Len-Artist Challenge 104: Summer

Heat! That’s the challenge summer brings to the Sacramento area. Due to climate change, our infrequent triple digit weather has become the norm. Add to that, we need to stay away from our rivers and lakes because of social distancing. It’s not my favorite season. But the flowers are blooming and I love macro and close up photography.

So here are some macro/close up floral images for Amy’s summer challenge:

As I’m posting this, they are predicting a high of 98 degrees and right now it’s 92 degrees. My garden will be pruned tomorrow morning! There might be a photography tutorial in my future this afternoon.

Yolo Art & Ag: Harrison Farms, Woodland

It’s time again to wander, or should I say get lost, down those country roads in Yolo County. Each year Yolo Art & Ag sponsors monthly visits for artists and photographers to farms in the county. I have certainly benefited from these sojourns. I grew up in the city, and I’ve been able to see first hand how a farm operates.

Harrison Farms, featured a sunflower field and a some farm animals. When Marlene and I arrived, we stopped at the sunflowers first. Typically, bee keepers put hives near the fields and this was no exception! But the bees are so busy, they don’t bother someone who is allergic like me! As a field, this one wasn’t spectacular but individually the flowers were fun and pretty to photograph.

And then there was the farm itself. The pond was photographic.

There was also a small garden.

They also had a walnut tree grove.

It was an easy and fun visit. I wonder where we will go in July?

The Lotus are blooming! William Land Park

Get your telephoto lens ready, it’s that time of the year. Lotus flowers bloom locally each year at William Land Park in Sacramento. They take up one end of the small lake, and they are beautiful.

This year, I couldn’t believe how big the leaves were. They were almost as spectacular as the blossoms.

I wasn’t alone on a recent Saturday. There were many others, most were wearing masks, including photographers visiting. Most of the other photographers had super long lenses balanced on tripods. I wish I could see what they were getting. I had a 200 mm reach and was doing fine hand-holding my camera.

Of course you know I love to do close ups. Some cropping in post processing were done to these images. Okay, maybe a lot!! Love my new camera!!

There are more lotus from this visit and to my short visit to the Vedanta Society of Sacramento’s small lotus pond. Next Post!!

Practice, does it really make perfect? Old Sacramento

What is perfect? Does it really exist? And, does practice get you there?

I think perfect is hard to achieve, and would you want to achieve it? Probably not. But I did want to get to the point where I could confidently take a picture with my new Fujifilm camera. I had a few disastrous pictures during my last outing. I may have confused the ISO dial with the shutter dial. I ended up with a lot of noise in some of my images.

So off I went to Old Sacramento our good old standby for street photography and everything else. I just wanted to get to the point where I truly understood how to shoot on manual. So, I would set the camera on aperture priority, check the data and then proceed to manual and play with the settings. I tested the camera in all situations.

Landscape:

I tried close ups:

And some shots to see how the camera would perform:

And, how about indoors without flash? Besides, I was getting hungry and needed some sugar:

While I didn’t get award winning shots, I did learn how to shoot the camera. Now on to understanding other factors like how to do HDR and more of what this camera does. It does a lot!

For my next outing, I left the Nikon at home. The Fuji and I did well together and got some great shots. I’ll show you the results soon.

Wearing suspenders and a belt: WPA Rock Garden

I love macro photography! I love the WPA Rock Garden in Land Park, Sacramento! But, do I love making mistakes? Not really, but I love learning from them.

The Rock Garden is an excellent place for macro photography so I brought my D7100 and macro lens. I also wanted to see how well the Fujifilm XT3 and its 55 – 200 mm lens would do close ups. My Nikon and 18 – 200 lens does close up photography beautifully.

First, I found out that my Fuji, like my Nikon, puts itself in various modes without telling me. It put itself in a different focus mode, making it difficult to focus. One mistake solved and learned from. Watch those fingers!

I saw macro opportunities and started shooting with my D7100 and macro lens. Best to do it while the breeze is down. Here’s the result:

Still wanting to use the Fuji, I wandered over to the small Land Park lake and saw lotus buds and leaves in the water. Yes! we would soon have flowers to capture in our cameras. Here’s where the second mistake occurred. I was having a difficult time shooting on manual with the Fuji and didn’t realize until I got home, loaded my pictures into the computer, and saw them on my monitor, that the images were super noisy. Looking at the data, I saw that some of them were shot at 12,000 ISO in sunlight! Did I mistake the ISO ring for the shutter ring? What did I do wrong? This was to be solved during my next Fuji outing! Here are some images shot with the Fuji:

Yesterday, I took pictures of a couple, Carol and Paul, I wrote about in for our community newsletter. I photographed them with the Fuji and the 18 -55 mm lens. They were beautiful. The shots and the couple!

So, lessons were learned. And, practice makes perfect as you’ll see in my next post.

Our new normal: Posting beauty

We may not like our new normal, that of being under lock down, but right now it’s a necessity. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that seeing something beautiful brings a smile to my face, hearing/seeing something funny makes me laugh and reading of a good deed fills my soul. I need all these feelings to get through the next few weeks or months.

So, I’m urging all bloggers to post beauty, funny stories or jokes or feel good adventures. Taking my own advice, I’m posting floral shots of a trip to Ironstone Vineyards in April, 2017.

In search of vineyards: Plymouth, California

My first commission (well sort of a commission) came from my son and daughter-in-law. “We want a lot of your pictures in our new house,” Greg said. Jess was more detailed–vineyards and oak trees. So, I waited until the leaves on the grapevines were green and the grapes were maybe turning color.

My first effort was going to Plymouth in Amador County to search the vineyards closer to home. We had some success. But first we went to Michigan Bar Road and that nice farm. I’ve posted pictures from it in this blog before, so for those who have followed me for a long time, you’re not experiencing deja vu! If you’re new to this blog, here’s your chance! I did try to take a different view of it.

We then went to the Amador Flower Farm where I found a beautiful old oak, and flowers for close ups. The close ups were done with my 18 – 200mm lens. (Yes, I’m keeping it!).

Now for the wineries. They were all located on Shenandoah Rd and it was an easy ride. I think Jess will be happy with some of these.

My search didn’t stop here. Next post: Napa Valley!

Practice makes perfect: McKinley Park and Green Acres Nursery

Flowers, flowers and more flowers! I’ve been shooting a lot of them lately, trying out a lens. I like being able to do close ups without a macro. You might be shooting a landscape, see a nice flower, want to shoot it, but didn’t bring your macro lens. So I’ve been practicing with a lens I might keep. It’s an 18 – 200mm Nikon lens.

Being a person who has difficulty making up her mind, I’ve practiced and practiced with it. I’ve pretty much made up my mind to keep it, but….

Here are the captures at the rose garden in McKinley park in Sacramento.

Some other pictures taken at McKinley park that night.

Moving ahead about a week, here are the images captured at Green Acres Nursery in Sacramento. They encourage photographers to visit and take pictures!

So should I keep it?

It’s that time of the year: Sunflowers and zinnias

Nothing can make you smile like a sunflower! When you see a whole field of yellow and orange looking at you, you just get a great feeling. This year I had the opportunity of visiting Woodland twice and photographed two sunflower fields and Metzger’s Zinnia Patch.

When we visit the sunflower fields, we are careful not to disturb the plants and shoot from around the patch. As photographers, we are happy we’re allowed to take pictures. Cooperation goes a long way!

Bee colonies are kept near the fields to help polinate. I can assure you they are busy bees! Here are some “sunnies.”

We also stopped at a safflower field.

Now for the zinnias. What is special about this patch of zinnias is that the Metzger family allows people to pick the flowers and encourages them to share with others who can’t get out. You’ll see moms and their kids having fun choosing their favorites.

Do you like sunnies as much as I do?

A farm tour: Dr. Heather’s Goat Farm

It’s amazing how history repeats itself. Just a year ago, in June, my Chiropractor, Dr. Heather Rosenberg, Roseville Disc and Pain Center in Roseville, hosted an open house at her farm. I brought my young grandkids, Ryan and Olivia, and friend Linda. It was a fun morning visiting the animals, other guests and Dr. Heather’s family. We totally enjoyed the morning that was complete with samples of goat cheese and goat milk ice cream. You can re-visit that post here.

Now, back to the present, photo buddy and patient of Dr. Heather, Lucille suggested we take the photo group to visit the farm. Dr. Heather liked the idea and up to Auburn we went early one Saturday morning in May.

This was a different sort of visit. When we got there, Dr. Heather had just finished milking the goats and was cleaning out the machinery. We began by taking pictures of the goats in the barn. Trying to simplify her life, she sold her egg laying chickens. We were told to roam around and soon she would take us on a tour.

The tour consisted of a walk around the small lake, after which, we were free to roam with our cameras again. For me, this visit was totally different and more focused on photography. Are the pictures different? I think so. Take a look and let me know!