Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

My Go-To Equipment in 2020

Posted in 35mm, Fuji, Jason Gray, learning, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, What's in My Camera Bag? by Jason Gray on December 20, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 12.15.36 AM

Two years ago, I started sharing a version of the lens and camera stats that I collect every year to observe how I am using or not using my equipment. These public posts are based on the images from my Best Of posts, which tend to be a great microcosm for how I use equipment on the whole.

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My Best of 2020

Posted in Adventure, art, Arts Writing, awareness, Fuji, Hike, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 20, 2020

1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

It feels insane to type it, but 2020 was in some ways a more stable year (personally) than those of recent memory, despite the overshadowing of a global pandemic and extreme political uncertainty.

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First Impressions: Vallerret Ipsoot Photography Gloves

Posted in Adventure, Jason Gray, links, photography, Review, St. Louis, Travel, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on November 26, 2020

Vallerret Ipsoot Photography Gloves

I was recently sent a pair of Ipsoot Photography Gloves by Vallerret, and asked to share my thoughts. This is the Norway-based company that is the winter weather best friend to cold hands everywhere. Things have been a little unseasonably warm here in St. Louis, so my more in-depth review will come later. However, I wanted to take a quick moment to give my first impressions.

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7artisans 7.5mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

Posted in art, Fuji, manual focus, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, Review by Jason Gray on March 28, 2020


Photography is not all about MTF charts- in fact, it’s not even all about gear. The point of photography is expression, and that is conducted in all manner of ways: with film or digital capture, from large to small format, with equipment that is perfect to purposely using equipment with flaws. That said, sometimes you just can’t get around the equipment, like when it actually impedes your ability to create…

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)

Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS Lens

Posted in art, Fuji, Jason Gray, photography, Review, zoom lens by Jason Gray on March 28, 2020


Several years ago, I decided to convert from zoom lenses to prime lenses. This was a pivot designed to benefit my creativity (prime lenses encourage you to move around, which lends to new perspectives, and they simplify compositional decisions), and to give my work a more cohesive “look”. Since making that decision, I’ve never really looked back, and couldn’t imagine lugging heavy 2.8 zooms around anymore. However, when I converted from Nikon to Fuji, I recognized that I needed a focal length longer than 50mm, that could fill the shoes (mostly) of my old Nikkor 105mm. I considered the Fuji 90mm f/2, but this 55-200mm was on sale, fast enough for my occasional use, and offered more reach than I had previously. I took a chance, and boy, am I happy that I did!

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)

Fujinon XF 50mm f/2 WR Lens

Posted in art, Fuji, Jason Gray, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, Review, What's in My Camera Bag? by Jason Gray on March 28, 2020


The Fujinon XF 50mm f/2 R WR Lens is a workhorse lens for me. For portrait work especially, this lens comes out for every single session, and it is most often the lens on my second body for walking around or event work. In Fuji’s lineup, this is essentially the “nifty fifty” that almost all manufacturers make (usually, an inexpensive 50mm f/1.8), though at $450, it is quite a bit more expensive than most others. However, for the extra money, you get quite a lot over those other lenses: weather resistance, a metal build, very quick and advanced focusing, and optical performance that is often reserved for much more expensive lenses.

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)

Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 WR Lens


The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR Lens is the most recent Fuji lens that I have purchased, but it has already become my third most used Fuji lens ever (according to my shot count in Lightroom). It is a lens that I have travelled with extensively, hiked with extensively, used as a walk-around lens extensively, and have leaned on heavily for event work, portrait work, art documentation and more. In simple, this lens, like the 23mm and 50mm lenses, is a lens that I trust to tell my story as a photographer (and in turn, the stories of my quite varied subjects). That said, it is not a perfect lens- it has character, and I’ll get into that in a bit.

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)

Friday Night Music Video: Belly’s “Feed the Tree”

Posted in awareness, friday night music video, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on January 19, 2020

This post is about the significance (forwards and backwards) of Belly’s “Feed the Tree”, which was my introduction to Tanya Donelly (crush).

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7artisans Photoelectric 35mm f/1.2 Lens


Sometimes, photography is just meant to be fun. Not worrying about being consistent to a body of work, or not worrying about botching a client’s expectations is often the source of that fun for me, but it can also stem from pure experimentation. From taking a piece of equipment out that may miss the shot, but might also deliver something really beautiful and unexpected. A piece of equipment, by the way, that harkens back to a time when photography was conducted at a slower, more deliberate pace- an analog piece in a digital world. The 7artisans Photoelectric (what the heck does that mean?!) 35mm f/1.2 is that piece of equipment.

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)

Michelle

Posted in art, Jason Gray, model, photography, St. Louis by Jason Gray on December 29, 2019

One of the core themes in my art, both photographic and in drawing/painting, is figurative work, and I often return to it when I’ve hit a creative standstill in some way. Figure work can allow me to explore through concepts, but mostly it enables me to think in terms of a formal tradition that I am generally working against otherwise. In this way, there is simplicity of expression and the excitement of approaching the subject in a completely organic way (I prefer to react to what’s there rather than obsessively preplan these shoots). It is a reset, in a sense.

I have known Michelle for several years, and I have thought for almost as long that she would be a terrific model. She is a natural, in being both incredibly beautiful and in having an emotional depth and intelligence that registers in the images as relatable, maybe even a little vulnerable. Her eyes forge a connection and communicate with sincerity. The camera is only able to frame, it does not bring these qualities, and I feel lucky to have worked with her on this set (and hope to work with her again soon).

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