My frustration has nothing to do with my outing to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) in Willows, California. It has everything to do with creating a calendar of my photos that I give as holiday gifts each year. It’s usually a joy to create this and would only take a couple of hours, resizing images and placing them in the calendar. This year it took about 5 hours and two calls to the Costco Photo website.
Apparently, they have a new website, and things don’t work the way they used to. My problem was that it kept warning me that my photos weren’t sized right. The two representatives gave me two different sizes. The last, the largest pixel count, only worked on the smaller images. So, my calendar is full of images three to six on a page.
I could go on, but it won’t help. Let’s concentrate on the wildlife refuge. I went with Laura for a full day of shooting. We started out at SWR and ended at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for a sunset that did not disappoint.
I had my F/4, 300 mm lens attached to my D7100. It was a great day. We saw a deer that almost came up to the car, a juvenile bald eagle enjoying a meal, and the usual feathered wildlife.
SWR is a driving tour, and you can’t get out of the car. So quite a few times, this senior climbed up to the sunroof so I could shoot the birds on the driver’s side! Did you get that I’m a senior!
Anyway, take a look at what we found. And, next year I may not do a photo calendar. I don’t like frustration! I’m glad I have photography to calm me down.
I couldn’t find this beautiful duck in my bird book. Can anyone help?
Same with this one.
This might be a northern harrier.
They are so cute when they play.
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron up close
A 3-point buck.
Crossing the pond and watching us.
He made it to land!
This looks like a Harrier. I usually can’t get them in flight.
You’ve got to love Laura’s enthusasim when it comes to photography. I do. So, on a recent weekend morning, about 8 a.m., when she suggested we go down to Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP), a nature preserve of 46,000 acres, to catch the tail end of the morning’s golden hour, I scrambled. I always need that push to get up early, stay up late, etc. Laura gives me that push.
In my rush to get out, I left my backpack that contained, snacks, hiking shoes etc. at home. Another truth about me: I will shoot in Birkenstocks whenever I can because my feet don’t like to be confined (a bad arthritic toe). Luckily, we were walking on the dirt paths around CRP.
But we weren’t lucky enough to catch the last of the golden hour because there wasn’t any! Fog! This was the second time we caught the morning fog at CRP. The last time we were able to catch glistening spider webs on plants. That morning there were none. The rains had washed away the webs and the spiders hadn’t returned yet.
Because of the fog, I decided to use my Sigma 2.8, 17 – 70 mm lens; but, that meant I didn’t have the ability to catch the birds out in the distance. When the fog lifted, I switched to my Nikon 55 – 300 mm lens so I was able to catch a few birds.
In the end, we did get the sun’s glow and the moody fog. All in all, it was a fun morning.
A scene of fog and reflection.
The water was so still.
No neutral density filters needed.
The fog jus sits on the water.
The fog has lifted off the water here.
Wide angle view of the marsh.
A great blue heron is fishing.
He goes for his prey.
After success, he moves on.
A red-winged black bird.
I couldn’t find this one in my bird book. Maybe a young Goldfinch?
We’re back in 2016. November to be exact. Laura and I went in search of Sandhill Cranes. I’ve tried to capture their images a few times before, but was never successful. Even though they are large birds, they stand in the middle of the fields so my 300 mm lens has a difficult time. After a couple of years, I was beginning to think it was personal–they didn’t like me!
The Sandhill Cranes are migratory and are only in the area a few months of each year. They come in November and are usually gone by February.
I have resisted buying a lens that would zoom out larger than 300 mm because I really can’t handhold anything heavier. And, lets be honest, I would only need it when I shoot wildlife. So…..I guess I can do without it. That’s what I’ve been telling myself, but when I looked at my pictures after a recent visit to the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge with Laura and Marlene, I saw mostly grainy images. They were in focus, but not tack sharp.
I knew I’d have a problem before I agreed to go on the outing, but I thought I’d give it a try. Even though it was overcast, I had hope. With the current rains there would probably be more birds than last year, and I knew I’d get something. I did. Thanks to Laura’s sun roof, I got some fantastic shots of a bald eagle in a tree above us. With my lens all the way out, I could get in nice and close. That was one of the eagles we saw.
We saw two other bald eagles that day. One was too far away to shoot even with Laura’s 400 mm. The other was a distance, but we could shoot it. Although in focus, the images were grainy. After looking at my almost 1,000 shots for the day, I’m thinking of getting a 400 mm zoom lens.
When we shoot wildlife at a refuge or preserve, we can’t get out of the car and have to shoot out the window. The window (which is all the way down) becomes a tripod when a small pillow is placed on the frame. I could also use the heavier lens on a tripod. It’s rather limiting, but I could get a better shot of wildlife.
Right now, I’m checking the used departments of online stores. My goal is to find an affordable factory refurbished lens, so I won’t be in the buy or not to buy quandary.
A flock of Snow Geese.
Juvenile White Faced Ibis?
Ring Necked Pheasant
I don’t know what this little one is.
I think this is a raptor.
Juvenile Bald Eagle.
The same bird.
Although more than last year, the water level was still down at the refuge.
With my 300 mm I could still capture landscapes.
This was probably a walkway, but there’s a slight amount of water now.
I’ve been there several times and have posted images. But, there’s always something new to be found whether it’s wildlife or plants. We go there to walk and shoot, but there’s more going on. From their website, here is what they have and offer to the general public:
“100 acres of beautiful gardens for active recreation or peaceful contemplation
The loop is 3.5 miles, and you’ll find people walking and riding bikes. Families enjoy the scenery, bring picnic lunches and you can find students studying during school. And, it changes with each season.
This trip, we caught the last of the Fall colors, a few birds and the crisp cool air. Take a look.
I’m just wondering if they teach the Great Egrets to pose.
Ready for take off.
A Blue Heron up close.
He’s watching for a fish. Laura has the picture of him catching one.
Canna blooming by the stream. The sun was so bright that the background is so dark. I like it that way.
Twisted tree bark yielding to the wind.
A family on the walking path.
The wind was blowing and the green muck collected at the end of the stream.
Confession, I’m not a birder; but my friend Laura is. While I’m looking for the big picture, Laura is looking for smaller things–birds! We celebrated her birthday recently by going to the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area or affectionately known locally as the Yolo Bypass.
There are two parts to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, both dedicated to watching and shooting–one with a camera and the other, with a gun. We stayed on the auto tour route and away from the hunters. With Linda in the back seat and Laura and I in the front (She was driving.) we made our way around the wetlands that had very little water, but enough to attract some birds.
Laura, of course, was our spotter. She’s amazing and the reason I bought my very own bird book. I’m learning slowly and can name some; but I sometimes fall back on saying, “There’s a white thing!” Okay, I fall back on it a lot.
Well, I did say I wasn’t a birder! Next post will feature the second half of our birthday photography outing.
We arrived a little late, but did get some of the golden hour.
Birds and a Great Egret are feeding.
In this view you can see a working farm.
A Great Egret is front and center, and a couple of ring-billed gulls are in the background.
I wasn’t able to ID the main bird in this picture.
The remaining pictures are of the Great Blue Heron.
Okay, that was a sneaky way to get you to read this blog, but it’s true. Recently Marlene and I went to Negro Bar another popular spot along the American River.
This bar was quite different from Sailor Bar. You couldn’t walk along the shore line, but it had a small beach and a boat launch. Most noticed were the absence of birds. We knew our sunset would be wimpy and there would be no birds to dress it up.
And, there was much more activity at Negro Bar. Kayaks, paddle boards and small fishing boats came and went while we were waiting for the sun to set. I’m still trying to capture distance with an 18 – 140 mm lens. I think now that I’m more sure footed, I might go back to carrying two cameras so I could put a longer lens on my D3100. Also different was my using my new monopod and wearing tennis shoes. Both worked out fine!
I’m also feeling a shift in my photography. I’m seeing the picture better before I shoot. This could also be stated as, I’m seeing the possibilities and taking the opportunity to finish it in Lightroom. My framing and composition is also getting better.
I still have a way to go in processing. Working only with Lightroom is limiting, and once I learn Photoshop and other programs, I’ll be able to see more opportunities. I’m looking forward to doing that next year.
In the meantime, take a look at the second bar I’ve visited…along the American River!
The golden hour adds a beautiful color to everything.
Even a goose.
Looking out from the beach area.
The stairs up to the parking lot.
A paddle board ready for its rider.
The rider paddles out into the river.
A guy in a kayak is nearby, having just launched.
The paddle board is like a surf board. I’m sure his feet are cold.
A bridge eye’s view. Two in one.
A couple is coming back into the dock.
This woman came in on the blue kayak. I’m not sure who owns the yellow one.
I liked the way the bark is just falling off this log. Some logs had already lost their bark.
We walked away from the shore and along the path.
Two fishermen talking.
Here’s the paddle boarder again.
The setting sun. This was as spectacular as it got.
Sometimes you just have to ask. Let me explain. Greg, Linda and I were at Sailor Bar, a popular boat launch area on the American River in Sacramento County. We arrived late afternoon to shoot and catch the sunset. Greg, who enjoys meeting and talking with people, was talking with a man who offered Greg a free monopod. Not liking monopods, Greg graciously declined.
I thought, “That’s what I get for not being outgoing and striking up conversations!” They talked some more and again the question about the monopod came up. I then decided to act upon my need for one.
I walked over and said to the gentleman, “Did I hear you offer a free monopod? I could use one.” The guy was happy to go back to his house and bring it back to me. All it needed was a ball head and it was a Manfrotto. Great, I have a Manfrotto ball head on my extra tripod. This monopod, without ball head, is worth $200. What a gift! The sunset wasn’t much, but getting that monopod was something, and all I had to do was ask!
The river scene from the boat ramp.
More from the boat ramp.
Walking along the rocky shoreline.
This goose was thirsty.
He didn’t mind being photographed.
Grasses along the shoreline.
The river as seen from the shore.
It slowly goes behind the horizon.
Not a big display of color, but interesting clouds.
I’ve learned a lot this year. More than I did in my first two years of shooting. Why did it take me so long? I know the answer. I psyched myself into believing that learning was too difficult. Why did I do that?
I had just closed down my business of writing marketing text and articles, and coaching business owners who wanted to sell their business by speaking engagements. That I knew well and had expertise in. But photography?
When I bought my D3100 and read the manual (I always read manuals!), I was amazed at how complicated digital photography seemed to be. And, that’s how I started out. From there I took baby steps with urging from photographers I met on meetups. Some even challenged me. I took on Jayne’s HDR challenge and was amazed at how easy the software was to use. Why did I wait so long. Shooting RAW instead of JPEG–that took 1 1/2 years! Mary pushed me towards the manual setting. I’ve been shooting manual since January 1st. I procrastinated because of fear. It’s easy and gives you the most control.
Taking on the 365 challenge has helped propel me forward. I now help new photographers on occasion and have started a photography club within Toastmasters International, District 39. Next year, I want to tackle processing. I do minimal editing in Lightroom, and want to do more.
I love photography, and it won’t take me as long to move forward. Here are some reasons I love it so much.
It wasn’t supposed to be a journey’s end, but it was. We were going to take a day on our way home, from Sedona, to drive through Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, but I fell on the way to Bakersfield. It’s amazing how people rush to help when you have gray hair! I’m okay–just a couple scrapes, one big bruise and a sore shoulder. With that happening, I decided it would be best to head home.
Yes, I’m disappointed because those National Parks are my favorite. I’ll try to get there in the fall. In the meantime, I want to show you a little of the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. This isn’t like a safari park where you drive through and the animals are walking about. This park is a sanctuary. On this trip, we saw a small animal show, a tiger swim and play show and rode through an area where the animals roamed free. You’ll see from the pictures that these animals are very used to humans, especially the giraffes! The zebras can become a little testy!
Tuzigoot is a National Monument of Native American ruins. When you see the small rooms, you’ll wonder what the Southern Sinagua tribe would think if they saw our large dwellings! We decided not to visit their other dwellings, Montezuma Castle and Well, because we saw them during our last visit.
Caterpillar Point was our last stop on this trip. It was a rocky stream bed, some small water falls and lots of wildflowers including a century cactus bloom.
Take a look at our last two days before we ended our journey and headed home.