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

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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St. Francois State Park

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St. Francois State Park is a pleasant park with a surprising variety of landscapes to explore. On our visit, we hiked the shortish Mooner’s Hollow Trail (2.75 miles), but still found ourselves transported through Ozark fens and glades, past a gentle cascade, and even across bridge-less streams. Our son, Harper surprised himself (and us) when he slipped into a creek (!!). The cool water was a relief, however, and he was quickly all smiles.

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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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Emmenegger Nature Park

Posted in Adventure, art, awareness, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, nikon, Park, photography, St. Louis, Uncategorized, winter by Jason Gray on February 17, 2019

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Emmenegger Nature Park, named after Russell Emmenegger, the last private owner of the property that would become the Park, is a 93-acre forested area owned by the City of Kirkwood. It is adjacent to a 15-acre Conservation Area named Possum Woods, though it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. For what it’s worth, this is a special bit of tranquility just outside of the St. Louis.

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The Nikon/Canon/Sony Cost Penalty

I promise, this blog will get back to focusing on other aspects of photography soon, but my recent camera brand switch has brought so many realizations that I think warrant sharing before I move on. Among them, perhaps chief among them, is the realization that all brands are not created equal when it comes to cost vs. performance analysis. You might be tempted to say, “Duh!”, but for me, this was a realization of how successfully I had been marketed to as a Nikon shooter in the past, as much as it was a recognition that I have been paying a “penalty” for shooting that line, and increasingly so over recent years. I’ll explain further below.

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My Best of 2018 (part 2)

16. Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Current River

Part 1 of this year’s Best Of, may have ended a bit sour, and granted, those feelings aren’t gone, but I’d rather at least steer the start of this one into another direction. Let’s begin with some artistic and business accomplishments that I had in 2018.

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Big Announcement: Switching to Fuji from Nikon

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For all of my journey as a photographer, I’ve been a Nikon shooter, and let me just say that that’s no light commitment. The cameras by this manufacturer that I have owned over the years, spanning film and digital, include:

  1. Nikon FM2
  2. Nikon EM
  3. Nikon n8008s
  4. Nikon n6006
  5. Nikon n90s
  6. Nikon n80
  7. Nikon n65
  8. Nikon D100
  9. Nikon D50
  10. Nikon D200
  11. Nikon D300
  12. Nikon D7200

Real world reviews of some of those can be found here.

So why on earth would I switch to Fuji in 2018, and why stick with crop sensor?

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