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!

Len-Artist Challenge 104: Summer

Heat! That’s the challenge summer brings to the Sacramento area. Due to climate change, our infrequent triple digit weather has become the norm. Add to that, we need to stay away from our rivers and lakes because of social distancing. It’s not my favorite season. But the flowers are blooming and I love macro and close up photography.

So here are some macro/close up floral images for Amy’s summer challenge:

As I’m posting this, they are predicting a high of 98 degrees and right now it’s 92 degrees. My garden will be pruned tomorrow morning! There might be a photography tutorial in my future this afternoon.

Wearing suspenders and a belt: WPA Rock Garden

I love macro photography! I love the WPA Rock Garden in Land Park, Sacramento! But, do I love making mistakes? Not really, but I love learning from them.

The Rock Garden is an excellent place for macro photography so I brought my D7100 and macro lens. I also wanted to see how well the Fujifilm XT3 and its 55 – 200 mm lens would do close ups. My Nikon and 18 – 200 lens does close up photography beautifully.

First, I found out that my Fuji, like my Nikon, puts itself in various modes without telling me. It put itself in a different focus mode, making it difficult to focus. One mistake solved and learned from. Watch those fingers!

I saw macro opportunities and started shooting with my D7100 and macro lens. Best to do it while the breeze is down. Here’s the result:

Still wanting to use the Fuji, I wandered over to the small Land Park lake and saw lotus buds and leaves in the water. Yes! we would soon have flowers to capture in our cameras. Here’s where the second mistake occurred. I was having a difficult time shooting on manual with the Fuji and didn’t realize until I got home, loaded my pictures into the computer, and saw them on my monitor, that the images were super noisy. Looking at the data, I saw that some of them were shot at 12,000 ISO in sunlight! Did I mistake the ISO ring for the shutter ring? What did I do wrong? This was to be solved during my next Fuji outing! Here are some images shot with the Fuji:

Yesterday, I took pictures of a couple, Carol and Paul, I wrote about in for our community newsletter. I photographed them with the Fuji and the 18 -55 mm lens. They were beautiful. The shots and the couple!

So, lessons were learned. And, practice makes perfect as you’ll see in my next post.

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!

Practice makes perfect: McKinley Park and Green Acres Nursery

Flowers, flowers and more flowers! I’ve been shooting a lot of them lately, trying out a lens. I like being able to do close ups without a macro. You might be shooting a landscape, see a nice flower, want to shoot it, but didn’t bring your macro lens. So I’ve been practicing with a lens I might keep. It’s an 18 – 200mm Nikon lens.

Being a person who has difficulty making up her mind, I’ve practiced and practiced with it. I’ve pretty much made up my mind to keep it, but….

Here are the captures at the rose garden in McKinley park in Sacramento.

Some other pictures taken at McKinley park that night.

Moving ahead about a week, here are the images captured at Green Acres Nursery in Sacramento. They encourage photographers to visit and take pictures!

So should I keep it?

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.