Shoshone Falls and other places

Well, that was really nice, fun, and relaxing.

Yesterday my wife, my dad, my niece, and I went to Shoshone Falls, known as the Niagara of the West at 212 feet high, 900 feet wide. It was a nice drive and the Falls were awesome. The Snake River is running high due to all the snow and rain this Winter and Spring so it was pretty close to the most water I’ve ever seen going over those falls. There was even a double rainbow in the mist and I was able to capture that with my DSLR.

One of the interesting things to me this trip was suddenly remembering that people tend to see a fisheye lens as a specialized lens or a lens that’s only really good for amusement most of the time. I actually find this fisheye to be one of my favorite lenses to use with either of my Pentax DSLR bodies.

Indeed, I often use it for astrophotography and landscape photography. In the case of Shoshone Falls, that was the only lens that could capture the whole of the falls from the near observation deck. I was able to get the full falls, the main ledge, both the near and far canyon walls, and the pump house (I think that’s what it was, I really should look it up) around the rock from the falls in one shot. Although it’s claimed to be 180 degrees, I find that in reality it’s only 170 to 175 degrees field of view. The trick is to pay attention to all straight lines and your horizon. Do that and you get some wonderful wide-angle photos.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really out to photograph Shoshone Falls. I was just playing with the camera, so IMHO my photos are only good. I know, I’m often overly critical of my photos and others may consider them great but for me they’re just good. I know I can do better and sadly I also know that unless we have another wet winter and spring, I’m not likely to get that much water over the falls the next time I go.

We decided to leave the falls and pull into Dierkes Lake in the same park for a picnic lunch. We got there slightly before noon, fortunately, as that seems to be when everyone arrives to swim at the lake and picnic. They have a really nice marked off area with lifeguard and a divider to keep the littlest kids in a shallow area right off the beach. There’s even a diving board and a float, all surrounded by a boardwalk (obviously on floats) all the way around the swimming hole. Shade trees and picnic tables abound and a really nice dressing/restroom setup. Monkey bars and a sand vollyeball court. Definitely family oriented!

From there we went to Balanced Rock southwest of Buhl, through farm country. If you’re not expecting the change, it can be startling to suddenly come upon that small, deep canyon in the middle of all that green, irrigated farmland. All at once, you drop down into a canyon and everything’s brown or reddish brown. Down at the very bottom is a really nice park along the creek, with grass, trees, and picnic tables presenting a welcome relief from the heat. It’s also very windy, which I welcomed, as the wind gets funneled through that canyon.

Up out the other side of the canyon we went on to the Thousand Springs area. I have never seen that area as green and gorgeous as it was, nor have I seen the springs coming out of the canyon walls so powerfully. In that area, we visited the National Fish Hatchery and checked in on the White Sturgeon there, 4 of them, the biggest about 6 feet. Moving on from there, we visited the Alligator Farm. Yep, there’s an Alligator Farm in Southwest Idaho. It’s not easy to find from Highway 30 and it’s up a dirt road off a side road from the highway on a really sharp blind curve, so it’s very easy to overshoot and even miss it entirely unless you’re keeping a sharp eye out. No signs by the road, but there is one about 40 feet up the dirt road that proclaims “Parking for Alligator Farm here.”

After all the excitement getting there, it was kind of a letdown. Apparently people trashed the grounds or parked wherever they wanted and the property owner got mad. He still freely lets people see the alligators, but everything else at that fish farm is posted no trespassing. Sad, but understandable, I think. You can see the three gators, but there’s plenty other stuff to see and do in the Thousand Springs area that I’ll not suggest the alligator farm as “a cool thing to see.”

Away we went, to Bliss then on back to I-84 and homeward to Nampa. When I got home, I transferred my pictures and was kind of disappointed with my results. I only took 137 photos and of those I promptly tossed out 23 or so without even needing to see them on the computer screen. The rest, as I mentioned, were OK. I got two good 360 degree panoramas, some nice photos, but nothing I think worth posting to here or my photo blog.

This weekend I’m off to Haines, Oregon, for the Fourth of July with family and friends. I’m looking forward to the rodeo, as I’ve learned that small town rodeos are more “like the real thing” than the rodeos in the cities like Caldwell and Nampa. There’s a feel there that’s missing from the “citified” rodeos, if you will, that’s exacerbated by the huge crowds (or so it seems to me) that aren’t at the small town rodeos. Photography and writing will be done as well as visiting and attending the various events.

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