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!

Lens-Artists #114: Negative Space

I’ve noticed that some people like negative space and create a minimalist lifestyle, and others like their surroundings busy (I won’t say cluttered.). I’m somewhere in the middle. My surroundings may be full, but it is neat and tidy. However, I’ve never thought about how the concept applied to how I take my photos.

Thank you Amy (The World Is A Book) for this weeks’ challenge. It helped me realize that I truly do not consider negative space when I shoot. Yes, I have skies that take up 2/3 of an image, birds in large pools of water, etc. But, these shots were never planned for negative space and its impact. I usually crop in close in camera. Even my landscapes are cropped in camera. Planning for negative space is something I should work on!

So, here are some of my inadvertent negative space images.

Thank you Amy!

Lens-Artists Challenge #112: Word challenge

This week Ann-Christine challenged us with words: Comfortable, Growing, Tangled, Crowded and Exuberant. Our assignment was to choose one or more of these words and display our photo interpretation.

I saw growing and crowded and instantly my mind went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, one of our beautiful parks consumed by the CZU Complex lightening fire this month. I visited in February, 2016. It was my first time shooting in a dark forest and although my current forest efforts are better, I wanted to show you Big Basin.

As you can see, these trees are no strangers to fires. Redwoods can be almost hollowed out and still survive. After the fire is put out, the top continues to grow. My mind went to Big Basin because it is crowded with trees and constantly growing. The ground brush is usually well maintained in parks so they don’t provide super fuel for fires. But dry lightening strikes and thunder brought the forest to its knees. Here is how it looked in 2016 on overcast day, with some re-editing.

While the redwoods will survive, structures within the park didn’t. I’m sure during these pandemic days, rebuilding will be slow and it will be some time before we can walk through this beautiful forest again.

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!

Triple digits will get to you: William B. Pond, Carmichael

Get up early, walk the dog (2 miles), do outside chores (if you have energy left), have breakfast, shower and then prepare for a day inside. That’s my typical day in this triple digit heat wave we’re having in the Sacramento area. It’s been a week and my camera is calling to me. I need to ignore it. I don’t want to ignore it. I would give anything to take it out and shoot with it.

Yes I’m complaining, and that’s okay! But I did get out locally to William B. Pond Recreational Area in Carmichael before this heat wave. It is located along the American River and is easily accessible for handicapped individuals. Marlene met me there and then we took off on foot.

I had never been to this part of the park before, and I saw beautiful trees.

The paved roads in the park were not open to autos, but only biking and walking. And, there were a lot of bikers (the peddle kind). As they were coming up behind you, they would let you know which side they were going to pass you on. They also let you know if you were walking on the wrong side of the road!

There were fishermen in their favorite spots and families enjoying the beach.

I did manage to find a few other things to photograph. You know I can’t get away without shooting some sort of flower. The phone pole caught my eye. And the last couple of shots of the River from the bridge.

I also noticed that hardly anyone was wearing a mask! I don’t want to get into the to wear or not debate, but if there is the slightest chance that it can protect you and others, why not put one on!

I’m hoping for better weather next week so my camera and I can be out and about. When you’re in triple digits, the 90s sound cool!

Yolo Art & Ag: The CR25 Ranch

Fortunately I’m getting used to driving the various county roads in the rural areas of Yolo County. I was alone on this July expedition to the CR25 Ranch in Esparto, but remembered some of the roads from last month’s journey when Marlene road with me. The CR25 Ranch is located on the County Road 25!

I like getting out into fresh air and drive around the countryside. And, I’m lucky that this scenery is a little more than an hour away. This ranch is not as large as some of the others I’ve been to, but there was enough to keep me busy for 1 1/2 hours.

This horse was alone in a pasture. He was midway, but my Fuji camera with lens extended to the full 200 mm was able to capture him in focus. I cropped him in Lightroom. Here’s the result.

Here are some landscapes of the ranch, showing pastures and barns.

This ranch may have been small, but it did have its share of “ranch art!”

A few of the cows came down from mid-pasture to get some water. One of them stood out. Was he trying to stick his tongue out at me. Also, it was good that it wasn’t a frosty winter day or else that tongue would have stuck to the watering trough.

I’m enjoying the new camera and still learning more about its capabilities. It does more than I’ll ever use! Where will Yolo Arts take us this month?

Lens-Artist Challenge #109: Under The Sun

I’m not fond of waking up in the dark to catch the golden hour in the morning or going to bed late in the summer to catch the evening blue and golden hours. So that leaves me mostly under the mid morning sun for most of my photo outings. No, I’m not going to post all my photos taken under the sun, just the ones that resonated with me when I read Amy’s challenge for the week.

There have been a few times when the timing was right on for me. One was at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California. We caught the afternoon golden hour when the sun cast a beautiful glow on plants and animals. We were vacationing with my cousins in December 2016 . They are the couple walking out of the oasis.

The next set of images were taken during my favorite time of day, mid afternoon sun! (It’s not really!) My friend who lives in Sun City, Lincoln brought me to a tree where herons and egrets and other birds nested. I didn’t have my long lens with me, so I returned on my day to pick up my grandkids from school. My kids also live in Lincoln. Again, I seem to use the opportunity rather than make the opportunity! I’ve named this tree “The Nesting Tree,” and have brought other photo buddies to shoot there. Taken April, 2019, you can see the sun casting shadows on the birds bodies and feathers.

This last set was taken during a Yolo Art & Ag outing to Capay Valley Ranches in February, 2019. Every summer, Yolo Art invites artists and photographers to various ranches, farms and orchards to record country life. We were there mid morning (usually from 9 to 11 a.m.) Here, again, the sun created beautiful shadows.

While I may not get up before dawn, I still enjoy getting out in the sunshine. Thank you Amy for this great challenge.

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.

A little non-macro practice: Gibson Ranch

I knew Gibson Ranch Park in Elverta wasn’t the best place for macro shots, but you can use a macro lens for more than just close up photography. Yes? Well, I gave it a try when Marlene, Linda and I went to to the park. I hadn’t been there for a while, and I wanted to practice with my new macro lens for the Fuji camera. It performed well.

There were the usual amount of ducks at the pond.

And there were geese!

And a squirrel enjoying a peanut tossed by a young boy.

And Gibson Ranch has other animals too.

There are also stables where horses are boarded. In one area, trail rides are offered.

Oh, yes, I did manage to get a couple of close up/macro images too.

Now I have to find some flowers and bugs to practice on!

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!