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!

Lens Artists Challenge #164: Looking Up/Down

I look down more than up. But, after reading Sofia’s challenge, I think I may be looking up a bit more! She is encouraging us to post images where we’ve looked both ways and post our discoveries.

While I may not have my neck cranked up, Richard, my husband, does. Okay, he has his telescope pointed at the skies. He’s an astronomer/imager and has captured some beautiful galaxies and nebulas with his telescope, camera and computer. So for my looking up portion I’m posting a few of his pictures. Here are some nebulas and galaxies.

Now, my turn. Here are some images taken while looking down.

Looking down a mountain from Foresthill and looking at the American River from a bridge at William B Pond.

Next, a lotus leaf photographed at William Land Park and a lotus flower from a garden in Locke.

I’ll close with something you need to get low to photograph and even lower if you want to get underneath them. Mushrooms taken in my community.

So what have I discovered? I need to look both ways to capture more wonders. Thanks Sofia!

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 #143: Colorful April

This challenge is having me feel melancholy. It’s been two Aprils since we were able to visit Ananda Village and photograph their beautiful tulips planted on the terrace. But Amy’s challenge of Colorful April didn’t say which year so I’m going deep into my archives for this one.

The year 2019 was the last visit we made to Ananda Village’s Crystal Hermitage Garden and their April display of tulips. The garden is currently closed because of the pandemic. I miss seeing the beautiful flowers in a calming and spiritual setting. Here are images from my 2019 visit.

It’s nice to have these visual memories. Hopefully we will be back to Ananda Village in 2022.

Lens Artists Challenge #142: You pick it, The 365 challenge

Our Lens Artists Challenges challenges can take us many places. This week, Ann Christine’s challenge took me back to 2015 which was the year I did the 365 challenge. If you haven’t taken that on, consider it. It wasn’t that I looked to take exceptional photos each day, I just took whatever was handy. It taught me discipline and improved my ability.

Not every photo was wonderful. Like the few weeks I just shot my foot that had the boot on after minor surgery. Gem, now runs out of the room when he sees the camera. The grandkids make stupid, funny faces when they see me pick up a camera. You get it, a whole year of taking the d7100 wherever I went. Taking a fast entry because I forgot. But also learning.

I briefly went through that year, 2015, and first hit the first, tenth, twentieth, etc. months and then went back to find some more. Here they are. Explanations are in the captions.

I was ready for this challenge to end and proud that I had shot a picture each day of the year. Then I was amazed at the difference in my photographic ability. If you don’t think you can do 365 days, try the 52 week challenge no matter what level you’re at. I’m glad I did!

Lens-Artists Challenge #137: Soft

When I hear the word “soft” in photography terms, right away my mind goes to a beautiful bokeh background. This week’s challenge from Ann Christine is on things soft. She gave many examples on how we can interpret this challenge, but I’ll stick with the pleasing muted backgrounds.

Flowers with a bokeh background was the first type of shooting I wanted to learn when I started photography.

But then I started thinking that animals can also have a bokeh background too.

Let’s see what else I can find.

There are some very small daffodils outside my front door. If it wasn’t so windy, I’d go out and shoot them for inclusion in this post. Thank you Ann Christine!

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 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.