Lens-Artists #117: A photo walk

Whether in the city or country-side, I love photo walks. Thank you Amy of Share and Connect for choosing this topic. It’s a great way to relax, observe, see opportunities and shoot pictures. However, here in Sacramento, between the pandemic and smoke from fires, taking photo walks has been minimal. Of the few activities this year, my trip to the Sacramento Zoo and Gibson Ranch stand out.

The Sacramento Zoo. I love the zoo, and typically spend 2 hours walking it. It closed early on in the pandemic and when they were permitted to reopen, it was under strict guidelines. We needed to make online reservations, you couldn’t request a time slot, and they only let in a certain amount of visitors at a time. My time slot came early in the afternoon. Typically I would get there when they opened in the morning before the big cats took their naps. However my ticket was for 1:30 p.m. Wow, animals that were traditionally inactive in the morning were active. Here are some images from that zoo afternoon.

Another time we went to Gibson Ranch in Elverta. I hadn’t been there in a long time and wanted to get familiar with my new 80 mm macro lens. I didn’t think I’d be able to do much true macro work, but I wanted to see what else it could do. Gibson Ranch has a pond, barn, animals, horse stables and horses. It’s typical to find families feeding the ducks and geese, horses being groomed and rode, and people taking trail rides.

I’ve since used my macro lens on flowers, etc. It’s great.

There are so many other places to stroll about with a camera in the Sacramento area. I’m just waiting for the smoke to clear!

A little non-macro practice: Gibson Ranch

I knew Gibson Ranch Park in Elverta wasn’t the best place for macro shots, but you can use a macro lens for more than just close up photography. Yes? Well, I gave it a try when Marlene, Linda and I went to to the park. I hadn’t been there for a while, and I wanted to practice with my new macro lens for the Fuji camera. It performed well.

There were the usual amount of ducks at the pond.

And there were geese!

And a squirrel enjoying a peanut tossed by a young boy.

And Gibson Ranch has other animals too.

There are also stables where horses are boarded. In one area, trail rides are offered.

Oh, yes, I did manage to get a couple of close up/macro images too.

Now I have to find some flowers and bugs to practice on!

Wild but gentle: Searching for wild horses

You know, one person photographs something, then everyone is after the same thing. And, of course, I’m no different. A few photographers recently went on a tour to photograph wild horses in Nevada. Their photos were great and spurred Me, Laura and Marlene on to find a herd.

We did, just outside Reno, Nevada. The other photographers found their group near Minden, Nevada. Laura knew of a herd near Reno and had their approximate position. When we got there, civilization had encroached on their territory, but they were still there. We drove through a housing complex, found the gate, drove beyond the gate and there they were! That easy!!

I couldn’t believe how used to people these Mustangs were. One came up to me straight on. I had to tell him I didn’t have anything for them. I did see someone feed them some carrots before he left the area.

It was amazing. These horses live just outside a residential area with a small stream as their water supply. They were grazing on whatever they could find on the ground. At one point, I saw a bunch galloping down the hillside. I yelled galloping and ran to the spot. Laura turned around and got some excellent shots. Mine are not so good, just a little soft, but I’ll show you one anyway. I was having a difficult time handholding the heavy F/4 300mm lens. Next time I’ll bring a monopod like Marlene did!

I want to find more wild herds. And, maybe my post will spur other photographers on to find herds to photograph.

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.

 

Crystal Ball Fun: Gibson Ranch

My crystal ball won’t tell the future, but it sure is fun to take on a photo outing. After trying a couple of my photo buddies’ crystal balls, I decided to get one. They are fun, but my 4.2 inch is heavy and bulky to carry around. I found an old point and shoot camera bag that it could fit into, and it helped to carry it over my shoulder during a July 4 morning shoot at Gibson Ranch with Laura.

If you’re thinking of buying a crystal ball/orb, don’t go bigger than mine. Photo buddy Karen has a 4″ and 3″. She prefers the 3″ because it fits into a jacket pocket and is lighter to carry. I find the smaller orb more difficult to shoot through and to get some of the background identifiable in the background. One recommendation is to get one that sits on a crystal base rather than a wood base.

If you haven’t shot through a crystal ball, it gives an upside down image of what you’re shooting and looks almost like a fish-eye effect. Here’s one:

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Of course, you can right side up the image and have the background upside down. In this picture, the blurred background is what you see in the ball. My goal is to learn how to crop out the ball’s base. Just another challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I have been attacking  Photoshop, but not on Mondays. We can schedule, but things do come up. Last week I broke open “Photoshop for Lightroom Users” by Scott Kelby. I’m learning some of the tools and to do little things right now. I’ve also investigated some of the other software I have as I edit.

So gaze into my crystal ball, enjoy and have fun!

 

Gibson Ranch near sundown

What I love about the “Shoot Or Go Home” photography meetup group is the small, close to home opportunities they offer. Tuesday we ventured to Gibson Ranch (about 10 minutes away) for a photo walk and sunset shoot. I wasn’t feeling well, but I needed to do something I enjoyed after losing the trailer and missing out on a weekend away.

Gibson Ranch is a park where people board horses, organizations hold events and individuals picnic. It was a Sacramento County park, but is now being run by a private company. I think the County still owns the park but has leased it out. We met at 6:30 p.m. and proceeded to walk the area around the stables. It was a small group, so I had a chance to meet some of them. Mary and “Goose” helped me with my prime 50 mm lens. I’m still having troube getting the exposure correct. After enough frustration, I switched back to my zoom lens.

The setting sun created a challenge for exposure no matter what. I’m so glad I’m learning Lightroom. We all gathered at the small lake to shoot the sunset. This was my first time shooting a sunset for HDR, The sunset wasn’t all that spectacular, but I had fun processing the HDR and was pleased with the various results.

So, here are some of the images captured Tuesday night with the “Shoot Or Go Home” photo group.

 

A love of horses part 2

Yesterday I admitted that I had not been around horses, but had a yearning to photograph them. I’ve always thought they were beautiful animals. So, the shoot at Dr. Stacey Adam’s ranch was a joy. I got caught up in sensing her love for her animals. Each of the three has their own personality.

Part one of this shoot focused on Lucky, a very handsome and photogenic horse, and Alyda (Stacey, I apologize for messing up her name) the grand old mare at 30 years. I only posted a couple of Alyda’s images because she was muddy on one side, and I really don’t know how to use the clone tool in Lightroom yet. When I master the tool, I’ll post more of our senior horse. I also realized that I had not totally followed the advice in the articles I had read about shooting horses. In some instances, I did not get down low enough and the horses’ legs did look a little short. Fortunately, I took a lot of shots. Lesson learned, and I’m sure there will be more to come! Each shoot is a learning experience for me.

Today you will meet Honeymoon, a frisky 3-year-old. Right now, she is the only horse that is able to be ridden. Stacey’s goal is to get another horse so she and her husband can ride together. Age and health conditions are not problems here. All the horses are loved equally. I think Dr. Stacey is amazing.

Meet Honeymoon!

 

 

A love for horses

It’s not that I have a love  for horses (never having been around them), but I know someone who does. Stacey Adams, DC in San Jose loves her horses and shows it. I recently visited her ranch with a friend because I wanted to shoot horses. What I found and learned is that they are majestic creatures who feel, love, get jealous and enjoy attention–at least these three horses did.

First we have 30-year old Alyda, who in her day must have been even more beautiful than she is now. Next comes Lucky, 20-years old, the handsome and photogenic one (especially when the sun hits his body). Last is Honeymoon. She’s the baby of the family at 3-years old. She’s frisky and playful. You can meet them in the gallery that will be posted in two parts.

Before we went for the shoot, I did my homework and read tutorials on how to shoot horses. Some of it was applicable to the environment in which I shot, but much wasn’t. I love all the information available on the internet, and most of it is free.

My friend, Kim, and I got to Stacey’s ranch about 4:15 p.m. to catch the golden light and left at about 8 p.m. A great big thank you goes out to Stacey who worked with each of the horses for us. You can just see the love she has for her animals. I’m hoping that comes through in some of the images. Tomorrow you’ll get to see more of Honeymoon.