Lens Artists Challenge #148: Spots and Dots

Spots and dots? This challenge from Ann Christine put my lack of creativity to a test. Fortunately, I got some ideas from members who posted before me. They do say that imitation is the best form of flattery!

Animals were shown in a few posts; at least those having spots. So off I went to my Sacramento Zoo archives.

I also found a dog with spots. Not a dog called spot. I spotted him in one of my tours of a small town. Sorry, I couldn’t resist having some word fun.

And you’ll never know what you’ll find at IKEA. With a Photoshop filter, I turned a dotted pillow into a swirl with a center dot.

Every year there are Christmas lights that you can shoot normally or zoom. But they all start out as brightly lit dots.

Finally, you know how much I love photographing flowers. Whether it’s a macro, showing the stamens or a field dotted with golden poppies, I totally enjoy it.

This was a fun exercise. Thank you Ann Christine for the challenge!

Oh deer look at the swans: Effie Yeaw & Mather Lake

Living in the Sacramento area offers two nearby places for photographers to capture nature: Effie Yeaw Nature Center and Mather Lake. Both are less than 1/2 hour from my home. One March morning Ray and I went to both places.

First, we met at Effie Yeaw along the American River. The deer are very accustomed to humans and let us get close enough for me to use my 55 – 200 mm lens easily. This morning, unfortunately, we didn’t see any bucks, but there were a lot of does grazing.

We also saw turkeys and a tree branch that looked like an animal with a long neck. Do you see it too? Maybe a dragon?

After walking the trails in the nature center, Ray and I met Richard at Mather Lake. I wanted to practice carrying and shooting with my Nikon d7100, the prime 300 mm lens and new short monopod Ray made for me. This is a small lake and popular fishing spot. I had to walk to the back of the lake before I found swans close enough for me to photograph. At least I was able to carry the equipment easily.

It was a lovely morning of camaraderie, practice and exercise.

Off to see the animals: Sacramento Zoo

For me, going to the Sacramento Zoo is like seeing old friends. You get to know some animals by name, you learn their behavior and watch their babies grow. My camera group decided since the zoo was open again, we needed to visit. Right now you just can’t go to the zoo on a whim. You need to go online and buy your ticket for a specific time slot. Even though I’m a member, I still have to reserve a time slot. They can only let in a certain number of people at a time for each specified slot.

So, we were at the zoo at 10:30 a.m. Fortunately, the large cats were still awake, having eaten their bones. It was a Thursday–bone day!

The lions and snow leopard.

This is the second time I’ve caught the Red Pandas awake. They were busy finding and eating food.

All the Orangutans were out and having a lot of fun and eating.

The River Otters were putting on a show too. I processed this one in black and white.

One of the alligators came out from the water so we could get a good look at him. Does he look hungry?

Baby giraffe, Glory, has grown since my last visit. She’s eating food put at her height.

The Masai Giraffe was playing with a large plastic bucket. Do you think he’d be good at soccer?

One of the Okapi decided to show me his best side! They do have a beautifully marked rear.

Some of my favorites weren’t out. I guess another visit should be put on the calendar.

Lens-Artists Challenge #135: A Glimpse Into Your World

Wow! Guest host, Sheetal, has asked us to share what “makes your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.” If I have to narrow it down, other than close friends and family, my photographic journey brings me joy. Before I retired, products I produced for clients, helping someone become a better speaker and writing articles brought me joy. I was totally immersed in their world and bringing their story out.

Photography allows me to do that for myself. Writing about it through our Lens-Artists challenges allows me to recognize it and savor it. How many chances do we get to talk about ourselves or show ourselves through our pictures?

So, what do I love to shoot? When asked that question I always reply, “Everything but portraits!” Let’s begin with the Sacramento Zoo. I do enjoy going there and must while they are open again. If you go on bone day, you can see the big cats gnawing their bones or maybe ready for a nap after a well-enjoyed treat.

I also enjoy visiting the nearby Effie Yeaw Nature Center where can see deer, coyotes, and other animals in their wild world along the American River.

Of course, there is the American and Sacramento Rivers that are also close.

We also have our countryside that host farms and foothills that hug the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Last we have downtown Sacramento where we can practice shooting buildings. Need a wide angle for this!

I’m so lucky to have so much nearby. And thank you to Sheetal for helping me recognize it!

Lens Artists Challenge #129: Favorite Images of 2020

This challenge from Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles seemed easy at first, but when I started digging through my photos, the challenge became emotional and difficult. The pandemic wove its way into our lives touching all aspects even photography. There were fewer outings, no lunches afterwards, less day trips. Picking the favorites out of a challenging year was tough.

The year 2020 started out great with one of my best sunsets taken at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, and an eagle shot at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. I didn’t make it back to either place that year.

Before the first lockdown, we did make it to Mare Island (A former Naval installation) where I spotted the perfect natural frame for an old brick building. I do love structures.

I did win an honorable mention for this photo in the McKinley Rose Garden contest.

Our photo shoots mainly consisted of meeting at the designated place shooting masked and then going our separate ways. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento reached deep into my soul since my husband served in Vietnam. This piece particularly touched me. A prisoner waiting for what?

I did take two longer trips. One with husband Richard as we searched for the beautiful California poppy and one with my friend Jean as we looked for Fall color, but instead found this beautiful lake.

Out again with our small group, we searched for Fall color before it disappeared. As we were going home, we came upon this.

But my favorite is the simple love of a child for her mother. In this case the child is Glory, 6-weeks I think when this was taken, and her mother. This was taken at the Sacramento Zoo. I call it, “This is MY mommy!”

And so, we are now two days into 2021 and things are looking up. We have vaccine choices in the works and hope. Take care and stay safe!

Lens-Artists Challenge #123: Found in the Neighborhood

Oh my, this one is easy since I walk my neighborhood every day. Actually, I don’t have a choice, Gem will follow me until I take him out for our daily mostly 2-mile jaunt. It’s his walk and his choice where he goes. And where he goes, I follow. So Ann Christine, thank you for this topic!

Flowers are abundant in my community. From roses to tulips, they are beautiful.

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of goslings even though I’m not too fond of their parents. We have an abundance of wild turkeys too. I keep reminding them that Thanksgiving is near, but they don’t pay attention because they know they are protected.

And finally we have mushrooms. Ana of Anvica’s Gallery reminded me of them in her current post, “Time for Mushrooms.” Here are two varieties taken at different times. If you live in a senior community, take a sign saying “I’m okay!” with you as you lie face-down in the grass!

I don’t bring my camera on my walks with Gem. He wants all of my attention. When we first went on lockdown, I was grateful for living where I do. All us dog walkers, would stop and talk. I didn’t feel alone. Take care everyone!

Need a pick-me-up?: Sacramento Zoo

There’s a certain innocence about animals. We see it in our pets and we can also see it at a zoo. I enjoy going to the Sacramento Zoo, because it’s small and we can learn a lot about animal behavior. They are still maintaining small capacity attendance and requiring masks. That helps me feel more comfortable during my visit.

It’s also great to see the changes like the birth of a new Giraffe. Her name is Glory, and she is adorable. Here are a few pictures. In the first one she is claiming her mom. I’ve titled it: This is my mommy! In the last image, giraffe blends into giraffe.

The resident Pelican is one of my favorites. Some time ago, a keeper said they were going to send him to another zoo. So far they haven’t. I’m happy!

It was bone day at the zoo, so it was easier to photograph the big cats as they gnawed on their treats. The Lions and Jaguar were still and easy to photograph.

We all get sleepy after a big meal and the Snow Leopard is no different. What a big yawn!

Flamingos are beautiful, but they can have their disagreements.

The Orangutans were playful and a delight to photograph.

The Okapi are especially handsome with distinctive markings.

Of course I have more pictures, but we’ll save those animals for my next zoo visit. Take care everyone!

Lens-Artists #117: A photo walk

Whether in the city or country-side, I love photo walks. Thank you Amy of Share and Connect for choosing this topic. It’s a great way to relax, observe, see opportunities and shoot pictures. However, here in Sacramento, between the pandemic and smoke from fires, taking photo walks has been minimal. Of the few activities this year, my trip to the Sacramento Zoo and Gibson Ranch stand out.

The Sacramento Zoo. I love the zoo, and typically spend 2 hours walking it. It closed early on in the pandemic and when they were permitted to reopen, it was under strict guidelines. We needed to make online reservations, you couldn’t request a time slot, and they only let in a certain amount of visitors at a time. My time slot came early in the afternoon. Typically I would get there when they opened in the morning before the big cats took their naps. However my ticket was for 1:30 p.m. Wow, animals that were traditionally inactive in the morning were active. Here are some images from that zoo afternoon.

Another time we went to Gibson Ranch in Elverta. I hadn’t been there in a long time and wanted to get familiar with my new 80 mm macro lens. I didn’t think I’d be able to do much true macro work, but I wanted to see what else it could do. Gibson Ranch has a pond, barn, animals, horse stables and horses. It’s typical to find families feeding the ducks and geese, horses being groomed and rode, and people taking trail rides.

I’ve since used my macro lens on flowers, etc. It’s great.

There are so many other places to stroll about with a camera in the Sacramento area. I’m just waiting for the smoke to clear!

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.

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!