Twas a few nights after Christmas: Orangevale, California

Okay, so it took me a while before I got out to shoot Christmas lights. But, when I did, it was great. My photo buddy, Laura Munro, braved the cold and walked a cul-de-sac in Orangevale known for its beautiful and, in some cases, decorative homes. I don’t know what their electric bills are, but I’m glad I’m not paying them!

Now, when I say cold I’m talking about high 30s and low 40s (faharenheit) in the evening. For Sacramento, California, that’s cold! I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a fair-weather photographer. But once I’m out there and start shooting, I forget about the temperature until we head back to the car. That’s when I realized I couldn’t feel my finger tips and my feet were cold!

Enough about the weather. Here are some of my Christmas light images.

It’s a Global Winter Wonderland: Sacramento, California

I really didn’t know what to expect. A lot of the photographers in the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group had gone to the Global Winter Wonderland and posted their pictures. And, it looked great from the freeway. I guess I expected more than there was.

The Global Winter Wonderland at Cal Expo (the California State Fairgrounds) was billed as a trip around the world with many countries represented. I guess I thought there would be some sort of structure representing the various countries that we could walk into. Instead, there were blow up buildings, animals, plants and a maze. From a photographer’s point of view, at least mine, it was dismal. There were several rides and fake trees had LED lighting. I wanted to try a slow shutter zooming technique that many of the group’s photographers had posted. I used the Ferris Wheel for that.

If I had brought the young grandchildren, we would have had more fun. They would have enjoyed the blow up structures and the rides. And, of course, they would have enjoyed the food. All in all, it was an experience, and I did get some practice.

Here’s your peek at the Global Winter Wonderland!

Still shooting in dismal skies: Crockett, California, final chapter

Right now, I am totally enjoying the sun streaming through my office window. Its warm glow feeds my body and soul. But, remember, we are still in Crockett under fog and clouds. Today, I will show you what two photographers do when they are waiting for their food, and an old truck we stumbled upon.

So, just what do photographers–amateurs–do when lunch is going to be a long time coming? We take out our point and shoot cameras and wander the restaurant. Actually, this was a quaint deli where your could get sandwiches, and it was well worth the wait. I could only eat half my sandwich and enjoyed the rest later in the afternoon. On our way out of Crockett, I saw an old truck on the side of the road in a residential area. I love it when I’m out with a photo buddy and we can just stop and take pictures whenever we want. This truck was a photographer’s dream–old and in rough condition.

Have fun with the images as we say so long, for now, to dreary skies and say hello, for about a week, to the sun.

Still shooting in dismal skies: Crockett, California, part 2

Yes, the sun is out! It’s Christmas Day and Gem (our dog) and I totally enjoyed our sunny, but windy, walk. But, as far as this blog is concerned, we are still in the overcast, foggy skies of Crockett.

I need to go back and thoroughly investigate this charming town. It’s not a tourist area, or maybe we didn’t stumble upon any boutique shops, etc. What we saw was real–architecture and people. Today I’m going to show you what buildings and shoreline we stumbled upon. This is going to be a three part Crockett show piece. When I do go back, I hope to catch the Carquinez Bridge at night.

Here are more images of Crockett.

Still shooting in dismal skies: Crockett, California

Today, Tuesday, the sun came out, but I was in Crockett on Saturday! You see, with the drought, we, in California, are not used to two weeks of clouds, rain and generally overcast skies. It was no surprise that when my photo buddy, Laura, and I went to Crockett it was overcast. The bonus, however, was the fog. That added some drama to our images and made some monochrome shots available.

Located in Contra Costa County, Crockett is a small town and and seemingly timeless, This town is a photographer’s play land. It is old, looking like time has let it stand still with many boarded up buildings.Old Victorian homes dot the landscape, and the view of the Carquinez Bridge is wonderful. Too bad the bridge was fogged in! Crockett’s main attraction for us was the C & H Sugar Refinery which is nearly 100 years old.

In today’s post, I’ll show you the C & H Refinery, which we were not allowed to enter and surrounding area.

Bokeh! Bokeh! Bokeh! A Shoot Or Go Home photography lesson.

I’m always ready to learn, especially when the lesson is in my neighborhood. A few nights ago, five of us learned how to add shapes into our bokeh photography. Our fearless leader, Mary Gromer, founder of the Shoot Or Go Home Meetup group, had everything ready for us.

She had stamped out shapes on black construction paper. Mary then showed us how, using the black construction paper, to:

Cut a circle with tabs on either side, using our lens cap.

Cut a square in the middle of that circle.

We then taped the circle to our lens.

Then taped a pre-cut shape onto the empty square.

I used a heart and dove and soon found out that I needed a subject that was emitting a good deal of light or it didn’t work. The snowman was a popular attraction that night. It was an easy concept to comprehend, and I’m looking forward to using my cut outs on other objects.

As I said, I’m always eager to learn new concepts and shooting techniques. Here are some of that evenings shots.

A birding shoot gone wrong: Tundra swans near Marysville, California

I don’t know how I did it! I even told my photo buddy Liz to shoot between F/9 – F/13. So why did I have my camera at F/5.6?

Of course I didn’t realize it. I thought I had closed the aperture to get the best depth of field. It took me a few days to find the time to figure things out. I remember thinking something was wrong with the lighting and increased my ISO. After all it was overcast. I guess we learn from mistakes, and I’m sure this isn’t the last I’m going to make!

We did have a good time shooting the swans. There were a lot of them, and we were amazed at how they just settled down on the farm lands. Imagine waking up to look out at the beautiful Tundra Swans. Here are some images I thought were salvageable and okay.

Back from Death Valley, the final chapter

Good news, this is the last post of Death Valley National Park. Bad news, this is the last post of Death Valley National Park! It was so pretty, unusual and amazing there, I wish I had more to show you. But then, you may have seen enough. We are so fortunate to have spectacular National Parks here in the U.S. And seven or more are right here in California.

Today I’m showing you scenes from the Artist Drive, another drive through canyon, and Natural Bridge Canyon, a short hike to an amazing natural rock bridge. I will admit that I almost didn’t walk it because of the cold and bad back I was suffering from, but I was glad I did.

If you have a chance, visit Death Valley. Just don’t go in the summer when temperatures are HOT!

Back from Death Valley and drying up, part 6

It’s partly cloudy today, and it’s nice to go to the store without getting rained on. I know we should feel blessed to finally have rain, but a break is nice. More is due next week. Southern California is digging out from mud slides, and I’m hoping the families whose homes are near the summer’s King Fire are doing okay.

We’re almost done with Death Valley. Today I’m going to show you images from Twenty Mule Team Canyon and of Tom. I was walking Gem in the morning and saw Tom sitting on a table engrossed in what I thought was a music sheet and playing his guitar. His feet were propped up on an orange 5 gallon pail. I told Gem that we had to rush back to our trailer to get the camera. Yes, I do talk to the dog, and yes, he does try to understand. We did get back to Tom. I took some candid shots before he noticed me. Then we talked as I shot more. It was great to meet and talk with him.

After that we left for our drive/hike tour of our last day. Tom hikes the back country and avoids the “tourist areas.” I guess we’re tourists! Our luck had changed because they just opened the Twenty Mule Team Canyon that morning. It’s a drive through canyon, although you could stop and hike, and just beautiful.

See for yourself!

Back from Death Valley, part 5

I just don’t understand WordPress and their new setup. This is going to be a short post since it’s the second time doing it. I wrote and added pictures and accidentally published without adding tags and categories. In the old setup, you could edit the published post and update it. I did find where I could revert to a draft, pressed the button, and lost the entire post!

Enough grumbling. Death Valley is so diverse geologically that you could never be bored. Even though we couldn’t do major hiking and some trails were closed, we did get a good sense of this beautiful park. Today I have shots of Ubehebe Crater, The Sand Dunes and Mosaic Canyon. Our favorite was Mosaic Canyon and most of the images are of it. Explanations of the areas are in the captions.