A slow start to 2019: January

If I thought 2019 would start off with a BANG, I was wrong. I didn’t hold a camera in my hand for the first two weeks. After that there were five photo opportunities, but few great photos. A lot had to do with the rainy weather, which we’re still having, and also with my not feeling well.

So here we are in February and the rain is still coming down. I’m not complaining because California needs the rain. We have a great snow pack now that will hopefully see us through the dry summer. What does that mean for photography? If you can’t make it up to the snow, you’re shooting inside! I’m amazed at how many businesses welcome photographers. This year we’ve been to the Antique Trove in Roseville twice, most recently today. You’ll see those pictures in my next post.

So, here are some picks from January!

These were from an experiment with oil and water. It’s more difficult than the tutorial made it seem!

These are from an outing to Old Folsom Historic District. It’s a section of Folsom where you can walk, shop and eat. Best of all, the parking is free!

This next outing was to Old Sacramento. I’ve shown you images from there before. It’s always a challenge to find something new.

So, there you have some highlights from January!

Now a yearly trek: Lotus blossoms

They are so beautiful, but only bloom once a year. But, that’s also what makes the Lotus flowers so special. The flowers in this post are from the Vedanta Society of Sacramento in Fair Oaks (Where last year’s images were shot.) and my chiropractor’s farm in Auburn. Who would have thought that a small Lotus pond would be on a farm!

At the Vedanta Society, the mature Lotus were more inside the pond and the buds surrounded them on the outside. That made shooting them a little tricky, but with the lens extended all the way out to 140 mm and creative cropping, I managed.

At the farm, it was just the opposite.  The featured image is a black and white from the farm. No matter, they are beautiful no matter where they are. And, pictures are a way of enjoying them all year round.

A challenge with two lenses: Locke and Rio Vista

I needed to challenge myself because we were going back to Locke on a recent Tuesday, and I’ve photographed the small town many times. So, I decided to dedicate the shoot to using two lenses I seldom take out: my 50 mm (Nikon) and 10 – 20 mm (Sigma). With the 50 mm, I wanted to see just what difference the 1.8 would make. And, it did make a big difference in getting a smooth bokeh. I enjoyed working with it even though I did try to get it to zoom!

Zooming is the only problem with that lens. I couldn’t walk back far enough to get more in the picture, so I concentrated on close ups. I switched to the ultra wide lens to see what distortions I could get. I was a little disappointed. It worked great with little distortion.

When we took a side trip to Rio Vista, I put on my walk around lens. I love that 18 – 140 mm. When it’s windy, it will catch a close up of a flower. It was dark, cloudy and dreary there. The last time I posted pictures from Rio Vista, the water was high and flooded part of the shore line. This time the waters had receded.

So my self-challenge taught me that the nifty fifty is a great lens, especially for portraits and close ups, that the ultra wide is great for landscape and buildings and my all-purpose go to lens is just that.

Here are the results.

What’s your passion? IKEA, part 2

I have two passions: Photography and Toastmasters. Toastmasters changed my life and Photography enriches my retirement. So I decided to combine these two diverse activities and formed a Toastmaster’s Specialty Club: All About Photography (AAP).

At AAP we follow the Toastmaster format, but as our name suggests, we speak on photography and our table topics are on photography. We have photographers of all levels. Last week, I presented my images from IKEA for table topics. The participants were to give a 1 – 2 minute mini-speech on how they would edit these mostly abstract photos. I do crop well in the camera, so they had a difficult time imagining the total scene.

It was a fun exercise, and I picked up a few hints on what I could have done–next time. So what is your passion? What has changed your life? What enriches your life?

Here are my remaining images from IKEA in West Sacramento in black and white.

Photography, art, both:Lagoon Valley Park, Vacaville, CA

I follow many terrific photographers and learn from their blog posts. Reality hit when I read a tutorial by Leanne Cole, Australia. I met Leanne in person last year when she was in the States and visiting in Saratoga. I thoroughly enjoyed the day of shooting with her. Back to her blog post on inserting a sketch into a picture. I’m not going into the details of how she did it, but what emotional reality it stirred up for me.

I followed along with the tutorial until she came to the point of putting a shadow under a thumb. I would never had thought to put a shadow under the thumb. She explained it was necessary because of the lighting of the over all picture. Lighting? I would have never thought of that.

A former member of my All About Photography Toastmasters Club said that the way to become a better photographer is to study the famous painting masters. At the time I thought that he was just into art more than me. Now, I understand.

Photography as I do it, is just photography. I choose to shoot a scene I like, compose it, shoot it and do minimal editing. I edit until I like the picture, having no prior knowledge of art. I work on highlights, shadows, etc. However, a photographer who is an artist understands and can do a great deal more.

As a recent example, I posted a picture I shot at Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville asking which was better the color or black and white.

Although most of the votes were for color, I was drawn to the black and white.

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Three respondents in favor of the black and white, suggested I lighten the bridge to draw the eye into the image. What? A great photo buddy, Karen, changed it for me and I could see what they meant. So I re-edited the image and lightened the bridge.

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Are you more drawn into the image? I learned that a dark foreground stops the eye and a lighter foreground draws you in.

Art is not natural for me. I’m sure I can learn some things, but I’ll never be an artist. And, I’m okay with that. I love the photography I do. I’ll just keep learning from the terrific photographers I follow. It’s just another turn in my photographic journey.

I’ll post the rest of the images from Lagoon Valley Park in my next post.