Merry Christmas: Lights

We’re getting closer to the second miracle of this season. First was Chanukah and now it’s Christmas. I love to take images of the decorated lights on houses and in yards. So Jean and I went out for my second round of taking photos of lights.

I thought this house sent the religious message of Christmas along with some fun snow men, plus a snowman zoom.

This next display starts in the front yard with a patriotic theme and ends with a “Frozen” theme on the side yard and around the corner. It was well done. Of course, I’m thinking of power and how much it costs to run the lights. But, this was an enjoyable exhibit.

Last, I’m showing you the first display we saw. It was simple and beautiful. And, yes, I had to zoom!

Have a great Christmas. Let’s hope next year let’s hope for another miracle and we’ll be back with families and friends! Stay safe everyone.

Lens Artist Challenge #128: And Here Comes The Holiday Season

Ann Christine’s challenge propelled me back in time and brought me back to the now. As a kid, I didn’t look forward to this time of the year. Most of my friends celebrated Christmas, and my Jewish friends celebrated Chanukah. Each received wonderful gifts. My family didn’t have money for gifts, but we had a family menorah (or Chanukkiah). I remember we’d light the candles each night, but going to school and hearing the other kids talk about presents was tough.

This is why I started collecting menorahs, and gave each of my children, their spouses and grandchildren their own Chanukkiah. At our Chanukah celebrations, we’d light them all and turn off the lights. I delighted in watching the candles burn. When I see these lights, I’m reminded neither Christmas or Chanukah originated with gifts, but with love and hope.

Now we have a blended family and I get to participate in both Chanukah and Christmas. I love to go and photograph decorated homes.

Most of all, I like to zoom the lights and rotate my camera while the shutter is open.

Although we didn’t get down there this year, my favorite place is California’s Capitol building and tree. The building is beautiful in its own right, and the tree adds a wonderful holiday feeling.

My wish for you is to have a safe and wonderful holiday season! We need patience and resilience in 2021.

Discovery: Christmas at the Capitol Building, Sacramento

I have discovered Color Efex Pro, and I love it. I love it just as much as I do Silver Efex Pro which I use all the time when editing for black and white. I don’t edit my photos that much because I still have not gotten into Photoshop or other programs. So, these presets are a great way for me to give my images a fresh look and a start at creativity. I do work on them after I apply the preset.

I’ve been using Color Efex on my outdoor landscapes. You’ll see some of it when I start posting my Kauai pictures (I still have the last day to edit.). I can see the opportunity. I can compose the image. I can do the basic editing. But, when it comes to giving the image that creative touch, I’m unable to do it on my own. I can’t see the final image in my mind, let alone know how to get it there! In comes the preset or profile. They give me ideas to jump off on. Then, away I go. Maybe with practice, I can do it on my own in Photoshop with layers, filters and more.

Every year, I promise myself that I’ll get into Photoshop, but it never happens. Life takes up the time I’ve set aside. I remember when I ran my home-based business, and I actually blocked off office time. I’ll have to do that for studying processing. It’s not only Photoshop, I’ve got other programs that I haven’t learned.

In the meantime, I’m so happy with the Nik collection. Take a look at a recent outing to the Capitol Building in Sacramento and the beautiful tree on the front lawn.

Twas a few nights after Christmas: Orangevale, California

Okay, so it took me a while before I got out to shoot Christmas lights. But, when I did, it was great. My photo buddy, Laura Munro, braved the cold and walked a cul-de-sac in Orangevale known for its beautiful and, in some cases, decorative homes. I don’t know what their electric bills are, but I’m glad I’m not paying them!

Now, when I say cold I’m talking about high 30s and low 40s (faharenheit) in the evening. For Sacramento, California, that’s cold! I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a fair-weather photographer. But once I’m out there and start shooting, I forget about the temperature until we head back to the car. That’s when I realized I couldn’t feel my finger tips and my feet were cold!

Enough about the weather. Here are some of my Christmas light images.

Christmas and more muttering

No, I haven’t mastered my new camera yet, but I have used it twice. I’ve been busy or very fatigued since I’ve been home. The fatigue is caused by the stress of my L. A. visit and the busy is due to catching up with things and Christmas.

Christmas was delightful. I had calendars made up using some of my images from 2013 and gave them to the four families represented at our Christmas dinner. We were surrounded by food, good people and love and laughter.

Speaking of that holiday, I learned the true Christmas spirit from my sister-in-law Brenda while I was staying with them. I’ve always exchanged gifts with my Christian friends, but never with the spirit and fervor of Brenda. She would run up to people she knew, hug them and wish them a Merry Christmas. And, I’ve never seen so many gifts exchanged. While not celebrating the religious part of Christmas, Brenda celebrated human kindness. This kindness was returned in the form of support for her and my brother. Brenda’s love for people is so genuine that it rubs off. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be that way? How about we try to celebrate that holiday spirit all year round!

I’m posting some photos of our family dinner. I wasn’t able to photograph Richard Sandler and Richard Glass. They were engrossed in conversation, Dave Bickle was working. And, I confess, I haven’t taken the D7100 off of automatic. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get past page 36 of the manual!

Home again

“Remember me,” I said to my brother as I hugged him goodbye, but in my heart I knew he probably wouldn’t. With his son-in-law and my niece in charge, I left Simi Valley and used the 6 1/2 hour drive to calm down and think. I know what he’s up against, caregiving to my mother for 9 years. She had dementia due to Trans-ischemic Attacks (TIA). But Chuck’s is different since there was no evidence of stroke on the brain scan. There will be more tests to determine the cause, but the results will be the same.

That was two days ago, and once home I got busy with mail and mundane things. One not mundane thing was my new camera, still in the box, just waiting for me. I opened it the evening I returned, took out the camera and looked it over. Nikon told me the body would be different from my D3100, and it is. I picked up the manual and scanned it. Wow! I’m so glad I started with the D3100 because the D7100 would have scared me away from photography! It will take some time, but I will master it. This camera seems to do everything but wash dishes! The excitement of something new was great therapy for the emotional two weeks I had down in Southern California.

More wicked good therapy came my way this morning when we visited my younger grandkids. Did I bring the D7100? Of course, and I took a few snapshots (posted in the gallery).

It will be fun to celebrate Christmas with family tomorrow. We’re a blended group which means we do a lot of celebrating! This is a time to celebrate life. Merry Christmas everyone!

Brrr: Baby it’s cold outside. Too cold for Victorian Christmas!

I remember that only two weeks ago we were enjoying temperatures in the high 70s (degrees Fahrenheit). This week, the high is maybe 50 degrees Fahrenheit! I’ve had a difficult time communicating with the dog about why it wasn’t a good idea to walk when our outside thermometer read 27 degrees and that he had to wait until the afternoon! It was in these extreme conditions that I went up to Nevada City to shoot the Victorian Christmas with my photography pals.

I thought being the first night of the event and the low temperatures, there wouldn’t be many people. I was wrong. Actually, I was disappointed. It was more of a craft fair with vendors packed into the street. The sidewalks were decorated, some men (probably a choral group) sang Christmas carols, but I didn’t see a tree. One of our group said the tree was at the far end of the blocked off area and outside the barricades.  That must have been the blue triangle I saw in the distance. But, this Jewish gal expected a beautifully decorated tree that was the centerpiece of the Victorian Christmas. There was entertainment and the people in Victorian dress were walking around, but they were cold also, wearing coats that partially covered up their costumes.

My disappointment didn’t stop me from taking photos. I took my tripod with me, but never took it out of the bag. There was enough light and my camera did fine without it. I’m glad I went and enjoyed out 2 hours up there. At one point, we ducked into a coffee shop and I warmed my fingertips by holding the hot coffee cup. As we were walking up to the car, my toes were complaining that they were too cold! Thank you Laura Munro for driving us up there. Wicked good fun!