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

History of Nature and Landscape Photography, Transition to Artform

George Shiras and John Hammerin a canoe equipped for jacklighting, Whitefish Lake, Michigan, 1893; © National Geographic Creative Archives

Around the beginning of the 20th Century, significant innovations in camera technology, chemistry, and photographic equipment coalesced at a time when photographers were beginning to recognize the expressive potential of their image-making. An era was fast dawning wherein the photograph would no longer be simply relegated to the realm of science or to cheap novelty, but would instead serve to drive culture, both in and out of art.

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History of Nature and Landscape Photography, The Beginnings

Sir Henry Fox Talbot; early 1840’s

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Photography has had a preoccupation with nature almost from the very beginning. In fact, it was probably a preoccupation with nature that led to photography in the first place. The Pencil of Nature was a photobook published in the mid-1840’s by Sir Henry Fox Talbot, who was the first to successfully develop a reproducible negative.

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Rainy Day Hiking and Nature Photography

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Cool, rainy days are for Netflix, cocoa and the couch, right? Well, sort of. I believe that they also offer some of the most fun hiking around, and some of the best conditions for nature and landscape photography. In fact, I think that just about any weather event is a good opportunity to get outside (not that I hate sunny days- they are just less interesting, photographically).

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Happy 10 Year Anniversary to HOI!

Posted in Adventure, art, Arts Writing, Interlude, Jason Gray, learning, photography, St. Louis, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on February 8, 2019

If you can believe it, this blog has been around for ten whole years this month! That’s some craziness on a lot of levels, particularly that I’ve been able to (relatively) maintain it despite everything that has happened in my personal life during that time. To celebrate, here are some fun site facts.

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The Nikon/Canon/Sony Cost Penalty

I promise, this blog will get back to focusing on other aspects of photography soon, but my recent camera brand switch has brought so many realizations that I think warrant sharing before I move on. Among them, perhaps chief among them, is the realization that all brands are not created equal when it comes to cost vs. performance analysis. You might be tempted to say, “Duh!”, but for me, this was a realization of how successfully I had been marketed to as a Nikon shooter in the past, as much as it was a recognition that I have been paying a “penalty” for shooting that line, and increasingly so over recent years. I’ll explain further below.

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Photography is No Monolith

jason_gray - 1 (17)

Photography, at its root, is two things: 1. the recording of light phenomena (sometimes invisible to the human eye); 2. a means of communication (sometimes for a conversation that we have only with ourselves). In the overlap between these two, we see all of the photographs ever made, which of course, says very little about the purpose of their creation. This distinction, the photograph’s “purpose”, only becomes apparent once the relationship between the photographer and viewer has been established. For instance, a message delivered through a megaphone that never reaches the recipient renders the projection device meaningless, or without purpose. In this way, the purpose of a photograph that sells to an ad agency is commercial, while the purpose of a photograph that sells to a Museum is cultural, but this is also an oversimplification, since photographs that originally sold to ad agencies have wound up in Museums (a photograph’s purpose can change over time or a photograph can have multiple purposes simultaneously).

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My Go-To Equipment in 2017

Understanding what cameras and lenses you use most often provides all sorts of data, and is something that I always think is pretty interesting and can be very helpful. For instance, in the pie chart above (based upon the images I selected for My Best of 2017 posts 1 and 2), I know that I leave the bigger, heavier cameras at home at least 25% of the time (or at the very least, I use the iPhone 7+ to document things that I don’t feel warrant the use of a DSLR- I included documentary images in this metric). What’s more, my second backup body, the D200, makes an appearance because my primary body, the D7200, had to be sent in for repair this year.  Also, knowing my stats from last year, I can see that I am using the D300 less and less often, which means that I greatly prefer the images that the D7200 makes, even though it has been a problem-prone camera for me (if it is worth putting down for posterity, I am going to try to do that with the best quality equipment that I own).

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My Best of 2017 (part two)

20. Tiffany

For the first time, I have divided the annual summary of a year in my photo life into two parts.  Check out the first part here.

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My Best of 2017 (part one)

1. former JC Penny Building in Wells Goodfellow for Photo Flood Saint Louis (PFSTL)

As mentioned in my “Best of” post for last year, 2016 pretty much wrecked my life, so it should come as no surprise that 2017 was a year of contemplation, reassessment and rebuilding. As 2018 dawns, I am concluding or have concluded several projects, some positive/some negative, some personal/some public, and am ready to welcome the start of what’s next. Enjoy this numbered list of my favorite images from last year, with some anecdotes sprinkled in between (this is a two-parter for the first time; look for the second one later in the month).

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Pulitzer Arts Foundation Opening

Last Friday, I dropped into the Pulitzer Arts Foundation to check out the opening of their latest exhibition on Japanese drawing and animation.  It’s excellent as usual!

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