Heat and drought! Not a good combination. We are in the midst of wildfire season here in the west, and Northern California is getting its share. But what makes us smile are the sunflowers. Yes, it’s also sunflower season here.
In the middle of June, the wonderful Yolo Arts & Ag Project brought us to the Elkhorn Basin Ranch in West Sacramento. It was going to be a hot day, so we got there early. Artists and photographers were lined up to sketch, paint and photograph the cheerful sunflowers.
Now these sunflowers were grown mainly for seed to ship overseas, and to my surprise, they were not super tall. I’m short and I always have a difficult time to photograph fields even with my three-step ladder. I was in photo heaven. Also the farm manager allowed us to walk into the field a little bit.
So, here are some of my images from that morning.
An artist stops to smile for the camera.
Before we reached our destination, we did stop to take images of this orchard.
The Elkhorn Basin Ranch is owned by the Yolo Land Trust and leased to Don Beeman and Garcia Farms.
I love suburbia with all its conveniences, but I also like to visit the forests, beaches and country sides. The Yolo Arts & Ag program allows me to take my camera onto ranches, orchards and farms that open their facilities to artists and photographers for two half days a month. It’s a great opportunity for us to wander in and out of barns, see old machinery and have a glimpse of a life we don’t live.
The Hungry Hallow Ranch in Capay was a large facility that gave us access to the entire property. But when we entered, we mostly saw machinery in barns, old vehicles, young olive trees and hay bales. Marlene, Ray and I said that there was nothing new here. Richard was excited saying that this is what he loved to photograph.
I think Richard was right. I did find a lot to photograph and learned a lesson. Don’t judge a photography shoot by first glance. I made the most of our morning. I took close ups of machinery.
Then there was an artist painting.. There were many, but I liked this shot the most.
And the olive orchard. You can see that the trees were young.
And the barns.
I also found a grape vine or two, a wood pile large enough to cover the side of a barn and an awesome tree.
Fortunately I’m getting used to driving the various county roads in the rural areas of Yolo County. I was alone on this July expedition to the CR25 Ranch in Esparto, but remembered some of the roads from last month’s journey when Marlene road with me. The CR25 Ranch is located on the County Road 25!
I like getting out into fresh air and drive around the countryside. And, I’m lucky that this scenery is a little more than an hour away. This ranch is not as large as some of the others I’ve been to, but there was enough to keep me busy for 1 1/2 hours.
This horse was alone in a pasture. He was midway, but my Fuji camera with lens extended to the full 200 mm was able to capture him in focus. I cropped him in Lightroom. Here’s the result.
Here are some landscapes of the ranch, showing pastures and barns.
This ranch may have been small, but it did have its share of “ranch art!”
A few of the cows came down from mid-pasture to get some water. One of them stood out. Was he trying to stick his tongue out at me. Also, it was good that it wasn’t a frosty winter day or else that tongue would have stuck to the watering trough.
I’m enjoying the new camera and still learning more about its capabilities. It does more than I’ll ever use! Where will Yolo Arts take us this month?
It’s time again to wander, or should I say get lost, down those country roads in Yolo County. Each year Yolo Art & Ag sponsors monthly visits for artists and photographers to farms in the county. I have certainly benefited from these sojourns. I grew up in the city, and I’ve been able to see first hand how a farm operates.
Harrison Farms, featured a sunflower field and a some farm animals. When Marlene and I arrived, we stopped at the sunflowers first. Typically, bee keepers put hives near the fields and this was no exception! But the bees are so busy, they don’t bother someone who is allergic like me! As a field, this one wasn’t spectacular but individually the flowers were fun and pretty to photograph.
And then there was the farm itself. The pond was photographic.
There was also a small garden.
They also had a walnut tree grove.
It was an easy and fun visit. I wonder where we will go in July?
Finally, a Tuesday with just the threat of rain! This was great timing since Yolo Arts and Ag had scheduled time for artists at Capay Valley Ranches in Capay Valley. This organization provides artists access to various ranches and farms in Yolo County. Painters will bring their easels, brushes and whatever medium they use and photographers bring tripods and cameras.
They let us roam the venue at will, giving us the opportunity to get great images and to get a feel for what life on a ranch is. Capay Valley is home to almond orchards. The trees are normally in bloom now; but with the cold and wet weather, they are not in full bloom.
This was disappointing, but we made the best of it, and enjoyed the partial sunlight. Oh, the wind was furious and gave us an additional challenge! I love my walk around 18 – 140 lens. Even with wind, it can stop action.
Here are some of my images from that windy, cold morning. It was great to be outside without an umbrella!
I can’t believe I haven’t posted since July 2nd. Has life been that busy for me? I didn’t think so! Now, with this post, I hope to get back in the posting groove. I may not have been posting, but I’ve been shooting.
And, since this is about the progression of my photographic journey, I’m proud to say that I now close out of most article-type tutorials because I know the information. So this means I need to focus on post processing. I keep saying that, but I truly need to carry through with it. I’m competent with Lightroom, but Photoshop is still a mystery. I’ll have to just make the time and get into it. Maybe that will take my photography to the next level.
But, on to the sunflowers, or sunnies, as we Sacramento photographers call them. The images in this post are from two outings. These sunnies were located near the small town of Yolo in Yolo County. Photo buddy Karen was our guide for both trips. One is in the morning and the other was at sundown. Of course, when I try to catch a sunset, there are no clouds! However, the flowers had that golden light glow.
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.
We were so fortunate to be invited to tour the Woodland Opera House recently. In fact, the tour was given by the Board President and fellow photographer Karen Alexander. With me, Marlene and Rita in attendance, she began our tour with a history lesson.
Built in 1885, the opera house was the first of its kind to serve the Sacramento Valley. However in 1892 a fire destroyed the building which was rebuilt in 1895/1896, using materials from the original structure. The Opera House flourished until 1913 when, with declining ticket sales, the theater closed. It remained unused for almost 60 years. In 1971 it was purchased by the Yolo County Historical Society, declared a state historic park in 1976 and was deeded to the State of California in 1980. Restoration work continued, and the Opera House reopened in 1989.
Today it is a California Historical Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. And, it is active, holding productions from September to June, running a summer youth theater camp and a Young People’s Theater Program that runs throughout the year. They also provide school day low cost ticket prices for students for current productions.
As we continued our tour, Karen explained how they tried to use original furniture and seating during the restoration. This resulted in a beautiful, small theater where there are no bad seats. Our backstage tour brought us down to the green room where actors gather when not on stage. Dressing rooms were located on either side of the large room. Karen also explained how the lighting and staging was done.
It was an amazing few hours. And, it was amazing how this opera house rose from the ashes twice–literately and figuratively. Take a look!
Yes, its been raining here in parched Northern California. And, we do want it to stay. Gem (my dog) and I got caught in it while we were out for our morning walk. He got slightly confused when I wouldn’t let him stop, sniff and pee. He doesn’t mind getting wet, but I do!
This post is dedicated to my friend and outing chauffeur Greg who was hospitalized last week. He’s so cagey that he hasn’t let the doctors diagnose his symptoms yet. However, he is feeling better and is back to his old sarcastic self. In fact, our Knights Landing trip was the last one he was able to attend. I’m glad he’s feeling and doing better. Either Marlene or I will be driving for a while, but we will still have him guide us in back road adventures.
In my last post, I promised to show you images of Stingrayz Beach Boardwalk and Marina. While the name sounds fancy, the place is not. This is a place to have good old fashioned fun. Mostly operating during the summer months, folks come here to eat, listen to music, camp and enjoy the company of good people. It’s also a photographers dream. Marlene and I shot handheld, but Greg shot his usual HDR on the tripod. I’m looking forward to seeing his pictures when he’s up to it.
Why is this place a photographers dream? It’s full of surprises: a small boat in a tree, a bus sawed in half with each painted, a grandstand decorated with outboard motors, and lots of small collectibles. Even though it was mid day and the stage was empty, I had fun, and the owner/manager was gracious and easy to talk with. And let it rain!
Yes, someone did mention that small town near the Sacramento River, and, of course, we had to go. We had no preconception regarding Knight’s Landing. Greg did say that there was really nothing there, but he took us anyway. He was almost correct–there was an old trestle foundation left from the old railroad days, and a quirky bar and grill.
Knight’s Landing is another census-designated place in Yolo County. Founded in 1843 by William Knight a doctor from Baltimore Maryland. it’s located on the Sacramento River in the northeastern portion of the county. In its early days it was a steamboat landing and point of communication between people east and west of the river.
Knights Landing was founded in 1843, by Dr. William Knight, a practicing physician from Baltimore, Maryland. On March 25, 1890, the Knight’s Landing branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad was completed and ready for business, and later the completion of the bridge across the river added immensely to the prosperity of the town. Today empty tracks and the remnants of the railroad trestle on the river are the only reminders of this town’s glory days.
Leaving the beauty of the river behind, we went to Stingrayz Beach Boardwalk Marina. Well, it sounds fancy doesn’t it? It wasn’t, but it was fun. I understand that the joint jumps on the weekend with music and party goers. You’ll see what I mean when you look at the images.
We did stop in Woodland on our way home, but I’ll show you those in another post about the Woodland Opera House. Meanwhile visit Knights Landing through my camera lens. In my next post you can experience Stingrayz.