Lone Elk State Park and Shaw Conservatory

Becky and I decided to take a tour into the country to see the early fall colors. We weren’t disappointed, but they just aren’t quite there yet. We had planned to meet Kurt and Kelly at a Fall Festival at Shaw Conservatory (west of the Gateway City), but decided to make a detour to Lone Elk before heading to the festival.

No elk spotted (although a co-worker who was there the same day saw them), but we definitely saw the bison — they were on both sides of the road, just being bison. (That same co-worker saw none of them — timing is everything!) The shots of them can use some more “digital darkroom” work to get them presentable, but you’ll get the idea. They were large, numerous, and really impressive. It’s hard to believe that their numbers were so great once that the plains were black with them. Why we would annihilate a species like we have the bison is totally lost on me.

I also got some nice landscapes shot. I’m still learning how to shoot with my 17-35mm lens though. I was trying to use my circular polarizer, and the results were mixed, with some nice colors sometimes, and other times not having consistent colors across the blues of the sky. My understanding is that circ-pols work better at right angles to the sun, so I wonder if was transitioning between the “deep blue” and “not so deep blue” as I got the right angle part of the shot at one edge of the frame? Anyway, a mixed bag.

Another thing I continue to suffer from is softness in places using the 17-35mm. I think this is coming from not having the depth of field quite right, and sometimes from doing my own focusing. The focus ring on my lens is very loose, and the difference in focus is not great through the viewfinder (to my feeble eyes). I see the difference in a big way, though, in the final shots when I review them. It’s kinda hard to fix out-of-focus in Photoshop!

We also went to the Fall Festival at Shaw Conservatory. This was a bit of a let down — I guess I was expecting more. A half mile walk to the site from the parking area, only to find some food vendors waaaaaaay overcharging for their food, a few other tents (like for KWMU — our NPR station), and a few sellers of yard ornaments.

However, I did get to walk through the reclaimed prairie, and that was cool. I need to visit again, and shoot a full day there. Pretty, pretty place, and I’m sure much nicer without hundreds and hundreds of folks roaming about.

BTW, we did find Kurt and Kelly…. just as they were leaving. Oh well!