Processing with presets: San Francisco, part 2

Is it okay to use a preset, from a processing program, on your image and call it your own? I had never thought about this until I took a sunflower bud I shot and brought it into Smart Photo Editor, used their presets and found one I liked. I posted it on Facebook and it got a great deal of attention. One photographer said that it was a great edit. I quickly replied that it was a preset. And, that’s when I began to question whether I could post this as my own. Here is the image as posted.

DSC_8305_peThe composition is mine, the fact that it was a sharp image is my doing, but the ultimate look is not mine. The reality is that I, with my lack of artistic ability, could not complete it this way.

So, what do you think? Is it okay to use a preset and call it your photo?

Now, back to the pictures in this post. We are in San Francisco and are headed to the California Academy of Sciences when they open. I got up early and went down to Fisherman’s Wharf to see what I could shoot along the way. It was fun and got my energy flowing. I have some of those shots to show you. What was amazing were the swimmers out for their morning exercise in freezing cold water. There were also walkers, runners and bikers using the old pier as their exercise ground.

The Academy was amazing, but the parking wasn’t. The only place to park was in their very expensive structure–it cost us about $30 for the day. We had coupons for the Academy admission so that helped with the cost. We did opt for an additional tour, but it was worth it, especially since we were the only ones who went on it. We had a guided tour behind locked doors and were able to walk the roof.

A lot will be explained in captions. It was an all day experience. We left about 4 p.m., stopped to take pictures of house boats to take up the time before dinner. We were trying to avoid traffic. It all worked out, and our drive home was easy. Enjoy the academy through my camera lens! I apologize for the many images, but I didn’t want to make this a three part post.

24 hours: San Francisco

The California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park, is more than a museum. It’s a planetarium, a rain forest, and aquarium and natural history museum. Yes, it is a museum, and Linda and I wanted to visit. But we knew it would take us all day to get through it, so we decided to stay overnight at the Ft. Mason Hostel (Once again in a private bedroom.).

Our plan for this adventure was to leave early in the morning, visit some sights, get to the Hostel in the evening and go to the Academy the next morning. That first day our road trip took us to Tiburon, where we had lunch and enjoyed the small town; Sausalito where we shot the Golden Gate Bridge; and to the Sutro Baths in San Francisco.

Given that itinerary, I think this will be a two part post. Remembering that we are seniors, me more than Linda, we packed a lot in. However, we were tired at night and didn’t venture out for night photography.

I had a great time. I was more at ease with my photography than I was during our previous trip. Again, we found fog in San Francisco. I’m still amazed at how fast it moves across the vistas. In less than 5 minutes, you can be shooting in fog, mild fog and no fog.

Let’s begin with Tiburon and end with the Sutro Baths. The next post will have images from the California Academy of Sciences.

 

We’re having a heat wave: Sundial Bridge at night, Redding, California

This week we are enduring triple digits every day. Relief may come on Saturday, and it’s only Tuesday. So here I sit, editing photos in my air conditioned office, trying to catch up. I’ve almost finished the San Francisco trip, I took with Linda, at the beginning of the month.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to opt in on some online courses. Yes, I’ve decided the next path on my photographic journey will be education–at least more than the free tutorials offer. When I realized that I knew most of what those tutorials offer, I felt accomplished. So now I’m moving on.

Triple digits are more normal in the Redding area than here in Sacramento. These photos were taken in May when the temperatures were lower and the weather beautiful. I’m posting some afternoon images of the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. This is a relatively new addition to this park which also is home to the Sundial Bridge.

When we came back to shoot the bridge at sundown, we were slightly disappointed. I called it a wimpy sunset. Furthermore, they didn’t have the bridge lit up. I was told by a staff member that it would be. Oh well, I did practice some slow shutter , smoothing out the water. I don’t think captions are necessary here.

 

There’s always a new day, RIP Jim VanWinkle: Sundial Bridge, Redding

No matter what happens, a new day always dawns. That’s what friends and relatives of Jim VanWinkle are living through right now. Jim and Shellie have been friends of ours for about 37 years. Even though we moved away from Los Angeles, we kept in touch.

In retrospect, we should have kept in touch more frequently, but life always interferes. We went down for every life cycle event; they came up for ours. When our family’s needs brought us to L.A., they always made time to see us. In fact, some times they invited us to stay with them. And they were always welcome to stay with us.

They visited us last September with Ron and Lois. But, we didn’t expect to be going to L.A. for Jim’s funeral this past weekend. He died suddenly from a blood clot. I have so many memories of when we lived in the San Fernando Valley. Two stand outs:

When personal computers came on the scene, Jim decided that the ladies should learn how to program and use them. So he taught or tried to teach us Basic Language. We were fairly successful and Jim managed to keep his sanity.

We also went on many camping trips with the VanWinkles when our kids were young. We introduced the pie iron to Jim who immediately saw beyond its use for apple or cherry pie, in the campfire, and started making s’more pies. We enjoyed several before the handle came out and the pie maker stayed in the fire.

There’s so much I could tell you about Jim, but the fact that people were standing in the back of the chapel, no seats available, at his funeral is a testament as to how well he was liked and loved.  He will especially be missed by his four children and nine grandchildren.

Yes, there’s always a new day and a sunrise. This post and images of the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California at sunrise is dedicated in Jim’s memory.

Moving forward: Shasta Dam, Shasta County

I am excited! I just joined another photography group and signed up for one of their workshops. The group is Viewpoint Photographic and Art Center in Sacramento. Viewpoint is a gallery, store and educational center, catering to the photography community.

I went there a few years ago and was so overwhelmed–never went back. But, since joining the Sierra Camera Club (SCC), my confidence level has increased. Many of the members also belong to Viewpoint. I’ve learned so much in the two months I’ve belonged to SCC; can I learn even more at Viewpoint? Viewpoint also allows members to show their work and receive feedback.

In addition, Viewpoint gives workshops. I’m finally reaching the realization that I need more education than free online tutorials can give me. I know all that stuff. Now is the time for me to expand and leap forward. You’ll have to wait for my report on my first workshop which is on July 23rd. This is a big step for me; and, yes, I’m excited!

The images in this post are of Shasta Dam, the second tallest in the United States after Hoover Dam in Nevada. Construction began in 1937 and it was completed in 1945. Jill and I visited the Dam before attending the District 39 Toastmaster Conference in Anderson, California.

Our tour guide was wonderful and put up with our taking a lot of pictures during the tour. Fortunately, we were a tour of two! Take a look at what we saw.

 

A challenge with two lenses: Locke and Rio Vista

I needed to challenge myself because we were going back to Locke on a recent Tuesday, and I’ve photographed the small town many times. So, I decided to dedicate the shoot to using two lenses I seldom take out: my 50 mm (Nikon) and 10 – 20 mm (Sigma). With the 50 mm, I wanted to see just what difference the 1.8 would make. And, it did make a big difference in getting a smooth bokeh. I enjoyed working with it even though I did try to get it to zoom!

Zooming is the only problem with that lens. I couldn’t walk back far enough to get more in the picture, so I concentrated on close ups. I switched to the ultra wide lens to see what distortions I could get. I was a little disappointed. It worked great with little distortion.

When we took a side trip to Rio Vista, I put on my walk around lens. I love that 18 – 140 mm. When it’s windy, it will catch a close up of a flower. It was dark, cloudy and dreary there. The last time I posted pictures from Rio Vista, the water was high and flooded part of the shore line. This time the waters had receded.

So my self-challenge taught me that the nifty fifty is a great lens, especially for portraits and close ups, that the ultra wide is great for landscape and buildings and my all-purpose go to lens is just that.

Here are the results.

Busy, no time to edit: McKinley Park Rose Garden, Sacramento

Right now, I have about four photo outings to edit, and very little time to do it. May has been a horrendous time gobbling month. Right now, I’m taking time away from working the Sacramento Music Festival, which is a four-day event in Old Sacramento. We’re just not going in this morning. I haven’t brought my camera and probably won’t. Last weekend I shot the District 39 Toastmasters’ Conference. Jill and I went up a day earlier to shoot in Redding, and haven’t even imported those images into Lightroom. I have edited about 400 of the conference images. Next week, Linda and I are spending two-days in San Francisco shooting. Oh, and Mother’s Day weekend, I was enjoying staying with my two younger grandchildren.

Have you ever hit a point when you need to stop shooting and just edit what you’ve taken? What has your experience been?

This post won’t be just my complaining via words. I did go to McKinley Park to shoot the Rose Garden. I heard it was at full bloom, and it was. I did take time to edit this outing while I was working on the Toastmaster images.

Since my goal this year was to learn some Photoshop basics–which I haven’t accomplished yet. Maybe I should shoot less and edit more–with whatever time I have!

Toastmasters teaches in many ways: Jepsen Prairie Preserve, Solano County, CA

Toastmasters changed my life, and I now call it the 12-step program for shy people. Because of this, it has been a passion of mine since 1989. Here’s a summary of my story: I started a business with a friend, needed to promote it, couldn’t stand up and give a 30-second commercial, went to Toastmasters, and within six months my friend and I were giving seminars at the chamber of commerce!

When I retired and started photography, another passion developed. So, I decided to combine my passions and started a specialty club that focused on photography. We are All About Photography, and everything we do pertains to photography. Little did I know that our District would ask us to be the official District 39 photographers. I soon learned how to use my flash and shoot events!

This past weekend, we were at the District 39 Spring Conference in Anderson, California, and I was amazed at how much at ease I was shooting the event. What a big difference from the first event!

Yes, Toastmasters has helped me in many ways and continues to enrich my life.

Now for Jepsen Prairie Preserve. Do you remember me lamenting about coming here and sneezing my way through the prairie? Well, here are the images from that visit. Looking back on the May 16 visit, I’m pretty sure it was allergy. While it did put a damper on the visit, I did get some nice photos. On the way home, Laura took me to shoot the Burrowing Owls in Davis, CA.

Have a look at the images, and if you want information on Toastmasters, a worldwide organization, contact me.

Disappointment? Not with friends around: Grizzly Island and Rush Ranch

I’ve never been on a photo outing where I didn’t get a good shot or learn something. This time, I learned not to return to Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Suisun City, Solano County. When we were there last, it was during the drought. I thought, with the current rains, it would be different. I thought I’d see a lot of wildlife (It does boast of being 12,900 acres of prime wildlife habitat.)  and nice green marsh land. However, it looked much like it did last year with more water.

We drove for about 45 minutes and then called it a morning there. Next we, Ray, Marlene and I, went to Rush Ranch, which is down the road from Grizzly Island. At first Marlene wouldn’t get out of the car because of mosquitoes. They were swarming during our last visit. So Ray and I checked it out–no mosquitoes. Marlene joined us. I did get some shots that I hadn’t gotten in the last two visits.

Yes, it was a disappointment, and I probably won’t return; but we did have fun. Whenever you go out with friends, it’s fun. We shared jokes about this misadventure, mosquitoes and more. I value the friendships I’ve gained since beginning photography.

First print competition and lessons

It’s not easy putting your work out there and have it judged. But for me, it was great. I didn’t do as well as I did last time at the Sierra Camera Club in Sacramento, but this was for the print division and a different judge. I entered into the Monochrome and Color categories. We are allowed two images per category. The other category is artistic–I’m not ready for that!

Here’s how my images were judged on a sliding scale of 8 – 12. I’ll give you a hint: 3 were 10’s and one was 11. I’m not upset, but I’m excited. I learned terminology I’d never heard. The judge not only graded, he explained why and gave ways to correct the problem he saw. He was teaching. He was surprised and said at one point that he hadn’t  seen any eights or nines!

Here’s one that got me a 10.

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He thought the figure was too dark and got lost. He suggested I work with the dark and light to add more depth, and that the scale was not that impressive. Well, I can disagree with the scale not being impressive. I guess you had to be there.

Here’s the one that got me an 11:

people (14)Here’s the one that I got an 11 on: Well, it’s not exactly the one. I couldn’t find the one I had printed. I cropped off my copyright for the competition image and he said he would have liked to see his whole foot. He also said that the guy was centered–another distraction, and I agree. He suggested that I could have shot the picture from the other side and then the guy wouldn’t have been centered. Who knows what it would have looked like. I did learn not to put a copyright on an image that I might submit, but make a virtual copy. Also, take a candid, which this was, then ask if I could take his picture. Then I could have taken several shots and moved around. However, he did say that the tonal values were right on. That got me the 11.

I’m loving this camera club and learning a great deal. I took 3 1/2 pages of notes at this meeting, and I’m looking forward to once again putting my work out there and have it judged.

PS: The top image rated a 10. I submitted it without the copyright.