Music, music, music: The 43rd Sacramento Music Festival 2016

The music was outstanding, but the weather was not. It was in the high 90s again this year, and our venue is outside. Even though the temperature was brutal, the Sacramento Music Festival was a hit.  I do this every year because I enjoy it. I like being involved at some level, and all staff members get a free four-day pass. We work 3 1/2 hours and have the rest of the day to enjoy music.

We work the youth venue at the Delta King. Most of the kids are high-school age, some are from middle school and some are from private clubs. Best of all, these youth bands play well. I do enjoy our venue.

We saw two of our favorites, Tom Rigney and Flambeau and Dave Bennett and the Memphis Speed Kings. We also heard some fantastic music from performers we hadn’t seen before.

I only brought my camera in one day so I didn’t get all the groups. And, I only used my walk around lens (18-140 mm). I’m learning that sometimes you just want to enjoy the activity without getting up and taking pictures–especially when it’s hot.

As we were breaking down the venue, I asked our site manager if he could order better weather for next year. He said something like it could be hotter or rain. We’ve had both!

So here’s a glimpse of Saturday at the Sacramento Music Festival.



Night shooting on the river: Viewing Old Sacramento

Busy as a bee, I be! Okay, that’s not proper English, but it seems to fit. I’ve been learning more about event shooting at our District 39 Toastmasters Conference this past weekend. It was not only shooting, but editing, or trying to, on the spot. I was editing my images and two other All About Photography club members’ images.

What did I learn? I’ve learned the comfort zone with my speed light. I brought a chair up front and plopped it down in the middle of the stage area. I noticed that when my subjects were more to the back of the podium, lighting was more of a problem. The closer they were to the front, the better the flash handled it. Most of what I was shooting was candid so I couldn’t say, “Please come forward!” Also, the District does not have a lighting system. Working with ambient lighting was a challenge.

I worked in Lightroom mostly and did very little in Photoshop. I do need to learn how to work with layers to lighten background, etc. I hope to have that knowledge before the next conference.

I would show you the challenges and how I handled them, but all pictures taken on behalf of District 39 Toastmasters have their copyright. But I can show you my images taken a couple of weeks ago with the Camera Totin’ Tuesday group. We went down to the Sacramento River during the blue hour. I was able to use my ND filter at night for the first time. It was fun.

Just keeping busy!


From February to May: Donner Lake

I was surprised that there was still snow on the ground when we made our trip to Donner Lake.  The area around the lake wasn’t as pretty though. The gray snow that still surrounded some houses was negligible. We did stop at the same overlook and, wow, what a difference 3 months can make. Snow still capped the mountains, and the scene was beautiful.

The overlook was the only place that we visited before. This time we went into Donner Lake Memorial State Park. It was here that I had an opportunity to play with a crystal orb. Now that was fun. It took some getting used to, but I was happy with the results. A crystal orb is now on my list.

What did I learn? I believe I’m shooting with more confidence. I’m also getting a great deal of positive feed back on my images, and waiting for the five black and white prints I ordered. I do hope there are no surprises when I open the box. Meaning, I  want them to look as they do on my computer!

Here’s a glimpse of Donner Lake and the State Park.


More macro: Sacramento Historical City Cemetery, part 2

When I promise, I deliver. This is part two of my fun morning at the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery. This cemetery is known by another name: The Old City Cemetery. And, because of its historical nature, volunteer tours are given on weekends and various holidays. The who was who of Sacramento are buried here.

What I find interesting, besides the beautiful flowers, are the grave stones and monuments. Some are simple and some ornate. On my first visit there, I found one that simply said: “Our Baby.” Life spans are given in years, months and days. If you’re a history buff, you’ll find it here.

Maybe that’s why the City in its misguided effort is trying to take away the roses to present history as they think it was. But that would take away the beautiful attraction to the cemetery. This move is being fought by the volunteers who planted the gardens surrounding the grave sites. I’ll keep you posted on their effort.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the pictures. And, as promised in a prior post, I just sent in an order to have five of my black and white images printed!

Macro Madness: Sacramento Historical City Cemetery

We visited the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery with a sense of loss. Not for people who have died and are buried there; for the flowers and archways the City wants to take out. The goal they say is to bring the cemetery back to what it would have been in the 1800s. What, they didn’t have flowers then?

We come to shoot here at least twice a year. We come for the history and the beauty of the gardens. We came this time because the flowers were blooming and there was no breeze. Well, just a slight intermittent breeze, but great for macro work. I haven’t been able to use my macro lens all winter. Fortunately, my walk around lens does a great job on close up shots, and I’ve been making do with it.

But this Tuesday was macro madness indeed! And, I came upon some head stones and statues I hadn’t shot before. You could keep going back and come home with images from a different perspective.

We also met the head volunteer who is fighting the City, trying to keep the gardens as is. I hope she wins. This is going to be a 2-part post because I have so much to show you. I hope my next post about this amazing cemetery isn’t to say that the flowers are gone, because that would be a great loss.


Old and new: the Sacramento Zoo

What’s old is my new F4; 300 mm lens. Meaning, I bought a used lens. In fact all of my cameras and lenses were bought used/factory refurbished except for my D7100 body. I buy used from reputable sites and make sure the gear comes with a 90-day or 6-month warranty. That way, I’m not taking chances.

My goal in purchasing this new lens was to make it easier to catch wildlife at preserves and get through the cages at the zoo. For such limited use, I didn’t want to spend $1,900. Spending $380. was a much better option.

I haven’t tested the new lens at a wildlife preserve, but I did take it to the Sacramento Zoo. It performed well mounted on my monopod. As long as the animal was not right up front, it was easy to focus beyond the cage and onto the animal.

So far, I’m happy. The only problem with a fixed lens of 300 mm is that you’re stuck with the focal length unless you keep switching lenses or carry two cameras. I didn’t want to do either, so you’ll see many close ups! This next week, I’ll try to test it at the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area. If it performs well, then I’ll be totally happy.

Another day brought Marlene and I back to the zoo after one of our Tuesday outings. This time I only had my 18 – 140 mm lens–the opposite problem of carrying a prime telephoto! I’ll show you images from both visits in this post.

And yes, I bought the 18 – 140 mm as a factory refurbished lens and have been totally happy with this versatile walk around lens.

Printing my pictures: Back to Effie Yeaw Nature Center

I’ve reached another plateau in my photographic journey–I’m beginning to print my photos and hang them in my home. I’ve got three metal prints on the walls now: a 6 x 9 and two 8 x 12 inches. I’m also preparing five black and whites to be printed as 8 x 10 inches. Next I’ll work on my close up and macro flowers. It’s time to do this.

I’m thinking the more I see my printed pictures, the more confidence I’ll get to enter a contest. This whole journey is a process–at least for me. I was chatting with another photographer via Facebook regarding entering a contest. She is entering an image in the California State Fair contest. It’s a great image that tells a great story. She said that I should enter. I said I wasn’t ready. She suggested some of the various county fair competitions. I may do that this summer.

In the meantime, our Tuesday group visited Effie Yeaw Nature Center. I’ve shown you pictures from there before, but you never see the same thing twice. There’s always new discoveries. And, now that Marlene and I bought a membership, you’ll see a lot more of Effie Yeaw.

From Effie Yeaw to wherever my camera takes me, I’ll take you along on this amazing photographic journey.