A fun and learning experience: Yosemite, part 2

Live and learn–you’ve heard that before. So far during my excursion to Yosemite I’ve learned to get those heat pads for shoes and pockets when shooting during the dawn patrol.

My second lesson was that I chose the right person to travel and shoot with. Laura kept me moving–even after I called myself a wimp and she agreed. We had a lot of fun together, and she pushed me forward in my photography. There will be more on that subject in part three. I have been fortunate in my photography journey to receive help from fellow photographers, amateur and professional alike. Moreover, Laura knows this park and the right places from which to shoot.

In today’s post you’ll see Foresta. It was part of the area burned a few years ago, but the two barns remained and we were able to go into one. We also went to Stoneman Bridge and then the “fire fall” area. Remember, there was no water falling, but we did get to see how the “fire” effect was done. So we had fire but no fall!

A fun and learning experience: Yosemite National Park

California is a true wonderland when it comes to visiting National Parks. So many are within a 5-hour drive. Yosemite is one of them. I’m so glad that I saw Yosemite before the drought.

Photo buddy Laura and I went there for a couple of days to catch the “fire fall effect.” Once a year when the sun is in the right place and water is in abundance you can get the “fire fall” effect just like the old days when they used to drop fire over the falls. Even though it rained the week before, there was not a drop of water coming down the mountain. The drought was evident elsewhere too with the meadows dry and brown. I remember green meadows.

Our journey began with our first night outside the park. We light painted a gazebo across from the lodge. Then at 4 a.m. the next morning we went into Yosemite to catch the sunrise from the Swinging Bridge. This will be a three part post. Today’s post will take you though first evening and morning at Yosemite. We waited on Swinging Bridge for the sunrise. It was an experience!



Dial “M” for manual, mossy trees and mustard: Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley is the place to go to find mossy trees and mustard plants, and shoot on manual. It’s actually where I had a significant breakthrough on shooting manual. I think I have a smidge more to learn, but I’m mostly there.

Known for its wineries and beauty, Napa Valley was the target for our Exploring Photography Meetup group a couple of weeks ago. We met for lunch and then went off in search for mossy trees and mustard. We had four in our car, and without written directions, we were relying on memory to follow the verbal directions given us. Of course that didn’t work, so we just followed our noses!

Before lunch, we did stop at Turnbull Winery to look at their Ansel Adams exhibit. We took the time to shoot what we could of the winery.

After lunch, we found mustard (a yellow wildflower that seems to grow well under the barren grape vines) accidently while driving to where we thought we remembered the mossy trees to be. It was a small and accessible field–a great find.

Luck followed us to the mossy trees also. These trees had lichen hanging from the barren branches, giving the trees an eerie look. We saw the trees but then went up to the Chappellet Winery and was quickly dismissed back down the road! We did stop to shoot the trees.

Now on to the mossy trees and mustard, both shot in manual!

Wandering: Grass Valley and Nevada City, California

I’m on the move this year, shooting whenever and wherever I can. So, when photo buddy Greg Morris offered to take me up to the foothills and visit the sister cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City, I couldn’t refuse. I had been there and toured the Empire Mine State Park, but when you go with someone who knows the area, it’s a whole new experience.

As a former resident, Greg knows all the stores, buildings, neat homes and the area’s history. Greg shoots mainly on a tripod and takes a good deal of HDR shots. And the results are amazing. I’m going to have to ask him to give me a lesson in Photomatix.

It was fun listening to his stories. I hope you enjoy the images.

Free museum day, part 3: The Museum of Medical History

Be happy–that you are able to get the medical care we have today. Of the three museums we visited, this was the scariest. When you look at what the doctors of years gone by had to work with, thankfulness and fear comes to the surface. The progress we have made is amazing.

Photographing some of the old tools was difficult because of the small quarters, glare and glass cases. Again, I shot tight. As you look at some of the images, be thankful!

Sacramento Museum Day part 2: The California Automobile Museum

Muscle cars, race cars, classic cars. You can find them all at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento. And we found them all, including lots of people. You sort of expect that when it’s free museum day. We were’nt allowed to bring in our tripods because of the crowded condition, so we made the best of it.

I decided to shoot parts of the cars rather than the entire vehicle. A surprise was the small cafe made to look like the interior of a 50s ice cream parlor. That was fun to shoot. I also met a nice couple who were curious as to why I was shooting the top of a table. I wonder what they were thinking until I explained that I was shooting the reflection of the neon sign.

I was also surprised to learn that this museum changes exhibits quarterly. Marlene and I are going back to shoot the next exhibit. You’ll see what it is next month.

Meanwhile enjoy the best of the classic, antique and muscle cars.

A wet weekend, what’s a photographer to do? Free museum day: The Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

You make plans and then need to change them. But, this was a welcome change. It’s raining here in dry California. Although this is a warm storm and will do nothing to help the snow pack, it will help put some water back into the lakes and rivers.

We, photo buddy Marlene and I, had planned on visiting museums for about 2 hours on Saturday, but changed it to a day of shooting when we knew we couldn’t go to Crockett on Sunday. The three we visited were the Leland Stanford Mansion State Park, the California Automobile Museum and the Museum of Medical History.

It was a full day of walking, bending and kneeling. Great exercise! In today’s post I’ll show you images from the Stanford Mansion. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t allow us to shoot inside the mansion. It was beautiful, with some of the restored, original furniture like a side board that looked like a locomotive. Leland Stanford was President of the Central Pacific Railroad of California.

Build in 1857, the Stanfords purchased the home in 1861. Over the years the home grew from its original 4,000 sq ft to 19,000 sq ft. After their son’s death  1884, Lealand and Jane endowed the Leland Stanford, Jr. University in 1885. Today that college is a part of the University of California system. It was amazing to go back in time, yet be surrounded by today. The home is tucked in the midst of office buildings.

Enjoy the outside of the Stanford Mansion.

A photo a day: still at it!

Okay, I’m a type A wanna be type B. I took on this 365 challenge and I’m still at it. What do you mean it’s only been a little over a month! It sounds longer at 36 days. And, I’m still shooting on manual.

This is helping me understand the exposure triangle relationship and how to make the image come out the way I want it to. Of course some are shot with my point and shoot, some are of the dog and more will probably be, some are of the grandkids and some are taken on walks.

This challenge has also helped me develop a more keen eye as I look for things to shoot everywhere. I always have my point and shoot with me. Here are some of the less mundane images I’ve captured so far. A few have been on meetups, but most are from everyday life.

Graveyard photography: Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento, California

Walking through a graveyard may not be the ideal place to shoot photos, but the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery is rich with history, unusual grave stones and beautiful flowers. My photo pal, Marlene, and I went there last week and spent some time walking, reading and taking pictures.

It’s not unusual to see photographers out there. I was disappointed that many of the flowers weren’t blooming, but it’s not that time of the year. This just gives me another reason to go back in the spring.

What impressed me was the way they inscribed the tombstones in the 1800s and the type of loss. One family lost two sons at the same age. Having lost a son myself, I could feel their grief more than 100 years later. I found large monuments and small, simple stones.

I’ll go back in the spring and walk the graveyard again. Maybe I’ll go on one of the cemetery tours that take us back into the history of Sacramento. Meanwhile here are my images from this outing.