Lens-Artist Challenge #119: My Hideaway

This challenge brought to us by Ann-Christine is a difficult one for me because I really don’t have a hideaway. I even checked the dictionary to see if I could put a twist on it, but the dictionary let me down. One thing I could possible spin off on is that a hideaway is a place to get away from people. So, let’s expand that to getting away from it all. When I want to get away from it all, I go on a photo road trip.

These day trips began when I met Greg Morris a fellow photographer who passed away in 2016. He would pick me up in the morning with some destination in mind. We might reach it or we might not. Either way, it was an adventure.

Soon Marlene joined us and our threesome would venture out every Tuesday. Since he was driving, we had no control of where we went. Well, we did, but we didn’t want to! When Greg became terminally ill with glioblastoma brain cancer, Marlene and I would take him out to places he had taken us. We would take turns walking with him.

This post is dedicated to Greg Morris who showed me the fun of getting in the car, with maybe a destination in mind, and enjoying the get-a-way day. Here are some pictures of our last outing with him to Discovery Park in Sacramento. This park is a the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers.

Thank you Ann-Christine for taking me down memory lane. I still enjoy road trips and went out with my friend Jean yesterday for one. Like driving with Greg, we never did reach our destination, but we did have fun!

Luminar frustration: Old Sacramento

Did you ever have a problem only to be sent around in circles? Unfortunately, I’m writing this post just after encountering a problem with Luminar.

I’m licensed for Luminar 4, and in the short time I’ve had it, I love it! I get an email regarding what looks like an update to Luminar 4.3. Great! Not so great. Once I install the update, it tells me I downloaded a free trial. If I have a license, put it in this box. I copied and pasted my license number in the box, and it says it’s not associated with my email.

I try a few more things, and finally it says that license number is associated with my email! In frustration, I tried to get a hold of tech support. The chat box opened. This chat is computer operated–no live person at the other end. To make a long story less long. The chat bot, as it’s called, gave me instructions that either didn’t work or sent me in circles. I’m currently waiting for a tech support reply. Do you hear my screams??

Okay on to Old Sacramento. We went down there for a sunset. I was amazed at how crowded it was, and many people weren’t masked. That made me a little uncomfortable, so I tried to stay away from people as best I could. There weren’t any clouds, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to replace the skies with Luminar. It worked well, and for the most part I was happy with the results.

Here are some before and after shots.

This was the first one I did. A photo buddy suggested moving the cloud so that it wasn’t directly over the tree, but since it was a Luminar sky, I couldn’t.

This one I went from Lightroom to Luminar to Nik Silver Efex.

Another attempt with a much smaller sky.

And finally, this image got me into the trouble today. I was looking for a tutorial on cleaning up a sky replacement, but first went into my email. I should have gone to the tutorial first. This is the Tower bridge. I liked the sunset sky, but the second tower seems to have the sunset sky run through it. If anyone has a suggestion how to eliminate that thin bit of sky, let me know!

Luminar had nothing to do with this last image; just mother nature and a boat.

I’ll let you know how I make out with Luminar in another post. Maybe my next one! Hopefully in my next post!!

Lens-Artists #118: Communication

What an exciting topic from our guest host Biasini with some help from her human Ma Leueen who helped her out with the typing. Horses can’t type. You’ll have to read the original super interesting post here.

Animals do communicate with each other and humans. My dog Gem will continuously ask me to take him for a walk until I finally do. One morning he came to me while I was eating breakfast. I knew what he wanted, a walk. I told him it was too early and to come back in one hour. He came back in 58 minutes. I told him he was 2 minutes too early! True story.

I love going to the Sacramento Zoo just to visit with the animals. They talk to each other.

Music speaks to us in different ways. I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, but music is an important part of my life. It brings back memories. And it touches our hearts, especially when the memory is mutual. Richard and I used to work the Sacramento Music Festival until it closed. Two of our favorites were Tom Rigney and Flambeau and Dave Bennett.

Music also tells us about different cultures. Last year’s Asian New Year Festival in Isleton featured taiko drummers. They were amazing. Along with their music came an explanation of the culture attached.

And finally there is human non-verbal communication. Marlene and I happened to be in San Francisco for a photo walk along the Embarcadero. These next two images communicate human emotion.

Communication is key to our getting along as a society. The animals at the zoo know that, do we?

On a hunting trip: Wide Open Walls

We weren’t hunting with guns; we were hunting with our cameras — for murals. Each year Sacramento hosts Wide Open Walls and invites artists to paint amazing images on the sides of buildings. These paintings are huge.

We never get to see them all, so we photograph what we can. Some are from years back, but they are new to us. I’ve shown you some before. This year we only saw a fraction of the new art. I guess we’ll have to go back.

I was shooting with my Fujifilm, so I didn’t have my ultra-wide 10 – 20 mm lens available. But I think the 18 to 55 mm did a good job. Sometimes I had to angle the image to get the entire mural in.

Here are some of these colorful masterpieces. Click on each image to see it in its entirety.

We heard there was a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsberg painted before her death. We hunted and found it in an alley behind a restaurant. Some great murals are in alleys, but I’m hoping they do another in a more prominent location.

While hunting for these murals, I found other things to photograph which I’ll show you in another post. Hopefully I’ll go hunting again for murals soon!

Lens-Artists #117: A photo walk

Whether in the city or country-side, I love photo walks. Thank you Amy of Share and Connect for choosing this topic. It’s a great way to relax, observe, see opportunities and shoot pictures. However, here in Sacramento, between the pandemic and smoke from fires, taking photo walks has been minimal. Of the few activities this year, my trip to the Sacramento Zoo and Gibson Ranch stand out.

The Sacramento Zoo. I love the zoo, and typically spend 2 hours walking it. It closed early on in the pandemic and when they were permitted to reopen, it was under strict guidelines. We needed to make online reservations, you couldn’t request a time slot, and they only let in a certain amount of visitors at a time. My time slot came early in the afternoon. Typically I would get there when they opened in the morning before the big cats took their naps. However my ticket was for 1:30 p.m. Wow, animals that were traditionally inactive in the morning were active. Here are some images from that zoo afternoon.

Another time we went to Gibson Ranch in Elverta. I hadn’t been there in a long time and wanted to get familiar with my new 80 mm macro lens. I didn’t think I’d be able to do much true macro work, but I wanted to see what else it could do. Gibson Ranch has a pond, barn, animals, horse stables and horses. It’s typical to find families feeding the ducks and geese, horses being groomed and rode, and people taking trail rides.

I’ve since used my macro lens on flowers, etc. It’s great.

There are so many other places to stroll about with a camera in the Sacramento area. I’m just waiting for the smoke to clear!

Just a little cabin fever: Road trip along I-80

Let’s go back to early September when the West Coast was under fire. Smoke was everywhere. I was getting a bit of cabin fever. Before the fires ignited, I would go out with my photo buddies maybe once a week and we’d drive separately, mask up and enjoy a couple hours of photography. That was enough to keep me smiling while at home.

But since the fires, and the resulting smoke, it wasn’t healthy to be outdoors or let alone shoot. I was trapped. I was walking around our small house complaining and complaining. It must have been bad because Richard said, “Let’s get in the car and go for a ride.”

I said, “Why, there’s smoke everywhere.”

He said, “Maybe it’s not so bad up towards Reno.”

So I grabbed my camera, never leave home without it, and off we went. Our goal was to stop off and find some of the small towns advertised at freeway off Ramps. Our first stop was Alta, a very small town. This is what we found in Alta.

Now there must be more support businesses and housing, but we didn’t find it close to the freeway. Next stop Dutch Flat.

Remember, we just drove along the main streets in these small towns. Next came Gold Run.

We were on our way home when we stopped to see what this was.

I’m thinking it might have been a flume used to float logs down the mountain. Any other guesses?

So that was our short trip up the I-80. We never did get anywhere near Reno! Maybe next time.

Lens-Artists Challege #116: Symmetry

I love these challenges because they get me thinking about how I shoot. This week’s Lens-Artists challenge is from Patti Moed and is on symmetry.

I mostly shoot asymmetrical because I find it more pleasing to my eye. However, I do like to do macro shots of flowers and tend to fill the frame in camera. When I do shoot symmetrically, it’s usually a road or building. Again, this is mostly institutively since I don’t have any art training.

So, with that in mind, here are my examples of symmetry.

Vertical

Horizontal

Radial

Thanks again Patti! I loved this challenge, and I’m looking forward to next weeks’.

Smoke is finally away: Downtown Roseville

Maybe it’s all in my mind, but I think I hear my camera calling to me. It’s saying, “Take me out! Use me!” But because of all the wildfires in California, the air has been too smoky to go out. But I did get out with my camera at the end of August to shoot murals in downtown Roseville.

Downtown Roseville is mainly Vernon Street and the streets surrounding their City Hall and other government buildings. Historic Roseville is nearby. But we went downtown to take pictures of murals. Quite frankly, I didn’t think they compared to the Wide Open Walls creations in Sacramento.

We walked quite a bit that morning just enjoying being out, the sunshine and no smoke. Here are some murals.

I took this wide and then broke it up into two images. You’ll have to click on the images to view them full.

Another wide and close up view.

I thought this one was very creative. Here’s a wide view and close up of her face.

This one was on the wall of a public swimming pool. I loved the colors.

And just one more.

I hope you didn’t think we’d just take photos of murals! Here’s some of the downtown shops.

And now around City Hall. The Round About, a water play area with fountain and the Roseville welcome structure, showing which street goes which way.

I hope you enjoyed your little tour of Downtown Roseville and murals. This Sunday, if the smoke is still gone, we will be taking photos of the Sacramento murals.

Cross your fingers for me. The camera will be unhappy if it can’t get out!

Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

It’s important for us to be inspired all the time. Inspiration is what makes us get up in the morning, especially in this COVID year. Nature truly inspires me to get out with my camera. Nature doesn’t understand pandemics, politics, or other things that affect us humans emotionally. It just goes through its cycles and begs us to visit. Thank you Tina for creating this Lens-Artist challenge. It had me thinking positively.

So, I went through this year’s images to find nature’s inspiring moments. Although there are a lot less then in years past, there were enough to keep me inspired!

A dark, chilly and gloomy day doesn’t seem to be a day to visit the Sacramento Delta, but we did. The Sacramento river is always nice to visit. On this overcast day, the river was quiet, giving us beautiful reflections.

We also made our yearly visit to Yolo County’s almond orchards while the trees were blooming. There were beautiful skies that day. How inspired can you get!

Early on in the lockdown, Richard and I escaped to the snow. He wanted to see whether his favorite star gazing area was snowed in. This is shot on the road near Blue Canyon. I love that I can visit, but don’t have to live in snow!

And finally, I have my first rose in my garden and an image of a lovely lotus blossom. The lotus aren’t with us very long, but they are beautiful. My rose garden had a tough time this year with the extreme heat, but they are still blooming.

I’m hoping that next year I’ll be inspired by more of nature’s wonders. Thanks again Tina!

Lens-Artists #114: Negative Space

I’ve noticed that some people like negative space and create a minimalist lifestyle, and others like their surroundings busy (I won’t say cluttered.). I’m somewhere in the middle. My surroundings may be full, but it is neat and tidy. However, I’ve never thought about how the concept applied to how I take my photos.

Thank you Amy (The World Is A Book) for this weeks’ challenge. It helped me realize that I truly do not consider negative space when I shoot. Yes, I have skies that take up 2/3 of an image, birds in large pools of water, etc. But, these shots were never planned for negative space and its impact. I usually crop in close in camera. Even my landscapes are cropped in camera. Planning for negative space is something I should work on!

So, here are some of my inadvertent negative space images.

Thank you Amy!