Yolo Art & Ag: Harrison Farms, Woodland

It’s time again to wander, or should I say get lost, down those country roads in Yolo County. Each year Yolo Art & Ag sponsors monthly visits for artists and photographers to farms in the county. I have certainly benefited from these sojourns. I grew up in the city, and I’ve been able to see first hand how a farm operates.

Harrison Farms, featured a sunflower field and a some farm animals. When Marlene and I arrived, we stopped at the sunflowers first. Typically, bee keepers put hives near the fields and this was no exception! But the bees are so busy, they don’t bother someone who is allergic like me! As a field, this one wasn’t spectacular but individually the flowers were fun and pretty to photograph.

And then there was the farm itself. The pond was photographic.

There was also a small garden.

They also had a walnut tree grove.

It was an easy and fun visit. I wonder where we will go in July?

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!!

Practice, does it really make perfect? Old Sacramento

What is perfect? Does it really exist? And, does practice get you there?

I think perfect is hard to achieve, and would you want to achieve it? Probably not. But I did want to get to the point where I could confidently take a picture with my new Fujifilm camera. I had a few disastrous pictures during my last outing. I may have confused the ISO dial with the shutter dial. I ended up with a lot of noise in some of my images.

So off I went to Old Sacramento our good old standby for street photography and everything else. I just wanted to get to the point where I truly understood how to shoot on manual. So, I would set the camera on aperture priority, check the data and then proceed to manual and play with the settings. I tested the camera in all situations.

Landscape:

I tried close ups:

And some shots to see how the camera would perform:

And, how about indoors without flash? Besides, I was getting hungry and needed some sugar:

While I didn’t get award winning shots, I did learn how to shoot the camera. Now on to understanding other factors like how to do HDR and more of what this camera does. It does a lot!

For my next outing, I left the Nikon at home. The Fuji and I did well together and got some great shots. I’ll show you the results soon.

Road Trip: Levee Road

It was time to venture out with my friend Jean for a short road trip. California is beginning to open up, but I’m still cautious. News: I thought my photography had reached a level where I needed a better camera. Because of my age, I needed something light (not full frame). Mirrorless was an obvious choice.

I bought a Fujifilm XT3 and was anxious to try it out. It was just the two of us, both healthy and not exposed to anyone with COVID 19 so off we went. It was great to be on a road trip with no destination in mind.

We drove for a short time up the Levee Road north of Sacramento when I saw these terrific reflections in the rice paddies.

As we drove on, I spotted a sign that directed us to a boat ramp. Jean said she wanted to shoot near water so wouldn’t a boat ramp be perfect? It was a great stop. We came upon pelicans, fishermen and a beautiful section of the Sacramento River.

We made some more quick stops along the way: to shoot a farm across the road, some thistles going to seed, and another house. I was doing okay with my Fugi, having to change the lens a couple of times and shooting on manual. Typically with my Nikon 7100 I use an 18 – 200 lens so I don’t need to switch lenses in the field, but Fuji doesn’t make that lens.

We ended up in Yuba City in Sutter County where I took pictures of the Hall of Records building built in 1831. What a beautiful building.

I had a great time and was happy with my new camera. At least until my next outing which will be the subject of my next post. Be careful and stay safe everyone!

A lonely park: Rush Park

I knew that there wouldn’t be children playing on the three playgrounds, skate boarders enjoying the skate park, swimmers in the pool, kids playing baseball at the diamonds, adults using the tennis and pickle ball courts but I thought we’d be able to get on the grounds of the historic Rush Home and Gardens. At least that’s what one of the Sunrise Department of Recreation told me the day before. He said the house was closed, but that we could take pictures of the grounds. He didn’t tell me that we’d be shooting through the fence!

So off three of us went to this large park in Citrus Heights. Just looking at my images will show the lack of activity in an otherwise jammed park. It was sad. We didn’t walk the entire park. What we saw was enough.

The Historic Rush Home is normally used for weddings, meetings and other special events. The gardens, at least what we could view through the fence, didn’t seem spectacular.

Some pretty flowers and water in the park.

The unused fun areas that are now empty.

I’m hoping the next time we visit Rush Park it will be full of laughter, families and people enjoying their sports.

Getting out on a dismal day: Old Town Fair Oaks

It was a dark stormy night–not really, but it was a cloudy, almost raining day when a small group of us decided we needed to get out and take some photos. So, we followed the chickens to the small old town of Fair Oaks in Sacramento County. Yes, chickens are plentiful there. The roosters are bold and noisy, but have great color. They are the attraction, and don’t have to wear masks or stay 6 feet apart!

The small area was desolate. There were a few people roaming around. The stores were closed except for a cafe where people were eating and enjoying coffee outside. It felt strange, experiencing Fair Oaks during lock down.

We did stop for coffee at the cafe and sat outside before heading our separate ways. (We don’t carpool anymore. We drive separately.) On the way home, I stopped at Marlene‘s to meet her new puppy Charlie, an Australian Labradoodle. We met outside and observed the correct social distancing. The reality was that Charlie didn’t want to come to me! He finally got to the point of coming close, but that was about it.

During our stay, the sun peaked out at times but quickly hid behind the clouds. It was a fun time though with the chickens and photo buddies!

Escape #4: Effie Yeaw Nature Center

Something familiar, comfortable and close by; that’s what I wanted for my first photo outing that didn’t involve a car ride. Yes, I had to drive to get to Effie Yeaw in Carmichael, but I loaded my camera on my sling and walked the Nature Center. And, I wasn’t alone. Marlene, Jean and Ray joined me. I guess I wasn’t the only one who needed to escape!

This time was very different. We each drove our own cars, wore our masks and kept a reasonable distance from each other. And worst of all, we didn’t follow our adventure with lunch!

Because I had a morning Toastmaster meeting, we met at Effie Yeaw at 10 a.m. It was too late to see the deer, but we did see a lot of people. Some wore masks, some stepped aside when they saw us walking the path and some just passed us on the path. I guess everyone has their own level of concern about this pandemic.

I find breathing with a face mask on difficult. There’s something about breathing your own air that affects my heart. I’m probably not getting enough oxygen. So, with that hindrance, I got tired sooner. But, it was all worthwhile.

Here are some flower images from that morning.

I love the trees at Effie Yeaw. They are so expressive.

And then there’s the American River.

And, let’s not forget about the other things that catch a photographer’s eye.

The last image was created with a Photoshop filter that distorts. It was a piece of green netting!

It was a great escape, but a little different. Maybe next week there will be another adventure!

 

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!