In January of this year, we spent a weekend in St. Augustine, Florida, which is on the east coast of Florida about an hour north of Daytona Beach. It was founded in 1565 and is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States.
There are a lot of scenic opportunities there. We’d visited before, so I looked for some of the less obvious ones.
This photograph is a high dynamic range capture of the interior of the Lightner Museum courtyard in downtown St. Augustine. I didn’t have my tripod with me, so I braced my camera on the railing. It has been processed through Photomatix.
Here are a few of the photographs I made. Details are in the captions.
Here is a gallery of three more pictures from our recent Denver trip.
The first image in the gallery is a colony of cliff swallows nesting under an overpass near my Mom’s place. Lynn first noticed these birds during our frequent trips in and out. They’re very hard to photograph since they seem to be in constant motion. When I tried to get close on foot, they grew very agitated and noisy. I finally got a not very good photo by using the car as a blind and taking the shot through the sun roof. I was zoomed in all the way with my 70 – 300mm, but didn’t have enough light to stop the motion, even though I upped the ISO to 400 to take this at 1/250 sec. Lesson learned: It’s better to get the shot, even with some noise in it – so up the ISO as much as you need to stop the action.
I saw this cabin along the side of the road between my sister’s and Mom’s places, and really wanted to make a photo of it. I didn’t have time to go by at sunset, but this late afternoon shot captures the mood pretty well. I had to play around with curves in Lightroom to bring out detail in the clouds without losing it in the trees and cabin. I also cloned out a TV antenna on the roof and a power line on the right side. With those gone, it’s more appealing to me and could almost be a high definition window into the past.
The final shot in the gallery was taken from the balcony of my Mom’s place. The sunsets weren’t very colorful while we were there, since late afternoon thunderstorms covered the mountains to the west nearly every day. We finally saw a little color and this shot, especially the cloud shadows on the lower left, turned out pretty well.
Lynn and I just returned from helping Mom move into her new place. She’s now in a unit at Windcrest in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. We flew out on July 4th and returned on the 11th. She had quite a list of chores for us to do, including painting, hanging curtains / blinds / paintings, unpacking boxes, chopping tables in two, installing media centers, programming phones, and numerous shopping trips (yes, Home Depot won as the most visited store). Lynn and I both had fun and enjoyed spending time with Mom.
At the end of the trip, we had to leave before she had everything unpacked and put away, but the place was starting to come along nicely. And Sis and Dean said they would take care of the rest on Thursday.
Mount Evans is about 35 miles west of Denver. We left early (before 6) and were up on the mountain by 9, but we stopped quite a few times on the way. It could take you more or less time depending on how many stops you make and what the traffic is like. since we went up on a weekday, we saw very few cars. To get there, take I70 west out of the city, to the 3rd exit for Idaho Springs (route 103 south).
The Mt. Evans road is the highest paved road in north America and is 14,200 feet at the top. I’ve been to Denver many times but hadn’t heard about it before. I’ve been listening to the Nikonians Image Doctors podcast and they recommended this place a couple of times (ID#39 adn ID#45) so I wanted to see it while I was out there. It is very much worth the trip! If you go, try to make it on a weekday. The weekends are supposed to be very crowded. This Mt. Evans website has a lot of helpful information.
Our drive was quite spectacular. It started out very cloudy, with some light rain, but the top was above the clouds and on the way down, it began to clear. We saw a lot of wildlife and July is apparently a very good time for wildflowers.
Lynn and I are both flat-landers from Florida and we were out of breath at the top at even the slightest exercise. You’ll want to plan carefully and prepare for any hikes you want to do. There are some very spectacularly fit people out there. We saw several riding bicycles all the way to the top.
You’ll probably use a wide angle lens the most. A long lens will be helpful for some wildlife, although you can get very close to the goats and marmots.
Lynn and I were at the mall yesterday and noticed some new flower beds. I just got a 60mm f2.8D micro Nikkor lens for my D80, so I went back this morning to see how well it works. This is the first true macro (1:1 magnification) lens I’ve ever had. I like it a lot, but it will take a while to get used to.
– Focus is very critical at high magnification ratios, since the depth of field is so small (even at f16 or f22). The auto focus works well, but it’s difficult to get it exactly on what you want. The D80’s ability to select which focus sensor to use helps.
– Camera shake is worse at high magnifications, too. I took most of these handheld, and using a shutter speed of 1/focal length (x1.5 for the sensor size factor) wasn’t fast enough to freeze my motion. Luckily, it was bright enough that I could use a fairly high shutter speed at f16.