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

My Best of 2015

Posted in art, black and white, cruise, F-Stop Gear, family, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 13, 2015


St. Louis Zoo zookeeper cleaning the reticulated python exhibit

What a crazy year 2015 has been! In January, I assumed a part-time role with f-stop Gear as their St. Louis Community Manager. This company designs expedition and backcountry packs for adventure photographers (landscape, action sports, nature, travel, etc.). As well, I took over curation duties at The Dark Room Photo Gallery and Wine Bar on behalf of my other employer, the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. The first exhibit that I would mount there was James Palmour: Reclaimed, a solo show of urban interior images by the St. louis-based, architectural preservationist photographer.


installation image of James Palmour: Reclaimed


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Hawaii and Cruise, days 7-11

Posted in art, cruise, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on May 4, 2015


The Celebrity Solstice ship that we stayed upon during the duration of our vacation is one of eleven ships in the Celebrity fleet, and at over 1,000 feet long and 122,000 tons is the 31st largest cruise ship active today (it is an awful comparison, but the ship is 200 feet longer and almost three times heavier than the Titanic). In terms of amenities, the 16 decks on Solstice offer a half-acre of living grass, a basketball court, the Cornish Hot Glass Studio, an arcade, a casino, and a 1,000+ seat theatre, in addition to the restaurants, pools, and shops that you probably expect. Live music and entertainment was provided each night while at sea, and the ship even coordinates shore excursions for a fee. It goes almost without saying then that there is always something to do while aboard. However, the truly special element for us was the crew, who remembered us from day to day and took a personal interest in our family. This was so important to our son, who really enjoyed visiting his new friends.


Hawaii and Cruise, Day 6

Posted in art, cruise, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on May 3, 2015


Arriving in Hilo, Hawaii on day six, we were pleasantly surprised to realize that there was room for our massive cruise ship to dock (tendering back and forth eats up a lot of exploring time).

On this day, we rented another vehicle (a car this time) and set out to see Rainbow Falls, Hilo Farmer’s Market (one of the state’s largest with over 200 vendors), and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.


Hawaii and Cruise, Day 5

Posted in art, cruise, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on May 3, 2015


A beautiful sunrise over distant mountaintops greeted our ship as it cruised into the harbor of Kona-Kailua on Hawaii (the “Big Island”). After tendering ashore, we joined the group again for another bus tour, this time to visit the Royal Kona Coffee factory, St. Benedict’s Painted Church, and Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (the Place of Refuge). When the tour completed, we explored the town of Kona-Kailua.


Hawaii and Cruise, Day 4

Posted in art, cruise, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on May 3, 2015


The truck that we rented on day three came in to play on day four for our road trip to Hana (and the Pipiwai Trail just beyond). If you have never been, the undulating road to Hana is a destination in and of itself with more than 600 hairpin turns, over 50 one-lane bridges, and many dramatic views of the coastline. For this reason, Hana is one of the remotest towns in all of the Hawaiian islands. I should note that a Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 pick-up truck is not the preferred vehicle for this task as it takes up more than its share of the narrow lanes, and was quite a surprise, considering we had reserved a Corolla. Nonetheless, I drove both ways and we lived, despite my having to reverse several times and/or hug the edge of the road (with a likely fatal drop-off beyond).


Hawaii and Cruise, Day 3

Posted in art, cruise, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on May 3, 2015


On day three, our ship arrived in the port of Lahaina on the island of Maui. After tendering ashore, we rented a truck (for the next day’s events), promptly parked it, and proceeded to explore the town on foot.

Lahaina was a 19th century whaling port, and the former tribal capital of Hawaii. While the town is heavily catered to tourists, it still possesses a lot of charm. Historically, the downtown area offers much, including the largest banyan tree in the United States (140+ years old!) and many buildings of note.


Hawaii and Cruise, Days 1-2

Posted in art, cruise, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on May 2, 2015


Days one and two were spent on Oahu, the most populous of the Hawaiian islands and center of the State’s government. Oahu is home to Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head (an inactive volcano), Pearl Harbor, Byodo-In Temple and so much more. The clocktower in the photograph above is Aloha Tower; completed in 1926, this building was once the tallest structure in Hawaii.

The first day was a long and tiring journey to reach our destination, combined with the slow process of embarkation (needless to say, we did not get out into the city on day one). On day two, we elected to take a free bus tour that was being offered, which transported us through Downtown Honolulu, Punch Bowl and Chinatown before depositing us at Pearl Harbor.


What’s in my Camera Bag?


Who doesn’t love “What’s in My Camera Bag?” posts? This one shows what I plan to take on vacation with me at the end of the month, when my family and I will be traveling by cruise ship from Oahu to Maui, then to Hawaii (Big Island), and finally to Vancouver, BC. I’ve never taken a cruise, so I am excited for the experience.

As for the gear, I will be taking memory enough for 2500 pictures (I doubt that I will shoot anywhere near that), two camera bodies with older manual focus lenses attached (a wide and a short telephoto on DX), ND filters (I seldom use these, but have some ideas in mind), a passport (for Canada), and more.

I decided upon the two bodies with primes because of the improved shooting experience. I’ve been using this set-up for a while, and it really gets me connected to the shot. I had considered my f/2.8 zooms, but they are heavy and are not nearly as much fun to shoot.

The F-Stop Millar Series Bandon bag that I am using is configured for speed with the two bodies; I grab the camera/lens combo that I want, nail down the shot, and then it goes back in the bag super fast. The Millar line is designed with this versatility in mind, but is styled to look good at the same time (leather accents, etc.). In fact, I own the Smoky Mountain backpack from this series as well! If you are looking for a practical (and attractive) camera messenger bag, I highly recommend the Bandon.

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