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

Rainy Day Hiking and Nature Photography


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).


Glassberg Family, Phantom Forest and Bittersweet Woods Conservation Areas

Posted in Adventure, art, Backpacking, Hike, Jason Gray, nikon, Park, photography, St. Louis, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on February 24, 2019


We are fortunate to live in a State with a large number of wonderfully maintained and well apportioned State Parks (did you know that Missouri has more State Parks than Colorado?). With sites like Don Robinson State Park, Lake of the Ozarks State Park (the State’s largest at 17,000 acres), Castlewood State Park, and over 40 others, it can seem like opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are endless. However, if your intention is to really “get away”, the State Parks can be a bit crowded at times. Enter what I think are one of Missouri’s true treasures, its Conservation and Natural Areas.


Riverway Getaway


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. 


Missouri Conservation Areas

Posted in Adventure, Backpacking, family, Hike, Jason Gray, photography, St. Louis, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on February 17, 2019

Dan Zarlenga: Night Visions

Posted in art, Hike, Jason Gray, photography, technique, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on May 30, 2016

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I have been curating the exhibitions at The Dark Room Photo Gallery and Wine Bar for a year and a half, and I am pretty excited about the next exhibit opening on Friday, June 3rd (more info in the link above).  Dan Zarlenga: Night Visions has the ability to appeal to a really wide audience, with some stunning images of landscapes that you are likely to never have seen in exactly this way.

From Dan:

“Under the dark cloak of night, the world becomes an open palate upon which you can play with light in new and creative ways.  When it comes to photography, daylight is merely an option.”


Interlude: Onondaga Cave State Park

Posted in art, awareness, black and white, family, Hike, perception, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on April 29, 2016

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St. Louis has some of the most self-deprecating residents of any major city that I have lived in or visited.  Part of that has to do with conflated crime statistics (believe me, STL is by no means the “most dangerous city in America”), and part of it has to do with rust belt issues (ie. population loss, factory closures, etc.).  To my wife and I, who decided to move here from Chicago, this attitude is wholly crazy.  After all, not only do St. Louisans enjoy free cultural amenities that other cities’ residents would pay a pretty penny to attend, like the Saint Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo, and have an enviably low cost of living (our three bedroom, two story, Art and Crafts home cost less than a one bedroom condo in Chicago), but they can drive an hour or so out of the city and feel like they have arrived on another planet.

Onondaga Cave State Park is one of our favorite planets to visit.


Interlude: Elephant Rocks State Park

Posted in art, Hike, Jason Gray, learning, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on April 11, 2016

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Spring and Fall are my family’s favorite seasons to hike in Missouri, so we’ve been hitting as many as we can while the weather holds out.  Elephant Rocks State Park near Ironton is one of the State’s most beautiful (and popular).

“Interludes” are the posts in-between the posts that this site focuses on, and provide me with an opportunity to share things that I find interesting. They are not archived like the core posts.


Unilever Plant; Pagedale, Missouri

Posted in art, awareness, perception, photography by Jason Gray on August 19, 2011

This former Unilever plant in Pagedale, Missouri sits on 20+ acres and features over 320,000 square feet of existing, interior space. It was built in 1953, and ceased operating in 2001. The Terminal Railroad runs nearby and once serviced the commercial giant at this former manufacturing center. There had been plans in 2003 to renovate the site, but as far as I can tell, all that is happening now has to do with a large paved area northwest of the central building being used as a school bus parking lot. It is a unique and interesting site that once supplied over 200 jobs to the region.

All photos Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G lens.