Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 7: Hiking the Caldera

Forest PathCaldera de Taburiente National Park:
In the middle of the island of La Palma is a national park that is comprised of the caldera left over from a volcano from.  A caldera is a depression left when the volcano "collapses" on itself.  Much of Yellowstone is a caldera.  The area is now completely forested reflecting how long it's been since the volcano erupted (unlike the lower end of the island that has fresh lava exposed everywhere).  
The top picture, A Dandy[lion] View looks southeast into the valley near El Paso  The clouds move in from the east to the west with the trade winds.  This creates dramatic landscapes from up high on the mountain, looking into the valley to see the clouds creeping across.  As the day went on, this view was almost completely obscured.   This shot is HDR. 
The second photo, Forest Path, shows hikers on a path ahead of us.  This trail was labeled as "easy", but that was by European rather than American standards.  It took us 2 hours and wound down into the caldera, along a narrow ridge, and then up a steep cliff by switchbacks at the end when we were already tired.   This shot is infrared, by instead of being with my Olympus 2000 Zoom (see below), is with my Nikon D70.  I was lucky that it was fairly light, so was able to capture the scene with a fairly low shutter speed.   

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Day 8: Adios Espana

For the grand finale of our trip, we finished with a night in Madrid (prior to flying out the next morning).  We stayed at Room-Mate Mario, on Calle Camponmanes (view from the room in the top picture above) in Old Madrid, a few blocks from the Opera and the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).  We found the Room-Mate chain to work out quite well.  They are well located, relatively inexpensive for Madrid at about $150 per night (breakfast included).  The rooms are small, but well appointed and with modern (aka funky) decoration.  The breakfast area was a bit odd with bright green walls and space age transparent plastic chairs.  A bit hard on the eyes before caffeine.
We dined al fresco in Plaza Mayor (second picture above).  It was warm for a winter night (about 60 degrees) which made the Madrid residents flee inside for warmth and only tourists who were escaping the winter cold from home ate outside.   Plaza Mayor was built in 1617 and is now mostly residential the first floor and above and with stores and restaurants on the ground floor.  In the past it has been used for bull fights, public meetings and executions during the Spanish Inquisition.  See some shots from our previous trip when the courtyard was filled with booths selling christmas items.
Both of these night shots were taken with the camera hand held (due to previously mentioned tripod issues), using the automatic night-time settings on the Nikon D70.  PS 3 was used with the raw images to clean up some of the noise and adjust the white balance a bit.