Lens-Artists Challenge #125: You Pick It!

For me, this challenge is like giving a kid a bunch of toys and saying okay pick one! Which one do you pick? Why do you pick it? So, what subject do I pick? What photos do I pick? Yikes!

This challenge by Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles caused me to think about how my photography progressed through the years. I went back to 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. This was a used entry level consumer DSLR. I was closing my business and looking for a hobby and didn’t want to invest a lot into something I might not enjoy.

I took the camera on a Mexican cruise that year and had fun photographing the colored lights aboard the ship.

I was still using my 3100 in 2013 when I made my first visit to a wildlife preserve (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge). Fortunately this little guy was on the ground and close. My post processing hadn’t reached the Lightroom stage yet.

In 2014 I had my first experience shooting light trails. I had upgraded my camera to Nikon’s D7100 which was Nikon’s highest level consumer camera. This was taken in Sacramento. I did have freeway shots, but I wanted to show you something more.

In 2015 I went to Bodie, a State Park and old ghost town, where I experienced my first bout with altitude illness. There I practiced HDR, popular then, on the old structures that were in danger of falling. By then I was processing with Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

My first shot at the Milky Way came in 2016. I’ve had better success since, but astrophotography has never become a favorite of mine. This is strange because my husband is an astronomer!

Sometimes you take a leap of faith. This picture taken in 2017, provided me with an entry for what I thought was a small town photo contest my friend told me about. This was in Sonora in the Gold Country. Little did I know, the best of Sacramento were also entering. Two of my photos made it to the wall and one made it to the final choice table. My friend had one image make it to the wall. She was delighted to have been chosen among the talented photographers and so was I. This was the one that was so close to being a top winner in 2019. I didn’t enter that contest this year because it was nerve racking, and with COVID my nerves were already under pressure.

I love slow shutter photography and would go to our local mall when they had small carnivals to practice. I captured this in 2018.

While I’m not a birder, I can’t resist an easy shot. My friend took me to what I call the nesting trees. Egrets and other large birds choose to make their nest in the cluster of trees and put on a show for photographers. By then I got an old-used prime F/4 300 mm. Although heavy, it has clarity. So, here’s my 2019 entry!

And here we are in 2020, the year we thought we’d never experience. Photography is a little more difficult these days, but it still provides the relaxation and mental stimulation it always did. I’m so happy I started back in 2012. This has become my passion. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey.

Lens Artists Challenge #124: Then and Now

We live in the now, and these days we think back to the then. This is Amy’s, “The World is a Book” challenge this week. What is the difference between then and now.

I think our spontaneity is gone. Are we in the purple, red, orange tier? How far would we be going? Would we need to car pool? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves before we deem it okay to do an activity. We used to be able to go out to dinner on the spur of the moment. Now we either take out or cook. Sometimes we can eat out if our location is in the right tier. Even then, we may have to eat outside!

So, Amy wants us to show the difference through our photography of our then and now. For me the big difference is that our photo outings have been with our photo pod and have been close to home. I decided to post images from November 2019 and November 2020.

In 2019 I managed to get to Apple Hill in Placerville, Napa Valley, Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael and William Land Park in Sacramento. Apple Hill and Napa were some distance from my home.

This year has been a little different with outings no more than 30 minutes from home. The longest drive was to Woodland. We also went to U.C. Davis Arboretum and Effie Yeaw. Tomorrow we will be going on another short trip to Lincoln to find some fall color.

Woodland Library

I’m looking forward to when we can just get up and go wherever we want. Maybe a 2-hour ride to the ocean! In the meantime:

Lens-Artists Challenge #123: Found in the Neighborhood

Oh my, this one is easy since I walk my neighborhood every day. Actually, I don’t have a choice, Gem will follow me until I take him out for our daily mostly 2-mile jaunt. It’s his walk and his choice where he goes. And where he goes, I follow. So Ann Christine, thank you for this topic!

Flowers are abundant in my community. From roses to tulips, they are beautiful.

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of goslings even though I’m not too fond of their parents. We have an abundance of wild turkeys too. I keep reminding them that Thanksgiving is near, but they don’t pay attention because they know they are protected.

And finally we have mushrooms. Ana of Anvica’s Gallery reminded me of them in her current post, “Time for Mushrooms.” Here are two varieties taken at different times. If you live in a senior community, take a sign saying “I’m okay!” with you as you lie face-down in the grass!

I don’t bring my camera on my walks with Gem. He wants all of my attention. When we first went on lockdown, I was grateful for living where I do. All us dog walkers, would stop and talk. I didn’t feel alone. Take care everyone!

Lens Artists Challenge #122: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I’m sure we’re all waiting and hoping for new beginnings right now. This pandemic is getting old and depressing. We need some sunshine in our lives. This challenge from our guest host Ana of Anvica’s Gallery, is about sunshine and how it helps us get through difficult times with a little self help.

Here’s what she says: “Not every day can be wonderful.  There are times in life when suffering is there, for many reasons, and it is difficult to overcome.  Those moments are part of life and no one gets rid of them.  But how we live those situations and what we learn from them, is within us.   Although a pleasant ray of sunshine always helps, right?”

However, in photography the sun helps us in many ways. First it makes shadows for us.

It can brighten up the gold colored Tower Bridge in Sacramento.

It can help the sunflowers smile and form a sunburst to pop through trees in a forest. It can also be a light at the end of a natural tunnel.

And at sundown it can create magical beauty.

The sun helps us see positivity and can brighten our world. In his blog regarding this challenge John RH quoted some lyrics from “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles. Here are all the lyrics:

Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Little darling, the smile’s returning to their faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here


Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right


Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun
It’s all right
It’s all right 

Yes, one of these days, it will be alright especially if we do some self help. Oh, if you look for the song, try to stream the Richie Haven’s rendition. I’m playing it now, and I’m feeling better. Thank you Ana!

Lens-Artists Challenge #121: Focus On The Subject

I think it’s great that three photographers can be looking at the same scene and get three different focal references. That’s because not only do we see and interpret things differently, but there are many pictures within one scene. This week Patti of P.A. Moed challenges us to look into the various ways we can create focal interest in our pictures.

I’ve chosen a few from her many suggestions.

Framing.

I shot the first image when I first started photography. Out on Angel Island for the first time with my new Nikon D3100 I saw a bicyclist walking her bike under what I call a tree canopy. Taken in May 2013. And, yes, I do love trees. The second image was taken last year in November in Napa Valley.

Patterns:

We have shopping carts from Ikea in West Sacramento, 2019 and Sunflower farm in Woodland, June 2019. Crops can form lines and patterns. I’d need to get a taller ladder to exhibit it better!

Color: Of course I love flowers especially from the McKinley Rose Garden in Sacramento.

Leading lines:

The first image is from North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, Butte County, a flat volcanic mountain. The second from Capay Valley Ranches in Capay Valley. Trees can also form leading lines.

Thanks Patti for your very educational and fun blog with wonderful image examples.

Lens-Artists Challenge #120: What a treat!

This week’s challenge from Tina at Travels and Trifles can send us off in many directions. Treats can be a hot fudge sundae, grandkids, wonderful memories and more. Just let your imagination run free. I was having a difficult time deciding until I read John’s post on flight which reminded me of a special treat my great nephew Daylen gave me when he took me up in his family’s small plane.

I was visiting family in Peachtree City, Georgia, in March 2017, when this amazing opportunity happened. Daylen had just gotten his pilots license (His Dad is a pilot.) and offered me a ride. Wow! It was a small plane. I’m not sure how more than two people could fit in it even though it had two back seats. When I climbed on the wing and looked down into the passenger seat, I remember saying to Daylen, “I can get in, but don’t laugh when I get out!”

It was a wonderful experience. When I asked if we could go higher, he said he wasn’t licensed to fly above the clouds! Here’s my flight.

Thanks Tina for bringing back a wonderful memory and treat!

Lens-Artist Challenge #119: My Hideaway

This challenge brought to us by Ann-Christine is a difficult one for me because I really don’t have a hideaway. I even checked the dictionary to see if I could put a twist on it, but the dictionary let me down. One thing I could possible spin off on is that a hideaway is a place to get away from people. So, let’s expand that to getting away from it all. When I want to get away from it all, I go on a photo road trip.

These day trips began when I met Greg Morris a fellow photographer who passed away in 2016. He would pick me up in the morning with some destination in mind. We might reach it or we might not. Either way, it was an adventure.

Soon Marlene joined us and our threesome would venture out every Tuesday. Since he was driving, we had no control of where we went. Well, we did, but we didn’t want to! When Greg became terminally ill with glioblastoma brain cancer, Marlene and I would take him out to places he had taken us. We would take turns walking with him.

This post is dedicated to Greg Morris who showed me the fun of getting in the car, with maybe a destination in mind, and enjoying the get-a-way day. Here are some pictures of our last outing with him to Discovery Park in Sacramento. This park is a the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers.

Thank you Ann-Christine for taking me down memory lane. I still enjoy road trips and went out with my friend Jean yesterday for one. Like driving with Greg, we never did reach our destination, but we did have fun!

Lens-Artists #118: Communication

What an exciting topic from our guest host Biasini with some help from her human Ma Leueen who helped her out with the typing. Horses can’t type. You’ll have to read the original super interesting post here.

Animals do communicate with each other and humans. My dog Gem will continuously ask me to take him for a walk until I finally do. One morning he came to me while I was eating breakfast. I knew what he wanted, a walk. I told him it was too early and to come back in one hour. He came back in 58 minutes. I told him he was 2 minutes too early! True story.

I love going to the Sacramento Zoo just to visit with the animals. They talk to each other.

Music speaks to us in different ways. I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, but music is an important part of my life. It brings back memories. And it touches our hearts, especially when the memory is mutual. Richard and I used to work the Sacramento Music Festival until it closed. Two of our favorites were Tom Rigney and Flambeau and Dave Bennett.

Music also tells us about different cultures. Last year’s Asian New Year Festival in Isleton featured taiko drummers. They were amazing. Along with their music came an explanation of the culture attached.

And finally there is human non-verbal communication. Marlene and I happened to be in San Francisco for a photo walk along the Embarcadero. These next two images communicate human emotion.

Communication is key to our getting along as a society. The animals at the zoo know that, do we?

Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

It’s important for us to be inspired all the time. Inspiration is what makes us get up in the morning, especially in this COVID year. Nature truly inspires me to get out with my camera. Nature doesn’t understand pandemics, politics, or other things that affect us humans emotionally. It just goes through its cycles and begs us to visit. Thank you Tina for creating this Lens-Artist challenge. It had me thinking positively.

So, I went through this year’s images to find nature’s inspiring moments. Although there are a lot less then in years past, there were enough to keep me inspired!

A dark, chilly and gloomy day doesn’t seem to be a day to visit the Sacramento Delta, but we did. The Sacramento river is always nice to visit. On this overcast day, the river was quiet, giving us beautiful reflections.

We also made our yearly visit to Yolo County’s almond orchards while the trees were blooming. There were beautiful skies that day. How inspired can you get!

Early on in the lockdown, Richard and I escaped to the snow. He wanted to see whether his favorite star gazing area was snowed in. This is shot on the road near Blue Canyon. I love that I can visit, but don’t have to live in snow!

And finally, I have my first rose in my garden and an image of a lovely lotus blossom. The lotus aren’t with us very long, but they are beautiful. My rose garden had a tough time this year with the extreme heat, but they are still blooming.

I’m hoping that next year I’ll be inspired by more of nature’s wonders. Thanks again Tina!

Lens-Artists #114: Negative Space

I’ve noticed that some people like negative space and create a minimalist lifestyle, and others like their surroundings busy (I won’t say cluttered.). I’m somewhere in the middle. My surroundings may be full, but it is neat and tidy. However, I’ve never thought about how the concept applied to how I take my photos.

Thank you Amy (The World Is A Book) for this weeks’ challenge. It helped me realize that I truly do not consider negative space when I shoot. Yes, I have skies that take up 2/3 of an image, birds in large pools of water, etc. But, these shots were never planned for negative space and its impact. I usually crop in close in camera. Even my landscapes are cropped in camera. Planning for negative space is something I should work on!

So, here are some of my inadvertent negative space images.

Thank you Amy!