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

Interlude: Alton, Illinois

Alton, Illinois is one of the weirdest cities in the United States (for those friends of mine who live there, that is the highest form of compliment).  Alton is a river town, and its fortunes rise and fall with the river.  See that red line on the white building in the background of the photo above?  That is the mark for the Great Flood of 1993, and the black band below it denotes a 1973 flooding event.

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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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LOSP in Translation

Lake of the Ozarks State Park (LOSP) is Missouri’s largest state park. With nearly 18,000 acres to explore, the Park is over twice the size of the State’s second biggest park, which makes it sometimes feel more like a National Park than a state one. After all, LOSP even has its own airport; how many state parks out there can claim that?

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Katherine

Posted in art, Jason Gray, model, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 5, 2017

I’ve expressed my fondness for working with the human form in previous posts (here, here, and here).  All of that said, I think it is important to note that these sessions are important to me/my work for a variety of reasons.

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Interlude: Senior Photos with Sam

Posted in art, Interlude, Jason Gray, model, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on October 31, 2016

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Sam is a senior in high school preparing to embark upon a college career in baseball, while pursuing a degree in engineering.  I recently had the lucky opportunity to photograph Sam for his senior pictures, which was no sweat for this confident, bright athlete (that his location preferences were easy to work with and the fact that he’s got a little James Dean-ness to his look perhaps supported as well).

If you enjoy the images and want to book your own portrait session, message me at grayphotostl@yahoo.com

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Road Trip!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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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Interlude: Walking Distance

Posted in art, awareness, family, Jason Gray, perception, Photo Walk, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on May 27, 2016

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Like most neighborhoods in St. Louis, there is a lot to photograph within a short walk of my front door.  As a colonial city (that’s right, STL was founded during the time of the 13 colonies), there is more than two and a half centuries of history bottled up in this city, and that is if you are only counting since the time of French settlement.  It is no wonder then that a short stroll can reveal countless insights into the idiosyncratic nature of this town’s architecture, natural landscape , and people.

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