Things are looking up: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and Gray Lodge, part 2

Hooray, the computer is working! Thank you Kevin!! This technical age has made us so dependent on our computers, phones, tablets. I could say that I remember when, but I won’t bore you. I’ll just say that my typewriter never crashed. It may have needed a ribbon change, or a key might stick–but never crashed.

I do love one digital necessity (at least to me) that has not crashed–my DSLR. I’m still learning, and with each outing I get better. Let’s finish up my trip with Laura to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Laura is the best bird spotter. Without her I wouldn’t see the small birds.

After seeing three bald eagles and many hawks at SWR, we ventured to Gray Lodge. Tired from climbing up and down to and from Laura’s sun roof, I resolved to just shoot what I could get from the open window. Fortunately, there are more opportunities for landscapes at Gray Lodge. Again, there were many hawks, but the sun was going down and it was difficult to shoot them as they hid in the trees. Take a look!

 

2018? Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

A crashed computer is not the way to begin the new year. Neither is having to cancel two Toastmaster Club meetings because of illness! The computer crashed last week after a Microsoft Windows update, slowing down my ability to post this blog. Fortunately, a friend came over and fixed it.

The computer wasn’t the only thing sick. I belong to two Toastmaster Clubs and we had to cancel a meeting in each because of illness! So, I’m wondering just where 2018 is taking us. We’re also below normal rain fall. But, it’s supposed to rain this weekend and next.

We need the rain and more water brings more waterfowl to the wildlife areas. Laura and I went up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area recently and spotted three bald eagles, lots of hawks and other birds. We had a great day. In this post I’ll show you most of SWR and continue in my next post with the remainder and some of Gray Lodge.

It’s only midway through January, so thinks could get better. The computer could continue working and it may rain a lot through January and February.

Starting the new year off right: Bok Kai Temple; Sikh Temple

I should say this visit was the second start of the new year. The actual first outing was to capture the super moon on January 1. It didn’t go well. First my fixed F/4, 300 mm was way to long to capture anything but the moon, and I didn’t bring another lens! Then the moon came up between two trees. I got the moon sharp, but the tree branches were soft.

So, we’ll begin my year at the Bok Kai Temple in Marysville and the Sikh Temple in Yuba City. We started with the Bok Kai Temple. Our docent Ric Lim gave our group of about 6 photographers an amazing tour. The Chinese history in Marysville is rich and still continues today. The Temple is small, but we managed to take photos anyway. He also took us to the former school house which is now a museum.

Gold is what brought the Chinese to this area many generations ago and loyalty keeps some of the older Chinese in the community. Carrying on the legacy is important. Parades are still celebrated, the Temple is open for worship and occasionally the community is called upon to pray that Marysville does not flood.

After lunch, three of us wandered into Yuba City and found the Sikh Temple of Yuba City. I found a worker and asked if we could go in. “Sure,” he said. He helped us cover our heads after we took off our shoes. I also asked if we could shoot inside. “Sure, no problem,” he said. We did eventually get asked to leave. I think it was because we were getting too close to the alter. I’m sorry we didn’t arrange for a tour which would have given us a better understanding of what we were experiencing.

Be prepared–there’s a lot to look at! This may not have been my first outing of the new year, but it was great!

 

 

Leftovers: A look back at December 2017

Do you like leftovers? I do, but not when they tell that I haven’t been posting in this blog for a while. Or, maybe it’s that I’ve been out shooting and haven’t had the time to post. I think it’s a bit of the two.

In this blog post, I’ll show you some of my last visit to Mather Lake Regional Park in Sacramento County and Sly Park Recreation Area in Pollock Pines. Both tell a story of to expect the unexpected!

At Mather I did bring my 55 – 300 lens so I could capture the wildlife. During my last trip I brought my 18 – 140 lens thinking I’d be doing more landscape, but I found beautiful wildlife that I struggled with capturing. This time the sky turned dark and I still struggled but not as much. Next time, should I bring my F4/300 on a monopod?

The outing to Sly Park was to be a kayaking outing. While others kayaked, Karen B and I were going to walk the trails around the lake. We would then get together for a lunch of homemade clam chowder (Cup Of Noodles for me.) The unexpected was that the only person to bring a kayak was the organizer. So there were three of us. In the end, Karen and I shot around the dock and didn’t walk the trails. By lunch time, more people had joined us.

Will 2018 see us taking photo trips without the unexpected happening? I don’t think so. We should always be ready to be flexible on our photo outings. Sometimes the unexpected is fun and great photo opportunities. On to 2018. I’ve got some leftovers already!

A promise is a promise: Happy New Year

I always try to keep my promises. The operative word there is “try!” In my last post, I said that I would be going out to shoot Christmas lights when my friend Jean got her new camera, and I kept that promise. I was really dragging that night, and I’m so glad that my promise got me up and out. We had a lot of fun in the short time we were taking photos.

Our adventure took us to the Fab 40 area of Sacramento–an area of old beautiful homes. This neighborhood’s holiday effort didn’t compare to the residents of Dove Court in Orangevale; but with my fatigue and Jean’s knee, it was perfect. We walked the two blocks, shooting and talking with some residents. I saw two displays I liked and had fun zooming my lens.

Oh, Jean’s new camera is a tiny Panasonic mirrorless that does a lot. It made my Nikon D7100 look huge and feel heavy! I hope she finds a great deal of joy in using it.

Happy 2018 everyone. My wish if for you to have good health, prosperity and fun!

 

Merry Christmas: Sacramento Capitol Building

Somehow I’m procrastinating and haven’t gone out to shoot Christmas Lights. It’s been cold here and that’s why I haven’t propelled my body out of the house. But, we did got to the California State Capitol building to shoot the Christmas tree, and since it was during Chanukah, the Menorah on the Capitol steps by Chabad. I was a bit disappointed that the Menorah wasn’t lit that night.

We got there early enough to go inside the Capitol and take indoor photos. I’ll show you some. The rotunda is beautiful. Next we went outside to set up. Here’s where I learned another lesson! Don’t go on an outing with a preconceived idea of what you’re going to shoot, and just shoot that. Look around, there may be something behind you!

When I finally looked around, I was able to grab a shot of Capitol Ave leading to the Tower Bridge with light trails. Most of my group walked a ways down that street.

My friend Jean will be getting her new camera a couple of days after Christmas, and the houses will still be colorful. No more procrastinating! Merry Christmas everyone.

 

Looking forward: The Barn and River Walk, West Sacramento

I always prefer to look forward rather than back. If you don’t, the “what if” will get you. What if I did this differently, what if I went there, what if I carried a monopod and heavy long lens! That was today’s dilemma. We went back to Mather Lake and I took two lenses, one fixed and heavy and the other a zoom that needs sunlight to perform well.

We started out in sunshine and quickly ended up with cloud cover. It was, again, a difficult shoot. But, no what if’s. I made a choice and did my best with it. Of course, you’ll have to wait to see the images since I haven’t edited them.

Today you’ll see images of the Barn and the River Walk in West Sacramento. Again, what if I had known that the landscaping wasn’t finished and they would be working there the day we went out. The Barn, an event venue, has been open for a year and has had events there. But, we had a great time shooting this unusual building. It’s an outdoor venue–again, how could they have events there without landscaping?? There will be a place to buy food and beverages during spring and summer months.

After taking pictures of the Barn, we walked over to the River Walk, along the Sacramento River which was quiet in the waning days of Autumn.  What if I had called to find out if the building was totally ready for a camera group to come and explore? What if! (The first eight photos are of the Barn and the rest are of the River Walk. No captions.)

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The salmon are running: Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River

I have never seen such determination. The Chinook Salmon have returned to spawn, but with most of their natural spawning areas lost by the creation of Folsom and Nimbus Dams, the California Department of Fish and Game created the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to mitigate the problem.

I’ve given you many links to read about this amazing fish hatchery, and I do hope you read more. To summarize, the salmon eggs are gathered at the hatchery, hatched and let loose down river when the fish are old enough. The cycle comes full circle when the mature salmon come to complete their life cycle, trying to find their spawning spot. They operate on such instinct that they are persistent as they jump the ladders.

It is an amazing site to see. Take a look!

 

Still standing: Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, Folsom

Remember that cold I was complaining about? I still have it! But, at least I’m still standing when so many of my friends have succumbed to the flu. This isn’t a complaint, okay it is! When I’m sick, I can’t regain enough energy to not be tired. And, this affects my ability to do photography.

Before this cold/flu hit the Sacramento area, my Tuesday group was given a special tour of the Historic Folsom Powerhouse in Folsom. This small power source once lit up all of Sacramento. The following from Wikipedia illustrates the  significance of the powerhouse.

“Before the Folsom powerhouse was built nearly all electric power houses were using direct current (DC) generators powered by steam engines located within a very few miles of where the power was needed. The use of rushing water to generate hydroelectric power and then transmitting it long distances to where it could be used was not initially economically feasible as long as the electricity generated was low-voltage direct current. Once it was invented, AC power made it feasible to convert the electrical power to high voltage by using the newly invented transformers and to then economically transmit the power long distances to where it was needed. Lower voltage electrical power, which is much easier and safer to use, could be easily gotten by using transformers to convert the high voltage power to lower voltages near where it was being used. DC power cannot use a transformer to change its voltage. The Folsom Powerhouse, using part of the American River‘s rushing water to power its turbines connected to newly invented AC generators, generated three phase 60 cycle AC electricity (the same that’s used today in the United States) that was boosted by newly invented transformers from 800 volts as generated to 11,000 volts and transmitted to Sacramento over a 22 mi (35 km)-long distribution line, one of the longest electrical distribution lines in the United States at the time.”

The tour was great, especially since it was led by a photographer who has since joined our Tuesday group. While our guide explained the history and how the Powerhouse operated, I listened and continued shooting. Unfortunately, I should have been taking notes!

But since I didn’t, follow the link for more information on the Powerhouse.

We have since been on other outings, and you’ll see those in future posts. Maybe by then the cold will just be a memory and I’ll be out there clicking away.

 

 

 

 

Going after a big bird: Sandhill Cranes

It’s a yearly expedition–shooting the Sandhill Cranes. They are found in and around the Sacramento Delta. This trip, Laura and I started out at Consumnes River Preserve.  Right away, I learned another valuable lesson: have your camera ready before you leave home! I was going to put the big F/4, 300 mm lens on the D7100 once we got to Consumnes, but as soon as we got off the freeway we saw a flock of Sandhills near the fence. They usually like to be deep in the fields. By the time I got my camera ready–they were deep in the field.

I’m always learning lessons! For me, experience is the best teacher. I’m not crying over not having my camera ready for the best shot of the day. I did manage to get some good images as we went from preserve to preserve.

I was amazed at how many Sandhills there were this year. They were everywhere. In past years they were scarce. The drought may have contributed to that.

It was a fun day, chasing the big birds, finding other wildlife and shooting landscapes. Here are the results.