Black and White Challenge

A while back I decided to experiment with converting some of my color photos to black and white. Here are the results.

In some cases I think the black-and-white conversions actually breathed new life into the pictures. This is particularly true of the Eiffel Tower and Machu Picchu photos, in which significantly more details can now be seen than had been visible in original color shots.

Paris, France: Eiffel Tower – July, 2014

Machu Picchu, Peru – August, 2012

Grand Teton National Park – August, 2017

Oliver Grant-Rappa – April, 2016

Cape May, New Jersey – June, 2017

You can view more featured photos at my Photo of the Day Collection.

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Posted in Photography

American Northwest Trip, 2017: Grand Teton National Park

When I was planning my trip out west last year, I wasn’t sure whether a day trip to Grand Teton National Park was worth spending one fewer day in Yellowstone, so I inquired with a couple of friends, who told me that I should definitely see it. I decided to go for it, and I’m glad that I did. Grand Teton is a park filled with majestic mountain peaks and beautiful lakes. The photos below feature shots taken at Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake, and Snake River (site of one of Ansel Adams’ most famous photographs), as well as miscellaneous photos taken from around the park. My next post will highlight Grand Teton’s historic buildings, such as those located on Mormon Row.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Iron Mountain Road and Mount Rushmore

These photos are from my visit to Mount Rushmore, including a drive along the scenic Iron Mountain Road. If you ever visit Mount Rushmore, I highly recommend first driving Iron Mountain Road from south to north. Complete with switchbacks, pigtail bridges, and single lane tunnels, it is a beautiful drive culminating in the final tunnel that frames Mount Rushmore as you drive through it. Along the way there are scenic lookouts, including one in which you can get your first look at Mount Rushmore from a distance across the valley.

As for Mount Rushmore itself, it is more impressive in person than photos would lead you to believe. It was late in the day by the time I got there so I only stayed long enough to take a few pics, though there is a hike around the monument if you have more time.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Portland Waterfront

Photos from my walk along the Portland waterfront, as well as my ride on the Portland Aerial Tram, which carries passengers between the waterfront district and Marquam Hill. I also included a few photos of Portland viewed from high up in my apartment. It’s such a lovely city.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Old Trail Town

During my long drive across the entire state of Wyoming I stopped in Cody for a visit to Old Trail Town, a recreation of an old west town using authentic buildings collected from around Wyoming and Montana. The buildings were disassembled, moved and reassembled at Old Trail Town. Among the buildings here are original cabins used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang,” and the home of the Crow Indian scout who led Custer to Little Big Horn. There are also tons of historic Old West artifacts and grave sites of several notable Western figures.

It’s a nice little diversion on the way to or from Yellowstone for fans of the old west; I think the entry fee was $10. There weren’t many people there so I pretty much had the run of the place and was able to get some nice shots. I chose high-contrast processing for a lot of the photos to give them a more vintage feel. I considered going all out and converting them to black-and-white/sepia but decided it would be too much work. Perhaps I’ll convert a few of them at a later date.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Needles Highway

These photos are from my drive along Needles Highway, a scenic, sometimes treacherous road winding through granite “needle” rock formations in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The road has a number of one-lane tunnels cut through the rock, wherein you have to be careful and make sure nobody is coming from the other direction before driving through them.

Needles Highway was the first leg of a grand loop scenic drive I took through Custer State Park that also included the Wildlife Loop and Iron Mountain Road before ending at Mount Rushmore. If you’re planning a trip to Rushmore, I highly recommend taking this loop if you have the time as the landscape is often spectacular.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Multnomah Falls

On my way from Portland to Mount Hood I decided to take a detour to view the majestic Multnomah Falls. It was well worth the trip, though I narrowly avoided a situation that could have left me stranded there all day. As one of the photos below shows, a pair of RVs got themselves stuck together on the narrow road leading to the main parking lot, creating a massive traffic backup in both directions. Had I arrived earlier, I might have been stuck on the wrong side of that jam. Luckily, the RV crunch happened before I arrived, so I parked further away near a smaller waterfall and hiked to the main falls. I didn’t have time to hike up to the bridge but I got a few nice shots from below.

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The RVs were still stuck together when I left, causing traffic to back up past my car, so I had to wait for someone to let me out before I could turn the car around and leave, but it could have been much worse. I felt sorry for everyone who was stranded there because it did not appear that those RVs were getting unstuck anytime soon, but I made it back to the highway and was soon on my way up to Mount Hood.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Mount Hood Magic Mile

These photos are from my ride on Timberline Lodge’s “Magic Mile” ski lift toward the summit of Mount Hood, a trip for which I was woefully under-dressed with just a windbreaker to protect me from the frigid winds. At the top I had a spectacular view of Mount Jefferson peeking above the clouds, as well as great looks at Timberline Lodge in the mist below. It’s definitely worth the ride if you’re visiting the lodge, or you can choose to hike up to the top. Had I had more time, I would have at least hiked back down from the top, but I needed to get back to Portland to catch my plane to Montana, so I rode both ways.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Mount Hood

One great aspect of Portland is its proximity to both mountains and beaches, either of which are just a day trip away. Although I didn’t have time to visit the Oregon coast on this trip, I did make the 90-minute drive up to Mount Hood, where I spent my final night in Oregon at Timberline Lodge near its summit. The lodge was made famous by The Shining (more on that in a later post). These photos are from my drive up to Mount Hood and my hikes around it.

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Back to the West

After last year’s trip to the American Northwest, I’ll be turning right back around this summer and heading out to the American Southwest. I’ve always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, so I thought I would organize a big trip around it that will include visits to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks in Utah, and a lot of driving in between. Here is my rough itinerary:

Days 1-2: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

I had originally planned to start at Arches National Park in eastern Utah and work my way down through the other Utah parks before finally ending at the Grand Canyon, but I concluded that Arches was a bit too far away from all of my other stops on this trip (and the car rental fees were much more expensive at the nearby airports), so when I stumbled onto this animal sanctuary located right in the middle of my other destinations, I decided to make this my first stop after flying into Vegas.

What better way to use the volunteer hours my company allocates to me than by spending two days hanging out with dogs in a beautiful canyon? The sanctuary is also home to cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, and other animals, but as a dog lover I’ll be focusing my volunteer time with the dogs. And when I’m not volunteering, there appear to be some good hiking opportunities in the canyon, while at night I may be able to bring one of the dogs back to my cabin for a sleepover, which would be neat.

Days 3-4: Bryce Canyon National Park

I’ll be spending the next two days in Bryce Canyon. In-park lodging was already booked up so I’m staying just outside the park, but Bryce appears to be fairly easy to explore by car. I’m thinking my first day will be a drive-through to stop at all of the overlooks since it will be a partial day, and I’ll return on the second day for specific hikes.

Days 5-6: Zion National Park

I’m very much looking forward to my two days here as everyone raves about Zion. Like with Bryce, the in-park lodging at Zion was all booked up, so I’m staying just outside the park. The good news is that my hotel is right across from a shuttle stop and from what I’ve read, you essentially need the shuttle to get around the park anyway, so there’s not a huge disadvantage to beginning outside the park.

Days 7-8: Grand Canyon North Rim

At last, the reason for the trip. My first two days at the Grand Canyon will be spent at the less-popular North Rim. Most tourists go to the South Rim because it has all of the facilities and iconic views, but many visitors actually prefer the less-crowded North Rim in spite of its more limited facilities (there is only one lodge here, in a more rustic setting of cabins and motel rooms). Although I will be spending more time at the South Rim, I have a feeling that I will end up counting myself among those who prefer the relative tranquility of the less-touristy North Rim.

This was the hardest place to find lodging for. If you don’t stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge, the next closest lodging facility requires you to drive a considerable distance to get to the rim. I had to rearrange my trip to a couple of weeks earlier than I had planned just to find a couple of nights here. People start booking these rooms over a year in advance, so if you want to stay here, book early.

Days 9-11: Grand Canyon South Rim

The final three days of my trip will be spent on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The photo above will be the approximate view from my hotel; pretty cool. Interestingly, even though the North and South rims are fairly close as the crow flies, my drive from the North Rim to the South Rim will be the longest of my trip up to that point because of how much you have to backtrack and circle around by car.

The Drive Back: Route 66

Since I have a late flight home, I was planning to stop at Hoover Dam on my way back to Vegas and then spend any remaining time checking out some of the Vegas strip. But when I saw that my route will pass by a significant stretch of Old Route 66, I decided that I can’t forego the chance to drive on that historic highway. Depending on how long I decide to remain on the road (dare I drive all the way into the Black Mountains and up to Oatman?), I may not have time for Hoover Dam and definitely won’t have time to check out Vegas, but I don’t consider that to be a big loss since Vegas doesn’t particularly interest me anyway.

For the red-eye flight home, I decided to treat myself to first class since it only ended up costing about $100 more than I would have paid for economy plus and a checked bag, so that’ll be a new experience to be in front of the curtain. 🙂

Well, that’s the plan. Have you been to any of these parks or driven any of these routes? I would love to hear about your experiences, as well as any tips you might have.

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Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 My humble attempt at recreating Ansel Adams' famous black-and-white Snake River photo. #GrandTetonNationalPark #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas #Photography #Scenic #SnakeRiver #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #blackandwhite #landscapes
Oliver Grant-Rappa - April, 2016 My little buddy, Ollie. #dogs #pets #blackandwhite
Machu Picchu, Peru - August, 2012 This is another photo for which I think the conversion to black and white might be an improvement over the original color photo as it brings out more detail than was visible in the original shot. #machupicchu #peru #Photography #SouthAmerica #Travel #ruins #incas #landscapes #mountains #blackandwhite
Paris, France: Eiffel Tower - July, 2014 This is a black-and-white conversion of a shot I took of one of the Eiffel Tower's massive legs. I think it's an improvement over the original color photo, which had been mostly devoid of color anyway, as many more details are now visible that had been lost in the original photo. #architecture #EiffelTower #europe #france#paris #Photography #Travel #blackandwhite
Cape May, New Jersey - June, 2017 Cape May sunset, black and white conversion. #beaches #capemay #capemaypoint #landscapes #newjersey #NorthAmerica #ocean #Photography #shore #sunsets #Travel #blackandwhite #clouds
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 #GrandTetonNationalPark #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming #fields
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 Jackson Lake #GrandTetonNationalPark #lakes #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming #JacksonLake
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 #GrandTetonNationalPark #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming #fields
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 Jenny Lake #GrandTetonNationalPark #lakes #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #JennyLake #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 Snake River. This is almost the exact same spot from where Ansel Adams took his famous photo. #GrandTetonNationalPark #rivers #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #SnakeRiver #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 Jackson Lake #GrandTetonNationalPark #lakes #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming #JacksonLake
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 View from the top of Signal Mountain as a rainstorm is about to hit. #GrandTetonNationalPark #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #SignalMountain #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 Jenny Lake #GrandTetonNationalPark #lakes #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #JennyLake #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 A lonely tree in the shadow of the Grand Teton mountain range. #GrandTetonNationalPark #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming #fields
Grand Teton National Park - August, 2017 Jackson Lake #GrandTetonNationalPark #lakes #landscapes #mountains #nationalparks #nature #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #trees #UnitedStates #Wyoming #JacksonLake
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