Macro Therapy: Green Acres Nursery

There are days when you just need some therapy–Macro Therapy. I’m fortunate there’s a Green Acres nursery, in Citrus Heights, about 10 minutes from my home. Recently in July was one of those mornings. I was feeling a little blah so I grabbed my macro lens and camera, and off I went.

Green Acres is great because they don’t mind us coming in with our cameras, taking our time and taking home picture memories of their products. Here are half of mine from that morning.

I still need to process the rest, so be on the lookout for more gorgeous flowers. Oh, macro therapy does help!

Lens-Artists Challenge #211: What’s your photographic groove?

What’s your photographic groove? What type of photography do you truly enjoy doing?  I didn’t really know the answer to that question when I first began photography, and it took me a while to find it!

I realized my photographic groove when I bought my Fujifilm XT3. I had all sorts of lenses for my Nikon D7100—ultra-wide, macro, telephoto, and the zoom from 18 – 200 mm. I could photograph all I wanted with those lenses.

First, I found I hardly ever used my ultra-wide lens, my landscape shots didn’t warrant it.

The prime F/4 300 mm was used maybe four times a year at wildlife areas.

The macro was used when I was around flowers and insects.

My walk-around lens, the 18 – 200 mm was used the most.

When I switched to the Fuji two years ago, I bought the two lenses that would give me the same range as my walk around Nikon lens. I wanted a third lens, but which one. After trying a couple, thank you Action Camera in Roseville, I settled on a macro lens. I quickly sold my Nikon macro. No need for redundancy. I’ve thought about buying another Fuji lens but why. If I want a telephoto or ultra-wide, I still have my Nikon set up.

I quickly realized how much I was enjoying the macro lens.

So, what’s my photo groove? Macro. I love shooting macro. It’s a challenge that I enjoy even on breezy days. I still go after great landscapes, sunsets, and wildlife. But when it comes down to it, macro Is my photographic groove.

Now that I’ve told you my story, what’s your photo groove? What gives you that sense of accomplishment? Of joy? Of completion? Your challenge this week is to show and tell us about what type of photography you enjoy the most. I used my choice of lenses to find my grove. You may have a different way. If you don’t have a favorite, that’s okay. Show us your wonderful images and tell us about them. Who knows, doing this exercise may help you realize your photo groove.

Thank you guest host Sarah Wilkie of Travel With Me for the exercise of picking out three of our favorite images. And thank you to all of our other wonderful July guest hosts, Aletta, Jez, Andre and Tracy. When you reply to this challenge, please link to this post and use the lens artists tag. I’m looking forward to seeing your groovy photos. As your LAPC team resumes our rotation, Patti will present next week’s challenge. Be looking for her post. In the meantime have fun and stay safe in your travels.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens-Artists Challenge #210: Picking favorites

When you have thousands of pictures, how do you pick just three? It’s difficult, but Sarah of Travel With Me has given us this challenge. I’ve taken it on and here are my three.

My first photo is of Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, in Canada. I like it because when I decided to try processing it in black and white, it took on a whole new dimension, almost like a sketch. I love black and white, so when I think an image has a tonal quality that may fit, I try it. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but this time it did. I typically process black and whites in NIK Silver Efex. This won a prize in the Motherload Fair, Sonora.

Next is a macro that almost took first place in the In Focus competition. This means it made it to the final table. That doesn’t matter to me because I just like it for the color, seeing the hair on the leaf and the water drop that’s just hanging on. I process all my photos in Lightroom and may have brought this into NIK Color Efex. I just can’t remember. I’m sure I’ve posted this before in an LAPC post. This is truly one of my favorites.

My third image is definitely a recent favorite of mine. I love the flamingos at the Sacramento Zoo. I had already taken a few photos of them, looking for a “keeper.” I was thinking sometimes you’re just not in the right place at the right time. I was talking to a docent about the birds who were taking their naps and this one opened one eye and looked at me. I’m so glad it opened it again after I got my camera in position. This time I was in the right place at the right time! This was processed in Lightroom and Topaz sharpener AI. It did take “Picture of the Night” at the Sierra Camera Club general competition.

As I said, I have many more favorites. This was a difficult challenge Sarah, but worth the exercise. Thank you! Remember to use the Lens-Artist tag when you post your reply and link to Sarah’s original pose. Tracy’s Surreal challenge last week brought us many amazing photos to look at. I’ll be posting next week’s challenge, so be sure to check back.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens Artists Challenge #194: Bokeh

When I began photography, my first goal was to photograph something with a soft blurry background behind it. I had no idea that was called bokeh. Now Sofia is asking us to show our bokeh images, and I’m thinking it’s a good thing I learned how to do it!

Actually, I love photographing flowers with bokeh.

I don’t do usually portraits, but sometimes I can catch one with a bokeh background. This one, of a dog looking up at someone, happened to be taken at Sutter Creek.

Although this one wasn’t candid, it did end up with a slight bokeh. This was taken of my chiropractor, Heather Rosenberg, DC for her monthly newsletter. If you live near Roseville, CA, she’s the best!

Although I prefer to do close ups with a macro lens, whatever lens you have will work. Sometimes a background ends in bokeh even though you’re not intending it to.

Here I was just trying to capture the changing leaf colors with an 18-55mm lens and ended up with a nice background.

In this photo, I was trying to get underneath the mushroom to capture its folds and details with my 18-55mm. (I was too lazy to go back to the car for my macro lens.) Again, I ended up with a nice bokeh.

Sofia mentioned bokeh having a speckled look. I’ve found that water lends itself to that. I think I’ve shown this leaf before. I took the picture after the garden was watered and the drops gave the image a great speckled look.

Sometimes I carry a water bottle with me sprinkle the flowers before I photograph them to get a speckled effect. I didn’t have to do that with this image.

Thank you Sofia for a fun challenge that is dear to me. Again, I love closeup and macro photography. Thanks again to John for inviting us to celebrate his birthday with him last week. I will be leading next week’s challenge. Remember to link Sophia’s challenge to your reply post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, we have easy to follow instructions. Just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Lens Artists Challenge #178: You Choose

In this weeks challenge, Tina asks us to choose our own topic. For most people that might be easy, but for me, it’s a bigger challenge. You see, I just can’t make up my mind. After thinking and thinking, I decided to focus on the 365 Challenge.

After 2 years, I knew I needed something to help me along with my photography hobby. I’d heard about the 365 where you shoot a photograph each day for the year. It was the best decision for my taking control of my camera and photo habits.

Here are 2 photos from week one of 2015.

If I were to take the same images now, I would process the sunset shadows better and not put the rose in the middle of the frame. Moving on to week 15, family and pets were a favorite subject. My dog now leaves the room when he sees a camera!

Week 22, getting better with floral composition and macro.

Week 42, I visited Dry Creek near my house often and I finally got a decent one of Gem. Now I know how to lighten up his face a bit.

Week 52, I think this is how I developed my love for macro. On the last day, I had an image in mind. Through the year, I learned how to time things for the optimum light and was on my way to photograph a fence with the sun casting a deep shadow. However, I got a flat tire on the way, and here’s my closing shot for the year–not planned, but well executed!

Doing the 365 helped my photographic abilities and my focus on the hobby. Now I need to go out at least once a week with my camera. If you haven’t tried the practice, take the plunge. You can also do the 52 challenge where you obligate yourself to one picture a week. Most of all, have fun doing it.

When the heat turns up: IKEA

I’m just going to be blunt–It’s been a lousy summer here in Sacramento California. Our triple digit days outnumber our double digit days. And, then there are the fires that are raging in our forests. Our homes in the Sacramento Valley are not in danger, so I won’t complain about the smoke that blows in from the fires. All this means we take our cameras inside. One of our favorite places is IKEA.

We visited the IKEA store in West Sacramento on a recent Sunday and had a great time. Yes there were more shoppers than during the week but the place had a different vibe. I was looking to photograph something different than I had in the past. Fortunately displays had changed.

All the pictures below were shot with my macro lens which was the only one I brought in with me. I like the challenge of photographing with just one lens. This lens is an 80 mm so I got up close to take pictures of just a part of my subject.

Here are some of the images. Can you tell what they were?

After taking photos, we dined in the IKEA café. The food is great and the prices reasonable. My choice was a smoked salmon, potato salad and green salad plate. Yum! I guess I should have taken a picture of it!

Lens-Artists Challenge #130: It’s a Small World

Think big! Don’t sweat the small stuff! Did you want to super-size that? In today’s world, we are taught to think BIG. We go for the big SUV, the big sale and the big burger. In photography, we learn to shoot large landscapes with a wide-angle lens. 

Donner Lake in Winter

But what about thinking small? Let’s talk about macro photography.

What is macro photography? What is micro photography? Are they different from close-up photography? Have I confused you? I’ll give you a hint, two are the same and one is different. Let’s delve into the subject.

Close-up photography takes a subject and zooms in on it. Usually the subject is small, like a plant or an insect, but it could also mean getting close to someone’s eye or face as a subject. The picture is taken with any lens. I’ve taken close-ups with a nifty fifty on a crop sensor camera.

A close-up image taken with an 18-200 mm lens, shot at F/5.6.

Typically, these types of images fill the frame. However, I’ve put flowers or part of flowers off to the side. Shooting with a 200- or 300-mm lens can give you almost macro quality.

This flower was shot at 200 mm at F/5.6.

Macro photography refers to a picture taken with a dedicated macro lens yielding a magnification ratio of 1:1. Meaning, the image depicted on your camera’s sensor is in its actual size. When printed, the subject appears life-sized. This type of photography is used especially when we shoot something exceedingly small or want to capture an extremely small part of it.

Hint: If you want just part of a subject in focus, use a lower F stop (meaning F/number) to get the entire macro subject in focus, use a higher F stop.

The praying mantis in this image appears life-sized as does the part of the flower it’s feeding on. It was shot with a 105 mm macro lens at F/16.

The leaf in this image was shot with the same macro lens, but at F/2.8 creating a more shallow depth of field.

Micro photography is the same as macro photography. Camera manufacturers use the terms interchangeably. You might say that a macro lens takes a picture of a micro subject! I borrowed that last phrase!

One big difference between close-up and macro shooting is breeze. For close-ups you can shoot in a slight breeze because the regular lens isn’t as sensitive as a macro lens. When shooting with a macro lens, any movement in the subject will result in blur. Often, I’ll just take my 55-200 mm lens out when there’s a slight breeze. I can still get nice close-ups.

Oh, yes, everyone says you need a tripod. Confession, I’ve never used one for macro. In fact, I hardly use one at all. However, you will need a steady hand and fast shutter speed.

Now we’ve covered the macro, micro and close-up differences, and you are wanting a macro lens, let’s talk about options. Macro lenses are expensive but there are less expensive alternatives. Extension tubes or reverse ring adaptors to turn your regular lens around are much less expensive options. Personally, I decided against either option and bought a used macro lens for my Nikon D7100. When buying used, be careful. Buy from a store that will let you return it within 90 days if not satisfied. Also purchase one that will give you a 1:1 ratio.

For my Fujifilm camera, I treated myself to a new macro lens, knowing I would use it a lot. It’s a prime 80 mm but still shoots at a 1:1 ratio.

So, which two are the same and the other different? The answer: macro and micro photography are the same and close-up photography is different!

This week’s challenge is to take your camera for a walk around your yard or home and shoot some close-up or macro shots. Too cold, too wet, too busy? Feel free to choose some images from your archives. Be sure to link your response to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to help us find you. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Thank you Tina, Amy, Ann Christine and Patti for this amazing guest host opportunity!

COVID & election depression: Green Acres Nursery

One warning: never go to Costco or any other big box store when you’re in a depression, especially a COVID and election depression! I did and I gave into buying a bunch of breaded chicken patties that I’ve been able to resist for about 10 years. So now I have a whole sleeve of patties, that are probably not good for me, to eat.

When I get into a funk, I wallow. That’s why I took myself and my camera to Green Acres Nursery in Roseville for a pick me up to shoot macro. I enjoy shooting macro. The management at this particular store enjoy having photographers take images of their flowers. I was a little disappointed in the flower choice, but I did find some good candidates (Oh, when is this election going to be over. Even my word choice is out of control!).

My little trip did help me step out of my funk and lunch today with a friend also helped. And, I think the chicken patties will also help. Yes? No? Fun food! Again, don’t go to the store when you’re depressed!

Lens-Artists #117: A photo walk

Whether in the city or country-side, I love photo walks. Thank you Amy of Share and Connect for choosing this topic. It’s a great way to relax, observe, see opportunities and shoot pictures. However, here in Sacramento, between the pandemic and smoke from fires, taking photo walks has been minimal. Of the few activities this year, my trip to the Sacramento Zoo and Gibson Ranch stand out.

The Sacramento Zoo. I love the zoo, and typically spend 2 hours walking it. It closed early on in the pandemic and when they were permitted to reopen, it was under strict guidelines. We needed to make online reservations, you couldn’t request a time slot, and they only let in a certain amount of visitors at a time. My time slot came early in the afternoon. Typically I would get there when they opened in the morning before the big cats took their naps. However my ticket was for 1:30 p.m. Wow, animals that were traditionally inactive in the morning were active. Here are some images from that zoo afternoon.

Another time we went to Gibson Ranch in Elverta. I hadn’t been there in a long time and wanted to get familiar with my new 80 mm macro lens. I didn’t think I’d be able to do much true macro work, but I wanted to see what else it could do. Gibson Ranch has a pond, barn, animals, horse stables and horses. It’s typical to find families feeding the ducks and geese, horses being groomed and rode, and people taking trail rides.

I’ve since used my macro lens on flowers, etc. It’s great.

There are so many other places to stroll about with a camera in the Sacramento area. I’m just waiting for the smoke to clear!

You never know what you’ll find when walking the dog: Mushrooms

Gem (my dog) and I walk every morning. He’s a schnoodle and habit is most important to him. Most times, we log in 2 miles. It’s his joy. My doctor once asked me how long it takes me to walk a mile. I told her it depended on how many times Gem stops, smells the area and goes potty. With geese, ducks, skunks, coyotes and other dogs around, there is a lot to smell.

Sometimes I’ll notice something and wish I had my camera, but this is Gem’s time. His walking needs keep us both healthy and moving. But, one morning I noticed some nice mushrooms and promised myself to get my camera and return immediately. Yes, I’m that lazy that I have to promise myself!

I did return with my Fujifilm XT3 and new macro lens. Here’s what I got.

One thing, when you lie down on the grass face down with your camera, you’ll get lots of concern from your neighbors! I love the accordion effect these mushrooms have, and think my new lens performed well.

Yep, you never know what you’ll find when walking the dog!