Decorated for Halloween: The Gibson House, Woodland

October 28! We had to get to the Gibson House in Woodland before Halloween. Why? We raced against time because the historic home was decorated for the holiday and on November 1, the decorations would be taken down.

I had never heard of the Gibson House and wanted to see it decorated. So, Marlene, Diane and I went off to photograph it. The house is on the National Registry of Historic Places, is a Yolo County Park and is operated by the Yolo County Historical Museum. The house and grounds were restored by the county and is now a hub for regional art displays, programs and more.

The outside of the house.

The inside was furnished to represent what it might have looked like when the Gibson family owned it. Of course there were a few visitors on display too. We were not allowed to go upstairs.

The blacksmith shop was closed, but the barn had been turned into an art gallery. The museum reaches out to area students for participation. They painted this mural.

We also found a beautiful old, rusty tractor.

This ended our trip to the Gibson House which is a treasure in Woodland. Maybe they will decorate it again for Halloween!

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!


There’s always a new day, RIP Jim VanWinkle: Sundial Bridge, Redding

No matter what happens, a new day always dawns. That’s what friends and relatives of Jim VanWinkle are living through right now. Jim and Shellie have been friends of ours for about 37 years. Even though we moved away from Los Angeles, we kept in touch.

In retrospect, we should have kept in touch more frequently, but life always interferes. We went down for every life cycle event; they came up for ours. When our family’s needs brought us to L.A., they always made time to see us. In fact, some times they invited us to stay with them. And they were always welcome to stay with us.

They visited us last September with Ron and Lois. But, we didn’t expect to be going to L.A. for Jim’s funeral this past weekend. He died suddenly from a blood clot. I have so many memories of when we lived in the San Fernando Valley. Two stand outs:

When personal computers came on the scene, Jim decided that the ladies should learn how to program and use them. So he taught or tried to teach us Basic Language. We were fairly successful and Jim managed to keep his sanity.

We also went on many camping trips with the VanWinkles when our kids were young. We introduced the pie iron to Jim who immediately saw beyond its use for apple or cherry pie, in the campfire, and started making s’more pies. We enjoyed several before the handle came out and the pie maker stayed in the fire.

There’s so much I could tell you about Jim, but the fact that people were standing in the back of the chapel, no seats available, at his funeral is a testament as to how well he was liked and loved.  He will especially be missed by his four children and nine grandchildren.

Yes, there’s always a new day and a sunrise. This post and images of the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California at sunrise is dedicated in Jim’s memory.

Here kitty, kitty: Sacramento Zoo

They are still cats, just bigger and more ferocious if you get on the other side of the fence! Camera Totin’ Tuesdays went back to the Sacramento Zoo. Some children were back to school and it was too early for classes to take their zoo field trips so it was not crowded. And, the cats were active!

I’m still learning the lens and how to shoot through the fencing. I used my F/4, fixed 300 mm lens. This lens is proving to be more difficult than I thought. If I stand close enough to get through the fence, all I get are the animals heads. If I move back, then I can’t get through the fence!  Zoom lenses do have an advantage. I got better results at a lower F/stop, meaning wider aperture. Photography is such a learning process.

I did bring my small point and shoot to get some wide-angle shots. Next time I go to the zoo, I hope not to wake up so early that I’m tired. Then I’ll carry my 3100 also for the photos that my long lens can’t take.

I realize that I still have much to learn and will be returning to the zoo soon. Here are some of the cats and other animals I shot that morning. They are good. My followers always tell me that I’m too picky with my images. But, I know I can do better.  I’ll let you know when I’m ecstatic with my zoo images–in all CAPS!

And, we did call to them saying, “Here kitty, kitty!”


A lesson learned: Moonlight Madness, Sacramento, California

I’ve only taken one photography course, and that was a dismal experience. I didn’t learn anything, and the, realizing what I knew, teacher asked, “Why are you here?” Since then, I’ve learned from other photographers. Yes, I’m self-taught–with a good deal of help.

On Wednesday night, I learned how to shoot the moon just before the blue hour. Janet invited me to the Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento. It’s a good thing I asked her what lenses to bring, etc. I thought we’d be night shooting and we’d need long shutter speed. Fortunately, she sent me the photo she took last year and said she shot it with a 300 mm lens. Wow, was I on the wrong page!

So, I packed my F4/300 mm fixed and 55 – 300 mm lenses and tripod. When we arrived, she told me I needed to shoot with a fast shutter speed, at least 125, to stop the moon’s movement. While we were setting up, she showed me how to use live view to focus on the State Capitol Building and moon. Then the moon rose–on the opposite side of the capitol. We all scurried to get the shot. I was amazed at how fast the moon moved away from the building.


After we finished shooting the moon, and were pretty much packed up, I turned around and caught the last of the sunset on the Tower Bridge. I shot it hand-held.


Thank you Janet for your guidance and help. Yes, I do learn from other photographers who are willing to share their expertise.


Of rocks and open space: Griffith Quarry and Traylor Bird Sanctuary and Preserve

It was hot! It seemed like summer had arrived. By the time our Camera Totin’ Tuesdays group arrived at the Griffith Quarry, the sun was baking us. I don’t carry a backpack because I just can’t handle the weight on my shoulders and back. This is just another problem of starting this hobby as a senior with certain health issues. I’ve solved the problem by wearing a vest that’s stuffed with all my stuff. Not all are like me though. We have Tom and Jim who are a year older and have been shooting for more than 30 years are more physically fit than me.

Back to the sun. Fortunately, the quarry, a registered California Historical Landmark that was a granite quarry,  was mostly in shade. I guess I was expecting more, but then expectations are sometimes not met. However, I did get some good images. This is a lesson on looking for things in the not so best of circumstances. I’m learning from the experienced members. I watch, listen and then follow example. Jim is especially helpful in pointing out opportunities and how best to capture them.

While two in our party decided to call it a morning after the quarry, four of us moved on to the Traylor Ranch Nature Reserve and Bird Sanctuary. This is a park has 90 acres for Equestrian  and hiking Trails, and is a bird Sanctuary and wildlife reserve. I really want to go back there in the winter when there’s more chance of catching wildlife and birds. We didn’t see much of either. I was carrying my 18 – 140 mm lens which couldn’t capture the few birds that were high and far away. Needless to say, we stayed only about an hour and then rewarded ourselves with a delicious lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

Lesson learned, bring two lenses or carry two cameras. Go with great people who are fun and informative. Also, go out early or late during the hot weather. Whew!



No time to edit: Day 3 in the Sonora area

The more I shoot, the further behind I get in editing! Right now I’ve got three photo outings still to edit, and I’m going out to shoot tomorrow. The more I understand what processing software can do and the more I load onto my computer, the longer it takes me to edit individual images.

And, then there’s the fact that I’m shooting better images–more to edit. I’m getting better at tossing out a lot of them and getting more critical of my work. I’m at the point of saying to myself, “If someone else posted this, would I think it was outstanding?”

I guess it’s great to have this problem! And, it’s great to have friends like Sandy and Ken who devoted two days to taking me and Marlene on a fantastic photo journey. Today’s post  is on our journey to Cherry Lake on Cottonwood Road and on Highway 120. We opted to skip visiting Yosemite because of rain in the Park. But, we were near it, and Ken probably drove many more miles.

Those miles took us to Cherry Lake a man-made lake about 25 miles east of Sonora. This lake is large and is a favorite for boating, etc. It was effected by the Rim Fire in August 2013. You’ll see some of that devastation in my images.

We also stopped at Rainbow Pool where I practiced again with my neutral density filter. Sandy and Ken hadn’t been up as far as Cherry Lake so it was an adventure for all of us. After lunch, we visited Columbia State Historic Park. Set in an old the old Gold Rush era of the 1950s, Columbia is a real town that has been preserved with shops, restaurants, and hotels.

We enjoyed the day and reliving it through the editing process–shoot, edit, post. That’s my life and I love it.




Failure, fun, fantastic: Auburn

They say we learn from our mistakes and Marlene, Karen and I did. Following a suggestion, we went to Lake Clementine near Auburn, but didn’t get to the right place. By the time we found the area where we could practice with our ND filters, the sun was too high–A fact we learned later. That was the failure, but we did learn. When using ND filters, you need to be out early morning or in the evening!

Fun, we did have. We drove on to Auburn where we had lunch, walked and took pictures. We went into the old courthouse and were allowed to take pictures anywhere we liked. It was fun.

Fantastic, happened when we started looking for a place to shoot the sunset. The place a restaurant owner directed us to, wasn’t suitable, and the sun was setting lower in the sky. Off we drove until we came to a private home with acreage, trees and a small pond. This would be perfect. With a lot of coaxing from me, (Okay, I strongly suggested that Karen get out of the car and ask the owners if we could park in their driveway and shoot the sunset at the property. I was driving.) Karen and Marlene bravely pressed the button on the gate code intercom. It paid off. We were allowed to park in the driveway and shoot the sunset.

So, on this great outing, failure led to fun, and more fantastic shooting opportunities. Next time we go to the area near Lake Clementine, we’ll do it earlier in the morning. It’s a small hike to the waterfall, and we’d all rather do it in cooler temperatures and when the sun isn’t so high.


Going and looking back: Grass Valley, California

We are in a morphing stage. Since Greg’s passing, our Tuesdays With Seniors group hasn’t been the same. We’ve reformed and are now enjoying the company of pre-seniors. It was during this time that our two new members, Rita and Karen, and I went to Grass Valley and the Empire Mine State Park.

I had been there twice with Greg, and he was the tour guide. He mostly showed me the town, various high points and the countryside. He used to live in Nevada City and for him it was a homecoming.

I find Grass Valley old town a little less touristy than Nevada City. We went to both, but shot mostly in Grass Valley. Once again, I needed to shoot the familiar scene a little differently. I didn’t do HDR or carry a tripod as I had done on my two previous visits. I tried different angles and got in a little closer in some shots, especially at the mine.

This time our visit to the Empire Mine, where I did use a tripod and shot HDR,  yielded an unauthorized brief tour of the cottage. The ranger in the office turned her head and allowed the docent to take us in. We were like children in the candy store, that is until the alarm went off. Our docent, probably feeling like he got caught with his hand in the candy jar, was busy trying to turn off the blaring sound. Soon we heard an additional but different blare–the second alarm! We took our shots quickly because we knew that once the alarms were turned off, our sneak peak into the cottage would be over.

But, the fun isn’t over, and I look forward to more adventures with this re-formed group. We will have a new name which will be decided tomorrow during our Napa visit.


Bernie Sanders lost a vote and supporter: RIP Greg Morris

First of all, my photo buddy, friend and mentor, Greg Morris was never one to not speak his mind, especially on politics. So, when I first got the news of his death during the morning of January 31, the first thing I said to my husband was: “Bernie Sanders just lost a vote.” Richard knew what that meant because we’ve been expecting that phone call for a couple of weeks.

Greg not only introduced me to his candidate, Bernie Sanders, but to a great deal about photography. He loved HDR, his tripod and talking to people. He’d always remind me to bring my tripod along on photo outings. Just once, I caught him hand holding his camera.

Greg chats with a homeless man in Midtown, Sacramento.

He also introduced me to towns (Locke was a favorite), rivers and out of the way places I would have never known existed. The greatest part, he never took a freeway! That’s why it took us so long to get anywhere. He was our driver and guide, never taking gas money. So, Marlene and I would treat him to lunch at various places he knew of. Small restaurants with great food. Only once did he disappoint us. He promised us the best pizza in Downieville; however all the restaurants in that small town were closed for the season!

Greg poses as the famous Mona Lisa in Locke. He then had me pose in another cutout.

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Thank goodness the Downieville grocery was open. It may not have provided us with pizza, but my rice bowl was good.

We never got a chance to go back for that pizza during the season. Greg passed away from a cancerous Glioblastoma brain tumor. From the diagnosis to the end was three short months. Soon the guide became the guided as Marlene and I took him out locally for photo shoots. It amazed me that as frazzled as his brain was becoming, once we arrived at the shoot, he’d get his photo gear ready and was once again the amazing photographer.

Greg’s outing with us was to Discovery Park, Sacramento.

As much as he loved photography, he loved his family: daughters Tiffany, Erica and Mimi; his two granddaughters, and niece Shonna and her family. We are all going to miss this guy with the wonderful sense of humor who would sing to cows, do weekly crazy selfies and post them on Sacramento Photographers, chat with strangers, give restaurant wait staff a humorous time (It was usually the same old line.), help new photographers and not only post great pictures, but give us a history lesson too.

RIP Greg. And, Bernie, don’t worry, I’ll vote for you. Greg did convince me.