Just enjoying it: Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

We just wanted to go shooting for enjoyment, and not too far. So we found the Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park in Volcano, California. This land preserves a large amount of marbleized limestone with about 1185 mortar holes–the largest collection of bedrock mortars in North America. Women would gather together and visit as they ground their grains in the mortar holes.

There’s also the Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum and a reconstructed Miwok village on the grounds. The one building I had fun photographing was the Ceremonial Roundhouse which is used for various social gatherings and ceremonial events. Since it is used currently for those purposes, we couldn’t go in.

My challenge during this outing was the brilliant sunshine and the shade. This drove the camera sensor crazy–me too. I tried some handheld HDR (tripod wasn’t with me), and focusing on the shade and then raising the camera which blew out the sunny area. The best I could do was to focus on the sunny area and move the camera. Fortunately Lightroom has a graduated ND filter and a shadow slider. Both came in handy during post processing!

But, it was a perfect outing, and we did enjoy it. Sometimes you just have to get out!

 

Still standing: Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, Folsom

Remember that cold I was complaining about? I still have it! But, at least I’m still standing when so many of my friends have succumbed to the flu. This isn’t a complaint, okay it is! When I’m sick, I can’t regain enough energy to not be tired. And, this affects my ability to do photography.

Before this cold/flu hit the Sacramento area, my Tuesday group was given a special tour of the Historic Folsom Powerhouse in Folsom. This small power source once lit up all of Sacramento. The following from Wikipedia illustrates the  significance of the powerhouse.

“Before the Folsom powerhouse was built nearly all electric power houses were using direct current (DC) generators powered by steam engines located within a very few miles of where the power was needed. The use of rushing water to generate hydroelectric power and then transmitting it long distances to where it could be used was not initially economically feasible as long as the electricity generated was low-voltage direct current. Once it was invented, AC power made it feasible to convert the electrical power to high voltage by using the newly invented transformers and to then economically transmit the power long distances to where it was needed. Lower voltage electrical power, which is much easier and safer to use, could be easily gotten by using transformers to convert the high voltage power to lower voltages near where it was being used. DC power cannot use a transformer to change its voltage. The Folsom Powerhouse, using part of the American River‘s rushing water to power its turbines connected to newly invented AC generators, generated three phase 60 cycle AC electricity (the same that’s used today in the United States) that was boosted by newly invented transformers from 800 volts as generated to 11,000 volts and transmitted to Sacramento over a 22 mi (35 km)-long distribution line, one of the longest electrical distribution lines in the United States at the time.”

The tour was great, especially since it was led by a photographer who has since joined our Tuesday group. While our guide explained the history and how the Powerhouse operated, I listened and continued shooting. Unfortunately, I should have been taking notes!

But since I didn’t, follow the link for more information on the Powerhouse.

We have since been on other outings, and you’ll see those in future posts. Maybe by then the cold will just be a memory and I’ll be out there clicking away.

 

 

 

 

I’m crowing: UC Davis Arboretum

Yes, hens sometimes crow like roosters. My neighbor had one. So, I’m crowing because I’ve noticed vast improvement in my photographic skill level.

I happened to be looking back at the photos I took during our cross country trip in 2013, and I was amazed at how poor some of the images were.  Some challenges had to do with composition, but most with processing. I knew little about each! But that’s how I learn–by doing.

In fact, that’s why I started this blog–to track my progress. My followers are great in motivating me and cheering me on. Thank you everyone. Looking back, the most significant tool for me was doing the 365. Having to shoot a photo a day for one entire year taught me many lessons.

While I’m bragging, Richard is looking into his wallet because I told him he had to take me on another cross country trip to retake some pictures. Well, he’s really not looking for cash; he just gave me a stare and said NO!

Now I’m printing some images and gaining more valuable information. Once I understand that, maybe I’ll tackle Photoshop. Digital photography is not easy to grasp if you don’t have a technical mind, which I don’t. I’ll continue to learn and share those experiences here.

One of my favorite places to practice is the UC Davis Arboretum, It’s not far, in Davis, and is great for macro, landscape and telephoto shots. Just choose what you want to concentrate on and bring that lens. This results in a great learning curve. This trip I shot with my 18 – 140 mm lens.

Here are some samples from that visit. I didn’t see any crows though, just a horse in their horse barn, but I’m still crowing.

 

In search of Fall color: Hope Valley

The great migration has begun! Each year we photographers go to the Eastern Sierras to find those amazing rich yellows, greens, oranges and reds. This year we may have gone to Hope Valley too soon, but Marlene was ready for a day trip. With Linda along, we made the 2-hour trip to Hope Valley.

Linda had never been there and had never shot the famous cabin. I just went along, not expecting much color. As I’ve said before, an outing with friends is great!

By the time we reached the valley, hunger had set in. The only place to eat is Sorensen’s, a small resort featuring cabins and campsites. We love their cafe. The food is delicious. After filling our tummies, we set out to find the cabin. This old cabin has been photographed by all the photographers who come in search of Fall color.

After finding the cabin and shooting it from every vantage point, we went on a scouting trip to find anything else. We weren’t the only photographers out there. I stopped to talk to a guy who was a little disappointed in the colors. He thought it would be at the peak in a few days. I thought it would peak in about a week.

We did find a couple of other places that had nice color, and then started the trek home. It was a fun day of shooting with friends. Since we were up there, about two weeks ago, photographer’s pictures still don’t show the rich colors we saw last year. Maybe that’s the way it will be this year. Those who went further south, got better color.

This was our only trip to seek the amazing rich colors of Fall. Next year!

 

Under the weather: Rough and Ready, California

We may be having some extreme heat in the Sacramento area, but I’m the one who’s under the weather. I haven’t been out shooting very much this month. I’ve been on two outings so far in August compared to the six through mid July. It might be the heat and not feeling well combined that has kept me indoors.

I haven’t even spent time learning new editing tricks. Leanne Cole has included a tutorial on replacing skies in the new Dynamic Range magazine. Not only does she give instruction but she also gives a practice picture and four free sky backgrounds. I haven’t gotten to that tutorial.

But, I’m feeling better today and looking forward to shooting in the Bay Area tomorrow where it will be at least 25 degrees cooler. Marlene and I did take a morning last Saturday to photograph in the small town of Rough and Ready. I researched the town and wasn’t expecting much except a blacksmith shop that had been turned into a museum and a couple of other buildings. The town is near Grass Valley, so I thought we could also shoot there.

Expectations are sometimes not met. This was one of those times. I think the three-block town is in transition. The first thing we noticed were all the no parking signs, then we noticed the no trespassing signs on all photographic buildings except the blacksmith shop which was closed. The town market was shut down and for lease, yes, with no parking signs up.

Only the Post Office, closed on Saturday, allowed parking. Residents came and went with their mail. We parked wherever we could and walked. We trespassed a little, walking on the edge of properties and leaning in. There were no fences. It was sad, and left us wondering what was happening in this small town.

After shooting as much as we could, we drove into Grass Valley, ate lunch and shot some more.

I’m hoping getting out of the heat, being with photo friends and shooting tomorrow will help me feel better. I’m sure it will.

 

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.

 

HDR: my first images

I finally did it! Yes, I downloaded some HDR software and processed my first images. I didn’t do much more than their presets, but it’s a beginning. Thank you photo buddy Jayne West who gently pushed me into taking bracketed shots on two separate outings. That gave me some photos to work with.

Why did I wait so long? I thought it would be too difficult to learn. But, it wasn’t–at least loading in the photos, choosing a preset and modifying the image slightly. I know the program, Photomatix Pro, has many more features, and I’ll learn them in time. In fact, we will be heading to a star gazing party for four days/nights in Adin California. It’s a cute small town so I’ll have more opportunities to practice HDR. I’m also going to try to do some night sky photography. I printed out many tutorials just in case we don’t have cell reception. Did I mention that we are dry camping in a cow pasture!

Since I finally did it, here are my first three HDR images. All advice is most welcome.