Lens-Artist Challenge 108: Sanctuary

Sanctuary, for me, is where you seek refuge from things that may be bothering you, where you relax and rejuvenate, where you find peace. This challenge was selected by our guest host Xenia of Tranature and posted by Ann-Christine.

I gave it a lot of thought. Where do I find peace? Where do I get away from it all? Where? Where? I came to the realization that I find peace and rejuvenate when I’m out taking pictures. My camera is my calming mechanism. When I’m out shooting, I concentrate on taking the best pictures, I forget what’s bothering me, I forget my physical problems. When the outing is over then my hip hurts and the world situation comes back into my head.

So I began the daunting task of finding pictures that would be my interpretation of sanctuary. These Lens-Artist challenges can lead to great introspection. To my surprise, I kept coming back to the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery! Now that’s odd, you’re probably thinking. Me too! This cemetery is beautiful, has history, it’s not crowded with tourists, has places to sit, has lovely flowers, and old head stones and statues to photograph.

My photo buddies and I usually visit there at least once a year, maybe twice. Things don’t change much so the challenge is to find new ways to shoot and create difference. It was built in 1849 and its architectural style is that of a Victorian Garden. The grave stones tell us about how life was lived back then and the people who lived it.

You can see, beautiful sculptures rather than head stones. And head stones that tell the sad story of two children lost, and one simple stone telling of what I assume to be a still born child.

The lovely flowers are maintained by a volunteer organization, and they are beautiful.

During our last visit, I tried to capture the flowers around the headstones.

And I finally found the cemetery cat!

I’m due for another visit. Maybe this week. It’s supposed to be in the 80s on Wednesday! It’s a great time to visit my sanctuary.

A little non-macro practice: Gibson Ranch

I knew Gibson Ranch Park in Elverta wasn’t the best place for macro shots, but you can use a macro lens for more than just close up photography. Yes? Well, I gave it a try when Marlene, Linda and I went to to the park. I hadn’t been there for a while, and I wanted to practice with my new macro lens for the Fuji camera. It performed well.

There were the usual amount of ducks at the pond.

And there were geese!

And a squirrel enjoying a peanut tossed by a young boy.

And Gibson Ranch has other animals too.

There are also stables where horses are boarded. In one area, trail rides are offered.

Oh, yes, I did manage to get a couple of close up/macro images too.

Now I have to find some flowers and bugs to practice on!

Lens-Artist Challenge #107: Winter

The wonderful thing about living in Sacramento is being able to visit Winter, enjoy for a few hours and come back to mild temperatures and no snow! Oh, I forgot to mention that if you time it right, you won’t need snow tires or chains to get to the snow and ski resorts. But timing is critical.

I remember taking two members of my Skillbuilders Toastmasters Club to Reno, Nevada for a District 39 conference. We didn’t see any snow on the 2-hour ride up to Reno. We were just about to find a place to eat dinner when my husband called and said to come home. There was a big storm ready to hit Reno and further west. We didn’t hesitate. By the time we got to the car, the snow was already falling. When we got to the California border, I couldn’t see in front of me; the snow was falling that heavy. I managed to get down the mountain by following truck tracks that sort of plowed the road. I didn’t have snow tires or chains. However, the scenery was simply beautiful. Freshly fallen snow on pine trees; a photographer’s dream. It’s too bad I was driving. I would have been taking pictures.

While the timing was wrong for that trip, it was right for our February 2016 trip to the small town of Donner Lake, near Truckee, in Nevada County. The weather was perfect, roads were plowed and plenty of snow available to photograph. Linda drove and Marlene and I went along. It was an amazing day, topped off by the best pizza. Yes, we are foodies of sort.

Thank you Ann-Christine, and this challenge, for taking me back to a wonderful day! Check the captions for image details.

I’ve been up the mountain to shoot snow since, but never experienced a day like this. Isn’t it wonderful that we have our images to help us remember. Keep beauty in your heart!

You never know what you’ll find when walking the dog: Mushrooms

Gem (my dog) and I walk every morning. He’s a schnoodle and habit is most important to him. Most times, we log in 2 miles. It’s his joy. My doctor once asked me how long it takes me to walk a mile. I told her it depended on how many times Gem stops, smells the area and goes potty. With geese, ducks, skunks, coyotes and other dogs around, there is a lot to smell.

Sometimes I’ll notice something and wish I had my camera, but this is Gem’s time. His walking needs keep us both healthy and moving. But, one morning I noticed some nice mushrooms and promised myself to get my camera and return immediately. Yes, I’m that lazy that I have to promise myself!

I did return with my Fujifilm XT3 and new macro lens. Here’s what I got.

One thing, when you lie down on the grass face down with your camera, you’ll get lots of concern from your neighbors! I love the accordion effect these mushrooms have, and think my new lens performed well.

Yep, you never know what you’ll find when walking the dog!

Lens Artists Challenge 106: Autumn

Deep in the summer heat, it’s great to begin to think of Autumn. Thank you Patti!

Autumn in Sacramento has all photographers looking for fall colors. One popular spot, about 2 hours away, is Hope Valley. That’s where the famed cabin is. You haven’t shot in Hope Valley until you’ve captured the cabin.

So in October, 2016 Marlene and I ventured out to find the famed cabin. Everyone said it was too late for finding color, but we found color and snow. We drove past the cabin twice before we recognized it!

We went back in 2017 and captured it again. Here’s a closer look.

Fall colors in 2018 were found in Markleeville.

Our almost annual trek to Apple Hill (Where you can buy everything apple!) in 2019 brought us some opportunity to shoot fall colors.

I don’t know what 2020 will bring us this Autumn. We can only hope for more color in our lives!

Paradise lost: The Camp Fire Aftermath

The photos in this post are not pretty or inviting, but they are realistic. My neighbor, a Camp Fire survivor, invited me and a few of my photo buddies up to the small town of Paradise to document where he used to live. Just imagine not being able to look at photo albums containing images of past generations, your children when they were young, past celebrations. Camp Fire survivors don’t have that privilege. They are lucky to be alive.

Called the deadliest and most destructive fire in California, this fire ignited before 6:30 a.m., November 8, 2018 near Camp Creek Road and Pulga Road in Paradise, Butte County. After extensive investigation, the cause was found to be a faulty transmission wire maintained by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). The two roads out of Paradise into Chico were jammed with residents trying to escape. A typically short ride down the mountain took 4 hours. My neighbor said the car was hot and it looked like they were surrounded by walls of orange. Eighty five people didn’t make it.

We visited June 30, 2020. By this time all the debris was cleared, the murals painted on wall remnants were gone, but desolation remained. Here’s what we saw. Pictures are captioned.

This was a difficult shoot. I’m posting this because my neighbor said he was so happy we wanted to come up to photograph the place he used to call home.

Lens-Artist Challenge #105: Spring

Photos are our memories, and I’m glad to have images from Ananda Village‘s Crystal Hermitage Garden. Each year, volunteers plant tulips on the terraced hillside, creating such beauty worthy of a yearly visit. However, this year they didn’t open to the public because of the Pandemic.

Ananda Village is just north of Nevada City in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The village is run by a spiritual association that provides a range of tools to strengthen spiritual lives of individuals of all ages. It follows the teaching of Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple, Swami Kriyananda, to meet the needs of spiritual seekers. They also have retreats and rent cabins to individuals who just want to get away and meditate.

A group of us go up each year to take pictures. These are from last year.

Thank you Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles for this Spring Lens-Artist Challenge!

Len-Artist Challenge 104: Summer

Heat! That’s the challenge summer brings to the Sacramento area. Due to climate change, our infrequent triple digit weather has become the norm. Add to that, we need to stay away from our rivers and lakes because of social distancing. It’s not my favorite season. But the flowers are blooming and I love macro and close up photography.

So here are some macro/close up floral images for Amy’s summer challenge:

As I’m posting this, they are predicting a high of 98 degrees and right now it’s 92 degrees. My garden will be pruned tomorrow morning! There might be a photography tutorial in my future this afternoon.

Yolo Art & Ag: Harrison Farms, Woodland

It’s time again to wander, or should I say get lost, down those country roads in Yolo County. Each year Yolo Art & Ag sponsors monthly visits for artists and photographers to farms in the county. I have certainly benefited from these sojourns. I grew up in the city, and I’ve been able to see first hand how a farm operates.

Harrison Farms, featured a sunflower field and a some farm animals. When Marlene and I arrived, we stopped at the sunflowers first. Typically, bee keepers put hives near the fields and this was no exception! But the bees are so busy, they don’t bother someone who is allergic like me! As a field, this one wasn’t spectacular but individually the flowers were fun and pretty to photograph.

And then there was the farm itself. The pond was photographic.

There was also a small garden.

They also had a walnut tree grove.

It was an easy and fun visit. I wonder where we will go in July?

Len-Artist Challenge #103: Surprise

Now this is a challenge. A surprised moment could be photographed in many ways. I was thinking about this and came up with the idea that sometimes people would be surprised they were photographed candidly. So here goes my interpretation of this week’s challenge by Ann-Christine.

Let’s begin with a most recent picture taken on my son’s boat during an outing to Folsom Lake. This was part of my birthday present. I love to shoot the backs of people. Totally unaware were my daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson. Maybe I should have told Ryan to straighten up his head, but then it would ruin the candid moment. Separately, the kids were also surprised.

Now, we go back in time (2018) to a photo walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. In this shot we have a young couple helping their very senior dog into her stroller. This touched my heart.

These next two are of homeless guys. One is asleep and the other is trying to get his belongings into the restroom. More images to touch my soul.

Last, was opening day at Daffodil Hill. This was run by a family who plant these lovely flowers each year and open their property to the public. They closed permanently after the first weekend because of the crowds on the property and traffic mayhem on the road in/out. From left to right: The traffic on the road in, the line for the restrooms, the congestion along a path.

I may have been behind the camera for these images, but I’ve also been on the receiving end of a candid shot or two by my photo buddies! I love candid images.