Tuesday, April 17, 2012

End of the Vacation Posts

This is going to be the last of my vacation posts.  These visits landed me at Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, MO, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (The Gateway Arch) and the St. Louis Zoo.

From what I read in my research, the St. Louis Zoo is one of the top 5 zoos in the country.  Although we did not get to spend as much time here as we wanted to, I really enjoyed the time we did spend.  We entered through the south entrance.  This elephant is one of about a dozen statues that lead you to the zoo entrance.  This was shot as we were leaving.  The sun was setting and created back lighting for this HDR shot.

This picture of the grizzly bear illustrates what I love about shooting at zoos.  You are constantly moving from sun to shadow, so you constantly have to adjust your camera settings.  This makes it challenging and rewarding at the end.

I've never been this close to a grizzly bear before.  Look at those claws!

 My wife is a huge fan of penguins and this was the best penguin house I have been to.  I was lucky enough to catch this guy hopping out of the water for some food.  The waterfall is in the elephant enclosure.

We visited Tom Sawyer's white washing fence in Hannibal, MO at Mark Twain's boyhood home.  This trip brought back memories from when I read this book in school.  The sky was very overcast so the sun wasn't a factor, plus the temperature was in the 50's, so it was nice and cool walking up and down the street.

There is a lot of information relating to Mark Twain's life in all the buildings:  His house, Huck Finn's house, Becky Thatcher's House, etc.

To the left is inside the house.  The rooms had statues of Mark in the rooms.  The first time seeing the statue was unnerving because I thought that someone was actually in the room.  To the right is one of Twain's signature white suits.  Also in the case is the gown he wore when he received his honorary degree from Oxford University.

Our last spot was the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the Gateway Arch.  This is an iconic structure that I have always wanted to visit.  Once again, this is a must visit place in the United States.  The top is 630 feet and offers amazing views of the city.  To get to the top, you ride in a small car that holds 5 people.  It is quite an experience that should not be missed.  On the day that we went, it was bright and sunny.  I found myself ducking behind trees and the monument itself to block the sun.  The nice part of the sun however, is that it requires a fast shutter speed which virtually eliminates blurring.

What I thought was cool about the monument is that there is a small museum inside the base to help you pass time while you are waiting for your turn to go to the top.  This is an example of an Indian Peace Medal that was given by presidents to indian leaders to help facilitate peaceful expansion of settlers west.  I have heard of these, but this was my first time seeing one in person.

To the left is a shot of the arch as my sun blocker.  To the right is Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals from the top of the arch.  Magnificent view from there.

That is it for the vacation pictures.  I will be getting back to my normal shooting around town.

Until next time...

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