Lens-Artists Challenge 136: Subjects starting with the letter “S”

I enjoy our weekly challenges because they help bring back memories of fun photo outings. And, as I dig way back into prior years, I see how my photography has improved. This week Patti has given us the letter “S” and suggested many ways we could post on it.

I just dove into my archives and here are some memories that I enjoyed re-visiting.

In 2018, Marlene and I went with a Meetup group for a photo walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It was a wonderful day topped off with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (There aren’t any in Sacramento!). On the left is a probable homeless man sleeping on a bench. On the right is a sightseeing bus with lots of tourists. What a dichotomy of life.

Also taken in 2018 is a sunset with sunflowers taken in Yolo County.

Jumping to that infamous year 2020, we have a delectable sweet treat taken at the Isleton Asian Festival, a shed taken on a road trip and shadows on a gazebo at the UC Davis Arboretum.

Now for some recent pictures in 2021, I’ll close this post with a sidewalk at Coyote Pond in Lincoln and snow at Donner Lake. Both taken this year.

Thank you Patti for this fun challenge!

Lens-Artists Challenge #135: A Glimpse Into Your World

Wow! Guest host, Sheetal, has asked us to share what “makes your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.” If I have to narrow it down, other than close friends and family, my photographic journey brings me joy. Before I retired, products I produced for clients, helping someone become a better speaker and writing articles brought me joy. I was totally immersed in their world and bringing their story out.

Photography allows me to do that for myself. Writing about it through our Lens-Artists challenges allows me to recognize it and savor it. How many chances do we get to talk about ourselves or show ourselves through our pictures?

So, what do I love to shoot? When asked that question I always reply, “Everything but portraits!” Let’s begin with the Sacramento Zoo. I do enjoy going there and must while they are open again. If you go on bone day, you can see the big cats gnawing their bones or maybe ready for a nap after a well-enjoyed treat.

I also enjoy visiting the nearby Effie Yeaw Nature Center where can see deer, coyotes, and other animals in their wild world along the American River.

Of course, there is the American and Sacramento Rivers that are also close.

We also have our countryside that host farms and foothills that hug the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Last we have downtown Sacramento where we can practice shooting buildings. Need a wide angle for this!

I’m so lucky to have so much nearby. And thank you to Sheetal for helping me recognize it!

Lens-Artists Challenge #134: From Forgettable to Favorite

I admit it, I’m lazy. I totally enjoy spending time taking the photo, but not processing it. This week Tina has challenged us to show how we’ve turned our “forgettable” photos into “favorite” images.

Well, here’s another problem. Once I get an outing’s photos into my desktop, I delete the ones I don’t like and just process the ones I do like. So, for this challenge, I’ll show a before and after with how I edit.

Going back to my being lazy, I mostly rely on Lightroom (LR) and presets in NIK and De-noise in Topaz. Photoshop allows me to take out unwanted stuff with the spot healing brush and also replace skies. It might be more that I don’t prioritize learning more.

My examples were taken last month. This tree was taken on a very foggy morning at Boulder Ridge Park. I did basic editing in LR, working with the highlights, shadows, whites and black sliders. I then put into NIK Color Efex and used the detail extractor preset to accent the tree. I wanted the tree to stand out more. Before is on the left as you look at your monitor. After is on the right.

This next one is the entrance to Stock Ranch Preserve. Although they are not exactly the same image you can see the difference the my edits in LR and Color Efex accomplished. Here I used LR sliders to enhance the orange on the fence and Color Efex to bring out the details and enhance the sky. Of course, all my images get the crop treatment.

This is on the way to Folsom Dam. Again not exactly the same image, but a good example of what I began with. I worked with the shadow and black sliders in LR and the tone curve. I brought it into Color Efex to bring out the sky and clouds. When in Color Efex, I use the sliders also. However, I haven’t mastered the control points.

This last image is of trees along a portion the Miner’s Ravine Trail. I love trees, especially when they have lost their leaves. They are so expressive. Again, the same treatment in LR and Color Efex. I also cropped the tree that seemed to be in the middle. For this I wanted to lighten up the tree trunk, keep the tree shadows and highlight the sun. Color Efex brought out more detail.

I know I can do more with the editing programs I have. Will I prioritize the time to learn. I hope so.

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!

Lens-Artists Challege #116: Symmetry

I love these challenges because they get me thinking about how I shoot. This week’s Lens-Artists challenge is from Patti Moed and is on symmetry.

I mostly shoot asymmetrical because I find it more pleasing to my eye. However, I do like to do macro shots of flowers and tend to fill the frame in camera. When I do shoot symmetrically, it’s usually a road or building. Again, this is mostly institutively since I don’t have any art training.

So, with that in mind, here are my examples of symmetry.

Vertical

Horizontal

Radial

Thanks again Patti! I loved this challenge, and I’m looking forward to next weeks’.

Lens-Artists Challenge #112: Word challenge

This week Ann-Christine challenged us with words: Comfortable, Growing, Tangled, Crowded and Exuberant. Our assignment was to choose one or more of these words and display our photo interpretation.

I saw growing and crowded and instantly my mind went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, one of our beautiful parks consumed by the CZU Complex lightening fire this month. I visited in February, 2016. It was my first time shooting in a dark forest and although my current forest efforts are better, I wanted to show you Big Basin.

As you can see, these trees are no strangers to fires. Redwoods can be almost hollowed out and still survive. After the fire is put out, the top continues to grow. My mind went to Big Basin because it is crowded with trees and constantly growing. The ground brush is usually well maintained in parks so they don’t provide super fuel for fires. But dry lightening strikes and thunder brought the forest to its knees. Here is how it looked in 2016 on overcast day, with some re-editing.

While the redwoods will survive, structures within the park didn’t. I’m sure during these pandemic days, rebuilding will be slow and it will be some time before we can walk through this beautiful forest again.

Lens-Artist Challenge #109: Under The Sun

I’m not fond of waking up in the dark to catch the golden hour in the morning or going to bed late in the summer to catch the evening blue and golden hours. So that leaves me mostly under the mid morning sun for most of my photo outings. No, I’m not going to post all my photos taken under the sun, just the ones that resonated with me when I read Amy’s challenge for the week.

There have been a few times when the timing was right on for me. One was at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California. We caught the afternoon golden hour when the sun cast a beautiful glow on plants and animals. We were vacationing with my cousins in December 2016 . They are the couple walking out of the oasis.

The next set of images were taken during my favorite time of day, mid afternoon sun! (It’s not really!) My friend who lives in Sun City, Lincoln brought me to a tree where herons and egrets and other birds nested. I didn’t have my long lens with me, so I returned on my day to pick up my grandkids from school. My kids also live in Lincoln. Again, I seem to use the opportunity rather than make the opportunity! I’ve named this tree “The Nesting Tree,” and have brought other photo buddies to shoot there. Taken April, 2019, you can see the sun casting shadows on the birds bodies and feathers.

This last set was taken during a Yolo Art & Ag outing to Capay Valley Ranches in February, 2019. Every summer, Yolo Art invites artists and photographers to various ranches, farms and orchards to record country life. We were there mid morning (usually from 9 to 11 a.m.) Here, again, the sun created beautiful shadows.

While I may not get up before dawn, I still enjoy getting out in the sunshine. Thank you Amy for this great challenge.

Lens-Artist Challenge #132: A quiet moment

This is my first Post for the Lens-Artist group. Please let me know if I’m doing it wrong!! Seriously, tell me. Patti sent out a challenge of A Quiet Moment. Photography is how I relax, whether it’s at a busy festival or a relaxing drive to who knows where.

Here are a few of my captures during quiet moments. I love going to wildlife areas. In January, my friend and I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, drove the route a couple of times. On the way, I got this shot of the Sutter Buttes, a small mountain range.

We ended up at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for this amazing sunset.

In February we ventured out to capture almond blossoms in Capay Valley.

In April I went out in search of the wonderful California Poppy. I found a hillside near Jackson.

May brought me to the WPA Rock Garden. I love that place. If there’s no breeze, it’s excellent for macro work.

So, these are some of my outings that provided me with quiet moments! Thanks for allowing to post in this group.