An uneventful photo outing: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

It was windy. Maybe that’s why the birds were scarce at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, near Willows, this month. The driving tour at this wildlife refuge is a 6-mile circle with three places to get out of the car. Otherwise we are to be in the car. So, it pays to have a long lens and be on the correct side of the car to photograph out the window.

Our (Ray, Richard were with me.) first trip around, there were hardly any birds. We thought it was probably because of the wind. I didn’t even see flocks of snow geese in the water. Other wildlife that usually inhabit the refuge found a better spot or were hiding.

Since it takes 1 1/2 hours to get there and a lot of gas, I was disappointed, and soon got hungry. We had a great meal in town and then went back to the refuge. It wasn’t as windy this time, and this is when I got the bulk of my pictures (Still down from previous visits.).

The snow geese were back in numbers. We were lucky to catch a fly off.

Now for the really sad part: the only bald eagles we saw were out of range for my Nikon 7100 and prime F/4 300 lens. But that didn’t stop me! You know what they say, “Garbage in; garbage out!” I worked on those eagles, but couldn’t get them to the point of putting them in the blog. I will tell you it was a pair with their juvenile.

This is why I titled this post “An uneventful photo outing!” Maybe next time we will have better luck.

I hope you’ve been having a great holiday season and will have a wonderful New Year!

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #179: Serene

This is serendipitous, my photo outing today brought our small group to Mather Lake— a swan habitat in Rancho Cordova. And, Patti’s challenge was SERENE. Perfect!

I find swans relaxing. They swim so gracefully. And I like it when their wings are up. Even though it was foggy, drab, cloudy and cold, I found warmth in the swans presence.

And I was lucky. I’m somewhat stymied by having a short telephoto lens, for my Nikon 7100, that’s a 300 prime. This means that wildlife has to be close enough for me to capture them. Fortunately, some of the swans were lakeside and others were swimming in the middle. Even typing this, I feel serene. This is what I’ve edited so far.

This swan was close enough for me to photograph it and its shadow.

Next I have a series of a swan fishing (I think!). It looks under the water with its head fully submerged. Next it’s still skimming the water before looking up. Last, with head up water drips from its beak.

They are also graceful in flight. It’s always a surprise when they take to the air. They didn’t fly too far off the water. I do wish they would yell, “Hey photographer, I’m going to fly now!”

I almost thought I’d have to leave without an image of a swan swimming with its wings up. As I was walking back to the car, there it was! Happy! Happy!

These swans cheered me up on a very drab day, bringing me serenity and joy. Thanks Patti!

Exploring Roseville at night

A modern day boom town, Roseville was stretching its borders when we first moved here in 2001. What was once a small railroad town is now a hub for corporations (At least before the pandemic hit.) and new housing. When I was doing business in Roseville there were four main areas: Downtown Roseville, the Historic District, East Roseville (corporate) and West Roseville (housing). A couple of weeks ago, we ventured into Roseville for sunset and night photography.

We began at the Roseville Sculpture Park. This large red metal sculpture can be seen from the Interstate 80 freeway. The sculpture is named “Cosmos” and was dedicated to the people of Roseville in 1990 by a local developer.

We did find a couple of mushrooms along the path to the sculpture. I didn’t have my macro lens, so I photographed these at 55 mm. Actually the car was in the parking lot and I was too lazy to go get the lens. I think if there had been more than two mushrooms, I would have changed lenses!

Next we went to Downtown Roseville and its main street: Vernon Street. There are two theaters, restaurants and shops around Roseville’s City Hall. Here are some of this area approaching sundown.

After we enjoyed dinner, we returned to Downtown to catch some of the town’s lights. The Christmas tree was up in the Town Square and a decorative display of a house caught peoples attention. These were taken without a tripod because you know, I’m lazy!

We ended our evening cold but happy.

Lens Artists Challenge #178: You Choose

In this weeks challenge, Tina asks us to choose our own topic. For most people that might be easy, but for me, it’s a bigger challenge. You see, I just can’t make up my mind. After thinking and thinking, I decided to focus on the 365 Challenge.

After 2 years, I knew I needed something to help me along with my photography hobby. I’d heard about the 365 where you shoot a photograph each day for the year. It was the best decision for my taking control of my camera and photo habits.

Here are 2 photos from week one of 2015.

If I were to take the same images now, I would process the sunset shadows better and not put the rose in the middle of the frame. Moving on to week 15, family and pets were a favorite subject. My dog now leaves the room when he sees a camera!

Week 22, getting better with floral composition and macro.

Week 42, I visited Dry Creek near my house often and I finally got a decent one of Gem. Now I know how to lighten up his face a bit.

Week 52, I think this is how I developed my love for macro. On the last day, I had an image in mind. Through the year, I learned how to time things for the optimum light and was on my way to photograph a fence with the sun casting a deep shadow. However, I got a flat tire on the way, and here’s my closing shot for the year–not planned, but well executed!

Doing the 365 helped my photographic abilities and my focus on the hobby. Now I need to go out at least once a week with my camera. If you haven’t tried the practice, take the plunge. You can also do the 52 challenge where you obligate yourself to one picture a week. Most of all, have fun doing it.

A Colorful Trip: Empire Mine State Historic Park, Part 2

Here we are back in Nevada City at the Empire Mine State Historic Park. Last week’s post showed the Bourn Cottage and grounds. Now we take a brief walk to the mine area. Here there are buildings including a glimpse of the mine and the blacksmith shop. I’m sorry I didn’t get a very good shot of the mine. It was totally photographer error and lack of tripod. I just don’t like to carry them, but needed to this time.

On the way to the mine from the Cottage I saw this building I hadn’t photographed before.

Here are some photographs of the mine area.

A docent and his dog were sitting near the mine entrance.

There were two blacksmiths in the shop one was using fire. The other was demonstrating how the large bellows was used to forge tools.

We had a great visit and were glad to be there while the ginkgo trees were turning color. Next visit, I’ll tote the tripod.

Lens Artists Challenge #177: Celebrating

We need to find cause to celebrate. And we need to do this frequently. If we can’t create our own celebration, we can always find one! Amy encourages us to do just that with her challenge this week.

I’ve chosen three festivals I’ve visited during the past years. I visited the Nevada County Fair in Summer, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, 2019. It’s a small fair, but large enough for a photographer to have fun.

In December of the same year, we went to experience the Nevada City Victorian Christmas where vendors sold crafts, musicians played and attendees dressed in costume.

In 2020, there wasn’t much happening but we did find a celebration at the Asian New Year Festival in Isleton in February, just before lockdown.

Lions were dancing. Here we can see two dancers getting into their costume and dancing.

Let’s end the fun with a Taiko drumming demonstration.

Thank you Amy for helping us celebrate down memory lane with your wonderful challenge. Seeing pictures from these outings made me smile!

A colorful trip: Empire Mine State Historic Park

Why do we go back to sites that we’ve been to before? The answer is simple: There’s always something different to see and photograph. This time we went to the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Nevada City to capture some Fall color. We weren’t disappointed! The Ginkgo trees were in their splendor.

All the images in this post were taken near the and of the Bourn Cottage. To read the history of this home follow the link. Here are some images taken this trip.

Now for the colorful grounds.

Oh, I have many more images but how much color can you handle! My next post will show more of the grounds going to the mine and the mine grounds.