Lens-Artists Challenge#205: The Eyes Have It

During a photography competition, the judge always looks into the subject’s eyes–whether human or animal. Are they sharp and have a catch light. This week, Tina challenges us to focus on the eyes of a subject. Eyes are doorways into the soul.

I managed to find some images in my archives to show you. Let’s start with one I enjoy looking at. My friend and I were at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge driving the course. Towards the end, a bald eagle was in a branch right over the road. To get this picture, I climbed up through her car’s sunroof. Look at those eyes. What do you think he’s telling me?

Two more animals: The coyote is on the hunt. You can see that he is focused in his eyes. While the parrot, is just being colorful and beautiful.

Burrowing owls are very small, but their eyes are big in comparison. Is he flashing a do not disturb sign with those eyes?

I don’t capture enough candid portraits of people. Here are two that tell different stories. The first gentleman was sitting on a bridge bench. His glasses hide the despair in his eyes, but his body language speaks. The woman is taking a break at the Pirate Festival. Her eyes are narrowed and relaxed. To me she’s reflecting on a good day of fun.

Another of my favorites is this flamingo trying to sleep at the Sacramento Zoo. What is he trying to tell me as I snap his picture?

A dog’s eyes are a true reflection of what he/she is thinking. I think he/she wants attention. What do you think?

Eye focus equals communication. At Toastmasters we teach “eye contact.” Look directly into your audience’s eyes. You can tell immediately whether or not your message is reaching them.

Thank you Tina for this wonderful eye opening topic. Remember to link your reply to her post. Next week we begin our tradition of summer guest hosts during July. Next week Aletta Crouse of Now at Home will focus on Treasures. Be sure to look for her post.

During the remainder of July we have:

July 09 – Jez Braithwaite of Photos by Jez is Seeing Double.

July 16 – Andre of My Blog–Solaner is thinking about Summer Vibes.

July 23 – Tracy, who posts at Reflections of an Untidy Mind, has chosen Surrealism.

July 30 – Sarah Wilkie, who hosts Travel with Me, asks you to share Three Favorite Images.

We invite you to look for and check out their blogs and hope you’ll join us throughout July. The Lens-Artists team will be back in August when I will host, “What’s Your Groove”.

Until then, have a safe and fun summer. Remember to use the Lens-Artists tag.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

An uneventful photo outing: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

It was windy. Maybe that’s why the birds were scarce at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, near Willows, this month. The driving tour at this wildlife refuge is a 6-mile circle with three places to get out of the car. Otherwise we are to be in the car. So, it pays to have a long lens and be on the correct side of the car to photograph out the window.

Our (Ray, Richard were with me.) first trip around, there were hardly any birds. We thought it was probably because of the wind. I didn’t even see flocks of snow geese in the water. Other wildlife that usually inhabit the refuge found a better spot or were hiding.

Since it takes 1 1/2 hours to get there and a lot of gas, I was disappointed, and soon got hungry. We had a great meal in town and then went back to the refuge. It wasn’t as windy this time, and this is when I got the bulk of my pictures (Still down from previous visits.).

The snow geese were back in numbers. We were lucky to catch a fly off.

Now for the really sad part: the only bald eagles we saw were out of range for my Nikon 7100 and prime F/4 300 lens. But that didn’t stop me! You know what they say, “Garbage in; garbage out!” I worked on those eagles, but couldn’t get them to the point of putting them in the blog. I will tell you it was a pair with their juvenile.

This is why I titled this post “An uneventful photo outing!” Maybe next time we will have better luck.

I hope you’ve been having a great holiday season and will have a wonderful New Year!

Lens Artists Challenge #139: Special Moments

When you’ve lived 77 years, you gather, in your heart, many special moments. There’s the usual life cycle moments that you work toward and totally enjoy, the personal achievements you’ve worked hard for and the moments that brought you fun and delight. In her challenge this month, Tina wants to see our special moments and what made them special.

I’m going to begin with our cross country trip in 2013 to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

This is the mighty Mississippi and the push boats that continually move their cargo. We were told that they move 24/7, stopping at certain points to pick up supplies. Being near and on this river was important to me because my mom always wanted to take a Mississippi river cruise on a paddle boat. We did take a short cruise in her honor.

This was also my first time using my Nikon d3100 and entry into the hobby. Next is a picture from Central High in Little Rock Arkansas. The Little Rock Nine integrated this school in 1957. When I saw that we could visit the school I needed to go. To our surprise it is now a National Historic Site, and we were able to join a tour led by a ranger. She was so graphic about what happened to those children, it broke my heart. Hate has just got to stop.

On to 2015 and a picture of photo buddy Greg Morris. He has since passed away from brain cancer, and I still have fond memories of him. He didn’t like that I rarely used a tripod. He also had a great sense of humor. He’d pick up Marlene and I in the morning, taking us away for a day of shooting. Of course, because he always used a tripod!

The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, in 2016, saw me climbing through Laura’s sunroof to capture the eagle below. He was on a tree limb that crossed the road and looking straight down. Laura’s seats are leather. I was trying to balance a heavy lens while trying not to slip on the seat. But it was worth it!

In 2017, I did use a tripod to capture these wine barrels at the Ironstone Vineyards. Shooting in a dark place was a first for me. My shutter was at 1.6 seconds and my ISO was at 1000. And, of course, I used a tripod!

Every year we photographers travel to find Fall color. For me, these trips are more than to shoot photos. They are fun time and memories made with friends. Marlene and I found this patch in 2018. It was one of the best trips.

This last photo was a total surprise for me. I guess I happened to be doing the right thing at the right time. I was taking a picture of this train in Old Sacramento, October 2019. I was shooting at night and decreased my shutter speed and increased my ISO. I was just practicing on getting this train at night with ambient light. As I pressed the shutter the train moved. My exposure was 2.5 seconds What a treat! I call it trainsparency.

So these are just some of my special photographic moments and their meaning to me beyond photography.

A handheld monopod adventure: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.

I started writing this blog last Wednesday. Then the unthinkable happened. I couldn’t continue after the U.S. Capitol Building was stormed and taken over by an angry, hateful, destructive mob. This resulted in an insurrection against the U. S. Government. Worse, was to see these people on the news wearing t-shirts that spewed out hate and urging killing of more people. (Five died that day.) My heart broke Wednesday. It’s been a week, and I realize that we must go on.

I did write a post for Lens-Artists on Saturday, and that helped. Fortunately, that was written and approved before the insurrection. The response brightened my days, and now I can do this post. So let’s talk about the monopod success!

Richard and I drove up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge a couple of weeks ago. Photo buddy Ray was kind enough to make me a short monopod for my Nikon and 300 mm, F/4 lens in hopes I could handle the weight better. With Richard as driver and spotter, we went forth.

The hand-held mono pod helped me a great deal. The camera didn’t shake when I held it up. It was amazing. Thank you Ray!!

Here are some images I was able to capture:

I’m so proud that I was actually able to spot a lot of these, but having Richard drive freed me to move around in the car. You can’t get out of your car on the one-way route.

My great monopod adventure was a success!

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!

Lens-Artists Challenge #125: You Pick It!

For me, this challenge is like giving a kid a bunch of toys and saying okay pick one! Which one do you pick? Why do you pick it? So, what subject do I pick? What photos do I pick? Yikes!

This challenge by Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles caused me to think about how my photography progressed through the years. I went back to 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. This was a used entry level consumer DSLR. I was closing my business and looking for a hobby and didn’t want to invest a lot into something I might not enjoy.

I took the camera on a Mexican cruise that year and had fun photographing the colored lights aboard the ship.

I was still using my 3100 in 2013 when I made my first visit to a wildlife preserve (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge). Fortunately this little guy was on the ground and close. My post processing hadn’t reached the Lightroom stage yet.

In 2014 I had my first experience shooting light trails. I had upgraded my camera to Nikon’s D7100 which was Nikon’s highest level consumer camera. This was taken in Sacramento. I did have freeway shots, but I wanted to show you something more.

In 2015 I went to Bodie, a State Park and old ghost town, where I experienced my first bout with altitude illness. There I practiced HDR, popular then, on the old structures that were in danger of falling. By then I was processing with Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

My first shot at the Milky Way came in 2016. I’ve had better success since, but astrophotography has never become a favorite of mine. This is strange because my husband is an astronomer!

Sometimes you take a leap of faith. This picture taken in 2017, provided me with an entry for what I thought was a small town photo contest my friend told me about. This was in Sonora in the Gold Country. Little did I know, the best of Sacramento were also entering. Two of my photos made it to the wall and one made it to the final choice table. My friend had one image make it to the wall. She was delighted to have been chosen among the talented photographers and so was I. This was the one that was so close to being a top winner in 2019. I didn’t enter that contest this year because it was nerve racking, and with COVID my nerves were already under pressure.

I love slow shutter photography and would go to our local mall when they had small carnivals to practice. I captured this in 2018.

While I’m not a birder, I can’t resist an easy shot. My friend took me to what I call the nesting trees. Egrets and other large birds choose to make their nest in the cluster of trees and put on a show for photographers. By then I got an old-used prime F/4 300 mm. Although heavy, it has clarity. So, here’s my 2019 entry!

And here we are in 2020, the year we thought we’d never experience. Photography is a little more difficult these days, but it still provides the relaxation and mental stimulation it always did. I’m so happy I started back in 2012. This has become my passion. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey.

Lens-Artist Challenge #132: A quiet moment

This is my first Post for the Lens-Artist group. Please let me know if I’m doing it wrong!! Seriously, tell me. Patti sent out a challenge of A Quiet Moment. Photography is how I relax, whether it’s at a busy festival or a relaxing drive to who knows where.

Here are a few of my captures during quiet moments. I love going to wildlife areas. In January, my friend and I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, drove the route a couple of times. On the way, I got this shot of the Sutter Buttes, a small mountain range.

We ended up at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for this amazing sunset.

In February we ventured out to capture almond blossoms in Capay Valley.

In April I went out in search of the wonderful California Poppy. I found a hillside near Jackson.

May brought me to the WPA Rock Garden. I love that place. If there’s no breeze, it’s excellent for macro work.

So, these are some of my outings that provided me with quiet moments! Thanks for allowing to post in this group.

Finishing up 2018: Effie Yeaw and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge

Since our world is shrinking, most of you know about the government shut down partially in the United States. Let’s put politics aside and think about the people who are being used as pawns in this game. It’s even affected us photographers with some of our National Parks partially closed.

Being a National refuge, all services were gone at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. It was, however, open for those who wanted to take the driving tour. Laura and I did just that, and we then drove over to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley.

Before that, my Camera Totin’ Tuesday went to visit Effie Yeaw in Carmichael. I wanted to photograph deer, but I didn’t see any. I know you’re beginning to be doubtful about deer in the Nature Center! Effie Yeaw is always a great place for a walk since it’s along the American River.

So here are some images from both outings. I’m hopeful that the next time I post, I’ll be able to say our government is open!

January, for the birds? Chasing wildlife

The wildlife areas were full with water, the weather was cool, but there were few birds. I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge twice, Grey Lodge Wildlife Area once and the Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area once, and was amazed at the lack of birds.

I experienced this during the dry years when there was little water to be found in these areas, but we have water this year! Where did the birds go? To make matters worse, at all but one of these outings, we were in overcast skies and strong wind.

Yes, chasing birds was frustrating and difficult this year. The Yolo Bypass trip was a dismal effort. We went to get the first sunrise of the new year and ended up with nothing worthwhile. It was a dark morning.

Our first trip to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was also difficult. The wind was blowing so hard that the small birds had difficulty flying. I did manage to get this sequence of a Snowy Egret fishing and eating its catch.

 

 

During our second trip, a week later, I was able to photograph a Red Tail Hawk, rabbit and deer.

At Grey Lodge, we found a Bald Eagle, Blue Heron and a show off Great Egret.

So there went January–for the birds!

When Mother Nature makes shooting tough: Gray Lodge and Sacramento National Refuge Wildlife areas, part 2

In addition to Mother Nature, sometimes WordPress makes things tough. I think some of you may have received all the images for both parts of this post and some I didn’t intend to post. I truly don’t know how that happened. However, I don’t know that all of you did. So I’m going to do the last part of this blog post anyway.

We are still fogged in during the morning and early afternoons here in Sacramento, and photographing is still difficult. Difficult unless you want to shoot foggy images. But, we’re trying to shoot wildlife!

And, here’s some more (or once again) some wildlife!