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A Visit to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park for 4th of July

Happy Fourth of July everyone!!

With Gasser being closed today, all one day rentals were automatically a two-day rental for the single day price, so I couldn’t resist and dropped by to see what I could snag. Unfortunately, Tuesday is not one of the deal days, so I would have to pay full price for the one day rental. They happened to have one of their Canon 70-200mm IS f/2.8 L series zoom lenses on hand, so I took that home with me. I’ve used this lens a few times now, and each and every time makes me want one all the more. But, at a price tag of almost $2,300 retail, the restraint to go out and buy one comes easy… However, it’s still a badass lens, and one that should be rented from time to time for those special occasions or shoots.

There were no real plans on the agenda today, so we just winged it. I came up with the idea to visit Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park and everyone else followed. It was my first visit to Stow Lake and LOVED every minute of it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think there is a bad spot in all of Golden Gate Park, but that may just be cause I’m looking at everything through a photographic eye and seeing awesome images flash in front of me constantly. Be it the wildlife, the plant life or the people walking around, there is a great image at least once a minute. So, I headed over to Stow Lake with my photo eye open and ready to snap.

Now, we went in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was at its highest and strongest. Any photo junkie can tell you that this is the wrong time to be photographing. I know this and you know this, but my shutter finger doesn’t, so it snaps away. I shot in Aperture Priority mode and let the camera make the rest of the decisions for me just to see what it would come up with. I didn’t set the white balance either, so I winged it on Auto White Balance. The images were all over the place and exposures were pretty wild, but I tried to keep the sun to my back. I would have to say that today was more about the experience of Stow Lake and not trying to come home with an image worthy of much praise.

I believe Stow Lake to be man-made, but has a great feel to it. It has a beautiful Chinese pagoda and a small waterfall known as Huntington Falls, kindly donated by the same Huntington’s of the Big 4 railroad owners that helped bring the California railway system east. There is a pedestrian path that leads all the way around the lake with various bridges to take you to the center island where the waterfall and pagoda are. Although this isn’t as popular with the joggers and health enthusiasts as Lake Merced, there were quite a few people using the path for more than just a leisurely stroll.

At one end of the lake, there is the famous boathouse that features a snack shack and paddle boat and rowboat rentals for $19 per hour. Stow Lake is pretty well-known for this and they were in full force today with a wait line to rent one. We had contemplated doing it, but as soon as we saw the wait line, we decided to leave it for another time. Anyway, we’ll be back soon enough…

Along the way, we saw some Canadian Geese, a momma duck with her ducklings, a turtle foaming from the mouth (gross) and a bird with a mohawk!! I enjoyed my 4th of July. Feel free to share how yours went!! Enjoy.

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