This and that: Sacramento Zoo, sunset and roses

December is almost gone and I haven’t posted! But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been shooting. On Dec 1st., Laura, Marlene and I went to Kauai, Hawaii for a week. This was my first dedicated photography vacation. I’ll tell you all about it when I finish editing the images.

I had a cold before I left and have been busy since I’ve been back. So, this post is a catch up on an outing to the zoo, a West Sacramento sunset and my very own rose garden.

I wanted to visit the Sacramento Zoo to see Coconut the new snow leopard cub and the new meerkats. I was fortunate to see Coconut out with his mom, Misha. Dad, Blizzard was out on his own for a while. Coconut is a bit mischevious as are all kids, and mom takes it in stride.

The meerkats are much smaller than I expected. After all, I had only seen them in the Lion King! Also, they were behind glass which made it more difficult to photograph them.

I also went by the Red Panda enclosure, hoping to catch one of them awake and moving around. Well, one had an eye open!

From daytime to an evening sunset at the Deep Water Channel in West Sacramento. We were lucky enough to catch a decent sunset without going too far. The roses?? I have a small rose garden in my yard, and they were beautiful one morning.

Have a look!

Zoo at 140 mm: The Sacramento Zoo

For the past year, or more, I’ve used my F4/300 lens when going to the Sacramento Zoo. While it’s great for getting through cages and shooting the big cats, etc. up close, I’d have to stand a block away to get a whole giraffe in the shot. So, when Marlene, Linda and I went to the zoo recently, I decided to use my 18 – 140 mm lens. No close ups for me that day!

It was a great experience. I concentrated on the ducks, ducklings, and othe small animals that were not caged (just behind enclosures). It was a totally different zoo experience. My gear was lighter to carry, and I didn’t get as tired.

I’m not giving up on that great heavy F4/300 lens. It does a wonderful job at getting through the cages and showing the detail on the animals. Maybe when I get back to the gym, I’ll have the upper body strength to carry two cameras.

I hope you enjoy this zoo experience!

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Somehow I got this Jaguar. I’ve had a difficult time getting him with the long lens! Opportunity and timing!

Comfort food needed: Sacramento Zoo & WPA Rock Garden

I’m still not moved. I’m still frustrated. I need comfort food. I went to the Sacramento Zoo. I love that place and haven’t been there since January. You never know what the animals will be doing.

One of the snow leopards was pacing in the enclosure, the mighty lions were asleep on top of their new platforms, the wood ducks were hiding, the new flamingo babies were finally placed with the grown ups, the orangutans were hiding, the wolf guenon exhibit and tiger exhibits were closed, the red river hog babies are almost full grown and the wallabies were finally letting me take good pictures. A gal can miss a lot in a few months!

Yes, the animals put me in a better mood, so did one young lady destined for stardom. I took her picture with her mom’s permission.

After the zoo, we went to shoot at the WPA Rock Garden for a few minutes. It was great to get out with my camera and away from the move.

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.

 

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.

 

I love this place: The Sacramento Zoo

The Sacramento Zoo is a favorite of my Camera Totin’ Tuesday group. Why? It’s close and the animals are fun to photograph. We’ve been back often enough that we’re beginning to learn their names, learn their behaviors, and watch the babies grow.

Baby giraffe Rocket is almost as tall as his mom now. Too bad he won’t be staying at our zoo. Yes, we learn all about what’s happening! The little Red River Hogs are almost as big as their parents, but not any more cute. And, we’re getting a new tiger soon.

I say “we” because most of my group are members. As members, we get monthly newsletters and advanced notice of any special events. But, I also enjoy going to the zoo because it helps me perfect my photographic level. I’m doing much better with the F/4 300 mm lens now. It alone weighs 3 pounds! I carry it on a monopod. Sometimes I also take my Nikon D3100 with my 18 to 140 mm lens so I can get a better angle on the giraffes and flamingos. The F/4 is excellent at getting through the enclosures. Sometimes I have to stand way back!

Now that you understand more of why the zoo is featured so much in this blog, meet the animals!

Zoo life: Back at the Sacramento Zoo

Every time I go to the Sacramento Zoo, I learn more–about the animals and photography. This time it was a short trip because I had a headache that just wouldn’t quit. But, I was there long enough to learn more about how to get through the cages with my lens and animal behavior.

For instance, take the flamingos. I only brought my F/4 300 mm lens that day, so I was looking for close ups. I noticed two flamingos drinking and their beaks were turned the same way. I shot a close up of them and got their reflections. Soon one came closer to where the other was drinking. The result? A disagreement over water rights! You’ll see it in the gallery.

There’s more descriptions of various animals in the gallery captions. So, what did I learn about getting through the cage? When the animal is closer to the cage, lower your F/stop. I also could have increased my ISO–next time. In any case, I’m very happy with the images I got.

I had fun in the short time I was there, and I’ll be making more trips. Having a zoo membership makes it easy to visit anytime I want to practice. And, at the Sacramento Zoo, there’s more to shoot. There’s pretty flowers and people! Next time I’ll bring a second camera with a more versatile lens.

Until then, enjoy our local zoo inhabitants.

 

Doing the happy dance: Back to the zoo

You know I wasn’t entirely happy with my last set of zoo pictures. They were okay, but I wanted improvement. The first step to the happy dance came from Leanne Cole, amazing photographer and friend. She told me to focus my lens manually. Great idea, but I didn’t know how! This F/4 300 mm lens is old, and is not like any I’ve owned. Worse, it didn’t come with a manual.

When I bought it, I showed it to veteran photographer Tom. He checked it out and said it was a good lens and great buy. (It was still within the 90 warranty.) When I realized I couldn’t figure out how to work the lens properly, I asked Tom to join me at the Sacramento Zoo for some instruction. It was a great morning of shooting and fun.

I now know how to focus manually, what the limiter is and more. And the result was amazing. Thank you Tom and Leanne.

I’m now doing the happy dance. See for yourself.

 

 

 

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!”

 

Old and new: the Sacramento Zoo

What’s old is my new F4; 300 mm lens. Meaning, I bought a used lens. In fact all of my cameras and lenses were bought used/factory refurbished except for my D7100 body. I buy used from reputable sites and make sure the gear comes with a 90-day or 6-month warranty. That way, I’m not taking chances.

My goal in purchasing this new lens was to make it easier to catch wildlife at preserves and get through the cages at the zoo. For such limited use, I didn’t want to spend $1,900. Spending $380. was a much better option.

I haven’t tested the new lens at a wildlife preserve, but I did take it to the Sacramento Zoo. It performed well mounted on my monopod. As long as the animal was not right up front, it was easy to focus beyond the cage and onto the animal.

So far, I’m happy. The only problem with a fixed lens of 300 mm is that you’re stuck with the focal length unless you keep switching lenses or carry two cameras. I didn’t want to do either, so you’ll see many close ups! This next week, I’ll try to test it at the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area. If it performs well, then I’ll be totally happy.

Another day brought Marlene and I back to the zoo after one of our Tuesday outings. This time I only had my 18 – 140 mm lens–the opposite problem of carrying a prime telephoto! I’ll show you images from both visits in this post.

And yes, I bought the 18 – 140 mm as a factory refurbished lens and have been totally happy with this versatile walk around lens.