Lens Artists Challenge #159: Postcards

Yikes! This week’s challenge from Ana is postcards. I never bought them when I traveled because I knew I would be home before the reader received them. Fortunately she suggested that we post images of our own that we thought would make good postcards. As I started looking through my archives, I remembered that each year I create a calendar to give friends and family. So here are some of my images on my 2019 calendar that I think would make a nice postcard.

Thanks Ana for taking me down memory lane.

In her post, Ana gave many good reasons for buying and collecting postcards and what they mean to her. I might start buying them now!

Country Life: Clos Cavanis Farm, Woodland

I was worried that my younger grandkids, 12, Ryan, and 10, Olivia, would become bored during this farm visit Woodland and the Clos Cavanis Farm–a Yolo Art & Ag project. So I made sure they had their cell phones with them for picture taking. There would be no animals, orchards or farm machinery to look at but just the house and barn.

As per the flyer, “Preserving history is important to Van and Catherine Overhouse. That explains why they spent the last two decades bringing their 1868 Victorian Italianate home back to life. “We saved
the house” says Van who recently completed repainting the exterior- which took 2 years working
40 hours a week – the final stage in the restoration.”

So I thought we’d be just photographing the house and barn–a quick trip. Olivia had dabbled with painting, so we talked with the artists. We also took pictures. The kids settled on macro work with their phones. They both took excellent pictures, and Ryan caught on quickly. It also helped that Catherine had baked delicious scones for us to taste. We were there 1 1/2 hours, and Olivia asked to come to the next farm visit so she could bring her paints.

Here are some of my pictures of this beautiful restored home.

We then went to the Mezger Family Zinnia Patch which was close by. Each year the Mezger’s grow zinnias and encourage the public to come and pick the flowers. They also provide vases when available. People who pick the flowers are encouraged to share them with “shut in’s” who can’t get out to see their beauty otherwise. Olivia picked some flowers for her mom. Here are some of my photos.

If Olivia still wants to, she will come with me in August and paint. I’ll bring chairs, do my photography and relax. Not a bad morning!

Lens Artists Challenge #158: Along Back Country Roads

Just what are back country roads? Could they be roads that are new to you and fun to explore? Could they be taking a wrong turn and ending up on a road that’s barely suitable for driving? For Wandering Dogs, Beth and her husband, it’s getting your tires dirty and seeing the beautiful countryside. So this week she’s challenged us to take that road less traveled.

For me, it means adventure and new roads, paved or not. I’ve mentioned my photo outings with my friend Greg, who passed away, in other posts. He, Marlene and I would set out in the morning and return in time for dinner–maybe! We didn’t know where he was taking us and sometimes neither did he. He had a passion for turning down side roads, especially when it said “Dead End!” These are from some of those trips.

Sometimes it’s the need to get away for an hour or two. Early on during lockdown last year, I was getting antsy. When Richard noticed me scratching at the front door, screaming “Let me out!” (A slight exaggeration, but true feeling!), he said let’s go for a ride. We didn’t go far; just up Highway 80, looking for small towns. One of these towns was Dutch Flat, and it was small.

Another of our escapes had us looking for the Sugar Pine Reservoir. The was one of those times when taking the wrong turn could get you into trouble. The GPS showed us a way back, but it didn’t say how narrow and twisty a dirt road it was. It took us 4 hours to do what should have taken at most 1 hour!

Photo buddy Jean likes to get in the car and go with sort of an idea of where to head. For this outing we headed out to the Eastern Sierras in search of Fall colors, but Jean smelled water, and off we went. We found a stream and a lake and I don’t remember the name.

So these are some of my road less traveled excursions. Yes, there were more, but I’ll save them for another time.

Competition and education: The Motherload Fair

For years I’ve been looking at my friends’ (Sandy and Ken) ribbons attached to their photographs. They participate in the Motherload Fair, Sonora, photo competition. It’s a small fair and I asked them to let me know when the next one was happening. That was about 2 years ago. A pandemic interfered. But this year they suddenly decided that with California opening up, the fair would happen.

So I entered seven pictures in various categories. The entry fee was $1 per picture. I did say it was a small fair!

Sandy and Ken print and mat their own images and I drove down for a lesson in printing and matting. I did learn a great deal. First, matting is no easy task. I did one mat and Sandy did the rest. I’ve decided that in the future, I would print out a standard size and buy a standard mat! I don’t have Sandy’s math abilities or patience! I also bought a printer just like hers. Richard has already printed out one of his astrophotography pictures. So that’s the education.

When Ken brought in our entries, he was amazed at the lack of pictures. The Fair staff said that there wasn’t a lot entered this year. Now for the competition. Of the seven, I had four first place images with one of them being best of division, one second place image and two honorable mentions. Sandy took best in show and others. Ken’s won many ribbons also.

Here are my first place images:

Since this was my first time to this fair, I brought my camera. Well, I always bring my camera! Here are some captures that are captioned.

Sandy and Ken are already talking about next year. Will I enter?

Finally, here’s Sandy’s Best in Show image. It’s hard to see because of all the ribbons!!

I’m sure I have more to learn. Maybe next year!

Lens Artists Challenge #157: Getting Away

We all need a respite of sorts. It could be an afternoon of shopping or a long trip. We we did some travel overseas, I didn’t have a good camera or the ability to take good photos. I keep saying I started photography 20 years too late!

The trip I chose for Rusha and Bert’s challenge is our Cross Country Trip in the summer of 2013. This was to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, and took us 3 months. I could have traveled for 6 months, but Richard is not the traveler and was doing the driving.

I’ve always wanted to travel across the U.S., visiting as many National Parks as possible. So we headed out in our 5th wheel trailer and dog, Gem. Gem is a home body, preferring to be at his house and not anywhere else. Notice I said his house! He also doesn’t like the rumble of the diesel truck engine. I had also just bought my first DSLR a Nikon D3100 which also went with us.

We chose to get to the east coast via the southern route so we could visit my cousin in Plano Texas. Here are some places we visited.

If you’re traveling on Route 66 in Arizona, stop in at Seligman. It’s a delight.

We continued through Arizona and into Texas.

As I looked through my pictures, I realize how much I’ve learned since that trip and that I need to make the trip again!

One of our stops was Little Rock Arkansas so we could visit Beale Street in Memphis. We also stopped in Nashville.

The Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Let’s jump up to Washington D.C. I really didn’t get good shots of what was important, but I did get a good shot of the Metro station!

Richard wanted to go to Times Square while we were visiting family in New York. We paid about $30. to park!

Now for Niagara Falls. How does a new photographer take a picture that’s different from all others taken so far. You can’t! But I was happy that I got all three falls in one picture!

We went as far north as Bar Harbor Maine. On our morning walk, Gem and I came upon a lobster fisherman unloading his baskets.

Let’s finish up with the USS Constitution in Boston and the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (summit at 12,000 ft.).

There were many more highlights during our 3 month journey. I totally enjoyed it and would repeat it if given the opportunity. Thank you Rusha and Bert for this reminiscing challenge.

The heat is on: The sunflowers are smiling!

Heat and drought! Not a good combination. We are in the midst of wildfire season here in the west, and Northern California is getting its share. But what makes us smile are the sunflowers. Yes, it’s also sunflower season here.

In the middle of June, the wonderful Yolo Arts & Ag Project brought us to the Elkhorn Basin Ranch in West Sacramento. It was going to be a hot day, so we got there early. Artists and photographers were lined up to sketch, paint and photograph the cheerful sunflowers.

Now these sunflowers were grown mainly for seed to ship overseas, and to my surprise, they were not super tall. I’m short and I always have a difficult time to photograph fields even with my three-step ladder. I was in photo heaven. Also the farm manager allowed us to walk into the field a little bit.

So, here are some of my images from that morning.

An artist stops to smile for the camera.

Before we reached our destination, we did stop to take images of this orchard.

The Elkhorn Basin Ranch is owned by the Yolo Land Trust and leased to Don Beeman and Garcia Farms.

Lens Artists Challenge #156: Black and White

I am delighted to be your guest host for this week’s LAPC. Thank you John for getting us into/onto the water last week.

As much as I enjoy photographing water, I also love black and white photography! I don’t process a lot of it, but when I do I enjoy the texture and depth it gives a scene. It reaches a place in your soul that color can’t. Some images cry out for black and white.

This post is not a “how to” or history lesson, but a vehicle to get you excited about processing in black and white. As photographers, we all have our own unique way of doing that. Some shoot in black and white while others shoot in color and process in black and white.

I’ve watched many videos and attended workshops on black and white photography only to realize there is no set way to create a good black and white image. I have, however, settled on a workflow that produces the results I like. This is my workflow.

First, I always shoot in RAW and in color. That gives me more flexibility and more tonal range to work with. Very rarely do I see the image in black and white before I shoot it. I mostly see color until I get it into Lightroom.

This fog landscape I saw in black and white as I shot it. One of my rare moments.

Once I get my images into Lightroom, I process them in color. If I see an image with a lot of contrast, texture, and tonal quality, I finish the color processing and then look at it in black and white in Lightroom. If I see a possibility for a good black and white, I transfer the color image into Nik Silver Efex. This is where the fun begins.

Here’s a lily in color and black and white. Look at how the various colors, contrast and lighting transfer in tonal quality to the black and white.

Although Photoshop and Lightroom have improved in their ability to process black and white, I still prefer Nik’s Silver Efex. I guess I’m just used to it and I like their presets. Better yet, I need their presets! I’m not an artist. I choose a preset and work on it from there. Nik also has the ability to use more than one preset on a single image. You can use the control points to dodge and burn (darken and lighten). I rarely do this but work more with the contrast and tone of the image. If you like different film effects, there are many film types and tones from which you can choose. Honestly, I don’t change film types but, sometimes, will give an image a different tone color.

This is the color version of Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada. A foggy day and not much color.

The same image processed in black and white. Adding texture and contrast, created a more inviting image.

While in Silver Efex you can also add texture and do other editing that I prefer to do in Lightroom.

Sometimes the venue calls for black and white photography. One of my earlier black and white images taken while at Bodie a ghost town in Northeastern California.

Here’s another where I think the black and white conversion accents the splash of the wave on the platform. Taken in Pacifica.

Once I’m done in Silver Efex, I then export the image back into Lightroom for the finishing touches. I sometimes continue working on the contrast and light. I love how Lightroom’s tone curve helps with that. For me I like images to have some “pop!”

Also figures in shadow are accented in black and white. This image was taken at the Marin Headlands during one of my first Meetup outings.

Back to the present, my latest black and white conversion is a lotus in the William Land Park pond. It’s beautiful in color, but how do you feel (Yes, feel it not think it!) about it in black and white? For me, the curves, contrast and lighting are accented.

So, this is my method for processing an image to black and white. I’m sure you have your own workflow for black and white photography, and I’d like to know what it is and see your images. This week’s challenge invites you to dig through your archives for black and white images or process color images in black and white. You can also take new pictures and process them in black and white.

As you post them, please explain how you processed them. This will help all of us learn new ways of doing what we’ve been doing for a long time. I hope you are now ready to see the black and white possibilities as you shoot and/or process.

Thank you, Tina, Amy, Ann-Christine and Patti, for giving me this opportunity. I do appreciate it!

Remember to link this post and use the Lens Artists tag. Next week’s challenge will be presented by Rusha Sams of Oh The Places We See: Getting Away.

She will be followed by:

July 24: Beth Smith of Wandering Dawgs: TBD

July 31: Ana Campo of Anvica’s Gallery: Postcards

Lens Artists Challenge #155: On the Water

Sacramento may be called the “City of Trees” but a truer name would be “River City!” Or maybe Rivers City for the two main rivers that run through Sacramento. In addition, there are many creeks. Cripple Creek runs through my community. If we travel an hour or two, we can visit water areas in the Bay Area.

So, John, it’s a pleasure to take your challenge on! I love living here so close to the rivers, creeks and ponds. But as my images will show, there are many aspects to water around here.

How about the San Francisco Bay shore line where many water fowl are present. This one was photographed while walking the Marina Bay Trail which is a short 1.7 miles. If I still had my bird book (lost when I moved), I could probably ID it for you.

We also have water in fountains. This one was photographed in Tiburon while waiting for the ferry to Angel Island.

The city of San Francisco seen from Treasure Island also gives us a great bay view.

Putah Creek runs through the UC Davis Arboretum, attracting all sorts of water birds. Here we see a great egret.

And then there are ponds. We found this on on private property, and yes we asked if we could photograph it.

Rain water leaves puddles behind that capture wonderful reflections.

Water can also hide hidden treasure. My friend Ken is gold panning near a river.

Last we have the Spirit of Sacramento. She’s an old paddle boat that got stranded when the Sacramento River receded. Once after a lot of rain, I saw her in water. She hasn’t been moved in ages.

So there you have some of the water examples in and near Sacramento. Thank you John for this fun challenge. Next week I’ll be hosting a Black and White challenge. Take care and have a great week.

The Lotus Are Here: William Land Park

Each year we look forward to times when nature shows us beauty. In 2020, many venues were closed, but at William Land Park in Sacramento there was no stopping nature and the beautiful lotus flower. This year the lotus came back even stronger. I’ve never seen them on vines that were so tall. It was an amazing site. Here’s what I captured during a recent visit.

In the last picture, you can see how tall the lotus were. Wonderful isn’t it!

Lens Artists Challenge #154: One Photo, Two Ways

Years ago while taking pictures, with a small point and shoot, at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, Richard asked me why I was squatting. I truly didn’t know photography then, but I knew that to get a better picture I needed to get down low. In her challenge this week, Tina is asking us to look at the same scene in different ways.

I’ve gone back into my archives to 2019, and found two instances where my changing distance, angle and perspective changed the image. First are the tulips at the Crystal Hermitage Gardens, Ananda Village. Just walking to face the flower while standing up changed the image. The picture on the left was lower to capture the sun and texture of the leaves.

Some more flowers. Sunflowers. Here we have a total landscape of the sunflowers. How beautiful and happy they look. Now coming in as close as we can without going into the field and changing orientation, a busy bee took the spotlight. The third image shows a little more of the bee’s habitat. And the last shows a side view of a sunflower opening.

For my last example, I chose a recent outing to the Salmon Falls Bridge, Pilot Hill, only seen during a drought and when the river bed is low. First, a full landscape view showing the river bed and bridge in the distance. Then close to the bridge. And finally a close up of the bridge itself. Each tells a story.

Thank you Tina for giving us this fun challenge!