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

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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Friday Night Music Video: Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot”

Posted in friday night music video, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on December 28, 2019

Format change here on Friday Night Music Video. Instead of the random bit of insufferable chaos that you may be used to, I am going to try to shed some light on some of my favorite pieces of music, albums and artists. First up is an album that is of extreme significance to me, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot.

This album is my Kevin Bacon for music collecting. Almost all of the over 2,000 albums that I own connect, in one way or another, to this album in one or a few degrees. Here are some of the extensions….

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Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 STM Lens


I am in the camp of those who acquire lenses only to accommodate a variety of purposes. This is partially why I switched predominantly to primes years ago- I recognized that even with a zoom lens, I gravitated toward particular focal lengths and tended not to use most of the remaining zoom range. Once I realized that I was using my expensive 17-55mm f/2.8 Nikkor as essentially a 24mm f/2.8 lens for greater than 80% of the shots I took, I sold it and acquired a less expensive, though dedicated 24mm lens, that because it was dedicated, turned out to be better for me in many ways. I recognize that this strategy may not work for everyone and for every photography purpose, which is why 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…)

Review Announcement

Posted in art, Fuji, Jason Gray, photography, prime lens, Review, St. Louis, What's in My Camera Bag? by Jason Gray on December 7, 2019

Something wicked this way comes….

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