On the road again: Sedona, Arizona

Beautiful red rock is what will first catch your eye when you venture into Sedona, but for me, the attraction is the vortexes. What, you ask! A vortex is an energy field that affects you in various ways.

A masculine vortex will energize you and a feminine vortex will calm you down. And, it works. Today we spent the day in a calming vortex and I’m so relaxed even though we went for a short hike. Because of these vortexes, Sedona has become the center for all things spiritual. You’ll find all sorts of shops dedicated to the spiritual arts: readings, crystals, massage, and more.

In addition, sorry to say, Sedona has become some what of a tourist trap. We are staying in West Sedona away from the heart of the tourist frenzy. I will tell you more about this area in subsequent posts. We are here until June 6, so enjoy the red rock beauty with me.

Learning through the fog: A Sacramento Photographers workshop at the Aerospace Museum, McClellan Park, California

Wow, that’s a heafty title! But, that’s what it was. We gathered at the Aerospace Museum for a workshop sponsored by the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group given by Pedro Marenco. We covered topics including HDR, DOF, Focus Stacking and more. (Did you like how I threw out those acronymns!)

Except for the dismal weather, it was fun. My big take away was how much I already know. I keep berating myself about the technical aspect of photography, but I have learned quite a bit. And when there’s math involved, I can get around it. I’m much more confident now.

Most of the images I’m going to show you are HDR. High Dynamic Range explained simply takes three or more shots taken at different exposures of the same image. These different exposures are then brought into a software program that compresses the shots into one image. This eliminates the washed out skies, dark areas, etc. Most HDR programs have presets that can create all sorts of looks. It’s really fun. These old planes are perfectly suited for this.

I also realized that I need to be inspired about what I’m photographing. Although this is an interesting museum, it’s not what I would abosultely go out of my way to shoot. Once we got outside photography got a litlle more interesting. Oh, Richard is totally into planes and docents at this very museum!

New year, new project: Marina Bay Trail, Richmond, California

I never wanted to get into portriat photography, but today Gem, my dog, was my subject and he did a great job of trying to sit still and look at me. I’m only on day 4 of the 365 challenge and was shooting Gem because I didn’t get out. But, I was learning. I’ve made a secondary challenge to shoot most of my daily photos on manual, and Gem had to be very patient while I was doing the learning curve! I was so excited that I finally managed to shoot him on manual, but he didn’t high five. That’s okay, he got his treat anyway. I’m sure there will be more shots of Gem throughout the year.

Yesterday, I went on an all day Exploring Photography Meetup to Richmond and had to process one of the images so I could post in the challenge group. I posted a sunset, which, as it turns out, wasn’t the best of the sunset shots. But, day 3 was covered. I’ll show you part of the day’s images in this post and finish it up in the next.

The Marina Bay Trail is somewhere between 3 – 4 miles along the Richmond shoreline. They have a yacht club, marina, condos, etc. It’s in stark contrast to the city of Richmond. I think I’ll show you the grounds in this post and the birds in the next.

I’m getting out to shoot tomorrow so Gem won’t have to model.

Photography can be expensive: Fort Tejon State Historical Park, California

I’m feeling it now–the dollars are just flowing out. First, my lens (18 – 55 mm kit lens) breaks and then my external flash says goodbye. I’m not too upset about the lens, but the flash was only used a couple of times! Of course, I’m trying to see the opportunity in both these items breaking: I have a slightly better lens (didn’t want to opt for the one that was $500.00 more) and a much better flash that I’m determined to use more.

I haven’t had much opportunity to use my flash in the 2 1/2 years I’ve been shooting, doing day or night photography. But, today I’m taking a class in how to effectively use it. This lesson and my paying for a new flash. hopefully, will bring me to seek out more opportunities to use the flash.

One of the bright spots in all this is Action Camera. They managed to fix my old flash from my film camera days, clean the D7100’s sensors and, of course, sell me the new flash. They advised me against using the old flash on the digital camera because the electrical has changed, but I can still use it as an off camera flash.

Meanwhile, on our way home from a Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley) trip this past weekend, we stopped at Fort Tejon State Historic Park. This is located near the summit of the Grapevine off Highway 5 in Lebec California. The sun was blaring, and it would have been an advantage to use a fill flash, and I was using my prime 50 mm lens. I enjoyed using the nifty 50, but still have to get used to it. Today, I’m showing you some of the images from this little fort. Most of the buildings are recreated, but you can still get the feeling of how it was in the 1800s.

Tuesday practice: I finally made friends with my tripod and more from Capay Valley

I made a promise. When I make a promise, I usually keep it–even if it is to myself. Yes, it’s Tuesday, camera practice day. Even though I didn’t go anywhere except for my back yard, I still made progress. I’m confident now with using the tripod. I went back to Action Camera and bought a remote shutter release that will bracket. The cordless remote would do single shots, but not bracket. And, I’m comfortable with using the remote.

In fact, I did take a lot of bracketed shots–of my rose tree and a bush. Don’t worry, you won’t have to look at them. Now on to learning what to do with the bracketed shots. Maybe tomorrow afternoon I’ll download some trial software and get ready for a little frustration.

So, with the first week of Tuesday practice done, I’m posting some more shots of Capay Valley.



Cross country: Glenville, New York and the rest of Acadia National Park images

August 2, 2013

It was a not so wicked adventure. Quite a few years ago whenever I’d get lost while driving, I would tell my kids that we were on an adventure. Well, today we were on an adventure; but, not the wicked kind.

We got lost trying to find a campground in the Massachusetts mountains. It took us about 2 hours of driving on steep grades to find the interstate. Needless to say, the truck was overworked and tired, we were tired and Gem was wondering why he was in the truck for so long. This little escapade cost us wear and tear on the truck and lots of fuel. We were out a total of 10 hours before we landed in the Arrowhead Marine and RV Park, Glenville, New York.

Usually we drive about 4 hours before reaching our next RV Park. The lesson learned, when the campground states online that they are near the interstate, don’t believe it! Ask questions before you make the reservation. Also, try to avoid driving in Massachusetts. I can’t believe the amount of traffic we ran into on I90 and other roads.

Enough griping, we are okay, learned another lesson and spent some money we didn’t count on. We’re going to stay put tomorrow and relax. So there won’t be any adventures of the frustrating kind. Meanwhile enjoy the rest of Acadia National Park.


Cross country: Acadia National Park images

August 1, 2013

Tomorrow we head west! Yes, it’s the start of making our way back home. I will admit that I’m ready. This is the longest we’ve been away from home and we are both ready for the familiar. So is Gem, but then he was ready from the start! We still have a lot of road to cover and to see, but we will be on our way to Antelope, California.

Speaking of California, I’m thinking that we are probably the only California license plate in the area! People who come this far north and east from the west coast usually fly in. We even found California license plates (and people too) in Long Island, but not Maine. How wicked is that!

Today is a kick-back day, cleaning the trailer, processing photos, walking Gem and doing this blog. I just finished processing Acadia National Park. I’ll show you some of them today and tomorrow.

Yesterday, in the early morning sun, I took some pictures of this campground which I’ll save for a rainy day. This is the first campground that has a beach on their lake and rents out large picnic areas for groups. When we came in last Saturday, there was a party for a couple who were getting married the next day. They also have modular homes and trailers that they rent for the summer. Many retired folks from the south come up each summer, park their trailer and work. I’m sure they get their site free. It’s a wicked deal for them.

I’m beginning to like using “wicked” instead of “cool” or “great.” It may become a mainstay in my vocabulary. Well, I’m going to post this blog and then do some more cleaning. It’s not like this is a big area to clean, but it’s got to be done. After all, we do a turnaround tomorrow.


Cross country: Wicked Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park & USS Constitution images

July 30, 2013

Wicked! That’s how Mainers say something is cool. Our overnight trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park was wicked.

I will admit that I was bummed by the weather yesterday; it was overcast and threatening rain. By the time we got to the park, fog was rolling in. We drove around the loop and stopped at various places but it was difficult to see, let alone take pictures.

So we did what anyone would do, we went out to dinner. Richard had his Maine lobster and I had my vegetarian pasta (I don’t eat shell fish). Then we went into Bar Harbor.

This is a tourist town and seaport. I wouldn’t opt to stay there. It’s too crowded. But, then remember we’re National Park folks. This is the first trip that we are visiting cities. I took photos in the fading light but haven’t looked at them yet. By night fall, I was depressed, but looking forward to the prediction of sun the next day. I was told that Cadillac Mountain, in the National Park was a must see. I was hoping the clouds would lift by the time we got there. So with the hope of sun the next day, we returned to our little cottage (we left the trailer in Scarborough).

Little is an understatement! No closet! No desk! I brought my computer to work on images and tried to do them on my lap. It’s difficult to do editing with the laptop, but this was crazy. All this for $115.00 a night! And, we were lucky to get it. Not all places take dogs. This was an old cottage room that had been updated. It was clean and fixed up really well.

As they say, “Tomorrow’s another day,” and it was. The sun came out late morning, and by the time we got to Cadillac Mountain, the sun was peeking through the clouds. It seems like the sun rejuvenated my spirit. I can’t say that it fixed my hair which has been a frizz ball for the last few weeks from the humidity. With renewed energy, I shot a lot of pictures this morning.

I hope to get to these images tomorrow. Today, I have the USS Constitution for you. I’m still amazed that this ship is still commissioned. I hope you think the photos are wicked!