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Friday Slide Show: California Academy of Sciences Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

11 July 2014

It's summer, school's out and the learning is untested fun. One popular adventure here is a visit to the California Academy of Sciences. Not just for kids but for photographers, too. For today's slide show, we thought we'd give you a sampler of what you can see there.

Giraffe at Lunch. Using its biological long zoom.

But first, a word of caution. The place is criminally expensive (adult tickets are $35 in the summer and kids aren't much less) and fatigue sets in long before you can see it all.

There are some deals, though. San Francisco residents enjoy free admission on specific weekends each spring and fall (by ZIP code) and if you take public transportation, you get a small discount. Research your auto club and affiliated museum discounts. And a CityPass gets you in, too. There is also Quarterly Free Sunday program makes Sept. 14 free to everyone, too.

We've shot there a few times (we're thinking of making an ebook about it, actually) with various cameras. Our favorite shots were with a long zoom digicam and a dSLR. The slide show features images from a Panasonic FZ150 and a Nikon D300, in fact.

From the outside the Academy looks like one big building. And it is. But inside, it's at least half a dozen environments. With a few restaurants thrown in so you don't have to leave.

Our slide show starts in the Piazza where we used the long zoom to see what the stuffed giraffe was dining on.

Then we visit the Rainforest snowglobe. You enter via the walkway around the outside and work your way up to top floor before taking an elevator back out (after being dusted for butterflies).

Inside, you'll see all sorts of odd reptiles, butterflies, birds and even some fish down below. You'll want to keep your flash off and your ISO up for these. A fast shutter speed is a good idea too. Sports Scene mode works well on a digicam.

Downstairs you are under water where the displays are spectacular if a bit difficult to capture. This is one job where the dSLR outpaced the digicam.

Behind the piazza is the Swamp, where we caught a glimpse of Claude, the albino alligator. He needed a bath the day we captured him (so to speak) and apparently had cut himself shaving. But he posed patiently anyway.

Tucked in a corner of the building is the African Hall with stuffed animals of that continent's mammals. It starts with a skull display and includes a gorilla and lions in addition to the zebras we show here.

Another old favorite is the pendulum, which demonstrates the rotation of the earth. And the Planetarium (pick up a ticket as soon as you get in the building so you can attend a show).

Strange as it may sound, the living roof is not to be missed. It's planted with native flora, which require little watering. Take the elevator up and stay on the walkways.

You'll be on top of the world.

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