Yellowstone and lens choices

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by fluppeteer, May 19, 2016.

  1. Hi all. Apologies for my recent silence - busy busy. Like a bad relative, I'm back now I want something... Those with a long memory may recall that I switched to Nikon just as I was about to go on a tour of bits of geography around the US South-West. Well, I'm doing it again, this time dragging my wife along. Fortunately, I have a reasonable head start on the equipment this time.
    I'm looking at a tour taking in various bits of Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, etc. Unlike last time, I'm also hoping to incorporate Yosemite and - importantly for my lens set - Yellowstone. This is necessarily a relatively flying visit (the exact tour is TBD, but something like 8 days) - I'm not going to get much chance to camp out and shoot anything original, but I do want to come back with some respectable holiday snaps even if they're touristy.
    I'm taking my D810 (whose dynamic range I expect to need), and my current plan involves my 14-24 and my 70-200 (which is a f/2.8 - I realise an f/4 would probably be more obvious, but it doesn't seem worth buying or hiring one when I have the f/2.8 already). While I'm tempted by the new(ish) Tamron 24-70 VC, I'm likely to make do with a little lens swapping and go with the 35mm and 50mm Sigma Art primes, since already own them, with some trepidation about getting sand in things during lens switches (I'll take my 28-80 f/3.3-5.6G, if I'm paranoid - though I've never really tested it optically on a D810 and don't have high hopes). Technically I have a Russian 35mm tilt-shift that I could try, too, depending on how much I want to risk my airline carry-on allowance by padding my bag. I'd hope to cope for most of the trip with my obvious lens collection, and if I don't take anything worth looking at, it'll be because of my lack of talent.
    Yellowstone changes my plans and makes me worry the above set won't cope. I carried a 150-500 Sigma last time I did a tour like this, and it wasn't worth it for just a squirrel - but I gather Yellowstone has wildlife in it, and I might benefit from a bit more reach than 200mm.
    My choices come down to the (pre-PF/VR) 300 f/4 I already own, likely paired with my TC-14E, or picking up a 200-500 f/5.6 - likely by trading in my 500 f/4 AI-P, which I'm really not using, because manual focus is too painful and a TC-16A doesn't really hold up on a D810 - plus 3kg, obviously. I'm hoping I'd mostly have daylight on my side, helping both the slower lenses. The 200-500 has, I gather, the optical edge and has some zoom flexibility, but it's appreciably bigger (and on the offchance I want f/4 at 300mm I obviously don't have it, except by abusing my 70-200 with the TC-14E). I do occasionally go birding, so it wouldn't just be for the trip, but I can't say how much more shooting I'd do with a more convenient 500mm option. I still have vague yearnings towards a 400 f/2.8 in the future, but I'm still saving, and it's not an option for this trip. I'm used to hand-holding my 200 f/2 (also not coming) and confirmed that the pre-FL 400mm was something I could hand-hold adequately, so I'm not scared of trying to manhandle the 200-500, and the VR ought to help a bit (though I'd take at least a monopod). I did used to use my 150-500 Sigma for candid photos, so I can't deny the merits of reach.
    So, opinions, please. Is the 200-500 sufficiently better than the (older) 300mm + TC-14E that it's worth the weight and cost, appreciating how personal that trade-off is? Will the zoom range matter enough around Yellowstone, or will I likely have time to switch lenses/remove the TC? Will the difference between 420mm (300mm + TC) and 500mm matter? Should I save my money for the 400mm prime and live with what I've got for now?
    Unrelated question, since at this point I'm only curious rather than shopping: is it me, or do recent sample photos suggest that the new Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC is appreciably better at managing LoCA than the Nikkor? It may be looming in my future if in-depth tests are good - the Nikkor is pleasantly sharp, but its tendency turn backgrounds green is frustrating. Just interested to know whether this is on the radar of other members...
    Anyway, 200-500. Please advise. Thanks!
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Andrew, I have been to all of those locations.
    a tour taking in various bits of Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley​
    You can probably squeeze those into 8 days, but I wouldn't add Yellowstone unless you can extend the trip to a second week. Yellowstone plus the near-by Grand Teton deserve their own week. Yosemite is in farther west in California and is quite far from the rest of them.
    Most of those are landscape photography destinations. The only park where you will see a lot of wildlife is Yellowstone, and to a much lesser degree Yosemite. If you do go to Yellowstone, I would add the 200-500mm/f5.6 AF-S VR. While I use that lens mostly hand held for birds, you may want to bring a tripod, which is somewhat important for landscape anyway.
  3. Hi Andrew, in Yellowstone, the Park Service enforces a "do not approach wildlife" policy that means you will need longer than 300mm for a lot of animal shots. More like 500 minimum for bears. There will be opportunities to be closer to wildlife but only from the confines of your car if traffic, bear jams, bison jams, etc permit. Alternatively, you may hike the trails away from the highways and intense visitor control by the rangers and have closer encounters with the animals, but practice common sense and carry bear spray. Spring and fall are best for wildlife as the animals move into lower elevations. Most of my animal photos, taken with a 70-200, are from Jackson Hole where the animals are on or alongside the roads in spring and fall. Yellowstone in mid summer, with the exception of bison, requires an exotic telephoto and/or good luck.
  4. Thanks, Shun - I know you're a local, so I was hoping for your input! The tours I'm looking at are in the 8-12 day range (being ferried around by coach, although one of the options uses flights to get to Salt Lake City to save time); a fair bit of that time will be us being driven around, but I imagine we'll need the rest. I realise I could do better photographically by picking a location and driving there myself, but I don't get many chances to see pretty scenery (sorry fellow Bracknell residents, but it's not a scenic part of the UK) and there's something to be said for arriving relatively fresh. I'm still working out how much time we'll actually get in each location and whether it's pointless - the last time I did something like this I almost dislocated my knee getting into the bus on the first day, so I had hugely limited mobility. It sounds as though the longer tour is worth it, but some of the options waste time in shopping centres and chocolate factories that are of little interest to me.

    I'm a little nervous of tripod set-up time on a package tour, but I did plan to bring one. I'm currently a bit nervous because my normal travel tripod (a Velbon REXi L) currently allows one of its legs to swivel freely, which it's not supposed to. If I need to tighten something, no biggie; if it's broken, I'll have to seek out another option and eat mud on my recommendation. I've got a RRS TVC34L, but it's a big and expensive thing to cart around when I'm not actually bringing a big supertele with me. As you say, I'm expecting most places to be landscapy, with Yellowstone being the primary exception.

    Just confirming: a 200-500 is worthwhile over a 300 f/4 + TC-14? I could even trade in the 300mm, since its main advantage is portability for reach and it's not offering that much over the 70-200 - small is one thing, but once the 70-200 is in the bag as well the 300mm is still quite a lot to carry for what it offers. Zoom is potentially quite valuable - I still miss being able to zoom out to find a subject from my 150-500 days.

    John: Thank you. I think you're both telling me what I expected - if 300mm won't help much, and 300mm + a TC14 is compromised ("never buy a lens only to use it with a teleconverter"), I guess I have an autofocus 500m zoom in my future. It's been a while! I hope everyone doesn't decide this one is a bit iffy only after I bought it, like the old Sigma. :) (I'd love to hike and do wildlife with a shorter lens, but on a package tour I'm sure it's going to be reach and luck.)

    Cheers for the input!
  5. Regarding itinerary, 8 days would be barely sufficient to see Yellowstone alone. In summer, with road closures and traffic, traversing the park takes the better part of a day and you need time to get out of the car and take walks to thermal features, waterfalls, and viewpoints. Adding Grand Teton to the itinerary is doable - it's just a couple of hours south and IMHO, more scenic than Yellowstone. Glacier is a full day's drive to the north, and Bryce/Zion are a long day's drive to the south. Yosemite is a two day drive.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, perhaps those parks are more "local" to me than to you across-the-pond (Atlantic Ocean), but Yosemite is like a 3-hour, around 200-mile/300 km drive from my home. The other parks in Utah, Arizona, and Wyoming are more like one-day of travel for me. Flying to Salt Lake City makes sense. Keep in mind that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed in the winter. Check conditions depending on when you'll be there. The South Rim is open year around.
    The issue with traveling with a non-photo group is that they might not stop and wait for you to photograph when the light is at its best, typically early morning and later afternoon for landscape. Zion is a bit of an exception due to its landscape.
    You can take a look at my article for based on my 1999 trip to Utah. Unfortunately, I haven't been back to Utah since then:
  7. Edit: I need to type faster - I started this when only Shun's first reply was posted.
    Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley ... Yosemite and - importantly for my lens set - Yellowstone​
    In 8 days? No way - certainly not when driving and even a stretch when flying to Yellowstone and to Yosemite. Assuming you are flying into Las Vegas and that you are visiting both the South and North Rim of the Grand Canyon only, the driving for the South-West part alone are some 1000 miles (more than 17 hours or 2 full days of driving alone). Adding both Yosemite and Yellowstone extends this 3-fold.
    While I'm tempted by the new(ish) Tamron 24-70 VC, I'm likely to make do with a little lens swapping and go with the 35mm and 50mm Sigma Art primes​
    My wife and I went to Yellowstone (and the Grand Tetons) last year. She used a D300 with 11-16, 16-85, and AF-D 80-400; a quite compact and versatile kit that covered everything she wanted to do (and a second D300 would have come in handy on more than one occasion). I packed the D810 with 16-35 and 70-200/4 and the D7100 with the AF-S 80-400. I also packed the Sigma 24 and 35 - but ended up using the 16-35 for the interior shots I had planned on using them for. I - stupidly as it turned out - left the 24-85 at home (where I should have left the 24 and 35) - though a 50 would have done the job of filling the gap just as well (I don't own one though).
    My choices come down to the (pre-PF/VR) 300 f/4 I already own, likely paired with my TC-14E, or picking up a 200-500 f/5.6 ... is the 200-500 sufficiently better than the (older) 300mm + TC-14E that it's worth the weight and cost​
    More convenient but not what I would call sufficiently better (when pixel peeping the zoom might well edge out the prime/TC combo). 420mm on FX is probably sufficient for some wildlife shooting in Yellowstone - it all depends on how close you can get (or the wildlife (aka Bison, Elk and Moose) will be). For wolf and bear it likely won't be enough. Not sure I would haul a 200-500 along for the short visit that you have planned. With the 14-24, 35, 50, 70-200/2.8 and 300/4, you already have a fairly hefty bag; if you were to carry the 200-500 instead of the 300 you add another 2 lbs and probably need a larger bag too.

    Edit: fully agree with John Harper - Yellowstone and the Tetons easily fill 8 days. You would need to stay at least for some time directly in Yellowstone - otherwise the commute will take too long. We got luckily with a cabin about 1/2 hour south of the Yellowstone South entrance, putting both parks within easy reach.
    Some shots from the trip are here:
  8. Good luck Andrew. Wow, you get to view the world from behind someone's head....who design this ? My 28yrs in transportation keeps reminding me, this is certainly not the way to go....not for a photographer. Your decision.....
    The 200-500 is fine....and you'll get and gain the flexibility. Nothing against the 300 +tc, but you can crank the ISO's and you can have this and go to 500mm....and even further if you put a 1.4 tc on it, but then, due to slower focus, I'd rely on manual focus.
    Having said that, you might want to get up early to spot some elk, bison, etc. combined with orangy morning sky. Not having wheels, your access to more remote spots (for wildlife) will be quite limited. Sure, people do see a wolf or a bear, etc. in the open, but that's more of a rare glimpse.....and then you'd need something like 1000mm + :>).
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Dieter, I am sure Andrew appreciates your well-thought-out, thorough answer. :)
    A lot of the wildlife at Yellowstone are large mammals: bison, elk, bears .... As Dieter said, the 80-400mm AF-S VR should work well also. The 200-500mm is good, but it also depends on whether that is the right lens for your in the longer run, after the Yellowstone trip. The last time I went to Yellowstone (a long time ago, back in 1994), the longest lens I had was a 300mm/f4. Therefore, the 300mm/f4 + 1.4x TC should work as well. However, if you are not using a tripod, having VR would be a plus.
  10. If you are flying (going light weight is a +) and for a week of shooting, you might try to limit your package to three lenses. Having a bag of glass is fine if you have the trunk of your vehicle to stage out of. Getting to the park areas involves travel between each one, and (I think) Monument Valley is now a spot you have to offer a fee to travel into. Years ago, you could just get off the highway and sort of wander around. If you have a Nikon 80-400mm lens, and a good wide-angle zoom, plus one Micro-Nikkor lens, you should be good to go.
  11. I'm looking at a tour taking in various bits of Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, etc. Unlike last time, I'm also hoping to incorporate Yosemite and - importantly for my lens set - Yellowstone. This is necessarily a relatively flying visit (the exact tour is TBD, but something like 8 days) -​
    I live in South Dakota, one of those big "empty" states in the middle of the country just below the Canadian border. I go to Yellowstone about every two or three years as it's a day's drive from me. Some thoughts. I've met up with people from Europe out here a number of times now, and not one seemed to have ANY idea of the distances here. With the itinerary you posted the ONLY thing you're going to see is the inside of a car. Eight days? WAY, WAY too ambitious a list. You will mostly be wasting your time and not seeing anything. This isn't anything like trying to see Hebrides, Oben, and Edinburgh in eight days. I've been to all of the places you mention at least twice. My suggestion is to divide it as (1) Grand Canyon (2) southwest Utah (3) Yosemite (4) Yellowstone. Pick ONE of the four. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. You would see more by sitting home and watching a video from each of those places. One of the major factors you aren't taking into account is that even if you are flying between them, the travel time from just the airport to those remote places is going to eat up most of a day. By car, it's about two days between them. Honestly, you need to rethink this. I'm trying to help you out here. Your trip is the equivalent me wanting to see Western Europe in one week. My choice of the four places you mentioned? Either Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. Both are unique in the world. Keep in mind that Yellowstone is at 8,000 ft. elevation. If you're used to sea level, you won't much feel like hauling a 30 pound pack around.
    Kent in SD
  12. Forgot to mention lens strategy. I have a D800E and regularly do trips to these kinds of places. Keep it SIMPLE! I would take 14-24mm, Sigma 50mm, and my Nikon 80-400mm AFS. If you have the Nikon 200-500mm, take it instead. I have a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 but NEVER take it. It's too short to do much with, heavy, bulky. I take the Nikon 80-400mm AFS instead. What is your back up camera? You didn't mention it. Mine is the D7100, which also serves to photo wildlife. One other thing I always take two of is a polarizer. I would rather forget a lens than my polarizer in those places. Keep in mind those places are remote, and if you lose or need something, you will easily burn a day driving to a camera store to replace it. Bring spares of important. I would not take more than four lenses, and only one of those a long one.
    Kent in SD
  13. Andrew, I think that Kent has some good advice although I think that you could combine the Grand Canyon and Utah into one - you just wouldn't be able to get intimately involved in any place. It would be drive-through but at least you could see the highlights. ps. for me, your destinations would be a 3 month drive.
  14. i wouldnt take more than three lenses. you're talking about a 14-24, a 70-200, and a longer lens, and the sigma 35 and 50? that's a lot to haul if you're doing any walking at all. also the 14-24 dosent take filters, so that could be problematic during midday. i would take a wide-angle, rent an 80-400 or a 200-500, and something like a 28-105 (which does 1:2 macro in trick mode) for the midrange.
  15. Ooops, perhaps I misunderstood the "tour" thing. Agree with Kent, quite a bit of time is needed to negotiate places in the West.... and there are always distractions. I think it would be wise to spend more time at fewer places vs doing overload.
    I've spend 70 days in the SW back in 2014....and probably could have spend 70 more. Lots to see and do...and without even getting to Yellowstone or the coast.
    I'd travel with 4-5 lenses...and yes, the 200-500 would be with me + 1.4TC.
    Enjoy your trip.
  16. The Utah parks and the Grand Canyon are locations that I have shot on many occasions. I hate to be the bad guy here, but I can't imagine getting anything more than snapshots of the locations the coach will stop at. You will have no control over the time of day you get to various location or the amount of time spent at any particular location. My last trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was planned two months in advance as to time of day at each of the half dozen spots I wanted to shoot from. I spent four days at the Canyon for just those shots. A trip like the one you are suggesting might be best taken with the camera in your phone. Capture the locations you want to come back to for serious photographs. Your description brought back memories from the late '60s when I spent a month in Yosemite with Ansel Adams. Ansel knew the park intimately and he and Virginia had a home there they spent the summer in. We went out every day for nearly the entire day. In that time Ansel exposed one sheet of film -- though he worked hard every single day on photographing the park. A lot of thought and planning and knowledge goes into shooting in these locations. It is hard for me to imagine accomplishing much of anything in the whirlwind sort of tour you describe -- other than a preliminary familiarization with the location for a future serious trip.
  17. Thanks for the input everyone - and apologies for the time-zone-induced pause.

    This trip is compromised in several ways: I do have a limited amount of time, and my wife is unlikely to be sympathetic to either an extremely long tour or to excessive hiking, however photogenic. Ironically, staying on the beaten track probably means I can carry more than I would if I expected to be walking far. I'm also making a trade-off: if I did my own driving I'd be able to pick my schedule and dawdle, but (showing some awareness of distance) I'd also be driving ten hours a day to get anywhere, unless I really stopped in one park for days, and I doubt I'd be up for much photography afterwards. It would also complicate my logistics appreciably. A coach (or similar) tour means that I'm limited in schedule, but it also means I'd arrive relatively fresh (if a little cramped) at each venue. There are tours that take in all the venues I'm interested in (mostly), but they do seem to have a fixation of wasting a day in shopping outlets, universities in the bay area, chocolate factories or Salt Lake City - none of which interest me, with the greatest respect to the CLDS.

    Limiting myself to the geography, I'm sure there's plenty to see in each place, but - especially with my wife in tow - I'm wary of a friend's feedback from his visit to Bryce: "We all stopped to take a photo, then looked at each other and realised we already had a hundred photos of a funny-looking orange rock." 'Spectacular' wears off, though I concede the merits of trying to fit in different times of the day, some weather flexibility, and waiting for the wildlife to turn up. Last time I did a brief tour it was with the promise I'd come back and spend more time once I'd decided which places appealed most; this time is going to have to be more of the same. I'm lucky that I have the possibility of going to individual places myself after conferences (when my company might have paid for the transatlantic flights), but getting my wife there too is expensive, so I think we're resigned to fitting in as much as we can. I know this means I'm highly unlikely to come back with Clearing Winter Storm, and I'm not there to shoot stock images - the best I can hope for is really nice holiday snaps and some future planning. For primarily a holiday, not a dedicated photo tour (I know, wrong place to suggest that!) that'll have to do me until I can come back for a dedicated photo tour.

    However, I do take on board that we should stretch things, even if it will only help a little. There are some coach tours that stretch to 12 days, but it's also coming to my attention that I might be better off either doing Yellowstone on its own, or doing Yellowstone and Yosemite separately (likely the longest one-day tour from SF I can find) and getting a shorter tour in the Las Vegas area, relying on air transport for optimisation. I hate logistics. I did consider delaying Yellowstone until next year (when I'll be in Vancouver for the same conference), having observed that Yellowstone is actually closer to Seattle than to San Fran - but we may be rushed enough in the Vancouver and Seattle area, from my previous visits.

    Backup camera... yes, that's been worrying me. Well, there's an RX100... Maybe I should hire a D7100 or similar. Hiring another D810 is going to be expensive for that duration, and the weight adds up. Sadly I ditched my "backup" D700 when I did my D800-D810 upgrade, and I doubt my current "Nikon backup" - an F5 - is going to be terribly useful. I wondered about buying something DX in a hurry if I had a failure, but there's something to be said for pixel density, too. And my wife might want to take snaps too.

    The problem with the 70-200 is that it's probably my most useful lens for everything else (alongside the 14-24). I'm attending a conference beforehand, and we're planning a day in San Diego wildlife park. I might have been talked out of the 50mm and (especially) 35mm primes, though - I'll have to give my 28-80 "plastic fantastic" a proper test. I wondered about the "take a macro" thought (thanks, Jerry) - that probably means my 90mm Tamron, which is much lighter than my 150mm Sigma. Polarisers were worrying me too - they're not really an option for the 14-24, they're silly money for the 200-500, so I'm either looking at the 70-200 or however I cover the mid-range.

    I'll bury myself in the travel logistics options and try to see how much actual park time I can spend in two weeks - but I think I've heard a fairly clear 200-500 recommendation, at least if Yellowstone remains on the table (and in the absence of something like an 80-400).
  18. Update: Wow can hiring a camera for three weeks be expensive. It's looking like I'd be better off buying a used back-up camera and selling in when I get back...
  19. I carefully read what you wrote and thought about it a little. The problem with these tours is they are mostly designed for the elderly and not for people wanting to really see that much. I'm wondering if you might end up stuck on a traveling nursing home? The tours I've seen are such that they stop for ten minutes somewhere, everyone piles out and takes a snap with their cell phone, and rush back onto the bus. By the time you even get a tripod set up, they'll all be back on the bus staring at you. You will have NO control over the single most important thing--the Light. These tour operators get paid to take bus loads of people to shopping malls and certain restaurants, so that's their priority.
    I honestly think you'll be better off just spending the time in Yellowstone. It's one of the most fantastic places on earth (and I am pretty well traveled.) It has it all--mountain scenery, wildlife, and the exotic thermal features. Stay in the park if at all possible. The rooms are currently all booked, but if you call twice a day you should be able to snag cancellations. That's what we did last summer. After thinking about it, really these are all special places and need to be --felt-- as much as seen. I just don't see how you'd have a very enjoyable time rushing around for hundreds of miles, mostly seeing empty highway. You won't even be able to stop and photo anything you see that's interesting. That would be highly frustrating to me. I just don't see how you'd get any good photos at all under these conditions and would be best off just taking the RX100. The other advantage is you would be able to pick your own restaurants etc., rather than the one the tour operator is being paid to haul you to. There are some fantastic places to eat in Yellowstone, such as the Old Faithful Inn. Fantastic place, and you'll remember a meal there for the rest of your life. Eating at the Country Kitchen where the bus stops in Bozeman, not so much.
    I'm going to add one more thing. I do understand the logic of having someone else drive. I've been to UK twice and did my own driving. However, it was very stressful since everyone there drives on the wrong side of the road! I nearly got killed once. It took both my wife and I thinking through every turn and every round-about. We did not drive in any of the bigger cities and took the trains or a taxi (I like trains anyway.) Driving around Yellowstone might be not that hard for you since traffic is slow, but it can be surprisingly heavy in places. Driving on the highways between the airport and Yellowstone is very fast (we drive 80-85mph here in the Western states), but traffic density is low outside of the cities. There are photo-oriented tours inside Yellowstone that would work for you. I know you are tempted to try one of those whirl wind tours, but my fear is the only thing you're going to see are the gift shops. National Geographic has a magazine out right now on just Yellowstone. See if you can have one sent to you. If you can't, I'll buy one and mail it to you. Yosemite is about 75% as nice as Yellowstone, but there is a LOT of mountain hiking there to see much, and the parts that are easy are very crowded. Yellowstone has easier access. I don't think you'd go wrong just seeing Yellowstone, the world's first national park.
    Kent in SD
  20. Thank you, Kent. My dithering is now making me more disposed to try a coach tour to Yosemite from San Fran (we want to wander around SF on our own pace anyway unless there's really a tour that does scenic stuff and the computer history museum...), find a dedicated Yellowstone photo tour that's not too rushed, and - on the basis that it's all somewhat closer together - consider self-driving from Vegas to Antelope, Bryce, Zion, Monument, and the Grand Canyon - and maybe even up to Yellowstone, via Monument Valley and Arches (and Grand Teton). I'm not too scared of driving on highways, but I'd sooner stay out of the cities myself! Driving through red lights (even to turn right) still freaks me out... Anyway, careful planning may stop me from driving more than six hours a day, and being physically incapacitated before I get a camera out. I'd still be limiting my time in each park quite a lot, but with a bit more control. I'm getting more sympathetic towards travel agents.

    Anyway, I'm now looking at 4-5 days in Yellowstone, which might make it less wasteful, or at least let me hide my shame a little in this forum. Fingers crossed for accommodation. And thanks for the heads-up on the National Geographic - I've picked one up.

    Sorry to be so confused about all of this - all the input is appreciated.
  21. primarily a holiday, not a dedicated photo tour​
    that's another reason i wouldn't overload the gear. it should be obvious by now that you're not going to get everything you could theoretically shoot if you had unlimited time and were in control of your own movements, and if there is limited time for photo opportunities, an overstuffed gear bag just adds more confusion. with a 14-24 + 70-200 + (80-400 or 200-500), you're really only missing the snapshot range, which can be handled with the RX100 (a fairly capable compact in and of itself). that's still a lot to carry but if you're mainly transporting the gear on a bus, it should be doable. i love the results from the Sigma 35, but i would leave it at home. ditto the 50. One thing to keep in mind is that with an 810 and 70-200, you will look like Shooter McPro compared to grandma with her iPhone or point and shoot. Whatever you do, don't compound things by getting a khaki photo vest like a NatGeo assignment shooter. Relax, have fun, and let the shots come to you. Don't overstress the photo thing, and it should work out fine.
  22. Yosemite separately (likely the longest one-day tour from SF I can find)​
    As Shun pointed out - about 200 miles one way. Or 3 hours driving without traffic delays - and I have taken as much as 7 hours for that drive when I picked the wrong day (weekend).
    Yellowstone is actually closer to Seattle than to San Fran​
    Not by much - you'll be driving for two days (14-16 hours) one way in either scenario. We drove Santa Barbara to Yellowstone last year - stopped near Salt Lake City for the night and arrived at Grand Teton National Park before noon the next day. 800 miles a day is the most I can do - and that means driving all day only stopping for gas.
    Andrew, I just looked at one of those coach tours that hit all the spots you mention in 10 days (the 12-day tour includes Mount Rushmore - which is 1400 miles from SF). You'd be spending a whole day in the bus to see Yosemite Valley for 1 hour 20 minutes (probably longer because on almost any given day in summer it takes longer than that to drive around the valley). Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon in one day - with a total driving distance for the day of 579 miles - there's not going to be much time for anything but sitting in the bus. It has been said before but I say it again - distances here are huge - and the mileage doesn't really convey how long it takes. Convert it into hours - using 55 miles per hour (or 60 at best - despite the fact that a lot of driving is done a 75-85mph). Not even a full day at Yellowstone and Grand Tetons together?!?!
    Andrew do yourself and your wife a favor and don't do the coach tour. Pick one destination and spend the entire time there. Kent's suggestion for Yellowstone/Grand Teton is a good one. It seems that you are going to start in San Diego - don't drive to Yellowstone - fly. If possible directly into Grand Teton National Park (yes, there is an airport inside the park). Or West Yellowstone. Cody, WY, is another option, you'll be entering the park from the East. Rent a car (preferably) or get on a tour in any of these places. As Kent pointed out - accommodation in the park is a bit tricky to secure nowadays.
    on the basis that it's all somewhat closer together - consider self-driving from Vegas to Antelope, Bryce, Zion, Monument, and the Grand Canyon - and maybe even up to Yellowstone, via Monument Valley and Arches (and Grand Teton)​
    Not what I would call "close together" by any stretch - as already mentioned, consider mileage and driving times!
    Some 25 years ago, on what I thought at the time would be my only visit to the US, I drove LA - Phoenix - Grand Canyon - Lake Powell - Monument Valley - Arches - Canyonlands - Capitol Reef - Bryce - Zion - Las Vegas - Death Valley - Yosemite - LA in 10 days. A couple of years later I did Denver - Badlands - Wind Cave - Mt Rushmore - Devil's Tower - Grand Teton - Yellowstone - Glacier - Mt. Rainier - Mt. St Helens - Crater Lake - Sequoia - Yosemite - Death Valley - Zion - Bryce - Arches - Canyonlands - Rocky Mountain National Park in six weeks - which gave me at least a couple of days in each Park.
    Distances in Yellowstone National Park are huge too - and traffic often comes to a standstill when there's wildlife around.
    If you do decide to take a coach tour - check beforehand how much photo equipment you can have with you - I can't imagine that a large bag and a tripod is something you can stow accessibly inside the cabin. Quite frankly - for the little opportunity you have to do any shooting on a coach trip, I think you are overpacking. If you have your heart set on a 200-500, then that, the 14-24 and one other lens would be all I'd bring (and one current DX body).
    Didn't see Andrew's latest post before I posted mine above:
    Anyway, I'm now looking at 4-5 days in Yellowstone​
    Much more reasonable - and about the minimum I'd recommend. Accommodation: consider renting a camper? Saves you the hassle of driving back and forth (unless you are very lucky, you can pretty much forget having accommodations that match your travel itinerary).
  23. Thank you, Eric. Fortunately I was aware I wasn't going to manage perfect shooting before I started! The words of encouragement are much appreciated by my blood pressure. And no, no khaki vests - just a very full ThinkTank bag.
  24. Dieter: Thank you again for the advice. There's a "14-hour" coach tour of Yosemite from San Fran which claims to spend seven hours in the park; that feels like my best bet, on the basis that driving there myself will leave me exhausted and likely lost. As a day trip I can at least ignore other baggage. I think you're persuading me that my self-driving plan is going to be worth the pain of sorting out the logistics rather than going by coach; it may also make the difference between bringing a RRS tripod and my Velbon-with-a-loose-leg. I'm sure it'll all be worth it when I'm there, anyway.

    For the record, so that you can all continue to despair about my optimism: I'm now looking at Yosemite from San Fran, then flying San Fran to Vegas. Then driving:
    Day 1: Vegas->GC West rim->Bright Angel (for sunset)
    Day 2: Horseshoe bend->Zion->Bryce
    Day 3: Antelope (hopefully around noon)->Monument->Moab
    Day 4: Arches/Canyonlands->Idaho Falls or similar
    Day 5: Grand Teton and into Yellowstone for the next few days.
    This may go hopelessly wrong once I attempt to sort the details.

    Interesting thought about the camper, although there's still a question of parking the thing. I'll check.
  25. Andrew, in case I haven't been clear, there's nothing that could persuade me to take a coach tour. The issue with self driving is the distances and the time spent behind the wheel - I am fairly certain the the two trips I mentioned above are not something I would care to repeat today. Also take into account that some parks don't allow drive-in during the summer months (Yosemite and South Rim of the Grand Canyon).
    Our trip last year from Santa Barbara to Yellowstone and back amounted to more than 3,000 miles of driving, about 1,100 each way and another 1,000 or so for the week driving around Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
    14-24 + 70-200 + (80-400 or 200-500)​
    Consider renting the 80-400 here in the States (lensrental or borrowlenses (you can pick up in SF) - prices appear quite reasonable (80-400 and D7200 for 14 days at about $30 day (including insurance); or for the camera and 200-500 about $20/day. There's also the option to buy the lens you rented...). With the 80-400 in the bag, you can leave the 70-200 at home (and maybe pack the Tamron macro instead); if you choose the 200-500, you may want to bring that 70-200 along though.

    Just saw the rest of your post
    Day 2: Horseshoe bend->Zion->Bryce
    Day 3: Antelope (hopefully around noon)->Monument->Moab
    Day 4: Arches/Canyonlands->Idaho Falls or similar​
    You've got that backwards: Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon are both near Page, AZ. Monument Valley is a ways off to the East (and you will be coming in from the "wrong" AZ side) - but you are well on your way to Moab by then (where Arches and Canyonlands are located). From there, you drive back West to Bryce first, Zion second. And I am at a loss how Idaho Falls snug in there - not aware of such a place anywhere near the others on the list.
    Bryce and Zion on the same day is ambitious - Bryce is located in "the middle of nowhere" and getting to and from takes time.
  26. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Last time I was at the Grand Canyon (we stayed 3, 4 nights), I talked to some tourists who got there via a coach bus from Las Vegas. The drive was like 4, 5 hours. Their schedule was that they left Vegas early in the morning after breakfast, arrived the Grand Canyon around noon time, spent two hours there with lunch and then another 5 hours back to Vegas in time for dinner and the evening shows. They were at the Grand Canyon when the sunlight was at its harshest.
    From where I live (San Francisco Bay Area), there are similar one-day bus tours to Yosemite or two-day Yosemite + Hearst Castel. Once again, you are there when lighting is at its worst. If your time is limited and just want to do some whirlwind tour, that arrangement maybe ok. I wouldn't expect good photography from it.
  27. Dieter: Well, the other reason I was considering coaches was whether I was going to have logistical problems getting a car into the parks. I'm not surprised about Yosemite, and that may make me live with the coach; the South Rim restriction scuppers my plan a bit unless I can find a workaround.

    I'd certainly like to be at the South Rim to watch the sun set if I can - that's part of the reason I was hoping to stay in Bright Angel Lodge. I'm less worried about the Skywalk/Guano Point for lighting. Last time I did Guano Point it was by plane from Vegas - which wastes less time and has nice views of Lake Meade, but costs more and doesn't help if I need to head east afterwards. Other than that, my biggest lighting worry is Antelope Canyon, which doesn't really work unless there's light shining into it. I'll take it on board that a coach trip just to the Grand Canyon is not worth it. Somehow I'd missed that there seem to be viable two-day coach tours of Yosemite - I may push that, if only for the light, though it complicates my baggage management. Believe me, Shun, my expectations are duly low! (Besides, for Yosemite, I'd always feel Ansel telling me I'm not worthy of attempting fine art.)

    I'll look at the US rental for the camera - I owe Lensrentals for the amount of time I spend reading their blog. The lens is more complicated - if I want to keep the 200-500, it's cheaper in the US, but trading in my 500 f/4 is easier in the UK! I'll have to work out how to get the camera back to them, though... the end of the trip might be a bit convoluted. Thanks again!
  28. Having seen Dieter's update from my update...

    The weirdness in my route is that, as you say, Monument Valley is way off to the east. My initial thought was to go from the South Rim to Antelope Canyon (if I wanted to be there for noon-ish), then try to do Horseshoe Bend, Zion and Bryce (where I gather you can stay) - but I figured it'd be dark by the time I got to Bryce if I did that. Antelope's weirdly on the second day in the list I gave because it means I get sunset for Bryce, and it's easier to get to from Bryce than from the South Rim. Google seems to think the sensible route between Bryce and Monument Valley is through Antelope Canyon. Looping back to Bryce/Zion after Moab would make sense if I was heading back to Vegas - but if the plan is to get to Yellowstone then I'd be backtracking quite a lot. Idaho Falls seemed like the upper limit of plausible driving northwards after the scenery around Moab (before I start hitting scenery in the Grand Tetons that I'd have liked to photograph if there was any light left); maybe I should shoot for something like Alpine? Google says about 6.5 hours. Otherwise, it's give up and fly from Vegas, but that probably costs more and complicates the baggage options. There was some logic to my backtracking, but I'm happy to be talked out of it. It appears someone put a canyon in the way of the obvious routes!

    Oh, and again, the 70-200 is kind of needed for other reasons, unfortunately, so leaving it out doesn't help. So I may as well go 200-500 rather than 80-400. Besides, the 200-500 cheaper, and better at the long end, I'm told.
  29. I'm with Kent in SD on this. I think you would be much happier spending the entire time in Yellowstone (or my personal favorite, Zion), than trying to "see it all." If you analyze the trip you will have at most a half hour at any particular stop and it won't be a stop of your choosing. Fly to one of the nearby airports, rent a car, get a motel room or pack a tent and explore that one location.
  30. Andrew, I live in Las Vegas, and it's a good central location for getting to the Arizona and Utah parks. Vegas is a 5-5.5 hour drive from either side of the Grand Canyon, 2.5-3 hours from Zion, and it's another 1+ hour from Zion to Bryce. (I don't recommend driving between Zion and Bryce in darkness - too many deer around there think they own the roads.) Page AZ and Monument Valley are another 2-3 hours beyond the Grand Canyon.
    Yellowstone is another story. When I go there, I drive about 11 hours from Vegas to Jackson, WY and spend the night, The next day I shoot my way through Jackson Hole/Grand Teton NP and into Yellowstone. I stay in West Yellowstone MT for several nights, and then reverse the travel going home - work my way to Jackson WY again for a night and then drive to Vegas the following day. The drive from Vegas to Jackson is an easy one - mostly freeway cruising and good quality roads in rural WY, but it's a long day.
    If you find the use of Vegas as a start/end point will suit your plans, you can rent your gear here. Check with B&C Camera here in Las Vegas at I have done a fair amount of business with them in recent years including rental, and they have been good folks to deal with.
  31. Also take into account that some parks don't allow drive-in during the summer months (Yosemite and South Rim of the Grand Canyon).​
    Sorry, Dieter - could you elaborate on "don't allow" please? I just took a look at Bright Angel Lodge's page, and they seem happy with people driving up. I'm expecting to pay an entrance fee (or get a pass), but if I can't get there by car at all, that's different.

    E. J. - Understood. I'm hoping the extended period in Yellowstone will suffice, after the earlier flying visits (especially if I do stretch Yosemite by a day). I've spaced things out so I have, essentially, a day along the Grand Canyon south rim and most of a day between Zion and Bryce. If I was fit, I'd not find that nearly enough (friend have been up Angel's Landing, and it's very pretty). I'm not, and my wife isn't going to be sympathetic to heavy hiking, so I hope I'm hitting a reasonable balance between having time to see things and photograph, and ending up too exhausted to move. I'll come back in twenty years when I retire and try to do it justice with whatever holographic camera I own by then!
  32. Bob - thanks, both for the advice that going from Vegas makes sense and for B&C. I'll check them out, although it complicates matters for me to come back to Vegas - I'm hoping I can sort out car hire from a national chain which will cope with drop off in a different city. 11 hours sounds hard (and at that point I'd probably fly to save time); one reason to use Moab as a staging post is that it reduces the trundle northwards. I'll investigate Jackson, though!

    I think it's coming together. Now I need to investigate the details and find it's impossible.
  33. Sorry, Dieter - could you elaborate on "don't allow" please?​
    Just checked - seems my info is outdated and one can get to the South Rim by car and can also take Desert View Road as the shortest route to Page. I recall that there was a time when one had to park way outside the park and take a Shuttle into Grand Canyon Village - doesn't seem to be necessary anymore. It's been a while since I have been at the GC.

    Staying at Bright Angel Lodge: would be surprised if the same as Yellowstone doesn't apply here.

    I'm misunderstood that you were also going to drive to Yellowstone (I thought that was a separate itenarary). Nonetheless, Horseshoe Bend - Zion - Bryce - Antelope Canyon - Monument Valley is a lot of back-tracking. Grand Canyon - Antelope is doable if you leave early enough (you know that you need a guide for Antelope?) for a noon excursion there. You can then do Horseshoe Bend the same evening (best at sunset anyway).

    The route I suggested doesn't preclude you going up to the Tetons and Yellowstone. I do assume that you have to go back to Vegas - if only to return the car (one-way rentals can be expensive or even impossible in the States). Instead of going from Moab to Bryce and Zion, you'd be heading north for the Tetons and Yellowstone and do Bryce and Zion on the return trip to Vegas. Driving Moab to Idaho Falls takes a full day.
    You are still trying to cramp a lot of places into your short stay (14 days now?) - cutting out the "Monument Valley - Moab" portion may be a reasonably thing to do. You said it was a holiday and not a photography trip - yet your itinerary suggests otherwise.
    Impossible: the driving isn't - but securing accommodations might well make it so.
  34. Thanks for clarifying, Dieter. I do know about the guide for Antelope, though I've not checked details. Sunset timing is good to know for Horseshoe. And thanks for the car hire warning - if I have to get the car to Vegas, that's at best a completely wasted day at the end of my trip, and I may be better flying north; I'll see what I can find. [Edit: Looks like it may cost me $250 not to return the car, which is not unreasonable given that it would avoid a flight. So far so good... now to find out that there's nowhere to stay...] Cheers!
  35. Andrew, also be aware that you are dealing with different time zones during your trip (Pacific and Mountain) - as well as the fact that Arizona does not observe daylight savings time but the Navajo Nation does (that would the Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley).
    Regarding Park admissions: at the first National Park, purchase the Annual Pass for $80.
    Looks like it may cost me $250 not to return the car​
    You may want to check if the daily rate is the same for the one-way option - sometimes there's a drop-off charge on top of an inflated daily cost. Also check for discounts and rate codes - you can pay more than double or even triple if you miss out on those. Check with your credit cards whether one gives you Loss Damage (or Collision) protection so that you can decline it at the rental car counter; can amount to quite a bit of money saved.
  36. well, i'm thoroughly confused now. so, have we abandoned the idea of a coach tour, then? that seems like a plan worth jettisoning if it means 5 hours on a bus, 2 hours of harsh midday shooting, and then 5 hours back on a bus. in any event, Andrew seems to be figuring out his route on paper, at least. good advice on discounts -- some online travel sites do have deals on car rentals, even if you don't also book a flight with them, and at this point, what's another few hours spent scouring for deals? if area hotels are booked you can also look for accommodations on air bnb. there's lots of stuff on there that isn't advertised elsewhere.
    after all, this, i'm kinda hoping Andrew will blog his journey so we can find out how everything went. good luck!
  37. Andrew, I can appreciate the part about not being fit. I'm 74, need a cane to get around. I can no longer do the long backpack trips, etc. I have to stay on fairly level ground within a couple of hundred meters of the car. Fortunately, the Internet has great resources in terms of maps, previous photographs and there is an App called the Photographer's Ephemeris that will tell you the angle of the sun or moon, the compass heading, display where it will appear on the horizon at sunrise or sunset, detailed weather forecasts, etc. All help you plan your shoot and make alternative plans based on changes in the weather. Andrew I wish you well on this endeavor. Please keep us posted.
  38. Yellowstone to south rim of the Grand Canyon is 14+ hours of solid driving. You will lose a whole day doing that, and I'm betting that if you are driving yourself you're going to see about thousand other things along the way you will stop to photo too. If your goal is to drive to Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Yellowstone, Yosemite and just go into the gift shops to buy a t-shirt and a hat, that might be possible. I'm just not seeing it though, and don't see the point of spending all that time on the highway. Yosemite and Yellowstone is about the maximum I'd try for, and I'd put the time 75% Yellowstone and 25% Yosemite. My family and I were in San Francisco a few years ago, for about the third time. We're very unlikely to go back.
    Yellowstone by itself is a box that is roughly 60 miles by 60 miles (3,500 square miles.) It's bigger than some European countries, LOL. Each section of it is different. Here's how I'd sum up the pluses for three of the parks:
    Yellowstone: one of a kind thermal features, guaranteed wildlife, biggest waterfalls, impressive canyon.
    Yosemite: Big trees (I rate that the best thing there,) mountain vistas, nice waterfalls (if they're running.)
    Grand Canyon: Biggest hole in the ground. (But one HELLUVA hole in the ground!) Easy level access if only staying on rim.
    My own list of "must see" in the U.S., in order, is (1) Yellowstone (2) Grand Canyon (3) Mesa Verde (4) Giant Sequoia in Yosemite. However, I would break it into three trips (GC & Mesa Verde, Yosemite, Yellowstone.) You are apt to get the most interesting photos from Yellowstone, all in all.
    Kent in SD
  39. A pretty good itinerary would be San Francisco to Yosemite then over Tioga Pass (Highway 120) then down Highway 395 where you have the opportunity to see Death Valley and then on to Las Vegas and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. The scenery of the Eastern Sierra Nevada is spectacular and definitely not a waste of time.
  40. If it's Tuesday, we must be in Zion ... I just have to wonder about the wisdom of tour buses on a schedule to hit as many parks as feasible in a week and a half. The times I shared a park trail or viewpoint with tour bus passengers have been during high sun hours (not good light) and the congestion diminishes the experience. Unless you are using the tour to get a a single day introduction to the parks so you can plan for a proper visit later, I feel the overall tour will disappoint the photographer. I have the luxury of spending an annual two weeks in Jackson hole and in recent years have extended the Wyoming visit with camping trips in Montana, Utah, California, Arizona, and Colorado National Parks. Lesson learned: slow down and spend a minimum of three days in each park. The drive between the parks can be spectacular, and the best scenic routes, IMHO, are on the the 2-lane highways and allowances must be made for scenic stops, traffic, construction, and various points of interest. If you can plan a driving tour for a week or more, then a subset of the parks mentioned (1 to 4) may be a viable itinerary. Also look at the State Parks and National Monuments between the National Parks. For example, Andrew mentioned driving from Moab to Idaho Falls in a single day ... that's something I will not attempt again, but the route could take you through Capital Reef, Dinosaur National Monument, and Flaming Gorge - all worthy destinations. If visiting Yosemite, drive over Tioga pass and spend some time on the east side of the Sierras - Mono Lake, Owens Valley, Manzanar, etc. If visiting Bryce, then head east for Kodachrome Basin and Escalante. There's a lot of spectacular scenery and interesting places in the western US but the best of it cannot be experienced traveling Interstates at 80 mph.
  41. For example, Andrew mentioned driving from Moab to Idaho Falls in a single day ... that's something I will not attempt again, but the route could take you through Capital Reef, Dinosaur National Monument, and Flaming Gorge - all worthy destinations. If visiting Yosemite, drive over Tioga pass and spend some time on the east side of the Sierras - Mono Lake, Owens Valley, Manzanar, etc. If visiting Bryce, then head east for Kodachrome Basin and Escalante.​
    Remember this is a person who normally drives in UK, where they do it all backwards. My own experience on two trips to Scotland was it's definitely not all that easy to just start driving the opposite way. You might be surprised at just how "automatic" we are with driving. All the reflexes you take for granted in UK will get you killed here. Every turn, every lane change has to be carefully and deliberately thought through. You have to constantly fight your instinct to drive as you usually do. I nearly got killed once crossing a "Carriage Way" in Scotland. I'll give another example. We don't have round-abouts where I live, but they are common in UK. So, that's where I learned to do them. A few months after getting home I was driving in Minneapolis and came to a round-about. Without thinking about it I entered from the left, just as I learned in UK. Suddenly I was facing a head on collision with a pickup truck and another car! Imagine my shock! Why were these people driving backwards? Minneapolis drivers! After pulling off and thinking it through, I realized that in UK they enter them turning left, but in U.S. you have to enter turning right. Lucky for me the speeds were under 30 mph. Traffic in the parks is slow enough (~35 mph) that you have time to think it through, but running along unfamiliar 2-lane highways where speed limits are 75-85 mph is a different deal. I think Andrew probably could drive inside the parks OK, and the interstates (which have very limited access) and probably the low density back highways. However, when you start driving 10 to 14 hours a day you will get tired. When you get tired, your reflexes take over and you are more apt to make a mistake. A mistake at 75 mph would not be good. I suggest the interstates not because of scenery, but safety. All of this is a real issue. It can be dealt with, but i wouldn't want to do it after three straights days of driving ~12 hours each. And finally, when you try to see everything, you end up seeing nothing.
    Kent in SD
  42. I think Kent is correct about the dynamics of driving here. Andrew, you would be better off on a specialty photo tour....otherwise just grab a camera (any) and take some snaps and return another time when you have a really enjoy the SW.
    If you wish to enjoy these landscape-candy places, pls narrow down what you'd prefer to see and allocate quality time for it - taking a bus through these places will likely amount to a strange blur....and a disappointing endeavor in the end. Ha, many times it's those little places between the iconic spots, that can be truely special.
    This is a nice California tourism website that has a lot of photos (they bought one of mine) and hopefully some inspiration for you.
  44. For bison at Yellowstone, you can shoot with 24mm. I nearly had one walk by the car as I was stopped on the shoulder and take off drivers side rear view mirror with his horns. My favorite Yellowstone lens story is was shooting a d700 with 70-200 and 1.7 multiplier. Minimum focus about 6 feet. Found a herd with gorgeous late afternoon side light. The bull was about 60 feet away down a 6 foot slope from the road. He took umbrage of me clicking away, faced me and pawed the dirt looking right at me. I got the message and stopped shooting. He turned and strutted away as if to say, I guess I showed him. I continued to photo the cows and calves. One of the cows noted my shooting, perhaps the blinking of a 77 mm front element and started walking towards the bank ahead of the car always looking me in the eye. I closed the passenger side window. She got up on the shoulder and walked towards the car, still looking directly at me. I climbed back in the drivers seat from the passenger seat and put the key in the ignition. She walked up to the right front fender and put her chest against it, leaned her massive head over the hood, still looking me right in the eye, and started licking the windshield and r windshield wiper. I could not get a shot, first because I was laughing too hard and second because I couidn't focus that close. Lesson to me, keep a second body with a closer focusing wide lens handy.
  45. Thanks again, everyone. If this is going to work at all, I think it's going to be determined by accommodation (unless we resort to the camper van theory, but that's going to make the driving even harder); I'm hunting now, but I'm guessing the tours pre-book some of the options. I'm hearing that both coach tours and driving are going to be compromises (I'm unsurprised), but it's sounding like a self-drive is going to be the better way to go, at least photographically.
    I'll take the scenery of the route north under advisement, and not leave it to the last minute - I think my weird route reduces some of the stretches, and I can share driving with my wife. Fortunately I've been exposed to roundabouts working backwards in Europe, so I hope I'll cope - so long as I can get any "hitting the brake when I want the clutch" instincts out of the way early on. I'll certainly photo tour the Yellowstone end.
    Bob: I've been at a zoo where I couldn't get a shot because the zebra's head inside the car was too close for my lens. I'll make sure I have a macro for the bison!
    Thank you all again so much for the advice. I'll take as much on board as I can, with the proviso that I'm stuck between many compromises short of actually emigrating to the US (which, sorry, but not with the risk of Trump...) And I'll certainly share any images I don't find too embarrassing!
  46. Way too long since we have been to Yellowstone. I agree, about a week for Yellowstone and Tetons, minimum.
    There is also Glacier National Park. You should go soon, as the glacier might not be there so much longer. Not so far from Yellowstone. Save some, and come back again next year.
    My old favorite is the AI 35/2.0, but for Yellowstone I get out the AI 24/2.8.
    Yes bring the F5 and at least one roll of your favorite film. The look is enough different.
  47. A word of caution. Buffalo appear to be little more than docile cattle, but the reality is they have killed more people in YNP than have all the bears put together. Just last week a woman was gored by a buffalo in my own state:
    As a resident of South Dakota, I assure you the below video isn't uncommon behavior. You have to use common sense. You wouldn't walk up to within 10 feet of a rhinoceros:

    I try to stay at least 50-100 yards from them. Especially in May & June there will be small calves in the herd. Just use common sense and you'll be fine.
    Back to the original topic, lenses. I suggest being set up for quickness. The 14-24, 28-85, and something long that can be used with or without a tripod, plus maybe one fast wide lens such as 35mm f1.4. That's it. I would not bring a 70-200mm unless you have nothing else between 85mm and 400mm. Bring a polarizer for the wider lenses, absolutely. For the few days you'll have I wouldn't worry about a back up camera other than your Sony.
    As for American politics, speaking as someone who has spent a total of 3-4 weeks in UK in the past, i was stunned at how biased and inaccurate most of the British (and especially Scottish) press is. If you are relying on that, you are flat out being lied to. Don't take this statement as my having a favorite candidate in this year's election. I liken this year's election to opening up a Porta-potty and picking out the cleanest turd.
    There is a riveting tale of a road trip gone wrong. In 1996 a German family decided to drive around the desolate area around Death Valley (southern California), in summer no less. Temps can easily hit 122F degrees (50C) there. Even I would not go there in summer. It's a long story but worth reading. I think it's highly unlikely you'd even come close to something like this, but it is certainly a fascinating read and detective story:
    Kent in SD
  48. Kent: Apologies for dragging politics into it - I should know better. Trump has made more headlines over here; I'm sure I'd have plenty to criticise on both sides. And I generally disagree with more than half of what is said by any UK politician. (They generally campaign on the economy, an area in which I claim not to be an expejrt and which the general consensus is that even economists can't agree on the right thing to do. They all agree on issues such as civil liberties, where I fundamentally disagree with all of them. Hence, to veer back to topic for the forum, all the security cameras in the UK.) Anyway, it's complicated. Nearly as complicated as arranging a trip to all these places.

    Thank you for the warnings. I grew up in the countryside in the UK, and know that even a domestic cow can be dangerous (especially if it thinks you're going to milk it) - I've been assured that horses tend to lift their foot up after they tread on you, whereas cows tend to drag the foot off sideways. Don't worry, I find most wildlife scary, and will stay at a healthy distance as much as reasonable. Hence the 200-500! (The macro/14-24 are there only if the car gets investigated...) And yes, I'm currently thinking to fly over Death Valley, partly because it's somewhere I don't want to break down, even if I miss some scenery. For those keeping track, It now appears I'll be driving to Yosemite, and spending a day in Sequoia National Park on the way up. You may now roll your eyes about me fitting too much in, but at least it gives me longer both in Yosemite and in Sequoia. Booking Yellowstone is in progress. And then I'll get around to the 200-500. Breaking down anywhere is one reason I thought about a tour (which could probably arrange a rescue), but hopefully I'll be okay.

    Next up, photo tours of Antelope Canyon. Is it worth doing the South Canyon and having correspondingly less time in Monument Valley? A photo tour I've found bizarrely has the requirement that everyone needs a DSLR and a tripod, which forces my wife to carry a spare tripod when she could probably use mine (unless I'm facetious and take a ZipShot) - and mandates my "backup DSLR" option (hiring a D7200 or buying a used one and selling it after the trip). Is it going to be worth my picking up a DX wide-angle or mid zoom (18-140?) for that trip, since my 14-24 is likely to be bolted to my D810?

    There are a lot of logistics to this kind of thing. Who knew?
  49. I've been to Sequoia NP and it is nice, but really it's all about the big trees. Those are fantastic and I think everyone should see, (no--experience) them once in their lifetime. However, the same species are also in Yosemite and just as impressive. That would save you some travel time. As for camera gear, I sometimes buy used gear from ebay and then resell it after a project. I rarely lose money. Another tip. instead of carrying around a full macro lens, i bought a Canon 500D in 77mm. This is a 2-element diopter that gives great results on my 80-400mm, and also the 70-200mm. One is in my bag now. Finally, I think you'll be fine on any paved road. You will be traveling through some desolate country, but all paved roads will have at least a dozen cars on it per hour. In the Western part of the country it's an unwritten rule that you always stop to help someone. I helped a damsel in distress just yesterday that I came across. She was on a lightly traveled county road and had a flat tire. She couldn't get the lug nuts off on her own.
    There is a joke about economists: If you laid all of them end to end, they'd still never reach an agreement.
    Kent in SD
  50. Sequoia NP ... all about the big trees ... the same species are also in Yosemite and just as impressive.​
    And currently inaccessible: Mariposa Grove in Yosemite is closed until Spring 2017:
    Andrew, are you now driving up to Sequoia/Yosemite from San Diego - or am I reading too much into "on the way up"?
    Antelope Canyon: dust and sand everywhere - the last thing you want to do down there is changing lenses.
  51. Kent: Thank you. The 90mm is pretty light, but I'll look into the close-up options. (I have one for my Pentax 645, but I think it's the wrong thread size for anything useful.) And yes, I realise I may be reliant on the generosity of strangers. I'll get my wife to practise batting her eyelashes! Still, I'll try to minimise the "a bit useless, but polite about it" that's my usual strategy as a Brit abroad.

    Dieter: Good call on Mariposa. Thanks for the offline email (I'll reply shortly). The plan - partly because all the coach tours seem to be very restrictive on how much you can carry - now seems to be to drive from Anaheim (where I'm staying until Saturday night) to Sequoia, thence to Yosemite. The LA to San Fran drive is a bit long (though, I gather, pretty) - but it occurred to me that the segments take in things I vaguely wanted to see (like Sequoia) anyway, and it saves a flight. The nearest I plan to get to San Diego is to drive to the wildlife park (and back) on Saturday, which is fortunately not all the way.

    I might not have spent that long in Sequoia (oh look, another big tree...), but accommodation in Yosemite was limited, so I'm prepared to head up slowly rather than, say, going to San Fran and then heading back. We're looking at mostly being in LA on Sunday, staying near Sequoia that night; do Sequoia on Monday, unless people think I'll be sufficiently sick of redwoods that I should plan San Fran on Monday afternoon, then head to (probably) Fresno, for an early heading into Yosemite on Tuesday. Stay in Yosemite Tuesday evening, head to San Fran Wednesday afternoon and stay there, and fly to Vegas on Thursday afternoon. Then Grand Canyon Friday, Bryce/Zion Saturday, Antelope/Monument Sunday, staying in Arches/Canyonlands (what we can get to) Monday morning, to (probably) Jackson hole. Then Yellowstone Tuesday-Friday (or possibly Saturday, depending on flights). I'll certainly consider some of the diversions that John mentioneed on the way north, with the proviso that they'd be impacting my available Yellowstone time. Of course it may all change again as I try to sort accommodation...

    I think I'm back to advice: For someone not fit and inclined to a lot of hiking, am I wasting time in Sequoia that would be better spent saving me a day for Yellowstone? (I'd not fully registered that splitting my San Fran tourism would work... I've been booking while tired, never wise. Still, Sequoia to SF is quite a trundle, so I'd not have much time there.) I'm imagining a wide-angle, possibly a tilt-shift, and some macro facility might be useful for Sequoia?

    Antelope: Yes, I've been to the north canyon before, and know not to change lenses. I probably need the 14-24 on the D810 (absent a 24-70 or something - and I don't own the 16-35, which might also have been an opition). That restricts my options on a back-up DX body, hence the zoom query - otherwise, the widest I can do is 28mm (or an 8mm fish-eye...) I'd still value any independent input on whether Antelope south is worth delaying my route to Monument Valley.

    I can't thank you all enough for the input on this. Remind me to repay it when it comes to an area I know about. Tiddlywinks, mostly.
  52. Some info on photographing Antelope Canyon:
    And this one is a very nice guide to the photo locations in the Grand Tetons:
    Now to that California itinerary: I think there's enough to see in Sequoia to fill a day - and driving from there to SF and then back to Yosemite the next day isn't what I would recommend (plan on 5 hours minimum to get from Sequoia to SF; and about 4 to get from SF to Yosemite). Also, with Mariposa Grove closed, there's no real need to enter Yosemite from the South (unless you are coming from there anyway). If coming from SF, Hwy 120 is the most direct route while 140 is the most scenic (IMO). Yosemite is not only the Valley itself, you may want to go up to Glacier Point and maybe even take Tioga Pass Road to see something of the high country.
    And again, GC South Rim to Zion/Bryce and then back to Antelope Canyon is adding a lot of unnecessary driving. More sensible would be LV - Zion - Bryce - Antelope - South Rim - Monument Valley - Moab. Your itinerary may not work out with the timing anyway you are squeezing some 9 hours worth of driving into the space of two days - you need to account for at least some time in the parks too. You are giving yourself about 1/2 day in GC, then drive that afternoon to Zion. The following day morning in Zion and going to Bryce, plus driving it all backwards to be in Page by evening (I don't think you want to risk driving to Page the day you are to visit Antelope Canyon).
    Back to your itinerary: Antelope/Monument Valley and driving to Moab in one day - starting at 2 PM in Page (if not later) will have you arrive late in the night in Moab. And the next day, you are planning on doing the drive to Jackson Hole (at least 8 hours of driving) - when are you planning on seeing Arches and Canyonlands?
  53. might not have spent that long in Sequoia (oh look, another big tree...​
    I highly doubt that will be your reaction. The trees aren't just big, they almost beyond immediate comprehension. They're one of the most impressive things i've ever seen, on any continent. I once lay on the ground beneath one for several hours, contemplating them. They make make you feel like an ant in comparison. Some of them were already old before Hadrian built his wall. They are leftovers from another time, when the earth was turning green again from being entombed in ice. Some of them will likely still be quietly standing there a thousand years from now. Of the five things I think everyone should see once in their lifetime, they are one of them. Below is a shot i took of the trees in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite. During the day it was crowded. I went back at night and NO ONE was there at all. I think they were afraid of mountain lions and bears (I had no problems, but don't go out alone at night in Yellowstone NP.) I brought x5 Nikon SB-25 flash and radio triggers, and took a few shots. Unfortunately, there's nothing to show the scale of these things. Each one is about as big around as a small cottage. The trees at Sequoia at very accessible if I remember right. Yes, worth seeing. Twenty times better than the Antelope Canyon deal. As for lens, I don't think you're getting the sense of scale here. I have the Nikon 24mm PC-E and it would even come close. I think the best shots might be the ones where just a bit of the tree is showing, and just that bit seems to crowd out everything else. It's hard to describe the feeling of serenity you will feel if you just find a nice spot, sit down, and contemplate. I would compare it to finding an isolated place on the rim of the Grand Canyon and watching the sun go down.
    Kent in SD
  54. Back to your itinerary: Antelope/Monument Valley and driving to Moab in one day - starting at 2 PM in Page (if not later) will have you arrive late in the night in Moab. And the next day, you are planning on doing the drive to Jackson Hole (at least 8 hours of driving) - when are you planning on seeing Arches and Canyonlands?​
    Or sleeping for that matter. All that driving just doesn't sound like fun, and I'm a guy that lives in South Dakota where we measure distance in hours, not miles. I wouldn't count on the weather being perfect every day either. It does rain, maybe even snow some times.
    Kent in SD
  55. Andrew, check out Miles Hecker's photoguides on - some of your proposed itinerary is covered. I hope you work out an itinerary and accommodations that meet your goals. Remember to reserve time to dawdle a bit in the parks.
  56. John and Dieter: Thanks for the links - look interesting and useful. I'm trying to leave some dawdling time, believe it or not!

    The spanner in the works for the reason I was driving in an odd order is Guano Point and the skywalk (I'm not interested in the skywalk, but the helicopter trip down is cool, having done it). That's sort-of en route to the South Rim - but now I look at your suggestion on the map, it is pretty awkwardly positioned: I either backtrack to LV to get north if I do it first, backtrack to Grand Canyon Village if I go after that, or backtrack around Bryce/Zion on my existing route. I'll look again at options and time of day; I could go back to one of my previous plans, and take the plane trip to the skywalk - but that takes as long as driving; shame someone dropped Lake Mead in the way of the route north. The talk of other pretty things on the route north from Moab makes me think maybe I should split the drive - it was a managable six hours to Idaho Falls, but eight to Jackson Hole. Doing this over two days does limit my time in Yellowstone a bit, but I'd still have a few days there. More deliberation to go, but thanks again for all the pointers. Silly question, since the web sites aren't all clear: are Antelope Canyon/Monument Valley tours likely to be less available on Sundays?

    Re. Sequoia, I thoroughly expect to be impressed. (There was a sequoia in the town where I grew up - bizarrely, because they're really not native to East Anglia, and it was hugely taller than anything in the area. I doubt it was much by Californian standards, though.) Thanks for the lens advice and the (welcome) encouragement to chill and take it in; I think we'll be taking the evening and at least a morning there. It's come to our attention that if we do get bored of trees, we're not that far (relatively) from Monterey Bay!

    At the risk of being on topic for the forum. I've now briefly attempted to use my 28-80 f/3.3-5.6 G on my D810. Results so far (at f/8) are not conclusive, but I'm not blown away. Has anyone seen a review that's remotely recent? The obvious review sites I check don't seem to have tried it (not that they'd say if my lens was duff, but they might encourage me to try again). Unless it was a nut loose on the shutter, I may be back to NAS (or possibly Tamron AS) for a mid zoom, or living with primes. Normally I'm happy with that, but it's more a pain on holiday.

    Thanks again, all.
  57. I have both the Tamron 24-70 and the 15-30 for Canon mount and they are both excellent. Here is DXOMark's list of recommended lenses for the D800. I like the Image stabilization on both Tamron lenses as I like shooting in low light.
    As regards to seeing the Big Trees there is another stand of Sequoia's about 2 hours north of Yosemite on California Highway 4. It is called Calaveras Big Trees. Here is a link. The route will take you through historic Gold Country with some other sights to see. Columbia Gold Rush town is fun. If you want to use Highway 4 to cross the Sierra Nevada through Ebbetts Pass its a very scenic drive with little traffic. After you drive around Los Angeles and San Diego a few days you may feel like driving off a cliff though so be careful. A nice place to stay on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada is at June Lake, it is lacking in restaurants and some other things but is a beautiful place. Mammoth Lakes is a few minutes way though and has most everything you could want. The nice thing about it is it's far away from the busy cities. Good Luck with your trip.
  58. It's come to our attention that if we do get bored of trees, we're not that far (relatively) from Monterey Bay!​
    Andrew, I am not sure if you are serious about this - but that's easily 4 hours of driving, with another 3 to get from there to San Francisco. Going from Sequoia to Monterey is about the same distance as driving from Southampton to Liverpool (and there isn't a direct Highway connection).
    Guano Point ... sort-of en route to the South Rim​
    You keep mentioning more and more things that you want to see "en route" - you just turned your 4 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Village into a 6 1/2 hour one by adding a cool 90 miles "sort of en route".
    I'm trying to leave some dawdling time, believe it or not!​
    Looking at your itinerary, I do have my doubts; there doesn't appear to be any time allowance to do anything at each destination! You have one day planned for GC - and now it looks like it will take you 6 1/2 hours driving time alone to get there (not counting the time you spend at Guano Point). Or if you "backtrack" from Grand Canyon Village to Guano Point - that's 4 hours one way (about the same as going all the way back to Las Vegas)! I happen to stay in Brussels and decide to take a short trip to Paris to have a look at the Eiffel Tower - that's what we are talking about here (though by train that's even doable).
    You didn't mention when exactly you are going to be doing your tour - if it is during the 3 months that school is out here in the States (June 5 to August 25 or thereabouts) then you can expect to not be alone anywhere anytime during your trip.
    I think you are cramping too much into your "vacation" trip! I mentioned above that I did some similar trip - but I was (a) traveling alone, and (b) not really on "the clock" since at that time it was mostly easy to stop in the evening and find a vacancy in a motel. You will need to have everything pre-arranged and always have one eye on the clock - that's not my idea of a vacation or of having fun. YMMV, of course.
  59. If you are planning on being in San Francisco, be aware that it's now one of the top places in the U.S. for property crime. The city government has actively encouraged drug addicts and bums to live there, and marijuana is legal. The result is if you leave anything in your car, don't have any expectation of it being there when you return. Be prepared for able-bodied people to walk up to you about every 15 minutes asking/demanding money. I would definitely not be carrying any expensive camera gear out in the open. It's also a self declared "sanctuary city," where foreign criminals are not arrested and deported. There have been some murders. Not saying you're going to be shot just walking down the sidewalk, but be aware this isn't the place it was even five years ago. Wife & I were there a few years ago and won't be back.
    And yes, all the parks and areas around will be quite crowded June to end of August.
    Kent in SD
  60. The city government has actively encouraged drug addicts and bums to live there, and marijuana is legal.​
    Sorry, but neither of these things are true. I live in the Bay Area, Oakland to be exact, which is across the Bay from SF, which is still the USA's #1 tourist destination. i dont really see the need to slander it or make hyperbolic and paranoid claims about crime. I was just in SF yesterday and not a single person asked/demanded money from me. Am i doing something wrong, Kent?

    If anything, SF has been gentrified and taken over by the tech industry, and a lot of local landmarks are no longer there. So see it while it still has some charm. IMO a bigger concern than mendicants is the outrageous parking fees, which can be $20/hour or more. Sure, it's a good idea not to leave valuables in a parked car, but that would be true in any major city in the world.
  61. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I grew up in Hong Kong where, similar to a lot of larger cities, there is a lot of crime, and I lived in the New York area for over a decade. I used to go to NY City at least once a month back in the 1990's, and I didn't think it was that safe.
    Nowadays I go to San Francisco about once a month also. If anything, I think San Fran is a bit safer than the other cities I am familiar with. Of course you need to be a bit careful, which is pretty much universal for all large cities. Among all places, once my wife and I were in Switzerland late at night. There were a lot of young people around that looked like semi-gangs. Being Asian, we were obviously foreigners and I felt somewhat uncomfortable too.
  62. When I first read this thread I thought what a wonderful 10-12 week journey. I haven't changed my mind, but I an beginning to make plans for next year!
  63. Sorry, but neither of these things are true. I live in the Bay Area, Oakland to be exact, which is across the Bay from SF, which is still the USA's #1 tourist destination. i dont really see the need to slander it or make hyperbolic and paranoid claims about crime.​
    My Aunt & Uncle moved out after being burglarized twice in 2014. I was last there in 2012, and have photos of guys pooping on the sidewalks and numerous syringes/needles lying about the downtown parks. What I couldn't photo was the heavy smell of urine in the stairwells. Not saying it's a sure thing something bad is going to happen there, but I am saying don't leave anything in your car you want to keep. Drugs cost money and the addicts don't bother with jobs. It's one of the few metros I'd never consider moving to.
    Car Break-ins:
    "“The city took 25,899 reports of car break-ins in 2015,” The San Francisco Chronicle reports. That's a 77 percent increase over the five years beginning in 2010."
    Aggressive Bums:
    “Probably been approached 8 or 10 times I would say,” Phil Lucker of Fort Worth, TX, who was visiting San Francisco with his family.
    “Really?” asked KCBS’ Mike Sugerman. “How long have you been here?”
    “About two hours,” Lucker responded."
    Kent in SD
  64. I was last there in 2012, and have photos of guys pooping on the sidewalks and numerous syringes/needles lying about the downtown parks.​
    So what? Are you actually implying that this doesnt happen in other cities? As far as car break-ins go, the fact of the matter is that SF has an income gap, and crimes of opportunity are part of the result of the cost of living being pushed higher and higher. Also, and this would be obvious to a Bay Area resident, but it depends on where you go in SF. you're probably more likely to find "sidewalk poopers" in the lower Mission than in, say, Pacific Heights. In any event, I wouldnt say it's a situation where alarm bells need to be raised and/or rubber galoshes worn at all times. I was just there yesterday and i didn't encounter a single instance of sidewalk poop or syringes.

    Also, I have to laugh at the "aggressive bums" comment. If you've ever been overseas, you've probably been followed by panhandlers, sometimes local children, who target tourists and ask for "baksheesh." Again, the notion that somehow this only happens in SF or that SF is somehow worse than other cities is naive. One easy solution is to not look like a tourist. They're pretty easy to spot.
  65. Also, I have to laugh at the "aggressive bums" comment. If you've ever been overseas, you've probably been followed by panhandlers, sometimes local children, who target tourists and ask for "baksheesh." Again, the notion that somehow this only happens in SF or that SF is somehow worse than other cities is naive​
    I am pretty well traveled, and yes the SF bums are a bit more aggressive than other places (exception would be the ones in Chicago lately.) By aggressive I mean blocking the sidewalk, grabbing my wife's arm, etc. The income gap has absolutely nothing to do with the increase in crime. Your taking the "ostrich" approach is not going to solve the problems. More on the dramatic increase in car break-ins, which is my main point. SF has the largest increase in property crimes in the U.S.:
    "Congratulations are not in order for San Francisco’s latest No. 1 ranking; the city with the highest increase in property crime rates in the United States, according to recently released FBI statistics."
    Kent in SD
  66. The income gap has absolutely nothing to do with the increase in crime.​
    you are 100% wrong here, but you are welcome to attempt to prove your argument by citing relevant stats or studies showing conclusively there is no causal link. crime is actually down in california over a five-year period, but up in SF. it's not coincidental that median incomes and rents have risen considerably during that same period. Like i said, i live in Oakland, so stories about people getting priced out of SF are extremely common.
  67. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Guys, this is Andrew's thread about visiting Yellowstone and perhaps the Utah and Arizona national parks. As far as I know, Andrew lives not far from London. I would imagine that he knows what to do and what not to do in big cities.
  68. Thanks yet again, everyone. Thank you for the warning about SF - I'll bear it in mind, but as Shun says, I've managed London without anything happening to me, either by luck or judgement, and I've survived SF (when working) before. I'll not go wandering around dark alleys with anything expensive on me, nonetheless. I'm sufficiently paranoid that I hope I'm relatively low-risk - I'm too nervous to do street photography in the UK, and the different regulations on the right to bears' arms in the US makes me more careful still. (Even so, I've been stopped a couple of times in LA by people thinking I was a risk for taking photos of scenic buildings.) I've been wary of keeping anything in the car anyway - one reason to stay in a hotel each night. Not that it's hard to break into a hotel safe, but at least it's higher risk for any thieves. I'll definitely refresh my insurance.

    Alas, I'm during peak season - July 29th-August 13th, likely. I'm certainly not expecting wide expanses free of people. There aren't many in the UK either, at least near London. I'm choosing to believe they'll provide a sense of scale; there's something to be said for shooting off a cliff, on the basis that anyone in front of me will be accelerating downwards rapidly. I've been told not to rush the Tetons, and that they might be a little less packed than Yellowstone.

    The west rim was always part of my plan (in part because it breaks up what would otherwise be a six hour drive to the south rim). I may have to give up on that, but I'm a little wary that driving the north rim route to Bryce/Zion (which has been recommended to me by others, too) may leave me in the wrong place at the wrong time (particularly Antelope) for some other options; I'll check. I'll have to see what I can work out - I guess LV->Zion->Bryce->Page, then Antelope->south rim, then south rim->Moab is possible, but involving the west rim is painful - I assume there's no flight between them... I'm relying on the Google Maps' idea of times to get between places - I think I'm not restricting myself to a few minutes in each, although I fully understand that if I wanted the full Ansel, I'd be staying in any one of these places for a month; too many hours in one place may be wasted on us. I appreciate that it could go wrong, but if we need to skip places en route, hopefully that's possible. I'd not attempt this amount of driving on my own (but I'd also find another time of year to do it). A coach tour seems to be worse (other than that we'd both be resting in a less comfortable vehicle).

    Monterey is a new thought, although someone offered me free tickets. It's on the least-rushed stretch, depending on tree time. We can decide nearer the time on that one, at least.

    John: Thank you for yet more option to consider. :) (I don't know whether I dare mention the possibility of adding a couple of hours to my Yosemite-to-San Fran drive by going via Mono Lake, because I might make Dieter explode...) I'll spend some of this weekend doing test shots with my 28-80 - I suspect I've got some trading-in to do, and Tamron will have some of my money. I wondered if I was being paranoid about my 28-80 shots, but comparing them to what my 70-200 can do, it really looks like I wasn't. But I didn't take enough to be sure, yet.

    Thank you again, all. I'll definitely try to come back with something to show.
  69. I dare mention the possibility of adding a couple of hours to my Yosemite-to-San Fran drive by going via Mono Lake, because I might make Dieter explode...)​
    Nope, still in one piece;-) I did mention the option to take Tioga Pass Road to explore the Yosemite High Country - and the drive down takes you directly to Mono Lake. You may want to time this to see the sunset and perhaps arrange to stay the night in Lee Vining (directly by the Lake).
    I was just thinking about the timings of arrival at each location - what are your plans? Leaving Vegas right away the afternoon you arrive or the next morning? No matter which scenario I look at, there's always some place you're at with poor light only.
  70. It will be the height of tourist season in all of the locations you plan to visit. There's no reason to expect Tetons to be less crowded than Yellowstone. Many people will go to one, then the other. You will not really have time to squeeze in Monterey. You'll be in the Sierras and it will take more than 3.5 hrs to get to the coast. It too will be packed with tourists, as well as people driving the CA coast, and local beach goers. Mono Lake is in the other direction.
    Check Rand McNally for road construction that may be in the works on any part of your route. Also, check their trip planner and compare with Google maps. Travel times don't take tourist season, rush hour, or construction into account. When you arrive in the States, you might want to pick up a road atlas. Don't depend on getting a connection everywhere.
    Also, since you're going to multiple parks, consider getting an annual pass. It may be cost effective.
  71. I know a guy, Brad Evans (also a P.Net member), who's been doing street photography in SF for like 20 years; if you have any questions, contacting him would be a good idea. His website is here.
  72. Oh yes - thanks, Dieter. I'll be trying to finalise the bookings for everything over the next couple of days, so I'll certainly check options for your suggestions before everything gets locked down. I have friends in the San Fran area, so I might be commited to an evening - but I'll have seen them at the conference which starts all this, so it may not be an issue.

    Schedule... Here are my latest plans, which are becoming not entirely fluid, but are certainly still a little mushy (travel times from Google):
    Thursday 28th
    Arrive (my wife), stay in Anaheim; I'll already be there for my conference. Need the 70-200 for the conference.
    Friday 29th
    Disneyland, because it's right there. Some degree of recovery from jet lag/the conference. Stay in the same hotel.
    Saturday 30th
    Hire a car and drive to San Diego Safari Park (I've been, my wife will love the cheetah run). Google says 1h45 each way. Stay again in Anaheim. (70-200 needed for this.)
    Sunday 31st
    Drive north. Stop at La Brea for 1-2 hours (50 mins from Anaheim), then head to Sequoia (4.5h) and King's Canyon for mid afternoon. Then stay either near the entrance to Sequoia (if we're going back in in the morning), or - around sunset - drive to Fresno (2h) or similar and stay there. Hope to have at least 3-4 hours with trees before the sun goes. Mostly expecting wide angles for this.
    Monday 1st
    Either go back into Sequoia/King's for the day, then drive north, or head west from (hopefully) Fresno to get to Monterey Bay (2h45 from Sequoia). Spend perhaps 4-5 hours there, then head to somewhere obvious for Yosemite that evening. If that place is Mariposa (randomly looking at the map), that's 3h from Monterey Bay, and about the same from Sequoia.
    Tuesday 2nd
    Drive into Yosemite. Morning is free for wandering. We have a tour to - if I've got them the right way round - Glacier Point booked for the afternoon. Stay in Yosemite that evening (booked). 14-24 time.
    Wednesday 3rd
    Tour of the canyon floor booked in Yosemite for the morning. Lunch in Yosemite, then after however long we want to spend, head to San Fran - possibly (taking an extra couple of hours) via Mono Lake. 4h direct from Yosemite, Yosemite to Mono is 2h (via tolls), San Fran is 5h30 from Mono. That's possible, but a little painful, so we'll see. Hotel in San Fran, possibly with a late dinner with some friends.
    Thursday 4th
    Tour San Fran (Golden Gate, computer history museum, possibly Alcatraz); get a late afternoon flight to Las Vegas. Briefly wander the Strip in the evening (we don't want to spend that long). Stay in Las Vegas.
    Friday 5th
    (Assuming my original plan ignoring the north rim...) Drive to the Grand Canyon west rim (2h15), wander around Guano Point, possible helicopter trip to the Colorado. Perhaps 3 hours there? Then 4h (leaving early afternoon) to the south rim/Grand Canyon Village - maybe a little longer if we go the scenic route. Sunset around Bright Angel (been there, pretty), with hopefully 3-4 hours of light left when we get there. Stay in Grand Canyon Village. Definitely 14-24 at Bright Angel, because I've done that before!
    Saturday 6th
    Drive to Zion (4h), hopefully there around lunchtime, and wander for 3-4 hours. Bryce is an hour away, hopefully for 3-4 hours and a sunset (or the beginnings of one). Page is 2h30 away - arrive around 9 and stay there.
    Sunday 7th
    Possible scary early morning wander to Horseshoe Bend near dawn (it doesn't appear I'll be there for sunset with this schedule). Antelope Canyon(s) in the morning/early afternoon. Head to monument valley (2h) for mid afternoon. Catch the sun getting lower, then head to Moab fairly late (2h30), staying there. Sundown in Monument might be cool, but arguably so is twilight in Arches/Canyonlands.
    Monday 8th
    Arches/Canyonlands in the morning (Arches is more plausible, with mild hiking, since Canyonlands really needs a 4x4?), Dinosaur National Monument in the late afternoon (3h away), staying nearby(?). Or possibly DNM the next morning if we're running late.
    Tuesday 9th
    North to Jackson, possibly adding a couple of hours for Flaming Gorge. 5-6 hours travel, there in the afternoon hopefully while there's still decent light (I appreciate there are Rockies in the way) for Jackson Hole itself and the like. Stay in Jackson.
    Wednesday 10th
    Time in the Tetons, ending up in or very near Yellowstone. (Could just head into Yellowstone, but I'm told the Tetons are worth the time - what do people think?) Expecting a lot of 200-500 from this point on. Jackson to Yellowstone is only about an hour if we didn't dawdle.
    Thursday 11th
    Yellowstone tours (photographic flavour), staying in or near Yellowstone
    Friday 12th
    Yellowstone tours (photographic flavour), staying in or near Yellowstone
    Saturday 13th
    Time in Yellowstone in the morning, flight back to the UK probably from around 3pm (if starting at West Yellowstone).
    Certainly I don't get to spend an entire day wandering around many places (other than Yosemite and Yellowstone), and some things (like Horseshoe or Mono) might be a bit painful, but there's a bit of flexibility if we run out of energy or time. I think it's still much less rushed than coach tours - it's not just on-and-off - and we don't need huge amounts of time for things like hiking up Angel's Landing or down into the Grand Canyon or Bryce. Which I'm sure are fun, but would break both of us at our current fitness levels (yes, I'm taking more stairs in preparation). Days in one place gives me more options for Ansel-like perfect weather and lighting, but I have a job to get back to. I'm hoping we can get a comfortable car so we can each do some sleeping while the other drives, which would make it a little less horrible. I drove five hours yesterday, with a twelve hour conference in the middle, and while I won't claim it was comfortable it was certainly possible.

    More of an adventure than a relaxing holiday, and we may regret the lack of a down-day (though it's possible for my wife to sleep in on a few occasions without losing me), but I'd hope it'd be an experience! I'm sure I'll come out of it, as you warn me, wishing I'd had more time in various places, but hopefully I can go back for a relaxing stint at a later date - I'd rather do the energetic tour before we get too old to cope. It's not like I couldn't do with the exercise.
  73. Laura: Thanks. I guess we might decide how we do in the Tetons and how quickly to head to Yellowstone. I'll certainly check travel and have non-electronic options (and also offline maps downloaded, though they may not help much on the longer runs) - thanks for the links. I'm expecting some variation in the timings, and for traffic trouble especially around San Fran. (Well, and Yellowstone when a bear turns up, but we've got a little longer there.) I'm hoping for a little more reliability on the longer runs, although I appreciate that a closed road could add hours.

    Eric: Good thought with Brad. (I didn't know where he was based, but I think we've either corresponded or shared a thread.) I'll chivvy him!
  74. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Back in 1999, I flew into Las Vegas and did Zion, Bryce, and Arches with a brief visit to Canyonlands all in one week. And I thought we were rushing it. With Andrew's itinerary from San Diego to Yellowstone, I would schedule at least a month.
    But we have already discussed that earlier on this thread.
  75. I think Andrew's going to need a vacation after his vacation.
  76. Well, now I'm at two weeks, so at least I'm only over-committing by 100%. That's actually quite good by my standards! You've all slowed me down a bit - and if we decide we need to skip some bits, I'm trying to ensure that's possible. And Robert: yes, absolutely. Fortunately I've probably got a week-long standards meeting to sleep in. (There's a reasonable chance I'll be spending the evenings of my holiday programming...) Thank you all for making this less impossible than I would otherwise have attempted.

    Now to do something about the driving times. Where can I hire a Koenigsegg?
  77. When you head north from Utah. I would try to route myself on Utah Highway 12... the most scenic road in North America from my perspective.
  78. Fresno to get to Monterey Bay (2h45 from Sequoia)​
    That's Fresno to Monterey - add another hour if leaving from the Park itself (and another hour if coming out of Kings Canyon)
    Jackson to Yellowstone is only about an hour​
    That's to the South Entrance - which is nowhere near anything in Yellowstone - add another hour to get to either the Old Faithful Area or Yellowstone Lake.
    Bryce is an hour away​
    That's from Zion East entrance to Bryce Canyon entrance - easily double that when driving from any place you can stay in Zion.
    Where can I hire a Koenigsegg?​
    Right there in Las Vegas:
    Positive that it is NOT the car you want to be driving for your trip!
  79. Grand Canyon in summer is very, very hot. Wife & I once did the hike to the bottom and back when we were in our thirties. You are wise to pass on that. The Tetons are mainly a morning shot, and I looked for but did not find any trails into them. It sounded more like a technical climb than a hike. All in all, I felt the time spent in Tetons was a waste and I would have had more fun either spending that day in Yellowstone or even exploring the high plains in Montana on the way back home. It was my wife's idea, and mostly I think she wanted to stay at the fancy lodge and eat at the restaurant there. Make allowances for the extra time it's going to take you to drive on the highways, find parking places in crowded places that have limited parking, and waiting to get a table at restaurants.
    Here's what the cliche Teton barn shot really looks like. It's jammed with people. So, that's how I shot it. It's the only shot I got in Tetons that I halfway liked. I used a vintage 1983 Nikon F3T with vintage AiS lenses, black & white film quite a bit on the trip instead of the D800E and big Sigma lenses. The little F3T and small lenses fit into a very compact bag and I just loved carrying it. I think I used it just as much if not more than the D800E, mostly because it's small and light.
    BTW, the story I've always heard is that "grand tetons" is French for "big titties." Used to be a lot of lonely French fur trappers out in the area ~200 years ago. Don't know if that's just a story.
    Kent in SD
  80. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Near the entrance to Bryce, there is Ruby's Inn. Besides motel and restaurant, they have sightseeing helicopters. We didn't try that when we were there. What I do remember is that from the ground, we found those helicopters very noisy. However, that is a way you can do Bryce in 15 minutes or so. If you are in such a rush, that is one way to save time and catch up with your schedule. :)
  81. Just a bit north of the south entrance to Yellowstone there is a small waterfall called "Moose Falls." It's not very big, but it's a very nice one. I've been to it several times over the years and there was never anyone else there. It's close to the parking area and an easy walk. You could almost push a wheelchair to it. Yellowstone is famous for several grand waterfalls, but it has many very nice small ones too. Moose Falls is about the only one of these you'd be able to get to, considering how little time you have.
    The parks are crowded in summer, but here's a tip. Most of the people there will be families with children. It takes them awhile to get the kids up, dressed, and fed. They also seem to pack it in for the day about tea time. Before 10 am and after 4 pm the crowd is usually significantly thinner. Hopefully you are staying at Old Faithful Inn at least one night. I do suggest going out after dark and photo'ing Old Faithful. It's next to the hotel and quite safe. I also walked down to Castle Geysor after dark to photo it. I had the entire thing to myself during its half hour eruption! It was the most impressive experience I had all year. I shoot at night a lot and am comfortable out alone, but if you go for that geysor after dark I do suggest taking two other people along. It is a slightly dicey (bears). Easy walk though.
    Kent in SD
  82. That is on Hwy 12. Boring for the next 50 miles and will knock you socks off from there on! Nothing worthwhile eating there!
  83. the story I've always heard is that "grand tetons" is French for "big titties." Used to be a lot of lonely French fur trappers out in the area ~200 years ago. Don't know if that's just a story.​
    ha ha, no. actually, "Teton" is the name of one of the Sioux tribes who lived in the Great Plains. The equivalent French word for "titties" would be "boules" or ""nichons."
    Noun 1. Teton - a member of the large western branch of Sioux people which was made up of several groups that lived onthe plains​
  84. Looks like it's a toss up between the two "Teton" stories, according to Wikipedia:
    "The origin of the name is disputed. The most common explanation is that "Grand Teton" means "large teat" in French, named by either French Canadians or Iroquois members of an expedition led by Donald MacKenzieof the Northwest Company. However, other historians disagree, and claim that the mountain was named after the Teton Sioux tribe..."
    Could both theories be right? Could "Grand Tetons" be named for big breasted Indians in the mountains?
    Kent in SD
  85. interesting, Dieter, but what are the odds that a French colloquialism would coincide with the name of an indigenous tribe which lived in that region? The Tetons were not dissimilar to the Lakota (the more well-known Sioux tribe), and actually interacted with Lewis and Clark.
    from Wikipedia:
    The origin of the name is disputed. The most common explanation is that "Grand Teton" means "large teat" in French, named by either French-Canadian or Iroquois members of an expedition led by Donald McKenzie of the North West Company.[5] However, other historians disagree, and claim that the mountain was named after the Teton Sioux tribe of Native Americans.[6]
  86. Could "Grand Tetons" be named for big breasted Indians in the mountains?​
    that might be a bit of a stretch. my sense is that the region was originally named for the Sioux people and later, over time, took on a less culturally-specific meaning and perhaps passed into slang as the indigenous peoples diminished. it makes no sense to name a mountain range off of big breasted native Americans, IMO. The Tetons, so to speak, would have had to have been quite remarkable.
  87. but what are the odds that a French colloquialism would coincide with the name of an indigenous tribe which lived in that region​
    Eric, since historians disagree on the origin of the name, I certainly don't presume to know any better. That in the 1800 the mountains were often referred to as the "Three Tetons" seems to me to favor the French colloquialism origin of the name though.
    Lewis and Clark encountered the "Teton Sioux" near present day Pierre, South Dakota - not exactly close to the Tetons. And according to this source: Wyoming was the prime location for the Arapaho tribe while "Dakota Sioux" roamed the territory but did not have permanent settlements there.
  88. Lewis and Clark encountered the "Teton Sioux" near present day Pierre, South Dakota - not exactly close to the Tetons.​
    I live a few hours from Pierre (we pronounce "Peer.") Many Sioux reservations here also. I've never heard any referred to as "Teton Sioux," and they don't use the term either. Most likely, the mountains were named first and then French trappers simply called the Indians there "Sioux of the Tetons." All of the Sioux I'm familiar with are/were plains dwellers. As for "big breasted Indians," I was being tongue in cheek.
    Kent in SD
  89. These are critical issues:
    Distasteful though it may be contemplate, "Grand Tetons" absolutely, positively means "big tits." The early French trappers looked up and saw those big mountains and said, "They look like big tits!" End of story.
    Andrew, my style is to rent a car and wander around on my own where the people aren't. I'm talking about your itinerary, not tits, although wandering around where there are no other people has a number of possible applications.
  90. Most likely, the mountains were named first and then French trappers simply called the Indians there "Sioux of the Tetons."​
    from what i understand, Teton is a Sioux tribe which is part of the Lakota nation. The name Teton itself is a contraction of a Lakota word meaning plains inhabitants. Therefore, its highly unlikely the tribe were named after the mountains. Also if Lewis & Clark encountered the Teton elsewhere on the plains, it stands to reason the tribal name precedes the French colloquialism.
    from wikipedia:

    The Lakȟóta people (pronounced [laˈkˣota]; also known as Teton, Thítȟuŋwaŋ ("prairie dwellers"),[1] and Teton Sioux are part of a confederation of seven related Sioux tribes, the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ or seven council fires, and as such one of the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains of North America. They speak the Lakota, the westernmost of the three Siouan language groups, occupying lands in both North and South Dakota.​
  91. Although my comments on this thread mostly consist of my thanking people, thank you again, all.
    Dieter: Thanks for the additional distance information. I shall plan accordingly (or at least, my idea of accordingly, which I think we can agree meets most people's idea of madness...)
    Kent: Thank you - I'll not over-extend the Tetons, in that case; I'll definitely do a late Old Faithful, and prioritise the kid-unfriendly times of day.
    As for Etymology, I've never seen the Paps of Jura (much nearer to me) either - but should probably go there at some point with some whisky drinkers. I'll look forward to seeing the Tetons anyway, but might not broach Lannie's suggestion with my wife if I know what's good for me. As opportunities for confused naming goes, at least it's not Yucatan...
    Thanks again, all. I'll report back on my failure to book anything and subsequent panic soon. :)
  92. Just for the sake of anyone following, I have achieved accommodation everywhere (Yellowstone is the Lake Hotel, which is all that was available - photo tours seem to go from there, but I'll certainly make sure we dine at Old Faithful). So good news, no panic updates to the schedule. Now I just need to book some tours, sort out flights, and try not to look too closely at my credit card. Oh yes, and get a 200-500...
  93. Hey, this thread may hit 100 posts yet! The Lake Hotel is off in an odd corner, but it will still save you fighting the morning crowds at the park entrance. It's very big! The restaurant there is also nice, and the lobby is fun to hang out in. It was built around 1900 but then the facade was redesigned a few years later by the same guy who designed the Old Faithful Inn. You might read up a little on Yellowstone Lake. It's very deep, and there are volcanic vents on the bottom, just like on the bottom of the ocean.
    Kent in SD
  94. Cool, thanks Kent! That reassures me a bit - I'd not had much chance to check out the hotel area (other than realising it's a long way from OF). The lake sounds more interesting than I thought - I'll mention the details to my wife, who's into scuba, just in case that's an option...
  95. I have achieved accommodation everywhere​
    Congratulations - that's indeed quite an achievement.
    Lake Yellowstone Hotel is a nice enough place to stay at. Hayden Valley, a prime buffalo location, is located between it and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (which is only some 16 miles to the North of the Hotel's location). The Lamar Valley, another prime wildlife location, is about 50 miles away in the Northeast Corner of the Park. The Old Faithful area is about an hour's drive worth to the West, with West Thumb, a good location to shoot at in the morning and the evening, about half way in between.
  96. Thank you, Dieter. It was worrying me! And cheers - I'll likely spend at least on day on a guided photography tour and then work out what else to visit, but I'm prepared for the distances inside the park now.
  97. One more thing, should anyone still be following... I've ignored almost everything to do with DX cameras for the last few years, since my Nikon DSLRs have always been FX. However, I need a back-up body for this trip (in part because some tours won't let my wife come unless we both have a camera...). Most lenses we can share, but if my 14-24 is on my D810, I don't have anything that's vaguely wide when put on a DX body. I don't really feel the need for a 16-35, so I'm probably looking at hiring a DX lens alongside the (probably D7200) body.

    My initial thoughts were with the 16-85, but it doesn't seem to review all that well. Nor does the 18-105; the 18-140 looks a bit stronger. Of course, there's always Sigma 18-35, given my likely aquisition of a Tamron 24-70, but my big concern is Antelope Canyon - having neither body able to go longer than 50mm equivalent seems a little restrictive somewhere where lens changing is going to be risky.

    Any suggestions?
  98. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Suggestions? Easy, order D500 + 16-80mm kit lens from your favorite camera store in New York. Have them ship it to my address ahead of time. I promise to test them thoroughly beforehand. :) I can meet up with you at the Computer History Museum to hand deliver it to you. When you get back to London, sell the D500 for a profit. :)
    I would imagine that you'll get better deals on the D500 a couple of months from now. The down side is that in case you decide to keep the D500 ....
  99. Unless wildlife in Yosemite moves faster than I expect (or my wife decides to try to shoot the cheetah at San Diego Wildlife Park - I'll certainly be trying, having failed a bit last time due to having only a 90mm macro with me), I suspect a D500 may not offer me much over the D7200, other than weight and some card compatibility issues. Sadly my "spare" yearly bonus (ignoring all the lenses still sitting on my credit card) has mostly gone on the accommodation. But it's tempting, if only as a way to evaluate the merits of the autofocus system before the D810 replacement appears! If I don't hire a D7200, the advantage is that buying one (or a D7100) used could be done without losing much on depreciation; probably a bit harder with the D500... I'm happy to meet up at the Computer History Museum, though - I always feel members of this forum should see each other face to face, to put us off shouting at each other. :)

    Was that a vote in favour of the 16-80, or a "don't know until you try it"?
  100. Andrew, I only have experience with the 16-85 on the D300 - where it is a superb lens and easily the best Nikon has to offer as a mid-range zoom that isn't f/2.8 (for both DX and FX). I have not tried the 16-85 on the D7100/D7200 but have recently acquired the 18-140 for use on the D7100. For what I do with it (walk-around) it is fine but I have not used it much as of now. I got both (the 16-85 and the 18-140) used at a huge discount over new - otherwise, I would not have picked either).
    Allegedly, the 16-80 is better than anything else Nikon offers for DX - but the price is a big turn-off. At my local store, no one (but me) has so far asked to even see one much less purchased one!
    For Antelope Canyon, you have the 14-24 on the D810 - so why not put the 24-70 on whatever DX body you are going to purchase/rent? You've go wide covered with FX and close-up with DX - the de facto gap of 24-35 isn't something I'd be worried about too much.
  101. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Andrew, I was just joking about delivering your camera at the Computer History Museum, which is very close to my office. I'll get glad to meet up, but if it involves delivering a camera, you want that shipped to your hotel in Anaheim where you will stay for several days such that if it arrives a day or two early or late than planned, you will still get it. For example, should you decide to skip the museum in the last minute, you don't want to cause a chain of consequences.
    Just keep in mind that the likes of B&H wouldn't ship to hotels. I have never used the 16-80mm E DX AF-S VR lens but have heard good things about it. IMO, the D500 is a considerably better cameras than the D7200 for wildlife and action photography (and is priced accordingly).
  102. Thanks, both. The 24-70 may have it, so long as I take competent wide shots. :) Besides, the fact that I've only just worked out that the 16-80 and 16-85 are different lenses suggests that I probably shouldn't spend money hiring them.

    Shun: Pencil me in for Thursday 4th. I at least owe you a coffee for the amount of trouble I cause around here!
  103. Easy, order D500 + 16-80mm kit lens from your favorite camera store in New York. Have them ship it to my address ahead of time.​
    I volunteer as well - I even hand deliver it to Anaheim!
  104. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have actually done that before, for another member from Europe. We had met in person before in his previous visit to the US. It was in early 2008 when the Japanese yen was going way up against the US$ and Euro. He ordered a 24-70mm/f2.8 at the old, lower price and had an NY store shipped to me. Since it was a lens, there was no shutter actuation concerns. I checked that lens out thoroughly. When he finally came to the US a few months later on a scheduled trip, I re-shipped the lens to him. By then, the lens was a few hundred dollars more at that same store.
    However, unless you know each other quite well, it is probably not a good idea to have this kind of transaction.
  105. There is a Samy's Camera not far from Anaheim in neighboring Santa Ana. They are at Speaking as a Californian we would like you to leave as much of your money as possible here. You will be able to see the need once you get out on our roads. They are in terrible condition and they say it costs more to repair them here than in any other state. Besides that Samy's is a fun place to go. They also have nice selection of used equipment. If you can't make to the one in Santa Ana there is another in San Francisco. You may also want to keep a list of the reservations you have made and the phone numbers to cancel those reservations once you realize the magnitude of what you are trying to achieve.
  106. Well well! We did go over 100 posts here. That's quite an accomplishment. Now some thoughts. I don't think you will gain anything by buying a d500 rather than using the D7200. You aren't really concentrating on wildlife and the D7200 is very capable. It's also smaller and lighter, making it easier for your wife to handle. My wife hates using my d800e and will take our D5200 every time. Now for lens suggestions. For ultrawide on DX, you will not go wrong with a used Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. It's an excellent lens! It can be found fairly cheap on ebay. If you think 18mm will be wide enough but still want fast, I highly recommend the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8. It's very good, and is a common choice for those starting out in wedding photography. These are plentiful used on ebay and at a great price. There are at least two versions, the older one without HSM (Nikon equivalent AFS) & OS (Nikon equiv. VR,) and one with HSM & OS. These are compact, lightweight, and will certainly cost much less than half of a new Nikon 16-80mm.
    The larger mammals in YNP are buffalo, elk, moose, bears, mule deer, antelope. They are used to people and generally move slowly. The smaller critters generally move faster (so they don't get et.) You will certainly see buffalo and elk, possibly see a bear or two and maybe a moose or coyote. I wouldn't waste time trying to photo a wolf. They are very elusive and semi-nocturnal. You could spend a week just to even see one half a mile away. There are antelope in the open spaces around the Gardiner entrance on the north end. You will almost certainly see antelope driving through Wyoming, but they will mostly be further from the road. It will be tempting to get out of your car and photo them, but the second they see your door open they will run off at 60 mph. Out of the park, they get shot at during hunting season. Another interesting tidbit for you. Antelope can run 60 mph. Their fastest predator, the wolf, can run about 40 mph. Why didn't antelope simply evolve to run 50 mph? During the last ice age there were cheetahs in North America, and the antelope evolved to outrun them, just as they did in Africa. Another little fact--antelope have black tongues.
    Scuba diving in Lake Yellowstone. The lake sits at 7,000 ft. elevation and is filled with snow melt. The water is quite cold. It's also deep--42 to 120 meters deep. I'm not aware of anyone swimming in it, let alone diving.
  107. Just for the sake of anyone following, I have achieved accommodation everywhere (Yellowstone is the Lake Hotel, which is all that was available - photo tours seem to go from there, but I'll certainly make sure we dine at Old Faithful).​
    You might keep trying for just one night at Old Faithful. It's not just its central location, it's one of the most unique hotels in the world. It's made entirely of logs--it's the largest log structure in the world! The architect, Robert Reamer, gathered interesting trees that had ornamental shapes and incorporated those into the actual structure. In the evening there is usually live music performers on the mezzanine, and the music floats throughout the huge lobby. It's the perfect place to sit and end your day. All of the grand hotels in the national parks are truly special, but this one is the crowning gem. Once inside, you are magically transported to another age. People end up cancelling reservations every day and if you try several times a day you will snag a room for at least one night. I think you will be stunned when you see it. I've not seen anything else quite like it in my own travels.
  108. Kent: Cheers, I'll keep trying for the OF lodge. I'll certainly visit (and dine) even if we can't stay. The advice on wildlife is appreciated, and I had similar thoughts about the D7200 vs D500 - but since the latter is cheaper to hire than I thought, I'll consider it (and check with my wife). I'm still thinking about the DX wide-angle, if I don't decide the 24-70 will do; thanks for the advice there.

    For what it's worth, my wife took a look at the diving options, but wasn't blown away by what there was to see, and how good the visibility was likely to see, given that she'd need to carry a load of stuff with her (even if she hired a dry suit). I guess we'll enjoy the lakes from the surface. (Which reminds me, must check I have a polariser... I doubt I have an 82mm one for the Tamron 24-70. I'm currently talking to retailers who might handle trade-ins.)

    I'm currently trying to sort flights. For some reason, there aren't many direct flights to the UK from Jackson (or anywhere nearer Yellowstone). I'm currently torn between getting to Jackson for a 3:20pm flight or driving straight to Salt Lake City for an 8pm flight. The latter gives us a bit more scenery, modulo driving through it for six hours, and might give us an extra hour in Yellowstone (although I'd not want to push it given likely traffic); I'd guess the internal flight will be less picky about how long we're at the airport, though. I don't really have much experience with US internal flights; I hope I don't have massive issues with my carry-on limit.

    John: I'll have a look in Samy's - and try not to pay attention to the exchange rate. (My 14-24 was bought in the US, for a reason.) Don't worry, though, the price for hotels in Yosemite and San Fran mean I'm leaving plenty of money in California. :)

    And yes, long thread, thank you all for the much-appreciated advice. I'll try to do it some semblance of justice. My work place have just announced an internal photo competition with a "colour" category; sadly, it closes before I'll get back.
  109. there aren't many direct flights to the UK from Jackson (or anywhere nearer Yellowstone).​
    you may have to route through a hub like Chicago or Denver.
  110. I discovered. :) I've actually found an indirect flight from Salt Lake City leaving just before midnight that will still get me back to the UK on Sunday. Confirming, but nearly sorted. I've just been reamed out by my boss for how long it took for me to get the flights booked (among other things)...

    Oh, and it turns out my 500mm f/4 AI-P isn't worth very much as a trade-in. Unfortunate.
  111. I'm still thinking about the DX wide-angle, if I don't decide the 24-70 will do; thanks for the advice there.​
    A 24mm isn't really wide on DX. Would not be worth taking into a slot canyon.
    Which reminds me, must check I have a polariser...​
    I'd rather forget a lens than a polarizer in those places.
    I don't really have much experience with US internal flights; I hope I don't have massive issues with my carry-on limit.​
    My only "rule" is to never put anything expensive that I want to keep into checked baggage.
    My work place have just announced an internal photo competition with a "colour" category; sadly, it closes before I'll get back.​
    Can't you just email them an entry? Kent in SD
  112. Sadly the photo competition also closes before I leave. :) Never mind, it'll have to be bluebells again...

    Worth taking something wider than 24mm to a slot canyon on DX? Okay, understood. I'll at least try to hire something. (Well, I have an 8mm fish-eye, but that might be a bit restrictive...) And yes, polarizer - though not for the 24-70, obviously.

    I have the same policy of not checking anything expensive (except sometimes a tripod, where I have no choice). Unfortunately, that leaves a D810, 14-24, 70-200, 24-70, 200-500, etc. plus my usual three laptops, and some airlines have been known to freak out (BA, for what it's worth, have reduced their "unlimited" carry-on limit to 23kg, which is still very useful; Quantas's 7kg limit has been a problem, especially when I had my 200 f/2 with me). I'll be loading up my wife (with the spare camera and lens) as much as I can and hoping that'll do it! I have a Think Tank Aiport Accelerator, which is within the size limits, but airlines have taken to putting the seat struts under the middle of seats, making it hard to hide the bag sometimes. Oh well, we'll see. Flights now booked - though they'd got £100 more expensive since yesterday (grr).
  113. Worth taking something wider than 24mm to a slot canyon on DX?​
    Not sure if Kent was aware that you are taking the D810 with the 14-24 already. What's the point on putting a 11-16 on the DX body - it just duplicates what you already have with you (unless your wife takes pictures too). You may want to do a google search on lens choices for Antelope Canyon. If I were to carry two bodies down there, I certainly would not duplicate the lens choice. Given the crowds down there, you might be happy with something longer unless you plan on having people in every shot you take. And if I were to take a DX ultrawide - then it would be the 11-20 and not the older 11-16.
    14-24, 70-200, 24-70,​
    Exactly the lens collection I wouldn't want traveling with.
    usual three laptops​
    None of my business - by may I ask why you need three?
  114. Thanks, Dieter. My wife would be shooting too unless one of us has a camera failure, but I'd been considering the 16-80 (at least hired) so there's some flexibility at the wide end on that body. Of course, I could put the 14-24 on the DX body, but I'm guessing I might want the wideness on FX. If the consensus is that the 24-70 is going to leave the DX body a bit restricted in the canyon, I'll try to hire the 16-80. I hope I don't feel the need for something longer on the D810 - I've heard that lens changing in Antelope is extremely risky (though I could try inside a plastic bag...) Much as I'd love to mix and match the 8mm, 14-24 and 24-70 on the D810, I don't want to rely on it. I'll probably not go fully ultrawide on the DX body.
    Exactly the lens collection I wouldn't want traveling with.​
    Well, yes. You may have noticed I'm a masochist from this thread. I'm well aware that the 70-200 f/4, in particular, would be more sensible (but I have the f/2.8, and may need aperture at the conference); likewise, the 16-35 f/4 may make more sense than the 14-24, but I already own the 14-24, and even if I wasn't throwing all my money at a holiday I can't really justify both. At least the Tamron 24-70 is lighter than the Nikkor. One of these days I should invest in a 24-120 f/4.
    None of my business - by may I ask why you need three?​
    To make my life hell at air traffic security, obviously. Actually, I need a work laptop because I'm at the conference for work and need to run Windows so I can get at email through our VPN. I need to have a Linux laptop - which is at least light - because our IT department can't get their act together and make the Windows one dual-boot and so I can actually do useful work. I need my Mac because that has all my photography software on it, and I want to see what I've been photographing. (I'm planning to fill up an external drive or two during the trip.) Also I tend to need it for presentations, because my work laptop is locked down by security and it's a pain to get large files off it. This is my usual process on work trips; I've got quite good at getting through airport scanners quickly, except that people have a habit of not realising I actually need the four security trays that I've grabbed.

    Speaking of software, I see there's a new version of DxO out. Faster PRIME is much appreciated. Version 11 supports the 200-500 with a TC-14E (or will), but sadly only the mk3 version. That's... not cheap. I really hope I don't find myself wanting longer than 500mm - although that's another reason to take a crop body along. Must upgrade.
  115. Speaking of software, I see there's a new version of DxO out.​
    Darn it - more money to spend. Maybe I should abandon ACR altogether and get use to the clumsiness that is DxO software (similar to Lightroom) - as soon as I get the D500, ACR will be a thing of the past anyway.
    Think Tank Aiport Accelerator​
    Can't get much bigger than yet - I doubt I have a single bag that would hold the gear you are bringing.
    Re: lens choice for Antelope Canyon - here is someone who prefers to use the 24-105 over the 17-40:
    24-70 here:
    Maybe putting the 24-70 on the D810 and the 14-24 on the DX body is not such a bad idea after all...
  116. Ooh - thanks for the links, Dieter. (Especially if I've repaid your kindness by costing you money.) For what it's worth, my workflow these days is mostly DxO for lens corrections and sometimes PRIME, then into Photoshop for local edits. PRIME is spectacularly good at killing a laptop battery, though. I can't claim that DxO lacks its issues though; I wonder if they've allowed you to default the crop tool to anything other than the original aspect ratio yet? (My biggest annoyance is changing it to free-form for every crop, because I really don't care if something started life as 3:2.) Fortunately, DxO knows about the 200-500 and the Tamron!
  117. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I went to the Upper Antelope Canyon (and the Grand Canyon) in December 2001, just after Christmas:
    That was before digital for me. I used the Nikon F5 with the 17-35mm/f2.8 zoom as well as the Contax 645 with a 45mm lens, which is roughly the equivalent of a 30mm for FX. I don't think you need to use a crazily wide lens inside Antelope, although having the flexibility is always a plus.
    In December, it was freezing early in the morning at the Grand Canyon such that I had to warm up the car first before driving out for the 6am sunrise images. At the time we had just moved from the East Coast back to California the year before such that I was still very accustomed to the colder climate. You won't have that problem in the summer.
  118. You won't have that problem in the summer.​
    Well, looks like mornings are supposed to be around 34F (1.1C) in Yellowstone this week. :) It's been pretty cool out here on the Northern Plains as well.
    Kent in SD
  119. Thanks again. I don't know why I'd decided an ultrawide was likely useful for Antelope (last time I was there, at the wrong time of day for any sun, a 28-200 was all I had, and I don't really remember what I did with it other than curse the darkness). I'm looking at a two-hour photo tour at roughly the right time of day (and trying to fit the lower canyon in beforehand); I hope that even if I'm using the 14-24 on the first run through (assuming cropping will be less painful than stitching) I may be able to switch outside the canyon (or in a bag) during "wandering time" afterwards. Now I think about it, I'm almost interested to see what a fish-eye will do in there, but I'd hope for details too. Now I just need to remember that (I think) Antelope/Page doesn't honour daylight saving time but Monument Valley does, otherwise my run between them is going to be cutting it even finer than planned!

    Dare I ask how Horseshoe bend is at dawn? I think I'll hit Page after dark, so I'll miss sunset, but getting up early is an option (until I decide it's going to kill me, anyway).
  120. The obvious time to do a slot canyon would be at night. You could probably align some stars at the top, and at night you have total control over the light. I would just use a flashlight instead of setting up flash. I shoot at night a light--it's often easier than shooting in the day. Not sure if they could arrange a night shoot though. It's the obvious time to be there though. You'd have all night long to get your shots, and they'd be different from the five million shots taken in there this year.
    Kent in SD
  121. Now I just need to remember that (I think) Antelope/Page doesn't honour daylight saving time but Monument Valley does​
    As already mentioned, Arizona does not, but the Navajo Nation does.
  122. Good thought, Kent - especially since I'm having some trouble finding a non-booked-up photo tour of Upper Antelope. I'll investigate; I have one last hope of a place, otherwise significant messing around is going to be required (possibly to get into Upper Antelope at all, never mind at a suitable time for sun shafts).
  123. I found this Netherlands based website while searching for usages of some if my photos. It nicely put together with itineraries for anyone planning a trip. Even without understanding the language (google translate helps) it will surely help plan a trip.
  124. Interesting - thank you, John. I'll check it for ideas.

    For anyone following, I think everything is successfully booked, modulo all going wrong if we can't get up in the mornings. That includes upper and lower Antelope (not that, apparently, I'm allowed to post any photos from them on the internet without a commercial use permit) and a load of tours around Yellowstone that may necessitate leaving the hotel at 4am. Zzz. Now I just need some lenses (and a backup camera, and insurance, and not to look at my credit card for a long time)...
  125. You don't really need to do the tour thing to see Yellowstone--it's all pretty accessible. As for the Antelope not posting photos deal, I would never agree to that.
    Kent in SD
  126. It's mostly early morning wildlife tours in Yellowstone - we have some time at other points to drive around (or sleep), fortunately. Plus I have a dinner booked at OF. Good to know we can explore, though! Antelope - sadly, there aren't many options, but I believe they just have enthusiastic reading of their requirement to have a special permit for commercial use (which I'd kind of expect) - they just happen to call out Flickr et al. as "commercial use". I'll see; I'm certainly not going to produce a commercial calendar, but not being able to post something here would be sad, especially since it would be likely to give them more trade.

    Knowing my luck, you can expect a monsoon to hit most of the US during my trip. Apologies to everyone caught in the fall-out. :)
  127. they just happen to call out Flickr et al. as "commercial use"​
    A thought. If I were you, I'd still post to Flickr. You live in the UK. What are they going to do--extradite you? Just don't label the photo with the words "Antelope Canyon" and I doubt a search engine would even pick it up. That's even assuming they are actively looking. My thinking is if I pay my money, screw them.
    Kent in SD
  128. Just checked Flickr. I think you'll have no problems at all posting your photos there. Hell, just one group has nearly 7,000 Antelope Canyon images! Obviously nothing to worry about.
    Kent in SD
  129. Incidentally, I see someone has recently died by falling into a hot spring in Yellowstone (through thin rock) after leaving the path. The BBC article indicates this has happened before, and also notes a tourist attempting to rescue a moose calf that "looked cold", resulting it it being rejected by its herd. With sympathies to the family involved, I hope this doesn't result in Yellowstone feeling the need to get too restrictive about access. I certainly intend to be careful, and I know to keep both wildlife and boiling water at a distance.
  130. Apologies for the mis-quote, Dieter (I knew I should have reopened the news tab before posting), and thank you for the link elaborating. Nonetheless, I know better than to try to "rescue" an orphaned calf! Nature is harsh. Leave nothing but footprints. (This at least prepares me for tourists who don't know better.)
  131. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I heard a story that several decades ago, perhaps in the 1970's, some guy went to Yellowstone with his dog. Somehow the dog jumped/fell into a boiling hot spring. That guy also jumped in to save his dog, even though others around warned him not to do so. Needless to say, he was also boiled to death. Not sure how true that story was, but after hearing about it, I managed to find it on the web.
    In any case, when you are in the windiness, use plenty of common sense.
  132. Hi all. Just reporting back in case anyone monitored this thread: I survived, and (other than missing the Tetons because we wasted time on invisible wolves on the last day and ran out of time; unnecessarily as it turns out, because my flight was delayed - and not getting around to meteor watching) I think we made it everywhere with no serious injuries other than a lot of muscle cramps. We saw nothing more dangerous than some sharp curbs in Bryce and mosquitos in Yosemite (well, I saw a glimple of something I'm calling "bearly there", but otherwise the biggest carnivore was a bald eagle). I'll share photos in a week or two, once I get my life back on track, possibly via the Wednesday thread.

    Thank you all again so much for your help (and apologies to Shun for failing to meet him). And, especially for Yellowstone, the 200-500 (on a D500) rocks - the worst "too long" problem I had was with a giraffe at the zoo (though I've some nice close-ups of the eyes and tongue), but to be fair if I'd not been in a "not more bloody bison" mood I'd have been able to use something wider during some Yellowstone bison jams. I'm fairly fond of the 24-70 Tamron/D810 combination, too. I may reconsider when I've actually reviewed what I took...

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