Wildlife? Mather Lake

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected like our May outing to Mather Lake in Sacramento County. We expected the typical wildlife that we’re used to finding there, but we only found swans and fishermen! But, we’ve learned to make the best with what we get.

I was there with my Tuesday group, and we walked as far as we could around the lake. I was carrying my Nikon D7100 and my F/4, 300 mm lens. I do need to go back to using two cameras. I also need to get to the gym so I can do it! This left me sort of handicapped for landscape or wide focus shots. I made my Fitbit happy by taking some extra steps backing up to get a good compostion. While I like the results from my 300 prime lens, it is limiting,

Sometimes, when you’re not busy shooting, you experience the most outstanding interaction between birds. A swan was protecting his mate and his cygnets from a goose. The interchange was hilarous. Too bad I couldn’t catch it. My lens was too long and my reflexes too slow!

Take a look at what I saw that morning!

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!

Betwixt and between: Yolo Bypass

We’re still not moved yet. I can’t say this is the worst move we ever made because the move to this house was equally traumatic. Moving is about the most emotional change you go through. There’s sadness about leaving a home you loved and happiness about building a life in another. Right now, I do feel betwixt and between. Richard and I talk about “home” and have to qualify which one!

In the meantime, I’m able to go on photo outings. This blog is about Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (also known as the Vic Fazio Wildlife Area). I was there a month ago, but each time is different. On this trip, the hunting area was open so Laura and I drove through it. We saw more wildlife than on the regular driving route. Maybe they knew they were safe at the time!

Right now, photography gets me away from a house that’s missing furniture, a house that’s being painted and floors being put in, and the stress of it all. I did pack my camera cases, but not my cameras and gear. Yes, for me photography is great therapy for the moving blues!

Here’s the latest from the Yolo Bypass. Again, my bird book is packed, so no captions!

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.

 

Things are looking up: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and Gray Lodge, part 2

Hooray, the computer is working! Thank you Kevin!! This technical age has made us so dependent on our computers, phones, tablets. I could say that I remember when, but I won’t bore you. I’ll just say that my typewriter never crashed. It may have needed a ribbon change, or a key might stick–but never crashed.

I do love one digital necessity (at least to me) that has not crashed–my DSLR. I’m still learning, and with each outing I get better. Let’s finish up my trip with Laura to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Laura is the best bird spotter. Without her I wouldn’t see the small birds.

After seeing three bald eagles and many hawks at SWR, we ventured to Gray Lodge. Tired from climbing up and down to and from Laura’s sun roof, I resolved to just shoot what I could get from the open window. Fortunately, there are more opportunities for landscapes at Gray Lodge. Again, there were many hawks, but the sun was going down and it was difficult to shoot them as they hid in the trees. Take a look!

 

A cold a day, keeps the apple away: Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

I don’t enjoy getting colds. In fact, I resent how they keep me from doing what I want. But, the reality is I did get one and it’s kept me home for a few days. But, I did get out for a quick shoot at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery which you’ll see in another post. You just can’t keep a photographer down!

In this post, you’ll see the second half of our all-day outing to Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. It was a fun day with Laura, ending with a yummy Italian dinner with fellow photographers. One thing about photographers, we like to eat. Maybe it’s all that fresh air!

A disclaimer before I show you the Gray Lodge images: I may have put some of the birds in the last post on SWR. Things sort of get blended, birds are birds, and my last excuse is that I’m very senior in age. You know–the memory thing!

Enjoy some of the wildlife and scenery from Gray Lodge.

 

 

Frustration: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

My frustration has nothing to do with my outing to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR)  in Willows, California. It has everything to do with creating a calendar of my photos that I give as holiday gifts each year. It’s usually a joy to create this and would only take a couple of hours, resizing images and placing them in the calendar. This year it took about 5 hours and two calls to the Costco Photo website.

Apparently, they have a new website, and things don’t work the way they used to. My problem was that it kept warning me that my photos weren’t sized right. The two representatives gave me two different sizes. The last, the largest pixel count, only worked on the smaller images. So, my calendar is full of images three to six on a page.

I could go on, but it won’t help. Let’s concentrate on the wildlife refuge. I went with Laura for a full day of shooting. We started out at SWR and ended at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for a sunset that did not disappoint.

I had my F/4, 300 mm lens attached to my D7100. It was a great day. We saw a deer that almost came up to the car, a juvenile bald eagle enjoying a meal, and the usual feathered wildlife.

SWR is a driving tour, and you can’t get out of the car. So quite a few times, this senior climbed up to the sunroof so I could shoot the birds on the driver’s side! Did you get that I’m a senior!

Anyway, take a look at what we found. And, next year I may not do a photo calendar. I don’t like frustration! I’m glad I have photography to calm me down.

 

 

 

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!

Trip 2 and part 2: Return to Apple Hill

I’m either shooting better or not being discriminatory enough. I’ll go with shooting better! It’s my personality to not toot my own horn. But, here I am with a lot of Apple Hill images to show you. Thus, we continue from my last post.

Every year people make a pilgrimage to Apple Hill in El Dorado County (just above Placerville) for their holiday pies–apple of course. Since I don’t like pie, that’s not the reason I go. I like to photograph the people, the landscape, the old equipment and sometimes flowers.

So, let’s look at the images that remain from that day’s outing. Was I correct in thinking I’m shooting better? I can handle constructive criticism.

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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.