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!

Escaping: A car ride to the snow

You know how restless you can get being house bound, especially in a small house! Most of us can relate since the world seems to be in lock down due to the Corona Virus. After a week, Richard and I took a short ride north on the Interstate 80 to the snow.

It was a beautiful day, sunny with temperatures requiring wearing a light jacket. Although it hadn’t snowed in about a week, the white puffy frozen rain was still on rooftops and on the ground. Passing by Auburn and Colfax, we took an exit about an hour up the road where I could do some photography.

It was just enough to lift up my spirit and camera. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and short time shooting. Maybe this weekend we’ll go scout out an area for my astronomer husband. And, yes, we did practice social distancing when we came upon people. A family was playing in the snow right off the road and a homeowner and his black lab came out to talk with us.

Creating a calendar & website navigation: Apple Hill

I do this each year and each time it’s a different frustrating experience! I give photo calendars each year to friends and relatives in December. Hopefully, they will use it during the year and like my photos that adorn each page. Each year I use Costco Online Photo Center. Each year the website is changed. And, each year I need to call them!

Today, was the worse experience of all. I had to call immediately after loading my pictures. Here are my frustrations:

  1. I took the time to choose the pictures and name them by month for easy insertion into the calendar. But, when they were imported, they had no names or file numbers!
  2. I chose the custom calendar, but there was nothing custom about it. However, this year you could pick various holidays to print on the various months.
  3. To get started, I had to go through choosing my set up three times. The only way I could get my pictures into the calendar was to insert one of the pictures in each month. I was told I could go back and change the template after that.
  4. I was very limited in the length of the text I wanted to insert.

I’m done with it and will proof it tomorrow. I’m hoping that will go easy and I can send it off to print. I’m still wondering why they need to change the “how to” each year!

Okay, griping over–maybe! Today I’m going to show you some photos from our annual trip to Apple Hill. It’s an area above Placerville where all the growers have formed an association, and welcome visitors to purchase apples, pies, food, etc. Photographers go to buy pies and take photos of the beautiful fall scenery.

We’ve gone so many times, so we tried to find different places to shoot. Here’s what we found.

If tradition holds true, we’ll be back next year. I did buy a small apple pie for Richard!

Painting the walls: Wide Open Walls 2019

These paintings are not new to Slow Shutter Speed. I try to photograph the new additions each year. This time I thought, since we were going on our adventure during the week, we would avoid the parking meters downtown and look for the murals on Del Paso Rd. in Sacramento. Wow, was I disappointed!

This is not the best area in Sacramento, but I didn’t think the murals would also not be the best. Also the map on the Wide Open Walls site was incorrect. The highlight of the morning was having to buy something to eat to use the bathroom at a fast food restaurant. We all managed to use the facilities on one small order of hot dog something or other!

I did find a couple of gems before we headed toward the California Automobile Museum and surrounding area.

Next we headed to a different part of town, but still away from the parking meters and downtown.

And, finally, the garage doors at the California Automobile Museum.

The next time we schedule to photograph the murals, we’ll go on a Sunday–parking is free!

Slow September: The Foothills and River Bend Park

Confession: I haven’t been shooting much this month, except for real estate. I’ll admit that my abilities have grown in that niche, and I enjoy the challenge. Otherwise, I think I need something different to shoot. Tomorrow may just give me that chance. We’re going down to the Ironstone Vineyards, in Murphys to take pictures of their annual Concours d’Elegance, featuring old vehicles and their owners in period costumes. I’m hoping that will perk me up.

On a good note, I’ve taken the time to prioritize watching Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom course that I purchased a couple of years ago. I do like his teaching style. But, Matt, I need help on re-organizing my folders! I didn’t know what I was doing when I started Lightroom, and now I’m paying for it. The years are all mixed up and it’s difficult to find stuff. Marlene helped me, and we got it into months and then years. However, the new additions are not following any sequence! It’s just frustrating. I’d like to start over, but that would be worse. But I’m glad that I spent the time on the course. Next is Photoshop!

The small amount of time I’ve spent shooting hasn’t yielded any amazing photography, just some interesting pieces that I’m showing you in this post.

In this first set, Jean and I just wandered around the Sierra Foothills for interesting things. We didn’t find too much. Here are some:

The next pictures were taken at River Bend Park. I was amazed at how glassy the American River was.

Tomorrow should be more exciting if it doesn’t rain. Yes, they are predicting rain for the morning. Light rain, but…..

Have a great weekend everyone!

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.