Lens Artists Challenge #158: Along Back Country Roads

Just what are back country roads? Could they be roads that are new to you and fun to explore? Could they be taking a wrong turn and ending up on a road that’s barely suitable for driving? For Wandering Dogs, Beth and her husband, it’s getting your tires dirty and seeing the beautiful countryside. So this week she’s challenged us to take that road less traveled.

For me, it means adventure and new roads, paved or not. I’ve mentioned my photo outings with my friend Greg, who passed away, in other posts. He, Marlene and I would set out in the morning and return in time for dinner–maybe! We didn’t know where he was taking us and sometimes neither did he. He had a passion for turning down side roads, especially when it said “Dead End!” These are from some of those trips.

Sometimes it’s the need to get away for an hour or two. Early on during lockdown last year, I was getting antsy. When Richard noticed me scratching at the front door, screaming “Let me out!” (A slight exaggeration, but true feeling!), he said let’s go for a ride. We didn’t go far; just up Highway 80, looking for small towns. One of these towns was Dutch Flat, and it was small.

Another of our escapes had us looking for the Sugar Pine Reservoir. The was one of those times when taking the wrong turn could get you into trouble. The GPS showed us a way back, but it didn’t say how narrow and twisty a dirt road it was. It took us 4 hours to do what should have taken at most 1 hour!

Photo buddy Jean likes to get in the car and go with sort of an idea of where to head. For this outing we headed out to the Eastern Sierras in search of Fall colors, but Jean smelled water, and off we went. We found a stream and a lake and I don’t remember the name.

So these are some of my road less traveled excursions. Yes, there were more, but I’ll save them for another time.

Lens Artists Challenge #139: Special Moments

When you’ve lived 77 years, you gather, in your heart, many special moments. There’s the usual life cycle moments that you work toward and totally enjoy, the personal achievements you’ve worked hard for and the moments that brought you fun and delight. In her challenge this month, Tina wants to see our special moments and what made them special.

I’m going to begin with our cross country trip in 2013 to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

This is the mighty Mississippi and the push boats that continually move their cargo. We were told that they move 24/7, stopping at certain points to pick up supplies. Being near and on this river was important to me because my mom always wanted to take a Mississippi river cruise on a paddle boat. We did take a short cruise in her honor.

This was also my first time using my Nikon d3100 and entry into the hobby. Next is a picture from Central High in Little Rock Arkansas. The Little Rock Nine integrated this school in 1957. When I saw that we could visit the school I needed to go. To our surprise it is now a National Historic Site, and we were able to join a tour led by a ranger. She was so graphic about what happened to those children, it broke my heart. Hate has just got to stop.

On to 2015 and a picture of photo buddy Greg Morris. He has since passed away from brain cancer, and I still have fond memories of him. He didn’t like that I rarely used a tripod. He also had a great sense of humor. He’d pick up Marlene and I in the morning, taking us away for a day of shooting. Of course, because he always used a tripod!

The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, in 2016, saw me climbing through Laura’s sunroof to capture the eagle below. He was on a tree limb that crossed the road and looking straight down. Laura’s seats are leather. I was trying to balance a heavy lens while trying not to slip on the seat. But it was worth it!

In 2017, I did use a tripod to capture these wine barrels at the Ironstone Vineyards. Shooting in a dark place was a first for me. My shutter was at 1.6 seconds and my ISO was at 1000. And, of course, I used a tripod!

Every year we photographers travel to find Fall color. For me, these trips are more than to shoot photos. They are fun time and memories made with friends. Marlene and I found this patch in 2018. It was one of the best trips.

This last photo was a total surprise for me. I guess I happened to be doing the right thing at the right time. I was taking a picture of this train in Old Sacramento, October 2019. I was shooting at night and decreased my shutter speed and increased my ISO. I was just practicing on getting this train at night with ambient light. As I pressed the shutter the train moved. My exposure was 2.5 seconds What a treat! I call it trainsparency.

So these are just some of my special photographic moments and their meaning to me beyond photography.

Lens Artists Challenge #129: Favorite Images of 2020

This challenge from Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles seemed easy at first, but when I started digging through my photos, the challenge became emotional and difficult. The pandemic wove its way into our lives touching all aspects even photography. There were fewer outings, no lunches afterwards, less day trips. Picking the favorites out of a challenging year was tough.

The year 2020 started out great with one of my best sunsets taken at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, and an eagle shot at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. I didn’t make it back to either place that year.

Before the first lockdown, we did make it to Mare Island (A former Naval installation) where I spotted the perfect natural frame for an old brick building. I do love structures.

I did win an honorable mention for this photo in the McKinley Rose Garden contest.

Our photo shoots mainly consisted of meeting at the designated place shooting masked and then going our separate ways. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento reached deep into my soul since my husband served in Vietnam. This piece particularly touched me. A prisoner waiting for what?

I did take two longer trips. One with husband Richard as we searched for the beautiful California poppy and one with my friend Jean as we looked for Fall color, but instead found this beautiful lake.

Out again with our small group, we searched for Fall color before it disappeared. As we were going home, we came upon this.

But my favorite is the simple love of a child for her mother. In this case the child is Glory, 6-weeks I think when this was taken, and her mother. This was taken at the Sacramento Zoo. I call it, “This is MY mommy!”

And so, we are now two days into 2021 and things are looking up. We have vaccine choices in the works and hope. Take care and stay safe!

Road trip: In search of Fall color, again!

Just say these words to me “road trip and camera,” and I’m ready for a fun morning. So off Ray, Marlene and I went, meeting Lucille and Gert along the way, to find some Fall color. We started outside of Lincoln, California in Placer County and drifted around the area. We saw touches of color during our drive, stopping where we could. I do wish farmers would create parking for us!

Here’s our first stop. The trees were bright red, but the lighting was not that good and a fence was prominent. They dying grape vines gave a nice orange hue.

I followed Lucille around the corner. This is what she found.

Our second stop was up the road at a county park that was already full. They let us in so we could use the bathroom. It was a long bathroom break!

Our third and last stop came as we were on our way home. We stopped when we saw orange blazing on the hillside.

So, while we didn’t find amazing Fall color, we did find amazing photographic opportunities. I love those road trips because you never know where you’ll end up or what photos are waiting for you to take.

Strolling along Putah Creek: UC Davis Arboretum

Camera, check! Lenses, check! Waist pack for when walking, check! Hat, check! All ready for a nice stroll with photo pod buddies along the trail at the UC Davis Arboretum. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to this end of the arboretum, so I was especially excited to see scenery I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The arboretum didn’t disappoint.

There’s a lake where Putah Creek widens. It’s simply beautiful and one tree drew my attention.

And here’s the lake from the other side.

In the Spring, there are more blossoms on trees, but the bridges and pathway colors were beautiful.

One bridge had locks fastened on its wires.

It was serene and beautiful. People were relaxing like this young couple.

We did drive to the other end of the arboretum. We couldn’t walk because part was closed off. This was the end we were more familiar with. The flower garden was almost bare but the light on the gazebo offered great shadows and patterns.

Just as I checked everything before I took off on our walk, I checked it all again as I put the camera, lenses, waist pack and hat in the car. It was another great photo outing.

Looking for color: Sierra County

It’s been so long since I was on a day-long road trip. I guess I was complaining a lot so Jean said let’s go. I said I wanted to shoot the Fall colors but wasn’t so keen about going to Hope Valley again. She suggested Sierra Valley in Sierra County where she once lived, and since she was driving off we went. We, or I should say Jean, drove about 330 miles that day.

I found, after out last road trip, that Jean likes water–well, taking pictures of water. There are many small lakes in Sierra Valley and we stopped at one. Sorry, I don’t remember its names but it was beautiful.

If you notice most of the pictures don’t have clouds, but this one does. I’m getting better with Luminar sky replacement.

We drove and drove, stopping here and there. I was able to get a little bit of Fall color which was great since we didn’t reach our destination! Here are some images.

I caught a few other scenic images. We went through the small town of Sierraville. I thought the barber shop was aptly named!

We ended up at Jean’s old stomping ground, Loyalton.

We ended the day with dinner. I had the best burger since the pandemic began. We ate outside with plenty of space between tables. I had so much fun, and want to do it again soon.

Goodbye 2019! Land Park & Effie Yeaw

Yes, goodbye to 2019!! I can’t say that it’s been the worst year, but it hasn’t been the best for me personally. I feel like my photography journey is on a roundabout and is unsuccessful in getting off to continue down the road.

I think my health is under control now, but with the beta blocker I’m on, any shooting beyond 8 p.m. is not happening. I just get too tired, but my heart is beating better. I call it my new normal!

December has been a rainy, cold, overcast and damp month which adds to the photo blues. I’ve tried to make the most of partly cloudy and sunny days, but they are few. Here, in California, December, January and February are traditionally our rainy months. The rest of the year is pretty dry, so we are hoping for more rain, and, of course, more complaining. My photo buddies and I are trying to think of more indoor places to take our cameras to. You might see some familiar places in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, let’s finish up some of 2019 with visits to William Land Park in Sacramento and Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael.

Jeanne and I went to William Land Park to catch some Fall Color in mid November. There was barely any left, but we did shoot for about an hour.

Next is Effie Yeaw. Marlene and I went to capture the deer rutting. They weren’t rutting that morning, but there were many deer.

Oh, I did get my calendars, and they look good. But, they are not exactly the way I wanted them to be as far as lay out. There’s always 2020. If I don’t blog again before, Happy New Year!!

In search of wine and color: Napa Valley

I wasn’t enthused, but I do enjoy shooting with Laura. In fact I haven’t been enthused about many shoots this year. It’s not been a wonderfully healthy year for me, so I’ve stayed close to Sacramento. And, I haven’t been overjoyed with my images either. I may be just too critical, or it might be that I haven’t traveled any distance to shoot something different.

So when Laura suggested we look for Fall color in Napa, I said the vines are turning brown. She said they were changing color! She also wanted to pick up some wine. Off we went down the Silverado Trail where many wineries and vineyards are found.

She was right. The vines did give us some color. The fog gave us some drama. The eventual sun gave us some good lighting. And, Laura got her wine!

I’m glad I went on this outing. All I had to do was sit and enjoy conversation while she drove.

Creating a calendar & website navigation: Apple Hill

I do this each year and each time it’s a different frustrating experience! I give photo calendars each year to friends and relatives in December. Hopefully, they will use it during the year and like my photos that adorn each page. Each year I use Costco Online Photo Center. Each year the website is changed. And, each year I need to call them!

Today, was the worse experience of all. I had to call immediately after loading my pictures. Here are my frustrations:

  1. I took the time to choose the pictures and name them by month for easy insertion into the calendar. But, when they were imported, they had no names or file numbers!
  2. I chose the custom calendar, but there was nothing custom about it. However, this year you could pick various holidays to print on the various months.
  3. To get started, I had to go through choosing my set up three times. The only way I could get my pictures into the calendar was to insert one of the pictures in each month. I was told I could go back and change the template after that.
  4. I was very limited in the length of the text I wanted to insert.

I’m done with it and will proof it tomorrow. I’m hoping that will go easy and I can send it off to print. I’m still wondering why they need to change the “how to” each year!

Okay, griping over–maybe! Today I’m going to show you some photos from our annual trip to Apple Hill. It’s an area above Placerville where all the growers have formed an association, and welcome visitors to purchase apples, pies, food, etc. Photographers go to buy pies and take photos of the beautiful fall scenery.

We’ve gone so many times, so we tried to find different places to shoot. Here’s what we found.

If tradition holds true, we’ll be back next year. I did buy a small apple pie for Richard!

Searching for fall colors: Markleeville

It seems that with each season Sacramento photographers rush to photograph the Milky Way, wildlife including the Sandhill Crane, snow and Fall colors. I’m no exception which is why my Camera Totin Tuesday group treked up to Markleeville, Alpine County, to capture delightful images.

There were five of us, and we squeezed into one car. Fortunately Marlene drove and her Suby Blue accomodated us easily. It’s a 2-hour ride up to the colorful aspens. Thank you Marlene for driving us. We stopped along the way to photograph the changing colors and had lunch in Markleeville. After lunch and taking pictures of the small town, population of 210 in the last census, we continued looking for color.

While editing the pictures of this outing, I tried to get out of my comfort zone with some creative help from Nik software. I’ve been liking the soft look lately and wanted to do some of my own. So, here’s the California colors of Fall.