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

Road Trip!

14222370_1179594425415827_1839061387064784754_n

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!

(more…)

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #5. Ferguson

jason_gray - 1 (14).jpg

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.

(more…)

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #6. St. Louis Place

jason_gray - 1 (20)

Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

Depending upon your point of view, St. Louis Place is currently either the city’s most threatened neighborhood or the one most likely to save its economy.  Of course, the reason being is that this north side gem was selected as the new home of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly located in the south side’s Kosciusko neighborhood); at issue here is that, although the NGA adds millions of much needed revenue dollars to the city’s coffers, it requires razing close to 75% of St. Louis Place via eminent domain for the space needed.  :0

(more…)

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #7. The Ville

jason_gray - 1 (13).jpg

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.

(more…)

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #8. Downtown

jason_gray - 1 (4)

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.

(more…)

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #9. JeffVanderLou

Posted in art, awareness, Jason Gray, links, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on July 8, 2016

jason_gray - 1 (8).jpg

Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

JeffVanderLou is a neighborhood that is pretty impossible to forget (even if it seems our region may have).  It is both a place of remarkable achievements and of tragedies, where some of St. Louis’ proudest sons and daughters have walked and also where they have fallen.

(more…)

Interlude: Big Muddy Adventures

Posted in awareness, beer, cruise, family, Hike, Jason Gray, links, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 20, 2016

jason_gray - 1 (22)

For Father’s Day, my beautiful wife booked a moonlight canoe trip with Big Muddy Adventures, an adventure tour operator located adjacent to the Riverview neighborhood of St. Louis.  The business’ founder and primary guide is “Big Muddy” Mike Clark, who has logged more than 10,000 miles on the water.  For a mere $75 and a bit of “devil-may-care” daring, Clark will lead you onto the world’s fourth largest watershed, with nothing between you and 300,000 cubic feet of water per second but a wooden canoe and “Big Muddy” Mike’s ingenuity.

(more…)

Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AIS

jason_gray - 2.jpeg

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.

(more…)

Interlude: Toxic Tour STL

jason_gray - 1 (4)

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

(more…)

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

jason_gray - 1 (1)

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.

(more…)