Garden of the Gods – National Natural Landmark, Colorado Springs

Ten miles west of Colorado Springs there exists 3,300 acres of land featuring incredible geologic formations, the result of ancient sedimentary beds of red, white, blue, and purple sandstones, limestone and conglomerates.

Garden of the GodsThe area was named “Garden of the Gods” by Rufus Cable in August 1859 and became a free access park in 1909 at the wish of Charles Elliott Perkins, whose children donated the land to the city of Colorado Springs.

Garden of the GodsThe park boosts over 15 miles of trails and is a popular destination for walking, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The steep incline of the rocks are also an attraction for mountain climbers who may scale the various peaks once they have obtained an annual permit.

Garden of the GodsThe trip from which these images were captured occured in late March 2013, following a weekend snowfall that had melted in most places but still coated the higher elevation mountains.

Garden of the GodsUnfortunately, time constraints only allowed a 30-minute visit, when one should really plan to spend an entire day to capture the beauty contained therein. Thus, the more than quick tour resulted in shots being taken while entering the park (from the car) and during a rather fast and hasty less than half-mile walk in to view the closer rocks.

Garden of the GodsFossils from the dinosaur species Theiophytalia kerri were discovered in 1878 and there are, evidently, more dinosaur fossils available to be seen, as well as marine forms and plant fossils. For bird lovers, Garden of the Gods is the home to more than 130 species, among them are canyon wrens, swallows and white-throated swifts.

Garden of the GodsOnly an hour’s drive south of Denver this park is an absolute must-see for any nature lover. A full day is recommended to fully appreciate all that that Garden of the Gods has to offer, as a half-hour jaunt through the area only makes one want to go back.

Garden of the GodsOver For Now.

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Nikon AF-S 85mm f/3.5 Lens Review

This Nikon AF-S 85mm f/3.5 DX VRII ED G lens is used with both my D80 and my D5100, mostly the latter. I had done quite a bit of review and article reading about many Nikon, Tokina, Sigma and Tamron f/2.8 aperture prime lenses in the 60mm to 105mm range for my macro work, and then I literally stumbled on this beauty and became intrigued by it, the more I read. While only a semi-pro, I do have the desire to capture artistic images.

Irregular Curve MumI do a lot of macro photography with flowers. I have taken many excellent close-up shots earlier with my 18-105mm as well as more recently with my 18-200mm, but I find that the consistency of obtaining truly crisp images is nowhere near what this 85mm lens will do for me. The yield of top quality shots is a much higher percentage, as it should be.

Nikon 85mm 3.5The auto focus is definitely fast and very sharp and this lens produces outstanding color and has a very nice bokeh. The VR function works exceptionally well for me in AF mode. I do have pretty steady hands and find that I rarely need to use a tripod for my flower macro work to obtain striking results. I even did a test, taking a dozen or so handheld shots and a similar number of tripod shots. I could really not see a difference until I was at home on my 23 inch monitor and started seriously zooming in on specific stamens. Then I could see a slight difference. Do keep in mind, however, that the images were not taken in low light, but fairly well-lit botanical gardens. Having said all of that regarding AF mode, I find I do need the tripod in manual. However, since I end up with such crisp shots in AF I find I am rarely using MF.

Crimson Tide MumThe build quality seems quite good. Yes, lots of plastic, but that is what we live with nowadays except for the most expensive options available. The bright side of that is the weight is quite minimal and it does not feel cheap. Using the 85mm with my D5100 is a real pleasure. If you don’t have $1,000 to spend on a higher quality lens, and need a very good DX macro lens, this is certainly one to consider. I highly recommend this lens.

Over For Now.

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La Tour Eiffel – The Eiffel Tower

The idea of what would become La Tour Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower, was first envisioned in 1884 and completed as the entry arch and as a suitable centerpiece for the proposed 1889 Exposition Universelle, a World’s Fair which would mark the centennial of the French Revolution.
Le Tour Eiffel
Standing 320 metres (1,050 feet) tall, Tour Eiffel held the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City grabbed the crown in 1930.

The tower, located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, is the most-visited paid monument in the world, with over 250 million people having made the ascent to the observatory’s upper platform. One could only hazzard a wild guess how many more millions of people have made the trek to view Tour Eiffel in person, but did not pay to make the trip into the lower troposphere.

As one of the most recognizable structures on Earth, and one more of mankind’s engineering marvels, one cannot truly say that have visited Paris without, minimally, walking up to and touching the tower. The far better option, of course, is to view the beauty of Paris (and miles of France, as well) from the upper deck.

Over For Now.

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The Weeping Tree

The weeping tree is an interesting plant. The trees are characterized by a fairly typical shape with fairly massive growth of soft, limp twigs, usually leading to a bent crown and pendulous braches that cascade to the ground.

Although weepingness does occurs in nature, most are cultivars. There exist over a hundred different types of weeping trees.

Below are a few samples:

Weeping Higan Cherry
Weeping Hemlock

Weeping Hemlock
Weeping Beech
Weeping Beech
The weeping trees. Magnificent and grand.
Over For Now.
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