Thursday, October 29, 2009

Storm Clouds with the First Winter Storm of the Season Approaching

Courthouse Butte, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

Courthouse Butte is south of Sedona, Arizona on SR 179 as you enter Sedona from the south (from Phoenix). Today, the day started with not a cloud in the sky and by late morning, the first winter storm of the season had rolled in. Several hours later, the skyline was gone and it was snowing. This shot is an infrared shot taken with my newly converted Nikon D70. Most of my infrared shots were taken with an infrared filter on the outside of the camera, with an IR conversion the filter is placed inside the camera near the sensor. This allows for being able to preview the shot through the lens and allows more light in (therefore allowing more flexibility with aperture and shutter speed). This was shot at f16, 1/200sec, ISO 200.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grand Canyon Lodging Guide

Raven + Moon, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

Hi, I'm called a common raven, but I really don't view myself as particularly common. For instance, look how I managed to line myself up so nicely for this shot with the moon in the background. And I did serve as an extra in Ken Burn's National Park film, don't you recognize me?
I'm here to be your guide to travel to the Grand Canyon National Park. I only hang around on the South Rim, but I can give you some advice. First of all, avoid summer travel because it's really hot then-- and in the winter there's snow so you may not be able to get here. April-May and Sept-Early Nov are nice. If you can, stay inside the park. Outside the park are a bunch of chain motels, pizza places, and an IMAX theater, but is that really why you came to the Grand Canyon. There's a list of park lodges at Grand Canyon Lodges.
My first choice is the Kachina Lodge-- basic accommodations, but killer views of the rim. After that, there's the El Tovar Hotel which is an historic landmark and a classic, beautiful national park lodge. Few of the rooms have a view of the canyon though. After that, my next choice would be the Bright Angel Cabins. They're very basic- but also right on the rim but also few with views- if you reserve enough in advance you can get one of the prime cabins with a rim view. After that, would be the Maswik Lodge, on the other side of the tracks (literally) but still an easy walk to the rim. Last choice would be the Yavapai Lodge-- very Motel 6, but still within the park. Everything is easy to get to because there's a shuttle bus system in season and you can drive in your own car from December through late spring. Well, enough on lodging, more on scenic spots in another post.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prime Lenses

New Lens, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

Most lenses sold these days are zoom lenses-- they zoom in and out so that you can compose your shot without even moving your feet. They are convenient (especially when you can't move closer to a subject because of a barrier, distance or perhaps it's a bear that you don't want want to get too cozy with). Prime lenses are for only one focal distance. The advantage of prime lenses are that the optics are designed exactly for that focal distance, while a zoom lens needs to have the "flexibility" for a wide range of focal distances but with a trade off of being less sharpness, especially at the extremes. The prime lens will give you a sharper picture, but you have to use your feet to zoom.

This photo was shot with my new prime lens, a 50 mm f/1.8 D. The f/1.8 designates that is also a fast lens and that the f stop goes all the way down to 1.8. (f stop means how much the shutter opens to let light in). I was able to shoot this photo without a flash at a shutter speed of 1/124 sec with just ambient lighting (bluish natural light coming in from the window and a halogen light on the ceiling providing the warmer yellow light).