Montezuma Castle Up Close and Personal

I finally got a chance to start processing some of the photos from this past weekend, and I started with the ones of Montezuma Castle.  For those who are unfamiliar with this National Monument (operated by the National Park Service), Montezuma Castle is a well-preserved cliff dwelling that was constructed by the Sanagua people around 700 A.D.  It was occupied until around 1425 A.D.  It’s a five-story, 20-room brick and mortar structure that housed around 50 people.  When European Americans discovered the site in the 1860s, they named it for the Aztec emperor of Mexico Montezuma II, due to mistaken beliefs that the emperor had been connected to its construction.

Me and Andy, with the help of a self-timer

I decided to do all my shots in bracketed series of three (-2.0 / 0 / +2.0).  Fortunately, the Park Service allows you to use a tripod, so it wasn’t at all difficult to setup for a nice series of shots from multiple angles.  I started out with my normal lens (18-55mm) to get some shots of the cliffside, but I quickly switched to my telephoto lens to get some close-ups of the details of the structure.

Shot with 200mm zoom

I’ve started processing the shots as HDR’s using Photomatix and Paintshop Pro X3.  I had already done one this past weekend (see my last post), and I’ve done four more tonight.  They are uploaded to my Flickr site in the set titled “Montezuma Castle“.  I’ll be adding more to the set later this week, but I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen so far.  I even have some decent shots from my old 125-300mm zoom (non-autofocus), so I’m anxious to get them all out there.

If you’ve never visited Montezuma Castle National Monument, I highly recommend it.  The entry fee is $5, and it’s easily accessible to people of all ages and physical conditions.  Right now the trees are mostly bare, but I’ve also been there during the summertime when the trees are in full leaf, and it makes a beautiful contrast of color against the white cliffs and the blue sky.  I do want to go back in the fall when the leaves are in their fall color!