Didn’t you want to go there again? Nevada City, California

Challenges, I love them–most of the time. Visiting Nevada City in the Sierra foothills, was like that. If you’ve been following this blog, you have seen images of this quaint town and its neighbor, Grass Valley. We stopped there on our way to Downieville, walked and took photos and then went on to the city of no pizza!

I didn’t mind because it’s challenging to find something different to shoot, or maybe to shoot from a different angle which can give you different results. Exercises like these help improve your compositions and photographic abilities.

So here I am in Nevada City finding inspiration, seeing new opportunities and learning.

A big step: Empire Mine, Grass Valley, California

I move slowly–I know it. So, when people started telling me I should enter my photos in competitions, I was reluctant. I didn’t know how to prepare them, didn’t know where to enter, etc. To help push me along, I joined the Sierra Camera Club.

This is a big step for me because they have two monthly juried competitions. Last week I put two images in competition. Wow, that was intense. I was really looking for guidance and constructive criticism. Scoring was 8 points at the low end and 12 at the high end. I really did not have any expectations of what score my photos would bring, I just wanted to hear what the judge had to say.

He went through more than 100 images in the open category and half that in the artistic category. I learned a great deal that night from listening to him. Oh, my images scored an 11 and 12. Below is “Capitol Moon” the one that earned 12 points. Not bad for the first time. And the expertise of many members is tremendous. Their photos were outstanding. Some of them warned me from experience not to get upset when I score my first “8” since judging was subjective.

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Next month, I need to print out some pictures for the competition. I’m still looking forward to it, knowing the judge will be different and may be more tough. For me it’s a big step towards learning more.

For this post, I’m taking you back to the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. My Tuesday group went there recently. I was hoping that with all the rain, the flowers would be blooming. No such luck. So I tried to shoot close up and do a little HDR. We did take the Cottage tour, bringing us inside the cottage (not the small cottage you may be picturing). See it again, but differently, through my camera lens.

 

Going and looking back: Grass Valley, California

We are in a morphing stage. Since Greg’s passing, our Tuesdays With Seniors group hasn’t been the same. We’ve reformed and are now enjoying the company of pre-seniors. It was during this time that our two new members, Rita and Karen, and I went to Grass Valley and the Empire Mine State Park.

I had been there twice with Greg, and he was the tour guide. He mostly showed me the town, various high points and the countryside. He used to live in Nevada City and for him it was a homecoming.

I find Grass Valley old town a little less touristy than Nevada City. We went to both, but shot mostly in Grass Valley. Once again, I needed to shoot the familiar scene a little differently. I didn’t do HDR or carry a tripod as I had done on my two previous visits. I tried different angles and got in a little closer in some shots, especially at the mine.

This time our visit to the Empire Mine, where I did use a tripod and shot HDR,  yielded an unauthorized brief tour of the cottage. The ranger in the office turned her head and allowed the docent to take us in. We were like children in the candy store, that is until the alarm went off. Our docent, probably feeling like he got caught with his hand in the candy jar, was busy trying to turn off the blaring sound. Soon we heard an additional but different blare–the second alarm! We took our shots quickly because we knew that once the alarms were turned off, our sneak peak into the cottage would be over.

But, the fun isn’t over, and I look forward to more adventures with this re-formed group. We will have a new name which will be decided tomorrow during our Napa visit.

 

Lesson learned; shooting with a tripod: Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley, California

I told you that I learn from my mistakes, and for this outing, I remembered my Tripod. It’s a good thing I did, because it came in handy at the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. The park was begging to be shot in HDR which added so much depth and character to the images.

As usual on Tuesdays, our guide and driver Greg took us, me and Linda, the back way to the Park, stopping along the way to discover future shoots, do some actual photography and eat. That is how we ended up in Wheatland, the first stop on our journey. This is a very small town. I put the “very” before small because that’s how small it is–at least to our photographic eyes. The town, in Yuba County, actually has a population of 3,456 as of the 2010 census.

We were going to Rough and Ready but never made it because it was getting late and we wanted to get to the Mine. Oh yes, we made a couple more stops along the way. The Empire Mine was founded in 1850 and operated until 1956. The William Bourn family maintained control of the mine and lived there until 1929 when it was sold to Newmont Mining. In 1975 it was purchased by the State who then created the Historic Park.

We got there late afternoon, quickly going to the mine area. The grounds are separated into the mine area and living quarters consisting of a beautiful home and gardens. We shot until we were asked to leave. It seems they close the Mine at 5 p.m. When we left, the ranger reminded us that we were there almost two hours which should have been enough time to see the mine, and I had to explain that photographers take more time than most people. I don’t think she was sympathetic; she just wanted to go home!

Oh, another lesson learned! Check out the hours before we leave home! Yes, we’ll have to do that because we will be returning.

Wandering: Grass Valley and Nevada City, California

I’m on the move this year, shooting whenever and wherever I can. So, when photo buddy Greg Morris offered to take me up to the foothills and visit the sister cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City, I couldn’t refuse. I had been there and toured the Empire Mine State Park, but when you go with someone who knows the area, it’s a whole new experience.

As a former resident, Greg knows all the stores, buildings, neat homes and the area’s history. Greg shoots mainly on a tripod and takes a good deal of HDR shots. And the results are amazing. I’m going to have to ask him to give me a lesson in Photomatix.

It was fun listening to his stories. I hope you enjoy the images.