Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mesa Verde

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/250, f/6.3, ISO 100
While in New Mexico I took a side trip up to Colorado. I have fond memories of a childhood visit to Mesa Verde, so I thought I’d drive up for the day. If nothing else, I figured I’d find some good photo opportunities.

Which I did. The best part of the trip was the hike to Petroglyph Point. Just a little way up the trail the crowd thinned out considerably, and by the time I reached the carvings I was virtually alone. What fun it was to use one of the world’s newest communication methods to record one of the oldest.

The trail started and ended at the Spruce Tree House cliff dwellings. The crowd was much thicker there, but from the right angles it was possible to get shots without too many tourists in them.

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/100, f/5.0, ISO 100

I even managed to shoot a short panorama.

Nikon D7000, 35mm (18-55), 1/160, f/6.3, ISO 100, panorama

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/400, f/10, ISO 100, cropped and adjusted

Earlier this month my wife and I took a trip to New Mexico. Amy was there to work, which left me with some time on my hands. Figuring I might not make it back to this part of the country again anytime soon, I picked a couple of destinations I’d been meaning to visit.

The first was the Very Large Array radio observatory, 50 miles west of Soccoro, New Mexico. I’ve loved astronomy ever since I was a kid, and though I don’t have the math skills to pursue it seriously, I still like to visit museums, observatories and the like. If you’re into this sort of thing, the VLA is definitely worth a trip. It’s refreshing to see a government operation that’s actually open and accessible to the public. The tour was excellent; the guide even sounded like Carl Sagan. Just don’t trust Apple Maps to tell you where the turn is.

I lucked out in the timing department. The dishes were in their A configuration, which meant that they were as close together as they got. If they had been in the D configuration, they would have been more than 20 miles apart and not such an awesome photo op.

Even so, photographing them was a challenge. To convey a sense of the scene, the photo had to do two things: show all the dishes (or at least as many of them as possible) and convey just how big they were. Accomplishing one of the two tasks was easy. I used a wide angle lens to take the picture at the top of this post. It caught the whole array. But the scale is hard to read. Without something familiar for a scale reference, these could be no bigger than the dish currently serving as a weed arbor in my neighbor’s yard.

Getting in closer and adding some people to the composition helps establish the scale. But now you can’t see the array.

Nikon D7000, 32mm (18-55), 1/1000, f/16, ISO 800

Of course I could always piece a pan shot together. This does the job if you can view it at full resolution. But shrunk down to a web-friendly size, it isn’t much better than the first picture.

Nikon D7000, 50mm (18-55), 1/800, f/14, ISO 800, pan

Here’s about as close as I could come to a good compromise:

Nikon D7000, 36mm (18-55), 1/1000, f/16, ISO 800