Go again next year? Water Lantern Festival, Folsom Lake

I saw the picture of the activity and thought, “I’d like to do that too.” The water lanterns glowed in the dark while their reflections glowed in the water. That’s what drew me into going to the Water Lantern Festival at Folsom Lake in Folsom.

Now, I do understand about expectations and how the environment can change our ability to get perfect shots. What I don’t understand is how an event of this size can be so mismanaged!

Arriving was easy. Photo buddy Ray and I got there about 5 p.m. (gates opened at 3 p.m.), parked in the second parking lot and immediately jumped onto a shuttle. This was easy. I was able to carry my camera bag, tripod, backpack, chair and dinner. We checked in and walked down to the beach, agreeing that getting right near the water was necessary for good photos. I took note, however, that the bathrooms were up at the top and the lake was down, leaving more beach to walk through.

We knew that getting that picture perfect photo wasn’t possible (didn’t keep me from trying) because of the wind blowing that day. So, we took pictures of our surroundings: families, kids playing in the water, anything that amused us. Of course, in the evening, I made the trek up to the bathrooms; I didn’t want to do that in the dark. We also got our lanterns ready for launching.

I think they started the kids games too late, because at dusk, they were still playing them and saying that the official launch would be soon. People being people started coming down to the beach to launch their lanterns before the official launch. Ray and I started shooting, hoping to get whatever we could. Slow shutter speed and a moving target just don’t do well together. It was difficult to get a single shot since the breeze had turned into a wind. Ray suggested I put the camera on “auto,” which I tried, but didn’t necessarily like. We did the best we could and decided to make the trek up the hill to where we could get the shuttle back to our parking lot.

Here’s where the worst began. We got there just as the shuttle left. It was about 45 minutes until it got back (Remember I was carrying my camer bag, backpack, tripod and chair.) with a load of people. I asked one woman where she came from. She said the parking lot. It took them 2 hours to get from the front entrance to the destination. We climbed aboard the bus which took us about 30 minutes to get to the very close parking lot because of cars leaving and taking up both lanes.

Once back to our car, another 30 minutes or more (I stopped looking at the time by then.) until we got to the entrance. So, would I go again? I don’t think so. One enjoyment from the evening are our photos!

 

Finishing up: Maple Rock Gardens, part 2

Finishing up is not exactly correct since there is so much to see at Maple Rock Gardens in Newcastle. But, I’ll focus this post on the small touches and sculptures. If you missed the first post on this fantastic place, here’s a summary.

The garden is a private residence associated with High Hand Nursery in Loomis. When you visit, you’ll walk from one themed garden into another. It also has acreage that supplies flowers to the nursery. It’s only open to the public twice a year and is available as an event venue for special occasion parties, like weddings, the rest of the time.

Look back at my last post to view the grounds, and now for the rest!

Only twice a year: Maple Rock Gardens, Newcastle

It’s some place you’d like to visit often, but this home and popular event venue is only open to the public twice a year. Other times, you need to be at a wedding or some other event to see the beautiful gardens. I’ll admit that at the end of summer, the flowers aren’t blooming and the lavender fields are hiding, but the property is beautiful just the same.

Maple Rock Gardens is a private estate, in Newcastle, and is affiliated with High Hand Nursery in Loomis. Its 30-acres is host to one of the largest garden railroads in Northern California. There are themed gardens, like a Japanese Tea Garden, and a 4-acre farm that supplies flowers to the High Hand Nursery. We spent almost 2 hours walking from one garden into another.

Each garden was decorated with sculptures, plants, small water falls and more. The easiest way to describe it is to show you. I did take a lot of pictures, so this will be a two-part post. Oh, you’ll also notice that I am now using a logo rather than a copyright symbol. Since I’ve made a little money with my photography, doing some real estate shoots, I decided to be more professional.

So, come along with me and visit Maple Rock Gardens.

Wild but gentle: Searching for wild horses

You know, one person photographs something, then everyone is after the same thing. And, of course, I’m no different. A few photographers recently went on a tour to photograph wild horses in Nevada. Their photos were great and spurred Me, Laura and Marlene on to find a herd.

We did, just outside Reno, Nevada. The other photographers found their group near Minden, Nevada. Laura knew of a herd near Reno and had their approximate position. When we got there, civilization had encroached on their territory, but they were still there. We drove through a housing complex, found the gate, drove beyond the gate and there they were! That easy!!

I couldn’t believe how used to people these Mustangs were. One came up to me straight on. I had to tell him I didn’t have anything for them. I did see someone feed them some carrots before he left the area.

It was amazing. These horses live just outside a residential area with a small stream as their water supply. They were grazing on whatever they could find on the ground. At one point, I saw a bunch galloping down the hillside. I yelled galloping and ran to the spot. Laura turned around and got some excellent shots. Mine are not so good, just a little soft, but I’ll show you one anyway. I was having a difficult time handholding the heavy F/4 300mm lens. Next time I’ll bring a monopod like Marlene did!

I want to find more wild herds. And, maybe my post will spur other photographers on to find herds to photograph.

Never forget: 9/11 Flag Tribute, West Sacramento

Growing up, I heard those words, “Never Forget,” but they were talking about the Holocaust where 8 million Jews were slaughtered. We are still remembering today as most of our survivors are dying.

Now in the United States, we have another reason to “Never Forget.” On September 11, 2001 we were attacked by terrorists using commercial airplanes as weapons. I remember listening to my radio as I drove to a networking meeting that morning; It was unreal. During the meeting, we were all stunned. Later, millions watched videos on TV as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center came crashing down. Another plane would crash into the western side of the Pentagon. Then came the word about the brave souls of Flight 93, crashing their plane in a Pennyslvania field before it could hit another building.

On September 11, 2018, my photo buddies and I, went to the West Sacramento Memorial Flag Tribute. This is put up each year to pay tribute to the lives lost through the attacks and the first-responders who tried to find survivors. We went specifically to capture the scene during the golden hour, and it didn’t disappoint. The sun lighting up the flags made the memorial more significant. The tribute was set up beautifully.

I remember that day in 2001, and the days after, when the world mourned with the U.S. and patriotism rose. We came together as a nation. No, we will Never Forget.

Zoo at 140 mm: The Sacramento Zoo

For the past year, or more, I’ve used my F4/300 lens when going to the Sacramento Zoo. While it’s great for getting through cages and shooting the big cats, etc. up close, I’d have to stand a block away to get a whole giraffe in the shot. So, when Marlene, Linda and I went to the zoo recently, I decided to use my 18 – 140 mm lens. No close ups for me that day!

It was a great experience. I concentrated on the ducks, ducklings, and othe small animals that were not caged (just behind enclosures). It was a totally different zoo experience. My gear was lighter to carry, and I didn’t get as tired.

I’m not giving up on that great heavy F4/300 lens. It does a wonderful job at getting through the cages and showing the detail on the animals. Maybe when I get back to the gym, I’ll have the upper body strength to carry two cameras.

I hope you enjoy this zoo experience!

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Somehow I got this Jaguar. I’ve had a difficult time getting him with the long lens! Opportunity and timing!

An annoying cold in the summer: Catching up

I thought I was over the 2-week cold, but I guess I wasn’t. I’m in my fourth week of it and not feeling really well. Can I continue to complain a bit? The worse part of it is the fog brain that keeps me from posting, etc. I didn’t even realize that I haven’t posted in a long while. Okay, that’s enough complaining.

I’ve been on a few shoots since my trip to San Francisco, and I’ll try to post about two of them here. My Tuesday group visited The Fountains Shopping Center again. It’s always a challenge to come up with something different at a place you’ve photographed many times. So here’s what I came up with:

Another visit was to downtown Sacramento and the third year of the Wide Open Walls Festival. This time we shot on the second and last days of the week’s artistry. On the second day, we found only one artist at work. On the last day, we were treated to two amazing murals: Johnny Cash and Monkeys (which was three-dimensional with metal parts and paint). Here’s some of what we saw:

While shooting our first set of murals, we stopped by William Land Park in Sacramento to photograph the lotus pond:

And, of course, I do enjoy shooting buildings:

That’s it for now. Have to rest. I do hope this cold is over before my next post!

I didn’t do that well Tuesday night at the Sierra Camera Club, in Sacramento, competition, but then I expected I wouldn’t. Sometimes pictures look great on the monitor, but not so great when they are printed. That was my predicament.

When I looked at the prints, I was dismayed. I decided to enter them anyway. After all I’m there to learn, and I did. The scores range from 8 to 12. I got two 10s and two 11s. I’ll confess that the judge didn’t give a score under 10! Print is just one of several categories, and for me, the most difficult. I’m not the only one printing out 8 x 12 images, but we are in the minority. However, I don’t think I’m ready to invest the money in larger prints.

In the digital categories, I have been awarded 12s, but never made it to the golden “13.” But, I’m happy. I joined this group to learn, and I have. I’ve also learned how to look at images. It’s amazing what details the judges see that I haven’t trained my eye to look for.

Toastmasters has trained me not to take critiquing as an assualt on my abilities. So, I understand that judging is subjective. There have been a few times when I dissagreed with the judge; but, after a few weeks, I saw that the judge was so right! Sometimes we get attached to our product and what we see in it that we don’t view it with a critical eye.

I thank the fantastic members of the Club. They are most eager to help, and just seeing their work gives me something to shoot for. Most of all, I feel great when my images are competitive with theirs.

If you are a new photographer, I urge you to join this type of club. There’s always something new to learn. You’ll find some of my entries below.

 

 

Street Photography: San Francisco, part 2

When the going gets tough, the tough plow through it! Marlene and I walked between four and five miles the day we walked the length of the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Now that may be nothing to younger folks, but to seniors with feet and leg issues, it’s success!

Yes, we got some good images that day. In my previous post (part 1), I showed you some of people I photographed and told my interpretation of their stories in the captions. Some, I didn’t need to interpret like the old dog being helped into her stroller. I talked to her owners who were intent on making her last years as easy as possible.

However, I couldn’t resist taking pictures of buildings, structures and crowds. It’s amazing how many people can move along a street without problems. I also took some pictures from the ferry we picked up in Vallejo. So, to finish off our trip to San Francisco, I have some more to show you.

Walking and shooting: San Francisco

Many people have asked me what type of photography I enjoy doing. I always answer, “Everything but portriat!” Of course that leaves landscape, buildings, macro and more. One is street photography, and I don’t feel as comfortable with this as I do macro, etc.

Part of the problem is that I’m not fast enough to catch the moment. I also fail to see the opportunity. I think I can do better with some training and experience. So, I jumped on the chance to walk along the Embarcarado in San Francisco. This fun day was sponsored by the Exploring Photography Meetup group. We started at 8:30 a.m., taking the ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco. We were to walk and take photos along the way and meet back to catch the ferryferry at 4 p.m.

We were told to take small sized gear so we wouldn’t be conspicuous. So I took my D3100, my 50 mm lens and shot on aperture priority. But, how can you be conspicuous with a bunch of tourists snapping pictures! At least the D3100 was lighter than the D7100.

It was also good experience using the 50 mm prime lens. I stopped trying to twist the barrel after a while! It was a fun day as I looked for people their stories. I took so many pictures that this will be a two-part post.

So get your walking shoes on and follow along!