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

Interlude: Sister Marie Charles Park

One of my favorite parks in St. Louis is one of its least known (perhaps, more than a little responsible for its allure). Sister Marie Charles Park is a sliver of greenspace at the base of a bluff along the Mississippi River in Carondelet, in the city’s far south side.  It offers one of my favorite views of downtown (see above), and provides a pacifying view of the river with tugboats and towboats gently chugging by.

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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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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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Interlude: Carondelet Park

Posted in Adventure, art, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, Park, perception, Photo Walk, photography, prime lenses by Jason Gray on August 15, 2017

Created as a concession to demands for a southern and northern park following the planned establishment of Forest Park, Carondelet Park is the third largest green space in St. Louis, and the only one that honors the karst topography original to the area.

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Monica

Posted in art, Interlude, Jason Gray, model, perception, photography by Jason Gray on April 25, 2017

There is something timeless and very simple about working with the human figure that I much enjoy.  For the commercial work that I do, I am always concerned with what the client’s expectations are, and with my more conceptual work, I operate within very strict parameters governed by what I am trying to say.  Likewise, for the photographs that I produce for Photo Flood Saint Louis, I am constantly thinking about the story my images are sending. However, in figurative work, I am free to pursue both form and content in a way that is completely untethered from any mental constraints.

The human body is a classical motif in art, one which conveys both the grace and tragedy of life.  As such, it is a conduit for both our notions of beauty and scorn, and a subject that I have tremendous respect for.

In this most recent shoot, I was fortunate to work with a great model that seemed to know exactly what I wanted (perhaps because we are already friends or because she is also a photographer).  I am very happy with this body of images, and look forward to working with Monica again in the future.

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Overcoming Failure

Posted in awareness, F-Stop Gear, family, Jason Gray, perception, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 12, 2016

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In the “My Best of 2016” article, I wrote about the layoff which I experienced early in that year, but I didn’t go into much detail about what that experience was like or how I internally dealt with the feeling of failure that resulted.

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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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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: 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: CityArchRiver Portraits

Posted in art, F-Stop Gear, Jason Gray, links, perception, Photo Walk, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 6, 2016

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On Thursday, June 2, the newly renovated Leonore K. Sullivan Boulevard (named for the consumer advocate and first Missouri woman to enter Congress) was reopened to the public.  This warf road parallels both the Gateway Arch and Mississippi Rivers, and has been closed for some time as work on the redesigned arch grounds is ongoing.

Thursday’s event, a partnership between CityArchRiver (agency overseeing the redesign) and Great Rivers Greenway (a bi-state effort to envelope the St. Louis Metropolitan area with accessible bike paths), featured a 2016 foot long picnic table, live music, food trucks, fireworks, and more.  I was there with Photo Flood Saint Louis, which was invited by the organizers to cover the event.

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