Lens-Artist Challenge #105: Spring

Photos are our memories, and I’m glad to have images from Ananda Village‘s Crystal Hermitage Garden. Each year, volunteers plant tulips on the terraced hillside, creating such beauty worthy of a yearly visit. However, this year they didn’t open to the public because of the Pandemic.

Ananda Village is just north of Nevada City in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The village is run by a spiritual association that provides a range of tools to strengthen spiritual lives of individuals of all ages. It follows the teaching of Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple, Swami Kriyananda, to meet the needs of spiritual seekers. They also have retreats and rent cabins to individuals who just want to get away and meditate.

A group of us go up each year to take pictures. These are from last year.

Thank you Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles for this Spring Lens-Artist Challenge!

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?

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.

Road Trip: Levee Road

It was time to venture out with my friend Jean for a short road trip. California is beginning to open up, but I’m still cautious. News: I thought my photography had reached a level where I needed a better camera. Because of my age, I needed something light (not full frame). Mirrorless was an obvious choice.

I bought a Fujifilm XT3 and was anxious to try it out. It was just the two of us, both healthy and not exposed to anyone with COVID 19 so off we went. It was great to be on a road trip with no destination in mind.

We drove for a short time up the Levee Road north of Sacramento when I saw these terrific reflections in the rice paddies.

As we drove on, I spotted a sign that directed us to a boat ramp. Jean said she wanted to shoot near water so wouldn’t a boat ramp be perfect? It was a great stop. We came upon pelicans, fishermen and a beautiful section of the Sacramento River.

We made some more quick stops along the way: to shoot a farm across the road, some thistles going to seed, and another house. I was doing okay with my Fugi, having to change the lens a couple of times and shooting on manual. Typically with my Nikon 7100 I use an 18 – 200 lens so I don’t need to switch lenses in the field, but Fuji doesn’t make that lens.

We ended up in Yuba City in Sutter County where I took pictures of the Hall of Records building built in 1831. What a beautiful building.

I had a great time and was happy with my new camera. At least until my next outing which will be the subject of my next post. Be careful and stay safe everyone!

A lonely park: Rush Park

I knew that there wouldn’t be children playing on the three playgrounds, skate boarders enjoying the skate park, swimmers in the pool, kids playing baseball at the diamonds, adults using the tennis and pickle ball courts but I thought we’d be able to get on the grounds of the historic Rush Home and Gardens. At least that’s what one of the Sunrise Department of Recreation told me the day before. He said the house was closed, but that we could take pictures of the grounds. He didn’t tell me that we’d be shooting through the fence!

So off three of us went to this large park in Citrus Heights. Just looking at my images will show the lack of activity in an otherwise jammed park. It was sad. We didn’t walk the entire park. What we saw was enough.

The Historic Rush Home is normally used for weddings, meetings and other special events. The gardens, at least what we could view through the fence, didn’t seem spectacular.

Some pretty flowers and water in the park.

The unused fun areas that are now empty.

I’m hoping the next time we visit Rush Park it will be full of laughter, families and people enjoying their sports.

Escape #4: Effie Yeaw Nature Center

Something familiar, comfortable and close by; that’s what I wanted for my first photo outing that didn’t involve a car ride. Yes, I had to drive to get to Effie Yeaw in Carmichael, but I loaded my camera on my sling and walked the Nature Center. And, I wasn’t alone. Marlene, Jean and Ray joined me. I guess I wasn’t the only one who needed to escape!

This time was very different. We each drove our own cars, wore our masks and kept a reasonable distance from each other. And worst of all, we didn’t follow our adventure with lunch!

Because I had a morning Toastmaster meeting, we met at Effie Yeaw at 10 a.m. It was too late to see the deer, but we did see a lot of people. Some wore masks, some stepped aside when they saw us walking the path and some just passed us on the path. I guess everyone has their own level of concern about this pandemic.

I find breathing with a face mask on difficult. There’s something about breathing your own air that affects my heart. I’m probably not getting enough oxygen. So, with that hindrance, I got tired sooner. But, it was all worthwhile.

Here are some flower images from that morning.

I love the trees at Effie Yeaw. They are so expressive.

And then there’s the American River.

And, let’s not forget about the other things that catch a photographer’s eye.

The last image was created with a Photoshop filter that distorts. It was a piece of green netting!

It was a great escape, but a little different. Maybe next week there will be another adventure!

 

Our new normal: My camera took me for a walk!

You know you’re addicted when your right index finger wants to press the shutter button and your left hand wants to steady the lens barrel. It was more than a week since our adventurous ride and I needed to get out and take some pictures.

So…. I my camera took me for a short walk around the neighborhood. The long 2-mile walks are reserved for dog walking. First, there are many front yard gardens with beautiful flowers. I made sure I didn’t go on property and just shot what I could from the road’s edge.

We have a lot of wild turkeys here, and the males are telling us it’s the season to show off. These two actually started to move when I lifted my camera, but stood still when I yelled at them not to move!

Last, are our current Canada goose family. These are the only geese to have goslings so far at our small lake. There will be more. And when there are, the dads will guard their families with fierce hissing and may actually run after you if they think you’re coming close to the goslings.

That was yesterday’s walk. My camera is calling me again. I think there’s more neighborhood and more pictures to take!

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.

Just stopped for coffee: Murphys CA and more

Coffee was calling! So on the way to Big Trees State Park, we stopped in the small resort town of Murphys. This town was our lunch stop when we were shooting the Concours d’Elegance at Ironstone Vineyards. You can see that post here. Well, we got more than just coffee!

After our visit to the State Park, we stopped near a bridge to capture the scenery.

Last, we made a stop at Ironstone Vineyards just as they were closing. Jean had never been there. Fortunately, we had just enough time to see the grounds and shoot some flowers.

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!