With all that’s been happening in the world this past 1 1/2 years, it’s important to live in continuous gratitude and remember that there is still a lot of beauty in the world, mostly provided by nature. In her challenge, Amy reminds us that there is a lot around us locally to be grateful for. Photography brings me into that world. At least once a week I go out with friends to capture people, places, animals and things that bring joy into my life.
I’m happy to share some of them with you from this year alone. Please read the captions for information.
Thank you Amy for helping us to remember that there is a wonderful world out there, and I’m especially thankful for my photo buddies who see it with me.
About an hour south of Sacramento is a municipal park that houses a Japanese Garden and a small zoo. Of course we, Ray, Richard and I, had to go visit Lodi and Micke Grove Park. This park is part of the San Joaquin County park system and home to a Fun Town for children, zoo, Japanese Garden, small lake, golf course, softball fields, water play features, horseshoe pits, museum and children’s playgrounds. We walked the garden and zoo.
The garden was small but beautiful. However, it was either in super sunshine or dark shade. In retrospect, bracketing would have been what to do, but I didn’t take my tripod. Here are some images. I liked the water reflections.
Next we went about a block to the zoo. It was a lot smaller than our Sacramento Zoo, the enclosures were thicker so we couldn’t have the fencing disappear, but it was interesting.
Some of the birds.
They did have a snow leopard.
After leaving the park, we had lunch and then went to visit the Deshmesh Sikh Temple which we happen to spot on our way to the park. They were very courteous and let us inside with our cameras.
It was a fun day in Lodi. There is more to Micke Grove Park to see though. We just might be back!
Yes, with a little help we can accomplish what we thought we couldn’t. One of the reasons I bought a mirrorless camera was the need for a lighter camera. I could still hold my Nikon D7100, but with some lenses it was getting heavy, and I’m not getting younger. I currently use my Nikon for two types of shooting: ultra wide and telephoto.
The last time I tried shooting with my Nikon and an old prime (meaning metal casing) 300 mm, my photo buddy Ray saw I was having difficulty holding it steady. It was more than that, I couldn’t hold it steady. So, he made me a short monopod to anchor the lens.
I wanted to show him what I call the nesting trees in Lincoln and he wanted me to try out my new small, hand-held monopod, so off we went. And guess what, it worked. With just a little help from my friend I can now use a telephoto on my Nikon. If I ever get a telephoto for my Fuji, it would also help. The birds were across a small gully and a stretch for any 300 mm lens, but I was able to photograph them and really crop in.
The second bit of help also came through Ray. He let me know that Topaz was having a sale. Now I can’t resist a sale, can I? I bought Topaz Sharpen AI and DeNoise AI. I used Sharpen AI on all the birds and it was amazing.
We didn’t stay long. The egrets’ and herons’ mates were not flying back with food/nesting material. But I was able to get a shot of one flying in without branches and twigs in the way.
I’ll be going back to the nesting tree with my new monopod soon! Thank you Ray!!
As you can see, these trees are no strangers to fires. Redwoods can be almost hollowed out and still survive. After the fire is put out, the top continues to grow. My mind went to Big Basin because it is crowded with trees and constantly growing. The ground brush is usually well maintained in parks so they don’t provide super fuel for fires. But dry lightening strikes and thunder brought the forest to its knees. Here is how it looked in 2016 on overcast day, with some re-editing.
While the redwoods will survive, structures within the park didn’t. I’m sure during these pandemic days, rebuilding will be slow and it will be some time before we can walk through this beautiful forest again.
Something familiar, comfortable and close by; that’s what I wanted for my first photo outing that didn’t involve a car ride. Yes, I had to drive to get to Effie Yeaw in Carmichael, but I loaded my camera on my sling and walked the Nature Center. And, I wasn’t alone. Marlene, Jean and Ray joined me. I guess I wasn’t the only one who needed to escape!
This time was very different. We each drove our own cars, wore our masks and kept a reasonable distance from each other. And worst of all, we didn’t follow our adventure with lunch!
Because I had a morning Toastmaster meeting, we met at Effie Yeaw at 10 a.m. It was too late to see the deer, but we did see a lot of people. Some wore masks, some stepped aside when they saw us walking the path and some just passed us on the path. I guess everyone has their own level of concern about this pandemic.
I find breathing with a face mask on difficult. There’s something about breathing your own air that affects my heart. I’m probably not getting enough oxygen. So, with that hindrance, I got tired sooner. But, it was all worthwhile.
Beautiful Almond trees in Capay Valley were calling to my small photo group. Every year we make that trek to capture the beautiful blossoms. We were a two-car caravan and stopped along the way for pictures. If we were a larger caravan, I’m not sure that would have worked.
Starting out in the small town of Esparto, we drove along the main road through the valley. To our dismay, some of the orchards were surrounded by chain link fencing. Unfortunately, some visitors and photographers have been going into the orchards, causing problems. We make sure to stay on the side of the road, not trespassing. We did manage to stick our lenses through the chain link. It made taking pictures difficult but not impossible. Thank heavens for telephoto lenses which allowed us to get some close ups.
When we reached Rumsey, we found yard full of treasures. Fortunately, the owner Don Hayes was there and gave us permission to take photos wherever we wanted. I think I must have been getting tired, because I missed some of the smaller items that my photo buddies shot. Well, there may be another chance!
Yes, goodbye to 2019!! I can’t say that it’s been the worst year, but it hasn’t been the best for me personally. I feel like my photography journey is on a roundabout and is unsuccessful in getting off to continue down the road.
I think my health is under control now, but with the beta blocker I’m on, any shooting beyond 8 p.m. is not happening. I just get too tired, but my heart is beating better. I call it my new normal!
December has been a rainy, cold, overcast and damp month which adds to the photo blues. I’ve tried to make the most of partly cloudy and sunny days, but they are few. Here, in California, December, January and February are traditionally our rainy months. The rest of the year is pretty dry, so we are hoping for more rain, and, of course, more complaining. My photo buddies and I are trying to think of more indoor places to take our cameras to. You might see some familiar places in the next couple of months.