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2 Days Ago   #1
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Western US trip advice: August 2021

Iím taking a trip with my wife in August (2021). We are going to visit family in Santa Fe. We fly into Albuquerque and we are renting a car and driving from there.

Plans include side trips to Durango-Silverton railroad, and the Grand Canyon. We have a couple of weeks total and plan to spend a good part of it in Santa Fe with family. My wife is very interested in seeing weavers/weaving art.

Looking for ďmust seeĒ ideas and also trying to put together some gear/photo ideas.

I presently have three main camera systems and several smaller point and shoot cameras. (M43 / Pentax APSC / Sony FF). I have a number of lenses for each plus adapters.

I plan to take a single main camera and a lens or two as well as perhaps one small camera as a backup. Iím mainly into shooting landscapes, relics, and portrait type shots of strangers. I also like flowers and macros - frankly thereís not much I donít like to photograph.

Looking over my gear Iím leaning toward the M43 gear. This isnít a photo trip - my wife is patient but there are limits. I can pack a very nice small kit that will travel well using m43 - but it is less capable in terms of dynamic range than the KP or A7R3. While the KP, the Sony and the m43 body (GX8 Panasonic is likely) are all about the same size the lenses are much smaller due to crop factor and slower effective speeds for each of the smaller sensor sizes. The KP with a 16-50 is much bulkier and heavier than the GX8 with the 12-35 f2.8 as an example. On a more photo centric trip the difference might make the decision come out differently.

But Iím open to thoughts. Maybe Iím missing a golden opportunity that the KP or Sony is ďrequiredĒ for.

As far as lenses. I have too many to list but in Pentax my zooms are all apsc. I donít own the newer 55-300. I have prime coverage from 14-300 and zooms covering 10-250. Oh and an 8mm Fisheye. In Sony I have the 24-105 f4 the 85 f1.8 and the 28 f2. I have quite a few m43 lenses but less exotic stuff. I have primes from 20mm-60mm, zooms covering 12-175 and a body cap fisheye thatís a fun toy.

2 Days Ago - 1 Like   #2
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South-Eastern corner of Utah, near New Mexico & Colorado:

Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon
Canyonlands Nation Park
Monument Valley (on Utah Arizona border)

Last edited by Moe49; 2 Days Ago at 02:48 PM.
2 Days Ago   #3
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might be too far north

QuoteQuote:
Zion National Park is an American national park located in southwestern Utah near the town of Springdale. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 ft deep. The canyon walls are reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone eroded by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest point in the park is 3,666 ft at Coalpits Wash and the highest peak is 8,726 ft at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park has a unique geography and a variety of life zones that allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals, and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.

QuoteQuote:
Thu, June 10, 2021, 9:47 AM∑1 min read
Utah's Zion National Park has achieved official International Dark Sky status and the park is celebrating all this week.

Dark Sky Parks have "an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment," according to the International Dark Sky Association.
Zion National Park Just Received Official Dark Sky Status - and It's Celebrating With All the Nighttime Activities

take a train to the grand canyon

QuoteQuote:
Make a Grand Trip the Grandest
The historic Grand Canyon Railway departs daily from Williams, Arizona to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. Enhance your Grand Canyon experience with an entertaining train ride featuring western musicians and cowboy characters on vintage rail cars.
https://www.thetrain.com/
2 Days Ago - 1 Like   #4
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In my experience this kind of trip is more forgiving for DR than one might expect. Many of the subjects are stationary and therefore allow for exposure bracketing, unlike sightseeing in a city. I did this kind of trip a few years back with a Panasonic G7 + 14-140 and was pretty happy with the results e.g. at Crater Lake or Lava Beds.

In your shoes I'd take my X100F or GR for "fun" photography. Maybe you want KP and your favorite prime as well?

2 Days Ago   #5
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are you looking for landscape or architecture or what

let that influence your choice of photography equipment
2 Days Ago - 1 Like   #6
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Santa Fe will provide a lot of opportunity. I would suggest Taos. If you are not already booked on the Durango and Silverton you might look at the Cumbres and Toltec RR (Chama NM and Antonito, CO). If you do go on the D&S Mesa Verde NP is close. Just west of that is Hovenweep NP. It is a very interesting prehistoric settlement. Unless you really want to see the WOW parks and such, your mental health would benefit from seeking out the less visited places in the early morning.
2 Days Ago   #7
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Close to Santa Fe...
  • Santa Fe old section
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve (amazing view on way there and back...unexpectedly lush when you get there...)
  • Taos Pueblo (missed it when I was there...major regret...)
  • Bandolier National Monument (you want cliff dwellings? They got cliff dwellings)
  • Georgia O'Keefe Museum (for the art, not the photography)

Four Corners
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument (reconstructed and partially reconstructed ancient pueblo ruins...zero crowds and rather amazing, to me at least...)

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 2 Days Ago at 05:09 PM.
1 Day Ago - 1 Like   #8
dms
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National Bridges National Monument (Park)

I visited it in the winter and it was empty, and I suspect it is usually less crowded. Nice natural bridges and lovely small cliff dwelling.

1 Day Ago   #9
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Moe49 Quote
South-Eastern corner of Utah, near New Mexico & Colorado:

Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon
Canyonlands Nation Park
Monument Valley (on Utah Arizona border)
Thanks for the ideas.

---------- Post added 06-11-21 at 12:05 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
National Bridges National Monument (Park)

I visited it in the winter and it was empty, and I suspect it is usually less crowded. Nice natural bridges and lovely small cliff dwelling.
Thank you.

---------- Post added 06-11-21 at 12:06 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Close to Santa Fe...
  • Santa Fe old section
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve (amazing view on way there and back...unexpectedly lush when you get there...)
  • Taos Pueblo (missed it when I was there...major regret...)
  • Bandolier National Monument (you want cliff dwellings? They got cliff dwellings)
  • Georgia O'Keefe Museum (for the art, not the photography)

Four Corners
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument (reconstructed and partially reconstructed ancient pueblo ruins...zero crowds and rather amazing, to me at least...)

Steve
Thanks Steve. Iíve actually been to Santa Fe before (30+ years ago) and old town and Bandolier were favorites. I appreciate the input.

---------- Post added 06-11-21 at 12:08 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by gump Quote
Santa Fe will provide a lot of opportunity. I would suggest Taos. If you are not already booked on the Durango and Silverton you might look at the Cumbres and Toltec RR (Chama NM and Antonito, CO). If you do go on the D&S Mesa Verde NP is close. Just west of that is Hovenweep NP. It is a very interesting prehistoric settlement. Unless you really want to see the WOW parks and such, your mental health would benefit from seeking out the less visited places in the early morning.
Thank you for the ideas. However Taos seems a bit touristy- what makes it stand out to you?

---------- Post added 06-11-21 at 12:10 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by tonezime Quote
In my experience this kind of trip is more forgiving for DR than one might expect. Many of the subjects are stationary and therefore allow for exposure bracketing, unlike sightseeing in a city. I did this kind of trip a few years back with a Panasonic G7 + 14-140 and was pretty happy with the results e.g. at Crater Lake or Lava Beds.

In your shoes I'd take my X100F or GR for "fun" photography. Maybe you want KP and your favorite prime as well?
I have a Sony RX100 mk IV as well as the other gear. It is tiny and easy to carry. Interesting. I spent many many years mainly shooting with a 50mm on 35mm film so I know the joy of a single prime also.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 1 Day Ago at 10:06 PM.
1 Day Ago   #10
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On the way to the Grand Canyon, you might check out Walnut Canyon NM, Sunset Crater NM, Wupatki Pueblo NM.
1 Day Ago   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by allanmh Quote
On the way to the Grand Canyon, you might check out Walnut Canyon NM, Sunset Crater NM, Wupatki Pueblo NM.
Thank you! Iím trying to put a loop drive together from data FE to the Grand Canyon and back over a few days to make the trip logical.
1 Day Ago - 2 Likes   #12
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You mentioned looking at weavers. Be advised that many Native Americans are extremely opposed to being photographed. Make sure to always ask everyone who may be in frame.
1 Day Ago   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
You mentioned looking at weavers. Be advised that many Native Americans are extremely opposed to being photographed. Make sure to always ask everyone who may be in frame.
good suggestion
1 Day Ago - 2 Likes   #14
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HI
Been to Santa Fe many times. things to consider if you don't want to spend all your time going places. First, the old mission churches and architecture in Santa Fe are wonderful. No matter the kit you use you will need a good wide angle lens. Generally, a short telephoto is all you need is a wide to short telephoto is a good choice. Please be respectful of the Native Americans who may have a reason not wanting to be photographed. A short day trip is the high road to Taos. There are several mission churches along the way. Be aware that in the SouthWest the old mission churches still have active congregations and be respectful. In Chimayo, you will find the Sanctuary de Chimayo, a private chapel and considered a holy site by many. Also, there are the Ortega Rug Weavers and Ranchero de Chimayo a nice Southwest restaurant. You end this with being in Taos, which has a vibrant art colony, and the Pueblo. Things to remember that many of the old missions do not allow flashes. Use your feet and explore its worth the time. New Mexico is a photographers dream with great vista, incredible history and buildings, wonderful southwest cuisine. Never go out without a camera as there is always something that pops up to photograph.
Enjoy as I have many times.

Herb
1 Day Ago - 1 Like   #15
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It really depends on how far you want to drive, versus how much you want to explore locally. I'd recommend splitting any out of state trips over several days, since there is so much to see, and quite a bit of distance to cover.
FWIW, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is the best view of the canyon, and is often less crowded than the south and west options. If you do go to Durango, Colorado for the trains, you could continue west and take a detour to the Black canyon of the Gunnison, or to Monument Valley in Utah, or continue in Arizona and the North Rim. If you can stay at the North Rim cabins, you'd have some great opportunities for night time and astrophotgraphy with the Canyon, we stayed in Kanab, Utah, which had some good restaurants and quite a bit of history. Once you leave the North Rim you could drive up to Zion, which is worth some time, or proceed southeast over the river to Flagstaff and then east back to NM.
If you went to Durango, but headed Northeast, the Great Sand Dunes are something to see, and you could jump on I-25 to head south. I recommend the riverwalk in Pueblo, Colorado, for a brief walk around with some incredible statuary and architecture, and there are some good restaurants right there as well. Just outside of town near the airport, there is an aviation museum which has a great collection of rare aircraft. One of the docents is a retired Naval Aviator who has flown about a dozen of the aircraft types on display, and he's got some stories to tell.

Heading south on I-25, over Raton Pass into NM offers an incredible panorama, like looking back millions of years into the past. There's also a park with a dormant volcano along the way, but I forget the name.
In the opposite direction, Carlsbad Caverns is well worth visiting.


I always consult TripAdvisor when I travel, and I leave reviews as well. Every place is touristy in the summer, but TripAdvisor often helps me find alternatives and lesser known places worth seeing .

As for photo gear, over two weeks of multistate travel in that area, I used my K-1 and an FA 24-90 IF AL about 80% of my time. I also had a Tak 17mm FE that I put to good use, and I always have my DA 40 XS with me in case I need a wider aperture prime. I also recommend a CPL, and there are times when an ND filter was helpful to managed the brightest sun. Have a blower brush in your kit to clean areas before changing lenses.

While Hiking, I have a small beanbag or my Joby tripod in case I want to get creative and needed stability for long exposures.

Enjoy.
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