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Old Jun 28, 2009, 9:09 PM   #1
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Default Grand Living

Yesterday I went looking for some real waves, but pretty much struck out. First, I've seen bigger waves on lakes than what I saw along the Central California coast. And the coast looked like this (this panorama was taken by my husband using the K100 and DA*50-135, processed using CS4's panorama's function - so easy compared to doing it by hand!). You can tell where the coast line is - look for the fog.

A larger version is at: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p178517654.jpg if you are interested.

So instead of taking pictures of waves, I tried out my new copy of the DA 55-300 on something else. I found some beautiful roses:

I take lots of pictures of subjects that go from edge to edge so I really want a lens that has good sharpness across the whole imaging surface. Here's an example - a grand front entrance to a house, isn't it?

This is the entrance to the main house at Hearst Castle. Apparently Hearst never finished the complex, he was always adding on and changing things. He had planned a grand entrance that was never finished.

The main house has two bell towers:

There's lots of ornate marble and limestone, along with some beautifully carved teak:

The castle is now operated as a state park, with several different tours that you can take, covering different parts of the complex. We took the garden tour that covered the gardens, several of the guest houses, the pool house with its 17 changing rooms, and the pools. All of the rooms were quite ornate - I can't imagine actually using this room:

A view from one of the guesthouse's patio. The view from here was just incredible!

There are two pools, one outdoor and one indoor. How would you like this in your backyard? The deep end is 10 feet deep.

Here's the indoor pool. Apparently it wasn't used all that much, which is a shame - it's beautiful. The gold on the tile is real gold!

The first of the indoor pool pictures is an HDR, 5 frames. The wide angle pictures (the interiors and the outdoor pool) were taken with the DA 12-24. You can see the perspective distortion you get with the lens, it's not a fish-eye but since it is so wide, you get "stretching" and odd lines. I didn't really try to correct it, other than to try to correct my usual tilt.

So the day was not wasted even though I didn't find much for waves, just beautiful, ornate architecture and a glimpse into the days of the 1920's and 30s.
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Old Jun 28, 2009, 10:00 PM   #2
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Nice pictures, all. Looking at the exterior shots I'd say you found the lens you were looking for.
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Old Jun 28, 2009, 10:20 PM   #3
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Beautiful pictures. The lens indeed looks sharp corner to corner.

Uncle Willey really knew how to live! Do the wild animals still run free on the property?

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Old Jun 28, 2009, 11:50 PM   #4
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I have always had a soft spot for the central coast. I could pick out its coastline anywhere. If I remember correctly the last time I was up there (and that was many years ago), the tour guide said that down in the warehouses in your panorama behind the visitors center, still had boxes and crates that had not been unpacked from the 30's.

My parents were always fearful when we went to visit Hearst Castle, as my sister always threatened to wear a swim suit under her dress and dive in to one of the pools for a quick swim.

I guess that Hearst Castle is one of the state parks that California is going to keep open?
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 6:51 AM   #5
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love the shots.
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 7:31 AM   #6
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Nice house...looks to be about the same size my servants' quarters

I am especially interested in the shots with the DA 12-24mm which is giving me a bad case of LBA. The shots of both the interior and exterior pool are very nice...good color rendition and sharp!
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 11:50 AM   #7
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Sensational shots, Harriet. I really like the colors and the sharp focal lines in #3. We seldom associate this Versailles-like opulence with American architecture, but the Hearst Castle truly is a treasure.

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Old Jun 29, 2009, 1:41 PM   #8
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You missed the perfect wave shot...
... all you had to do was have the hubby push one of the visitors into the pool and snap a picture

These are beautiful shots! How would you compare this lens with the new 10-24 Tamron?

Life's a breeze on a Goldwing...
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 1:47 PM   #9
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 3:41 PM   #10
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Thanks for the compliments!

Keltech - there's descendants of 4 different wild animal species still living and roaming free on the ranch - zebras and Roosevelt Elk, can't remember the other 2. All of the other animals that were part of the zoo were sold to zoos mostly, or placed with private owners. They also graze cattle on the land.

Hearst Castle probably comes close to being self-sufficient. There's a separate organization that raises funds to support the park, since the tour fees don't come close to covering the costs associated with maintaining it. It's a very popular attraction (with good reason!) and the jewel of the state park system. I know that there are a number of other state-owned parks and facilities that may be sold, but they'd be crazy to sell this one.

GW - I'm very happy with the 12-24, it's been a real work-horse of a lens. As a really wide angle, there's some limitations (at 12mm you get some strange distortions at the edges, most noticeable if you shoot people with it) and big-time perspective "falling" lines when pointed up or down a bit. But that's the nature of a really wide angle lens, regardless of who makes it. As was pointed out, the color and sharpness are excellent. I'm happy enough with it that I won't look at the new Tamron (other than for interest sake) - I'm not interested in anything else. I think it would be fun to have a fish-eye to go along with the 12-24 (which isn't), mainly for those creative opportunities, but can't justify the added cost as I wouldn't use it much. And I'd never be tempted to replace the 12-24 with a fish-eye, either.

As hot as it was when we were there, I would have been happy to be the model for the wave picture, letting Dan take the picture! Believe me, it was tempting, that water was so beautiful.
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