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

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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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, #5. Ferguson

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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.

Since August 9, 2014, Ferguson has been at the center of national attention.  “Ferguson” the idea/movement is undoubtedly the civil rights struggle of this generation, but for a mostly quaint community, that struggle has a long and complicated history – one that exemplifies what African-Americans have faced throughout the region from the start.

Yet, Ferguson is also a happy place.  A town on the border of St. Louis, where generations of families have lived.  A place which sees itself as worth saving; a place which sees this problem as worth solving.

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Interlude: Happy B-Day, Forest Park!

Posted in art, Jason Gray, learning, links, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 24, 2016

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Image 1.

Today, one of St. Louis’ most beloved attractions turns 140 years old.  However, when we celebrate the origin of Forest Park, we should also celebrate the beginnings of O’Fallon Park and Carondelet Park because it was only with a promise to build the other two that St. Louis residents agreed to pass the ballot measure necessary to build the city’s now preeminent greenspace.

I’ve written pretty extensively about all three parks for Photo Flood Saint Louis (click links above), so instead of rehashing the parks’ histories, I thought that it would be more fun to challenge how well my STL readers know each one.  In the comments below, challenge yourself, and identify which park goes with which image (ie. Image 1=xxxx Park).  Now, let’s see how well you know your city parks….

*Answer key in comments.

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Nikon D3200- A Very Capable Guide

Posted in Jason Gray, learning, links, photography, Review, technique, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 20, 2016

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Just a few short years ago, I was rocking my Nikon D50 alongside my more expensive bodies for both personal and professional work, and no one was the wiser.  That camera was small, light, and did all the basics reasonably well, without too much fiddling.  Unfortunately, Nikon neutered that line in many ways when it introduced the D40/D60 cameras (predecessors of the modern day D3xxx/D5xxx cams); most important though, they took away the top LCD, they introduced compression to RAW output, and removed the motor needed for AF-D lenses.

Still, this line is most photographers’ introduction to the Nikon brand, and for the most part, these cameras are great bodies to get to know photography on.  Which explains why I recommended the D3200 to my wife as her first DSLR.  If you are on the lookout for a starter cam, no doubt, the D3200 is a great buy and a very capable guide.

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Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AIS

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A few years ago, my wife arranged for a group of my friends to surprise me for my birthday.  My friend Steve surprised me even more with the very generous gift of a Nikon FM2 and an assortment of AIS lenses.  Among them was this absolute gem, the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AIS.

It is small, it is light, it is one of my all-time favorite street photography lenses, and it is still being manufactured by Nikon (since 1984!).  In fact, not only is this lens still sold new, but it is more expensive over the counter than Nikon’s AF-D version.

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Interlude: Toxic Tour STL

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Earlier this year, I created an afternoon itinerary, self-dubbed the “toxic tour”, that would take me by some of St. Louis’ most notorious, nefarious and/or notable sites relating to the city’s long history of chemical manufacturing, toxic waste removal, and dodged bullets.  I picked three sites in order to create a semi-circular route, but it would be easy to add other significant stops (ie. the former Carter Carburetor plant/EPA Superfund Site, the smoldering Bridgeton landfill, the Eastside’s Mound’o’Trash, the old ordinance bunkers of the Mark Twain I-70 Industrial neighborhood, etc.) if you really wanted to make a family weekend of it. :0

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Interlude: Mississippi River Flood, Winter 2015-2016

Posted in art, awareness, F-Stop Gear, Jason Gray, learning, manual focus, photography, prime lenses, science, winter by Jason Gray on June 10, 2016

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This Interlude is a catch-up on some work that I did after the historic flood of last winter.

From The Weather Channel website:

The Mississippi River at St. Louis crested New Year’s Day at its third highest level on record (42.58 feet), less than a foot shy of its April 28, 1973 flood crest (43.23 feet), but well short of the record 1993 crest (49.58 feet). 

The St. Louis flood wall, as well as the Metro East St. Louis and Fish Lake levees protect the area to a river stage of 54 feet, which is 4.4 feet above the 1993 record crest. The river’s fast currents and high levels prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to shut down a five-mile section of the river to navigation near St. Louis.

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Shutter Speed

Posted in 35mm, art, family, Jason Gray, learning, links, perception, photography, science, technique, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on May 21, 2016

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A beginner’s guide to shutter speed.

What is shutter speed?

When the photographer aims the camera at something and takes a picture, he or she is making an exposure.  An exposure is the net result of a combination of several mechanical, chemical or electronic factors working together in unison.

An exposure fixes an image in time, and can be considered “proper”, “under-“ (meaning too dark), or “over-“ (meaning too bright).

Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are the three primary adjustments that affect exposure.  In a proper exposure, a change to any single one of these will necessitate an equal and opposite change in at least one of the others.  This truth is known as equivalency.

The simplest definition of shutter speed is that it is the length of time that light is allowed to enter into a light-tight box (known as a camera) in order to produce an exposure.

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Nikon D7200-A Compromise?

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***6-Month UPDATE at bottom of page***

I recently updated my primary camera body to the Nikon D7200 (my first real update in over 8 years!), but before I explain my rationale for that, let me tell you a bit about my DSLR evolution.

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