Vacation report Colorado-Utah-Wyoming

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by pniev, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Although I posted a few photos earlier at SC, I thought to post a more elaborate report about my first no-DSLR-vacation-trip here. We visited Denver, the Sand Dunes near Alamosa (CO), Durango, Mesa Verde, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, and Jackson (Hole). A beautiful and relaxing 2-week journey that left a lot of impressions. Rather than posting all photos in one post, I’ll separate them. My last post will summarize the shooting experience.

    to be continued...
     
  2. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    The first stop: Denver.

    It was blistering hot when we were in Denver. So no good opportunity to practice street shooting let alone to overcome my reluctance to do that! Denver is really a nice city. Not sure what the story behind the Denver downtown public pianos is, but it was fun to see one person play in the early morning. We started with coffee at Starbucks, strolled downtown, bought hats, and had lunch at what appeared to be a favorite of office workers.
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    Denver hosts some characters. This man passed us while zipping from our coffee:
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    One advice: DON’T stay at the Super 8 Denver Stapleton Motel. It’s noisy (people screaming in tha hallway at 2AM) and dirty. Better spend a few more dollars on a better motel or hotel.
     
  3. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Sand Dunes near Alamosa, CO

    The sand dunes are definitely worth a visit. It is a nice stop on your way to Durango. When you drive towards the dunes, you think you’re close but you remain close for some time. An immense area!. You can walk, walk, walk. And you need water, water, water. And you meet some interesting people like these members of an Amish family.
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    If you like trains, locomotives of the Rio Grande line can be admired in Alamosa:
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  4. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Durango, CO

    According to Wikipedia Durango was established in 1881 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad to service the San Juan mining district. The town has quite a history but other than the old buildings in downtown Durango, it does not offer much culture. But it is full of tourists, including bikers. We stayed at the General Palmer Inn. A very nice hotel with friendly staff and quite history. If you’re into movies: City Slickers was partly shot in Durango.
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    The area is great for mountain-biking in the summer. The main attraction for non-daredevils is the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad heritage ride. The steam-powered train takes you in appr. 3 hours from Durango to another western town named Silverton. You can choose to drive back with a bus or take the train back. We took the bus. Our driver was Burt, a 70-year old volunteer who managed to speak the entire journey and enlighten us with all kind of facts, amongst others about a bike ride.
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    Silverton is a nice ex-mining town that now hosts a bunch of shops and restaurants to entertain tourists:
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    The 1st time I saw an old T-ford outside a museum:
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    During our stay the local firemen collected money for the families of the Arizona firemen who perished in the big fire.
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    To Be Continued...next stop: Mesa Verde
     
  5. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Mesa Verde

    Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, is known for the remains of the Ancestral Pueblo civilization, who lived there from 600 to around 1300 AD. The park houses nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. The people lived in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls.To learn more, go to Ancestral Puebloans and Their World (pdf, 552 kb).(source: nps.gov). If you only have half a day, like we did, visiting the well-preserved Spruce Tree House is recommended. Here are some photos:
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    On our way back, a storm hit Mesa Verde. Spectacular! These shots were taken from a driving car.
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    To Be Continued..... Arches
     
  6. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Arches, UT

    The Arches in Utah are highly recommended as well. Sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking. Unfortunately the weather spoiled our sunset when we visited the Windows section at the end of the day. The next morning we walked to Delicate Arch, which - unfortunately - is a sunset rather than a sunrise location.

    We stayed at the Inca Inn Motel in Moab, which was started by a entrepreneur who got tired of the expensive hotels in Moab when he visited to raft the river. So he started a motel that aims to offer the best value for the money. And they do! A group of hard-working guys run the motel. It’s clean, quiet airco (!!!!!!!) and is close to the Arches. Highly recommended if you stay there and don’t want to spend a lot of money on hotels! Stay there at least two or three days, buy the ebook “Photographing Arches” by Bret Edge, and use his guidelines to find great sunrise/sunset locations. We will definitely go back to do that.


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    To Be Continued.. Salt Lake City

    On our way back to the hotel in Moab, I managed to get a shot of the lightning
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  7. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Salt Lake City

    We were surprised how much SLC has changed since our first visit (14 years ago). Many young people can be found downtown, enjoying beer or coffee. New stores. So we had a good time.
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    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir happened to practice for their big saturday night Pioneer concert. It was very special to see and hear their performance.
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    To Be Continued... Yellowstone,WY
     
  8. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Yellowstone, WY

    Yellowstone + July = tourists+cars. There is no need to look out for animals. when you see a bunch of cars, parked chaotically you know an Elk has been spotted. An evening trip to Yellowstone Lake is definitely recommended (but bring mosquito spray). We spotted otters, a pelican, elk and a bear when it was almost dark. I wasn’t able to get a sharp shot of the otters though. The longest lens was the 60mm (90mm FFeq). Manual Focus did not really work. Zone focus neither because it was getting dark and the AF was unreliable (small focus area). At that moment, I really really really missed my DSLR. But the memory is more important than the shot. ;-)
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    If you say Yellowstone, you say Geysers. Good ol’ reliable Old Faithful but also many colorful basins.
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    To Be Continued with Jackson and the Tetons
     
  9. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Jackson (Hole) and Teton National Park

    Jackson + July = even more tourists+cars. After a beautiful scenic drive from Yellowstone to Jackson, we arrived at what was supposed to be the highlight of our trip. It turned out to be the biggest disappointment! We visited Jackson 14 years ago and tourism has really taken off since. In our memory it was a serene, idyllic little nice town with art shops. Now it’s overcrowded, full of cars and full of souvenir shops. The atmosphere has changed completely. So don’t go there unless you love strolling among tourists. And don’t worry about buying bear spray for an easy hike on the Hidden Falls Trail. Even when you start at 7AM, it is full of tourists already. Fortunately the nature was spectacular! Our hotel, the Rustic Inn, was very nice too.

    Some shots from the Hidden Falls Trail:
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    some shots from Jackson:
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    To Be Continued... some final flower shots
     
  10. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    No vacation without flower shots

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    shots processed with VSCO 04 Velvia


    To Be Continued with... Final words
     
  11. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Final words

    I travelled as light as possible an brought the x-pro1, the 18-35-60mm lenses, a lightweight tripod, spare battery, and spare memory cards. So no light meter, flash, etc.

    So what do I think about shooting with the x-pro1? Let me start with the pros. It’s fun to shoot with the XP, it is easier to carry, the OVF is a gem and the shutter sound is not disturbing. However, I do admit that the cons became quite annoying during those 2 weeks:
    1. The exposure compensation dial seemed to change constantly. Although I got used to checking it before shooting, this was quite annoying initially.
    2. EVF and LCD are essentially useless in bright light, so it’s either lucky-shooting or using the OVF. When the OVF works instantly, everything works fine. But frequently the OVF did not show lines and info. When pressing the view-mode did not work, I had to switch the camera off and on (and, yes, occasionally it was because I had left the cap on the lens ;-) ). Extremely annoying when you want to capture “a moment” and you try to keep up with the others. After missing a few, I just took lucky shots in such cases.
    3. I should have experimented much more upfront with focusing in close range. I thought I could rely - more or less - on the AF-correction box in the OVF (EVF/LCD were unusable in bright light). That is clearly not the case. I missed most close-range shots (something that never happened to me with DSLRs).
    4. The 60mm should basically only be used in MF-mode. In AF-mode it hunts, is slow, and AF is not really accurate (compared to DSLR). This really hurt me because I love macro-shots. Perhaps I just to use it more often...


    I noticed that changing from DSLR to compact changed my shooting style. I shoot more people and “things” and less nature and macro.

    My overall finding is that I need more practice to become comfortable with the compact world. Or add a DSLR to the collection. ;-)

    Thanks for being patient in following this series of posts!

    Peter
     
  12. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Looks like a great trip! We've been to Jackson, Yellowstone, and Denver on a couple vacations so there were a few familiar sights.

    One thing that makes all the difference in the world for me at least is that we always visit places outside of tourist times, or at the very beginning or end of the season. That ensures that even visiting hotspots like Jackson, Yellowstone, etc. we've always avoided the mega-crowds. So much more enjoyable to see (and photograph) when you don't have to dodge the crowds!

    With the 60mm, have you updated the firmware to the latest July update and you're still getting hunting and missed focus that much? I haven't shot with mine a whole lot since the update but it seemed like it had improved some. Still the slowest of the bunch, but at least it's better!
     
  13. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Thanks for your post, Jay.

    Unfortunately our friends were bound to the sumer holidays. But next time we will definitely go earlier in the year, or perhaps later. I'd love to see Fall in Yellowstone.

    No, I wasn't able to install the latest July update at the time. I am not sure if the lens is a keeper. It is not a true macro lens either so I may sell it. Perhaps I got used too much to the Nikon 105mm but the 60mm did not work out for me so far. But I'm planning to use it more frequently and then decide if I will keep it.

    Peter
     
  14. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I'm sure fall in yellowstone would be pretty amazing, if you make it back take lots of pics!

    Definitely recommend applying the update if you haven't yet, it's made a pretty huge difference for me with the X-E1. Still might not be what you're looking for in a macro lens but it should help make it easier to decide if nothing else :)
     
  15. bilzmale

    bilzmale FujiXspot Veteran

    353
    Feb 3, 2013
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill
    What a wonderful travelogue - the pics are awesome and the words add context. Thanks for sharing.
     
  16. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Yes, I 've done the update so I'see. Here is an example of misfocus. I tried to focus on the head but I had to rely on the OVF to focus. BTW: I had similar issues with the 18mm. A shot of a chipmunk with mountains-background resulted in out-of-focus chipmunk and razor-sharp mountains. ;-)
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  17. Isoterica

    Isoterica FujiXspot Regular

    170
    Feb 10, 2013
    Thanks so much for sharing your trip. I think of all the places I haven't been and they are always out of the country.. some far away place I want to see, that I've seen on tv or in books or on the internet. I forget about the possibilities in my own [well not mine it's pretty boring here] back yard. You've given me a wonderful visual trip and the desire to see more here at home [USA].
     
  18. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Haha. That is very true indeed. Europeans travel to the US and Americans to Europe. ;-)
    I wish I was able to take a dedicated photography trip to the Arches, Yellowstone and many other places in the US. Ah well, perhaps in the future.

    Thanks!