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

Interlude: Alton, Illinois

Alton, Illinois is one of the weirdest cities in the United States (for those friends of mine who live there, that is the highest form of compliment).  Alton is a river town, and its fortunes rise and fall with the river.  See that red line on the white building in the background of the photo above?  That is the mark for the Great Flood of 1993, and the black band below it denotes a 1973 flooding event.

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Interlude: Sister Marie Charles Park

One of my favorite parks in St. Louis is one of its least known (perhaps, more than a little responsible for its allure). Sister Marie Charles Park is a sliver of greenspace at the base of a bluff along the Mississippi River in Carondelet, in the city’s far south side.  It offers one of my favorite views of downtown (see above), and provides a pacifying view of the river with tugboats and towboats gently chugging by.

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Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Lens

Lenses, like cameras, are purchased for a variety of reasons:

1. There are lenses out there that are impeccable, that deliver maximum image quality (loads of sharpness, great contrast, minimum distortion and excellent color reproduction) and are lighting fast (generally f/2.8 is considered fast, though with primes sometimes f/1.8 is considered sluggish), but those lenses tend to come with a few caveats also: they are heavy and expensive.  These lenses are specialists’ tools; their purpose is to be the best in the game for the pros that need them.

2. There are lenses that are the optical equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife, they cut, they saw, they open cans, but they’re often clunky and inefficient when compared to tools dedicated to those tasks.  They are your 18-400’s of the world.  These zoom lenses are generalists’ tools; their purpose is utility and convenience for the enthusiast.

3. There are lenses that you form an emotional attachment to.  These lenses can be zooms or primes, slow or fast, cheap or expensive, but they are always at your side.  These lenses are the ones you pick up when you are going out to take pictures for the day when there is no pressure on you for what you’ll bring back.  They make photography fun. They get out of your way, and let you think about composition and subject.  These lenses are seldom the first ones photographers buy. In fact, they almost always come into the bag after years of shooting, when you realize finally that what is truly missing from your kit isn’t its ability to cover fisheye to super telephoto or to be able to pixel peep every shot at 100%.

The Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D is this third category of lenses for me.

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LouFest 2017

Posted in Adventure, art, beer, family, Interlude, Jason Gray, links, nikon, Park, perception, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, St. Louis by Jason Gray on September 11, 2017

Don’t go into the light, Carol Anne.

LouFest is an annual music festival held in St. Louis’ Forest Park that combines national headlining music acts with local upstarts on three stages with a veritable village in between of art tents, food and drink vendors, retail, carnival activities, a kids area and more.

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LOSP in Translation

Lake of the Ozarks State Park (LOSP) is Missouri’s largest state park. With nearly 18,000 acres to explore, the Park is over twice the size of the State’s second biggest park, which makes it sometimes feel more like a National Park than a state one. After all, LOSP even has its own airport; how many state parks out there can claim that?

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Interlude: Carondelet Park

Posted in Adventure, art, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, Park, perception, Photo Walk, photography, prime lenses by Jason Gray on August 15, 2017

Created as a concession to demands for a southern and northern park following the planned establishment of Forest Park, Carondelet Park is the third largest green space in St. Louis, and the only one that honors the karst topography original to the area.

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Photo Flood 59: Tiffany*

Posted in Adventure, art, Interlude, Jason Gray, Photo Walk, photography, Travel by Jason Gray on July 18, 2017

Photo Flood Saint Louis is an organization that I created almost five years ago for photographers in St. Louis.  PFSTL offers great opportunities to network, share images, learn from more experienced shooters, and more, but mostly, it tells the story of the city, neighborhood by neighborhood.  In fact, every month we visit a new neighborhood, meet new people, visit new businesses, and show the world (or at least the internet) what makes St. Louis a dynamic place to live, warts and all.

As organizer, I rarely miss an event, but it has happened.  Over the years, I missed out on covering the southside neighborhoods of Mt. Pleasant and Tiffany.  This post is about me finally getting a chance to walk around one of them.

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Photo Flood 18*: Mt. Pleasant

Posted in Adventure, art, Interlude, Jason Gray, manual focus, Photo Walk, photography by Jason Gray on June 19, 2017

Photo Flood Saint Louis is an organization that I created almost five years ago for photographers in St. Louis.  PFSTL offers great opportunities to network, share images, learn from more experienced shooters, and more, but mostly, it tells the story of the city, neighborhood by neighborhood.  In fact, every month we visit a new neighborhood, meet new people, visit new businesses, and show the world (or at least the internet) what makes St. Louis a dynamic place to live, warts and all.

As organizer, I rarely miss an event, but it has happened.  Over the years, I missed out on covering the southside neighborhoods of Mt. Pleasant and Tiffany.  This post is about me finally getting a chance to walk around one of them.

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Katherine

Posted in art, Jason Gray, model, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 5, 2017

I’ve expressed my fondness for working with the human form in previous posts (here, here, and here).  All of that said, I think it is important to note that these sessions are important to me/my work for a variety of reasons.

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Monica

Posted in art, Interlude, Jason Gray, model, perception, photography by Jason Gray on April 25, 2017

There is something timeless and very simple about working with the human figure that I much enjoy.  For the commercial work that I do, I am always concerned with what the client’s expectations are, and with my more conceptual work, I operate within very strict parameters governed by what I am trying to say.  Likewise, for the photographs that I produce for Photo Flood Saint Louis, I am constantly thinking about the story my images are sending. However, in figurative work, I am free to pursue both form and content in a way that is completely untethered from any mental constraints.

The human body is a classical motif in art, one which conveys both the grace and tragedy of life.  As such, it is a conduit for both our notions of beauty and scorn, and a subject that I have tremendous respect for.

In this most recent shoot, I was fortunate to work with a great model that seemed to know exactly what I wanted (perhaps because we are already friends or because she is also a photographer).  I am very happy with this body of images, and look forward to working with Monica again in the future.

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