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

Photography is No Monolith

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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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New Blog!

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I am excited to announce that my wife and I will be opening a brick-and-mortar shop (explorer boutique, wanderer goods) called KAMP in St. Louis, Missouri this March. Our motto is “Equip, explore, reflect, repeat”, and we hope that you’ll stop by if/when you can.

For those of you that enjoy my outdoor content on this blog, most of that will be moving over to the store’s blog, so be sure to subscribe over there to not miss anything!

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Me as Gilligan on Chouteau’s Island

a lot of the Island is floodplain, as the levee is on the opposite side as the Mississippi

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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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F-Stop Gear Guru

Several years ago, I converted over to using f-stop Gear‘s line of products as a solution to the problem of transporting my camera equipment and accessories.  These packs are expertly designed, and there is  a bag for virtually any purpose desired. I’ve previously outlined the ecosystem of their Mountain Line, so this review will focus on the Guru Version 1 that I use as my primary hiking ruck.

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Interlude: Castlewood State Park

Quick family hike through one of the Missouri’s best State Parks (and so close to STL!).  I’ve written about the Park in the past, including about its remarkable history, so this post will be a mostly visual tour.

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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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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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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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