You just have to like Jelly Belly jelly beans. They tempt you with so many flavors like popcorn, chocolate, cherry. These are just some I like. So, when we decided to do a shoot at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, I knew some of the shooting would be a challenge, but at the end would be a bag of belly flops for me to buy.
First let me explain what belly flops are. They are the candies that just are not perfect. Some are not shaped correctly and some are double or triple beans stuck together. They taste the same as the pristine jelly beans, but cost a lot less.
So there’s the candy at the end of the rainbow; what about the photographic challenge? My challenge was to shoot inside without flash, through somewhat dirty glass at the factory below us. This was my first time shooting with a circular polarizer filter. I also decided to use my Sigma 17 – 24 mm, F/2.8 – 4 lens, hoping that would add additional needed light. I also needed to get everything in focus. I think I was successful, but the subject was sort of boring. When you look at the images, you will get an idea of what they do in the factory.
An additional challenge was put before me: the windows at floor level were cleaner than the ones at standing height. So I squatted my way through the self-guided tour. It took a week for the muscles in my quadriceps to relax! When the tour ended, I was really too tired to shoot the colorful goodies in the store. I did a little, but oh my!
I do like Jelly Bellys and took home a 5 lb. bag of flops. I’m going through them slowly, restricting myself to a certain amount each day.
The Jelly Belly Factory entrance.
The tour has started. Only a certain number of guests are allowed to tour at one time.
This rooster is made from Jelly Bellys.
On the factory floor.
I think they are sorting and packaging.
This boy is looking at a picture of Ronald Reagan made from Jelly Beans.
Here’s another of Abe Lincoln.
More of the factory. These are different rooms.
Jelly beans in crates.
The beans are spinning.
More colorful beans are stacked on the floor.
These guests are getting a private tour–on the factory floor!
Colorful balloons in the entry.
Hey, these aren’t jelly beans!
I wonder what flavor these are?
A dad and daughter gaze at the giant jelly bean outside the entry.
Last year, the sun was shining, the tulips were open and we were in a drought. This year, it was drizzling, threatening to pour as we visited the Crystal Hermitage Gardens in Ananda Village, Nevada City. It was still beautiful, in fact the flowers were more vibrant.
This was a learning experience also–isn’t every outing. I had never shot in rain, and it was a challenge at first. I put my camera into a protective plastic sleeve, but had difficulty turning the lens barrel. So I shot with the cover on top of the camera. Very inconvenient! Between shots, I tucked my camera under my jacket. The drizzle kept up most of the time we were there. One time it came pouring down and we ducked for cover.
Ananda Village is a cooperative spiritual community dedicated to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, founded by his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda. It’s a peaceful place and the people are great. Yearly they plant tulips in a terraced garden and invite the public to visit. We weren’t the only people walking the garden that morning, and not the only ones with cameras. I wish it wasn’t so far away. I enjoy meditating and this place would be great.
We were there on a Tuesday, and the sun didn’t shine until Friday. I heard that we had more rain this year than Seattle, Washington. One ski resort is thinking of staying open all summer! Could you guess–the drought is officially over. As I write this blog, it’s overcast and threatening to rain.
Rain or sunshine, I’m not worried about the tulip garden. They will have visitors no matter what the weather.
This gazebo is a lovely image.
Tulips aren’t the only flowers.
A meditation pool.
Closed tulip with a green streak.
One of the tulip beds.
The benches are also beautiful.
Another flower bed.
I love the colors.
This isn’t one tulip. It’s two.
Beautiful color and water drops.
Pretty in purple and white.
The path to the chapel.
Even a squirrel can get thirsty!
You’ve got to love Laura’s enthusasim when it comes to photography. I do. So, on a recent weekend morning, about 8 a.m., when she suggested we go down to Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP), a nature preserve of 46,000 acres, to catch the tail end of the morning’s golden hour, I scrambled. I always need that push to get up early, stay up late, etc. Laura gives me that push.
In my rush to get out, I left my backpack that contained, snacks, hiking shoes etc. at home. Another truth about me: I will shoot in Birkenstocks whenever I can because my feet don’t like to be confined (a bad arthritic toe). Luckily, we were walking on the dirt paths around CRP.
But we weren’t lucky enough to catch the last of the golden hour because there wasn’t any! Fog! This was the second time we caught the morning fog at CRP. The last time we were able to catch glistening spider webs on plants. That morning there were none. The rains had washed away the webs and the spiders hadn’t returned yet.
Because of the fog, I decided to use my Sigma 2.8, 17 – 70 mm lens; but, that meant I didn’t have the ability to catch the birds out in the distance. When the fog lifted, I switched to my Nikon 55 – 300 mm lens so I was able to catch a few birds.
In the end, we did get the sun’s glow and the moody fog. All in all, it was a fun morning.
A scene of fog and reflection.
The water was so still.
No neutral density filters needed.
The fog jus sits on the water.
The fog has lifted off the water here.
Wide angle view of the marsh.
A great blue heron is fishing.
He goes for his prey.
After success, he moves on.
A red-winged black bird.
I couldn’t find this one in my bird book. Maybe a young Goldfinch?
A rooster of course.
I move slowly–I know it. So, when people started telling me I should enter my photos in competitions, I was reluctant. I didn’t know how to prepare them, didn’t know where to enter, etc. To help push me along, I joined the Sierra Camera Club.
This is a big step for me because they have two monthly juried competitions. Last week I put two images in competition. Wow, that was intense. I was really looking for guidance and constructive criticism. Scoring was 8 points at the low end and 12 at the high end. I really did not have any expectations of what score my photos would bring, I just wanted to hear what the judge had to say.
He went through more than 100 images in the open category and half that in the artistic category. I learned a great deal that night from listening to him. Oh, my images scored an 11 and 12. Below is “Capitol Moon” the one that earned 12 points. Not bad for the first time. And the expertise of many members is tremendous. Their photos were outstanding. Some of them warned me from experience not to get upset when I score my first “8” since judging was subjective.
Next month, I need to print out some pictures for the competition. I’m still looking forward to it, knowing the judge will be different and may be more tough. For me it’s a big step towards learning more.
For this post, I’m taking you back to the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. My Tuesday group went there recently. I was hoping that with all the rain, the flowers would be blooming. No such luck. So I tried to shoot close up and do a little HDR. We did take the Cottage tour, bringing us inside the cottage (not the small cottage you may be picturing). See it again, but differently, through my camera lens.
This flower looks more like a cactus. Spider web: a bonus.
This is an HDR image of the stamp.
Another part of the mine.
An HDR image of the mining offices.
One of the rooms. I shot this through chicken wire.
Part of a machine being readied for display.
I just loved her hair and boots!
Looking through the spokes.
Approaching the club house.
One of two fountains.
Have you ever felt like a dog that’s chasing his tail? I’m sure you have at one point or another. March felt like that for me. Between getting ready for my Georgia trip, going on it, and doing photography to help with the emotional stress I knew it was bringing, I forgot to post my trip to Capay Valley.
Our Camera Totin’ Tuesday group went there to shoot the blossoms of the almond trees. There are many orchards in the valley, and fortunately they are all on different time tables of blooming. We were too late for some and just in time for others.
Timing in landscape photography is critical, and so is knowledge of the area. What I’m realizing is that I’m not the most patient photographer! I also rely on other photographers’ knowledge rather than research it for myself. I guess that makes me lazy in addition to impatient! I’d like to climb out of that rut but there are other things grabbing my time. I keep reading that a good photographer should do the research on the area they are shooting, go during the right time of the day and have the patience to sit there for the shot. I’m lucky I have people I can rely on!
Back to Capay Valley. We had a fun day of driving, finding almond orchards, farms and more. We took off with an end in mind and wandered until we got there. Cell phones helped us keep the three cars together.
I did enjoy it, and I’m sorry that I didn’t post sooner on this beautiful area, but………..you know!
An almond orchard in overcast skies.
One farmer let us shoot on his mother’s property.
His mom was just placed in a home and he is taking care of her land.
This is a large farm. Good for collecting stuff.
Some of the stuff was old and rusted.
A mirror reflection! If you look in the window, you can see a reflection of the mirror.
Watch out for those turkeys!
A house with an adobe type exterior wall.
I thought it was pretty.
More of the same.
A artistic rendition of the almond orchard.
A different angle.
Mustard and an almond orchard.
Landscape from Cache Creek Casino.
Stained glass door at the casino club house.
With my GPS to guide us, Brenda (my sister-in-law) and I set out to find the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the first outing that brought us a good distance out of Peachtree City. After driving around town with me, Brenda was used to going around in circles, and this trip was no different! We did find the museum and a parking lot, and only went around the block once!
When you first go in, there’s a reception area where visitors are given a soda. You wait and then the tour begins. The kid giving me a soda was doing his welcome bit and asked where I was from. When he heard California, he said, “I want to visit there someday. I hear you have some nice hills.” Well, I just had to tell him that those hills were called mountains and were more than 7,000 feet high! I do love living in California.
The tour was fun and took most of the day with time out for a lunch break. When we got back, we went to see my brother for my last time. For me this was, barring a miracle, good-bye. That night, I sat feeling so empty inside.
After a few days home, we did have a miracle of sorts. My nephew sent me a picture of my brother with his head up. He couldn’t lift it up for more than a week. At least he can see people and eat if he wants.
I’m just hoping his angels and internal GPS guide him on his journey. Love you Chuck!
I helped this young man make mountains out of hills!
Lots of color in the first auditorium where the history of the soda was explained.
You all know who this is!
The first batches of soda were blended in a bowl.
An old delivery truck.
Old soda machines.
An old dispenser.
A wall that had reflections.
Handheld slow shutter of a moving object.
A conveyor belt.
This was in the pop art room.
Another piece of pop art.
My favorite piece of pop art.
The door to the vault containing the secret formula.
I’m not sure what this was. I think a display where kids could create these colors and patterns.
We had a couple of schools there that day and the kids were crowded around this area, having fun.
You can live in a neighborhood and not know what beauty is close by unless you get out and explore. During my visit to Peachtree City, Georgia, I wanted to take my sister-in-law out beyond the boundaries her golf cart would take her. She’s been busy caregiving to my brother and doesn’t drive. I found Starr’s Mill on the internet and was astounded that it was so close to her home. The original mill was constructed in 1825. The current mill was the third built on the stone foundation and is over 100 years old. Currently it is used as a day use park, photographic spot and fishing hole.
I found it to be a beautiful and calming spot. This trip also helped me realize that photography grounds me, taking my mind off what’s going on around me. When I’m shooting, I’m concentrating on my surroundings and what I need to do to get the image I want. The rest of the world goes away.
I brought my camera along, not to create photo outings, but to give me a different purpose during my visit.
One such outing was my first ride in a small plane. My great nephew, Daylen, offered me a ride. The first day we couldn’t go because of the weather. Fortunately, he was able to take me up the next day. What fun! I’ve become good at shooting out of open car windows while on the road, but this was entirely different. I had a great time. Daylen explained what I was looking at. At one point, I stopped shooting and just looked out the window. Fantastic! Thank you Daylen!!
If this post has to have a moral, it’s to stop and look at your surroundings (even in the sky). Good possibilities can be so close.
The mill stone foundation.
A closer look.
The small lake behind the mill.
Looking at the mill beside the lake.
The plane I flew in.
Daylen goes through his check list.
Inside the cockpit.
We’re ready to fly.
I’ve never shot from a plane before.
Daylen just got his pilot’s license.
He’s licensed to fly just below the clouds.
I think this is the clearest shot I got.
There are lots of small lakes and ponds in the area.
I did my best, shooting through the window in a moving plane.
The ride is over, and the plane is parked.