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.

In search of vineyards, part 2: Napa Valley

When is a valley hilly? Never. In spite of that Marlene and I went to Napa to find more vineyards for my daughter-in-law Jess. We did find vineyards, but mostly wineries. I thought the Plymouth area vineyards were more eye catching and had more rolling hills.

But we did find lovely things to photograph, including the vineyards. We first found the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia which is a branch campus of the private culinary college. The building was simply beautiful, inside and out! You’ll find a store that has everything “kitchen,” a Julia Child exhibit and exhibition of her husband Paul’s photography.

They also have a restaurant, cooking classes, rotating exhibits, host events, and more. If you’re in Napa, stop in for an amazing experience.

Next we found the CIA at Greystone. This is where they teach students to become our future chefs. The building was Greystone Cellars, once the largest stone winery in the world. Its amazing history through its purchase by the CIA can be found here.

Marlene and I did not take the tour, but viewed as much of the building as we could. We shot the entry and outside. I really could have used my ultra-wide lens here!

And, yes, we did get vineyards!

And, so ends my vineyard quest. At least I hope so!!!

RIP Sharon Brooks Janis: Sacramento River Walk

I guess it’s easy to say, “We’re at that age when our friends leave us.” But, it still hurts when they do. My dear friend Sharon died Tuesday morning. I won’t go into her illnesses, but she died peacefully in her sleep. For that I’m thankful.

She lived in Chatsworth California, more than 300 miles from me. While we didn’t talk on a daily basis, we did keep in touch via phone calls and infrequent in- person visits. Sharon was a “doer,” taking on various roles at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Granada Hills. She was Sisterhood president, catering chairperson and helped in many other areas. Some how she found time for everyone and everything. As I sit here, I’m at a loss not being able to go down to Southern California for her funeral.

During her last visit here in Sacramento, we went down to Old Sacramento. I remember sitting with her just watching the activity on the Sacramento River. She was diabetic and had neuropathy in her feet. Walking any distance was not possible. So, I’m not going to post the second part of my Napa trip (that will be my next post), but post my recent visit to the Sacramento River Walk. Included in the gallery are some iconic shots, some new scenes and some street photography. I hope this will honor her, especially since I couldn’t say good-bye in person.

Sharon, may your memory be a blessing for all of us who knew and loved you. Shalom.

In search of vineyards: Plymouth, California

My first commission (well sort of a commission) came from my son and daughter-in-law. “We want a lot of your pictures in our new house,” Greg said. Jess was more detailed–vineyards and oak trees. So, I waited until the leaves on the grapevines were green and the grapes were maybe turning color.

My first effort was going to Plymouth in Amador County to search the vineyards closer to home. We had some success. But first we went to Michigan Bar Road and that nice farm. I’ve posted pictures from it in this blog before, so for those who have followed me for a long time, you’re not experiencing deja vu! If you’re new to this blog, here’s your chance! I did try to take a different view of it.

We then went to the Amador Flower Farm where I found a beautiful old oak, and flowers for close ups. The close ups were done with my 18 – 200mm lens. (Yes, I’m keeping it!).

Now for the wineries. They were all located on Shenandoah Rd and it was an easy ride. I think Jess will be happy with some of these.

My search didn’t stop here. Next post: Napa Valley!

It’s that time of the year: Sunflowers and zinnias

Nothing can make you smile like a sunflower! When you see a whole field of yellow and orange looking at you, you just get a great feeling. This year I had the opportunity of visiting Woodland twice and photographed two sunflower fields and Metzger’s Zinnia Patch.

When we visit the sunflower fields, we are careful not to disturb the plants and shoot from around the patch. As photographers, we are happy we’re allowed to take pictures. Cooperation goes a long way!

Bee colonies are kept near the fields to help polinate. I can assure you they are busy bees! Here are some “sunnies.”

We also stopped at a safflower field.

Now for the zinnias. What is special about this patch of zinnias is that the Metzger family allows people to pick the flowers and encourages them to share with others who can’t get out. You’ll see moms and their kids having fun choosing their favorites.

Do you like sunnies as much as I do?

A bit of country: Clarence Scott Ranch, Winters, California

All the comforts of suburbia are great and I love it, but it’s nice to visit the country once in a while. Thank goodness for the Yolo Art and Ag project which gets us out into the country and on farms and ranches that we would otherwise not gain entry.

This was the case during a recent Thursday when we went to visit the Clarence Scott Ranch in Winters. This Ranch has a bit of everything and lots of scenery for photographers and artists. Hay and cattle are their predominat income sources.

I’ve begun to rely on just one lens when I go on a photo outing. It challenges me, and it’s easier to carry. And, at this point, less weight is important to me since this year has given me a few health challenges. My gear consisted of my Nikon D7100 and the Nikon 18 – 140 mm lens. It’s hard for me to grasp that my camera is OLD now and reduced in price for less than half of what I paid! But it’s the same for a car. Once it’s off the lot…….

On the way home, we stopped to photograph sunflowers and zinnias in Woodland. You’ll see these in my next post. Right now let’s look at the Ranch. The clouds were spectacular!

Artists and photographers were busy too!

I was also fortunate to watch a woman shoeing her horse. A first for me!

A farm tour: Dr. Heather’s Goat Farm

It’s amazing how history repeats itself. Just a year ago, in June, my Chiropractor, Dr. Heather Rosenberg, Roseville Disc and Pain Center in Roseville, hosted an open house at her farm. I brought my young grandkids, Ryan and Olivia, and friend Linda. It was a fun morning visiting the animals, other guests and Dr. Heather’s family. We totally enjoyed the morning that was complete with samples of goat cheese and goat milk ice cream. You can re-visit that post here.

Now, back to the present, photo buddy and patient of Dr. Heather, Lucille suggested we take the photo group to visit the farm. Dr. Heather liked the idea and up to Auburn we went early one Saturday morning in May.

This was a different sort of visit. When we got there, Dr. Heather had just finished milking the goats and was cleaning out the machinery. We began by taking pictures of the goats in the barn. Trying to simplify her life, she sold her egg laying chickens. We were told to roam around and soon she would take us on a tour.

The tour consisted of a walk around the small lake, after which, we were free to roam with our cameras again. For me, this visit was totally different and more focused on photography. Are the pictures different? I think so. Take a look and let me know!