Photography is just ducky: The Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds, San Rafael California, Part 2

The drought is now severe in California. Less water in areas means less wildlife. It is dismal here right now. Fortunately, we live in an urban area, and, although we are on water restrictions, we have water. As I said in part one of this post, there were few large birds to be seen during our outing.

But that didn’t stop us from trying to find them. On our way home, we stopped at a wildlife view area off the freeway. Again, no birds, but nice scenery. And, we were able to help a family stranded after they locked their keys in their car. There was a reason for us to pull off the highway.

Then we stopped at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area which is just about 25 minutes from my home. We did catch some wildlife there. I think my bird shooting is over for this year. I might go back to Yolo, but I won’t make the 90 mile one way trips again. We are still hopeful for rain, but we’re mostly getting overcast skies and fog.

Here are the images from our stops along the way home.

Photography is just ducky: The Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds, San Rafael California

Photography may be ducky, but most of the wildlife at the Las Gallinas Ponds were ducks! And to go that far, about 90 miles each way, to find mostly ducks wasn’t ducky! At least we found sun, and other things to shoot.

The ponds are next to a water treatment plant, so I was hoping for more wildlife than we saw. I looked at images posted by photographers who went there the day before, and it looked like there were more large birds. I’m thinking it may be the time of day also. We left Sacramento at 8 a.m. and got to the ponds about 10 a.m. But, we walked the trail, met other people and found good stuff to shoot.

I had difficulty shooting the larger birds (mostly gulls) in the air because I’m having a difficult time holding my 300 mm lens still. This is something new for me. I guess it’s back to the gym. I need more upper body strength.

So here are some images. Don’t worry, I won’t burden you with a whole lot of ducks! This will be a two-part post.

When Mother Nature makes shooting tough: Gray Lodge and Sacramento National Refuge Wildlife areas, part 2

In addition to Mother Nature, sometimes WordPress makes things tough. I think some of you may have received all the images for both parts of this post and some I didn’t intend to post. I truly don’t know how that happened. However, I don’t know that all of you did. So I’m going to do the last part of this blog post anyway.

We are still fogged in during the morning and early afternoons here in Sacramento, and photographing is still difficult. Difficult unless you want to shoot foggy images. But, we’re trying to shoot wildlife!

And, here’s some more (or once again) some wildlife!

When Mother Nature makes shooting tough: Gray Lodge and Sacramento National Refuge Wildlife areas

Sometimes photography can be a challenge, especially in fog and overcast skies with only a 300 mm lens! That’s what we were shooting in when we went up north to the wildlife areas to catch the birds in action. Not only was the weather bad, but there wasn’t much water and the bird population was way down.

Usually at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you can see a few bald eagles. We didn’t see one! One photographer in the meetup did capture one and his image was great. I’m thinking that he was using a longer lens. It was very disappointing.

Further west, the Gray Lodge Wildlife area was not much better. There were enough birds for the hunters to shoot, but not the numbers we normally see. But we did have fun.

When you travel to these meetups with other photographers, they don’t mind stopping and shooting something ineresting that may have nothing to do with your original purpose. We made a couple of those side trips–three of us in the car. Plus we had the extra joy of having the GPS get us lost.

All in all, it was a fun 12-hour day. I hope you like these fogged and overcast images! This will be a two-part post.

Learning through the fog: A Sacramento Photographers workshop at the Aerospace Museum, McClellan Park, California

Wow, that’s a heafty title! But, that’s what it was. We gathered at the Aerospace Museum for a workshop sponsored by the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group given by Pedro Marenco. We covered topics including HDR, DOF, Focus Stacking and more. (Did you like how I threw out those acronymns!)

Except for the dismal weather, it was fun. My big take away was how much I already know. I keep berating myself about the technical aspect of photography, but I have learned quite a bit. And when there’s math involved, I can get around it. I’m much more confident now.

Most of the images I’m going to show you are HDR. High Dynamic Range explained simply takes three or more shots taken at different exposures of the same image. These different exposures are then brought into a software program that compresses the shots into one image. This eliminates the washed out skies, dark areas, etc. Most HDR programs have presets that can create all sorts of looks. It’s really fun. These old planes are perfectly suited for this.

I also realized that I need to be inspired about what I’m photographing. Although this is an interesting museum, it’s not what I would abosultely go out of my way to shoot. Once we got outside photography got a litlle more interesting. Oh, Richard is totally into planes and docents at this very museum!

Urban art: Midtown, Sacramento, part 2

Wow, what a busy photographic weekend. But, you’ll hear more about my Saturday and Sunday outings soon. Now, I want to finish up on my visit to Midtown, Sacramento. Midtown is not a separate city, but a community within Sacramento. We have the various directional communities (north, south, east) and in the middle is….Midtown! West Sacramento is in Yolo County and is a separate city. Sacramento City is in Sacramento County.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, here are more images from last week’s visit.

Urban art: Midtown, Sacramento

Actually, I’ve renamed this area of Sacramento Morristown! Yesterday afternoon, I went along with Photo buddy Greg Morris to shoot some of the wall murals. As a former resident, he knows the area well and is always discovering new places to shoot. I had a lot of fun seeing awesome murals, old buildings and decay.

There are a lot of stories to be told in Midtown: the art, the people and the structures all give you an inkling of how people live there. Withing a few blocks you can go from decaying buildings to upscale eateries and shops. Well, I’d better let the images tell you more. This will probably be a three part post. I’ll begin with a couple of murals and people.

Welcome to Morristown!

There’s a lot of days until January 1, 2015: The 365 photo challenge and the park.

It’s only been two weeks, but taking a photo a day is becoming a habit. We’ve been posting them in the Sac Photograpers Facebook group. I can’t say that they’ve all been wonderful, but I continue to shoot on manual. Gem has been a great dog, allowing me to use him as a model. And, I learned how to get him totally in focus.

Week two was a little more tough since we had a theme. We needed to pick a color and shoot it for the week. I chose green because I though it would be a little easier. Gem was a big help here as I chose subjects during out daily walk. He knows that when I have the camera, it’s not just his walk, and he’s learning patience.

Today, my younger grandkids helped me shoot the last photo of week two. We went to the park. I was hoping to get that last shot, but what I got were two kids having a lot of fun.

Here are the park images and some from the 365 challenge.

Late morning practice: Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River, California

I love the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group. It’s where I learn by seeing what others post, asking questions and attending activities. It’s through this group that I found out about the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, and I thought it would be a good place to practice shooting on manual.

And it is. There were birds, people fishing, a nice path to walk on and a great visitor’s center. I wish I were feeling better so I could have stayed longer, but I did what I could. Also, I shot my D3100 on aperture priority because I couldn’t remember how to change the F stop in the manual setting. Now I’m wondering whether I ever had that camera on manual!

I also realized that I need more practice shooting flying birds and getting them in focus. So, this morning while getting a pedicure, I read all about focus for the D7100. I am determined to push and advance in my photography knowledge this year.

I will go back to the fish hatchery and practice. And, I will continue enjoying the Sacramento Photographers group.

New year, new project: Marina Bay Trail, part 2

Can the 365 challenge a success after 5 days? I truly don’t know, but so far so good. I’m in an accountibility group, and that helps me post each night. Oh, the session with Gem has to be redone. One of the photographers gave me some great advice–that is until she typed something to do with hyperfocal length. My head has stopped spinning now! Actually, I have heard and read about that, but I think it’s beyond my math abilities and understanding. So I will take the rest of her advice and try again right after I post this blog.

Also, I signed up for a free online course that lasts a month. It’s all good except for the amount of emails that appear in my box each day! So far after four lessons in Module one, I haven’t learned anything new. But, there are more lessons and three more modules.

I’m hoping all this effort shows in tonight’s image of Gem. Now for the birds on the Marina Bay Trail.