Lens-Artists Challenge #120: What a treat!

This week’s challenge from Tina at Travels and Trifles can send us off in many directions. Treats can be a hot fudge sundae, grandkids, wonderful memories and more. Just let your imagination run free. I was having a difficult time deciding until I read John’s post on flight which reminded me of a special treat my great nephew Daylen gave me when he took me up in his family’s small plane.

I was visiting family in Peachtree City, Georgia, in March 2017, when this amazing opportunity happened. Daylen had just gotten his pilots license (His Dad is a pilot.) and offered me a ride. Wow! It was a small plane. I’m not sure how more than two people could fit in it even though it had two back seats. When I climbed on the wing and looked down into the passenger seat, I remember saying to Daylen, “I can get in, but don’t laugh when I get out!”

It was a wonderful experience. When I asked if we could go higher, he said he wasn’t licensed to fly above the clouds! Here’s my flight.

Thanks Tina for bringing back a wonderful memory and treat!

Looking for color: Sierra County

It’s been so long since I was on a day-long road trip. I guess I was complaining a lot so Jean said let’s go. I said I wanted to shoot the Fall colors but wasn’t so keen about going to Hope Valley again. She suggested Sierra Valley in Sierra County where she once lived, and since she was driving off we went. We, or I should say Jean, drove about 330 miles that day.

I found, after out last road trip, that Jean likes water–well, taking pictures of water. There are many small lakes in Sierra Valley and we stopped at one. Sorry, I don’t remember its names but it was beautiful.

If you notice most of the pictures don’t have clouds, but this one does. I’m getting better with Luminar sky replacement.

We drove and drove, stopping here and there. I was able to get a little bit of Fall color which was great since we didn’t reach our destination! Here are some images.

I caught a few other scenic images. We went through the small town of Sierraville. I thought the barber shop was aptly named!

We ended up at Jean’s old stomping ground, Loyalton.

We ended the day with dinner. I had the best burger since the pandemic began. We ate outside with plenty of space between tables. I had so much fun, and want to do it again soon.

Lens-Artist Challenge #119: My Hideaway

This challenge brought to us by Ann-Christine is a difficult one for me because I really don’t have a hideaway. I even checked the dictionary to see if I could put a twist on it, but the dictionary let me down. One thing I could possible spin off on is that a hideaway is a place to get away from people. So, let’s expand that to getting away from it all. When I want to get away from it all, I go on a photo road trip.

These day trips began when I met Greg Morris a fellow photographer who passed away in 2016. He would pick me up in the morning with some destination in mind. We might reach it or we might not. Either way, it was an adventure.

Soon Marlene joined us and our threesome would venture out every Tuesday. Since he was driving, we had no control of where we went. Well, we did, but we didn’t want to! When Greg became terminally ill with glioblastoma brain cancer, Marlene and I would take him out to places he had taken us. We would take turns walking with him.

This post is dedicated to Greg Morris who showed me the fun of getting in the car, with maybe a destination in mind, and enjoying the get-a-way day. Here are some pictures of our last outing with him to Discovery Park in Sacramento. This park is a the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers.

Thank you Ann-Christine for taking me down memory lane. I still enjoy road trips and went out with my friend Jean yesterday for one. Like driving with Greg, we never did reach our destination, but we did have fun!

Luminar frustration: Old Sacramento

Did you ever have a problem only to be sent around in circles? Unfortunately, I’m writing this post just after encountering a problem with Luminar.

I’m licensed for Luminar 4, and in the short time I’ve had it, I love it! I get an email regarding what looks like an update to Luminar 4.3. Great! Not so great. Once I install the update, it tells me I downloaded a free trial. If I have a license, put it in this box. I copied and pasted my license number in the box, and it says it’s not associated with my email.

I try a few more things, and finally it says that license number is associated with my email! In frustration, I tried to get a hold of tech support. The chat box opened. This chat is computer operated–no live person at the other end. To make a long story less long. The chat bot, as it’s called, gave me instructions that either didn’t work or sent me in circles. I’m currently waiting for a tech support reply. Do you hear my screams??

Okay on to Old Sacramento. We went down there for a sunset. I was amazed at how crowded it was, and many people weren’t masked. That made me a little uncomfortable, so I tried to stay away from people as best I could. There weren’t any clouds, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to replace the skies with Luminar. It worked well, and for the most part I was happy with the results.

Here are some before and after shots.

This was the first one I did. A photo buddy suggested moving the cloud so that it wasn’t directly over the tree, but since it was a Luminar sky, I couldn’t.

This one I went from Lightroom to Luminar to Nik Silver Efex.

Another attempt with a much smaller sky.

And finally, this image got me into the trouble today. I was looking for a tutorial on cleaning up a sky replacement, but first went into my email. I should have gone to the tutorial first. This is the Tower bridge. I liked the sunset sky, but the second tower seems to have the sunset sky run through it. If anyone has a suggestion how to eliminate that thin bit of sky, let me know!

Luminar had nothing to do with this last image; just mother nature and a boat.

I’ll let you know how I make out with Luminar in another post. Maybe my next one! Hopefully in my next post!!

Lens-Artists #118: Communication

What an exciting topic from our guest host Biasini with some help from her human Ma Leueen who helped her out with the typing. Horses can’t type. You’ll have to read the original super interesting post here.

Animals do communicate with each other and humans. My dog Gem will continuously ask me to take him for a walk until I finally do. One morning he came to me while I was eating breakfast. I knew what he wanted, a walk. I told him it was too early and to come back in one hour. He came back in 58 minutes. I told him he was 2 minutes too early! True story.

I love going to the Sacramento Zoo just to visit with the animals. They talk to each other.

Music speaks to us in different ways. I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, but music is an important part of my life. It brings back memories. And it touches our hearts, especially when the memory is mutual. Richard and I used to work the Sacramento Music Festival until it closed. Two of our favorites were Tom Rigney and Flambeau and Dave Bennett.

Music also tells us about different cultures. Last year’s Asian New Year Festival in Isleton featured taiko drummers. They were amazing. Along with their music came an explanation of the culture attached.

And finally there is human non-verbal communication. Marlene and I happened to be in San Francisco for a photo walk along the Embarcadero. These next two images communicate human emotion.

Communication is key to our getting along as a society. The animals at the zoo know that, do we?

On a hunting trip: Wide Open Walls

We weren’t hunting with guns; we were hunting with our cameras — for murals. Each year Sacramento hosts Wide Open Walls and invites artists to paint amazing images on the sides of buildings. These paintings are huge.

We never get to see them all, so we photograph what we can. Some are from years back, but they are new to us. I’ve shown you some before. This year we only saw a fraction of the new art. I guess we’ll have to go back.

I was shooting with my Fujifilm, so I didn’t have my ultra-wide 10 – 20 mm lens available. But I think the 18 to 55 mm did a good job. Sometimes I had to angle the image to get the entire mural in.

Here are some of these colorful masterpieces. Click on each image to see it in its entirety.

We heard there was a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsberg painted before her death. We hunted and found it in an alley behind a restaurant. Some great murals are in alleys, but I’m hoping they do another in a more prominent location.

While hunting for these murals, I found other things to photograph which I’ll show you in another post. Hopefully I’ll go hunting again for murals soon!

Lens-Artists #117: A photo walk

Whether in the city or country-side, I love photo walks. Thank you Amy of Share and Connect for choosing this topic. It’s a great way to relax, observe, see opportunities and shoot pictures. However, here in Sacramento, between the pandemic and smoke from fires, taking photo walks has been minimal. Of the few activities this year, my trip to the Sacramento Zoo and Gibson Ranch stand out.

The Sacramento Zoo. I love the zoo, and typically spend 2 hours walking it. It closed early on in the pandemic and when they were permitted to reopen, it was under strict guidelines. We needed to make online reservations, you couldn’t request a time slot, and they only let in a certain amount of visitors at a time. My time slot came early in the afternoon. Typically I would get there when they opened in the morning before the big cats took their naps. However my ticket was for 1:30 p.m. Wow, animals that were traditionally inactive in the morning were active. Here are some images from that zoo afternoon.

Another time we went to Gibson Ranch in Elverta. I hadn’t been there in a long time and wanted to get familiar with my new 80 mm macro lens. I didn’t think I’d be able to do much true macro work, but I wanted to see what else it could do. Gibson Ranch has a pond, barn, animals, horse stables and horses. It’s typical to find families feeding the ducks and geese, horses being groomed and rode, and people taking trail rides.

I’ve since used my macro lens on flowers, etc. It’s great.

There are so many other places to stroll about with a camera in the Sacramento area. I’m just waiting for the smoke to clear!