An apple a day: Apple Hill, Placerville

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it keeps people coming to Apple Hill in Placerville, El Dorado County each year. Everything is “apple” in this area where member growers show and sell their pies, apple fritters, apple doughnuts, etc. The months of October and November are so busy that crafters and more also show their wares.

This was my 4th trip to Apple Hill, so I decided to photograph different things. If you follow this blog, then you know I enjoy shooting close ups, lines and patterns, people, flowers and rust. So, that’s what I’m showing you today.

First close ups and rust.

Now flowers:

Now lines and patterns:

Now people:

Some leftovers:

I didn’t do that well Tuesday night at the Sierra Camera Club, in Sacramento, competition, but then I expected I wouldn’t. Sometimes pictures look great on the monitor, but not so great when they are printed. That was my predicament.

When I looked at the prints, I was dismayed. I decided to enter them anyway. After all I’m there to learn, and I did. The scores range from 8 to 12. I got two 10s and two 11s. I’ll confess that the judge didn’t give a score under 10! Print is just one of several categories, and for me, the most difficult. I’m not the only one printing out 8 x 12 images, but we are in the minority. However, I don’t think I’m ready to invest the money in larger prints.

In the digital categories, I have been awarded 12s, but never made it to the golden “13.” But, I’m happy. I joined this group to learn, and I have. I’ve also learned how to look at images. It’s amazing what details the judges see that I haven’t trained my eye to look for.

Toastmasters has trained me not to take critiquing as an assualt on my abilities. So, I understand that judging is subjective. There have been a few times when I dissagreed with the judge; but, after a few weeks, I saw that the judge was so right! Sometimes we get attached to our product and what we see in it that we don’t view it with a critical eye.

I thank the fantastic members of the Club. They are most eager to help, and just seeing their work gives me something to shoot for. Most of all, I feel great when my images are competitive with theirs.

If you are a new photographer, I urge you to join this type of club. There’s always something new to learn. You’ll find some of my entries below.

 

 

RIP Uncle Chuck: Light painting

We were aunt and uncle longer than we were just brother and sister, and we called each other Uncle Chuck and Aunt Anne. Last March, I went to Georgia to say “goodbye.” Lewy Body dementia , a form of dementia and Parkinson’s like diseases, had already robbed him of his memory and abilities to speak, walk and recognize what was happening around him. The one response I saw from his body, was his foot taping to music that was being played. I hoped at some level, he knew I was there to see him.

Just like any brother and sister, we had our share of fights (he was 5 1/2 years older than me), he was protective of his baby sister and, as adults, we were always there for each other and our families.

He died this morning with family love surrounding him. It was a tense three days as family took turns to be with him, giving them their final goodbyes. It was difficult be out here in California. I remember with my mom, no matter how much you prepare and know it’s a blessing, it’s still hard when the journey is over.

Thank goodness, I had photography to pull my attention away. Monday and Tuesday were both evening shoots. I must have been working on pure Adrenalin because I didn’t get tired during the outings. I’m just so glad I have this outlet.

This morning, after I awoke to the news, I sat and edited last night’s shoot where we practiced light painting. Those who had them, brought light toys. Some of us just brought our cameras and tripods. I learned a great deal about light painting and exposing for it. I’m also ready to do it again. Here are a few images from the session.

Editing the images, let my emotional and physical being take in the news. He left my life in a burst of color. To me, the featured image looks like an angel gliding across a field of red carpet. My family will be having a memorial service for my brother soon here in Sacramento. Whether near or far, we all need closure. You will be remembered with love Uncle Chuck.

Navigating the not so perfect: Various outings

I learned long ago that we all can’t be winners and neither can outings. I’ve made lemonade so many times recently. It’s not that the outings were truly “lemons,” but either the potential for great images was not there or I was off and not seeing opportunities.

For instance, the John Muir National Historic Site was one I had been to before, but forgot. Basically it’s a tour of his home and orchard he inherited from his father-in-law. The movie shown in the Visitor’s Center did give us great insight into his life and dreams.

Another venture was to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area a small preserve near West Sacramento. Seeing wildlife here is either okay, great or bad. The morning we went viewing, the wind was blowing so hard even the birds were taking cover! After we drove the route, Linda, Teresa and I went to see if any burrowing owls were brave to fight the wind. They burrow in Davis, California. We spotted two little owls.

Last, is Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Summer is not the best time to view the many deer, roosters, coyotes and birds that live there. This visit was in September, and I guess it wasn’t cool enough for the wildlife to come out and smile for the cameras!

Even though there may not have been great photo opportunities, these outings were fun. When you’re with fellow photographers who enjoy getting out with their cameras, the camaraderie is what makes the day. I guess I’m saying a day out with a camera and friends is always a winner.

Not like last year: Crystal Hermitage Gardens, Ananda Village

Last year, the sun was shining, the tulips were open and we were in a drought. This year, it was drizzling, threatening to pour as we visited the Crystal Hermitage Gardens in Ananda Village, Nevada City. It was still beautiful, in fact the flowers were more vibrant.

This was a learning experience also–isn’t every outing. I had never shot in rain, and it was a challenge at first. I put my camera into a protective plastic sleeve, but had difficulty turning the lens barrel. So I shot with the cover on top of the camera. Very inconvenient! Between shots, I tucked my camera under my jacket. The drizzle kept up most of the time we were there. One time it came pouring down and we ducked for cover.

Ananda Village is a cooperative spiritual community dedicated to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, founded by his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda. It’s a peaceful place and the people are great. Yearly they plant tulips in a terraced garden and invite the public to visit. We weren’t the only people walking the garden that morning, and not the only ones with cameras. I wish it wasn’t so far away. I enjoy meditating and this place would be great.

We were there on a Tuesday, and the sun didn’t shine until Friday. I heard that we had more rain this year than Seattle, Washington. One ski resort is thinking of staying open all summer! Could you guess–the drought is officially over. As I write this blog, it’s overcast and threatening to rain.

Rain or sunshine, I’m not worried about the tulip garden. They will have visitors no matter what the weather.

Restoration: UC Davis Arboretum, Davis, part 2

She’s getting gussied up–well is an arboretum a female? The UC Davis Arboretum, in Davis, is a rambling 3.5 mile, 100 acre, garden along the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek. It’s open to the public 24/7 at no charge (except for parking). As I mentioned in the previous post, half of the arboretum is being restored after our winter rains.

Even as we walked the west side, we saw benches being sanded and re-stained. The low water level was the only noticeable detraction during our visit. As we strolled, there were snowy egrets to entertain us. We found out they do get aggressive when it comes to one thinking another’s rock is a better fishing spot!

There were still some landscape opportunities also. In today’s photos, you can see how low the water level is. Although they did clean out all the algae that covered the water last year, making the creek look like it was carpeted in green.

I also like to people watch when I’m there. In this post, you’ll see the birds, landscapes and people. I’m hoping the restoration doesn’t take all summer. It is a nice place to go and relax.

 

What’s your passion? IKEA, part 2

I have two passions: Photography and Toastmasters. Toastmasters changed my life and Photography enriches my retirement. So I decided to combine these two diverse activities and formed a Toastmaster’s Specialty Club: All About Photography (AAP).

At AAP we follow the Toastmaster format, but as our name suggests, we speak on photography and our table topics are on photography. We have photographers of all levels. Last week, I presented my images from IKEA for table topics. The participants were to give a 1 – 2 minute mini-speech on how they would edit these mostly abstract photos. I do crop well in the camera, so they had a difficult time imagining the total scene.

It was a fun exercise, and I picked up a few hints on what I could have done–next time. So what is your passion? What has changed your life? What enriches your life?

Here are my remaining images from IKEA in West Sacramento in black and white.

January, for the birds? Chasing wildlife

The wildlife areas were full with water, the weather was cool, but there were few birds. I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge twice, Grey Lodge Wildlife Area once and the Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area once, and was amazed at the lack of birds.

I experienced this during the dry years when there was little water to be found in these areas, but we have water this year! Where did the birds go? To make matters worse, at all but one of these outings, we were in overcast skies and strong wind.

Yes, chasing birds was frustrating and difficult this year. The Yolo Bypass trip was a dismal effort. We went to get the first sunrise of the new year and ended up with nothing worthwhile. It was a dark morning.

Our first trip to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was also difficult. The wind was blowing so hard that the small birds had difficulty flying. I did manage to get this sequence of a Snowy Egret fishing and eating its catch.

 

 

During our second trip, a week later, I was able to photograph a Red Tail Hawk, rabbit and deer.

At Grey Lodge, we found a Bald Eagle, Blue Heron and a show off Great Egret.

So there went January–for the birds!

Lights, camera, action: Indoor light painting workshop

Frustrating fun! Do those two words actually go together? They did the night I attended an indoor light painting workshop given by Sacramento Photographers, a local Facebook group here in Sacramento. I love this group because they are willing to share knowledge, sponsor photo outings and will critique photos when asked.

The evening started with a slide show on light painting. They showed us how elaborate it can get and how integral it can be to photo composition. Then they showed us the “toys” or tools. They had bars with LED lights on them, steering wheels with LEDs, LED wands and more.

Our cameras were on their tripods and we were ready to shoot for the practical part of the evening. And, the fun began. The lights were turned off and we began shooting. First was an LED bar that was carried across the room in an up and down motion. Then we captured a rope that was spinning around as the person was walking in a tight circle. Our volunteer model was traced with an LED wand while wearing glow in the dark sun glasses. It continued from there.

The frustration came when they were showing us how to do multiple exposures. My ability to do this was not available in my camera because of its current setting! I couldn’t figure it out and neither could another photographer. He messaged me the next day saying it might be that I had left bracketing on. Sure enough–I had!

But it was an evening of fun learning. Now I have to make some of those “toys!”

 

Riding the freeway: Port Costa California

Not knowing the country roads, we needed to take the freeway to get to Crockett, Port Costa and Mare Island. Marlene said, “Greg wouldn’t approve,” and I agreed. This was our first long distance outing since Greg became ill. We stayed around home base for a few weeks during our Tuesday’s With Seniors outings to accommodate his needs. He may not have been able to come, but he was certainly on our minds.

Driving the freeway route, we first stopped at Crockett, then found Port Costa and eventually made our way to Mare Island. Today, I want to show you some of Port Costa. This small, decaying town is a census-designated place in Conra Costa County. The population was 190 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1879 as a landing for the railroad ferry Solano, Port Costa’s ferries carried entire trains across the Carquinez Strait from Benicia to Port Costa. The town lost its importance when a railroad bridge was constructed at Martinez in 1930 to replace the ferry crossing. Today, it’s a sleepy, photogenic and cute town.

I enjoyed shooting in Port Costa more than the other two places which I will show you in another post. I just wish, some of the stores were open on Tuesdays. It’s a good thing we ate lunch before we arrived!

From Port Costa to Mare Island, we were able to stay off the freeway although we did use the GPS–another thing Greg would never use!