Of rocks and open space: Griffith Quarry and Traylor Bird Sanctuary and Preserve

It was hot! It seemed like summer had arrived. By the time our Camera Totin’ Tuesdays group arrived at the Griffith Quarry, the sun was baking us. I don’t carry a backpack because I just can’t handle the weight on my shoulders and back. This is just another problem of starting this hobby as a senior with certain health issues. I’ve solved the problem by wearing a vest that’s stuffed with all my stuff. Not all are like me though. We have Tom and Jim who are a year older and have been shooting for more than 30 years are more physically fit than me.

Back to the sun. Fortunately, the quarry, a registered California Historical Landmark that was a granite quarry,  was mostly in shade. I guess I was expecting more, but then expectations are sometimes not met. However, I did get some good images. This is a lesson on looking for things in the not so best of circumstances. I’m learning from the experienced members. I watch, listen and then follow example. Jim is especially helpful in pointing out opportunities and how best to capture them.

While two in our party decided to call it a morning after the quarry, four of us moved on to the Traylor Ranch Nature Reserve and Bird Sanctuary. This is a park has 90 acres for Equestrian  and hiking Trails, and is a bird Sanctuary and wildlife reserve. I really want to go back there in the winter when there’s more chance of catching wildlife and birds. We didn’t see much of either. I was carrying my 18 – 140 mm lens which couldn’t capture the few birds that were high and far away. Needless to say, we stayed only about an hour and then rewarded ourselves with a delicious lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

Lesson learned, bring two lenses or carry two cameras. Go with great people who are fun and informative. Also, go out early or late during the hot weather. Whew!



Helping nature create beauty: Crystal Hermitage Gardens, part 2

So many times we see where humankind has destroyed nature, so it’s refreshing to see where we’ve given nature a little help. The residents and members of Ananda Village have done a tremendous job on this years tulip garden. Last post I showed you the flowers, in this post, I’ll show you more of the garden view.

But first, I’m giving you a brief introduction about this amazing place. Ananda Village is a cooperative spiritual community dedicated to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, and they celebrated their 45th anniversary in 2014. People of all ages live there, enjoying the beauty in service and meditation. They share devotion to God through the path of Kriya Yoga.

The Crystal Hermitage Gardens is the spiritual heart of Ananda Village. Visitors enjoy the beautiful terraced gardens and vistas. There is also a small chapel where workshop attendees can meditate. The gardens are open for weddings, workshops and other events. You can also attend workshops through Ananda Village’s programming.

Whether you’re a photographer or just want to enjoy some time away from your hectic life, you’ll find what you’re looking for here where nature gets a helping hand. Now the for images!

is the spiritual heart of Ananda Village. Visitors enjoy the beautiful terraced gardens and vistas. There is also a small chapel where workshop attendees can meditate. The gardens are open for weddings, workshops and other events. You can also attend workshops through Ananda Village’s programming.

Whether you’re a photographer or just want to enjoy some time away from your hectic life, you’ll find what you’re looking for here where nature gets a helping hand. Now the for images!


Someone’s in the kitchen:Crystal Hermitage Gardens

Right now there’s 35 matzo balls boiling on the stove, a turkey roasting in the roaster and chicken soup cooling on the counter. I’m in the kitchen to make sure there’s enough water in the stock pots so the matzo balls don’t burn. They can when the water gets low; I’ve done it before!

Happy Passover to all of you who celebrate the holiday also. It’s late this year. I look back at this holiday with fondness. I remember my entire maternal family gathered around my grandparents long table, my grandfather reading the entire hagadah (story) in Hebrew, and the rest of us reading from mismatched hagadahs just to keep busy. It seemed like agony then, but now, if I could only go back. After my grandparents passed, Passover was never the same.

I have tried to create my own holiday tradition for my children and grandchildren. I hope that my older grandchildren will create a tradition for their families when that occurs.

Of course, this has nothing to do with the Crystal Hermitage Gardens which are located in Ananda Village located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Grass Valley, California.

The Exploring Photography Meetup group organized a visit to these beautiful gardens to photograph the amazing variety of tulips planted. I can’t imagine the effort it took to create this beauty for residents and garden visitors. This will be a two-part post because I have many images to show you. Today, I’ll show you the flowers. Most are tulips and there are some others.

No captions again. I’m way too busy in the kitchen preparing my portion for a pot-luck Seder with friends!

All caught up: UC Davis Arboretum

Yes, I’m all caught up with my photo editing! It’s a great feeling, and I had the opportunity to learn some of the wonderful advantages of my processing programs, mainly their filters. I also have been putting single images into Photomatix to get that HDR look. It works well.

Next, I need to delve into Photoshop. Right now, I’m using it to remove unwanted things in a picture, but I do want to learn how to use layers. I know I said that in my last post. So much to learn!

Taking the photo is just one part of being a good photographer, but for me, it’s the fun part. I love going to new places and back to places I’ve been before. In today’s post, I re-visited a favorite with the Camera Totin Tuesday group—the University of California at Davis Arboretum. I like it there because it’s just a beautiful and calm place to walk through. This trip we went through the flower garden and were treated to beautiful blossoms and color. Our stroll through the arboretum proper was less colorful since the red buds weren’t blooming yet, or maybe they bloomed already.

This wet winter has nature’s cycles off kilter! There was also algae in Putah Creek. I remembered it being there the last time we were there, but there was so much more this trip. I’m also wondering if the algae is keeping the birds away. We usually see egrets and other water fowl, but this trip—none!

But there’s always beauty to be found. I’m going to show you some flowers and the creek with algae; however, I won’t be putting in captions since it’s mostly self-explanatory.

I may be caught up with editing, but I do have more outings to post in this blog. So stay tuned.

Sometimes the animals don’t cooperate: The Sacramento Zoo

They are just like kids—when they don’t want to do something, they won’t. I’m talking about the zoo animals. Remember, I warned you that since I’m a zoo member now, I would be going there more often. The Tuesday group went there recently, and the animals were not cooperative.

I could see the lion looking out the door of its interior enclosure, but she didn’t come out. The red panda stayed behind the bushes since it was busy eating. The snow leopard was too close to the front of her cage so the lens couldn’t get passed the bars and the orangutans were nowhere to be seen. I could go on and on. But you do take your chances when you visit the zoo.

However the pelicans put on a show when they tried to get a duck out of their swim spot. The gorillas were grooming each other, and an unusual duck walked by.

Through this, I’m learning a valuable lesson—patience! To get great animal pictures you have to watch and wait. I hope to apply this to all my shoots. I’m at the point where I want to take my photography from good to great and the zoo is a wonderful place to practice. I’m also hoping the new, used lens I just ordered will help me have that patience and see it pay off!



When photographers say goodbye: Bodega Bay

Memorials are for the living, and this one was a long time coming–with good reason. Photographers from the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group had gone to Bodega Bay in April 2015, and my deceased photo buddy Greg Morris was among them. This trip turned out to be great but not without stumbling blocks that bonded the group. Greg had a flat tire and another photographer locked his keys in the car.

Greg had always said that he did not want a funeral or memorial, but on the anniversary weekend of their fun and problematic trip, the group planned this outing as a memorial to Greg. Marlene and I were also invited. I then invited Greg’s daughters and friend.

It was a wonderful experience. When we got to Goat Rock Beach  the photographers quickly got into action. We placed flowers we brought on a large rock surface. Then some gathered small rocks and spelled out his name. They all gathered around and spoke about how Greg affected their lives. Then, they did what photographers do best, and what Greg would want them to do, took pictures.

I gathered Greg’s family and some flowers, and asked them to come down to the beach to throw the buds into the ocean. I felt the family needed some sort of closure. I know I did.

After lunch, we went to Bodega Head beach to shoot some more and then headed home. I did practice some more with my ND filter, but it was too bright out there. I’ll have to get to the beach earlier or later for that, meaning an overnight stay.

I hope you enjoy this memorial trip as much as I did. I hope Greg didn’t mind!


Almost caught up: Going home from the Sonora area

Yes, I just have this week to edit and then I’ll be caught up. But, that won’t happen before our next outing! I went on two shoots this week–fun, fun, fun. It will be even longer before you get to see the images from my adventures. So much to do and so little time.

I’m delving more into the Nik software. It’s fun and not too difficult to figure out. However, I need to pay more attention to Photoshop which is intimidating and not so easy to figure out. So I’m going to challenge myself to learn layers next. Someone keep me to it!

While I’m pledging my time to software, this post is about our trip back to Sacramento from Sonora. Some people would just go home; not me and Marlene. We decided to take many back roads. I wasn’t worried as long as we were going north and west. We found Copperopolis , Farmington and Lockeford after leaving our hosts and Tuolumne City.

This drive was fun, but eventually we had to find the highway and head home. It was a great tip. Thanks again Sandy and Ken!

No time to edit: Day 3 in the Sonora area

The more I shoot, the further behind I get in editing! Right now I’ve got three photo outings still to edit, and I’m going out to shoot tomorrow. The more I understand what processing software can do and the more I load onto my computer, the longer it takes me to edit individual images.

And, then there’s the fact that I’m shooting better images–more to edit. I’m getting better at tossing out a lot of them and getting more critical of my work. I’m at the point of saying to myself, “If someone else posted this, would I think it was outstanding?”

I guess it’s great to have this problem! And, it’s great to have friends like Sandy and Ken who devoted two days to taking me and Marlene on a fantastic photo journey. Today’s post  is on our journey to Cherry Lake on Cottonwood Road and on Highway 120. We opted to skip visiting Yosemite because of rain in the Park. But, we were near it, and Ken probably drove many more miles.

Those miles took us to Cherry Lake a man-made lake about 25 miles east of Sonora. This lake is large and is a favorite for boating, etc. It was effected by the Rim Fire in August 2013. You’ll see some of that devastation in my images.

We also stopped at Rainbow Pool where I practiced again with my neutral density filter. Sandy and Ken hadn’t been up as far as Cherry Lake so it was an adventure for all of us. After lunch, we visited Columbia State Historic Park. Set in an old the old Gold Rush era of the 1950s, Columbia is a real town that has been preserved with shops, restaurants, and hotels.

We enjoyed the day and reliving it through the editing process–shoot, edit, post. That’s my life and I love it.




The photo journey continues: Day 2 in the Sonora area

It’s living a dream. I wake up in the morning and my friend asks, “Where would you like to shoot today?” Of course, I didn’t have a clue, but it felt great to have someone willing to guide you through a day of photography. Our second day of fun was about to start.

Sandy and Ken first took us to the Red Hills ACEC, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. This land was designated ACEC in 1993 to protect flora, a rare minnow  (Red Hills roach) and the bald eagle wintering habitat. We didn’t see any eagles and wouldn’t know a Red Hills roach if we saw it.  Sandy and Ken had never been there, but Sandy heard that wildflowers were blooming in that area. So this was an adventure for all of us.

It’s a good thing Ken’s Subaru has all-wheel drive because our adventure took us through some very rough and ready dirt roads. We had to cross three streams. I think Ken enjoyed the drive. There’s a daredevil in that body! While we were being jostled around, we did get some beautiful images of beautiful scenery.

After lunch, we went to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Ken serves as a docent there so we wanted to see what captures his heart. Another docent, Paul, took us around. This is a working facility. They rebuild old trains, give train rides on the weekend and house several stars! Do you remember a television series called Petticoat Junction which ran from 1963 to 1970? Train number 3 was on that show. It was also featured in many movies and is still in demand.

Paul took us through many areas of the roundhouse and showed us the grounds. It was a great tour. When I wake up tomorrow, where will my dream take us?

Been shooting too much? The Gold Country

I never thought I’d say that I’ve been shooting too much! But here I am, way behind in editing and still shooting. I’ve even fallen behind in posting my 52-week images. So I’ve vowed to not shoot any more photographs until our Camera Totin’ Tuesdays group goes out on Tuesday.

I have been exploring the new Nik software I recently downloaded free from Google. I love it, especially the Silver Efex module. It helps create great black and white images. I’ve also started using some Lightroom features I hadn’t tried before. I have created an editing haven.

Okay, so just what have I been so busy photographing? Today, we’ll begin a trip to the Sonora area I took with Marlene. We were graciously hosted by my friends Sandy and Ken who are also photographers. Unfortunately, Sandy’s small Sony broke the day we came down and she had to use her heavier Canon. This wouldn’t have been a problem if she still wasn’t recovering from thumb surgery on her right hand! She shot as much as she could.

Ken was our driver. I’m sure he had fun going over a very rough dirt road with his all-wheel drive car–actually he did! They took us off the beaten path.

Today’s post is from our first day. We stopped at Mokelumne Hill, an old town along the Mokelumne River. The town had the usual old charm, and we had the good fortune to talk with one resident. He filled us in on what happened to all the businesses and people.

We stopped along the river, and I practiced with my neutral density filter. We then went to Ironstone Winery after meeting up with Sandy and Ken. Although it was overcast, windy and raining at times, it was beautiful.

So, here’s day one of our four-day photographic trip. And we did shoot every day!