A change of attitude: The Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island, part 2

When you wake up at 5:30 in the morning to find a busted pipe, a flooded back yard and a broken water heater, it’s difficult to concentrate on a change of attitude! All is well now. Wow! We were lucky to find a plumber who came out right away and worked on both projects. But, I’m still working on changing that attitude. You know the one where you say, “I’m not good enough.”

So today I bought a new software editing tool from On One. The only problem is that it won’t work on my computer which is a 32 bit. For now, I’ll install it on my laptop and upgrade my desktop which really needs it. I did go through the thought process of I have a new camera that I haven’t learned all about yet, Lightroom that I haven’t mastered all the way, Photomatix that, again, I haven’t mastered, am I good enough to get more software. YES! Eventually I will be master of all my software.

Now for the continued story about the Optainium Cup. At each challenge station, the racers had to complete some tasks. Jayne and I were at the Mad Hatter station. You really had to choose one because you couldn’t walk from one to the other without missing some of the action. One photographer rode her bike around from station to station, but didn’t stay long.

At the Mad Hatter they had to talk to the bunny who gave them a special egg, great the Queen and wake the sleeping mouse. It was set up to be fun and it was.

A change of attitude: The Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island

Yes, there needs to be a change of attitude on my part. When I was looking at other photographers’ photos of the Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island, I thought how could mine compare. That’s what you get for posting to the Meetup a few days late! But, that’s been my feeling, everyone is better than me. I need to change that. I may not be great, but I’m better than some. And, I’m learning. Each time I go out, I learn. Each time I look at other photographers’ images, I learn.

My recent outing to the Optainium Cup race was fun and another learning experience. The race was exactly that except it was in homemade peddled vehicles that were decorated with a theme. You’ll understand when you look at the pictures. My photo buddy Jayne and I had never been to this fun activity before and it was a learning curve for us.

In this post, I’ll show you the line up and the start. Tomorrow, I’ll show you the challenge stop that we were at. I’ll explain it also. Oh, the people staffing the race were also in costume. Visitors were too; however, it was hot. I don’t know how they managed in costumes.

Then and now: looking back to the beginning

I can’t believe it’s been 26 months since I got my Nikon D3100. I remember the first time I used it at the Balloon Festival in Windsor California. We took our trailer and stayed overnight so we would be there bright and early–meaning 4 a.m. They woke us up via a loud speaker. I got dressed quickly, grabbed my camera and ran out into the dark. I had a great morning and afternoon. And, I haven’t stopped enjoying shooting images. But, now I have a Nikon D7100 (which I’m still getting used to) and additional lenses, a new tripod and two camera sling.

I do look like I know what I’m doing when I’m decked out in my photo vest and cameras. But, do I? I certainly know more than I did back in Windsor, but there’s more to learn. With patience and perseverance I’m getting there. New software helps too. I’ve fallen in love with HDR. I recently tried night photography and had a lot of fun. I’m thinking it might be better in the Fall or Winter when darkness falls earlier.

I took my D3100 across the country in 2013.  Turning this blog into a travelogue and posting daily has firmly etched three months worth of memories into my memory. This hobby has become my passion. It has taken me to places I probably never would have visited. It has helped me meet wonderful people who care enough to help. Where would I be without Jayne who gently pushed me toward HDR? Or Mary who recently put my camera on manual?

Have my pictures gotten better as time passed? I think so. There’s always the element of being at the right place at the right time; but, I think it takes the ability to see the shot and compose it. Now, I’m learning the technical aspect to photography.

Photography has also helped me see the world differently. I notice more now. I’m seeing light differently. Some architecture amazes me. I appreciate old stuff. Where will I be in another 26 months? I don’t know. This hobby is something I haven’t pushed, but relaxed with. My goal is to overcome my fear of the technical.

Here are some images from then and now.


Beyond the comfort zone: sunset, full moon and light painting – Mare Island, part 2

Oh the comfort zone, so nice to be in it. You’re not challenged, you’re relaxed but you’re also not growing in ability. I want to be a better photographer. That was one goal when I went out with Mary Gromer and the “Shoot or Go Home” Meetup group. I wasn’t disappointed! Yesterday I posted some of the building images I captured during the golden hours. It was when I turned auto bracketing off, that I began to learn more.

We were about to shoot the full moon. I’ve never done night photography and knew I needed to slow down my shutter speed. However, I was having problems, and then Mary came to the rescue. She started moving settings, shot a picture and then showed it to me. I asked her how she did it. She replied, “I put it on manual.” Ouch, the “M” word! I was on manual the rest of the night. I worked with the shutter speed and saw what it did or didn’t do. I did get some full moon shots. In retrospect, I should have changed to my long lens to shoot the moon itself. The 18 – 55 didn’t do it justice. But, it did well on the landscape of the moon and large crane. I get really tired at night, and my brain processing ability is reduced.

After we shot the moon, we found a gazebo to light paint. Again, I’ve never light painted before. I did buy two light sticks and brought along a flashlight. I’ve started a shopping list: a better flash light with a longer range and gel strips to cover the flashlight. My light sticks were fun as we flashed them in front of the camera or ran around with them while the shutter was open. But they didn’t create an image that I liked. Fortunately some of the other photographers had supplies. I was able to capture some nice images when I followed orders on what F-stop, shutter speed and ISO to put the camera on.

All in all, it was a great experience. I need to practice with the manual settings and become knowledgeable and comfortable with setting the aperture, shutter and ISO. So much to learn; so far out of my comfort zone!



Beyond the comfort zone: sunset, full moon and light painting – Mare Island

Everyone has a different comfort zone. When it comes to photography, mine is on aperture priority and hand held. I’m just making peace with the tripod–I no longer feel like throwing it when I try to set it up! I’ve just started doing HDR, and have only mastered part of Lightroom. It’s safe to say that I’ve not gotten fully knowledgeable with my D7100. So with all this learning to be done, I headed back to Mare Island in Vallejo California with Mary Gromer and the “Shoot or Go Home” photo Meetup group.

We were going to shoot some buildings during the golden hours before sunset, catch the sunset, do full moon photography and end with light painting. I have never done full moon photography or light painting so I was really excited and knew I would be out of my comfort zone.

For today’s post, I’m going to show you some of the buildings. I know I’ve done the Mare Island buildings before, but not in the golden hours. My next post will go into the full moon and light painting photography.


What was, isn’t: Hallberg Gardens, part 2

Continuing on the theme of “What was, isn’t,” we’ve made a lot of changes ourselves personally. For us what was–a 31 foot 5th-wheel trailer–isn’t any more. After losing a wheel and axel on our way to a star gazing trip, we decided it was time to sell the aging home away from home. We just bought a new, used 24 foot travel trailer. At our age, this makes more sense. We will use our time share for distance travel.

The Hallberg Gardens faces the same dilemma, Louise Hallberg needs help to revive her dream. She too, is aging. I wish I lived closer so I could get in there and work. I confess, I have a black thumb; but I could help clean up. I’m hoping Hallberg Gardens will survive.

Meanwhile, here are the rest of the images from the Meetup.



What was, isn’t: Hallberg Butterfly Gardens

It’s sad when you know something that was once beautiful is in danger of going away. I’m talking about the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens in Sebastopol, California. Louise Hallberg’s garden officially became a non-profit organization in 1997. I say officially because she has lived in the same house on the property since a child in the 1920s.

Today, at 97, Louise still tends the gardens with help from a few friends. The grounds do need work and tender loving care. However, they are still a haven for butterflies and insects. The Meetup group that arranged this outing billed it as a chance to pull out the macro lens. I don’t have one, but I shot with my 55 – 300 lens some of the time and my 18 – 55 mm the rest of the time. We didn’t see too many butterflies, but there were birds and flowers to compensate. I do wish the butterflies would stay still for just a moment! We did have one that seemed to want to show off, and I was able to get some great shots of him (or her!).

I hope someone will come along and take over the property. It would make a great historical park. While we were there, I did meet Hallberg, who had a helper with her. She is frail and just got out of the hospital recovering from a fall. If you’d like to help, visit their website at http://www.hallbergbutterflygardens.org/. It would be great to keep Hallberg’s vision and this garden alive. This will be another 2-part post. There’s so much to show you!




Meet me up Scotty: Ruth Bancroft Garden, part 2

If the cacti and their flowers weren’t enough for us to photograph during this Meetup outing, the addition of sculptures made it an outstanding experience. We were allowed to photograph the sculptures, which were for sale, if we gave credit to the sculpture. So, I put a system in place of shooting the name card before I shot the sculpture. Of course, there were times I forgot! I’ll do my best in identifying these amazing artists. My apologies if I didn’t get them all right!

The art forms came in all mediums. There were some sculpted from metal, glass, stone, and wood. Here are just a few.


Meet me up Scotty: The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Which Meetup do I want to go to? Yes, if you belong to enough Meetup groups, you’ll have a choice. I joined my first Meetup group when I ordered my Nikon D3100–before I had taken my first digital SLR shot! That was 26 months ago, and I think I was excited about my new hobby.

Most photography Meetups try to do at least one outing a month. Some groups do more. They each have their own personality and leadership. Many of us belong to a few, so we run into each other as we travel. Through the Meetup world, I have met new people, made new photo buddy friendships, learned new information, have gone places I didn’t know about and have had fun.

On a recent Meetup, we went to the Ruth Bancroft Garden while they hosted their Sculpture in the Garden show. The garden features various cactus from Mediterranean climates and other dry regions around the world. Its founder, Ruth Bancroft, lives next door and is 105 years. The garden became the first preservation project of the Garden Conservancy, a nonprofit organization and has been open to the public since 1992.

Well maintained, this garden was easy to walk through. It was small, but still took us a few hours to take our images. The next outing I went on was to a garden that was not well maintained. But, first take a glance at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I’ll show you the cactus in this post and the sculptures in the next. I was able to identify some of the plants from the garden’s brochure. Too bad, I did somehow catalog them by their numbers!

I wonder what Meetup I’ll be going to next!


Second Annual San Francisco Bay Osprey Days, part 2

Don’t waste gas! Now that we’ve done our best to capture the ospreys and their nests, Laura, Jean and I decided to shoot more of Mare Island. I’ve shown you some of it in a previous post, but this time I’m working on mastering HDR.

The Island is being transformed into a multi-use area including a golf course, restaurant, museum and more. We went down to the dock to shoot some of the vacant buildings. This is a short post since I mostly wanted to show you the images that weren’t related to the ospreys.

We do try to get as much done during out outings–we don’t want to have to come back again. But, I have a feeling I will be back!