We’re having a heat wave: The pirate festival, Vallejo California

Triple digits–for two weeks! What’s a photographer to do? Go out early? Shoot indoors? Don’t shoot? The last is not an option! So one day Linda and I drove to Vallejo early in the morning to visit the 10th Annual Northern California Pirate Festival. Well, it’s cooler in Vallejo, we got there soon after it opened and left when the heat turned up.

I guess I was expecting something like the Highland Games we went to last year. This festival was on a much smaller scale, but didn’t lack pirate enthusiasts. The vendors were in costume, but what caught my camera’s eye were the visitors. They were the show.

There were kids activities, games, food, and more family fun. But, Linda and I didn’t bring grandkids, so we observed.

We were in and out within two hours, missing the fine festival food. Instead we enjoyed lunch in nice air conditioned restaurant! So, avast ye mates, and join me at the Pirate Festival.

Do you have any other ways to avoid the heat and still get out and shoot? I’d welcome suggestions because it’s going to be a hot summer.


Oh my gosh, it’s Monday: The Yolo Wildlife Area

See, this is what happens. I had a very busy weekend with the grandkids sleeping over, and today, I’ve been shopping at the grocery store and helping my husband pack for his astronomy weekend in Aidn, California. I handled phone calls: 1. to get someone out here to fix my air conditioner up stairs and 2. to find a new home for my Toastmaster Photography club, All About Photography. I did a load of laundry and walked the dog. I just looked up at the clock: almost 3 p.m. I got a lot done, but didn’t prioritize in my 2 to 3 hours of editing study.

I know that a know a new habit takes a fairly decent time to implement. I’m hoping to do better next week. We usually eat early on Mondays so I can get to my All About Photography Club meeting on time. I’ll prioritize some time on Wednesday while I wait for the air conditioner repairman to come.

Okay, now that I’ve confessed, I want to show you images from another trip to the Yolo Wildlife Area. I’m still learning how to use the new/used F/4, 300 mm lens. On this trip, I found out that it’s not easy for me to handhold. And, you can’t use a tripod/monopod in a car. Normally, I’d rest it on the window (which is rolled down). But most of the birds inconveniently located themselves on the driver’s side. I was the passenger, and my friend Laura was the driver.

But it was a worthwhile trip, and I did learn more about handling the lens. Laura showed me that pumping up the ISO was necessary for a faster shutter speed. I’m reluctant to use a high ISO because of grain. I don’t think the grain is too bad.

Let me know what you think!


I’ve got a plan: Petaluma, California, part 3

In my last post I was bemoaning about not moving forward with my editing education. To those who responded with support and suggestions, thank you!

Monday will be my editing day with 3 hours prioritized. I think that is a good and doable approach. I also believe that once I get into it, the hours may increase.

Here’s the last on Petaluma–the churches. I have never seen so many churches in a small area. All have that small town charm. I shot the outside of most and went into the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church and shot the inside. In fact, it’s this church that I feel I did not do well on the outside.

The featured image shows its amazing steeples, but by the time we walked the house tour and got to the church, I think I was tired and my mind was blocked. However, I think I did a better job on the inside.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Monday and my 3 hours of editing. Wish me luck!

Again, no captions.

Having fun, but not making progress: Petaluma, part 2

If you’ve been following this blog, then you may remember that I began the year with a goal of learning Photoshop and other processing programs. With half the year gone, I haven’t made much progress. I can take out unwanted things easily in Photoshop, but haven’t ventured into layers. I have gotten acquainted with some processing programs, but have only used their presets.

And, no, I’m not being hard on myself; I’m just stating facts. I’ve been shooting a lot and loving it. My photography has improved too. Maybe it was just too big a goal. Maybe I need to chunk it down to learn one thing at a time with Photoshop, especially now with the big update to 2015.5 in the CC version.

Okay every week, I will learn one new thing about Photoshop. Can I do it? We’ll see. In the meantime, we will continue touring Petaluma with the  walking tour of Victorian houses. These old houses are beautiful, and the flowers are from their gardens. You’ll notice that I concentrated mostly on the doors and entries. No captions.

One new thing a week, one new thing a week. I’m beginning to feel like the “Little Engine that Could!”

Camera Totin’ Tuesdays: Petaluma, California

For me and about 15 others, Tuesdays is reserved for shooting. I’m sure I’ve told you about the group Marlene, Karen and I started after our photo buddy Greg Morris died (Our trio was called Tuesdays With Seniors). While he was ill, Karen started going out on Tuesday with us. After he passed, we felt a name change was in order and we became Camera Totin’ Tuesdays.

As we posted pictures of our adventures more photographers wanted to join us. Most of us are retired, but some join us when they can get a Tuesday off from work. It has become a fun group. We are starting to venture out of the greater Sacramento area now, and recently we went to Petaluma.

Not being a loner, I prefer to go shooting with other photographers. I love the camaraderie, the sharing of information, seeing other photographers styles and  making new friends. I watch the others and learn. Most of the time, when someone finds a great shot, they will share it. On occasion, I have gone out alone and enjoy the solitude and self creativity that ensues.

But when we went to Petaluma, we had nine photographers and a three car caravan. We found it easier to pick a meeting spot and just meet up there. As the group grows we’ll have to perfect this.  Once in the town, we had a fun day. We sort of stayed together in a loose sort of way, had lunch together, did some more shooting and then took our separate ways home.

I have never processed so many images as I have with this outing. I’m either falling in love with my pictures, getting better shots or not being discriminating enough! Well, maybe a little of all three. Or maybe I just found so much to shoot in this small town.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful for our CTT group that gets me out shooting no matter how I feel that day. This will be a 3-part post. Enjoy the architecture of the town and waterfront. I told you I edited a lot of images!




I ran as fast as I could: Flowers in San Jose

I tried to outrun a cold, but I think it caught me anyway. That’s a bummer because I want to go learn more about lighting tonight and shoot on Saturday and Sunday. So, at least during the day today, I’m taking it easy. However my dog keeps asking for his usual walk. We all learn to deal with disappointment, even him.

When I was in San Jose visiting my friends, I wanted to go to the Municipal Rose Garden, but decided to take my camera on my neighborhood walk instead. I wasn’t dissatisfied. The gardens were beautiful and well cared for. I wish I had more time and energy for a longer walk.

This proves we really don’t have to go far to find beauty. With that in mind, here are some of the beautiful flowers I was able to shoot with my 18 – 140 mm lens. No macro that day; it was too breezy. No captions today. Mostly I know the roses, but not the names of the other flowers. All I know is that they are beautiful!

After I post this I’ll rest for a couple of hours.


A day gone awry: Japanese Friendship Garden, part 2

Did you ever have one of those days? You know, the kind that are full of mishaps. Well, Friday, June 10 was one of those days for me. Oh, this has nothing to do with the Japanese Friendship Garden.

It all began when I woke up at 5 a.m. This was my last morning at my friends’ house in San Jose. My hope was to wake up around 7 a.m. so I could stay up to shoot the Milky Way at Blue Canyon Airport in the Sierras. I had it all planned: leave San Jose at 9 a.m., get home, rest and get ready for the night shoot. I couldn’t skip the shoot since we were hosting it at our observatory!

The day started wrong and continued from there:

  • I couldn’t nap during the day.
  • I was tired and left my red colored flash light home.
  • When we stopped for dinner, Richard remembered that he didn’t bring along the observatory keys. So he had to go back home to get them–a two hour round trip.
  • All the photographers came and were anxious to shoot the Milky Way. But, the cloud cover didn’t leave. Most of us left without our prize.

So, that was my day. We got home about midnight and I woke up at 5:30 a.m. the next day! Last night, I slept nine hours!

So that was my day gone awry. What about yours?

While you’re thinking about how you can better me, here are the last of the Friendship Garden images.


I wish I knew: The Japanese Friendship Garden, Kelley Park, San Jose

I guess I lived 12 years in San Jose without know the existence of the Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park. Was I that busy that I didn’t take the time to explore all of San Jose. I did find Hakone Gardens in Saratoga and many other places in West San Jose, but never took time to explore South San Jose.

When you visit the Friendship Garden, be prepared for a walk. It is expansive. Most Japanese gardens I have visited are compact and less rambling. The pond is also long and rambling. It didn’t open until 10 a.m. By the time I got there, parked, paid for my parking and gathered what I would need for the shoot, it was about 10:30 a.m. The sun was already streaming down brightly.

The surprises in the garden were a Canadian goose family and a great egret. Left with only one gosling, the geese protected their baby by hissing at anyone who walked by. The egret was fishing and couldn’t care less about us humans.

It was a pleasant morning, and I appreciated being out. Photography has helped me learn more about the Sacramento area, and now it’s helping see more of San Jose as I visit my dear friends.

Here are some of the images. This will be a 2-part post.


Too hot outside; shoot inside: The California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento

When it’s triple digits, it’s even too hot to shoot in the early morning hours. And even though I had been to Old Sacramento for the Sacramento Music Festival, I suggested the California State Railroad Museum. There were three of us that morning, Jim, Marlene and me from our Camera Totin’ Tuesday group.

Jim went in without flash, but an excellent lens. Marlene went in with a great lens and flash. I went in with my 18 – 140 mm lens and flash. Jim gave me the excellent hint that he was shooting on Aperture Priority. So I tried it out. It worked well. This is where you set the aperture and the camera does the rest. Oh, I didn’t mention that the lighting was lousy: low light with different bulbs, some LEDs and some tungsten. So there were patches of yellow light and some with white light. I found my flash useful in some cases and in others not. This was a great exercise in flash use.

I’ve been to the Railroad Museum with my young grandkids many times, but never with a camera. While we could use a flash, we couldn’t bring in tripods–another obstacle to make this shoot more difficult.

My spirits perked up when I found the mirrors! One of the trains was parked on a floor of mirrors, in front of a wall of mirrors, with mirrors overhead. This is either a photographers dream or nightmare! I had such fun. I’ll show you some of reflections I shot.

All in all, it was a great indoor outing. Followed by an indoor lunch. It’s triple digits again today. It’s going to be a hot summer!


Back again: The West Sacramento River Walk

A place revisited can bring surprises. That’s the way it was with the West Sacramento River Walk. Marlene and I had been there with Greg Morris (who passed away in January) and returned recently with Camera Totin’ Tuesdays members.

But what had changed? The geese had goslings, more homeless were around, and different vendors were selling their wares at the farmers’ market. Oh, and Karen brought her 3″ crystal orb for us to practice with.

So, you’ll see different images in this post. What did I learn? I learned that shooting through a 3″ orb is more difficult than a 4″ orb. However the 3″ is much lighter to carry. Weight is a consequence when you’re a senior. In spite of that, I did purchase a 4.2″ orb. But, I have yet to practice with it.

I’m becoming more confident in my photographic journey. The more compliments I receive, the more positive about my abilities I get. That’s why I don’t mind going back to places I’ve already shot at. I see things differently and can find those surprises.