Ready for takeoff

Seen at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Cockrell Butterfly Center:

Ready for takeoff

I suppose I could have taken this shot from the side, so that more of this little guy would have been in focus. But I preferred an over-the-shoulder approach, you could almost share his point of view.

Stacked

On a trip through Glacier National Park, we ran across a stack of small thin rocks that someone had made near one of the visitors’ centers:

Stacked

Maybe it was built on a lark by one person, maybe it was the product of many individuals as they passed through. Just the same, it was a nice bit of whimsy to find in the middle of a long road trip…

Jammer

One of the original red tour buses at Glacier National Park in Montana:

Jammer

These sweet machines were built by the White Motor Company between 1936 and 1938 — and rebuilt in 2000 by Ford. Now they run on propane (93 percent cleaner running than the original engines) and have automatic transmissions, but the originals had somewhat finicky manual transmissions — thus the nickname, courtesy of the driver’s need to “jam” the transmission into gear.

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…