Lens Artists Challenge #245: Environments

I love where I live even though I came here kicking and screaming. Sacramento and its proximity to beautiful environments like rivers, forest, farms, ranches and cities makes this a great location for photographers. In fact, I’ve blogged about it many times and have shown beautiful images of my favorite spots. So, in response to Tina’s challenge, I’m going to show you a recent new environment I traveled to.

Lifou Island “is the largest, most populous and most important island of the Loyalty Islands, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. With a total area of 1,207 km2 (466 sq mi), Lifou is located east of Australia at 20.9°S 167.2°E. (Wikipedia).”

Among our choices for a ship’s tour of the island was “Luecila Beach and Scenic Drive,” and that’s the one we picked. Our drive to the beach was a little more than one hour. We did see flowers and traditional houses as promised in the tour’s description. Photographing through the bus window was nearly impossible. I can describe the area as beautiful, lush and green. What amazed me were the houses with huts in their yards. I asked the guide about the huts. He replied that they were for guests who come to visit. Hospitality?

The beach was worth the long drive. It was beautiful. When we arrived, I was hungry and tried to purchase a piece of papaya fruit. The women in the kiosk didn’t take credit cards or American dollars–just francs. They ended up giving it to me without payment. It was delicious. I thought they were very gracious.

Sandy and Peg didn’t want to walk on the beach so I discovered its beauty on my own. Here’s a gallery.

I’m so glad to have walked this beach since I was sick and couldn’t see Mystery Island. I spent two days in our cabin. That’s life!

This was one of the new environments I experienced during my trip to Australia. Please remember to link to Tina’s original post when you respond and use the Lens-Artists tag. I’ll be sharing more of my trip on my blog. I enjoyed your responses to Siobhan’s challenge of Glowing Moments. Your interpretations were varied and creative. Next week, Patti will present the challenge so look for her post.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens Artists Challenge #244: Glowing Moments

There are some moments that take our breath away, and it usually involves the sun. When it’s not shining things look dull and our mood is affected. When it is shining especially at sunup and sundown, our photographic juices get going. Guest host Siobhen of Bend Branches encourages us to post images of glowing moments that are special to us.

You know I love flowers. My friend Ray and I went to photograph a small tulip patch recently. I wanted to practice with my new lens. I’m doing better with it and think there’s just one more hurdle to overcome. I like how the sun makes the leaves almost transparent in places and highlights the flower.

The sun’s glow also helps create shadows. Notice the glow and shadows on the house and on the lawn. These were taken in Luray Virginia.

A trip a few years ago was special for me because we were with my cousins in Palm Desert. The sun is so special in the desert. The giraffe, with its special glow, was taken during sunset at the Living Desert in Palm Springs and the other two in the Painted Canyon, Mecca Hills.

My last examples are of waking up to a sunrise on a blanket of snow in Reno. These were taken in December last year at my son’s home. What a treat!

It was fun going through my archives to find glowing images. Thank you Siobhen for this relaxing challenge. Please remember to link to Siobhen’s post and use the Lens-Artist tag in your response. I enjoyed everyone’s interpretation of tricks last week. They were imaginative and beautiful. Thank you Donna. Next week Tina will be challenging us, so be sure to look for her post.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Testing a new lens: The Sacramento Zoo

I had two motivators for visiting the Sacramento Zoo recently. 1. I was gone for almost a month and hadn’t seen the new baby giraffe now named Cheyenne and, 2. I wanted to test out a new lens. With my Nikon, I had an 18-200mm lens which was a perfect walk-around lens. Unfortunately, Fujifilm doesn’t make a lens with that type of zoom. Recently Tamron came out with an 18-300mm lens for Fuji and Sony. So I bought the Fuji mount. The only drawback is its lack of an aperture ring on the lens. I was told that I could assign that function to the front dial and use the top dial to change the aperture.

When I purchased the lens, I was told that Fuji would make the switch automatically and when I put my Fuji lens back on it would revert back. I played with it while at the zoo and didn’t quite do it correctly. I ended up with sharp but noisy images. Thank heavens for Topaz!

The zoo didn’t disappoint. The cheetah was walking around; not running.

The red panda was walking the branches instead of sleeping.

The giraffes were being giraffes. Have you ever seen a two-headed, six-legged giraffe? We did get to see Cheyenne, but she was behind a fence and quickly went back inside with her mother.

The river otters were in their hammock.

And the lions were preparing for a nap.

One of the Okapi was out eating.

I almost forgot the alligator.

So, this was my morning at the zoo with friends Marlene, Laura and Ray. It’s good to be home and doing photography with friends.

Lens Artists Challenge #243: It’s tricky

Happy April Fool’s Day everyone. And thank you Donna for this tricky challenge. Tricky for me because I don’t create creative images. But I do like to play with Photoshop filters. I enjoy trying one by one to see what they would do to an image. It’s fun. Here are some examples.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I like to zoom my lens in and out and slow my shutter speed down. Yes, I’ll stop at a neighborhood carnival just to take pictures. And holiday lights are perfect subjects too.

Here are some single shots:

I’ll admit that this was a difficult challenge for me since I’m not a truly creative person. I can see an opportunity and take it while composing a picture, and I’m venturing a little bit into Photoshop. So Donna, thanks for the gentle push. Please link to Donna’s post when you reply and use the Lens-Artists tag so it will show up in the Reader.

Thanks to all of you for showing us your New Experiences last week. I enjoyed them all and learned more about plays, bees, hang gliding and more. Next week our guest host, Siobhan of Bend Branches will be leading our challenge, so look for her post.

Interested to learn more about the Lens-Artists Challenge and join us, click here for more information.

The Adventure Continues: Sydney Australia

What I described as my dream come true began here in my LAPC challenge post. My dream was to visit Australia and Leanne Cole. But my journey didn’t end there. My friends (who invited me to tag along with them and their family) had arranged for us to visit Sydney and Cruise the South Pacific, visiting New Caledonia. My previous post showed you Melbourne and sights along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Port Campbell.

From there, we flew to Sydney to begin another adventure. Our adventure began with not being able to hook up with Uber for a ride to our hotel. We ended up taking a taxi to Bankstown where we stayed for a few days until it was time to board our cruise ship. One day was spent in a shopping center, picking up items we needed. Another day was spent doing laundry. My friend Sandy caught a cold. You get the idea. We relaxed and rested. We did get into Sydney one day and took a Hop On and Hop Off Tour Bus.

My friends and their family had already been to Sydney, so I was eagerly looking out the window. They didn’t seem to want to get off and I didn’t see any reason to do so. Here are pictures taken through the bus window while it was moving! Again, like in Melbourne, the buildings were amazing. There were many small parks scattered throughout the city.

We did get off to see the Opera House, and we weren’t the only tourists there!

So that was our one day visit to Sydney. I was impressed with the amount of parks and the beautiful buildings. I also appreciated the rest we received after a whirlwind week in Melbourne. Seeing wild cockatoos and hearing other types of birds was also a treat.

Next we board the Carnival Splendor and head for New Caledonia. Stay tuned.


Experiencing something for the first time can be exhilarating, exhausting, and engaging. Looking forward to that experience can create feelings like anxiousness, happiness, and anxiety. It’s even more exaggerated when the experience is something you wished for but thought would never happen.

My recent trip to Australia falls into that last category. My wish: to go to Australia and photograph with Leanne Cole in Melbourne. You see, when she was in the U.S. in 2015, I had the great opportunity to take her to Santa Cruz and go down to Monterey for a day. She was visiting a friend in Saratoga. We both remember that day. I was amazed at how at ease she was with her camera. And the thought of visiting with her in Australia was a dream come true.

This exciting trip was with my friends Sandy and Peg who are sisters. They invited me along as their adopted sister. Peg was detained a day so Sandy and I flew the long trip together.

I had a day alone with Leanne, walking Melbourne, when Sandy went to pick up Peg at the airport. We had breakfast, lunch and met Sandy and Peg for dinner. What a wonderful day that was. Melbourne is an exciting city with amazing architecture and the Yarra river running through it. Here is a sample of images from that day.

The next morning Leanne picked us up and took us to Port Campbell where we spent 2 full days photographing iconic scenes—places I have seen in Leanne’s blog many times.

On the way to Port Campbell

Leanne had arranged a wonderful rental house for us at Port Campbell where we enjoyed our 2-night stay. We explored the beaches and sights.

On our way back to Melbourne, Leanne took us to a rainforest, Maist’s Rest.

I had never been in a rainforest before, and this was outstanding. The ferns (which I love) were huge. Here’s a peak.

We had a wonderful time and experienced new things. This was the highlight of my almost 1-month vacation. Thank you, Leanne, for driving and being our very own tour guide. I totally enjoyed our girl friend time and the fun with all four of us. We all appreciated your time. And I’ll admit that Australia has great coffee!

There will be future posts on my blog about this trip. From Melbourne we journeyed to Sydney and then cruised for 11 days. Maybe I can fit some into an LAPC post.

But today, your challenge is to show and tell us about a new experience you had. It could be a trip, the birth of a child or grandchild, a road trip to a new place, the possibilities are endless. As you respond, please link to this post and use the Lens-Artists tag.

We all enjoyed your responses to Sofia’s challenge of Spring. Your narratives and images were imaginative and beautiful. Some of you even got in the Spring mood while walking in snow! Next week, April 1, Donna Holland will be challenging you and she’s not fooling around! Be sure to look for her post.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens-Artists Challenge #241 – Spring

I have two favorite seasons: Spring and Autumn. Choosing between them, although difficult, Spring would win. Both are photographic wonders, but I don’t have to travel so far to experience Spring’s beauty. Sacramento is a wonderland of blossoms and regeneration of wildlife. This week, Sofia of Photographias encourages us to share our thoughts and images of Spring.

Every Spring Ananda Village, in Nevada City, volunteers plant amazing tulips for visitors. It is getting so popular that we now have to make reservations.

North Table Mountain was formed by volcanic activity and has an array of beautiful wildflowers each Spring.

Speaking of wildflowers, there is nothing more beautiful than a mountain of wild California Poppies.

There are also beautiful rose gardens in the Sacramento area. These were taken at the McKinley Park Rose Garden.

Each Spring the owners of Maple Leaf Gardens used to host an open house for the public.

Wild mushrooms also make an appearance in Spring.

Spring is also the time for birds to nest.

Each Spring, geese families strut around the pond in my neighborhood. You’ve got to watch out for the dads though, they are very protective of their goslings.

Spring is definitely a time for renewal, hope and beauty. We will be ready for it after the Winter most of us have been experiencing.

Thank you Sofia for this challenge that brought beauty to our computers. When you respond, please remember to link to Sofia’s post and tag Lens-Artists. I will be challenging you next week, so look for my post.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens Artists Challenge #237: Bringing Softness

I’ve had a lot of fun this morning playing with Lightroom. I’ve not done anything else, but I’ve had fun thanks to Bren of Brashley Photography’s challenge: Bringing Softness.

First I started with flowers. I did a select subject in LR and then inverted the selection, used the radial filter so some of the flower would be soft and then finished with moving the clarity slider over to the left. I also added a vignette.

Then I wanted to see how the technique would work on animals. I picked the Capybara (world’s largest rodent) and orangutan at the Sacramento Zoo. This wasn’t as easy as flowers but I did pretty much the same technique. I wanted their faces to remain sharp.

I also tried buildings in Boston. I’m not sure the technique worked as well. The radial filter became my friend. I wanted some of the building to remain in focus. In the corner building on the right, the doorway should be in focus.

I’ll finish with my landscape experiment. The first one on the left is from the Tulip Festival at Ananda Village. I think the clarity technique added a dreamy softness. The middle image is from a trip to Port Costa and taken on the way. The dreamy look is more slight. The last, on the right, is from the Port Costa trip also. I liked the way the background was made slightly soft while the railroad tracks in the front remained sharp.

Thank you Bren! I love learning new techniques, especially when I can use software I already have. Remember to link your response post to hers and use the Lens-Artists tag. Last week we saw and read about many differences with Amy’s challenge of East meets West. I enjoyed all you responses. Next week, Ann-Christine will present the challenge.

I will be on vacation through March 17th and not posting. I’ll see you all when I get back.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Still Feeling the Storm’s Aftermath: Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

The sun may be shining, but the devastation is still being cleared. The front entrance to the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery was closed because they were still clearing the trees that were downed in the recent wind and rain storms. Also, access to that area was mostly closed. That’s what we found during last week’s photo visit.

We did manage to get in via a side entrance and decided to stay in the back area of the cemetery. It looked newer but there were some beautiful headstones, statues and trees. I’ll put all the pictures in a gallery for you and caption where necessary. Oh, the ground was still a bit muddy and soft.

The sun is still out and we are enjoying dry but windy weather. I’m so glad this cemetery didn’t get any more damage. These statues and headstones are so old. You can’t replace history.

This is my last post for about a month. I’m going on a dream vacation. You’ll find out who, what, where when I return. Take care and stay safe.