Discovery: Christmas at the Capitol Building, Sacramento

I have discovered Color Efex Pro, and I love it. I love it just as much as I do Silver Efex Pro which I use all the time when editing for black and white. I don’t edit my photos that much because I still have not gotten into Photoshop or other programs. So, these presets are a great way for me to give my images a fresh look and a start at creativity. I do work on them after I apply the preset.

I’ve been using Color Efex on my outdoor landscapes. You’ll see some of it when I start posting my Kauai pictures (I still have the last day to edit.). I can see the opportunity. I can compose the image. I can do the basic editing. But, when it comes to giving the image that creative touch, I’m unable to do it on my own. I can’t see the final image in my mind, let alone know how to get it there! In comes the preset or profile. They give me ideas to jump off on. Then, away I go. Maybe with practice, I can do it on my own in Photoshop with layers, filters and more.

Every year, I promise myself that I’ll get into Photoshop, but it never happens. Life takes up the time I’ve set aside. I remember when I ran my home-based business, and I actually blocked off office time. I’ll have to do that for studying processing. It’s not only Photoshop, I’ve got other programs that I haven’t learned.

In the meantime, I’m so happy with the Nik collection. Take a look at a recent outing to the Capitol Building in Sacramento and the beautiful tree on the front lawn.

Hey, you said this trail was flat! Auburn Quarry Trail, Auburn, California

He really didn’t lie; but when my dear photo buddy Richard promised us a flat trail with one or two hills, he under exaggerated.  You see, Richard is an experienced hiker. We are not! The hills were a huge mountain for us. Now, am I exaggerating?

I do like to complain and Richard gives it right back. We, in our little Camera Totin’ Tuesday group, have a lot of fun. Through all the griping (I wasn’t the only one!), we had fun. After all, it’s the interaction of the group that makes a photo outing great.

We followed the Auburn Quarry Trail, part of the California State Park system, along the American River, and when we reached the top (as far as we were going to go), we were fortunate to come upon a few mountain climbers practicing. The sun was powerful that day in Auburn, so I had to deal with exposure issues. I shot mostly handheld HDR, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. So I basically edited one of the three shots in Lightroom. In the end, I was satisfied. Take a look. No captions needed.

Go again next year? Water Lantern Festival, Folsom Lake

I saw the picture of the activity and thought, “I’d like to do that too.” The water lanterns glowed in the dark while their reflections glowed in the water. That’s what drew me into going to the Water Lantern Festival at Folsom Lake in Folsom.

Now, I do understand about expectations and how the environment can change our ability to get perfect shots. What I don’t understand is how an event of this size can be so mismanaged!

Arriving was easy. Photo buddy Ray and I got there about 5 p.m. (gates opened at 3 p.m.), parked in the second parking lot and immediately jumped onto a shuttle. This was easy. I was able to carry my camera bag, tripod, backpack, chair and dinner. We checked in and walked down to the beach, agreeing that getting right near the water was necessary for good photos. I took note, however, that the bathrooms were up at the top and the lake was down, leaving more beach to walk through.

We knew that getting that picture perfect photo wasn’t possible (didn’t keep me from trying) because of the wind blowing that day. So, we took pictures of our surroundings: families, kids playing in the water, anything that amused us. Of course, in the evening, I made the trek up to the bathrooms; I didn’t want to do that in the dark. We also got our lanterns ready for launching.

I think they started the kids games too late, because at dusk, they were still playing them and saying that the official launch would be soon. People being people started coming down to the beach to launch their lanterns before the official launch. Ray and I started shooting, hoping to get whatever we could. Slow shutter speed and a moving target just don’t do well together. It was difficult to get a single shot since the breeze had turned into a wind. Ray suggested I put the camera on “auto,” which I tried, but didn’t necessarily like. We did the best we could and decided to make the trek up the hill to where we could get the shuttle back to our parking lot.

Here’s where the worst began. We got there just as the shuttle left. It was about 45 minutes until it got back (Remember I was carrying my camer bag, backpack, tripod and chair.) with a load of people. I asked one woman where she came from. She said the parking lot. It took them 2 hours to get from the front entrance to the destination. We climbed aboard the bus which took us about 30 minutes to get to the very close parking lot because of cars leaving and taking up both lanes.

Once back to our car, another 30 minutes or more (I stopped looking at the time by then.) until we got to the entrance. So, would I go again? I don’t think so. One enjoyment from the evening are our photos!

 

Found and seek: Sutter Creek,California

Very early into our visit to Sutter Creek, I found a wallet on a bench. My first instinct was to just leave it, but I thought maybe the owners ID would be in it. So, I looked inside. I found a driver’s license with a PO box for an address, no other identification and a wad of $20s. With that much cash, I couldn’t leave it. So, began the adventure to find her or the Police Station!

And, yes, it was an adventure. Our photographing stopped, we asked in several stores to see if they knew this person and to ask where the Police Station was. After walking past the end of town, we finally were told that the Police were located in a small white house! Sutter Creek is a small town in Amador County. But it wasn’t open. We had to press a button and wait for the dispatcher to come and take the call. Then we waited for the officer to come and take the wallet.

I don’t know which was more fun, shooting or finding the Police Station! Having been to Sutter Creek before, I concentrated on shooting doors. Of course there were other things that I couldn’t pass up.

We bumped into the wallet’s owner coming out of a coffee shop–literally bumped into. She was rushing over to the bench to retrieve her wallet. We calmed her down and told her we found it and it was at the Police Station. Being grateful, she told us to go into her sister’s coffee shop and order what we wanted and she would pay for it. The coffee shop, Choc-O-Latte, ended up being a photographer’s wonderland. See, do good deeds and you’ll be rewarded. If you find a wallet or purse, try to find the owner. You’ll have fun!

 

 

Betwixt and between: Yolo Bypass

We’re still not moved yet. I can’t say this is the worst move we ever made because the move to this house was equally traumatic. Moving is about the most emotional change you go through. There’s sadness about leaving a home you loved and happiness about building a life in another. Right now, I do feel betwixt and between. Richard and I talk about “home” and have to qualify which one!

In the meantime, I’m able to go on photo outings. This blog is about Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (also known as the Vic Fazio Wildlife Area). I was there a month ago, but each time is different. On this trip, the hunting area was open so Laura and I drove through it. We saw more wildlife than on the regular driving route. Maybe they knew they were safe at the time!

Right now, photography gets me away from a house that’s missing furniture, a house that’s being painted and floors being put in, and the stress of it all. I did pack my camera cases, but not my cameras and gear. Yes, for me photography is great therapy for the moving blues!

Here’s the latest from the Yolo Bypass. Again, my bird book is packed, so no captions!

Not today: Michigan Bar Road Adventure

Not packing or unpacking! Yes, today is a day off. Since we decided to move, I’ve gone on two photo outings, and, even then, I packed at night. Then, the next day, I unpacked at the other house. We are painting, putting in new floors and taking care of other things at our small home. The kitchen is almost set up. The rest of the move is easy.

Today, is a rest and blogging day. Last weekend I needed to take a break, drive somewhere and shoot. So, I rounded up photo buddies Laura and Linda and away I drove to Michigan Bar Road. This road is located in a rural area of Sacramento County. To get there, you drive on Highway 16 or Jackson Hwy through beautiful scenery, and in the summer, you can buy the best corn ever at the Davis Ranch produce stand. I’ve posted images from this road before, so I tried to get different angles, etc. Then we had the bright idea to go beyond the paved road and get home a different way. I do need to tell you it’s been raining here off and on for two weeks, and I was hoping that with a few dry days, the dirt roads would be more or less dry.

Not!! Going 7 – 10 mph can take about 45 minutes to go 4 miles! I made it through three shallow large puddles with the help of my valiant crew, but was stopped by this pool. We had to turn around.

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On the way back to the paved road, I had to set down the law because my pals were still wanting to stop to take pictures. No more pictures, we needed to get home. This was a fun adventure, and it rained the next few days so my car got cleaned outside. (I looked for every puddle to go through to get the underside clean.)

Each of us had a reason to get out and experience a bit of photography, so we all enjoyed our adventure. The next day it was back to moving for me, but my break was great!

 

Freedom: Sacramento Zoo

Eureka! I can finally handhold my camera and F/4 300mm lens. This is great because putting it on a monopod was difficult to carry around the zoo, which I love to visit. I was using the monopod because the weight from the sling was too much for my shoulder. So the grandma came up with an idea. I would carry my camera like I would a baby and keep most of the weight off my shoulder!

It worked. At a recent visit to the Sacramento Zoo, I was able to support the camera and lens without hurting my shoulder. I was also able to focus and keep the camera/lens steady. The only problem is the difficulty shooting a giraffe with the 300mm! So, I brought along my tiny point and shoot camera.

I’m finally free of the monopod. Here are some of my captured results.

 

A cold a day, keeps the apple away: Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

I don’t enjoy getting colds. In fact, I resent how they keep me from doing what I want. But, the reality is I did get one and it’s kept me home for a few days. But, I did get out for a quick shoot at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery which you’ll see in another post. You just can’t keep a photographer down!

In this post, you’ll see the second half of our all-day outing to Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. It was a fun day with Laura, ending with a yummy Italian dinner with fellow photographers. One thing about photographers, we like to eat. Maybe it’s all that fresh air!

A disclaimer before I show you the Gray Lodge images: I may have put some of the birds in the last post on SWR. Things sort of get blended, birds are birds, and my last excuse is that I’m very senior in age. You know–the memory thing!

Enjoy some of the wildlife and scenery from Gray Lodge.

 

 

I’m crowing: UC Davis Arboretum

Yes, hens sometimes crow like roosters. My neighbor had one. So, I’m crowing because I’ve noticed vast improvement in my photographic skill level.

I happened to be looking back at the photos I took during our cross country trip in 2013, and I was amazed at how poor some of the images were.  Some challenges had to do with composition, but most with processing. I knew little about each! But that’s how I learn–by doing.

In fact, that’s why I started this blog–to track my progress. My followers are great in motivating me and cheering me on. Thank you everyone. Looking back, the most significant tool for me was doing the 365. Having to shoot a photo a day for one entire year taught me many lessons.

While I’m bragging, Richard is looking into his wallet because I told him he had to take me on another cross country trip to retake some pictures. Well, he’s really not looking for cash; he just gave me a stare and said NO!

Now I’m printing some images and gaining more valuable information. Once I understand that, maybe I’ll tackle Photoshop. Digital photography is not easy to grasp if you don’t have a technical mind, which I don’t. I’ll continue to learn and share those experiences here.

One of my favorite places to practice is the UC Davis Arboretum, It’s not far, in Davis, and is great for macro, landscape and telephoto shots. Just choose what you want to concentrate on and bring that lens. This results in a great learning curve. This trip I shot with my 18 – 140 mm lens.

Here are some samples from that visit. I didn’t see any crows though, just a horse in their horse barn, but I’m still crowing.

 

My heart is full: Sacramento Zoo

Funerals are for the living, and without one, there is no closure. Tonight we had a memorial for Uncle Chuck and my dear friend Carol. We also invited Richard’s friend John whose sister Mary passed away this morning. We were Jews and Christians united in an effort for sending our loved ones on their way.

We did traditional Jewish prayers, John sang the 23rd Psalm and taps. We all told stories about our departed family members and ended it with dessert. What a wonderful evening. Uncle Chuck would have been pleased at the variety of religions and camaraderie in the room.

This is what caring and love is all about. He would have also loved the zoo animals and probably given them nicknames. He always gave people he loved nicknames. His girls were Rotten kid 1 and Rotten kid 2. My youngest was just Rotten Kid. My grandson (Chistopher) was JJ.

So as you smile at the Sacramento Zoo animals, send a smile up to Uncle Chuck and Carol; Arthur and Alina; and Mary.