Merry Christmas: Sacramento Capitol Building

Somehow I’m procrastinating and haven’t gone out to shoot Christmas Lights. It’s been cold here and that’s why I haven’t propelled my body out of the house. But, we did got to the California State Capitol building to shoot the Christmas tree, and since it was during Chanukah, the Menorah on the Capitol steps by Chabad. I was a bit disappointed that the Menorah wasn’t lit that night.

We got there early enough to go inside the Capitol and take indoor photos. I’ll show you some. The rotunda is beautiful. Next we went outside to set up. Here’s where I learned another lesson! Don’t go on an outing with a preconceived idea of what you’re going to shoot, and just shoot that. Look around, there may be something behind you!

When I finally looked around, I was able to grab a shot of Capitol Ave leading to the Tower Bridge with light trails. Most of my group walked a ways down that street.

My friend Jean will be getting her new camera a couple of days after Christmas, and the houses will still be colorful. No more procrastinating! Merry Christmas everyone.

 

In a funk: Fireworks on July 3rd

There’s nothing like fireworks and photo buddies to get you out of a funk. We’ve all been there. You know, you feel blah. It was a 2-week funk for me. I went shooting and tried to process the pictures. I was almost caught up!

During the summer, our local minor league team, the River Cats, shoots off fireworks after every Friday night home game. I probably would have skipped the fireworks so close to July 4th, (especially since there would be other evenings of fireworks) but my All About Photography Toastmasters Club was going, and so was I. We met many photographers from the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group too. Actually it ended up being a fun evening.

I was going to try shooting with two cameras. One would be set up on bulb and the other to shoot regular. But, at the last minute I decided to shoot with one. I tried putting it on bulb with a remote trigger, but didn’t like the results. I took it off of bulb and took out the trigger, shooting individually.

I have some of those shots to show you today. Yesterday on July 4th, we had our usual block party, and I was wearing my camera. One of the guests asked me if I was a photographer, and I said, “Yes, I finally feel I can say I’m a photographer.” That was a defining moment for me. I’ll show you some of those too, but they are not super since we were losing light, I didn’t have a tripod, etc. Also, I didn’t shoot the small fireworks because my dog is totally afraid of the sounds. So we watched TV while the others watched the fireworks show.

And, I’m out of the funk!

 

Holiday countdown: Festival of Lights, Palm Springs

I know everyone is busy now with holiday preparation, but I hope you take time to view this blog anyway. The Festival of Lights is a weekly evening event in Palm Springs during the winter months. I don’t know what I was expecting, but all we saw were vendors. Since we got there early, musicians were just setting up.

To make matters even worse, I left my D7100 and walk around lens in my cousin’s car. That left me with the D3100 and my 55 – 300 mm lens. It was make do time and challenging. Cold, hungry and disappointed, we went inside a restaurant. There we found our evening’s entertainment.

A group was setting up on the small stage and we asked what they were doing. One of them impersonated Carol Channing, and they were going to rehearse for the next evening’s show.  We asked if we could stay to see the rehearsal and they were very agreeable. The show was very good, but we had to imagine it with costumes. We were even asked for input at the end. Also, photographing it was difficult. I only had my on camera flash, no tripod, bad lighting and a small area. But, I think I did well this was a shooting and processing lesson for me.

So here are some pictures. So take some time and look at them and thanks!

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Making a cloudy evening fun: Another Milky Way Shoot

Yes, we tried it again, and, yes, the clouds rolled in and hid most of the Milky Way. The forecast called for clear skies, but Mother Nature had other plans. But, with the help of Karen, we had fun light painting, catching color off the clouds and enjoying each others company. For a few, it was a first for night photography.

We shot up at my husband’s observatory. He didn’t get clouded out until just about the time we decided to leave. He does deep space imaging, so his criteria is different.

I’m glad I was with photographers who make the best out of a somewhat bad situation. Will we try again? I’m sure we will. Anyway,here are some of the images I captured that evening.

 

Happy Birthday USA

I missed the fireworks at our neighborhood block party yesterday. I was inside holding my Schnoodle, Gem, who was wrapped in his favorite throw. It was the only way to calm him down and stop him from shaking. This is one of the by products of legal fireworks. The noise scares animals.

But, I did get to shoot some fireworks the night before. Linda and I went to the Sun City Roseville fireworks show. We were a little disappointed because most of the beauty was at the tree line with only a few above them. But, this did give us an opportunity to get some light trails along with the bursts.

This was my first time shooting without an expert helping with exposure, shutter speed, etc. I began experimenting with different shutter speeds, leaving my aperture at F/ 14. Also we were closer than I’ve been before, so shooting at 18 mm was a must to gain focus.

The next day, our block party started at 7 p.m. with games. We have more kids on the block now and former residents came to visit. There were more people than I expected. We haven’t been home the last 2 holidays and things have changed.

It was fun, and it was good to see the block full of young kids again. By the time the car race (Each car was powered by Piccolo Pete fireworks.) was over it was almost too dark to shoot the rest of the games, so I put my camera away and just enjoyed–until the fireworks started! Next year, Gem is getting a tranquilizer!

 

Night shooting on the river: Viewing Old Sacramento

Busy as a bee, I be! Okay, that’s not proper English, but it seems to fit. I’ve been learning more about event shooting at our District 39 Toastmasters Conference this past weekend. It was not only shooting, but editing, or trying to, on the spot. I was editing my images and two other All About Photography club members’ images.

What did I learn? I’ve learned the comfort zone with my speed light. I brought a chair up front and plopped it down in the middle of the stage area. I noticed that when my subjects were more to the back of the podium, lighting was more of a problem. The closer they were to the front, the better the flash handled it. Most of what I was shooting was candid so I couldn’t say, “Please come forward!” Also, the District does not have a lighting system. Working with ambient lighting was a challenge.

I worked in Lightroom mostly and did very little in Photoshop. I do need to learn how to work with layers to lighten background, etc. I hope to have that knowledge before the next conference.

I would show you the challenges and how I handled them, but all pictures taken on behalf of District 39 Toastmasters have their copyright. But I can show you my images taken a couple of weeks ago with the Camera Totin’ Tuesday group. We went down to the Sacramento River during the blue hour. I was able to use my ND filter at night for the first time. It was fun.

Just keeping busy!

 

Happy Birthday USA: My July 4th

The day before July 4, I was Toastmaster at Skillbuilders Toastmasters. My theme was July 4. Well, it had to be given it was July 3. I didn’t mean to become so emotional, but when I started talking about how I thought we were losing sight of what the holiday was really about and that to many it has become an opportunity for a three-day weekend, I did. I urged our membership to look back and remember the holiday for it’s early reasons, appreciate the country that we have the good fortune to be citizens of, and do what we could to make it better. The look on their faces told me that I was reaching them.

So, on July 4 my photo buddy Marlene and I caught the second half of the Roseville July 4 parade. It was great to see a small town celebrating. When we were in Bridgeport, California, the weekend before, (my next post) the streets of this tiny town were already decorated and waiting for the celebration. I can imagine they also had a parade.

Street photography was next after the parade. The water fountain was on (recycled so it’s okay during this drought) and the kids were having water fun.

Later in the evening we went to a block party in my son’s neighborhood. It was a great party and the beginning of a tradition. This was a chance for neighbor to meet neighbor. That’s sort of keeping with the spirit of the holiday. As if to complete the scene, the sun put on a show as it set. Then came nightfall and tons of fireworks. I discovered that these little fireworks are more difficult to shoot than the large aerial blasts. When I say a ton of fireworks I meant it. There must have been at least $1,500 to $2,000 on the table. This made me wonder about how that investment could have been put to better use.

For those of you who are U.S. citizens, i hope this blog spurs you on to think about our country, it’s founding and why we truly celebrate Independence day.

It’s a Global Winter Wonderland: Sacramento, California

I really didn’t know what to expect. A lot of the photographers in the Sacramento Photographers Facebook group had gone to the Global Winter Wonderland and posted their pictures. And, it looked great from the freeway. I guess I expected more than there was.

The Global Winter Wonderland at Cal Expo (the California State Fairgrounds) was billed as a trip around the world with many countries represented. I guess I thought there would be some sort of structure representing the various countries that we could walk into. Instead, there were blow up buildings, animals, plants and a maze. From a photographer’s point of view, at least mine, it was dismal. There were several rides and fake trees had LED lighting. I wanted to try a slow shutter zooming technique that many of the group’s photographers had posted. I used the Ferris Wheel for that.

If I had brought the young grandchildren, we would have had more fun. They would have enjoyed the blow up structures and the rides. And, of course, they would have enjoyed the food. All in all, it was an experience, and I did get some practice.

Here’s your peek at the Global Winter Wonderland!

Frozen: Shooting and light painting silos at night

Night photography–a lot of fun and a great learning experience. The only problem with night photography is that you freeze. And, there’s more than one way to become frozen. This time we went along Highway 99 in the Yolo County area to shoot the full harvest moon, the sunset and light paint silos. We met at about 6:30 p.m. and didn’t get back home until 10:45 p.m. We’re an adventurous bunch.

The first set of silos were located along the Sacramento River. As soon as we began setting up our cameras we knew it would be cold. It was a cold wind that blew across the farming area, and soon the physical “frozen” set in. We caught what we could of the moon and sunset and then moved to another vantage point to shoot the silos. I’m slowly getting gear for night photography. I have a couple of light sticks which don’t throw much light and a nifty new flash light that has range when it’s on white. Now I have to get gels to cover the flash light, and I can light paint on my own.

I became mentally frozen when it became dark and we started shooting long exposures. I couldn’t figure out how to dial in the right shutter speed! I stood there becoming more and more frustrated when one of the photographers finally helped me. Once he showed me what to do, I was set for the rest of the night. Yes, frozen in two ways! I think I should have started this hobby 15 years earlier!

All in all, it was a great night. By the time we got to the second silo, the wind had stopped and it was warmer. I had a lot of fun at the second silo because our coordinator had talked to the owner, and we were able to walk around the grounds. A couple of cars and workers were there also.

Night photography is fun, but bring a lot of layers because you don’t want to get frozen.

 

A fun time with the peeps: Sacramento’s Tower Bridge at night

Yes, I’m trying to learn the new lingo. That’s one of the reasons I retired. I couldn’t keep up with the “20 and 30 somethings” colloquialisms, and it was time at 69 years! Hanging around with the peeps from Sacramento Photographers, a group on Facebook open to people who like photography, was fun.

I went out to the Tower Bridge with the intent to put my camera on manual, shoot with it on manual and get some light trail shots. I accomplished my task and also did some HDR. I don’t know why I didn’t shoot the HDR shots on manual rather than staying in my comfort zone at aperture priority. There’s always a next time.

Hopefully that next time will be with the Sacramento Photographers. They have one event a month, and the members are eager to share and help. They will also go out and invite the group at the spur of the moment like last nights activity. I’m looking forward to going out with the peeps again.