Trip 2 and part 2: Return to Apple Hill

I’m either shooting better or not being discriminatory enough. I’ll go with shooting better! It’s my personality to not toot my own horn. But, here I am with a lot of Apple Hill images to show you. Thus, we continue from my last post.

Every year people make a pilgrimage to Apple Hill in El Dorado County (just above Placerville) for their holiday pies–apple of course. Since I don’t like pie, that’s not the reason I go. I like to photograph the people, the landscape, the old equipment and sometimes flowers.

So, let’s look at the images that remain from that day’s outing. Was I correct in thinking I’m shooting better? I can handle constructive criticism.


The 2nd annual trip: Apple Hill, El Dorado County, California

A spiced apple donut with thick chocolate icing–yum! I should have taken a picture, but I was in the midst of having an “I need sugar attack.” We were in Apple Hill, El Dorado County, enjoying apple anything and taking in the sites. This was my second time up above Placerville shooting apple orchards, vineyards and vendors. I think it will be an annual trek up the mountain.

During autumn, growers belonging to the Apple Hill Growers Association open the area to everyone, selling pies, pastries and wine. Vendors of all sorts are on hand to sell their crafts or products.

This year I went with more photography knowledge and confidence. California is still in a drought and the scenery showed it. The vineyards weren’t as green. It just looked dry after having a great deal of triple digit days this summer. So, I shot close up, with a few landscapes.

I do enjoy shooting close up, and the old farm equipment provided color and texture–just what I love. I used to spray shoot without a direct purpose. This time it was different, and I was happy.

Of course I’d have been happier if I bought another donut and brought it home! (This will be a 2-part post.)



Just a little disappointed: Independence Trail

You know that feeling you get when you set your expectations to a certain thing and that thing turns out not to be what you visualized? I don’t know what we expected when our Tuesday group decided to go to the Independence Trail near Nevada City in Nevada County. One of us envisioned a parking lot rather than pull off the road parking. I thought since it was billed as wheel-chair accessible, it would be a wide and nicely kept trail. We were both disappointed.

Of course, we visited in late summer when everything is dry and there’s very little green to be seen. Our fault for not planning better. There was brush everywhere and the beautiful Manzanita trees couldn’t stand out. So, most of us shot close up. We also had some lessons from senior photographers in our group. Jim showed me how changing from spot to matrix metering can change your photo. Tom was giving Karen and Kelley other gems of wisdom.

When you shoot with wonderful people, disappointment is minimal. We ate lunch in Nevada City and did some additional shooting. The venue may not have been what was expected, but we had fun and gained some additional knowledge.

Road trip: To we don’t know where, part 2

To say photography has enriched my life would be an understatement. I have been to and experienced places I would normally not have gone to. I have learned to see things differently and be more aware of my surroundings. Most of all, I have met wonderful people who have become dear friends.

I was out with three friends during this road trip to we don’t know where. Three women of various ages, but with one goal–to have fun! Yes, photography is just an enjoyable means of having fun. We are serious about our photography, but not that serious that it is all consumable.

And, when women drive and shoot together there’s a major amount of talking and laughter. This road trip was no different.

In my previous post, we covered Winters, St. Helena and whatever we could find in between. In this post we visited Calistoga, Geyserville, Clearlake, Rumsey, Guinda and Cash Creek Casino. To be honest, I’m not sure I have images from each of these places, but we did drive through and sometimes stop at each of these towns or along the road side.

In the end, we were tired and weary, but joyful. We were grateful for an amusing day with dear friends. When I got home and uploaded my pictures, I was able to relive the day.

Yes, photography has enriched my life. It is now my passion.

Road Trip: To we don’t know where!

Fire and smoke. That’s what was waiting for us at our Tuesday outing. So we went west instead of east. We were in search of the Russian River, but really didn’t know how to find it. Have you ever planned a trip like that?

We were four women in a car with a destination in mind and no road map to get us there. We did know the names of some cities we thought were along the Russian River and managed to find them.

Fortunately Karen had a full gas tank because this was a 12 hour road trip! Here are the towns we managed to find: Winters, St. Helena, Calistoga, Geyserville, Clearlake, Rumsey, Guinda, and Cache Creek Casino. 

Karen drove and Kelley navigated. Marlene pointed out the outdated call boxes by calling “box!”  Karen was outraged over “End Road Construction” signs because we shouldn’t be ending fixing our roads. And, I napped–I’m the oldest! I’ve always fallen asleep in a moving vehicle if I’m not driving, so it wasn’t the company. When I woke up from my little nap, I asked where we were; they didn’t know.

What we did know was that we had a great time. I’ll tell you more in part two of the road trip. I may not be able to tell you exactly in which town the picture was taken because there were so many and my memory is blending them together. I did say that I’m the oldest!

A shooting challenge: The Old Sugar Mill, Clarksburg, California

Every time Greg (who is now deceased) and I passed The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, we drove on. Neither of us drank wine and weren’t interested in visiting the wineries represented there. So here I was shooting at the venue with my Toastmasters Photography Club–All About Photography.

I started this Toastmasters Club a couple of years ago to combine my two passions. Both have changed and added to my life. When this venue was chosen for our quarterly outing I thought, “Well you’re going to have to shoot whatever is there.” For all my trepidation, I had a great time. I do believe you need to challenge yourself to grow as a photographer.

While it now houses 11 wineries, the factory, built in 1934, was an operating beet sugar refinery. You’ll see pictures of the old buildings with broken windows, etc. Most of them were locked up for safety reasons. Oh, I would have loved to been able to shoot in them. I was told renovations are in the future.

Now, it’s also available for weddings and other events. They do have a nice lawn area and one building, which you will see, is quite usable for a themed wedding.

What did I learn? Never say never. Challenge yourself. You might be surprised at the outcome. Have you found yourself shooting in a place you thought you’d never go into?


Arts and Ag Project: August 2016 farm visit

I’m not that familiar with farming, but I do enjoy taking pictures of them. That’s why I jumped at the chance to participate in the August Arts and Ag Project sponsored by the Yolo Arts. Every month there is a farm open to artists and photographers. The artists paint, draw or create in whatever their medium is and we photographers shoot. The owners give us access to most of the farm and we have the morning to enjoy their life style.

I can’t say that I enjoyed the mosquitoes at the Voelz farm in Yolo County. They had just put down manure and it seemed to be attractive to the little buggers! We were also invited to shoot at a neighbor’s  property which has two barns and an old abandoned farm house. It’s this property, that most of us ended up at and the artists were sketching and painting.

I totally enjoyed speaking with the artists who came with chairs, tablets, paints, etc. One even set up in the back of his pick up. We all had one thing in common–the same perspective on what we were capturing. Though, as photographers, we can capture the scene in many different ways, each with a different focal point.

The more agriculture I shoot, the more I learn about farming. In my captions, I’ll let you know which farm is pictured. I’m looking forward to the September outing which is Thursday. I hope they don’t put manure down before we come!

Doing the happy dance: Back to the zoo

You know I wasn’t entirely happy with my last set of zoo pictures. They were okay, but I wanted improvement. The first step to the happy dance came from Leanne Cole, amazing photographer and friend. She told me to focus my lens manually. Great idea, but I didn’t know how! This F/4 300 mm lens is old, and is not like any I’ve owned. Worse, it didn’t come with a manual.

When I bought it, I showed it to veteran photographer Tom. He checked it out and said it was a good lens and great buy. (It was still within the 90 warranty.) When I realized I couldn’t figure out how to work the lens properly, I asked Tom to join me at the Sacramento Zoo for some instruction. It was a great morning of shooting and fun.

I now know how to focus manually, what the limiter is and more. And the result was amazing. Thank you Tom and Leanne.

I’m now doing the happy dance. See for yourself.




Making a cloudy evening fun: Another Milky Way Shoot

Yes, we tried it again, and, yes, the clouds rolled in and hid most of the Milky Way. The forecast called for clear skies, but Mother Nature had other plans. But, with the help of Karen, we had fun light painting, catching color off the clouds and enjoying each others company. For a few, it was a first for night photography.

We shot up at my husband’s observatory. He didn’t get clouded out until just about the time we decided to leave. He does deep space imaging, so his criteria is different.

I’m glad I was with photographers who make the best out of a somewhat bad situation. Will we try again? I’m sure we will. Anyway,here are some of the images I captured that evening.


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!”