Wildlife? Mather Lake

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected like our May outing to Mather Lake in Sacramento County. We expected the typical wildlife that we’re used to finding there, but we only found swans and fishermen! But, we’ve learned to make the best with what we get.

I was there with my Tuesday group, and we walked as far as we could around the lake. I was carrying my Nikon D7100 and my F/4, 300 mm lens. I do need to go back to using two cameras. I also need to get to the gym so I can do it! This left me sort of handicapped for landscape or wide focus shots. I made my Fitbit happy by taking some extra steps backing up to get a good compostion. While I like the results from my 300 prime lens, it is limiting,

Sometimes, when you’re not busy shooting, you experience the most outstanding interaction between birds. A swan was protecting his mate and his cygnets from a goose. The interchange was hilarous. Too bad I couldn’t catch it. My lens was too long and my reflexes too slow!

Take a look at what I saw that morning!

Still in April! Table Mountain, Butte County

Wow, do I have to catch up with posting my photographic adventures! Here’s the last post for April and we’re ending May. I’ll try to post more frequently until I’m current.

In April we all go in search of wild flowers to photograph. I was sick from February through April with a cold that wouldn’t quit so I got out late to North Table Mountain and its beautiful wildflowers. Located in Butte County near Oroville, Table mountain consists of two flat mountain areas, North and South. The wild flowers grow on top of volcanic material which makes walking a challenge for some of us. There a numerous waterfalls, but our hike included some of the smaller ones.

After leaving Table Mountain, we stopped by the old Oregon City covered bridge. Photos are included in the gallery.

I accompanied Laura on this outing. I can’t say I was especially excited with what I saw and captured. This was my second trip to Table Mountain with about 3 years in between. Maybe my memory made things sweeter, maybe I wasn’t feeling totally well, or we got out there late in the wildflower life cycle. But, I got what I got and reviewing the images for this post, they aren’t that bad!

So here’s North Table Mountain.

Happy Mother’s Day: Negro Bar, Folsom & The Nesting Tree, Lincoln

I hope all of you mothers have had a wonderful special day. I received texts and calls from family members. We also had a delicious and filling brunch with Greg and Jess and the grandkids. So here I sit ready to talk and show you where my photography passion has taken me now.

I now know that even if the outing doesn’t give you great weather, clouds or scenery, there’s always a picture worth taking and processing. Negro Bar, a State park in Folsom was sort of a disappointment since it was crowded with people and there wasn’t a promise of a great sunset. But I walked around and in the short time we were there shot these images, including visitors, people kayaking and the historic Rainbow Bridge:

My next visit was a surprise one and stretched the limits of my walk around lens, 18 – 140 mm. Marlene and I were scrapbooking at Betty Carol’s home. During a breat she took us to a special tree in Lincoln. I call the tree the Nesting Tree because of all the nests and variety of birds in it. I’ve never seen anything like it. I really couldn’t capture anything good with the lens I had with me, so I went back the following Wednesday. This time I was ready with my F/4 300 mm prime lens! It’s amazing what you can see with a little extra reach. I found Great Egrets and Blue Herons. A few weeks later, I brought Laura to the tree. She caught even more with her 600 mm lens, and saw more species. Here’s what I captured:

So, when Jess asked me what I’ve been doing lately, I talked about photo outings. Yes, photography has become a good part of my life! Again, Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s all in a name: Folsom Zoo Sanctuary; Sacramento Zoo

I was ready with my debit and Sacramento Zoo membership cards in hand to pay for my visit at the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary only to be told that they have no affiliation with the Sacramento Zoo and couldn’t give me a discount! They were not a zoo, but a sanctuary!! That’s what’s in a name!!!

Marlene and I had visited the Folsom Zoo, in Folsom, once before and found it not too favorable for photography, but Ray set up this outing for our Tuesday group and off we went. I just wasn’t prepared for the difference between a zoo and sanctuary to be explained so explicitly and rudely. What makes one better than the other?

You might say that the sanctuary takes in animals that can’t be released into the wild while the zoo breeds animals into captivity. I find there’s a place for both. When you look at the amazment in children’s faces you understand that a zoo is where they learn about animals they may never get to see. I think it’s great that a sanctuary gives animals a home when they can’t be in the wild any longer, and their stories touch your heart. For me, there’s a place for both.

Getting back to why the Folsom Zoo is not a great place for photography, their cages are too thick. We can’t shoot through the thick metal and make it disappear. Knowing that, I just took pictures of the crowds, the beautiful landscaped and designed walkways and some animals not in caged enclosures.

Meanwhile, at the Sacramento Zoo, in Sacramento, there were so many children visiting the day we went. I couldn’t get close to some of the exhibits. Or, by the time I could take the shot, the animal was out of reach or went back inside.

So, here are a few images from both the zoo sanctuary (FZ) and the zoo (SZ)!

A bright spot in April: Crystal Hermitage Garden, Ananda Villiage

The tulips bloom only in April at the Crystal Hermitage Garden in Ananda Village in Nevada County. So, we waited for sunshine and no rain. We finally decided to go when there would be a possibility of sunshine, meaning partly cloudy with some sun. This resulted with some tulips open, but most shut.

But it was worth the trip. Planted each year, the gardens are always beautiful and attract visitors from all over to see the more than 17,000 plants. This quote was taken from one of their sites.
“We planted over 111 varieties of mid and late season Dutch bulbs this year,” said lead Gardener, Nancy Mair. “We blend tulips with a rainbow of complementary pansies, wisteria, rhododendrons, azaleas, peonies, dogwood trees and the fabulous cherry tree, so that guests enjoy a different garden in each terrace.”

I’ll admit that I was upset that after waiting, we still were under dark skys for most of our time there. But, as usual, it was a great experience. Until next April here are some of the images I took.

Open and Shut: Daffodil Hill, Volcano, California

We photographers never know when or if Daffodil Hill will open for the public. It all depends on the weather, and you know how fickle Mother Nature can be. Last year it didn’t open at all because of the rains. In years past, the owners had to close early because of rain.

This family attraction is located in the tiny town of Volcano, Amador County. It’s family owned and operated. People can visit without charge, but there are donation boxes and a small gift shop at the front. It’s great for families who picnic in the parking lot, walk the paths that wind through the And, if all goes well, 300,000 flowers fill the hillside when in full bloom.

These are personally planted by the family and volunteers help direct traffic into and out of the parking lot. I had been there before and posted about it in a blog. But that visit was during the week, not too crowded and peacocks were showing off in numbers. This time, being the first day and on a Saturday, it was crowded, no peacocks. There seemed to be less flowers too.

So why did I go on opening day? I didn’t think it would be open very long with rain being predicted. Laura had never been there, and I thought it would be fun to take photos of the crowds. With Marlene riding shotgun and navigating, we began our adventure a little late, sat in traffic while waiting to park, and finally entered after a half hour.

And, I was right!! Daffodil Hill closed for the season. three days after it opened! This venue is truly a labor of love and dedication for the family and volunteers. No captions for the flowers–you know what they are!

The sun is shining: Valley Oak Wool Mill & Frate Sole Olive Oil, part 2

Right now I can feel the sun’s warmth on my back as I write this post. What a treat! And, during the next week and a half, the worst they are predicting is 30% chance of rain! Am I smiling? Absolutely!

A couple of days ago, I introduced this two-part post with Valley Oak Wool Mill and promised to show you Frate Sole Olive Oil in a second post. The two are right next to each other, in Woodland, and participated in the Yolo Art & Ag program.

We were welcomed graciously by Andrea Mayer, whose family owns and operates the olive orchard. She told us that a talk was being given at Valley Oak and tea would be ready when we returned. Return we did. I totally enjoyed sitting and sipping the hot tea and touring her facility. We didn’t go out into the orchard too far because the ground was wet and muddy. One photographer came back telling us to be prepared to get wet up to our ankles! We decided to stay put.

After tea, we walked around, met Abby, the dog, and listened to her presentation and tasted some of her delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I’m not a fan of balsamic, but hers was wonderful!

The day was overcast, ground wet, and puddles large and small were showing reflections. This was a perfect photography opportunity! Enjoy my images.

Enough is enough: Valley Oak Wool Mill & Frate Sole Olive Oil

My body says enough with the rain. Truly it cannot handle this much dampness. The house is 70 degrees F, and I’m sitting at the computer wearing a turtle neck top, sweater, jeans and a bathrobe. I’m still cold! I’d go to the pool area and sit in the hot tub, but it’s raining! Do I sound fed up? I am!

Okay, now that I’ve complained about Mother Nature, let’s move on to more fun activities–meaning taking the camera out for an outing. Last week we went to the monthly Yolo Art & Ag activity at Valley Oak Wool Mill and Frate Sole Olive Oil.

Both are in Woodland, and are right beside each other. They were easy to find. I say that because navigating the country roads can get tough when you’re not familiar with the area. This visit was inbetween rain storms and the road was puddled, but in good condition.

When we arrived we first went to Frate Sole, not realizing that a talk was being given at Valley Oak. The talk was almost over by the time we walked over there, but we were able to get the gist of it. Owner and operator Marcail McWilliams spins wool for her customers who supply the wool. Once spun into yarn, she returns the finished product to the client. I was amazed at the size of the machinery she works on. Her yarns are simply beautiful.

With these many images, I’ll save Frate Oil for the next post. As you can see, it was still overcast and wet. Let’s have some sun!

Feeling the sun: di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art

Oh, it’s wonderful: two days of sunshine, and one more to come! After, that showers begin again. I have managed to get out with my camera during the sunshine, and you’ll see those images later after they’re processed.

Today, I’m taking you to the second half of our journey into Napa that began with the Quixote Winery (in my last post) and ended with the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.

We drove to the art gallery after lunch and stopped along the way for more picture taking. You know photographers, we just keep clicking when we see something pretty. On approach, the gallery is pretty, the grounds are beautiful, but I wasn’t feeling the art. But, as I’ve learned by having my images critiqued, art is totally subjective. (I did find out that my “Droplets” picture did make it to the table from which the winners were chosen!) While I may not like something, someone else will.

The grounds that the two galleries sit on are beautiful, complete with a lake. I did the best I could with the limited access we had to the grounds. The highlight of the trip was the stop at the Lake Berryessa, in Napa County, and its spillway or Glory Hole.

So, here are the images of the country side, art gallery and Glory Hole!

Weathering the storm: Quixote Winery

With only a few days of sunshine peaking through, we are still wet here in California. In fact, they’ve called the drought over everywhere in the State. Right now there’s a break and the sun is shining, but I don’t expect for too long.

That’s the weather update, now for my personal photo journey. I did get my framed images down to the In Focus Photography Competition; however, they didn’t place. And, when I last communicated with the contest official, she said they hadn’t sold yet. She did say that when a group of school children came through, one boy fell in love with the mantis picture. He even drew a picture of it. Too bad his parents weren’t along to buy it for him!

It was an experience that I value. Those prints will be seen again at the Sierra Camera Club print competition. And, we’re thinking of buying a printer so we can print out our own images. Richard, Bright Star Observatory, is taking some great deep space images now, and they should be seen. I’m still not sure whether I’ll start competing elsewhere. Ahead is the State Fair competition which should be fun and educational. Maybe I’ll check other County calendars too. Who knows!

Right now I’m still battling a cold that my doctor says lasts for 4 to six weeks. I’m doing much better, but still have to watch my exercise level. Too much activity and I’m tired the next day. I did get in one day of shooting in the Napa Valley to the Quixote Winery and the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. It was the first sunny day in a long time and I needed to get out with my camera. I did pay for my adventure for 2 days afterward!

Here are some images taken on the way to the winery and at the winery. We’ll talk about the museum in my next post. I think I have to find my copy of “Here Comes The Sun” by Richie Havens and play it continually! You think that would work?