Macro and more: Bushnell Gardens

Just let me put my macro lens on my camera and I’m happy. Add to that a nice windless morning and newly watered plants and I’m euphoric. That’s what we found one morning at Bushnell Gardens, Granite Bay, one morning.

I began slowly, being a bit dismayed when all I saw were trees, but then I found the plants. This nursery is simply beautiful in its landscaping. It’s a relaxing place to photograph. Here are some macros I shot that morning.

In addition to plants and trees, they have many other beautiful things that you could fall in love with, or photograph!

Inside the store, Christmas had already arrived.

Our morning continued on Douglas Blvd. in Roseville with a building that caught our attention, but you’ll have to wait for my next regular post to see it!

A return trip: Locke

I’ve been to the town of Locke a few times, but never on the weekend. This time we went on a Sunday and some stores and museums were open. My challenge was to photograph something different or from a different angle.

Known as the Locke Historic District, CA (U.S. National Park Service), Locke was originally a town built for the Chinese immigrants who came to work the farms and orchards. For a full history, click on the link above. The town remains basically the same as you can see from the pictures. It hasn’t changed at all in all the years I’ve visited.

By going on a Sunday, we found many residents home and working in their yards or just relaxing. A couple of stores were open too. It’s a very small town and main street is a far cry from a typical small town thoroughfare. Two restaurants serve the town. It’s about a mile to Walnut Grove, also founded as a need to house Chinese workers, where you can find more restaurants, etc.

My neighbors joined us for this expedition and just weren’t prepared for how the town was kept as original as possible. Even the toilet bowl garden hasn’t changed or the old barn with all the wheelbarrows

I was lucky that the open store had cold drinks and a few items to photograph.

Doorways are fun to photograph in Locke.

The old buildings have remained the same. The one with the bulging front is still standing.

Someone has his/her own way of dealing with this pandemic.

I also liked these chairs sitting in a yard.

I’m sure we’ll go back to Locke again, maybe next year. Things will probably remain the same.

The heat is on: The sunflowers are smiling!

Heat and drought! Not a good combination. We are in the midst of wildfire season here in the west, and Northern California is getting its share. But what makes us smile are the sunflowers. Yes, it’s also sunflower season here.

In the middle of June, the wonderful Yolo Arts & Ag Project brought us to the Elkhorn Basin Ranch in West Sacramento. It was going to be a hot day, so we got there early. Artists and photographers were lined up to sketch, paint and photograph the cheerful sunflowers.

Now these sunflowers were grown mainly for seed to ship overseas, and to my surprise, they were not super tall. I’m short and I always have a difficult time to photograph fields even with my three-step ladder. I was in photo heaven. Also the farm manager allowed us to walk into the field a little bit.

So, here are some of my images from that morning.

An artist stops to smile for the camera.

Before we reached our destination, we did stop to take images of this orchard.

The Elkhorn Basin Ranch is owned by the Yolo Land Trust and leased to Don Beeman and Garcia Farms.

The Lotus Are Here: William Land Park

Each year we look forward to times when nature shows us beauty. In 2020, many venues were closed, but at William Land Park in Sacramento there was no stopping nature and the beautiful lotus flower. This year the lotus came back even stronger. I’ve never seen them on vines that were so tall. It was an amazing site. Here’s what I captured during a recent visit.

In the last picture, you can see how tall the lotus were. Wonderful isn’t it!

With a little help: The Nesting Tree

Yes, with a little help we can accomplish what we thought we couldn’t. One of the reasons I bought a mirrorless camera was the need for a lighter camera. I could still hold my Nikon D7100, but with some lenses it was getting heavy, and I’m not getting younger. I currently use my Nikon for two types of shooting: ultra wide and telephoto.

The last time I tried shooting with my Nikon and an old prime (meaning metal casing) 300 mm, my photo buddy Ray saw I was having difficulty holding it steady. It was more than that, I couldn’t hold it steady. So, he made me a short monopod to anchor the lens.

I wanted to show him what I call the nesting trees in Lincoln and he wanted me to try out my new small, hand-held monopod, so off we went. And guess what, it worked. With just a little help from my friend I can now use a telephoto on my Nikon. If I ever get a telephoto for my Fuji, it would also help. The birds were across a small gully and a stretch for any 300 mm lens, but I was able to photograph them and really crop in.

The second bit of help also came through Ray. He let me know that Topaz was having a sale. Now I can’t resist a sale, can I? I bought Topaz Sharpen AI and DeNoise AI. I used Sharpen AI on all the birds and it was amazing.

We didn’t stay long. The egrets’ and herons’ mates were not flying back with food/nesting material. But I was able to get a shot of one flying in without branches and twigs in the way.

I’ll be going back to the nesting tree with my new monopod soon! Thank you Ray!!

Lens Artists Challenge #133: My Photography Journey

Life’s journey seems to take twists and turns, but it’s been my experience that important happenings come at a right and perfect time. Amy has given us the challenge of describing our photo journey. I started this blog at the very beginning of mine.

For me, photography came as I closed down my part-time speaking and writing business. At age 70, I didn’t know what to do with all the extra time I would have. Friends suggested sewing, quilting and crocheting. No! I’ve sewed and crocheted before, and it wasn’t fulfilling.

After several weeks, I remembered how much I enjoyed the photography class I took at Pierce College when I was a returning student (My youngest was in first grade). All the journalism majors had to take the photo class and the photography students had to take a journalism class. We had to use an all manual camera. Fortunately, Richard brought back a Minolta from his time in Vietnam, and I used that camera. What fun I had developing the film and making prints.

During that time, I was also writing for a newspaper and started taking the pictures for my column. I always wrote tight so the editor wouldn’t cut my articles. The only time he cut one was to run one of my photographs a half page. After graduating and moving, I stopped taking photos except of family with a point and shoot.

Fast forward to my retirement decision to purchase a DSLR. Not sure about the decision to make photography my new passion, I bought an entry level Nikon, the D3100. I didn’t know anything about crop sensor vs full frame or even how to use the camera. And, what was ISO?

From the archives, a picture taken with my D3100 shot on auto because all I could see in the dark was the green “A!” This was taken at one of my first outings with my new camera.

I found that photographers were more than willing to share their expertise, and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. I found out that ISO was like the film camera’s film speed and much more. I didn’t take a class because I didn’t want assignments and homework. Come on, wasn’t I too old for that?

The more I learned, the more I understood the limitations of my 3100. So, within a year, I bought a Nikon D7100. I could bracket automatically and it had two card slots. I liked that camera and used it until 2020.

Here’s a shot taken with my 7100 in 2014. Now I know how to reduce the white at the bottom.

I was still learning, experimenting and asking questions. In 2015 I did the 365 Challenge, and I’m so glad I did. My photographic ability jumped after that year. That in itself was a journey.

Here’s a picture I took during week 10 with my new/used macro lens.

My passion for photography never waned through the years. The more adept I became, the more I realised my need for a camera that would be better in low-light situations. If I was to get another camera, it would be a mirrorless for the size and weight. Marlene bought a Fujifilm X-T2, and when I saw her pictures, I knew that was the camera I wanted. The color was outstanding and the clarity amazing.

In 2020 I bought a Fuji X-T3. I’ve always bought new cameras, but used lenses. This time I came home with a new camera and three new lenses. I have not regretted that decision. I still use the Nikon for ultra wide and telephoto shots. I’ve sold my wonderful Sigma macro lens since I have one for the Fuji.

Here’s an image taken in 2020 with the Fuji.

So, here we are in the present. I’m still learning and growing in ability. I do need to conquer Photoshop and other plugins. When an outing is sort of blah, I still come home with an image or two that are worthwhile. I now see things differently, and I’m more aware of my surroundings. Most of all I’m having fun. What an amazing journey that’s still twisting and turning while moving forward.

A macro lens: Thompson Building Materials and Nursery & Green Acres Nursery

A good photographic practice is to go out on an outing with only one lens. That’s what I did recently with a couple of photo buddies. Since I recently did a post for Lens-Artists on Macro, I thought I should take some macro photos.

That’s how we ended up at Thompson Building Materials and Nursery in Sacramento. This is mainly a commercial business. They had a large amount of outdoor statues and other ornamental items. With my 80 mm prime lens was slightly restricted, I had to move back (get a wider angle with my feet) or get a partial of the item. A macro lens can be used for other types of photography!

Now for the flowers. Some of these may be from Green Acres Nursery also in Sacramento. Being more of a residential nursery they had more flowers. So the following is a mixture from both businesses.

I do love macro/close up photography. Take care everyone!

I should have asked questions: Sandhill Cranes

I know that Sandhill Cranes like to gather in the middle of a field which puts them out of reach for my prime 300 mm lens. I go to photograph them because sometimes they are closer to the road. In fact one year they were beside the road. I remember yelling at Laura to stop the car while we were in the middle of our side of the road. No other car was in sight and I got great images!

This time Ray and I were joining two other photo buddies at Woodbridge Ecological Preserve to catch the Sandhill fly in. I knew I would have trouble getting them even with my 300 mm lens. I actually thought since we were meeting at 3:30 p.m., we would be driving around for about 45 minutes, and maybe we could catch some of them closer to the road. We didn’t drive around!

We spent the entire time at Woodbridge. The Sandhills were there, but in the middle of the field. Too far for me. I tried with my Nikon D7100 which performs poorly in low light. That’s the camera the big lens fits on. I started taking pictures, but wasn’t happy with any of them.

So I thought, what’s 100 mm less? I learned it means a lot! But my Fuji is much better in low light, so I took it out and started shooting with a 55 – 200 mm lens. I would have gone home, but I wasn’t driving. Since I had both cameras on burst, I had a lot of bad photos to go through the next day! The Fuji managed to get a few okay Sandhill images and a nice mostly cloudless sunset!

So there you have it! Lesson learned; ask what the agenda is for the evening! Those pesky Sandhills.

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.

On a hunting trip: Wide Open Walls

We weren’t hunting with guns; we were hunting with our cameras — for murals. Each year Sacramento hosts Wide Open Walls and invites artists to paint amazing images on the sides of buildings. These paintings are huge.

We never get to see them all, so we photograph what we can. Some are from years back, but they are new to us. I’ve shown you some before. This year we only saw a fraction of the new art. I guess we’ll have to go back.

I was shooting with my Fujifilm, so I didn’t have my ultra-wide 10 – 20 mm lens available. But I think the 18 to 55 mm did a good job. Sometimes I had to angle the image to get the entire mural in.

Here are some of these colorful masterpieces. Click on each image to see it in its entirety.

We heard there was a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsberg painted before her death. We hunted and found it in an alley behind a restaurant. Some great murals are in alleys, but I’m hoping they do another in a more prominent location.

While hunting for these murals, I found other things to photograph which I’ll show you in another post. Hopefully I’ll go hunting again for murals soon!