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

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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Chouteau Island

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The Mississippi River provides so much recreational diversity throughout its over 2,300 miles, across ten U.S. States. In Missouri, the river bottom is a place that makes all of the life around it possible. It also carries the weight of death, in the form of floods and drought.

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Hickory Canyons Natural Area

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I am well aware that much of the country does not think of Missouri first when they think of “outdoor adventure”, and that’s just fine. As a state positioned dead center in the continental U.S., we enjoy an abundance of resources that result from being a point of convergence: the convergence of cultures (and the legacies of those cultures- often this is a struggle too), the convergence of the largest rivers in North America, the convergence of a once sprawling ocean and once soaring mountains, lost in time, but leaving a geological uniqueness found little elsewhere on Earth. It’s all here, and frankly, if you want to flyover it, that’s fine too; it just keeps the crowds down for those of us that choose to revel in it.

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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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Forest Park on a Sunny Afternoon

Posted in Adventure, art, Fuji, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, Park, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, St. Louis by Jason Gray on March 17, 2019

Fuji X-E3 w/Rokinon 12mm f/2

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A couple of months ago, after picking up my new Fuji kit, I decided to test out the system with a leisurely stroll through St. Louis’ largest, and possibly, most photogenic public park. Forest Park is so large that experiences to be had are extremely varied. You can feel almost completely removed from the city on any of its many meandering trails, or totally engulfed by the heights of cultural achievement at one of the Park’s Museums or its outdoor theaters. The Park even boasts an internationally recognized zoo that is frequently listed at the top of “best of” lists for the U.S.

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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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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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What’s in My Camera Bag, 2019

New Year, new gear! In fact, it has been many years since I’ve dramatically changed the photography equipment that I use (last one was perhaps my switch from 2.8 zooms to primes in 2015), and this year’s complete brand switch from Nikon to Fuji had many extenuating circumstances. Nonetheless, with the generous help of an Artist Support Grant from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, and quite a bit of luck on holiday deals, I was able to not only make the change, but to continue photographing professionally. I am so deeply appreciative of this, and to be included among a list of very talented visual artists, musicians and other creatives to receive this award.

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My Go-To Equipment in 2018

Last year, I started sharing a version of the lens and camera stats that I collect every year to observe how I am using or not using my equipment. These are based on the images from my Best Of posts, which tend to be a great microcosm for how I use equipment on the whole. This data also includes the documentary “snapshots” that wind up in those posts, and this explains why the iPhone 7+ stat is so high.

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