Zoo at 140 mm: The Sacramento Zoo

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!

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Somehow I got this Jaguar. I’ve had a difficult time getting him with the long lens! Opportunity and timing!

Three years for a first: Daffodil Hill, Volcano, California

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.

 

I love this place: The Sacramento Zoo

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!

Doing the 52: Point Reyes, Part 2

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.

 

 

Broken routine: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert

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!

 

Zoo life: Back at the Sacramento Zoo

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.

 

Lovin’ the Golden Hour: Gibson Ranch

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.

 

 

Here kitty, kitty: Sacramento Zoo

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!”

 

Why did I wake up so early? To do this blog?: Lake Tahoe, part 2.

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.

You can see for yourself!

Just one of life’s challenges: Locke, California

If you read my previous post, you’d know that I left my tripod at home and was without it for our Tuesdays With Seniors Sacramento Delta trip. So when we reached Locke shortly after lunch, my challenge was to shoot this wonderful town full of historical buildings without doing HDR.

And, those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I’ve worked hard to become one with my tripod and to rely on it for many types of shooting occasions. Past shoots have taught me that you can’t really do HDR handheld, and I almost always shoot HDR when I come across rustic buildings, etc. So I shot Locke handheld and tried to add an HDR look in processing.

“Locke was founded in 1915 after a fire broke out in the Chinese section of nearby Walnut Grove. The Chinese who lived in that area decided that it was time to establish a town of their own. Levee construction originally brought the Chinese to this area, but by the time Locke was built most of the work was in farm labor. Locke had many businesses that catered to the farm workers and residents of this region. In the 1940’s restaurants, bakeries, herb shops, fish markets, gambling halls, boarding houses, brothels, grocery stores, a school, clothing stores, and the Star Theater lined the bustling streets of Locke. At its peak 600 residents, and as many as 1500 people occupied the town of Locke.  By 1920 Locke stood essentially as you see it now.

“On August 2, 1970, Locke was added to the registry of national historical places, by the Sacramento County Historical Society, because of its unique status as the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese for the Chinese.” Check www.locketown.com for more information on this amazing town.

Now, you can see Locke shot with my handheld camera. Did I overcome the challenge?