Lens-Artists #114: Negative Space

I’ve noticed that some people like negative space and create a minimalist lifestyle, and others like their surroundings busy (I won’t say cluttered.). I’m somewhere in the middle. My surroundings may be full, but it is neat and tidy. However, I’ve never thought about how the concept applied to how I take my photos.

Thank you Amy (The World Is A Book) for this weeks’ challenge. It helped me realize that I truly do not consider negative space when I shoot. Yes, I have skies that take up 2/3 of an image, birds in large pools of water, etc. But, these shots were never planned for negative space and its impact. I usually crop in close in camera. Even my landscapes are cropped in camera. Planning for negative space is something I should work on!

So, here are some of my inadvertent negative space images.

Thank you Amy!

Smile: Getting through the pandemic blues!

Smile!” That’s what I told a dear friend who has the pandemic blues. That’s what I’m telling myself today! Thank you Olivia for creating this wonderful reminder.

Olivia is my 9 year old (almost 10) granddaughter. I saw she was working and concentrating on something at her desk after she finished her school work. She came over to me and showed me this awesome and colorful picture. I smiled and asked if I could have it. She thought a few seconds and shook her head yes. It now has its place on my fridge. Actually I’m thinking of framing it. What do you think?

So many of us have reached the depression stage in this pandemic. In addition, here in California, we have fire. Our entire state is blazing. Those of us who have forced inside because of smoke and ash really shouldn’t complain. We have our homes. But it’s still depressing.

I’ve gone in my kitchen a lot lately just to be reminded to SMILE! You have my permission to print and copy this wonderful smiley face when you feel depressed and trapped inside. I’m sure Olivia won’t mind!

Oh, WordPress wouldn’t let me use Olivia’s picture as the featured image, so I’m using the Mickey Mouse puzzle my grandson Christopher made for me. Mickey helps me smile too!

Lens-Artist #113: A Labor Of Love

When I first saw this challenge given by Rusha Sams, my immediate thoughts went to raising children. They are conceived in love, raised with love and then their children are loved. Beyond that, when I was traveling, I wasn’t taking pictures. It’s only in my senior years that I discovered photography as a form of self-expression and a passion.

So, bringing “A Labor Of Love” down to very basic terms, I chose to show an activity that is a labor of love for participants and fans alike. My topic: Hot Air Balloon Festivals.

I’ve only been to two Hot Air Balloon Festivals. The first was in September, 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. I chose an entry level camera to start because I wasn’t sure about photography. It didn’t take long before I upgraded to the D7100. I heard about the balloon festival in Windsor, California. So, off Richard and I went in our 5th wheel trailer, staying two nights in what they set aside as a campground. I was warned that the show started promptly at 4 a.m., and it did.

I woke up to the announcer on the loud speaker saying, “Good morning Windsor!” I jumped out of bed, got dressed, grabbed my camera and ran out the door to be greeted by total darkness. Once on the field, I realized I hadn’t set my camera! I saw the green “A,” turned the dial, and ran toward the “Dawn Patrol” that had just set up. The rest is history. I had a great time. I loved the challenge of getting the shots, lying on the ground as the balloons went up in the air, kneeling down to catch a picture of the balloon being blown up. It was an exhilarating morning. Here are a few of my first shots with my camera.

Fast forward to September 2017 when I was shooting with a Nikon D7100 at the Reno Hot Air Balloon Festival, Reno, Nevada.

Linda and I decided to stay one night at a hotel and waking up at 3:30 a.m. rather than waking up at 1 a.m. and driving 2 hours. It was a smart move for two seniors! This was a larger festival and just as much fun.

I saw many of the same balloons in Reno as I did in Windsor. The pilots have such a love for this sport that they travel from festival to festival. Weather is a big factor on whether they can take their balloons up. The second day at Windsor, it was too windy for them to fly.

This was a nice memory to catch up on. Thank you Rusha!

Lens-Artists Challenge #112: Word challenge

This week Ann-Christine challenged us with words: Comfortable, Growing, Tangled, Crowded and Exuberant. Our assignment was to choose one or more of these words and display our photo interpretation.

I saw growing and crowded and instantly my mind went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, one of our beautiful parks consumed by the CZU Complex lightening fire this month. I visited in February, 2016. It was my first time shooting in a dark forest and although my current forest efforts are better, I wanted to show you Big Basin.

As you can see, these trees are no strangers to fires. Redwoods can be almost hollowed out and still survive. After the fire is put out, the top continues to grow. My mind went to Big Basin because it is crowded with trees and constantly growing. The ground brush is usually well maintained in parks so they don’t provide super fuel for fires. But dry lightening strikes and thunder brought the forest to its knees. Here is how it looked in 2016 on overcast day, with some re-editing.

While the redwoods will survive, structures within the park didn’t. I’m sure during these pandemic days, rebuilding will be slow and it will be some time before we can walk through this beautiful forest again.

Am I repeating myself? World Peace Garden, Sacramento

It just feels like I’m repeating pictures. When you post in different clubs (like Sactown Photogs), online challenges (like Lens-Artists), repetitive image are the result. So here we are at the World Peace Garden in Sacramento. Some images may seem familiar to you, but you haven’t seen the entire beauty of this small park just across from the State capitol.

On the morning Ray and I met there, I arrived at 9 a.m., and the park had few visitors. It was quiet and peaceful. I fell in love with the place instantly! As people came, it remained quiet and peaceful. I actually came to take pictures in the rose garden, but there was so much more.

Let’s take a tour!

First the roses. This garden is not as big as others in Sacramento, but the roses are just as beautiful.

In the middle of the garden were two memorials. One was for the fire fighters, who in additions to normal duties during the year, fight our large fires during the summer. This year an unusual dry thunder and lightning storm sparked several fires across California. They have called these “Complex fires” because they are fires next to each other in certain areas of the State.

The second memorial is dedicated to the veterans who fought in the Vietnam War. This was particular moving for me because it was so well done and my husband fought in that war.

And the grounds were just beautiful.

Remember I said the park was across from our capitol building. Here’s the awesome view!

I’ve shown you a lot of images, but I just had to show you this beautiful garden as I totally saw it. Take care everyone!

Lens-Artist Challenge #111: Everyday objects

Thank you Patti! This challenge made me stretch beyond my normal type of photography. What I finally came up with are a few things around my house that bring me joy.

First are my bamboo wind chimes. I love the sound they make even in a slight breeze. As you can see, they are old and cracking, but they still sound beautiful.

Also outside are my red chairs. I saw two red chairs during a visit to Volcano, a very small town in the gold country, and was instantly drawn to them. When I repainted the house I had to get some. They are a perfect accent for my gray and charcoal color choice.

One thing about me that you may not know: I’m a huge Mickey Mouse fan and love almost everything Disney. So Mickey is in my house big time. One Mickey treasure is my toaster given to me by dear friends. It’s really not good to use since the outside gets hot. So, it sits as a decoration on top of my kitchen cabinet. Who could not enjoy that first cup of coffee after looking at Mickey!

My fondest Mickey treasure is a big puzzle my older grandson, Christopher, made for me. Each piece is a scene from a Disney movie. He framed it and it hangs at the end of my hallway. Here’s the puzzle and a close up so you can see the puzzle pieces. It’s amazing.

And finally, my dog Gem. He’s a Schnoodle and is 10 years. We walk every day, so I guess he’s an everyday thing!

Thanks again Patti! It was fun!!

Triple digits will get to you: William B. Pond, Carmichael

Get up early, walk the dog (2 miles), do outside chores (if you have energy left), have breakfast, shower and then prepare for a day inside. That’s my typical day in this triple digit heat wave we’re having in the Sacramento area. It’s been a week and my camera is calling to me. I need to ignore it. I don’t want to ignore it. I would give anything to take it out and shoot with it.

Yes I’m complaining, and that’s okay! But I did get out locally to William B. Pond Recreational Area in Carmichael before this heat wave. It is located along the American River and is easily accessible for handicapped individuals. Marlene met me there and then we took off on foot.

I had never been to this part of the park before, and I saw beautiful trees.

The paved roads in the park were not open to autos, but only biking and walking. And, there were a lot of bikers (the peddle kind). As they were coming up behind you, they would let you know which side they were going to pass you on. They also let you know if you were walking on the wrong side of the road!

There were fishermen in their favorite spots and families enjoying the beach.

I did manage to find a few other things to photograph. You know I can’t get away without shooting some sort of flower. The phone pole caught my eye. And the last couple of shots of the River from the bridge.

I also noticed that hardly anyone was wearing a mask! I don’t want to get into the to wear or not debate, but if there is the slightest chance that it can protect you and others, why not put one on!

I’m hoping for better weather next week so my camera and I can be out and about. When you’re in triple digits, the 90s sound cool!

Lens-Artists challenge #110: Creativity in the Time of Covid

Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. I’m concentrating on the words imagination and original. Does creativity have to be imaginative and original. I think so. That’s why I say I’m not really creative, but I do see opportunities and make something from them.

Oh Tina, you are leading me into a soul-searching moment with your topic of “Creativity in the time of Covid.”  During this pandemic, depression creeps in and divisiveness pushes us apart. We need something to bring the sunshine back into our lives. For me that is photography. I’ve been trying to get out at least once a week with my camera. Now the weather is creating a barrier. Temperatures have been in triple digits and will continue for about another week. Today it hit between 110 and 112 in Sacramento. Typically, we shoot indoors during times like this, but many stores and museums are closed.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a studio or light box set up in my home for indoor photography. Additionally, I lack the creative ability to set up a still life. It’s just not my thing.

I don’t mean to depress anyone, but this is the way it is during the summer of Covid! Prior to this heat wave, I got out so let’s take a look at some images I have been able to capture during this pandemic.

Recently photo buddy Ray and I went to the California State Capitol World Peace Garden. I’ve lived here for 19 years and had never visited. It was beautiful. The Vietnam War Memorial was particularly moving.

And the flowers in the garden were just meant for a macro lens.

The small town of Fair Oaks is known for its chicken population.

More recently, I took a trip into the countryside to visit the CR25 Ranch in Esparto.

These and other outings brought joy and my type of creativity into my life. And when we get back into double digits, I’ll be taking my camera out again.

Yolo Art & Ag: The CR25 Ranch

Fortunately I’m getting used to driving the various county roads in the rural areas of Yolo County. I was alone on this July expedition to the CR25 Ranch in Esparto, but remembered some of the roads from last month’s journey when Marlene road with me. The CR25 Ranch is located on the County Road 25!

I like getting out into fresh air and drive around the countryside. And, I’m lucky that this scenery is a little more than an hour away. This ranch is not as large as some of the others I’ve been to, but there was enough to keep me busy for 1 1/2 hours.

This horse was alone in a pasture. He was midway, but my Fuji camera with lens extended to the full 200 mm was able to capture him in focus. I cropped him in Lightroom. Here’s the result.

Here are some landscapes of the ranch, showing pastures and barns.

This ranch may have been small, but it did have its share of “ranch art!”

A few of the cows came down from mid-pasture to get some water. One of them stood out. Was he trying to stick his tongue out at me. Also, it was good that it wasn’t a frosty winter day or else that tongue would have stuck to the watering trough.

I’m enjoying the new camera and still learning more about its capabilities. It does more than I’ll ever use! Where will Yolo Arts take us this month?

Lens-Artist Challenge #109: Under The Sun

I’m not fond of waking up in the dark to catch the golden hour in the morning or going to bed late in the summer to catch the evening blue and golden hours. So that leaves me mostly under the mid morning sun for most of my photo outings. No, I’m not going to post all my photos taken under the sun, just the ones that resonated with me when I read Amy’s challenge for the week.

There have been a few times when the timing was right on for me. One was at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California. We caught the afternoon golden hour when the sun cast a beautiful glow on plants and animals. We were vacationing with my cousins in December 2016 . They are the couple walking out of the oasis.

The next set of images were taken during my favorite time of day, mid afternoon sun! (It’s not really!) My friend who lives in Sun City, Lincoln brought me to a tree where herons and egrets and other birds nested. I didn’t have my long lens with me, so I returned on my day to pick up my grandkids from school. My kids also live in Lincoln. Again, I seem to use the opportunity rather than make the opportunity! I’ve named this tree “The Nesting Tree,” and have brought other photo buddies to shoot there. Taken April, 2019, you can see the sun casting shadows on the birds bodies and feathers.

This last set was taken during a Yolo Art & Ag outing to Capay Valley Ranches in February, 2019. Every summer, Yolo Art invites artists and photographers to various ranches, farms and orchards to record country life. We were there mid morning (usually from 9 to 11 a.m.) Here, again, the sun created beautiful shadows.

While I may not get up before dawn, I still enjoy getting out in the sunshine. Thank you Amy for this great challenge.