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Budapest from the Danuabe

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Building a house makes it difficult to get out hiking to take images.  So, with a winter storm bearing down on us in Colorado, I was going through images I took on a Viking cruise in the summer of 2014 to re-edit with some a new workflow I picked up from a BHPhoto Video featuring Tim Greay.

The image above is a night shot from the top of a Viking River Boatmoored on the Danuabe River south of City Center in BudaPest, at the beginning of our cruise. This is the Liberty Bridge.  It was built for millennium celebrations 1894-96.  Emperor Franz Joseph hammered the last silver nail at his inauguration celebration on the Pest side finishing the bridge.  The Pest side is visible with the bridge terminating in the Gellért tér Public Square with the Hotel Gellert visible in the background.

 

Crystal Lakes, Rocky Mountain N.P.

Lawn Lake, RMNP

Lawn Lake, RMNP

This picture is taken from the south end of Lawn Lake in RMNP.  If you look above the far end of the lake, slightly left off center you can make out what appears to be an ‘M’ made from left over snow.  It is just below this snow when my destination for this post the, Crystal Lakes lie.  (This picture was taken on a previous trip to Lawn Lake).

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Little Crystal Lake

In my journey to get back to ‘Long’s Peak’ health since my surgery, I took another step this week.  About 10 days ago I had hiked up to Lawn Lake in Rocky Mountain N.P.  It was a 12 mile hike (round trip), 2500 ft gain to just shy of 11,000 ft. elevation and had wiped me out.    Upon return from the hike I was reading one of my hiking books (Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park) and discovered that there are two more destinations above Lawn Lake, Crystal Lakes and The Saddle.  Crystal Lakes are two small Alpine Lakes about 2 miles and 500 ft above Lawn Lake.  The Saddle is a little less than a mile beyond Crystal Lakes and another 500 ft higher than them.  It sits in-between Hagues Peak and Fairchild Mountain and provides expansive views to the northwest.  I talked myself into small steps and decided to only go to Crystal Lakes this time and then do more conditioning and go back to The Saddle another day.

View of Crystal Lake (in background) behind Little Crystal Lake.

View of Crystal Lake (in background) behind Little Crystal Lake.

Lawn Lake from the north

Lawn Lake from the north

The extra 500 ft elevation at the lakes provide a beautiful view back toward Lawn Lake.  Being late summer, you can see that the water level is somewhat down.   However, the high water mark you can see in the picture is from long ago when a crude dam was constructed to make this a reservoir for farmers down the mountain.  The dam was was not properly maintained and is now gone.  Crystal Lakes are much smaller and packed tightly into a cirque on the side of Fairchild Mountain.  Being unable to back up much to get more of the lakes into the picture results in a very incomplete view of the beauty I found.  I’ll have to remember to take a wider angle lens with me next time.  (Although, carrying a D4 body, 24-70 lens, a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Head and a Gitzo GT3541XLS Tripod up has me pretty much at my carrying capacity!).  So, I completed this 16 mile Trek and felt I had a little gas left in the tank.  However, I realize two things: One, I need to increase my effort in preparation as this does not equate to Long’s Peak in effort.  Longs is a shorter hike, but another 2,000 ft in elevation gain.  Two, I read that the views from The Saddle are beautiful and that you can see Laramie, Wyoming from there.  With that as motivation I will make it my next step toward getting back to summit Long’s for the fourth time.

Two Fisherman

Blue Heron

Pulled the camera out of the trunk today in the late afternoon after watching some of the water fowl fishing with the fisherman.  In the shot above, a Great Blue Heron ‘sits’ on the pier near a fisherman.  Any time the pole started to bend, the bird began to get excited as I soon learned that he would share his ‘small’ catches with the Heron.  The Heron was still vary wary of the man and kept his distance, but he seemed to know how close he needed to be to assure his reward.  I took these images (hand held) with a Nikon 200-400 VR II with the 1.4x adapter on my D3s body.  I was shooting in apeture priority, ISO 200 at F5.6.

Brown Pelican

Now, close by was another mouth competing for the same catches.  His ‘trust’ allowed him to be more successful then the heron.  He would actually take fish out of the hands of anyone offering.  The image above is of an adult Brown Pelican in winter plummage.  While the one below is of an immature Brown.  My goal in the next few days is to get a good picture of a dolphin jumping in the water.  In this area of the gulf, they can regularly be seen jumping out of the water at the bow of large tankers entering through the local channel.  Today, as I soon learned, I was too tardy to catch this action.  You can click on this images from a larger view.

Immature Brown Pelican

Aerial Photography

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

Last summer I vacationed for  a few days in Mackinaw City with extended family.  While there, my brother-in-law and I decided to take advantage of a plane ride that could be had over the Straits of Mackinac.  The plane flew out of the County Airport in St Ignace on the north side of the Straits.  The plane was an old, open cockpit, bi-wing (Red) airplane. I wish I would have taken a picture of it!  This decision was made by my heart, before my head kicked in!  Not because I ended up being afraid, but the reason I wanted to go was to take pictures from above Mackinac.  There would be so much one could take pictures of once they were in the sky.  What I didn’t think about though, was what I would (technically speaking) need to know to take pictures in an old, open cockpit, bi-wing plane.

 

Downtown on Mackinac Island

I have taken pictures from a small plane before.  I took pictures of the Alma Walmart (when it was being sold) from a small single engine plane (through plexiglass windows) for the agency selling it.  What I soon learned upon climbing into the open seat with my 6 foot plus brother-in-law, was there wasn’t much room to move around.  Plus, I had to wear a leather helmet and goggles (like WWII Motor Cyclists wore).  Again, I missed a Kodac moment when I didn’t take pictures of my fellow passenger in this getup!  How on earth would I take pictures while looking through those babies?  Once we were airborne there were more problems I had not anticipated.  The plane vibrated badly and the wind was so strong I had to treat the experience like shooting sports, keeping my shutter speed at 1/1000th or better in hopes of getting a sharp image.  These settings don’t usually translate into great landscape pictures.  At times, I was afraid that the camera was going to be ripped out of my hands from the wind.  Not that I would have lost the camera to the Straits if it shook loose.  I had taken the precaution to securely wrap the strap around me.  Now if I lost my grip, it would just be beaten into a thousand tiny pieces on the side of the plane!

Mackinac Bridge

Most of the time I found that I was just pointing the camera in the direction of objects below that I wanted to take pictures of.  It was near impossible to tell if they were in focus or not while looking through my goggles.  Framing of pictures had to be largely done in post editing.  Many of the pictures were garbage, but I did get a few keepers.

Overall it was an enjoyable experience.  The Pilot is an old guy (look who’s calling this guy old!), that flies the plane up to the Bridge every year from South Carolina (in stages I’m told).  He and his wife come out to the airport on nice days and make some serious ‘fun’ money (I think it was like $120 or $140) taking people for a joy ride.  I ended up having an experience that was a lot of fun and one that taught me about being prepared properly for a new photographic experience.  I hope to go back this summer.  Not to fly again, but I would like to get some HDR shots of the plane.  I think the deep red color of the plane, with the old pilot standing next to it would make a great picture!

Light Post Friday!

Since I posted yesterday, I have been busy shooting and editing play pictures almost continuously. So, I decided to put up a couple of pictures from a few years back.  When digging these pictures out (it’s always interesting to go back and re-edit pictures using new skills and software), I discovered that they were taken with my first Digital SLR.  It was a 6mb, Nikon D100.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality this crop sensor delivered!  This is the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi. The visit there took place during a 2003 trip my wife and I took to Italy with a group of high school students.  This village, Assisi (located in central Italy) was one of our stops during a 10 day tour of the country.

The picture below was taken when I went out for a walk one morning on my own.  This little village had numerous hilly, narrow alleys.  I found this calico sitting on the porch in one of these alleys.  Of course, he couldn’t wait to have his picture taken and instead decided to walk off.

St Giles’ Cathedral

St Gile's CathedralThis is the west facade of St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  It is an impressive structure nestled among the smaller buildings of Old Town.  The main part of this Cathedral was built somewhere between 1100 and 1200 AD.  Although, early on it did burn once and was rebuilt.  The Steeple can be seen from almost anywhere along the Royal Mile and was nice to use as a navigating point (as I found it easy to wander off and get lost while investigating all the little old shops!).

Interior view of a Chapel of St Giles' CathedralThis second picture is from inside the Cathedral, shot from the main area down one of several Chapels (or Aisles).  It’s an HDR shot, so it is made up of 3 shots, each separated by 2 stops.  The difficulty of this shot were two fold.  You had to purchase a pass to shoot photography inside the Cathedral and you weren’t allowed to use a tripod.  (Although, sneaky NAPP Photographer, Matt Kloskowski got away with it!).  These Chapels were added to the main structure over the centuries.  In the 1800’s, the Cathedral was renovated and some of the Chapels were removed ‘to make the structure more esthetically appealing’.  The stain glass windows were added later, as the original windows were a glazed, gray glass.  As one would expect in a Cathedral, many of them depict a scene from the Bible.  You can see larger versions of both pictures by clicking on them.  Be aware though, that this will take you to my Smugmug site to view them.

To give you a little more flavor of the types of store fronts one can visit along the Royal Mile, I’ve included the shot below.  Pictured on the right in the photo are my wife and brother-in-law.

Victoria Street

This is Victoria Street.  It is located here, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  It is one of the streets that we used when we walked from our Hotel to the Royal Mile.  It’s located at the north end of the Grass Market.  Now that I’m home (and looking at the picture), I wish that I would have taken it at dusk so that I could have light illuminating the windows of the various store fronts.  The problem with that idea, was there would also be a ton of people walking along the sidewalks obscuring the store fronts.  Although, that might be better than harsh light and cars here.  As you look down the street (toward the end closest to the Grass Market) there is a fairly steep hill.  That also, may have been a more interesting shot (except there always seemed to be more people at that end).  Either way, I really like the old architecture and the great colors on the front of the buildings.

A quick note on the Photoshop World Conference that I just returned from.  My experience was not what I expected.  That is, I went down to it expecting to pick up a lot of information that improve my editing skills.  I did do some of that.  But, what was unexpected, there were so many quality professional photographers there, that I am now motivated to try some new types of photography.  But, more on that on Wednesday.  Please feel free to comment on the picture, especially if you’ve been to this area before!