Not today: Michigan Bar Road Adventure

Not packing or unpacking! Yes, today is a day off. Since we decided to move, I’ve gone on two photo outings, and, even then, I packed at night. Then, the next day, I unpacked at the other house. We are painting, putting in new floors and taking care of other things at our small home. The kitchen is almost set up. The rest of the move is easy.

Today, is a rest and blogging day. Last weekend I needed to take a break, drive somewhere and shoot. So, I rounded up photo buddies Laura and Linda and away I drove to Michigan Bar Road. This road is located in a rural area of Sacramento County. To get there, you drive on Highway 16 or Jackson Hwy through beautiful scenery, and in the summer, you can buy the best corn ever at the Davis Ranch produce stand. I’ve posted images from this road before, so I tried to get different angles, etc. Then we had the bright idea to go beyond the paved road and get home a different way. I do need to tell you it’s been raining here off and on for two weeks, and I was hoping that with a few dry days, the dirt roads would be more or less dry.

Not!! Going 7 – 10 mph can take about 45 minutes to go 4 miles! I made it through three shallow large puddles with the help of my valiant crew, but was stopped by this pool. We had to turn around.

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On the way back to the paved road, I had to set down the law because my pals were still wanting to stop to take pictures. No more pictures, we needed to get home. This was a fun adventure, and it rained the next few days so my car got cleaned outside. (I looked for every puddle to go through to get the underside clean.)

Each of us had a reason to get out and experience a bit of photography, so we all enjoyed our adventure. The next day it was back to moving for me, but my break was great!

 

Cooling off: Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento

It’s not easy to find places to shoot when it’s triple digits outside. We’ve taken our Tuesday group to the ocean, stores, and, now to a museum–the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. The fact that I’d always wanted to go there was a bonus. Yes, we could bring our cameras in, but no flash or tripod. This, of course, added another challenge, but we were up to it.

Just a little background: The original historic building was the home of Edwin B. Crocker who built on a home addition to display his art collection. Eventually the home and gallery became the Crocker Art Museum. In 2010 an addition was built to expand the museum. For me, the new, modern addition is a stark contrast to the existing historic home/gallery. You can feel the difference as you pass from one to the other. I liked the use of ambient light in the new building, but totally enjoyed the architecture and richness of the old.

I didn’t have much trouble shooting in the new Teel Family Pavilion since light was abundant, and I knew what to do to shoot in the old section. And, to our delight, the cafe food was delicious. Our outings are always about food too!

Here’s a sample of what we found while escaping the heat.

 

 

 

A challenge with two lenses: Locke and Rio Vista

I needed to challenge myself because we were going back to Locke on a recent Tuesday, and I’ve photographed the small town many times. So, I decided to dedicate the shoot to using two lenses I seldom take out: my 50 mm (Nikon) and 10 – 20 mm (Sigma). With the 50 mm, I wanted to see just what difference the 1.8 would make. And, it did make a big difference in getting a smooth bokeh. I enjoyed working with it even though I did try to get it to zoom!

Zooming is the only problem with that lens. I couldn’t walk back far enough to get more in the picture, so I concentrated on close ups. I switched to the ultra wide lens to see what distortions I could get. I was a little disappointed. It worked great with little distortion.

When we took a side trip to Rio Vista, I put on my walk around lens. I love that 18 – 140 mm. When it’s windy, it will catch a close up of a flower. It was dark, cloudy and dreary there. The last time I posted pictures from Rio Vista, the water was high and flooded part of the shore line. This time the waters had receded.

So my self-challenge taught me that the nifty fifty is a great lens, especially for portraits and close ups, that the ultra wide is great for landscape and buildings and my all-purpose go to lens is just that.

Here are the results.

Beauty; no beast: Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys, California

We sometimes travel distances for beauty. On a recent Tuesday we traveled 2 hours to Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, California. Why did we drive all that way? Because I know it’s beautiful, and there would be no disappointments. Well, sometimes it could be raining like during my last visit there. There was a little wind, so that meant we didn’t use our macro lenses. However, my 18 – 140 Nikon lens does excellent close up photography in the wind.

During shooting the flowers and grounds, I was having some trouble with my camera’s exposure. I would compensate and then on the next picture, re-compensate. It was bothering me because it meant that I would have to take two shots. One to let me know if I needed to compensate and another with the compensation. Maybe someone can help me figure out if I have a problem with camera or lens. It may be that the sun was bright, but then I’ve shot in bright sun before. Oh, it didn’t happen on my photo outing this week!

Other than that frustration, we had an enjoyable day. And, since I wasn’t driving, I napped on the way back. Yes, the key to traveling long distances is to pick a worthy spot–then you don’t mind the long drive, especially if you can snooze a little on the way home.

This will be a two-part post. Today, I’ll show you some of the flowers. Most are tulips, but there are others. In the next post, I’ll show you the grounds and cavern (wine cellar).

When life gets busy: Capay Valley, California

Have you ever felt like a dog that’s chasing his tail? I’m sure you have at one point or another. March felt like that for me. Between getting ready for my Georgia trip, going on it, and doing photography to help with the emotional stress I knew it was bringing, I forgot to post my trip to Capay Valley.

Our Camera Totin’ Tuesday group went there to shoot the blossoms of the almond trees. There are many orchards in the valley, and fortunately they are all on different time tables of blooming. We were too late for some and just in time for others.

Timing in landscape photography is critical, and so is knowledge of the area. What I’m realizing is that I’m not the most patient photographer! I also rely on other photographers’ knowledge rather than research it for myself. I guess that makes me lazy in addition to impatient! I’d like to climb out of that rut but there are other things grabbing my time. I keep reading that a good photographer should do the research on the area they are shooting, go during the right time of the day and have the patience to sit there for the shot. I’m lucky I have people I can rely on!

Back to Capay Valley. We had a fun day of driving, finding almond orchards, farms and more. We took off with an end in mind and wandered until we got there. Cell phones helped us keep the three cars together.

I did enjoy it, and I’m sorry that I didn’t post sooner on this beautiful area, but………..you know!

The end of my Georgia journey: World of Coca Cola, Atlanta Georgia

With my GPS to guide us, Brenda (my sister-in-law) and I set out to find the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the first outing that brought us a good distance out of Peachtree City. After driving around town with me, Brenda was used to going around in circles, and this trip was no different! We did find the museum and a parking lot, and only went around the block once!

When you first go in, there’s a reception area where visitors are given a soda. You wait and then the tour begins. The kid giving me a soda was doing his welcome bit and asked where I was from. When he heard California, he said, “I want to visit there someday. I hear you have some nice hills.” Well, I just had to tell him that those hills were called mountains and were more than 7,000 feet high! I do love living in California.

The tour was fun and took most of the day with time out for a lunch break. When we got back, we went to see my brother for my last time. For me this was, barring a miracle, good-bye. That night, I sat feeling so empty inside.

After a few days home, we did have a miracle of sorts. My nephew sent me a picture of my brother with his head up. He couldn’t lift it up for more than a week. At least he can see people and eat if he wants.

I’m just hoping his angels and internal GPS guide him on his journey. Love you Chuck!

 

I love this place: The Sacramento Zoo

The Sacramento Zoo is a favorite of my Camera Totin’ Tuesday group. Why? It’s close and the animals are fun to photograph. We’ve been back often enough that we’re beginning to learn their names, learn their behaviors, and watch the babies grow.

Baby giraffe Rocket is almost as tall as his mom now. Too bad he won’t be staying at our zoo. Yes, we learn all about what’s happening! The little Red River Hogs are almost as big as their parents, but not any more cute. And, we’re getting a new tiger soon.

I say “we” because most of my group are members. As members, we get monthly newsletters and advanced notice of any special events. But, I also enjoy going to the zoo because it helps me perfect my photographic level. I’m doing much better with the F/4 300 mm lens now. It alone weighs 3 pounds! I carry it on a monopod. Sometimes I also take my Nikon D3100 with my 18 to 140 mm lens so I can get a better angle on the giraffes and flamingos. The F/4 is excellent at getting through the enclosures. Sometimes I have to stand way back!

Now that you understand more of why the zoo is featured so much in this blog, meet the animals!

What’s your passion? IKEA, part 2

I have two passions: Photography and Toastmasters. Toastmasters changed my life and Photography enriches my retirement. So I decided to combine these two diverse activities and formed a Toastmaster’s Specialty Club: All About Photography (AAP).

At AAP we follow the Toastmaster format, but as our name suggests, we speak on photography and our table topics are on photography. We have photographers of all levels. Last week, I presented my images from IKEA for table topics. The participants were to give a 1 – 2 minute mini-speech on how they would edit these mostly abstract photos. I do crop well in the camera, so they had a difficult time imagining the total scene.

It was a fun exercise, and I picked up a few hints on what I could have done–next time. So what is your passion? What has changed your life? What enriches your life?

Here are my remaining images from IKEA in West Sacramento in black and white.

Seeing things a little differently: Downtown Roseville

Have you ever gone somewhere more than once and had a different experience each time? Downtown Roseville isn’t exactly a hot spot for photography. I posted on it when I took my friends there. I showed them the small area called Downtown and we watched kids play in the water fountains. However showing the area to Brian a fellow photographer was an entirely different experience.

He had two hours in Roseville and I was in the area for a chiropractic appointment. We met in Downtown and walked the area. Forget the Tower Theater, we went directly to the railroad tracks.

Before the dot com boom in the early 2000’s, Roseville was a railroad town. But the only place you’d recognize that fact is in Downtown Roseville. East Roseville is where all the office buildings are located, and West Roseville is suburbia. They also have a small section called Historic Roseville. You’ve seen some pictures of that area also in this blog.

So Brian and I spent some time near the rail road tracks and by Linda Creek. I also showed him the train sculpture that welcomes visitors to Downtown.

Just a disclaimer, I don’t live in Roseville or in Placer County. I live two blocks from the Placer County line in Sacramento County. Before I retired, I would network and look for new business in there. And, yes, in those days that city was a totally different experience for me!

 

Self evaluation: The California Automobile Museum, Sacramento

I’m at a cross roads and seem not to be ready to make the next move. I think it’s time to take my photography to the next level. My goals in 2017 are to learn Photoshop and some of the other processing programs I have accumulated, and to enter competitions.

I am learning more about Photoshop. I have an accountability partner, and I’m doing the 52 week challenge. I started it last year, but fumbled after the first couple of months. However, I think I can do it with Karen B. keeping me moving. I will also encourage her to learn. So far, I’ve learned more about the removal tools because Karen and I sat down for a Scott Kelby lesson.

The second goal is where I’m more stymied. Every time I hear about a competition, I read the entrance instructions and decide there will be better photographers entering. I tell myself that I don’t stand a chance. I know I should enter and accept whatever happens. That way I’ll at least find out what the judges look for, etc. But, I’m stuck. I’ve tried self-talk; it didn’t work. I know I’ve got to just take the leap, but I don’t seem to be jumping high or long enough! Confidence–that’s what I need.

Maybe a few blog posts in the future will find me taking the right path at the cross roads.

Aside from this, Richard had never been to the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, so we decided to go. He loved the cars and I loved trying out my newest acquisition a F/2.8 – 4, 17 – 70 mm Sigma Lens. We both enjoyed our experience. As usual, I found it difficult to shoot there with cars stacked up in rows and ropes keeping us at a distance, so I did close up work again.

If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you might think the cars are what you’ve seen before. The good news is that they continually change the exhibit cars. So take a look at the fun parts shots!