Saturday, November 16, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Burr Trail




Although this gallery is called "Burr Trail", almost half the photos were taken further west, on the drive there from Bryce Canyon, many near Escalante, Utah. We did detour to visit Kodachrome Basin State Park, which has many spindly rock formations, with some being rather, ahem, phallic in nature. The park's name has an interesting history too. The Burr Trail is a wonderful back-road that gets you into Capitol Reef National Park, much further south that the main park road that most people drive through. A number of years back, this road was completely gravel and that added to the desolate feeling of the amazing scenery but alas, it is now paved right through the spectacular Long Canyon, the entrance to which you can see in photo 30 of the above linked gallery.

The canyon rocks are a rich red-orange colour, and there are many lush green trees, so the combination of red rocks, green trees and a deep blue sky, like it was on that day, is an incredible sight to behold. The colour contrasts really make for spectacular scenery! Near the eastern end of Long Canyon, where it opens up, the varied colours of the sandstone are even more amazing, and the eroded mounds you can see in the above photo are a landscape photographer's dream. I will admit to enhancing the colours on the above photo to make it seem a little more "Velvia-like" but the version that's in the gallery (photo 43), as well as the other shots in the gallery, are more realistic.

Still, incredibly vivid colours in the area when you see them in person, especially when the clarity is as good as it was that day. We had so much luck on the trip, often with the atmospheric scrubbed clean of dust and haze by recently passed storms, deep blue skies and fluffy white clouds, as well as some interesting stormy skies as well. This was another place my father had never seen and the weather couldn't have been better for it!

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Here are some more panoramas I shot that day and again, clicking a thumbnail will open the shot larger in a new window or tab. The first one was taken from a viewpoint east of Escalante...

The next one was from atop some rocks beside the parking lot at a viewpoint overlooking the Escalante River...



Lastly, here is a panoramic photo of the view at the exit of Long Canyon...

Monday, November 11, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Bryce Canyon


After the main event, the Grand Canyon visit, we started working our way north again. The next major stop was Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah. On the way, we drove past the spectacular Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona. Much of drive out of the Grand Canyon area was bad weather, with very poor visibility and blizzard-like conditions. However luckily things improved and I did get a decent view and took one panorama of the Vermilion Cliffs. Too bad the sun wasn't out more for a bit of extra contrast, but it was still worth a shot. Click on the following to open a larger version in a new window or tab...



At Bryce Canyon the next morning, we were dismayed to find the weather cold, overcast and foggy, with fresh slushy snow on the ground! Since our strict schedule only allowed for one day at Bryce, I feared that we might not get any decent views at all. I took the opportunity during the day to do a load of laundry, while my dad relaxed back at the hotel. However when I was done, the skies had started to open up and I rushed back to the hotel to fetch my dad. We drove out to Sunset Point and the views were spectacular! Once again the the clarity was superb and the evening light was amazing - what luck! However it didn't last for long...

All the evening images in the gallery were shot during a brief 21 minute window when the sun was out. I was frantically shooting and changing lenses to try and capture as much as I could. Also, rather that depend too much on wide-angle lenses, I decided to shoot more details this time around, using my XF 50mm f/2 and XF 90mm f/2 for many shots, two exceptionally sharp lenses. In fact, the one shot in the gallery from my 16mm lens was actually slightly mis-focused darn-it! I felt so pressed for time that I didn't review any images when I was there and didn't notice it unfortunately.

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Despite the brief period of good light, I did manage to squeeze in a few panoramas as well. This first one ended up being over 21,000 pixels in width for the original file, enough to easily make a 10 foot wide print. The second one, which I shot from a slightly different spot with a wider lens, showing more foreground canyon and sky, makes up for the ruined 16mm shot I'd say...



Saturday, November 9, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - The Canyon!



This, finally, was the ultimate reason for our trip, the main event. My mom and dad had, on two separate trips, driven down to the Southwest and visited the Grand Canyon, and both times it was socked in with clouds so thick that you couldn't even see the canyon at all. So this was on my dad's bucket list, the wish to see the Grand Canyon in all its glory. The evening we arrived, it was overcast and raining, and the next morning didn't look all that promising either, but after we had breakfast it started to clear...

The passing storm had done a fantastic job of cleaning the air of dust and the views were the clearest I'd ever seen at the Grand Canyon myself. I had been there maybe three or four times previously, but the clarity this time was outstanding. To make things more interesting, a midday storm decided to scour the air even further and later that evening the views were, if anything, even better than in the morning. We had lucked out and had a day of gorgeous weather, absolutely fantastic for taking photos!

We were hoping to take in some more views again the next morning, but alas it was not to be: in fact, we had extremely poor visibility in blizzard like conditions on the drive east out of the park! The one day we were there, the weather was fantastic but the day prior and the day after, terrible weather with virtually no visibility into the canyon. Indeed, Lady Luck had smiled upon us that day for sure!

To get a good sense of just how vast the Grand Canyon really is, click on image #33 in the above linked gallery and then open the larger 3000 pixel wide version. Find the person standing near the edge of the cliff near the upper right of the shot...

Sadly, my mother passed away in 2008 and never did get to see the canyon like this in person. Neither did my dad's more recent companion Franziska unfortunately, who suddenly passed away in 2018. She too really wanted to see the Grand Canyon in person and the three of us had actually planned on doing this trip in 2017. Unlike my mother, Franziska had never been to the US Southwest at all. However that year, my dad had some serious health issues and couldn't really travel, nor could he get medical insurance for travel outside of Canada, so we had decided to postpone this trip until after our planned trip to Germany in 2018. Since Franziska sadly passed away early last year, my dad and I ended up traveling to Germany on our own as well.

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Below are a few stitched panoramic shots, a little too wide to look good in the main gallery, although not as wide as some I had posted previously. Since I couldn't decide on just one, the last three are similar versions of the same view, shot with different lenses at slightly different times. Click on the image to open a larger view in a new window or tab...





Tuesday, November 5, 2019

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First Test! Fujifilm X-Pro3


Gallery (30 images): First Test! Fujifilm X-Pro3

These are the first tests I shot with a preproduction X-Pro3 body that was loaned to me by Fujifilm. These may also be my last tests since for the moment, I have no intention of buying an X-Pro3 once it is released at the end of this month. Fujifilm intentionally made some design choices for the X-Pro3, with the hopes of attracting a new class of customer, and those choices mean it's a camera that is not very appealing to me. Time will tell if they made the right move. In the meantime, I am still extremely happy with my X-Pro2 body and more recently, with my X-H1 as well. The in-body image-stabilization, really superb EVF and general handling of the X-H1 I find to be very good, even though inherently, I prefer the control layout and handling of a rangefinder style body like the X-Pro2.

In the future, I may elaborate further on what it is I don't like about the X-Pro3, but suffice to say for now it is mainly the hidden-by-default flip down rear LCD, the reduction in the number of customizable buttons, and the significant reduction in the Hybrid-Viewfinder's OVF functionality in order to make room inside for a slightly improved EVF. There is a slight increase in magnification when compared to the X-Pro2, and a substantial improvement in contrast and smoothness, but I feel the EVF is still nowhere near as good as the one in the X-H1 or X-T3, and the improvements are not enough to compensate for the compromises made with the OVF in my opinion.