Riverside Cemetery

Got a new bit of glass for the D70s (Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 G). It’s a cheap lens (less than $200 for a Nikkor zoom!), but surprisingly fairly well reviewed, and I figured it’d be a good travel zoom. I went out to Riverside Cemetery to take some pictures with it and get a feel.

The cemetery: Riverside is Denver’s oldest open cemetery. It was a site for relocation for an older cemetery that stood at the current site of Cheesman Park. Local history has it that the process of relocating the graves was fraught with problems and corruption, and while the markers were moved, many of the bodies remain underground at Cheesman. Many of Denver’s early swells are buried here, including old politicians and city founders.

The pictures: Sarah and I have been drawn to photographing cemeteries since we shot the Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines last December. Aside from the striking visuals usually offered by the monuments, cemeteries frequently offer beautiful manicured landscapes, and insight into local and regional history. We will definitely be returning to Riverside, as we spent less than an hour there, in less than ideal light, and barely scratched the surface of what the cemetery has to offer. This would have been a great opportunity to shoot some HDR photos, but alas, I did not convert. The light at sunset was nice, but most of the monuments face East, and so a lot of detail was lost in shadows. I’d like to try this one again in the morning.

The lens: The 70-300 is going to be useful. The long telephoto allows compression of image and background, and the narrow depth of field allows foreground images to be isolated from their surroundings in a way that’s challenging with the 18-70 kit lens that came with the D70s. Focusing is slow, and in low light, it frequently fails to focus, and at 300mm it’s hard for me to avoid shake. That’s my fault, not the lens’s. Definitely not a low-light lens for me, though. All in all, I think it was a good investment. Note that this lens is optically and mechanically identical to Nikkor’s >$300 70-300 ED lens, according to everyone I’ve heard talk about it (including the guy in the store, for what it’s worth). The differences are a cheaper plastic housing with a plastic mount, and the G lacks an aperture ring, which would be necessary to fit it to an older Nikon. Given that it’s really not all that great optically, if you don’t really need that aperture ring, it seems like a no brainer to go for the G at about half the cost of the ED.


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