In search of red buds: U.C. Davis Arboretum

Sometimes the spirit is more willing than Mother Nature wants to give us. Recently Laura and I went to the U.C. Davis Arboretum, in Davis, to photograph the red buds and the wildlife it attracts. Yes, our spirits were willing to take the images, but there were hardly any red buds and birds. We did find some.

I’m guessing there might be more now. But we did find some nice scenery. I had my 55 – 200 mm lens on my Fujifilm XT3 so I did a lot of stepping back for some of these landscape shots.

We did come across a group of cormorants sitting on the shore of the creek. I focused on this one.

And, I couldn’t resist photographing flowers and more in close up.

When I needed to rest, Laura went further while I sat on a bench and people (and dog) watched.

So, our red bud search gave us a beautiful walk and a lot of photo opportunities even if we didn’t see many red buds on the trees.

Lens-Artists Challenge #186: Low Light

I like standard time during the winter months because it means the sun sets early making photographing in the dark more feasible, getting me home early in the evening. Thank you Sofia for offering this challenge that fits perfectly with a recent visit to Old Sacramento.

My small group of senior photographers visited the waterfront last month to capture the new Ferris Wheel installed as an attraction to draw more visitors.

When we arrived, we came upon a guy break dancing. He kept on performing as darkness fell and his jar filled with dollar bills.

We then walked out on the Tower Bridge (A Sacramento landmark) to capture the Ferris Wheel and waterfront. I’ll be honest, we did not use tripods (which is suggested in low-light photography). As the cars went over the bridge, the resulting rumble would have made the tripods useless.

We then walked back to the waterfront to get a better view of the Ferris wheel.

While we were photographing the wheel, the sun had almost set. I ran to a vantage point and fortunately got a decent sunset and reflections.

Now, back to the bridge for the Ferris wheel in action after nightfall.

As we were walking up to the street, I was lucky to see this image: A restaurant with the Ferris wheel reflected in the window. I couldn’t resist photographing it.

I had so much fun this evening which included a cup of hot chocolate. Low-light photography presents challenges but the rewards are great. I’ve also enjoyed light painting and indoor photography.

Thank you Sofia for this fun challenge that fit perfectly with my photo activities. Please be sure to link your post to Sofia’s, and use the Lens-Artists tag. Next week I’ll be presenting the challenge.

Lens Artists Challenge #162: It’s all about the light

While I would like to take photos when the light is just right, sometimes I can’t. Then I go with what I’ve got! Yes, photography is all about the light or maybe the absence of it. This week, Tina has given us the challenge to share images that show the power of light.

I’ll start this post with a shot from Yosemite at first light in the Valley.

As the sun rises throughout the day, we get shadows depending on how high the sun is. Of course, when it’s directly overhead, that’s not the best time to take photos. The next two were taken in Locke California in the partial morning sun.

We can see how colors become dramatic when the sun hits them. Sedona, Arizona.

I think when the sun shines on even a mushroom it adds dimension and helps the picture pop. Here are two examples of sun and shade.

I love to take photos of flowers. This tulip almost looks as if it has a candle glowing inside because of the way the sun is hitting it. Taken at Ananda Village.

As the sun sets objects seem to have a glow. Taken at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert.

And finally the sun goes below the horizon and we have darkness–no light except man made. The Tower Bridge in Old Sacramento.

Controlling the light is another challenge for me. I bought diffusers, but haven’t used them yet. I guess I need to get started! Thanks Tina for this insightful challenge!

A Visit to Lodi: Micke Grove Park & the Deshmesh Sikh Temple

About an hour south of Sacramento is a municipal park that houses a Japanese Garden and a small zoo. Of course we, Ray, Richard and I, had to go visit Lodi and Micke Grove Park. This park is part of the San Joaquin County park system and home to a Fun Town for children, zoo, Japanese Garden, small lake, golf course, softball fields, water play features, horseshoe pits, museum and children’s playgrounds. We walked the garden and zoo.

The garden was small but beautiful. However, it was either in super sunshine or dark shade. In retrospect, bracketing would have been what to do, but I didn’t take my tripod. Here are some images. I liked the water reflections.

Next we went about a block to the zoo. It was a lot smaller than our Sacramento Zoo, the enclosures were thicker so we couldn’t have the fencing disappear, but it was interesting.

Some of the birds.

They did have a snow leopard.

After leaving the park, we had lunch and then went to visit the Deshmesh Sikh Temple which we happen to spot on our way to the park. They were very courteous and let us inside with our cameras.

It was a fun day in Lodi. There is more to Micke Grove Park to see though. We just might be back!

Never enough: The Lotus are blooming, part 2

It’s like chocolate, there’s never enough. Okay, sometimes I’ve reached my full level of chocolate, but it’s always good. That’s the way a visit to a lotus pond is, always delightful. Sometimes I like watching the people more that shooting the flowers. Onlookers faces light up, and smiles are abundant. Nature does have a way to bring joy into a bleak year.

So, here’s the rest of my images from William Land Park in Sacramento. If you looked hard enough through the large leaves, you could see some floral reflections.

And then some lucky duck finds a rainbow.

And now on to the Vedanta Society of Sacramento and their small lotus pond. This was a quick visit, and I was dismayed to miss seeing the peacocks. Usually they roam around the area. And in the water lily pond, I saw only leaves, no flowers. But the lotus were not disappointing.

Lotus, like chocolate, begs to be re-visited. Maybe soon, at different angles, different time of day? And did you know that lotus bring you good luck? After posting part 1 of my lotus images I was asked to join the Lens Artists group. I am honored!

Goodbye 2019! Land Park & Effie Yeaw

Yes, goodbye to 2019!! I can’t say that it’s been the worst year, but it hasn’t been the best for me personally. I feel like my photography journey is on a roundabout and is unsuccessful in getting off to continue down the road.

I think my health is under control now, but with the beta blocker I’m on, any shooting beyond 8 p.m. is not happening. I just get too tired, but my heart is beating better. I call it my new normal!

December has been a rainy, cold, overcast and damp month which adds to the photo blues. I’ve tried to make the most of partly cloudy and sunny days, but they are few. Here, in California, December, January and February are traditionally our rainy months. The rest of the year is pretty dry, so we are hoping for more rain, and, of course, more complaining. My photo buddies and I are trying to think of more indoor places to take our cameras to. You might see some familiar places in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, let’s finish up some of 2019 with visits to William Land Park in Sacramento and Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael.

Jeanne and I went to William Land Park to catch some Fall Color in mid November. There was barely any left, but we did shoot for about an hour.

Next is Effie Yeaw. Marlene and I went to capture the deer rutting. They weren’t rutting that morning, but there were many deer.

Oh, I did get my calendars, and they look good. But, they are not exactly the way I wanted them to be as far as lay out. There’s always 2020. If I don’t blog again before, Happy New Year!!

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!