Happy Birthday to me! WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I remember my Mom was excited to reach her 65th birthday because she thought she’d not make it. I don’t know why, but when that day came, I made her a nice party. She lived to make it to her 87th birthday. So here I am doing this post on my 76th birthday.

It’s fitting that this is on the WPA Rock Garden, in Sacramento, because I do love shooting macro. And, I’m happy that I can still bend down and get up to take a picture of a tiny flower or bug. However, age does have its restrictions like no more hiking up mountains, etc. Carrying heavy equipment is difficult too. I often say that I started photography 20 years too late!

I got my first camera, Nikon d3100, in June of 2012, didn’t know what ISO was, didn’t understand the exposure triangle and shot on auto and JPEG for a while. This journey has been fantastic. I’ve learned a great deal and my photography has progressed.

I recently looked through the photo book I made about our cross-country trip in 2013. After looking at the photos, I told Richard we needed to go again because I can take better pictures now! He refused!! However, they are good enough to jog a memory.

So here I am, 76 and loving it. My chosen hobby fills my soul and writing for my community’s monthly newsletter keeps me in touch with my original passion.

Enjoy the macros and close up images from the Rock Garden.

Here we go again: Maple Rock Gardens

Go there once, it’s amazing. Go there twice, it’s repetitive. I’m not complaining, because this private estate is still beautiful. Maple Rock Gardens is in Newcastle, and is affiliated with High Hand Nursery in Loomis California.

They are open for private events and to the public twice a year. Linda and I visited them last September and you can view that post here. She thought there would be more flower blooms in the spring, so expectations were high. It was definitely more crowded and the blooms were repetitive. Not much had changed. If you were there for the first time, it would not disappoint. It was still beautiful. Take a look.

A bright spot in April: Crystal Hermitage Garden, Ananda Villiage

The tulips bloom only in April at the Crystal Hermitage Garden in Ananda Village in Nevada County. So, we waited for sunshine and no rain. We finally decided to go when there would be a possibility of sunshine, meaning partly cloudy with some sun. This resulted with some tulips open, but most shut.

But it was worth the trip. Planted each year, the gardens are always beautiful and attract visitors from all over to see the more than 17,000 plants. This quote was taken from one of their sites.
“We planted over 111 varieties of mid and late season Dutch bulbs this year,” said lead Gardener, Nancy Mair. “We blend tulips with a rainbow of complementary pansies, wisteria, rhododendrons, azaleas, peonies, dogwood trees and the fabulous cherry tree, so that guests enjoy a different garden in each terrace.”

I’ll admit that I was upset that after waiting, we still were under dark skys for most of our time there. But, as usual, it was a great experience. Until next April here are some of the images I took.

Shooting inside: Antique Trove, part 1

If the weather is forcing you to shoot inside, try an antique store. The bigger the store, the better. One thing: always ask permission before you go. The Antique Trove in Roseville is becoming my Tuesday group’s favorite inside place to shoot. It’s huge, has a lot of vendors, and the items change frequently.

We’ve been there twice now and have not been disappointed. Okay, some of us bought things we couldn’t resist. The plaques I purchased are now hanging with my photos in the kitchen dinnette area.

I do have a problem though, I don’t like clutter and price tags. So, I tend to do closeups with a short depth of field. I look for lines, texture and items that tend to tell a story. I also don’t like to use a high ISO, but I do what’s needed. Stores don’t take kindly to tripods! Fortunately, I have a 2.8, 17 to 70 Sigma lens expecially made for crop sensor cameras. It typically gives me enough light. Flash photography is not allowed.

During our first visit in January, I didn’t find much to shoot. Maybe I was having an off day and didn’t find items that inspired me. However, last week was a different story. With our outing three weeks apart, the stock in the vendor stalls had changed and, since it wasn’t raining at the moment, the back outside stalls were open.

Because I have edited photos from two visits, this will be a two-part post. There will be more images from last week’s shoot. So here we go. Enjoy my take on the Antique Trove.

Trying to beat the heat: Bushnell Gardens, Granite Bay

It seems that every Tuesday is triple digit day! You have to plan to have an outing early in the morning so it’s over by 10 a.m. because even shooting early in the evening, it’s still hot. So, to beat the heat on a recent Tuesday the group chose to invade Bushnell Gardens, a nursery in nearby Granite Bay. We had already visited Green Acres and wanted a different type of nursery.

We got there when it opened, and by 10 a.m., I was feeling the heat. It seems the older you get the less you can handle heat. I’ve started carrying one lens because I want to practice and don’t want to carry anything extra in the heat. I ended bringing my Nikon 18 – 140 mm into the nursery, and I think it did well with close ups, etc. I find that limiting myself to one lens is a great way to enhance my composition knowledge.

So here are some of the images I shot on that very hot morning.

 

 

 

Now a yearly trek: Lotus blossoms

They are so beautiful, but only bloom once a year. But, that’s also what makes the Lotus flowers so special. The flowers in this post are from the Vedanta Society of Sacramento in Fair Oaks (Where last year’s images were shot.) and my chiropractor’s farm in Auburn. Who would have thought that a small Lotus pond would be on a farm!

At the Vedanta Society, the mature Lotus were more inside the pond and the buds surrounded them on the outside. That made shooting them a little tricky, but with the lens extended all the way out to 140 mm and creative cropping, I managed.

At the farm, it was just the opposite.  The featured image is a black and white from the farm. No matter, they are beautiful no matter where they are. And, pictures are a way of enjoying them all year round.

Camera settings, check or not! Green Acres Nursery, Folsom

There are those days when…… You fill in the blank. It’s usually something you’ve forgotten to do like not buy everything you needed at the grocery, missed an appointment or forgot to change the ISO on your camera that was set for a prior outing. I did the last. Worse, I didn’t notice it until the shoot was just about over.

Fortunately it was at a nursery, flowers are forgiving and Lightroom helps to take out noise. But, I don’t think I’ll do that again. I’ll make other mistakes, but not that one!

We went to Green Acres Nursery in Folsom to practice macro work. You know you’ll find flowers and plants at a nursery. The plus was that we also found an abundance of water drops. They must have watered before we got there. I enjoyed the outing. Take a look, and let me know how I did during post processing. Was it really one of those days?

 

Finally got it!: WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I am tenacious and never give up. I went back to the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park, Sacramento with my macro lens for more practice. Finally, I now understand my lens and how to shoot macro.

This was my second time shooting there, and there were new flowers and small critters to find. The first time, I learned that I needed a higher ISO to get a faster shutter speed to capture the close up detail. This time I learned that I also needed to narrow my aperture (use a higher F stop) to get less of a shallow depth of field.

Now I’m ready to go back just to enjoy the shoot. Tenacity is a great trait, but offers little relaxation.

I also experimented with what else I could shoot with my 105 Macro Lens. Enjoy the pictures! (Captions not necessary!)

Photoshop fun: IKEA

Nothing! That’s what I did for a week after we returned from our month long road trip to Montana, Glacier National Park and Weiser Idaho for the eclipse. It took us a few mornings to empty out the trailer so we can sell it. It seems we came home just in time for a heat wave, so we only had the mornings to work.

I did gather up energy to shoot with my Toastmaster photo club, All About Photography Toastmasters. We went to IKEA because of the heat. If you remember, I had been there with my Tuesday group so I chose to shoot with my macro lens for practice. I can’t say I was totally successful, but I did learn. This lens has such a short depth of field, and that made it difficult. It’s a 105 mm so I had to stand far enough back to get what  I was shooting in the frame and in focus.

Since  the shoot, I’ve been working on the images and found the Photoshop filter panel. What fun! With no effort on my part, the software took my images of patterns and turned them into great abstract designs. I’ll show you the before and afters:

I may have been able to do more, but I was stymied with my limited knowledge of layers. Now I have to delve into Photoshop now that my energy level is back. I had fun with these.

Macro time: WPA Rock Garden, William Land Park, Sacramento

If it weren’t for a friend’s gentle push, I would have gone back to the car and swapped out my macro lens for my walk around lens. I’m so glad she persuaded me to use the macro. It’s a great lens: 105 mm, 2.8, Sigma; and I hardly use it because there’s always a slight breeze.

Karen taught me to increase my ISO so I could shoot at a faster shutter speed, and I got amazing results. I’ll be using that lens more because I do love macro photography. Although the WPA Rock Garden is a small area, we were shooting for about 2 hours!

This was my last time out shooting because we needed to prepare for our trip to Glacier National Park. Right now I’m exhausted. We packed the trailer today, except for refrigerated food in triple digits. I did try to do a lot during the morning. This is our first vacation since our 2013 cross country trip. We’re also going to be in Idaho for the solar eclipse, and in a great vantage spot. We’ll be attaching my D3100 to a small telescope, so wish me luck. I have a couple of days to practice. Richard will be using his sun scope to capture images.

After that, we’ll head into Oregon to visit my older granddaughter. I’m so looking forward to this trip. And, yes, I’m bringing my macro lens with me.

Images from the WPA Rock Garden.