Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

It’s important for us to be inspired all the time. Inspiration is what makes us get up in the morning, especially in this COVID year. Nature truly inspires me to get out with my camera. Nature doesn’t understand pandemics, politics, or other things that affect us humans emotionally. It just goes through its cycles and begs us to visit. Thank you Tina for creating this Lens-Artist challenge. It had me thinking positively.

So, I went through this year’s images to find nature’s inspiring moments. Although there are a lot less then in years past, there were enough to keep me inspired!

A dark, chilly and gloomy day doesn’t seem to be a day to visit the Sacramento Delta, but we did. The Sacramento river is always nice to visit. On this overcast day, the river was quiet, giving us beautiful reflections.

We also made our yearly visit to Yolo County’s almond orchards while the trees were blooming. There were beautiful skies that day. How inspired can you get!

Early on in the lockdown, Richard and I escaped to the snow. He wanted to see whether his favorite star gazing area was snowed in. This is shot on the road near Blue Canyon. I love that I can visit, but don’t have to live in snow!

And finally, I have my first rose in my garden and an image of a lovely lotus blossom. The lotus aren’t with us very long, but they are beautiful. My rose garden had a tough time this year with the extreme heat, but they are still blooming.

I’m hoping that next year I’ll be inspired by more of nature’s wonders. Thanks again Tina!

Am I repeating myself? World Peace Garden, Sacramento

It just feels like I’m repeating pictures. When you post in different clubs (like Sactown Photogs), online challenges (like Lens-Artists), repetitive image are the result. So here we are at the World Peace Garden in Sacramento. Some images may seem familiar to you, but you haven’t seen the entire beauty of this small park just across from the State capitol.

On the morning Ray and I met there, I arrived at 9 a.m., and the park had few visitors. It was quiet and peaceful. I fell in love with the place instantly! As people came, it remained quiet and peaceful. I actually came to take pictures in the rose garden, but there was so much more.

Let’s take a tour!

First the roses. This garden is not as big as others in Sacramento, but the roses are just as beautiful.

In the middle of the garden were two memorials. One was for the fire fighters, who in additions to normal duties during the year, fight our large fires during the summer. This year an unusual dry thunder and lightning storm sparked several fires across California. They have called these “Complex fires” because they are fires next to each other in certain areas of the State.

The second memorial is dedicated to the veterans who fought in the Vietnam War. This was particular moving for me because it was so well done and my husband fought in that war.

And the grounds were just beautiful.

Remember I said the park was across from our capitol building. Here’s the awesome view!

I’ve shown you a lot of images, but I just had to show you this beautiful garden as I totally saw it. Take care everyone!

Lens-Artists challenge #110: Creativity in the Time of Covid

Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. I’m concentrating on the words imagination and original. Does creativity have to be imaginative and original. I think so. That’s why I say I’m not really creative, but I do see opportunities and make something from them.

Oh Tina, you are leading me into a soul-searching moment with your topic of “Creativity in the time of Covid.”  During this pandemic, depression creeps in and divisiveness pushes us apart. We need something to bring the sunshine back into our lives. For me that is photography. I’ve been trying to get out at least once a week with my camera. Now the weather is creating a barrier. Temperatures have been in triple digits and will continue for about another week. Today it hit between 110 and 112 in Sacramento. Typically, we shoot indoors during times like this, but many stores and museums are closed.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a studio or light box set up in my home for indoor photography. Additionally, I lack the creative ability to set up a still life. It’s just not my thing.

I don’t mean to depress anyone, but this is the way it is during the summer of Covid! Prior to this heat wave, I got out so let’s take a look at some images I have been able to capture during this pandemic.

Recently photo buddy Ray and I went to the California State Capitol World Peace Garden. I’ve lived here for 19 years and had never visited. It was beautiful. The Vietnam War Memorial was particularly moving.

And the flowers in the garden were just meant for a macro lens.

The small town of Fair Oaks is known for its chicken population.

More recently, I took a trip into the countryside to visit the CR25 Ranch in Esparto.

These and other outings brought joy and my type of creativity into my life. And when we get back into double digits, I’ll be taking my camera out again.

Lens-Artist Challenge 108: Sanctuary

Sanctuary, for me, is where you seek refuge from things that may be bothering you, where you relax and rejuvenate, where you find peace. This challenge was selected by our guest host Xenia of Tranature and posted by Ann-Christine.

I gave it a lot of thought. Where do I find peace? Where do I get away from it all? Where? Where? I came to the realization that I find peace and rejuvenate when I’m out taking pictures. My camera is my calming mechanism. When I’m out shooting, I concentrate on taking the best pictures, I forget what’s bothering me, I forget my physical problems. When the outing is over then my hip hurts and the world situation comes back into my head.

So I began the daunting task of finding pictures that would be my interpretation of sanctuary. These Lens-Artist challenges can lead to great introspection. To my surprise, I kept coming back to the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery! Now that’s odd, you’re probably thinking. Me too! This cemetery is beautiful, has history, it’s not crowded with tourists, has places to sit, has lovely flowers, and old head stones and statues to photograph.

My photo buddies and I usually visit there at least once a year, maybe twice. Things don’t change much so the challenge is to find new ways to shoot and create difference. It was built in 1849 and its architectural style is that of a Victorian Garden. The grave stones tell us about how life was lived back then and the people who lived it.

You can see, beautiful sculptures rather than head stones. And head stones that tell the sad story of two children lost, and one simple stone telling of what I assume to be a still born child.

The lovely flowers are maintained by a volunteer organization, and they are beautiful.

During our last visit, I tried to capture the flowers around the headstones.

And I finally found the cemetery cat!

I’m due for another visit. Maybe this week. It’s supposed to be in the 80s on Wednesday! It’s a great time to visit my sanctuary.

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.