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?

It’s that time of the year: Sunflowers and zinnias

Nothing can make you smile like a sunflower! When you see a whole field of yellow and orange looking at you, you just get a great feeling. This year I had the opportunity of visiting Woodland twice and photographed two sunflower fields and Metzger’s Zinnia Patch.

When we visit the sunflower fields, we are careful not to disturb the plants and shoot from around the patch. As photographers, we are happy we’re allowed to take pictures. Cooperation goes a long way!

Bee colonies are kept near the fields to help polinate. I can assure you they are busy bees! Here are some “sunnies.”

We also stopped at a safflower field.

Now for the zinnias. What is special about this patch of zinnias is that the Metzger family allows people to pick the flowers and encourages them to share with others who can’t get out. You’ll see moms and their kids having fun choosing their favorites.

Do you like sunnies as much as I do?

Happy Birthday to me! WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I remember my Mom was excited to reach her 65th birthday because she thought she’d not make it. I don’t know why, but when that day came, I made her a nice party. She lived to make it to her 87th birthday. So here I am doing this post on my 76th birthday.

It’s fitting that this is on the WPA Rock Garden, in Sacramento, because I do love shooting macro. And, I’m happy that I can still bend down and get up to take a picture of a tiny flower or bug. However, age does have its restrictions like no more hiking up mountains, etc. Carrying heavy equipment is difficult too. I often say that I started photography 20 years too late!

I got my first camera, Nikon d3100, in June of 2012, didn’t know what ISO was, didn’t understand the exposure triangle and shot on auto and JPEG for a while. This journey has been fantastic. I’ve learned a great deal and my photography has progressed.

I recently looked through the photo book I made about our cross-country trip in 2013. After looking at the photos, I told Richard we needed to go again because I can take better pictures now! He refused!! However, they are good enough to jog a memory.

So here I am, 76 and loving it. My chosen hobby fills my soul and writing for my community’s monthly newsletter keeps me in touch with my original passion.

Enjoy the macros and close up images from the Rock Garden.

Head stones and flowers: Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

There are some areas worth going back again and again. The Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, in Sacramento, is one of those sites. I like to visit to read the old head stones and take close up/macros of the flowers.

In the 1800s people, especially children, were buried with their age in years, months and days. Monuments included large full-sized sculptures. I think the most poignant were two tiny grave stones reading “Baby” and “Our Baby.” No names or year; just those words. I’m thinking they were stillborns.

Our visit was on a day when the volunteer gardners were working on the flowers and plants. They are truly dedicated to keeping this cemetery beautiful and extraordinary.

This visit, since it was too breezy for true macro, I tried to concentrate on how the flowers adorned the head stones. I did get some close ups though.

Here we go again: Maple Rock Gardens

Go there once, it’s amazing. Go there twice, it’s repetitive. I’m not complaining, because this private estate is still beautiful. Maple Rock Gardens is in Newcastle, and is affiliated with High Hand Nursery in Loomis California.

They are open for private events and to the public twice a year. Linda and I visited them last September and you can view that post here. She thought there would be more flower blooms in the spring, so expectations were high. It was definitely more crowded and the blooms were repetitive. Not much had changed. If you were there for the first time, it would not disappoint. It was still beautiful. Take a look.

Trying to beat the heat: Bushnell Gardens, Granite Bay

It seems that every Tuesday is triple digit day! You have to plan to have an outing early in the morning so it’s over by 10 a.m. because even shooting early in the evening, it’s still hot. So, to beat the heat on a recent Tuesday the group chose to invade Bushnell Gardens, a nursery in nearby Granite Bay. We had already visited Green Acres and wanted a different type of nursery.

We got there when it opened, and by 10 a.m., I was feeling the heat. It seems the older you get the less you can handle heat. I’ve started carrying one lens because I want to practice and don’t want to carry anything extra in the heat. I ended bringing my Nikon 18 – 140 mm into the nursery, and I think it did well with close ups, etc. I find that limiting myself to one lens is a great way to enhance my composition knowledge.

So here are some of the images I shot on that very hot morning.

 

 

 

Now a yearly trek: Lotus blossoms

They are so beautiful, but only bloom once a year. But, that’s also what makes the Lotus flowers so special. The flowers in this post are from the Vedanta Society of Sacramento in Fair Oaks (Where last year’s images were shot.) and my chiropractor’s farm in Auburn. Who would have thought that a small Lotus pond would be on a farm!

At the Vedanta Society, the mature Lotus were more inside the pond and the buds surrounded them on the outside. That made shooting them a little tricky, but with the lens extended all the way out to 140 mm and creative cropping, I managed.

At the farm, it was just the opposite.  The featured image is a black and white from the farm. No matter, they are beautiful no matter where they are. And, pictures are a way of enjoying them all year round.

Camera settings, check or not! Green Acres Nursery, Folsom

There are those days when…… You fill in the blank. It’s usually something you’ve forgotten to do like not buy everything you needed at the grocery, missed an appointment or forgot to change the ISO on your camera that was set for a prior outing. I did the last. Worse, I didn’t notice it until the shoot was just about over.

Fortunately it was at a nursery, flowers are forgiving and Lightroom helps to take out noise. But, I don’t think I’ll do that again. I’ll make other mistakes, but not that one!

We went to Green Acres Nursery in Folsom to practice macro work. You know you’ll find flowers and plants at a nursery. The plus was that we also found an abundance of water drops. They must have watered before we got there. I enjoyed the outing. Take a look, and let me know how I did during post processing. Was it really one of those days?

 

Finally got it!: WPA Rock Garden, Sacramento

I am tenacious and never give up. I went back to the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park, Sacramento with my macro lens for more practice. Finally, I now understand my lens and how to shoot macro.

This was my second time shooting there, and there were new flowers and small critters to find. The first time, I learned that I needed a higher ISO to get a faster shutter speed to capture the close up detail. This time I learned that I also needed to narrow my aperture (use a higher F stop) to get less of a shallow depth of field.

Now I’m ready to go back just to enjoy the shoot. Tenacity is a great trait, but offers little relaxation.

I also experimented with what else I could shoot with my 105 Macro Lens. Enjoy the pictures! (Captions not necessary!)

Photoshop fun: IKEA

Nothing! That’s what I did for a week after we returned from our month long road trip to Montana, Glacier National Park and Weiser Idaho for the eclipse. It took us a few mornings to empty out the trailer so we can sell it. It seems we came home just in time for a heat wave, so we only had the mornings to work.

I did gather up energy to shoot with my Toastmaster photo club, All About Photography Toastmasters. We went to IKEA because of the heat. If you remember, I had been there with my Tuesday group so I chose to shoot with my macro lens for practice. I can’t say I was totally successful, but I did learn. This lens has such a short depth of field, and that made it difficult. It’s a 105 mm so I had to stand far enough back to get what  I was shooting in the frame and in focus.

Since  the shoot, I’ve been working on the images and found the Photoshop filter panel. What fun! With no effort on my part, the software took my images of patterns and turned them into great abstract designs. I’ll show you the before and afters:

I may have been able to do more, but I was stymied with my limited knowledge of layers. Now I have to delve into Photoshop now that my energy level is back. I had fun with these.