Monday, April 20, 2009
Waking up early, in part due to the train tracks that ran perilously close to our hotel, Mike and I saddled up and struck out for Mt. Rushmore. Through no fault or planning on our parts, we arrived on the morning of the Inauguration. To celebrate the next president, this shrine to past presidents was free to enter all morning!
I'll admit, my first thought as we walked up to the rocky edifice was, "I thought it would be bigger!" Though as I got closer to the sculpture, I saw that it was plenty big enough. Washington's head stretches 60 feet from chin to forehead, and his nose is a shocking 20 feet long.
We really lucked out with our timing, the deep blue sky seemed more early May than late January, and the lack of high season crowds was a serious bonus. We could wander around and photograph the monument to our hearts content, with no competition or wailing youngsters.
While the actual mountain is certainly the centerpiece of the park, there was also a (closed for the season) museum that was dedicated to the creation of the monument, and the work of the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum. There was also a really interesting little area dedicated to each of the presidents enshrined in the granite face, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. I think Mike especially appreciated that display, as his knowledge of US history is a bit limited. (Rightly so, my knowledge of New Zealand's history is probably far more limited.)
Of course, I couldn't leave without trying my hands at a couple of HDR images with my new remote. While the tripod/ remote worked out perfectly, the bright blue sky and direct sunlight didn't really provide the contrast needed for an effective HDR. After all, who needs more dynamic range when there isn't much range in the values in the first place? I had a little more success with a shot taken of the columns and benchs near the bookstore.