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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Fuji X-E3

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I’ve been shooting on Fujifilm now since December, so I figured that’s long enough to beginning offering practical reviews of my experiences with that equipment. Up first is the Fuji X-E3, a nimble, lightweight, rangefinder-styled mirrorless shooter that both appeals to specific needs in photography and to the photo everyman (that’s a feat in itself).

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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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St. Francois State Park

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St. Francois State Park is a pleasant park with a surprising variety of landscapes to explore. On our visit, we hiked the shortish Mooner’s Hollow Trail (2.75 miles), but still found ourselves transported through Ozark fens and glades, past a gentle cascade, and even across bridge-less streams. Our son, Harper surprised himself (and us) when he slipped into a creek (!!). The cool water was a relief, however, and he was quickly all smiles.

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Cliff Cave County Park

In May of 2018, the new additions to Cliff Cave County Park, in Oakville, officially opened to the public, including 2 miles of trail extension, connectors and bridges to improve access, and a scenic overlook of the Mississippi River (partial view from pictured above). All of this was a project of Great Rivers Greenway, which continues to assert itself as a important steward for the outdoors in the metro area.

I couldn’t make the opening, and I had not had a chance to explore it since, so I took a sweltering June afternoon (100 degrees at midday) to do just that.

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Castor River Shut-Ins Natural Area

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There are some places in nature that you just luckily stumble across. Places that are in the vicinity of your regular spots, that you finally take notice of, and are amazed that you could have missed them all this time. Castor River Shut-Ins Natural Area is not one of those places. It is tucked away inside the Amidon Memorial Conservation Area, down remote gravel roads, susceptible to wash outs after a heavy rain, that dead end at your destination. From St. Louis, it is also a bit of a haul (to be more precise, it is about the exact distance away as to necessitate ten or twelve “Are we almost there?!”‘s from a growingly impatient five year old). That said, it is totally worth all the effort.

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Things to do in Denver (When You’re Not Dead)

Posted in Adventure, art, black and white, family, Hike, Jason Gray, learning, nikon, Park, photography, Travel, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on February 28, 2019

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Friends, here are some things (I call them ‘musts’) to do in Denver when you are not dead. I happened to fit them all into a single day, but you could definitely spread them out over a longer trip.

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Riverway Getaway

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Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) is Missouri’s largest National Park Services property, of which there are twelve, and the first national park in the United States to protect a river. It is a wonderful space for family camping or for an outing with friends, and summer float trips here are both a State tradition and right of passage. 

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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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