The 500mm Lens, A Work in Progress

It’s been about a year since I upgraded my camera equipment, and I’m still a bit frustrated with my 500mm lens.  It’s a fixed f8 refracting lens, similar to a telescope.  Until recently, I’ve had absolutely no luck getting any workable (or viewable) images from this lens.

The other day, I read a blog somewhere giving a review of this lens, or one similar, and the qualities that it has.  In the article it mentioned that the lens and ISO should be about 1:1.  In the comments, there was someone who mentioned the best way to use this lens was to use Aperture priority, and to set the ISO to 400 and then go have some fun.  So I did.

Following are some images I took this afternoon with this advice in mind.  I also noticed inside the camera the speed of the shot that was automatically set by the camera, which helped a lot, especially with the low lighting here in Zion Canyon.  When the speed became low, I upped the ISO until the speed became comfortable enough to get a decent image without using a tripod.

Just so you know, all of these images were taken free hand (no tripod), so they are still a bit blurry.  Camera shake is easy with slower speeds and slower lenses.  I just need to work on the focus (or use a tripod).  Hopefully the new glasses will help.

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This is on the cliff above the employee area.  It looks like there is a remnant of some old power lines in this tree (either that or it is a ham radio antenna, hmmm, gives me an idea).

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This is Horse Pasture Plateau, which is slightly visible here in the lower canyon.  If you look on the right side of this image towards the top, just above the white section, there appears to be a straight line in the red formation.  If I’m not mistaken, I would say that’s the West Rim Trail, one of my absolute favorite trails in Zion National Park.

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Here is the view of Angel’s Landing, at least the top of it (which is about 1 mile from the lodge, and taller than the new Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan, approximately 1500 feet above the canyon floor). I took this from a bench on the front lawn of Zion Lodge.  If you were on the top of Angel’s Landing on Sunday, October 11, between 4:30pm and 4:45pm, you are in this photo!

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Did you know that Zion Lodge has its own gargoyle?  Here is a closeup of it.  It is a popular climbing route (I don’t know the name of it off hand) that goes up to this cliff from the Lodge.  Someone told me it looks like a Mayan serpent, like you would see in the Mayan ruins in Mexico.   There are a few of these in the Park, who knows.

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Later this evening, I was sitting at a quiet spot and I heard a noise, so I looked up and was surrounded by mule deer.  This fawn was up the hillside from me (it’s hard to get a good shot of deer with a 500mm lens when they are just a few feet away).

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Here is the mama deer to the fawn above.  They were eating grass just a few feet away.  They are gorgeous animals.




Wild Weekly’s Photo Contest: Mountains

“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf! Mountains!” – Bilbo Baggins
I’m participating in the online adventure travel and outdoor photography magazine Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: Mountains!

I love the mountains! There’s just something special about mountains, either looking up at them, or down from them. They are majestic, timeless and breathtaking. Sometimes it helps to get away from it all in the mountains just to contemplate existence and life in general.

Here is a tribute to John Muir and his favorite place: Yosemite Valley, specifically Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.



Of course, a bit closer to home (but not quite) is the famous Horseshoe Bend. This is looking off the mountain at the Colorado River, just south of Glen Canyon Dam.


Here is a very famous vista of Zion National Park, the Watchman Mountain.


The only way to really appreciate the size and majesty of mountains is to get up close and personal. Here is a view of a mountain from the West Rim Trail in Zion. The ponderosa pine tree is about 60-80 feet tall. The cliff face is about 2000-3000 feet straight up. This gives a nice scale to Zion.


Here are a couple of mountains from the West Rim Trail:



This is the view from Deer Trap Mountain, one of the less popular trails in Zion. This is looking at Lady Mountain and into Heaps Canyon where the Emerald Pools are located.


Here are the Eagle Crags, just outside of Zion, one of my favorite cliffs.


Wild Weekly’s Photo Contest: Green

I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: Green!


There is an old saying: Water is Life!  No where is that more applicable than in the desert.  A person can go without water only 72 hours, maybe less in the desert.  Especially when it’s hot and dry.  However, here in this canyon where I live, there is a Riparian Woodland Climate, there are also hanging gardens, swamps, and of course, desert.

Here in the desert, you will find Prickly Pear Cactus, which is a very hardy plant that you can eat and is very high in water.  In a survival situation, you can cut these up and use the center for a water source.


Of course, if you want to get a good source of water, the best thing to do is find a spring like this one.

_RW_2723This is The Grotto in Zion National Park.  It’s also an excellent source for water.  You would still need a water purification system, because all water sources in North America are considered contaminated with bacteria and viruses.

Another great source for water is water falls, as seen here.

CRW_0031This is the world famous Menu Falls, in Zion National Park.  It’s called Menu Falls because it was featured on the menu at Zion Lodge during the 1950’s.  It’s also a great place for weddings (there is a wooden platform here so you can look at the waterfall).  A friend of mine was married here a few years ago (you know who you are!).

Moving into Pine Creek Canyon, there are wonderful spots to just simply relax, of course getting there you have to climb over boulders and walk in the water, which in some places are absolutely breathtaking and relaxing.

_RW_1452I could sit here for hours just listening to the water fall and watch the pollywogs in the water, (the little black dots on the right).

Along the way, you will find ferns and other water loving plants.  Water just seeps out of the sandstone and creates wonderful micro climates.



Of course, it’s amazing where you can find ponds and streams, this pond is located at 11,000 feet at Cedar Breaks National Monument.




Eventually, though, water does come from the sky in form of rain and snow.  Since the theme for this contest is Green, I’ll stick to rain.  This is from the West Rim Trail in Zion National Park looking south, one of my all time favorite hikes.  I was always told you don’t see Zion until you see it from the top.



Of course, I do like to go camping in places other than Zion.  This is at Oak Grove Campground just above Silver Reef, Utah.

_RW_1579You can see the oak leaves on the left surrounded by Ponderosa Pine trees.  This was a wonderful sight to wake up to.


Of course water comes in all shapes and sizes and colors.  This was at a water sculpture in the Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada.



Without water, there can be no life, and therefore, no green at all.  Hope you enjoyed this post and even learned a little about the importance of water.