Lens-Artists 138: Natural Light

Awareness of natural light is essential in photography. Some photographers only go out when the light is optimum. I go out whenever I can and make the best of it! I’ve become good at reducing shadows and highlights in post. This week Amy wants us to show images taken at various times of the day.

Since I rarely get out for a sunrise, mid morning is the time you’ll find me out shooting. Here’s a picture of a painter doing a mural during Sacramento’s Wide Open Wall festival. The sun was in position to show his shadow on the ground and on the wall as he’s painting.

We’re getting slightly later in the morning. This blue heron is facing the sun which lights up his face and beak.

This building along the Sacramento River Walk is in bright sunlight and shadow.

The sunlight streaming through the foliage at Effie Yeaw Nature Center gives this tree expression and beauty. Moss grows where sunlight rarely hits.

And then there’s no sunlight. Folsom Prison looks especially formidable on a foggy day.

We are now approaching sunset time. This is when the light begins what will be a beautiful sunset.

And let’s not forget the darkness. We may not be capturing natural light, but manmade light can be fun and a challenge like this long exposure at Sunrise Mall’s small carnival.

Thank you Amy for this archival trip. It was fun.

Merry Christmas: Lights

We’re getting closer to the second miracle of this season. First was Chanukah and now it’s Christmas. I love to take images of the decorated lights on houses and in yards. So Jean and I went out for my second round of taking photos of lights.

I thought this house sent the religious message of Christmas along with some fun snow men, plus a snowman zoom.

This next display starts in the front yard with a patriotic theme and ends with a “Frozen” theme on the side yard and around the corner. It was well done. Of course, I’m thinking of power and how much it costs to run the lights. But, this was an enjoyable exhibit.

Last, I’m showing you the first display we saw. It was simple and beautiful. And, yes, I had to zoom!

Have a great Christmas. Let’s hope next year let’s hope for another miracle and we’ll be back with families and friends! Stay safe everyone.

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 #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!

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!