A perfect day: Tilden Regional Park, continued

Tilden Regional park in Berkeley is a must go back to place. In addition to the weather being wonderfully perfect, the area is beautiful. And, there’s a lot to do. I would have loved to go to the children’s farm to capture the animals in my lens, but we ran out of time. We needed to leave to avoid the worst of the traffic.

So, here are pictures of the golf course from where we ate, the steam train and the merry-go-round. Needless to say, I slept on the way home. It was a full day of shooting. Yes, we will go back.



Finding cooler weather: Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, California

Yes, we ran away! At least 1 1/2 hours west where the temperatures were about 20 degrees cooler. And, we enjoyed it. Camera Totin’ Tuesdays went to Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley and visited the Botanical Gardens, Golf Course, steam train and carousel.

It was a wonderful day. The park is magnificent and large, and the weather was delightful. While we didn’t expect any flowers this late in summer, we managed to find small blooms in the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were large and separated into different areas. We managed to walk through the entire garden before we stopped for lunch at the Golf Course.

After lunch we rode the miniature steam train and went to shoot the carousel (merry-g0-round). But, we didn’t get to everything. Maybe we’ll go back. Right now it’s in the high 80’s and low 90’s in the Sacramento area so we stayed local yesterday and visited the Sacramento Zoo.

In this post I’ll show you some of the Botanical Gardens. In my next post, I’ll show the rest. I hope those of you who are enjoying summer, are cool!

A lesson learned: Moonlight Madness, Sacramento, California

I’ve only taken one photography course, and that was a dismal experience. I didn’t learn anything, and the, realizing what I knew, teacher asked, “Why are you here?” Since then, I’ve learned from other photographers. Yes, I’m self-taught–with a good deal of help.

On Wednesday night, I learned how to shoot the moon just before the blue hour. Janet invited me to the Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento. It’s a good thing I asked her what lenses to bring, etc. I thought we’d be night shooting and we’d need long shutter speed. Fortunately, she sent me the photo she took last year and said she shot it with a 300 mm lens. Wow, was I on the wrong page!

So, I packed my F4/300 mm fixed and 55 – 300 mm lenses and tripod. When we arrived, she told me I needed to shoot with a fast shutter speed, at least 125, to stop the moon’s movement. While we were setting up, she showed me how to use live view to focus on the State Capitol Building and moon. Then the moon rose–on the opposite side of the capitol. We all scurried to get the shot. I was amazed at how fast the moon moved away from the building.


After we finished shooting the moon, and were pretty much packed up, I turned around and caught the last of the sunset on the Tower Bridge. I shot it hand-held.


Thank you Janet for your guidance and help. Yes, I do learn from other photographers who are willing to share their expertise.


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.


A morning at the museum: The California Agriculture Museum, Woodland

When people think of California they visualize Los Angeles, San Francisco and maybe San Diego. They don’t see California as an agriculture state, but it is. Most of the produce we bought during our 2013 cross country trip was from California. Farming and ranching is a big deal for this State.

So, it makes sense to have a museum dedicated to agriculture: The California Agriculture Museum. Five of us visited this recently re-opened museum in July. It was fun to see the old tractors. Featured at the museum is the tractor collection of Fred Heidrick Senior, consisting of rare examples of tractors, harvesters, trucks, autos, horse-drawn implements and other artifacts that tell the California story. For me, the most fun were the wheels.

I’ll admit that I have trouble shooting in museums because you just can’t isolate an object. In this case the tractors were close to each other. I decided to focus in on wheels–big and small. Once I did that, it became fun.

Shooting inside was also interesting. The lighting was more even than we found at the California State Railroad Museum. I tried shooting with and without the tripod and with and without the flash. I think I ended up mostly with the tripod and no flash. There were instances where using the tripod was impossible, getting the right angles, etc.

It was a fun morning, and I hope that after seeing these pictures you’ll have a greater appreciation for the agriculture we have in California.

The road home: Leaving San Francisco

Are you tired of San Francisco? We weren’t tired of San Francisco, just tired of 2 1/2 days shooting the city’s beauty with our cameras.

The morning before we left, we visited the Aquarium Of The Bay on Pier 39. To our credit, we did not walk the pier and shop. We went directly to the aquarium, had coffee (And I had a Krispy Kreme custard filled donut! It had been a long time since I ate one.) and left town. I snapped some pictures while going over the Golden Gate, and we stopped at the viewing site on the other side of the Golden Gate.

I really enjoyed the trip. I had never visited San Francisco as a photographer and found the experience so different than being a tourist. We didn’t get to the zoo. Linda wants to go back, but I’m not quite ready for the wind and fog just yet. Maybe next month. You can never get tired of photographing San Francisco!

In this post, I’m going to show you the backyard of the hostel, the Aquarium and we’ll say good-bye to the Golden Gate.


On the road again: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

After a day of driving and shooting, seeing most of what Linda wanted, we decided to visit Golden Gate Park the following day. I’ve been there many times to museums, but have never walked through the gardens. With 1,017 acres, Golden Gate Park is larger than New York City’s Central Park. 

Admission, I lived in New York City for 10 years and never went to Manhattan or Central Park. You can see NYC through the eyes and lens of Sherry Felix, artist and photographer, at www.port4u.net. So I really can’t compare the two urban parks on either side of the country. But, Golden Gate Park rocks with it’s many museums and gardens.

We began with the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, then the Japanese Friendship Garden and then finished up with the Conservatory of Flowers. Admission to each of these were reasonable, and they were beautiful in their own way. I can’t say that I liked one over the others.

We then drove down to the Presidio. Needless to say, we were tired when we got back to the hostel. We had dinner at their cafe, rested and then walked around the hostel grounds. It was beautiful there, being on the water.

The most difficult part of this post is selecting the pictures to show you. The Botanical Gardens represented many countries in its boundaries; the Friendship Garden brought us to a Japanese landscape and the Conservatory showed us formal gardens and different flowers.

So enjoy it through my lens, and make sure you visit Golden Gate Park when you visit San Francisco. My next post will show you some of the Presidio, the Aquarium Of The Bay and a good-bye to the Golden Gate.


On the road again: The hostel experience

It wasn’t a 5-star rated lodging experience, but staying at the hostel was a unique one. Linda had reserved a private room with bunk beds that had a shared bathroom. If you are, or know someone who is, over 70 years, a private bathroom during the night is a must. But, I wasn’t going to have that convenience.

We were lucky to be placed in the ADA kitchen that had only two private rooms, a shared living area, kitchen and bathroom. We shared this abode with a family from England: a mom, dad and their three young boys. The boys were amazingly well behaved and fun. For two days and nights we shared our space, keeping aware of the other’s needs.

What I was surprised at was the communal kitchen. Visitors had cubby space to store their dry food and refrigerator space for perishables. The kitchen was stocked with stove, pots, pans, plates, forks, etc. You could cook full meals there. We had the same in our ADA kitchen. Each morning, we took our hard-boiled eggs down to the kitchen and grabbed a bagel, butter and homemade jam. What a treat. Linda had peanut butter. Even though we brought enough for two dinners, we ate in the hostel cafe one night, and the food was delicious.

While we had a private bedroom, others shared rooms dorm style and lounged in the communal living room. Each night a family type movie played in the small hostel theater. This is definitely the inexpensive way to stay in San Francisco. Our room was $100. per night and fees went down from there for other types of rooms. All the visitors, a good many from outside the U.S., we great to speak with. They were singles, seniors and families with small children.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’d do the hostel thing again. Not because it wasn’t a 5-star experience, but I do like having a private bathroom.

In today’s post I’m sharing my experience at the Legion of Honor Museum (which was closed but you can see the outside, the Holocaust Memorial, the Sutro Baths and the view from Twin Peaks.





On the road again: San Francisco

I didn’t say yes right away, I thought about it. First, I had never stayed in a hostel, and I’m not fond of driving in San Francisco. But I capitulated, and told photo buddy Linda that I’d go with her–if she drove. Oh yes, I also told her I wouldn’t rent an electric bike to take me places. I won’t say how many years it’s been since I’ve been on a bike, but I was worried about my balance and whatever photography gear I would be carrying.

It ended up being three days of fun and adventure. And, we did okay using Linda’s car. We found free parking wherever we went that was close to where we were shooting. I think it had something to do with visiting during the week. We did have to pay to park the last day, but were validated for most of the amount.

So what did we do? Our first stop was Treasure Island. I was there on a night Meetup to photograph the Bliss Dance statue before she was moved, and I wanted to shoot in that same area during the day. It was so much easier to get a sharp image of the city this time, even though there was fog.

After Treasure Island, we went to Fort Point National Historic Site at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Built between 1853 and 1861, Fort Point was used as part of a defense system of forts planned for the protection of San Francisco Bay. Designed at the height of the Gold Rush, the Fort and its companion fortifications would protect the Bay’s important commercial and military installations against foreign attack. We made a few more stops before checking in to the Hostel. All this and more will be discussed in the next few posts.

I’m so glad I finally said yes to this photo adventure and probably part of Linda’s bucket list.



The waiting game: Fireworks after the River Cats Game

While the minor league baseball team, the River Cats, play baseball, we photographers play the waiting game outside the field. We’re waiting for the game to be over so we can capture the fireworks show. How long do we wait? It depends on how great the game is!

Once a month, the River Cats shoot off firework after a home game. I did this last year, with better success; however, I had help. This evening I was on my own, testing various settings. I wasn’t alone though, there were photo buddies along from the Sacramento Photographers. 

What did I learn? I learned that once you set up and have a great composition, don’t move the camera. When the fireworks started, I saw that the second grouping was further away from the main group of fireworks than I remembered from last year. So I quickly turned my tripod. MISTAKE! I would have done better to edit the smaller grouping out of the pictures and had a good composition. I lost the bottom of the bridge. So I cut in close during processing. If I didn’t mention it, you’d probably think that’s the way I meant it to be.

But, you’re reading this and joining me in my photographic journey. Maybe you’ll be able to learn from my mistake. I’ll be down there again to play that waiting game. It’s all a learning process.