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

Photo Flood 18*: Mt. Pleasant

Posted in Adventure, art, Interlude, Jason Gray, manual focus, Photo Walk, photography by Jason Gray on June 19, 2017

Photo Flood Saint Louis is an organization that I created almost five years ago for photographers in St. Louis.  PFSTL offers great opportunities to network, share images, learn from more experienced shooters, and more, but mostly, it tells the story of the city, neighborhood by neighborhood.  In fact, every month we visit a new neighborhood, meet new people, visit new businesses, and show the world (or at least the internet) what makes St. Louis a dynamic place to live, warts and all.

As organizer, I rarely miss an event, but it has happened.  Over the years, I missed out on covering the southside neighborhoods of Mt. Pleasant and Tiffany.  This post is about me finally getting a chance to walk around one of them.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #7. The Ville

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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.

St. Louis’ The Ville neighborhood was once widely known as the Midwest’s center for “Black Aristocracy”, and for good reason.  After all, this is where the stories of such luminaries as Annie Malone, Arthur Ashe, and Chuck Berry all intersect.  That legacy, though veiled in urban decay and abandonment, still exists there; my visit with Photo Flood Saint Louis felt often like I was walking a path, well worn and registered, where the present may not much resemble the past nor (hopefully) the future.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #8. Downtown

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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.

The Downtown neighborhood is every bit the soul of the St. Louis region.  It encapsulates the city’s origins, and includes its best known testaments to culture, business, government, and society.  The world’s first skyscraper, the once longest arch bridge in the world, and the world’s tallest monument live here.  Our relationship to the mighty Mississippi River is embodied here.

With all of that considered, it is no wonder that I began Photo Flood Saint Louis with a visit Downtown, and for the first two anniversaries of the group, we returned there.  These images come from our second venture into the neighborhood; one year after founding.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #10. The Patch

Posted in art, awareness, Jason Gray, links, manual focus, Photo Walk, photography, technique, Uncategorized, winter by Jason Gray on July 6, 2016

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In August, Photo Flood Saint Louis will celebrate the completion of its fourth year covering the “Lion of the Valley” and all of its wonderful idiosyncrasies.  For me, it is hard to believe this much time has passed since I originally invited a small group of five photographers out into Downtown for Photo Flood 1.  We’ve now grown into a dynamic organization of more than 300, some of who are regulars, some of who are once-in-a-whiles, some of who have never come out for a Flood but stick around for the networking opportunities, and have been partner to several of the city’s best known annual events, cultural institutions, and civic ceremonies.

Even so, four years in and we are only about halfway done with documenting all of the city’s neighborhoods (we are scheduled through 2021).  To celebrate, I am going to post some of my images from my ten favorite Photo Floods, beginning with number ten, The Patch.  I hope you enjoy!

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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: 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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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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Lenses

What’s in my Camera Bag?

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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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