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.

Main Street One

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens Review

As is the norm here at Main Street One, tech specs are not really discussed when products are reviewed. The thought process is that a prospective buyer is more than likely knowledgeable, to some degree, with all or most of the specs. These reviews deal with experience in working with a product, how it performs in the real world and are compared, at times, to similar products from the same or another manufacturer.

The piece of camera gear reviewed here is the Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18–300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens. Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-300mmNikon USA refers to this glass as, the “most powerful all-in-one zoom lens ever.” There is absolutely no argument here, only supporting evidence.

This lens was purchased to take the place of having to carry both a Nikon AF-S 18-200mm lens and a Nikon AF-S 55-300mm lens and then needing (or having) to switch them out in order to capture certain shots (and oft-times missing the shot due to the time it takes to change them). Another reason is that each time a lens is removed from the camera body that action opens up the possibility of contaminants infiltrating gear during the change-out. What a dream! With this lens neither of the two mentioned issues is a even a remote concern.

True, the 18-300mm is not classed (nor priced) as a pro level lens and it will not outperform a prime lens but it certainly is great glass.

The 18-300mm focuses faster than either the 18-200mm or the 55-300mm. There have been zero issues with the lens hunting for a focal point in low lighting situations (unless there is absolutely no contrast, but that happens with virtually every lens manufactured).

The sharpness at all focal settings, between 18mm and 300mm, is very good. The color and clarity of images are both quite good. Well, no, they are better than quite good. Nikon has done a very admirable job in bringing consumers an excellent all-in-one carry-about lens.

Nikon D5100 with Nikkor AF-S DX 18-300mm lens
Nikon D5100 with Nikkor AF-S DX 18-300mm lens

The 18-300mm performs at least as well, if not better, at 300mm than the 55-300mm lens, and at the lower end of the spectrum, in the 18-24mm range, it has out-shined the 18-200mm. That is exceptional, to say the least.

The AF (autofocus) works superbly and coupled with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction II (VR) technology makes for perfect everyday shooting. However, this lens can also be used for close-up nature shots producing excellent clarity and bokeh (background blur). 

The 18-300mm has been used on both a Nikon D90 and a Nikon D5100 and it performs great on both bodies.

The lens lock comes in handy to avoid the dreaded lens creep.

The glass is definitely heavier than the 18-200mm, but that is to be expected with the added focal length. The build quality seems quite good. There is no cheap plastic feeling that one sometimes experiences with certain lenses. The reversible lens hood is engineered well with the camera’s IF (Internal Focus) and, when reversed, does not interfere when focusing, as it does on the 18-200mm.

Overall, this is a very impressive lens. The Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18–300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is definitely recommended as a one-lens solution for those photographers wanting (desiring) glass such as this, especially when travelling and for day shooting when taking a few pieces of glass is either not wanted or not an option.

Over For Now.

Main Street One