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.

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.