The more I photograph, the behinder I get: Sacramento Zoo

I love Thursdays at the Sacramento Zoo because it’s bone day–the day they give the big cats bones to snack on. For a photographer, that means they are likely to be out and chomping. We went to the zoo on a Thursday in December 2021. We hadn’t been for a while and the animals didn’t disappoint us.

The Jaguar was enjoying his bone.

The lions weren’t as cooperative. I had to go back a couple of times to get a good photo of only the male.

The orangutans were out and playful, putting on a show.

The newest zoo addition is Chigüiro the Capybara–the biggest rodent in the world. He’s sort of cute for a rodent!

Did you know that the Okapi are related to the giraffe? You might think the zebra would be a better choice, but no. They are beautiful no matter who they are related to.

One of my favorites, the white pelican, was preening himself. He lives with the flamingos. He has only one wing, and will never leave the zoo. Fortunately, he was facing the right way for me to photograph him. He’s another of my favorites.

The flamingos weren’t doing much. At one point, they were all sleeping. I happened to be talking to a docent about the flamingos when I saw an opportunity to photograph one asleep with its feathers being blown by a slight breeze. As I was shooting, this particular one opened its eye as if to say “Can’t you see I’m asleep!” This image won picture of the night in the open category at the Sierra Camera Club. Patience prevails.

I’ve renewed my zoo membership, so there will be more visits and more blog posts about these animals.

Catching Up: Swans at Mather Lake

Things happen and sometimes get us off track. I realized that I haven’t been keeping up with my personal posts that I do on Wednesdays. So….I’ll make up for lost time.

Mather Lake is a small lake, and part of the Sacramento Regional Parks System, at the southern end of Sacramento. It’s a great place to photograph swans and other small wildlife like beavers, etc. So I said I’d go and crossed my fingers, hoping there would be swans more in the middle of the lake so I could capture them with my 300 mm lens.

Again, I will thank my friend Ray who made me a short monopod for my heavy lens. Wow, what a difference! We walked around the lake and I was happy. There were many Mute Swans, and some were by the shore! Here’s some of what I captured.

We didn’t see any other critters, but I was happy with these swans. I think they are so graceful in the water. On our way back to our cars, I spotted a juvenile swan. I looked it up and it was a juvenile. It was by itself so maybe it was mature enough to be on its own.

This is not my “Swan Song.” There will be more catching up posts, in addition to my regular LAPC weekly post, soon.

Lens Artists Challenge #166: Artificial Light

In Sacramento California, the weather forces us indoors during a triple digit heat wave or lots of rain (We could sure use some of that now!). When we can’t take photos outside, my photo group wanders inside. Most commercial retailers don’t mind if we come in with our cameras just as long as we don’t use tripods and a flash. These activities are perfect for Ann-Christine’s challenge this week.

One rainy season had us float into Ameigh’s Hardware Store. They were great about hosting us. I found a few treasures in their garden section to focus close up on. They were fun to photograph, and helped me create some abstracts too. The ambient lighting in this store was ample.

The Antique Trove is another of our favorites. I tend to shoot close up at these venues. I get distracted by all the enticing things around me and can’t separate them from each other. There have been a few times when I’ve moved something, but I put it back the way I found it. Price tags also get in the way and the lighting is not super bright–up goes the ISO!

We also go to museums which have recently opened up again. One favorite is the Crocker Art Museum. The Crocker has an old wing (building) that was cleverly attached to a new section (building). I love the architecture and warmth in the old wing. This wing houses the ballroom and lovely staircases and ceilings. The lighting is not as bright here as it is in the new wing.

And, we always have IKEA. I can’t create a still-life, but when I see the opportunity, I use it. The ambient lighting is brighter here.

Last we sometimes shoot in the dark, especially at our State Capitol building during the Holidays. I love the way the rotunda is bright with the tree showing its lights. And, of course, I have to zoom a bit!

I mostly choose to photograph in ambient light rather than use a flash and enjoy the challenge of doing this indoors. Thank you Ann-Christine for this fun challenge.

When the heat turns up: IKEA

I’m just going to be blunt–It’s been a lousy summer here in Sacramento California. Our triple digit days outnumber our double digit days. And, then there are the fires that are raging in our forests. Our homes in the Sacramento Valley are not in danger, so I won’t complain about the smoke that blows in from the fires. All this means we take our cameras inside. One of our favorite places is IKEA.

We visited the IKEA store in West Sacramento on a recent Sunday and had a great time. Yes there were more shoppers than during the week but the place had a different vibe. I was looking to photograph something different than I had in the past. Fortunately displays had changed.

All the pictures below were shot with my macro lens which was the only one I brought in with me. I like the challenge of photographing with just one lens. This lens is an 80 mm so I got up close to take pictures of just a part of my subject.

Here are some of the images. Can you tell what they were?

After taking photos, we dined in the IKEA café. The food is great and the prices reasonable. My choice was a smoked salmon, potato salad and green salad plate. Yum! I guess I should have taken a picture of it!

The Lotus Are Here: William Land Park

Each year we look forward to times when nature shows us beauty. In 2020, many venues were closed, but at William Land Park in Sacramento there was no stopping nature and the beautiful lotus flower. This year the lotus came back even stronger. I’ve never seen them on vines that were so tall. It was an amazing site. Here’s what I captured during a recent visit.

In the last picture, you can see how tall the lotus were. Wonderful isn’t it!

Lens Artists Challenge #129: Favorite Images of 2020

This challenge from Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles seemed easy at first, but when I started digging through my photos, the challenge became emotional and difficult. The pandemic wove its way into our lives touching all aspects even photography. There were fewer outings, no lunches afterwards, less day trips. Picking the favorites out of a challenging year was tough.

The year 2020 started out great with one of my best sunsets taken at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, and an eagle shot at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. I didn’t make it back to either place that year.

Before the first lockdown, we did make it to Mare Island (A former Naval installation) where I spotted the perfect natural frame for an old brick building. I do love structures.

I did win an honorable mention for this photo in the McKinley Rose Garden contest.

Our photo shoots mainly consisted of meeting at the designated place shooting masked and then going our separate ways. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento reached deep into my soul since my husband served in Vietnam. This piece particularly touched me. A prisoner waiting for what?

I did take two longer trips. One with husband Richard as we searched for the beautiful California poppy and one with my friend Jean as we looked for Fall color, but instead found this beautiful lake.

Out again with our small group, we searched for Fall color before it disappeared. As we were going home, we came upon this.

But my favorite is the simple love of a child for her mother. In this case the child is Glory, 6-weeks I think when this was taken, and her mother. This was taken at the Sacramento Zoo. I call it, “This is MY mommy!”

And so, we are now two days into 2021 and things are looking up. We have vaccine choices in the works and hope. Take care and stay safe!

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!

The Lotus are blooming! William Land Park

Get your telephoto lens ready, it’s that time of the year. Lotus flowers bloom locally each year at William Land Park in Sacramento. They take up one end of the small lake, and they are beautiful.

This year, I couldn’t believe how big the leaves were. They were almost as spectacular as the blossoms.

I wasn’t alone on a recent Saturday. There were many others, most were wearing masks, including photographers visiting. Most of the other photographers had super long lenses balanced on tripods. I wish I could see what they were getting. I had a 200 mm reach and was doing fine hand-holding my camera.

Of course you know I love to do close ups. Some cropping in post processing were done to these images. Okay, maybe a lot!! Love my new camera!!

There are more lotus from this visit and to my short visit to the Vedanta Society of Sacramento’s small lotus pond. Next Post!!

In search of wine and color: Napa Valley

I wasn’t enthused, but I do enjoy shooting with Laura. In fact I haven’t been enthused about many shoots this year. It’s not been a wonderfully healthy year for me, so I’ve stayed close to Sacramento. And, I haven’t been overjoyed with my images either. I may be just too critical, or it might be that I haven’t traveled any distance to shoot something different.

So when Laura suggested we look for Fall color in Napa, I said the vines are turning brown. She said they were changing color! She also wanted to pick up some wine. Off we went down the Silverado Trail where many wineries and vineyards are found.

She was right. The vines did give us some color. The fog gave us some drama. The eventual sun gave us some good lighting. And, Laura got her wine!

I’m glad I went on this outing. All I had to do was sit and enjoy conversation while she drove.

On the road again: Try again, Glacier National Park & Hungry Horse Dam

I admit it, I am tenacious. I don’t give up easily. I mentioned in my last post that we went back into the Park to find Polebridge and Bowman Lake but the road was closed because of fire. So instead, we took a path near Lake McDonald. It was smokey, but not that bad.

After, we stopped in West Glacier and found the Canadian Visitor’s Center. We were going into Canada the next day to visit Waterton Lake National Park and needed to know the best route to take. The gal was very helpful, and, loaded with maps, directions and confidence, we left.

On the way home (the trailer), we decided to drive up to the Hungry Horse Dam and Hungry Horse Lake. It was a worthy trip. There are so many lakes in this area, and they are beautiful. While there, we met a family from Kansas doing a whirlwind road trip. After they left, I realized how lucky we are to be living on the West Coast. In Sacramento, we are 2 hours away from mountain life and beaches. We enjoy visiting several lakes and are surrounded by rivers.

Back to GNP and surrounding area. This trip would be perfect if it wasn’t for the smoke and the haze it creates. When you see the clouds emerging from the dissipating smoke, you realize what a beautiful sky it is. However this trip, we’re not seeing it. I’m hoping that for at least one day, it will clear. I don’t give up!