Happy Thanksgiving: Napa Valley

The turkey is ready so I’m taking a break. I’m getting wise in my old age: I’m doing the turkey and hosting; everyone else is bringing the rest of our Thanksgiving dinner. The everyone else is half our family. Today is the day that we pay attention to what we are thankful for in our lives. I’m thankful for my husband of 54 years, wonderful son, two daughters-in-law and my four amazing grandkids.

This year, I’m also thankful that I have a hobby that gives me brain exercise, physical exercise and wonderful friendships. Today’s images are from a day road trip to Napa Valley with Karen B. Don’t expect me to know the names of all the wineries we visited. The vines were yellowed and some were bare already. But, they were still beautiful.

We also visited the Veterans’ Home of California in Yountville. It’s nice that some of our aging veterans get to live in a place as beautiful as this campus, supported by the country they fought for–another thing to be thankful for.

It was a full day of shooting, driving, eating, and enjoying each other’s company. Yes, I’m grateful for including photography in my life. For my followers who live outside the U.S., think about your gratitude list. After all we should live in gratitude every day, not just on Thanksgiving!

 

 

The more I shoot, the more behind I get: Mather Lake

Here I sit contemplating the 1 1/2 shoots I still have to edit. I’m thinking I enjoy shooting more than editing. I don’t even edit a whole lot, but I’m behind. Maybe it’s because the last two outings have been all-day road trips. You know how those camera clicks can add up!

Plus, I’ve started printing. My son wanted two of my images printed on canvas, size 32 x 48 inches. Now that’s a big number for me. I also learned that for the aspect ratio of my camera I should be printing out 8 x 12 prints instead of 8 x 10. And, then I learned how to export from Lightroom to support the pixel count necessary to print large prints.

To complicate my life, I’ve put my D7100 on back focus. After a slight learning curve, I think I like it. Now I have to get my D3100 on back focus also. It was fun on yesterday’s outing with one camera on back focus and the other not.

I thank my son and the Sierra Camera Club for pushing me to print out my images. The Club’s print competition has me gaining more knowledge in that area. I’m so glad I joined that group. I’m more charged up about photography, and more confident in my abilities.

So, maybe I’m behind because I’m learning so much–okay it’s a lame excuse! Enjoy a few shots from the small Mather Lake. I didn’t know what to expect, and brought a wide angle lens rather than a long telephoto. But I got beautiful landscapes and a few of the bird wildlife.

I’m crowing: UC Davis Arboretum

Yes, hens sometimes crow like roosters. My neighbor had one. So, I’m crowing because I’ve noticed vast improvement in my photographic skill level.

I happened to be looking back at the photos I took during our cross country trip in 2013, and I was amazed at how poor some of the images were.  Some challenges had to do with composition, but most with processing. I knew little about each! But that’s how I learn–by doing.

In fact, that’s why I started this blog–to track my progress. My followers are great in motivating me and cheering me on. Thank you everyone. Looking back, the most significant tool for me was doing the 365. Having to shoot a photo a day for one entire year taught me many lessons.

While I’m bragging, Richard is looking into his wallet because I told him he had to take me on another cross country trip to retake some pictures. Well, he’s really not looking for cash; he just gave me a stare and said NO!

Now I’m printing some images and gaining more valuable information. Once I understand that, maybe I’ll tackle Photoshop. Digital photography is not easy to grasp if you don’t have a technical mind, which I don’t. I’ll continue to learn and share those experiences here.

One of my favorite places to practice is the UC Davis Arboretum, It’s not far, in Davis, and is great for macro, landscape and telephoto shots. Just choose what you want to concentrate on and bring that lens. This results in a great learning curve. This trip I shot with my 18 – 140 mm lens.

Here are some samples from that visit. I didn’t see any crows though, just a horse in their horse barn, but I’m still crowing.

 

My heart is full: Sacramento Zoo

Funerals are for the living, and without one, there is no closure. Tonight we had a memorial for Uncle Chuck and my dear friend Carol. We also invited Richard’s friend John whose sister Mary passed away this morning. We were Jews and Christians united in an effort for sending our loved ones on their way.

We did traditional Jewish prayers, John sang the 23rd Psalm and taps. We all told stories about our departed family members and ended it with dessert. What a wonderful evening. Uncle Chuck would have been pleased at the variety of religions and camaraderie in the room.

This is what caring and love is all about. He would have also loved the zoo animals and probably given them nicknames. He always gave people he loved nicknames. His girls were Rotten kid 1 and Rotten kid 2. My youngest was just Rotten Kid. My grandson (Chistopher) was JJ.

So as you smile at the Sacramento Zoo animals, send a smile up to Uncle Chuck and Carol; Arthur and Alina; and Mary.

 

RIP Uncle Chuck: Light painting

We were aunt and uncle longer than we were just brother and sister, and we called each other Uncle Chuck and Aunt Anne. Last March, I went to Georgia to say “goodbye.” Lewy Body dementia , a form of dementia and Parkinson’s like diseases, had already robbed him of his memory and abilities to speak, walk and recognize what was happening around him. The one response I saw from his body, was his foot taping to music that was being played. I hoped at some level, he knew I was there to see him.

Just like any brother and sister, we had our share of fights (he was 5 1/2 years older than me), he was protective of his baby sister and, as adults, we were always there for each other and our families.

He died this morning with family love surrounding him. It was a tense three days as family took turns to be with him, giving them their final goodbyes. It was difficult be out here in California. I remember with my mom, no matter how much you prepare and know it’s a blessing, it’s still hard when the journey is over.

Thank goodness, I had photography to pull my attention away. Monday and Tuesday were both evening shoots. I must have been working on pure Adrenalin because I didn’t get tired during the outings. I’m just so glad I have this outlet.

This morning, after I awoke to the news, I sat and edited last night’s shoot where we practiced light painting. Those who had them, brought light toys. Some of us just brought our cameras and tripods. I learned a great deal about light painting and exposing for it. I’m also ready to do it again. Here are a few images from the session.

Editing the images, let my emotional and physical being take in the news. He left my life in a burst of color. To me, the featured image looks like an angel gliding across a field of red carpet. My family will be having a memorial service for my brother soon here in Sacramento. Whether near or far, we all need closure. You will be remembered with love Uncle Chuck.

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!)