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!

Bokeh! Bokeh! Bokeh! A Shoot Or Go Home photography lesson.

I’m always ready to learn, especially when the lesson is in my neighborhood. A few nights ago, five of us learned how to add shapes into our bokeh photography. Our fearless leader, Mary Gromer, founder of the Shoot Or Go Home Meetup group, had everything ready for us.

She had stamped out shapes on black construction paper. Mary then showed us how, using the black construction paper, to:

Cut a circle with tabs on either side, using our lens cap.

Cut a square in the middle of that circle.

We then taped the circle to our lens.

Then taped a pre-cut shape onto the empty square.

I used a heart and dove and soon found out that I needed a subject that was emitting a good deal of light or it didn’t work. The snowman was a popular attraction that night. It was an easy concept to comprehend, and I’m looking forward to using my cut outs on other objects.

As I said, I’m always eager to learn new concepts and shooting techniques. Here are some of that evenings shots.

A birding shoot gone wrong: Tundra swans near Marysville, California

I don’t know how I did it! I even told my photo buddy Liz to shoot between F/9 – F/13. So why did I have my camera at F/5.6?

Of course I didn’t realize it. I thought I had closed the aperture to get the best depth of field. It took me a few days to find the time to figure things out. I remember thinking something was wrong with the lighting and increased my ISO. After all it was overcast. I guess we learn from mistakes, and I’m sure this isn’t the last I’m going to make!

We did have a good time shooting the swans. There were a lot of them, and we were amazed at how they just settled down on the farm lands. Imagine waking up to look out at the beautiful Tundra Swans. Here are some images I thought were salvageable and okay.

What happens when your lens just won’t focus?: Coyote Pond, Lincoln, California

What would you do if your lens wouldn’t focus? Probably go back home and try to figure it out–right. But, what if you had to pick up your grandkids within an hour and your home is 30 minutes away? You keep walking and shooting. At least that’s what I did.

The lens did okay when my depth of field was long. It failed at close up and mid range shots. I just closed down the aperture and hoped for the best. That was yesterday. Today it focused, but it’s having other troubles. It may have sensor or connector problems. I don’t think it’s the camera. When we were back east, the barrel kept getting stuck at about 35 mm. It’s an 18 – 55 mm kit lens. Now it’s working better, but not focusing all the time, and the barrel is lose on the front.

Since it is my main lens, I’ve ordered a replacement. So that’s my current frustration with my photography adventures. Now for the images I was able to get, here’s a little background on Coyote Pond Park. This is a small neighborhood park in Lincoln that has a pond. There is a walk around path and a small playground for the children. However, the find of the morning was a tree that had lost its main trunk, maybe to lightning, and is surviving from branches that have grown out of the bottom of the remaining trunk. Fortunately, those pictures came out clear. It is an amazing tree. I hope you enjoy it.

Hopefully, the new lens will work well, and, of course, focus when I need it to!

Macro Photography Learn and Share: A Sacramento Photographers event

I didn’t share much, but I did learn. The Sacramento Photographers Facebook group offers a monthly outing or event. This month it was the learn and share. While I’m pretty good at close up photography, I wanted to know more about macro. And, I wanted to learn how to use my old (and I mean old) manual lens for my film camera.

So off I went with what I needed to bring: something to drop into a tank of water, tripod, and a lens more than 50 mm. Opps, I forgot to bring a towel. Everyone was so helpful. Two photographers tried to help me with my macro lens, but were puzzled by it. It’s very different from today’s macro lenses. Here’s what I learned:

* My old (again very old) macro lens is really not that good. I had a difficult time focusing it. And at 28 mm, how macro is it? I’m getting more comfortable with shooting on manual, but this lens offered a bigger challenge. It was also difficult because of the lighting in the studio.

* I have lousy hand to eye coordination; or, should I say hand to ear coordination. We were to drop an object (my choice was a tennis ball) into the fish tank and when we heard it hit the water, we were to press the remote shutter release. I’m posting my best effort!

* I now understand how to trigger an off camera flash. It’s just another piece of gear to buy.

* I truly enjoy field work more than studio stuff.

Now that you know what I learned, here are some of the images captured that evening.

Oh those zombies! A night of spooky trees and surprise zombies.

This was a first for me–to shoot zombies! Or any model for that matter.

What started out as a meetup to shoot spooky trees ended up as a fun filled evening of zombie antics. Thanks to Mary Gromer, organizer of the Shoot Or Go Home Meetup group, we had the opportunity to shoot models dressed as zombies. And, they acted the part too.

I had fun shooting them and enjoyed post production too. With a zombie shoot, your only limited by your imagination. Aren’t zombies tinged with green? I didn’t pose any of these. I think that was the only thing I feel I missed out on. There was so much going on, I just went from one set up to the other.

Here are some highlights.

Just a little exercise: Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, California

Walking on river bed rock can give you a workout. The Effie Yeaw Nature Center is a place you can continually go back to and see different things each time. This time my photo buddy Rita and I walked near the American River which is low due to the drought. I keyed in on trees and mostly used my 55 – 300 mm lens that was mounted on my D3100. They were so expressive. Meanwhile Rita kept her eyes on smaller objects like birds and crawling things.

You see, I was raised in the city and suburbs, and I’m not used to finding the small wonders of nature. I’m learning though. We do want to go back for sunrise so we can catch the sun’s beauty and the deer. Getting there at 7 a.m., Rita saw a lot of deer. However, I didn’t see one, getting there at 8 a.m. The last time we were there, we saw one deer family.

After a two-hour workout, we left. I’ll be going back on Sunday for their Nature Fest. They will have many activities I’m sure my young grandkids will enjoy. We won’t be walking along the river though!