Leaving the clouds behind: Shooting the blood moon at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge

We decided to escape from Sacramento. We didn’t know where we’d end up, but just wanted to get out from under the cloud cover that would prevent us from shooting the blood moon eclipse. Laura was our navigator while Linda and I gave suggestions.

We ended up at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge a little over 100 miles when you don’t take the direct route. We knew there was a viewing area that would give us a perfect view of the moon rise over the Sutter Buttes (a low mountain range). However, smoke from the recent fire was still hanging low on the horizon as if mocking us for traveling so far to shoot the moon! I was hoping to still catch some of the moon rise through the smoke haze.

While waiting I shot some pictures of the wetlands and at sundown, turned my camera around to shoot the sunset. Not a cloud visible. Then I turned my attention to the moon rise. There were five of us with cameras and tripods set to shoot, but we couldn’t find the moon! Finally as it rose slightly above the haze, one of the photographers found it and helped the rest of us hone in on the red sphere.

I went in with the realization that I was only shooting with a 300 mm and I wouldn’t get professional images. But, I was still a little disappointed with what I did get. This morning when I looked at some other photographers’ images, I saw similar quality. So maybe I didn’t do so bad. My lens did what it could. Hindsight, rent a longer lens and use your heavier tripod! But am I into it that much?–I don’t know.

Oh, we really didn’t have to travel out of Sacramento. The clouds dissipated after dark! But, we had fun!  The next morning I iced my foot again! Foot surgery is a bummer.

Busting out: Hobbling back to Locke

I really shouldn’t have, but I needed to. A week of being a couch princess, I needed to get off the recliner and out of the house so I took advantage of Tuesday’s with seniors. I told photo buddy Greg that I would sit in the back seat, foot up and bring a book along if I got tired and couldn’t shoot. Marlene occupied the front seat.

I packed light, got in the back seat, put my foot up on a pillow and readied for my day out. We went down to Locke so Marlene could experience the small town. As Greg says, every time he goes back, he finds something new to shoot. And we did. I found it difficult to shoot, not bend down and see the possibilities through the discomfort. Oh, if you just came into the story, I had minor foot surgery a week before this outing. I was still in the “shoe,” sitting on the recliner part of the couch and was going crazy. Right now, I’m once again on the recliner with my foot up because I was on my feet a good part of the morning.

Getting back to the Locke trip, Greg always goes down different roads. You never know where you’ll end up and what you’ll be taking pictures of. I had fun, was exhausted and, knew before I saw them, that my shooting was off and pictures weren’t super. I didn’t care.

So I did what i shouldn’t have but needed to. Enjoyed it. Here’s the results.

A quick trip before being grounded, part 2: the California State Capitol building

It was desperation that pushed me out the door on Labor Day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to shoot for at least a week after foot surgery. Laura and I visited downtown Sacramento and the Capitol building during the morning. I knew enough not to be out all day because surgery was early the next morning.

In my last post, I showed you the various statues, sculptures and street life around the Capitol. We shot outside for about two hours. But, it was getting late in the morning and tourists were walking around–a great time to go indoors and see our State Capitol. Part of the first floor is a museum, one wall gives a history of all the California counties and houses the Governor’s office. It’s a beautiful building with an amazing rotunda.

I was amazed it was open on a holiday and very glad I felt desperate enough to want to get out and shoot.

Here’s a glimpse of the California State Capitol.

A quick trip before being grounded: The statues in Sacramento and Capitol building.

Knowing I’d have to be house bound for a week, I wanted one last photo outing before I had foot surgery. Photo buddy Laura suggested that we go to Sacramento shoot the statues and buildings. We left at 8 a.m. (Laura can always get me out early.), and it was wonderful. The streets were empty on Labor Day, and the parking was free.

Laura works downtown and knew where to go, park and shoot. Walking the streets, we stopped and shot whatever was in interesting and ended our morning at the State Capitol building. As morning grew closer to afternoon, tourists started to come and gave us the opportunity to shoot around them. I found it fun to include them in the shot.

That was Last Monday and Tuesday I had my foot surgery. I’ve spend the last week being a couch princess, processing images, posting blogs and reading tutorials. Tomorrow I’ll be going shooting with Greg and Marlene. I told Greg that I would take his back seat, use a pillow to rest my foot on, and bring a book and read if I get tired or find it difficult to shoot.

I don’t know what or how I will shoot, but I do know that I won’t be house bound. One day out!

Here’s a peak at Sacramento. I’ll show you the State Capitol in my next post.

Lesson learned; shooting with a tripod: Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley, California

I told you that I learn from my mistakes, and for this outing, I remembered my Tripod. It’s a good thing I did, because it came in handy at the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. The park was begging to be shot in HDR which added so much depth and character to the images.

As usual on Tuesdays, our guide and driver Greg took us, me and Linda, the back way to the Park, stopping along the way to discover future shoots, do some actual photography and eat. That is how we ended up in Wheatland, the first stop on our journey. This is a very small town. I put the “very” before small because that’s how small it is–at least to our photographic eyes. The town, in Yuba County, actually has a population of 3,456 as of the 2010 census.

We were going to Rough and Ready but never made it because it was getting late and we wanted to get to the Mine. Oh yes, we made a couple more stops along the way. The Empire Mine was founded in 1850 and operated until 1956. The William Bourn family maintained control of the mine and lived there until 1929 when it was sold to Newmont Mining. In 1975 it was purchased by the State who then created the Historic Park.

We got there late afternoon, quickly going to the mine area. The grounds are separated into the mine area and living quarters consisting of a beautiful home and gardens. We shot until we were asked to leave. It seems they close the Mine at 5 p.m. When we left, the ranger reminded us that we were there almost two hours which should have been enough time to see the mine, and I had to explain that photographers take more time than most people. I don’t think she was sympathetic; she just wanted to go home!

Oh, another lesson learned! Check out the hours before we leave home! Yes, we’ll have to do that because we will be returning.

Memories are made from this: Shooting with Leanne Cole on the California coast.

Memories, they’re those warm, wonderful, sad and fearful feelings that emerge when you think of something from the past. Shooting with Leanne Cole, an Australian photographer, is something I looked forward to, totally enjoyed and now is a fond, beautiful memory.

You see, I met Leanne online by following her blog when I first got my D3100 three years ago. During that time I’ve seen her morph her photography business into what it has become today. She’s an amazing photographer, artist and now publisher of Dynamic Range–a magazine about and for women photographers. We’ve corresponded since meeting on the blog with her giving me encouragement and advice. Hopefully I’ve been able to do the same for her–well more encouragement, not advice! It is truly a small world.

We, Leanne, her friend Nicci and I, had a delightful day in Santa Cruz, Capitola and Monterey. The three of us fit; it was as if we had gone shooting together before. In fact, Nicci and I hit it off and will go shooting again. I’ve added an Australia visit to my bucket list, and I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get there.

In the meantime, I’ll have the memories of that fun day shooting with my new friends.

A surprise at the end of a long day: The Santa Fe 2925

It sits rusting, attracting graffiti artists and welcomes the occasional visitor. The Santa Fe 2925 sits just outside Old Sacramento waiting for the Sacramento Railroad Museum to find the funds to restore it and move it into the facility.

Just imagine this train when it was racing the tracks of America, pulling passengers and cargo. What a history it must have. I did try to do some research, but all I came up with were some conversations. I did try to do my best to capture its personality in pictures. HDR was out of the question since I had left my tripod at home. While Greg was shooting with his tripod, creating great images, I took some long shots of the train and concentrated on the small rusted parts.

Maybe, one day, we will get another surprise and the Sacramento Railroad Museum will receive funding to restore the 2925. In the meantime you can view my images of this once magnificent train.


Just one of life’s challenges: Locke, California

If you read my previous post, you’d know that I left my tripod at home and was without it for our Tuesdays With Seniors Sacramento Delta trip. So when we reached Locke shortly after lunch, my challenge was to shoot this wonderful town full of historical buildings without doing HDR.

And, those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I’ve worked hard to become one with my tripod and to rely on it for many types of shooting occasions. Past shoots have taught me that you can’t really do HDR handheld, and I almost always shoot HDR when I come across rustic buildings, etc. So I shot Locke handheld and tried to add an HDR look in processing.

“Locke was founded in 1915 after a fire broke out in the Chinese section of nearby Walnut Grove. The Chinese who lived in that area decided that it was time to establish a town of their own. Levee construction originally brought the Chinese to this area, but by the time Locke was built most of the work was in farm labor. Locke had many businesses that catered to the farm workers and residents of this region. In the 1940’s restaurants, bakeries, herb shops, fish markets, gambling halls, boarding houses, brothels, grocery stores, a school, clothing stores, and the Star Theater lined the bustling streets of Locke. At its peak 600 residents, and as many as 1500 people occupied the town of Locke.  By 1920 Locke stood essentially as you see it now.

“On August 2, 1970, Locke was added to the registry of national historical places, by the Sacramento County Historical Society, because of its unique status as the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese for the Chinese.” Check www.locketown.com for more information on this amazing town.

Now, you can see Locke shot with my handheld camera. Did I overcome the challenge?

Before and After: The journey to Locke in the Sacramento Delta

Part of the fun of going somewhere is the before you get there and after you’ve left! Have I confused you? Well, we don’t go straight to any place. We stop along the way, get sidetracked and look for unique things to shoot. This happened on the way to Locke in the Sacramento Delta.

The Sacramento Delta is an expansive inland river delta and estuary in Northern California and is  an important habitat for migratory waterfowl and more than a hundred species of fish. It is also farmland, a popular recreation area and a source of drinking water for two-thirds of California’s population.

We first stopped at the small Freeport Marina. It was there that I realized I left my tripod home! Greg offered to share his with me, but I knew he used his most of the time and declined his generous offer. So, it was a handheld day for me. Lesson learned! Seems I’m always learning. Didn’t I say in my last post that I learn a lot by making mistakes?

Next we found a Halloween surprise, an old truck and a bridge to shoot. Then we got to Locke. You can see that our journeys seldom follow a straight path, and that’s the fun of a photo outing.

In this post you can see our before finds. You’ll have to wait for the next post to see Locke and what happened on the way home–the “after” part of our trip.