This shot was taken only a few minutes drive from my parents place in St. George, Utah. It is called Red Cliffs Recreational Area. The area is usually devoid of any type of crowds and has a great slot canyon hike with a flowing stream in the spring months. We hiked up out of the canyon and on top of a nearby mesa when I captured this shot.
Our first stop on our road trip from Idaho to Georgia was Teton National Park. We quick pitched our tent to secure a camping spot then took off down the road for a hike to Bradley Lake. We didn’t know it at the time, but this blue sky during the hike was the last we would see until we were almost in Georgia. The rain began a couple of minutes before we reached the car and then it turned into what felt like a full on monsoon. Breaking the tent down in the morning was fun using the break-down-the-tent-while-still-inside-of-it-leaving-the-rain-fly-for-last technique. This place is definitely needing further attention from me in the future.
Eight Shot Pano. Full size can be found HERE in all of its glory.
We are leaving for 2 nights in Savannah early tomorrow morning. That doesn’t allow us much time for exploring, but we’ll take what we can get! I give you a couple of snags taken on the East Rim Trail at Zion National Park. These are all single exposures taken in the middle of the day thanks to the polarizer I bought for the 16-35VR. I am not completely sold on using a polarizer on a wide angle, though. I think the sky looks just about as unnatural as your average HDR or DRI shot, but I also have a ton of shots where parts of the sky are so dark compared to the rest of the shot, that I cannot even figure out how to even it out and have it still look natural in post. I am tempted to stick with my 14-24 and sell off the 16-35, then just build my own filter holder for the 14-24 so I can at least use square graduated density filters.
After dropping down the east-side slope of the the Big Horn Basin, we eyed this scenic pullout off of I-90 near the town of Sheridan, Wy. I was blown away by the amount of green your eyes take in at this spot. I thought I had to shoot a pano to try and do this view some justice, but sadly, it does not even come close to how neat it was as the sun was setting. This is a series of 5 shots stitched together in Autopano Pro.
Along our drive through Wyoming we entered into a place I had never visited before, Big Horn Basin. It was quite a pleasant area with very green fields surrounded by strikingly orange rock, wide open ranges, lots of moose, and a couple of waterfalls. Since it is kind of in the middle of nowhere, there was not very much traffic, which makes you feel like you have the area all to yourself. I wouldn’t mind going back sometime as I am sure there is a lot to explore, I could even live in one of the surrounding towns!
When we landed in the States earlier this year, we went straight from the airport to an auto dealership and purchased a vehicle. From there we visited families in Utah and Idaho, the road tripped through the Tetons, Yellowstone, Wyoming, South Dakota, all the way down to Georgia. There was still a lot of snow in the Yellowstone area and a pass we wanted to use was closed about a mile and a half from the top. We ended up taking an impromptu trip on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. It is like a different world in this area after living in Japan. Completely desolate and vast, wide open spaces. Here is a 4-shot pano I snapped from a pull out.
After driving from South Dakota down to St. Louis in a day, we were pretty tired and it was very late, but we made a quick stop to see the Gateway Arch. I don’t know how this thing is able to stay standing in a wind storm. Would like to go back for their fireworks display. I have seen some amazing shots with the fireworks going off right next to the arch.
I had B&H send me the new 16-35 VR lens to my parents place in Utah. We were visiting for a week after Japan and Zion National Park was only 35 minutes drive away, so it would be an ideal place to see if this lens would perform well enough to replace my amazing 14-24. I am looking into using a square filter system in the future and also purchased an ND 8 filter and circular polarizer. Right now I can tell you that I cannot believe I waited this long to use a circular polarizer. It does a remarkable job of reigning in the entire dynamic range of a shot with a bright sky in it. Here is a quick two-shot panorama from Observation Point taken around mid-day.
I was nervous about this lens since I had seen some online examples taken with it that were pretty fuzzy in the corners, but this copy so far seems to be sharp enough for me (this shot has smearing in the lower right corner due to stretching for the pano). No lens currently matches the Nikon 14-24 in corner sharpness, but it just is not for filter use without an expensive custom filter system and no chance of using a CP.
And one more benefit from this new lens is that it uses 77mm filter threads, the same size used on both models of the 70-200 lens. Here is a shot using that polarizer on my 70-200 to bring out the blue sky and reduce reflections from the sandstone monoliths.