Catching up on photos from a couple weeks ago. Visited Thacher Park, where we found this tiny northeastern ringneck snake in a small, wet grotto. Thacher was one of the New York State parks slated for closure this year to save $20 million in an attempt to close an $8 billion budget gap — maybe a scare tactic, depending on how you look at it. The park was officially closed for a few weeks, which is a shame. Its claim to fame is the location among the Helderberg Escarpment, a unique and valuable geological feature, and the view from the lookout is amazing — nearly 180 degrees of tree-carpeted Hudson Valley, with Albany just a clump of buildings in the distance. To me, this park, the view, and the natural features, are a right of the people; not just New Yorkers, but everyone and anyone. There’s absolutely no justification for trying to take it away, you just can’t do that. Nobody owns it, we are all responsible for maintaining and passing on this legacy.
We also woke up at 6:00am to visit Five Rivers again at the best time of the day. That site and Thacher really represent some of what makes me feel so lucky to live in Albany. These are places a short ride from home that are so abundantly filled with natural wonder. They’re havens for regional wildlife, and while not untouched, they’re carefully managed and allow everyone to experience the wealth and variety of nature we have. And hopefully appreciate it. Five Rivers especially has become a favorite place of mine this year, and I’m excited to see the changes that fall and winter will bring there.
These trips were also a nice opportunity for me to test out a new lens, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM, which all of the photos here with the exception of the closeup macros were taken with. Prime lenses in this near-telephoto focal range (say, 70mm to 150mm or so) are generally used for portraiture because they’re short enough to keep a close working distance and they nicely compress features, giving a flat, natural perspective of people. I’m more interested in using it for landscapes; even though we usually think of wide angle lenses for that type of work, that same compression can render distant features in more prominent proportion with the foreground. The large maximum aperture gives me plenty of choice between shallow or deep depth of field, and is also useful for low-light situations, so it’ll be nice for things like concerts. Giving up the ability to zoom is a big inconvenience, but most primes make up for that with amazing sharpness and lack of distortion, and the 100mm f/2.0 delivers plus some. Check the large version of the top photo to see fingerprints and fibers in the fabric. It’s not a perfect lens, but I’m very happy with it, especially considering the relatively low price.
There are of course slideshows for Thacher Park (including a 70 megapixel test panorama from the lookout) and Five Rivers which is front-loaded with the newest photos but includes many past ones as well. This weekend will be a long one of canoe camping, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty more in this vein soon…