Lens Artists Challenge #124: Then and Now

We live in the now, and these days we think back to the then. This is Amy’s, “The World is a Book” challenge this week. What is the difference between then and now.

I think our spontaneity is gone. Are we in the purple, red, orange tier? How far would we be going? Would we need to car pool? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves before we deem it okay to do an activity. We used to be able to go out to dinner on the spur of the moment. Now we either take out or cook. Sometimes we can eat out if our location is in the right tier. Even then, we may have to eat outside!

So, Amy wants us to show the difference through our photography of our then and now. For me the big difference is that our photo outings have been with our photo pod and have been close to home. I decided to post images from November 2019 and November 2020.

In 2019 I managed to get to Apple Hill in Placerville, Napa Valley, Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael and William Land Park in Sacramento. Apple Hill and Napa were some distance from my home.

This year has been a little different with outings no more than 30 minutes from home. The longest drive was to Woodland. We also went to U.C. Davis Arboretum and Effie Yeaw. Tomorrow we will be going on another short trip to Lincoln to find some fall color.

Woodland Library

I’m looking forward to when we can just get up and go wherever we want. Maybe a 2-hour ride to the ocean! In the meantime:

Strolling along Putah Creek: UC Davis Arboretum

Camera, check! Lenses, check! Waist pack for when walking, check! Hat, check! All ready for a nice stroll with photo pod buddies along the trail at the UC Davis Arboretum. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to this end of the arboretum, so I was especially excited to see scenery I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The arboretum didn’t disappoint.

There’s a lake where Putah Creek widens. It’s simply beautiful and one tree drew my attention.

And here’s the lake from the other side.

In the Spring, there are more blossoms on trees, but the bridges and pathway colors were beautiful.

One bridge had locks fastened on its wires.

It was serene and beautiful. People were relaxing like this young couple.

We did drive to the other end of the arboretum. We couldn’t walk because part was closed off. This was the end we were more familiar with. The flower garden was almost bare but the light on the gazebo offered great shadows and patterns.

Just as I checked everything before I took off on our walk, I checked it all again as I put the camera, lenses, waist pack and hat in the car. It was another great photo outing.

Lens Artists Challenge #122: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I’m sure we’re all waiting and hoping for new beginnings right now. This pandemic is getting old and depressing. We need some sunshine in our lives. This challenge from our guest host Ana of Anvica’s Gallery, is about sunshine and how it helps us get through difficult times with a little self help.

Here’s what she says: “Not every day can be wonderful.  There are times in life when suffering is there, for many reasons, and it is difficult to overcome.  Those moments are part of life and no one gets rid of them.  But how we live those situations and what we learn from them, is within us.   Although a pleasant ray of sunshine always helps, right?”

However, in photography the sun helps us in many ways. First it makes shadows for us.

It can brighten up the gold colored Tower Bridge in Sacramento.

It can help the sunflowers smile and form a sunburst to pop through trees in a forest. It can also be a light at the end of a natural tunnel.

And at sundown it can create magical beauty.

The sun helps us see positivity and can brighten our world. In his blog regarding this challenge John RH quoted some lyrics from “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles. Here are all the lyrics:

Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, the smile’s returning to their faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun
It’s all right
It’s all right 

Yes, one of these days, it will be alright especially if we do some self help. Oh, if you look for the song, try to stream the Richie Haven’s rendition. I’m playing it now, and I’m feeling better. Thank you Ana!

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!

COVID & election depression: Green Acres Nursery

One warning: never go to Costco or any other big box store when you’re in a depression, especially a COVID and election depression! I did and I gave into buying a bunch of breaded chicken patties that I’ve been able to resist for about 10 years. So now I have a whole sleeve of patties, that are probably not good for me, to eat.

When I get into a funk, I wallow. That’s why I took myself and my camera to Green Acres Nursery in Roseville for a pick me up to shoot macro. I enjoy shooting macro. The management at this particular store enjoy having photographers take images of their flowers. I was a little disappointed in the flower choice, but I did find some good candidates (Oh, when is this election going to be over. Even my word choice is out of control!).

My little trip did help me step out of my funk and lunch today with a friend also helped. And, I think the chicken patties will also help. Yes? No? Fun food! Again, don’t go to the store when you’re depressed!

Lens-Artists Challenge #120: What a treat!

This week’s challenge from Tina at Travels and Trifles can send us off in many directions. Treats can be a hot fudge sundae, grandkids, wonderful memories and more. Just let your imagination run free. I was having a difficult time deciding until I read John’s post on flight which reminded me of a special treat my great nephew Daylen gave me when he took me up in his family’s small plane.

I was visiting family in Peachtree City, Georgia, in March 2017, when this amazing opportunity happened. Daylen had just gotten his pilots license (His Dad is a pilot.) and offered me a ride. Wow! It was a small plane. I’m not sure how more than two people could fit in it even though it had two back seats. When I climbed on the wing and looked down into the passenger seat, I remember saying to Daylen, “I can get in, but don’t laugh when I get out!”

It was a wonderful experience. When I asked if we could go higher, he said he wasn’t licensed to fly above the clouds! Here’s my flight.

Thanks Tina for bringing back a wonderful memory and treat!

Smile: Getting through the pandemic blues!

Smile!” That’s what I told a dear friend who has the pandemic blues. That’s what I’m telling myself today! Thank you Olivia for creating this wonderful reminder.

Olivia is my 9 year old (almost 10) granddaughter. I saw she was working and concentrating on something at her desk after she finished her school work. She came over to me and showed me this awesome and colorful picture. I smiled and asked if I could have it. She thought a few seconds and shook her head yes. It now has its place on my fridge. Actually I’m thinking of framing it. What do you think?

So many of us have reached the depression stage in this pandemic. In addition, here in California, we have fire. Our entire state is blazing. Those of us who have forced inside because of smoke and ash really shouldn’t complain. We have our homes. But it’s still depressing.

I’ve gone in my kitchen a lot lately just to be reminded to SMILE! You have my permission to print and copy this wonderful smiley face when you feel depressed and trapped inside. I’m sure Olivia won’t mind!

Oh, WordPress wouldn’t let me use Olivia’s picture as the featured image, so I’m using the Mickey Mouse puzzle my grandson Christopher made for me. Mickey helps me smile too!

Lens-Artist #113: A Labor Of Love

When I first saw this challenge given by Rusha Sams, my immediate thoughts went to raising children. They are conceived in love, raised with love and then their children are loved. Beyond that, when I was traveling, I wasn’t taking pictures. It’s only in my senior years that I discovered photography as a form of self-expression and a passion.

So, bringing “A Labor Of Love” down to very basic terms, I chose to show an activity that is a labor of love for participants and fans alike. My topic: Hot Air Balloon Festivals.

I’ve only been to two Hot Air Balloon Festivals. The first was in September, 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. I chose an entry level camera to start because I wasn’t sure about photography. It didn’t take long before I upgraded to the D7100. I heard about the balloon festival in Windsor, California. So, off Richard and I went in our 5th wheel trailer, staying two nights in what they set aside as a campground. I was warned that the show started promptly at 4 a.m., and it did.

I woke up to the announcer on the loud speaker saying, “Good morning Windsor!” I jumped out of bed, got dressed, grabbed my camera and ran out the door to be greeted by total darkness. Once on the field, I realized I hadn’t set my camera! I saw the green “A,” turned the dial, and ran toward the “Dawn Patrol” that had just set up. The rest is history. I had a great time. I loved the challenge of getting the shots, lying on the ground as the balloons went up in the air, kneeling down to catch a picture of the balloon being blown up. It was an exhilarating morning. Here are a few of my first shots with my camera.

Fast forward to September 2017 when I was shooting with a Nikon D7100 at the Reno Hot Air Balloon Festival, Reno, Nevada.

Linda and I decided to stay one night at a hotel and waking up at 3:30 a.m. rather than waking up at 1 a.m. and driving 2 hours. It was a smart move for two seniors! This was a larger festival and just as much fun.

I saw many of the same balloons in Reno as I did in Windsor. The pilots have such a love for this sport that they travel from festival to festival. Weather is a big factor on whether they can take their balloons up. The second day at Windsor, it was too windy for them to fly.

This was a nice memory to catch up on. Thank you Rusha!

Lens-Artist Challenge #111: Everyday objects

Thank you Patti! This challenge made me stretch beyond my normal type of photography. What I finally came up with are a few things around my house that bring me joy.

First are my bamboo wind chimes. I love the sound they make even in a slight breeze. As you can see, they are old and cracking, but they still sound beautiful.

Also outside are my red chairs. I saw two red chairs during a visit to Volcano, a very small town in the gold country, and was instantly drawn to them. When I repainted the house I had to get some. They are a perfect accent for my gray and charcoal color choice.

One thing about me that you may not know: I’m a huge Mickey Mouse fan and love almost everything Disney. So Mickey is in my house big time. One Mickey treasure is my toaster given to me by dear friends. It’s really not good to use since the outside gets hot. So, it sits as a decoration on top of my kitchen cabinet. Who could not enjoy that first cup of coffee after looking at Mickey!

My fondest Mickey treasure is a big puzzle my older grandson, Christopher, made for me. Each piece is a scene from a Disney movie. He framed it and it hangs at the end of my hallway. Here’s the puzzle and a close up so you can see the puzzle pieces. It’s amazing.

And finally, my dog Gem. He’s a Schnoodle and is 10 years. We walk every day, so I guess he’s an everyday thing!

Thanks again Patti! It was fun!!

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!