Macro and more: Bushnell Gardens

Just let me put my macro lens on my camera and I’m happy. Add to that a nice windless morning and newly watered plants and I’m euphoric. That’s what we found one morning at Bushnell Gardens, Granite Bay, one morning.

I began slowly, being a bit dismayed when all I saw were trees, but then I found the plants. This nursery is simply beautiful in its landscaping. It’s a relaxing place to photograph. Here are some macros I shot that morning.

In addition to plants and trees, they have many other beautiful things that you could fall in love with, or photograph!

Inside the store, Christmas had already arrived.

Our morning continued on Douglas Blvd. in Roseville with a building that caught our attention, but you’ll have to wait for my next regular post to see it!

When the heat turns up: IKEA

I’m just going to be blunt–It’s been a lousy summer here in Sacramento California. Our triple digit days outnumber our double digit days. And, then there are the fires that are raging in our forests. Our homes in the Sacramento Valley are not in danger, so I won’t complain about the smoke that blows in from the fires. All this means we take our cameras inside. One of our favorite places is IKEA.

We visited the IKEA store in West Sacramento on a recent Sunday and had a great time. Yes there were more shoppers than during the week but the place had a different vibe. I was looking to photograph something different than I had in the past. Fortunately displays had changed.

All the pictures below were shot with my macro lens which was the only one I brought in with me. I like the challenge of photographing with just one lens. This lens is an 80 mm so I got up close to take pictures of just a part of my subject.

Here are some of the images. Can you tell what they were?

After taking photos, we dined in the IKEA café. The food is great and the prices reasonable. My choice was a smoked salmon, potato salad and green salad plate. Yum! I guess I should have taken a picture of it!

Macro practice: Green Acres Nursery

If you want to photograph macro, go to your local nursery. Most owners don’t mind you walking around with your camera. So, whenever I want to take my macro lens out and aim it at flowers, I go to Green Acres Nursery. And they recently opened a new nursery in Citrus Heights not far from where I live.

If that wasn’t enough incentive, Ray wanted to practice with his new lens that does macro images. So off we went. I was more than pleased. Not only did I find a great spinner for my front yard, the flowers were under a net covering so they were not getting direct sunlight! Wonderful!!

In addition to flowers, plants and trees, they have many yard ornaments, fountains and other garden supplies.

We had a nice morning photographing beauty. We will be back!

Lens Artists Challenge #133: My Photography Journey

Life’s journey seems to take twists and turns, but it’s been my experience that important happenings come at a right and perfect time. Amy has given us the challenge of describing our photo journey. I started this blog at the very beginning of mine.

For me, photography came as I closed down my part-time speaking and writing business. At age 70, I didn’t know what to do with all the extra time I would have. Friends suggested sewing, quilting and crocheting. No! I’ve sewed and crocheted before, and it wasn’t fulfilling.

After several weeks, I remembered how much I enjoyed the photography class I took at Pierce College when I was a returning student (My youngest was in first grade). All the journalism majors had to take the photo class and the photography students had to take a journalism class. We had to use an all manual camera. Fortunately, Richard brought back a Minolta from his time in Vietnam, and I used that camera. What fun I had developing the film and making prints.

During that time, I was also writing for a newspaper and started taking the pictures for my column. I always wrote tight so the editor wouldn’t cut my articles. The only time he cut one was to run one of my photographs a half page. After graduating and moving, I stopped taking photos except of family with a point and shoot.

Fast forward to my retirement decision to purchase a DSLR. Not sure about the decision to make photography my new passion, I bought an entry level Nikon, the D3100. I didn’t know anything about crop sensor vs full frame or even how to use the camera. And, what was ISO?

From the archives, a picture taken with my D3100 shot on auto because all I could see in the dark was the green “A!” This was taken at one of my first outings with my new camera.

I found that photographers were more than willing to share their expertise, and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. I found out that ISO was like the film camera’s film speed and much more. I didn’t take a class because I didn’t want assignments and homework. Come on, wasn’t I too old for that?

The more I learned, the more I understood the limitations of my 3100. So, within a year, I bought a Nikon D7100. I could bracket automatically and it had two card slots. I liked that camera and used it until 2020.

Here’s a shot taken with my 7100 in 2014. Now I know how to reduce the white at the bottom.

I was still learning, experimenting and asking questions. In 2015 I did the 365 Challenge, and I’m so glad I did. My photographic ability jumped after that year. That in itself was a journey.

Here’s a picture I took during week 10 with my new/used macro lens.

My passion for photography never waned through the years. The more adept I became, the more I realised my need for a camera that would be better in low-light situations. If I was to get another camera, it would be a mirrorless for the size and weight. Marlene bought a Fujifilm X-T2, and when I saw her pictures, I knew that was the camera I wanted. The color was outstanding and the clarity amazing.

In 2020 I bought a Fuji X-T3. I’ve always bought new cameras, but used lenses. This time I came home with a new camera and three new lenses. I have not regretted that decision. I still use the Nikon for ultra wide and telephoto shots. I’ve sold my wonderful Sigma macro lens since I have one for the Fuji.

Here’s an image taken in 2020 with the Fuji.

So, here we are in the present. I’m still learning and growing in ability. I do need to conquer Photoshop and other plugins. When an outing is sort of blah, I still come home with an image or two that are worthwhile. I now see things differently, and I’m more aware of my surroundings. Most of all I’m having fun. What an amazing journey that’s still twisting and turning while moving forward.

A macro lens: Thompson Building Materials and Nursery & Green Acres Nursery

A good photographic practice is to go out on an outing with only one lens. That’s what I did recently with a couple of photo buddies. Since I recently did a post for Lens-Artists on Macro, I thought I should take some macro photos.

That’s how we ended up at Thompson Building Materials and Nursery in Sacramento. This is mainly a commercial business. They had a large amount of outdoor statues and other ornamental items. With my 80 mm prime lens was slightly restricted, I had to move back (get a wider angle with my feet) or get a partial of the item. A macro lens can be used for other types of photography!

Now for the flowers. Some of these may be from Green Acres Nursery also in Sacramento. Being more of a residential nursery they had more flowers. So the following is a mixture from both businesses.

I do love macro/close up photography. Take care everyone!

Lens-Artists Challenge #130: It’s a Small World

Think big! Don’t sweat the small stuff! Did you want to super-size that? In today’s world, we are taught to think BIG. We go for the big SUV, the big sale and the big burger. In photography, we learn to shoot large landscapes with a wide-angle lens. 

Donner Lake in Winter

But what about thinking small? Let’s talk about macro photography.

What is macro photography? What is micro photography? Are they different from close-up photography? Have I confused you? I’ll give you a hint, two are the same and one is different. Let’s delve into the subject.

Close-up photography takes a subject and zooms in on it. Usually the subject is small, like a plant or an insect, but it could also mean getting close to someone’s eye or face as a subject. The picture is taken with any lens. I’ve taken close-ups with a nifty fifty on a crop sensor camera.

A close-up image taken with an 18-200 mm lens, shot at F/5.6.

Typically, these types of images fill the frame. However, I’ve put flowers or part of flowers off to the side. Shooting with a 200- or 300-mm lens can give you almost macro quality.

This flower was shot at 200 mm at F/5.6.

Macro photography refers to a picture taken with a dedicated macro lens yielding a magnification ratio of 1:1. Meaning, the image depicted on your camera’s sensor is in its actual size. When printed, the subject appears life-sized. This type of photography is used especially when we shoot something exceedingly small or want to capture an extremely small part of it.

Hint: If you want just part of a subject in focus, use a lower F stop (meaning F/number) to get the entire macro subject in focus, use a higher F stop.

The praying mantis in this image appears life-sized as does the part of the flower it’s feeding on. It was shot with a 105 mm macro lens at F/16.

The leaf in this image was shot with the same macro lens, but at F/2.8 creating a more shallow depth of field.

Micro photography is the same as macro photography. Camera manufacturers use the terms interchangeably. You might say that a macro lens takes a picture of a micro subject! I borrowed that last phrase!

One big difference between close-up and macro shooting is breeze. For close-ups you can shoot in a slight breeze because the regular lens isn’t as sensitive as a macro lens. When shooting with a macro lens, any movement in the subject will result in blur. Often, I’ll just take my 55-200 mm lens out when there’s a slight breeze. I can still get nice close-ups.

Oh, yes, everyone says you need a tripod. Confession, I’ve never used one for macro. In fact, I hardly use one at all. However, you will need a steady hand and fast shutter speed.

Now we’ve covered the macro, micro and close-up differences, and you are wanting a macro lens, let’s talk about options. Macro lenses are expensive but there are less expensive alternatives. Extension tubes or reverse ring adaptors to turn your regular lens around are much less expensive options. Personally, I decided against either option and bought a used macro lens for my Nikon D7100. When buying used, be careful. Buy from a store that will let you return it within 90 days if not satisfied. Also purchase one that will give you a 1:1 ratio.

For my Fujifilm camera, I treated myself to a new macro lens, knowing I would use it a lot. It’s a prime 80 mm but still shoots at a 1:1 ratio.

So, which two are the same and the other different? The answer: macro and micro photography are the same and close-up photography is different!

This week’s challenge is to take your camera for a walk around your yard or home and shoot some close-up or macro shots. Too cold, too wet, too busy? Feel free to choose some images from your archives. Be sure to link your response to my original post, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to help us find you. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Thank you Tina, Amy, Ann Christine and Patti for this amazing guest host opportunity!

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!

You never know what you’ll find when walking the dog: Mushrooms

Gem (my dog) and I walk every morning. He’s a schnoodle and habit is most important to him. Most times, we log in 2 miles. It’s his joy. My doctor once asked me how long it takes me to walk a mile. I told her it depended on how many times Gem stops, smells the area and goes potty. With geese, ducks, skunks, coyotes and other dogs around, there is a lot to smell.

Sometimes I’ll notice something and wish I had my camera, but this is Gem’s time. His walking needs keep us both healthy and moving. But, one morning I noticed some nice mushrooms and promised myself to get my camera and return immediately. Yes, I’m that lazy that I have to promise myself!

I did return with my Fujifilm XT3 and new macro lens. Here’s what I got.

One thing, when you lie down on the grass face down with your camera, you’ll get lots of concern from your neighbors! I love the accordion effect these mushrooms have, and think my new lens performed well.

Yep, you never know what you’ll find when walking the dog!

Wearing suspenders and a belt: WPA Rock Garden

I love macro photography! I love the WPA Rock Garden in Land Park, Sacramento! But, do I love making mistakes? Not really, but I love learning from them.

The Rock Garden is an excellent place for macro photography so I brought my D7100 and macro lens. I also wanted to see how well the Fujifilm XT3 and its 55 – 200 mm lens would do close ups. My Nikon and 18 – 200 lens does close up photography beautifully.

First, I found out that my Fuji, like my Nikon, puts itself in various modes without telling me. It put itself in a different focus mode, making it difficult to focus. One mistake solved and learned from. Watch those fingers!

I saw macro opportunities and started shooting with my D7100 and macro lens. Best to do it while the breeze is down. Here’s the result:

Still wanting to use the Fuji, I wandered over to the small Land Park lake and saw lotus buds and leaves in the water. Yes! we would soon have flowers to capture in our cameras. Here’s where the second mistake occurred. I was having a difficult time shooting on manual with the Fuji and didn’t realize until I got home, loaded my pictures into the computer, and saw them on my monitor, that the images were super noisy. Looking at the data, I saw that some of them were shot at 12,000 ISO in sunlight! Did I mistake the ISO ring for the shutter ring? What did I do wrong? This was to be solved during my next Fuji outing! Here are some images shot with the Fuji:

Yesterday, I took pictures of a couple, Carol and Paul, I wrote about in for our community newsletter. I photographed them with the Fuji and the 18 -55 mm lens. They were beautiful. The shots and the couple!

So, lessons were learned. And, practice makes perfect as you’ll see in my next post.

Practice makes perfect: McKinley Park and Green Acres Nursery

Flowers, flowers and more flowers! I’ve been shooting a lot of them lately, trying out a lens. I like being able to do close ups without a macro. You might be shooting a landscape, see a nice flower, want to shoot it, but didn’t bring your macro lens. So I’ve been practicing with a lens I might keep. It’s an 18 – 200mm Nikon lens.

Being a person who has difficulty making up her mind, I’ve practiced and practiced with it. I’ve pretty much made up my mind to keep it, but….

Here are the captures at the rose garden in McKinley park in Sacramento.

Some other pictures taken at McKinley park that night.

Moving ahead about a week, here are the images captured at Green Acres Nursery in Sacramento. They encourage photographers to visit and take pictures!

So should I keep it?