In search of Fall color: Hope Valley

The great migration has begun! Each year we photographers go to the Eastern Sierras to find those amazing rich yellows, greens, oranges and reds. This year we may have gone to Hope Valley too soon, but Marlene was ready for a day trip. With Linda along, we made the 2-hour trip to Hope Valley.

Linda had never been there and had never shot the famous cabin. I just went along, not expecting much color. As I’ve said before, an outing with friends is great!

By the time we reached the valley, hunger had set in. The only place to eat is Sorensen’s, a small resort featuring cabins and campsites. We love their cafe. The food is delicious. After filling our tummies, we set out to find the cabin. This old cabin has been photographed by all the photographers who come in search of Fall color.

After finding the cabin and shooting it from every vantage point, we went on a scouting trip to find anything else. We weren’t the only photographers out there. I stopped to talk to a guy who was a little disappointed in the colors. He thought it would be at the peak in a few days. I thought it would peak in about a week.

We did find a couple of other places that had nice color, and then started the trek home. It was a fun day of shooting with friends. Since we were up there, about two weeks ago, photographer’s pictures still don’t show the rich colors we saw last year. Maybe that’s the way it will be this year. Those who went further south, got better color.

This was our only trip to seek the amazing rich colors of Fall. Next year!

 

Navigating the not so perfect: Various outings

I learned long ago that we all can’t be winners and neither can outings. I’ve made lemonade so many times recently. It’s not that the outings were truly “lemons,” but either the potential for great images was not there or I was off and not seeing opportunities.

For instance, the John Muir National Historic Site was one I had been to before, but forgot. Basically it’s a tour of his home and orchard he inherited from his father-in-law. The movie shown in the Visitor’s Center did give us great insight into his life and dreams.

Another venture was to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area a small preserve near West Sacramento. Seeing wildlife here is either okay, great or bad. The morning we went viewing, the wind was blowing so hard even the birds were taking cover! After we drove the route, Linda, Teresa and I went to see if any burrowing owls were brave to fight the wind. They burrow in Davis, California. We spotted two little owls.

Last, is Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Summer is not the best time to view the many deer, roosters, coyotes and birds that live there. This visit was in September, and I guess it wasn’t cool enough for the wildlife to come out and smile for the cameras!

Even though there may not have been great photo opportunities, these outings were fun. When you’re with fellow photographers who enjoy getting out with their cameras, the camaraderie is what makes the day. I guess I’m saying a day out with a camera and friends is always a winner.

A scavenger hunt: Old Sacramento

Sometimes you just want to have fun, so I borrowed a scavenger hunt list for a Tuesday morning outing. With camera in sling, four of us hunted the streets of Old Sacramento for items on the list. They ranged from “Something you can taste through the lens” to “bokeh” to “lines and patterns.” We exercised our minds and imaginations!

Here are some of my trophies.

This was a fun exercise. And, of course, photo buddies who help and joke around made it an extra special morning.

An artistic festival: Wide Open Walls, Sacramento City

I’ve said it before–I’m not an artist. But, I’m in awe of anyone who can visualize and create art. Recently, in August 2017, the city of Sacramento held a festival, Wide Open Walls, that enabled artistic visions to become reality, as murals, on various walls in the city. I wasn’t able to shoot during the festival since we were away, but was eager to see the results.

Murals are not new to Sacramento’s Midtown. Greg Morris (RIP) took me there a few times to view them in the alleys. He would tell me that the best time to shoot the murals was on Sunday because there was less traffic. But this time, murals were more predominate on the walls of businesses and out of the alleys.

I did go to midtown with photo buddies Karen B and Ray on a recent Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed the morning. We did a great deal of walking, shooting and resting. It left me in awe of the various artists’ talent. And, Midtown is not the only location. They are all over the city. Next time, we might walk downtown to see these amazing works of art.

Here are some of the murals I took pictures of. In some instances, I’ll show you the entire wall and then a portion of it. They were too large to do justice in one shot. No captions necessary.

Finally got it!: WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I am tenacious and never give up. I went back to the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park, Sacramento with my macro lens for more practice. Finally, I now understand my lens and how to shoot macro.

This was my second time shooting there, and there were new flowers and small critters to find. The first time, I learned that I needed a higher ISO to get a faster shutter speed to capture the close up detail. This time I learned that I also needed to narrow my aperture (use a higher F stop) to get less of a shallow depth of field.

Now I’m ready to go back just to enjoy the shoot. Tenacity is a great trait, but offers little relaxation.

I also experimented with what else I could shoot with my 105 Macro Lens. Enjoy the pictures! (Captions not necessary!)

Up, up and away: Great Reno Balloon Race

Riding in a hot air balloon is high on my bucket list, but I still haven’t done it. They are so colorful and inviting. I did make it up in a small plane, thanks to my great nephew Daylen. And, twice the balloon ride was within reach, but not taken.

The first opportunity was the Windsor Hot Air Balloon Classic in Windsor. I had just bought my D3100 in 2012, and this festival was my first outing with it. I was truly struggling to learn what this digital camera was all about. All my shots were on auto. Here are two images:

My second opportunity came this past weekend at the Great Reno Balloon Race in Reno, Nevada. I have improved since Windsor and was anxious to shoot on manual/RAW.  However, I wasn’t ready for the differences in the two festivals. At Windsor, some balloons went up in the dark; at Reno, they waited until daylight. At Windsor, the balloons left at different times; at Reno, most left at once–it was a race. So, I wasn’t able to capture shots like those above.

We did get an opportunity to shoot the balloons in the dark, but it was a challenge. They didn’t stay lit for very long. My exposure meter was all over the place. I did the best I could, and I got some good shots.

The other difference: They weren’t offering rides like they did at Windsor. It was a larger event and more people attended. So, I guess I’ll just have to find a hot air balloon ride somewhere. Next year is the year!

Here are some images. No captions necessary.

Photoshop fun: IKEA

Nothing! That’s what I did for a week after we returned from our month long road trip to Montana, Glacier National Park and Weiser Idaho for the eclipse. It took us a few mornings to empty out the trailer so we can sell it. It seems we came home just in time for a heat wave, so we only had the mornings to work.

I did gather up energy to shoot with my Toastmaster photo club, All About Photography Toastmasters. We went to IKEA because of the heat. If you remember, I had been there with my Tuesday group so I chose to shoot with my macro lens for practice. I can’t say I was totally successful, but I did learn. This lens has such a short depth of field, and that made it difficult. It’s a 105 mm so I had to stand far enough back to get what  I was shooting in the frame and in focus.

Since  the shoot, I’ve been working on the images and found the Photoshop filter panel. What fun! With no effort on my part, the software took my images of patterns and turned them into great abstract designs. I’ll show you the before and afters:

I may have been able to do more, but I was stymied with my limited knowledge of layers. Now I have to delve into Photoshop now that my energy level is back. I had fun with these.

On the road again: Total Solar Eclipse

Exhilarated, excited, frustrated, anxious are just some of the feelings I had the morning of August 21, 2017. It’s now August 23, 2017, and I have all my eclipse images edited and blog ready.

Let’s deal with the frustrated and anxious feelings of that morning. Initially, I was going to use Richard’s small telescope attached to my D3100. We didn’t really get a chance to practice during our stay at Glacier National Park because of smokey skies. I read tutorials on shooting the eclipse, but none were on using a telescope as a lens. I was anxious about that telescope: how do I change the aperture, and what about the proper exposure?

When we went to visit the NASA folks, I saw a guy using a coffee can on a 70 – 300 mm lens attached to a Nikon D3100. He seemed confident that it would work well. I told Richard about it and he fashioned a filter using material from pair of solar glasses and attaching it to the lens hood. It worked great. Now I could use my D7100.

Back to the tutorials! I did get frustrated because they seemed to contradict each other. The worst of all, I really couldn’t work with the tripod. I couldn’t find the sun in live view, and I couldn’t see the live view screen. I saw my reflection. I tried using a loop, but that made it more difficult.

So, I decided to handhold. I knew the risks, but I wanted to enjoy the eclipse. I decided to use my D3100 to capture the crowd during intervals of shooting the eclipse. Actually, it worked out, except for the totality. I did get one good shot of it though.

Exhilaration and excitement came rapidly when the eclipse began. The crowd roared as the sun began to slip behind the moon. There were shouts of joy during each phase, especially during totality. Here are my images from the eclipse: before totality, environmental shots, totality, and after totality.

Right now we are two days from home, and I’m ready to get there. We’ve decided not to do anymore road trips. It’s destination trips from now on. I would say this trip was a great one to end on. From beautiful Glacier National Park to the amazing total solar eclipse. And a big thank you to the small town of Weiser, Idaho. They did a great job with the amount of people added to their community. Oh, I have just one more feeling to add: wonderful!

 

On the road again: A small town gets ready for a big event, Weiser, Idaho

The sky will turn dark this morning as we experience a total solar eclipse. The timing for our trip to Glacier National Park revolved around our getting to a place for viewing the eclipse–a once in our lifetime event.

So here we are in Weiser, Idaho, a tiny town living in the past as much as it can and enjoying it. When we arrived, a children’s festival was being prepared, an adult festival was already in progress, eclipse shirts and viewing glasses were being sold. Around our campground (which is really the lawn of the National Old Time Fiddlers’ Association), there are food and drink vendors. Two young boys are selling popsicles and ice cream.

The field across the street has filled with people, tents and RVs. NASA and MIT have taken spots on the High School’s track.

Right now at 8:20 Mountain Time, there are a lot of people setting up. Breakfast is being sold. It’s a bit chilly, so I’m going to get a light jacket and join everyone. I’m still not sure whether I’ll shoot the eclipse. Reason: I really don’t know what I’m doing. Last night, we fashioned a solar filter for my 55 – 300 mm lens, but maybe I’ll be better off taking photos of the eclectic crowd.

I only have a couple of hours to decide before the sky turns dark.

On the road again: Leaving Glacier National Park

Right now, I’m sitting inside my air conditioned trailer courtesy of the National Oldtime Fiddlers Association in Weiser ID. It’s hot outside and people from all over are coming in to view tomorrow’s solar eclipse. Whether I will be able to shoot it is still up in the air.

In the meantime, I’m going to show you some images from the Going To The Sun Road that are new, a couple from a pull out on the road heading into Idaho and one of a new fire.

I’m glad we went to Glacier National Park. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time. I can wish there was no smoke and no fires, but I’ve learned to deal with what I’ve got. That was my part of the trip and now we’re on to Richard’s part. Not that he didn’t enjoy Montana, and I’m certainly going to enjoy my once-in-a lifetime eclipse.

So here’s the end of Glacier National Park and, looking forward, perhaps, a way for me to shoot the eclipse.