Before the heat hit: Sacramento Zoo

Early this month we decided to beat the heat and went to the Sacramento Zoo when it opened. To our surprise, it was pleasant weather wise. However, the animals were being ornery. I don’t know why they turn away when they see a camera! Many weren’t in their enclosures and the nocturnal animals were sleeping early.

The orangutans were playing and eating in their enclosure. Finally one decided to turn around.

Thank goodness it was bone day, and the lions and jaguars were still gnawing at their treats.

By now we should have a new baby giraffe. I guess as soon as it gets a little cooler I’ll get down their to see him/her. The docents are hoping for a girl because she would get to stay. If it’s a male then when he gets to a certain age, he’ll be sent to another zoo.

One of the alligators was active and swimming towards the platform we stood on. He doesn’t look too friendly.

Last we have the okapi. There was only one out that morning. They are an amazing looking animal.

You’ll notice there are no flamingo pictures this time. All the birds are inside because of the avian flu. They even drained the flamingos pool. I hope they are back when we visit next. They are fun to watch and photograph.

Our zoo is planning to move to Elk Grove, a city south of Sacramento but within Sacramento County. More acreage is needed for expansion and to house the current zoo animals. But, it’s not going to happen overnight. They say the zoo will move in stages. I wonder what that would mean for the visitors and animals. Change happens!

Lens-Artists Challenge#205: The Eyes Have It

During a photography competition, the judge always looks into the subject’s eyes–whether human or animal. Are they sharp and have a catch light. This week, Tina challenges us to focus on the eyes of a subject. Eyes are doorways into the soul.

I managed to find some images in my archives to show you. Let’s start with one I enjoy looking at. My friend and I were at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge driving the course. Towards the end, a bald eagle was in a branch right over the road. To get this picture, I climbed up through her car’s sunroof. Look at those eyes. What do you think he’s telling me?

Two more animals: The coyote is on the hunt. You can see that he is focused in his eyes. While the parrot, is just being colorful and beautiful.

Burrowing owls are very small, but their eyes are big in comparison. Is he flashing a do not disturb sign with those eyes?

I don’t capture enough candid portraits of people. Here are two that tell different stories. The first gentleman was sitting on a bridge bench. His glasses hide the despair in his eyes, but his body language speaks. The woman is taking a break at the Pirate Festival. Her eyes are narrowed and relaxed. To me she’s reflecting on a good day of fun.

Another of my favorites is this flamingo trying to sleep at the Sacramento Zoo. What is he trying to tell me as I snap his picture?

A dog’s eyes are a true reflection of what he/she is thinking. I think he/she wants attention. What do you think?

Eye focus equals communication. At Toastmasters we teach “eye contact.” Look directly into your audience’s eyes. You can tell immediately whether or not your message is reaching them.

Thank you Tina for this wonderful eye opening topic. Remember to link your reply to her post. Next week we begin our tradition of summer guest hosts during July. Next week Aletta Crouse of Now at Home will focus on Treasures. Be sure to look for her post.

During the remainder of July we have:

July 09 – Jez Braithwaite of Photos by Jez is Seeing Double.

July 16 – Andre of My Blog–Solaner is thinking about Summer Vibes.

July 23 – Tracy, who posts at Reflections of an Untidy Mind, has chosen Surrealism.

July 30 – Sarah Wilkie, who hosts Travel with Me, asks you to share Three Favorite Images.

We invite you to look for and check out their blogs and hope you’ll join us throughout July. The Lens-Artists team will be back in August when I will host, “What’s Your Groove”.

Until then, have a safe and fun summer. Remember to use the Lens-Artists tag.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Talking with the animals: Sacramento Zoo

I love our small zoo. Why? Because I can walk it and take pictures within 1 1/2 – 2 hours. But we need more land for a larger zoo. We don’t have many large mammals because we can’t house them. Right now the Sacramento Zoo is in negotiations to move to Elk Grove where the zoo could grow into 70 acres from its now 14.4 acres. That’s a lot more room for the current animals and animals to come. Aside from the longer drive time, I’m wondering whether I will love a large zoo as much as this one. That move is a few years away so let’s look at some pictures I took in my visit early in May.

Let’s look at the birds first. Where I could ID them, their names are in the captions.

Next we have one of the alligators, quiet, he’s sleeping! And the Chimpanzees are grooming each other.

The River Otters are in a glass enclosure which is difficult to photograph through, but they were in great positions.

It was a great day to photograph the Red Kangaroos in their new larger enclosure. They were just given something to nibble on.

The Cheetahs were trying to nap but this one kept lifting his head to see what was going on.

My last two pictures are of the Giraffe (They make such funny faces.) and the Red Panda.

Full and tired after finishing their bones, the big cats were sleeping. The Orangutans didn’t want to come out to play. The Zebras were still eating. Everything was as it should be at the Zoo. I can’t wait until I go visit again.

Lens-Artists Challenge #196: Humor

“Why did the camera stop dreaming about a career in photography? He couldn’t remain focused.

What did the woman think about her friend who was a photographer? She wished someone would shutter up.

Why did a man always rave about how great his digital camera was? He couldn’t think of any negatives.”

From the Kidadl Team

This week, guest host John of John’s Space has challenged us to post images of humor. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor–I do but it’s mostly sarcastic. So do I usually take humorous photos? No, but I do find some situations funny, especially at the Sacramento Zoo. If you go to a zoo enough, you’ll find the animals either look funny or are in funny situations. The following are examples.

Are these flamingos fighting, kissing, or what?

And, what message is this snow leopard sending? Is he smiling?

I’ve never had a lion stick his tongue at me before!

Watch out this orangutan is getting ready to kiss someone!

The okapi have beautiful markings on their rear ends, but maybe this one didn’t like my taking a picture of it!

This zebra is just taking care of an itch, maybe!

I’ll end with the giraffes. They have such expressive faces.

Thank you John for helping us find some smiles in today’s tense world. As you answer this challenge, remember to link to his post and tag Lens-Artists. And thank you everyone for joining in on last week’s colorful challenge. I enjoyed seeing and reading all your responses. Next week Tina will lead our challenge. Be sure to stay tuned.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Working Dogs: Sheepdog trials

Photography always gives me an opportunity to learn. In March I went to see the sheepdog trials in Zamora at Slaven Ranch. First, I was impressed by a whole bunch of border collies and handlers/owners waiting their turn for a run up the hill.

Over the hill were four sheep waiting to be herded down the hill, through two obstacles on the course and finally into the ring set off by traffic cones. The handler stands on the flat land more or less between the obstacles and ring. I’m hoping you can get somewhat of a picture in your mind. My description is not very good.

As far as photography goes, it was difficult because you had to use a telephoto lens (we were quite a distance away) which made it difficult to get the dogs and sheep into one frame when they came close enough to photograph. I had my lens at 200mm and managed to get a few pictures when they came down the hill.

The handlers communicate with their dogs by using a special whistle that we couldn’t hear. And, all this had to be done in a certain time limit. Here are some pictures.

Coming down the hills.

Now for the dogs while herding.

One of the handlers working with a dog.

Now for a fun picture. I took a picture of a dog sitting next to me. When processing it, I cropped in close to the eye and found a reflection. Take a look!

It was an amazing few hours watching these border collies and handlers at work. I do appreciate the Yolo Arts and Ag Project and the opportunities it offers us.

Oh, I want to thank those of you who gave me input on my decision on whether to buy a Fujifilm macro lens or keep my current Nikon macro lens. I’ve decided to keep using my Nikon system. The reality is that I do long range wildlife photography just a few times a year. I enjoy it, but enjoy other types of photography more.

Lens Artists Challenge #169: The Ordinary

Before I started photography, I took nature for granted. While I liked pretty flowers, I never noticed their delicate intricacies. However, becoming a photographer changed all that. I now I look at the light shinning through the petals and the stamens holding pollen for the bees.

Guest host I. J. Khanewala‘s challenge is for us to discover the ordinary around us and cherish it. I do cherish nature.

It might be an eagle, hawk or deer.

Or maybe a landscape in the country, an ocean scene or a well known tourist spot.

But what happens when nature itself provides challenges like the wind storm we had last winter. It blew most of the almond blossoms off the trees in the orchards, devastating the almond crop. Ordinarily these trees would be full of blossoms.

But sometimes humankind provides the igniting spark that destroys what nature has taken so long to create.

In one fire season we went from a scene like this.

To a scene like this, taken yesterday. The results from the Caldor fire.

Let’s not take our extraordinary nature for granted any longer. Be careful to leave areas you visit just as you found it–beautiful!

A Favorite Place: Sacramento Zoo

I enjoy going to the Sacramento Zoo. I’ve gotten to know the animals and their habits. There are new animals, and I’ll introduce them later. There are successes and trials when photographing zoo animals.

I know I’ll not be able to capture a meercat with my camera because they just keep running, at a good speed, along the perimeter of their enclosure. Well all except the lookout who stands still and just keeps turning its head looking for danger. Plus it’s a glass enclosure and you need to photograph through children’s hand prints.

The flamingos are a favorite because they are beautiful and have fun personalities. Sometimes they fight and sometimes they show affection.

While we’re in the pond, there is one white pelican–another favorite of mine. This was the first time I saw him eating.

One of the new arrivals is the largest rodent in the world (says a docent)–a capybara.

The orangutan was not being cooperative, but I got a decent picture anyway. The zebras were doing their usual eating. The red river hog and kangaroo were also reluctant to have their pictures taken.

The lioness was posing beautifully while her mate was peaking out from under a bush.

The red panda was grooming itself before napping and I was able to catch it with eyes open before it rested it’s head. The mongoose lemur got back from it’s cage far enough for me to photograph through the wires.

The cheetahs were being exceptionally difficult. They did not want to sit still, turn and face the camera and stay the proper distance from the enclosure fence. I asked the keeper to talk to them, but I don’t think she did!

Sharing an enclosure is the Okapi and the Black Crowned Crane.

I’ve left the best for last–the giraffes. It was feed the giraffe time where guests could feed a patient giraffe some leaves.

The other giraffes had to fend for themselves.

I hope you enjoyed this zoo visit as much as I did. I’ve linked each animal with the area where their fact sheet is located for your reading pleasure!

For the horses: Pine Trails Ranch

Not having been around many horses, I take advantage of every opportunity to photograph them. For me, they are gentle giants. When the Yolo Arts & Ag Project invited us to visit the Pine Trails Ranch in Davis, I went to see what the horse ranch was all about.

The first horse to greet me was this friendly one. He came right up to the opening in the gate, poked his head through and grabbed my attention. I was able to pet him and visited him more than once.

Next I saw this beautiful horse wearing a fly mask.

There were a few horses in a row of stalls. Now, can any photographer not take a photo of leading lines?

One horse owner didn’t mind me taking pictures of his horse.

Lessons were in progress. The young girl was waiting her turn and warming up her horse, while the woman was just finishing. After the lesson the horse was waiting to be groomed.

I was lucky to find another horse owner cleaning her horse’s shoeless feet. She said her old horse didn’t need shoes because she wasn’t that active. But, her feet needed to be taken care of.

I also found some interesting scenery to photograph.

I enjoyed my morning at the Ranch and my time with the horses! Thank you Yolo Arts & Ag!

Lens Artists Challenge #162: It’s all about the light

While I would like to take photos when the light is just right, sometimes I can’t. Then I go with what I’ve got! Yes, photography is all about the light or maybe the absence of it. This week, Tina has given us the challenge to share images that show the power of light.

I’ll start this post with a shot from Yosemite at first light in the Valley.

As the sun rises throughout the day, we get shadows depending on how high the sun is. Of course, when it’s directly overhead, that’s not the best time to take photos. The next two were taken in Locke California in the partial morning sun.

We can see how colors become dramatic when the sun hits them. Sedona, Arizona.

I think when the sun shines on even a mushroom it adds dimension and helps the picture pop. Here are two examples of sun and shade.

I love to take photos of flowers. This tulip almost looks as if it has a candle glowing inside because of the way the sun is hitting it. Taken at Ananda Village.

As the sun sets objects seem to have a glow. Taken at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert.

And finally the sun goes below the horizon and we have darkness–no light except man made. The Tower Bridge in Old Sacramento.

Controlling the light is another challenge for me. I bought diffusers, but haven’t used them yet. I guess I need to get started! Thanks Tina for this insightful challenge!

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!