Advice on Photographing Gateway Arch (St Louis)

Discussion in 'Travel' started by berkshire-wedding-photography, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Hi Guys,
    I’ll be visiting St Louis shortly and hope to photograph the famous arch from the other side of the river at dusk. This is probably the best shot I’ve come across:
    I wanted to ask your advice on some points:
    1) Access to the opposite river bank
    Google Earth appears to show some railway tracks running along the opposite river bank. Can I (safely and legally) get right to the water?
    2) Metal structure in the way
    I also noticed from Google Earth that more or less opposite the arch is a long metal structure a few metres into the river. I would guess that it would get in the way of a picture like the one above unless it is shot from the metal platform itself (which I doubt is legal/safe). Is this platform still there, and does it get in the way? If the answer is yes to both, was the above shot taken before this structure was in place?
    3) Safety in an unknown city
    I’ll get a taxi to drop me off at Casino Queen and then walk to the location. I’ll be shooting on my own at dusk. As I know little of St Louis and this particular area, I wanted to check if it was safe for me to be on my own with some expensive photo equipment.
    4) Getting back to my hotel
    Finally, I take it that I can go back to the casino and order a cab to pick me up and take me back to my hotel?
    5) Better view for sunset/dusk
    Do you guys know of a better location to shoot sunset/dusk of the arch? The only other location that comes close appears to be close to the rail bridge:
    Thanks in advance for your help
  2. Luben,
    I live south of St Louis a ways and have never photographed the Arch the way you want to but I can tell you that the area across from the Arch is not generally somewhere you want to be at night with expensive equipment and alone. There may be places there you could access but you really need someone familiar with that particular area to advise you.
    The long metal structure you saw in the river was probably a barge and it may or may not be there when you are as they are constantly moved about.
    I have a nice shot of the Arch I took one time, just before dusk, from a traffic jam on Interstate 55 where we were sitting still and I shut my truck off and braced the camera and a long lens in the window frame. Really was lucky with that one but it is on film and haven't scanned it yet so can't show it. Some day! You could probably scout the area and find a place to get out, set up, take your shot, and be gone before your presence is noticed by the undesirables that frequent that area notice you. It is a heavy industrial and run-down area but visibility is pretty good. Just be careful!
    Good luck and enjoy your visit.
    Al Rohrer
  3. Thanks for the feedback Al.
    I appreciate you taking the time!
  4. I drive through East St. Louis, IL. frequently. But the city has a high crime rate, and the area you're talking about is not considered safe (link), certainly not at night. I have not been on the riverboat casino, but that would be the only place I personally would consider in trying to duplicate your image linked to.
    There are lots of good views of the arch from every side, however. Some hotels on the Missouri side provide river views near the Arch.
  5. Thanks JDM,
    Looks like it is a no go. If I knew any locals I could do it, but as it is, I'll have to stick to something else.
    All the best
  6. There re good views of the arch from the park in which it is located, although not from a pespective which will show it aginst the sunset. A wide angle lens will help.
  7. There re good views of the arch from the park in which it is located, although not from a pespective which will show it aginst the sunset. A wide angle lens will help. Don't miss the ride to the top of the arch.
  8. Thanks Charles,
    Yes I've seen great views from the ponds on either side of the arch. And as I have an IR camera, I could make a good daytime shot. but unfortunately my shooting opportunities are in the evening (I'm there on business and busy during the day), thus I'm not sure it will be ideal location for sunrise/dusk, as it forces you to shoot either directly north or directly south.
    Thanks again for your thoughts on this though and all the best.
  9. Luben, don't give up on it. There are many views of the Arch. When you get here, look around and find one that will work for you. One of the best images I have seen of it was taken standing under it and shooting straight up. When will you be here?
    Al Rohrer
  10. Thanks Al,
    I appreciate you taking the time to offer some advice.
    I too have seen several really good abstract architectural style shots of the arch, but that is not my photographic style. I'm more into sweeping vistas and putting iconic structures like the arch into context as part of its surroundings.
    I will do some more research, but I kind of know what I want already, and it appears I can't get it on my own (due to danger), so I might have to give up on it.
    I'm there 20th-23rd August, so not long left to plan anything.
  11. Luben, I can't commit this far ahead but stay in contact until we get a little closer to the time you will be here. If it will work out, I'll try to get free a half day to come up and be your driver for your Arch shots. I'm a little over an hour south of St Louis and am familiar enough with the area I won't get us lost and am savvy enough in areas like you need to go that I can probably keep you and your gear intact.
    I check in on here every two or three days as I'm on the road quite a lot so will watch for your posts.
    Al Rohrer
  12. Thanks a lot Al. Very kind of you to offer. Especially as you live quite far away (well at least in the UK an hour drive is nothing to be sniffed at) :)
    I'll give you a shout closer to the time.
    Maybe we can open this to the wider community. If anyone here lives in or around St Louis and wants to get together for a sunset/dusk shoot of the arch between 20th august & 22nd august, feel free to post here and let's see if we can organise something!
  13. On Google maps there is clearly a multi-level structure on the east side of the river, just east of the tracks, called: Mississippi River Overlook.
  14. I went across the river to the East St Louis area - at night! And got some fantastic photos. You'll want someone with you, and you'll have to maneuver through the train tracks, but the view is spectacular.
    There is a park called the Mississippi River Outlook that gives you an elevated view of the city from across the river. This is safe during the day, but again, at dusk and after, be very alert - the neighborhood is very questionable. You can find the MRO on google maps. The one problem with the outlook platform is that while it gives a great view, there are power lines between you and the city, which will show up in the photo .
    As far as the train tracks area, no powerlines in the way, but not sure if it's legal to be there. I was there WAY after dark, scared to death, but pushed on even so, and glad I did! All of my shots here in the album that feature the arch were shot from one of those two locations. Good luck!
  15. How about taking a shot from here:
    Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park
    185 W. Trendley Ave.
    East St. Louis, Illinois 62201
    Is that safe place for evening shots? I will be there this weekend.
  16. Tony,
    It is the same spot Jason shot from and the area I mentioned prior.
  17. Thanks, Rob. I'll use caution if going there in the evening.

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