A Favorite Place: Sacramento Zoo

I enjoy going to the Sacramento Zoo. I’ve gotten to know the animals and their habits. There are new animals, and I’ll introduce them later. There are successes and trials when photographing zoo animals.

I know I’ll not be able to capture a meercat with my camera because they just keep running, at a good speed, along the perimeter of their enclosure. Well all except the lookout who stands still and just keeps turning its head looking for danger. Plus it’s a glass enclosure and you need to photograph through children’s hand prints.

The flamingos are a favorite because they are beautiful and have fun personalities. Sometimes they fight and sometimes they show affection.

While we’re in the pond, there is one white pelican–another favorite of mine. This was the first time I saw him eating.

One of the new arrivals is the largest rodent in the world (says a docent)–a capybara.

The orangutan was not being cooperative, but I got a decent picture anyway. The zebras were doing their usual eating. The red river hog and kangaroo were also reluctant to have their pictures taken.

The lioness was posing beautifully while her mate was peaking out from under a bush.

The red panda was grooming itself before napping and I was able to catch it with eyes open before it rested it’s head. The mongoose lemur got back from it’s cage far enough for me to photograph through the wires.

The cheetahs were being exceptionally difficult. They did not want to sit still, turn and face the camera and stay the proper distance from the enclosure fence. I asked the keeper to talk to them, but I don’t think she did!

Sharing an enclosure is the Okapi and the Black Crowned Crane.

I’ve left the best for last–the giraffes. It was feed the giraffe time where guests could feed a patient giraffe some leaves.

The other giraffes had to fend for themselves.

I hope you enjoyed this zoo visit as much as I did. I’ve linked each animal with the area where their fact sheet is located for your reading pleasure!

Lens Artists Challenge #165: Going Wide

Sofia had us looking up and down. Now, Patti has us looking all around. She is challenging us to go wide, opening up our vistas.

Being lazy and not liking to change lenses in the field, I shoot my wide angles with 18 mm + lens. I do have a 10 to 20 mm lens for my Nikon, but seldom used it. When I bought my Fujifilm, I didn’t purchase an ultra wide lens. For today’s challenge, I’m going back to 2018 for some different kind of wide angle shots. These were mostly shot with my Nikon D7100 and 18 – 200 mm lens.

Let’s start with a 9/11 Flag Tribute which is more than appropriate today. This is arranged in West Sacramento on a vacant lot each year. I’m going back today to experience this once again.

The Grand Canyon (South Rim) screams for a wide angle shot. But not all wide angle shots are taken outdoors. Here I have the beautiful canyon and also the amazing Desert View Watch Tower (Which would have been perfect for the looking up/down challenge!). All were taken at 18 mm.

Each year Sacramento hosts the Wide Open Walls festival where artists from all over the world are invited to paint murals on buildings. The Johnny Cash mural was shot at 27 mm, and the monkey was shot at 18 mm (both) in a vertical format.

I’ll close with landscapes of Downieville a small resort town north of Sacramento. When we arrived, the weather turned on us and looked like rain. We’d sure welcome it now! I do love clouds and sometimes feature them in the landscape image. These were taken at 17 mm so I must have used my 17-70 mm 2.8 lens.

Today, when I go visit the 911 Flag Tribute, I’ll be using my 18-55 mm lens and get more wide angle images! Thanks for this challenge Patti!

Lens Artists Challenge #164: Looking Up/Down

I look down more than up. But, after reading Sofia’s challenge, I think I may be looking up a bit more! She is encouraging us to post images where we’ve looked both ways and post our discoveries.

While I may not have my neck cranked up, Richard, my husband, does. Okay, he has his telescope pointed at the skies. He’s an astronomer/imager and has captured some beautiful galaxies and nebulas with his telescope, camera and computer. So for my looking up portion I’m posting a few of his pictures. Here are some nebulas and galaxies.

Now, my turn. Here are some images taken while looking down.

Looking down a mountain from Foresthill and looking at the American River from a bridge at William B Pond.

Next, a lotus leaf photographed at William Land Park and a lotus flower from a garden in Locke.

I’ll close with something you need to get low to photograph and even lower if you want to get underneath them. Mushrooms taken in my community.

So what have I discovered? I need to look both ways to capture more wonders. Thanks Sofia!

Lens Artists Challenge #161: Feet and Shoes

Yikes! Ann-Christine’s topic this week is more than just one challenge for me! Explanation: My real challenge is that my toes are arthritic and I can’t wear many shoes except for Birkenstocks. I have managed to find a tennis shoe that I can wear for a few hours. It’s all subjective isn’t it! For some feet shoes can mean classy, dressy, casual, fun or barefoot. For me it’s Birkenstocks because of the support they give.

Now for photography, many things have feet (okay hooves) some even have shoes like this horse.

Most animals have feet although we refer to them with different names.

Dogs have paws. With some dogs we can see their toes, but some are covered. Can we say they have socks?

Wildlife like this deer have hooves (feet) but no shoes!

My Raggedy Ann has feet and shoes.

This egret flying up from a nest has claws (feet) but no shoes.

Last, but most important, are humans. No matter how they slide, they have feet and shoes!

So much for feet and shoes. Now it’s time to rest my feet without shoes on! Thanks Ann-Christine!!

Lens-Artists Challenge #160: Your Inspiration

Think Anne, think! What inspires you? Patti is asking us what inspires me! My pondering was interrupted by a late breakfast at our Club House for newcomers who moved in while the complex was in lockdown. Now with relaxed rules, we can enjoy community life again.

At that breakfast, an artist, Al Fichera, who paints on his computer via a Wacom Tablet approached me to tell me how much he enjoyed my photography. “You’re a great photographer. You must have had some art background.” If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’ve had no art background and deem myself not the creative type. Al went on to say I must know composition instinctively. The conversation went on a little longer and in the end, I was truly inspired. Below is one of his pictures.

For me, my inspiration comes from people. Bob Scheibel, professor at L.A. Pierce College, inspired me to write. He held my hand through my first three articles for the L.A. Daily News in their weekly Neighborhood section and then let me fly on my own. This was during my first semester at Pierce in the journalism department. With his inspiring me, I went on to win Columnist of the Year in 1987. The plaque is on my wall.

Inspiring me personally are my dear friends Carol and Alyse. Carol was handed a death sentence by a doctor. She had multiple things wrong with the worse being Polymyositis, a degenerative muscle disease. To her doctors’ amazement, she lived for 23 years, before she died, when she was given less than one year. Her courage to withstand pain and her will to live was truly inspirational.

Also inspirational is Alyse who care gave to her all those years. I would stay with Carol to give Alyse some respite.

Alyse is on the left and Carol on the right. As you can see, this was taken on their 76th birthdays.

Now on to photography. I’ve often called my dear friend Marlene Frankel my photo muse. While she didn’t directly inspire me, just being out in the field with her helped made things click. For instance the photo triangle finally made sense while shooting with her. If I have a camera question, she’s first on my list to call. We’ve had a lot of fun together and she’s a sometime contributor to LAPC.

Marlene on left; Anne on right

The next photographer to inspire me is Lucille Van Ommering. When I was entering two photos for the In Focus competition, Lucille took me under her wing and gently showed me how to print out my pictures. I remember telling her, “Wow, Lucille, I’ve never seen my photos that big!” She not only printed them, but showed me how to mat them. I left her house so inspired! Thanks Lucille!!

One of the photos she printed for me.

Next is the Yolo Art & Ag Project that invites artists and photographers onto farms and orchards for a morning of fun. I would never have been able to get onto the properties otherwise.

Taken at the Clarence Scott Ranch

And finally the LAPC group under the leadership of Tina, Patti, Amy and Ann-Christine. You inspire me with your kind comments on my posts and your faith in asking me to be a guest host for this great group.

Just putting this post together has inspired me!

Lens Artists Challenge #157: Getting Away

We all need a respite of sorts. It could be an afternoon of shopping or a long trip. We we did some travel overseas, I didn’t have a good camera or the ability to take good photos. I keep saying I started photography 20 years too late!

The trip I chose for Rusha and Bert’s challenge is our Cross Country Trip in the summer of 2013. This was to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, and took us 3 months. I could have traveled for 6 months, but Richard is not the traveler and was doing the driving.

I’ve always wanted to travel across the U.S., visiting as many National Parks as possible. So we headed out in our 5th wheel trailer and dog, Gem. Gem is a home body, preferring to be at his house and not anywhere else. Notice I said his house! He also doesn’t like the rumble of the diesel truck engine. I had also just bought my first DSLR a Nikon D3100 which also went with us.

We chose to get to the east coast via the southern route so we could visit my cousin in Plano Texas. Here are some places we visited.

If you’re traveling on Route 66 in Arizona, stop in at Seligman. It’s a delight.

We continued through Arizona and into Texas.

As I looked through my pictures, I realize how much I’ve learned since that trip and that I need to make the trip again!

One of our stops was Little Rock Arkansas so we could visit Beale Street in Memphis. We also stopped in Nashville.

The Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Let’s jump up to Washington D.C. I really didn’t get good shots of what was important, but I did get a good shot of the Metro station!

Richard wanted to go to Times Square while we were visiting family in New York. We paid about $30. to park!

Now for Niagara Falls. How does a new photographer take a picture that’s different from all others taken so far. You can’t! But I was happy that I got all three falls in one picture!

We went as far north as Bar Harbor Maine. On our morning walk, Gem and I came upon a lobster fisherman unloading his baskets.

Let’s finish up with the USS Constitution in Boston and the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (summit at 12,000 ft.).

There were many more highlights during our 3 month journey. I totally enjoyed it and would repeat it if given the opportunity. Thank you Rusha and Bert for this reminiscing challenge.

Lens Artists Challenge #155: On the Water

Sacramento may be called the “City of Trees” but a truer name would be “River City!” Or maybe Rivers City for the two main rivers that run through Sacramento. In addition, there are many creeks. Cripple Creek runs through my community. If we travel an hour or two, we can visit water areas in the Bay Area.

So, John, it’s a pleasure to take your challenge on! I love living here so close to the rivers, creeks and ponds. But as my images will show, there are many aspects to water around here.

How about the San Francisco Bay shore line where many water fowl are present. This one was photographed while walking the Marina Bay Trail which is a short 1.7 miles. If I still had my bird book (lost when I moved), I could probably ID it for you.

We also have water in fountains. This one was photographed in Tiburon while waiting for the ferry to Angel Island.

The city of San Francisco seen from Treasure Island also gives us a great bay view.

Putah Creek runs through the UC Davis Arboretum, attracting all sorts of water birds. Here we see a great egret.

And then there are ponds. We found this on on private property, and yes we asked if we could photograph it.

Rain water leaves puddles behind that capture wonderful reflections.

Water can also hide hidden treasure. My friend Ken is gold panning near a river.

Last we have the Spirit of Sacramento. She’s an old paddle boat that got stranded when the Sacramento River receded. Once after a lot of rain, I saw her in water. She hasn’t been moved in ages.

So there you have some of the water examples in and near Sacramento. Thank you John for this fun challenge. Next week I’ll be hosting a Black and White challenge. Take care and have a great week.

Another Contest: McKinley Rose Garden

Every time I say no more contests, I enter one again. This one is from the McKinley Park Rose Garden in Sacramento. I entered it last year and my picture got an honorable mention. This was my entry.

I wasn’t going to enter this year, but a few of my photo buddies decided to go to the park and give it a try. I wasn’t happy with the roses there. Many were turning brown on the edges or past their prime. I just wasn’t getting any good vibes, but did my best in picking suitable flowers. Here are the three I submitted.

And some more from the morning’s shoot.

And then I caught this little guy calling for his mate, friend?

I think he’s the winner. I’ll let you know the outcome of this, another contest!

Where have all the blossoms gone? Devastated almond orchards

It’s the season for all photographers and “lookie loos” to descend on almond orchards seeking beauty. However, due to a couple of good wind storms, one hard enough to topple trees and take off roofs, the beautiful blossoms are hard to find.

We photographers respect the orchards and do not go into them. We photograph from the roads, using long lenses. When I saw that one farm was opening their orchard (for a small fee) for us to walk through, Ray and I made a plan to go there. We knew it was risky given the winds we had and were still having that day, but we went anyway. This farm was outside of Davis and closer than those in Capay Valley.

It was as we thought. Not only were the blossoms blown off the trees, they were blown off the ground. In years past, fallen blossoms looked like snow. We talked to the orchard owner who said the situation was dire. Not only did she sell tickets for people to come in, but also hired bees from bee keepers to pollenate the blossoms. Cost and revenue loss. Not totally bare, some blossoms held on.

Here’s a picture taken in 2017 to give you some idea at how full the trees can get. Notice the blossoms on the ground.

A little further down the road we found a younger orchard, shorter trees, that seemed to withstand the wind better.

Here are some other almond blossom images taken on this trip.

We did find the beginnings of a mustard field.

So where have all the blossoms gone? Mother Nature has control over that! Next year!

Out of the area: Port Costa, Contra Costa County

Bulletin: most places won’t let customers use their restrooms because of COVID! That’s what Jean and I found out when we left recently to drive out of the Sacramento Valley with our cameras. We were driving to Port Costa, an old little port city in Contra Costa County. I had been there twice before, but that was several years ago. Nothing changed! I decided to take pictures in a way I didn’t before.

On our way down to the port, we stopped at this viewpoint to take a picture of the Carquinez Bridge while it was being enveloped by approaching fog. A couple of seconds after I took this image, the bridge was totally fogged in.

We then made the usual stop at the C&H Sugar refinery. Photographers are not allowed in, but they do let you take pictures at the entrance. You may have seen this view before if you’ve been following this blog for some time.

Now for Port Costa itself. The railroad still runs by it.

The town is old and the hotel shows it. Homes are overrun with overgrowth.

The shoreline, beyond the railroad tracks is interesting and we saw some kayakers paddle by.

It was just before we left Port Costa that we realized there was not a public restroom to be found. We did find a portable toilet at a small park near a fishing pier. The flush bathroom was closed. It was a good stop in more ways than one!

Before heading home, we stopped at Mare Island. I knew that the only public restroom was in the museum which was closed. There was a Navy ship in for repairs. No, we couldn’t go on board! So, after taking our pictures as best we could because it was all fenced off, we headed to a Starbucks in Vallejo.

When we found the Starbucks, we were allowed to buy coffee but not use their restroom! CostCo to the rescue. Fortunately there was one on the way home. All in all, it was a fun day. We did learn, though, not to go too far from home!