Color and lights: Global Winter Wonderland, Sacramento

Liz made me do it! Okay, she didn’t exactly make me go to the Global Winter Wonderland at Sacramento’s Cal Expo. She asked. Since I hadn’t seen her in a long time, I agreed to go back to something I thought I wouldn’t.

I was there in 2o14 and was disappointed. The exhibits were blown up and held down with large ties. You couldn’t go in them. Yes, there was a lot of color, but the ropes and ties got in the way of photographing. I did try my had at slow shutter speed effects, and had fun doing that. But it wasn’t enough to go back.

I stayed away in 2015. However, Liz was enough to have me go back to the yearly event. It was a little better. The exhibits were smaller and not tied down as they were in 2014. Maybe they were weighted instead. They also had arches you could walk through. I tried to shoot the exhibits in an unusual way, and once again I had fun with the carnival rides.

At coffee afterwards, Liz was complaining that her photos were sort of “pedestrian,” and my comment was, “Well look at where we’re at!” I saw her images in her camera, and she did well.

For me, the fun was shooting with her and catching up. I’m so glad she sort of made me do it!




Zoo life: Back at the Sacramento Zoo

Every time I go to the Sacramento Zoo, I learn more–about the animals and photography. This time it was a short trip because I had a headache that just wouldn’t quit. But, I was there long enough to learn more about how to get through the cages with my lens and animal behavior.

For instance, take the flamingos. I only brought my F/4 300 mm lens that day, so I was looking for close ups. I noticed two flamingos drinking and their beaks were turned the same way. I shot a close up of them and got their reflections. Soon one came closer to where the other was drinking. The result? A disagreement over water rights! You’ll see it in the gallery.

There’s more descriptions of various animals in the gallery captions. So, what did I learn about getting through the cage? When the animal is closer to the cage, lower your F/stop. I also could have increased my ISO–next time. In any case, I’m very happy with the images I got.

I had fun in the short time I was there, and I’ll be making more trips. Having a zoo membership makes it easy to visit anytime I want to practice. And, at the Sacramento Zoo, there’s more to shoot. There’s pretty flowers and people! Next time I’ll bring a second camera with a more versatile lens.

Until then, enjoy our local zoo inhabitants.


Here kitty, kitty: Sacramento Zoo

They are still cats, just bigger and more ferocious if you get on the other side of the fence! Camera Totin’ Tuesdays went back to the Sacramento Zoo. Some children were back to school and it was too early for classes to take their zoo field trips so it was not crowded. And, the cats were active!

I’m still learning the lens and how to shoot through the fencing. I used my F/4, fixed 300 mm lens. This lens is proving to be more difficult than I thought. If I stand close enough to get through the fence, all I get are the animals heads. If I move back, then I can’t get through the fence!  Zoom lenses do have an advantage. I got better results at a lower F/stop, meaning wider aperture. Photography is such a learning process.

I did bring my small point and shoot to get some wide-angle shots. Next time I go to the zoo, I hope not to wake up so early that I’m tired. Then I’ll carry my 3100 also for the photos that my long lens can’t take.

I realize that I still have much to learn and will be returning to the zoo soon. Here are some of the cats and other animals I shot that morning. They are good. My followers always tell me that I’m too picky with my images. But, I know I can do better.  I’ll let you know when I’m ecstatic with my zoo images–in all CAPS!

And, we did call to them saying, “Here kitty, kitty!”


Weather or not: Point Reyes, part 1

This was a first for me–shooting in dense fog. I learned a lot in a recent Meet Up shoot to Point Reyes National Seashore on the coast. It was my first time and I truly wasn’t prepared for the totally socked in adventure I was about to have.

At first I thought, “What moody images this will make.” I had no idea that the fog would make focusing difficult! Auto focus had its problems, so I tried to focus manually. Even that was hard.

In addition, I wasn’t well during the week and only did part of the trails, meaning I didn’t reach the beach where it wasn’t so foggy. I basically concentrated on what I could do rather on what I couldn’t.

Today, I’m posting some images so you’ll get an idea of the fog. It was an amazing first for me.

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:


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!


One off Linda’s bucket list: Donner Lake Tunnels

I’m sorry to say that I really don’t have a bucket list. But, happily, photo buddy Linda does!

Her bucket list brought her, Marlene and I back to Donner Lake for the third time this year. I’ve lived in the Sacramento area for 15 years and had never been there. Thank goodness for photography. This hobby has taken me to more places I could imagine. And, back to those places.

During this Donner Lake trip, we specifically went to see the Donner Lake Railroad Tunnels that were on Linda’s bucket list. Fortunately, she knew of a way we could get there without hiking up the rocky mountain. Driving there and parking the car was easier, especially for three seniors.

These three tunnels totaling 1,659 feet were the first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevada Range. Built largely by Chinese workers, the tunnels were completed in August 1867 and the first train passed through it on June 18th, 1868. The last train passed through in 1993 when the route was changed to a new location.

We passed through it on July 2, 2016. Well, we made it through the first two short tunnels and half way through the long third one. The train rails are gone, and the walls are decorated with graffiti. It’s an experience to do at least once, and the doors in the third tunnel exit to an excellent view of Donner Lake.

After the tunnels, we drove back down and rode around the Lake. It was very different in the summer. In the winter it was serene and beautiful; however, in the summer, it was crowded. I’ll show you both images.

I enjoyed this trip, but I wonder what else is on Linda’s photo bucket list? We’ll see.




Almost escaping the heat: The California Aerospace Museum

It’s not going to be a pleasant summer here in California. We’ve had more triple digit days in June than I remember during the entire summer in past years. So, we went to another museum. I’ve posted images from the Aerospace Museum of California before, but the exhibits change. I’m hoping I won’t be repetitive.

Our Tuesday group got there when the museum opened at 10 a.m., giving us an hour outside before the heat drove us inside. I did a lot of HDR outside in the planes and was happy with the results. Inside proved to be more of a challenge. I took the camera off the tripod and tried close ups and long angles.

Most of the planes are from the WWII and Vietnam wars. Although the docents are wonderful with their knowledge, I was busy shooting what I could before the heat became unbearable. Inside is mostly engines and smaller planes. Some of these planes are on loan and will be rotated with others as they come in.

It was a fun morning and somewhat challenging in the heat.


We’re having a heat wave: The pirate festival, Vallejo California

Triple digits–for two weeks! What’s a photographer to do? Go out early? Shoot indoors? Don’t shoot? The last is not an option! So one day Linda and I drove to Vallejo early in the morning to visit the 10th Annual Northern California Pirate Festival. Well, it’s cooler in Vallejo, we got there soon after it opened and left when the heat turned up.

I guess I was expecting something like the Highland Games we went to last year. This festival was on a much smaller scale, but didn’t lack pirate enthusiasts. The vendors were in costume, but what caught my camera’s eye were the visitors. They were the show.

There were kids activities, games, food, and more family fun. But, Linda and I didn’t bring grandkids, so we observed.

We were in and out within two hours, missing the fine festival food. Instead we enjoyed lunch in nice air conditioned restaurant! So, avast ye mates, and join me at the Pirate Festival.

Do you have any other ways to avoid the heat and still get out and shoot? I’d welcome suggestions because it’s going to be a hot summer.


Oh my gosh, it’s Monday: The Yolo Wildlife Area

See, this is what happens. I had a very busy weekend with the grandkids sleeping over, and today, I’ve been shopping at the grocery store and helping my husband pack for his astronomy weekend in Aidn, California. I handled phone calls: 1. to get someone out here to fix my air conditioner up stairs and 2. to find a new home for my Toastmaster Photography club, All About Photography. I did a load of laundry and walked the dog. I just looked up at the clock: almost 3 p.m. I got a lot done, but didn’t prioritize in my 2 to 3 hours of editing study.

I know that a know a new habit takes a fairly decent time to implement. I’m hoping to do better next week. We usually eat early on Mondays so I can get to my All About Photography Club meeting on time. I’ll prioritize some time on Wednesday while I wait for the air conditioner repairman to come.

Okay, now that I’ve confessed, I want to show you images from another trip to the Yolo Wildlife Area. I’m still learning how to use the new/used F/4, 300 mm lens. On this trip, I found out that it’s not easy for me to handhold. And, you can’t use a tripod/monopod in a car. Normally, I’d rest it on the window (which is rolled down). But most of the birds inconveniently located themselves on the driver’s side. I was the passenger, and my friend Laura was the driver.

But it was a worthwhile trip, and I did learn more about handling the lens. Laura showed me that pumping up the ISO was necessary for a faster shutter speed. I’m reluctant to use a high ISO because of grain. I don’t think the grain is too bad.

Let me know what you think!


I’ve got a plan: Petaluma, California, part 3

In my last post I was bemoaning about not moving forward with my editing education. To those who responded with support and suggestions, thank you!

Monday will be my editing day with 3 hours prioritized. I think that is a good and doable approach. I also believe that once I get into it, the hours may increase.

Here’s the last on Petaluma–the churches. I have never seen so many churches in a small area. All have that small town charm. I shot the outside of most and went into the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church and shot the inside. In fact, it’s this church that I feel I did not do well on the outside.

The featured image shows its amazing steeples, but by the time we walked the house tour and got to the church, I think I was tired and my mind was blocked. However, I think I did a better job on the inside.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Monday and my 3 hours of editing. Wish me luck!

Again, no captions.