Happy Birthday to me! WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I remember my Mom was excited to reach her 65th birthday because she thought she’d not make it. I don’t know why, but when that day came, I made her a nice party. She lived to make it to her 87th birthday. So here I am doing this post on my 76th birthday.

It’s fitting that this is on the WPA Rock Garden, in Sacramento, because I do love shooting macro. And, I’m happy that I can still bend down and get up to take a picture of a tiny flower or bug. However, age does have its restrictions like no more hiking up mountains, etc. Carrying heavy equipment is difficult too. I often say that I started photography 20 years too late!

I got my first camera, Nikon d3100, in June of 2012, didn’t know what ISO was, didn’t understand the exposure triangle and shot on auto and JPEG for a while. This journey has been fantastic. I’ve learned a great deal and my photography has progressed.

I recently looked through the photo book I made about our cross-country trip in 2013. After looking at the photos, I told Richard we needed to go again because I can take better pictures now! He refused!! However, they are good enough to jog a memory.

So here I am, 76 and loving it. My chosen hobby fills my soul and writing for my community’s monthly newsletter keeps me in touch with my original passion.

Enjoy the macros and close up images from the Rock Garden.

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!

Pre-competition jitters & a cold: Emigh’s Hardware, Sacramento

It’s 4:50 a.m. and way too early to be up, but I can’t go back to sleep. Today I’m taking my photos down to Columbia in Tuolumne County for the competition. Since I blogged about two of my images making the finals, a lot has happened, and the person responsible is my photo buddy Lucille.

I was talking about my 8 x 12 prints and that I wasn’t thrilled with them after getting them home and seeing the difference in color on my monitor. I’m also thinking she wasn’t happy with the idea of me taking small prints to the competition. She invited me to her home and together we worked on producing larger prints.

When I left, a whole new world opened for me. I couldn’t believe how wonderful the pictures looked larger. I thought I couldn’t resize them and not lose any of the image. The whole new world is that of do I want to start investing in printing and selling my pictures. I thought about it and decided to wait to see what happens in Columbia. I’m not sure, even if I do well, I want to walk through that door. Do I really want all that pressure at my age? Do I want to turn this photography passion into a small business? I have lots of questions and, right now, no answers.

And, now for the cold. I’m not talking about the weather even though it has been cold and raining for weeks. I’m talking about the sneezing and coughing kind. I’ve been tired for a few days, thinking it was just jitters and being anxious. I’m anxious especially since streets in Tuolumne were flooded a couple of days ago, and I don’t drive a boat!

But, last night at a Toastmaster contest, I realized I had a cold. Just my luck! I fully intend to take my photos down. However, whether I say for the weekend events will depend on my friends Sandy and Ken accepting me with a cold. I’m due to stay with them in Tuolumne City.

Right now my mind is in a quandry and my body is working hard to get me through the weekend. Since, this is a blog about pictures, here’s a few from another rainy day outing at Emigh’s Hardware in Sacramento. When I shoot in a crowded store, I try to isolate my subject and shoot mostly close up.

Rainy day visit: Folsom Prison

We’ve pretty much exhausted our rainy day photography options. We’ve been to the Antique Trove twice, IKEA once, and last Tuesday we went to Folsom Prison. Doesn’t everyone want to visit a prison?

I was a little disappointed when all we could photograph was the one gate and from a distance. We were also not allowed to take pictures of officers or inmates. The small museum saved the morning. There were treasures in there. However, shooting through the glass enclosures proved to be difficult!

Aside from the Johnny Cash concerts, Folsom Prison was one of the nation’s first maximum security prisons. It was built in the decades following the 1848 California Gold Rush, relieving the overcrowding at San Quentin State Prison.

Today the prison houses medium security male inmates.

Take a look at what I saw, beginning with the outside.

Inside the museum there were many inmate made artifacts.

And there were some weapons made by inmates too!

Some other things at the museum.

There was quite a bit of space dedicated to the Johnny Cash concerts.

Good-bye Folsom Prison!

Anxiety: Finalist in the INFOCUS competition

I was on overwhelm. I had bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D3100 in late 2012. Digital photography was slightly out of my technical expertise. Like what was ISO? Nikon wrote a pretty good manual, but assumed that the reader understood the terminology.

So, I looked for help, and I went to visit my friend Sandy, in Sonora, who’d been shooting for years. We had a great couple of days. Mostly, she showed me how to relax with the camera and gave me composition tips.

Since then, my expertise level has increased, mostly because of doing the 365 (taking a picture each day of the year) and joining the Sierra Camera Club in Sacramento which offers juried competitions twice a month. I’m not there to win; I’m there to learn. But, I always wondered if I should enter into a more broad type of competition.

I watched Sandy winning or placing at small county fair compeitions and asked her to let me know about one when it came along. The California State Fair, right here in Sacramento, seemed daunting to me. Could I really compete with the wonderful photographers in this region?

Sandy did let me know of the INFOCUS Photography Competition & Exhibition in Columbia, California. I knew if I didn’t enter this one, I would never enter one. I submitted five photos and two made it into the finals. So why am I anxiety ridden? It’s the printing, matting and framing that has me in a tizzy. The wonderful owner at Image Pros Photo, in Orangevale, helped me understand that I couldn’t make the images larger. I would lose some of the picture. Since these were macro and closeup photos, I kept them small. She also worked with me on the lighting in the picture.

So, here I am, ready to frame and bring the pictures down to Columbia for judging and exhibition on March 9. Still on overwhelm!

Here are my entries that made it into the finals. Wish me luck!

It’s raining, it’s pouring: Antique Trove, part 2

Yes, it’s still raining here in sunny California. In fact, we are getting atmospheric storms. A woman in Toastmasters this morning told us that her neighbor’s tree ended up in her pool! They are preparing for floods in certain areas that usually flood in rains like this. Discovery Park, a nice picnic area on the American River has been closed off. Many years in the past, those tables were under water!

Today, I was able to walk my dog, Gem, on his usual 2-mile trek. But, as I write this, the rain is coming down.

So, back to the Antique Trove in Roseville. I always bring money in with me when I shoot inside because I mignt find something I can’t live without. It’s also nice to buy something as a way of saying thanks for letting a photography group invade the store. Here are the last of the images I took.

This and that: Sacramento Zoo, sunset and roses

December is almost gone and I haven’t posted! But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been shooting. On Dec 1st., Laura, Marlene and I went to Kauai, Hawaii for a week. This was my first dedicated photography vacation. I’ll tell you all about it when I finish editing the images.

I had a cold before I left and have been busy since I’ve been back. So, this post is a catch up on an outing to the zoo, a West Sacramento sunset and my very own rose garden.

I wanted to visit the Sacramento Zoo to see Coconut the new snow leopard cub and the new meerkats. I was fortunate to see Coconut out with his mom, Misha. Dad, Blizzard was out on his own for a while. Coconut is a bit mischevious as are all kids, and mom takes it in stride.

The meerkats are much smaller than I expected. After all, I had only seen them in the Lion King! Also, they were behind glass which made it more difficult to photograph them.

I also went by the Red Panda enclosure, hoping to catch one of them awake and moving around. Well, one had an eye open!

From daytime to an evening sunset at the Deep Water Channel in West Sacramento. We were lucky enough to catch a decent sunset without going too far. The roses?? I have a small rose garden in my yard, and they were beautiful one morning.

Have a look!

Completing a life cycle: The Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Gold River

I’m still amazed by my recent visit to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Salmon work hard to complete their journey and¬†spawn. The hatchery plays an important role in insuring the salmon life cycle.

Here’s what Wikipedia says: From November through March river water flows down the fish ladder to encourage fish to enter and climb the steps to the hatchery. The gate at the foot of the ladder is closed when the holding pool at the top is full in order to prevent overcrowding. Ripe (ready to spawn) fish are brought from this holding pool into the hatchery spawning deck, where workers collect eggs from the females and milt from the males. Fertilized eggs are placed in hatching jars, with river water upwelling from the bottom to simulate natural conditions. When the eggs are ready to hatch the jars are tipped into large tubs where the baby fish (alevin) will remain while they absorb their yolk sacs and become free-swimming. They are then moved outside to raceway pools where they are feed multiple times a day and grow rapidly. Once the fish are ready to begin their outmigration to the ocean, at 60 fish to the pound for salmon and 4 fish to the pound for steelhead trout, they are loaded into tanker trucks and transported to the river for release. From here they make their way downstream and eventually journey out to sea.[7]

The salmon work hard, jumping to get out of the holding tank. Taking their picture was also difficult. At first I tried to follow a possible jumper. That didn’t work. Then I tried zone focusing, which worked better. I was shooting at a shutter speed of 1/160, but still some of the fish were not in focus. My other problem was a slow reaction time. Sometimes I didn’t push the shutter down fast enough. They jump so fast, water splashing all over the place, and some jumping around the one I had in sight. I did get enough though.

My lesson for the day: patience. I just stood there, camera aimed and waited. I know, that’s not me, but I did it!

At certain intervals, the salmon are pushed into the building where their eggs are collected. I was about to shoot the last fish being gutted when a worker stepped in front of my camera. All I have is a shot of them cleaning the table.

We were fortunate enough to have a Ranger show us a female that still had some eggs in her.

So, take a look at my adventure.

Hey, you said this trail was flat! Auburn Quarry Trail, Auburn, California

He really didn’t lie; but when my dear photo buddy Richard promised us a flat trail with one or two hills, he under exaggerated.¬† You see, Richard is an experienced hiker. We are not! The hills were a huge mountain for us. Now, am I exaggerating?

I do like to complain and Richard gives it right back. We, in our little Camera Totin’ Tuesday group, have a lot of fun. Through all the griping (I wasn’t the only one!), we had fun. After all, it’s the interaction of the group that makes a photo outing great.

We followed the Auburn Quarry Trail, part of the California State Park system, along the American River, and when we reached the top (as far as we were going to go), we were fortunate to come upon a few mountain climbers practicing. The sun was powerful that day in Auburn, so I had to deal with exposure issues. I shot mostly handheld HDR, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. So I basically edited one of the three shots in Lightroom. In the end, I was satisfied. Take a look. No captions needed.