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There's a Golden Eagle perched in the Sycamore, but it was only visible through a scope

There’s a Golden Eagle perched in the Sycamore, but it was only visible through a scope

Perhaps you didn’t notice, but I was out of town for the past 3 days.  It was a work thing.  So, yes, another post with photos from the Sandhill Crane Festival.  While I would like to have lots of cool pictures from the Atlanta Marquis Hotel (where I did not get to stay because it was full by the time travel approval came through, but I did spend at least 12 hours a day there), it just wasn’t a good time to be lugging around my giant camera and tripod.

Adult Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle

In fact, it wasn’t a good time to do anything.  Had I not been staying 2 blocks away, I might not have seen daylight for 3 days.  Several of us commented that we felt like we were in Vegas–no sense of time, confined to a conference center all day, moving from room to room, meeting to meeting, session to session, the only things missing were gambling and booze.

I did get to go out to dinner with some of the folks I work with whom I rarely get to see in person, which was great fun.  But, of course, it was well after dark (and even after bedtime the second night) by the time we went to dinner.

Adult Bald Eagle a little closer

Adult Bald Eagle a little closer

If you have never been to the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, it’s worth seeing. In fact, I need to plan a weekend in Atlanta that includes shooting the lobby.  I shot the Marquis lobby many years ago with my old PowerShot G3 and no tripod.  I would love to see what I could get with my current camera on a tripod.  If you want to see what it looks like, here’s the post with the old photos.

The thing about going to work events is that it sounds like fun, and some of it is fun, but it’s really tiring.  Pat and Tisen delivered me to Atlanta on Monday night.  We stayed in a La Quinta hotel a few miles North of the Marquis.  This is because La Quinta allows dogs.  They don’t even charge extra.

Three cranes circling the refuge

Three cranes circling the refuge

However, La Quinta is not in the best of locations and they don’t have the most comfortable of beds.  So, I started my 3 days already tired and slept less and worse the next two nights alone in a hotel around the corner from the Marquis.   Between limited sleep, walking around all day, eating crap, and being on my best behavior from 7AM to 11PM for 3 days, I’m pretty darn beat.

I think it’s probably the being on my best behavior part that’s so darn tiring–it’s be so much easier to just be myself.

Clearing the tree

Clearing the tree

The saving grace was that I was only a 2-hour drive away and in the same time zone.  Given that many of my colleagues were there from Europe and a few from Asia, I didn’t really feel like I could complain.  I’m feeling ready to go to bed (and to perhaps stay there through the weekend) none-the-less.

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Looking across the lake

The Marriott Marquis

I was recently at a Photographic Society of Chattanooga meeting when the speaker displayed an image so familiar to me, I almost thought is was one of mine.  But, then I realized it was better than my version.

I don’t feel bad about this–the subject was the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Atlanta.  It may be one of the more striking architectural features in Atlanta (from the inside), but it’s also quite a challenge to shoot.  Plus, the day I got to shoot inside the Marriott Marquis, I had owned my PowerShot G3 for about 2 weeks and knew about as much about photography as my elderly aunt (who couldn’t figure out how to use a camera with only one button).

I was in Atlanta for work at the time.  There was a huge tradeshow there and I was playing “booth babe.”  This is a joke because I worked in the telecom industry at the time and it was considered bad form to have anyone in any booth looking anything other than geeky.  I got to don a men’s button-down shirt that would have fit great if I were shaped like a large block and was long-waisted and short-legged.

But, I digress.

Just by good fortune, I was staying at the Marriott Marquis.  I had no idea at the time that it was going to be a photographic opportunity.  I brought my brand new, fancy point-and-shoot camera purely because I was so excited about having what was then by far the nicest camera (digital or film) I’d ever owned that I brought it along purely out of the desire to learn how to use it.

The problem with the Marquis is the difficulty of getting what you want in the frame without getting what you don’t want.  For example, you cannot get the entire stunning view of the balconies into the frame.  My focal length was 7mm for these shots.  I don’t know of an SLR lens that will go that wide unless it’s a fisheye.  Additionally, it’s a hotel with lots of people milling about doing what they want without concern for your shot–they’re there day and night.  A long exposure on a tripod might have done the trick for removing some people, but there are always people standing on the balconies gazing down and up and taking in the incredible structure.

Another problem is the lighting.  Higher up, the balconies get quite dark.  It’s difficult to get a balanced exposure that shows both the lower and upper balconies.

As someone who was:  there for business, without a tripod, in a hurry, and using a point-and-shoot I barely knew how to use, I think I walked away with some surprisingly good shots.  Of course, I cannot look at them now without thinking about how much better I could do today.  Atlanta is only a 2 hour drive–maybe I’ll have to actually go test myself one of these days.