On the road again: San Francisco

I didn’t say yes right away, I thought about it. First, I had never stayed in a hostel, and I’m not fond of driving in San Francisco. But I capitulated, and told photo buddy Linda that I’d go with her–if she drove. Oh yes, I also told her I wouldn’t rent an electric bike to take me places. I won’t say how many years it’s been since I’ve been on a bike, but I was worried about my balance and whatever photography gear I would be carrying.

It ended up being three days of fun and adventure. And, we did okay using Linda’s car. We found free parking wherever we went that was close to where we were shooting. I think it had something to do with visiting during the week. We did have to pay to park the last day, but were validated for most of the amount.

So what did we do? Our first stop was Treasure Island. I was there on a night Meetup to photograph the Bliss Dance statue before she was moved, and I wanted to shoot in that same area during the day. It was so much easier to get a sharp image of the city this time, even though there was fog.

After Treasure Island, we went to Fort Point National Historic Site at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Built between 1853 and 1861, Fort Point was used as part of a defense system of forts planned for the protection of San Francisco Bay. Designed at the height of the Gold Rush, the Fort and its companion fortifications would protect the Bay’s important commercial and military installations against foreign attack. We made a few more stops before checking in to the Hostel. All this and more will be discussed in the next few posts.

I’m so glad I finally said yes to this photo adventure and probably part of Linda’s bucket list.



The waiting game: Fireworks after the River Cats Game

While the minor league baseball team, the River Cats, play baseball, we photographers play the waiting game outside the field. We’re waiting for the game to be over so we can capture the fireworks show. How long do we wait? It depends on how great the game is!

Once a month, the River Cats shoot off firework after a home game. I did this last year, with better success; however, I had help. This evening I was on my own, testing various settings. I wasn’t alone though, there were photo buddies along from the Sacramento Photographers. 

What did I learn? I learned that once you set up and have a great composition, don’t move the camera. When the fireworks started, I saw that the second grouping was further away from the main group of fireworks than I remembered from last year. So I quickly turned my tripod. MISTAKE! I would have done better to edit the smaller grouping out of the pictures and had a good composition. I lost the bottom of the bridge. So I cut in close during processing. If I didn’t mention it, you’d probably think that’s the way I meant it to be.

But, you’re reading this and joining me in my photographic journey. Maybe you’ll be able to learn from my mistake. I’ll be down there again to play that waiting game. It’s all a learning process.


Those little buggers: Rush Ranch, Suisun City, California

Those little buggers are called mosquitoes,  and they were biting at Rush Ranch during a recent visit. We backtracked to Rush Ranch after leaving Grizzly Island and eating lunch. It wasn’t too far, and I knew there were things to shoot.

Rush Ranch is an operating facility and is part of the Solano County Farmlands & Open Space Foundation that provides educational programs. There are hiking trails and  grasslands. And, this time, there were mosquitoes. And did they bite!

Those who entered the barn to photograph the two barn owls were ferociously attacked. I decided the shot would not be worth the pain. I didn’t venture on any of the trails either. Nevertheless, I was bitten on my left index finger which took a little more than a week for the swelling to go down!

I’ve been there before and there were no little buggers to feast on us. You can never predict what environment you’ll encounter on a shoot!

Enjoy what I did get of Rush Ranch before rushing back into the car. The old equipment is there as museum pieces. All photos were shot and processed in HDR. No captions are necessary.

Bearing the summer: Grizzly Island, Suisun City, California

You just can’t predict what you’ll find or don’t find when you go out shooting. It was a gamble going to Grizzly Island, a wildlife area just outside of Suisun City, in the summer, but we hadn’t been there so…what the heck.

When our Camera Totin Tuesday group got there, the rangers told us of Tule Elk, river otters and the birds that inhabit the area. It’s a large area, and we were allowed to get out of our cars and walk. Many wildlife areas don’t allow this because they don’t want the birds to be frightened. Many other wildlife areas allow hunters to shoot in specific areas and photographers and bird watchers in another (away from the hunters). At Grizzly Island, bird watchers and photographers have the early summer and hunters have a time of their own.

However, after driving around and walking, we didn’t see Tule Elk, hardly any birds (the ones we saw were far away) or river otters. Oh, I lied, one of our photographers happened to catch a river otter as it jumped out of a storm drain. We also saw three otters cross the road, but couldn’t find them when we drove up to their crossing place. So no otter photos for us.

We did get images of pelicans at a distance and some nice landscape images. I guess we’ll have to go back after some rain next winter. The wildlife might be more abundant then. But, who knows, you can’t predict these things!

Enjoy the landscape, pelicans and and egret from Grizzly Island.


Enjoying a cooling trend: The California State Fair

It’s great to live near the State Capitol–you don’t have to travel far to enjoy State functions. So why did it take me 15 years to go to the California State Fair? I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s held in the middle of the summer heat! But my Toastmaster Photography Club got lucky because on our scheduled attendance evening, it was cool! So our small group in All About Photography Toastmasters met at 6:30 p.m. and enjoyed the evening.

I hung out with Linda for the night. Since I wanted to experience what I could in the short amount of time we had, we walked quickly and covered a lot of ground. My only disappointment was not finding the animals.

It was easy to get lost. There were at least three ferris wheels and additional duplicated rides. You couldn’t say, “Meet me at the ferris wheel!” It was Linda’s first time using slow shutter speed to catch effects and using the zoom technique for abstracts. She started out slow, but caught on and got some great pictures.

You won’t go hungry at the fair. Food booths were all over the place. You could eat somewhat healthy with chicken skewers or go totally wild with a deep fried Snicker bar covered in whipped cream and fudge. Ouch!

Linda and I ate before we arrived and just indulged in an iced mocha (me) and smoothie (Linda). I’m thinking I should have tried the funnel cake instead!

Hopefully there will be some cool days next year because I intend to go back during the day and shoot more. I’ll also be entering some photos in the competition. So why don’t you take a look.


I guess I’m being humble: Point Reyes, Part 2

Without really understanding the effective uses of slow shutter speeds, I named this journal Slow Shutter Speed because that’s how I felt my photographic abilities were moving along. But that was when I got my D3100 and was a total newbie. The learning curve was difficult, and I learned through shooting, reading and asking questions. I’ve never taken a class. Along the way, I met many terrific photographers who were more than willing to help. The purpose of this blog was and still is to take you along on my journey.

So why am I going into this, I’ve received comments from friends that I’m being to hard on myself and not realizing how far I’ve come with my skill level. I do realize that my skills have increased, but I’m shy by nature and don’t usually toot my own horn. I recognize that I’m now asked to help a new photographer, can offer suggestions on shooting and editing, and hold my own in the field.

Some of you who have followed this blog from the beginning, know where my photographic journey has taken me. And, some of you are very gracious with your wonderful comments. For me, it’s like shooting in the fog I encountered at Point Reyes National Seashore. I look at each challenge with trepidation, jump in, conquer it and soon the fog is lifted.

In today’s post, I’m showing you some of the less foggy images of Point Reyes.

I almost forgot: Leanne Cole has brought me back to my writing roots by asking me to do a regular column in her amazing online quarterly magazine. We are calling it “Senior Moments,” and the magazine is “Dynamic Range.” Look for it at www.leannecole.com.au.

Weather or not: Point Reyes, part 1

This was a first for me–shooting in dense fog. I learned a lot in a recent Meet Up shoot to Point Reyes National Seashore on the coast. It was my first time and I truly wasn’t prepared for the totally socked in adventure I was about to have.

At first I thought, “What moody images this will make.” I had no idea that the fog would make focusing difficult! Auto focus had its problems, so I tried to focus manually. Even that was hard.

In addition, I wasn’t well during the week and only did part of the trails, meaning I didn’t reach the beach where it wasn’t so foggy. I basically concentrated on what I could do rather on what I couldn’t.

Today, I’m posting some images so you’ll get an idea of the fog. It was an amazing first for me.

Crystal Ball Fun: Gibson Ranch

My crystal ball won’t tell the future, but it sure is fun to take on a photo outing. After trying a couple of my photo buddies’ crystal balls, I decided to get one. They are fun, but my 4.2 inch is heavy and bulky to carry around. I found an old point and shoot camera bag that it could fit into, and it helped to carry it over my shoulder during a July 4 morning shoot at Gibson Ranch with Laura.

If you’re thinking of buying a crystal ball/orb, don’t go bigger than mine. Photo buddy Karen has a 4″ and 3″. She prefers the 3″ because it fits into a jacket pocket and is lighter to carry. I find the smaller orb more difficult to shoot through and to get some of the background identifiable in the background. One recommendation is to get one that sits on a crystal base rather than a wood base.

If you haven’t shot through a crystal ball, it gives an upside down image of what you’re shooting and looks almost like a fish-eye effect. Here’s one:


Of course, you can right side up the image and have the background upside down. In this picture, the blurred background is what you see in the ball. My goal is to learn how to crop out the ball’s base. Just another challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I have been attacking  Photoshop, but not on Mondays. We can schedule, but things do come up. Last week I broke open “Photoshop for Lightroom Users” by Scott Kelby. I’m learning some of the tools and to do little things right now. I’ve also investigated some of the other software I have as I edit.

So gaze into my crystal ball, enjoy and have fun!


One off Linda’s bucket list: Donner Lake Tunnels

I’m sorry to say that I really don’t have a bucket list. But, happily, photo buddy Linda does!

Her bucket list brought her, Marlene and I back to Donner Lake for the third time this year. I’ve lived in the Sacramento area for 15 years and had never been there. Thank goodness for photography. This hobby has taken me to more places I could imagine. And, back to those places.

During this Donner Lake trip, we specifically went to see the Donner Lake Railroad Tunnels that were on Linda’s bucket list. Fortunately, she knew of a way we could get there without hiking up the rocky mountain. Driving there and parking the car was easier, especially for three seniors.

These three tunnels totaling 1,659 feet were the first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevada Range. Built largely by Chinese workers, the tunnels were completed in August 1867 and the first train passed through it on June 18th, 1868. The last train passed through in 1993 when the route was changed to a new location.

We passed through it on July 2, 2016. Well, we made it through the first two short tunnels and half way through the long third one. The train rails are gone, and the walls are decorated with graffiti. It’s an experience to do at least once, and the doors in the third tunnel exit to an excellent view of Donner Lake.

After the tunnels, we drove back down and rode around the Lake. It was very different in the summer. In the winter it was serene and beautiful; however, in the summer, it was crowded. I’ll show you both images.

I enjoyed this trip, but I wonder what else is on Linda’s photo bucket list? We’ll see.




Happy Birthday USA

I missed the fireworks at our neighborhood block party yesterday. I was inside holding my Schnoodle, Gem, who was wrapped in his favorite throw. It was the only way to calm him down and stop him from shaking. This is one of the by products of legal fireworks. The noise scares animals.

But, I did get to shoot some fireworks the night before. Linda and I went to the Sun City Roseville fireworks show. We were a little disappointed because most of the beauty was at the tree line with only a few above them. But, this did give us an opportunity to get some light trails along with the bursts.

This was my first time shooting without an expert helping with exposure, shutter speed, etc. I began experimenting with different shutter speeds, leaving my aperture at F/ 14. Also we were closer than I’ve been before, so shooting at 18 mm was a must to gain focus.

The next day, our block party started at 7 p.m. with games. We have more kids on the block now and former residents came to visit. There were more people than I expected. We haven’t been home the last 2 holidays and things have changed.

It was fun, and it was good to see the block full of young kids again. By the time the car race (Each car was powered by Piccolo Pete fireworks.) was over it was almost too dark to shoot the rest of the games, so I put my camera away and just enjoyed–until the fireworks started! Next year, Gem is getting a tranquilizer!