn’t she a beauty? I would have loved to have my 300 mm lens handy on this trip.

The West Virginia Belle from Wheeling, WV.
The West Virginia Belle is from Wheeling, WV and the surrounding area is a noted port of call for Riverboat gambling, casinos , horse racing and big name entertainment. I’m believe there might be gambling going on in that boat.

These photos I haven’t revisited for some time, I suppose. I was surprised to see that I had a shot of the West Virginia Belle in my collection. Of course, I’ve lived in West Virginia this past decade and more.

As I see these boats, of course my mind travels back to my childhood literature of Mark Twain and his stories of the people and happenings along the Mississippi Riverboats and waterways. If you want to visualize those times, these are the boats to put you in that frame of mind, I think.

Here is one more to complete my tale. I guess the other boats steered more toward the center of the river channel, while this one might have had a more shallow draft and came closer to our vantage point.  I liked it because it just looked like and was dressed like a party boat, loaded with people having a good time.

No research, but this sure looks like a "party boat" to me.
We ended the day in a crowded restaurant. Wouldn’t you know it, everyone in the nearby area was hungry all at the same time – at the end of the parade.

We did manage to take-in an Omni-Max movie at the Museum Center about a SCUBA diver’s adventures along the Great Barrier Reef, near Australia. If you haven’t been to an Omni-Max film showing, you should go.

Inside, is the Omni-Max Theater. See one of these films. You'll never forget it.
As we watched the film, I found that the entire audience took in breath at the exact same time as the diver would breath. Our senses were so immersed into the viewing, we literally shared the experience. It was awesome.

 The drive back home in the dark was uneventful, but I couldn’t wait to process my film. Those images and the good time were my only souvenirs. Totally worth it.


** My apologies for the quality of these images. I'm lucky to have anything at all. In all the rush, I forgot my camera and had to buy a single-use camera, using 400 speed film, which I later had to scan into digital. After I did that, I tossed the paper images. Silly me. What I didn't know about scanning, digital resolution and image correction software could fill volumes. This is the best I could do at the time.

That's it.

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