Four in a row: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and 3 more!

Honestly, I’m not much of a birder, that is a photographer who loves to photograph birds. But I do like to get out during the season and do my best to capture some of our feathered friends. A great birding day, for me, is when I can photograph our amazing bald eagle. I recently went on an all day outing with Laura, who is an amazing nature photographer, to four wildlife areas within 2 hours from home.

First stop was the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. Wow, just one drive around and we saw eagles, hawks, and sandhill cranes. Here are some of my images:

From there we went to Llano Seco Wildlife Area near Chico. We had never been there and were surprised to see just one viewing platform. I took the opportunity to do some landscape photography:

From here things get blurry in my brain. I should post these blogs when I’m fresh from the activity! We were out on January 11! I think these birds are from Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. It’s much smaller than Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, but there were photographic opportunities:

Our final stop was Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley. The sun was beginning to set and we caught a golden glow on the birds and landscapes. The mountains in some of the landscapes are the Sutter Buttes. For sunset, we went to our favorite spot in the area to photograph a spectacular sunset:

So this was the beautiful end to our fantastic day! Could it get any better?

The end and the beginning: The Fountains & About Town

The beginning:

I’m sure you all know that things don’t always turn out as scheduled. For instance, Marlene and I had planned to go to the Sacramento Zoo for the first photo outing of 2020; however, I left my camera case (full of gear) at my kid’s house. I didn’t think my Nikon D3100 and an 18 – 55 mm lens would do well at the zoo. So where to go?

Marlene said that she had three things to take pictures of, but never got to it. This seemed perfect! A short but sweet shoot and all in Sacramento. We just wanted to get out with our cameras. The first on her list was a horse statue, but it had galloped away. Where, we didn’t know. So, on to the next, a bigger than life sized lumber jack statue outside a Lumberjacks restaurant He hadn’t stomped away!

Next was the bigger than life size chicken. I tried to get various angles, but it was fenced in. But, it was unusual!

The end:

For the last shoot of 2019, Marlene and I decided to tempt the possibility and do some street photography at The Fountains, in Roseville, an outdoor mall featured in this blog many times. I thought on December 26 there would be a lot of bargain shoppers, but I was wrong. One store owner allowed us to take photos of his beautiful inventory, and a lot of it was on sale. Here’s what we found.

There you have it. The beginning and the end. A little backwards, but then………

Goodbye 2019! Land Park & Effie Yeaw

Yes, goodbye to 2019!! I can’t say that it’s been the worst year, but it hasn’t been the best for me personally. I feel like my photography journey is on a roundabout and is unsuccessful in getting off to continue down the road.

I think my health is under control now, but with the beta blocker I’m on, any shooting beyond 8 p.m. is not happening. I just get too tired, but my heart is beating better. I call it my new normal!

December has been a rainy, cold, overcast and damp month which adds to the photo blues. I’ve tried to make the most of partly cloudy and sunny days, but they are few. Here, in California, December, January and February are traditionally our rainy months. The rest of the year is pretty dry, so we are hoping for more rain, and, of course, more complaining. My photo buddies and I are trying to think of more indoor places to take our cameras to. You might see some familiar places in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, let’s finish up some of 2019 with visits to William Land Park in Sacramento and Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael.

Jeanne and I went to William Land Park to catch some Fall Color in mid November. There was barely any left, but we did shoot for about an hour.

Next is Effie Yeaw. Marlene and I went to capture the deer rutting. They weren’t rutting that morning, but there were many deer.

Oh, I did get my calendars, and they look good. But, they are not exactly the way I wanted them to be as far as lay out. There’s always 2020. If I don’t blog again before, Happy New Year!!

In search of wine and color: Napa Valley

I wasn’t enthused, but I do enjoy shooting with Laura. In fact I haven’t been enthused about many shoots this year. It’s not been a wonderfully healthy year for me, so I’ve stayed close to Sacramento. And, I haven’t been overjoyed with my images either. I may be just too critical, or it might be that I haven’t traveled any distance to shoot something different.

So when Laura suggested we look for Fall color in Napa, I said the vines are turning brown. She said they were changing color! She also wanted to pick up some wine. Off we went down the Silverado Trail where many wineries and vineyards are found.

She was right. The vines did give us some color. The fog gave us some drama. The eventual sun gave us some good lighting. And, Laura got her wine!

I’m glad I went on this outing. All I had to do was sit and enjoy conversation while she drove.

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!

Where we go for a local nature fix: Effie Yeaw Sacramento Nature Center

It’s a quick trip to see deer, coyotes, turkeys, hawks, and the river, so we go there often. It’s Effie Yeaw Sacramento Nature Center located in Carmichael along the American River. Actually, I’ve seen all of the above in my community, but we just have a creek, not a river!

But there’s something special about Effie Yeaw. I remember taking my younger grandkids there and while walking through the meadow, we passed a herd of deer, most of them bucks. Of course I was without camera! I find that my camera keeps me from enjoying the experience with the kids.

Recently I was there in October and November (this week). I usually see at least one deer, and if they are talented, they hide among the trees! Let’s look at my last two visits!

I love reflections!

The trees at Effie Yeaw are so expressive. And, in November we found some Fall color.

I did mention deer and coyote.

The pond is covered in some sort of algae right now. But, there are still ducks way back in the water.

Last, is the river. Last Saturday morning, it was beautiful with fog, and the sun periodically peaking through the moisture laden clouds.

I’m hoping that we have a wet winter so we’ll have green meadows and more deer coming out. I read in the newspaper that most of California is in a “low moisture” state. I’m hoping to show you a greener Effie Yeaw!

The challenge of big trees: Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Big Trees, CA

So, what’s the challenge? A tree is a tree! Not when they are giant Sequoias! This was my first time at Calaveras Big Trees State Park , and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t quite as amazing as Sequoia National Park, but it had the same enormous trees.

Sequoias are redwoods, big in girth and not as tall as the coastal redwoods. Jean and I took the short, supposedly 1 1/2 mile walk around the North Grove. I walk my dog 2 miles about 6 mornings a week, but this walk took twice as long! There was so much to take pictures of. We started at the Discovery Stump and continued past the Three Graces, the Mother and Son, The Abraham Lincoln Tree, and the Old Bachelor. Some of the other visitors were picture worthy too!

Back to the challenge of taking these shots, you can’t get the entire tree in the image, especially with a crop sensor camera. I did try though! Here, take a look.

Speaking of time: Millertown Sheep Farm & Martha’s Gardens

It’s that time here in the US to change our clocks back to standard time from daylight savings time. That means we gain an hour tomorrow. Wow, that almost seems like a gift, but we did lose an hour to go on daylight savings time! Some people can adjust immediately, but it takes a few days for my body to deal with the time change. I’d rather stay on standard time all year round. California did vote to stay on daylight savings time all year, but we have to get Federal approval. But that doesn’t seem likely! I just adjusted all the clocks and will try to stay up an extra hour so I don’t wake up so early.

Speaking of time, learning Photoshop has become an almost necessity. The realtor I work with needed help with removing a sign from a photo she took and asked me for help. She assumed I could take it out of the photo. I had to tell her that I didn’t know how! I’m sure it’s easy, but I have to learn how to do it! Procrastination isn’t working any more! I will start my PS course tomorrow! I will start my PS course tomorrow! I will start my PS course tomorrow!

After all, I’ll be gaining an hour!

In this post you’ll visit two farms taking part in the Placer Grown Farm and Barn Tour. We chose to visit two farms. The first was Millertown Sheep Farm in Auburn. I was a little disappointed when upon arrival they had some goats in one pen and donkeys in another. I was expecting an actual tour of their facility. They also had a couple of food vendors. Oh, they had some sheep too.

If we were disappointed at Millertown, we were totally surprised by Martha’s Gardens in Newcastle.

After touring the gardens, we were back to the entrance.

In the end, we had a great time!

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!

Sometimes new isn’t as good as old: Donner Snow Sheds

Our loyal group of senior photographers made a return visit to the Donner Snow Sheds located above Donner Lake in Nevada County. No longer used as a shelter for trains coming through the Sierra Nevada mountains, they are now hosts to art and graffiti from locals.

Since these works of art change as they are painted over, we decided it was time for another walk through the tunnels. I was there in July 2016 with Linda and Marlene. Neither of them were available for this visit.

Honestly, I was disappointed with the art. First, the initial tunnel was barren of art. I did find familiar scenery in between that and the second tunnel. The third tunnel had the most to photograph. Of course, there was beautiful Donner Lake!

To make matters worse, I experienced some altitude illness. At an elevation of 7,057 feet above sea level, I shouldn’t have had that trouble! I’ve been over Donner Pass and at Donner Lake a few times without trouble.

But all things come to pass! It was an enjoyable outing with great friends. Maybe I’ll do it again in a couple of years as the graffiti is painted over.