Vibrant

A bit of color for your week, courtesy of a planting on the stairs up to the Coit tower in San Francisco:

Vibrant

If you’re passing through San Francisco and looking for a workout, there are few to beat the stairs up the east side of Telegraph Hill from the Embarcadero to the base of the Coit Tower.  You’ll climb some amazing, steep steps from either Greenwich or FIlbert St.  Along with the exercise, and the beautiful views over the Bay, the local residents take fantastic care of their flowers along the way.  So keep your camera handy for a little flower photography when you’re pausing to catch your breath!

Milkweed

On the way home from our trip to Glacier N.P. and the Canadian Rockies, it so happened that we spent a night in Great Falls, Montana. Before we left the next morning, we stopped off to check out the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center — great displays, lots of hands-on stuff for the little one to play with. Oh, and all the landscape plants around the building are historically accurate — just what the Lewis & Clark expedition would have encountered on their way through.

Milkweed

Like these milkweed blossoms.

Sculptural

Another geological abstract shot from lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona:

Sculptural

If you’re planning a trip to Antelope Canyon and you’re taking a DSLR, you should give some thought in advance to just what lens(es) you should put on your camera body(ies). Fortunately, you’ve got a strong ally in this effort — namely, Flickr.

Before the trip, scan through Antelope Canyon shots that other people have posted to Flickr to find ones you particularly like. Then, when EXIF data is available for the shots, take note of the focal lengths used for the images — this will give you a very good idea of what you want to be taking along on your trip.

In my case, the images I liked best seemed to be taken with focal lengths around 20-30mm (35mm equiv.). So since I have Olympus four-thirds camera bodies (2x crop factor), I aimed for 10-20mm focal lengths in my lenses. So I had a 7-14mm lens on my E-3 body (primary camera) and 14-54mm lens on my E-520 body (backup). Whichever camera wasn’t being used at the time rested in a padded torso pack (ThinkTank Change Up) to protect it from accidental dings. Meanwhile, both camera bodies were outfitted with quick-release plates for my tripod so I could switch back and forth quickly.

Oh, and both camera bodies have lanyards — so whichever one was in use was tethered to my wrist at all times. Particularly important when there’s nothing soft for a camera to land on if you drop it.

Passageway

Another shot from lower Antelope Canyon:

Passageway

And some more travel trips to go with it

  • Our visit to the canyon was on Memorial Day (a U.S. holiday held on the last Monday in May), and the trip through the canyon was dry as a bone. Some fellow travelers, though, told us they’ve gone through in winter and found spots chest deep in mud. So if you’re not traveling in summer months, make sure you have a change of clothing you’re willing to sacrifice to the hike — the pink mud permanently stains whatever you’re wearing.

  • It wasn’t terribly hot when we visited, but remember that you can’t exactly get out in the middle of the canyon to get that water bottle out of your car — take a bottle with you on your hike.

  • I’d been told before that a flashlight was a necessary thing to take on a trip through the canyon, but we never used ours. Maybe this is another winter (or early morning / late afternoon) thing?

  • Dust — there’s lots of it in the canyon. I’d recommend picking one lens for your camera(s) before you head in, then leaving it on. Swapping lenses in a dusty environment like this one is likely to get a lot of gunk into your camera. My solution: I have two camera bodies, I put complimentary lenses on the two of them and left them there.

I’ll talk more about photo gear in my next Antelope Canyon post…

Quill

If you like photographing flowers, and happen to travel to the big island of Hawaii, you really owe it to yourself to make some time to walk through the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Just a few minutes’ drive north of Hilo, it’s home to all sorts of beautiful tropical plants.

Here, for example, is a Pink Quill (tillandsia cyanea) bromeliad. It’s native to Ecuador, but apparently also available as a houseplant (although I doubt it’d do well for us here in Colorado):

Quill

More to come…