The National Parks Traveler published my latest photography article. This month’s article deals with focusing on more than just “The Mountain” in Mount Rainier National Park. Click on the photo above to be taken to the article.
My last post described my New Year’s Eve experience in London. This post shows you the results. The fireworks display lasted around 11 minutes. I used my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, set the ISO to 5000, shutter to 1/50 of a second, aperture was f/4 and I just left it at that for these photos. I had to use some noiseware (Imagenomic) reduction software during the editing phase.
Some of these images bring to mind an abstract painting. All of these images bring to mind an incredible event.
Christmas Day in London was rainy, all day long. It was quiet, more or less, as well. I walked up the street and discovered Pret A Manger was open for business (bless them) and took back coffee and breakfast to my room, where I worked on more photos
before heading out for a little walk around Trafalgar Square.
That horse skeleton above is a part of a program called the Fourth Plinth (I think, I can’t exactly remember). Every so often, a new sculpture appears on that particular spot. When I was there July 2013, it was a neon purple cockerel from France. This piece of art is titled “Gift Horse” and is a replica of a horse skeleton with an actual working neon Nasdaq-type stock ticker as the ribbon around one of the skeleton’s legs.
I was still a little sleepy from the previous night, where I actually remained awake to attend Christmas Eve Service at Westminster Abbey, then couldn’t get to sleep until around 1:30am. So after breakfast, I edited a few more photos, including this one below that I took of the building sculptures across the narrow street from my room.
After that, it was time to get ready for my traditional Christmas Lunch in the hotel. Dress up, make up, heels, jewelry, the whole nine yards.
I will readily admit that while I totally enjoy all of my solo trips (I only travel solo unless it’s with an organized photo tour), I don’t particularly enjoy eating alone. So, while the food was quite good, I felt like the odd one out as I watched other diners, either in pairs or in groups, enjoy the lunch in a holiday spirit. I was glad to return to my room, change into my walking clothes, take my camera, and spend the remainder of the day walking the meal off (which consisted of an amuse bouche, ham hocks, sea bass, turkey with the trimmings, plum pudding, a glass of Tattinger, pre-meal and a glass of chardonnay with the entree).
Still a little rainy – enough so that it made some of the lights look a little “runny”, but a lovely Christmas Day nonetheless. I was right where I wanted to be on that holiday.
As is usual when I publish to my blog site, I don’t realize until after the fact that there are usually more photos to include that I haven’t even edited yet. Like the ones below. They go with my Dec 23rd walkabout. I stayed around the Globe area that evening because I had a ticket to see Cymbaline that night.
All that remains of Winchester Palace. Note how sunken the floor of the palace is next to the present-day walkway.
Christmas Decorations At Southwark Cathedral
En Route To The Clink. Lights on the ceiling overhead emulated fireworks and I stood there with my camera trying to get an expansive “fireworks” shot.
A Christmas Market In Front Of The Tate (one of the many markets sprinkled over London)
The Corinthia Hotel. I stayed there for business back in 2013, but for this trip, I opted to house myself in the building to the left – the Royal Horseguards. I was a little disappointed it was not as lit up as the Corinthia. To the right of the Corinthia is a theatre where I saw Spam-A-Lot back in July 2013. Good fun.
Los Portales Morning, Gage Hotel, Marathon Texas
My first vacation of the year was the last week of April 2014. I drove 13 hours from my home in southeast Texas all the way over to southwest Texas to Big Bend National Park…in one day. I wasn’t able to get a room in the Chisos Mountains Lodge for Saturday the 26th, so I instead stayed in the beautiful Gage Hotel in Marathon, about 60-some miles north of the park.
One of the main reasons I timed my trip for late April was because of the new moon. When I visited Big Bend back in December 2013, there was a gibbous moon, the light of which blocked out the wonderful stars and purple-white line of the Milky Way. For this trip, though, the stars out-performed themselves.
Starry skies over Casa Grande
Stars and the Milky Way over the Chihuahuan Desert
Stars and the Milky Way along Basin Road, toward the Chisos Mountains
I used three different cameras for these shots: my Canon 5D Mk III, Canon 1DX, and a rented Nikon D800. For the Canons, I used two lenses: 24-70 and 16-35; for the Nikon I used a rented 24-70. The ISO was 3200, f-stop was 3.2 and I varied the shutter speed between 20-30 seconds. I had to use manual focus because of the lack of light for autofocus. The images were all taken between 2-3AM.
The park’s most recent newsletter talks a lot about the starry skies in Big Bend, as well as the problem with light pollution elsewhere (which is why parks like Big Bend are so important). Many nocturnal creatures guide their lives by the stars and even by the straight line of the Milky Way, believe it or not.
If you ever have a chance to visit this amazing, out-of-the-way park, try to go during a new moon so you, too, can see the starry expanse of the night sky.
The Milky Way over the Los Portales rooms of the Gage Hotel, Marathon, TX