Lens-Artists Challenge #125: You Pick It!

For me, this challenge is like giving a kid a bunch of toys and saying okay pick one! Which one do you pick? Why do you pick it? So, what subject do I pick? What photos do I pick? Yikes!

This challenge by Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles caused me to think about how my photography progressed through the years. I went back to 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. This was a used entry level consumer DSLR. I was closing my business and looking for a hobby and didn’t want to invest a lot into something I might not enjoy.

I took the camera on a Mexican cruise that year and had fun photographing the colored lights aboard the ship.

I was still using my 3100 in 2013 when I made my first visit to a wildlife preserve (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge). Fortunately this little guy was on the ground and close. My post processing hadn’t reached the Lightroom stage yet.

In 2014 I had my first experience shooting light trails. I had upgraded my camera to Nikon’s D7100 which was Nikon’s highest level consumer camera. This was taken in Sacramento. I did have freeway shots, but I wanted to show you something more.

In 2015 I went to Bodie, a State Park and old ghost town, where I experienced my first bout with altitude illness. There I practiced HDR, popular then, on the old structures that were in danger of falling. By then I was processing with Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

My first shot at the Milky Way came in 2016. I’ve had better success since, but astrophotography has never become a favorite of mine. This is strange because my husband is an astronomer!

Sometimes you take a leap of faith. This picture taken in 2017, provided me with an entry for what I thought was a small town photo contest my friend told me about. This was in Sonora in the Gold Country. Little did I know, the best of Sacramento were also entering. Two of my photos made it to the wall and one made it to the final choice table. My friend had one image make it to the wall. She was delighted to have been chosen among the talented photographers and so was I. This was the one that was so close to being a top winner in 2019. I didn’t enter that contest this year because it was nerve racking, and with COVID my nerves were already under pressure.

I love slow shutter photography and would go to our local mall when they had small carnivals to practice. I captured this in 2018.

While I’m not a birder, I can’t resist an easy shot. My friend took me to what I call the nesting trees. Egrets and other large birds choose to make their nest in the cluster of trees and put on a show for photographers. By then I got an old-used prime F/4 300 mm. Although heavy, it has clarity. So, here’s my 2019 entry!

And here we are in 2020, the year we thought we’d never experience. Photography is a little more difficult these days, but it still provides the relaxation and mental stimulation it always did. I’m so happy I started back in 2012. This has become my passion. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey.

Hunting with a camera: Effie Yeaw

We were hunting deer when we went to Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael. The nature center is about 15 minutes away and is on the American River. It’s a beautiful natural wooded area surrounded by the river and a golf course. It’s rutting season for the deer and we were hoping to shoot some–with a camera!

While we didn’t see any males rutting, we did see a lot of deer that were close enough for me to get with my 55 – 200 mm lens. It was a great morning. When I complained that I was out lensed with my photo buddies’ 400 mm or more, one said that I shouldn’t complain since they were so close! But, I like to complain!

Here are some deer shots from that successful morning.

And Effie Yeaw never disappoints with its beautiful environment. We got there early enough to watch the last of the fog glisten in the sunlight.

Just a few more!

And finally some log art.

It was great fun hunting with my camera!

Lens Artists Challenge #124: Then and Now

We live in the now, and these days we think back to the then. This is Amy’s, “The World is a Book” challenge this week. What is the difference between then and now.

I think our spontaneity is gone. Are we in the purple, red, orange tier? How far would we be going? Would we need to car pool? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves before we deem it okay to do an activity. We used to be able to go out to dinner on the spur of the moment. Now we either take out or cook. Sometimes we can eat out if our location is in the right tier. Even then, we may have to eat outside!

So, Amy wants us to show the difference through our photography of our then and now. For me the big difference is that our photo outings have been with our photo pod and have been close to home. I decided to post images from November 2019 and November 2020.

In 2019 I managed to get to Apple Hill in Placerville, Napa Valley, Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael and William Land Park in Sacramento. Apple Hill and Napa were some distance from my home.

This year has been a little different with outings no more than 30 minutes from home. The longest drive was to Woodland. We also went to U.C. Davis Arboretum and Effie Yeaw. Tomorrow we will be going on another short trip to Lincoln to find some fall color.

Woodland Library

I’m looking forward to when we can just get up and go wherever we want. Maybe a 2-hour ride to the ocean! In the meantime:

Strolling along Putah Creek: UC Davis Arboretum

Camera, check! Lenses, check! Waist pack for when walking, check! Hat, check! All ready for a nice stroll with photo pod buddies along the trail at the UC Davis Arboretum. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to this end of the arboretum, so I was especially excited to see scenery I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The arboretum didn’t disappoint.

There’s a lake where Putah Creek widens. It’s simply beautiful and one tree drew my attention.

And here’s the lake from the other side.

In the Spring, there are more blossoms on trees, but the bridges and pathway colors were beautiful.

One bridge had locks fastened on its wires.

It was serene and beautiful. People were relaxing like this young couple.

We did drive to the other end of the arboretum. We couldn’t walk because part was closed off. This was the end we were more familiar with. The flower garden was almost bare but the light on the gazebo offered great shadows and patterns.

Just as I checked everything before I took off on our walk, I checked it all again as I put the camera, lenses, waist pack and hat in the car. It was another great photo outing.

Lens-Artists Challenge #123: Found in the Neighborhood

Oh my, this one is easy since I walk my neighborhood every day. Actually, I don’t have a choice, Gem will follow me until I take him out for our daily mostly 2-mile jaunt. It’s his walk and his choice where he goes. And where he goes, I follow. So Ann Christine, thank you for this topic!

Flowers are abundant in my community. From roses to tulips, they are beautiful.

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of goslings even though I’m not too fond of their parents. We have an abundance of wild turkeys too. I keep reminding them that Thanksgiving is near, but they don’t pay attention because they know they are protected.

And finally we have mushrooms. Ana of Anvica’s Gallery reminded me of them in her current post, “Time for Mushrooms.” Here are two varieties taken at different times. If you live in a senior community, take a sign saying “I’m okay!” with you as you lie face-down in the grass!

I don’t bring my camera on my walks with Gem. He wants all of my attention. When we first went on lockdown, I was grateful for living where I do. All us dog walkers, would stop and talk. I didn’t feel alone. Take care everyone!

Out for a short ride: Woodland, California

These days, we’re not doing many full day trips, but opting for a few hours near by. So, last Sunday, we (Ray, Karen and I) went to Woodland, a small town about 30 minutes north of Sacramento. It’s been a while since I’ve photographed in Woodland, and it was a nice walk.

We took photos of the old courthouse. I was practicing lines and patterns. The courthouse is a beautiful old building which was replaced by a more modern structure. It was also nice to see a memorial to Yolo County Police Officers.

We walked along streets and found some nice structures and flowers. I’ve also discovered that Photoshop has now an easy sky replacement and I had fun working with it in post processing. Now I have to get some skies of my own!

We ended up at the library where we found more flowers and a beautiful building. It was breezy, maybe too much for a macro lens. I shot these with an 18 – 55mm lens.

Before heading back, we went out of town and into the countryside to find barns. We did find a couple, and one was pink!

It was a wonderful short get-a-way. We’ll have to find more since COVID is still raging.

Lens Artists Challenge #122: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I’m sure we’re all waiting and hoping for new beginnings right now. This pandemic is getting old and depressing. We need some sunshine in our lives. This challenge from our guest host Ana of Anvica’s Gallery, is about sunshine and how it helps us get through difficult times with a little self help.

Here’s what she says: “Not every day can be wonderful.  There are times in life when suffering is there, for many reasons, and it is difficult to overcome.  Those moments are part of life and no one gets rid of them.  But how we live those situations and what we learn from them, is within us.   Although a pleasant ray of sunshine always helps, right?”

However, in photography the sun helps us in many ways. First it makes shadows for us.

It can brighten up the gold colored Tower Bridge in Sacramento.

It can help the sunflowers smile and form a sunburst to pop through trees in a forest. It can also be a light at the end of a natural tunnel.

And at sundown it can create magical beauty.

The sun helps us see positivity and can brighten our world. In his blog regarding this challenge John RH quoted some lyrics from “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles. Here are all the lyrics:

Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, the smile’s returning to their faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun
It’s all right
It’s all right 

Yes, one of these days, it will be alright especially if we do some self help. Oh, if you look for the song, try to stream the Richie Haven’s rendition. I’m playing it now, and I’m feeling better. Thank you Ana!

Need a pick-me-up?: Sacramento Zoo

There’s a certain innocence about animals. We see it in our pets and we can also see it at a zoo. I enjoy going to the Sacramento Zoo, because it’s small and we can learn a lot about animal behavior. They are still maintaining small capacity attendance and requiring masks. That helps me feel more comfortable during my visit.

It’s also great to see the changes like the birth of a new Giraffe. Her name is Glory, and she is adorable. Here are a few pictures. In the first one she is claiming her mom. I’ve titled it: This is my mommy! In the last image, giraffe blends into giraffe.

The resident Pelican is one of my favorites. Some time ago, a keeper said they were going to send him to another zoo. So far they haven’t. I’m happy!

It was bone day at the zoo, so it was easier to photograph the big cats as they gnawed on their treats. The Lions and Jaguar were still and easy to photograph.

We all get sleepy after a big meal and the Snow Leopard is no different. What a big yawn!

Flamingos are beautiful, but they can have their disagreements.

The Orangutans were playful and a delight to photograph.

The Okapi are especially handsome with distinctive markings.

Of course I have more pictures, but we’ll save those animals for my next zoo visit. Take care everyone!

Lens-Artists Challenge #121: Focus On The Subject

I think it’s great that three photographers can be looking at the same scene and get three different focal references. That’s because not only do we see and interpret things differently, but there are many pictures within one scene. This week Patti of P.A. Moed challenges us to look into the various ways we can create focal interest in our pictures.

I’ve chosen a few from her many suggestions.

Framing.

I shot the first image when I first started photography. Out on Angel Island for the first time with my new Nikon D3100 I saw a bicyclist walking her bike under what I call a tree canopy. Taken in May 2013. And, yes, I do love trees. The second image was taken last year in November in Napa Valley.

Patterns:

We have shopping carts from Ikea in West Sacramento, 2019 and Sunflower farm in Woodland, June 2019. Crops can form lines and patterns. I’d need to get a taller ladder to exhibit it better!

Color: Of course I love flowers especially from the McKinley Rose Garden in Sacramento.

Leading lines:

The first image is from North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, Butte County, a flat volcanic mountain. The second from Capay Valley Ranches in Capay Valley. Trees can also form leading lines.

Thanks Patti for your very educational and fun blog with wonderful image examples.

COVID & election depression: Green Acres Nursery

One warning: never go to Costco or any other big box store when you’re in a depression, especially a COVID and election depression! I did and I gave into buying a bunch of breaded chicken patties that I’ve been able to resist for about 10 years. So now I have a whole sleeve of patties, that are probably not good for me, to eat.

When I get into a funk, I wallow. That’s why I took myself and my camera to Green Acres Nursery in Roseville for a pick me up to shoot macro. I enjoy shooting macro. The management at this particular store enjoy having photographers take images of their flowers. I was a little disappointed in the flower choice, but I did find some good candidates (Oh, when is this election going to be over. Even my word choice is out of control!).

My little trip did help me step out of my funk and lunch today with a friend also helped. And, I think the chicken patties will also help. Yes? No? Fun food! Again, don’t go to the store when you’re depressed!