Thanksgivukkah: when Thanksgiving and Chanukah collide!

This is the first time in my lifetime that Thanksgiving falls during Chanukah, and it will probably be the last! The last time this happened was in 1888 and will not happen again until 2070. What is even more strange is the commonality of the two holidays. Thanksgiving is commemorating freedom and abundance; Chanukah is commemorating freedom and re-dedication. So, at the Sandler household, we celebrated both in our very own Thanksgivukkah dinner and candle lighting.

Also, We have a guest photographer for this post. Richard is actually getting used to having my camera with us and my taking images, so he asked if I was going to take pictures of our Thanksgivukkah get together. When I didn’t show any enthusiasm, he looked puzzled. I then explained to him that at every holiday, I’m never there–meaning, I’m always taking pictures and I’m never in them. Forget trying to get out the tripod and do a delayed timing shot. My family can’t sit still that long! When I put the images into the photo album, there are shots of everyone but me.  He decided to remedy the situation.

Here are a few images of our one and only Thanksgivukkah!


More Kars For Kids and giving thanks

I’m thinking today about what I’m thankful for. After a tense trip to the Los Angeles area and seeing my brother’s declining health, I desperately started to look for joy in my life. The day after I got back, I went to help out and take photos at Kars For Kids. I found joy there.  I didn’t know anyone, and they made me feel welcome. I was also amazed at how generous the car clubs and other exhibitors were. They pushed the 50/50 up to a wicked good amount and also purchased a good amount of raffle tickets.  Marebeth Gromer, Photographer and organizer of “Shoot Or Go Home” blog, did a wonderful job of putting this together. When I left at 1:30 p.m., she was finally sitting down and taking a break. So today, I’m thankful for my family, friends, and new photo hobby which has become my passion. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, try to keep the original intent of this American holiday. It’s not what store has the best buy, but finding the joy in life and giving thanks.

Kars For Kids

What a treat today! I helped out at the 2nd Annual Kars For Kids fundraiser at Gibson Ranch in Elverta, California. Coordinator Mary Gromer did a wicked good job of helping to brighten the holidays for disadvantaged children.

The Kars were classics. There were cars from the 1920s through the 1960s. When I saw a ’60s Chevy Super Sport, I thought that we should have held on to ours. Maybe we are now classics! Although I didn’t stay the entire day because of just getting back from L.A. and needing to catch up on things at home, I was able to shoot some of the classics. Here are some of them. More to come in my next post.

Leaving L. A.

Yes, tomorrow I leave the Los Angeles area and Simi Valley and head home. I was hoping to have more time to take some photobans, but visiting some dear friends and staying with my brother and sister-in-law was more important and more enjoyable.

I do have a few shots for you. We ate breakfast at a Simi Valley treasure, Jerry’s Coffee Shop. The outside doesn’t look like much, just an old style building in an industrial area. Inside was eclectic and old. However the owner greeted each patron like an old friend, and they have become old friends. You can see from the candid shot with my brother, Yen knows how to make you feel right at home.

I did try to take shots of my friends, but when I was in the picture I wasn’t the one behind the camera. Things can happen with that!

Tonight, coming back from visiting my niece, I caught a nice suburban sunset after a stormy night and partly cloudy day. That’s my week. It will be wicked good to be home tomorrow.

Is chimping for the birds??

That title was my clever way to get into my topic: sometimes it’s good to chimp (look in the live view) to see the shot you just took. I’ve read many tutorials that say don’t chimp. It wastes time and you might miss that one shot, etc. Yesterday my experience taught me that you should chimp at least a couple of times to make sure you’re getting the scene correctly.

Now for the birds part of my title. My friend, Jean, and I went down to Woodbridge Ecological Preserve in Lodi, California yesterday to catch the Sandhill Crane fly in. We had a lot of time before sunset (We found out that they come to roost after sunset.), so I started shooting anything. We drove up the road; met some other photographers; took some more shots; went back to Woodbridge. It was then that I looked at some of my images. They looked flat and somewhat orange. It dawned on me that I had been experimenting with the white balance the last time I used the camera. The white balance was set to shade!

So, is chimping truly a bad habit. I think it’s a matter of how much you do. But, from now on, I will take my test shots at whatever location I’m at, look at the images and make corrections if I need to.

Photoshop Elements saved my images by light editing. Did I shoot any cranes; yes, but they were too far away for even my 300 mm lens. They did fly in after sunset, and it was amazing. You’ll get to see the best of what I could salvage. Fortunately, I discovered my mistake before sunset.

Gray Lodge and more, final part three

Riding around the Sutter Buttes; taking photos from a sun roof; finding a zebra and camel near Colusa–that pretty much sums up my wicked fun day with Laura Munro and Diane Richards. We were on our way to Delevan Wildlife Refuge when we came upon zebra, camel, small horses, etc. We think it was some sort of sanctuary. We reached Delevan only to find out it is now just a hunting area. So, on we went to the Colusa Wildlife Refuge where we stayed to catch the sunset.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, part two of three

Ah, Mother Nature–she gives us beauty to enjoy, and she also gives us insects. I’m talking about mosquitoes, mosquitoes,  and more mosquitoes! There were a lot of them at Gray Lodge and they were BIG. As soon as I would stop to take in a scene or a photo, they were all over me. The double layers of clothing protected me somewhat, but they bit through jeans and socks. I have bites on my face, legs, feet, hands and fingers. The first thing I did when I got home was shower and wash my hair. I’m not complaining; it was worth it. A city girl, I’m just amazed.

Today,  we continue our journey through Gray Lodge. First we did the driving tour. You cannot get out of your car, so we were shooting through open windows and the sun roof. Yes, the car was full of mosquitoes too. Then we did the walking tour. That’s when Diane and I noticed the mosquitoes just sitting on the back of Laura’s pants. They must have been on ours too because I have a lot of bites on the backs of my legs. This tour brought us in a little closer to the birds and plants.

After we left Gray Lodge, we took a nice tour of the area on our way to Delevan National Wildlife Refuge. We stopped along the way when we saw anything interesting.


For the birds–Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

Birds are pretty and tweet; but, they take on a new dimension when you go birding with Laura Munro and Diane Richards. Laura knows birds. I found it amazing that she was able to spot them in trees as she was driving! Yesterday, we left at 5 a.m. to catch the sunrise at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and spent the entire day shooting from sunrise to sunset.

What an amazing day! Let’s begin with sunrise, snow geese and turkey vultures. Actually those are the names I can remember. In later posts, there will be some small birds, but my senior brain can’t remember their names! We arrived at Gray Lodge as the sun began to rise. My experience at Maui taught me that the real color doesn’t come out until the sun is above the horizon. So we waited. The results were worth it! More tomorrow….


After getting stuck for three hours at a time share talk in Pigeon Forge, TN this past summer, we vowed not to do it again. So someone please tell me why we were in Pollack Pines today listening to another campground membership sales pitch. I know Richard wanted the Tablet they were giving away and I was interested in the 20 free nights of camping. This was only one hour, and I did like the campground; but, we did not buy. While touring the grounds, I was able to shoot some old, rusted wagons, washing machines, etc. I’m posting some of the images. Some day someone is going to ask me if they can take my picture because I’m aged and have defining wrinkles!

Getting bold

I went to Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento last night. Richard found it by attending an astronomy talk there and suggested I go to their print night. I did, and found their expertise levels and gear way above mine. Members bring prints, show them and the other members offer their insights. Last night I saw some amazing photography. Some photographers were shooting with infrared cameras. Most used full-frame cameras. They all printed out their own images.

No I didn’t sit there and say, “Why am I here!” I actually was amazed that my compositions were similar to many I saw that night–angled, up close, focus on textures, etc. And, I was able to tell that one of the images, a landscape, was manipulated so that the scene couldn’t have looked that way. I left thinking that I have a long way to go, but I’m learning!

So, today I decided to take a bold step and try my old, non automatic/auto focus, 52 mm lens on my D3100. I truly didn’t know how to get it working until I was told to put the camera on manual! I took it outside to shoot my favorite rose. I did get it to work, figuring out how to control the ISO and F-stop, but I couldn’t find how to control the shutter speed. Then I put my 18 – 55 mm kit lens on and tried to use it on manual. I’m happy that I was able to figure out how to maneuver the f-stop and ISO, but again the shutter speed was a problem. I am posting un-edited images of both. If you can help me, please do. What I’ve learned so far has been on my own through tutorials, books and photographer help.