Lens Artists Challenge #147: Gardens

I hate to work them, but I love to look at and photograph them. The “them” are gardens. And when I do photograph them, I tend to do macro or close up work. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a formal garden. So, for Amy’s challenge of gardens, I looked back about 3 years and this is what I found.

Maple Rock Gardens is a private residence that is open to the public for special events. Linda and I visited during one of those events.

Each year in June I love taking pictures of sunflowers in and around Woodland. Usually on the way out we, my photo buddies, go to Mezger Zinnia Patch. They ask people to come and pick the flowers for their own use and to give away to others who can’t get out. The zinnias always attract butterflies.

Soon we’ll be looking to photograph the lotus at William Land Park in Sacramento.

And finally are roses from the McKinley Rose Garden in Sacramento.

I now realize I do have to photograph more landscape images of the beautiful gardens near me. While I do enjoy macro work, sometimes I need to look at the big picture!

Lens Artists Challenge #146: Focusing on the Details

Given this week’s challenge by Patti to focus on details, my mind went back to a Toastmaster Photo Club I tried to start and a speech given by a professional photographer in the group. He talked and demonstrated about a different way to focus on details: finding the picture within the picture.

He showed us how to focus on the details of an image to find more images by cropping sections. His example was of a construction site. First he showed us the entire landscape of the site. Then he focused in on a worker, continued with more sections and ended with a pair of shoes. It was an amazing lesson.

Today I’m going to try the same with a landscape taken yesterday at Scotts Flat Reservoir in Nevada City. I was hiking with my daughter-in-law Jess and granddaughter Olivia. Here’s my picture within a picture.

First the landscape.

Next I isolated Jess, Olivia and their dog Hana.

My final capture from this landscape is of a log on the beach.

Although the official Toastmaster group disbanded, a few of us kept meeting until 14 months ago when the pandemic shut us down. We continued to share information, but I will never forget this lesson on details and finding the picture within the picture.

In search of poppies: Sutter Creek

You never know where you’ll end up when on a photo outing with your photo pod. You start out with a destination in mind and a fork in the road can lead you somewhere else! That’s what happened when we started out to find a field of the California Poppy, our State flower. Our destination was Jackson, but I’m not sure where we ended up. Not Jackson and no poppy fields.

So we decided to capture the flowers and poppies in Sutter Creek. It’s always fun to visit that small town anyway, and it was getting to be hungry time. We found potted poppies and other things in the town.

On our way back to the town we spotted a mine from the road, but it was too early to enter it, if we could due to the COVID pandemic. So we took our pictures from the road and went into town.

Now in Sutter Creek. Stores and restaurants were just beginning to open.

With full tummies and a nice walk around town, we headed home. We stopped along the way to photograph this barn and vineyard.

We weren’t done yet! We spotted a model airplane airport and Ray instinctively drove in to see what was happening. Once in, I remembered I stopped there with Richard, but there was a new type of plane that I’d never seen before. The wings were like cellophane and it buzzed around the sky fast.

I still want that poppy field and hope to get to it before it’s gone. But, we did have a fun journey!

Lens-Artists Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

“…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.” writes Priscilla of scillagrace in her challenge blog post! I gave this a good amount of thought. A lot of people, places and things all capture my attention, teach me and win my affection, but one thing has brought it all to me–photography.

I remember being at a turning point in my life as I was giving up my business. You know when to call it quits when technology forces you into something you don’t like. My unwanted tech challenge was social media marketing. I just didn’t want to play the new copywriting game. But what could I do to fill the void?

After a lot of thinking, I chose photography. I enjoyed it as a returning student in my 40s with my semester in Photo 1. All journalism students had to take it and all the photography students had to take Journalism 1. But picking it up again 30 years later, going from a manual film camera to a digital SLR was challenging, fun and wonderful.

My adventure introduced me to amazing people. Photographers are willing to help a newbie. And many of them have become my dear friends. I’ve joined the Sierra Camera Club where you enter photos into a monthly juried competition. I didn’t and still don’t care about the scoring, I wanted to learn. I felt that my ability had reached a plateau. Through this group, I’ve learned how to process whites, that pictures should tell a story and composition (cropping) tips.

By going out with my photo buddies, I’ve also learned to appreciate what is around me like the beautiful roses in my yard, animals in their natural habitat and the beauty of trees and their shadows.

I also entered the In Focus Competition, in Columbia State Park, along with my friend Sandy who lives in Sonora. Two of my entries made it “on the wall,” meaning they were accepted. The water droplet made it to the final table, but didn’t win. That was an experience. Both Sandy and I were elated just to be on “the wall.”

I see things differently when I carry my camera, I’m more aware of my surroundings and enjoy being with other photographers. So I guess you would agree that photography has captured my attention, won my affection and taught me a thing or two

Seeing it foretells drought: Salmon Falls Bridge, Pilot Hill

Let’s be honest, we’d rather not be able to see the Salmon Falls Bridge because that would mean there’s plenty of water feeding into Folsom Lake, which is at approximately 65% of its regular level right now. Located in Pilot Hill, El Dorado County, the bridge is the remainder of a flourishing gold rush area town that was founded in 1850. You can read more history by following the above link. Preceding a drought or a drought condition, the bridge is visible, so we went to see it.

The approach from the closest parking lot. And walking closer to the bridge we did find remnants of an old structure.

We needed to cross the stream to access the bridge. In this picture Marlene is getting help from Gert and his hiking stick. And leave it to visitors to use their imagination, making tee pees out of sticks.

We made it to the bridge. People were fishing, walking, etc. We weren’t the only curious folks. I waited to take these pictures.

We walked across the bridge and along the way found pelicans and cairns and other neat things.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to see this disappearing bridge, let’s hope for a good rainy season for 2021/2022. I hope you enjoyed seeing it too.

Lens-Artists Challenge#144: Taking Flight

I don’t have many regrets, but one is when I had the opportunity to hang glide tandem and said “no.” If given the same opportunity today, I’d gladly accept. I did have the opportunity to take flight in a small plane and took it. What a feeling! Thank you Wright Brothers!

And thank you Tina for giving us this challenge. At first I thought of nature’s fliers–birds. Then I thought of our own history of flight, and what better way to understand that then a museum dedicated to soaring the skies and space. In North Highlands we have the Aerospace Museum of California. Inside the museum, there are small planes, engines and replicas of fighter jets. Part of the large interior is dedicated to various space exhibits. Leaving now is the Hubble exhibit. Upstairs is the Flight Zone, where everyone, in turn, gets to pilot a plane in simulation. That’s where my husband docents.

We go to take photos at the Aerospace Museum to practice, especially on rainy or hot days. Here is where I learned how to shoot HDR (bracketing). And, when you go to a place often, you learn how to see the same thing differently, and present a different composition. Let’s take a look. Comments are in the captions.

Inside

Outside: I don’t remember the type of planes these are and when they were flown. If my husband were here, he would tell us. But he’s off doing astronomy.

We take flight in many ways. Another of my goals is to go up in a hot air balloon. Someday!

A Yolo Arts & Ag adventure: Oliver Farms, Woodland

The season has begun. Each month (Not every month during the pandemic.), during spring and summer, Yolo Arts & Ag hosts local farms and orchards for photographers and artists to spend the morning, doing their art. While I don’t get to all of them, I’ve taken the opportunity to go to most and I haven’t been disappointed. In March we were invited to the Oliver Farm in Woodland. Marlene and I took the opportunity.

Sally Oliver has left the farm buildings as was after her husband passed away 2 years ago. The almond trees are gone and she now leases the grounds to a certified organic farm, producing radish
seeds and curly chard among other rotating row crops.

I found the old buildings a photographic delight. Here are some images taken that morning.

On the way home, we stopped to take pictures of wild mustard growing in an orchard.

The next visit is scheduled for May. Where will Yolo Arts & Ag take us?

Lens-Artists Challenge #143: Colorful April

This challenge is having me feel melancholy. It’s been two Aprils since we were able to visit Ananda Village and photograph their beautiful tulips planted on the terrace. But Amy’s challenge of Colorful April didn’t say which year so I’m going deep into my archives for this one.

The year 2019 was the last visit we made to Ananda Village’s Crystal Hermitage Garden and their April display of tulips. The garden is currently closed because of the pandemic. I miss seeing the beautiful flowers in a calming and spiritual setting. Here are images from my 2019 visit.

It’s nice to have these visual memories. Hopefully we will be back to Ananda Village in 2022.

Oh deer look at the swans: Effie Yeaw & Mather Lake

Living in the Sacramento area offers two nearby places for photographers to capture nature: Effie Yeaw Nature Center and Mather Lake. Both are less than 1/2 hour from my home. One March morning Ray and I went to both places.

First, we met at Effie Yeaw along the American River. The deer are very accustomed to humans and let us get close enough for me to use my 55 – 200 mm lens easily. This morning, unfortunately, we didn’t see any bucks, but there were a lot of does grazing.

We also saw turkeys and a tree branch that looked like an animal with a long neck. Do you see it too? Maybe a dragon?

After walking the trails in the nature center, Ray and I met Richard at Mather Lake. I wanted to practice carrying and shooting with my Nikon d7100, the prime 300 mm lens and new short monopod Ray made for me. This is a small lake and popular fishing spot. I had to walk to the back of the lake before I found swans close enough for me to photograph. At least I was able to carry the equipment easily.

It was a lovely morning of camaraderie, practice and exercise.

Lens Artists Challenge #142: You pick it, The 365 challenge

Our Lens Artists Challenges challenges can take us many places. This week, Ann Christine’s challenge took me back to 2015 which was the year I did the 365 challenge. If you haven’t taken that on, consider it. It wasn’t that I looked to take exceptional photos each day, I just took whatever was handy. It taught me discipline and improved my ability.

Not every photo was wonderful. Like the few weeks I just shot my foot that had the boot on after minor surgery. Gem, now runs out of the room when he sees the camera. The grandkids make stupid, funny faces when they see me pick up a camera. You get it, a whole year of taking the d7100 wherever I went. Taking a fast entry because I forgot. But also learning.

I briefly went through that year, 2015, and first hit the first, tenth, twentieth, etc. months and then went back to find some more. Here they are. Explanations are in the captions.

I was ready for this challenge to end and proud that I had shot a picture each day of the year. Then I was amazed at the difference in my photographic ability. If you don’t think you can do 365 days, try the 52 week challenge no matter what level you’re at. I’m glad I did!