Posts Tagged Animal Kingdom

Trip to the Zoo

img_0230As I mentioned last week, the girls and I went to the San Antonio Zoo this last Sunday, along with my brother-in-law and his family. It’s been a couple of years since we were last there, but we have been a number of times.

img_0238I really enjoy this zoo, to the point that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is my least favorite of the Disney World parks. That being said, I found the first phase of the new Africa Live! exhibit to be somewhat disappointing. I was hoping it would be more comparable to the Kilamanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom, but it simply isn’t. I suppose it lets you get a bit closer to the Hippos and Crocodiles, albeit separated by glass.img_0245 I will admit that it’s basically what I had expected from the plans I had seen on our previous visit.

I don’t think my kids enjoyed the animals as much on this visit. Instead, they really just wanted to run around. I’m thinking they probably haven’t been getting enough physical activity with the shorter winter days. img_0259 I think the part they appreciated most was climbing trees in the park outside the zoo before we even went in. C’est la vie.

I, on the other hand, was having a grand ol’ time with my new lens. While I still long for a high-end lens, several of which I saw people using at the zoo, I am very satisfied with the versatility and results of this lens.img_0304 I’ve included a handful of the shots here, plus I’ve selected a week’s worth for Glass Renagerie, my photo blog. The first of those is Smirk, which I am linking as a convenience for the future when they are not the most recent photos on the blog.

If the technical details of photography are not your thing, you’ll probably want to stop reading here. Unless you have insomnia….
img_0373I also used the lens at my nephew’s birthday party the day before. Typically, I would’ve used my 24-70 f/2.8, which is certainly a higher quality lens, but I wanted to use the new 18-200 IS instead. Looking at the keepers, 15% where taken at less than 24mm and nearly another 10% where taken at greater than 70mm. In other words, about a quarter of the shots were taken beyond the range of the better lens. Of course, had I been using the 24-70, I most likely could have moved my feet to capture most of the same shots, except perhaps some of the widest of them.

I have no hesitation regarding using this new lens as a travel lens, which is exactly why I bought it. Things like trips to Six Flags, riding a Mardi Gras float and snow skiing are perfect opportunities for this lens, and I look forward to using it in those situations.

Indoor events, on the other hand, are less clear. The additional wide-angle range from 18-24, along with the image stabilization, can really come in handy. However, I often end up using a bounced flash, mitigating the IS benefit, and the 24-70 has faster focus and a brighter view. Plus, the 24-70 *should* produce better quality images. The complete overlap of the focal lengths of these two lenses was one of my main concerns when I was deciding whether or not to get this lens. I expect it will work itself out in time, and there are still several situations where the 24-70 is the obvious choice (portraits, weddings, most indoor sports, etc.).

Next up on the wish list — lighting kit supplies.


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Hiatus and Our Disney World Trip

It’s been over two weeks since we left for Orlando and 11 days since we got home and had Thanksgiving. Before leaving, I had gotten much better about blogging more regularly. In fact, November was my most prolific blogging month since 2005, and back then I used to post a blog entry for each new set of photos on my album page as well as an entry for each time I went for a run.

Well, lack of (free) internet access from the Disney resort (Pop Century), resulted in no blogging during the trip. After we got home, there was a lot to deal with (sadly, mostly a lot of TV recorded on the TiVo to watch), and I just never got around to blogging. I thought about it, but an old problem reared its ugly head again.

Speaking of Disney, we had a wonderful time. It turned out that Marci’s sister and her family were able to be there at the same time, which was very nice. We had 5-day tickets and were thus able to allocate a full day to each of the four parks, with an extra day to spend as we wished. We had park-hopper tickets, but did not make use of that fact this time. When we went two years ago, we only had 3-day tickets and we spent each day divided between two of the parks.

We based our schedule on Disney’s Magic Hours, which put us at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) on Saturday. We had arrived at our hotel pretty late the night before, so when we woke up early in the morning, Marci decided we should just sleep in for a while and not worry about getting to the park early. I decided not to go along with this and went ahead to the park on my own. This started what ended up being our pattern for several of the days — though Brittney came along for the other days, leaving just Marci and McKenzie getting extra sleep.

Next up was Magic Kingdom, the one day when everyone was up early to enjoy some morning park time. Magic Kingdom certainly offers the most variety of activities (discounting Epcot’s World Showcase). The fact that my two nieces were with us also helped make this park the highlight. I had expected us to go back to the hotel for a while, but the way things worked out we just stayed straight through the fireworks. We had planned to stay for some of the three Magic Hours from 11pm to 2am, but we were simply too tired and headed back to the hotel at around 11:30.

The weather cooperated for Monday as it ended up being the warmest day of our trip while also being the day we planned to go to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom is almost completely an outdoor park, and much of it is shady, so having it be the warmest day was very convenient. As I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere, there isn’t really that much to do at Animal Kingdom. There aren’t very many rides, though they do have on of my family’s (excluding me) favorites, Primeval Whirl. Unfortunately, it was closed. I’d probably appreciate Animal Kingdom more if it weren’t for our periodic trips to the San Antonio Zoo.Hippo at Animal KingdomWe did have a very nice buffet lunch in the Africa section, though I don’t recall the name of the restaurant. Coming to each park early caught up with me this day and I decided to head back to the hotel early, though it ended up being only an hour or so earlier than the rest of the group. I didn’t even fall asleep before the rest of the family got back to the hotel.

Tuesday took us to Epcot, which has been my favorite since childhood (though, of course, it was just Magic Kingdom and Epcot then). We didn’t end up staying as long as I expected, partly because they ran out of FastPass tickets for Test Track and I thought we’d return on our final day. I think I need to plan to have some adults only time to more leisurely tour of Word Showcase.

Our final day ended up being spent back at Magic Kingdom, which I suppose is appropriate. Somehow, I ended up choosing the two days we spent at Magic Kingdom as the days without my camera. Luckily, I have lots and lots of pictures from 2006.

All-in-all, we had a fabulous time, and it was really nice to come home to Thanksgiving break so we didn’t have to go straight back to work and school. Looking forward to Christmas break….

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