Lens Artists Challenge #153: It’s a wonderful world

With all that’s been happening in the world this past 1 1/2 years, it’s important to live in continuous gratitude and remember that there is still a lot of beauty in the world, mostly provided by nature. In her challenge, Amy reminds us that there is a lot around us locally to be grateful for. Photography brings me into that world. At least once a week I go out with friends to capture people, places, animals and things that bring joy into my life.

I’m happy to share some of them with you from this year alone. Please read the captions for information.

This scene in Port Costa presented a beautiful and natural frame around the bridge emerging from the fog in the distance.

Thank you Amy for helping us to remember that there is a wonderful world out there, and I’m especially thankful for my photo buddies who see it with me.

A little non-macro practice: Gibson Ranch

I knew Gibson Ranch Park in Elverta wasn’t the best place for macro shots, but you can use a macro lens for more than just close up photography. Yes? Well, I gave it a try when Marlene, Linda and I went to to the park. I hadn’t been there for a while, and I wanted to practice with my new macro lens for the Fuji camera. It performed well.

There were the usual amount of ducks at the pond.

And there were geese!

And a squirrel enjoying a peanut tossed by a young boy.

And Gibson Ranch has other animals too.

There are also stables where horses are boarded. In one area, trail rides are offered.

Oh, yes, I did manage to get a couple of close up/macro images too.

Now I have to find some flowers and bugs to practice on!

It’s a small world! The Sacramento Zoo

A lot has changed since my last post. There’s nothing like a pandemic to show how small our world has become. Here in the Sacramento, California area things have changed rapidly. Many businesses have closed, events were cancelled and schools announced closures through March! Oh, yes, the stores are totally out of toilet paper!

Our Federal Government did little at first, with our president saying the Coronavirus wasn’t anything to worry about. Now the action is hot and heavy. So here I am sitting for my grandkids this past week (and enjoying it) while their parents were on vacation. They their way home now. The kids will be out of school for at least 3 weeks so I expect my photography time will be curtailed. That’s okay, time to finally get started on learning Photoshop!

A few of us did take off on Tuesday to visit the Sacramento Zoo. Again! Yes, again!! First, I enjoy it, and, second, they have added a training session with the Lions. This is from the zoo’s website:

Watch animal keepers perform daily training sessions with the African lions at the mesh of their exhibit. This positive-reinforcement training is to encourage natural behaviors that allow the zookeepers to perform voluntary health checks on the lions and build trust. Please note that this is a voluntary training for the lions, and they may decide not to participate on some days.

The zoo is now closed until March 31st or longer because of the Coronavirus. I’m so glad we got there before they did. Here are pictures from the Lion Training.

Stay well everyone!

Where we go for a local nature fix: Effie Yeaw Sacramento Nature Center

It’s a quick trip to see deer, coyotes, turkeys, hawks, and the river, so we go there often. It’s Effie Yeaw Sacramento Nature Center located in Carmichael along the American River. Actually, I’ve seen all of the above in my community, but we just have a creek, not a river!

But there’s something special about Effie Yeaw. I remember taking my younger grandkids there and while walking through the meadow, we passed a herd of deer, most of them bucks. Of course I was without camera! I find that my camera keeps me from enjoying the experience with the kids.

Recently I was there in October and November (this week). I usually see at least one deer, and if they are talented, they hide among the trees! Let’s look at my last two visits!

I love reflections!

The trees at Effie Yeaw are so expressive. And, in November we found some Fall color.

I did mention deer and coyote.

The pond is covered in some sort of algae right now. But, there are still ducks way back in the water.

Last, is the river. Last Saturday morning, it was beautiful with fog, and the sun periodically peaking through the moisture laden clouds.

I’m hoping that we have a wet winter so we’ll have green meadows and more deer coming out. I read in the newspaper that most of California is in a “low moisture” state. I’m hoping to show you a greener Effie Yeaw!

The unfinished story: The Clydesdale parade, Fairfield

Right now my life is like an unfinished story. I jump from one activity to another without finishing the first. And so it is with the second part of my visit to the Anheuser-Busch facility in Fairfield, California to see the famous Clydesdale horse team in action. So many things got in the way of my posting this blog, including a two-day Toastmaster conference.

But here I am at the computer ready to show you images of these beautiful horses. I received conflicting information of the horses’ ages. I can tell you that when they can no longer participate in parades, they live on a ranch and enjoy the rest of their natural life.

Another fact that amazed me was the time it took to dress the horses (in their fancy harnesses) and hitch up the team. Once the eight horses were hitched, they did one horse at a time, April (the dalmatian) and the drivers got on board for the ride around the parking lot.

I came home with over 500 shots to go through because I finally decided to use continuous shutter speed. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wade through them, just a few select ones.

Freedom: Sacramento Zoo

Eureka! I can finally handhold my camera and F/4 300mm lens. This is great because putting it on a monopod was difficult to carry around the zoo, which I love to visit. I was using the monopod because the weight from the sling was too much for my shoulder. So the grandma came up with an idea. I would carry my camera like I would a baby and keep most of the weight off my shoulder!

It worked. At a recent visit to the Sacramento Zoo, I was able to support the camera and lens without hurting my shoulder. I was also able to focus and keep the camera/lens steady. The only problem is the difficulty shooting a giraffe with the 300mm! So, I brought along my tiny point and shoot camera.

I’m finally free of the monopod. Here are some of my captured results.

 

My heart is full: Sacramento Zoo

Funerals are for the living, and without one, there is no closure. Tonight we had a memorial for Uncle Chuck and my dear friend Carol. We also invited Richard’s friend John whose sister Mary passed away this morning. We were Jews and Christians united in an effort for sending our loved ones on their way.

We did traditional Jewish prayers, John sang the 23rd Psalm and taps. We all told stories about our departed family members and ended it with dessert. What a wonderful evening. Uncle Chuck would have been pleased at the variety of religions and camaraderie in the room.

This is what caring and love is all about. He would have also loved the zoo animals and probably given them nicknames. He always gave people he loved nicknames. His girls were Rotten kid 1 and Rotten kid 2. My youngest was just Rotten Kid. My grandson (Chistopher) was JJ.

So as you smile at the Sacramento Zoo animals, send a smile up to Uncle Chuck and Carol; Arthur and Alina; and Mary.

 

Doing the happy dance: Back to the zoo

You know I wasn’t entirely happy with my last set of zoo pictures. They were okay, but I wanted improvement. The first step to the happy dance came from Leanne Cole, amazing photographer and friend. She told me to focus my lens manually. Great idea, but I didn’t know how! This F/4 300 mm lens is old, and is not like any I’ve owned. Worse, it didn’t come with a manual.

When I bought it, I showed it to veteran photographer Tom. He checked it out and said it was a good lens and great buy. (It was still within the 90 warranty.) When I realized I couldn’t figure out how to work the lens properly, I asked Tom to join me at the Sacramento Zoo for some instruction. It was a great morning of shooting and fun.

I now know how to focus manually, what the limiter is and more. And the result was amazing. Thank you Tom and Leanne.

I’m now doing the happy dance. See for yourself.

 

 

 

It’s all happening at the: Sacramento Zoo!

Getting to know you–at least getting to know the animals at the Sacramento Zoo. I and others from the Camera Totin’ Tuesday group bought zoo memberships. That means I’ll be practicing more and having more zoo fun throughout the year. And, you’ll be coming along with me.

We got there when they opened during this trip and the large animals were active. The lions and their three cubs (teenagers now) were going in and out of their enclosure. I didn’t get to see the leopard, but got a shot of the jaguar.

The giraffes are always a favorite. I need to spend more time there during my next visit. We tend to go to shoot the big cats and spend more time in front of their enclosures. I also had fun watching the orangutans and gorillas.

The birds were tough to shoot in their enclosures because my 300 mm wasn’t enough to make the cages disappear. And, always, the flamingos are so beautiful.

Enough talk, here’s the first session of zoo animals from my year’s membership. I’ll be getting to know them better–by name!

 

Talking with the animals: Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento, California

It’s not big as far as zoos go, but that’s the beauty of it. You can get around the Sacramento Zoo in about 2 hours–more if you have children with you. You know kids like to snack and play at the playground.

Marlene and I went to the zoo to shoot (gently with a camera) the animals. I had taken the grandkids there a few weeks before and discovered you’re either a grandparent or photographer! However, we were surprised by the bus loads of school kids there on a Thursday morning. It made shooting a little more difficult, but it was fun to watch the children as they reacted to the animals.

So we walked, talked and shot the zoo’s inhabitants. It may be small, but it’s mighty.