Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Road Trip: California To Utah - Part 3: Downtown Salt Lake City Adventure

Salt Lake City Towers - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm.

The kids were feeling a little better on the second full day in Salt Lake City, so we decided to have a little fun and explore the downtown area. People told me that Salt Lake City has a really nice downtown so we were looking forward to experiencing it.

We started off by visiting the downtown branch of the city's public library. The place is amazing! I've never said that about any library ever. The structure is five-stories tall and features a huge curved glass wall. The exterior glass reflects the surrounding structures and the sky, while giving the inside a bright and open feel.

There's a garden and water feature on the grounds. The kids had a lot of fun splashing the water with their hands. On top of the library structure is a rooftop garden, which can be accessed from inside or outside of the building. There are shops (including a coffee shop) and an art gallery inside. It's a really cool place!
Library View - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm.
Twice a year Salt Lake City, in partnership with a bunch of corporations and non-profit organizations, holds a homeless outreach event at the library. If you are homeless and need food, want a shower, call home, see a movie, apply for work, etc., etc., this is the place to be.

The day we visited the library was one such outreach day, so there were interesting people on the grounds. We never felt unsafe or out of place. This is a great thing that Salt Lake City does, and we were happy to witness the event.

The rooftop garden is a great place to see the city. Each direction has an interesting view. Just be watchful for bees as there are bee boxes on the roof. They didn't bother us, although we did spot a number of them.
City & County Building - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 90mm.
After the library we hopped on the TRAX light rail and rode the "red line" to the Murray Central Station, at which point we climbed aboard to the FrontRunner commuter train. We rode it one stop north to the Salt Lake Central Station, where we transferred to the "green line" back towards downtown. We made one more transfer back to the "red line" to complete the circuit back to the library.

That may sound convoluted, but it was easy and seamless. We didn't wait longer than five minutes for any train, and often stepped off one and right onto the next. One ticket covered it all. It's very well set up. We found ourselves slightly confused once, but another rider overheard our conversation and told us what we needed to know. 

Downtown Salt Lake City is safe and clean. There are many interesting structures. There appeared to be two different malls and a few different museums (although we didn't visit any). It was a nice place to spend some time. My Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens attached to the front is all that I needed to capture it all.

Part 4 coming soon!
Joy & Jon At The Water Steps - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm
Watching And Waiting - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 90mm.
Joshua & Water Steps - Salt Lake City Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm.
Joshua Splashing - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 120mm.
Garden Path - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 120mm.
Library Interior - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm.
Salt Lake Cityscape - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 200mm.
Three Closed Umbrellas - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 200mm.
Wasatch Mountain View - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 175mm.
Mountains From Downtown - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 185mm.
University Boulevard - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 155mm.
TRAX - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 185mm.
Sight Seeing - Salt Lake City, Utah
Photo by Amanda Roesch, captured and edited on an iPhone 5.
Sister & Brother Riding - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm.
Joshua Observing - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 55mm.  
Framed Glass - Salt Lake City, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 200mm.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Road Trip: California To Utah - Part 2: Around Salt Lake City

Tooele Hill - Tooele, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.5G ED lens at 130mm.

Our five-year-old son awoke in the middle of the night with the same sickness that his younger brother had. Now both of our boys were feeling terrible with a stomach bug, and we were going through laundry like crazy. Thankfully our hotel had a laundromat. We later joked that the hotel got their money's worth out of us, with all of the quarters we put into those machines.

The agenda for our first full day in Salt Lake City was to drive around and explore. We went as far west as Tooele and as far north as Syracuse. I'll spare you the details because they're not particularly exciting.

About halfway through exploring our seven-year-old daughter caught the same stomach bug that our other two kids had. Now all three were sick!
Oquirrh Mountains Behind White Trees - Stansbury Park, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 175mm.
One Salt Lake City observation is that it's very clean. Even the "bad parts" don't look all that bad compared to the bad parts of pretty much any other large city that I've been to before. I never felt unsafe. The infrastructure seemed well maintained.

Another observation is that the people are friendly and considerate--at least the ones we came across. We saw many acts of kindness, and we were even the recipients of kind acts a couple of times. With our brief experience it appears that the city is filled with good people.

A final observation is that great natural beauty is commonplace in Salt Lake City. All of the landscape photographs in this post were captured in ordinary locations. Tooele Hill was captured in a restaurant parking lot. Oquirrh Mountains Behind White Trees and Snowy Mountain Peak were captured in neighborhoods. Wasatch Mountains Topped With Snow was captured in a Walmart parking lot. Green Hill, White Mountain and Infrared Tree Line were captured at a park. Wasatch Peak was captured at our hotel. Wasatch Mountains In Blue was captured at a pizza joint. There are great views of majestic mountains literally everywhere!
Wasatch Mountains Topped With Snow - Syracuse, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 130mm.
You may have noticed that the only lens I used on this day on my Nikon D3300 DSLR was a telephone zoom, a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens. This is the most extensive use this lens has seen, and because of that I used Shutter-Priority mode on the camera more than usual. With the longer focal lengths I wanted a fast shutter speed to help ensure sharp photographs.

I post-processed the photographs using Alien Skin Exposure 7 software. It became obvious to my critical eye that the telephoto zoom isn't nearly as sharp as my prime lens, a Nikkor 40mm AF-S DX f/2.8G Micro, which is no surprise. Prime lenses are inherently sharper than zooms, especially cheap zooms like the one I used. Still, the lens has sufficient sharpness, as you can see in the images here.

Overall, despite the health challenges, it was an interesting and somewhat productive day (both from a photographic standpoint and also for what we were there for). But there certainly was more to come on our second full day in Salt Lake City.

Part 3  
Snowy Mountain Peak - Fruit Heights, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 185mm.
Green Hill, White Mountain - Fruit Heights, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 155mm.
Jon At A Park - Fruit Heights, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f/4-5.6G ED lens at 105mm.
Infrared Tree Line - Fruit Heights, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f4-5.6G ED lens at 90mm.
A Wasatch Peak - Midvale, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f4-5.6G ED lens at 155mm.
Wasatch Mountains In Blue - Midvale, Utah
Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S DX f4-5.6G ED lens at 135mm.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Alien Skin Snap Art 4 - Before & After Examples


On Tuesday I published my review of Alien Skin's Snap Art 4 photo editing software. Included in that review were 27 images that I had post-processed using the Snap Art 4. I wanted to give readers a good idea of what they could expect for finished results.

Something that I didn't include were before-and-after comparisons. Not once did I provide the original photograph to show what the results came from--I didn't think that it was all that important and the article was already quite long. However, I've had some requests to show the pre-Snap Art and post-Snap Art versions together, so you'll find a bunch of examples of that below.

In some cases I like the original photograph better. Other times I prefer the "oil on canvas" edit. Snap Art 4 doesn't improve every image, but it does make each image look different, and sometimes "different" is good. Different is what can make you stand out in the crowd.
McWay Falls View - Big Sur, California
McWay Falls
Sequoia Forest - Yosemite National Park, California
Sequoia Forest
Avila Beach - Avila Beach, California
Avila Beach
Pacific Dudes - Avila Beach, California
Pacific Dudes
Sailboat Race - Oxnard, California
Sailboat Race
Stallion Springs Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
Sunset
Trees At Swinging Bridge - Yosemite National Park, California
Trees In Yosemite
Zebras Below The Castle - San Simeon, California
Zebras And Castle
Tulip Garden - San Simeon, California
Tulip Garden
Yellow Coast - Montana de Oro State Park, California
Yellow Coast
Half Dome Reflection - Yosemite National Park, California
Half Dome Reflection
Tree & Half Dome - Yosemite National Park, California
Tree And Half Dome
El Capitan & Merced River At Valley View - Yosemite National Park, California
El Capitan
Yosemite Falls From Curry Village - Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite Falls
Red Chairs - Cambria, California
Red Chairs
Green Hill, White Mountain - Fruit Heights, Utah
Green Hills, White Mountain
Pavant Range - Fillmore, Utah
Utah's Pavant Range
Virgin River Canyon - Littlefield, Arizona
Virgin River Canyon
The Morning Window - San Simeon, California
Morning Window
The Library - San Simeon, California
The Library
The Natural Design - Cambria, California
The Natural Design
Stone Arch - Montana de Oro State Park, California
Stone Arch Monochrome
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse - San Simeon, California
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse