Bryce Canyon

2013.11.10
Day One Hundred and Fifty Two. And Day 9 of our Epic Cross Country Road Trip! Bryce Canyon is yet another National Park on the "Must See" list for the American Southwest. The park is so renowned, a 3D modelling software package bears its name. The park came with two major downsides, however. One of which we knew about going into it. The other, we didn't discover until we got there. The one we knew about was that the canyon looks its best in predawn glow. We are not morning people. Not in the slightest. So, waking up a three-something in the morning to be out there before astronomical sunrise was not the most exciting prospect in the middle of an epic road trip. But, we did it. And, standing out there in complete darkness (the moon had already set), I ran into one of the greatest photographic challenges of today: focusing with no light. Modern lenses lack the hard stop at infinity of old lenses to accommodate the autofocus motor. And, when modern cameras (or at least my camera) can't find focus, it leaves the lens focused past infinity, which is a useless place for it to be. I guess it's trying to emphasize the fact that it couldn't find focus, but it'd be infinitely more useful if it left the lens focused at infinity when it failed to attain focus lock. At least then, it'd be at a useful place. But alas, it was hopelessly dark for the either the autofocus or my attempts to focus manually. There were some far off point lights outside of the frame that I tried to use to focus, and the camera claimed to attain focus lock, but much to my disappointment, it was lying. Unfortunately, I didn't find out it was lying until I was able to look at the images in post. So, the third image in the set, which I would have made a print out of, is slightly out of focus. The lesson here is: don't trust the autofocus in extreme low light situations. Oh well ... guess I'll just have to go back and try again! And now for the second major downside of the park. We've both lived at, or very near sea level for our entire lives. Elevation in the park is over 9,000 feet. Lets just say it's a tad bit difficult to breathe up there if you're not used to it. The hike we did in the afternoon was painful. We're both in really good shape and it felt like we hadn't exercised in over a decade. We had to stop and rest far more often than either of us would have liked. And then some locals ran past. The the mere thought of running at that elevation about made my lungs collapse. There were some serious concerns about making it back out of the canyon. Going down was hard enough. Hiking back up was a metric boatload of not fun. But, for as miserable as the day was, the pictures came out really well. So, in the end, it was all worth it :)
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