Lens-Artists Challenge #125: You Pick It!

For me, this challenge is like giving a kid a bunch of toys and saying okay pick one! Which one do you pick? Why do you pick it? So, what subject do I pick? What photos do I pick? Yikes!

This challenge by Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles caused me to think about how my photography progressed through the years. I went back to 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. This was a used entry level consumer DSLR. I was closing my business and looking for a hobby and didn’t want to invest a lot into something I might not enjoy.

I took the camera on a Mexican cruise that year and had fun photographing the colored lights aboard the ship.

I was still using my 3100 in 2013 when I made my first visit to a wildlife preserve (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge). Fortunately this little guy was on the ground and close. My post processing hadn’t reached the Lightroom stage yet.

In 2014 I had my first experience shooting light trails. I had upgraded my camera to Nikon’s D7100 which was Nikon’s highest level consumer camera. This was taken in Sacramento. I did have freeway shots, but I wanted to show you something more.

In 2015 I went to Bodie, a State Park and old ghost town, where I experienced my first bout with altitude illness. There I practiced HDR, popular then, on the old structures that were in danger of falling. By then I was processing with Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

My first shot at the Milky Way came in 2016. I’ve had better success since, but astrophotography has never become a favorite of mine. This is strange because my husband is an astronomer!

Sometimes you take a leap of faith. This picture taken in 2017, provided me with an entry for what I thought was a small town photo contest my friend told me about. This was in Sonora in the Gold Country. Little did I know, the best of Sacramento were also entering. Two of my photos made it to the wall and one made it to the final choice table. My friend had one image make it to the wall. She was delighted to have been chosen among the talented photographers and so was I. This was the one that was so close to being a top winner in 2019. I didn’t enter that contest this year because it was nerve racking, and with COVID my nerves were already under pressure.

I love slow shutter photography and would go to our local mall when they had small carnivals to practice. I captured this in 2018.

While I’m not a birder, I can’t resist an easy shot. My friend took me to what I call the nesting trees. Egrets and other large birds choose to make their nest in the cluster of trees and put on a show for photographers. By then I got an old-used prime F/4 300 mm. Although heavy, it has clarity. So, here’s my 2019 entry!

And here we are in 2020, the year we thought we’d never experience. Photography is a little more difficult these days, but it still provides the relaxation and mental stimulation it always did. I’m so happy I started back in 2012. This has become my passion. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey.

Our new normal: I can’t get motivated today!

I don’t think it’s the fact that we are under lock-down, I think I can’t get motivated because it’s raining or just damp outside. Yesterday we endured a large, wind blowing and rainy storm complete with lightening and thunder. California needed that storm, but I didn’t need the ceiling tiles in my sun-room ruined and having it rain in the room!

But that didn’t get me down. Neither did my experience with ordering groceries through a local market’s E-Cart service which ended up a disaster. Okay, I’ll tell you about it since you insist. I put my order in online and waited three days to pick it up. On the right day and time, we go to the store and call them to let them know we (Richard and I) were out in the parking lot. They tell me they’ll be right out with my order. Two cars drive up and get their order. I call them again and was told they’d be right out. You can see where this is going! It seems they gave my order to the wrong person. With all the apologies they could muster, they finally brought out my order which wasn’t complete! I’m now waiting for my refund to show up. So we ended up going inside another market to get the rest of the list. We wore our masks and gloves, and practiced social distancing.

Well, I was upset, but that didn’t get me down. Neither did the fact that I had to get a urine sample from my male dog Gem. Have you ever tried that? After several failed attempts with unique ideas, Richard followed the vets advice. He attached the cup to the end of a cane! My neighbor promised to help so off we went on the dog walk of a lifetime. I held the leash and she operated the cane. We were successful. Fortunately, we only had one witness!

We laughed a lot at the absurdity of the task, and it didn’t get me down either! Actually, we laughed a lot and that felt good. Laughter is the best medicine.

I truly believe the weather is my downer. And, I can’t do anything about that, can I! I think I’ll have some fun looking through past photos to post here. After all, this is a photo blog. Maybe it will motivate me to take some images of things around the house for some of the local camera club challenges.

Here are some photos from a night outing in 2014. We were shooting a full moon with silos as a background. This was early on in my photography adventure, and I learned a lot about night photography.

Discovery: Christmas at the Capitol Building, Sacramento

I have discovered Color Efex Pro, and I love it. I love it just as much as I do Silver Efex Pro which I use all the time when editing for black and white. I don’t edit my photos that much because I still have not gotten into Photoshop or other programs. So, these presets are a great way for me to give my images a fresh look and a start at creativity. I do work on them after I apply the preset.

I’ve been using Color Efex on my outdoor landscapes. You’ll see some of it when I start posting my Kauai pictures (I still have the last day to edit.). I can see the opportunity. I can compose the image. I can do the basic editing. But, when it comes to giving the image that creative touch, I’m unable to do it on my own. I can’t see the final image in my mind, let alone know how to get it there! In comes the preset or profile. They give me ideas to jump off on. Then, away I go. Maybe with practice, I can do it on my own in Photoshop with layers, filters and more.

Every year, I promise myself that I’ll get into Photoshop, but it never happens. Life takes up the time I’ve set aside. I remember when I ran my home-based business, and I actually blocked off office time. I’ll have to do that for studying processing. It’s not only Photoshop, I’ve got other programs that I haven’t learned.

In the meantime, I’m so happy with the Nik collection. Take a look at a recent outing to the Capitol Building in Sacramento and the beautiful tree on the front lawn.

Go again next year? Water Lantern Festival, Folsom Lake

I saw the picture of the activity and thought, “I’d like to do that too.” The water lanterns glowed in the dark while their reflections glowed in the water. That’s what drew me into going to the Water Lantern Festival at Folsom Lake in Folsom.

Now, I do understand about expectations and how the environment can change our ability to get perfect shots. What I don’t understand is how an event of this size can be so mismanaged!

Arriving was easy. Photo buddy Ray and I got there about 5 p.m. (gates opened at 3 p.m.), parked in the second parking lot and immediately jumped onto a shuttle. This was easy. I was able to carry my camera bag, tripod, backpack, chair and dinner. We checked in and walked down to the beach, agreeing that getting right near the water was necessary for good photos. I took note, however, that the bathrooms were up at the top and the lake was down, leaving more beach to walk through.

We knew that getting that picture perfect photo wasn’t possible (didn’t keep me from trying) because of the wind blowing that day. So, we took pictures of our surroundings: families, kids playing in the water, anything that amused us. Of course, in the evening, I made the trek up to the bathrooms; I didn’t want to do that in the dark. We also got our lanterns ready for launching.

I think they started the kids games too late, because at dusk, they were still playing them and saying that the official launch would be soon. People being people started coming down to the beach to launch their lanterns before the official launch. Ray and I started shooting, hoping to get whatever we could. Slow shutter speed and a moving target just don’t do well together. It was difficult to get a single shot since the breeze had turned into a wind. Ray suggested I put the camera on “auto,” which I tried, but didn’t necessarily like. We did the best we could and decided to make the trek up the hill to where we could get the shuttle back to our parking lot.

Here’s where the worst began. We got there just as the shuttle left. It was about 45 minutes until it got back (Remember I was carrying my camer bag, backpack, tripod and chair.) with a load of people. I asked one woman where she came from. She said the parking lot. It took them 2 hours to get from the front entrance to the destination. We climbed aboard the bus which took us about 30 minutes to get to the very close parking lot because of cars leaving and taking up both lanes.

Once back to our car, another 30 minutes or more (I stopped looking at the time by then.) until we got to the entrance. So, would I go again? I don’t think so. One enjoyment from the evening are our photos!

 

A promise is a promise: Happy New Year

I always try to keep my promises. The operative word there is “try!” In my last post, I said that I would be going out to shoot Christmas lights when my friend Jean got her new camera, and I kept that promise. I was really dragging that night, and I’m so glad that my promise got me up and out. We had a lot of fun in the short time we were taking photos.

Our adventure took us to the Fab 40 area of Sacramento–an area of old beautiful homes. This neighborhood’s holiday effort didn’t compare to the residents of Dove Court in Orangevale; but with my fatigue and Jean’s knee, it was perfect. We walked the two blocks, shooting and talking with some residents. I saw two displays I liked and had fun zooming my lens.

Oh, Jean’s new camera is a tiny Panasonic mirrorless that does a lot. It made my Nikon D7100 look huge and feel heavy! I hope she finds a great deal of joy in using it.

Happy 2018 everyone. My wish if for you to have good health, prosperity and fun!