Sunday, October 13, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Los Alamos

For the first part of the day, my dad wasn't feeling well after a night of sleeping poorly, and stayed in the hotel while I went out and wandered around Los Alamos for a few hours. I visited several buildings belonging to the Los Alamos History Museum, and took a number of shots around the scenic Ashley Pond Park, as well as other historic sites in the city.

Later in the day, my father mustered the energy to visit the very interesting Bradbury Science Museum with me. My Laowa 9mm lens came in handy to add some wide dramatic perspective to some of the museum's displays, even when the space was tight. Afterwards, I had been looking forward to driving to Bandelier National Monument, which features a large number of fascinating cliff dwellings and other ruins, but after the museum, my dad had enough for that day and just wanted to rest and relax in the evening.

Link to: All the galleries from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Saturday, October 12, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - VLA & Bosque del Apache

After a day of travel with no photography, just driving across central Arizona and making time, we arrived at the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope facility in New Mexico in the evening. The interesting thing about the VLA is that there are many radio dishes arrayed along three sets of twinned railway tracks that radiate outward in a "Y" shape. The dishes can be moved along these tracks and repositioned to either be close together near the centre, or much further apart across the entire valley, depending on the scientists' needs. The tracks are each about 21 kilometres in length, allowing for huge flexibility in positioning the individual dishes.

In the above photo, you can see one of the rail transport vehicles that helps move the dishes, with one showing in the assembly and maintenance building in the background. It might be a bit hard to tell the scale, but the individual radio dishes are actually quite large, being 25 meters in diameter and each weighing over 200 metric tons!

The following day, before making our way up to Los Alamos, we stopped by the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Preserve and walked around a little, observing many different birds... and one turtle as well. During past visits, I saw many more turtles basking in the sun, but I only glimpsed a single one that day...

Link to: All the galleries from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Death Valley

After spending some time in Rhyolite in the morning, as per the previous gallery, my dad and I made our way into Death Valley... the long way around via a scenic route: Titus Canyon. The road to Titus Canyon, which is strictly one way, branches off from the main highway just west of Rhyolite. After driving through a relatively flat area where there were lots of blooming wildflowers and some cacti, the road started winding around through some colourful scenery, and slowly the canyon got narrower and narrower. On previous trips through Titus Canyon, I never really documented the drive much, so this time I made sure to take lots of photos of my Outback in the canyon, so one can see how tight it really gets!

After exiting Titus Canyon and having an early dinner in Furnace Creek, we made our way south to Badwater, the lowest point in Death Valley, indeed the lowest in North America, at roughly 280 feet below sea-level. One shot in the linked gallery shows a sea-level sign way up the side of a mountain.

After Badwater, we made our way back north, towards our hotel in Beatty Nevada, but looped through the Artist's Palette drive, an area with vividly coloured sandstone and soil.

Link to: All the galleries from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Sunday, October 6, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Rhyolite, Nevada

The first thing my father and I did on the morning after arriving in the Death Valley area, was to visit Rhyolite, a crumbling ghost town in Nevada near the California border. Over the years that I've visited Rhyolite, I've seen a progression of newly collapsed walls and structures, with many once accessible buildings now fenced off due to safety concerns.

Thankfully, my father was very patient and gave me time to really photograph Rhyolite during this visit, and I took lots of detail shots, as well as expansive shots with my ultra-wide Laowa 9mm lens. Having such a wide lens was very helpful in fully capturing some of the buildings despite needing to be very close-up, with the camera right over the fence surrounding the building, in order to avoid having those same fences appear in the foreground of the photos. Other times, the 9mm simply added a sense of drama and perspective, as in the above photo.

Link to: All the galleries from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Saturday, October 5, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Days 1-3

Gallery (20 images): 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Days 1-3

Back in late April, my father and I had left on a lengthy road-trip to the US Southwest in my new, 2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R. Our ultimate goal was to see the Grand Canyon, since he had been there with my mom many years ago, but the views had been nonexistent, with the canyon totally socked in with clouds. This time, we were hoping to find better weather there and the spectacular views the Grand Canyon is known for!

The above linked gallery has some shots from the first three days of travel south, on the way to our first major destination on the trip, Death Valley National Park in California.

During the 22 day, 9300 km road-trip, we wound our way through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. Here is a screenshot of our entire trip as recorded by my vehicle GPS...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Oregon & Idaho Trip - Days 1 & 2

Gallery: 2019 Oregon & Idaho Trip - Days 1 & 2

In early September I was off for a 10 day road-trip with my friend Bill, camping, hiking and taking photos in Oregon and Idaho, with a brief jaunt into northern Utah to visit the Golden Spike National Historical Park. The above shot was taken in the morning, hiking along the John Day River after the first night of camping at Cottonwood Canyon State Park in north central Oregon.

I've recently switched from using Adobe Lightroom and/or PhotoNinja for processing my raw files, to Capture One Pro. The image quality one gets from Capture One Pro, especially with respect to detail and texture in deep shadows, is far superior to Adobe's processing, at least when it comes to working with X-Trans raw files from a Fujifilm body. Capture One's image quality is more or less on par with PhotoNinja these days, but the workflow is a lot smoother. I still used Lightroom to download, geotag and organize my initial shots while traveling, but switched to Capture One for the final processing once back at home.

Speaking of geotagging, what I do is take a shot of my Garmin Fenix 5 Plus GPS watch in the morning after getting a satellite lock, so that I can easily correct the capture time of all the shots in Lightroom as a group, to sync them with GPS time for the day of shooting. I record track-logs anywhere I shoot and then use Lightroom's excellent geotagging feature in the Map module to add location metadata to each shot for the day after importing the GPX files. It is quite a simple and seamless process generally speaking since I can handle all the images in one day as a group. That said, I sure would love it if my camera had a GPS built in regardless!

I also recently picked up a Fujifilm X-H1 and shot with it exclusively on this trip. The EVF is far superior to the one in my X-Pro2 and IBIS was also nice to have at times. While the X-H1's image quality is not really any better and it is a bit bulkier than my X-Pro2, the benefits of the improved EVF and in-body image-stabilization made it a compelling upgrade... well I suppose you would call it more of a "side-grade."

Originally, the plan was to scoot down to Moab and spend the trip there, but the weather was so nice in southeast Oregon and southern Idaho, that there didn't seem a compelling reason to do so much more driving...

Saturday, August 3, 2019

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Canon G5X Mark II Tested: False Creek

Gallery (65 images): Canon G5X Mark II and False Creek

Let me start out this blog posting by acknowledging how long it's been since I've posted anything! Basically, every time there was something I wanted to blog about, some new piece of equipment I tested, some new shots I wanted to share, something I probably could have thrown up fairly quickly if I'm being honest, I held back. I kept thinking that there were, for example, still galleries from my trip to Germany in 2018 I hadn't yet posted, then a trip to Ontario and Niagara Falls, a trip to Vancouver Island... well you probably get the picture. I kept holding off since I felt that I first needed to post older "more important" stuff (more time consuming to do though), before talking about or showing any new stuff (quicker and easier). Well, no more of that... if I can help it.

From now on, I will post short entries, smaller galleries etc., and not worry that more major stuff is still backlogged. I'll get to the older stuff eventually! This blog has been dead for 2/3 of a year because of that, and I will try to rectify this going forward. So, on to today's topic then!

My local Canon rep was kind enough to lend me a production G5X Mark II to test, as soon as he got his sample. For years now, I personally hadn't been all that impressed with most point & shoot (P&S) cameras on the market for a variety of reasons. Whether it was the handling and ergonomics, the lens quality, the overall quality with respect to the image sensor, the responsiveness of the user interface; there was always some aspect of most small cameras that turned me off. I have been spoiled by using some very high quality, high performance cameras and lenses these last few years, and my expectations were high... probably overly high when it comes to evaluating smaller, less expensive cameras, but there you go.