When I hear the word “soft” in photography terms, right away my mind goes to a beautiful bokeh background. This week’s challenge from Ann Christine is on things soft. She gave many examples on how we can interpret this challenge, but I’ll stick with the pleasing muted backgrounds.
Flowers with a bokeh background was the first type of shooting I wanted to learn when I started photography.
But then I started thinking that animals can also have a bokeh background too.
Let’s see what else I can find.
There are some very small daffodils outside my front door. If it wasn’t so windy, I’d go out and shoot them for inclusion in this post. Thank you Ann Christine!
For me, going to the Sacramento Zoo is like seeing old friends. You get to know some animals by name, you learn their behavior and watch their babies grow. My camera group decided since the zoo was open again, we needed to visit. Right now you just can’t go to the zoo on a whim. You need to go online and buy your ticket for a specific time slot. Even though I’m a member, I still have to reserve a time slot. They can only let in a certain number of people at a time for each specified slot.
So, we were at the zoo at 10:30 a.m. Fortunately, the large cats were still awake, having eaten their bones. It was a Thursday–bone day!
I enjoy our weekly challenges because they help bring back memories of fun photo outings. And, as I dig way back into prior years, I see how my photography has improved. This week Patti has given us the letter “S” and suggested many ways we could post on it.
I just dove into my archives and here are some memories that I enjoyed re-visiting.
In 2018, Marlene and I went with a Meetup group for a photo walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It was a wonderful day topped off with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (There aren’t any in Sacramento!). On the left is a probable homeless man sleeping on a bench. On the right is a sightseeing bus with lots of tourists. What a dichotomy of life.
Also taken in 2018 is a sunset with sunflowers taken in Yolo County.
The snow beckons, but not in the middle of a storm or when it’s 6-feet deep. I’m a fair-weather-snow type of gal. I like the ambient temperature not freezing and to have ample snow on the ground. Had we made it up to Donner Lake a few days earlier it would have been perfect, but life did not permit. But it was still good when we did get there.
Donner Lake Village is a small town wrapping around the lake. It’s quaint and attracts tourists and residents year round. It is close to all major sky areas for winter sports, and in the summer is just stunning. When we went up, I didn’t even need to put my snow boots on. The weather was perfect.
The lake is about 1 1/2 hours from my home. Richard drove and Ray and Sally came along. Here are some of my images captured that day.
Wow! Guest host, Sheetal, has asked us to share what “makes your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.” If I have to narrow it down, other than close friends and family, my photographic journey brings me joy. Before I retired, products I produced for clients, helping someone become a better speaker and writing articles brought me joy. I was totally immersed in their world and bringing their story out.
Photography allows me to do that for myself. Writing about it through our Lens-Artists challenges allows me to recognize it and savor it. How many chances do we get to talk about ourselves or show ourselves through our pictures?
So, what do I love to shoot? When asked that question I always reply, “Everything but portraits!” Let’s begin with the Sacramento Zoo. I do enjoy going there and must while they are open again. If you go on bone day, you can see the big cats gnawing their bones or maybe ready for a nap after a well-enjoyed treat.
I also enjoy visiting the nearby Effie Yeaw Nature Center where can see deer, coyotes, and other animals in their wild world along the American River.
Sometimes when a planned outing goes awry, it can work out well anyway. That’s what happened when my photo group decided to walk along the American River starting at Folsom Dam.
Our organizer gave us an address to meet at. Easy? Not when you don’t follow GPS directions. My bad! But when we got there we (Donna and I) arrived at the Miners Ravine Trail parking lot. This was not the shopping center meet point. We had the wrong address. Even with the right address, we got lost. Finally we met our group who was past the patience point. Marlene had brought her dog (almost a year old) who was doing okay with the loud traffic, but would he do well walking across a busy street and along the dam? One member (Jean) was still lost and hadn’t arrived yet.
I told the others to go ahead; I would wait for Jean and maybe follow them. I told Marlene about the Miners Ravine Trail head we found, and she agreed it would be more suitable for her dog. I ran to take a picture of the dam. Jean gave up and went home!
Are you frustrated yet? I was! Marlene and I did one end of the trail before she headed home. I was soon joined by the rest of the group who had walked the American River Trail. We walked the other side of the trail.
In the end, I had a good time and don’t think I missed anything along the river trail. Here are some images from that walk.
It’s good that I love trees. Without leaves to disguise their structure, they are so expressive. So, all’s well that ends well!
I admit it, I’m lazy. I totally enjoy spending time taking the photo, but not processing it. This week Tina has challenged us to show how we’ve turned our “forgettable” photos into “favorite” images.
Well, here’s another problem. Once I get an outing’s photos into my desktop, I delete the ones I don’t like and just process the ones I do like. So, for this challenge, I’ll show a before and after with how I edit.
Going back to my being lazy, I mostly rely on Lightroom (LR) and presets in NIK and De-noise in Topaz. Photoshop allows me to take out unwanted stuff with the spot healing brush and also replace skies. It might be more that I don’t prioritize learning more.
My examples were taken last month. This tree was taken on a very foggy morning at Boulder Ridge Park. I did basic editing in LR, working with the highlights, shadows, whites and black sliders. I then put into NIK Color Efex and used the detail extractor preset to accent the tree. I wanted the tree to stand out more. Before is on the left as you look at your monitor. After is on the right.
This next one is the entrance to Stock Ranch Preserve. Although they are not exactly the same image you can see the difference the my edits in LR and Color Efex accomplished. Here I used LR sliders to enhance the orange on the fence and Color Efex to bring out the details and enhance the sky. Of course, all my images get the crop treatment.
This is on the way to Folsom Dam. Again not exactly the same image, but a good example of what I began with. I worked with the shadow and black sliders in LR and the tone curve. I brought it into Color Efex to bring out the sky and clouds. When in Color Efex, I use the sliders also. However, I haven’t mastered the control points.
This last image is of trees along a portion the Miner’s Ravine Trail. I love trees, especially when they have lost their leaves. They are so expressive. Again, the same treatment in LR and Color Efex. I also cropped the tree that seemed to be in the middle. For this I wanted to lighten up the tree trunk, keep the tree shadows and highlight the sun. Color Efex brought out more detail.
I know I can do more with the editing programs I have. Will I prioritize the time to learn. I hope so.
Bulletin: most places won’t let customers use their restrooms because of COVID! That’s what Jean and I found out when we left recently to drive out of the Sacramento Valley with our cameras. We were driving to Port Costa, an old little port city in Contra Costa County. I had been there twice before, but that was several years ago. Nothing changed! I decided to take pictures in a way I didn’t before.
On our way down to the port, we stopped at this viewpoint to take a picture of the Carquinez Bridge while it was being enveloped by approaching fog. A couple of seconds after I took this image, the bridge was totally fogged in.
We then made the usual stop at the C&H Sugar refinery. Photographers are not allowed in, but they do let you take pictures at the entrance. You may have seen this view before if you’ve been following this blog for some time.
Now for Port Costa itself. The railroad still runs by it.
The town is old and the hotel shows it. Homes are overrun with overgrowth.
The shoreline, beyond the railroad tracks is interesting and we saw some kayakers paddle by.
It was just before we left Port Costa that we realized there was not a public restroom to be found. We did find a portable toilet at a small park near a fishing pier. The flush bathroom was closed. It was a good stop in more ways than one!
Before heading home, we stopped at Mare Island. I knew that the only public restroom was in the museum which was closed. There was a Navy ship in for repairs. No, we couldn’t go on board! So, after taking our pictures as best we could because it was all fenced off, we headed to a Starbucks in Vallejo.
When we found the Starbucks, we were allowed to buy coffee but not use their restroom! CostCo to the rescue. Fortunately there was one on the way home. All in all, it was a fun day. We did learn, though, not to go too far from home!