Decision: The Nesting Tree

To buy or not to buy! To use or not to use! That’s my dilemma!! I’ll start at the beginning. For wildlife photography, I’ve been using an old, used prime F/4 300 mm lens on my Nikon D7100. It’s a bit heavy, hard for me to hold steady and the Nikon is not that good in low light. I finally decided to buy a used Fuji 100 – 400 mm lens for, of course, my Fuji XT3. It worked great and was easy for me to hold steady, but the barrel was tight when I zoomed. It’s in the return process. Question: should I get another one? Or just keep using the Nikon set up?

Here are some images from the Fuji set up taken at what I call the nesting tree in nearby Lincoln.

Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons nest each year in these trees. It’s a treat to sit and watch the activity. They fly off and bring back food and nesting materials to the nest. These next pictures were taken with the Nikon set up. Since I photographed mostly egrets on my previous visit, I was trying to photograph more of the herons. The trees are not close and I had to do a lot of cropping with these pictures for both set ups.

Do you see much difference? Both sets were processed in Lightroom and Topaz Sharpener AI. There is the handling ease, but that comes with about a $1,500. cost for a good used lens. I don’t think I need a new one because I don’t do that much wildlife photography.

So that’s my decision and dilemma! What do you think I should do?

Oh, if you want to see amazing Great Blue Heron Photography visit Babsje’s blog for wonderful stories and images. She is totally dedicated to the herons.

Oh no, birds again: Yolo Bypass Wildlife area

Let’s hope you see more birds once I get my new Fuji 100 – 400 mm lens. To do most wildlife photography, I’ve been using my Nikon D7100 and an old metal F/4 300 mm prime lens. It was almost impossible for me to hold until Ray made me a short monopod that helps hold the camera and lens steady. The other problem is the Nikon itself. It’s not very good in low light. So photographing in cloudy and overcast days was difficult.

So, I finally decided to try the Fuji lens which I hope is lighter. It’s coming tomorrow. Meanwhile, Laura and I recently went to our local wildlife area in Yolo County, just across from Old Sacramento. The Yolo Bypass is a favorite for local photographers.

I was lucky to get a series of a great egret hunting for what ended up being a cricket, beetle or some other bug.

There were also some other birds.

And then two cormorants.

Get ready and fly.

I’m not sure what bird this is but….

And here are some landscapes taken with my Fuji.

Now, I’m anxious to test out my new lens, but we will have to wait!

Lugging the long lens: Point Reyes National Seashore, part 2

I continue my Point Reyes adventure with Part 2. This area is not just about Tule Elk and Elephant Seals as shown in part 1. Beauty abounds in the grass areas and seashore. For this job, I raised my Fujifilm XT3 up to my eye.

There were also three birds and a coyote that wanted their picture taken.

Before we headed for home, I just had to see how the Point Reyes was getting along. The S.S. Point Reyes is a wooden steamship that crashed on a sand bar in the town of Inverness, Marin County, over a 100 years ago. Surviving having her stern set on fire by photographers light painting with steel wool in 2016, she still remains on the sand bar. Sadly she showed more corrosion in the few years since I last saw her.

This ends my wonderful get away with Laura. It was great to go to the ocean for the day!

Lugging the long lens: Point Reyes National Seashore, part 1

Cabin fever for me means I have to get away outside my local area to photograph, and I had it. So, when Laura asked me if I wanted to go to Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, I immediately said YES! It’s about 2 hours and 20 minutes away, so that was a perfect getaway.

I was armed with my Fujifilm for landscapes and my Nikon and the F/4 300 mm lens for zoning in on the animals. I was not disappointed. In my few trips to Point Reyes, I didn’t see Tule Elk at the preserve. However, it pays to go with a true nature photographer, Laura, who knows the area. She picked me up early in the morning, and we found the elk. A first for me! The early bird does get the worm!!

Next we drove to where the elephant seals were. When we arrived, Park rangers were on the beach and we were able to get a great view of the seals.

Along the shore, we spotted a brown pelican who performed for us: swimming, flying, landing and diving!

So far this was a great adventure, but it’s not over. The rest will be in part 2. Stay tuned!

The more I photograph, the behinder I get: Sacramento Zoo

I love Thursdays at the Sacramento Zoo because it’s bone day–the day they give the big cats bones to snack on. For a photographer, that means they are likely to be out and chomping. We went to the zoo on a Thursday in December 2021. We hadn’t been for a while and the animals didn’t disappoint us.

The Jaguar was enjoying his bone.

The lions weren’t as cooperative. I had to go back a couple of times to get a good photo of only the male.

The orangutans were out and playful, putting on a show.

The newest zoo addition is Chigüiro the Capybara–the biggest rodent in the world. He’s sort of cute for a rodent!

Did you know that the Okapi are related to the giraffe? You might think the zebra would be a better choice, but no. They are beautiful no matter who they are related to.

One of my favorites, the white pelican, was preening himself. He lives with the flamingos. He has only one wing, and will never leave the zoo. Fortunately, he was facing the right way for me to photograph him. He’s another of my favorites.

The flamingos weren’t doing much. At one point, they were all sleeping. I happened to be talking to a docent about the flamingos when I saw an opportunity to photograph one asleep with its feathers being blown by a slight breeze. As I was shooting, this particular one opened its eye as if to say “Can’t you see I’m asleep!” This image won picture of the night in the open category at the Sierra Camera Club. Patience prevails.

I’ve renewed my zoo membership, so there will be more visits and more blog posts about these animals.

Catching Up: Swans at Mather Lake

Things happen and sometimes get us off track. I realized that I haven’t been keeping up with my personal posts that I do on Wednesdays. So….I’ll make up for lost time.

Mather Lake is a small lake, and part of the Sacramento Regional Parks System, at the southern end of Sacramento. It’s a great place to photograph swans and other small wildlife like beavers, etc. So I said I’d go and crossed my fingers, hoping there would be swans more in the middle of the lake so I could capture them with my 300 mm lens.

Again, I will thank my friend Ray who made me a short monopod for my heavy lens. Wow, what a difference! We walked around the lake and I was happy. There were many Mute Swans, and some were by the shore! Here’s some of what I captured.

We didn’t see any other critters, but I was happy with these swans. I think they are so graceful in the water. On our way back to our cars, I spotted a juvenile swan. I looked it up and it was a juvenile. It was by itself so maybe it was mature enough to be on its own.

This is not my “Swan Song.” There will be more catching up posts, in addition to my regular LAPC weekly post, soon.

Lens Artists Challenge #181: Double Dipping

This week Tina encourages us to share photos from other challenges in which we participate or places in which we post. I’m typically not one for taking part in challenges except of course for LAPC. For the last year and a half, I have waited, with joy and anticipation, until 9 a.m. PST for the latest LAPC challenge to be posted. Then I would formulate my response and go through my archives. This was an enjoyable experience as I revisited former outings, bringing back fond memories.

And there I stay. You can call me one-challenge-Anne! But I do post in a few other places. First is the juried competition club Sierra Camera Club. I have gain so much knowledge by having my photos judged and critiqued. I’ve also found critiques of fellow members’ photos invaluable. Here are some of my past entries. With each entry, I choose a picture that will give me feedback in different areas.

The Sierra Camera Club is a member of the Photographic Society of America which I also joined. I quickly joined one of their Projected Image Division groups (PID). Each month we upload two images to be critiqued by the group members. I used the knowledge gained in the Sierra Camera Club to good use while looking at and critiquing the other group members’ photos. It’s all a wonderful learning experience. Here are some of my entries.

And finally, my own group of seniors, Camera Totin’ Days. We go out once a week, take it easy, enjoy shooting our photographs and then eat lunch. Here are some images from our outings.

Now that John, Sophia and I are joining the Lens-Artists team, I’m looking forward to some new experiences.  Patti will be leading our next challenge so be sure to visit her Pilotfish blog or to watch for her post in the Lens-Artists Reader section.

An uneventful photo outing: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

It was windy. Maybe that’s why the birds were scarce at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, near Willows, this month. The driving tour at this wildlife refuge is a 6-mile circle with three places to get out of the car. Otherwise we are to be in the car. So, it pays to have a long lens and be on the correct side of the car to photograph out the window.

Our (Ray, Richard were with me.) first trip around, there were hardly any birds. We thought it was probably because of the wind. I didn’t even see flocks of snow geese in the water. Other wildlife that usually inhabit the refuge found a better spot or were hiding.

Since it takes 1 1/2 hours to get there and a lot of gas, I was disappointed, and soon got hungry. We had a great meal in town and then went back to the refuge. It wasn’t as windy this time, and this is when I got the bulk of my pictures (Still down from previous visits.).

The snow geese were back in numbers. We were lucky to catch a fly off.

Now for the really sad part: the only bald eagles we saw were out of range for my Nikon 7100 and prime F/4 300 lens. But that didn’t stop me! You know what they say, “Garbage in; garbage out!” I worked on those eagles, but couldn’t get them to the point of putting them in the blog. I will tell you it was a pair with their juvenile.

This is why I titled this post “An uneventful photo outing!” Maybe next time we will have better luck.

I hope you’ve been having a great holiday season and will have a wonderful New Year!

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #179: Serene

This is serendipitous, my photo outing today brought our small group to Mather Lake— a swan habitat in Rancho Cordova. And, Patti’s challenge was SERENE. Perfect!

I find swans relaxing. They swim so gracefully. And I like it when their wings are up. Even though it was foggy, drab, cloudy and cold, I found warmth in the swans presence.

And I was lucky. I’m somewhat stymied by having a short telephoto lens, for my Nikon 7100, that’s a 300 prime. This means that wildlife has to be close enough for me to capture them. Fortunately, some of the swans were lakeside and others were swimming in the middle. Even typing this, I feel serene. This is what I’ve edited so far.

This swan was close enough for me to photograph it and its shadow.

Next I have a series of a swan fishing (I think!). It looks under the water with its head fully submerged. Next it’s still skimming the water before looking up. Last, with head up water drips from its beak.

They are also graceful in flight. It’s always a surprise when they take to the air. They didn’t fly too far off the water. I do wish they would yell, “Hey photographer, I’m going to fly now!”

I almost thought I’d have to leave without an image of a swan swimming with its wings up. As I was walking back to the car, there it was! Happy! Happy!

These swans cheered me up on a very drab day, bringing me serenity and joy. Thanks Patti!

Lens-Artists Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

“…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.” writes Priscilla of scillagrace in her challenge blog post! I gave this a good amount of thought. A lot of people, places and things all capture my attention, teach me and win my affection, but one thing has brought it all to me–photography.

I remember being at a turning point in my life as I was giving up my business. You know when to call it quits when technology forces you into something you don’t like. My unwanted tech challenge was social media marketing. I just didn’t want to play the new copywriting game. But what could I do to fill the void?

After a lot of thinking, I chose photography. I enjoyed it as a returning student in my 40s with my semester in Photo 1. All journalism students had to take it and all the photography students had to take Journalism 1. But picking it up again 30 years later, going from a manual film camera to a digital SLR was challenging, fun and wonderful.

My adventure introduced me to amazing people. Photographers are willing to help a newbie. And many of them have become my dear friends. I’ve joined the Sierra Camera Club where you enter photos into a monthly juried competition. I didn’t and still don’t care about the scoring, I wanted to learn. I felt that my ability had reached a plateau. Through this group, I’ve learned how to process whites, that pictures should tell a story and composition (cropping) tips.

By going out with my photo buddies, I’ve also learned to appreciate what is around me like the beautiful roses in my yard, animals in their natural habitat and the beauty of trees and their shadows.

I also entered the In Focus Competition, in Columbia State Park, along with my friend Sandy who lives in Sonora. Two of my entries made it “on the wall,” meaning they were accepted. The water droplet made it to the final table, but didn’t win. That was an experience. Both Sandy and I were elated just to be on “the wall.”

I see things differently when I carry my camera, I’m more aware of my surroundings and enjoy being with other photographers. So I guess you would agree that photography has captured my attention, won my affection and taught me a thing or two