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.
For the past year, or more, I’ve used my F4/300 lens when going to the Sacramento Zoo. While it’s great for getting through cages and shooting the big cats, etc. up close, I’d have to stand a block away to get a whole giraffe in the shot. So, when Marlene, Linda and I went to the zoo recently, I decided to use my 18 – 140 mm lens. No close ups for me that day!
It was a great experience. I concentrated on the ducks, ducklings, and othe small animals that were not caged (just behind enclosures). It was a totally different zoo experience. My gear was lighter to carry, and I didn’t get as tired.
I’m not giving up on that great heavy F4/300 lens. It does a wonderful job at getting through the cages and showing the detail on the animals. Maybe when I get back to the gym, I’ll have the upper body strength to carry two cameras.
I hope you enjoy this zoo experience!
I think this is one of the young flamingos. His feathers aren’t so orange.
I’ve never been able to get this type of shot.
Okay, this is typical. I just couldn’t resist it.
This Comb Duck is resting.
Up and at it.
I think this is a young Wood Duck or a female.
This duckling is so cute!
I call this one Blue Eyes. I’ve never been able to get through his enclosure without showing the fence.
I finally made it to Daffodil Hill, in Volcano, after 3 years of trying to get there. Explanation: It’s only open a short time and if it rains, they close. And, it’s closed each time I was scheduled to go.
This ranch has been privately owned by a family since 1887. They open for about a month in the spring, inviting the public at no charge. They do accept donations, but you are never pressured to make one.
Richard and I went on the first Sunday they were open. A weekend visit meant more people. More people meant shooting either close ups of the flowers or include the other visitors. I did both.
But, this was a day of “firsts.” I’ve never been able to take a photo of a peacock with its colorful feathers open, but I did this time! What fun. One photo buddy said they only grow and display those feathers during mating season. I guess timing was on my side. The males are the peacocks, females (who don’t have the brilliant feathers) are peahens, the little chicks are peachicks. It takes about 3 years for male peachicks to have feathers to display.
So, here are my first images of my first visit to Daffodil Hill. I’m putting more than usual in because I wanted you to have a good idea of the farm. I have twice this amount edited.
The farm is very hilly, but not difficult.
This white daffodil is one of the many varieties.
There were many old structures, and many people taking pictures near them.
I like this one the best.
Some more landscape.
Another variety. I’m sorry I don’t know the names.
The different flowers may not have different names!
Another structure among the daffodils.
An old wheel spoke.
Many people were taking posed pictures.
Look at this handsome dude.
They manage pretty well with their large tail feathers.
There was a good amount of old rusty equipment placed near the flowers.
The Sacramento Zoo is a favorite of my Camera Totin’ Tuesday group. Why? It’s close and the animals are fun to photograph. We’ve been back often enough that we’re beginning to learn their names, learn their behaviors, and watch the babies grow.
Baby giraffe Rocket is almost as tall as his mom now. Too bad he won’t be staying at our zoo. Yes, we learn all about what’s happening! The little Red River Hogs are almost as big as their parents, but not any more cute. And, we’re getting a new tiger soon.
I say “we” because most of my group are members. As members, we get monthly newsletters and advanced notice of any special events. But, I also enjoy going to the zoo because it helps me perfect my photographic level. I’m doing much better with the F/4 300 mm lens now. It alone weighs 3 pounds! I carry it on a monopod. Sometimes I also take my Nikon D3100 with my 18 to 140 mm lens so I can get a better angle on the giraffes and flamingos. The F/4 is excellent at getting through the enclosures. Sometimes I have to stand way back!
Now that you understand more of why the zoo is featured so much in this blog, meet the animals!
I love the connection between the parrot and trainer.
My first shot of a wood duck.
Here’s another gliding through the water.
Dad is gathering nesting material.
Mom sits on the nest.
It’s not often that we can get a shot of the jaguars. This is the male–I was told!
Shh, don’t wake the sleeping lion.
This was the first time I saw the male snow leopard. He’s thinking someone looks delicious!
I’ve never seen an emu either.
Finally, one of the orangutans came out to play.
The zebra close up. With my lens there’s no other way. I did crop in post processing.
I really need a shove, discipline and hand holding to learn Photoshop. So, I decided to try to post an edited photo once a week. I started to do this last year. Signing up for it was the shove, posting was the discipline, but I had no one to hold my hand. This year, I have an accountability partner. Hopefully, I can get through the year, learn what simple things I need to from Photoshop, and also delve into some other processing programs that are taking up space in my computer.
With this lofty goal in mind, I recently spent more than 4 hours trying to eliminate the transparency from a masked item so I can place it, without a background, in another photo.
I will not stop until I’m successful! It’s frustrating though.
I watch tutorials. Go to my computer. Open up Photoshop and can’t recreate the exact process. I need to bring up my laptop and work the tutorial and Photoshop on my desktop together.
Enough complaining, the pictures in this post are the last from our Point Reyes outing. It was a fun day. I wasn’t out there to take photos, but who could resist. In the last post, you saw some of Richard’s pictures and mine. Today, it’s all mine.
Take time from whatever is frustrating you and relax. I hope you enjoy these images. I don’t need a shove, discipline or hand holding to take the pictures; just to learn new editing techniques.
You don’t know how important your routine is until it’s broken. I’ve been without a computer for a day and a half. Not so bad? Yes, bad…grumble, grumble. Richard is installing a new modem/router and the computers were off limits. Therefore, no email (cell phone worked for that), no reading the newspaper (difficult to do on a cell phone), no solitaire games and no writing my blog. Again, grumble, grumble!
I didn’t realize how important my morning routine was until we joined my cousins in Palm Desert for the week. I was the first one up in the morning and enjoyed my routine of reading emails, reading the newspaper and processing photos.
This morning, the computer is working, and I can get on the internet to write this blog about a hidden gem in the desert–The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. We took a docent tour through the gardens, and since cousin Ernie is a retired landscape architect, the discussion was informative. We talked about various cacti, shrubs and trees. Of course our docent had to put up with my veering off to shoot pictures. But, after the tour, she did ask me to send her my pictures.
Then we went on to the zoo. This was so unlike my local Sacramento Zoo. Habitats were large and the animals were those adapted to the desert. You’ll see what I mean in the picture gallery. It was a great visit. If we go back to the desert, I’d not hesitate to visit there again.
Oh, Richard woke up and is working on his computer. I’d better finish this blog–just in case my routine gets interrupted again!
I liked the juxtaposition of the grass against this beautiful rock.
This cactus captures the golden afternoon light.
A group of barrel cacti.
Close up of wood texture.
Close up of a twisted cactus.
Another cactus close up.
A cheetah shot through a window. It was cheetah week at the zoo.
I forgot what this animal is called. It has beautiful horn though.
There were two dromedaries. This one is lighter in color, made even lighter by the setting sun.
This one is darker and also lighted by the sun.
Our last stop just before the park closed was the giraffe enclosure. Well, it’s hard to call it an enclosure.
The golden hour helped me create beautiful pictures.
They would peek over the hill and come down the same path repeatedly.
I had a great time observing and shooting them.
A close up shot with my 18 – 140 mm lens.
They were a good distance away so cropping was necessary.
Every time I go to the Sacramento Zoo, I learn more–about the animals and photography. This time it was a short trip because I had a headache that just wouldn’t quit. But, I was there long enough to learn more about how to get through the cages with my lens and animal behavior.
For instance, take the flamingos. I only brought my F/4 300 mm lens that day, so I was looking for close ups. I noticed two flamingos drinking and their beaks were turned the same way. I shot a close up of them and got their reflections. Soon one came closer to where the other was drinking. The result? A disagreement over water rights! You’ll see it in the gallery.
There’s more descriptions of various animals in the gallery captions. So, what did I learn about getting through the cage? When the animal is closer to the cage, lower your F/stop. I also could have increased my ISO–next time. In any case, I’m very happy with the images I got.
I had fun in the short time I was there, and I’ll be making more trips. Having a zoo membership makes it easy to visit anytime I want to practice. And, at the Sacramento Zoo, there’s more to shoot. There’s pretty flowers and people! Next time I’ll bring a second camera with a more versatile lens.
Until then, enjoy our local zoo inhabitants.
Not a roar. A yawn.
That yawn was a prelude to a nap.
The snow leopard.
Here’s the giraffe family. Baby Rocket, mom and dad (the largest).
I was standing about a block away to get this shot.
Rocket in all his cuteness!
The Wolf’s Guenon enjoying his meal. He’d take a bite. Then look at what he was eating. Take another bite, etc.
The Red Panda.
They weren’t out the last few time I’ve been at the zoo.
The two flamingo drinking.
One of the pelicans. He tried to hide, but I found him.
One of the docents had the red tailed hawk out for the kids since school was out.
I love that the Golden Hour comes early now that the days are shorter and we’re back on standard time. It’s sweet to shoot when the sun is low on the horizon, creating glows and shadows.
We were at Gibson Ranch Regional Park in Elverta recently to catch the sunset. Before we got to the Park, there were abundant clouds in the sky. However, by the time the sun was setting, the clouds had vanished, leaving just small wisps.
When you visit this Park, you’ll find chickens, peacocks, various birds that feed in the pond, and you may even see a horse or two. Horses are boarded at the Ranch, and frequently you’ll see them being groomed or ridden.
And, everything looks even more beautiful during the golden hour.
They are still cats, just bigger and more ferocious if you get on the other side of the fence! Camera Totin’ Tuesdays went back to the Sacramento Zoo. Some children were back to school and it was too early for classes to take their zoo field trips so it was not crowded. And, the cats were active!
I’m still learning the lens and how to shoot through the fencing. I used my F/4, fixed 300 mm lens. This lens is proving to be more difficult than I thought. If I stand close enough to get through the fence, all I get are the animals heads. If I move back, then I can’t get through the fence! Zoom lenses do have an advantage. I got better results at a lower F/stop, meaning wider aperture. Photography is such a learning process.
I did bring my small point and shoot to get some wide-angle shots. Next time I go to the zoo, I hope not to wake up so early that I’m tired. Then I’ll carry my 3100 also for the photos that my long lens can’t take.
I realize that I still have much to learn and will be returning to the zoo soon. Here are some of the cats and other animals I shot that morning. They are good. My followers always tell me that I’m too picky with my images. But, I know I can do better. I’ll let you know when I’m ecstatic with my zoo images–in all CAPS!
And, we did call to them saying, “Here kitty, kitty!”
When we first got there, Misha, the snow leopard, wasn’t ready to come out.
Kamu, the male African lion, was wide awake.
The lioness, Clio, was resting.
And, she was cleaning her paws. The young cats were not out.
Later in the morning, Clio plays.
Mother Wolf’s Guenon and her baby. I think the baby is nursing.
Misha is out and yawning.
I think this is the Azure Winged Magpie. My first successful attempt in getting through the cage with a bird.
I couldn’t ID this one. Bird’s tend to sit near the cage, making it impossible to get the cage to disappear.
This flamingo needs a napkin.
Rocket, the baby giraffe. He’s old enough to be out with the herd.
Rocket and his mom and dad.
The Red River Hog family. The babies have grown since my last visit.
There are some mornings like this. You wake up about 4 a.m. and just can’t get back to sleep. Rather than tossing and turning, it’s better to put the extra morning hours to good use–like writing this blog before I go on a photo outing.
Speaking of photo outings, let’s return to Lake Tahoe and the second day. We got a slow start, but that was okay because we weren’t in a rush. Our goal was to visit Fallen Leaf Lake, meeting our hosts there. Since we left before them, we stopped at the Tallac Historic Site. The Baldwin Estate was a rustic home set on the beach. The house was closed that morning, but I think they give tours during the summer season. Then we went on to Fallen Leaf Lake.
To get to the lake, you need to drive a narrow, curvy road with many single lanes. I was amazed that there were so many homes up there. Marlene did an excellent piloting job. However we didn’t realize that there were two lakes and our hosts went to the upper lake. No cell service. No getting in touch with them.
After deciding we didn’t want to share our lunch with wasps, we drove back down the hill to the Emerald Bay overlook named Inspiration Point. There we were entertained by a gentleman who was “singing for his supper” or so his sign said. In Emerald Bay you could still see the deep blue color of the water. Because of the drought, the lake’s water level was down. Fortunately, because Lake Tahoe is deep, its beauty shines on.