Having fun, but not making progress: Petaluma, part 2

If you’ve been following this blog, then you may remember that I began the year with a goal of learning Photoshop and other processing programs. With half the year gone, I haven’t made much progress. I can take out unwanted things easily in Photoshop, but haven’t ventured into layers. I have gotten acquainted with some processing programs, but have only used their presets.

And, no, I’m not being hard on myself; I’m just stating facts. I’ve been shooting a lot and loving it. My photography has improved too. Maybe it was just too big a goal. Maybe I need to chunk it down to learn one thing at a time with Photoshop, especially now with the big update to 2015.5 in the CC version.

Okay every week, I will learn one new thing about Photoshop. Can I do it? We’ll see. In the meantime, we will continue touring Petaluma with the  walking tour of Victorian houses. These old houses are beautiful, and the flowers are from their gardens. You’ll notice that I concentrated mostly on the doors and entries. No captions.

One new thing a week, one new thing a week. I’m beginning to feel like the “Little Engine that Could!”

Camera Totin’ Tuesdays: Petaluma, California

For me and about 15 others, Tuesdays is reserved for shooting. I’m sure I’ve told you about the group Marlene, Karen and I started after our photo buddy Greg Morris died (Our trio was called Tuesdays With Seniors). While he was ill, Karen started going out on Tuesday with us. After he passed, we felt a name change was in order and we became Camera Totin’ Tuesdays.

As we posted pictures of our adventures more photographers wanted to join us. Most of us are retired, but some join us when they can get a Tuesday off from work. It has become a fun group. We are starting to venture out of the greater Sacramento area now, and recently we went to Petaluma.

Not being a loner, I prefer to go shooting with other photographers. I love the camaraderie, the sharing of information, seeing other photographers styles and  making new friends. I watch the others and learn. Most of the time, when someone finds a great shot, they will share it. On occasion, I have gone out alone and enjoy the solitude and self creativity that ensues.

But when we went to Petaluma, we had nine photographers and a three car caravan. We found it easier to pick a meeting spot and just meet up there. As the group grows we’ll have to perfect this.  Once in the town, we had a fun day. We sort of stayed together in a loose sort of way, had lunch together, did some more shooting and then took our separate ways home.

I have never processed so many images as I have with this outing. I’m either falling in love with my pictures, getting better shots or not being discriminating enough! Well, maybe a little of all three. Or maybe I just found so much to shoot in this small town.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful for our CTT group that gets me out shooting no matter how I feel that day. This will be a 3-part post. Enjoy the architecture of the town and waterfront. I told you I edited a lot of images!




I ran as fast as I could: Flowers in San Jose

I tried to outrun a cold, but I think it caught me anyway. That’s a bummer because I want to go learn more about lighting tonight and shoot on Saturday and Sunday. So, at least during the day today, I’m taking it easy. However my dog keeps asking for his usual walk. We all learn to deal with disappointment, even him.

When I was in San Jose visiting my friends, I wanted to go to the Municipal Rose Garden, but decided to take my camera on my neighborhood walk instead. I wasn’t dissatisfied. The gardens were beautiful and well cared for. I wish I had more time and energy for a longer walk.

This proves we really don’t have to go far to find beauty. With that in mind, here are some of the beautiful flowers I was able to shoot with my 18 – 140 mm lens. No macro that day; it was too breezy. No captions today. Mostly I know the roses, but not the names of the other flowers. All I know is that they are beautiful!

After I post this I’ll rest for a couple of hours.


Too hot outside; shoot inside: The California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento

When it’s triple digits, it’s even too hot to shoot in the early morning hours. And even though I had been to Old Sacramento for the Sacramento Music Festival, I suggested the California State Railroad Museum. There were three of us that morning, Jim, Marlene and me from our Camera Totin’ Tuesday group.

Jim went in without flash, but an excellent lens. Marlene went in with a great lens and flash. I went in with my 18 – 140 mm lens and flash. Jim gave me the excellent hint that he was shooting on Aperture Priority. So I tried it out. It worked well. This is where you set the aperture and the camera does the rest. Oh, I didn’t mention that the lighting was lousy: low light with different bulbs, some LEDs and some tungsten. So there were patches of yellow light and some with white light. I found my flash useful in some cases and in others not. This was a great exercise in flash use.

I’ve been to the Railroad Museum with my young grandkids many times, but never with a camera. While we could use a flash, we couldn’t bring in tripods–another obstacle to make this shoot more difficult.

My spirits perked up when I found the mirrors! One of the trains was parked on a floor of mirrors, in front of a wall of mirrors, with mirrors overhead. This is either a photographers dream or nightmare! I had such fun. I’ll show you some of reflections I shot.

All in all, it was a great indoor outing. Followed by an indoor lunch. It’s triple digits again today. It’s going to be a hot summer!


Back again: The West Sacramento River Walk

A place revisited can bring surprises. That’s the way it was with the West Sacramento River Walk. Marlene and I had been there with Greg Morris (who passed away in January) and returned recently with Camera Totin’ Tuesdays members.

But what had changed? The geese had goslings, more homeless were around, and different vendors were selling their wares at the farmers’ market. Oh, and Karen brought her 3″ crystal orb for us to practice with.

So, you’ll see different images in this post. What did I learn? I learned that shooting through a 3″ orb is more difficult than a 4″ orb. However the 3″ is much lighter to carry. Weight is a consequence when you’re a senior. In spite of that, I did purchase a 4.2″ orb. But, I have yet to practice with it.

I’m becoming more confident in my photographic journey. The more compliments I receive, the more positive about my abilities I get. That’s why I don’t mind going back to places I’ve already shot at. I see things differently and can find those surprises.


Music, music, music: The 43rd Sacramento Music Festival 2016

The music was outstanding, but the weather was not. It was in the high 90s again this year, and our venue is outside. Even though the temperature was brutal, the Sacramento Music Festival was a hit.  I do this every year because I enjoy it. I like being involved at some level, and all staff members get a free four-day pass. We work 3 1/2 hours and have the rest of the day to enjoy music.

We work the youth venue at the Delta King. Most of the kids are high-school age, some are from middle school and some are from private clubs. Best of all, these youth bands play well. I do enjoy our venue.

We saw two of our favorites, Tom Rigney and Flambeau and Dave Bennett and the Memphis Speed Kings. We also heard some fantastic music from performers we hadn’t seen before.

I only brought my camera in one day so I didn’t get all the groups. And, I only used my walk around lens (18-140 mm). I’m learning that sometimes you just want to enjoy the activity without getting up and taking pictures–especially when it’s hot.

As we were breaking down the venue, I asked our site manager if he could order better weather for next year. He said something like it could be hotter or rain. We’ve had both!

So here’s a glimpse of Saturday at the Sacramento Music Festival.



Night shooting on the river: Viewing Old Sacramento

Busy as a bee, I be! Okay, that’s not proper English, but it seems to fit. I’ve been learning more about event shooting at our District 39 Toastmasters Conference this past weekend. It was not only shooting, but editing, or trying to, on the spot. I was editing my images and two other All About Photography club members’ images.

What did I learn? I’ve learned the comfort zone with my speed light. I brought a chair up front and plopped it down in the middle of the stage area. I noticed that when my subjects were more to the back of the podium, lighting was more of a problem. The closer they were to the front, the better the flash handled it. Most of what I was shooting was candid so I couldn’t say, “Please come forward!” Also, the District does not have a lighting system. Working with ambient lighting was a challenge.

I worked in Lightroom mostly and did very little in Photoshop. I do need to learn how to work with layers to lighten background, etc. I hope to have that knowledge before the next conference.

I would show you the challenges and how I handled them, but all pictures taken on behalf of District 39 Toastmasters have their copyright. But I can show you my images taken a couple of weeks ago with the Camera Totin’ Tuesday group. We went down to the Sacramento River during the blue hour. I was able to use my ND filter at night for the first time. It was fun.

Just keeping busy!


From February to May: Donner Lake

I was surprised that there was still snow on the ground when we made our trip to Donner Lake.  The area around the lake wasn’t as pretty though. The gray snow that still surrounded some houses was negligible. We did stop at the same overlook and, wow, what a difference 3 months can make. Snow still capped the mountains, and the scene was beautiful.

The overlook was the only place that we visited before. This time we went into Donner Lake Memorial State Park. It was here that I had an opportunity to play with a crystal orb. Now that was fun. It took some getting used to, but I was happy with the results. A crystal orb is now on my list.

What did I learn? I believe I’m shooting with more confidence. I’m also getting a great deal of positive feed back on my images, and waiting for the five black and white prints I ordered. I do hope there are no surprises when I open the box. Meaning, I  want them to look as they do on my computer!

Here’s a glimpse of Donner Lake and the State Park.


More macro: Sacramento Historical City Cemetery, part 2

When I promise, I deliver. This is part two of my fun morning at the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery. This cemetery is known by another name: The Old City Cemetery. And, because of its historical nature, volunteer tours are given on weekends and various holidays. The who was who of Sacramento are buried here.

What I find interesting, besides the beautiful flowers, are the grave stones and monuments. Some are simple and some ornate. On my first visit there, I found one that simply said: “Our Baby.” Life spans are given in years, months and days. If you’re a history buff, you’ll find it here.

Maybe that’s why the City in its misguided effort is trying to take away the roses to present history as they think it was. But that would take away the beautiful attraction to the cemetery. This move is being fought by the volunteers who planted the gardens surrounding the grave sites. I’ll keep you posted on their effort.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the pictures. And, as promised in a prior post, I just sent in an order to have five of my black and white images printed!

Macro Madness: Sacramento Historical City Cemetery

We visited the Sacramento Historical City Cemetery with a sense of loss. Not for people who have died and are buried there; for the flowers and archways the City wants to take out. The goal they say is to bring the cemetery back to what it would have been in the 1800s. What, they didn’t have flowers then?

We come to shoot here at least twice a year. We come for the history and the beauty of the gardens. We came this time because the flowers were blooming and there was no breeze. Well, just a slight intermittent breeze, but great for macro work. I haven’t been able to use my macro lens all winter. Fortunately, my walk around lens does a great job on close up shots, and I’ve been making do with it.

But this Tuesday was macro madness indeed! And, I came upon some head stones and statues I hadn’t shot before. You could keep going back and come home with images from a different perspective.

We also met the head volunteer who is fighting the City, trying to keep the gardens as is. I hope she wins. This is going to be a 2-part post because I have so much to show you. I hope my next post about this amazing cemetery isn’t to say that the flowers are gone, because that would be a great loss.