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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Overcoming Failure

Posted in awareness, F-Stop Gear, family, Jason Gray, perception, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 12, 2016

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In the “My Best of 2016” article, I wrote about the layoff which I experienced early in that year, but I didn’t go into much detail about what that experience was like or how I internally dealt with the feeling of failure that resulted.

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My Best of 2016

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1. reveler at St. Louis Mardi Gras for PFSTL (Photo Flood Saint Louis)

Time again for my annual post of my favorite images (24 this time) and personal accomplishments.  To my recollection, very few years of my 36 or so in the world rival 2016 in terms of sheer awfulness.  I mean, the year was literally ushered in with a devastating flood for the record books….

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Camp Grits, In the Shadow of the Smokies

Posted in Adventure, art, awareness, Backpacking, family, Hike, Jason Gray, links, photography, Review, Travel, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on November 6, 2016

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Fall and spring in the Midwest are those lovely times of year when either summer’s veil of heat has lifted or the icy grip of winter has loosened, enough for most of us to yearn for those activities that bring us closer to nature.  The hiking boots slip on and our feet once again stomp the earthen paths through the forests of our imagination that have steadily grown up over the months of our climatized isolation indoors.   (more…)

Interlude: Great Smoky Mountains, Day Three

Posted in art, awareness, family, Jason Gray, learning, links, photography, science, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on October 13, 2016

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By Day Three, my morning ritual of waking up to a rooster distantly crowing (I must say, much more pleasant than an alarm clock) and getting the coffee started was firmly in play.  My cold still lingered, but the medicine that we picked up on our way back from Newfound Gap was working well, and I was looking forward to a relaxing day in the “big” city.

If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg, it is a real treat.  For those of you readers familiar with Branson, Missouri, it is sort of like that, on steroids, in the mountains….  As much as I thought I might scoff at this town (due to its unabashed pandering to the wallets of travelers), I actually really enjoyed it.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #1. Dutchtown

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

Dutchtown, named after a mispronunciation of “deutsch”, is St. Louis’ most populated neighborhood, and equally one of the city’s most threatened and potential-rich.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #2. Forest Park Southeast

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

Forest Park Southeast is a neighborhood of contrasts.  The blocks north of Manchester look and feel very different from those south of it.  The area’s central business district, sort of an alternative to South Grand and Cherokee Street, seems perpetually half-revitalized (one of the street’s best known businesses, Sweetie Pie’s, just announced its closure).

To summarize why this is is a difficult thing to do, but I’d wager that the neighborhood will only remain this way for a short time longer.  As Central West End and Midtown to its north continue to attract new start-up investment, and Botanical Heights further matures to its east, FPSE has a good future outlook.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #3. Bevo Mill

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the south side’s most recognizable architectural feature would make it onto this list.  However, namesake aside, the Bevo Mill neighborhood is distinctive due to its cultural richness.  After all, the St. Louis area features the largest population of former Yugoslavic peoples outside of the Balkans, and this neighborhood is the local epicenter.

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