Birds of a feather: Suisun Wildlife Rescue Center revisited, Solano County, California

Many of the animals never leave here, so it was like visiting old friends when we photographers made our annual trek to the Suisun Wildlife Rescue Center just outside of Fairfield, California. This was my second trip there through a Meetup organized by the Wildlife and Landscape group. It’s actually a fundraiser for the Center that is run solely through contributions.

This Center is a non-profit volunteer organization, dedicated to the rescue of native California wildlife and to the preservation of the Suisun Marsh, working through the dual avenues of wildlife rescue & release and environmental education.  While some animals are able to be released once they are well, many are not. Birds with wing problems, an albino snake, a coyote and many eagles are just some of the wildlife that cannot be released.

But, they do work for their keep. Volunteers take them to schools through an educational program. While they educate, the animals are cared for by an all volunteer staff. And the staff brought out the animals in turns so we could photograph them. While we were shooting, we were told about the animal’s personality, how they were brought into the Center and whether they would ever be released. When you look at the images, in many cases, you can tell why they will remain at the Center.

Deja vu: Mossy trees and mustard, Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, California, part 3

Mustard! It’s yellow just like the condiment, but you don’t spread it on sandwiches or hot dogs. You just look at its beauty and admire it. I’m amazed at how wildflowers can make a hillside or valley look stunning. You’ll see mustard in this post; the last of our visit to Lake San Antonio.

It was sad to see Lake Nacimiento and San Antonio so low in water capacity. We used to camp there with our children when we had a boat. We saw Nacimiento from Lakeside Rd and drove down to San Antonio. The California drought is becoming very noticeable now. We are beginning strict water rationing, which I think should have been done sooner.

Right now there are thunder storms north of us and it may be snowing in the Sierras. But, that won’t be enough to get us through the hot summer. I know the east coast has had enough rain and snow. Funny how Mother Nature is!

So, let’s get on with the serving of mustard–no hot dogs on the side!

Deja vu: Mossy trees and mustard, Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, California, part 2

Do you remember the mossy trees and mustard that I went all the way to Napa Valley to shoot? Well, I found the trees in our campground and the mustard in the countryside here at Lake San Antonio.

It’s amazing how much I’ve learned through photography, and I don’t mean learning the art. I’ve studied birds, flowers and trees! So during this trip I had the opportunity to educate my husband in the flora of the area. Sadly, because the lake is so low now, there wasn’t the opportunity to see many water fowl. There were plenty of turkey vultures though.

In addition, I became acquainted with the various stages of the dreaded fox tail from beautiful to mowed down so they stick in your socks and dogs paws. All weekend I picked fox tails from Gem’s hair, checked his ears and made sure he was tick free. The little guy was happy to be home.

In this post, I’ll give you the campground tour including the mossy trees. You’ll have to wait for the next post to see the mustard.

Starry, starry night: An astronomy star party, Lake San Antonio, Monterey County, California

Dry brittle low lying ground cover with lots of fox tails and some wildflowers welcomed us to our campground at Lake San Antonio this past weekend. Some of it was due to the fact that we were in the overflow area where there were few trees, but the drought has also taken its toll.

But the wildlife activity was normal with many chipmunks and rabbits running the campground. They left small to large sized holes that Gem liked to stick his mussel into and I kept pulling him back. But we were there for the stars and there were plenty of them.

This was my first attempt at shooting star trails. So armed with my printed out tutorials, I set up my tripod and camera and did my best. Thank goodness for Lightroom! No matter what I did, my images turned out with a light tan background. Each night I used a different lens and kept the aperture open. I did 30 minute exposures because I didn’t have stacking software.

I brought my challenge to my Toastmasters Photo Club meeting, it was suggested that I needed to close down the aperture because I was letting in too much light. Well, I’ll try that the next time we go up to the observatory at Blue Canyon. It needs to get a little warmer for my body! In the meantime, I’ll show you what I did get.

I was also shooting during the day, catching some of the wildflowers and fox tails, and I’ll show you those images in my next post. On to my starry nights.

Shoot ’em cowboy: The Arrgo Cantua shoot at Sloughhouse, California

I’m not a lover of guns. In fact, they scare me. But I did have fun at the Single Action Shooting Society’s contest at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center in Sloughhouse.

We went there to see what our family members, Richard and Sandy, spend their time with and travel the western states for. In this shoot, everyone dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. Yes, women shoot too. The buildings were facades with targets behind them. The club members are scored on their accuracy and time which is converted into their score. Each member rotates from one building facade to another, completing the circuit during the two-day activity.

While they are waiting for their turn, members tend to their rifles and pistols, cleaning them. They also make their own bullets. And, they visit, talking with each other. It’s truly a fun time. And, it’s not just for adults. There were two 10 year old boys shooting.

So, while I’m not a lover of guns, I can appreciate the skill involved in shooting, the passion of its members and the safety this club provides. There are a lot of images in this post, but I hope you’ll look at each one to understand the fun of this activity.

Chasing windmills: Montezuma Hills, California

Have you ever chased windmills, you know the big white ones? Photo buddy Linda and I went out the day before a scheduled Meetup to catch the scenery, windmills, moonrise (which I didn’t get a good shot of) and sunset. Tall order for tall windmills!

We got to the area an hour later than the Meetup group was scheduled for the next day. Well, an admission, we didn’t get to the appointed area until we saw it on the way home. Typically when we meet with the Exploring Photography group, we enjoy a meal together and our organizer gives us directions and tips on where we should go to shoot. Not having these directions, we sort of got lost, but had a great time.

We stayed mostly on Montezuma Hills Road, stopping whenever we could after seeing something worth shooting. The area is farm country with windmills sitting in the pasture land. It’s not unusual to see windmills among the cows and farms.

I can’t say that the images I’m going to show you are my best, but they were the best I could do without an ND filter system. I wanted to get those giant windmills in slow shudder, but the sun was too bright. And by the time we got back from dinner, we almost missed the sunset. By the time we were on our way home, we were tired and thoroughly enjoyed chasing the windmills.

Going to the dogs: Visiting a practice dog show, Citrus Heights, California

I wish I had more time, but I could only stay about an hour. That’s hardly enough time to experience my first dog show. My friend Laura was showing her great dane puppy, Laura is a professional breeder of danes, Dane Affaire, and also shows them. Cayanne, for the first time. It was a practice show for both the dogs and youth handlers.

Cayanne was my draw. What a beautiful dog, and she’s so sweet. But the other dogs were photogenic too. I learned a little about how a dog show is run and a little about shooting dogs.

Again, I wish I had more time. I could have shown you more of this event.

Shooting with an old friend: Ironstone Winery, the grounds

My old friend in this case is my 18 – 55 mm lens. It is my utility lens. Every time I promise myself to shoot with the prime 50 for the day, I usually pick up the 18 – 55. It is so nice that I rarely use my ultra wide lens when I have to carry the gear all day. I can do landscape and close up with this lens.

During our Ironstone Winery visit, I used my D7100 and the macro and 18 – 55 lenses. I will say that I look impressive with my sling (that sometimes carries two cameras) and vest. I’m pushing to live up to the image! In this post, you will see the grounds where they hold life cycle events and underground wine storage facility they call the cavern.

So here’s to my old friend, my 18 – 55! And here are the images.

Getting to know you: Practicing with the macro at Ironstone Winery, Murphys California

They say that “Practice makes perfect.” Well, in this case, practice made good! The practice was with the macro at the Ironstone Winery in Murphys. The grounds were full of tulips. daffodils and other flowers I can’t name. They were mostly in wine barrels so they could be changed out at will. My macro and I had a great time.

They also had a lake, beautiful landscaping and an amphitheater that was being remodeled. I came home with so many images, it took quite a while to go through them and edit. In this post, I’ll show you my macro work–since I’m bragging. Hey getting to good is better than where I was! I’m not captioning these images since I can only ID the tulips and daffodils.

In my next post, I’ll show you the grounds not shot with the macro.

If I keep practicing, I just may get to perfect!