Almond trees and more! Capay Valley, California

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!

Four in a row: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and 3 more!

Honestly, I’m not much of a birder, that is a photographer who loves to photograph birds. But I do like to get out during the season and do my best to capture some of our feathered friends. A great birding day, for me, is when I can photograph our amazing bald eagle. I recently went on an all day outing with Laura, who is an amazing nature photographer, to four wildlife areas within 2 hours from home.

First stop was the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. Wow, just one drive around and we saw eagles, hawks, and sandhill cranes. Here are some of my images:

From there we went to Llano Seco Wildlife Area near Chico. We had never been there and were surprised to see just one viewing platform. I took the opportunity to do some landscape photography:

From here things get blurry in my brain. I should post these blogs when I’m fresh from the activity! We were out on January 11! I think these birds are from Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. It’s much smaller than Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, but there were photographic opportunities:

Our final stop was Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley. The sun was beginning to set and we caught a golden glow on the birds and landscapes. The mountains in some of the landscapes are the Sutter Buttes. For sunset, we went to our favorite spot in the area to photograph a spectacular sunset:

So this was the beautiful end to our fantastic day! Could it get any better?

Bone day: Sacramento Zoo

Truth. I wasn’t going to renew my Sacramento Zoo membership. While they are talking about moving to larger acreage, they invested in creating a larger enclosure of glass for the lions. Part of it was where they had the tiger. I know I can use a long lens and get through the cages, but glass? Smudges and dirt?

I remember trying to photograph the meerkats when they first arrived, but their glass enclosure was dirty and it was difficult to get a good shot. But, I reluctantly renewed my membership when my photo group visited the zoo last month.

One thing positive, I didn’t have to carry my heavy F/4 prime 300 mm lens. My walk-around 18 – 200 mm was perfect and much lighter and versatile. Here’s some of what I photographed.

So that’s my experience with glass enclosures at the zoo. I’m glad I renewed my membership. I just need to get there early in the morning so the glass is fairly clean!

Just to let you know–I’ve started Matt Kloskowski’s Photoshop course I purchased about 2 years ago. I’ve done two lessons which consist of many tutorials. So far so good!

Cars, cars and more: Concours d’Elegance at Ironstone Vineyards

I have been to car shows, but not one had this many vintage vehicles! I’ve been to Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys before to photograph flowers and the grounds. That alone took most of the day! But there were cars and trailers all over, including an amphibian car that I missed!

We stayed until about 1 p.m. (got there at 10 a.m.) but had to leave after lunch. I would have liked to have gone back to shoot the flowers, but I needed to get to my son and daughter-in-law’s house warming. The drive each way is 2 hours. However, I did get to photograph most of the cars. No, I’m not going to show you all of them! But, this will be a 2-part post.

While editing these photos, I came upon a dilemma. I come from a journalistic background, and as a non-fiction writer, we did not embellish our stories in any way. We basically wrote the facts in an interesting and readable way. Photographing this car show is basically telling a non-fiction story through photographs. So, do I do some image altering edits, or stick to the basics. Most are basic edits, but I did add some filters to some to make them look older. What do you think?

Let’s begin with hood ornaments which were straight edits. I do like to get up close and some were beautiful.

Now for some of the scenery and full or mostly full images of the vehicles. If I had my way there would be greater separation between cars and only me at the show! I can dream, but I truly don’t mind crowds. I just make the people part of the image.

Sometimes new isn’t as good as old: Donner Snow Sheds

Our loyal group of senior photographers made a return visit to the Donner Snow Sheds located above Donner Lake in Nevada County. No longer used as a shelter for trains coming through the Sierra Nevada mountains, they are now hosts to art and graffiti from locals.

Since these works of art change as they are painted over, we decided it was time for another walk through the tunnels. I was there in July 2016 with Linda and Marlene. Neither of them were available for this visit.

Honestly, I was disappointed with the art. First, the initial tunnel was barren of art. I did find familiar scenery in between that and the second tunnel. The third tunnel had the most to photograph. Of course, there was beautiful Donner Lake!

To make matters worse, I experienced some altitude illness. At an elevation of 7,057 feet above sea level, I shouldn’t have had that trouble! I’ve been over Donner Pass and at Donner Lake a few times without trouble.

But all things come to pass! It was an enjoyable outing with great friends. Maybe I’ll do it again in a couple of years as the graffiti is painted over.

A walk in the park! Chalk It Up 2019

I’m late in attending this annual activity that started in 1991, but I made it to Chalk It Up this year. Artists claim their squares on the sidewalk that surround Fremont Park in Sacramento and create wonderful pictures.

The festival is a three-day affair on a weekend. Friday is the day the artists begin and they work through the weekend, finishing their creations on or before Sunday. Some artists had sponsors and they showed their names on the square. I’m not sure how much it cost to paint a square.

This is from their website: Chalk It Up promotes and supports Youth Arts by offering small grants to K-12 classrooms, and youth arts projects throughout the Sacramento region. We do this in large part with our annual Chalk It Up! Festival which encourages artistic expression of all kinds through a three day celebration of chalk art, live music, and regional food and craft vendors.

This year it was on Labor Day weekend (It may always be on this particular weekend!) and we chose to attend on Sunday. I was amazed at how many people were out on that last day, and how they calmly walked along the perimeter of the park. We were not allowed on the sidewalks. Some squares were finished but others were being worked on.

Once we walked around the park, we walked the sidewalks that ran through the park where there were food and craft vendors and a band. Different bands entertained throughout the weekend.

So, walk along with me! I did my photography thing while taking and processing these images. I cropped in when I wanted to show the picture and artists. While my watermark in on these as the photographer, I did not create these wonderful art pieces.

It’s been a long time! The Haggin Museum, Stockton California

I’m still here! I just haven’t been shooting for fun lately. It’s been so hot and I’ve been lacking the incentive to go outside to take photos except for real estate shoots. I’m enjoying those, and I do a good job now. Practice makes perfect!

It seems we went from rain right into the summer heat waves. No Spring! Hopefully Autumn will be better. Last week we ended August at the Haggin Museum in Stockton California.

The outside was simple and pretty:

It was a lovely museum. The exhibits were well placed and accessible. The interior was sleek and very photographic.

We went there to see a black and white photography exhibit, Masters of American Photography, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures of it. The exhibit was outstanding! The collection featured images from Eadweard Muybridge, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and others spanning from the 1880s to 1980s.

Since shipbuilding is Stockton’s oldest industry a Stephens Bros. Boat Builders exhibit was locate in one of the galleries.

On loan from the Smithsonian Institute, an exhibit explored Dolores Huerta’s public life as an activist and showed the multi-ethnic aspects of the labor movement.

There was also an exhibit of J. C. Leyendecker’s work for magazine covers and advertisements. This gallery was cleverly placed in the hall spanning the entire circle upstairs.

The museum has three levels. The bottom level showed store fronts as they looked in Stockton’s early days.

They also had small galleries featuring rifles, etc. and American Indian items.

They also had vehicles, agricultural machinery, old fire engine and European Art. One of my favorites was the globe clock.

I also tried to shoot through glass windows without a tripod or polarizing filter!

And, a museum featuring famous photographers would miss a great marketing opportunity if they didn’t cater to photographers in their store!

I hope you enjoyed this visit!

In search of vineyards, part 2: Napa Valley

When is a valley hilly? Never. In spite of that Marlene and I went to Napa to find more vineyards for my daughter-in-law Jess. We did find vineyards, but mostly wineries. I thought the Plymouth area vineyards were more eye catching and had more rolling hills.

But we did find lovely things to photograph, including the vineyards. We first found the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia which is a branch campus of the private culinary college. The building was simply beautiful, inside and out! You’ll find a store that has everything “kitchen,” a Julia Child exhibit and exhibition of her husband Paul’s photography.

They also have a restaurant, cooking classes, rotating exhibits, host events, and more. If you’re in Napa, stop in for an amazing experience.

Next we found the CIA at Greystone. This is where they teach students to become our future chefs. The building was Greystone Cellars, once the largest stone winery in the world. Its amazing history through its purchase by the CIA can be found here.

Marlene and I did not take the tour, but viewed as much of the building as we could. We shot the entry and outside. I really could have used my ultra-wide lens here!

And, yes, we did get vineyards!

And, so ends my vineyard quest. At least I hope so!!!

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!

A farm tour: Dr. Heather’s Goat Farm

It’s amazing how history repeats itself. Just a year ago, in June, my Chiropractor, Dr. Heather Rosenberg, Roseville Disc and Pain Center in Roseville, hosted an open house at her farm. I brought my young grandkids, Ryan and Olivia, and friend Linda. It was a fun morning visiting the animals, other guests and Dr. Heather’s family. We totally enjoyed the morning that was complete with samples of goat cheese and goat milk ice cream. You can re-visit that post here.

Now, back to the present, photo buddy and patient of Dr. Heather, Lucille suggested we take the photo group to visit the farm. Dr. Heather liked the idea and up to Auburn we went early one Saturday morning in May.

This was a different sort of visit. When we got there, Dr. Heather had just finished milking the goats and was cleaning out the machinery. We began by taking pictures of the goats in the barn. Trying to simplify her life, she sold her egg laying chickens. We were told to roam around and soon she would take us on a tour.

The tour consisted of a walk around the small lake, after which, we were free to roam with our cameras again. For me, this visit was totally different and more focused on photography. Are the pictures different? I think so. Take a look and let me know!