Gibson Ranch near sundown

What I love about the “Shoot Or Go Home” photography meetup group is the small, close to home opportunities they offer. Tuesday we ventured to Gibson Ranch (about 10 minutes away) for a photo walk and sunset shoot. I wasn’t feeling well, but I needed to do something I enjoyed after losing the trailer and missing out on a weekend away.

Gibson Ranch is a park where people board horses, organizations hold events and individuals picnic. It was a Sacramento County park, but is now being run by a private company. I think the County still owns the park but has leased it out. We met at 6:30 p.m. and proceeded to walk the area around the stables. It was a small group, so I had a chance to meet some of them. Mary and “Goose” helped me with my prime 50 mm lens. I’m still having troube getting the exposure correct. After enough frustration, I switched back to my zoom lens.

The setting sun created a challenge for exposure no matter what. I’m so glad I’m learning Lightroom. We all gathered at the small lake to shoot the sunset. This was my first time shooting a sunset for HDR, The sunset wasn’t all that spectacular, but I had fun processing the HDR and was pleased with the various results.

So, here are some of the images captured Tuesday night with the “Shoot Or Go Home” photo group.


Self-taught photography lessons

Yes, I teach myself lessons all the time. However, they are never planned or easy! Yesterday, not feeling well, I decided I needed to go up to Dry Creek, practice HDR and work with my new prime 50 mm lens. I was bummed out because we were supposed to be in Adin, California at a star party. I was looking forward to trying some night sky photography. But our trailer lost a wheel and axle in Anderson and we came home with the truck loaded with our clothes, food, camera gear and telescopes.

So, you can understand why I needed to do some photography at my favorite, close-by creek. Dry creek which is usually quiet was teeming with families on every possible square inch of beach area. They were just enjoying the water, but it was difficult to find a spot to do some HDR. I did find a couple of areas, and set up my tripod. But, without photo buddy Jayne with me, it was a struggle (She helps me a lot!). Now I am totally one with the tripod, having won the battle. I do have tenacity! It wasn’t until I was taking the images off the SD card that I realized I was shooting JPEGs and not RAW files.

Also, I’m learning to speak up for the sake of a picture. I did ask a woman who was going to take an empty chair if she could leave it so I could take my shot. Then another woman, who didn’t own the chair sat in it. I politely asked her to move while I took my shot. They were very understand and obliging. I would have been faster if it weren’t for my struggles with the tripod.

I was only there an hour and couldn’t believe I had taken 72 pictures, but I did. What lessons did I learn? First, if you’re not feeling well, stay home. Second, practice with the tripod and check the camera before you leave. And, third, people are nice and willing to help you–just speak up. Here’s the result of my efforts.


HDR: my first images

I finally did it! Yes, I downloaded some HDR software and processed my first images. I didn’t do much more than their presets, but it’s a beginning. Thank you photo buddy Jayne West who gently pushed me into taking bracketed shots on two separate outings. That gave me some photos to work with.

Why did I wait so long? I thought it would be too difficult to learn. But, it wasn’t–at least loading in the photos, choosing a preset and modifying the image slightly. I know the program, Photomatix Pro, has many more features, and I’ll learn them in time. In fact, we will be heading to a star gazing party for four days/nights in Adin California. It’s a cute small town so I’ll have more opportunities to practice HDR. I’m also going to try to do some night sky photography. I printed out many tutorials just in case we don’t have cell reception. Did I mention that we are dry camping in a cow pasture!

Since I finally did it, here are my first three HDR images. All advice is most welcome.


UC Davis Arboretum: beauty so close

With two rivers, the Sacramento and American rivers, winding through the valley, the greater Sacramento area has a lot to offer photographers who want to capture local beauty. One such place is the UC Davis Arboretum. I’ve posted images from this garden spot twice before. The last was taken during the winter when nothing was blooming, but we were able to capture the golden hour lighting which added so much to our pictures.

Now, it’s summer and plants are blooming even though we are in a drought. Fortunately, the entire arboretum runs along a stream and is somewhat shaded. Each section has different plants. This week, my photo buddy Jayne and I went to walk it. It wasn’t as pretty as the first time I saw it. Water was plentiful then. I love this arboretum because you can keep going back and see different things.

I’ll be returning before the summer ends since we only walked about half the arboretum. It is so great to have such a wonderful place close.

Trinity weekend: Our last morning was for the birds!

Oh, did I sleep soundly the second night in the house by the river. I was woken up at 7 a.m. by my husband’s phone call. And, yes, I was the first up again!

I really didn’t feel like going down the stairs, so I put my telephoto lens on the camera and went out onto the back deck. I proceeded to shoot the river and the many birds that were on the lawn and in the trees. What fun! I continued until others started waking up. Then my chore began.

I was the cook for this morning’s breakfast which was simply eggs, bagels, cream cheese and fruit. I made the eggs to order, and everyone seemed to like it. After breakfast, we all pitched in and cleaned up the house for the next guests. But, our day didn’t end there. We women did go to an outlet center near Redding California to shop. We invited Ron, but he politely declined. Well, it was more like a “heck no.”

We didn’t shop til we dropped, but none of us went home empty handed. And, Julie and I shared lunch. You know which two of the four of us spent more cash!

By the time I arrived home, it was about 7 p.m. I unpacked the car, ate some dinner and went to bed. It was a long day and I slept soundly again this time in my home. Here are some of that morning’s images.

Trinity weekend: Geocaching

It doesn’t pay to way up early even though you catch wonderful images. I know this because by the time we went geocaching, my early morning rise was beginning to show on my body. In spite of this, I did have a good time.

Geocaching is like going on a scavenger hunt–an organized scavenger hunt. First you check out the geocaching website to find hints to where small treasures are hidden. Anyone can hide a cache and register it on the website along with hints to find the treasure.  Karen checked the website and printed out the hints at her Sacramento home (She doesn’t have a printer in Trinity.). She’s very organized and into this hobby and even has a geocaching GPS.

We followed the instructions and hints and found all the caches we were out to get. Caches are hidden in small containers (Easier for hiding.) and are small items. If you want to take something, you have to replace it with another item before you put the container back. Karen travels around with a small box of cute items just in case she wants to take something. You might find paperclips, well used pencils, and other not so useful stuff. You’ll also find a small pad of paper to sign when you find the cache. The paper, treasures and/or your replacement treasure go back into the container. The fun it in the hunt.

When you get back to your computer, you list where you went, whether you could find it and what shape the container of treasures is in. We did have one cache that the website posted as being elusive. We didn’t bother with that one because it may have been removed or moved to another location.

Sue proved to be the best hunter of all of us. I did manage to find one on my own and one with Karen’s help. The afternoon adventure also included lunch, some photo opportunities and a tube trip down Trinity River.  I declined the tubing opportunity and took a couple of power naps. Julie stayed back also and read her book by the shoreline. How peaceful it is there. When I woke, I waded in the River and took more pictures.

Dinner was a delicious taco salad, and afterward we walked down the street. The deer were out and I shot some–with the camera of course! I slept well that night and didn’t wake up at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning!

Trinity weekend: Good morning!

Darn an aging body. I woke up about 5:20 a.m. to use the bathroom (Yes I do check the time.), but couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I rolled out of bed at about 5:40 a.m. Put my sweats and jackets on, grabbed my camera and went outside to experience the river.

Right here I need to back track. Yesterday I said this was to be an all women’s weekend, but we did have a guy along. Karen’s husband Ron had work to do on the property and rode his motorcycle up. I knew Ron was getting up at 6 a.m. to do a controlled burn of excess brush and green waste. But, here I was the early bird, wishing I could have slept in.

However, the river didn’t disappoint me. It was beautiful at daybreak. The sun hadn’t come up yet and all was still. I walked the property, taking pictures and continued to come back to the river to catch the waking colors as the sun rose and hit the tree lined shore.

And, when Ron came down to start the controlled burn, he gave me an additional opportunity of capturing images. I’ve always enjoyed a campfire. We always had one when we camped with the kids; but now, we seldom leave the trailer and television in the evening when we travel.

The morning moved on, and I went in to put Julie’s breakfast casserole in  the oven to bake. By the time it was done, only Sue was still asleep. She woke up just in time to eat and leave for the geocaching adventure. Tomorrow would be another day for trying to sleep in.

Enjoy the early morning at Trinity River images. Geocaching will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.

Trinity weekend: The hike!

It started out as a women’s weekend coordinated with a group of six I belong to. Karen had offered to host the weekend at her vacation home in Trinity County–on the Trinity River. Three of us couldn’t go at the end for various reasons, so Karen’s friend Sue was a welcome addition. It ended up being exercise in a 3 1/2 mile hike that went straight up for the most part, an education in geocaching, a deliberate missing of an opportunity to go tubing down the river and experiencing the solitude and beauty of the Trinity River.

Today’s post is about the hike. When Karen said she planned for a hiking stop before we got to her house, she admitted that it would be about 3 miles round trip up to a water fall. She also admitted that it was up hill most of the way, and that when she went on that hike, she stopped to catch her breath. None of that rang warning bells inside my head probably because we are a multi-generational group of women who have become very close.

The hike was definitely up hill most of the way until we reached the water fall, and at age 71, I almost didn’t make it to the main top area. But, I pushed my body along. When I did get to the falls, Karen and Sue told me there were steps to the other two levels. I just looked at them and said, “No way!” Julie stopped midway because her bad knee couldn’t handle the incline. It was a beautiful hike, and I’m so glad I pushed myself to make it as far as I did.

Here are some of the pictures from the hike.