Lens-Artist Challenge #105: Spring

Photos are our memories, and I’m glad to have images from Ananda Village‘s Crystal Hermitage Garden. Each year, volunteers plant tulips on the terraced hillside, creating such beauty worthy of a yearly visit. However, this year they didn’t open to the public because of the Pandemic.

Ananda Village is just north of Nevada City in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The village is run by a spiritual association that provides a range of tools to strengthen spiritual lives of individuals of all ages. It follows the teaching of Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple, Swami Kriyananda, to meet the needs of spiritual seekers. They also have retreats and rent cabins to individuals who just want to get away and meditate.

A group of us go up each year to take pictures. These are from last year.

Thank you Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles for this Spring Lens-Artist Challenge!

Len-Artist Challenge 104: Summer

Heat! That’s the challenge summer brings to the Sacramento area. Due to climate change, our infrequent triple digit weather has become the norm. Add to that, we need to stay away from our rivers and lakes because of social distancing. It’s not my favorite season. But the flowers are blooming and I love macro and close up photography.

So here are some macro/close up floral images for Amy’s summer challenge:

As I’m posting this, they are predicting a high of 98 degrees and right now it’s 92 degrees. My garden will be pruned tomorrow morning! There might be a photography tutorial in my future this afternoon.

Lens-Artist Challenge #132: A quiet moment

This is my first Post for the Lens-Artist group. Please let me know if I’m doing it wrong!! Seriously, tell me. Patti sent out a challenge of A Quiet Moment. Photography is how I relax, whether it’s at a busy festival or a relaxing drive to who knows where.

Here are a few of my captures during quiet moments. I love going to wildlife areas. In January, my friend and I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, drove the route a couple of times. On the way, I got this shot of the Sutter Buttes, a small mountain range.

We ended up at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for this amazing sunset.

In February we ventured out to capture almond blossoms in Capay Valley.

In April I went out in search of the wonderful California Poppy. I found a hillside near Jackson.

May brought me to the WPA Rock Garden. I love that place. If there’s no breeze, it’s excellent for macro work.

So, these are some of my outings that provided me with quiet moments! Thanks for allowing to post in this group.

Never enough: The Lotus are blooming, part 2

It’s like chocolate, there’s never enough. Okay, sometimes I’ve reached my full level of chocolate, but it’s always good. That’s the way a visit to a lotus pond is, always delightful. Sometimes I like watching the people more that shooting the flowers. Onlookers faces light up, and smiles are abundant. Nature does have a way to bring joy into a bleak year.

So, here’s the rest of my images from William Land Park in Sacramento. If you looked hard enough through the large leaves, you could see some floral reflections.

And then some lucky duck finds a rainbow.

And now on to the Vedanta Society of Sacramento and their small lotus pond. This was a quick visit, and I was dismayed to miss seeing the peacocks. Usually they roam around the area. And in the water lily pond, I saw only leaves, no flowers. But the lotus were not disappointing.

Lotus, like chocolate, begs to be re-visited. Maybe soon, at different angles, different time of day? And did you know that lotus bring you good luck? After posting part 1 of my lotus images I was asked to join the Lens Artists group. I am honored!

The Lotus are blooming! William Land Park

Get your telephoto lens ready, it’s that time of the year. Lotus flowers bloom locally each year at William Land Park in Sacramento. They take up one end of the small lake, and they are beautiful.

This year, I couldn’t believe how big the leaves were. They were almost as spectacular as the blossoms.

I wasn’t alone on a recent Saturday. There were many others, most were wearing masks, including photographers visiting. Most of the other photographers had super long lenses balanced on tripods. I wish I could see what they were getting. I had a 200 mm reach and was doing fine hand-holding my camera.

Of course you know I love to do close ups. Some cropping in post processing were done to these images. Okay, maybe a lot!! Love my new camera!!

There are more lotus from this visit and to my short visit to the Vedanta Society of Sacramento’s small lotus pond. Next Post!!

Wearing suspenders and a belt: WPA Rock Garden

I love macro photography! I love the WPA Rock Garden in Land Park, Sacramento! But, do I love making mistakes? Not really, but I love learning from them.

The Rock Garden is an excellent place for macro photography so I brought my D7100 and macro lens. I also wanted to see how well the Fujifilm XT3 and its 55 – 200 mm lens would do close ups. My Nikon and 18 – 200 lens does close up photography beautifully.

First, I found out that my Fuji, like my Nikon, puts itself in various modes without telling me. It put itself in a different focus mode, making it difficult to focus. One mistake solved and learned from. Watch those fingers!

I saw macro opportunities and started shooting with my D7100 and macro lens. Best to do it while the breeze is down. Here’s the result:

Still wanting to use the Fuji, I wandered over to the small Land Park lake and saw lotus buds and leaves in the water. Yes! we would soon have flowers to capture in our cameras. Here’s where the second mistake occurred. I was having a difficult time shooting on manual with the Fuji and didn’t realize until I got home, loaded my pictures into the computer, and saw them on my monitor, that the images were super noisy. Looking at the data, I saw that some of them were shot at 12,000 ISO in sunlight! Did I mistake the ISO ring for the shutter ring? What did I do wrong? This was to be solved during my next Fuji outing! Here are some images shot with the Fuji:

Yesterday, I took pictures of a couple, Carol and Paul, I wrote about in for our community newsletter. I photographed them with the Fuji and the 18 -55 mm lens. They were beautiful. The shots and the couple!

So, lessons were learned. And, practice makes perfect as you’ll see in my next post.

Escape #3: A California poppy hunt

I’m not normally the jealous type, but being in lock-down has us feeling things we usually don’t. Richard was gone star gazing for 3 days and nights, and photographers on various sites were posting pictures of poppy (our State flower) fields, so I became jealous. I needed to get out–safely!

I gave Richard the option of taking Highway 49 (a twisty mountain road) to near Jackson, California with me; but, I was willing to travel on my own. He came with me. About an hour into our drive, we found a mountain full of poppies just south of the town. It was stunning!

I would have liked to explore further, but hunger and awareness of Richard’s nap schedule had us turn around for the trek back home. We ordered sub sandwiches and ate them in the car–again being safe! On the way home we stopped in Drytown, a small town in Amador County so I could photograph a bunch of poppies on the roadside.

We were gone about 2 1/2 hours; not like our previous adventure! It was a great get-a-way outing. And best of all, I’m no longer jealous!

Our new normal: My camera took me for a walk!

You know you’re addicted when your right index finger wants to press the shutter button and your left hand wants to steady the lens barrel. It was more than a week since our adventurous ride and I needed to get out and take some pictures.

So…. I my camera took me for a short walk around the neighborhood. The long 2-mile walks are reserved for dog walking. First, there are many front yard gardens with beautiful flowers. I made sure I didn’t go on property and just shot what I could from the road’s edge.

We have a lot of wild turkeys here, and the males are telling us it’s the season to show off. These two actually started to move when I lifted my camera, but stood still when I yelled at them not to move!

Last, are our current Canada goose family. These are the only geese to have goslings so far at our small lake. There will be more. And when there are, the dads will guard their families with fierce hissing and may actually run after you if they think you’re coming close to the goslings.

That was yesterday’s walk. My camera is calling me again. I think there’s more neighborhood and more pictures to take!

Our new normal: Posting beauty

We may not like our new normal, that of being under lock down, but right now it’s a necessity. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that seeing something beautiful brings a smile to my face, hearing/seeing something funny makes me laugh and reading of a good deed fills my soul. I need all these feelings to get through the next few weeks or months.

So, I’m urging all bloggers to post beauty, funny stories or jokes or feel good adventures. Taking my own advice, I’m posting floral shots of a trip to Ironstone Vineyards in April, 2017.

Just stopped for coffee: Murphys CA and more

Coffee was calling! So on the way to Big Trees State Park, we stopped in the small resort town of Murphys. This town was our lunch stop when we were shooting the Concours d’Elegance at Ironstone Vineyards. You can see that post here. Well, we got more than just coffee!

After our visit to the State Park, we stopped near a bridge to capture the scenery.

Last, we made a stop at Ironstone Vineyards just as they were closing. Jean had never been there. Fortunately, we had just enough time to see the grounds and shoot some flowers.