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

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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LouFest 2017

Posted in Adventure, art, beer, family, Interlude, Jason Gray, links, nikon, Park, perception, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, St. Louis by Jason Gray on September 11, 2017

Don’t go into the light, Carol Anne.

LouFest is an annual music festival held in St. Louis’ Forest Park that combines national headlining music acts with local upstarts on three stages with a veritable village in between of art tents, food and drink vendors, retail, carnival activities, a kids area and more.

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LOSP in Translation

Lake of the Ozarks State Park (LOSP) is Missouri’s largest state park. With nearly 18,000 acres to explore, the Park is over twice the size of the State’s second biggest park, which makes it sometimes feel more like a National Park than a state one. After all, LOSP even has its own airport; how many state parks out there can claim that?

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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 Four

Posted in art, Backpacking, beer, family, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, links, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on October 14, 2016

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Day four of our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure had us back early for a drive through Cades Cove, a sheltered valley containing more historical buildings in one place than any other area of the Park.  This route is notorious for slow-moving traffic, so we prepared ourselves for a veritable parking lot, but it was pretty much flowing the entire time we were there.  What’s more, the “Old Timers Day Festival” (a bluegrass and homesteader heritage event) was going on, which treated us to much live music and interesting conversation.

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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: Great Smoky Mountains, Day Two

Posted in art, Backpacking, F-Stop Gear, family, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, links, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on October 12, 2016

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Day two had us all up early, as it was to be our most strenuous day of hiking.  Unfortunately, along with enthusiasm for the 8-mile trek ahead, I woke up with a cold.  After coffee/juicepack and a delicious breakfast consisting of fresh eggs and handmade bread (a daily  courtesy of our amazing hosts at Camp GRITS), we were on our way!

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Interlude: Great Smoky Mountains, Day One

Posted in Backpacking, family, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, links, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on October 11, 2016

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Gray family vacations always possess a spirit of adventure.  For my wife and I (and now our kids), the notion of taking time off to go lounge by a pool is sacrilege.  When we leave our daily lives behind, we like to explore new places, meet new people, try new things, and generally spend as little time as possible sitting still.  Simply, our time off is time on.  For this year’s excursion, we set our sites on the inimitable Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Road Trip!

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I am getting ready for a 5-day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains with my wife and first-born son, later this month.  The travel itinerary that I have made will take us to both Louisville and Nashville, up to the second highest peak in the Appalachians, to a pond full of salamanders, into a cave that’s been haunted for two hundred years, behind the curtain of a waterfall, and more.

This will be the first adventure where all three of us will have a camera.  I’m excited, and can’t wait to share the pictures!

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