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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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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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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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

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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.

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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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A Cherokee Street Adventure Story

Posted in Adventure, art, beer, Jason Gray, nikon, photography, St. Louis, St. Louis Magazine, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on February 14, 2019

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Enjoy this tale of how my friend, Chris Naffziger, tried to feed me to C.H.U.D. When you are done, head over to Cherokee Street and enjoy a cold one at Earthbound Beer.

It was cool, but not cold outside when a writer for a regional magazine contacted me to discuss the possibility of photographing a renovation project underway in South St. Louis City. The writer, Chris, only asks for my help when something about the assignment he is working on makes photography difficult. That said, the shoots are always interesting, and usually provide once-in-a-lifetime access to some site of significance. What can I say, he has a way.

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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 Best of 2018 (part 1)

Posted in Adventure, art, awareness, family, Jason Gray, learning, nikon, perception, photography, St. Louis, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 13, 2018

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1. Gravois Park

2018 has been an interesting year- one that, as I write this, I can’t yet define as awesome or a real drag. You could say that, in 2018, I closed a lot of chapters in an effort to open a really good one; one that would create both material and livelihood changes for myself and my family. For context, feel free to flip back to 2016’s Best Of post (a year that I lost my job and my purpose) or 2017’s Best Of (a year of transition and preparation). This year has been the year of “I used to be”, as in, I used to be a curator, I used to be a photographer, and I used to be some things that still remain to be seen.

NOTE: The images with numbers are those that I consider “my best of 2018”

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